Wanda Mooney

The Heath Fair Celebrates 100 Years

As a native of Heath, Massachusetts, I look forward to the Heath Fair every year. This community event, filled with music, food, and agricultural-inspired activities, truly emanates the spirit of the Town of Heath and the surrounding Hill Towns.  The 2017 Heath Fair, happening Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 20, is extra special because it will be the 100th one!

In honor of this milestone, the organizers of this event, the Heath Agricultural Society, have added some new activities. On Saturday, there will be a zucchini race, where participants will decorate a zucchini, plug a set of wheels into it, and send it down the track in hopes it will cross the finish line first! Click here to see all the new added events for 2017, including a goat parade and a raffle for hot air balloon ride.

Traditional Heath Fair events are planned for this year, as well, such as the tractor pull, fireworks, horse draw, cattle pull, wagon rides, square dancing, and more. Live music will include performances by Small Change, Sweetback Sisters, and Patty Carpenter & the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band, to name a few. View the full schedule of events here.

On top of all the fun and excitement, it is the time spent as a community and the memories made each year that make this event so spectacular. The Heath Fair is just one of the many reasons that residents of Heath love their town.

For more information on The Heath Fair go to www.heathfair.org.

Photo: Heath Fair 100th Keepsake Print, Heath Fair at Twilight by Scott Prior: Purchase your own limited edition keepsake print and support the Heath Agricultural Society and the continuation of the Heath Fair. Click here for more information.

Proud Sponsor of the Bridge of Flowers Road Race in Shelburne Falls

The 39th Annual Bridge of Flowers Road Race is this Saturday, August 12 – less than a week away! For almost 40 years, this event has been a staple of Shelburne Falls. Over a thousand runners come from near and far to compete in either the 3K Walk/Run or on one of the toughest 10K courses in New England. The course starts on the Iron Bridge, overlooking the Bridge of Flowers, and then winds through the village of Shelburne Falls, back over the Deerfield River, up the infamous Crittenden Hill (also known as Heartbreak Hill!), up Route 112, and then back down to the village. The course’s figure 8 loop makes it viewer-friendly. So even if you can’t brave Heartbreak Hill, you can come out and cheer on the runners.

Over 130 volunteers make this event possible. They can be spotted in their brightly colored race shirts directing traffic, setting up the finish line, serving food, timing the runners, and more. Some of the volunteers come from one of the five charities supported by the race. This year’s supported charities are DIAL/SELF, Cancer Connection, The Art Garden, Friends of Children, and Academy at Charlemont. The race is also a fundraiser for the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association, who coordinates this event.

If you haven’t already registered for the race, online registration is open until Wednesday, August 9 at ShelburneFalls.com. Runners get a free race shirt, spaghetti dinner on Friday night, and access to the post-race party/awards ceremony; plus other free goodies donated by sponsors. Speaking of sponsors, Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont Realtors is proud to be a sponsor of this wonderful race, which brings so many new people to our beautiful village. Look for our logo on the mile markers along the racecourse. Good luck to all the runners!

Register Now!

Pioneer Valley Moving Into Seller's Market

An article recently published by Mass Live announced that the Pioneer Valley is moving into a “seller’s market”.  This means that the real estate market is currently favoring sellers, rather than buyers. The lack of homes for sale puts pressure on buyers to move quickly in their purchasing actions, or else risk losing out on getting the house they wanted.

According to the article, sales of single-family homes in June 2017 are fewer than in June 2016, while the median sales price rose. Also, the average number of days a home is on the market for June 2017 has decreased compared to June 2016. Specifically in Franklin County, sales are down 1.3 percent with 75 sales in June 2016 and 74 sales in June 2017 and the median price rose 16.3 percent from $224,000 to $260,500.

So what does all this mean for you? In a seller’s market, desirable houses sell quickly. If you are pursuing a new home, act in a timely manner. On the other hand, if you have been thinking of putting your home on the market, now is a good time to do so. However, sellers sometimes get overexcited in a seller’s market and might ask too high of a price. This leads to their house sitting on the market for too long. Make sure to maintain reason when listing your home.

For more advice on how to act in a seller’s market of if you are thinking of buying or selling, get in touch with Wanda Mooney at (413) 768-9848 or wanda@wandamooney.com.

To read the full article on masslive.com click here.

It's Western Mass Beer Week!

Last Saturday, June 10 was the start of Western Mass Beer Week, a week long celebration of craft beer and those who create it, support it, and love it. Only in its second year, Western Mass Beer Week has over 50 participating breweries, restaurants, venues, and more, covering four counties: Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire Counties. At the core of these events are the values of keeping it local, supporting small businesses, and promoting your neighbor.

I encourage you to explore neighboring counties, but there are also many exciting things happening right here in Franklin County this week! All week long, Element Brewing Company & Distillery in Millers Falls is giving away a free Element pint glass with the purchase of a tasting flight and Hope & Olive in Greenfield is featuring The Valley Flight, six 4 oz pours of their favorite local brews. From 5-8 pm daily, Ryan & Casey's Liquors in Greenfield is offering samplings from various Western Mass craft breweries.

Normally only open on Saturdays, Berkshire Brewing Company in South Deerfield will have open tap room hours on Wednesday, June 13, 3-7 pm. Also on Wednesday, The Rendezvous in Turners Falls is throwing a party from 6 to 8 pm for the release of Element's new IPA brewed just for them, Voo P.A.

On Thursday, June 15, The Lady Killigrew is combining two of their favorite things: waterfalls and beer. They will host a relaxing afternoon featuring Brick and Feather's In Absentia on cask and draft from noon to 4 pm. Then from 6 to 8 pm, Champney's Restaurant & Tavern in Deerfield will host a "talk & sample" with Hitchcock Brewing Company's owner and brewer, Rich Pedersen. 

Even the library is getting involved with Western Mass Beer Week! On Thursday, the friends of the Montague Public Libraries and Element Brewing Company will host Booz, Books, and Brews at the Millers Falls Library from 6:30-7:30 pm, where you can learn about the brewing process from the breweries and access books that give more information on brewing.

On Friday, June 16, Artisan Beverage Cooperative in Greenfield is having a party in the parking lot from 4-7 pm, with tasting room full pours of mead, kombucha, and libations. Also on Friday, and again on Saturday from 5-11 pm, Margaret Fitzpatrick will serve up some special, creative dishes to be paired with local brews, plus live music at Underdogs Lounge in Shelburne Falls. 

Check out all of the events at westernmassbeerweek.org.

Cheers!

Greenfield Farmer Market Opening Day This Saturday

Start Saturdays Fresh! Greenfield Farmers' Market Opening Day

Saturday, April 29th! 

Over 25 vendors are happily returning this year! The market continues to offer a wide variety of locally grown and produced farm products and local artisans. Farmers will have plenty of starter vegetable plants, hanging baskets, perennial and annual flower plants, herb plants, culinary herbs, mixed greens, baby spinach, arugula, maple syrup, honey, cheese, mushrooms, homemade jams, fresh baked breads, cookies, grass-fed lamb, beef, goat, poultry, pork, kettle corn, locally grown and produced hard cider, goats milk soap, and so much more! 

As the season progresses, there will be an extensive variety of other vegetables along with a wide range of fruit and non-food items such as fresh-cut flowers, herbal skin care products, eco-friendly cleaning products, yarn, sheep skins, and artisan vendors that vary each week.

Vendors that will be at our first market:

Hart Farm
Johnson Farm
Just Roots 
PK Industries
Balky Farm 
Sunrise Farm 
Parish Hill Creamery 
The Atherton Farm
Bostrom Farm
Rainbow Harvest Farm 
JuJuBee Farm
Fungi Ally
Hattapon's Thai Kitchen
M & G Kettle Korn 
Hungry Ghost Bread
Hearthstone Artisan Bakery
The Spelt Flour Bakery
Melnik SweetBee Apiary
Sage Farm
Eden Pond Farm
Dr. Cookie
Shoestring Farm 
Lyonsville Farm
Western Woods Coffee
Pierce Street Iron Works
Artbug Illustrations


This weekend Tom Gizzi will play an acoustic set of covers from different eras in front of Town Hall from 10 am-12:30 pm. The market also has some great things planned for our pre-Mother’s day market on May 13th with a Plant a Pansy for Mom Day – kids of all ages are welcome to stop by the market manager’s booth to plant a pansy to take home from 8:30am-12:00pm.

The market will also continue the SNAP & Save program with up to a $5 SNAP match on all approved SNAP purchases for the first two weeks of the season as SNAP customers settle into the new statewide Healthy Incentives Program (HIP). HIP will allow SNAP customers to double their SNAP dollars when they purchase fruit and vegetables from Farmers that are equipped to accept SNAP directly at their market booth. Currently Just Roots is set up with HIP, so please be sure to visit them for your fruit and vegetable purchases to get the double matching benefit prior to making your other purchases from the market. Other fruit and vegetable vendors will be set up with their own EBT machines that will allow them to accept SNAP purchases directly from customers. We’ll let you know as they are up and running. Once customers make their initial purchase they can then purchase any eligible SNAP foods with the incentive earned from purchasing approved HIP fruits and vegetables! “When a SNAP customer swipes their SNAP/EBT card for fruit and vegetable purchases, an equal amount of incentive funds are immediately and automatically added back to their cards, up to the monthly cap. For example, if a family uses their SNAP benefits to buy $15 of fresh produce at a farmers’ market, a credit of $15 will be immediately returned to their EBT card.” Find out more about HIP at: http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/hip.htm

Selling? Be Ready for a Home Inspection

 

You now have a buyer for your home and they have scheduled a home inspection.   

This article provides insight as to what you can expect and how to prepare your home for a thorough inspection.

 

Selling Your House - Better Be Prepared for a Home Inspection

You’ve got a contract on your home for sale—congratulations! But before you pop the cork on the champagne, you’ve got to go through an ordeal that could make or break that sweet deal: a home inspection.

The home inspection is a contingency written into most offers, meaning that if the buyers aren’t happy with the result, they can cancel the sale without losing their earnest money deposit, or reopen negotiations and ask for a price reduction.

So it’s important to prepare yourself and your home for this important step of the process. How? Hey, we’re glad you asked! Let’s start at the beginning.

Will there always be a home inspection?

If your buyers are planning to tear down your home and build their own dream house, you might feel a pang of regret, but at least you won’t need to worry about the quality and condition of your property. These buyers are trying to get the lowest price possible and, if they think a clean contract without an inspection contingency will make them an attractive buyer in a competitive market, they’ll often forgo an inspection contingency.  

But most buyers who are planning to live in your home want to know what they’re getting into. They want to know which systems work, and which don’t. They want to know how much money they’ll need to plow into the purchase, and which items you, dear seller, are willing to fix or replace to seal the deal.

The results of home inspections can give buyers peace of mind, or a tool they can use to bargain down the price. In the worst case, people with buyer’s remorse will use results of a home inspection to back out of the deal without penalty.

Sound scary? Don’t fret just yet. That first home inspection will let you know everything that’s wrong with your home. Armed with that information, you can fix problems before the next buyer shows up, adjust the price to reflect necessary repairs, or simply have a ready response when the issue comes up again.

Inspectors will look at everything

A home inspection is no quick once-over. Inspectors have a 1,600-item checklist, according to the National Association of Home Inspectors. Yep, you read that right—1,600. 

“If we can get to it, we’ll inspect it,” says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Here are just some of the areas of the home your inspector is checking, and what a home inspector is looking for:

  • Grounds: Standing water, faulty grading, sick or dying trees and shrubs, crumbling paths and walls
  • Structure: Foundation integrity, rotting or out-of-plumb window and door frames
  • Roof: Defects in shingles, flashing, and fascia; loose and hanging gutters; defects in chimneys and skylights
  • Exterior: Cracks or rot; dents or bowing in vinyl; blistering or flaking paint; adequate clearing between siding and earth
  • Window, doors, trim: Rotting frames, peeling caulk, damaged glass
  • Interior rooms: Water-stained ceilings, adequate insulation, and sufficient heating vents
  • Kitchen: Proper venting, no leaks under the sink, and cabinet doors and drawers operate properly
  • Bathrooms: Toilets flush properly, showers spray, and tubs are securely fastened
  • Plumbing: Drains flow properly; water has proper temperature and pressure
  • Electrical: Proper electrical panels and working light switches and outlets

How can you prepare?

The home inspection isn’t a test that you need to study for. But there are some things you can do before a home inspection to make the process go more smoothly.

  • Clean and de-clutter your home: Yes, inspectors will look way beyond the superficial sparkle of a clean home. But you want to make sure they have easy access to attics, basements, and electrical panels—and aren’t tripping over your kids’ toys while trying to do their job. Think of it as an early start to your packing.
  • Get your paperwork together: You should create a file with documentation of all maintenance and repairs you’ve done on your home. If you’ve had an insurance claim on your house, keep those papers together, too, so you can prove that you took care of the problem.
  • Provide complete access to your home: Make sure you unlock gates and doors to a shed or garage that doesn’t have lockbox access.

You could consider getting a pre-inspection to eliminate any surprises; some sellers choose to hire their own inspector to give the house a once-over and point out any problems, so they can fix them before the buyer’s home inspector arrives on the scene.

But be careful with this tactic.

“It’s not a good idea,” says Bill Golden, an Atlanta-area real estate agent. “If you have five different inspectors inspect the home, you’ll get five different lists of items they’re concerned about. Just because your inspector didn’t have a problem with something doesn’t mean the buyer’s inspector won’t.”

More important, if your inspector points out a problem, you’re obligated to disclose it to buyers.

“This could be a potential turn-off to buyers,” Golden says.

Do yourself a favor, and leave

Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, give the inspector your cellphone number, grab your car keys, and go to a movie or out to lunch when the home inspector shows up. Your anxiety will only make everyone uncomfortable, which isn’t a productive atmosphere during an inspection.

“Inspectors and buyers are not at all comfortable with the seller being present during an inspection,” Golden says. “They need to be able to freely inspect and discuss any and everything they come across. You may think you are being helpful by being present, but you are not; you are impeding the process.”

“A home inspector’s job is to point out each and every deficiency and safety violation they see,” Golden says. “Arguing with the buyers about an inspector’s findings is not helpful.”

“It may be agreeing to fix an item, it may mean giving them some money toward a repair, or it may simply be providing documentation,” Golden says.

An experienced real estate agent knows how to interpret inspection reports, which issues are vital to address, and which are red herrings designed to reopen price negotiations.

Lisa Kaplan Gordon is an award-winning freelancer who's written about real estate and home improvement for realtor.com, Yahoo, AOL, and many others.

 

Maple Sugar Season in Western Mass!

The spring thaw is upon us and the sap is running!   It is the ideal time to visit the local maple sugarhouses and enjoy some freshly made maple syrup on pancakes, waffles and french toast.  YUM!! Treat yourself to my personal favorite, "maple cream" and have it on home made bread.  When you visit the restaurants be prepared to wait in line but don’t worry it will be worth it.  You can watch the demonstrations on how they turn sap into syrup.   

Below is the list of my favorite places!    

 

 

 

 

 

Davenport Maple Farm, Shelburne, Ma

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gould’s Sugar House,  Shelburne, Ma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Williams Farm Sugarhouse in Deerfield, Ma

Greenfield 95th Annual Winter Carnival February 2nd - 4th

Join the winter fun this weekend at Greenfield's 95th Annual Winter Carnival, starting Friday, February 2nd through Sunday February 4th!

Ice sculpting starts on Friday in front of sponsoring businesses.  There is a warming fire starting at 5:00 and the Parade of Lights starts at 6:00. There is a full day of events on Saturday and Sunday that include Youth Basketball League Game, sleigh bell run, public ice skating, cribbage tournament and the Youth Center at 20 Sanderson Street has many events scheduled.   Bring your pets on Sunday, February 4th and enter them in the K-9 Keg Pull.  The realtors from Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont Realtors will be there to show support for our furry friends.    For more information click here to visit the carnival's website.   

Western Mass Real Estate Sales

 

2016 was my best year in real estate and I know it is the same for many of my colleagues.  I'm anticipating the real estate market to remain stable in 2017 and don't foresee any increases in sale prices or number of transactions.  January has already started off to be very busy with many sellers getting their homes ready to sell this spring.    

Below is a 3 year market snapshot showing you the median sale price, number of real estate sales and average amount of time to sell of single family homes in the Pioneer Valley, Franklin County area and the hill towns of West County.   As you can see the hill towns still take longer to sell but our median price range is higher than Franklin County and entire Pioneer Valley region.  There is a drastic increase across the region in the number of homes that sold.   As long as the mortgage interest rates continue to be at an all time low giving buyers the ability to borrow more, I don't foresee a slow down in the market.  

If you have interest in moving and would like to know the value of your home, feel free to give me a call at 413-337-8344 or email wanda@wandamooney.com.   

The figures below are taken from the multiple listing service and do not include private sales.  West County includes the towns of Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Heath, Hawley, Monroe, Rowe, and Shelburne.

 

 

 

 

 

Shop Small Saturday November 26th in Greenfield and Shelburne Falls, Ma

 

 

SHOP SMALL SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY

 

Forget the malls and shop small at your local stores this holiday season.  This Saturday November 26th visit your favorite town and get into the spirit of the holiday season.  You will not only support the local businesses but will find a great selection of unique gifts.

If you are visiting the Franklin County area in Greenfield or Shelburne Falls, here are some of my favorite places:

Wilson's Department Store - family owned department store 

World Eye Bookstore - wonderful locally owned bookstore

Greenfield Cooperative Exchange - great selection of something special for your pets

Shelburne Garden Center - perfect place for those who love to garden

Salmon Falls Artisan Showroom - amazing selection by local artisans including Josh Simpson glass

Young and Constantin - unique clothes and gifts

Molly Cantor Pottery - ideal gift for someone special

Avery's General Store - this one has it all!!  Worth the trip to Charlemont.