Wanda Mooney

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Light Up the Fairgrounds: Holiday Lights Drive Thru in Greenfield

The Franklin County Fairgrounds will host a festive display of lights this holiday season to spread cheer to the community and raise funds for three organizations. They are working alongside Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Franklin County and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter to organize a light display lasting three weekends. Over 30 groups from the community of 4 people or less are putting together the various light displays and are competing for a cash prize of $1000. We have two weekends left, December 4-6, and December 11-13, for the public to drive through the fairgrounds and enjoy the light display. 

Each car is asked to donate a minimum of $5 and each night one of the three organizations will receive 100% of the proceeds. These local non-profits have been hit hard by Covid-19 due to canceling events to stay safe and this creative fundraiser is a way to recover some of those funds and spread joy to the local community. 

For more information about this event, visit the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Facebook!

light up fairgrounds franklin county holiday mass

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For more information about community happenings and real estate news visit Wanda's Blog at www.wandamooney.com/blog.

Reverse Advent Calendar: Give Back This Holiday Season

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Although this year has been particularly difficult, today is a great reminder to appreciate what we are fortunate to have and to be grateful for the positive people and things in our lives. As we approach the end of the year, we can all think about ways to show our gratitude and to boost up the community around us.

You are probably already familiar with the advent calendar. Used for counting down the days until Christmas, these calendars usually offer some sort of treat behind tiny doors on each day, typically chocolate. They are a great way to build excitement leading up to Christmas. 

But have you heard of the reverse advent calendar? Rather than having a treat for yourself on each day, these calendars inspire you to give back. Every day you can collect a food item or donation to add to a box. Then at the end of the calendar, bring your box to your local food bank or donation center as a way to give back to your community. Reverse advent calendars are a great way to spread holiday cheer and to teach children that the holidays are not just about receiving gifts and eating chocolate, but also about making a positive impact on your community. Check out the reverse advent calendar below for ideas to fill your donation box.

reverse advent calendar christmas

Plus check out this list of thoughtful holiday gifts whose sellers will donate part of the profits to different charitable organizations.

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For more information about community happenings and real estate news visit Wanda's Blog at www.wandamooney.com/blog.

 

Shop Locally Online for Small Business Saturday and the Holiday Season

In past years on Black Friday, the village of Shelburne Falls has come alive with vendors, performers, lights, and festive decor to kick off the holiday season with their annual Moonlight Magic event. Shops would stay open later and offer special deals to encourage holiday shoppers to support the small local businesses. Unfortunately, there will be no Moonlight Magic this year. Therefore, it is more important than ever to support our local businesses this holiday season. Many shops have expanded their online stores, making it easy to purchase items from them without having to enter the store.

Small Business Saturday is on Saturday, November 28 this year. Support our local economy by shopping local on this day and throughout the season. Here are some shops in Franklin County with online stores where you can find great locally made gifts for your loved ones this holiday season:

small business saturday shop local western massSalmon Falls Gallery - Gallery in Shelburne Falls representing 90+ local artists and the glass art of Josh Simpson

Shelburne Artisans Coop - A Gallery in Shelburne Falls of Fine Arts and Crafts owned and operated by regional artists

Ann Brauer Quilt Studio - Original modern art quilts that capture abstract landscapes using fabric and color made by Ann Brauer in her studio in Shelburne Falls

Molly Cantor Pottery - Handmade pottery inspired by New England nature and life

Zawalich Woodwork + Design - Custom woodwork including electric guitars!

Bridge Street Bazaar - Bohemian lifestyle boutique in Shelburne Falls

Love Marjorie - Ethically handmade gifts that are beautiful and functional

KeenEye Photo & Collections - Film photography supplies, antiques, and collectibles

Al Ladd, Woodworker - Fine edge woodworking

Marilyn Beal, Dyed Naturally - naturally dyed scarves

Morrell Metalsmiths - Handcrafted ironwork for your home

Rag Hill Farm - Functional fiber art

Moonshine Designs at Kedalby Farm - hand dyed, hand woven goods using mohair

Pegathus Design - Calligraphy and Color Judaica and more

Mason Willard Photography - New England nature photography

Inge Jockers Jewelry - Handmade jewelry by local artist

Happy Holiday Shopping!

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For more information about community happenings and real estate news visit Wanda's Blog at www.wandamooney.com/blog.

Things to Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage

apply for mortgage real estate western massachusettsOnce you’ve found the right home and applied for a mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close on your home. You're undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new place, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any major life changes, consult your lender – someone who will be able to tell you how your financial decisions will impact your home loan.

Below is a list of things you shouldn’t do after applying for a mortgage. They’re all important to know – or simply just good reminders – for the process.

1. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts.

Lenders need to source your money, and cash is not easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

2. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your New Home.

New debt comes with new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt to income ratios. Higher ratios make for riskier loans, and then sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.

3. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone.

When you co-sign, you’re obligated. With that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you swear you won’t be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.

4. Don’t Change Bank Accounts.

Remember, lenders need to source and track your assets. That task is significantly easier when there’s consistency among your accounts. Before you transfer any money, speak with your loan officer.

5. Don’t Apply for New Credit.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO® score will be impacted. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.

6. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts.

Many clients believe that having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those determinants of your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. If your job or employment status has changed recently, share that with your lender as well. The best plan is to fully disclose and discuss your intentions with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature.

Check out Wanda's Fall 2020 Guide to Buying a Home for more helpful information for home buyers.

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For more information about community happenings and real estate news visit Wanda's Blog at www.wandamooney.com/blog.

Wanda's Winter Home Checklist 2020

winter home preparations massachusetts It is that time of year when the days are shorter. Prepare your home now for the winter months. Take a look at Wanda’s checklist and make sure you’ve got everything ready for winter!

Get Your Furnace Checked

A regular furnace checkup will prolong its life, prevent carbon monoxide leaks, and ensure everything is in working order. This tune-up will also ensure you’re getting maximum efficiency from your unit and not wasting your money. If you have a hot air heating system make sure you replace your filters.

Put Away the Gardening Supplies

Remember to disconnect and bring in all of your garden hoses. If water freezes inside of them, it can cause the hose to split. A connected hose can also make your outdoor faucet more susceptible to frozen pipes.

Ceramic planters that still contain plant life should be brought inside to warmer temperatures. If the plant was seasonal, empty the pots of all soil and store them out of the cold. This is also a good time to oil and clean metal tools before you store them in the shed. This will ensure they’re ready once spring rolls around again!

Protect Your Plants

Perennial outdoor plants can really benefit from some added protection in colder areas. The type of protection needed depends on the plant.

Clean the Gutters and Air Conditioning

Right after most of the leaves have fallen is the perfect time to clean out your gutters. Without this maintenance, you can have major problems over the course of the winter. Water will not be properly directed away from the house and can create serious foundation issues in your home.

You also want to be sure to cover your air conditioning unit to keep leaves and snow from getting in. 

Tune Up the Snow Blower

There’s no worse time to figure out that your snow blower isn’t working than right after the first big snowstorm. Take your snow blower in for a tune-up to make sure it runs when you need it most. 

snow winter 2020 massachusetts shelburne fallsGet the Chimney Cleaned

If you have a chimney and enjoy using it during the winter months, then scheduling an inspection is a must. When you burn wood in your fireplace, there’s a chance you’re creating a buildup which could ignite when you light a fire and cause a dangerous chimney fire. These fires burn at super-hot temperatures and can weaken the structure of the chimney, leading to damage. With brick chimneys, this can cause the brick to break down and give the fire access to the wood structure of your home.

Invest in a Carbon Monoxide Detector and Check Smoke Detectors

As we seek to heat our homes in the winter, the sources of carbon monoxide (CO) begin to increase. These include any appliances that work by burning fuel. If you have a fuel-burning (i.e., not electric) clothes dryer, furnace, water heater, fireplace, stove or generator, you have a source of carbon monoxide. As higher concentrations of carbon monoxide in the air can be deadly, invest in a CO detector. This will monitor the levels and alert you with a noise and light when they get too high. Carefully read the instructions on the monitor to ensure the device will cover the entire span of your home. You may need to purchase more than one. Also, check the batteries in your smoke detectors and make sure all are functioning.

Check Your Insulation

There are numerous areas where cold weather can make its way into your house. Before the weather starts to get too chilly, take a look around your home to make sure certain areas are still in prime condition.

First, check the seals around your windows. If you find the seals to be lacking, use weather stripping or caulk to seal around the frame. If you’re not satisfied with the amount of insulation this provides, you can remove the trim and put in an expanding foam.

You can also seal your doors by putting self-stick foam around the doorframes. Another easy way to weatherproof doors is to simply stick a door sweep at the bottom of the frame between the door and the floor.

One place you might not think about air escaping is through your outlets. Any hardware store will sell easy-to-install foam outlet covers (known as gaskets) that will prevent the cold air, which can get in around your electrical box, from coming into the home.

Keep It Humid

By closing everything up and keeping the heat in, you’ll have taken your house into a state of hibernation. It’s important to remember that everything will dry out due to a lack of humidity in the air.

This can cause a number of problems, including ones that affect your health. Warm air tends to dry out the sinuses. As gross as it sounds, that mucus in your nasal passages actually helps trap viruses and other nasty stuff before it can get into your system.

If you want to stop your house from becoming too dry, consider using a humidifier to keep your sinuses happy and the rest of you more comfortable.

Test your Sump Pump

Your sump pump will help you keep your basement dry during the wet season, so make sure it's working properly. Slowly pour a few gallons of water into the pit to make sure the pump turns on.  

Consider a Generator

If you live in an area that is prone to power outages, perhaps it's time to consider a generator. A generator will help you keep some lights on, along with the heat, during prolonged winter power outages. And both portable and standby generators are available, depending on your needs.

Stock Up on Salt and Sand

Purchase some salt, ice melt or sand before the first snowfall. And this will give you some extra traction when it's time to shovel the sidewalk and driveway.

When purchasing items to help you prepare your home for winter, be sure to shop local at these Franklin County businesses:

Plus, click here for a list of local service providers and area professionals to help you get the job done right!

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For more information about community happenings and real estate news visit Wanda's Blog at www.wandamooney.com/blog.

Crafts of Colrain Online Studio Tour 2020

al ladd crafts of colrain studio tourThe 2020 Crafts of Colrain Open Studio Tour has moved online! This weekend, November 14 and 15, from 10 am to 5 pm, most artists are offering 10% off when you shop their online store (using discount code: colrain10). There will be many new items offered for the first time this weekend. Plus, view videos about the artists on the Crafts of Colrain website to tour their studios virtually. 

Colrain, MA is a scenic town, just below the VT state line. Its expansive area of forests, streams, and farms has made it a desirable place for artists and creative people to live and work. They draw inspiration from the town's natural beauty to bring their art alive and offer it to the community. 

Crafts of Colrain is an annual event which usually brings the opportunity for these tucked-away artists to open their doors to the community. The artists normally spend the weekend hosting workshops, giving tours of their space, and then selling their products. Support these artists and this wonderful community event so that it may happen again next year, hopefully in person! 

View videos of the artist and links to their online stores at CraftsofColrain.com/artists.

(Photos source: craftsofcolrain.com)

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For more information about community happenings and real estate news visit Wanda's Blog at www.wandamooney.com/blog.

marilyn beal silk scarves crafts of colrain

 

Give a Franklin County Gift Card This Holiday Season

Franklin County Gift Card Greenfield MassachusettsEarlier this year, the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce released a new Franklin County Gift Card. Now, as the holidays approach, consider gifting one of these versatile gift cards to your friends and loved ones. They can spend it at the participating Franklin County business of their choice - so they are guaranteed to love their gift! Plus, you’ll be supporting our local small businesses and the local economy.

Here’s where you can purchase a Franklin County Gift Card:

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, 395 Main Street, Greenfield
Franklin First Federal Credit Union, 57 Newton Street, Greenfield
Ciesluk's Market, 55 North Main Street, South Deerfield
ENJOY. 4 Deerfield Avenue, Shelburne Falls
Greenfield Savings Bank branches: Greenfield, Shelburne Falls, Turners Falls, Conway, South Deerfield, Northampton-King Street

More locations to purchase coming soon!

The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Gift card can be used at the following locations:

Andy's and The Oak Shoppe
Baker Office Supply
Berkshire Brewing Company Tap Room
Berkshire East Mountain Resort
Centennial House Bed & Breakfast
Ciesluk's Market
Crumpin-Fox Golf Course
ENJOY.
Greenfield Community College Bookstore and Bursar's Office
Greenfield Farmer's Cooperative Exchange
Greenfield Games
Hamel's Creative Catering
Institute for Wilderness & Emergency Medicine
Ja'Duke Theater
Mesa Verde
Northfield Golf Course
Northfield Mountian Recreation Area
Plum Boutique
Richie Richardson FAB
Ryan & Casey Liquors
Thai Blue Ginger
Upper Bend Cafe & Bruncheonette
Zoar Outdoor

More locations coming soon!

For more information about the Franklin County Gift card, visit the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce online or follow them on Facebook!

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For more information about community happenings and real estate news visit Wanda's Blog at www.wandamooney.com/blog.

Selling Your House With Today's Technology

In a survey by realtor.com, people thinking about selling their houses today indicated they’re generally willing to allow their agent and some potential buyers inside if done under the right conditions. They’re less comfortable, however, hosting an open house. This is understandable, given the health concerns our country is facing this year. The question is, if you need to sell your house now, what virtual practices should you use to make sure you, your family, and potential buyers stay safe throughout the process?

selling house online real estateWorking with a trusted professional who is skilled with today’s changing virtual practices may help you win big. While always abiding by state and local regulations, agents know exactly what today’s buyers need, and how to put the necessary digital steps in place. For example, according to the same survey, when asked to select what technology would be most helpful when deciding on a new home, here’s what today’s homebuyers said, in order of preference:

  • Virtual tour of the home
  • Accurate and detailed listing information
  • Detailed neighborhood information
  • High-quality listing photos
  • Agent-led video chat

When it’s time to show your house in person, agents are also able to regulate the process based on the recommendations given by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), to help you proceed safely. Here are a few of the guidelines, understanding that the top priority should always be to obey state and local restrictions first:

  • Limit in-person activity
  • Require guests to wash their hands or use an alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Remove shoes or cover with booties
  • Follow CDC guidance on social distancing and wearing face coverings

Bottom Line

In this era of life, things are shifting quickly, and virtual seller strategies may be a gamechanging option for you. Let’s connect so you can safely and effectively navigate through all that’s evolving when it comes to making your next move. 

For more selling tips, check out my Seller's Guide: Fall 2020 Edition.

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For more information about community happenings and real estate news visit Wanda's Blog at www.wandamooney.com/blog.

Help Shelburne Falls Shine, Donate Now!

bridge of flowers shelburne falls massachusettsIn Shelburne Falls, businesses are accustomed to the ups and downs of tourism in the village. Summertime usually brings buses and cars full of tourists from around the world to come and marvel at the magical village with the river running through it. Visitors love to walk across the world famous Bridge of Flowers, a volunteer-run garden on an old trolley bridge, and down to the glacial potholes, a geological phenomenon. They support the local economy by dining out at the cozy cafes and on the outdoor patios of the fine restaurants. They purchase unique artisanal art, clothing and books, from the galleries and shops and local fresh food from the markets.  

After the flood of leaf-peepers in Fall and holiday shoppers in November and December, the businesses are familiar with the lull that happens in the start of the year, until visitors come back out once again to enjoy the fresh maple syrup and blossoming spring flowers. The profits earned from those busy months usually sustain them through these months so that they can enjoy the quiet time to rest and prepare to once again take advantage of the busy season. Plus, the appeal of a visit to Shelburne Falls helps support the economy of the region, by drawing thousands of annual visitors to drive along the Mohawk Trail and to stop in the small towns along the way. This year has been different. With the lack of travel this past summer due to Covid-19, some businesses were unable to meet their profit goals, which normally helps sustain them through the rest of the year.

But we, the people who love the Village of Shelburne Falls can help! Mass Development has offered a grant of $30,000 to the Shelburne Falls Area Business Association (SFABA). The conditions of the grant are that the SFABA raise $30,000 to match the grant dollar for dollar - giving the Association a total of $60,000. If awarded, this money will be put towards the Shelburne Falls Initiative: Making Downtown Shine. This initiative consists of two projects: the Economic Recovery Fund and Downtown Revitalization Project. 

Economic Recovery Fund

The Economic Recovery Fund would be used to help area businesses who are struggling or are in need of immediate cash to get back on their feet. The fund would also support artists and nonprofit cultural organizations which enrich village life, as well as serve to promote the village and area as a great place to live, work, play and visit.

Downtown Revitalization Project

The Downtown Revitalization Project would enable the implementation of a new lighting project and restore existing village decorations which would attract people to the village year-round. It would also enable the SFABA to hire a part-time coordinator to work with village businesses on the annual event, Moonlight Magic, a festive Black Friday event which promotes shopping at small businesses for the holidays. 

Donate Now!

If you want to see Shelburne Falls continue to shine, donate now to help reach the $30,000 goal at patronicity.com. There are only 66 days left to vote, so act now. Share the link below with your friends and fellow Shelburne Falls fans to help get even more donations. Together we can make sure Shelburne Falls continues to thrive.

---> Click here to donate at Patronicity.com <---
 

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For more information about community happenings and real estate news visit Wanda's Blog at www.wandamooney.com/blog.

How to Stage Your Outdoor Space for Cooler Weather

This past summer was certainly different than any other with COVID-19. But at least we had the warm weather and sunshine to allow us to enjoy the outdoors comfortably and be able to see friends outside while maintaining distance. Now with the colder weather approaching, it’s time to think about creating your outdoor space oasis to avoid being cooped up in the house all winter. Whether you have a screened-in porch, an outdoor patio, a deck, or just a bit of yard, here are some tips to make your outdoor space comfortable and inviting, even in the colder weather.  

fire pit backyard home gardenInstall a Fire Pit

Nothing says “warmth” like an outdoor fire pit! If you’re handy, build one yourself out of brick or stone, or even some other items you might have lying around, for under $60. Click here for some DIY fire pit ideas. You can also purchase a portable fire pit at your local hardware store. Call Aubuchon Hardware on the Mohawk Trail in Shelburne Falls at 1 413-625-6100 to see what they have available. Be sure to follow your local fire safety rules when having a fire!

staging outdoor space cozy winterLay Out Plush Cushions and Fuzzy Blankets

While basic outdoor chairs and benches are okay in the summertime, in the wintertime they will feel cold and uninviting. Add some seat cushions, outdoor pillows, and wooly throw blankets and your patio will feel like an outdoor living room! 

Add a Heat Lamp

Heat lamps have become one of the most popular outdoor additions to people’s homes this Fall. They are easy to turn on and can quickly warm up an outdoor space. Heat lamps can come as standing lamps which run on propane or electricity or can be installed on the ceiling of a porch to blow hot air into the space. 

Roll Out an All-Weather Rug

If you have a stone patio or wooden deck, an all-weather rug can serve multiple functions to cozy up the space. First of all, it will feel great on your feet when walking or sitting and keep your feet from feeling cold from the ground. Secondly, it will add color and flare to make the space visually more appealing and inviting. 

Clean and Decorate!

You’ve probably already been keeping up with the falling leaves and branches from Fall weather. But what about the random clutter in the yard? Take time to organize the exterior of the house, even the spaces you can’t see from the road, to make your yard visually more appealing. Then once you’ve gotten it all cleaned up, add some personal touches! String up lights, add some glowing lanterns or tiki torches, hang up outdoor wall art, and anything else that speaks to your style to make the space truly unique to you. 

When shopping for items to stage your outdoor space, remember to shop local! Here are some local businesses you can support in your endeavor to cozy up your patio, yard, or porch:

Andy’s and the Oak Shoppe, Greenfield - Outdoor furniture, rugs, and more! 

Tractor Supply Co, Greenfield - A variety of outdoor furniture, rugs, and heating supplies.

Aubuchon Hardware, Locations in Montague, Greenfield, and Shelburne - Outdoor firepits and garden supplies

LOOT Found + Made - Antique store in downtown Turners Falls

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For more information about community happenings and real estate news visit Wanda's Blog at www.wandamooney.com/blog.

Sources: https://magazine.realtor/daily-news/2020/10/06/5-ways-to-stage-a-cozy-outdoor-space-for-cooler-weather

https://www.livinglandscapesmatter.com/5-staging-tips-for-the-outdoor-living-room/

 

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