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Ipswich Massachusetts Real Estate Blog

Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®


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New Smoke Alarm Regulations When Selling Older Homes

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

For Immediate Release - November 16, 2016

New Smoke Alarm Regulations When Selling Older Homes 

No Expired Alarms; Replacement Alarms Must Have 10-year Batteries 

Starting December 1, older one- and two-family homes cannot be sold with expired or out-of-date smoke alarms. The Board of Fire Prevention Regulations has revised the State Fire Code to require that one- and two-family homes built before 1975 must have working smoke alarms that have not expired. Working smoke alarms installed prior to December 1, 2016 (that met previous requirements) can continue to be used until they are ten years old or have exceeded the manufacturer’s recommended life, whichever occurs first.

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “Most people know they should have working smoke alarms. The one thing many people don’t realize is that smoke alarms need to be replaced about every ten years.” Major manufacturers of smoke alarms indicate they have a service life of about ten years and recommend replacement after that because the sensing technology deteriorates over time.

New Requirements When Replacing Alarms
When replacing expired alarms, the regulations require the new alarms be photoelectric with a hush button feature to silence nuisance alarms. Intensifying smoke will override the hush feature. Alarms can be photoelectric alone, or in combination with ionization technology. They may also provide smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detection in the same device. The biggest change is that replacement battery powered alarms will have to have a 10-year, sealed, non-replaceable, non-rechargeable battery. These batteries won’t ever have to be changed for the life of the smoke alarm. The entire unit, the smoke alarm and the battery, will need to be replaced at the end of ten years, and the alarm will give you an end-of-life warning.

Guide for Homeowners and Realtors
The Department of Fire Services has posted an updated version our Consumer’s Guide to Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Requirements for Selling 1- and 2-Family Homes pdf format of ConumersGuideSD-CO2016_booklet.pdf
 on our website. The guide covering the existing requirements for homes being sold through November 30 will remain on the site until December 1. Go to and type “Smoke Alarm Regulations” in the search box. The best source of information about a specific home is your local fire prevention bureau as they will be conducting the inspection.

Every Home Should Have Working Smoke and CO alarms
“The goal is to have working smoke and CO alarms when you really need them. Alarms that are easier to keep in good working order, should reduce the reasons people disable them,” said Ostroskey.

How to Find Out How Old Smoke or CO Alarms Are:
Check the manufacture date stamped on the back of the alarm to see how old it is. If it doesn’t have one, then it is already more than ten years old and needs to be replaced.

No Working Smoke Alarms in 55% of Last Winter’s Fire Deaths
“Last winter too many people died in homes without working smoke alarms,” said Ostroskey, “No one thinks fire will happen to them, but a majority of fire deaths occur in homes without working alarms.” Last winter (December 2015 – March 2016), there were 31 fire deaths in homes and in more than 1/2, 55%, there were no working smoke alarms. One-third of those who died in fires were seniors – people over 65.


by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

Study: Bidding Wars Here to Stay


The housing bubble was known for bidding wars, as buyers tried to snag a limited number of homes for sale and sent home prices soaring way over list prices. In the aftermath of the housing crisis, bidding wars still haven’t disappeared in some markets—and they aren’t likely to go away anytime soon, new research suggests.

Read more: Bidding Wars Brew Under Tight Supplies

Prior to the housing bubble, about 3 to 4 percent of homes on the market nationwide were sold in bidding wars, according to new research published in the journal Real Estate Economics. Researchers evaluated National Association of REALTORS® data dating back to the 1980s. During the peak of the housing bubble, nearly 30 percent of homes in metro Washington, D.C. were selling via bidding wars – the highest share of any other metro analyzed. In Los Angeles, 26 percent of the homes sold via bidding wars during this time; 23 percent in Las Vegas; and 22 percent in Baltimore and Norfolk, according to the study.

Since the housing crisis, the percentages have dropped considerably, but still remain elevated, according to the analysis.

“The persistence of this suggests that people have decided that this is a good way to think about selling these kinds of goods, selling houses in a more auction-like way,” says William Strange, an economist at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and one of the co-authors on the study.

It’s not just in areas with limited inventories of homes for sale that are seeing bidding wars either, researchers note. But they also suggest that real estate professionals may be strategically listing homes below their value to spur bidding wars.

“With the rise of bidding wars, we shouldn’t think that the housing market – like other markets – is just going to keep doing things in the old traditional ways forever and ever,” Strange told The Washington Post. “There are going to be changes.”

Source: “A Legacy of the Housing Bubble That Won’t Go Away: Bidding Wars,” The Washington Post (March 10, 2015)

The Smart Home

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

The Smart Home

Posted on July 13, 2015 by Keller Williams Realty International1 Comment ↓

It is now easier than ever to control virtually everything in a home with the simple click of a button or smart phone app. What was once only science fiction has become reality.

Not only can smart gadgets make homes more convenient and efficient, they also have the potential to increase home values and make them more attractive to buyers. Here are three popular smart home upgrades that could potentially increase home value and desirability, especially among millennial buyers who crave convenience and technology:


Programmable thermostats have been around for decades and are standard in most homes.  Smart thermostats, like nest, offer the ability to change the temperature and control it from your phone when you are away.

It even has the ability to track your temperature preferences and program itself within a week of installation.


Why Buyers Like This Feature

One huge advantage the nest has over other programmable thermostats is its ability to alert homeowners when a set temperature threshold has been reached.

Imagine having the ability to receive a notification that the temperature in your home is rapidly rising or falling alerting to a potential A/C or heat unit malfunction. This feature is especially comforting for people with pets. During the extreme summer and winter months, this could be potentially life-saving.

Another attractive benefit to a smart thermometer is the energy savings it promises. New home buyers are often concerned with potential future savings over the cost of their mortgage. The prospect of lowered energy bills is attractive.

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide  Detectors

Smart smoke detectors not only sound an alarm when smoke is detected, they also monitor for carbon monoxide. These products are also available from nest.

These potentially life-saving gadgets can send alerts to your cell phone when danger is suspected.

Depending on the brand, some smart smoke detectors speak before they sound to allow the homeowner a chance to dismiss the alarm before it sounds.

Why Buyers Like This Feature

Some homeowner insurance companies offer discounted premiums for homes with smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

 Keyless Entry

Another smart gadget gaining popularity is keyless door locks. These devices have the ability to remotely lock and unlock doors from a smart phone. No more turning around to make sure you locked the front door or leaving keys under the mat.

At $250 per door as sold by august store, these locks are significantly more expensive than traditional locks.

Why Buyers Like This Feature

Among the advantages of keyless entry is the ability to program locks to allow certain access codes for specific time periods. For example, if you have a cleaning service or dog walker, you can provide them with a code to use on certain days and times only. This offers security and flexibility for many home owners. 

One comment on “The Smart Home”

  • Tina says:
    July 16, 2015 at 5:28 pm We have the Wink system in our house. We’ve had keyless entry and programmable lights and outlets for about a year and absolutely love it. We can run macros from our phones to turn off all the lights in the house at the same time, or set timers on outlets for a fan to run during specific hours. It’s nice to not have to worry about getting up to shut off all the lights at night, or knowing that the porch light will be on when you get home late at night. The keyless entry means no more fumbling for the right key to unlock your door – and no more arguments with my husband because he forgot to lock the door (ours is on a 30 second auto-lock timer). We’re working on installing the Nest and the smoke/CO detectors in our new house as well!

How Much Is Your Home Really Worth?

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

How Much Is Your Home Really Worth?  

If you’re thinking of selling your home, you may be fantasizing about the profit you’ll reap from the sale or calculating exactly how much you’ll need to pay off your current mortgage and have enough left over for a down payment on the next house.

Before your fantasies run amok you need to realize that, while you can estimate the value of your home in a variety of ways, the true value is only what a buyer will pay for it. That said, there are several ways to get a strong idea of how much a buyer will pay for the property in current market conditions.

What Your Home Isn’t Worth

Many homeowners find it confusing that there are various numbers floating around that indicate their home value. Here are a few:

  • Property tax assessment. Each jurisdiction uses a formula to establish home values for a tax assessment, but this price rarely correlates with the market value of your home. Your tax assessment can be higher or lower than the current market value.
  • Homeowners insurance value. Insurance estimates are based on the cost of replacing your home without the land, so this value is skewed compared to market value.
  • Mortgage balance. Your mortgage balance simply reflects your home loan. The difference between your loan payoff and the market value of your home is your equity.
  • Neighbor’s home value. Even if your neighbor’s home is similar to yours, it’s not likely to be identical. A REALTOR® can help you evaluate your home’s worth in the context of other nearby properties.
  • Cost when you purchased the home. Regardless of how long ago you purchased your property, the value can have gone up or down.
  • Desired value. You can always try to put your home on the market for your desired price, but if you’ve over- or under-priced it, you’re shortchanging yourself. because you’re either selling too low or your house could sit on the market and eventually sell for less than if you priced it correctly in the beginning.

Comparative Market Analysis

A REALTOR® can do a comparative market analysis with recent market data to help you estimate your home value. When you sell your home, an appraisal will be required by the buyers’ lender, so keep in mind that your home has to appraise for the selling price or, depending on how your contract is written, you’ll have to renegotiate the sale or the buyers will need to come up with extra cash.

A CMA is both an art and a science. While it’s based on data, it also requires local market knowledge and intuition about which homes to compare and how to interpret the prices. Most REALTORS® will look for recent sales of homes that are similar to yours, preferably within the past two or three months, up to about six months. In addition, a REALTOR® can look at other homes currently on the market and homes that didn’t sell that were taken off the market to compare values.

The comparison of your home with others should include not only the size and the number of bedrooms and baths, but also the condition of your home, the neighborhood and the proximity to amenities. If you do not understand the comparisons a REALTOR® is making, ask to see some of the homes currently on the market or look online at photos of the properties.

While it may be tempting to list your home with the REALTOR® who tells you it can sell at the highest price, a smarter way to sell your home is to price it as accurately as possible from the beginning. Studies show that an overpriced home that lingers on the market will end up selling for less than the estimated correct price.

Seven Ways to Curb Winter Utility Costs While You’re Away!

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

Energy tips.....Ready for a winter vacation? If you’re spending your holidays abroad, take 15 minutes before you head out the door to complete these easy energy-saving to-do’s. You might save enough to buy yourself a massage après-ski. Plus, you'll be more relaxed knowing your home is hibernating safely while you're away.

  1. Turn down your thermostat. Depending on your home’s insulation, you can set your thermostats lower than usual. We recommend keeping it at a steady 55 degrees while you're away, cutting your heating bill significantly. (Do keep in mind the hazards of frozen pipes.) Programmable thermostats, which may be installed at no cost during a home energy evaluation, will let you keep the heat low through your vacation but warm things up just in time for your return. If you'll be away for an extended period, consider turning off the water, draining the pipes and setting the thermostat even lower — but talk to a plumber first.
  2. And your hot water heater (or put it in vacation mode). If your water heater is older than its warranty period, and especially if it's showing signs of age such as leaks or rust, consider replacing it now to avoid the catastrophe of a ruptured tank while you're away. Look for an Energy Star® model to save on the substantial cost of hot water, year-round.
  3. Lower and close all your window treatments such as blinds, curtains and drapes, to hold heat in the house. You should also make sure to lock your windows as that will help further eliminate drafts with a tight seal. While you’re considering windows, be sure that they can hold up to the winter chill – double- or triple-pane ones are best.  
  4. Add insulation and air sealing. If your home has cracks or gaps that let in drafts, or if your insulation is lacking, there's no better time to have the structure sealed and give it a warm blanket. You'll reduce your heating (and cooling) bills year-round, and you're more likely to avoid freezing pipes; this is especially important if you've turned down the thermostats.
  5. Use light timers. If you leave lights on to discourage burglars, put them on timers rather than having them consume electricity 24 hours a day. Save even more power by swapping out your bulbs to high-efficiency bulbs such as CFLs and LEDs, available at low- or no-cost during a home energy evaluation.
  6. Unplug everything you can or put your electronics on smart power strips. These power strips will both turn off your DVR when your TV is off and eliminate electricity leaks from equipment when it's not in use.
  7. Close the damper on your fireplace, if you have one. When you return from vacation, get in the habit of doing this after each fire, as soon as the ashes are completely cold.

Flood Insurance Update as of July 23, 2014

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

MAR Applauds Passage of State Flood Insurance Bill that helps Massachusetts homeowners


BOSTON - July 23, 2014 - The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) applauds the work done by Governor Patrick, Attorney General Coakley and Speaker DeLeo to address the devastating impacts of the changes to National Flood Insurance Program at the state level with the passage of H3783, An Act relative to flood insurance.

“Due to the older and coastal housing stock in Massachusetts, we have been working tirelessly with the National Association of REALTORS® on a federal level to seek relief for Bay State homeowners after major changes to the National Flood Insurance Program,” said MAR 2014 President Peter Ruffini, regional vice president for Jack Conway REALTORS® in Norwell. “We greatly appreciate that Governor Patrick, Attorney General Coakley and Speaker DeLeo not only recognized this as a serious issue, but also crafted legislation that will help some of those homeowners impacted to prevent default or foreclosure.”
This new law will provide homeowners with the option of purchasing flood insurance in an amount that would only cover the outstanding amount of a mortgage or equity loan. Previously, these homeowners would be required to purchase full replacement value regardless of the value of the mortgage owed. As a result, insurance premiums could be so high that some homeowners could no longer afford to live in their homes. This new law will be beneficial for some to help prevent default or foreclosure, but it is still recommended that homeowners carry enough insurance to protect themselves in the event that they lose their home to a flood.

“We will continue to work with our national association and other coalition partners to address longer term issues involving FEMA mapping and housing affordability,” said Ruffini.

About Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®:
Organized in 1924, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is a professional trade organization with more than 19,000 + members.  The term REALTOR® is registered as the exclusive designation of members of the National Association of REALTORS® who subscribe to a strict code of ethics and enjoy continuing education programs.

by Eric Berman | Jul 23, 2014

What's Happening in April?

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

What's happening in April 2014?

  • April Fools' Day - April 1st
  • Total Lunar Eclipse - April 15th
  • Tax Day - April 15th
  • Easter - April 20th
  • Earth Day - April 22nd
  • Holocaust Remembrance Day - April 27th


  • Golf Master's Tournament - April 10th-13th
  • NHL Stanly Cup Playoffs begin - April 16th
  • NBA Playoffs begin - April 19th

Seasonal Foods:

  • Asparagus, Lettuce, Garlic, Rhubarb, Oranges

Famous Birthdays:

  • April 1, 1928 - Jane Powell
  • April 3, 1958 - Alec Baldwin
  • April 3, 1961 - Eddie Murphy
  • April 15, 1452 - Leonardo da Vinci

Ipswich Makes the Top 10 Best Locations to Live in MA -

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®


Ipswich, our 10th best place to live in Massacusetts, boasts a low crime rate, 31 historical locations, and seven parks. It is also accessible by commuter rail.John Phelan/WIkiCommons

10. Ipswich

By Christina Jedra / Globe Correspondent

Ipswich, our 10th best place to live in Massachusetts, boasts a low crime rate, 31 historical locations, and seven parks. It is also accessible by commuter rail.

Economy recovering as housing market cools....

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

The U.S. housing market appears to be cooling off and that’s not a bad thing, according to Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff.

Rascoff expects home values to appreciate by about 3% in 2014, lower than the 5% appreciation rate homes had been seeing over the past year or so.

“The fact that the housing market is starting to slow down" means the recovery is sustainable, he says. "We had bounced too far off the bottom too quickly and so this slowdown is okay." 

The real estate market, of course, is a bifurcated story. According to Rascoff, appreciation in Las Vegas is up 33% year-over-year. California, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona have also seen home prices appreciate by more than 20% year-over-year.

Washington D.C., Chicago and Philadelphia, however, have all seen home values drop year-over-year.

“These markets are starting to find their own footing, some going way up and some not so much,” explains Rascoff. 

And the markets that are shooting up now won’t be for long, he notes. “It’s unsustainable...Las Vegas at 33% year-over-year [price appreciation] has to come down. What’s important to remember is these markets that are shooting up so quickly fell the furthest so they had a lot further to go on the  way back up.”

So where are the housing risks in 2014?

“What’s driving the housing market now is negative equity,” says Rascoff. “But what’s happened over the last year or two is that about 5 million Americans have been freed from negative equity so in some of these inventory constrained markets where home values were going way up more inventory is coming onto the market and that’s what’s helping to moderate these appreciation rates.” 

The days of buying a home at 50% less than its estimated value are gone.

It’s a seller's market right now according to Rascoff.

“Inventory is still constrained," he says. "There were a lot of buyers that were sitting on the sideline waiting for the media to tell people that home values have bottomed. We’ve now declared that and so buyers are trying to act.”  

Credit given to the The Daily Ticker

Reports on Manufacturing and Housing Point to a Weakening Economy

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

WASHINGTON — Manufacturing output barely rose in September and signed contracts to buy existing homes recorded their largest drop in nearly three and a half years, in the latest signs that the economy’s momentum ebbed as the third quarter ended.

The New York Times


The reports on Monday showed that economic activity was on weak footing even before a 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government early in October that is expected to weigh on fourth-quarter growth.

“The economy seems to be losing steam as higher mortgage rates have hit the housing market and destructive government policy will likely bash the rest of the economy,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors.

Manufacturing production edged up 0.1 percent last month after advancing 0.5 percent in August, the Federal Reserve said.

Factory output was held back by a 0.5 percent drop in computer and electronic goods production. Output of electrical appliances also fell.

While automobile output increased 2.0 percent, that was a sharp slowdown from the 5.2 percent rise logged in August.

Despite the softness in factory output, a 4.4 percent increase in utility output lifted overall industrial production 0.6 percent, the largest increase since February.

Separately, the National Association of Realtors said its pending homes sales index, based on contracts signed last month, plunged 5.6 percent to the lowest level since December. The decline was the largest since May 2010.

The index, which leads home resales by a month or two, has now dropped for four consecutive months. Realtors say sales of existing homes, which dropped in September, peaked in July and August.

Data last week showed that a gauge of business spending tumbled in September. That data, combined with a disappointing reading on hiring released earlier this month, has offered a dull picture of economic activity.

Thomas Costerg, United States economist at Standard Chartered Bank, said a run-up in interest rates over the summer on expectations that the Fed would soon trim its bond-buying stimulus appeared to be holding back the economy. “This will make the Fed even more cautious when they next start to hint at tapering,” he said.

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to an average of 4.49 percent in September, from an average of 3.54 percent in May, according to Freddie Mac. But a surprise decision by the central bank in mid-September not to cut its purchases and soft economic data have pulled rates lower since then.

The Fed’s policy makers are meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday and are expected to maintain their bond-buying pace, now at $85 billion a month.

While manufacturing accounts for only about 12 percent of economic activity, it was the main driver of the economy from the 2007-9 recession.

Factory output rose at a 1.2 percent rate in the third quarter, rebounding from a 0.1 percent fall in the previous three months. Economists expect that manufacturing slowed in October as the federal government shutdown hurt business confidence.

Last month, the amount of industrial capacity in use rose to 78.3 percent, the highest level since July 2008, from 77.9 percent in August.


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Contact Information

Photo of Ingrid Miles, CBR, SRES, Lead REALTOR Real Estate
Ingrid Miles, CBR, SRES, Lead REALTOR
Keller Williams Realty
11 South Main St & 1 Merrimac St
Topsfield & Newburyport MA 01983 & 01950
Direct: 978-471-9750
Fax: 978-861-4218

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