Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith - Century 21 North Shore / Cape Cod

Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 5/25/2017

Interior home designs aren't the only elements that weigh in on whether or not you'll like a house. Front and back lawns, overall landscaping and durability of materials that the house's exterior is made of also factor into the decision. Another item, one which you may have little control over, has a lot of influence over how much you'll enjoy living in a house.

What you don't know about a neighborhood could hurt

That single factor is the neighborhood that a house is located in. Measuring the progress of a neighborhood generally takes time. You could visit a neighborhood two to three times and miss seeing teens hanging out on the corner.

You could also miss seeing stray cats and dogs roaming the neighborhood, climbing in and out of curbside garbage bins. Loud cars racing down the street in front of residential homes, couples fighting and police cars cruising through the neighborhood in search of people suspected of committing a felony are other happenings that might not occur when you drive into the neighborhood to inspect a house you're interested in buying.

Even if you don't catch potentially unwelcomed events happening in a neighborhood you're thinking about buying a house in, there are ways that you could spot a bad neighborhood. Spot one or more of these five signs and you could be checking out a house that's located in a depressed neighborhood.

  • Sewage problems - Sewage issues can make living in any house in a neighborhood a bad experience. You may not know that this problem exists until you move in and your toilet starts backing up. Of course, you could gain insight into the problem by asking current residents to tell you about their experiences with utilities.
  • Flooding - This is another time when you'll have to talk with neighbors to know how the land handles storms like major rainfalls.
  • Accidents - Move into a house that's located near a winding road and your power could go out each time someone races around the turn and hits a utility box. You might also have to reinstall your mailbox whenever someone loses control of their vehicle and crashes into your mailbox.
  • Pests - Raccoon, rabbits and deer can destroy your garden and your lawn. If raccoon get inside your house, they could damage furniture.
  • Illegal activities - Let illegal activities like drug dealing, illegal financial schemes or human trafficking go on in a  neighborhood and violence could erupt.  As with any sign that a house is in the wrong neighborhood, you'll need to talk with neighbors to get the inside scoop on the area. You can also read crime reports.

Give yourself a real win, buy a great house in a great neighborhood

Well maintained homes are not a guarantee that a neighborhood is advancing. People from all backgrounds commit domestic violence, use illegal drugs and put their pets ahead of every other dog and cat around. Let enough trouble happen in a neighborhood and businesses may start to vacate the area.

Let property taxes rise too frequently and residents may start to move too, leaving more and more houses empty. Utility problems also push homeowners out. As concerning as these events are, they are only a few signs that could tip you off to the fact that a neighborhood is wrong for you, even if a house in the neighborhood looks perfect.

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Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 5/18/2017

There are several undeniable benefits to having an occasional garage sale on your property, but there's a lot more to it than just setting out a few unwanted items in your driveway and raking in the cash. If you're an entrepreneur at heart, then holding a garage sale should be second nature to you. Good organizational skills and a basic knowledge of advertising is helpful, as is the ability to do a little friendly negotiating. By adopting the mindset of a small business owner, you'll tend to be more effective in dealing with the many details of planning and running a garage sale. From putting up signage and doing advertising to handling customer relations and merchandising, knowing the basics of business marketing will definitely be to your advantage. If you've never held a yard sale before -- or if you could use a quick refresher course -- here are few helpful tips:

  1. Cost-effective advertising: While cheap classified ads can help draw a bevy of eager bargain hunters to your home, you can also get a lot of mileage out of free forms of advertising. Garage sale signs, which can be purchased cheaply at any hardware store, can attract dozens of potential customers. In addition to posting a sign directly in from of your house, other good spots are nearby intersections and street corners. Handmade signs can sometimes work, but they have to legible, easy to read, and rigid enough to resist wind and moisture. Other free methods of advertising include flyers, posting announcements on social media, and taking out free ads on Craigslist.
  2. Preparation and presentation: When the day of your garage sale arrives, you need to be organized, prepared, and ready to welcome your first customers early in the morning. Publicizing the hours of your sales event is a necessary part of the planning process, but don't be surprised if you see a few cars starting to pull up before you've finished carrying all your items out to your driveway. Garage sales always attract hard-core bargain hunters who do not want to miss a single item. In all likelihood, the first few hours will be the busiest, and attendance will probably drop off in the afternoon. As far as preparation, getting all your items set aside and labeled (priced) the night before will help avoid last-minute stress, awkward delays in getting started, lost sales, and impatient customers. Display tables are optional, but will make it easier for people to browse your sale items.
  3. Time investment: While some families devote the entire day -- or even the whole weekend -- to their garage sale, others limit the event to four hours on a Saturday or Sunday morning. A lot depends on your patience, how fast your items get sold, and whether you have any plans for the afternoon. At a certain point, you'll start noticing diminishing returns on your time, so you might decide to wrap things up and count your money around noon.
Holding a yard sale can be a great way to make some extra money and get rid of household clutter, but be prepared to devote time and energy to the event -- before, during, and after. Mother Nature can also be a factor in the timing of a garage sale, so keep an eye on the forecasts and reschedule if the weather doesn't cooperate.

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Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 5/11/2017

Your pets adore you, rushing to greet †you as soon as you walk through the door. Theyíre cuddly, cute and incredibly affectionate. The way that your pets respond to you can blind you to bad habits that your pets engage in, habits that damage your property value. What about those nasty pet hairs? After several months, we can get used to the smell, allergens and pests that our pets bring indoors, allowing hard odors and contaminants to fester in our furniture and especially in carpet fibers. Buyers with allergies pick up the scent of pet hairs and turn away. Other home buyers may request that their realtor not show them houses where pets live. But, that doesn't mean that you don't have options. To reduce pet dander, preventing pet hairs and scents from getting embedded in your home, regularly wash and brush your petís hair. Feed your pet a healthy, protein rich diet. Use flea repellants as needed and keep veterinary appointments. To keep furniture and rugs free of pet hair, pick up stray hairs as soon as you spot them. The longer pet hair is left on the floor and on furniture, the deeper it can sink into carpet and furniture fibers. Hardware stores have plastic covers that you can place on furniture which is another solution to reducing pet hairs. When you vacuum, use vacuum extensions to clean furniture fibers. Consider using pet carpet shampoos for a deep clean. Training yields lots of rewards If your pet isnít properly trained, you could deal with more challenges. For example, your cat or dog might go to the bathroom behind decorative plants, the sofa or a chair thatís placed in a room corner. When dogs and cats feel anxious, they could chew on furniture or claw at the bottom of doors. Some pets have clawed holes into carpet as they anxiously tried to work their way inside a room or out of the house. Outside your house, pets may regularly splash mud and dirt along your home's bottom trim, creating hard to remove stains. Get in the habit of washing your house, especially areas where pets linger, to keep the curb appeal of your home at peak levels. Pets could also dig holes in the yard, a natural instinctive habit for dogs. Let these poor pet habits go and you could end up needing to re-sod your entire back yard several years later. Hunger, smelling scents under the ground and hearing sounds are some reasons why dogs dig. Workarounds include taking your four-legged pets to the vet to ensure that their diet is adequate and taking pets for walks and runs. Exercise can help eliminate the buildup of stress in your pet. To prevent pets from digging holes in the yard, you could also place large rocks near base of the fence and place chicken wire under the ground near the fence. Reward your pet for positive behaviors. Massage can help to calm an anxious pet. So too can relaxing yourself and speaking in a calm voice to your pet. Monitor the results. Taking action now could save you hours of washing and scrubbing or a hefty professional cleaning bill to get your house in good condition should you decide to move.

Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 5/4/2017

Now that you think about it, your house's exterior is what attracted you most when you were deciding on a house to buy. The large bay windows, wide front lawn and back lawn that is bordered at the far end by a gurgling creek filled your thoughts when you drove away from the open house.

You should feel comfortable at home

On top of these exterior advantages, the house's interior is large enough for your entire family to live and play inside comfortably. Within two months, you closed on the house and moved in. Now you're starting to have second thoughts.

The odd thing is that you can't identify exactly what it is about the house that is giving you a strange, unwelcomed feeling. You're not sure why your house doesn't feel like home. You could be getting an odd feeling while you're at home because your habits have changed since you relocated.

For example, you might have taken on more clients as a contractor or accepted a new role a tan office job. This could be increasing your stress levels, making it hard for you to relax and live in a state of appreciation.

Easy ways to truly turn your new house into your home

Keep up the extra work routine and you might associate your new house with stress or long work hours. This alone could prevent you from feeling at home. Here are some other factors that could be behind why your house doesn't feel like home:

  • Your house might be too hot or too cold. If adjusting the thermostat doesn't work, check heating and cooling filters. Should that not correct the problem, contact a professional. As simple as temperature sounds, if temperatures are off by 10 degrees, you could struggle to get and stay asleep. You could also feel stressed and uneasy during the daytime.
  • Place comfortable rugs on hardwood floors. If this doesn't do the trick, consider carpeting one to two rooms of your house. A quicker remedy might be pulling on a cozy pair of house shoes.
  • Clear away clutter. This includes fully unpacking all moving boxes.
  • Clean your house. Give yourself a good cleaning, washing walls and floors.
  • Open windows to invite fresh air inside your house. Also, add green plants like cactus to one or more rooms of your house. Plants are great at balancing the oxygen in your house.
  • Check air ducts. Perform a cleaning on air ducts if they need to be wiped down. This simple step reduces the amount of dust and debris that filters through your house.
  • Serve yourself a healthy, delicious meal one to two days a week.
  • Invite friends and family to your new house. Do things that help you to associate your new house with fun and celebration.
  • Hang pictures of family and friends on the walls of your new house. Pictures also lend a welcoming feeling when placed in bookcases and entertainment center shelving.

It's important that you feel at home. When you feel at home, your blood pressure can automatically lower. You can drop your guard and raise your feelings of appreciation. You can turn your house into a safe haven, a place that offers you more peace than a weekend at a plush hotel.

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Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 5/1/2017

THIS IS THE ONE! Charming Cape offering 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, hardwood floors on first floor and 2nd floor. Open kitchen feature tile floors, plenty of cabinetry, young appliances, slider and large windows framing the private back yard. Front to back fireplace living room, family room or formal dining room if desired. Upstairs there are 3 bdrms, master with private bath & double closets. Two additional bedrooms with closets and gleaming wood floors. Need more space? Finished bonus room in basement. AC on first floor, oil heat, 7 yr young furnace, water heater & roof! This home has been meticulously maintained by the original owners..ready to make it yours? Culdesac location, close to Sandwich Village and beaches... Wont Last!

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