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5 Steps to Buying Your First Home in Western Massachusetts

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The Pioneer Valley is a wonderful place to live! With mountains for hiking, lakes for paddle boarding, great restaurants, nightlight, theatre, museums, and shopping, the towns in Western Massachusetts have New England charm with big city activities.  If you’re thinking about buying a home in Franklin or Hampshire County, a little preparation will go a long way.

1. First and foremost, know your credit score. There is only one official free credit report website according to mass.gov, and that is www.annualcreditreport.com.

How much can you afford? To understand your finances, the importance of credit, how much you’ll need for a down payment and closing costs, mortgage rates, and the Western Massachusetts housing market, check out this website: http://markethttp://myhome.freddiemac.com/buy/what-you-can-afford.html

2. Shop for a loan. Look to commercial banks, mortgage companies, and/or credit unions. This website, http://www.hud.gov/buying/booklet.pdf, will help you shop, compare, and negotiate a mortgage that’s right for you.

If you are a first time home buyer, look into the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Your down payment may be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price. Get more information here: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/buying/loans

3. Shop for a home. Coldwell Banker is here to help! We’ve been helping people find the home of their dreams for 110 years. Start with our website: www.coldwellbankerUMR.com and search for the home of your dreams, and a Realtor in your community.

When you’re ready to make an offer, your Coldwell Banker Realtor will advise you on negotiation strategies and be there to provide objective advice that protects your best interest in the transaction. Our Realtors work with lenders, home sellers, and other real estate agents every day and will use their knowledge and experience to assist you.

4. After your offer is accepted, get a home inspection, http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=92564-cn.pdf and shop for homeowners insurance. Lenders typically require proof of homeowner’s insurance. 

5. The Closing. Your Coldwell Banker Realtor will be there for you every step of the way. Knowing the process before the closing might make you feel a little less nervous. After all, this could be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has resources to help:  http://www.consumerfinance.gov/owning-a-home/process/close/.


Pamela Sclafani is the Marketing Manager for Coldwell Banker Upton Massamont. She lives in the Pioneer Valley and enjoys everything it has to offer, gorgeous scenery, hills and mountains for hiking, lakes for paddle boarding, the change of seasons, and the close proximity to Boston and New York.

Small Lots Big Design - How Good Design Enhances Small Lots in Northampton, MA

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In 2013 the City of Northampton hosted a “Small Lots, Big Design” competition. The purpose was to demonstrate how good design can enhance small lots throughout the city. 

Since the end of the competition, Bruce Volz, of Shop Development LLC has seen his project progress to the point where it is almost complete. 

Bruce is also the co-owner of VCA, custom builders of unique furniture and architectural millwork in Northampton. His passion is in the design and quality of the pieces his company produces. His clients are varied and can mostly be found in New York and California. So it goes to say that this Small Lots, Big Design project has been a labor of love for him. He has never been involved in the construction of buildings. He paid three firms to come up with a design that he could get behind. In the end he chose Jones Whitsett Architects, and construction began in the Spring of 2015. 

Within walking distance to downtown Northampton, each two story building is made up of two single story dwellings, an upper and a lower dwelling. Each is efficiently organized to provide homeowners a spacious two bedroom apartment, including an outdoor deck and covered parking. The dwellings are low maintenance. The construction exceptional. Standards include double glazed windows, air-source mini-split heating/cooling, solar hot water, and LED lighting.

Inside the homes is all Bruce. The wood used in the counter face is reclaimed wood from a barn that previously stood on the property. Same with the barn doors in the home. The counter tops are recycled paper and resin. The floors are natural ash and teak. The cabinets were made in his company, designed by his people, all excited to be a part of the process. The homes have a rustic but polished look. Every pain staking detail is Bruce.

These homes are truly a work of art. Three of the four homes have been sold. There is an open house this weekend (Sunday, November 6, 2016 from 1-3PM) so feel free to stop in and take a tour. Or for a private viewing, please call Dave Ryan of Coldwell Banker Upton Massamont at 413-977-9184 or visit ShopDevelopmentNoho.com for renderings, systems, and more information or http://bit.ly/2dBAyzU for more details.


Pamela Sclafani is the Marketing Manager for Coldwell Banker Upton Massamont. She lives in the Pioneer Valley and enjoys everything it has to offer, gorgeous scenery, hills and mountains for hiking, lakes for paddle boarding, the change of seasons, and the close proximity to Boston and New York.


Fall Yard Care to do Now

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Fall is here! The days are shorter, the temperatures are cooler, and the leaves are changing a little every day. And since the Red Sox are done for the season, you have a little more time to keep your yard looking its best year round with some easy fall yard care tips.

Beautify with New Tress, Shrubs, and Annuals

Keep your yard looking beautiful by removing wilted summer annuals and replacing them with cool-weather varieties (make sure to fertilize the soil first). You’ll also want to stop fertilizing perennials. This will allow them to rest during winter and be healthier come spring. 

Planning to add or relocate trees or shrubs? Fall is a great time to do it. Cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall will help to encourage root growth before it gets too cold. Choose native plants for best results. 

Adjust Your Watering

As temperatures dip, plants and grass need less water. Reduce manual watering and make sure to keep an eye on automatic systems, adjusting them as needed.

Fall is also an excellent time to start practicing water conservation techniques. Set up a rain bucket, if you don’t already have one. 

Take Care of Your Lawn

Lawns can take quite a beating in Western Massachusetts in the summer, especially if your community, like mine, had water restriction rules in place. So, managing your lawn is an important part of fall yard care.

As the weather cools, lawn growth will slow. Make sure to continue mowing your lawn (adjust the mower blade as needed) until it becomes dormant. A good rule of thumb is no lower than 2 1/2 inches in the fall and winter months. 

Whether you're planting a new lawn or working on your existing lawn, it’s time to overseed with cool season turf grasses such as bluegrasses, bentgrasses, fescues, and ryegrasses. Remove thatch from your lawn. This can be done by hand or the easier way of renting an aerator or dethatcher. Doing so will encourage healthy root systems, plus aerating allows water to penetrate deeper, helping to avoid runoff. 

Clean Up Debris

Of course, a big part of fall yard care is cleaning up debris, including dead plants or leaves.

First, there’s no need to remove a few straggling leaves from your lawn. Just mow right over them, and they’ll help to fertilize your lawn.

For yards with more trees, consider starting a compost pile. Compost can be used as mulch, and using it in your yard helps save on your water bills, reduces the need to fertilize (which is better for the environment), and saves you time (no bagging leaves). Simply add your yard waste to a compost pile instead of throwing it out.


Pamela Sclafani is the Marketing Manager for Coldwell Banker Upton Massamont. She lives in the Pioneer Valley and enjoys everything it has to offer, gorgeous scenery, hills and mountains for hiking, lakes for paddle boarding, the change of seasons, and the close proximity to Boston and New York.

Apple Picking in Western Massachusetts

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The leaves are starting to change and we are smack dab in the middle of apple picking season! This is a perfect time to take a leisurely drive down a quaint New England scenic route, enjoy the gorgeous scenery, and stop at a local orchard.

My kids are older now but every year when they were little we would pick apples at the local apple orchard, go home, peel and core them and bake fresh apple pies. The kids loved it! The whole house smelled amazing and it’s the perfect cozy dessert to share on a chilly New England fall evening.

Making an apple pie is as easy as pie! And also, I cheat. I buy the ready made pie crust so what could be easier than that? Click on the picture below for a recipe I found on Pinterest that is basically the one I use but with gorgeous pictures. 

Check out these local apple orchards:

Franklin County

Apex Orchards, 225 Peckville Road, Shelburne Falls, MA 

Bear Swamp Orchard, 1209 B Hawley Road, Ashfield, MA 

Clarkdale Fruit Farms, 303 Upper Road, Deerfield, MA

Dole Farm, Peckville Road, Shelburne, MA

Hamilton Orchards, 22 West Street, New Salem, MA

Mohawk Orchards, Colrain-Shelburne, MA

Pine Hill Orchards, 248 Greenfield Road, Colrain, MA

Quonquont Farm and Orchard, 9 North Street, Whately, MA


Hampshire County

Atkins Farm, 1150 West Street, Amherst, MA

Bashista Orchards, 160 East Street, Southampton, MA

Dickinson Farms, 134 South Street, Granby, MA

Kielbasa Orchards, 290 Bay Road, Hadley, MA

Outlook Farm, 136 Main Road, Route 66, Westhampton

Round Hill Orchard, 1 Douglas Road, Southampton

Small Ones Farm, 416 Bay Road, Amherst, MA

South Hadley Farm, 10 Pearle Lane, South Hadley, MA


For detailed information on the above orchards, http://www.pickyourown.org/MAwest.htm. Enjoy!


Pamela Sclafani is the Marketing Manager for Coldwell Banker Upton Massamont. She lives in the Pioneer Valley and enjoys everything it has to offer, gorgeous scenery, hills and mountains for hiking, lakes for paddle boarding, the change of seasons, and the close proximity to Boston and New York.



Coldwell Banker | Community Realtors Agent Phil Pless claims victory at the 4th Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon

Over 160 participants and 113 volunteers made this year's 4th Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon the best yet. Hosted by Berkshire East Ski Area, racers could do the event solo in the Braveheart Laddie or Lassie category, or join with others in teams of 2-5. The race consists of a 4.5 mile trail run, an 18 mile four lap criterium bicycle leg, a 5 mile downstream paddle in the Deerfield River, a 2 mile obstacle course run and a climb to the top of Berkshire East and ski down to the finish. 


Phil had all positive things to say about this event:

"My team is The West County Old Stars. We regained our title in the 50+ 5 person team category. We beat last year's winner, Mighty Molitia, our friends and rival, The Zephyrs, and a new team this year, 4 Lesbians and a Guy in a Skirt. Overall winning team was Team Thunder. In the Under 19 category, Varsity M, from Mohawk, edged Tenacious Turtles from Amherst RHS.  Another thing that made it such a great event is how many of us know each other on various teams and have many friendly rivalries.  John McCarthy from Ludlow won the Braveheart Laddie, first male solo."


We're proud to be part of this great community event and are rooting for The West County Old Stars to continue their claim on the First Place title in the future! Way to go, Phil!

We're a proud sponsor.

We're a proud sponsor.

Phil Pless at the finish!

Phil Pless at the finish!

Farmer's Markets Open for the Season

Our local Farmer's Markets are all beginning to open for the 2013 season.  Our local markets have locally grown and produced products, even this early in the season.  Be sure to check out the CISA website to see when your local market opens.

CISA has a great website filled with information about agricultural in the area.  They have a tool to help find local Farmer's Markets, information on the markets and directions.

1.  Greenfield Market Information

2.  Northampton Market Information

3.  Amherst Market Information

Be sure to find your local Farmer's Market to enjoy all this growing season has to offer.

Chesterfield, MA Hits Top 10 List

A recent Boston.com post ask the question "If you were to move to any Massachusetts community, where should you go?"  They analyzed and ranked each town's crime rate; including violent and property crime, the number of public transit options, the number of historical sites per resident, the percentage of acres that are "open space," and the number of grocery stores.

The town of Chesterfield ranked #3 on the list of Massachusetts communities to live in!

Here are a few places to see when you are in Chesterfield:  Bissbee Mill Museum, Chesterfield Gorge, and Highlands Community Initiative.  The town official website provides some great photos of a day gone buy and live in town today, check these out!

Here are a few properties Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont REALTORS have listed for sale.  See more pictures and information by clicking on the photo or the link.

8 Antin Road, Chesterfield, MA

YEAR ROUND WATERFRONT LIVING! If you are looking for a waterfront home, whether for vacations or for year round living, this is one not to miss! Sitting on an oversized lot, this property has a lot to offer. Two bedrooms, large dining room, living room with fireplace, fully applianced kitchen, full bath, first floor laundry and three season porch. There is a nice detached one car garage with work area. New septic system, newer roof, nice yard and waterfront area.

72 Bray Road, Chesterfield, MA

This sweet waterfront year round lake house will charm you! Wake up to paradise right outside your window. Extensively renovated home includes new metal roof, windows, ceilings, flooring, insulation, furnace, electrical service, hot water heater, updated bath, all within the last 12 years apo. Freshly painted too, there is truly nothing to do here but move in. Live year round or sneak away on weekends. Realize your dream and enjoy l lake living!

432 Main Road, Chesterfield, MA

Chesterfield General Store

 Opportunity KNOCKS ! Here's a chance to own the ONLY store/restaurant in Chesterfield! A world of possibilities awaits! There has been an operating store in this spot for over 5 decades. Currently a combination Restaurant, Ice Cream, Deli, liquor, variety .The front part of the building has a deli and variety store. Restaurant and office are out back. Full Liquor license. 3800 sf of commercial space. Plenty of parking. Located right on route 143. High Visibility.










Hurricane Irene - One year later!

Shelburne Falls, MA Bridge of FlowersThe streets are a-buzz today remembering just 1-year ago when Hurricane Irene tore through the Western Mass. region leaving destruction in its path.  It took a while but, the overwhelming majority of residents and business owners have been able to recover from the storm.

News crews have been in the area interviewing residents about the recovery.

Channel 22 of Springfield, MA shares this segment about the hurricane and the recovery.

One year later, looking back on Hurricane Irene




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