Jill Kelly Top Realtor Boston Suburbs | Westwood MA Real Estate, Norwood MA Real Estate


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According to a report by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 25 million people in the US live with asthma. The most common type is allergic asthma. With that in mind, improving the quality of air in your home is an important consideration. When the air quality in your home is good, it can reduce common symptoms like shortness of breath, red eyes, and wheezing.

Allergens in your home like pollen, pest droppings, dust mites, and pet dander often aggravate asthma symptoms. HVAC systems are built to filter these allergens but if the system is not optimized, it could do more harm than good. 

Here are four basic but effective ways to allergy-proof your HVAC system:

Schedule annual maintenance

Schedule a visit with a licensed professional every year to ensure your HVAC system is running clean and efficient. Ensure the service call includes replacing air filters and cleaning ductwork.

Clean or replace your HVAC filters

A typical HVAC filter should be deep cleaned every two to three months. A HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter does not need to be cleaned as often, upgrade to save some maintenance time. Generally, a filter must get rid of at least 99.97% of the contaminants in the air to acquire a HEPA rating. If you choose a HEPA filter, select one with a MERV rating of at least 10. MERV ratings grade the quality of the air filtration on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 20 (highest). The higher the score, then the more satisfying the quality of the air. 

Run your HVAC system regularly

Run your HVAC system for at least 30 minutes each day to help with air circulation. The air conditioner moves air in your home by bringing in the fresh outdoor air. If you own a smart thermostat, consider programming your system to run at a specific time and duration.

Install a UV light near your HVAC evaporator

An HVAC contractor can help you install a UV light close to your system’s evaporator. A UV light can control mold growth and other bio-organisms that might be present in your HVAC unit.

For more effective ways on how to allergy-proof your HVAC system, contact a professional HVAC contractor. Let your professional real estate agent know if you've optimized your HVAC system for allergen control.


Sometimes the simplest habits can yield the greatest results. Making to-do lists is the perfect example of a productive habit -- especially if you're getting ready to sell your home.

When putting your house on the market, here are a few tips to keep in mind for staying on track and avoiding delays.

Organization: As a home seller, there are a lot of things you can do to prepare your house for real estate showings.

Making lists can be an extremely effective way to reinforce goals, clarify objectives, and remind yourself what needs to be done. Knowing your priorities for the day (and week) can strengthen your confidence and help you avoid that feeling of being overwhelmed. On the other hand, when you lack clarity and keep forgetting important tasks, frustration and pessimism can creep in, causing you to lose your edge.

Like any method of staying organized and focused, making lists is not without its potential pitfalls. Priority lists are of little use if they get misplaced, buried under other documents, or forgotten about for days or weeks. Ideally, your list of important tasks should be readily accessible, highly visible, and regularly updated. While some people like to use old-fashioned written lists in a spiral-bound notebook or legal-size pad of paper, others may prefer their mobile devices, computer, or a reminder app.

The benefit of creating a list and checking off items as you progress is that it helps keep you focused, goal oriented, and organized. The sooner you create a priority list of tasks, the greater your efficiency will be in getting them done.

Motivation: Although your real estate agent will handle most of the details related to selling your home, there are still dozens of tasks you'll need to be involved in. Keeping your home and property well maintained, presentable, and in a state of good repair are among them. If you're like most home sellers, however, your plate is already full with family responsibilities, career demands, and other obligations. Fortunately, there are strategies for balancing your priorities.

The three keys to getting important stuff done in a timely way are: effective time management, prioritization, and staying motivated. Selling a house is a team effort involving you, your family, your real estate agent, and other professionals. Doing your utmost to keep your real estate objectives on the "front burner" will help keep the sales process moving forward and make a good impression on potential buyers.

Goals, in general, should be specific, attainable, measurable, and deadline-oriented. As motivational writer Napoleon Hill said, "A goal is a dream with a deadline." When you fail to assign a target date or deadline to a house-selling task, it's all-too-easy to let that goal slide and cause you to lose your advantage.


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People have different notions about living in an HOA community. As much as there is a bright side to living in such an environment, you also need to consider the potential disadvantages. Some HOAs have an organized and well-maintained neighborhood, while others may have lackluster management and community issues. Before you make your decision to move to an HOA community, understand the pros and cons of living in that environment. 

What is an HOA?

An HOA (homeowners association) is an organization that oversees maintenance and enforcing rules within a group of homes. HOAs are quite common in planned condominium complexes and townhouses, but they also are found in planned communities of single-family houses. The HOA is made up of the owners who reside within or own property in that community. 

Advantages of Living in an HOA Community

Typically, the association has jurisdiction over and maintains all common areas. These include pools, clubhouses, playgrounds, park areas, and all the adjoining landscaping. In many HOAs the association also maintains landscaping in the front of the home while the owner maintains their private backyard area. Some advantages

  • You Don’t Have to Mow the Lawn: For people who do not enjoy the tedious job of maintaining their landscape – you are in luck. The HOA community takes full responsibility for maintaining the landscape within the shared areas. You might be allowed to personalize your backyard or patio – but typically, the HOA covers all other maintenance, including pest control and tree pruning. 

  • You Pay Monthly Fees That Include Utilities: In most HOA communities, homeowners are expected to make a monthly payment that covers all their expenses for that month. For some people having a defined estimate every month that covers utilities and other housing expenses makes it easy for them to have a financial plan. 

  • You Have Access to Amenities: Living in an HOA environment gives you access to various recreational amenities like golf, table tennis, swimming pool, a gym, and clubhouse. You do not have to worry about cleaning or management as your association does all of these from your monthly funds. 

Disadvantages of HOA Community Living

Just as there are advantages to living within an association, a homebuyer needs to be prepared for challenges that come with areas in common.

  • Fees: The fees charged by most HOA communities factor in expenses like maintenance of recreational facilities and cleaning of the shared spaces. Be sure you can make these monthly payments before moving to an HOA community. 

  • No Personal Touch to Your Home Exterior: Most HOA communities restrict homeowners from adding unique touches to the outside of their homes. If you like a brightly colored front door or interesting yard decorations, an HOA community may not be the right environment for you. 

  • Poorly Managed Community: Not all HOA communities operate smoothly. There can be various challenges within the system. When you find a community you’re interested in, speak to established owners. Ask how their particular HOA functions to get a better idea of what to expect as an incoming resident.

  • Less privacy: Most homeowners living in HOA homes share walls or buildings with other homeowners. If you love privacy, this might be challenging for you. 

  • You live by the rules: There are always rules to adhere to when living in an HOA community. Be sure this idea works for you as most regulations are non-negotiable.

Depending on your lifestyle and what you want in a home an HOA community might be perfect for you. Carefully consider the pros and cons of living in such a community before committing. Ask your realtor about the HOAs in your area to better target your property search.


In a competitive selling market, it’s vital to make sure you take advantage of any way to give your home an edge over the competition.

Many sellers make expensive home improvements in the hopes of attracting buyers. But, even if you’re on a budget, there are ways to boost curb appeal and increase the value of your home to make your home competitive in today’s seller’s market.

In today’s post, I’m going to cover eight low-cost upgrades you can make to your home today. We tried to keep all of the upgrades under $100 so that you can stick to your budget while still making a big difference in your home.

1. Paint the front door ($30)

One of the first things a potential buyer will notice about your home is the front door. Putting on a fresh coat of paint, especially one that pops and contrasts with the color of your home, will help to make it stand out on the block.

2. Paint your interior trim and baseboards ($75 - $100)

Baseboards often get dirty or scuffed up over the years. Putting a fresh coat of paint will make the entire room look like new. Stick with white for most rooms--it will brighten them up and make them feel clean.

3. Replace your outlet and light switch plates ($20)

They get dirty, they crack, and they get covered in messy paint every time you repaint your walls. Outlet and switch plates see a lot of wear and tear, and a dirty one can be off-putting for potential buyers.

For just a few dollars each or less, replace them all to give the rooms of your home a facelift.

4. Replace fixtures ($50 - $100)

Whether it’s the knobs of your kitchen cabinets or faucet fixtures, there are a number of small items in the kitchen and bathrooms that can be upgraded.

Stainless steel is now out of style, with homeowners choosing brushed nickel and bronze over the traditional stainless.

5. Choose a new shower head ($30 - $50)

Installing a shower head is a lot easier than it looks. Plus, luxurious looking shower heads can be purchased for less than $50 on Amazon, making them a great choice to add a touch of indulgence to the shower.

6. Add new bright, energy efficient lighting ($30 - $50)

Bright LEDs can make a room feel more spacious and modern, and it can save you a few dollars on the electric bill. Installing new lights throughout the home is a good way to show off what lies within.

7. Paint or replace your mailbox ($20 - $80)

Mailboxes can easily get dirty and dented over the years and most of us pay little mind to them. But prospective buyers likely will be on the lookout for any signs of neglect when they view your home. Having a freshly painted mailbox will leave a good first impression.

8. Rent a pressure washer for a day ($50 - $100)

Pressure washing the exterior of your home can make a huge difference when it comes to upgrading curb appeal. Vinyl siding gets dirty quickly and isn’t all that easy to clean.

You can rent a pressure washer from The Home Depot or your local hardware store for typically less than $100 a day.


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Your real estate agent can have a lot to do with your home purchase. Some buyers may think they do little more than fill out a few standard forms, but the reality is more complicated than that. If you're planning on buying a new construction home, the rules of working with a real estate agent get even more complex. Learn more about how to work with a real estate agent, so you can have the best possible outcome.

Step 1: Vet Your Agent

The agent you choose should have direct experience working with new construction homes. Because new construction homes present a unique set of challenges, it takes a certain expertise to work through each problem. Buyers often choose new construction homes because they want to start fresh and have full control over their environment. Your agent should understand this and help you choose a property that will live up to your expectations.

Step 2: Do Your Homework

An agent is there to explain the industry to you, but there's value in learning about new construction purchases before you even contact them. This will not only help you define your standards, but it can give you the confidence you need to buy a new home. The good news is that you're getting ready to buy a home without having to worry about the seller's emotional connection to the property. Instead you'll be working with someone who is primarily motivated by practicality.

Step 3: Know the Art of the Ask

So what does it mean to work with a pragmatic seller? The bad news is that they're unlikely to come down on price. Unless it's a one-off project, they know that coming down in price for you might mean lowering prices for everyone in the future. When you're working with your agent, be sure to ask about what can be negotiated. Builders might be more likely to throw in perks, such as better appliances or closing costs, as a way to offset the bottom-line. A good agent will push the seller to do more without overstepping boundaries.

Step 4: Prioritize the Details

Your home purchase comes down to the inspection and the contract. A common assumption for new homes is that they are structurally sound. After all, they haven't known wear and tear, soil shifts or homeowner blunders that can damage a property. These are all potential hazards that only come into play after someone has already had the property for a while. However, this is very misleading logic, one that could put you at a disadvantage.

While your real estate agent should be pointing out these potential perils, it helps to stay involved as much as possible. Make sure you're working with an inspector who can spot the flaws of new construction homes. From cheap materials to poor design, a professional can give you more context as to the true value of the home in relation to the price you're paying. The right agent can also pick up on anomalies in a new construction home that you might not have noticed.

Working with an Agent

As the client, your agent should be working for you, and not the other way around. However, it's clear that new construction homes are different enough that it helps to come in with the right attitude. If you're expecting the agent to negotiate $25,000 off the purchase price, you might be disappointed.

The best thing that you can do is find an agent who understands what's at stake for the seller. Whether you're working directly with the builder, developer or a third party, the goal is to find your leverage as a buyer and then work with that as much as possible.

As the buyer, it's your job to be involved with the process. As you ask questions and clarify your needs, it will give the agent more data to work with. So whether you're buying a starter home or a vacation condo, you end up with a quality home that will retain its resale value.




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