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      Relocation

      America's Two Most Exciting Suburbs Are In Boston

      Generally, the words "exciting" and "suburb" are never uttered in the same breath. In fact, if you look at recent pop culture-particularly coming out of the 1980s-suburbs are set up to play the proverbial second fiddle to their bigger brethren. They're shining beacons of the boring life, where the biggest thrills include mowing lawns on the weekend and picking the kids up from school on time.

      Only that's no longer totally true.

      Though most Bostonians already know this, the city's life doesn't depend solely on the the streets of the City of Boston alone. Though there are tons and tons of developments happening right now within the great expanse of neighborhoods that compromise Boston - there are, more so, developments happening around downtown itself. In fact, if you were to look Boston as a whole, you might find that the city sleeps well within the hours of its operation, and come to the conclusion that nearby suburbs offer more to do at night than the city itself.

      That indeed seems to be the case, as a leading real estate website has just named Cambridge and Quincy as America's most happening 'burbs across all states of the country. The two 'burbs are also the only places in the Northeast that made it to the Top 10 list by Movoto. Here's the complete ten rounded down:

      1. Cambridge, MA 2. Quincy, MA 3. Berkeley, CA 4. Miami Beach, FL 5. Santa Monica, CA 6. Lakewood, OH 7. Jacksonville Beach, FL 8. Tempe, AZ 9. Santa Clara, CA 10. Evanston, IL

      WHAT EXACTLY MAKES THEM "EXCITING"?

      There were several factors that led to the pronouncement of Cambridge and Quincy on top. These criteria are deemed necessary in order to provide a lifestyle that does not restrict residents to home entertainment alone. In other words, each suburb in the US were subjected to a rigorous "lifestyle check" that provides options and opportunities to still live a city life, without necessarily being in the "hottest" zip codes. In particular, these criteria of factors narrowed down the results, closely considering other conveniences offered in cities near them:

      • Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)
      • Live music venues per capita
      • Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)
      • Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)
      • Percentage of restaurants that are fast food (the lower the better)

      What Makes Cambridge So Cool?

      When most people think of Cambridge, they either a) picture classrooms full of students at Harvard and M.I.T. with their noses buried in books, or b) say "Hey, isn't that in England?" From now on, when we think of this Boston suburb, we're going to think "excitement."

      True, a big part of Cambridge's success in this ranking has to do with the fact that it's home to not one, but two top-tier universities. Its population of 18- to 34-year-olds is, as a direct result, a whopping 49 percent, easily clinching a 1st place win for the city in this criterion by nearly 6 percentage points. Cambridge was also in the top 10 overall for active life options, live music, and nightlife.

      Cambridge has one nightlife option for every 1,002 residents, and when they're spots like The Druid and The Comedy Studio, that figure gets even more exciting. The city also ranked in the top 10 for its low percentage of fast food restaurants compared to all dining options. This means your tastebuds will be subjected to fewer McDonalds and exposed to more A-grade eateries like Hungry Mother and Craigie On Main.

      What about quintessential Quincy?

      Excitement clearly runs in the Boston area family. Located not half an hour from our No. 1 most exciting suburb, Quincy is nevertheless far enough away that it has its own unique scene. It's one that, for instance, relies much less on a young population to get the fun times rolling, as its 13 to 34 crowd makes up a (much) smaller 27 percent of its populace.

      Despite the drop in our most exciting age group, there's still plenty to keep the days and nights hopping in Quincy. It placed fifth overall in terms of active options with spots like Olindy's standing out, and a respectable 25th for live music and nightlife. So, whether you want to belt out some questionably-in-key karaoke at Fuji 1546 or down a few pints at The Fours, you won't be wanting for evening activities. Plus, any town that has a restaurant called The Fat Cat among its huge 96 percent of non-chain dining spots gets a thumbs up from this feline-friendly blogging crew.

      So, if you're on the hunt for a new place that's close to Downtown Boston but gives you a better breathing room, you should definitely consider these two star suburbs that Metro Boston has to offer.

      Realtycheck: How Does 2013 Compare?

      The Greater Boston Association of Realtors just released their most recent market statistics for the city, with figures that highlight the changes in specific neighborhoods throughout the city on a detailed month-to-month and year-to-year basis. Like any report, this one packs a punch - specifically to certain areas which we've highlighted for you below:

      Tidbit Tells:

      • It seems that the median sale price for Boston single-family properties was up almost 18% from last year to $426,750.
      • The inventory of Boston condominiums for sales was down by about 1/3 or roughly 30% from 2012.
      • Boston condos seemed to turn over much faster in November 2013, down to 49 from 69 in 2012.
      • Counting all of 2013 up to November, the average days on market for Boston condos was down by 45%, or roughly about 45 days.
      Bulging Back Bay:
      • The number of single-family home sales in Back Bay spiked more than 200%, with year to date sales of $7,037,500 compared to $3.1 million last year during the same period.
      • Alongside the sales growing was the average days on market these properties lingered for, this year it was higher at 189 days, significantly disconnected from 2012's average days of market of zero.
      • However, it's an all together different picture for condos - average days on market this year (January to November) was at 55, down 42% from 2012's 55 days to sell.
      In Surprising South End:
      • Days on market for single-family homes was way down to 38, about a 50% difference from 2012.
      • 100% of listings in the South End fetched and closed for asking, or even higher in certain cases.
      • Median sales price for South End condos was at $995,000, almost 42% higher than last year's median sales price of $702,000.

      A copy of The Greater Boston Association of Realtors' Monthly Housing Report can be found here.

      Double Digit Rally in November & Millennium's Milestone

      House Price Increase Growth Diagram Boston International Real Estate BostonIRE BIREWith the holidays over and the new year starting to roll out, it does well to think and reflect about the past year's performance. In particular, homes in Massachusetts continued their upward trend in November, climbing 10.4 percent year-over-year and beating out other key metro areas.

      Nationally, the Bay State didn't do quite as well, with the national average home price increase pegged at 11.8 percent in November year-over-year. Though the price increase is still bullish, November's upward trend wasn't enough to unseat the state's record high levels of October 2005, being 12.5 percent off figures from that month. And though national prices edged out the states' property price increase for the month of November, Massachusetts is still closer to its peak levels compared to the nation's, which is 17.6 percent below its peak in April of 2006.

      Compared to the five states registering the largest year-over-year home price appreciation in November included Nevada ( up 25.3 percent), California (21.3 percent), Michigan (14.34 percent), Arizona (13.5 percent) and Georgia (13.3 percent), Massachusetts' dilemma with its quantity and quality of inventory suggests that the price increase could have been greater if there were more listings to play with, as this would have spurred price wars hence tipping the scale towards the sellers. Compounded monthly and compared year-over-year, home prices in Massachusetts have appreciated every month in 2013, spurring a steady yet more humble growth outlook for 2014.

      In Other News: Millennium Place's Milestone

      It looks like Millennium Place's marketing machinery has done a good job selling its inventory of available units. The developers, who have been aggressively marketing its units, is about to approach a "sold out" status, only after a year's worth of pushing the plush residence's properties. This, after Millennium Place circulated emails yesterday, announcing that everyone's favorite Downtown Crossing condo complex was nearly sold out.

      Given that Millennium's marketing only launched its aggressive push officially in October 2013 (though pre-selling started in the Spring), this feat is a testament to the city's real estate comeback, especially in that part of the metro's map, giving confidence back to the once "forgotten" neighborhood and to nearby developers and investors alike.

      According to the Millennium's email yesterday, only five of the condo complex' 256 units remain for the taking, consisting of 2- and 3-BRs above the eighth floor. A quick search of the building's inventory shows that the most expensive unit is the 1,505-square-foot on the 14th floor, which currently is asking $1,505,000.

      Contact us now to get a glimpse of the available units, and take advantage of them while they last! Call (617) 505-1781 now.

      RealtyCheck: Home and Condo Sales' October Comeback

      As temperatures keep dropping going into the winter months, sales figures keeping climbing. Reports for the past autumn month of October show that sales of single-family homes rose again in October, increasing nearly 19 percent from a year earlier amid shrinking inventory and rising prices.

      A total of 4,326 single-family homes were sold in Massachusetts in October, an 18.5-percent increase from 3,649 sales in October 2012. Year-to-date, sales are up more than 7 percent at 42,077, compared to 39,239 during the same period last year.

      Most of the speed of sales are caused by baby boomers cashing out on their property investments, riding out the recent wave of sales and investments in the Northeast region. But as volume rose, so did prices.

      The median price of single-family homes rose almost 10 percent in October to $313,050. This is the state's highest median price for the month since October 2007, when it was $331,000. The median price for homes sold January through October was $324,900, up more than 12 percent from $289,000 in the prior year.

      Yet, the market is unstoppable as proven by the quick turnover of high-end properties in suburbs.

      In October, statewide condominium sales statewide rose 16 percent, increasing to 1,724 from 1,487 a year ago. Year-to-date condo sales are up 5.8 percent to 17,089 from 16,152 during the same period last year.

      The median condo price rose to $299,500 in October, a 13-percent increase from $265,000 a year earlier. The year-to-date median price of condos in the Bay State is $295,000, up 7 percent from $267,500 a year ago.

      Single-family home inventory at the end of October, fell 19.9 percent to 20,716 listings compared to a year ago when there were 25,877 listings, while the inventory of condominiums was 5,582, down 26.1 percent compared to last year when there were 7,557 listings.

      Average market time for single-family homes in October was 92 days compared to 114 days in October 2012, the trade group. Condos stayed on the market an average of 78 days, down from an average of 114 days in October 2012.

      Million Dollar Condos

      Prices of condominium properties in the city rose 23 percent from January to October of this year compared to 2009. Compared to 2012 however, the number of listings priced at $1 million and over have doubled.

      Though most of Boston's neighborhoods are experiencing the real estate recovery, three Boston districts are ruling the condo turnover scene, according to Curbed.com's Tom Acitelli. Midtown - comprising of Financial District, Chinatown, and parts of Beacon Hill - lead the pack, particularly because of Millennium Residences' rise, as well as 45 Province's renewed vigor to sell its few remaining units.

      Boston skyline, winter house hunting, Boston real estate, Bargain buys, discounts, winter advantage

      Now far behind is the quintessential and famed favorite South End. Last year, only a handful of condo properties in the neighborhood closed above the $1 million mark. This year however, one out of four have closed well above that threshold. Of course, this does not top that of the Back Bay - where 40 percent of all closings in 2013 were above $1 million. One difference that sets the South End apart is that there are no huge condo buildings that comprise the bulk of sales and listings. Instead, the neighborhood's dozens of different addresses - brownstone or converted and remodeled - make up the closings that passed the million dollar mark. One option that is fast becoming a hot complex though is Sepia in Ink Block. Check it out here.

      Last but not least, Charlestown comes in at third. In past years, only one or two condos in this Cambridge and Boston suburb reached the million dollar mark. This year however, there have been 24 units in total! Most of these listings were from newly constructed townhouses right by the Navy Yard. Indeed, a good location to invest, as new-construction town homes are becoming a rarity in the central city of Boston itself.

      Thankful To Be A Homeowner or Property Renter?

      It's Thanksgiving week, and in the midst of all the family festivity planning and turkey day celebrations, your home is the most important - if not crucial - element in it all. It's where you'll be welcoming guests and serving those carefully-made meals. And regardless of whether you're hosting or attending, the home is central to holiday celebration. And so, this got us to wonder - how many celebrating homes out there are filled with happy homeowners and how many are ones with rejoicing renters? Most importantly, who is happier of the two?

      Turns out both measure out the same. The rent-or-buy debate typically revolves around money, with the buy camp winning more often than not. It's hardly surprising that, even after the housing crash, most young Americans still aspire to own a home.

      But will it make them happy? Granted, it's tough to measure. Other variables shove their way into the merry mix.

      Nevertheless, social experts do take a pretty good stab at the question. Happiness matters. A lot. We don't mean bubbly happy, but adaptable, resilient, content, optimistic -- powerful factors for long-term health and success.

      Renters: There's no mortgage hanging over with the mistletoe

      Real estate is a good financial investment, if you hold onto it and the home's value grows. But for many people, the mortgage payment consumes so much of their income that the home becomes their only financial investment.

      Now everything, not just where you're going to live, hangs on making that payment. Don't forget the nest egg used to make the original down payment. There's more at stake with a mortgage payment. Whenever you have more at stake, it's obviously more stressful.

      Renters: Spared from foreclosures

      Even when times are OK, and finances aren't critical, the potential threat of losing everything someday to foreclosure can overshadow some of the positive feelings associated with owning. Research shows that the punch of anything negative is bigger than the pleasure of anything positive. This would suggest that the stress or worry associated with debt is more painful than the pleasure you get from owning.

      Renters: More Social Beings

      After controlling for income, health and housing quality, a 2004 survey found that homeowners spent 4% to 6% less time with friends and neighbors than did renters. Not only that, the homeowners also experienced more negative feelings when with other people. So far, experts studies reveal that contrary to the belief that homeownership fosters more involved or better family lives. It actually points to less active and less enjoyable social lives.

      Renters: Enjoying Flexibility and Mobility

      It's not infrequent that first-time homeowners have a sense of "feeling trapped" once they have settled in to their new home. The feeling or just being able to up and move from lease to lease disappears.

      A British economist famously found that countries with low levels of homeownership also enjoyed lower unemployment rates; workers were able to move to take the best jobs. When you consider what psychologists know -- that variety and new experiences are what make us happy -- it's little surprise that homeowners can, at times, find themselves envying the flexibility renters enjoy.

      It is, after all, only human to want to have varied experiences to sustain happiness.

      Homeowners: Wealth and Wisdom

      Are homeowners wealthier because they own a home? In many cases, yes. Homes offer a kind of forced savings strategy for middle- and low-income earners, who often have little cash left over after making the rent. But it's also easier for people with money to buy homes. The combination of the two puts homeowners well ahead statistically.

      Homeowners: They're healthier, if they're current on their payments

      There's a Harvard University research together with the Joint Center for Housing Studies that in 2001, they gave the win, by a nudge, to homeowners for better health. Although data from the study showed no positive connection between homeownership and health, researchers from the National Study of Family Health found that homeowners gave themselves better self-assessments for physical health.

      The researchers did, however, add this caveat: Homeowners' health was better only if they're current with their mortgage payments.

      Homeowners: They have higher self-esteem

      In what reviewers called one of the strongest studies on the topic, a whopping 85% of new homeowners said that their self-esteem improved after purchasing a home. Self-esteem is defined as a person's judgment of his own worthiness. Self-esteem usually gets a boost when someone accomplishes a goal, or senses he is doing better than other people. It is also strongly influenced by what other people think, and in America homeowners are held in higher regard.

      Still, the same study found no measurable difference in self-esteem between renters and homeowners when it was measured by researchers, who concluded that self-esteem may be too deeply ingrained a character trait to change much.

      Outcomes, however, do suggest that homeowners may already possess higher self-esteem. Research from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that among low-income families, the children of homeowners performed better in school and were more likely to graduate.

      Homeowners: More Involved in the Community

      Historically, research has landed on the side of homeowners being happier here.

      The sentiment -- long a selling point for real-estate agents-- has been that homeowners are more involved in civic and religious groups and are more likely to vote. However, as more people rent -- 35.4% of Americans today -- some studies that control for factors such as age, income and education level are revealing that ownership status alone may not dramatically affect a person's engagement level after all.

      So - who's the happier home? Neither edge out the other.

      While the prior happiness studies do control for income, it's important to remember the toll that financial stress can take.

      It may seem like a no-brainer that unaffordable mortgages negatively affect people's mental health, even when their monthly housing payments haven't risen. But here's a finding from years of happiness research that many don't know: The thrill of a new experience -- even buying a dream house with great views and marble countertops -- quickly wears off. People adapt, and even while they're happy with the house, their overall satisfaction with their lives stabilizes.

      So while it's true that homeownership can build wealth, and that wealthier people tend to be happier (until their basic needs are met, then the rates level off), being a renter also gives certain freedoms that homeownership can't. And regardless of if you're a homeowner or renter, the important thing is that you have a roof over your head and remember to be thankful for it.

      The Greenway's Newest Gem

      There's a new darling in Downtown Boston, and it goes by the name of Radian. You might have heard of it before, just under a different name: 120 Kingston Street.

      That's officially the address of the 26-story apartment tower in the convenient junction of Chinatown, the Financial District, the North End, and the Leather District. It is a game-change-y type of development that replaced an ancient Boston archetype building. It is as modern as you can get nowadays, with all glass windows, and concrete and steel floors with chic and stylish finishings once fully complete. The tower's developers, Forest City and the Hudson Group, have officially christened the 120 Kingston development Radian Boston, as it is literally radiant from all view corners, as well as it mimics a 'radian', the angular measurement that's tied to a circle's radius. As you can see, the building is cleanly designed to reflect this style.Within the modern building's design are 240 luxurious studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units. Radiant is aggressively taking in applications for move-in starting early Spring, 2014. In addition to its well-appointed units, future residents will be delighted to know that there's also 4,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space. The commercial slots are poised to host nuvo cuisine restaurants that match the ambiance of the area, as well as independent retailers and shops. What more could you want from an up and coming development?

      Speaking of The Greenway and the Northern tip of the city, The New York Times recently published an article saying how the word "north" affects property prices on real estate found marketed in this region of the country's leading urban cities. Why? Well, it turns out that people do go gaga for greenery. In New York, North of the city is synonymous to access not only to Central Park, but also to the two water pond features that span its green space. Though 'North' End Boston lacks the breadth and depth of Central Park (The Rose Kennedy Greenway is immensely minuscule compared to its New York counterpart), the area makes up for in 'aquatic features' - with waterfront harbor views plus panoramic city skyline sceneries.

      Find out how you can get early access and sneak a peek of Radian Boston by contacting us at (617)505-1781 or by emailing us info@bostonire.com.

      Bargain Buys From Relocation Sales

      relocation sale relo boston somerville back bay luxury high-endAlmost all homebuyers today are familiar with the ins & outs of traditional property sales as well as the "more contemporary" short sales instituted by banks to load off some of their foreclosed properties. However, only a few know of another type of sale that is often a good means to find bargain property buys: a relocation sale. Usually, these types of properties are listed on the market on a rush basis, for the sole reason that the resident is leaving it behind, and wants a quick cash get away.

      While there are slight differences in the the acquisition process for buying a property that's from a relocation sale, these can have distinct advantages for buyers.

      What is a "relo"? A relo is a home sale that is completed with the help of a relocation firm. These firms are hired by companies to help their transferred employees move. A relo firm might help the transferred employee hire movers and find a rental home. If the employee is a homeowner, the relo firm might help the employee sell the old home.

      Sales assistance is done in two stages. For the first few months the home is on the market, the house usually remains in the employee's name, with the relocation company providing advice on pricing and marketing. If the home isn't sold during that period, the employee's company may totally or partially buy out the property, freeing the employee to buy a home in the new location. After the employer buys the house, the relocation company becomes the chief party in sale negotiations. And once the company takes over, the buyer has a complete advantage because they're dealing with a seller who has no emotional attachment to the property, and would just like to earn back what they spent on acquiring it.

      Are these relo properties cheaper? While relocation sales don't necessarily translate into fire-sale prices, buyers can count on the home to be fairly priced for its market. Usually, companies who uproot and transplant their employees want to dispose of the property as soon as possible, making only what they spent to acquire the property and nothing more. This means that each and every home that's up for a relocation sale, is for a buyer's taking. Relocation properties also tend to be in good condition because most relocation firms recommend needed repairs or do the repairs themselves.

      How to buy a relo Buying a relo property isn't that different from any other traditional sale. However, buyers should prepare for a few new twists:

      Price negotiations may take longer. With normal home sales, the back-and-forth on pricing can last just a few hours as sellers and buyers hurriedly consult with their real-estate agents. But relocation firms typically operate during business hours and might not be available to respond to a weekend offer until Monday.

      Get pre-approved for financing. Buyers are always advised to line up their financing before they start looking for homes, but it's especially important when buying a relo property. Prospective buyers need to show that they are prepared and are in a good position to buy.

      Sell your old home first. If you need to sell your current home before buying another, you should take care of that before trying to buy a home being sold by a relocation firm. The relocation firms often want a nice, contingent-free, clean sale, if at all possible. If your current home is under contract with a buyer but has not closed yet, that's usually acceptable, but be prepared to provide copies of your sales contract and other important information on the expected closing date.

      Be prepared for more paperwork. Relo sales typically require buyers to sign additional riders and amendments to minimize the relocation company's liability. Usually, this translates to having double the number of pages in the contract, as well as exaggerated amounts of signatures.

      Whatever your preference of home is, relocation sales usually occur during months of high employee turnover, specifically right before winter until the weeks leading to Spring, as most businesses hire and transplant new talent in the first half of the year, coinciding with their fiscal calendar.

      In Boston, most of relocation sales happen in and around the outlying neighborhoods. More often than not, these include properties in and around Cambridge, Somerville, Seaport District, and Newton.

      One Bed or Two? A Must Read for Picky Property Hunters

      Does it make more investment sense to buy a one bedroom unit or a two bedroom unit?  There's too much data and too many variables for an absolute answer.  But it's a question that's posed a lot.

      Some investors focus on buying a unit with as many bedrooms and square footage as possible within their budget. They equate the 2nd bedroom - assuming it's a real 2nd bedroom - and a larger floor area with greater value. This is not always the case.

      Whatever the property's price range may be, here are a few things to consider:

      • Neighborhood, Street, Building, and Unit Placement Heavily Influence Value. This sounds obvious but if the focus is strictly on price and the number of bedrooms, this can get lost in the shuffle.  Buying a  two bedroom for $450K in a South Boston 2-family is obviously different from buying a one bed for $750K at One Charles in the Back Bay.  Buying a unit on lowerNewbury Street is different from buying on upper Commonwealth Ave. Understanding the neighborhood at the street/building/unit level based on trusted sales and rental data  is key.  Unit placement is also critical. i.e. the resale potential and rental value of a 5th floor walk-up two bed for 750K vs. a one bed in an elevator building for the same price.
      • Projected Return Levels During Hold.  A good understanding of this data and competitive rentalproduct is extremely important. Thankfully, a lot of rental data in Downtown Boston is transparent.  An investor can position an acquisition for positive cash flow and project returns based on the rent number.  The rents will generally be higher for the 2 beds, but then so generally are the acquisition and carrying costs which affect the return.
      • Liquidity - A sound investment purchase begins with the exit plan.  While all real estate is illiquid, some knowledge of historical sales trends and neighborhood inventory turnover can enable educated projections for re-sale.  At minimum, we want some evidence that in a reasonable time period and without discounting, we can sell the property at will.  Given a one bedroom vs. two bedroom with comparable finishes and quality, appropriately priced to market in the same neighborhood.....which unit is likely to be the fastest, most straightforward sale in 5-7 years?

      In the one bedroom corner: Generally lower price point, potentially larger pool of renters during the hold period, more buyers at the end of the hold period.  That means less vacancy time, and less time on market on the re-sell provided it's appropriately priced to market.

      In the two bedroom corner: Generally higher rent, and more versatile utility value.  Many serious buyers will only consider 2 beds because they just prefer that extra room...for an office, regular guests and family members passing through town (this comes up very frequently). Possible greater potential for appreciation based on the utility value.

      So... One or a two bed???  There are many other variables and no short answers, but as with other investment vehicles, whatever the number of bedrooms the purchase should align with an investor's goals and risk tolerance.

      How To Sell Your 'Unsellable' Home

      If your house isn't selling, don't despair -- try jazzing it up online.

      Inventory in the Metro Boston region is down ?62 percent from a year ago while prices are up 9 percent, so there's hope. But buyers are first turning to real estate websites before they head out the door. That's where your attention should be, at least at first.

      Let's look at the most common reasons why your home is still on the market:

      PRICE: This is by far the top reason why properties languish. Remember, pricing properties isn't an exact science. Some agents will overprice listings during the initial bidding process in hopes of winning the listing. Others will over-price simply due to ignorance. Regardless, the market will dictate your price. If your home isn't getting showings by other real estate agents and you've had no offers within the first 14 days, particularly in a hot market, then the price should be adjusted.

      PHOTOGRAPHY: I've said it before, first impressions are very important. The way your home is presented could be the difference between having market buzz or fizzling out. Prices vary, but typically $150 to $300 is enough to hire a professional photographer to set you up with a few good photos.

      CLUTTER: Get rid of those things that you've held onto for years. I've always gone by the belief that if you lost everything in a fire, what are the things you would truly miss? Then start with those items and work backward. Less is always more.

      MARKETING: Is your real estate agent promoting your property in the best light? This includes weekly print advertising, sphere of influence mailings, mailings to neighbors of the listed property, links to all national websites including realtor.com, trulia.com, zillow.com and others. Does your agent promote properties via social media?

      INSPECTIONAL ISSUES: Does your home have a number of issues to be fixed? A coat of new paint? A professional cleaning? Light bulbs that need replacing? While these are relatively easy fixes ranging in price to practically nothing to quite a bit, in the end they can make the difference between your home being a consideration vs. a "pass." If you really want to know what a home inspection will uncover, then hire an inspector of your own and have your property "pre-inspected." This might run you a few hundred dollars on the low end to $500 to $600 depending on the size of your home.

      It's all worth the trouble if you really want to make the next move.

      More Than A Thousand Residential Units On The Rise

      Boston's streets might be getting cold, but the real estate in the city is still sizzling hot. This comes as the Boston Redevelopment Authority has approved more projects in the past week. In total, the projects the BRA gave the green light to will add an additional 850 units in the city's key neighborhoods. Another highlight to last week's pronouncements was the approval of the long-awaited and much-delayed Copley Place Tower which will give significant number of floors to the mixed use city center.

      Specifically, the BRA approved Copley Place's 52-story spire plan that no doubt will eclipse the Public Library, as well as enhance the number of skyscraper buildings in the Back Bay. The tower will be host to 433 rental apartments and 109 condominiums, with more than 500 basement parking spaces. The building is also poised to be one of the tallest buildings in the city. The project was originally slated to be completed by 2010, however the recession prevented the groundbreaking, and like many projects, the plans did not see the light of day until late last year. Needless to say, Bostonians are looking forward to this development, as it will definitely enhance the Back Bay's skyline.

      Not to be outdone, the South End - already having seen more than 20 projects approved just in the summer of 2013 - also has another development that was green lighted, however this time to serve the commercial space-seeking community. To be situated on picturesque 80 East Berkley Street, the said development will have more than 300,000 square feet of space on its 6 upper floors, and retail and restaurant space on its first floor. Once completed, this no doubt adds to the bulging community of the South End as start ups and neighborhood offices begin to crawl throughout the city, and delving away from once seedy areas.

      Another ambitious residential development on the rise is Jamaica Plain's 283-unit projected dubbed 'The Commons'. Located near the Forest Hills MBTA Station, the project, will include retail space and a public park totaling to 7,960 sq ft, and is part of an ongoing initiative to gentrify the neighborhood and develop the MBTA terminal into a full community-based neighborhood. This, in conjunction to the latest developments in the JP area (most notably 225 Centre Street), will surely complement the general district's overall gentrification and redevelopment.

      Last and certainly not the least of the latest BRA-approved projects is Fenway's 'The Viridian'. The project is an 18-story tower slated for the very busy neighborhood of Fenway, right along 1282 Boylston Street. The 348,235-square-foot project will rise to 18 floors and include 322 apartments. It is also slated to have 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail as well as 295 parking spaces. The Viridian replaces an old McDonald's lot, and is the latest to join the Fenway development boom.

      On other news, if you're a downright Downtown resident in Boston, you would be pleased to know that the once "weekday-only" district is vastly evolving into a 24/7 bustling neighborhood. With the addition of round-the-clock convenience stores, services, retail and entertainment components, the scene in Downtown (aka Financial District) is evolving. In prior years, the Financial District was seen as a cold and harsh district to walk past 6'o clock at night, since the area is closed down because of the primary nature of its clientele: the office 9-to-5 folk. However, the two years' resurgence in real estate and project development has transformed Financial District to a genuinely mixed use community serving not only businessmen, but also residents of nearby residences.

      There's no doubt in our minds that Millennium Place and Millennium Tower investors are choking in satisfaction of this news.