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      Blog :: 02-2013

      Livening Up Your Space for Spring

      With three back-to-back winter weekends, it's not at all hard to imagine why Bostonians are raring for Springtime to hit the city. And with sunnier days fast approaching, everyone's looking forward to new beginnings - especially at home. While completely redoing that old kitchen or adding use to an old room might run you into some serious money, there are also plenty of other smaller projects that can freshen up and transform your space, all without breaking the bank.

      Minimalist hanging planter box

      Starting small is key, and there's no better way to experience a fresh new room than concentrating your efforts on a singular space. First, think of the room that you best spend your time in when at home. Most often than not, you're probably better off starting with the living room, as this is where most of the lounging happens. You don't necessarily have to go as far as replacing your comfy couch - as long as it's still decent and provides support - but you can certainly add and remove elements in the room to make it livelier. For instance, putting a planter box, faux or for real, gives the room a breathe of fresh air. There are many indoor worry- and mess-free planter boxes that you can get for cheaps online and in-store that would provide the living room with life.

      Minimalist hanging planter box

      Nooks, though nowhere near imposing, make for nice experiments. If you're really on a tight budget, going for smaller spaces and the details within them might be your best bet. There are a lot of things you could do to give a particular room a do-over without changing much. For audiophiles as well as those who relax while they're bathing, consider installing a shower head that not only cleanses, but also spurts out sound while you're scrubbing! Play your favorite tunes via bluetooth with this shower head sensation.

      Minimalist hanging planter box

      Spend more of your time in the kitchen? No problem, get a small but significant centerpiece gadget that breaks away from your usual chef duties. Consider a tequila buffet set that not only complements the spring and summer season, but would make for a great entertainment piece as well.

      Minimalist hanging planter box

      A fresh coat of paint might sound intimidating, but really it isn't. And no matter how small your living space is, an accent wall or two would definitely make your home look brand new. Not sure whether the color would go with your decor? Try sampling it out first on a slab of wood or cardboard box, prop it by your stuff, and see for yourself. If you're the creative type, consider creating a wall chalkboard for your instant ideas! There's an awesome spray paint that converts your wall into a full-fledged chalkboard without having to tear out your drywall or install anything else. And if you're tired of jotting down on your wall, simply clean up with a wet rag and you've got your old wall back!

      For long-time homeowners, you've probably collected many items and home decor over the years, and it's probably a good idea to start organizing and tagging them so that come spring or summer, you'll be ready to host a yard sale of some sort. While you're at it, revisit those things in storage and figure out if it's either time to bring them back out or completely sell them off. Some pieces may take on new life with a coat of paint or fresh upholstery, or simply by being moved to a different room than the one they're meant for. Either way, you're freeing up some space (potentially for another use ) and getting a couple of green bucks out of it.

      Interested in these pieces? Email us for resource list.

      Preventing A Sale To Go Stale

      There are different reasons why listings go bad. One is that the seller has changed course and would like to keep the property or sell at another time. Another is that there just isn't a market for the property at the moment. But according to our sources, the prime reason why listings go stale is because the seller isn't motivated enough to liquidate their asset. Yet no matter the reason, putting your property up in the market and then taking it off isn't as bad as it once sound, provided that you make the right changes to your listing.

      In a market as robust as Boston's, there clearly shouldn't be anything that would make a seller think twice. In fact, if you ask any real estate agent in town, now is the perfect time to sell since the market is lacking inventory and buyers are on the brink of desperation. These buyers are snapping up condominiums, lofts, multifamily homes, and even commercial space in order to expand their portfolio, coming off from four years of investment inactivity due to the recession.

      The rule of thumb is that if within 45 days and your listing hasn't quite picked up speed yet, then there's good cause to take a closer look at the pricing, marketing, condition (or any combination, for that matter) of your listing. It might be time to re-list your property, as that's a proven way for sellers to say goodbye to 'stale' and hello to 'home sale'. Here are six ways to land a home sale, whether you're a new or repeat listing:


      Often and obviously, people would like to take make the most bang for their buck. Listing your home within your comfort level is good, but take into consideration the market. The best price for your home sale is what bueers are willing to pay, and in a dense city like Boston, that's a lot! Research about your neighborhood and what the per square feet price range is like. Don't hesitate to lower down your price a little, to get the sale. You'd be surprised what a couple of hundred (or thousand, if you're generous enough) knocked off the original asking price can do for you. Always remember that you're in it to win it: you're still making money and riding yourself of a risk, however "good" the market is.


      If a purchase offer comes in a week after you've listed, do what's in your power to close the deal. We've seen a lot of first-week deals that have fallen through because the seller wasn't open to negotiating. In worse case scenarios, the  listing often goes stale and its selling price is reduced significantly when re-listed (more than what you've taken off if the deal was closed in the first place). If you're confronted with this kind of scenario, think of the long-term market conditions, as well as your financial health. There's always the risk that market conditions will worsen, and today's low offer might end up to be tomorrow's best price.


      Often wondered what price range searches are like? Most search engines, whether online or manual, are divided into increments that fit the buyer's needs. Most often than not, these ranges consist of round numbers in increments of $25,000, $50,000, or $100,000. Price your property accordingly and make it fit in the lowest increment possible, so that your listing can capture searches that come close to what an "economy buyer" is looking for, but at the same time extremely affordable for someone's "investment portfolio".


      Regardless of what a buyer might say, there's always that one attribute that they're looking for - whether it's the location, amenities, security, or aesthetics and ambiance, the buyer is always keen to keep that secret from you so that it won't be used to "lure" him in to signing an offer. Unfortunately, there's no way to pry that attribute out of the buyer's mind, so the best thing you can do is to highlight the best ones your place has to offer; there's a 70% chance that it'll hit a home run. This is also where research on both you and your agent's end will work best, as "buyer's buzz" is something you'd want to tap in to in order to make your listing shine amongst the rest.


      How many times have you come across a product you've seen a picture of and right off the bat taken out your card to pay for it? The answer, most likely is 'often'. That's the same with real estate sales: as long as it's decent, presentable, current, and clean, your listing will shine. That's why we always stress the importance of good pictures in listings. If you don't currently have one, let your agent take on for you - they should have a good eye of what angles to take and spaces to highlight; at the end of the day, it's what we're here to do.


      If lowering the price and the right focus still won't do the trick for you, then perhaps the right marketing will. Don't be afraid to start over again if you feel like your listing has gone stale; maybe a little marketing can help land you a miracle sale. Property Staging, as commonly known in the real estate world, can do tons to show off and highlight your home. Pictures can do a lot of good, but it can also harm your hopes of selling if it doesn't quite showcase the right stuff. Staging spruces up your home, arranging it as if it's for a magazine shoot. This paves the way for interesting questions and conversation starters that could likely be the hook you need to catch that big fish.

      Living Large, Spending Small in Boston

      With Boston's recent rise to ranks in terms of the number of individuals vying to buy real estate, it's not hard to imagine that a lot of locals, as well as those of you who are relocating, to find a suitable home after your current lease ends. And if you're already on the prowl for your own piece of property, chances are you're also thinking about how to furnish it. Whether you're just recently on the market, or are in the process of closing on an offer - it's always nice to plan ahead for something life-changing.

      But what's probably the worst thing about the real estate dynamic is that most likely than not, when you find yourself in a "buying spree", the rest of the market seems to agree and  join in on the trend, stimulating demand season and raising prices. Even though real estate agents and brokers are readily available to help you mitigate that issue and negotiate the transaction so that it goes more for you, there's still the issue of your lifestyle preference once you have your property. And at this point, of course you'd want to celebrate the fact that you're 'ready' for this stage in your life, and so we've come up with recommendations that'll help you live large and get your living space set-upped, all with keeping your spending small.

      First, determine whether you're ready to buy. Aside from your own financial spreadsheet, there are numerous reputable tools online that can help you see how buying a property would play out for you. The New York Times has an interactive tool that lets you see whether buying makes sense to you and your finances. Basically, it gives you a breakdown of what you're paying for in rent now versus purchasing your own property. There's even a timeline that'll show you when it will be more practical to buy than rent a place. It's an essential tool that'll aid you in planning out your current and future living arrangements. Real estate online giant Zillow also has a calculator which asks you to input your financial health and tells you what you can afford.

      And if you are indeed ready for the big buy, then next on your list of living large are the essentials. You might be just getting a fresh start, but that doesn't necessarily mean discarding all the stuff you've acquired in the past. There are some things though that could easily make a huge difference on your live large agenda. For instance, upgrading that TV and couch set-up is one. The bathroom vanity is also another. Though these things might sound like they're big-ticket items out of your financial reach, there are numerous ways around it. Believe us when we tell you that these three things hugely impacts your living space, giving you that sense of living large. Acquiring them might scare you, but it mainly depends on where you get your stuff.

      Check out deals in the city. For furniture picks, locally-based The Foundary does a good job of offering high-end furniture without the high-end price tag. This Arlington furniture friend offers 70% discount on contemporary and sleek pieces. We in Boston actually have an edge, since we can visit their showroom; otherwise feel free to browse their vast online catalog. And since a large part of 'living large' entails socializing, checkout LivingSocial and Groupon for deals on dining spots around your soon-to-be new place. Boston has a great dining scene, and they're not afraid (or too short) to give you a taste of it!

      Studio, Apartment, or Condo: Which Fits You?

      One of the best things about living in a city like Boston is that there's a lot of wiggle room for different people's preferred lifestyles. Whether you're a newly-wed looking to house your expanding family, a single student, or a yuppie - the city of Boston has a wide portfolio of properties that addresses your needs. And even if the city is "historic" (and most likely "dated" to some), that doesn't mean developers, with the help of key officials, have stopped from breaking ground new projects that will eventually fit your fancy. And if your search is becoming too overwhelming with all the types of real estate out there, then here's a couple of tips that could help you in deciding what you should sign yourself up for your next home.



      Boston is becoming more and more congested, with only limited land in the city proper to develop large, sprawling units. If ever you do find those, they most likely come with a significant price tag. There might be a couple of drawbacks from living in such a tight space like a studio, but then again there's also a lot to love about living in one. For instance:

      Savings - studio apartments are generally the cheapest units available, which gives you an opportunity to save more of your hard-earned money. This especially applies to single individuals out there who doesn't mind the small sacrifice to get to their goal.

      Prime Location - with the money you'll save renting a smaller space, you might be able to afford living in the hip and trendy parts of town. Many studio apartments are located in urban areas within a short distance of fun restaurants and shops. You might now have a full-sized kitchen, but you have the world's cuisine in a stone's throw.

      Small space, small broom - if the thought of sweeping or vacuuming makes you feel sick, then studio apartment living may be for you. Living in a much smaller space means less surface area to keep clean.

      Minimalist lifestyle - life in a studio will teach you how to prioritize your belongings. You'll quickly figure out what you really need and absolutely can't do without because of limited space. This is a valuable trait to learn early on, as you wouldn't want to be a packrat in the long run.


      If you're still looking to save money but don't want to sacrifice space, living in a regular-sized apartment really gives you the best of both worlds. With tons of multi-family housing within and on the outskirts of the city, apartment living is your best bet in Boston.

      Avid Fan Amenities - there are numerous apartment complexes in the city that offer the same amenities as the ones found in luxury, high-end developments. These usually comes built-in on to your lease, and no extra fees need to be paid. You'd be surprised how many apartment developments out there offer on-site health club slash gyms, or swimming pools for the summer. Sometimes these in itself really make a place worth looking at twice.

      Reserved Rooms - an apartment can be a good option if you like to entertain or if you frequently work from home. Having a bedroom allows you to maintain private areas when you have guests over for cocktails; overnight guests can also enjoy private sleeping quarters. A bedroom can also double as a home office, which you can leave behind at the end of the work day simply by shutting the door.

      No to Yard work - the city is a highly youth-driven rental market, most people in Boston live an on-the-go lifestyle might not exactly have extra hours for time-consuming yard work like mowing, watering or landscaping. Many larger apartment complexes are beautifully landscaped, which means you can enjoy all the benefits of having a yard without putting in any of the work.


      Renting a condo or townhome may be a great alternative to living in an apartment complex, and while the two may seem similar, they have more differences than you might think.

      Privately owned - most condos are owned by private, individual owners, who generally have a bigger emotional investment in the property than a commercial landlord. This means that the space might be better maintained. Carpets, windows and walls may be cleaned or painted more frequently, and the space may be equipped with better appliances and features like premium countertops and flooring.

      Condo Community - most people living in condo buildings are unit owners, which mean there's likely less turnover among the residents than in an apartment building. People tend to know each other. And, chances are, you'll get to know others who live in the building rather quickly and enjoy that shared sense of community.

      Sleeping Safe and Sound - living in an owner-occupied building can offer what feels like an added layer of security. Longer-term residents have a better feel for the neighborhood and can be more aware of suspicious activities. Condominium buildings also sometimes have greater security features, like secure entry doors, a staffed front desk or a doorman; and, in many instances, unit owners also have individual home security alarms. Additionally, a parking spot is almost always assigned to you, so you likely won't have to worry about unsafe street parking.

      President's Homes in New England

      In celebration of today's President's Day holiday, we're taking you on a tour of six Presidential homes found in the New England states. And even though Massachusetts is only the third country to have produced the most number of US Presidents, their homes found here are the quaint and quintessential American foursquare that we're so used to seeing in movies and biographies.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineFirst up, did you know that aside from the town being named after them, the homes of John Quincy Adams and John Adams are only steps away from each other? The second and sixth US Presidents, respectively, lived in what is now aptly known as Qunicy, Massachusetts. Both of their homes now are part of the 11-structure park dedicated to the memory of the family. One of the features of the latter son's home is a library called 'Stone Library', that features four generations of Adams family writings as well as 14,000 leather-bounded manuscripts of novels, poetry, and the like. And like most New England homes, the Adams property has a sprawling garden that includes in it a little chapel where the Presidential family held service.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineThe Fourteenth President of the Union, Franklin Pierce was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Now called the Franklin Pierce Homestead, this federal-style home is a great example of post-Colonial architecture and classicism. Bare stenciled walls and French furniture influences most of the furnishings in this home. Pierce, being an avid fan of owning real estate, also had a small mansion built outside his town in Concord, NH. Called the FP Manse, the property is sublimely different that the President's original home in Hillsborough, featuring traces of Greek Revival architecture.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineThe fifth son of a poor Irish preacher, Chester A. Arthur is a native of Fairfield, Vermont. Just like his family's modest lifestyle, their home was of a modest built and featured the most basic of necessities, and served the family purposefully. What was once the site of a humble cottage (hard to believe it was the site where a US President was raised),  is now home to a plaque, reminding passersby of its original place in history. Perhaps aside from the textbook history reminder, the plaque also serves as an inspiration to the town, reminding everyone that no matter where you come from and how humble you seem, great things can come about from everywhere.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineJust past the borders of Brookline and Boston is a small square named after one of America's greatest statesmen, President Calvin Coolidge. The thirtieth president, he was known to be a practical and thrifty man with great integrity. He was born in Plymouth Notch, New Hampshire and would later retire to the same site. His family had very deep roots in New England, with ancestors having been the original settlers in Watertown, Mass. His family's home, being very colonial and New England, is reminiscent of houses along the coastal parts of the Northeast.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineBorn, raised, and residing in Texas, only a handful of people know that the families of Presidents George W. Bush and George Bush Sr. enjoy summers in their retreat home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Enclosed within the confines of its own compound, the Presidential Summer Home known as 'Walkers Point' is visible to tourist plying the murky waters of the town. Built as a cabin, the retreat home features stone slabs and wooden finishings, mixing together that New England charm and Southern spirit.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineLast but not least, the most popular of the US Presidents residing in New England, John Fitzgerald Kennedy whose life, family, and legacy remain in the Commonwealth. The Kennedy compound, located in Hyannisport, Mass. is primarily accessible via boat and private land transfers, affording the fabled family privacy and detachment form the rest of the world. The main mansion where John's parents, Rose and Joseph raised them, is a sprawling four-floor family home, completed with fourteen bedrooms and twelve baths - all designed in colonial New England fashion. And although the Kennedys are best remembered for their home in Hyannis, only few know that JFK was born in a three-story home in Brookline, where his parents first lived as a married couple.


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        President Taft had a summer home in Beverly, Mass.
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          When Should I List My Home?

          Click image to enlarge

          Assuming you haven't been hiding under a rock these past couple of months, you've most likely heard about Boston's recent yet rapid real estate upswing of late. Aside from our occasional posts about the property sector's upswing post the recession, other real estate aggregator agencies like Zillow and Trulia have validated that the trend really is here to stay - and even get better throughout the coming months, with sales slated to be more stable than they were in the past three years. All of this begs the question: is it finally time for me to sell? Should I jump in on the bandwagon and list my home or property and cash in on my investment?

          Well, there are a couple of ways we can answer - rather discuss, this question. If it's a quick sale you're gunning for, then perhaps waiting is your best bet. This might seem ironic since 'quick' and 'wait' are opposites of each other, but in the real estate industry, quick doesn't necessarily translate to fast. The reason why waiting might be wise is because it's traditionally during Spring and Summer that home sales really rev up. The weather, financial release from tax season, job turnover, and start of the school year, are most often the reasons why some buyers would prefer to purchase middle of the year. During spring/summer, buyers are treated to full inventories of apartments, condominiums, and homes that are otherwise idle during the beginning of the year, hence more variety to choose from and perhaps more importantly, more flexibility in terms of price negotiation.

          However, if your aim is to get the best return on your investment, we'll recommend listing during the dead months of the year. Why? Because buyers are still out there. This is especially the case now that the industry is picking up -- most investors treat this as an early trading period; think of the season as being the "IPO" phase of a stock that's about to skyrocket when it trades publicly. There isn't a lot of competition out there (i.e. inventories are low) so you can practically but reasonably dictate your own price, especially if you're property is in a market that's projected to go nowhere but up. Admittedly, this reasoning will mostly likely attract sharks out there that want to make a hefty profit.

          The bottom line is that there are lots of buyers out there looking for properties that are otherwise unavailable until Spring and Summer. Capitalize on them and list your property now, strategically avoiding the busy season when you have less persuasion power over the property market.

          Boston's Trillion Dollar Industry

          Boston Trillion Dollar Industry, Real estate resurgence, housing, property hotspot, Innovation district, Seaport district, WaterfrontLike any other major city in the United States, the past five years hasn't been easy on the local economy. The financial crisis that triggered the country's worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1920's left most Americans under the threat of fiscal instability. Boston, being the sixth-largest economy in the country, and 12th-largest in the world, was not spared from this hurdle; lots of jobs lost, families relocating, and properties left padlocked.


          But now that the economy is healing, and housing is back on the rise (literally), Boston is experiencing its strongest job growth it has seen in years, primarily driven by none other than its backbone industry: real estate. In fact, all of the developments happening right now in the Metro Boston area totaling to $288 million as of 2012, are fueling jobs and stimulating the local economy. A joint study by the National Apartment Association and the National Multi Housing Council have unearthed that

          the apartment industry [in Boston] remained a positive economic force, contributing to the nation's economic recovery with every dollar spent by the businesses that build and operate apartments and renters.

          Boston Trillion Dollar Industry, Real estate resurgence, housing, property hotspot, Innovation district, Seaport district, WaterfrontTalk about housing! This comes at the heels of nationwide apartment spending in 2012 that totaled to $1.1 Trillion, made by 35 million residents whose housing falls under the apartment category. To paint you a prettier picture of how housing is contributing to Boston's bottom line, more than 3,600 jobs have already been created due to the numerous developments under way in the city and its nearby suburbs. This comes as developers are rushing to deliver new units to quench the rising demand for apartments and condominiums. Apart from job creation, these developments are also creating opportunities to transform suburban areas and extend public transport and services to districts that are otherwise overshadowed by the more popular neighborhoods.

          Boston Trillion Dollar Industry, Real estate resurgence, housing, property hotspot, Innovation district, Seaport district, WaterfrontNeedless to say, the primary reason why Boston's apartment scene is so busy is because majority of residents who seek or reside in apartments are young adults, who may or may not still be in school, undergraduate and graduate alike. These individuals who, for the longest time, were considered as "transients" only here for a degree, are staying put and finding employment within the state. Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino's recent dealings with developers to cultivate outlying areas near the city and its suburbs (the Innovation District and Waterfront areas, for example), are definitely responding to the demand this trend is creating.

          And although Boston isn't quite at the very top of the list of cities that have contributed the most to the trillion dollar apartment industry, the important thing to remember is that it is high on the list, contributing more than double that of the other major metropolitan cities. Boston is as crucial to the nationwide housing industry as it is equally important locally to students, professionals, families, and workers who depend on the thriving property sector for their livelihood and lifestyle.

          Choosing A Great Real Estate Agent

          Buying real estate is complex, and it's important to select a competent, honest agent who will skillfully represent your best interests throughout the entire process of selecting, negotiating and closing on your property. Here are several qualities to look for when considering a real estate professional to represent you in a transaction, whether for investment or for your first-ever home:


          Do some legwork. Literally. Take a walk or drive around your neighborhood and check out the for-sale signs.  Does one company dominate the area? Are there fliers or other marketing materials available? Most importantly, do 'sold' signs go up after days, weeks, or not at all?

          Stop by open houses to view other homes on the market. This is a great way to see the agent in action, and meet them in a casual setting.  Are they friendly, informative and professional? How do they respond to other people coming to the open house?


          Real estate is a learn-by-doing process, and an experienced agent should be closing at least five to seven property transactions per year. Every transaction is complex, and each agent obtains new and relevant "training" on each deal. So ask each agent -- you should interview two at the least -- how many transactions they've closed in their years in the business. If they have not closed that many, ask who is guiding them as they learn the business and what professional training they had to prepare them to assist you.


          You also want to get references from the sales professionals' recently closed transactions. Then take the time to call those references to ask how the agents performed. You will learn a lot by listening to what their past customers have to say. Google their names, too, and check the state for licensing information and any disciplinary information.

          Time to work with you

          An agent who has too many clients may be too busy for you and may not be right for you, either. Make sure they have the time to sit with and educate you, show you lots of properties and are willing to write offers on properties that you would like to buy. If they have too many clients at once, service to you may suffer. So make your best judgment.


          Make sure they know the location, location, location in which you want to purchase property. Some agents are going to be familiar with the entire county and can talk to you about each neighborhood. Find a sales professional who is very knowledgeable about your targeted location. Even go as far as asking for recommendations around the neighborhood where you're planning to buy, chances are, they have a trustworthy agent they can refer you to.

          Help you protect yourself

          Will they help you make smart decisions? This is the largest purchase you are ever going to make, and your real estate professional should be well-versed in and advise you on how to do your "homework" when buying a property. Does buying make financial sense? Did you get a fair deal on your mortgage? A good agent can guide you in these areas and should be on your side in a transaction.

          The sales professional you use should be someone you trust and feel can do a great job helping you evaluate homes and get a property under contract. They should also help you navigate the escrow and closing process and negotiate in your best interest, whether it is the price, repair requests or other contract terms.

          Strolling In Snow

          Blizzard Nemo dumped the 5th largest amount of snow on the Hub in recent history, but that didn't stop Bostonians from strapping on their boots and snapping great photos, us included. Here are some of our favorite photos from our little stroll in the snow over the weekend:

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          Protect Your Home From Snowstorms

          As we all know by now, a "potential historic winter storm" heading our way could make travel nearly impossible and dump up to 2 feet of snow to our region starting tomorrow morning until Saturday. This comes after having not see any significant snow fall in the past two years. The snowstorm is expected to start Friday morning, with the heaviest amounts dumped on the region that night and into Saturday as the storm moves through New England and upstate New York.

          A blizzard watch has been raised for the whole of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, reinstating that travel may become nearly impossible because of high winds and blowing snow. Yep, it's likely to be a wild ride -- and if you're in the storm's path, your home is in for it. So what can you do to protect your house from the wintry elements? Here are some things you can do to prepare for the onslaught of snow:

          FROZEN PIPES Don't leave your garden hoses connected. Drain and remove them, and cover exposed pipes with insulating foam covers.

          Drip your faucets. Allow hot and cold water to drip from your indoor faucets during extreme cold. The constant running of water will keep trapped water from being able to freeze.

          Use heat sources to thaw pipes. A blow dryer or space heater should be able to thaw pipes that have frozen. Keep the faucets open so water can begin to flow once thawed.

          STAYING WARM Draw curtains closed. Unless there is direct sunlight coming in, keeping curtains closed can help insulate your home and trap a little warmth inside.

          Cover or remove window air conditioners. City folk sometimes leave their window air conditioning units in all year, but you're letting heat escape your home by doing that. If you can't take them out, try to cover them with something that will seal the cracks around the window.

          Use draft snakes to cover cracks in windowsills and below doors.

          Seal any cracks on the outside of your house with caulk.

          PROTECT THE OUTSIDE Clean your gutters. Make sure there isn't excess debris in your gutters when a snowstorm hits. The extra weight could bring them down.

          Spray an ice repellant or salt your steps and walkways. (It could get you in trouble - or get sued - if you don't.)

          Insulate your plants. Add extra mulch around plants to keep them from drooping too much under snow, and cover them to keep them from being hurt by frost. Don't leave plants in containers outside.

          Drain birdbaths and fountains. Frozen water could cause damage to them.

          Don't touch the roof. If there are any roof projects you've been meaning to get to, it's not the time to do them during freezing weather.

          In the unfortunate event that you and your household does get more snow that you've anticipated, call Boston's Emergency Snowstorm hotline at 617-635-4500.