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



Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 7/27/2017

Investing in a starter home is a great way to become a first time homeowner. Although starter homes generally don’t have as many amenities as more traditional homes,they give you the chance to learn what’s involved in owning a house. You’ll experience the house shopping as well as the closing and financing process firsthand without taking on too much debt.

Amenities you get with starter homes

With a starter home, you’ll also understand the types of repairs that are needed to maintain a house. Rather than guessing at how much you need to budget for house repairs and general maintenance, you’ll see those numbers firsthand. This gives you the knowledge to know if you truly are ready to take on a bigger house investment several years from now.

Amenities and features that generally are built into starter homes offer convenience. Modern starter homes are designed with open floor plans. You’ll have the option to choose hard wood or carpeted flooring. Vaulted ceilings can help your house appear larger. So too can kitchens that have long counters along one side of the kitchen.

Through homeowners associations, you can have someone else mow your lawn, shovel snow and cut away dead trees. You won’t have to clean the community pool or worry about calling to have your garbage removed. Fees that you pay your homeowners association will cover these services. Depending on where you buy your starter home, you may have to share a back yard with a neighbor.

Older homes as starter homes

Older homes that work well as starter homes are built with two to three bedrooms, an unattached garage, basement and a dining room. Bathrooms in these starter homes may be small. Additionally, older starter homes can yield costs savings upfront but require a larger maintenance investment.

Think about your personal needs and wants before you buy a starter home. Avoid buying a starter home because a lender tells you that a down payment is not needed. This step will get you a higher monthly mortgage. Approach buying a starter home similar to how you start out in secondary school before heading straight to college.

Look at the investment as a learning opportunity. You can get the skills to negotiate a great deal on an upscale house down the road. You can also learn what to look for in a neighborhood and community without signing a pricey mortgage.

As a new home buyer, it may make sense to begin with a starter home. If you fall in love with the house, you can invest in upgrades and renovations when your budget allows. Choose a starter home that’s centrally located and you could take shorten your commute to work or even take public transportation. Starter homes are also located near major shopping, business and entertainment hubs. It’s a reason why starter homes are a great way to transition from apartment living to home ownership.




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Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 1/19/2017

Buying a home can be a daunting and nerve-wracking experience, especially if it's your first time. Many first time homebuyers go into the process with little preparation other than financial planning. One great tool to have if you're entering the housing market for the first time is a timeline to owning your first home.

Why you need a timeline

There are innumerable benefits to having a timeline for buying a home. There's are several steps and a lot of information to remember during the buying process. Having a timeline will make sure you stay on top of those steps. Knowing that you're keeping up with your end of the deal will help you feel more relaxed and confident as you enter into this important step of your life. It will relieve anxieties that you are forgetting something or that you are overwhelmed and behind on the process.

Before you start...

There are a number of helpful tools to making a timeline. If you're the type who is constantly on your laptop or smartphone, you can keep your timeline in a document or spreadsheet there and make sure it's synced up between your devices so you can refer to it when needed. If you're more of an App kind of person, there are several apps on the market for helping you keep on schedule. They'll give you updates periodically and remind you when an upcoming task is due. Do you still keep a hard copy planner and carry it in your bag wherever you go? If so, consider drawing up a physical timeline that you can refer to. Just make sure you write it in pencil because you will invariably need to update it now and then.

Dates for your timeline

Here are some items you should strongly consider putting on your home buying timeline. Everyone's timeline is different because each person has their own requirements when it comes to how soon they want to move. Give yourself realistic dates and look ahead on the calendar to make sure your items don't conflict with holidays or upcoming vacations. TIMELINE ITEMS
  1. Consider more than finances. Before contacting realtors or even before browsing listings online think about your own goals. If you're moving with another person think about your futures and where your careers may take you. The first date on your timeline should be a long discussion about the future and what you would like it to look like.
  2. Crunch the numbers. Consider your savings, expenses, current income, and projected income. As a general rule, don't look into buying homes over 2-3 times your income.
  3. Research lenders. Odds are you'll have a mortgage for quite some time, therefore you'll want to make sure your relationship with your lender is ideal. Read reviews, speak with several lenders, and talk to your friends and family about their experiences.
  4. Research insurance. The sooner you know how much you'll be paying in insurance the better.
  5. Get pre-approved.  Doing this early tells home sellers that you are a qualified buyer.
  6. House hunt. This is the fun part. Give yourself plenty of time to consider options.
  7. Make an offer. Consider the features of the home, the cost of he homes in the neighborhood, and the seller's disposition toward the home (whether they need to sell it quickly or are just testing the water).
  8. Double check your contracts. Re-read all of your paperwork and make copies/back it up.





Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 10/27/2016

Looking to move from one neighborhood to another? You'll want to do your homework first! By learning as much as possible about a prospective neighborhood, you'll be equipped with valuable insights you can use to make the best decision for you and your family. Plus, you likely will be able to reap the benefits of residing in a superior neighborhood that fulfills all of your needs. So what does it take to evaluate a prospective neighborhood effectively? Here are three tips to help you conduct a comprehensive review of a new neighborhood: 1. Check out the local attractions. Are you searching for a neighborhood near some of the area's top schools? Or would you like to find a quiet, peaceful neighborhood that is miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city? Regardless of your preferences, you should check out local attractions surrounding a prospective new neighborhood. This allows you to get a better idea about what it's like to commute in and around the neighborhood. In addition, think about the big picture as you examine a prospective neighborhood, as this will help you determine if this destination is the best spot for you and your family both now and in the future. For instance, those who take public transportation to work may want to live in a neighborhood close to mass transit options. Or if you're planning on raising your family in a new neighborhood, you'll want to evaluate the quality of local schools, too. 2. Take a walk around the neighborhood. A new home in a new neighborhood may leave you speechless, especially if this house features ample space, a pristine front lawn and other deluxe features. On the other hand, the same may or may not hold true for other homes in a new neighborhood – it will depend entirely on your potential new neighbors. Take a walk around the neighborhood at least once before purchasing a new home. This allows you to compare the quality of your potential new home to others in the area. If you encounter a large assortment of homes that feature messy lawns, visible exterior damage and other problems, you may want to stay away from this neighborhood. Remember, you'll want to do everything you can to maintain your home's value. But if your new residence is surrounded by subpar houses, this could negatively impact your home's value down the line. 3. Perform a criminal search. When it comes to finding the ideal home in the best possible neighborhood, you'll want to go above and beyond the call of duty to maximize the value of your investment. Therefore, conducting a criminal search is paramount, as this enables you to find out if a neighborhood is safe. Performing a criminal search can be simple, and real estate professionals may be able to provide crime stats for a specific area upon request. Also, many websites are available that publish crime stats regularly, ensuring you can access up-to-date information quickly and effortlessly. Select a home in your dream neighborhood by investigating whether a prospective neighborhood meets all of your needs. This enables you to make an informed decision and benefit from a top-notch home in an outstanding neighborhood for years to come.





Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 9/29/2016

Green building or the practice of building better homes using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient promotes resource conservation through energy efficiency and water conservation. This practice complements and expands the traditional builder design concerns of durability, utility, economy and comfort. In the regions, where summer heat can be horrific and fierce winter winds are sure to blow, many new homebuilding contractors incorporate eco-friendly techniques, practices and products to create a healthy and comfortable home that promotes energy efficiency and reduces operation and maintenance costs. Green building practices do not necessarily increase the original construction cost. However, they do lower operating cost over the lifetime of the structure. Today, designers, architects, and home building contractors are “raising the bar,” setting new standards in upscale home construction. The latest advances in Internet technology and the ready available of wireless communication have given birth to a treasure chest of “smart home” amenities that serve to enhance green building practices and products. Cutting Heating And Cooling Costs Reducing the overall operational energy your home consumes for cooling, heating, lighting, ventilation, appliances and equipment during its life is a worthy goal. Not only do you save money and quickly recoup your original investment, but you also help reduce your carbon impact on the environment and do your part to protect the planet. Real estate market research shows that, when and if you get ready to sell your home, an energy-efficient smart home sells faster and at a higher price than a comparable property without green building and smart home energy conserving amenities. Installing extra insulation above the regions minimum building codes is a wise investment that pays for its self over a very short amount of time and then continues to pay a return on investment over the lifetime of the home. Known in the building trade as “Super Insulation” refers to the amount of insulation material needed to maintain heating costs at 33 percent or more than conventional methods. Summer Home Cooling Solutions During the brutally hot days of late summer, a sprinkler system installed on the roof ridge can envelope the entire home is a cloud of cooling mist. Electronically controlled with a smart home app, rooftop sprinklers can operate on automatic temperature control signals, or activate anytime with a click of an app. Working with your architect and builder, the same sprinkler system can be installed to provide a fine cooling mist to patios and pool decks. Water Conservation Water conserving plumbing fixtures use less water and do the same task without compromising performance while reducing water use and therefore water bills. No matter the size of your budget or the scope of your building plans, it is important to research green building products and practices, as well as the latest innovations in smart home technology. While all the options may not apply to your situation, you are sure to find several amenities to enhance comfort and save home operational costs.    




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Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 4/7/2016

Whether you are a buyer or a seller it is time to get off the fence. Despite years of bad news surrounding the real estate market, the time has come when it is both a good time to be a buyer and a seller. Why Buy? Here are just a few reasons why you should get off the fence and buy: 1. When investors start gobbling up real estate you know it's a good deal. In 2011, investors upped their buying by 64%.  While it is still not time to start flipping for a profit the clock is ticking down to an uptick in prices. 2. Interest rates are historically low. You have been hearing this for a while but they are hovering right around 4%. 3. First-time buyers are in a unique position. They didn't lose money in the housing market. 4. It's a great deal! Prices are at all-time lows. So you may be saving as much as 40% off a home if you buy now. Why Sell? Here are just a few reasons why you should get off the fence and sell: 1. Inventory is shrinking. Demand is up and in certain areas and price ranges there is limited inventory so putting your home on the market now will most likely result in a sale. 2. Mortgage availability has stabilized. Mortgage restrictions are loosening and especially first-time buyers are able to get mortgages as they were not affected as much by the financial crisis. 3. Unemployment is not as bad as you think. One is 30 Americans is unemployed as a result of the recent financial crisis. There are lots of able buyers out there. 4. Houses are selling and some are even going to bidding wars. Homes that are priced according to the market are selling and selling quickly. 5. Don't wait for prices to increase. This could be a long wait.