December Deals and Duds

As the year is winding down, some December deals are starting to heat up. But not everything is a bargain. Some things you should definitely avoid buying in December, and some things, depending on when you buy during the month, can be a real bargain…

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Best Gifts For People Who Have Everything

With Christmas now just a few days away, chances are you still have gifts to buy. But what are the best gifts for those people on your holiday list who say they have everything?

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7 Dumb Purchases – Boston Area Houses Not One of Them

Buying Boston area houses is not on the list of the 7 dumbest purchases you could make, but these things that we tend to “treat ourselves to” usually leave us wallowing in regret later on.

Buying Boston Area Houses Not on This List

If you’re considering buying any one of the many Boston area houses on the market, psychologists say that’s a smart move. They also say there are some impractical things we should step away from before buying and then wishing we hadn’t. Some of these items are downright absurd, yet we tend to convince ourselves that we deserve them, or they’re important in our lives.

Boston area houses are not on the list of dumb things people buy and regret buying later.1 – 3D TVs

The majority of 3D television owners regret their purchase. It’s not that the technology isn’t cool. The leading complaint is that there just isn’t enough 3D content to make ownership of one of these futuristic devices worthwhile.

When you’re coughing up between $2,000 and $12,000 for the TV plus another couple hundred bucks a pop for the glasses, that’s sort of a deal breaker. Most people find that it’s a major annoyance to wear the glasses that make the third dimension pop. Sort of like wearing your sun glasses in the house.

2 – Whirlpool Tub

Jacuzzi-style whirlpool tubs can be a real mood killer. Not only are they noisy, they’re time consuming to fill with water and prone to completely drain your hot water tank. Plus they’re expensive to operate, not to mention expensive to buy and install.

Bottom line: Most people don’t use them enough to outweigh the negatives.

3 – A Timeshare

The cost of owning a timeshare extends well beyond the mortgage. Annual maintenance fees, property taxes, and special assessments are piled on top — and they can be quite expensive.

Want to sell it after you realize you made a mistake buying it? Timeshares are difficult to unload. Few people are interested in purchasing a timeshare in the aftermarket, meaning you’re very likely to lose money even if you do find a buyer.

4. A Car They Didn’t Research

A consumer watchdog report found that nearly a third of all motorists regret their most recent car purchase. Among the top triggers of dissatisfaction: The car is faulty, it costs more to run than they anticipated, or they simply didn’t do enough research.

A car is one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make (2nd to buying any Boston area houses). So before pulling the trigger on a flashy sport convertible or a clunker with the little engine that could, experts say it’s important to weigh all your options and do your homework.

5. High-End Designer Bags, Clothes, and Shoes

A Gucci handbag can cost more than the down payment on that vehicle you may wish you hadn’t bought. Same goes for many designer scarves, furs, and dresses.

Many expensive clothes and accessories end up spending nearly their entire existence in storage. That’s because the average person wears only about 20% of the clothes in their closet, according to retail specialists.

Among the top reasons our clothes go unworn? The items no longer seem as unique or important as when first purchased, or we realize it was an impulse buy rather than a smart, practical purchase.

6 – A $5,000 Watch

So you got a big promotion at work. Why not reward yourself with a Rolex? You earned it. Plus, what’s more practical than a classic timepiece? “Don’t do it!”

Experts and psychologists agree, an expensive watch is probably among the dumbest purchases a person can make (if not THE dumbest). These days, most people don’t even wear a watch any more because their phone can tell them the time anyway.

7 – A College Education (No, Really….)

Okay, so most people would say a college degree is a smart investment — but it can certainly be regrettable. A third of millennials say they would have been better off working than going to college, according to a Wells Fargo study. The reason? They’re drowning in debt, and because of it, most cannot buy any Boston area houses that are for sale even if they wanted to.

More than half the 1,414 college grads surveyed by Wells Fargo said they afforded their education by taking out hefty student loans that have become the crux of their financial distress. Many said they think they’d have been better off with a less expensive, public education than a much more costly degree from a top-tier school.

If given $10,000, more than half of those surveyed said the first thing they would use the money for is to pay off student loans or credit card debt. In 1970, most would say, “put $10,000 down on a home.”

So there you have it. Our list of the 7 dumbest purchases people make. And buying Boston area houses does not make the list.

Now more than ever, you need to have an exclusive buyer’s broker on your side when looking for Boston area houses.

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5 Boston Area Scams to Avoid

Summer means vacations and breaks for most of us, but Boston area scams never take a break, and some even get worse during summer months. Here are five Boston area scams that are common in the summer and steps you can take to avoid them.

Boston area scams to be on the lookout for during the summer months

Boston Area Scams To Watch For

Home-Repair Scams. When the weather gets warm, homeowners are more likely to get a knock on the door from someone offering to do repair work at a low price. Usually, they’ll claim they’ve done paving or roofing for someone else in the neighborhood and have extra materials they’re willing to unload for cheap. These traveling repairmen typically aren’t licensed and do shoddy work. When it comes to home improvement, you should always pick the contractor — don’t let them pick you.

Rental Scams. With rental scams, con artists list properties that they don’t own on Craigslist or other sites that don’t vet posts. Then they take people’s money and leave them without a place to stay. If the person listing a rental property will only communicate by e-mail, won’t show you the property in advance or asks you to wire money, it’s likely a scam.

Travel Scams. There are several travel-related scams, but two of the most common are free cruise and vacation rental scams. Victims of the cruise scam typically are contacted by phone, e-mail or text message and offered a free cruise that actually isn’t free. People have to pay a variety of fees to book the cruise and, in the process, have to give up a lot of personal information — which is then sold. If you want to take a cruise, skip the free offers and call your travel agent instead.

Job scams. Boston area scams targeting job hunters pop up in the summer when many high school and college students are looking for temporary work. Many revolve around work-at-home jobs that are advertised on signs along the side of the road, in community papers, on Craigslist and on free online job-listing sites. Often the people or companies offering these opportunities will ask job seekers for a lot of personal information, including Social Security numbers, when they apply. Although employers do need this sort of information from new employees, they don’t need it during the application process. Too often people are so eager to put themselves in the right light with a prospective employer that they walk right into a trap by providing information that can be used to steal their identities. To guard against job scams, do a search online using the company name or phone number and the word “scam” or “complaint.” Also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the company.

Disaster Relief Scams. If a storm of any variety strikes, there’s a good chance con artists will use it as an opportunity to take advantage of people. A variety of scams pop up after most major disasters. For example, after Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012, fraudulent charities and relief efforts surfaced along with several other cons aimed at taking advantage of disaster victims. If this summer’s storm season does result in disasters, don’t give to charities that spring up to deal with them. Instead, check out CharityNavigator.org for a list of legitimate organizations that have experience providing disaster relief.

Boston Area Consumer Confidence in High Gear

Boston area consumer confidence, led by high hopes for the Boston area housing market, has recovered from its doubts in the wake of the government shutdown last fall and is starting the new year on a tear.

Boston area consumer confidence appears to be in high gear.Two weeks ago economists at The Conference Board forecasted that for the year as a whole growth will accelerate markedly to 2.9% in 2014 from the subdued 1.9% pace in 2013. The robust gains in household net worth, fueled by the 29% gain in equity prices and 16% rise in median home prices, boosted consumer spending to a robust 4% pace in Q4 2013. The Conference Board set a goal of 1.11 million housing starts this year, up from .92 million in 2013.

“Consumer confidence advanced in January for the second consecutive month,” according to Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of the present situation continues to improve, with both business conditions and the job market rated more favorably. Looking ahead six months, consumers expect the economy and their earnings to improve, but were somewhat mixed regarding the outlook for jobs. All in all, confidence appears to be back on track and rising expectations suggest the economy may pick up some momentum in the months ahead.”

Housing Professionals Watching Boston Area Consumer Confidence Closely

Boston area housing professionals are watching Boston area consumer confidence trends closely as they prepare for the coming spring market. With inventories still low and uncertain interest rates raising questions about buyer demand, decisions buyers and sellers are making now could shape sales and price trends for the coming season—and the whole year to come.

We’ll keep you up to date on Boston area consumer confidence and housing here at our website as the year progresses. Check out our other news articles and information at the Boston Real Estate News link to your right under Boston Real Estate Categories.