More by Jon Gorey
My name’s Jon Gorey, and I’m a regular contributor to the Boston Globe and Apartment Therapy, among other publications. Here are some of my recent and past articles on all things home, in case you find them helpful! (I’m also available for hire, if you need a good freelance writer.)
When Sears Sold the American Dream (Boston Globe)
Long before you could buy a flat-pack bedroom set from IKEA and spend an afternoon sweating and swearing as you put it together at home, Americans were ordering entire houses by mail that were shipped by rail and ready for hopeful homeowners to assemble piece by piece. They’d pick a style and floor plan from the Sears Roebuck “Modern Homes’’ catalog and a few weeks later a boxcar would arrive at the nearest train depot with nearly everything they’d need to build a house from scratch.
The Fix Is Out: Despite Environmental Concerns, Americans Replace More Than They Repair (Boston Globe)
We have an old easy chair in our living room that needs … well, it sure needs something. It’s worn, threadbare, fraying, and looks as if people have been sitting in it for 40 years — which they have. It’s a family hand-me-down, but since it’s still sturdy, really comfortable, and a good size for the room, we don’t want just to chuck it. So we looked into getting it reupholstered and, whoa, promptly abandoned that idea. The quotes ranged from $650 to $750, plus fabric, for a basic, no-frills job.
Families With Young Children Face ‘Rampant’ Discrimination in Apartment Search (Boston Globe)
It’s hard enough for most people to find a reasonable apartment for rent in Boston, but when you throw a child into the mix, it can be almost impossible. Kara Olivere, a special education teacher in Arlington, spent nearly a year trying to find an apartment for herself and her 1-year-old. She rarely heard back from rental agents. “When I first started looking, I was very upfront about having a toddler,’’ Olivere said. After a while, she stopped mentioning her son, and voila, she got appointments to tour apartments. The agents would be friendly at the showing, she said, “but once I mentioned I had a child, their attitude would drastically change.’’
Heads in the Sand: Climate Change Worries Take Backseat in Hot Real Estate Market (Boston Globe)
The last housing crisis wiped out billions of dollars in home equity and left millions of Americans underwater on their homes – owing more on their mortgages than their properties were worth. But while the real estate market has bounced back, rising sea levels in the coming decades could leave millions of homeowners underwater again – this time quite literally.
It’s About Time You Went to Nova Scotia (Boston Globe)
We’ve just arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for one of those trips you keep promising yourself but never seem to take; it’s so close on a map, you just assume you’ll get there eventually. Spurred by a stronger US dollar that has discounted nearly every part of our trip — including nonstop, 80-minute flights on Air Canada for less than $300 — that day is here.
How to Unload an Unwanted Timeshare Without Getting Scammed (Boston Globe)
There are ways to get rid of your timeshare – and those neverending fees. Just don’t expect to get much, if any, money for it.
What Real Estate Agents Have to Tell Buyers – and What They Don’t (Boston Globe)
A house can be hiding any number of expensive headaches — within its walls, underground, or even in plain sight — many of which the average home buyer isn’t equipped to recognize, like an old underground oil tank or unhealthy levels of radon gas. Luckily, the listing agent is required to disclose these issues … right? Well, yes. A real estate agent is required by law to tell you about any “material defects’’ the home has, ones that would make you think twice about buying it.
Here’s How Much It Really Costs to Sell Your Home (Apartment Therapy)
Ever wonder how much it really costs to sell a home? A recent study shows that it’s probably more than you think.
How Student Loan Debt Causes a Chain Reaction in the Housing Market (Boston Globe)
For the kids polishing their college essays now to meet early admission deadlines, it’s hard to think beyond the next four years. For many young people with college degrees, it’s hard to see homeownership past a mountain of debt. America’s student loan debt has reached $1.3 trillion, surpassing every type of consumer debt except mortgages.
It’s Always Better to Replace Old Windows… Right? (Boston Globe)
We slept, or tried to, in a boxcar on a rattling freight train, rumbling through the cold, dark plains. At least, that’s what it felt like some winter nights when we first moved into our 1920 two-family. When the wind blew hard off the ocean, the original windows in our bedroom would shake and clatter in an arrhythmic fury. I hid my head under the blankets like a Depression-era hobo, trying to muffle the racket and hide from the icy drafts.
Paid Vacation: Buying and Renting a Vacation Home for Fun (and Maybe Profit) (Boston Globe Magazine)
If you’ve ever rented a vacation house with your family or friends – scrambling to find a week that works, then forking over thousands of dollars for it – you’ve probably entertained a certain daydream: What if I were the one collecting all this money?
The Heartbreak of a First-Time Homebuyer (Boston Globe)
The Dutch Colonial on Sachem Street wasn’t our first home, but we desperately wanted it to be. It was the first house we ever fell in love with, the first we put an offer on – and the first to utterly break our hearts.
Honestly, You Don’t Need that Gas Lawn Mower (Boston Globe Magazine)
If you’ve got a smaller, city-sized yard, an electric mower is just fine. And a greener (and quieter) choice too.
Tips for Surviving Today’s Bidding Wars (Boston Globe)
You’ve been scouring real estate websites for months, touring homes as if it’s your part-time job. Then, you see it: a modest but charming house that’s tantalizingly within your price range given its size and location. You allow yourself a brief shriek of excitement before seeing that dreaded bit of listing lingo: “No showings until open house. All offers due Monday at 5 p.m.” Uh-oh, you think, as you realize what’s going on. This is going to be a circus.
What the Hidden Costs of Homeownership Add Up to Each Year (Apartment Therapy)
You’ve found the perfect home for sale, and even better, the monthly mortgage payment works out to almost exactly to what you’re paying in rent right now. Great! Now, simply add another $750 a month on top of that, and you’re golden! Wait, what? Yup, the “hidden” costs of homeownership tally up to $9,080 a year on average, according to a new report by Zillow and Thumbtack.
“If (Candidate Name) Is Elected, I’m Moving to Canada!” (Boston Globe)
No doubt you’ve heard someone utter this threat before – or even proclaimed it yourself – during a presidential election. And in a campaign cycle as (adjective) as this one, where the top two candidates – (adjective) Hillary Clinton and (adjective) Donald Trump – are disliked with record-breaking fervor, it’s an especially popular sentiment. But is it really as easy as picking up and moving north?
Want an Apartment? On Rentberry, It Goes to the Highest Bidder (Apartment Therapy)
As if renting an apartment wasn’t stressful enough: Between the cutthroat competition, massive upfront expense, and daunting paperwork, now renters in more than 1,000 cities can add the panic-inducing thrill of online bidding wars to the process. Rentberry is an online rental marketplace that allows prospective tenants to bid for available apartments.
Tiny House? McMansion? How Much Space a Person Really Needs (Boston Globe)
Everybody needs a little elbow room, the old adage goes, but many of today’s home buyers want even more of it – plus space for the big-screen TV, a playroom for the kids, and an office or two to boot. Just how much room do we really need to be happy in our homes?
Never-Never Land: Is Any Neighborhood Safe From Unsavory Development? (Boston Globe)
When Chris and John Beattie bought their Milford home along the Hopkinton border, there were about 200 acres of woodlands behind it. By the time they sold it more than a decade later, it was as if the ghost of an ocean liner had run aground in their backyard.
Paying Boston Rent Solo, or Getting a Roommate: Which Is Scarier? (Boston Globe Magazine)
ONE AFTERNOON DURING MY senior year at Syracuse, I came home from class and found something frightening in my room. Taped to my guitar were three letters cut out from a magazine, like a ransom note: D-I-E. I knew who put it there, but that didn’t make it any less disturbing – he lived right upstairs in our eight-bedroom house.
Is That Renovation Really Worth It? (Boston Globe)
While you can probably name 10 things you want to fix or update around your house, it’s less likely you know what any of them should cost or which should come first. Short of soliciting bids from multiple contractors — a waste of everyone’s time if you’re simply batting around ideas — a simple ballpark estimate of a given project’s cost can be tough to find. So we set out to solve the mystery: What should you expect to pay for your next remodel? And which projects will bring the best return on your investment when it’s time to sell?
These U.S. Cities Are Now the Most Expensive Rental Markets in the World (Apartment Therapy)
Everybody knows the rent is stupid high in San Francisco, New York City, and Boston – it’s one of those sad running jokes, an absurdity that’s nonetheless become an accepted fact of life at this point. But a new study by London real-estate startup Nested shows that America’s most notoriously expensive rental markets are now the priciest in the whole world.
Rocket Mortgage: Good Idea, Terrible Super Bowl Ad (The Simple Dollar)
Want to relive the housing crisis? There’s an app for that. But Quicken Loans is smart to market mortgages to millennials.
Renovation Vacation: Sometimes the Best Souvenir is a New Kitchen (Boston Globe)
Ask anyone who’s lived through a major home renovation, and they’ll tell you: It’s stressful. It’s messy. Loud. Disruptive. Contractors traipse through your house at 7 a.m., circular saws whir at 90 deafening decibels in the next room, and everything is coated in so much plaster and dust it can feel like you moved downwind from a gypsum quarry. That’s why some homeowners hit the road during a renovation.
Is It All Sunshine In Solarville? (Boston Globe)
You’ve seen them on your neighbors’ roofs. Solar panels are popping up everywhere now, and so are the ads for them. It’s no wonder – harnessing energy from the sun appeals to everyone from carbon-cutting environmentalists to grid-wary doomsday preppers. But the real growth has been driven by average homeowners with a much simpler motive: saving money.
Fire Forces Owners to Restore Historic Somerville Victorian – Again (Boston Globe)
It’s true that love is lovelier the second time around. In March 1894, the Somerville Journal heralded the completion of Joseph K. James’s home. The architect was none other than the owner’s teenage son, Thomas Marriott James, who would later co-design the Shubert Theatre in Boston. The grand house was built “on the crown of Spring Hill,’” the Journal reported, with “several fancy windows of leaded plate glass, and a panel window in the dining-room of stained glass.’” More than 120 years later, in December 2014, the Joseph K. James House was back in the local news — after it was severely damaged by a two-alarm fire. But what could have been an obituary for the Queen Anne Victorian turned into a rebirth.