Blog :: 11-2009

Ipswich, MA for only $239,900

photoCAJZEGH8Showings have just started - brand new to market! Single family living with the advantages of a condo! Completely, tastefully updated with granite & tile kitchen, hardwood floors, 3 Bedrooms, plenty of storage and full basement with potential for extra room. Fully fenced, professionally landscaped with patio, lighting and storage shed. Take advantage of all Ipswich has to offer. Dead end street within short distance of commuter train and downtown.

clevekit

photoCAKJ6BIG

A Long Time Coming...

economy"...highest monthly increase in at least 10 years!" " ...the first month in nearly 4 years we've seen a year-over-year increase!" "...the country is pulling out of the recession." "...better economic conditions lie ahead."

Are home sales really driving the economic recovery? Read the full article by Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the National Association of Realtors.

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Fire Logs...What They're Made Of...

fireplace_room

Duraflame Stax Logs Six-log case: $20 WHAT THEY'RE MADE OF - Sawdust and agricultural waste, such as ground nutshells, bound together by natural wax and by-products of food processing. BURN TIME - About 3.5 hours per bundle of three logs

TERRACYCLE FIRE LOGS Four-log case: $16 WHAT THEY'RE MADE OF - Pressed waxed cardboard, the same kind used to make juice containers. BURN TIME - Up to three hours per log

And my personal favorite:

PINE MOUNTAIN JAVA-LOGS Six-log case: $19 WHAT THEY'RE MADE OF - Used coffee grounds and all-natural vegetable wax. BURN TIME - Up to three hours per log

Before You Light That Fireplace...

fireplace3My December issue of "This Old House" arrived and with Thanksgiving festivities about to begin and your guests arriving any minute now I thought you'd find this enlightening. Tip #6 gives an easy measure for safety, mainly for older fireplaces, that if it's too hot to hold your hand right above the mantle, stop using your fireplace and have it checked out.  Oh, and if Uncle Al or Cousin Bill insist on "helping" you might want to point out tips 5 & 6. Happy Holidays!

Excerpted from "This Old House" December 2009 edition.

Before you succumb to your primal urges and set even a single log ablaze, be certain you've taken the steps required to make the fires you start this season as successful--and safe--as possible. Mark Schaub, of Chimney Savers in Hillsborough, New Jersey, has offered his expertise on many This Old House television projects. Here, he takes you through the drill.

1. Hire a Chimney Sweep

Book a pro to give your chimney and hearth its annual physical. A certified chimney sweep will inspect your masonry, flue liner, chimney cap, and venting system to make sure everything's clean, clear, and up to code. You can locate a sweep through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (csia.org). Prices vary, but expect a basic hour-long inspection and cleaning to run around $200.

2. Test Your Gear

Shine a flashlight on the damper and try it out a few times to make sure it opens and closes tightly. Most wood-burning fireplaces have a metal grate to cradle firewood up off the bottom so air can circulate around the logs; if the grate is cracked or sagging, replace it. Sparks can fly into living areas through ripped screens or mesh that doesn't close all the way; prevent injury and damage by lubricating or replacing worn-out mesh.

3. Use the Right Wood

Next to an annual sweeping, burning dry, split hardwood is the best thing you can do for your fireplace. It starts easily, burns for a long time, and leaves less creosote in the flue. Try to buy or cut wood in the late winter, before it's full of spring sap, and let it dry outside for six months. Well-seasoned wood is grayish and furrowed with natural cracks. Bring in only as much as you need for your next fire; wood can harbor insects that may become active in the warmth of the house. Outside, keep the stack covered on top and open on the sides to keep the wood dry.

4. Warm the Flue

Smoke won't rise if the flue is filled with cold air. To avoid downdrafts that can push out smoke and toxic fumes, warm up the air in the flue first. After you've opened the damper--and before you've lit the logs--encourage fireplace smoke to travel up and out the chimney by lighting a rolled-up sheet of newspaper and holding it in a gloved hand at the opening to the flue, so warm air can ascend.

5. Know What Not to Burn

Fireplaces make poor incinerators. Avoid tossing in Christmas trees, pizza boxes, and driftwood, which flare up fast and could cause a fire in a dirty chimney. Also on the "do not burn" list: painted or treated lumber and newspaper printed in color, because the preservatives and inks create noxious fumes. Manufactured firewood--formed of compressed sawdust, pencil shavings, copper sulfate, and paraffin wax--is a fine choice on its own, but don't burn manufactured logs with real wood or flare-ups could result.

6. Don't Overload the Firebox

Burning more than three logs at a time increases heat saturation, which could eventually ignite combustible materials adjacent to the fireplace and chimney. (This is a bigger issue with older fireplaces, which may not have the air gap between framing and masonry mandated by current codes.) Schaub recommends testing for heat saturation by placing your hand right above the mantel: If it's too hot to keep your hand there, quit using the fireplace until you have the system inspected.

7. Build a Fire (the easy way)

Here's Schaub's foolproof technique for a cozy fire in 15 minutes: Ignite a fire-starter brick in the center of the grate. Next, place one log, lengthwise, behind the starter and another one in front of it. When those catch, place a log diagonally across them. This setup encourages combustion air to flow around all three logs.

8. Watch and Wait

"Fireplaces are like children. They need to be watched," says Schaub. "Be prepared to stay with the fire until the end." Let it burn out naturally--water tossed onto the fire can damage the firebox--then dispose of ashes safely in a metal bin left outdoors until the embers die. Never vacuum up fresh ashes. "You'd be amazed at how long embers can stay hot in a bed of ash," Schaub says. "It could be a couple of days before they cool."

Why I Love My Job

"She is exceptional in every way! She was always available, excellent customer service and had an incredible attention to detail. She helped me in every conceivable way - felt like a good friend rather than a real estate broker." PQ - Ipswich, MA

"Our advisor was fantastic. She is the ultimate professional. She led two seniors through this entire process with warmth and understanding. She had answers to all our questions." JC - Danvers, MA

 "My agent was absolutely fantastic from start to finish. She had a very good understanding of what I was looking for and was so wonderful during the whole process. She made my first home purchase a great experience and has earned a customer for life. I am already highly recommending her to anyone remotely interested in buying or selling in this area. Thank you so very much!"  YL - Ipswich, MA

 

 These are actual testimonials from real clients mailed directly to me. Part of my job is to correspond with clients and request customer service feedback from them in writing. Every buyer and seller gets a letter from me, the old fashioned way, after the transaction is complete. Almost all take the time to complete the survey, most provide comments and I am proud to say 100%, and I read every single one, have been nothing but exemplary. THAT is why I love my job. I am surrounded by a group of stellar individuals who love what they do. It shows.  Read more testimonials.

Ipswich, MA - New Listing!

liberty8rearbIpswich, MA for an unbelievable price! This one just hit the market - contact us  for an appointment.  A grand entryway welcomes you into this beautifully maintained & exceptionally clean Cape style home. Panel wood doors, hardwood flooring & raised panel woodworking throughout most of home. High ceilings on the main level. Fireplace, new windows, siding & roof. Large deck & brick patio for outdoor entertaining. Detached garage/barn for your hobby or storage needs. Large level backyard with garden & play space. Close to town, train & beaches. $329,000!!

liberty8   liberty8rear

ThanksGIVING

d5619affe9165ed4Tomorrow is the last day if you want your food pantry donations to reach those in need in time for Thanksgiving.

Windhill Realty is on a mission again and this year we are starting early. You can help! Stop by our office at 55 Market Street, Ipswich, MA Suite 102, corner opposite The Institution for Savings and donate non-perishable food items for the Ipswich Food Pantry. Pantry hours are very limited so we serve as a drop-off location Monday through Saturday during business hours.   We intend to collect on behalf of the food pantry for the remainder of 2009 but we would love to make a large delivery in time for Thanksgiving. That means all Thanksgiving food items must be here no later than 3:00pm, Wednesday, November 18th. For more information, 978-356-8922 or jmeuse@windhillrealty.com.

Downtown Ipswich, MA

  16 Market Street, Ipswich, MA update: Exterior construction is almost complete and all aspects of interior construction are well under way. Contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc. are practically tripping over each other getting the job done. It's shaping up to be a  beautiful addition to our downtown. We continue to get positive feedback from the community and all of us are excited about the new Windhill Building.  We'll be moving from our current location at 55 Market Street to our new space here at number 16 Market soon so if you know anyone looking for retail space downtown, talk to Shawn.

Homebuyer Tax Credit Expanded and Extended! 4 Things You Should Know.

The First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit has been expanded and extended!  This new version of the tax credit is not just a first-time homebuyer tax credit, but a "Homebuyer Tax Credit".  Many more people will qualify for this credit.  President Obama signed the Homebuyer Tax Credit into law on Friday, November 6, after overwhelming votes for it in Congress.  The credit took effect yesterday!  To be eligible, a purchase contract must be signed by April 30, 2010, and close on or before June 30, 2010, so there is a short window of opportunity.

Four Things REALTORS® and Consumers Need to Know About the New 2009 - 2010 Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension - EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY!

  *NOTE:  This document is for informational purposes and should not be construed as tax or legal advice.  For specific advice on their own tax situation consumers should always consult a qualified tax professional.         1. Who are eligible homebuyers?  Has eligibility been expanded to include existing homeowners?

Eligible homebuyers now come in 2 categories:

1. 1st-Time Homebuyers.  Any person who has not owned a principal residence in the past 3 years may qualify as a 1st-time homebuyer, subject to income restrictions (greatly increased, see #2, below).

2. Long-Time Residents of Same Principal Residence.  Someone who has owned a home and occupied it as the principal residence for any consecutive 5-year period during the last 8 years may also be eligible for a credit, also subject to the new income ceilings. This does include current homeowners, so long as the home was both owned and occupied by the taxpayer for at least 5 consecutive years.       2.  What are the new maximum income levels?

1. 1st-Time Homebuyers.  The Modified Adjusted Gross Income limit is now $125k for singles, $225k for couples.

2. Long-Time Residents of Same Principal Residence.  Same: $125k for singles, $225k for couples.

"Modified Adjusted Gross Income" (MAGI) is defined by the IRS. To find it, a taxpayer must first determine "Adjusted Gross Income" (AGI). AGI is total income for a year minus certain deductions (known as "adjustments" or "above-the-line deductions"), but before itemized deductions from Schedule A or personal exemptions are subtracted. On Forms 1040 and 1040A, AGI is the last number on page 1 and first number on page 2 of the form. For Form 1040-EZ, AGI appears on line 4 (as of 2007). Note that AGI includes all forms of income including wages, salaries, interest income, dividends and capital gains.   To determine modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), add to AGI certain amounts such as foreign income, foreign-housing deductions, student-loan deductions, IRA-contribution deductions and deductions for higher-education costs.  Singles cannot make more than $125,000 in MAGI, and married couples cannot make not more $225,000 in order to get the maximum credit (see #3, below).  Partial credit is available for those with MAGI between $125k to $145k ($225k-$245k for joint filers).

   3. Has the credit amount been increased?

No. But the maximum credit amount is different depending on whether the taxpayer is a 1st-Time or Non-1st-Time Homebuyer.

1. 1st-Time Homebuyers.  Full credit is still $8,000* ($4,000 if married filing separately).

2. Long-Time Residents of Same Principal Residence.  Full credit is $6,500* ($3,250 if married filing separately).

 You will get this money in the form of a Federal Tax Refund, just as always. Also, though it is still a true credit, as opposed to a loan (recall the 2008 version), recapture or repayment would still be required if you sold your home within 36 months of purchase.

* $8,000/$6,500 or 10% of purchase price, whichever is less. The 10% figure applies only when the purchase price is less than $80,000/$65,000.

   4. What housing qualifies as a Principal Residence purchase?

The date of purchase has been extended to July 1, 2010, so long as a binding P&S agreement was executed (signed) by April 30, 2010.

 As before, single family homes, condos, townhouses, and co-ops qualify so long as they are used as the taxpayer's principal residence. Homes purchased last year do not qualify for this program.  Also, sales between immediate family members are ineligible.    It is also important to note that th purchase price of the home cannot exceed $800,000.  Also, sales between immediate family members are ineligible.       

This Q&A is intended to provide a quick overview.  There are numerous other provisions in the new credit, and homebuyers should understand them clearly before they make any decision regarding their eligibility.
Excerpted from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors website.

What Makes Kitchens Pop?

Modern-Kitchen-DesignBoston Globe reports that Homeowners are restless, feeling stuck, tired of their houses but unwilling to make a move. Here are some great ideas on freshening up your space and still recouping a good percentage of your investment.

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