The Needle Group Blog

Nov. 27, 2019

Eat, Drink & Gather at The Square Kitchen & Bar

 

Your Local Bar and Grill

 

When you walk into The Square, a sense of community greets you.

 

That’s just what Mike Danehy, General Manager and Executive Chef, wants to offer. 

 

“The Square is your local neighborhood bar and grill. There’s a lot of comradery because it is a small town and everyone knows everyone,” Mike said. 

 

We recently sat down with Mike for Episode 7 of Live Love Sharon and learned what makes this restaurant special. 

 

A New Menu

 

Whether you have never visited The Square, or haven’t been in a couple of weeks, now is the time to go! With a brand new menu and quality food, you won’t be disappointed.

 

The fall weather in New England calls for hearty homestyle dishes. The short rib is braised with port wine and garlic for a rich, melt-in-your-mouth experience. The meatloaf is grilled for a twist on a favorite comfort food, and baked stuffed shrimp is an ideal way to enjoy seafood during the cold months. 

 

Our favorite thing about the menu isn’t the specific entrees. 

 

It is the fact that nothing is pre-made or ordered. 

 

“We make everything in house,” Mike explained. “We even make our own desserts and ice cream.”

 

Something for Everyone

 

 

Looking to grab an after-work drink? 

 

The intimate bar features three TVs (perfect for game day) and a great selection of local craft beer. Catch up with friends, share some appetizers, and enjoy the cozy atmosphere. 

 

Ready to eat?

 

No matter who you are going out to eat with, there is something for everyone at The Square. Carnivores, seafood lovers, and vegans all have multiple options to select from. For an “in-between” meal, there are several small plates. Sandwiches, salads, pasta, full entrees, and kids selections ensure that you’ll not only find a dish you want, but will have a hard time deciding what to get! 

 

Mike sums it up perfectly, “The best restaurant menus will have enough selection where you can’t wait to come back to try something else.”



Are you interested in learning about all things Sharon? Join our Facebook Community Group!

Posted in Live Love Sharon
Nov. 20, 2019

Buyers Are Looking Now. Are You Ready to List Your Home?

Buyers Are Looking Now. Are You Ready to List Your Home? | MyKCM

Inventory on the market today is low, especially among existing homes in the entry and middle-level tiers of the market. It is hovering well below the 6-month supply typically found in a more normal market, as shown in the graph below:Buyers Are Looking Now. Are You Ready to List Your Home? | MyKCMWith inventory being one of the biggest housing market challenges today, finding a starter home right now isn’t easy. According to the Q3 Housing Trends Report from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), 68% of those searching for a home think their search will get harder or stay about the same over the next 12 months.

The same study reveals,

“In Qtr3’19, buyers actively engaged in the process of buying a home are more likely to have spent at least 3 months searching (58%) than a year earlier (55%).”

 This is certainly no surprise, given the current inventory status. So, what’s the good news? The NAHB continues to say,

“If still unable to find a home in the next few months, the next step for most long-time searchers is to continue looking for the ‘right’ home in the same preferred location (52%). The next step for 35% is to expand their search area and for 16% is to accept a smaller/older home. Only 15% will give up looking.”

What does this mean for homeowners?

 If you’re thinking of selling your home, buyer demand is high – and those looking in your neighborhood aren’t planning on giving up anytime soon. The majority of potential buyers who are still searching for their dream home are eager, willing, and ready to buy, so maybe it’s time to list your house and make your move.

Bottom Line

With buyer demand as high as it is today, and inventory in the entry and middle-tier markets remaining low, it’s never been a better time to move up. Let’s get together to determine if now is your time to sell.

Posted in Real Estate
Nov. 14, 2019

Buyer Demand Growing in Every Region

Buyer Demand Growing in Every Region | MyKCM

Buyers are out in full force this fall, increasing the demand for home buying in all four regions of the country.

According to the latest ShowingTime Showing Index,

“Home showing activity was up again nationwide with a 4.6 percent rise in traffic, as the traditionally slow fall season began with a marked boost in buyer interest.”

Buyers clearly have the right idea, as mortgage rates have dropped over a full percentage point since the fall of 2018. They’ve hovered in a historically low range since this summer, making the overall cost of homeownership significantly more attractive and affordable.

Here’s the breakdown of how ShowingTime reports current buyer traffic patterns across the country:

“The West Region, which until August had experienced 18 consecutive months of flagging home buyer traffic, lead the four regions in year-over-year improvement with an 8.9 percent increase in buyer activity.

The South followed with a 6.4 percent increase, the largest such improvement in the region since April 2018, with the Northeast Region’s 5.6 percent increase the next largest among the four regions.

The Midwest’s more modest 0.8 percent year-over-year growth rounded out the nation’s promising month.”

Buyer Demand Growing in Every Region | MyKCMWith ShowingTime reporting “nationwide growth for the second consecutive month, a first since December 2017 – January 2018”, it’s one more reason why selling your house this winter is the way to go. List while buyers are on the market, before competition with other sellers pops up in your neighborhood.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of waiting until spring to sell, think again! Let’s get together to discuss listing your house now while buyer traffic is actively surging throughout the country.

Posted in Real Estate
Nov. 6, 2019

The #1 Reason to List Your House in the Winter

The #1 Reason to List Your House in the Winter | MyKCM

Many sellers believe spring is the best time to put their homes on the market because buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. What they don’t realize is if every homeowner believes the same thing, then that’s when they’ll have the most competition.

So, what’s the #1 reason to list your house in the winter? Less competition.

Housing supply traditionally shrinks at this time of year, so the choices buyers have will be limited. The chart below was created using the months supply of listings from the National Association of Realtors.The #1 Reason to List Your House in the Winter | MyKCMAs you can see, the ‘sweet spot’ to list your house for the most exposure naturally occurs in the late fall and winter months (November – January). 

Temperatures aren’t the only thing that heats up in the spring – so do listings!The #1 Reason to List Your House in the Winter | MyKCMIn 2018, listings increased from December to May. Don’t wait for these listings and the competition that comes with them to come to the market before you decide to list your house.

Added Bonus: Serious Buyers Are Out in the Winter

At this time of year, purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. You and your family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere ‘lookers.’ The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.

 Bottom Line

If you’ve been debating whether or not to sell your house and are curious about market conditions in your area, let’s get together to determine the best time to list your house.

Posted in Real Estate
Oct. 29, 2019

Before Farm to Table, Ward’s Berry Farm committed to Quality Food

 

750,000 pounds. 

 

That’s how many pumpkins Ward’s Berry Farm grows every year. 

 

And that’s just pumpkin season. 

 

Ask anyone in Sharon where to go for high-quality, fresh produce, and they are bound to tell you about Ward’s. 

 

The family-run farm is a destination for locals and visitors alike, and it all started as a family commitment with humble beginnings. 

 

A Retirement Project

 

 

 

Mr. Ward was an inventor throughout his adult life and wanted a change of pace in retirement. Having been a lifelong gardener, his dream of growing and selling berries took hold, and in the early 1980s, the Wards bought a 30-acre parcel of land in Sharon, Massachusetts. 

 

Brothers Bob and Jim wanted to support their father’s vision of getting the farm established. With bushes planted, and card tables set up on the side of the road, they started selling berries from a make-shift stand. 

 

A few years later, just as the berries were coming into serious production, Mr. Ward passed away. With berry bushes overflowing with growth, Bob and Jim had berries to pick and sell, and a lot to learn about farming.

 

“We didn’t know where it would go,” explains Bob, “but we wanted to keep his dream alive.”

 

Those card tables at the side of the road have now expanded to two permanent buildings along with over 70 staff needed to support all that Ward’s Berry Farm offers: a thriving farm store with fresh veggies, homemade foods and sandwiches, seasonal hayrides and private events, pick your own berries and pumpkins, a wholesale business providing veggies and fruits to area restaurants and markets, the largest 4-H club in New England, fresh flowers and plants!

 

Well-Grown Food

 

 

How did Ward’s Berry Farm grow into the destination it is today? They began the journey long before farm to table became a buzzword, always believing that fresh food is best. Over the years, Bob and Jim have kept their father’s dream alive, setting high expectations and only selling what they produce on the farm. 

 

When people think of locally-grown food, they don’t always consider how the food is grown, and instead focus on the location of the farm. But the how impacts the quality. Well-grown fruit and vegetables require planning and attention to detail. 

 

“Well-grown means so much more, in that we start with building our soil,” Bob told us. 

 

With a commitment to creating the best soil, every year Ward’s works to grow cover crops and spread natural compost. Every seed that is planted, every berry bush, begins with soil that is full of nutrients. 

 

For Jim, growing food is a gratifying job. From the beginning stages of nurturing plants, making daily decisions to help each crop grow, and then selling the produce, he loves every part. Knowing the food will be enjoyed by a family in Sharon or a chef in Boston or Providence is why he loves his work. 

 

“Being passionate about food leads me to want to grow things that will be an inspiration, a memorable experience,” Jim shared with us. “I want someone to cut into a tomato that I grew and acknowledge that it was great.”

 

Running the Farm with Future Generations

 

 

A farm the size of Ward’s takes more than hard work; it takes a team of people working together. Between 70-100 employees work on the farm, a carefully choreographed production ensuring fields and crops have what they require, seeds are planted at the right moment, and produce is picked at the peak of ripeness. From there, produce is either packed up and sold or used as an ingredient in the farm store.  

 

With a degree in plant and soil science, Jim manages the farm, looking after both the plants and up-and-coming farmers tending to the crops. He goes above the role of boss, mentoring high school and college students who come to work on the farm. Some of these former employees have gone off to start their own farms, something Jim loves to watch unfold. 

 

“It’s real work,” Jim explained, when speaking of what his employees do. “...usually, nine times out of ten, they come back, and they teach me something. It makes me proud because not only are they learning, working, and doing well, but they come back and teach me something.”

 

In addition to the farm being open to the public, Ward’s Berry Farm hosts the largest 4-H program in the state of Massachusetts. Run by Joe Major, children from ages six to eighteen take care of farm animals, complete housekeeping chores, and engage in activities focusing on teamwork and responsibility. 

 

Bob and Jim are committed, not only to keeping their father’s dream alive, but to empower future generations to fulfill their dreams.    

 

Family Affair

 

While Jim manages the plants and the farm, Bob runs the front of house, taking care of customers and finances. Both brothers admit that working together for 35 years has been an adventure, which comes with its share of disagreements. They have different talents and outlooks, but share the same passion. When arguments do arise, they remind each other how much they both care about the farm.

 

But Bob and Jim are not the only Wards who are passionate about this special place. 

 

Mrs. Ward, their 93-year-old mother, continues to live and work on the farm every day. 

 

Her recipes are still used in the bakery, and while she doesn’t cook for the farm store anymore, she passes down her cooking secrets and makes meals for her family at home. She also continues to take part in the farming lifestyle, working alongside her sons each day. 

 

Jim told us, “She’ll come to the loading dock and crate tomatoes with me for the better part of the day. We have a fun exchange all day long, and I couldn’t be luckier.” 

 

With a dedication to family values and quality food, it’s no wonder Ward’s Berry Farm has flourished into a place where the entire community continues to make their own memories. 

 

 

Watch the full Live Love Sharon episode featuring Ward's Berry Farm here!

Posted in Live Love Sharon
Sept. 25, 2019

Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate?

 

Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate? | MyKCM

Every year, ‘Black Friday’ is a highly anticipated event for eager shoppers. Some people prepare for weeks, crafting and refining a strategic shopping agenda, determining exactly when to arrive at each store, and capturing a wish list of discounted must-have items to purchase. But what about buying a home? Is there a ‘Black Friday’ for the home-buying process? Believe it or not, there is.

According to a new study from realtor.comthe week of September 22 is the best time of year to buy a home, making it ‘Black Friday’ for homebuyers.

After evaluating housing data in 53 metros from 2016 to 2018, realtor.com determined that the first week of fall is when buyers “tend to find less competition, more inventory, and the biggest reductions on list price.

The report explains,

“During the first week of fall, buyers tend to face 26% less competition from other buyers, and they are likely to see 6.1% more homes available on the market compared to other weeks of the year...nearly 6% of homes on the market will also see price reductions, averaging 2.4% less than their peak.”

What’s so different about the first week of fall?

George Ratiu, Senior Economist with realtor.com says,

“As summer winds down and kids return to school, many families hit pause on their home search and wait until the next season to start again…as seasonal inventory builds up and restores itself to more buyer-friendly levels, fall buyers will be in a better position to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates and increased purchasing power.”

Learn more about how prices, listings, and buyer competition stack up during the first week of fall in your metro area.

Bottom Line

If you want to take advantage of the ‘Black Friday’ of home buying, let’s get together to discuss the benefits of making your next move this fall.

Posted in Real Estate
Sept. 18, 2019

Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020

 

Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020 | MyKCM

Freddie MacFannie Maeand the Mortgage Bankers Association are all projecting home sales will increase nicely in 2020.

Below is a chart depicting the projections of each entity for 2019, as well as for 2020.Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020 | MyKCMAs we can see, Freddie MacFannie Mae, and the Mortgage Bankers Association all believe home sales will increase steadily over the next year. If you’re a homeowner who has considered selling your house recently, now may be the best time to put it on the market.

Posted in Real Estate
Sept. 11, 2019

Everybody Calm Down! This Is NOT 2008

 

Everybody Calm Down! This Is NOT 2008 | MyKCM

Last week realtor.com released the results of a survey that produced three major revelations:

  1. 53% of home purchasers (first-time and repeat buyers) currently in the market believe a recession will occur this year or next.
  2. 57% believe the next recession will be as bad or worse than 2008.
  3. 55% said they would cancel plans to move if a recession occurred.

Since we are currently experiencing the longest-ever economic expansion in American history, there is reason to believe a recession could occur in the not-too-distant future. And, it does make sense that buyers and sellers remember the horrors of 2008 when they hear the word “recession.”

Ali Wolf, Director of Economic Research at the real estate consulting firm Meyers Research, addressed this point in a recent interview:

“With people having PTSD from the last time, they’re still afraid of buying at the wrong time.”

Most experts, however, believe if there is a recession, it will not resemble 2008. This housing market is in no way the same as it was just over a decade ago.

Zillow Economist, Jeff Tucker, explained the difference in a recent article, Recessions Typically Have Limited Effect on the Housing Market:

 “As we look ahead to the next recession, it's important to recognize how unusual the conditions were that caused the last one, and what's different about the housing market today. Rather than abundant homes, we have a shortage of new home supply. Rather than risky borrowers taking on adjustable-rate mortgages, we have buyers with sterling credit scores taking out predictable 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. The housing market is simply much less risky than it was 15 years ago."

George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, also weighed in on the subject:

“This is going to be a much shorter recession than the last one, I don't think the next recession will be a repeat of 2008...The housing market is in a better position.”

In the past 23 years, there have been two national recessions – the dot-com crash in 2001 and the Great Recession in 2008. It is true that home values fell 19.7% during the 2008 recession, which was caused by a mortgage meltdown that heavily impacted the housing market. However, while stock prices fell almost 25% in 2001, home values appreciated 6.6%. The triggers of the next recession will more closely mirror those from 2001 – not those from 2008.

Bottom Line

No one can accurately predict when the next recession will occur, but expecting one could possibly take place in the next 18-24 months is understandable. It is, however, important to realize that the impact of a recession on the housing market will in no way resemble 2008.

Posted in Real Estate
Sept. 3, 2019

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall

 

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall | MyKCM

With summer coming to a close, some people believe they need to wait until next spring to list their house for sale. But with record-low mortgage rates and buyers searching, there is no reason to wait. Below are 5 compelling reasons listing your home for sale this fall makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase…and are in the market right now. 

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal market. This means that in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Historically, a homeowner would stay an average of six years in his or her home. Since 2011, that number has hovered between nine and ten years. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years due to a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

Many homeowners were reluctant to list their homes over the last couple years, for fear that they would not find a home to move to. That is all changing now as more homes come to market at the higher end. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until additional inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd. Buyers are coming prepared and pre-approved for a mortgage loan. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler, as buyers know exactly what they can afford before shopping for a home. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time needed to close a loan is 43 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up. There is currently ample inventory for sale at higher price ranges. This means if you're planning on selling a starter or trade-up home and moving into your dream home, you’ll be able to do that in the luxury or premium market.

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.2% over the next year. If you’re moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to these questions. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Posted in Real Estate
Aug. 28, 2019

What's the Latest on Interest Rates?

 

What’s the Latest on Interest Rates? | MyKCM

Mortgage rates have fallen by over a full percentage point since Q4 of 2018, settling at near-historic lows. This is big news for buyers looking to get more for their money in the current housing market.What’s the Latest on Interest Rates? | MyKCMAccording to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey,

the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) rate averaged 3.60 percent, the lowest it has been since November 2016.

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, notes how this is great news for homebuyers. He states,

“…consumer sentiment remains buoyed by a strong labor market and low rates that will continue to drive home sales into the fall.”

As a potential buyer, the best thing you can do is work with a trusted advisor who can help you keep a close eye on how the market is changing. Relying on current expert advice is more important than ever when it comes to making a confident and informed decision for you and your family.

Bottom Line

Even a small increase (or decrease) in interest rates can impact your monthly housing cost. If buying a home is on your short list of goals to achieve, let’s get together to determine your best move.

Posted in Real Estate