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Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 7/14/2017

Ready to discover your dream home? With help from your loved ones, you may be able to accelerate your journey from homebuyer to homeowner.

Ultimately, there are many reasons to include family members and friends in your search for the perfect home, including:

1. Loved ones are happy to help you in any way they can.

Loved ones have your best interests in mind and will do whatever they can to assist you. That way, you can get extra help as you embark on the homebuying journey.

Before you begin your home search, it may prove to be helpful to meet with loved ones so that you can explain your homebuying goals to them. This will allow you to describe what you'd like to find in your dream home. Plus, meeting with loved ones gives family members and friends an opportunity to ask you questions about your home search.

If you and your loved ones are all on the same page, you'll be able to get ample support as you prepare to kick off your home search. Then, you and your loved ones can check out a broad array of houses and find one that matches or exceeds your expectations.

2. Loved ones can share their homebuying experiences with you.

For those who are entering the real estate market for the first time or have not purchased a house in several years, it may be beneficial to involve loved ones in the property buying process.

Loved ones who have recently purchased homes can provide real estate insights that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere. They can respond to your homebuying concerns and queries and help you prepare to enter the housing market.

Also, loved ones may be able to help you avoid potential pitfalls as you search for the ideal residence. Although some family members and friends may have made mistakes when they bought homes in the past, your loved ones can help you learn from their errors and ensure you can avoid various homebuying pitfalls.

3. Loved ones can help you make tough homebuying decisions.

Let's face it – the decision to buy a home is one of the biggest that an individual may make in his or her lifetime. As such, the decision to purchase a home is not one that should be taken lightly.

Loved ones are happy to listen to your homebuying concerns time and time again. They can offer suggestions and recommendations as you explore homes and help you remain calm, cool and collected at each stage of the homebuying journey.

Of course, if you want additional assistance during the homebuying journey, it never hurts to hire an expert real estate agent. This housing market professional can set up home showings, negotiate with home sellers on your behalf and provide comprehensive homebuying support at any time.

Reach out to loved ones for support as you get ready to search for your dream home. By doing so, you may be able to speed up the homebuying process.




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Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 7/7/2017

If you’re looking to gain some more enjoyment out of your home and your yard, installing a fire pit can be just the way to do that. It’s actually quite simple to install your own fire pit with the right materials and planning. Take a look at the steps we have laid out for you below.




What You’ll Need:


  • A shovel
  • Stones for the wall
  • Concrete
  • Stakes and string
  • Spray paint
  • Fire brick
  • Landscape cloth


Choose Your Location


You’ll need to find a place in your yard that is far away from anything that can catch fire like bushes, sheds, trees, or tall grasses. 


Plan Your Area


You’ll need to plan the area for your fire pit. Be sure that the area you choose has enough space. The fire pit itself requires about a 3 foot area of diameter. The outer wall will have a 5 foot diameter. Then you’ll need a 12 foot diameter circle sectioned off for the seating area around the fire pit itself. You can mark these areas off with string or spray paint. 


Time To Dig


You’ll need to dig the footer for both the inner and outer walls of the fire pit. Dig between the 5 and 3 foot markers down about 5-6 inches into the ground. Then, fill the newly dug out ring with concrete. Ensure that the top is level and smoothed out. Wait for the concrete to set. 


Organize Your Stones


While you’re waiting for your concrete to dry, find your stones and separate these into either cap stones or face stones. The cap stones are used for the top of the wall and the face stones are for the bottom. Cap stones should be flat and smooth. 


Place Your Stones


Follow the outer edge of the ring that has been created. Complete the circle. Then, place a ring of fire brick around the inner ring. Continue this process as follows: an outer layer of stone, an inner layer of fire brick. Make sure that you’re keeping everything level throughout the process. 


Fill In The Cracks


Using scrap stone and mortar, fill in the spaces of your completed wall. Before the wall is capped, you’ll want to make sure that it’s completely solid. 


The Final Step


Now that your wall is solid and filled, you’ll need to place your cap stones. You may need to cut certain stones to be sure that everything fits in place for this part of your project. Once everything fits, mortar the stones into place. 



Set Up Your Seating Area


Dig up the grass inside of the 12 foot circle that you have mapped out. Then, put down some landscape cloth. Fill the area with gravel for safety. 


Enjoy Your Fire Pit


Now, all you need to do is add some comfy seating with some firewood and your fire pit is ready to enjoy! Heed safety recommendations placed by your city or town for a stress-free time using your fire pit. 


A fire pit can be an asset to your home no matter where you live. Cool evenings call for great conversation by the fire anytime!





Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 6/30/2017

The average person doesn’t need to know much about the different architectural styles to determine whether or not they like a home. We’ve all heard likely heard of ranch and colonial style homes, and could probably identify them without much help.

However, America is filled with homes that are inspired by numerous cultures, their styles spanning centuries of innovation. America is a melting pot and its houses are no exception. As a result, many homes are a blend of styles.

The McMansion

Some style blends are more successful than others. The term “McMansion” has been used to describe a type of large house that is being developed across the country. These houses typically are an assortment of features that can’t really be called a cohesive style. Another way to think of a McMansion is like choosing items off of a dollar menu--they might not fit together in a particularly tasteful way, but they’re all things you crave.

That being said, there are many styles that share similarities with McMansions that architects consider to be postmodern or “New American.” These homes are often a combination of Traditional style homes and other styles such as Greek Revival and cottage style.

Style isn’t just for looks

The style of early American architecture was heavily inspired by factors like climate and available resources. New England colonial houses were and still are built with steep roofs to shed the heavy load of snow in the winter time.

In the southwest, homes were built with adobe, or sun-dried bricks, due to the lack of other building materials. But also, adobe stays cool even on the scorching summer days faced by the southwest region of the country.

In architecture, as in all sciences, form follows function. So, it’s a good idea to keep these factors in mind when you’re shopping for your next home.

The most common styles

We’ve only just scratched the surface of the hundreds of home styles that are to be found across the country. Building such a list would require a full-length book. So here, we’re just going to mention some of the most common house architectural styles throughout the United States.

  • Cape Cod. This early colonial home style has changed a bit over the years, becoming bigger and incorporating additions and garages. However, one aspect that most Cape Cod houses have in common is the symmetry between the doors and windows. Cape style houses have two windows on the left, a front door in the center, and two windows on the right. The siding was traditionally made from wooden shingles, but in modern day they can be made from a number of materials, including stone, brick, and vinyl.

  • Revival. Revival houses attempt to bring back certain characteristics of historical buildings. Greek revival is common in affluent suburbs of the United States. They are typically painted white, include large white columns at the entry way, and are at least two floors. Gothic Revival omits the columns and adds ornate trim along its steep roof edges. They are typically made from brick, especially dark red in color.

  • Dutch Colonial. The most obvious indicator that you might be looking at a Dutch style house is the roof which usually has two different pitch angles and flared eaves. These homes originated in New York and New Jersey but have since spread across the Mid-Atlantic and New England areas of the United States.

  • Craftsman. Originating in Southern California, the craftsman style home is a bit trickier to identify than more traditional styles. However, they’re making a big comeback due to their notable interior designs. This includes exposed roof rafters, detailed interior woodwork, and large, single-paned windows that let in lots of natural light.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 6/23/2017

Renting a studio apartment is a great way to save for a down payment on a new house. Studio apartment living has additional benefits that you might want to take advantage of. But, first you may have to get accustomed to living in a smaller space.

Making the shift

If you’re transitioning from living in a college dorm to a studio apartment, the size adjustment should be simple. In fact, you may hardly notice the change. Moving into a studio apartment from a full size house is another story.

The average size of a studio apartment depends on where the apartment is located. In New York, the average size of a studio apartment is about 550 square feet. In Chicago, a studio apartment runs between 400 to 500 square feet. A studio apartment can be less than 400 square feet in other cities. Location also has a significant impact on the monthly rent that you’d pay for a studio apartment.

Ways that you can save by living in a studio apartment

Using New York as an example, you could pay more than $2,300 for a 550 square foot studio apartment in a hot spot like Manhattan. Shop around. Don’t assume that because the unit is small that the rent will also be small. Wherever you rent, you should pay less than you would pay for a standard one or two bedroom apartment.

Although a studio apartment is small, there’s enough room to fit a sofa bed, one tall dresser, a television stand and a television and a stereo. The apartment probably won’t have a kitchen. Pay attention to the layout. You’ll get more for your money if the layout is completely open except for the bathroom. More ways to save while renting a studio apartment include:

  • Buy food that doesn’t require cooking.Fortunately, a lot of healthy foods do not have to be cooked, so this could motivate you to develop a more healthy diet. Avoid eating out to save on food expenses.
  • Wear clothes that are a part of your current wardrobe. To save on space, you won’t be able to buy lots of clothes and shoes,another motive to save money for a down payment on a new house.
  • Get outdoors. Hang out with family and friends at great outdoor spots like free outdoor concerts, sports competitions and outdoor festivals and cultural events. Being outdoors can keep you from feeling like you’re confined to a small space.
  • Take advantage of living in a smaller space to focus on your career. You could use the time that you spend at your studio apartment, to start a business. Put a portion of these earnings toward your down payment.
  • Get exercise. Instead of taking the bus or train to work, if you live close enough, bike or walk to and from work. Deposit the money that you save on transportation toward your down payment.

Starting small could yield big results, especially as it relates to buying a house. If you rent a studio apartment at a reasonable price, you could use the money that you save on the difference in the rent versus what you would pay for a one or two bedroom apartment or a condo as a down payment on a new house. Rent a studio apartment and you could also adjust to living on your own for the first time, especially if you’re a recent high school or college graduate.




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Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 6/16/2017

Cleaning a medium sized house single-handedly could take three hours. It only gets worse if you clean up after a spouse and two or more children. Forget trying to clean the way your mother or grandmother cleaned when you were a kid. Your life is probably different from your mother's and grandmother's. You might be juggling a job,homeschooling your children or managing your own business.

Here's what a housekeeper can take off your shoulders

Whether you work in or outside your home, it wouldn't be a surprise if you put in more than 40 hours a week. The last thing you need at the end of a grueling workweek is to have to clean the house. Over time, the added chore of housecleaning could cause you to feel overwhelmed. Help could come in the form of a housekeeper.

Depending on the agreement that you make with a housekeeper, the professional who cleans your house can do several things. Among the tasks that a housekeeper could perform for you are:

  • Cleaning carpet and hard wood floors (Don't expect a housekeeper to buff hardwood floors. If you want the housekeeper to perform this type of work, state that upfront before you and the housekeeper enter into an agreement.)
  • Dusting and cleaning furniture
  • Washing clothes and bed linen
  • Cleaning bathrooms and kitchens, including mopping floors
  • Washing windows (This is another item that you may have to clearly state that you want completed before the housekeeper starts working for you.)
  • Folding laundry and ironing clothes

Getting more from a housekeeper

To get more work completed by a housekeeper, you may need to hire a live-in housekeeper. Alive-in housekeeper might watch your children for you, in addition to cleaning your home. A live-in housekeeper also might prepare meals. Be prepared to pay more for a live-in housekeeper. Also, have a designated living and sleeping space for the housekeeper.

Should your elderly parents or grandparents live with you, let your housekeeper clean your parents' or grandparents' living space. Purpose of hiring a housekeeper is to relieve you of work, to free you up to do other things.

If you love to entertain, ask your housekeeper if he would be willing to clean the area that you are going to entertain in, both before and after the event. Don't assume that your housekeeper will be available to clean for you after his regular work hours. Respect your housekeeper's personal time. If you value your housekeeper and show it, you could develop a true friendship with this person.

Go with a housekeeper you trust. Do a background check on prospects before you hire a housekeeper. Ask friends, relatives and colleagues to suggest a housekeeper for you. Make sure that the housekeeper is good with children if you have kids. The housekeeper won't babysit, but will need to be patient with kids to make the working relationship rewarding. If your housekeeper is good but is afraid of cats or large dogs, let your pets go outside or into the basement while your house is being cleaned.