Five Simple Ways to Give Thanks this Holiday Season

Although we may not be gathering with relatives for a big Thanksgiving dinner, we can look for new ways to express our gratitude and stay connected to loved ones. Here are five COVID-friendly ways you can give thanks this holiday season.

Donate

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You can donate a Thanksgiving dinner to a family or person need, drop off gently used clothes at a donation bin, or send a check to your favorite charity or cause. A small gesture can go a long way and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of kindness and looking out for each other.

Virtual Cooking Session

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Let’s be honest, the magic happens in the kitchen during Thanksgiving. Meal prep can be a generational experience where wisdom is learned and passed down. We can still have this shared experience thanks to Zoom and FaceTime.

Write letters or notes

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Write letters or notes to your loved ones and others, letting them know the many ways you’re thankful for having them in your life. In a world where our mail consists of advertisements and Amazon packages, it’s a nice surprise to receive kind words from a loved one, friend or anyone that has had an impact on you, big or small.

Play a Game

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Zoom has a fantastic scavenger hunt feature, you can play Bingo, or even a simple game of Go Fish virtually.

Hug Those in Your Household a Little Tighter

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Make sure to take a moment to appreciate those in your company by being present and hugging them a little tighter this Thanksgiving.

While we may be celebrating Thanksgiving in a different way, show and express gratitude for what you have and for the wonderful people in your life. How are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Let me know in the comments and thank you for taking time to read BilusOnBoston and for being in my life.

Tips for Selecting a Realtor

Buying or selling a home is one of the most important and personal business transactions. To ensure the experience is as stress-free as possible, the guidance of an experienced realtor is critical. Here are some tips for choosing the right partner.

Ask for referrals.

Your network is the best resource because then you have a first-hand account of someone’s experience. You know they were successful in your friend, family, or colleagues transaction and also in earning their support. The digital revolution has helped buyers and sellers vet realtors, but the most trusted source for finding a realtor remains your network.

Interview agents.

Are they trustworthy, passionate, experienced? Do you feel a connection? These are critical elements of the agent/client relationship. You also want to observe how they come to the meeting. Are they prepared and organized? Have they done their background homework on you and what you are potentially looking to do? What’s their style? I approach real estate with a highly analytical and data driven strategy to help my clients make the best informed decision.

Check them out online.

You can earn a lot about an agent through their website and social media. Do they have a strong presence? Scrolling through their social media, is this someone you feel can relate to you? Make sure to read their reviews on Google, Facebook, and Zillow as well.

Trust your instincts.

At the end of the day, rely on your intuition and go with the person with whom you feel the most comfortable. You’re going to be spending a lot of time and sharing intimate details of your life with this person. I am grateful to have cultivated lifelong relationships with my clients that I now call dear friends.

Considering a move? Contact me for a confidential conversation.

Suburban Towns City-Dwellers Love

While the core of my business occurs in the city, I have always had clients in Greater Boston’s suburban communities. Aligned with what’s being reported in the news, my work in the suburbs has grown this year due to the ongoing pandemic and changing lifestyle needs. Clients making a change from city to the suburbs or city neighborhoods with a more suburban feel, are looking for more space and a single family home, but aren’t necessarily ready to give up some of the conveniences and amenities of city life. Suburbs with downtown areas offering boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants and access to public transportation tend to be more desirable. Below is a small sample of towns I have toured and/or worked with clients on their next home, all of which area highly competitive.

Melrose

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This suburb has been gaining a lot of attention from city dwellers as well as nationally making Realtor.com hottest zip code in the U.S. and most in-demand neighborhood lists. With a mix of urban and suburban vibes, downtown area with coffee shops, boutiques, and restaurants, green space, and proximity to the city, it’s no surprise why.

Roslindale

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Roslindale is not a suburb, per se, but it is one of Boston’s residential neighborhoods and definitely invokes a small town feel. Residents love the Main Street district with shops and farmers markets and the access to plenty of green space including the Arnold Arboretum which dips down from Jamaica Plain. There is even a brand new Target and bus lane to help ease the traffic whether you’re commuting in your car or via public transportation.

Manchester by the Sea

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Further out of the city, on Cape Ann, is Manchester by the Sea, a quaint coastal town with notoriety thanks to the Hollywood film with the same name. Fun fact: The “by the Sea” inclusion began in recent years, 1989, as a way to differentiate from Manchester, N.H. Residents enjoy the local shops and restaurants along downtown as well as learning maritime history at the Trask House Museum. Most important of all is the ocean, most notable, Singing Beach which is named for the way the sand “sings” as you walk along it.

Winchester

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Winchester is your classic suburban town bedroom community. It’s family-centered with lots of outdoor activities thanks to the Middlesex Fells Reservation, Mystic Lake, and Wright-Locke Farm to name a few. There’s a vibrant downtown, with restaurants and shops, it’s two stops into Boston on the commuter rail, and offers easy access to 93.

Needham

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Needham is a fantastic choice for city dwellers looking for more space, a community feel, but still close enough to the city via commuter rail or car. What was once a small farming community is now home to a citified retail scene with small boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants sure to please. For all these reasons, Needham is one of the hottest towns now.

Natick

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Best known for its mall, there is so much more to this suburb west of Boston. It’s home to miles 8-12 of the Boston marathon, there’s more than one historic district and even an arts and culture district in the downtown area. Many corporations are also headquartered in Natick, making it a great place to live and work.

Andover

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I’m not sure how many of you know this, but Andover is where I chose to raise my family. While I started my real estate career in the city of Boston, some of my first real estate clients came to me through my personal network in Andover. I’m humbled to say I still have the pleasure of working with some still today. The town offers a wonderful sense of community, access to swimming and boating via nearby lakes and ponds, parks, and more all within reasonable driving distance to the city and as well as commuter rail.

My goal is to help you achieve yours whether you are thinking about a transition from the suburbs to the city or from the city to the suburbs, whether you’re a seller, buyer or both. I pivot as necessary to my client’s interests and needs. Considering a move or want a market snapshot of a particular town or neighborhood of interest? Contact me for a confidential conversation.

On the Market: Back Bay Brownstone with Common Roof Deck, Private Storage, and More

295 Beacon Street, Unit 54
2 BD | 1 BA | 840 SF

Private Storage & Common Roof Deck
$949,000

If you’re searching for the perfect balance of luxury, charm, and history, then look no further than this residence located at the former site of the historical Royal Hotel in the heart of the Back Bay. The Brownstone building’s architecture remains authentic, while the interior of the unit is up-to-date and features high 10′ ceilings, open living/dining/kitchen with tremendous natural light, city view, built-in, fireplace, combo washer/dryer, and hardwood floors. A highlight of the building is coveted outdoor space (now more than ever!)~ a common roof deck with exceptional 360 views including the Charles River, which is sure to wow!

As a Back Bay resident, your backyard is essentially the Esplanade which is ideal for running, walking, sailing, and even has a playground. You’re also steps to Newbury Street and some of the finest shopping and dining in the city.

Ready to schedule your private tour? Contact me and let’s talk!

On the Market: Luxury Full Service Living at Siena Condos at Ink Block with Private Outdoor Space, Garage Parking & Much More

40 Traveler Street, Unit 210
1 BD | 1.5 BA | 818 SF
$1,060,000

Welcome to luxury living at Siena Condos, the newest full service residential addition to the Ink Block neighborhood in the South End with 24/7 concierge and other amenities you would expect. On the market is a gorgeous 1 bed, 1.5 bath unit with tremendous natural light and many great features that combine beauty and functionality: high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, open living/kitchen/dining concept, direct access to private balcony, and a city view; custom electronic shades and SmartHome electronics are a huge plus! Also included is private extra storage space and one full garage parking space.

As an extension of your personal living space, there are multiple common spaces for residents to enjoy safely including a fitness room, main lobby seating area, clubroom with seating, TV, dining/conference table and “hidden” kitchen which can be reserved for private events, a Sky Lounge and terrace (indoor/outdoor) for a change of venue ~ to work, read, watching TV, grill or just to enjoy being outside on a sunny day.

All of this is within steps of all the South End has to offer, from a mega Whole Foods to fabulous restaurants/cafes to CVS, yoga, banks, SOWA Arts District, theatre and more. In addition, it offers easy access to public transportation and highways, and is walkable to many other neighborhoods, from Back Bay to Seaport and beyond. Ink Block is convenient and a perfect spot for your city lifestyle.

Ready to schedule your private tour? Contact me and let’s talk!

5 Binge-worthy Home Shows

With the weather cooling down and the threat of a second wave, more of us are staying in. If you’re going to be in front of the TV, check out some of these home shows that can help inspire you in your own abode. These are especially helpful if you’re considering putting your home on the market and want to get a head start for staging and listing.

The Home Edit

Rising to fame via social media, this duo edits, categorizes, and contains clutter to create stunning spaces for celebrities, i.e. Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gwyneth Paltrow, and every day people. They have a “system” that is unique based on each individuals lifestyle and needs, but essentially entails sorting items by color (aka The Home Edit rainbow), use, and accessibility. Warning: After watching, you will find yourself rushing off to the Container Store to build your own “system”.

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

On the hit Netflix series, Marie Kondo puts her KonMari method to work to help transform the lives of families in need of a serious clean out and clean up. Her method boils down to sorting through your belongings and tossing anything that doesn’t “spark joy.” She then shares more efficient ways to fold and store items so you can see everything. That t-shirt you love, but never wear because it’s buried under many others? With her method, it will be in view and get the use it deserves.

Love it or List it

A personal favorite of mine because of the competitive nature of the show! On this HGTV hit, a Realtor and interior designer battle it out as one searches for the clients’ dream home, while the latter works to transform the clients’ home into their dream home. At the end, we discover if the clients choose to love and remain in their home or list it and pack their bags.

Antique Roadshow

A true classic on PBS. Collectors discover that they can turn trash into treasure, thanks to the appraisal skills of the show’s specialists in antiques and fine art. Most of the guests have stories such as “My great Aunt gifted me this painting and it’s been in my attic”… If The Home Edit and Marie Kondo couldn’t convince you to get organized, perhaps the idea of a pricey family heirloom can you get there?

This Old House

Another PBS classic that is headquartered in New England! Arguably the original home improvement show, airing in 1979, This Old House tackles DIY household projects such as redoing your deck, installing your own backsplash, and so on. It provides some really good inspiration as many of the homes resemble ones that can be found in the Greater Boston area.

Happy watching! Let me know your favorite home shows in the comments.

If you are considering a move, let’s talk about the importance of organizing, staging, and ways I can help you through with my extensive network.

Top Vacation or Second Home Destinations for Bostonians

We’ve all read the articles about the vacation/second home boom happening right now courtesy of the ongoing pandemic. With the anticipation of a second wave and possible stricter lockdowns, those Bostonians fortunate enough are seizing the day and investing in a vacation or second home. Here are some top destination choices.

Kennebunkport, ME

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Located just an hour and half outside of Boston on Maine’s southern coast, Kennebunkport offers respite from city life complete with quaint shops, art galleries, restaurants (re: lobster and seafood), and of course, the ocean. The Bush’s have a compound here and Martha Stewart is a frequent visitor as well.

Stowe, VT

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Best known for its top notch skiing, Stowe is reminiscent of a quaint resort village you’d find in Aspen or the Swiss Alps. There’s also plenty to do in the off season with easy access to nearby lakes such as the Waterbury Reservoir and Lake Elmore, plenty of trails for hiking, biking, local art galleries, breweries, restaurants and much more. Bonus: it’s also super close the Ben & Jerry’s factory.

The Berkshires, MA

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Located in the western part of the state, the Berkshires are home to an impressive number of cultural and historical sights such as Tanglewood (the Boston Symphony’s summer home), Mass Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), and the Norman Rockwell Museum. They’re also known for their hiking and water sports. This is an ideal vacation/second home choice for those looking for culture and adventure.

Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

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A mere 2 hour drive from Boston will transport you into a water-lovers playground. Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New England. There’s boating, fishing, water sports and a town to fit everyone’s needs from the resort-feel of Wolfeboro to old-fashioned Meredith. It’s also ~40 minutes to the mountains for skiing.

Cape Cod, MA

Can you even have an article about vacation/second homes near New England without mentioning the Cape? If a peaceful, coastal setting is what you’re after, then one of the Cape’s 23 towns are sure to fit your needs.

Considering a vacation or second home for youself? As a Gibson Sotheby’s agent, I have the network and resources available to connect you with local experts and help you make the best informed decision. Contact me and let’s chat!

2020 Mid Year Market Report

The first half of 2020 has brought nothing if not change. These are unprecedented times. Our company has sold and put under contract over $2 billion in real estate to date in 2020. We find ourselves in the very lucky position of being in a region that has performed well in past economic shifts and, so far, this remains to be true for the challenges we are facing today. We have put together a market report comprised of “core” Gibson | Sotheby’s International Realty markets to show how each region has been impacted by the pandemic. 

We have over 350 expert real estate advisors who live and work throughout Boston, Greater Boston, the MetroWest, the South Shore, the North Shore and Cape Cod. If you are considering buying or selling, whether in the core markets covered in this report or any other, we encourage you to reach out and let our expertise be your guide. 

Click here to view the full report.

If you would like an in-depth analysis addressing specific areas or properties, Contact me and let’s chat!

On the Market: Rare 1 BD, 1.5 BA Residence in Siena Condos at Ink Block

40 Traveler Street, Unit 210
Siena Condos at Ink Block
1 BD | 1.5 BA | 818 SF
Private Balcony, Private Storage and Garage Parking Space
$1,060,000

On the market: Stunning residence with tremendous natural light and many great features that combine beauty and functionality, including SmartHome integration for electronic shades and lighting. Located in the Ink Block neighborhood in the South End, one of the newest and happening neighborhoods in the city.

Kitchen/Living/Dining

Highly desirable open concept kitchen/living/dining is perfect for every day and entertaining.

Private Balcony

Accessed via door from living area.

Master Suite

Master bedroom boasts a walk-in closet, ensuite master bath with dual vanity and oversized spa-like shower.

Guest Half Bath

Features a single vanity with storage and stack washer/dryer (in closet).

Building Amenities

There are multiple common spaces for residents to enjoy as an extension of their personal living space, including the main lobby with an intimate seating area, clubroom with seating, TV, dining/conference table and “hidden” kitchen which can be reserved for private events, a Sky Lounge and terrace (indoor/outdoor) for a change of venue ~ to work, read, watching TV, grill or just to enjoy being outside on a sunny day.

Luxury living here includes amenities such as:

24/7 concierge
Rooftop “Sky Lounge” with skyline views and connecting outdoor roof deck
Clubroom/lounge with dining/conference table, kitchen and TV
Lobby with intimate seating area
Fully equipped fitness center
Bike storage
Professional management
Pet friendly with nearby pet relief area

Interested or know someone who may be? Contact me to set up a showing!

Click the photo below to view the full listing.

Fun Fall Home Decor Updates

We’re fast approaching the first official day of fall. If you’re like me you are more than ready to trade in your summer whites and sandals for cozy sweaters and boots. Your wardrobe isn’t the only area of your life that needs updating for fall – it’s also a fantastic time to update your home for the season. Here are some simple, fun ways to get your place ready for the season.

Texture is Key

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This is one of the simplest updates for the season ahead. Trade in your light weight throws for a chunky knit or soft furs. You can also swap out your throw pillows for a knit or velvet variety.

Infuse Fall in Your Bathroom

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Burnt oranges and red floral arrangements and warm scents such as cinnamon and pumpkin hand soaps elicit autumnal vibes. The picture above is a perfect example of how to keep the look sophisticated vs. kitschy.

Add Pumpkins to Everything

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Pumpkins are synonymous with fall and there are a plethora of ways to incorporate them into your home decor this season. Add them as a centerpiece to your dining table, kitchen island, fireplace mantle, and/or entryway.

Mums are in Full Bloom

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Fall’s favorite perennials! Look for them at your local farmer’s markets. Not sure where there is one? Check out my top picks in the area.

Update Your Bar

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Maple bourbon, apple cider mimosas, mulled wine….fall cocktail possibilities are endless. Add some autumnal accessories and you’re ready for your next Zoom Happy Hour.

What are some ways you update your home for fall? Let me know in the comments.