3 Tips for Buying a Condo

Buying a condo represents a life-changing investment. As such, you’ll want to allocate the necessary time and resources to ensure that purchasing a condo is right for you.

So what does it take to determine whether to purchase a condo? Here are three tips for those who are evaluating the pros and cons of buying a condo.

1. Understand What Condo Life Is All About

A condo and a house are two very different types of properties. Thus, you’ll want to understand what condo life is all about before you purchase a condo.

For example, homeowners likely will have a front yard and backyard that they will need to maintain year-round. Homeowners also can plant a garden, install an in-ground pool and perform various home maintenance and upgrade projects at any time.

On the other hand, condo owners frequently live in closer proximity to one another in comparison to homeowners. This means condo owners likely won’t have to mow their own lawns or shovel their walkways in winter. However, condo owners might lack the space to set up a personal garden, and they may require homeowners association (HOA) approval to complete any home exterior modifications as well.

2. Know the HOA Fees

Although you’ll pay a mortgage as part of a condo purchase, you will still need to consider the HOA fees in addition to your monthly mortgage costs.

HOA fees cover the costs of insurance, maintenance and other property expenses. Plus, if your condo’s roof is severely damaged or destroyed, you should be covered thanks to your HOA fees.

To learn about your HOA fees, you can contact the HOA directly. Also, your real estate agent will be able to provide insights into the HOA fees associated with a condo.

3. Collaborate with an Experienced Real Estate Agent

When it comes to purchasing a condo, all real estate agents are not created equal.

Finding a real estate agent who possesses many years of experience with condos is paramount. This real estate agent will be able to help you understand the ins and outs of condo life, examine HOA fees closely and discover whether a condo purchase is right for you.

Furthermore, your real estate agent should be able to help you along each stage of the homebuying journey. He or she will be able to set up condo showings, assess condos that match your price range and provide expert homebuying tips as you move along the homebuying journey.

Perhaps best of all, your real estate agent understands that the process of buying a condo can be challenging. As a result, your real estate agent is happy to respond to your concerns and queries. That way, if you’re uncertain about purchasing a condo, you can consult with your real estate agent and get the best support possible.

Hire a real estate agent with condo experience – you’ll be glad you did. With this real estate professional at your disposal, you should have no trouble finding your dream condo in no time at all.

Decorating Tips: Add New England Charm to Your Home

Whether you are a recent transplant to the area or have been a New Englander all of your life it’s hard to resist the charm of the classic New England style. The crisp clean lines and simplicity make one feel instantly at home. Keep reading to discover how you can add a touch of New England charm to your home.

Furniture. New England style still holds its roots from it’s early settlers. Look for simple, rustic furniture. Ideally, it should be a handmade piece built for quality to last the tests of time. Speaking of time, no New England home is complete with at least one antique and preferably one handed down generation to generation. If you are not so fortunate to have an heirloom piece start hunting the antique fairs for one you love.

Color. New England homes are deeply inspired by their natural surroundings. When choosing colors for your home think sky blues, sunny yellows, sea foam greens, sandy beige, pine greens and nautical navy. If you need some inspiration visit the cape or some nearby woods to gather your color inspiration.

Visual Interest. New England style may be simple but it’s not devoid of visual interest. If you don’t have at least something covered in plaid you should consider a shopping trip in the near future. Whether it’s a blanket, kitchen curtains or even some wallpaper, having plaid is practically a must. Braided rugs are another New England staple and not always one limited to floor coverings. You can also find braided table runners, placemats, coasters, chair pads, and potholders.

Decorating. Books, books, and more books. A large home library is not hard to find in New England homes. Collect interesting titles and visually appealing book spines for a collection that makes a statement. Nature landscapes, seashells, lobsters, ducks, and shells are all common themes found within this homey decor style. Woven baskets and rustic pottery are also New England staples to be placed on shelves or hung from hooks. Shelving and hooks will be your best friend as New England style maintains it’s clean simplicity by having a place for every item and keeping them off the floor.

Features. A wood stove and/or fireplace are practically nonnegotiable. And while a stack of split wood nearby and fireplace tools are a practical necessity there also a form of decor. Invest in a visually appealing log rack and hearth toolset. White washed walls and wide wood plank floors, usually of pine, are another classic New England feature hearkening back to its first settler roots you will want to look for when home shopping or replicate in your redesign.

If you’ve been lusting after New England style homes gracing the pages of your favorite interior decorating magazine it’s probably time to add some of that charm to your own home. Whether you just add a few touches by switching up your decorations or overhaul your house top to bottom you should have a better idea of how you too can have a cozy New England style home.

Selling Your House On Your Own is a Rocky Road

You can’t help but admire people who have an independent spirit and are determined to do things on their own. It’s reminiscent of early pioneers who lived by the belief that “God helps those who help themselves.” While it may be true that qualities like self sufficiency and initiative can help you get ahead in life, there are instances in which it makes sense to team up with an expert. You can’t always go it alone, and when the stakes are high — like in real estate sales — the last thing you want to do is try to reinvent the wheel!

Advantages of Working With a Professional

Realtors and real estate agents know the ropes, when it comes to the intricacies of marketing a home, finding qualified buyers, and negotiating the best possible deal. If you attempt to sell your own house without the benefit of an agent, you’ll be facing a steep learning curve and a lot of potential pitfalls.

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons for hiring a real estate agent is that time is of the essence. From the minute you put your house on the market, the clock is ticking. If your property is still on the market after a few months, then its perceived value will start to drop. Many people will assume there’s something wrong with it — whether it’s a diamond in the rough or a polished gem!

Real estate professionals are not only attuned to the pulse of the local marketplace, but they can guide you through the often complicated process of selling a home. Here are a few of the many ways that agents can simplify your life, help you avoid costly mistakes, and increase the probability that you’ll receive top value for your home and sell it in the shortest possible time.

  • Home staging: By taking advantage of their knowledge and expertise, you can make sure your home is presented in its best light. Your agent should advise you of cost-effective ways to improve your home’s curb appeal and correct any potential issues on the inside that may detract from its marketability.
  • Salesmanship: A good real estate agent is skilled in the art of persuasion, establishing rapport with people, and helping them focus on both the positive aspects of your home and its future potential. Many homeowners, on the other hand, tend to either undersell or oversell the desirability of their property. Their lack of objectivity can also cause them to overprice their house, resulting in lost opportunities.
  • Negotiating skills: One of the skill sets that real estate agents have is negotiating the terms and final price of a home. Since they do this for a living, a seasoned real estate agent has the practical experience, knowledge, and insights to help you get the most value for your home. They generally know how to push the envelope, without pushing too hard. Homeowners who attempt to negotiate a real estate sale on their own may make one or more “fatal errors,” which can derail a potential sale.

If you’re unsure whether you want the help of a real estate agent or Realtor in finding a buyer, handling the paperwork, and jumping through all the legal and regulatory hoops that real estate transactions involve, then test the waters, first. Set up a meeting with a couple different real estate agents and pick their brains. That way, you’ll be sure to make an informed decision when you decide which path to take in selling your home.

Make The Most of a Huge Back Yard

Are you on the fence about whether to buy a house with a big back yard? Although it’s not always a bed of roses — especially when it comes to upkeep — the benefits can easily outweigh the drawbacks. Spacious yards are extremely versatile and can play a key role in creating fond family memories. Here’s some food for thought on how you can use that extra outdoor space on your property to accommodate your interests, your goals, and your family’s needs.

  1. Cultivate a vegetable garden. If you have a green thumb and a passion for growing your own food, a big yard can afford you that opportunity. Backyard agriculture is something the whole family can enjoy and get involved in. It’s also a fun way to educate your kids about nature, farming, and where their food comes from. As a side note: If you’re serious about pursuing this hobby, you may want to have an adjacent shed set up to protect your gardening tools, fertilizer, and other supplies. Building a greenhouse for growing flowers is another option to consider. Once you get backyard farming down to a science, you can save money on groceries and enjoy an abundant supply of organically grown fruits and vegetables. There are many sources of helpful information, both online and off, including Cornell Cooperative Extension.
  2. Special occasions: When you have room for a couple of picnic tables, a swing set, and a volleyball court (60 feet by 30 feet), then you have the basic ingredients for fun birthday parties, family gatherings, and backyard barbecues. Plenty of space also lends itself to frisbee games, badminton, Bocce ball, croquet, kickball, and anything else your group is up for. Whether you’re planning a family reunion, a graduation party, a child’s birthday, or a backyard wedding, a good-size residential property can provide the perfect setting.
  3. Expansion is an option. When your new house comes with some extra outdoor space to work with, all kinds of options are available to you. The possibilities can range from the construction of a sun room or additional bedroom to an in-law apartment or even a guest house with rental income potential. If a new swimming pool is on your “wish list,” a spacious lot can help make that a reality.
  4. Room to run and play: You may have an energetic Labrador Retriever that loves to play fetch or a growing family that thrives on sports activities. Regardless, there’s nothing like a big back yard to make all that possible. During the winter months, you can even use a multi-acre property for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Creating your own skating ring is yet another option.

If you’re looking for a “park-like setting” for your next home, then a large suburban or rural property might be exactly what you have in mind. Depending on the layout of the property and its proximity to other houses, an acre or more of land can provide just the right amount of privacy, flexibility, and freedom from traffic sounds, sirens, and other noise pollution.