Every week, we ask an Boston real estate professional for their thoughts on the top trends in Boston real estate.
This week, we talked with Peter Lake, broker with Lake Real Estate.
Boston Agent (BA): With Boston currently blanketed in a thick sheet of snow, homeowners are faced with a unique challenge, particularly in a few weeks when it all inevitably melts. What can homeowners do to minimize the damage to their homes and, particularly, basements?
Peter Lake (PL): Damage from melting snow comes from two directions: above and below. That impending damage is about to become an area-wide epic disaster. Snow on the roof today may become the water in your walls tomorrow unless it’s channeled through the ice dams that form wherever there’s a gutter. Snow melt that’s prevented from leaving roofs can be pushed back beneath shingles and penetrate into the house, most often around the exterior walls beneath the ice dams. Homeowners must try every method possible to remove any snow remaining on their roofs, but it’s not necessary to remove all the snow to prevent water penetration. Cutting some channels in the ice will allow the melt to drain. Deicing methods include throwing roof melt disks up on the roof or, lacking those, a homeowner can fill nylon stockings with ice melting chemicals and toss them up on the roof. But stockings can clog drains and may remain on the roof for months. Tying a long string to them helps remove them after the crisis.
Basement flooding may be more difficult to solve if the water table becomes elevated to near-ground levels. Water may penetrate basements through small cracks in the foundation’s sides, but the worst-case is having water rise from below. Everything in basements should be elevated on wooden pallets or stored in plastic containers. Goods should never be stored in cardboard boxes because mold can form on them. Having a sump pump is important and may offer insurance benefits, but having two pumps offers peace of mind if one should fail or not prove sufficiently capable. It’s usually illegal to pump basement water into the street but no one’s likely to bust you for it now (pump at own risk). Prepare for the worst – we’ll probably see many basements flood for the first time ever.
BA: With the acquisition of Trulia by Zillow being approved by the FTC in February, what impact do you think their combined forces will have on the industry, if at all?
PL: Before we can judge the impact of this acquisition we need to see how numerous lawsuits resulting from this and other mergers are going to play out. News Corp., List Hub, Move, and the National Association of Realtors are all in a battle royal, along with Trulia, Zillow and there’s no telling how this will wind up except to buy a lot of lawyers their vacation homes. The consumer will be minimally affected but one good result may be better information than we’ve seen from both of the big players.
BA: What is a real estate challenge unique to Boston, and how do you overcome it?
PL: The greatest challenge selling real estate in Boston and its environs is explaining why prices here are higher than in most of the country but represent real value.
We’re safer from natural disasters, unlikely to face large social changes, more economically stable, blessed with cultural opportunities and a beautiful, varied environment.
I emphasize the stability of the region comes from continuous improvements that make the Boston area a better locale to live in every year. While other parts of the country deteriorate and face unsolvable problems, Boston becomes more desirable over time.
And finally, I tell them to pay attention to the Red Sox, even if they don’t like sports or baseball. I point out the Red Sox are more than a team – they’re sociology, anthropology, community, a microcosm of life’s fortunes – down today, up tomorrow, projecting hope and stability into the future. Clients generally ignore me by then – they’re too busy trying to see if they fit into the house I’m showing them.