Jane Dunlap - New England R. E. Center, Inc.



Posted by Jane Dunlap on 5/13/2018

Launching a search for your next home can be a daunting prospect -- especially if you're a first-time home buyer. It's not only a life-changing decision that will have "ripple effects" for years to come, but it's also one of the largest financial commitments you'll every make. So there is a little "pressure" associated with this choice!

The good news is that once you're approved for a mortgage and you know what you want (and can afford) in your next home, then the actual searching part should be a "piece of cake!" Well, as you can imagine, things can and sometimes DO go wrong along the way, but there are effective strategies for simplifying the process and increasing the probability that you'll be delighted with the house you finally close on.

Identify Your Priorities

Knowing what your priorities are and being familiar with all the different features you'll need to evaluate are the first steps to a successful house-hunting campaign. Your real estate agent can be enormously helpful in asking you the right questions, pinpointing your preferences, and guiding you toward the house that will offer the best combination of features, qualities, and characteristics.

Rarely will you find the property that is absolutely perfect in every imaginable way, but when you're clear about the important things you're not willing to compromise on, your final choice is bound to be one that fulfills your requirements and makes you happy! Also keep in mind that once you're the owner, you can customize, decorate, and landscape that home to become whatever you want it to be. Perhaps the only two things that are set in stone are the location and the proximity of the house to neighbors.

I don't know whether this saying has been attributed to any particular person, but it contains a lot of truth about achieving goals, attaining happiness, and finding the home of your dreams: "If you don't know exactly what you want, it's highly unlikely you're going to find it!" That holds true whether you're looking for the ideal job, home, or life partner.

So the question is "How can you zero in on what you need, want, and would find the most satisfying in a house?" Your real estate agent can help you create a priority list or provide you with a boilerplate list that you can work from. If you haven't chosen an agent yet, there is a free home-buying checklist available from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

There are literally dozens of items you'll factor into your home-buying decision, including the square footage, the quality of the neighborhood, the number of bathrooms and bedrooms, the condition of the roof, electrical, and mechanical systems, the size of the backyard, proximity to neighbors, and whether it's conveniently located near supermarkets, medical offices, parks, recreation, good schools, transportation, highways, entertainment, shopping, and much more. The bottom line is this: When you're organized, focused, and clear about what you're looking for in a new home, you're well positioned for a successful outcome!




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Posted by Jane Dunlap on 3/11/2018

Sure, it's possible to find a home with a fully equipped exercise gym, an Olympic size swimming pool, or a couple tennis courts on the premises, but who wants to spend that kind of money! Fortunately, there are house features you can look for that will help you stay in shape without having to win the lottery first! Here are a few ideas to consider when searching for the ideal home:

  • Proximity to a park: Whether you're looking for a home in the city or nearby suburbia, most communities have bike paths or public parks where you can walk, jog, inline skate, bicycle, take your dog for a stroll, or play tennis. Parks with playgrounds are also a great resource for keeping your kids entertained, physically active, and engaged. Having a park or walking trail located within a mile of your house is ideal because if it's convenient, you'll be more inclined to go there frequently. While it may not be at the top of your house-hunting "wish list," proximity to a park, nature preserve, or walking trail can be instrumental in helping you and your family stay healthier and more energetic. Doctor-approved, regular exercise is also a proven way to counteract the effects of stress, elevate your mood, and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods: One of the advantages of buying a home in a quiet neighborhood is that it offers a safe and relaxing environment for taking daily walks. Going for walks near your house can also be a good way to get to know your neighbors and check out the latest yard sales. Although sidewalks can be a nice feature for homeowners who enjoy neighborhood walks, quiet streets with mostly local traffic is all you really need for favorable walking conditions.
  • A finished basement or extra room: The problem with putting an exercise machine in your bedroom or even the family room is that, sooner or later, you're going to get sick of looking at it! Until somebody creates a treadmill, exercise bicycle, or elliptical machine that has aesthetic appeal as well as functionality, it's never going to complement your decor! More often than not, exercise machines are an eyesore and a source of clutter. The solution is to create a dedicated exercise space in either a finished basement, a rec room, or a spare bedroom. Half of a two-car garage can sometimes provide a good area for weights and exercise machines, too, but that's only if you're willing to park your second car in the driveway.
Three factors that facilitate staying fit and healthy are convenience, proximity, and access to resources. When parks, exercise areas, and equipment are just "a stone's throw away," the likelihood of you starting and staying with a fitness program is much greater.





Posted by Jane Dunlap on 10/22/2017

When you narrow the numbers of houses that you're serious about buying, weather is probably the last thing that you think about. But, depending on where you buy a house, you could be inviting very hard weather conditions into your life. And you don't have to move to a coastal area to experience harsh weather.

Storms do more than damage your house

You don't have to live in Florida or along the New Jersey shore for serious weather storms like hurricanes and flooding to change the way that you and your family live. If you've ever had to vacate your house due to the threat of a weather storm, you know how quickly a storm can alter your best laid out plans.

Let the frequency of storms be high, occurring once a quarter or more, and you could be forced to store protective plywood, plastic window coverings, salt and shovels in your basement or garage. It might not take long to get into a cycle of covering windows and doors only to remove plastic and wood coverings a few days later.

This cycle alters your plans. It can also cause you to fear high winds and hard rains. For example, you could start to fear that a dark sky signals that a storm is going to rip through your house even if weather forecasters say that the area will experience no more than a heavy rain.

Understand what you get into when you buy a house in a stormy area

Some people have developed weather fears to the point where they order everyone in their house to turn off all electric appliances as soon as the sky grows dark during the daytime. These people may have experienced an electrical shock during a weather storm and convinced themselves that someone will always get electrocuted during a storm if appliances are left on.

Those are just a few fears that you could develop if you buy a house in an area that has a lot of damaging weather storms. As previously mentioned, there are also costs, including storm preparation and storm clean up and repair costs, associated with living in a house that's located in a high storm area.

Avoiding these costs and clean up headaches can be as simple as holding a conversation with your realtor. Make sure that you know which type of homeowner's insurance coverage you should get for the area that you buy a house in.

Homeowners insurance to deal with severe weather storms

Theft, fire and tornado damage might be included in general insurance packages. However, you may have to request coverage for earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, mudslides and hail damage. After you get the necessary homeowner's insurance coverage, you need to know how to travel in storms.

For example, you should know that it's not advisable to drive onto flooded streets, as even a slight dip in the road could cause water to rise,  potentially trapping you in your vehicle. The fact that bridges freeze before flat roadways is another important point to remember.

Understand all costs that you could incur if you buy a house in an area that experiences tornadoes, earthquakes and excessive rain and flooding. Also, familiarize yourself with the amount of work that you will have to do to remove weather elements like snow and ice, excessive mud from mud slides and hail.

Allergies are another weather storm related condition that you need to educate yourself about. Buy a house in a heavily wooded area and your allergies could cause you to feel groggy, tired and listless for days. The same goes for houses located in areas where weather invites insects like mosquitoes and fruit flies.







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