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      Blog :: 07-2014

      Boston's Real Estate Properties Rally Like It's 2006

      BOS twtr10Last week, we wrote about how the median prices of condo units are outpacing that of single family homes currently in the market. Well, this week there's confirmation that thug condos are gaining ground, homes in Massachusetts are continuously jumping, as the the median price of house in the state is now almost $360,000 - reflecting an almost 3 percent jump. To paint things even more rosier, the last time homes hit this median price high was way back 8 years ago, specifically in June 2006.

      This home price high is driven primarily by the upwards trend of sales of single-family homes, which rose almost 4 percent in June to 5,795 units. This bit of news is particularly great for the state, as the whole country's average sales increase is only pegged at a slow 2.3 percent. Massachusetts, in other words, has double of that rate. These figures should put a damper on market slowdown concerns, that stem from a series of lackluster sales in the last four months.

      In fact, the same can be said for sales of homes in the suburbs. Perhaps one can say that the upward movement in the suburban property market is caused by the ripple effect or spillover of the boiling hot condo market in the city, but it seems that homebuyers are not just seeking shelters in Downtown, but they are also flocking to leafy suburbs outside of Boston's core neighborhoods. Specifically, there has been a boom of sales in the northwestern corridor of I-95 in communities such as Arlington, Winchester, Belmont, and Watertown.

      The shift comes after 18 months of condo-concentrated neighborhoods such as East Boston, North End, Charlestown, and Fenway dominating the top of the list of the hottest housing markets in the whole state of Massachusetts, according to Boston Business Journal.

      Using a collection of sales and pricing data provided by Zillow.com, the BBJ's quarterly ranking uses a weighted formula to identify the local home markets most -- and least -- in demand in a given quarter, in this case the three-month period that ended June 30. The Q2 research included data for 355 ZIP codes in the state, encompassing neighborhoods from the tip of Cape Cod to Berkshire County.

      Topping the second quarter's rankings and making its debut among the BBJ's top-10 hottest communities was the middle-class city of Melrose, population 27,000. According to Zillow, Melrose home values were on a tear in the most-recent quarter, rising 7.4 percent since the end of March and posting a 19 percent gain on a year-over-year basis.

      And finally, as we stated last week - condos are responding great too, not only in Greater Boston, but it seems in the whole state as well, as overall sales surged to 11 percent compared to the same period last year with a 1.6 percent increase in its overall median price.Read all about the details of the city's condo spike here.

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      Renewing? Things To Look For In That Lease

      As if finding an awesome apartment isn't enough of a challenge, deciphering the lease can you give a migraine. Many landlords still rely largely upon a standard lease form, which is often designed to protect the landlord more than the tenant. It's also wise to note that many other landlords and management companies view these leases as "take-it-or-leave-it" offers to rent.

      So, while some, most, or all of what you're about to sign may or may not be negotiable, you should at least know what you're signing up for before you sign on the dotted line. Here are the top issues to keep an eye on:

      Renewal clauses and  renewal policies

      If your lease has an option to renew for one or more years, check to see if there is an escalation clause, which would raise the rent in subsequent years and is typically based on a fixed dollar amount, a percentage of the first year's rent, or cost of living increases. While none of the methods of calculating an escalation are necessarily better than any of the others, the important thing is to understand what the escalation is going to be in dollar terms.

      With regard to options to renew, it would not be an enforceable provision if it didn't state what the rent term would be during the renewal term.  That's a material term that is necessary to create a valid option to renew.

      Renewal policies vary and are typically more lenient in smaller buildings. Tenants should be sensitive to the date by which leases have to be renewed. If you miss the assigned deadline for the renewal date -- usually 30, 60, or 90 days prior to expiration of the current term--the right to renew can be lost. This is more so the case nowadays because the inventory of available apartments is so tight.

      Utilities

      Some landlords -- especially in buildings where apartments aren't separately metered or submetered -- may include utilities in the monthly rental price. But usually only the water and heat are included. If this is not the case for you, then find out whether you yourself are responsible for utilities past your lease term, or whether it would still be covered once your resign.

      Insurance

      The landlord's insurance does not, despite what many people believe, cover the tenant. Most renters do not get renter's insurance (which covers damages and or health issues arising from staying in your current apartment. Standard leases actually state that renters must insure his or her own property against fire, theft and water damage, as well as personal liability damages, which can result from individual negligence if you accidentally start a fire that destroys part of the building and injures someone, or more commonly, if your bathtub or sink overflows and causes damages to the apartment below you. Be very wary of this fact moving forward with your rental, as it might greatly affect your financial situation, especially if you're in a "high risk" apartment and or neighborhood.

      Pets

      Not everyone loves animals, and having a dog or a cat can be potential trouble spot - especially if you plan on getting one after you move in. That's why if you intend to do this, make sure that the lease explicitly acknowledges this ahead of time so that the landlord won't withhold his or her consent to do so. In some instances, there's also a surcharge or a "pet fee" involved.

      Furthermore, if you're renting in a co-op or condo that is represented as pet-friendly, review the corporate bylaws to ensure that tenants of owners or shareholders are permitted to have them, which sometimes they aren't. Additionally, there may also be a double standard for amenities like gyms and roof decks. Be sure to check.

      Lastly, if pets are allowed, be sure to find out whether there is a weight and/or breed restriction to avoid any problems. It is the owner's prerogative to allow or restrict certain types and weighs of pets, especially depending on the make and material of the apartment.

      Air conditioners

      Some landlords may restrict the number of units you can have -- or prohibit them altogether -- due to outdated wiring in the building.

      In addition,  air conditioners can create a sticky situation because standard leases typically don't allow you to hang anything out of windows, particularly on higher floors. Always ask first before taking matters into your own hands. Even where AC's are allowed, you may need to hire someone else to install them.

      Some landlords won't allow their tenants to install their own units because they're afraid of safety or liability issues and you could face penalties of up to $100 or more if you put them in yourself (though this is hardly the case for most apartments in Massachusetts).

      Outdoor spaces

      Be sure that your right to use the outdoor space is specifically mentioned in the lease. Otherwise you won't be entitled to a rent abatement if the space becomes unusuable for some reason. If you're subletting from an owner whose apartment has a terrace, be sure you're clear up front about who is responsible for maintaining it while you're living there.

      Subletting, roommates and visitors

      Most standard rental leases require landlord approval to sublet,  so you will likely need the landlord's consent to sublet. However, Massachusetts rental law mandates that the landlord may not unreasonably withhold consent.

      That said, if you are going to leave the apartment permanently and want someone to take over your lease, this is called an assignment. The landlord can refuse an assignment, but if your request to assign is denied, you are allowed to cancel the lease. if there is a possibility you will need leave before your lease is up, you should discuss this with the landlord ahead of time to determine whether or he or she will want you to go through the formalities or whether you can just terminate. You may also be able to work this out with a landlord before the lease is signed.

      As far as roommates and significant others, you are allowed to have at least one additional occupant living with you while you're there even if the lease is just in your name as long as you notify the landlord first.

      Renovations

      Before you go and paint that blank wall on your apartment, find out first if you actually can. If the landlord has agreed in advance to let you make improvements or alterations to the apartment, make sure you get this in writing in the lease. Otherwise, you will be responsible for the cost of returning the apartment to its original condition. In most cases, improvements and structural reconfiguration often tends to be more work than people expect, so make sure you know what you're doing before you remodel, as costs could skyrocket easily.

      Furnished apartments

      Mandarin dining-room Kitchen Space Cook Dinner Lunch Breakfast Eat Food Luxurious Condominium Apartment Interior Design Architecture Boston International Real Estate BostonIRE BIREIf the apartment is furnished, the lease should also contain a list of all furniture that is to be included, as well as a confirmation that all of these items are in place when the lease begins. If there's something you don't like or would want remove, tell the landlord right there and then. This could also be a point of negotiation for the total price of the lease, or additional apartment storage space at the least. Make the argument with the owner that you'd need flexibility with the items currently in the apartment. Oftentimes, they'd welcome you being straight forward than hiding your true intentions.

      Security deposits 

      Getting your security deposit back can be a challenge; getting it quickly can be even harder. In Massachusetts, the law only requires that the landlord return your security deposit within a reasonable period of time, so just as an extra precaution you may want to add a provision to the lease that stipulates exactly how many days your landlord has to give it back to you once your apartment has passed its final inspection. Make sure this goes into writing as well, as you can never be too careful.

      Showing the apartment when the lease is up

      It's not uncommon for landlords to include a provision to show your apartment to prospective tenants near the end of the lease. However, the exact terms of the arrangement should be looked at closely, as should such factors as how many days before the end of the lease is acceptable, are there any restrictions on the time or days of the week, who will be permitted access and whether or not you will be required to make the apartment available for open houses. Massachusetts law provides that landlords and or the management company (whichever is in direct contact with the occupant), inform the tenant at least 24 hours prior to a showing; otherwise residents can reject entry into their living space.

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      Condo Sales Steam Ahead, Gaining Ground in Price, Pending Sales, and Popularity

      BOS twtr12It seems to be that all that condo selling talk we've been discussing these past couple of months have played shortly above expectations. Compared to last year's figures, median prices of condo units in the Greater Boston key areas have increased dramatically by more than 7 percent year on year, and 13 percent during the first five months. Though having only increased ever so slightly, the total number of combined closed and pending sales is also up from last year's numbers.

      To be more specific in expounding the current state of Greater Boston's condo market, the increase in median prices is astounding for primarily one reason: the rate at which condos sell are close to flat. In fact, closed sales are 4.7 percent lower than previous year's figures. However, combined with pending sales, the total number of condos rose by 1% this year, bringing the total to 2,359 units compared to June 2013's 2,335 units. But wait, there's more.

      The same (or even greater) can be said in terms of the the city's condo market. The median price in 12 of Boston's key neighborhoods and districts are also up sharply, and that's either scary or exciting since the average unit is now dangerously edging that of a single-family home. The Boston Globe reports that the price gap between Single-family homes and condos are closer than ever, with the former having a median price of $340,000 and the latter only $20,000 less expensive with a median price of $320,000.

      watermark eRISE OF THE CONDOS, LITERALLY

      Conventionally, there was no question whether one would go for a single-family home versus a condo, on the premise that a house would have more square footage. Nowadays however (and the market agrees quite prominently), condos have a brighter appeal. There are most likely three major factors that affect this trend: (1) availability and inventory, (2) the maturing market segment, and (3) the cash-flushed clients. Let's discuss each.

      Availability & Inventory Single-family home developers, rushing to delivery more to the demanding public, have still not quite replenished the inventory of new homes in the market. They are still cautious and though some are building at rapid rates, the appeal of "outer city" living has and will always be far lesser than that of city dwelling spaces, hence the steady pace of construction of newer homes.

      Downtown1smMaturing Market Segment As for the maturing market segment - it seems that even though condos used to be targeted more for young couples and were also downsize-destinations for empty-nesters, that is no longer the case, as families with children are also considering condos for their next home. Perhaps the luster condos create too come from its overall structure. Oftentimes, condo complexes offer feature amenities such as pools, gyms, and common areas that are lifestyle-oriented and are convenient for cosmopolitan and chic birthday parties and family gatherings. Condos are most of the time also more move-in ready than a single-family home - all that's really needed is furniture. Maintenance, which is often one of the heaviest expenses for a dwelling, is also mitigated in a condo lifestyle, so less financial and physical stress to think about for growing families.

      This, alongside the limited inventory is greatly contributing to the resurgence in the city's condo market. The yuppie segment, perhaps the most-known condo dweller, is also ever more demanding in this respect, spurting developers to spit out project upon project to quench the market's thirst.

      Kenmore Overexposed smThe Cash-flush Client Lastly, cash-flushed clients, who for the most part, have sold their homes and are looking to downsize or just move closer to the city, are pushing the limits of condo sales at even greater heights, creating bidding wars with those who primarily buy with conditions, contingencies, and mortgages. Though not the norm (yet), cash really does move the market, it's just a matter of whether you'll benefit or not from it (and whether you're willing to bet all in).

      Considering riding the condo revival lifestyle? Check out these properties in Downtown Boston now!

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      5 Reasons To Buy A House In The Next Five Months

      Beautiful Day in downtown Boston near the Old North Church and Boston Common.It's Monday morning once more, and results of June's real estate performance are a day away from being published. So, before all of the numbers come in, we'd like to give you already some points of reflection. Last week, we urged you to list your property this month to get the "most" out of it in terms of listing price; this post will discuss its inverse. Particularly, it speaks to buyers out there mulling on investing in Boston in the next couple of months. We're here to give you inside tips on why your hunch is right in such that you'll need to put in money into the market in the next five months and why, despite what will seem to be an uphill challenge given rising interest rates and home prices, it's still the most ideal time to buy. Here's why:

      HOME PRICES ARE STILL OFF THEIR HIGHS

      Yes, home prices are rising from the lows seen during the housing crash of 2008, but they're still nearly 20% off their mid-2006 peak. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, average U.S. home prices are currently at summer 2004 levels. In markets that are still recovering, first-time homebuyers could see significant appreciation over the next few years, if they buy now.

      Positive Housing MarketINTEREST RATES ARE EXPECTED TO KEEP RISING

      Interest rates are slowly climbing, and as the Federal Reserve concludes its economic stimulus plan, rates are expected to continue to rise. Some experts believe mortgage interest rates could hit 5% by the end of 2014 or the first quarter of 2015. And even a small bump in interest rates can mean a significant jump in your monthly note.

      For example, if you're offered a 4.2% interest rate on a $400,000 mortgage, your monthly payment will be $1,961, and you'll pay more than $300,000 in interest over the loan's 30-year term. However, if your interest rate were 4.9%, your monthly payment would jump to $2,115, and the total interest paid over the life of the loan would exceed $360,000.

      rent-vs-buy1RENTAL RATES ARE RISING CONTINUALLY

      There is always an argument to be made regarding whether to buy or rent. It's all a matter of your particular situation - as well as the status of your local housing market. If you need to be mobile -- prepared for job transfers or out-of-state promotions -- or are continuing to search for "the perfect place," renting is probably right for you.

      However, if you would like to put down some roots, and rents are high in your hometown - it might be cheaper to buy. In Boston, it's cheaper to buy a property than to rent one if you're planing on staying in the city for an average of 3.5 years. Any longer than that and you're already beyond the threshold. That's when you really should consider buying.

      To calculate for yourself and make things easier, divide the list price of the home you're interested in by the annual rental rate of a comparable property to determine the price-rent ratio. If the result of that calculation is below 20, then signs point to now being a good time to buy. Of course, buying a home means more than a mortgage. Remember to consider the other built-in expenses: maintenance, insurance, taxes and utilities. But also do keep in mind that the equity you'll get from buying is far greater than these miscellaneous items.

      mortgage-increaseCONSIDER YOUR BUYING POWER

      Americans have been steadily reducing their debt load. Hopefully you have, too. The lower your debt, the higher your buying power. Creditors will consider your debt-to-income ratio - how much debt you have, compared to your gross (before-tax) income. The general rule rule of thumb is that you can spend between 28% and 36% of your gross income in total debt service - that's your housing expenses plus your other debt payments.

      WITH LOWER DEBT COMES A HIGHER SCORE

      As you pay off student loans, credit cards and consumer debt, your ever-important credit score will improve. And that's one of the biggest factors mortgage lenders consider when determining the interest rate and terms of your loan. You should definitely consider buying this year, because it's unlikely the housing market will look much rosier next year, when interest rates and home prices could be even higher.

      Contact us now to schedule a risk-free consultation! Preview choice properties on the market for your taking! Call (617) 505-1781 or email us at info@bostonire.com now

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      Catching What's Likely The Best Month To Sell Condos

      Courtesy of batesrealestatereport.com

      If you've been following real estate news, you know that Boston's recently been in the buzz for its hot property market. Traditionally - both locally and nationally, spring, summer, and fall months have been the peak for the exchange of real estate be it in the form of a lease or deed. In other words, sales and rentals are especially extra hot during the "dry months". Why? Well, it's when most people do a lot of relocation, as well as gives the opportunity for buyers out there to peruse properties on the market while it's still ideal to do so. But is that still the case? It looks somewhat otherwise.

      Last year, Boston saw more condos fly off its inventory in July than in August, September, October, November, and December. This translated to about 9 percent of all the condo sales in Boston in 2013, making it the highest selling month for the year, tied with March. And if you are to dig deeper into the following months' sale, you'll be down right surprised since it's all downhill from July.

      Although that doesn't mean that sales don't happen during these months, it mostly comes in trickles from here and there - and mostly in central locations like Back Bay and Chinatown. In fact, the only months that were better than July, were not surprisingly, April, May and June, which respectively accounted for 12, 15 and 10 percent of all 2013 condo sales.

      So, if you're thinking about selling your home, it's better to do it now than wait for the supposed "prime" summer months. Even just listing the property prior to August 1 will produce wonders, as you can still make the argument that it's been on the market during the height of price points and real estate exchange.

      Lastly and for your reference, here are hand-picked listings that have open houses this coming weekend for you to get a sense of how much your property can list for:

      Call us now for a risk-free consult on listing your property today. Call (617)505-1781 or email us at info@bostonire.com

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      Rent Price Check And Sizzling Zip Codes In The City

      Hey Boston! With the humidity and hot weather continually rising, it's only a sign that the summer season is indeed well on its way. For those still looking for rental apartments for the next couple of months, there's still a lot of available units out there for the taking. But before you head on out and schedule showings, here's an update of the current prices per neighborhood so you can stay informed with today's median market rates:

      Rental trends 7-14-14In other "trending" news, the median rental rate for the past six months on the year increased in almost all spots in the city, and was only static in one particular area. Just to give you a picture of what the rental market has been like these past six months, Bostonian neighborhoods averaged an increase of 3% across most of its neighborhoods.  The only place where the rent remained stable was at the Fenway/Kenmore part of town, where it has consistently stayed at the $2,300 level.

      Lastly, if you're curious where it's most expensive in the city, then ask no further. The local zip code 02199 (a.k.a. The Prudential Center) is ranked the Fifth Most Expensive Zip Code in the whole country! In fact, there are only 112 condominium residences in that area  - not surprisingly, all belong to The Residences at The Mandarin, and the Belvedere. Talk about high-class!

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      Rental Refresher: Things to Know Before Apartment Hunting in Boston

      Kenmore OverexposedWelcome back from a long weekend of Fourth of July fun and festivities! Sure, it might've went by fast, but no big deal - there'll be more sunny days ahead. Now, where were we in your apartment hunt? Oh yes, we're at that point when most rental hunters like yourself are getting anxious about their new place come fall - and only rightly so, with interest levels really starting to peak! In fact, there were 14 rental units that changed leases over the holiday weekend, . Talk about working overtime!

      With that in mind, let's get you back in track in your apartment hunt, so you can enjoy the rest of the sunny summer days worry-free. And whether you're new to the rental scene, or have forgotten the basics of it, here's a refresher on the things you should know before house hunting in Boston:

      BackBayBe cautious, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment

      Lots of people have over and beyond expectations when they look for apartments in the city and eventually get disappointed and discouraged when they don't find their "dream apartment". Don't be!

      Just remember that finding your "dream" apartment is the product of consistent work. It might be that sometimes, that hard work just doesn't pan the way you've plan out it would be. It's not bad luck or anything like that, it's just either because of the market or your budget. Having a good and reasonable budget to begin with really helps. A sound price range would be alloying at least $1,000 per person. That's currently the average rental rate for Boston and surrounding neighborhoods. Looking for furnished? Add half to that amount.

      Remember: the most important thing when looking for rentals in the city is to stay within a reasonable and sound budget. Otherwise, you'll get stuck in your search and end up with nothing even close to your ideal living space. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that if you don't find your dream apartment, you won't find something that's close to it. There will always be an option available to you, especially if you're willing to compromise on certain "musts".

      Brookline-CC-163x142Compromises, Commutes, and Sharing Space

      Speaking of budgets and compromises, be forewarned that if you want to live below the average, you must also be willing to either have a longer commute OR take on roommates to split the bill and lower your share of the rent.

      There are tons of rentals that might seem over the above your current budget, but that's because they're also bigger in size. Two or even three bedrooms in the city aren't hard to find, you just need to share it with other people. Four bedrooms, although rare, tend to offer more individualized space (i.e. dining room, living room, deck, patio, and what have you), but they're mostly outside the city center - still very much accessible via public transportation, though!

      NoInventory-163x142Craigslist is still #1 Source for Listings

      There may be a ton of internet listing sites to choose from - some examples are Zillow, Trulia, Rent Hop, and HotPads. However, no matter how hard these sites try, Craigslist is still the leader for listings . In fact, almost 90% of renters in the Boston community start their search on Craigslist, and they typically end there as well.

      If you do end up looking at listings aside from Craigslist, just remember that it might be a clone of a listing that's available on Craigslist anyway, so might as well start your search there to save time and be more efficient. Granted, the interface might not look as snazzy as other sites, but it sure does the trick!

      Boston-neighborhoods-framedSome neighborhoods see big rent increases.

      We wrote an article a few weeks back detailing the hottest neighborhoods and where apartments are currently available. In it, you'll find the neighborhoods that have the highest increases in rent that might or might not lead to higher rents this year. Check it out and see whether your budget can accommodate availabilities in these neighborhoods, and if so, try to already set up showing for them with us so you'll get to grab them while they're still on the market.

      Remember, always be cautious when you select a neighborhood of interest. Remember your musts and always have a keen sense of what you'll be willing to compromise on. It's not always the case, but better prepared that be surprised of what you might get yourself into.

      The elusive in-unit and washer

      For obvious reasons, it's no secret that at the top of renter's "must" list is an in-unit washer and dryer. But keep in mind that that amenity comes with a price. Not counting luxury apartments, only about four percent of apartments have in-unit laundry facilities. If you can settle for in-building, you're much, much more likely to find a place. There are tons of rental buildings out there that offer decent shared laundry facilities, and only a few of them are "dungeon-esque", if you know what we mean.

      good-broker-163x142Owner-owned save broker's fee

      In a hot rental market like Boston's there's a fallacy to the statement: If you connect directly with a landlord, you don't have to pay a broker fee (one month's rent). In reality, even if you find an owner-owned apartment, they're most likely contracted out to a brokerage that will still collect broker's fee once the lease is for preparation. It's to no one's fault that the system is set up this way. It's just the landlord / owner making sure that their apartment is being securely filled up with tenants.

      These "exclusive listing contracts" might not be always the case, though so there is a chance of you striking a deal directly with the owner of an apartment. It's just a matter of making sure both you and the landlord are securely covered in your transaction.

      Talking with the current tenants makes a big difference

      When you do showings with your broker, try to schedule it such that you get a chance to talk to the current tenant. Granted we agents don't necessarily like this idea, but it doesn't take away the fact that it's the best way to get an insight into the place your eyeing to rent. Remember, current tenants (especially those who are leaving on their own and not because of a sour relationship with the landlord) have no vested interest in the property, and would be the best source of insight and information into the property. Your broker and agent comes second.

      No Time To Waste

      If you're buying something like a couch, you get to shop around, take a while to think about which one you like, go see a few more and then make the best choice for you. If you're looking for apartments, you do not get that luxury - especially in Boston. As a rule of thumb, we tell our clients that they should assume 4 or 5 other people are trying to rent the apartment they're interested in. This isn't something we make up. This is reality - a harsh one, especially for properties that are made available to the market on a Friday since the turnover is so fast that by Monday it'll be gone.

      The best solution to this is to not waste time thinking about it. Sure, take a breather and assess your next moves, but we recommend not to do so any longer than a day. That should be the maximum time for your to think it through and plan out your next move.

      And just to be on the safe side, already fill up an application form with your agent the minute that you begin your first round of showings. Trust us, this saves so much time in the application process, and your agent will have the flexibility to put in an application in your behalf even if you decide to do so remotely. At your go-ahead, they will be able to convey your interest and already beat out those applications that are lagging behind in requirements. This is the surest way to a landlords heart - speedy and no-nonsense transactions.

      Contact us now to get going with your rental search! Call (617)505-1781 Email info@bostonire.com Tweet @BostonIRE

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      1. shenzhen villa on

        Great inspiration and awesome ideas thanks for the great post!

        Your Guide To Secret Spots and Happenings this Fourth of July

        Boston ID4We've officially past the halfway point of the year, and with all of the action the real estate market has seen this summer season so far, it's time for a little breather as the city - along with the whole nation - slows down to celebrate our most-cherished summertime tradition, fourth of July.

        And Boston, being one of the cities whose Independence Day celebrations are vastly admired, we're bringing you a rundown of all the festivities and the secret fireworks viewing spots that's sure to make you either proud of being a Bostonian, or at the very least, make you want to move to the city to be one.  And so, without further delay, here they are:

        WHERE TO WATCH: THE CITY's SECRET SPOTS

        On The Charles Get the best seat on the house and avoid the Hatch Shell crowds by doing your own inflatable viewing party with a kayak, canoe, or what have you. Don't have one? There are a lot of riverside companies that rent out submersibles to the public. Check out Charles River Canoe and Kayak - they usually fill up fast though, so try to rent them out before everyone does. Two thing to remember if you do decide to go with this option: (1) there are no restrooms to relieve yourself, so pace your drinking, and (2) the fireworks barge will sit on the middle of Charles in between Exeter and Fairfield streets, so it'l be ideal to anchor off somewhere close by.

        Subway Spectacle There's a set time to when the fireworks are lit off, and there's no better time to take a ride on the T than then. Conductors in the past have been known to stall and halt for a bit when the fireworks display goes off, so board the train on the right time and you'll definitely be rewarded. Just a heads up, the fireworks are scheduled to begin firing off this year at 1030PM.

        The PRU If you fancy a feast for the fourth, then head on over to the Prudential Observatory for a night of food and fireworks. The Pru's Observatory is open to all during the event, and they start selling tickets to the crowds at 4PM. If you decide to dine though, admission is already included, so you won't have to line up to get your tickets to the big show. Just remember to settle your check before the fireworks are lit to get the most of the night.

        Splendid Staycation If you're one to take advantage of the long weekend by spending it at a local hotel, then there's no better option than checking in at the XV Beacon. The boutique five-star hotel has an open roof deck where you can lounge and sip a cocktail or two when the festivities fire off. They also have specials for the long weekend, so that definitely makes for a great holiday.

        MIT Pavilion It's not an unknown fact that MIT has one of the best seats in the house where you can view the entirety of the Charles. It is more unknown to many though, that they have a wooden sailing pavilion where the university's rowing team trains and casts off. Head to Cambridge side of the town and along Memorial Drive you'll see their wooden planks - just in between the Longfellow and Harvard bridges.

        WHERE TO CELEBRATE AMERICA's BIRTHDAY

        Boston Harborfest, runs from July 2 until the 6th The city's celebration officially kicks off today and lasts through the weekend with plenty of patriotic parties and events to fill your long weekend. The five-day festivities organized by the Mayor's office are perfect for history buffs, with free tours, flag raising ceremonies, and parades that display the city's well-known ties to the country's independence. More here.

        Red, White, and Brew Bash, July 3 4PM onwards Dueling Piano Bar and night club Howl At The Moon features an extravagant yet affordable 4th of July celebration. For $20, you can get a specially concocted cocktail called Bomb Pop buckets that the bar ensures will fill your Fourth of July Eve with merriment. There will also be good ol' $6 Sam Adams brews and $8 Washington Apple shots for those who don't exactly want a star-spangled hangover in the morning.

        4th of July Even Bar Crawl July 3 5PM onwards Because there's nothing better than a bar crawl to show how American you are! Find yourself crawling the bar scene streets of historical Faneuil Hall on Thursday night. The event is hosted by party organizer Boston VIP List, and starts at 5PM at Stadium and will be hopping to Wild Rover, The Place, Durgin Park, and The Hideout.  Tickets are $10 a pop.

        Cruise The Night Away July 3 7PM Embark on the Boston Harbor before America's birthday for a romantic night on the Odyssey's Fireworks Cruise. You'll be treated to dinner, drinks, dancing, live music and a fireworks show over the water. Tickets start at $114.90 per person, and the boat begins boarding at 7 p.m.

        Birthday Bash At The Waterfront Pier 6 in Charlestown will be opening their patio earlier to kick off their Independence Bash on the waterfront, and you'll even get a front row seat to watch the USS Constitution make its annual turn around the Boston Harbor. If the weather hold up, the fireworks will also be visible from the rooftop patio. Drink and food specials will be served all day.

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