Becky Dalke and Associates - Shrewsbury MA Real Estate, Northborough MA Real Estate, Westborough MA


35% Say They've Lived in a Haunted House. More than half of home buyers say they’d be OK buying a “haunted” house, according to realtor.com’s 2013 Haunted House Report, based on nearly 1,400 respondents' views regarding spooky homes. In fact, more than a third of respondents say they’ve already lived in a haunted house. But if they’re going to live in a scary home, buyers expect a discount, the survey finds. Thirty-four percent of respondents say they would buy a haunted home if it were discounted 1 to 30 percent, and 22 percent said they would buy a spooky house if it had a discount of 31 to 50 percent. Nineteen percent of survey respondents say it would take a discount of 51 percent or more on a haunted house for them to buy it. “When purchasing a home, buyers want to know what they are getting into, and that includes anything potentially spooky,” says Alison Schwartz, vice president of corporate communications for Move Inc., the operator of realtor.com. “Our data reveals that while the majority of consumers are open to purchasing a haunted home, many buyers conduct research on a home’s history to be aware of any weird incidences.” The survey revealed that respondents believed the following are warning signs that a home could be haunted: 61 percent say a cemetery on the property; 50 percent say a home that is over 100 years old; 45 percent considered quick transitions in owners could be an indicator; 45 percent say an unexplainable low price on the home; 43 percent say a home’s close proximity to a battlefield could be another sign. Many respondents also say they can be spooked away from a haunted home. They rated the following five incidents as having the potential to scare them away: Levitating objects Ghost sightings Supernatural sensations Flickering lights/appliances Strange noises, such as footsteps and doors slamming Source: “Survey: Most People Open to Buying a Haunted House,” realtor.com (Oct. 18, 2013)

Energy costs can really take a toll on our monthly bills. But you can take control of these costs with a few simple steps. And to help out, programs like Mass Save (Masssave.com) and www.energystar.gov will help homeowners save even more. Did you know that even when you turn off appliances, such as your TV, they still use energy? With all the electronics in your house, the energy use can really add up in a year. A quick easy way to control these costs is to get an advanced power strip, where there are multiple plugs for electronics that need to always be on (i.e. your cable box) and those that don't (i.e. you TV). The power strip will automatically turn off those electronics that are in the "don't keep on" sockets when the electronic in the "master" socket is turned off. Mass Save estimates that you can save $30 annually by using one of these on your entertainment system. Mass Save and Energy Star has a variety of other ways to save on energy from product savings (on things like light bulbs and power strips) to rebates for buying energy savings appliances. You can also get a free home energy assessment to help you get started on improving your home's energy savings. And if you are low income, there are programs to help you save on costs even more. More information about weatherization insulation rebates is available through the Mass Save Home Energy Services Program or by calling 800-445-9727 to schedule a no cost Home Energy Assessment.

An Open House can be an integral part of selling a home. Although not every home is a candidate for an Open House due to factors like market conditions, location or condition of the home. If you are planning an Open House there are some helpful hints to ensure you have the most successful Open House on the block. Here are some tips on how to have the perfect Open House:
  • In most communities, Sunday afternoon is typical and expected.
  • Two hours is also typical.
  • Avoid conflicts with holidays, community celebrations or special events such as the Super Bowl.
  • If possible try to be aware of the weather forecast, although this may be difficult to do.
There are some things you can do prior to your Open House to help it succeed. At least one week prior to your first Open House:
  • Have your listing agent host a brokers only Open House. Agents and brokers will preview your home and identify possible buyers they have for your home.
  • Make your home look as large as possible by moving large pieces of furniture into storage.
  • Remove items not included in the sale. Remove the chandelier you got for a wedding present and the bookcase that fits so perfectly it looks built-in. If buyers don't see it, they won't want it.
  • Take Fido and Fuffy with you. Make arrangements for your pets to leave the house when it is being shown.
Two to Three Days Before Your First Open House Clean the house top to bottom. Get in every nook and cranny, wipe down the walls, windowsills, vacuum the corners and baseboards and yes wash those windows.
  • Clean and buff your appliances, that includes the stove inside and out.
  • Launder all the bedding, towels, rugs and other fabrics in your home.
  • Touch up spots on the walls.
  • Sweep and clean out the garage.
  • Mow the lawn, sweep the sidewalks, and clean up the bushes and flowers.
24 Hours Before Your First Open House
  • Air out the house by opening the windows.
  • Make your home smell delicious by baking bread or apple pie.
  • Go through each room one by one and try to look for last minute fixes.
  • Add flowers arrangements.

Composting is becoming a more and more popular way to save money and be more eco-friendly. There are many reasons to compost but some of the most enticing are it costs next to nothing, and if you're a gardener, which I am or have any landscaping at all, your compost pile will save you money. Compost can be used instead of expensive fertilizer and because you are reusing your yard waste you might be able to save on municipal trash removal costs. Here are some easy tips on how to get started composting: Storage You may decide to go with either an open or closed storage system. Containers keep the compost materials neat and tidy and can be built inexpensively from discarded shipping pallets, fencing or chicken wire or leftover treated lumber from another building project. You can also purchase many different types of composting bins. The least expensive way is to start a compost heap. Make the pile at least 6' x 6' and about 5' to 6' high in the middle. Anything smaller will maintain low temperatures and will take longer to decompose. Where should I store it? Try and store your compost pile in partial shade. This will keep it from drying out too fast. The location should also have good drainage. What should I compost? Compost any of the yard waste like fresh grass clippings, dry leaves, dry grass, and wood shavings. Add food waste like vegetable and fruit scraps, breads, pastas, coffee grounds, egg shells, and tea bags. Do not put meats or fats in your compost pile. These food wastes will attract animals and rodents to your bin. Paper towels, toilet paper tubes and other shredded paper products can also be added to your compost bin. Manures from cows, horses, chickens and any non-meat eating animals are excellent nitrogen sources for starting the decomposition process. Compost has so many benefits; it loosens clay soils and helps sandy soils retain water. It works as a natural fertilizers and can suppress plant diseases and pests. Gardens that are composted produce higher yields of healthier fruits, vegetables and flowers. Care for your Compost Just occasionally use a shovel or pitch fork to turn over materials this will help breakdown you composting materials.

One project that you can do to your home that will make a big difference is to clean to outside. If you have vinyl siding it can look dirty and dull and make your home look dingy but one day spent cleaning the siding will make a big difference. It may seem like a daunting task but with the right tools it can be an achievable task by anyone with almost any skill level. Here are some tips to get you started: What You Need: Soap Soft Bristle Brush Ladder (optional) Tools Pressure Washer (optional) Hose with Sprayer 1. Prepare your home by closing all of the windows and doors from the inside, and cover any plants that may be damaged by water spray or soap deposits. Also turn off all of your exterior lights. 2. If you are using a pressure washer fill it according to the manufacturer guidelines and pick a soft spray nozzle. If you will be using a garden hose add a nozzle to wet the vinyl siding. 3. Spray the house down to wet it. Always spray at a downward angle to prevent water getting beneath the gaps in the siding. Work in small areas 50-200 sq. ft. in size. 4. Soap down the area with multi-purpose diluted soap. Use a bristled brush to scrub the siding gently to remove dirt. 5. As you scrub the vinyl spray it off with a hose to rinse away any soap and remaining dirt. 6. Remember to work in small sections. 7. Take  a step back and enjoy how clean your house looks. Or take it one step simpler and purchase a cleaner that attaches directly to your hose.  This can be purchased at Lowes, Home Depot, Target, Walmart etc.



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