Ask Jean

Jean Allard, SRES is Vice President and Sales Associate with Keystone Real Estate Group. Feel free to comment on Jean's blog posts and ask any questions you may have on all facets of real estate!


Published 02/24/2015

Say it isn't so! It's February and you still have Santa on your roof? Holiday lights are hanging from the bushes and wooden reindeer are still on the front lawn?  What message does this send to a potential buyer for your home?  Subconsciously, they are wondering if they even want to bother looking inside.  The message they get is that you just don't care. If you don't care enough to take care of seasonal items, what else have you let go? Roof leaks? General maintenance?

It's been a loooong, cold and snowy winter.  We get that. While the winter months typically slow down for listings, serious buyers are still looking, however.  Here's the opportunity to shine. Go ahead. Take down that inflatable Grinch. He's been buried under the snow and needs to go back in the garage. Untangle those lights and put them away. Hang a wreath of fresh lemons or oranges on the front door to add a pop of color.  It's SO much more welcoming than dead twigs.   

What's That SMELL??

Published 02/23/2015

We know you love your pets.  They're part of the family, right?  Over time, we become nose-blind to just how badly they can smell.  When you're listing your house, be sure you've eliminated all traces of pet odors.  Having the house professionally cleaned is the best way to be sure your home smells and looks fresh. 

Pet dander can trigger allergic reactions to a lot of potential buyers.  Your sale will be lost before you can say "achoo!" Remember that you want to attract the most people as possible to your home.  Make it a welcoming environment. Not everyone is as enamored with Fido and Fluffy as you are.

Once the place is clean, remove all pet paraphernalia.  This includes food bowls, dog beds, litter boxes and cat climbing towers.  Take the pets out of the home during all showings. While it's inconvenient to you in the short term, it will help buyers to see the space itself.  The other items are a distraction.

Placing candles strategically throughout the house helps.  Or, put a pot of simmering water on the stove.  Fill it with cinnamon, apples and nutmeg to mimic the smell of apple pie.  If you have time, bake some brownies and leave them on the counter.  Not only will it be comforting to smell, you've now left a sweet taste of home in their mouth. 

Seniors and Real Estate

Published 02/20/2015

Did you know that there is a specific designation that identifies a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES)? That's because working with seniors who are transitioning from their homes is delicate business. In today's technological world of texting, e-mail and Skype, elderly folks are out of the loop. They need old fashioned face-to-face meetings. Phone calls. Family involvement. Where will they go when they can no longer live alone? Do they have a health care proxy? Who will wr...ite checks for them if they become hospitalized? They need a team of professionals to guide them along the way. A holistic approach is the key to an easy transition.

It's advisable to have a family member with them to meet with the Realtor. Perhaps it will take a few meetings before they are comfortable putting their house on the market. A good SRES will guide them toward other professionals to remove the stumbling blocks ahead. It's frightening enough to buy/sell your home, but when your next move could possibly be your last, it can be downright terrifying. Be sure to work with someone who specializes in this field. If they are worth their salt, they will make that transition as seamless as possible.

Celebrating One Year In A New Home

Published 08/07/2012

Today I received this note from a client. It absolutely made my day and I had to share:

One year ago we sat in a series of realtors' offices and signed more papers than we could read, involving more money than we could properly comprehend. And then a miracle occurred. Somehow we landed in our beloved Birdnest, here in the greeny woods of Carlisle. By all rights all of this shouldn't have happened. Too many things had to not only (against all odds) go right, but they had to go right in the right order... And, not through our virtue or acumen, they all did. In those offices, in this economy, we sold two homes and bought a third, all on the same day. The next day, our fifth wedding anniversary, we loaded up the truck and moved to Carlisle --- Mass, that is. So many thanks to all of you who packed and lifted and hauled.

Today we celebrate one year in our new home, a haven, a heaven, and a place of welcome to our friends and family. Without the love of each other, this would only be a house. Without all of you, it would be less of a home. Today we hung a hammock to watch the stars through the pines. Tomorrow we celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. If you have champagne handy, now would be the time to raise a glass. We certainly  are...

Much love from a Birdnest full of Waxwings, Deborah & Glenn

How to Plan for Seniors Before A Crisis Hits

Published 05/14/2012


  • DO keep lines of communication open between senior parents and adult children.  You need to have uncomfortable conversations to understand their wishes as they age.  What are their funeral wishes?  Do they want to be buried or cremated?  Is there already a family burial plot they wish to use?  Have these things been paid for already?
  • DO be sure you consult with an Elder Law Attorney.  Find a specialist who is trained and sensitive to seniors’ financial and medical needs.  Planning ahead is critical! It’s possible a loved one may have early stages of dementia, or is otherwise cognitively impaired.  In that case, a Power Of Attorney should already be designated to make decisions in their stead.  There are a variety of options on how these documents are crafted, so you need to be sure they’re done correctly. 
  • DO know who will handle day-to-day financial affairs in the event you are hospitalized.  Mortgage, heat, electric bills all  keep coming even though you may not be there to receive them.  Again, an attorney should be consulted to be sure a son or daughter has the legal right to write out checks. 
  • DO have a health care proxy, and be sure they know what your wishes are should your health become dire.  Do they wish to have artificial means of life support?  They may prefer a “do not resuscitate” order.  You do NOT want to have to make these decisions on the fly.  Second guessing your decision after someone passes away is an awful thing to grapple with later.
  • DO consider purchasing a home with a single level.  Many life-changing crisis events occur because of a fall.  Stairs can prove to be treacherous as joints and muscles degenerate.  Remove that scare from the equation, and you can live independently, longer.  Independent living is everyone’s goal, and just because your health is good today, does not necessarily mean it will stay that way.  If you are hospitalized for any reason, you’ll want to come home to finish recuperating.  If you live alone and have to tackle stairs to get to bed, you may be released to a nursing home, instead.


  • DON’T assume that your assets will automatically transfer to your children once you die.  Without the proper legal documentation, this could be a long and drawn out mess. Your estate could be held up in probate court.  Many families are torn apart due to disagreements surrounding inheritances.  Be sure you spell out exactly who gets what.
  • DON’T wait to think about your day-to-day living needs.  If you have a washer and dryer in the basement, consider moving them to the first floor.  It’s altogether too common for seniors to fall while trying to carry laundry baskets upstairs.  If you are having trouble with your vision, perhaps driving is something best left to a relative.  Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.  There are agencies to help with errands, rides and light housekeeping.
  • DON’T keep your head in the sand and assume you will live forever.  No one has figured that one out yet, so until they do, you need to take action.  Have that uncomfortable conversation. 
  • DON’T think that a nursing home is your only option as you age.  There are lots of housing options that can enable seniors to live safely, and independently.  Explore those options now, and you’ll be better able to find the right fit.  There are shared living arrangements, independent living communities, assisted living communities…Do your research and visit some facilities to see what they’re like.
  • DON’T be crisis driven.  Once emotions kick in, logic can go out the window.  Educate yourself NOW about what services are available to seniors.  Visit senior centers and become friendly with the staff.  They are often on the front lines of knowing what you’ll need to know to plan ahead.