My Blog

Biking South Shore, MA and trails a car drive away

10/20/2020

South Shore, Massachusetts

Myles Standish State Forest - Plymouth
unnamed-1.jpg

One of our favorite places for bike rides! The paved bike paths are hilly with lots of turns, so it feels like a roller coaster. We prefer to park at parking lot 7 (P7) off Bare Hill Road next to Rocky Pond, Plymouth, not the main entrance.

Wompatuck State Park - Hingham

Wompatuck
What we like most about the paved bike trails here is how wide they are and although the park is big, there are signs throughout to bring you back to the visits center.

Cape Cod

Shining Sea Bikeways - Falmouth - 10.7 miles long

unnamed-3.jpg
We don’t have a favorite section on this trail. We love it all! Mile 0 is at Woods Hole and ends at mile 10.7 North Falmouth. We like to split the ride up. Some days we start at Woods Hole and bike to mile marker 5. That ride takes you along the beach. Then, we turn around at mile 5. Other days we start at the other end at mile 10.7 and bike to mile 5. That part of the trail brings you past marshes and cranberry bogs. Every mile as delightful as the last.

Cape Cod Rail Trail - CCRT - 25.5 miles long

unnamed-2.jpg
When we have time to stay overnight, we like Four Point by Sheraton Eastham. It has an excellent indoor pool, and the trail is directly behind the hotel.

Biking for the day, we park at Nickerson State Park or GPS Ferretti’s Market Brewster (the lot is across the street from the market), then take a left on the trail toward Harwich. We prefer that section of the trail (ride miles 10.8 to mile 3) because we pass the lakes and cranberry bogs.

Cape Cod Canal
Cape cod canal

When we bike the Cape side of the canal, we park at the Sandwich Recreational Area.  We bike to the other end of the canal, which is 7 miles.  When we return to the parking lot, we enjoy lunch or dinner at the Fisherman's View, which is right there.  
On the other side of the bridge, we park at the Sagamore Recreational Park.  With the kids, we prefer this side. There are more interesting places to stop for ice cream, a playground, and you can spend time at Scusett Beach before biking back.

Rhode Island

Rail Explorers

72047032_502038093925464_5791335216186392576_o.jpg
For our excursion at the Rail Explorers, we took the Southern Circuit this year. Both the Northern Ramble and the Southern Circuit are 6 miles. If you book the Northern Ramble trail you pedal the 6 miles, all in one shot.  On our tour a bus took us from the check in station to the start of the trail, then we biked back to the station.  The next group starts their ride at the check in station, pedals 6 miles and gets the bus back to the station.  Either way there is a bus involved in the Northern Ramble.

The Southern Circuit starts at the station. You bike for 3 miles, stop, and hang out at a scenic cliff overlooking the ocean. The Rail Explorers have baskets to pack food and eat at the 20-minute break, then do the 3 miles back. We prefer the Southern Circuit. It’s more scenic, and the stop makes for some nice family time.

As our staycation continues, we plan to explore Rhode Island on our bikes.  Next up will be Quonset Bike Path because it’s completely off road. 

Exploring with Chetty on the South Shore and Cape Cod, MA

9/9/2020

me with kids on boat

South Shore, MA

Marshfield - We purchased Marshfield’s yearly launch permit for $75. This was a great investment! With the permit, you can launch from The Marshfield Yacht Club, dumping you into the South River.

From there, it’s only a few minute boat ride to the Spit on the North River in Scituate. Such a delight at low tide, when it turns into a big sandbar! Or you can launch right at Green Harbor with the permit, too.

To check out the area for the day, the easiest way is to launch at Roht Marina $30 a day or get a day permit at Green Harbor for $7 for MA residents, $21 for out-of-state.
unnamed-2.jpg

Duxbury – Launching at the public ramp in Duxbury is also $30. But be warned! It’s mighty shallow at low tide, so it’s unusable. We just avoided that ramp, so we didn’t have to plan around getting back at certain times to avoid the tide.

Kingston – Has the same issue as Duxbury. You have to worry about the tides too much, so we didn’t use it.

Plymouth – We loved launching at Plymouth Center behind East Bay Grill! The public ramp is only $10 and is a quick ride to Browns Bank, another huge sandbar island.
browns bank

Cape Cod, MA

Wellfleet – Such a beautiful marina with secluded beaches for boaters! But it’s another ramp you can’t get the boat on at low tide. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that, so we were stuck on the boat for 2 hours as we waited for the tide to come up high enough to make it to the ramp. Figures! We picked a day that had a negative tide, which means lower than usual.

Dennis – Bass River has multiple public ramps. We loved exploring the area! There are so many fun inlets to cruise through. Chetty had a blast!

Buzzards Bay
 – Another nice spot to launch is Taylor Point Marina. This is a delightful starting point to cruise to Basset Island, Pocasset and Cataumet.

Barnstable - Blish Point Marina is a short boat ride to a favorite spot The Sand Bar at Sandy Neck’s another spot enjoyed by boats only.

Escapades in Watersports

unnamed.jpg

The highlight of having a boat for the kids was unlimited tubing.  We mostly tubed at Long Pond, Plymouth, MA. The state ramp has no fee or permit required. However, there’s also no Jet Skis, and there are horsepower restrictions. 

Other spots with public ramps for water sports are Monponsett, Halifax, MA and Long Pond, Harwich, MA.  We heard we could launch Chetty at Great Herring Pond and Big Sandy Pond, Plymouth, MA but never got around to it. Next year!

Bonus Tip: Because we loved exploring new areas so much, Joe relied on the Navigation GPS app, Navionics. For $15 a year, he says it’s absolutely worth it to find launch ramps, food, fuel, weather, etc.…

Taxes and Home Ownership

8/10/2020

4.png
Taxes and Home Ownership

Owning a home can save you money on your taxes if you do the right paperwork. Here's what you need to know to make sure you keep every penny you deserve. 

Closing Expenses

In your real estate closing documents, there is a list of the expenses. Keep this list. These expenses are tax-deductible. It's a good idea to save a digital copy as a pdf.  The bank and the IRS receive notifications, so that's what is most important.  Like any other of the legal documents, your plot plan, etc., keep these receipts in a safe place to use for your taxes. 

Upgrades and Renovations

You can claim all upgrades on rental properties as expenses on your taxes, excluding maintenance. Maintenance includes things like painting, repairing your fence, and replacing an old hot water tank. Upgrading and renovations are significant changes, like an addition, garage, flooring, windows, etc.  So, to claim the expense, it must be tangible.  

Capital Gains

If you sell your primary residence, and you claim single on your taxes, you receive a $250,000 exclusion from the profit you made on the sale.  But if you file married, you receive a $500,000 exclusion from the profit you make on the sale.  

If you sell your primary residence, you may want to move to a secondary home you already own. If so, you must live there for at least 2 to be eligible to use those exclusions on that property. 

Even if you make more than $250,000 or $500,000 in profit on the sale of your house, capital gains tax is a lower rate than the tax on your income.

If you sell the property at a loss, the capital gains situation is different. You need to write that loss off against another capital gain, not your income.  For example, if you made money in an investment in the stock market, that's a gain you could use to offset the loss on your house.  

This strategy works well for many luxury sellers, but if you don't have a gain, you suffer the loss. If you have a loss and you owe money to the IRS, you can only claim $3000 a year until you claim that whole loss amount. Sometimes that takes many years. 

Rental and Investment Properties

Rental and investment properties are treated differently for taxes. That is a topic for another day, so that we can pay more attention to rental income.

Takeaways

  • Keep your receipts – on paper or digitally
  • Keep track of your renovations and upgrade expenses
  • Watch for capital gains and losses

Here at the KC Home Team, we help our customers buy and sell houses every day. We understand how important buying and selling your property is, so we're here to help. 

The Great GFI Plug Mystery

7/1/2020
GFI.jpg

The Great GFI Plug Mystery

Don't be shocked! The mystery is real.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFI, or GFCI) magically protect us from shocks from faults in electric devices. They compare the input current on the hot side of the plug to the output current on the neutral side. Okay, not really magic. And that's not the mystery.

KC Home Team highly recommends you get a home inspection. So, most buyers do have a home inspection before they buy a house. The inspection typically takes just a few hours to go over the mechanics of the house.

Your inspection gives you a complete, professionally prepared document that summarizes all the details of the functionality of the house. You learn about:

  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical (including GFI plugs)
  • Foundation
  • Safety issues
  • Roof
  • And much more.

We attend all our buyer's home inspections with them and also save the home inspection reports.

In this mystery case, in Plymouth, MA, KC Home Team checked in on a buyer to see how they liked their new house. Thankfully, they love it!

But they said there were a few projects they needed to tackle that didn't come up in the home inspection. 

We asked, "Like what?" Herein lies the mystery…

They said the bathroom outlets were not GFI. They knew because they didn't see the reset button. 

Christina attended the inspection and never heard the inspector say the plugs were not GFI. If she did hear that, we would have requested they be replaced.

We asked if they had their home inspection report handy. They did have their copy of the report.

Then, we looked it over together. The report stated that there was protection in the bathroom because they have functional ground fault outlets.

When inspectors are in bathrooms and kitchens they have a gizmo they plug into each outlet to make sure they are GFI.  Then, if the inspector doesn't see a ground fault outlet in the basement, that doesn't mean the outlet is not protected. The protection comes from the main panel, and the circuit is wired to the bathrooms.  (Of course, always consult a licensed electrician!)

Mystery solved!

But wait! There’s more!

But there is more to the story about GFI plugs!

KC Home Team also had a listing on Cape Cod that didn't have GFI plugs on the kitchen island. This was in the inspection report. So, the buyers asked that those be replaced. There was no water source within the island, but the sellers replaced the plugs anyway. 

And at a listing in Kingston, MA, there were GFI outlets around the sink. But not all outlets in the kitchen were GFI. The buyer wanted them all replaced, which the seller did.

Take-Aways

  • Always save your home inspection.
  • Check for GFI plugs.
  • Ask to have plugs replaced in places there should be GFI outlets.
  • Additional GFI info

So, if you ever have a question, reach out to your home inspector or to us. KC Home Team can't solve every mystery, but we're here to help!

4 Reasons Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Inspections Fail

6/15/2020

IMG_8426.jpg

Passing smoke inspection is a requirement to sell a home in Massachusetts. So, we review and share the "Guide to Massachusetts Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Requirements" with our sellers. However, every year, several smoke and carbon monoxide inspections fail.  

Four Common Reasons Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Inspections Fail in Massachusetts

  1. Age of Detectors
  2. Location of Detectors
  3. Isolated Detectors
  4. No House Number

Age of Detectors

The hardwired fire detectors were over ten years old. Then, knowing they would not pass inspection, the Plymouth, MA homeowner stuck new battery-operated smoke detectors next to the outdated detectors.  This shortcut is not permitted.  If your alarms are hardwired, then they must remain hardwired.  

Another South Shore seller changed all the detectors in the house but not the basement detector because it wasn't a finished basement.  Because there was a hardwired detector in the basement already it also needed to be replaced because it was over 10 years old.  The inspection failed and was rescheduled once the basement detector was replaced.


Location of Detectors

The seller had a Carbon Monoxide (C/O) detector on the furnace located in a closet on the first floor. So, the Plymouth, MA fire department insisted on an additional C/O detector outside of the closet in the main living space. An easy fix adding a plug-in C/O detector for the first floor.

Isolated Detectors

One smoke detector on the first floor was a different brand than the smoke detectors on the second floor. So, when the fire department came to inspect them, the first-floor detector didn't talk to the second-floor detectors. 

When the fire department tests one alarm, all the alarms must go off at the same time.  That sometimes doesn't happen when they are different brands.

Make sure the alarms are the same make/model. And before the inspection, make sure you test each fire alarm to make sure they all speak to each other. 

No House Number

There was no house number on the exterior of the house.  Your house must have its house number visibly attached so the fire department can easily find you in an emergency.  These numerals have to be at least 4 inches tall.  Some towns don't allow sticker numbers. Check with your city if sticker numbers are allowed or make sure the digits are permanently attached.

Having a rock with your house number or mailbox with your house number does not count. The number much be attached to the house. 

Additional tips:

* The cost for a Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Inspection on the South Shore of Massachusetts varies in each town, ranging from $25 – $50. 

Most fire departments allow one failed inspection without charging the homeowner again.  

* The certificate is only valid for two months, tops.  It is best to make sure you are always ready for the inspection. But do not have the fire department come out until you have a signed P&S and know the closing date.

If you have any questions, give your local fire department or us a call. 

We are here to help.  We hope this helps.

 

Documents You Receive After a Real Estate Transaction in Massachusetts

6/8/2020


Documents You Receive After a Real Estate Transaction in Massachusetts

After you buy or sell your house in Massachusetts, you may wonder exactly what real estate

documents to expect. There is a mountain of paperwork!

KC Home Team oversees the documentation of your real estate transaction, so we ensure everything goes smoothly. We understand that buying and selling your home is a major life event, but we do this every day! Rely on our experience with Massachusetts real estate transactions.

How do you know you have everything?

Attorney Frederick Casavant of Mirrione, Shaughnessy & Uitti helps answer the question.


Documents You Should Receive as a Buyer

As a buyer, on the day of closing, you should receive:

  • Copies of any lender documents, which may be unsigned
  • Closing Disclosure (CD)/settlement statement, signed by both parties

After you own the house, your attorney mails you the following:

  • Signed title insurance policy
  • Signed title certification
  • Original deed
  • Declaration of homestead, if any (highly recommended)

Buyers should hold onto their home inspection report.

 

Documents You Should Receive as a Seller

As a seller, on the day of closing, you should receive:

  • Closing Disclosure (CD)/settlement statement signed by both parties.

 

Documents for Both Buyers and Sellers

Both buyers and sellers should hold onto:

  • Fully executed offer
  • P&S in case something comes up post-closing that survives the deed. 
  • Addenda, amendments, or riders.    

 

The attorneys should retain copies for seven years.

There is enough stress in buying or selling a home. Join us as we make the whole process enjoyable! We love real estate, and we enjoy working with you every step of the way (even the paperwork!)

If you have any questions about these real estate documents, what they mean or how they work, please contact us for more information. Attorney Frederick Casavant and KC Home Team are always here to go over all these documents.

Divorce and Real Estate – Blog #3 in the Three Blog Series on How to Survive Buying or Selling Your House While Getting Divorced

6/1/2020


Divorce and Real Estate – Blog #3 in the Three Blog Series on How to Survive Buying or Selling Your House While Getting Divorced

This three-blog series helps those going through a divorce understand the pitfalls of real estate sales and purchases. Blog #3 shows how taking your ex at their word can get you into trouble.

But He Promised!

The divorce was final some time ago. Her ex promised that after the divorce, he would make the payments on the second mortgage on their jointly owned Plymouth, MA condominium. It was part of a bigger picture based on their incomes and debts to "make things fair."

Sometime after the divorce, she decided to list the Plymouth condo for sale. When she contacted the mortgage company about the mortgage payoff figures, there was an unpleasant surprise.

He never made even one payment!

She discovered he did not comply with his end of the bargain to make the payments on schedule. He never made even one payment toward the second mortgage!

So, the property was now in a distressed situation, and if she went through with the sale of the condominium, it would now be considered a short sale.  A short sale means that when the seller goes to the closing, they owe money. She had to bring a check to the closing instead of collecting the proceeds check she expected.

TAKEAWAY TIP:

Ideally, check in with your lender regularly to see that the payments are being credited to your account. Ask your lender if there is a quick and easy way to do this online. Go to the lender's website or call them at the phone number on your monthly statement.

Never assume that just because an ex promises, or is contractually obligated to make payments, that they will.

We wish to thank Attorney John Widdison, for his always helpful legal advice.  If you have any questions on how to navigate the home buying or selling process, John and KC Home Team are here to help.

PS Check out the book:  The House Matters In Divorce by Laurel Starks

Divorce and Real Estate – Blog #2 in the Three Blog Series on How to Survive Buying or Selling Your House While Getting Divorced

5/26/2020


Divorce and Real Estate – Blog #2 in the Three Blog Series on How to Survive Buying or Selling Your House While Getting Divorced

This three-blog series helps those going through a divorce understand the pitfalls of real estate sales and purchases. Blog #2 examines what to do when your ex keeps the house and how not to have their financial problems ruin your credit. 

Can My Ex's Credit After We Divorce Affect My Ability to Get a Mortgage?

A divorced man wanted to buy a home with his new partner in Hanson, MA. They applied for a quick preapproval before searching and soon found their dream house. All seemed to go well. 

Then, right before the mortgage commitment was due for the home they were buying together, an unpleasant surprise! The lender found a foreclosure ambush on his credit report that he didn't even know existed.  

His ex-wife got the house in the divorce a couple of years ago. So, during his divorce, his name should have been removed from the real estate deed to the house he once shared with his ex-wife. Unfortunately, it never was. She later went into foreclosure and unbeknownst to him; that meant that he did too. 

So, he now could not qualify for the conventional loan he expected and had to switch to an FHA loan. According to his lender, he needed to wait seven years post-foreclosure for eligibility for a conventional mortgage but only three years after the foreclosure for an FHA loan.

He did not want to wait another four years to make the home purchase with his new partner, so he went ahead anyway. Lesson learned the hard way!

TAKEAWAY TIP:

Always confirm the removal of your name from the deed if your ex keeps the house. Check directly with the local County Registry of Deeds to be absolutely sure. If it has not been removed, ask your real estate lawyer to complete the transaction.

If you have any questions on how to navigate the home buying or selling process, KC Home Team is here to help.

Divorce and Real Estate – A Three Blog Series on How to Survive Divorce When You Buy or Sell Your House

5/18/2020


Divorce and Real Estate – Blog #1 in the Three Blog Series on How to Survive Buying or Selling Your House While Getting Divorced

This three-blog series helps those going through a divorce understand the pitfalls of real estate sales and purchases. Blog #1 examines buying property before your divorce is final.

Can You Buy Real Estate While Your Divorce is Pending?

Over a year ago, KC HOME TEAM sold a client's house in Kingston, MA when they were going through a divorce.  After a year of renting, the soon-to-be-ex-husband started a home search. The tenants in the unit above him were loud, rent was high, and he didn't care for the location.  

He wasn't legally divorced yet, so should he be looking for a house already? What were his options?  To help him get some answers, we went to Attorney John Widdison, in Plymouth, MA. 

John advised us that whenever we encounter a buyer or seller in a divorce situation, to ask them whether the divorce was filed with the probate court. Once filed with the court, an automatic financial restraining order prevents both spouses from buying or selling property.

Exceptions – When You Can Buy or Sell Real Estate During a Divorce

There are some exceptions.

  • Purchase or sale is in the ordinary course of business – For example, one spouse is a builder or someone who flips houses.
  • With a court order to sell – Court orders usually apply to the sale of the joint property. Still, the court could authorize one or both of the parties to purchase property.
  • A written agreement between the parties – An agreement can allow one or both spouses to buy or sell property while the divorce is pending. There is some language stating that the newly purchased property is not divided up as a marital asset.

Otherwise, until completed, legal counsel advises both spouses to hold off on their next real estate purchase.

Next, we asked Attorney Widdison if our client could use his real estate buyer attorney to draft the agreement. It seemed easier since our client is not using a divorce attorney. We quickly learned that it is best to have a divorce attorney draft the agreement.

Going Through a Divorce – What About a Mortgage?

The next big hurdle that a not-yet-divorced buyer runs into is getting qualified for a mortgage. Most lenders want to see a final divorce agreement spelling out the division of marital assets. Mortgage lenders also want proof of obligations like child support, alimony, and health insurance payments. Those expenses need clarification for a lender to calculate the borrower's debt-to-income ratio.  Our buyer received a preapproval before finalizing the official divorce. Still, the preapproval process took longer because of the additional paperwork the lender required.

TAKEAWAY TIP:

As you contemplate buying a house before your divorce finalizes, get court permission in advance or an agreement from a divorce attorney with your soon-to-be-ex-partner.

  • The agreement states that you can purchase the next property and that it is not a marital asset, so that it won't be further divided.  
  • If you don't have an order or an agreement, you violate that automatic restraining order in every divorce summons.
  • The risk is that a divorce court finds the new house is a marital asset and orders that it included in the marital estate. So, it becomes subject to division at the time of the divorce.

Getting a divorce is hard enough. Don't add more trouble by entering into real estate deals that could be jeopardized by your ex-partner or the court.

We wish to thank Attorney John Widdison, for his always helpful legal advice.  If you have any questions on how to navigate the home buying or selling process, John and KC Home Team are here to help.

Page:  of 000  |