Christine Curtin

Better Homes and Gardens The Shanahan Group joins Rebuilding Together Boston for National Work Day

It’s time to get the band back (Rebuilding) Together!  We’re so excited to be just over a week away from our second annual Rebuilding Together Boston Work Day! 

Team Shanahan

Not surprisingly, we’re passionate about home ownership.  So much so, that we’re willing to put our money - and our talents - where are mouths are.  In addition to our company donations, each member of our team, has individually donated the money used to purchase the needed supplies to bring necessary health and safety improvements one deserving person’s home.  Then we really get to work!

This year, rather than having the day all to ourselves, we’re participating in Rebuilding Together’s National Rebuilding Day!  Just within the 3-4 block radius of our work site, there will be more than ten additional teams working on other projects.  What an exciting opportunity to bring life and value back to an entire community and improve the life of a deserving homeowner! And have so much fun doing it!

Helping with Friends

This year, we are again partnering with our friends at G&N Insurance and The Shant Banosian Team at Guaranteed Rate Mortgage and additionally welcome the expertise and know-how of JP Walsh Plumbing and Heating of Medford and carpenter, Mark Bronakant.

The Shanahan team consists of returning Rebuilders Nan and Rich Shanahan, our captain, Caroline Staudt, Karen Garrett, Rebecca Brennan-Laird, Stephanie Walsh, Christine Curtin, and our chief parger (yeah, we didn't know what it was, either), Felicity Tuttle.  First-time Rebuilders include Paula Buono, Cheryl Priplata, and Dara Singleton.

Hope you enjoy the snaps from last year’s Work Day.  At the end, we were tired, dirty, and gratified to know we had helped improve a homeowner’s life.  If you’re interested in becoming involved with Rebuilding Together, please visit their Boston or national site. 

Medford Resident Saves a Life

We're pleased to share today's Blog Post, written by Christine Curtin, Realtor, Strategic Marketing Manager, and long-time Medford resident who married into an even longer-time Medford family.

Please forgive my moment of hometown and familial pride. Last Tuesday, I had the honor of attending a ceremony for my brother-in-law, Christopher Curtin, where he was awarded a commendation from the Medford City Council for Life Saving Actions Performed on a Medford Resident. 

Marrying into the Curtin family, one quickly learns that the Curtins have been part of the fabric of Medford since before the Civil War. We are shown the Curtin stained glass window at St. Joseph’s Church, Curtin Lawn at Oak Grove Cemetery, and hear about AF Curtin Valve Company, Curtin Hardware, "The Factory," and my sons’ great-great-grandfather developing the hill at Lawrence Estates in the early 1900s. Through all these tales, there is the unmistakable love of Medford as “home.”  I am so heartened and proud to see Medford love the Curtins back. 

Everyone in town knows Chris. He’s a go-to guy, never forgets a name or a face, and always seems to be at the right place, at the right time. A few months ago, he most certainly was:  Chris was sitting on a bench at the Haymarket T station waiting for the Orange Line to come home. He noticed the man next to him cough and drop his head down as if he’d nodded off. As the train came, it became apparent that the man was in distress. Chris instructed a fellow passenger to find an emergency call button. He lowered the man to the floor, called 911, and began chest compressions. 

As a member and former president of the Medford Kiwanis, Christopher has been certified in CPR by Armstrong Ambulance’s Sean Managan (yet another Medford guy), who was also present at the ceremony.

As Chris tells it, he cannot remember how long he administered CPR but it felt like hours. He was never so happy to see professionals show up and take over and transport the man to the hospital. He left the station hoping for the best but not knowing the outcome. 

Some weeks later, Chris received a gracious, sincere thank you note from the victim’s wife. Chris and his wife, Linda, were able to meet the couple - also Medford residents, for lunch and beyond thrilled to learn that he was recovering quite well with no ill effects.

A fellow attorney at the Boston courthouse told the story to the Kiwanis and they, in turn, notified the Medford City Council. What a pleasure to be there to support Chris and to have my children see their uncle receive such an honor. 

It almost makes up for all those wrestling matches Uncle Chris initiated right as I was trying to get the kids into bed. Almost.

Chris' story has inspired us to schedule a CPR Certification Course in our office and would love to open it up to our community!  Or, for information on where you could attend a CPR course in your area, please check out redcross.org. It can make the difference between life and death.

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    Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate The Shanahan Group - Our Next Move

    Anyone who has spent a good amount of time at the right company knows full well that companies can definitely be like families. And so our family Better Homes and Gardens The Shanahan Group is moving from one phase of our life, to the next. 

    Here we sit in our starter home, when we first moved in, nearly ten years ago, our family was smaller. We fixed up our space and little by little, we made it our own. We’ve recently redone the floors and painted the walls again. Everyone who visits compliments us on what we’ve done with the place and how it really reflects who we are. We love our neighborhood and become an integral part of it. We’ve counseled, celebrated, negotiated, educated, and entertained from this space, and our family - our business - has continued to thrive as we’ve expanded well beyond Winchester real estate but always with downtown as our home base.

    But over the last few years, our family has grown and the space is a getting little tight. More windows would be great. We’d love a bigger kitchen. More room to be together, and more room to be apart, when we need a quiet space to work. And boy do we need more storage! 

     

    And so like all of our friends, clients, and our individual selves, we’re taking the next step! It’s time for our Move Up Home - maybe even our Forever Home - in the perfect location: about eight doors down from where we are now – there’s even a Starbucks across the street (okay, maybe that part’s a little dangerous). 

    So, we’ve called the painters, we’ve picked colors – wood tile here, new carpeting there. True admin space for Lynn, a real office for Karen, a training room for us all, conference rooms to be private, and big public spaces that will allow us to continue to do what we do best.

    We are unique in the industry. Culture, collaboration, and teamwork are paramount in everything we do. We like each other and we help each other in order to succeed. We work as a team, incorporating our individual talents to provide all our clients - our buyers and sellers, as well as co-brokers, lenders, attorneys, and the myriad other organizations we work with - industry leading experience, knowledge, and expertise. All helping you to achieve your next goal. 

    And maybe we’ll just add to our family, too.

    Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Shanahan Group Family proudly announces our change of address to 552 Main Street, in the heart of Winchester MA.

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      1. Jan Byford Foley on

        Nan, Karen and the whole Team - Best of luck and best wishes to all of you in your new office! Can't wait to see it! Jan and Bob

        Paula Russo Sughrue's Run for Lovelane

        One of the many common interests that our agents share is a desire to give back to our communities and to make a difference. And we've all certainly learned that when we do, we really end up receiving so much more! We'd like to thank Paula Russo Sughrue for sharing a recent experience she had with a truly life changing organization:

        Earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of joining 500 other runners in the 9th annual Susan McDaniel Run for Lovelane. This professionally timed race is challenging enough for elite runners but welcoming and enjoyable for families, walkers, and even strollers. The 5K race starts at the Weston Town Green and makes its way along the beautiful neighborhoods in Weston, Massachusetts with friendly homeowners along the way providing much-needed water to the runners.

        Paula Sughrue, her niece, Olivia, and Paula's daughter, Madeline.

        Lovelane provides high-quality, therapeutic horseback riding to achieve therapeutic gains to children with special needs. This fun and supportive environment has been an integral part of my niece, Olivia's amazing progress over the past eight years. She thoroughly enjoys her weekly horseback rides with the special attention from the licensed therapeutic riding instructors. Some other activities present a physical challenge to Olivia, but with horseback riding she's on top of the world and so proud of herself!  It's heartwarming for her family to know that she's experiencing this much joy.

        My children and I have been part of this wonderful fundraiser for the past 3 years. Olivia's team is named Team Trots and is pictured above. Her team grows each year. Her parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins all come out to show their support for her and this important program. Let me know if you want to join Team Trots next year. All are welcome!  The atmosphere of young and old Lovelane supporters is so inspiring. 

        Team Trots

        To learn more about Lovelane visit www.lovelane.org

        The Shanahan Group and Rebuilding Together Boston

        Every day, we help our clients find their dream homes and sell longtime properties. And, let’s face it; we often do so in some pretty affluent suburbs around Greater Boston. On January 22, a team from our office will be taking a personal day from our jobs to help ensure one homeowner can stay in her home for the long haul.

        Last March, we learned that Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, under the guidance of our CEO Sherry Chris, had partnered with Rebuilding Together, a national organization that provides low-income homeowners with critical repairs, accessibility modifications, and energy-efficient upgrades. The mission of Rebuilding Together is to stabilize neighborhoods, preserve affordable housing, provide safe and secure housing, and reduce the risk of homelessness.

        Rebuilding Together

         

        After hearing about this partnership, we knew we wanted to get involved! After months of planning, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate – The Shanahan Group is very proud to be an official sponsor of Rebuilding Together Boston, the local chapter of Rebuilding Together. Since 1991, Rebuilding Together Boston has completed over 350 renovation projects for a total value of over $6,500,000 -- at no cost to the homeowners, allowing those homeowners to stay in their homes, build equity, and improve their quality of life.

        As a team, we have raised $7,500 to date for this very worthy cause. And on our build day, we will gather up our hammers, paintbrushes, and spackle knives and head to Roxbury to do critical health and safety repairs for a woman who has owned her home for more than 10 years, and is currently unemployed.

        We want to give a very special thank you to our partner in this initiative, Shant Banosian of GuaranteedRate, who made an extremely generous donation and who will also be joining us on the day of the build. We could not have done this without him and his team. A second shout out to G&N Insurance of Southborough, MA who provided that final push that brought us to our fund-raising goal! Thank you, all!

        After the build, be on the lookout for a recap of the day complete with pictures and good memories. We’re sure there will be plenty of stories to tell!

        If you are interested in learning more about how you can support Rebuilding Together Boston, please click here or reach out directly to Caroline Staudt, who has spearheaded this project for our office.

        Thank you very much to Nan Shanahan who made this possible and to the agents who have dedicated their time, money, and (somewhat questionable) talents to this worthy cause: Caroline Staudt, Rebecca Brennan-Laird, Lulu Coakley, Christine Curtin, Karen Garrett, Melissa Perrone, Angela Pinette, Mary Price, Mary Savage, Dara Singleton, Kara Spelman, Paula Sughrue, Felicity Tuttle, and Stephanie Walsh.

        Bidding Wars Happen. How Can Buyers Win?

        Buyers in our area have heard stories of houses selling with upwards of ten offers for tens-of-thousands (or even hundreds-of-thousands) over the list price. Many buyers have even been involved in some of these so-called bidding wars. And we expect to see bidding wars continue through this spring market.

         

        Caroline Staudt explains what buyers need to

        understand about bidding wars:

         

        Every situation is unique.

        No two buyers and no two listings are the same. Engaging a thoughtful, knowledgeable buyer's agent to represent you, and only you, in your home search an important first step. Much like the listing agent, whose fiduciary duties are to the seller, a buyer's agent owes her fiduciary duties to  you, the buyer. This enhances the agent's ability to guide and advise you and your family on forumulating the best offer on any given home.

        A seller is not obligated to, and may not always, accept the highest offer.

        Other terms and factors such as financing (e.g., a cash offer being more attractive than a 5% down offer), closing date, inspections, and even pure emotion of the seller can also factor into a seller's decision. Again, a buyer's agent can work with you to consider each of these terms when making an offer.

        Price does still matter.

        Win the Bidding War

        Sellers may not always take the highest offer, but price does matter - a lot. When considering making a bid well over the asking price, think about what the house is worth objectively by looking with your agent at comparable sales and also what the house is worth to you. Then balance those two factors. Also, depending on your financing, speak with your agent about whether there could be appraisal issues with an offer significantly over the asking price.

        There is no protocol for how a seller should handle multiple offers.

        A seller reviewing multiple offers may choose to (1) accept the highest offer that comes in, (2) go back to some or all of the potential buyers for a "Best and Final" offer, (3) counter to one of the buyers but not the others, or (4) reject all offers. Provided that Fair Housing and other applicable laws are not violated, there are no rules for how a seller can handle and respond to offers. It is the job of your buyers's agent to arm you with as much information as possible so together, you can prepare an offer that stands out from the crowd, no matter which approach the seller takes.

        Use caution when waiving contingencies.

        Buyers may hear stories about other buyers waiving mortgage contingencies and inspection contingencies. This approach is not for the faint of heart and has the potential to lead to big problems down the road. While waiving contingencies may be what it takes to ultimately get a specific home, you should be sure to speak to your agent, your lender, and perhaps even your attorney if you are considering going down this path. Your agent should also be able to work with you to formulate a strong offer while limiting your risk.

        Remember that not every listing will see a bidding war.

        Remember, every situation is unique. Many houses - whether because of price or location or some other intangible factor - will not sell immediately with multiple offers. Do not assume when looking at listings that every house will sell for over the asking price with multiple offers. Do not be afraid to enter into the market for fear of being involved in a bidding war.

        Bidding wars are a challenge for buyers. By definition, some buyers will miss out on homes that they want to buy - perhaps even dream homes. There are ways, however, that a buyer's agent can help you through the process to increase the chances of winning the bidding war. If you have any questions  about multiple offers, if you are thinking about buying or selling, or if you want to speak with an agent about current market conditions, please give us a call. 

        Why You Need to be Pre-Approved for a Mortgage. NOW.

        In what's expected to be a very competitive Spring Market, Caroline Staudt spells out exactly why you should get a pre-approved for a mortgage NOW.

         

        Many homebuyers start their home search by going to a real estate website, such as www.shanahanre.com, and searching in a specific town for homes with X bedrooms and Y baths. Then they look at the beautiful pictures, fall in love with their dream home online, and call a Realtor to show them the house. Some of these buyers may have a sense of what they can afford whereas others may not. 

        While looking at pictures is more exciting than thinking about the numbers, this is a classic example of putting the cart before the horse. In this competitive market, unless you are buying a home with cash, you need to talk to a lender first and get pre-approved prior to starting your search.

        What is a pre-approval?

        When you speak to a lender to get pre-approved, the lender will request and review many of the documents that she will need in order to approve your loan - paystubs, W-2s for the last two years, two years of federal tax returns, two months of bank statements, and your credit report. With this information, she will determine the amount you will be able to borrow and will help you understand what this translates into in terms of monthly payments. She will then provide you with a letter that states that you have been pre-approved for a loan up to the stated amount - also known as a pre-approval letter.

        Why do you need the pre-approval?

         

        1. Help you understand what you can afford:

        Prior to looking at homes, it is important for buyers to have a realistic understanding of what they can afford. For some buyers, the number may be a welcome surprise whereas for others, it might be a disappointment. In either case, it is essential to know what you can afford before falling in love with your dream home. When you and your Realtor understand what you can afford, you can limit your housing search accordingly and save yourself both time and potential heartache.

        2. Give yourself time to improve your credit score:

        If, in the process of getting pre-approved, you learn that your credit score is lower than you hoped or that there is an error in your credit report, lenders can often work with you to correct any mistakes and to improve your score. This could help increase the amount for which you are approved or reduce your interest rate.

        3. Be ready to put in an offer:

        Without a pre-approval, you cannot buy a house. Period. A seller will not review an offer from a non-cash buyer that does not include a pre-approval letter. You do not want to be in a position where you fall in love with a home that you might in fact be able to afford but not to be able to put an offer on it because you have not yet been pre-approved. It is better to be pre-approved prior to searching so that as soon as you find that house, you can make a strong offer. For some buyers this happens quicker than you may think!

         

        If you are starting your home search and are now convinced that you should get pre-approved, we at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Shanahan Group can recommend trustworthy and reliable lenders who would be happy to speak with you and help you get pre-approved. Give us a call. Here comes the spring market! 

         

        Smoke Alarms: A Serious Business

        From the desk of Paula Sughrue from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Shanahan Group, below is an important reminder about smoke detectors and how to keep them working to keep you safe. 

        Is your home protected with smoke alarms?

        Smoke alarm safety should be taken seriously. You can save lives in your home by ensuring that you have enough smoke alarms and that they’re working correctly. 

        How many times have you taken out the battery of a smoke alarm because it’s faulty or going off because of burnt toast?  Have you replaced those batteries?  Smoke alarms can save lives only if they’re working properly. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get you and your family outside to safety quickly.

        A recent Boston Globe article, Detecting Trouble cited that “more than half of fire-related fatalities occur between 10 PM and 7 AM, when many people are sleeping and not alert, meaning a smoke alarm is the best chance of survival.”

        Smoke alarms should be placed on every level of your home including your basement. Smoke alarms should be placed outside each bedroom. Larger homes may need extra smoke alarms. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to avoid false alarms. Smoke alarms should also be replaced when they are 10 years old. 

        The units should be tested monthly. To ensure that your batteries are working properly, it’s a good idea to install new batteries once a year. It might make this chore easier if you replace the batteries when the clocks get turned for daylight savings time.

        For more information on the correct locations of smoke alarms, contact your local fire department.

        Thanks, Paula! 

        Happy Fall!

        Be Good to this Place: The History of a House

        This week was a busy one at Better Homes and Gardens The Shanahan Group. One of the highlights was listing a lovely colonial at 22 Nelson Street in Winchester. It's a home with character and love that you can feel and a history that has been passed down through families and time. We asked its current owners for a glimpse into 22 Nelson Street and what makes this place so special.

         

        From the owners of 22 Nelson Street, Winchester

        22 Nelson Street was built in 1897 for the parents of Virginia Foreman. It was wallpapered in July of 1898 by Gene B. Farrowwe know this because he signed the west wall of the living room in pencil, and Gene B. Farrow writes big. The house was re-papered in the 1960s (more signatures in pencil), and painted in 2008 by the Olenn family, who also added their names to the houses history.
         
        Virginia Foremangrew up in the house, and did laps around the basement on her bike. We know this because our friend Chriss mom grew up just around the corner and rode her tricycle with Virginia. In the strange cabinet under the basement stairs is a certificate of musical accomplishment from Virginias early years, though we dont know what form that accomplishment took.
         
        In time Virginia married Lawrence Hutchings, aka Hutch, and the newlyweds moved into this house to take care of Virginias ailing mother. Lawrence spent his career working at Hanscom Air Force base, which we know from his silver retirement bowl. Hutch was known and loved by many in the neighborhood, often inviting people over for a cocktail on the porch, and was one of the founders of the Jenks senior center. Hutch and Virginia had their own children here, a son and a daughter. The son, Bruce, followed in his fathers footsteps and became a pilot and lives in New Hampshire. The daughter has a son of her own and lives in Hopkinton, though weve forgotten her name.
         
        All this means that we were only the second family to live in this historic home, and now you are the third. It is a good home, and the spirit of Hutch seems to linger at opportune times, when doing a home improvement project and finding that a much-needed obscure jar of God-knows-what just happens to be at hand, left behind by the old man.
         
        Be good to this place, and it will be good to you.
         
        22 Nelson St, Winchester MA
         
        Come see 22 Nelson St at tomorrow's open house, Sunday June 8th. Karen Shanahan Garrett will be there from 11:30-1:00.
        In the meantime, check out the video tour:22 Nelson Street, Winchester
         
         

        Today's Homebuyer: Who, What and Where?

        From hyperlocal to big picture: Understanding our market

        At Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Shanahan Group, we love our local market. We spend lots of time looking at data on Winchester, Reading, Medford and our other surrounding communities. We believe that's where the really valuable information is and how we can track the real estate market real-time. There is value, however, in picking our heads up and looking at a broader picture of how our market compares to other areas of the country. Every year, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) prepares a report of Homebuyers and Homesellers. We dig through this report every year for a national picture of consumer trends.

         

        Homebuyers: Who, what and where?

        Below is a subset of that report, focused on Homebuyers by region of the U.S. This piece of the report is a really interesting look at buyers by region, breaking down buyers by age, type of property etc. Here are some of the things we found interesting:
        • New England's percentage of first time homebuyers is the highest at 45%, with the Mountain region being the lowest at 29%
        • The Mountain region saw the highest percentage of buyers purchasing multi-generational homes (17%), with New England and the North Central region having the lowest multi-generational home purchases (11%)
        • Single female homebuyers represent 19% of purchasers in the North Central region (highest) and only 13% in the Mountain region

        Check out the full report here: Presentation: Profile of Home Buyers in Sub-Regions