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via 16 Water Street, Winchester, MA | Powered by Postlets.

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oxThis is the year of the OX. President Obama, born in the year of the Ox, has called upon all Americans to be steadfast and strong, hard working, to dig deep to find our resolve, tenacity, will to sustain ourselves in these extraordinarily challenging times. We are being called upon to be oxen.

Here in the Northeast, many homeowners who were thinking of putting the house on the market are now “upside down” so are staying put; homebuyers who wanted to upgrade are now needing to wait to see if they still have jobs; first-timers are worried that their credit scores are not high enough, their FICO reports aren’t squeaky clean enough. Everyone wants to know if the mortgage rates will fall lower, if housing prices will continue to decline.

The Question of the Year is: when will we hit bottom?

Many forecast that the Boston market, one of the first to plunge, is now on the upswing. So the bottom may finally be here.

It’s the Year Of The Ox. Are you ready for it?

You need honest, practical advice about the current market value of YOUR home. If you’re hoping to get started with your new home search, or if you’re thinking about renovating or staging your home to sell, you need a professional who’s in the trenches every day.

These are extraordinary times. Make sure you have an extraordinary Realtor on your team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five facts about the Year of the Ox

By GREG MORAGO Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle

The Lunar New Year, which begins today, ushers in the Year of the Ox. Those born under the Ox sign are dependable, calm, modest and stable. But the ox (or buffalo, cow or bull) takes on added significance in a year of global financial hardship, explains Nine-Min Cheng, community outreach director of Houston’s Chinese Community Center. “We need the Year of the Ox. We want a bull market,” says Cheng.

 

1. Bullish on Obama

President Obama, who has pledged to begin rehabilitating the economy, was born in an ox year. Those born in this year achieve through hard work and routine.

2. True blues

The ox, according to Chinese astrology, is the best friend you could choose. So are ox celebrities Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Dustin Hoffman, Jane Fonda and Warren Beatty good to their friends? Other ox celebrities include Meg Ryan, Bruce Springsteen, Bill Cosby, Robert Redford and Jim Carrey.

3. Know thy Ox

Ox lucky numbers, according to an online horoscope, are 1, 3, 5, 12, 15, 33, 35, 51 and 53. Ox careers include composer, landlord, doctor, cook, police officer, teacher, judge, banker, insurance broker and gardener.

4. Money talks

At Chinese New Year, elders give young people red envelopes filled with money. “In the western world, people exchange gifts,” Cheng says. “We exchange cash.”

5. Party like it’s 2009

The Chinese Community Center has its Lunar New Year Festival Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the center, 9800 Town Park. Cheng urges Chinese families to wear a traditional festival costume of bright colors. “The new year means a new dress,” she says. The festival is free and features dances and Asian food. Although, one assumes, no ox.

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by Katherine Waters-Clark

fall-cottage3The two little words, “We’re moving!” can stir up some very big emotions.  We might be thrilled — we’ve found our “dream house,” landed the job of a lifetime in our favorite city,  or finally saved enough to buy that farmhouse we’ve always loved. But it’s just as likely that we’re more than a little heartbroken – we’re empty-nesters who are downsizing , we’re relocating away from our family, we’re going through a divorce, surviving a death, or foreclosing on a house we can no longer afford. 

Whatever the reason, for better or worse, last year alone, millions of Americans changed addresses.  The transition has the potential to bring up a whirlwind of emotions, throwing us way off balance.

When we start to think about moving, most of us get frantically busy, arranging for moving vans, extra boxes, new paint, schools for the kids.  We push away the emotional pull seeing our son’s initials carved in the backyard oak tree.  We brush away tears when we drive by our favorite corner store.  We convince ourselves that we’ll be FINE – once we get THE MOVE over with.  Besides, we’re way too busy with the move to get all emotional.  Trouble is, once the SOLD sign is in the yard, and move is underway, we and our families are just that – all emotional.

We are emotional because we are human. We are deeply connected to those initials in the tree and that corner store.  This place that we’re leaving, our home, is where our daughter became an All-Star, our son kissed his future partner, our dad spent his final Thanksgiving.  Leaving our home is so much more than packing up the glasses, broom-sweeping the floors, signing the papers, and handing over the keys.  Our hearts and souls are buried deep within our homes. 

So how do we pull up those deep roots and leave our hearts and souls intact?  How do we maintain our equilibrium while handing over our home?

Perhaps if we put down the packing tape for a moment, we can gently say goodbye to our home, mourn the loss with our family, and let go before we leave. 

Where to begin?  These 5 “Goodbye” exercises will help.  Read them over, and if one or two resonate for you, then try them.  If you can, try them alone, with a close friend or partner, and with your children.

They will provide an emotional road map for the journey leading up to — and beyond — moving day.  Think of them as your Emotional Action Plan for integrating the emotions and the logistics of your moving day,  a “how-to” guide for acknowledging and embracing all the feelings that arise from leaving home.

1.    Reflect and Remember

grandparents-in-yardSpend some quiet time in each part of your home, inside and out. Try to recall 5 memories (wonderful or bittersweet) that took place in each spot — behind the garage, in the yard, in the living room.  Write a journal, create a videotape, or simply say them out loud, even if you’re alone.  Validate your memories – good and bad.

2.   Celebrate and Mourn

family-campfireMake a safe bonfire in your backyard (the barbecue grill or a candle work, too).  On scraps of paper, write down 5 things that you’ve loved and hated about your house, your neighborhood, and your life in this home.  One by one, toss those scraps of paper into the fire or barbecue, or burn them over the candle.  If you’d like, save a copy of this list before burning.  Create a saying (or blessing) to say (outloud or silently) each time a scrap of paper hits the flames.  “We love you, old home!”  “Goodbye, 12 River Street!” “I bless this house and I release it from my life.”  “We won’t forget our home!” and so on.

3.    Capture and Contain

Couple taking photos.Videotape the kids’ rooms.  Take a photo journal of the walls, the curtains, and the pictures on the wall. Ask the kids to “direct” the film.   Use this video to “recreate” or just remember the old room in the new house.  Walk around town, school, work, and photograph the local shops, your favorite teachers, the “gang” hanging out.  Make a DVD, create a photo album, or take footage of “an ordinary day” in the life of your home your town, your life here.

4.   Welcome The New

writing-letterWrite a “welcome” letter to the new homeowners (don’t forget, they’ve just moved, too).  Tell them about the secret room in the basement and the tree fort.  Let them know the best grocery store, the shortcut to the ball field, the name of a good babysitter.  Leave the letter for them on the counter, mail it to them the day you leave, or hide it in a secret place and wonder if they’ll ever find it!

 5.    Leave It Behind

dog-digging-in-yardjpg2Create an “Our Home” time capsule and bury it in the yard, in the wall, or in a secret place.  Make sure each family member puts in something special – but not something they’ll miss having later!  A note, a button from your jacket, a photo of your family, a newspaper with the date.

 

While some of these ceremonies will be difficult to start and get through, give yourself this very special Moving Day gift.  By taking the time to say goodbye to your old home, you will clear a space in your hearts and souls for the wonderful homes and lives of your future – wherever they may be!

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Hmmm. Should you stay or should you go? These days, many Homeowners, when deciding about selling,  are staying put.  
Still wish you could have a bigger kitchen, an updated bathroom, a fresh face on your old home?  check out my renovation tips!

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Ask anyone about “Home” and they are sure to quickly conjure up memories, feelings, names and faces.  It’s right below the surface –  that destination about which poets and lyricists have long written, the childhood spot we journey back to for holidays and on summer vacations.  Home is the screened-in porch where we sit at the end of the day, the back yard where we entertain friends, or front stoop where we chat with neighbors.  Families create years of memories at home.  We remember home when we look for our own place.

What about you?  What’s Home?  Perhaps a sleek condo in the city with views of the river, or a two-bedroom, one-bath, fixer-upper in the suburbs; how about a multi-family with room for mom and dad, or a sprawling farm house with woods and land?  Maybe all of these will be Home during your lifetime.

The wonderful thing about real estate is that there is a home out there for everyone at every stage of life.    

My mission in this blog is to provide you with knowledge, support and strategies to help you find or sell you and your family’s home.   I will share up to-date-information on the local market, home-buying and selling tips as well as my thoughts about Home and Home Life.

Thank you for reading.  I look forward to hearing from you, and I welcome the opportunity to earn your business.  

Katherine Waters-Clark, REALTOR ABR


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christmas time is here.  There’s even a dusting of snow outside.  The tree is up and decorated, the lights are on the house, presents are under the tree.  We have no plans to travel so are tucked inside, safe and warm, home for the holidays.   It’s all good.

And yet, I can’t stop thinking about foreclosures and the families who aren’t tucked in at home this Christmas.

In MA alone, a staggering number of families have lost their home to foreclosure this year. As a Realtor and Buyer’s Agent, I am out there trying to sell some of these houses, and some are GREAT buys for the next owners.  But … I can’t help but wonder, where are these familes now? How will they celebrate Christmas? Will they be tucked in anywhere this year?

It’s a sobering time this Christmas for many former homeowners.   I would love to hear how you’re doing.  Until then, my wish for you this Christmas is a holiday and New Year filled with safety, abundance, a fresh start, and new-found joy.

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