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


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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Posted by Cathy Stewart on 7/3/2018

Buying a new home comes with a lot of new responsibilities that may have been previously taken care of by your landlords or parents. When you're out shopping for things like tools and cleaning supplies for your new home it's mostly guesswork as to which items you really need. Couple that with the fact that department stores are now filled with endless selections and it becomes almost impossible not to waste money or miss an important item for your home. Users on the popular online forum Reddit were recently asked what the most useful item for their house turned out to be that they didn't think of beforehand. Their answers, which we'll go through below, serve as great advice. If you're a new homeowner or will be soon, read on for these important household buys:

  • A step stool and a ladder You'll use both of these quite often, especially when you're moving. In my house there are a few top kitchen cabinets that are just out of reach, so I'm constantly pulling out the step stool. However, they're also useful around the house like in closets or reaching high spots while cleaning and painting. Equally important is a ladder. You won't want to mess around climbing on unsteady chairs for changing lightbulbs or smoke detector batteries. Plus you'll need one for access to the roof of your shed or house.
  • A whole-house fan or air conditioner When you move into a house, especially in the summer months, you're going to want to stay cool while setting up and cleaning your new home. A great way to bring lots of fresh air into the house is to use a whole house fan which draws air into the attic and therefore causing air from outside to flow into your open windows. Window fans are a suitable substitute, so long as they have an exchange mode to bring air in and out.
  • A bucket and a wheel barrow Both of these items are easily overlooked but will be invaluable when it comes to cleaning your house and maintaining your yard. Reddit user shuggins points out some of the myriad uses for a bucket: mopping the floor, pulling weeds, watering plants, washing the car, washing the dog, and even turn it upside down for a stool when you need a break from all those chores. And in the unfortunate event that someone is sick and queasy, a bucket can be a lifesaver.
  • Drain stops and screens It won't take long for your drain pipes to get clogged up with food in the kitchen and hair in the bathroom without drain screens. Plus, having a drain stop for your sink will turn it into--you guessed it--a bucket! Buckets are the best.
  • New locks  Who knows who has copies of the keys in and around your home. It's important to change all the locks, including padlocks to your shed. There are many horror stories of new homeowners getting all settled in only to be burgled soon after.
  • Batteries all sizes Reddit user typhoidmarry accurately describes the necessity for extra batteries when they write, "Your smoke detectors battery WILL die at 2am. It will." Play it safe and get extra batteries for your all of your electronics to avoid frustration and rage when you can't watch Netflix because your remote battery died.




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Posted by Cathy Stewart on 7/4/2017

Do you ever wonder if those items stored away in your attic or basement are worth any money? Most people assume that their antique furniture and family heirlooms couldn't be worth the trouble of finding out their value. However, there are some items that are currently taking up storage space that you could get quite a lot of money for. In this article, we'll cover some of the items you're likely to have that are worth a lot of money and how to find out just how much they're worth.

Collectibles

Some collectible items gain value as the years pass. Sometimes a craze becomes so popular (i.e., Pokemon cards) that people snatch up every item they can find hoping that someday they'll be worth thousands. In reality, it's hard to know what items will be worth something decades down the road. However, there are many items that are currently very valuable that you might have laying around in your attic (hopefully still in the original packaging!).
  • Rare vinyl records Your mom's stack of dusty Kenny Rogers records might not be worth much, but you should dig through and old records and look them up online to see how much they're going for. Some editions of Bob Dylan and The Beatles sell for tens of thousands of dollars. You never know...
  • Comics Just like rare records, rare comic books can sell for thousands to serious collectors. Condition is key, but if you find any comics in the attic you should ask an expert how much they go for.
  • Musical instruments Antique guitars, violins, and pianos are highly sought after by collectors. Four things make an antique instrument valuable: the person who made it, the person who played it, the condition it's in, and the quality of the instrument.
  • Designer fashion If grandma used to have a taste for high fashion, it might be a good idea to look into who made her old purses and jewelry. Similarly, if there is an old wrist watch or pocket watch in the attic, see if you can find any details about it online.
  • First edition books There's a good chance your grand parents or great grandparents were book readers. They didn't have the internet or video games so what else could they be doing all day? If they happened to collect some first editions of the classics, you're in luck--The Great Gatsby with the original dust jacket recently sold for an incredible $194,000.

Artwork

You can probably guess that paintings by prominent artists are some of the most valuable collectibles in the world. However, it doesn't take a van Gogh to turn a profit off of some old paintings and sculptures that might be sitting in your basement. When we say art, we also include things like movie posters and old signs and advertisements. An original Star Wars movie poster can go for up to $100,000.

Antique wooden furniture

You've probably seen old furniture selling for thousands on television. The important things to look out for when it comes to valuing your old furniture are: is it made of all original parts? What time period is it from? Why type of wood is it made of? Which company crafted it? Only an expert can answer these questions for you.




Tags: money   home   antique   antiques   valuable   collectibles   attic   basement  
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Posted by Cathy Stewart on 11/15/2016

People often describe themselves as either a "city person" or "country folk" depending on their taste when it comes to where they like to spend their time. Usually, what they really mean is that they prefer either the busy or the quiet life. However, there's a lot more to choosing the best place to live besides just the number of neighbors you'll have. If you're trying to decide whether you want to buy a home in the city, live out in the country, or move to the suburbs where you get a little bit of each, this article will tell you everything you need to know to make the right choice.

Life in the city

If you grew up in a small town, odds are you always dreamed of someday living in the city. The busy streets, the tall buildings, and public transportation that you can take anywhere all make city life feel like one giant amusement park if you grew up in the country. However, there's a lot more to city life than just the bustling atmosphere.
  • Amenities. One of the main benefits of living in the city is easy access to most of the necessities of life. Depending on your location in the city you might be surrounded by hospitals, schools and grocery stores.
  • Entertainment. You'll never run out of things to do or new places to explore living in a big city.
  • Community and culture. In most large cities you'll find great diversity of cultures and values. If you're looking for a place you can identify with, odds are you'll find a community you can fit into within the city.
  • Cost of living. This varies between cities and states, but generally the cost of living goes up in the big cities with higher rent prices, more expensive groceries and dining options.
  • Traffic. You have to love being around other people if you live in a big city. Whether you're on the train or at the crosswalk, you'll always be within arms length of a group of strangers.

Country living

  • Privacy and sovereignty. If you like your alone time and the freedom to do what you want with the space you have, country life might be for you.
  • Peace and quiet. If you hate traffic jams and don't mind driving long distances to reach amenities, small town living could be a good fit.
  • Nature and space. Out in the country there's plenty of room to roam and to experience the local flora and fauna.

Suburban life

Life in the suburbs is meant to have the best features of the city and the country. Hopefully your town has a couple grocery stores and easy access to the highway to reach the nearest city. It will also have access to recreation parks. One downfall of suburban life is that you need to make the extra effort if you want to build the sense of community provided in the city or the connection to nature that comes with living out in the country. However, if you are the type to actively seek these out, suburban life could be the happy medium your life needs.




Tags: home   city   living   life   home living   country   suburbs  
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Posted by Cathy Stewart on 11/1/2016

When you drive through a new housing development does it seem like all of the homes are enormous compared to when you were growing up? You're not alone. In fact, over the last 40 years, average home sizes have increased by over 1,000 square feet. In other words, you could fit an entire small house inside of the amount homes have grown in size.

Why do Americans love huge houses?

It's counter-intuitive that home sizes should keep growing larger. Bigger houses mean higher prices, more maintenance, and more expensive utilities. To understand why, we need look no further than the automobile industry. In spite of the fact that larger vehicles cost more to buy, use more gas, and do more harm to the environment, people still buy bigger and bigger trucks and SUVs. There are a few reasons why. One is that they can afford to (or they can at least afford the payments). Another reason is cultural. For the most part, bigger meant better in American culture--until recently. Recently, many Americans have begun saying they would prefer smaller sized houses. That desire hasn't entirely caught up to the people building the homes, however. And even as simple living trends and the "tiny house" phenomenon gain traction, building contractors still stand the most to gain from large houses and the people with the money to build houses continue to build big to stay aligned with the other homes in their neighborhood. There are other obstacles in place for people who want a smaller house. Some counties around the U.S. now enforce minimum square footage requirements to uphold the building standards of the area. So, people hoping to move to a particular suburban area but don't want a huge house might be out of luck.

How big of a home do I need?

There are a lot of things to consider if you're buying a home. Size and cost often go hand-in-hand, but even if you can afford a larger home, do you really need the space? Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine how large of a house you really need:
  • Do I or will I have a family? Kids need space. They need bedrooms and places to play. The size of your family is going to be a huge factor in choosing the size of your home.
  • Do I need all this stuff? Many people use their homes like storage containers. Think about the last time you moved and what you brought with you. Now determine how often you used the things you brought. Odds are you have a lot of items just sitting around taking up space that you don't really need.
  • Do I have hobbies that take up a lot of space? Woodworking, working on cars, playing drums... these are all examples of hobbies that call for some leg room.
  • Am I a dog person? Just like kids, pets tend to take up some room. Larger dogs and energetic dogs require more room, both outside and inside the house.
  • Do I have time to keep up with the maintenance? Bigger houses means more windows to clean, more toilets to scrub, more grass to mow... you get the idea. You might find that you'd rather have a beautiful and well-kept small home than a hard-to-maintain huge one.