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



Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 9/7/2017

If you want to buy a home in the near future, you’re going to need to really focus on the goal. Buying your first home is no small feat. There are a few habits that you’ll want to start right away once you decide that you’re ready to take the plunge into homeownership. 


Make Savings Automatic


If you’re going to start saving for all of the expenses that buying a home brings, the best thing that you can do is automate your savings. The down payment is usually more money than most people can even plan for. If you have a small amount of each paycheck go into a dedicated account for the house fund, you’ll be in better shape financially. You can never start saving too early or too much. The goal is to save as much as you possibly can. Put the money in a place where you won’t have easy access to it. If you don’t see it, you won’t spend it! 


Check Your Credit Score


Your credit report is one of those things that can’t be magically fixed. It takes some time and a little work to keep your credit score up. You’ll need to make sure that you make on-time payments each and every month. If there are any glaring mistakes on the report, you’ll need to fix them, as it could take some time for any changes to show up. The most important thing is to keep your credit record clean by making on-time payments, refraining form opening too many new accounts, and paying down any outstanding debt. Once you check your credit score and see what you have to work with, you’ll be in good standing in no time. 


Become A DIYer


When you move into a home, there’s a lot that may need to be done. If you can do some of the work yourself, instead of hiring contractors and other people, you may be able to save some money. This wouldn’t include anything dangerous like electrical work or complicated plumbing issues. There are plenty of projects that you can safely take on in a home that will save money and keep your home in great shape. 


Learn To Budget


Owning a home can actually be cheaper than renting in some cases. If you learn to budget, factoring in things like food, utilities, and how much you spend on entertainment, you’ll see how much you have to work with. See how much you’re spending and then decide where you can cut down costs from there. You’ll find more money that you can be saving towards a home. The best part about buying a home is that you own it! There is no middle man telling you what you can and cannot do in a space.




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Posted by Susan Brown & Stephanie Smith on 8/31/2017

a tiny houseThe latest trend in minimalist and frugal living is owning a tiny house. If you haven't yet seen them on your newsfeed, tiny houses are loosely defined as homes that are 400 square ft. or less. As you'd expect, there are many challenges to living in a space so small; challenges both spacial and legal. Ask yourself these questions before making the move to a tiny home.

Do I really need all this stuff?

Part of the American Dream has always been to someday own your own home. Over the years, those homes have grown ever larger, even while family sizes are decreasing. Many of us have tried to make our lives more minimal in one way or another, whether its shrinking our wardrobes or cleaning out the attic. If you want to live in a tiny home you'll have to totally rethink what you consider to be the necessities of life. You'll have to prioritize and choose between things like having a television or having a bookshelf. Furthermore, you'll need to have items that serve dual purposes. Your dinner table, for instance, will also serve as a desk or working surface, namely because it will most likely be the only surface large enough in your home to do these things on.

Where will you park your home?

Finding a place to put a tiny house is one of the most difficult challenges tiny-home owners face. Almost all tiny houses are built on wheels. This is due to various state laws and zoning permits. You may also face difficulties gaining access to water and electricity. For this reason, many tiny house owners park their home on someone else's property and hook up to their utilities. Part of the reason many people want a tiny house is to be more independent, so this is obviously a huge barrier to achieving that goal.

Are you bashful about the bathroom?

There's hardly a thing that we take more for granted than bathrooms. If you're going to live in a tiny house you should be prepared to rough it when it comes to doing your business. There are some instances when you can hook your tiny house up to a sewage system. But in most cases, tiny houses rely on RV toilets or composting toilets. The benefits of disconnected toilets are that you can travel in your home and not have to worry too much about finding a bathroom. The disadvantages, however, will require some grit on your part. No sewage connection means you'll have to empty your tank or your composting toilet. This creates another obstacle to tiny living, as you don't want to be dumping refuse anywhere near your home. And if you live in a residential area there are state laws which regulate the use of composting toilets.

Is there another option?

Tiny living isn't for everyone. Whether you have a family or hobbies that require space, or just because you would feel claustrophobic living in a space this small, buying a tiny house maybe isn't for you. But there are other options. Perhaps you don't need a tiny home but rather a small and cozy one. Or you could try being more minimal in other ways like clearing out unnecessary items from your home and having a yard sale. Regardless of what you do, being minimal is a mindset, and having the intention of simplifying is already half the battle.





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.