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Pros and Cons Of Owning A Condo

- Wednesday, June 26, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Owning A Condo

Pros Of Owning A Condo

Here are some of the reasons why you’d choose condos over traditional homes:

Low Maintenance Living

As a condo owner, you benefit from low-maintenance living because the homeowners’ association (HOA) takes care of its upkeep. This means you won’t have to worry about mowing lawns, shoveling snow, or repairing roofs. These tasks fall to those owning traditional single-family homes.

The HOA also maintains common areas such as hallways, elevators, and pools. This arrangement allows you to enjoy your home life minus the cumbersome list of maintenance chores.


Another advantage of owning a condo is the enhanced security features that come with it. Many condominium complexes offer security services such as gated entries, 24-hour surveillance cameras, and on-site security personnel. These features can provide you with peace of mind, especially if you live alone or travel often.

Living in close proximity to neighbors can also increase overall safety. There’s always someone to keep an eye on things when you’re not around. This means fewer worries about break-ins or property damage, even if you’re not home.

Opportunities To Meet New People

Condo living naturally fosters a strong sense of community that can lead to new socializing opportunities for residents. Common spaces, such as pools, fitness centers, and lounges, increase the chances of crossing paths with neighbors more often than in a single-family home setting.

This constant interaction can quickly turn casual hellos into meaningful relationships. Most condo communities also organize social events and activities. This gives you an excellent chance to meet new people and build your social network in the comfort of your living space.


One of the most appealing benefits of condo living is the access to a range of amenities that might be costly or impractical to have in a single-family home. Most condos feature swimming pools, fitness centers, or a rooftop patio. These facilities elevate your lifestyle and provide you with leisure and fitness options at your doorstep.

Build Equity

Owning a condo means investing in your financial future through building equity. Unlike rent, which offers no return on investment, every mortgage payment you make on your condo is a step toward full ownership.

Over time, as you pay down your mortgage, the equity—the portion of your property that you truly ‘own’—increases. As the value of the condo appreciates, so does your investment. This equity can become a financial springboard for you, serving as an asset for future real estate ventures.

Cons Of Owning A Condo

Here are some of the downsides to owning a condo:

HOA Rules

Homeowners’ association (HOA) rules can significantly affect your lifestyle in a condo. Condo owners must comply with the HOA’s regulations. These regulations may dictate everything from the color you can paint your door to the types of vehicles you can park in your spot.

HOA restrictions can be limiting, especially if you value personal expression and freedom in your living space. Consider whether you can adhere to these rules before committing to a condo. Non-compliance can result in fines or other penalties.

Can Be Hard To Sell

Market saturation can make selling your condo a challenge. If there are many similar properties for sale in your area, you’ll find yourself in a competitive market. The overall upkeep and reputation of the community can also impact your unit’s desirability.

If the HOA fees are high or if there have been recent assessments, prospective buyers might be deterred. You may also face restrictions on marketing your property. Buyers must often be approved by the HOA, extending the selling process.

Condo Association Fees

In addition to your mortgage and property taxes, condo association fees can be expensive. These fees go towards maintaining and repairing common areas, amenities, and the building’s exterior.

Consider these fees before buying a condo as they can significantly affect your monthly budget. You’ll have to pay the fees whether you use the shared amenities or not.

Lack Of Privacy

Condo living often means close quarters with neighbors, leading to a potential lack of privacy. You might hear your neighbors’ conversations, their music, or other noises through the walls, floors, or ceilings.

Large windows and balconies can also mean your life is more visible to those around you. Evaluating your comfort with proximity and shared spaces is important, as these aspects are an intrinsic part of the condo lifestyle.

National Safety Month: Safety Tips That Everyone Should Know

- Sunday, June 16, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Home Security

June is National Safety Month. While no one should live in constant fear, it is important to be alert and to know how to act fast in unsafe situations. Check out the safety tips below to increase your chances of safety and even survival in emergent situations.

1. Money Safety

Hide money in unexpected objects while traveling. Some great suggestions are chapstick tubes, lotion bottles, empty deodorant sticks, and even feminine hygiene products

Be sure to always secure your purse when shopping. Buckle the strap around your shopping cart, or even better—simply keep your purse or wallet on your person.

Memorize or save the cancellation numbers for all your cards.

2. Home Security

Keep your spare keys in creative places. Everyone knows to check under your doormat, inside your mailbox, or underneath that unique-looking rock by your porch.

Change all the locks when you move to a new home. You never know who previous tenants gave spare keys to.

Try to make it look like someone is home when you’re on vacation. Some signs that let thieves know you’re gone are packages or flyers left on the porch, an overgrown lawn, and trash cans that remain full on trash day. Consider asking a neighbor you trust to pick up your mail while you are gone and to roll out your trash cans on trash day. If you’re going to be gone for an especially long time, consider hiring someone to mow your lawn. And of course, you can always place a “Beware of dog” sign on your property.

Lock all your doors at night and whenever you leave the house. ALL of them. ALWAYS.

3. Self Defense

Head butts are more powerful than fists.

The most vulnerable places to hit an attacker are their groin, eyes, and ears.

If you are impaled, don’t pull the object out on your own. It is keeping blood from pouring out.

When calling for help, call out to specific people i.e., “Hey, you in the red shirt!”

It is a good idea to carry pepper spray.

Hitting the lock button on an iPhone five times in a row allows you to send an SOS signal to the police.

Take note of all the exits in every building you enter.

4. Water Safety

Always wear sunscreen outdoors, especially in the summer and especially around water.

Never swim alone.

You can use your pants as a life preserver in water by tying the ends and filling them with air.

If you are caught in a riptide, swim parallel to the shore while calling for help.

5. Car Safety

ALWAYS wear a seatbelt.

Reduce your speed in poor weather conditions.

If you slide on ice, lift your foot from the brake and use your steering wheel to guide your vehicle in the direction it is sliding.

Hit the brakes for deer but avoid sharp swerving—it’s better to hit the deer head-on than to roll your car.

Lock your car doors immediately upon leaving or entering your car. Don’t linger in parking garages and be alert in parking lots and garages (no earphones, and don’t be glued to your phone screen)

Be wary of people sitting in cars parked directly next to yours, especially in otherwise empty lots

If you think you are being followed, drive to a police station.

6. Travel Safety

Travel with a buddy whenever possible.

Avoid walking through or next to dark alleyways or places where people can easily hide.

Stay alert when traveling. Don’t use earphones or stare at your phone. Look passersby in the eyes. Single women might consider wearing a ring that looks like a wedding ring.

7. Fire Safety

Make sure to test your smoke alarms every month by pressing the “test button.” Change smoke alarm batteries at least once a year and every time the detectors make a chirping sound. Change the batteries in all smoke detectors every time you move into a new home.

If your home catches fire, get out, stay out, and immediately call for help.

Create a predetermined fire escape plan for your family. Discuss exits and a designated escape area outdoors. Make sure the escape area is at a safe distance from the house.

8. Online Safety

Don’t overshare online.

Don’t post photos that give away your address, such as photos with your house number in the background.

Don’t ever share personal information when chatting online with strangers.

Don’t post information about your income on social media.

Don’t click on unknown links or download unknown photos.

9. Missing Person Protocol

Call 911 immediately after a person is determined to be missing. The notion that a person must be missing for 24 hours before a police search may begin is a myth.

It is particularly important to call 911 immediately after a child goes missing. Even if you keep searching the house or public area the child went missing from, it’s much better to risk the embarrassment of finding the child before police arrive than to not get the police involved in time. If your child goes missing in a store or public place, ask employees to stand by all exits to make sure no one leaves with a child that matches your child’s description while you continue to search. Get everyone you possibly can to call out your child’s name. Not only does this increase the chances of your child responding, but it may also alarm an abductor and cause them to release the child.

Make sure children memorize their address (including zip code), and parents’ phone numbers in case of an emergency.

Note that most children are abducted by people they already know. Teach children not only about stranger danger but about appropriate vs. inappropriate adult behaviors. It’s a great idea to establish a “password” that babysitters must know before picking children up from school.

10. Natural Disaster Safety

Should you find yourself in an earthquake, crawl under a sturdy table or another sturdy piece of furniture. Avoid glass, windows, and any items that can fall.

Should you find yourself in a tornado, head to the basement or a room without windows on the lowest level of your home. Cover yourself with a sleeping bag or mattress, and wear safety goggles if you have them on hand.

Pay attention to all flood warnings. Tie down outdoor items like grills, trash cans, and lawn chairs. Be prepared to evacuate. Have at least one gallon of clean water on hand for every person and pet in the household. Turn off all utilities before evacuating.

It’s a good idea to always have at least two weeks’ worth of food storage available.


Is a Condo Right for You?

- Monday, June 10, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Condo

Important Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Condo

  • Condos represent a community form of ownership.
  • In addition to your monthly mortgage payment, local property taxes (in most areas), and insurance costs, you will pay a condo fee, also referred to as “homeowners’ association” (HOA) dues or fees.
  • Your lender will factor in the condo fee in determining how much of a loan you can qualify for. And, like detached homes, if your down payment is less than 20 percent of the purchase price, you may also have to pay PMI or private mortgage insurance each month-which is generally cancellable once you have more than 20% equity in your home.
  • Your monthly income, credit history, and monthly debts – the “home-buying basics” — help determine your mortgage eligibility.

Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Professional, Lender, and Condo Association

To help you learn more about purchasing a condo, here are some questions you may want to ask or research.

Remember, this is only a partial list to help you get started. If you have questions, ask your lender, real estate professional, real estate attorney, or the officers of the condo’s HOA. You may also find it helpful to do some online research.

In most cases, you have a limited period to review the condo documents after the seller accepts your purchase contract. Talk to your real estate professional, know your rights—and, if necessary, consult a real estate attorney.

  • How much can you afford to spend on a condo? Your lender will look at what your total monthly housing costs would be, taking into consideration the condo fee, property taxes, PMI (if applicable), plus the principal and interest payments on your mortgage loan. One of the best ways to determine how much you can afford is to get pre-qualified before you go condo shopping-ask your lender how.
  • What are your legal rights and obligations under the condo bylaws? As a prospective purchaser, you will receive a copy of the condo bylaws and other documents to review so you understand the rules about remodeling, leasing your unit, fees, penalties, parking restrictions, pet ownership, and other obligations. If you have any questions, you should talk with an officer of the condo association or a real estate attorney with experience in your area.
  • What is included in the condominium fee? Are utilities, hazard insurance premiums, or real estate taxes paid directly by homeowners, or are they included in the condo fee? Is there on-site property management?
  • Is parking deeded and/or assigned? Are there spaces for visitors? How many parking spaces are provided for the unit you want to purchase? Can spaces be purchased?
  • How are officers elected to the condo board or HOA?
  • How frequently are elections held? What are the qualifications to run for office? How long do officers serve? Are there term limits?
  • What kinds of modifications to the unit are allowed? Is there a committee that reviews and approves changes?
  • Can you talk to some owners in the community or building? What is it like living there? For example, is maintenance handled well? Is there much turnover? Are there concerns about noise levels or other problems?
  • What is the remaining useful life of the community or building’s major components? These components include the roof(s), sewer and water pipes outside individual units, parking lots or garages, elevators, and other major building infrastructure. Is there a potential impact on the value of your condo?
  • How much is in the cash reserve fund for future repairs? Are there any pending assessments or major repair projects that currently exceed the repair fund? Has the HOA’s accountant offered recommendations, or has the HOA obtained a study on the adequacy of the cash reserve fund? Having adequate funds for both routine maintenance and cash reserves for major repairs or unexpected costs is critical. Suppose necessary repair costs exceed the available funds. In that case, a special assessment can be imposed on all unit owners in the condo project, requiring a one-time payment or increasing the monthly condo fee for a period of time. Ask if the condo has any history of special assessments.
  • Does the master property insurance policy cover full replacement costs? Does the policy have a building ordinance clause to cover expenses associated with bringing the building up to code in the event rebuilding is required?
  • Does the master insurance policy cover the interior of the units as well as the “common elements” used by all residents? If not, you will probably be required under the terms of your mortgage financing to purchase and maintain an insurance policy to cover your condo’s interior, commonly known as an “HO-6” policy.
  • Is the complex renter-friendly? If you are looking at your condo as a long-term investment, you may not want any restrictions on your future ability to rent out or sublease the unit. But if you plan to make the condo your long-time residence, you may prefer that owner- occupancy is high, so you’ll be living among property owners (like you!). Inquire about all terms and conditions by which you can rent your unit, as there may be seasonal or other restrictions.
  • Ask to see the minutes from recent association meetings. This may help you identify the current “hot button” issues and see how they are being addressed.


10 Best Things to do South of Boston This Summer

- Monday, June 03, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Duxbury Beach

South of Boston is full of historic and scenic destinations teeming with summer fun, said Paula Fisher, deputy director of See Plymouth, the tourism organization for the town and county of Plymouth.

“You can come here and enjoy beautiful scenery, wonderful restaurants, wineries, breweries, and also be immersed in early American history along all of these South Shore towns,” Fisher said.

Ahead, check out 10 things to do south of Boston this summer.

Ride the historic Paragon Carousel in Hull

Built in 1928, the Paragon Carousel on Nantasket Beach in the seaside town of Hull has been operating for nearly 100 years and was a former part of Paragon Park, an amusement park that was open from 1905 to 1984.

The carousel, the last remaining attraction from the park, includes the original 66 carved wooden horses and two rare Roman chariots.

“It’s so inexpensive,” Fisher said. “A single ride is $3 and a 10-ride pass is $25. There’s a creamery there as well so you can grab an ice cream.”

Visitors can make a day of it by ordering ice cream and snacks at the nearby Carousel Creamery and checking out The Paragon Park Museum, which displays artifacts, videos, and memorabilia from the amusement park.

What’s more, visitors can drop by the Restoration Studio and watch Restoration Curator James Hardison painstakingly restore the carousel horses.

The carousel is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dine out in Scituate

The coastal town of Scituate is an excellent place for a meal, according to Patrice Maye, a resident for 20 years and the founding chair of the Scituate Harbor Cultural District.

“We have a wealth of restaurants, and I’m proud of that,” Maye told in a travel article about things to do in Scituate.

Some excellent restaurants for hungry visitors, according to Maye: Satuit Tavern and Mill Wharf Restaurant & Pub for seafood, Salt Society for sushi, Crust for pizza, the waterfront pub T.K.O. Malleys for a burger, Galley Kitchen & Bar and Hibernian Tavern for live music, and Oro for a great date night.

Travelers can then stroll the Scituate Harbor Cultural District, which extends along the harbor from Cole Parkway and Front Street at St. Mary’s Church to the historic Scituate Lighthouse. Folks can shop, dine out, and enjoy the bustling Scituate Harbor.

Enjoy the full moon from Lawson Tower in Scituate

While in Scituate, visitors can check out a historic tower with fun programming at night, Fisher said.

Guests can climb the 153-foot Lawson’s Tower, on the National Register of Historic Places and billed as “the most beautiful, most photographed, and most expensive water tower in the world.” In 1902, Thomas Lawson, described as “a giant of the stock market in the early 1900s,” fell in love with Scituate and built a farm there. He had the tower constructed to enclose an unsightly water tank after sending his architect to Europe to research tower designs.

“The tower is open for people to purchase tickets to go to the top of the tower for the full moon,” Fisher said.

The Scituate Historical Society hosts “Trips to the Top” on select full moon evenings throughout the summer. After guests climb the 121 steps to the top, the society shares the history of the tower and members of the South Shore Astronomical Society offer telescopes for viewing the moon.

Full moon tower tours cost $10 and take place on June 21, July 20, Aug. 19, and Sept. 19, among other dates this year. The tower is not handicap accessible.

Wander the Norris Reservation in Norwell

The beautiful Trustees of Reservations properties across Massachusetts are perfect for experiencing slow travel, or mindfully and slowly exploring an area, Kate Fox, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT), told in a recent article.

At the 129-acre Norris Reservation in Norwell, visitors can walk several loop or out-and-back carriage roads. The Patriot-Ledger recently named the reservation among the best places south of Boston for walks that give you a special reward or surprise.

At the reservation, you can “hike past a former mill pond, cross a wetlands boardwalk, and explore a forest of pine and oak on your way to a boathouse on the banks of the tidal North River,” according to the Trustees.

The reservation is free and open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Hit the beach in Duxbury

It’s worth spending a summer day on Duxbury Beach, Fisher said.

“It’s well kept up,” said Fisher. “It’s a very long beach in terms of plenty of room for people.”

The scenic, family-friendly beach has parking, lifeguards, bathroom facilities, a snack bar, and is ADA accessible.

Duxbury was recently named one of the best less-crowded summer vacation spots on the East Coast by Conde Nast Traveler, which wrote, “Walk across a historic wooden bridge to the town’s sandy six-mile barrier beach for a dip in the bay’s calm waters, or take a scenic stroll through the charming downtown area lined with old ship captain’s houses and shops.”

Duxbury Beach Park is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the summer months. Horses, dogs, kites, fires, and alcohol are not allowed on the beach and parking costs $25 per day.

Eat breakfast at a historic home in Kingston

Visitors can enjoy a side of history with their breakfast at the Major John Bradford Homestead in Kingston.

The 1714 home was once owned by John Bradford (1653-1736), who founded the town of Kingston and was the grandson of Mayflower passenger Gov. William Bradford.

“They do a tour of the building and they do these nice breakfasts,” Fisher said.

The summer breakfasts begin on July 14 and include children’s activities, car shows, and more. Visitors can also tour a 1798 threshing barn, garden, exhibits, and a gift shop. The breakfast costs $15 for adults and $8 for kids age 5 to 10. Kids under the age of 5 are free.

The historic home, which is maintained by the Jones River Village Historical Society, is open on Sundays in July and August from 9 a.m. to noon. There is also a farm-to-table dinner planned by the society for July 20.

Visit the best open-air museum in America in Plymouth

Step back in time at Plimoth Patuxet Museums in Plymouth, recently named the best open-air museum in America by USA Today readers.

Visitors can explore a Historic Patuxet Homesite, 17th-Century English Village, climb aboard the Mayflower II — a full-scale replica of the ship that brought the pilgrims to America — check out the Plimoth Grist Mill, and more. The ship and the mill are located nearly three miles away from the main museum campus in downtown Plymouth.

“Visitors are immersed in a living history experience, interacting with historical interpreters who portray both Pilgrims and Wampanoag inhabitants and showcase daily life of the period,” wrote USA Today.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets for all three living history sites cost $46 for adults and $29 for children age 5 to 12.

Go on a whale watch in Plymouth

Whale watching, a popular New England pastime, is booming in Plymouth, said Fisher.

“One of the reasons people come here is for whale watching,” said Fisher. “The Captain John Boats whale watching is a huge summer thing.”

Captain John Boats, established in 1946, runs daily fishing and whale watching excursions. The whale watching trips depart from Town Wharf, take four hours, are narrated by naturalists, and travel out to Stellwagen Bank. Stellwagen Bank is a marine sanctuary and one of the main feeding grounds for whales.

Whale watch tickets for Captain John Boats cost $73 for adults and $53 for children ages 4 to 12.

Can’t get enough of whales? Follow the Massachusetts Whale Trail.

Drive the ‘Back Roads of the South Shore’

Road trippers can drive along Routes 3A and 53 between Boston and Plymouth to discover the “Back Roads of the South Shore.”

“On the trail are a number of different historical sites that you can go to along the way,” Fisher said.

The trail is comprised of 40 historical sites in 12 towns along the South Shore. It begins with the Hull Lifesaving Museum in Hull and ends at the Jabez Howland House in Plymouth. In between, visitors can explore historical societies, museums, the birthplace of Abigail Adams, and more.

Interested travelers can pick up a map at See Plymouth at 4 North St. in Plymouth.

“Back Roads of the South Shore offers historic, hidden treasures in a relaxed and scenic atmosphere,” according to the map.

Immerse yourself in a Renaissance festival in Carver

King Richard’s Faire in Carver, named one of the best Renaissance festivals in the U.S. by the Travel Channel, will return for its 43rd season this summer. It is billed as the longest-running Renaissance festival in New England.

Hundreds of performers, from minstrels to acrobats to fire eaters to knights, dazzle crowds during the weekends-only festival full of food, rides, games, shopping, and entertainment. Period dress is optional.

“From August to October, hundreds of people converge on the 80-acre site to see knights battle on horseback, beggars compete in mud, and performers put on an acrobatic show,” wrote the Travel Channel.

The festival also has themed weekends and special events.

This year’s event takes place Aug. 31 to Oct. 20 and tickets cost $46 for adults and $26 for kids age 4 to 11.


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