Sally Malsch, CRS, GRI, ABR, SRES, ePRO, SRS
Five College REALTORS ģ | 413-519-4465 | [email protected]


Posted by Sally Malsch on 1/22/2020

Photo by SuperJHS via Pixabay

In the modern home, nothing combines practicality and style like a cubby bookshelf. Children can keep books or toys organized. They set the perfect backdrop for a display of photos, figurines, delicate dishes or other collectibles.

And if you size them right, just add some baskets to turn some of your shelves into drawers. Here's how to create a cubby bookshelf from scratch.

Plan your Shelves

There's no reason to recreate the wheel. You can find precise diagrams online that help you understand what you're going for. You can then adapt these plans to fit your space. 

For our guide, we'll create nine same size cubes each one x one x one foot. But if your skill is more advanced, you might choose the alternate larger and smaller cubbies both to fit different types of items and because it adds visual appeal.

Gather Supplies

You'll need:

  • A-1 red oak plywood (One 3/4" 4' X 8') - This product is more expensive. But it's high-quality. It comes in many hardwood shades. You may need to go to a lumber yard to find A-1 red oak plywood, but it's worth it. Alternatively, you can use 3/4 pine and treat it.
  • 1/4" plywood for the back
  • Banding veneers (around 25 ft) 
  • Clamps
  • Pocket hole screws
  • Wood plugs that match
  • Wood glue
  • Tung oil
  • Drill
  • Table saw - a manual saw could work. But you'll need a lot of elbows grease to accomplish it. *Pro tip* Check around with friends to see if you can borrow before buying a table saw for this one project.
  • Eye/Ear protection when using power tools

Measure & Cut your A-1 Plywood 

Measure and mark lightly with a pencil. This mark is on the cut line, so it shouldn't be seen on the finished product. You need:

  • A top 1'X3'
  • A bottom 1'X3'
  • Two sides 1'X 2'10.5"
  • Three shelves 1'X 2' 10.5. Note that each shelf and the top need two dadoes (grooves) where you'll slide in the dividers
  • Six dividers 1' X varies. This depends on the depth of your grooves

Coat each piece with two to three coats of tung oil for extra luster. And let it dry completely, eight hours between coats.

Piece the Shelf Together

Take your time. Glue and clamp one side at a time minus the dividers. Get some help if needed. It can be tricky. Let the glue dry before drilling and inserting screws for more permanent stabilization.

Now the dividers should slide right in. Use wood plugs to cover up your hardware.

Add Finishing Touches

Attaching band veneers on cut edges gives the shelf a professional, finished look that many DIY projects lack. Generally, you'll simply iron these on carefully. Add the back and secure your shelf to studs. Cubby bookshelves will look like a jungle gym to some children, so take this precaution if children ever visit.

And that's how to create a cubby bookshelf. For more fun and DIY-friendly home projects, follow our blog.




Tags: DIY   bookshelf   Cubby  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Sally Malsch on 1/15/2020

Photo by Daniel Tuttle on Unsplash

Buying a home, especially for the first time, might feel a little scary—notably if you've learned the home you’re considering for purchase is a zombie property. Even a pro at buying property may flinch when they initially hear this term.

No worries, a zombie property is not as frightening as it sounds. It’s a common term used in the housing industry, originating back to the 2007-08 housing crisis when tens of thousands of these homes were left behind because their owners couldn’t afford to make their mortgage payments.

What is a Zombie Property?

A zombie property creeps up when no one retains accountability for it. It usually occurs when homeowners leave their homes after receiving a foreclosure notice and incorrectly believe they must immediately vacate the property. They often don't realize there is an entire foreclosure process, one that doesn’t happen overnight. In most instances, they believe the lender that sent the notice will take over responsibility for the property, so they move out. In some cases, they do know they can stay but choose not to delay the inevitable and cut loose in search of greener pastures.

Meanwhile, the lender, for whatever reason, doesn’t complete the foreclosure process they initiated and the property stands abandoned. Since the homeowner has already walked away not realizing they still technically own the property, and the lender also doesn’t assume ownership, no one takes responsibility for the home. It essentially sits in a state of limbo—hence it being referred to as a “zombie.” Its ownership is not quite alive (abandoned), but not yet dead (foreclosed upon) either.

Pros of Purchasing a Zombie Property

The primary benefit of purchasing a zombie property is the price. Most of these properties are typically sold below market value, sometimes at rock bottom prices. Because some of them are eyesores, or have the potential to become attractive to squatters, municipalities and towns are eager to get these homes rehabbed and inhabited. This means buyers who are handy with repairs or who have the investment money available to fix up and flip the home for a profit can make out handsomely with this type of sale.

Cons of Purchasing a Zombie Property

While the financial benefits associated with zombie homes are lucrative, there are some potential pitfalls to be careful of when considering a purchase. In most instances, the original owner still retains the title to the home, so this legal detail will need to be addressed. Buyers also have to consider these homes may have deterioration, unsafe conditions or be unsanitary. This is especially a concern for properties that have been abandoned for a long period of time. Additionally, it takes more effort to navigate a zombie property purchase than a traditional foreclosure since no one is actively involved with the property.

Many potential buyers intentionally or inadvertently overlook zombie properties, but if you’re in the market, it’s not an option you should automatically discount. Don't let the zombie moniker fool you.  If you perform your due diligence and find ways to mitigate any drawbacks, you could potentially land yourself a great home, rental investment, or profitable house-flip.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Sally Malsch on 1/8/2020

Your credit score is one of the most important numbers to your financial picture. You know how important it is to have a high credit score. If you pay your bills on time and keep your debt down, you think that your score will be just fine, but this isnít always the case. There are a few hidden mistakes that you could be making that are bringing your credit score down. Read on to find out what to avoid when trying to keep your credit score up and maintain it. 


Too Many Credit Inquiries


Beware that every time you apply for a new loan or even just check on what type of interest rate you can get, your credit will be reviewed. You want to avoid too many credit inquiries because a high number will bring your credit score down. Always ask if a lender is pulling a hard inquiry to check your score, donít allow too many of these credit checks. 


Anything Small Can Make A Big Impact


Was there a mistake on a medical bill that you paid but it says it was unpaid? If you let this go, your credit score could be impacted. Even unreturned library books that have been turned over to collections can negatively affect your score. Stay on top of things because you never know how a small mishap can affect you.


Your Information Is Wrong


You should look at your credit report so that you can see more than just your history. You can see the information that is being reported to check for mistakes. Incorrect information can bring your credit score down. You can call the credit bureau thatís associated with any errors that you see on your credit report. It can be a little bit of a process to correct the mistakes on your credit report, but the time and effort is definitely worth it for your credit score.                       



Not Using your Credit


While using your credit too much is a problem, not making use of your credit at all can be a problem. Responsibly use your credit. Open a credit card and use it to make small purchases. Charge only things that you can afford and pay the balance off each month. This simple use of a card is one of the easiest ways to establish credit.      


Itís important to do what you can to develop and maintain a healthy credit score. Keep all of your avenues covered to be sure that nothing hidden can negatively affect your credit score. 





Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Sally Malsch on 1/1/2020

The concept of a starter home is an American tradition that has existed for decades. Buying a starter home makes it possible to achieve homeownership, financial independence, and to build equity and credit while you transition to a larger home.

However, your first home doesnít need to be a tiny, one-bedroom house with none of the amenities that you want.

In todayís post, weíre going to look at some of the things that are desirable in a first home or starter home, so that you can make the best financial decision now that will help you save more in the long run.

Top things to look for in your first home

1. Resale value

Perhaps the most important thing to think about when buying your first home is the day that you eventually decide to sell it and upgrade. Thereís a lot that goes into the purchase value of a home. But, if you maintain the home or even make some upgrades, thereís a good chance youíll be able to sell it for more than you paid.

Other factors that affect resale value are the location and real estate market trends. While you may not be able to change the economy, you can choose to buy a home that is in a location others will find desirable in the coming years.

2. Size

The cost of your first home will be determined by its location, as mentioned before, but another huge factor will be the size or square-footage of the home and yard.

If you donít plan on having children in the next few years and donít currently have kids at home, having several bedrooms and a large backyard probably arenít huge priorities. This means youíll be able to save by buying a small home on a small property.

Similarly, if itís just you and a significant other living in the home, you may be comfortable with just one bathroom for the next few years. These omissions can save you a ton of money on your first starter home.

3. Transportation and proximity

Typically, when people buy their first home they are just getting settled into their career and may still change jobs a few times. Most workers in todayís economy change jobs between 10 and 15 times throughout their career and do so more often toward the beginning.

This means it will make sense for you to buy your first home within commuting distances to companies in your industry.

4. DIY and fixer-uppers

Homes that are in need of repairs or renovations can be a great way to save money and see a return on your investment when you decide to sell. Of course, there are limits to how many repairs are reasonable while still getting your moneyís worth from a home.

Youíll know from your home inspection or by doing a walk-through with professional contractors how much work is required to bring the home up to standards. Use those resources to ensure that youíre making a sound financial decision for your first home.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Sally Malsch on 12/25/2019

If a seller rejects your offer to purchase his or her house, there is no need to panic. At this point, there are many things you can do, including:

1. Craft a New Offer to Purchase

If at first you don't succeed, try again. Remember, if you find your dream house but your initial offer to purchase is rejected, you can always create a new homebuying proposal. And if you submit a new offer to purchase that falls in line with a seller's expectations, you may receive an instant "Yes."

For those who decide to submit a new offer to purchase a residence, it is important to avoid making the same mistake twice. Thus, you should analyze the home you want to purchase, along with the current housing sector. Because if you use a variety of real estate market data, you could submit a competitive offer to purchase your dream house.

2. Reenter the Housing Market

A seller may reject your offer to purchase his or her house, and as such, you may need to continue your home search. Fortunately, quality residences are available in cities and towns nationwide, which means there are lots of great houses at your disposal.

Of course, you may want to put together a homebuying budget, too. If you have a homebuying budget in hand, you can search for houses that match your price range.

To craft a homebuying budget, you should meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can offer home financing insights and help you get pre-approved for a mortgage. And once you have a mortgage, you will know exactly how much you can spend to acquire your ideal house.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is happy to help you determine the best course of action after a seller rejects your offer to purchase. In fact, he or she will do everything possible to help you streamline the homebuying journey.

Typically, a real estate agent will learn about you and your homebuying goals. He or she then will create a homebuying plan designed to help you achieve your desired results. Next, you and a real estate agent will work together to transform your homebuying vision into a reality. And as you navigate the homebuying journey, a real estate agent will provide comprehensive housing market insights you may struggle to obtain elsewhere.

Let's not forget about the assistance a real estate agent will provide as you get ready to submit an offer to purchase a house, either. A real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase any home, at any time. Best of all, if your homebuying proposal is accepted, a real estate agent will help you finalize your house purchase as quickly as possible.

Clearly, there are many things you can do if your offer to purchase your ideal house is rejected. If you start planning ahead for the homebuying journey, you could boost the likelihood of enjoying a seamless property buying experience.