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Rachel Louchen

Investing in Selling: Best Renovations to Improve Home Value

Do you want to make sure your home sells when you put it on the market? One of the best ways to guarantee success is by completing home renovation projects to increase the value of your home. As long as you focus on doing the right renovations, you can increase the likelihood that your home will sell and get much better offers from potential homebuyers. Let’s look at what the best renovations are for improving your home’s value.


When most buyers walk into a home for the first time, one of the very first things they want to see is the kitchen. Kitchens have turned into the central hubs in most American homes, so it’s important to have a kitchen that will function the way you want it to. By renovating your kitchen and updating it today, you can give buyers exactly what they want and improve your home’s value. According to Bankrate, the average kitchen remodel costs about $21,000 and has a resale value of almost $17,000. That means you will recoup about 80 percent of the money you put into a kitchen remodeling job.


What’s inside of your garage isn’t nearly as important as how it looks from the outside. Garages are often dirty spaces – after all, they serve as parking for your car, storage for overflow from the home, and even a workshop for many people. Buyers these days are looking for a good aesthetic, however, and a clean appearance that will boost the home’s curb appeal. If your garage door is on the older side, why not give it an upgrade? Realtor.com points out that the average garage door costs about $1,600 to install and reaps a resale value of more than $1,500. That’s a nearly 92 percent return on investment for you, and it will make your entire house look better when someone is walking up to it for the first time. If your garage needs a fresh coat of paint or residing, it’s also a good idea to take care of that as well to make your garage look its best.


If your basement looks dark and dingy, chances are a homebuyer isn’t going to even want to consider what it would be used for. But if your basement functions like an extension of the main part of your home, they’ll see it as an added bonus that will instantly make your home feel like it’s worth a whole lot more. Bankrate reports that the average basement renovation costs about $71,000 and has a resale value of about $50,000, which means you will recoup 70 percent of your costs. You will also wow buyers with the way your basement looks and can add livable space to the home, which is sure to dramatically increase interest and provide more versatility to your home.

We have agents who specialize in helping home sellers. Before you decide to do a renovation to try and boost your home’s value, why not speak with someone who can tell you if it will be worth it? Berkshire Property Agents luxury and high-end properties, and we can help you get the most bang for your buck from your renovation projects. Call us at 413-528-6800 and speak with our expert Realtors about selling your home today.


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    Where To Eat, Stay, And Play In The Berkshires

    The Berkshires, a region of western Massachusetts comprised of 30 towns and two cities, sees hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, according to Lindsey Schmid, director of marketing for 1Berkshire, the regional tourism council for the area.

    Up to 80 percent of the land in the Berkshires is undeveloped, Schmid said, which means there’s plenty of nature to explore by hiking, camping, skiing, kayaking, and zip lining.

    “There’s just something about when you come here, there’s an expansive feeling,” Schmid said.

    The area is rich in cultural offerings, as well. You can hop between towns to experience shopping, farm-to-table restaurants, world-class museums, and music festivals. Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, draws more than 300,000 people each season.

    Read the full article here:




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      Raising Rates: How It Can Affect Your Mortgage

      The Federal Reserve recently decided to raise its short-term interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point once again. While that might not seem like a big change, it could end up making an impact on those buying homes as well as for those with variable rate mortgages.

      The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage rate hit a high for 2017 shortly after the Federal Reserve’s announcement, jumping to 4.21 percent. According to CNN, that means that homebuyers will end up paying roughly $57 more per month for a mortgage right now than they would have if they obtained a mortgage one year ago when also factoring in the Fed’s last rate hike. It also means that anyone with a variable rate mortgage will see an increase in their payments in the coming months.

      The good news for everyone out there thinking about buying a home at the moment, though, is that the Federal Reserve interest rate hike did not come out of the blue. Instead, industry analysts have been predicting a jump in the interest rate for months now. Although it’s only the third time the Federal Reserve has raised rates since 2015 ended, it’s not necessarily a reason to panic. Mortgage rates are actually still very low, and real estate experts don’t think they are going to top 5 percent at any point in 2017.

      With that in mind, now is a good time for potential homebuyers to test the market and see what they can get for their money. The Federal Reserve’s decision to increase interest rates shouldn’t scare you off if you are in the market for a new home. Rather, it’s a sign of a regrowing and rebounding economy and a sign of economic confidence – a good sign for buyers, sellers and owners alike.

      Berkshire Property Agents can help you find the perfect new home in the Berkshires region. We understand the anxiety and stress that often comes along with home shopping, especially when things like interest rates become a concern. Our experts can help talk you through the process, discuss your options, discover your needs and help find properties that meet your goals and your budget. Schedule an appointment with one of our agents today by calling 413-528-6800.


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        Buying to Rent: Three Factors for Rental Property Investors to Consider

        Are you interested in purchasing a property and renting it out to make a profit every month? If so, there are some things that you should keep in mind as you shop for the perfect rental property. By carefully considering these items, you can ensure that you make a good investment and get the most from your new rental home.

        Research the Value of the Property

        One of the first things you’re obviously going to want to think about before purchasing a rental home is the value of the property. Of course, you want to be sure your property is worth the money you’re going to pay for it, but can you also rent it profitably? If you plan on purchasing a condo or home by taking out a mortgage, you’re going to want to crunch some numbers and make sure you’re going to be able to rent it out for more than your mortgage will cost every month. As Zillow points out, you’re also going to want to take real estate taxes into account and find out how much utilities will cost you on average. These are all factors that will determine how profitable your investment will be.

        Check the Condition of the Property

        If a home is in great condition and doesn’t need much work done, you don’t need to worry about this item too much. But if you walk into a potential rental property and immediately notice that you will need to do a lot of work to it, you’ll probably want to look for a different property. A little bit of work shouldn’t scare you off – after all, nearly every home can use a little TLC or improvement work. If the home has more serious problems – either obvious when viewing or after having the property inspected by a professional inspector – there’s a good chance that you’ll be pouring money into the home to get it to rentable shape, meaning more upfront expense and a longer delay before you can start making money from renters.

        Consider the Location of the Property

        Location is always important when you are purchasing property, and it’s especially important when it comes to rentals. You want to make sure your property is located in a desirable neighborhood, with access to local conveniences and amenities like shopping, entertainment and transit. You also need to think about your property in a long-term view – do you think the neighborhood will still be popular in five or 10 years, or are nearby commercial developments or industrial projects impeding on the peace and quiet – and desirability – of the location. If you aren’t completely sold on the location, prospective renters are likely to balk as well, so you should steer clear of committing to purchase that property.

        These are just a few of the things that you will need to consider before purchasing a rental property, but there are many other factors to think about as well. The team at Berkshire Property Agents can help you find the right rental property, meeting your budget and your needs and working to find the most appealing neighborhoods for attracting tenants. Call us at 413-528-6800 today to start the search for your rental property.


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          Growing Your Investment: Benefits of Buying Real Estate

          Are you interested in investing your money and getting a sizable return?

          One of the best ways to do it is by purchasing property. Maintaining and updating an investment home allows you to see the value of your property grow, becoming more and more valuable over the years. There are a handful of ways to invest money – you can purchase everything from stocks and bonds to bars of gold – but real estate is one of the most popular and common investment options, especially since you can play a more active role in your investment and even use it to make additional income. Let’s look at a few of the main advantages of real estate investing.

          Start Making Money on Your Investment Right Away

          If you purchase a home or a condo as an investment property, you can start renting it out as soon as you want. This gives you a passive income stream – collecting rent from your tenants every month to help you pay off the full amount of the property, manage upkeep and invest in improvements. While it may take a little effort on your part every month to keep the property managed, you will, in essence, be using someone else’s money to fund your investment. This will pay off in a big way in the long run.

          Making Improvements on Your Investment Property Can Increase Value

          With stocks, bonds, gold and other investments, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to improve them. You’re more or less at the mercy of the stock market and other external factors. But with a real estate investment, you can make improvements that will increase the value of your investment very quickly. By putting a new kitchen or bathroom into an investment property, you can also see a large return right away, as these kinds of improvements can command a higher rent price.

          Property Investments Don’t Require a Significant Amount of Cash Up Front

          When you invest your money in stocks, bonds or other traditional investment options, you will typically need to put your money up at the beginning of the process so that it can be invested. You’re buying these tradable commodities, and that requires cash up front. That’s not usually the case when buying an investment property. While you do always have the option of paying for a property with cash, and you will need a significant balance for a down payment, there are many more financing options available when buying property, which means you can pay for your property over time while still growing your money for the future.

          If you have considered purchasing a property as an investment, now is an excellent time to do it. Berkshire Property Agents has a large selection of properties available and our team would be happy to show some great options to you. Call us at 413-528-6800 today to schedule an appointment with one of our agents.



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            Winter in the Berkshires: Snow Much Fun!

            Anyone who has ever visited or lived in the Berkshires knows how exciting this area can be. There always seems to be something to do or see, especially in the winter. If you are thinking of visiting or moving to the area, then you will want to know what you are in for, take a look at just a few of the fun upcoming events and activities being held in the Berkshires this winter.

            10×10 Upstreet Arts Festival

            The citizens of the Berkshires are oozing with talent, and you can witness all of the artistic genius at the annual 10x10 Upstreet Arts Festival. This fantastic winter event gives visitors a dose of great music and theater. The event is held each year within the Upstreet Cultural District in Pittsfield, which is a great destination all by itself. Check it out this February, running from Feb. 16 to Feb. 26.

            Gain Some Knowledge at the Many Museums

            If you want to get out of the snow for a while, take some time to check out some of the stellar museums in the region. Some of our most popular destinations include the Norman Rockwell Museum, located in Stockbridge, and The Clark in Williamstown, boasting a rich selection of photographs, paintings, sculpture art and more from around the world. Spend some time indoors and check out these – or any of the region’s other museums – during the winter season.  

            Go Antiquing

            Antiquing has always been a popular pastime, but it has truly surged in recent years. Collectors of fine items from years gone by will get a kick out of the many antiquing opportunities that the Berkshires presents. The region is home to more than 50 antique shops and galleries that cover a broad range of periods and have a ton of neat and unique items that are just waiting to be found.

            Fun for the Children

            Of course, it is not only about the adults – kids need to have some engagement as well! Not to worry: There’s a slew of fun events and attractions for children of all ages. For a thrilling learning experience, you can take the family to the famous Museum of Animation and Special Effects, which is home to a real Academy Award and provides a fun opportunity for them to make their own animated movie. Younger kids will absolutely adore the Berkshire Carousel, a gorgeous wooden carousel which is in the heart of Pittsfield and features more than three dozen horses all carved by hand by supporters and members of the community in support of different causes and in different carousel styles. It’s truly a unique experience for young and old alike!

            Make it a Permanent Vacation with Berkshire Property Agents. 


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              Free Hikes Guided by Berkshire Natural Resource Council

              Free guided hikes in the Berkshires this winter. As it is hunting season, please wear bright orange on all Berkshire Natural Resource Council (BNRC) properties and trails!

              Hollow Fields Moonrise Hike, Richmond. There is no better place to see the moon. 

              Wednesday, December 14, 5pm - 8pm.

              Parsons Marsh Meander, Lenox

              Saturday, December 17, 2017, 10am-noon

              Basin Pond Hike, Lee. See the dense northern hardwood forest through winter’s lens.

              Saturday, January 7th, 10am - 1pm

              Constitution Hill, Lanesborough. Explore the property from the valley to the spiny ridgeline.

              Wednesday, January 11, 10am - 12pm.


              For more information (and more hiking opportunities in the Berkshires), please visit



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                The Elaine Rush Collection Online

                Elaine Rush is a name well-known in American avant-garde collecting. Starting in the 1970’s, after the Montreal-born fashionista moved to New York, she began collecting on her drives to flea markets all over the east coast. This online auction encapsulates her exuberant and eye-catching style in a selection of 186 lots from Rush’s personal collection. From Tramp Art to Adirondack armchairs to bottle cap art by Rick Ladd, this highly-curated auction offers one-of-a-kind items that fit into a wide array of home design.





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