Cathy Stewart - KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY / Merrimack Valley | 978-270-2280 | cathystewart@kw.com


Posted by Cathy Stewart on 10/16/2018

Purchasing a house on a budget can be difficult for even the most diligent property buyer. Lucky for you, we're here to help you create an effective homebuying budget and reduce the temptation to spend beyond your means to acquire your ideal residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you craft a property buying budget.

1. Examine Your Finances Closely

Your income, everyday expenses and other financial factors may impact your ability to buy a house. Therefore, you should analyze your finances closely to determine how much you can spend on a residence.

Once you evaluate your finances, you can establish a price range for your home search. Next, you can kick off a house search and move one step closer to acquiring your dream house.

2. Get Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a three-digit number based on your outstanding debt, length of credit history and other factors. It may have a major impact on your ability to secure home financing and establish a successful homebuying budget. As such, you should review your credit score and work to improve it before you enter the housing market.

To obtain your credit score, you can request a copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report annually from each credit reporting bureau. Thus, you should take advantage of this complimentary perk and obtain your credit report as soon as you can.

If you identify outstanding debt on your credit report, you should work to pay this off. Or, if you find errors on your credit report, you should contact the bureau that provided the report to fix these mistakes.

3. Meet with Lenders

Banks and credit unions are happy to meet with you to discuss various home financing options. If you consult with these lenders, you may be better equipped than ever before to create a successful homebuying budget before you launch a house search.

Ultimately, lenders can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you get a mortgage prior to searching for a house, you'll know exactly how much you can spend on a residence. Then, you can speed up your home search and discover your dream house faster than ever before.

As you get ready to begin your quest for your ideal residence, you may want to hire a real estate agent too. This housing market professional can put you in touch with top lenders in your area and help you secure home financing. Furthermore, a real estate agent can tailor a home search to your property buying budget. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will help you negotiate with a seller's agent to ensure you can get the best price on any home, at any time.

Create an effective homebuying budget Ė use the aforementioned tips, and you can establish a property buying budget and use it to streamline your home search.




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Posted by Cathy Stewart on 10/9/2018

Whether you call it a "rainy day fund" or a "financial cushion", having some money set aside for emergencies or unexpected expenses can help keep life on an even keel.

Although health insurance and a homeowners' policy can provide a measure of protection, insurance deductibles can take a large bite out of your bank account.

In addition to all the predictable expenses that accompany home ownership, mechanical systems like furnaces, hot water heaters, and air conditioning units have a way of breaking down at the most inopportune times. Another crisis that many people aren't prepared for is the potential loss of a job. When families don't have money set aside to weather the storm of an unplanned income loss, then there's no "safety net" to cushion the fall.

Strategies For Saving Money

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to build up financial reserves, but it often requires self discipline, a new set of habits, and the intention to make it happen. One of the first steps to putting some money aside for a rainy day is to open up a separate bank account. If you put extra money in your regular account -- or (even worse) keep it around the house -- chances are it will get spent pretty quickly. However, if it's deposited into a separate account that's designated for emergencies, unexpected household expenses, or even a college fund, then it'll stand a greater chance of being left alone until it's needed. Putting money aside does take some doing, but it can contribute to your family's financial security and ability to do things that are important to you.

If you have a tight budget, you're probably wondering where this extra money is going to come from! Sometimes, the very act of developing a written budget can provide you with clues and ideas for reducing your expenses. You'd also be amazed at how much the savings can add up when you comparison shop, buy in bulk, use coupons, negotiate lower interest charges on your credit cards, quit smoking, car pool to work, cut back on restaurant food, and make up your mind to live just a little more frugally.

Depending on how committed you are to creating a financial cushion, you could also make the fund grow faster by depositing a percentage of Christmas bonuses, tax refunds, manufacturer rebates, salary increases (raises), and other sources of extra income. Additional ways to beef up your financial safety net could include getting a part-time job, doing freelance work, holding a garage sale, or selling unwanted items through ads or flyers. When you pay off credit cards, car loans, or other debts, you could also redirect some or all of those monthly payments into your "future needs fund."

Whatever you decide to call it, it's nice to know that there's some extra money on hand for unexpected expenses, emergencies, potential job losses, college tuition, weddings, family vacations, home renovations, nursing home costs, or even retirement.






Posted by Cathy Stewart on 10/2/2018

Technology is getting smarter. Nowadays it seems everything has AI built-in. And why not? It makes your home have a clever assistant in every room of your home without the expense of paying hourly wages. Hereís how to have a smarter kitchen, because letís be honest this is the room where we can always use an extra set of hands.

The Mr.Coffee coffee pot can start from your phone. Letís be honest the alarm feature most pots boast are greatÖ but not everyone has the same schedule every day. This pot allows you to create a custom schedule that matches your own. Have a fresh, hot cup waiting for you right when you get out of bed when you wake up at 5 am on a Monday and 7 on a Wednesday.

Want more control of your appliances from your phone? Crock-pot now has a slow cooker you can adjust settings with from your phone. Control temperature and cook times from anywhere so if youíre running late getting home it wonít be too an overcooked meal.

Both the Mr.Coffee and Crock Pot devices run off of Wemo technology. While both of these devices have built-in tech that doesn't mean the fun has to end there. Wemo offers devices you can plug into any outlet so you can control any appliance from your phone. With the Wemo app set lights to turn on for your family to come home to a well lit welcoming home even on a Winter night.

You can also use Google Assistant, Alexis or Siri (with the necessary extender) to control these devices and even set timers and reminders. Ask your smart speaker to set a timer for dinner, add an item to your grocery list or that you want to use that hamburger in the freezer by Friday. You can even ask for help with ingredient conversions. If you like to listen to music while cooking you donít need to worry about touching controls if you want to skip a song, turn the music down or up. Just ask your assistant to do it for you, and it will happily oblige.

Have fun with your pooch from anywhere with the Furbo camera. With camera, access make sure your dog isnít up to no good while youíre away. Use the microphone to remind them the rules still apply while you are away. The best part, however, is that you can reward them for being well-behaved, or cute, with the built-in treat dispenser.

Keep your home safe with the Nest Protect system, a smart smoke, and carbon monoxide alarm. This alarm alerts your phone as soon as it detects signs of danger. It also warns you with a human-like voice when the alarm is about to go off so you arenít startled by the typical high pitched screaming of alarms.




Tags: kitchen   home technology   tech  
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Posted by Cathy Stewart on 9/25/2018

When you move into a new home, perhaps one of the first things that youíll want to do is paint. Really, thereís no right way to choose a paint color. Thereís many different methods to find colors that are going to match with your rooms. When you get to the hardware store, you may end up feeling a bit overwhelmed by the hundreds of shades of each and every color that appear on swatches. You can go through many different thought processes in order to choose the color thatís right for each room in your home. 


Donít Paint First


Sometimes, the best thing to do is to paint after everything else is done. This may seem like a less-than-ideal way to approach moving into your new home, but it works. Paint can always be changed. You can use the strategy of moving into the house first. Then, youíll buy the furniture to match the room or get your existing furniture reupholstered if needed. If youíre starting from scratch, itís much more effective to put the larger pieces in and then decide on a paint color.


If You Like It, Paint it!


You really have to like a color for it to be on your walls. You can always get some sample paints and try it on your walls to see if you like the colors. Remember that all the advice in the world canít replace what you love. Youíre the one who has to live with the paint on your walls!


Study Paint Chips


 The overwhelming wall of paint chips at the local hardware store is a necessity when it comes to choosing paint colors. Those little swatches are very useful. Donít forget about the paint samples mentioned above as well. These small samples can help in really pinning down the color that you like. Remember that youíll need to ignore the messages that your brain is trying to send you when comparing a sample color to the existing color on the wall. Youíll definitely want to look at samples more than one time for you to really know how you feel about a paint color in a room.   


Donít Rush


Take time in your space and think about what colors you visualize in the space. Ask yourself, ďWhat kind of mood am I trying to create in this room?Ē Take your time when making paint color decisions. Sometimes rushing leads to poor decisions.   


Know Your Accent Colors


Understanding how your accent colors will work with certain paint colors will allow you to make a better decision about what kind of paint color to choose. Your paint color will have a relationship with your sofa, the trim, the flooring, the fixtures, the curtains, and more.  Knowing what kind of colors you have to work with from the start can help you to choose the right color to feature in the room.




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Posted by Cathy Stewart on 9/18/2018

Many first time home buyers think of†the age of a home like a time bomb. With age comes costly repairs and renovations that are often avoided (or at least prolonged) if you buy a newer home. While it is true that older homes are prone to needing more upgrades, they also have many advantages over newer homes. What you don't often hear is that if an old home is maintained properly, it can be as good if not better than living in a newly built one. Old homes often come with perks that are forgotten or ignored in the buying process. In this article, we'll go over some of the best reasons to own an old home, and some of the things to look for when house hunting.

1. With age comes wisdom

Old homes are filled with history. From the people who built and lived in the home, down to the tiny architectural details, these houses will shed light upon what life was once like in your neighborhood.†For those eager to learn about the history and culture of their neighborhood, it has never been easier to access historical data from internet archives or your local library. Aside from being historically significant, old homes are also aesthetically interesting. Depending on the architectural style and location of your home, it could have been built using any number of materials and techniques. Today, mass production has made home-building much more streamlined and efficient. Unfortunately, that has come at the cost of some originality in style.

2. Cost

In many instances, old homes are cheaper to buy than new ones. One reason†is that†sellers assume that buyers will have to pour money into the home to keep it updated and adjust the asking price. Another is simply that your average homebuyer values new homes over old ones. If you enjoy older homes, that gives you a financial advantage. For those homebuyers interested in do-it-yourself repairs and upgrades, buying a "fixer upper" is a great way to save money. However, be aware that some repairs should be better left to the professionals, especially when dealing with hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos.

3. Location

America is a young country. So the oldest homes tend to be built in centralized and urban areas. That often means easy access to things like grocery stores, schools and highways. Aside from being convenient, old neighborhoods also tend to have developed communities and landscapes. The streets are probably lined with aged trees that provide plenty of shade, and there's a greater likelihood of having†nearby parks or ponds.

4. Prime land picks

Older homes tend to have the best plots of land because, well... they got the first pick. As a home buyer, this could be a huge if you're looking for a larger backyard or one with great natural features like aged trees and natural bodies of water.   When you're out hunting for new homes, don't look past the older homes. You might find that they have many benefits that are great for you and your family.  




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