Steve Zippin, ABR, CRS, M.Ed.
Keller Williams Realty Boston Northwest | 978-580-9140 |

Posted by Steve Zippin, ABR, CRS, M.Ed. on 8/2/2016

If you were to look at a photo of a suburban neighborhood from the 1950s and one from today, you would notice many similarities. The houses have gotten much larger, but they still have perfectly manicured lawns and milky white fences. American culture has come a long way since the days of nuclear families. An emphasis on conservation and environmentalism has added recycling bins to many of our homes. But by and large our backyards remain mostly unchanged. Some people are electing to deviate from those norms to make their homes and yard more eco-friendly. Part of that change has been to adapt natural landscaping techniques that make your backyard seem less chiseled-out and more a part of its natural environment. With proper planning and care, natural landscaping can give your yard both a modern and natural look, and it won't look messy or overgrown. Here are some tips to get you started on natural landscaping in your backyard.

Native planting

A big part of natural landscaping is understanding your local plant life. Planting flora that is native to your area is not only helping your yard look more natural but also helping your local plant and wildlife. Often we bring in "exotic" plants and flowers without understanding the ecological issues that can arise from invasive species, both on other plants as well as on the local animals. So what are some ways you could alter your yard to house more local plant life? That depends entirely on your taste and on your local flora. If you live in a coastal, warm area, you might choose a sand or shell path in your yard that leads through tall grasses. If you live inland it might make more sense to choose stones or pebbles for your walkway and a variety of shrubs, flowers, and grasses for around the yard.

Lawn dividers

You won't find any white picket fences naturally occurring in the woods. But nature has its own barriers that can be adapted for use around your property. Vines, trees, bushes, and even rocks can all be used as natural barriers. People have used rock walls to mark of their property for centuries, and for good reason: they last forever (with some occasional maintenance) and they compliment the natural environment of your yard.

Make your lawn livable

Your lawn should be hospitable for your plants, your local wildlife, and for you. Using natural wooden benches, tree swings, and maintained paths will make your backyard look like the walkthrough gardens that we see in old English manor houses. But you should also keep in mind the birds, bugs, and other animals that will frequent your yard. By not using chemical insecticides or weed killers you're already helping your local wildlife thrive. But you can attract even more birds by setting inconspicuous feeders in the trees around your yard.

What's to gain from natural landscaping?

Aside from looking nice, natural landscaping has countless other benefits. When you're growing plants native to your area you know the plants are predisposed to grow well in your yard. That means less maintenance, watering, and less money spent buying replacements for dead plants. You'll be helping the local wildlife fit in, and you'll be helping yourself by giving your yard a refreshing, natural look.

Posted by Steve Zippin, ABR, CRS, M.Ed. on 7/28/2016

    A foreclosure used to be a major black mark on your credit record and meant you could not obtain financing to buy another house for seven years. There is hope that if you have suffered through a foreclosure your ability to qualify for another mortgage may not be as compromised as you think.

   Today, most buyers will only have to wait three years and, depending on the reason you lost your house, the wait could be even shorter. Some potential buyers they may qualify for a mortgage as soon as 24 months after the fact if the foreclosure was the result of "extenuating circumstances". Extenuating circumstances could be a serious illness or the death of a wage earner. Things that are not considered life-changing events are divorce, a business failure or too much debt. 

   Waiting the required time period after extenuating circumstances won't automatically qualify you for a new loan you also have to demonstrate that you can handle credit and afford the payments.

Posted by Steve Zippin, ABR, CRS, M.Ed. on 7/19/2016


   Buying your first home should be an exciting experience. Unfortunately, however, some first time homeowners would confess the term 'stressful' would be a more appropriate description for such an exploit. 

   Despite the rumors, there is no need to be intimidated as a first time buyer if you take the initiative to prepare yourself for the process beforehand.

Be proactive.

Contact three separate mortgage brokers. The point of contacting multiple mortgage companies being to discover all of your available financing opportunities. Shop around for different rates and different options. Some banks offer VA financing, while others do not. Some banks offer mortgages specifically for first time buyers. You wouldn't purchase smaller items, such as a laptop, without doing your research. Your future home should be no different. Don't settle for the first option you're offered.

Educate yourself.

The information you need to prepare yourself for the buying process is out there! Some mortgage brokers or real estate attorneys offer educational seminars for first time buyers. Search for a seminar in your community!

Don't settle.

Realize what some home-seekers have overlooked or misunderstood in the past, there's no cost for you, as a buyer, to have a buyer's agent. Using a buyer's agent will keep your best interests in mind and will benefit you in the long run. Interview a few different real estate agents in order to find someone you are comfortable with.Most real estate agents, including myself, would be happy to sit down and simply have a conversation with you! 

Let's work together to make this process a great one!

Posted by Steve Zippin, ABR, CRS, M.Ed. on 7/12/2016


   Native to Central, South, and southern North America, the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, which includes the potato, chili peppers, and eggplant. Considered a vegetable, the tomato is a fruit. No matter, fruit or vegetable, the tomato is a nutrient dense, low-calorie, delicious food. The United States Department of Agriculture reports, “A 1/2 cup of tomatoes has 15% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A and 20% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. A ½ cup serving has only 15 calories, 2 g sugars, and 4 g of total carbohydrate and provides 1 g of protein. Tomatoes are fat, cholesterol and sodium free.”
   Lycopene (also known as rhodopurpurin) is a carotenoid pigment associated with the vibrant red color of many tomatoes. Lycopene plays a vital role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and age-related eye diseases. Medical research further supports lycopene’s health benefits in the prevention and treatment of several different types of cancer including cancer of the breast, cervix, skin, stomach, bladder, lungs, and prostrate. Antioxidants such as lycopene, vitamins E and C and beta-carotene, found in tomatoes help control the destructive activity of free radicals. Free radicals are compounds in the body that aggressively attack and damage cell membranes. Numerous scientific studies indicate that the uncontrolled activity of free radicals is linked to the proliferation of many types of cancers. 
   A study, conducted at Harvard University, reports that men who included tomatoes and tomato products in their diets twice a week reduced their risk of developing prostate cancer by one-third verses men in the study who never eat tomatoes. 

   Although lycopene is present in all red vegetables and fruits, its concentration is highest in tomatoes. In fact, processed tomato products, including pizza sauce, tomato juice, and ketchup are the richest source of dietary lycopene. These processed tomato products account for more than 80% of the total intake of lycopene in the American diet. Tomatoes appear not to lose their nutrient value when cooked. Heat is an integral factor in releasing antioxidants from tomatoes. Absorption of lycopene is improved by adding a small, but essential amount of oil. Dr. Mridula Chopra and researchers at the University of Portsmouth, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, Portsmouth, England, tested the effect of lycopene in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Dr. Chopra, the Director of Research, reports, “This simple chemical reaction was shown to occur at lycopene concentrations that can easily be achieved by eating processed tomatoes.” 
   Maintaining good health and preventing disease is a compelling reason for loading your market basket with fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes, or for adventuring in some gardening at home! Tomatoes are fairly easy to grow and the result is delicious! :)

Tags: canning tomatoes  
Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Steve Zippin, ABR, CRS, M.Ed. on 6/29/2016


   Do you have a lawn? If you want to maintain that green curb appeal, you need to water it on a regular basis. Sprinklers are a convenient way of taking care of your lawn watering needs. It is very important to be sure that your lawn is watered on a regular basis. 

   Now, one may ask, what type of sprinkler would I use for my lawn? The type and size depends on the dimensions of the lawn and how much water is needed to maintain the grass in a specific area. For example, the sprinklers used in a hot, dry environment in a full sun area will differ from the ones used in areas that are cool, moist and partially shaded.  

   Before purchasing and installing a sprinkler, here are some tips on choosing the right one for your specific need:

  • Rectangular Lawns: Rectangular lawns are the most common shaped lawn surrounding suburban homes and businesses.  This shape is typically very easy to water and only a simple sprinkler setup is needed.  An oscillating sprinkler is the best type to be used on a rectangular lawn. It is affordable, has a high level of efficiency and covers a large area while in operation at both low and high pressure. Before purchasing an oscillating sprinkler, confirm it has at least 15 spray jets and oscillates rapidly to prevent water from pudding in some areas of your lawn. These sprinklers are effective at watering up to 4,000 square feet.

  • Odd Shaped Lawns: For lawns that are not rectangular, the best type of sprinkler to use is the pulsating sprinkler. They rotate over a circular area in order to cover a wider portion of the grass. Smaller, less expensive pulsating sprinkler heads can be installed at random locations of the lawn to complete the action of the main sprinkler head. It is very important to take note that pulsating sprinkler heads do not work with low water pressure. Confirm you have adequate pressure before installing this type of sprinkler in your yard. They are also relatively noisy, often referred to as the humming and clicking sprinkler. However, they are very effective for massive plots of grass up to 10,000 feet.

  • Small Area Sprinklers: A stationary sprinkler is recommended for small areas that do not require the maintenance of a full sprinkler system. They are effective at watering small areas at virtually no cost. They are inexpensive, durable and work effectively independent of water pressure. Since they are stationary they need to be attended to as water tends to pool if left in one place for too long.  A stationary sprinkler can also provide a lot of summer fun to children at the same time as the lawn is getting a drink. 

   No matter how large or small your lawn is, there is a specific sprinkler that will accommodate your watering needs. Making the right choice is key in keeping your grass green and lush all season. 

A happy lawn makes a happy summer! :)

Steve Zippin, ABR, CRS, M.Ed.