Big House ~ Small House. Choices….

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The bigger the home, the bigger the mortgage ~ As the saying goes “You get what you pay for”! Most likely your mortgage payments will be higher for a bigger home than for a smaller home. BUT, a smaller home with more amenities is sometimes not that far off in price from a larger home that gives you a bit more square footage. Choices….

Think about if you are planning to stay in the home a long time ~ If so, getting a bit more square footage now might be better than having to move again in a short period of time when you may outgrow the home. Choices….

Decide how much home you’re willing to maintain ~ For instance, do you want the responsibility of a big back yard or do you want to have something in an association, like a condo, where there is limited yard space but much more time on your hands and less work on the weekends! Choices….

Do you work from home or might you someday ~ More and more people are working from home and trust me, setting up desk space on the dining room table is not optimal. If you think you might be working from home someday, either occasionally or full time, it’s best to look for a home now that will give you the option of a dedicated work/office space.

If you really want a bigger home but aren’t sure you can afford it, think outside the box. Can you get a roommate for a bit to ease you into it? Increasing your income is always a good goal, but can you decrease your debt in the meantime? Weighing that dinner and a movie once a week over homeownership now is up to you. Choices….

So the choice is yours….!!

The American Dream of Home Ownership

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The American dream of owning a home is alive and well…if you are ready. And I mean really ready. Really, really ready.

When you own your own home you can have pets, paint the walls red, practice the drums, plant perenials, add a hot tub…you know what I mean, right?!

But before you jump into that hot tub, take a deep breath and let’s make sure you’ve done your homework and you are ready to make the move.

You will have some financial responsibilities ~

To yourself and to your lender.  You won’t have the landlord to call when the hot water tank springs a leak, so you need to have a reserve account for these emergencies…and trust me, no hot water in the winter qualifies for an emergency!

You need to make your mortgage payments on time. Every time. …no exceptions!

You will have some community and neighborhood responsibilities ~

When you buy a home, you become part of your community and neighborhood. You don’t have a landlord to answer to any longer, but you do have neighbors and you’ll want to foster good relations with them. Keeping your lawn mowed and house painted will not only make your neighbors happy, but will help contribute to keeping the value of all of your homes up.

You will have some household responsibilities ~

Buying a new home is a great time to step up your lifestyle and enjoy what your new home and community has to offer. You can make your home truly yours but you want to stay within reason of course. Be a good steward of your home and your finances while setting a good example for others in your life….what a great way of showing your kids that we all want that inground pool but we have to save and be ready for it!

So what does home ownership mean to you? First home? Vacation home? Scaling down home? Love to hear from you…

Do you know how much your home is worth?

Would you like to know the current, and correct, value of your home?

Last night, with a couple of check boxes, I found out the value of my car.  I can check my bank statements online within minutes. But what about my house?

Even with all the online information we can compile, determining how much your home is worth in today’s market is still complicated. All homes are unique and all homes have their own value. Of course the well known factors such as condition, location, size of home as well as local supply and demand trends.

We can go around and around with all of this, but the bottom line is still that your home is worth what a buyer will pay for it in today’s market.

But where do you begin?  Here are some of the common approaches.

Use an AVM ~ Real Estate web sites are all beginning to place value homes and this approach is called an Automatic Valuation Model. But these web sites may be using out dated information and town tax assessments.  The variations in this model can be huge, leading to you think that the value of your home is either higher or lower than it really is.

Hire an Appraiser ~  An appraisal prepared by a licensed professional include a visual tour of the home in person, and the appraiser will look at current “comps” or comparables of homes of the same size close to you that have sold in the past six months. The appraiser will also review local market trends and be aware of the local supply and demand. But beware, and this just happened to me, appraisers are human and I had two appraisers come up with two different values on the same home within 2 weeks.  And 2 values by a LOT!

Do it Yourself ~ I don’t recommend this.  Even if you keep up with current market conditions and know what some homes around you have sold for, placing a value on your own home is hard. This is your home, and you have an emotional attachment to it even if you think you don’t!  When I put my home on the market, I had an appraisal done and also asked a fellow REALTOR to give me their opinion as I just couldn’t be as objective as I needed to be to find the correct value of my own home!

Have a REALTOR do a CMA ~ Ask a local REALTOR to do a CMA, a Competitive Market Analysis, on your home. Using a local, hands on the ground real estate professional who access to the absolute latest sales and current inventory will give you the best and most reliable result available.

If you’re in the MidCoast Maine area, thinking about selling your home and wondering how much it might be worth in today’s market, please call me, I’d be happy to help!

Top 5 Kitchen Remodels

Winter getting the best of you? Are you feeling like you really need a change? Whether you just want to lift your spirits or are going to market your home so want to lift the price, here are the top 5 kitchen remodeling ideas for 2015.

1. A hi-tech refrigerator ~ 

It’s not your mothers refrigerator, this one has WiFi and a smart screen right on the door! I guess this would be really handy to have a recipe eye height right on the door while cooking!  http://bit.ly/1qctUkZ

2. High end counter tops ~Onyx kitchen

Yes, according to HGTV, granite is out and quartz and marble are in!   http://bit.ly/1wpv9Rb

3. A fireplace ~

Yep, every kitchen needs a fireplace…and not the 1700’s fireplace that you can roast a pig in and heat your entire home with, because nothing makes a house homier than adding a crackling fireplace, and when you have one in your kitchen, you really pile on the charm.

4. The baking drawer ~

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I sort of have one of these, it’s just an ordinary drawer but I do keep all my baking utensils and gadgets in it. It’s definitly convenient to be able to pull out one drawer and have all my baking supplies in one space. This one would be so much nicer though!

5. The trash pullout drawer ~

It seems like such a simple thing, but it’s one that will streamline the way you work in your kitchen. If you are redesigning your kitchen, this is a must have, especially if it has bins for trash and recycling in one space.

January is National Blood Donor Month

donate 1Blood is traditionally in short supply during the winter months due to the holidays, travel schedules, inclement weather and illness. January, in particular, is a difficult month for blood centers to collect blood donations. A reduction in turnout due to any of those factors can put our nation’s blood inventory at a critical low.

January has been designated as National Blood Donor Month (NBDM) to encourage donors to give or pledge to give blood.

Every day in our country, approximately 39,000 units of blood are required in hospitals and emergency treatment facilities for patients with cancer and other diseases, for organ transplant recipients, and to help save the lives of accident victims. If you are at least 17 years of age (some states permit younger people to donate with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and meet other donor requirements, you may be eligible to donate blood.

To make an appointment to give blood…for the first time or as an ongoing donor….visit http://rdcrss.org/1kdZkRN

New Year ~ New Beginning

This is the day where we all make those life changing resolutions, start new projects or in my case, affiliate with a new real estate agency!!

And yes, while I do plan on losing a few pounds, the New Beginning for me is with Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty!!

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I look forward to serving all of my clients, both past and future, in 2015.  Happy New Year to all!

What’s wrong with this Offer?!

Sometimes when everything goes right we have trouble accepting that fact and look to see what is wrong. Case in point and most clearly illustrated is when a Seller lists their home for sale and receives a good offer right away.

All REALTORS® have stories of Sellers who refused to take a good, but not perfect (full price) first offer, and who then waited a long, long time before finally accepting something else at a considerably lower price. And most REALTORS®  who have been around cringe when a good offer is made soon after coming to market as the Seller’s typical response is “We must have listed too low…I’m not accepting this as something better is sure to come in”.

NO NO NO ~ As REALTORS® we know that a quick offer is not a low offer, it’s usually the BEST offer.

The real estate market has changed, for the better, and it’s becoming more and more efficient.The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) provide agents ~ and their buyer clients ~ with virtually instant access to new listings that come to the market. Buyers immediately see homes for sale that fit their criteria. So early showings and early offers are not only NOT uncommon, but for a home that is well priced, in a good location,in good condition and in a good market, that may become the norm.

If you’re thinking of selling your home, and want good advice when that first (best) offer comes in, call your local REALTOR® and start working WITH them, not AGAINST them!

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And I know that I sound like the pushy real estate agent when I say this, but “Your first offer will be your best offer”. Trust me. Or call me!