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Spaced Out

north conway nh real estate buyIt turns out I need my space. One of the reasons I enjoy winter hiking so much is the beautiful and serene silence. Being surrounded by nothing but trees and snow pacifies something inside me that nothing else can match. I have always been aware of (putting it nicely) a “lack of patience with crowds”. As I am spending more time in busier places, the draw of the woods has grown stronger. One of my favorite t-shirts and/or bumper stickers simply says: “The more people I meet, the more I like my dog”.

Unfortunately for me, the next time I attend a concert it will be a very expensive ordeal. I intend to purchase 10 tickets for the two of us. The three seats in front and behind and one seat on either side of us will simply be empty. While I can (and have!) appreciate the experience of being “down front”, surrounded by fellow fans, dancing, laughing and generally enjoying the moment, in a show where the goal is simply to appreciate the music being performed and the artist themselves, I would much prefer to be left alone. I should not have to dodge elbows, guard my drink from a pushy neighbor or fend off seat poachers every time I change positions.

As I re-read the beginning of today’s article, I realize I sound like a crotchety old man. I even found myself criticizing someone’s driving this morning by saying “They were probably texting!” I don’t mean to sound negative, but I truly believe we are losing the notion of consideration. If any one of the people I’m referring to above had taken a quick second to consider the presence (and feelings) of their fellow human being, and they were honest with themselves about it, their behavior would likely (hopefully!?) be very different. Instead, this trend of going through life without regard for any of our fellow citizens seems to be taking hold.

I also recognize that we are all different. Synapses (yes/no responses) make up the “guts” of the human brain. Our brains contain 1013 of these synapses (that is 2 multiplied by itself 10 trillion times!). The immense combination of human brain configurations further explains that no two of us will appreciate the same event the same way. And with that in mind, I make a concerted effort to be more understanding and patient with people who simply approach life from a different angle. This is also the reason we all have such varying tastes in real estate.

Last week we touched on the remodeling projects that can help or hurt your chances of selling. In the end, there really IS a bum for every seat and the “right” buyer really IS out there for your home. The trick is to find that “universal appeal” that will attract the greatest number of interested buyers. This transcends the home itself and continues right on to the location and setting of the home. Yes, location is critical to your home’s inherent value and appeal, but “where” your home sits is also important.

My good friends whom I dog/house sit for live in a very rural area and their home sits on 7 acres of wooded land. Each of their neighbors also enjoys similar sized chunks of land and has positioned their homes out of sight from one another. The result is a feeling of complete privacy and, aside from hearing a passing car a couple times a day, glorious, wooded isolation. But I recognize this is not for everyone. Another good friend lives right downtown in a small city. She would not trade her location for the world and would certainly not enjoy living “in the woods” and away from the “life” of the city.

conway real estateWhen I hear a town has an ordinance in place for minimum lot sizes, I am immediately attracted. They are setting their town (and neighborhoods) up for a certain lifestyle and a certain type of resident. The same can be said about the developments loaded with “McMansions”. I can’t help but think of the opening video sequence of the Showtime series: “Weeds” and the song “Little boxes” playing in the background. Again, this is not a criticism, but just a wide variance in the tastes of people’s notion of “home”.

“When working with a new client and especially first time home buyers, I tend to initially focus a lot of our energy into the type of community or neighborhood they are looking for,” notes Badger Realty agent, Michele Southwick. She continued, “They are already interested in the Mount Washington Valley, but there are so many different options available just in this small geographic area. It is important to get the ‘setting’ right first and then we can shift our attention to the house itself.”

We have enough (too many?) grumpy old men in this world. I don’t want to be another one added to the pile. I truly appreciate the vast differences we all experience as humans and don’t want to begrudge anyone their chosen path. My only wish is for a little (lot?) more consideration for our fellow man. Take a second to look around you and consider the situation of your nearest neighbor. Could you talk a little quieter? Could you wear a little less perfume or cologne? Could you be more aware of your flailing limbs while dancing in a crowd? Could you put the toilet seat down? (Hey, someone just took over my keyboard!!)

2015 Housing Predictions

jackson nh real estateOK, I know.  We are not supposed to talk about “national trends” since we all know that the “real” nitty gritty of real estate is hyper-local!   Well, with that in mind, here are a few items that still hold some relevancy in the market, regardless of where you are!

The mortgage rates are still just plain fantastic and will continue to stay there.  Although we may see a slight bump, it will only be approaching the 5% mark.  Nothing to get too upset about, but worth keeping an eye on regardless.  If you are re-financing or buying a new home, this is good info. for you.

If you are lucky enough to already own a home, congratulations!  Home appreciation is expected to continue by 3-5% next year.  Not a massive jump, but at least it is not going in the other direction!  We should also see an increase in housing starts as new construction continues to get its legs.  A 20% increase in new construction is anticipated.

There is also a prediction that multi-family homes will continue to rise in 2015.  These purchases increased by about 60% between 2011 and 2014.  I  know this is a great place to invest and a great way to affordably purchase a home!

While any “prediction” is worth just about the same as the paper it is written on, these are some good numbers and some good news for real estate owners and buyers in 2015.

Honey I Shrunk the House

conway nh real estateSize really does matter. Especially when it comes to the size of your home. For those of you reading this from the comfort of your vacation home here in the Mount Washington Valley, you are likely not as concerned with the size of this house as your primary residence. The fact is, if you can crash here for a few weekends and a few weeks a year you’re happy. Sharing the home with family and friends typically warrants a larger home, but for the single family, a smaller space is fine. We are seeing this trend in primary residences as well and I have to admit I don’t blame them at all. Here are a few reasons why smaller is actually a nice direction to be heading.

Although not always the case, smaller homes typically come with smaller mortgages. For obvious reasons, this is often the most important factor in downsizing. Since mortgage payments usually gobble up about 30% of our gross and 50% of our net income, shrinking the house payment can lighten the load a bunch and improve the health of our budgets almost immediately. Right along with the mortgage are the utilities. It makes perfect sense, especially for a ski house, that heat will be much cheaper the less space you have to deal with. This savings applies to lights and water as well.

According to the newly released 2013 American Community Survey, New Hampshire ranks #3 in the nation for the highest property taxes at a median bill of $5,107. New Jersey (#1), Connecticut (#2), New York (#4), Mass (#5), Rhode Island (#7), Vermont (#8) and Maryland (#10) make the northeast the highest taxed area in the country. (Hooray for us!) Needless to say, the smaller your home (and your plot of dirt) the smaller amount you’ll pay in taxes. Of course, you could move to Alabama, with a median tax bill of $532, but why would anyone want to do that? (You DID see the New Hampshire foliage this year, right!?)

When I moved into my newly built home, the surrounding property (often referred to as a “lawn”) was nothing but dirt and weeds. While I had grand ideas of a plush green oasis to make the neighbors jealous, I never really got around to it. Funnily enough, the new owners have continued my laziness and rely on the beauty of fresh snow to make the yard pretty for at least half of the year! Moving into a smaller home means much less maintenance. Cleaning is easier and faster and nearly everything from painting, repairing windows and doing general maintenance is made more simple the smaller your home. Let’s be honest. You’re not getting any younger. Do you really want to be mowing (or raking) 3 acres of lawn and cleaning countless windows on your weekend? You could be sipping coffee and reading the Conway Daily Sun instead!

As you can imagine, my favorite reason for downsizing is the lack of clutter. Even if you are a card-carrying pack rat, you can’t fight the fact that the storage space is just not there. With a smaller home you will be forced to be more organized and hang on to less “stuff”. I get giddy just thinking about all the trips to the thrift store to eliminate the piles of unnecessary junk in our lives. Less is more!

In case you hadn’t noticed, smaller homes are becoming quite trendy. While I don’t encourage you to join the crowd just because everyone’s doing it, there are some clear advantages. The new “smaller” homes take up a smaller footprint, but don’t really sacrifice space on the inside. Smart builders are able to utilize previously wasted space and take full advantage of the entire home. Among these adjustments, we’re seeing a disappearance of the formal dining room and a move towards more useful and logical layouts.

“Smaller homes don’t always mean cramped living quarters, they simply make better use of the space available,” notes Badger Realty agent, Edward O’Halloran. He continued, “If home owners were honest about the space they need, most of us would be able to downsize without negatively impacting our living conditions in the least.”

Looking back in history, it is obvious that we can live with less. The average single-family home built in 2013 was around 2,600 square feet. In 1950, when the average family was larger than it is today, the average home was less than 1,000 square feet. Faced with those numbers, we are clearly “living large” today.

The savings for living in a smaller home, as mentioned above, can also be migrated towards your retirement. What better way to channel the funds you were spending (wasting?) on that huge home than to pad your savings account and make your golden years that much more comfortable. Or, better yet, how about grabbing that ski home you’ve always talked about! With rates as low as they are and inventory holding steady, there has never been a better time.
See you on the slopes!

Busted Bargains

conway real estate“It is not a good deal if it is something you don’t need”. Jane’s husband had never spoken truer words. She and I were headed out the door to take advantage of a “going out of business” sale and I believe he was worried about the health of their checking account. When stores go out of business or throw notions like “50% off everything”, most of us tend to get a little excited. But what is the true value of those things that are so heavily marked down.

I once heard the saying “items are worth what someone is willing to pay for them”. If you buy a car/home/diamond/baseball card/etc. with the notion that its value will increase, you are gambling on the idea that at some point in the future, someone will pay more than you did. This is true in the real estate world as well. I almost fell into that trap at a real estate auction a few years back. Thankfully, clearer heads prevailed and I was out-bid. The excitement of the auction and the idea of “getting a good deal” almost cost me thousands.

I almost always refuse to pay retail price. I believe that is why, on the 8th day, god created Marshall’s and TJ Maxx! With the purchase of a home there are a few reasons that may make you re-think bidding on that foreclosure or chasing down the next great bargain. In the end, it may cost you more. “If a home is priced well below the market, that raises concerns for myself and the buyers I represent,” notes Badger Realty agent, Lee Phillips. He continued, “These homes demand much closer scrutiny and a higher level of patience.”

Heeding my friend’s advice from the first paragraph, buying a home that is a “good deal” only works if the home is what you need. With two kids and a dog, that small home with only 2 bedrooms is a great price, but clearly not what your family needs. If you are looking for a “move-in-ready” home because you are relocating for a job, that “fixer-upper” is clearly not in your best interests. We can quickly become enamored with a home solely based on price. This is when it is important to have a list of “wants” and “needs” so you are not tempted to get into a home that does not cover the “needs”.

Jumping the gun on a home that is not “just right” can cost you more than just being the wrong size. If you grab that deal with a home that does not fit, you could end up spending more money in transaction fees when you have to sell it and buy the “right” home later on. This could end up costing you more than if you had gone for the “right” home at first. This is also the case if you opted for that smaller home with the intent of “adding on” as your family grows. These projects, as we have discussed before, are not inexpensive. Consider your family size and expansion needs up front.

In the end, you almost always get what you pay for. We all have that friend (who’s a jerk! ☺) that flipped a house and doubled her money. There are plenty of stories of people getting a “great deal” on a house and everything turned out rosy. But I promise you those are not the norm. Talk to any veteran real estate professional and they will tell you the truth. When you see a house for sale, with a price that seems too good to be true, chances are it is.

A home that is priced well below the comps for the area should be a red flag for the savvy investor. Bank-owned properties often fall into this category and appear, from the curb, to be a deal too good to pass up. Upon closer inspection, the maintenance of the home has been neglected and all the appliances (and copper!) have been removed.

I have looked at countless multi-family properties all over Northern New Hampshire and was rarely able to pull the trigger. In most cases, the size and age of the home are what scared me off. Regardless of the price, I knew that the property was in need of more maintenance than I could afford or was capable of doing myself.

The first property I owned had a perfectly suitable unit upstairs and the rent for that one covered the expenses of the mortgage. This afforded me the opportunity to work on the downstairs unit at my own pace and update it accordingly. It was also in need of only cosmetic changes such as paint, flooring and some deep cleaning. I knew I could handle these updates on my own and get the unit ready to rent without breaking the bank. If you have the opportunity to walk through a property (with a contractor if necessary) before you make an offer, it will give you loads of peace of mind and likely save you from an investment misstep.

I’m sure you are tired of hearing the saying, but this is a great time to buy real estate. If the home is priced appropriately and is in good condition, make an offer. Just don’t waste the seller’s time with a low-ball offer. Offer a fair price for the home and don’t expect to get a super-discounted price. Those discounts come at a cost and if you are bidding on a high quality home, paying the fair price will pay off in the end.

Kearsarge Brook Timeline Update

DEVELOPERS OF KEARSARGE BROOK CONDOMINUIMS AT CRANMORE

UPDATE PROJECT TIMELINE

North Conway, NH  — On Monday, October 27, Cranmore announced that the timeline for completion of the first phase of Kearsarge Brook Condominiums at Cranmore has been extended for a period to be determined. Phase One’s originally scheduled completion date of December, 2015, is not tenable due to land release issues requiring additional time to resolve.  While resolving these issues is a hurdle to the project and makes the schedule longer than anticipated, Cranmore and all parties involved are confident they will not hinder the ultimate goal of building.

Kearsarge Brook Condominiums at Cranmore is a six to ten year project that will double day lodge space for guests and introduce 106 whole ownership condominium residences at the base of the mountain.  The investment done to date in planning, permitting and legal work will help to accelerate the re-launch of the project.

“I want to thank everyone for making this project a priority,” commented Brian Fairbank, Chairman of the Fairbank Group, the entity that operates Cranmore.  “The project is still very much alive, but with further delays now a reality we felt it was fair to everyone to put things on hold until we get this issue sorted out.  It is unfortunate, but we have done successful resort development for decades and are accustomed to delays. We will work through this and get this project back on track as soon as possible.”

Fairbank added “We still see this as Cranmore’s direction for the future, but it is best to finish all these final requirements so we can start the project with clear, targeted, completion dates for our purchasers.”

“Unfortunately, this is a complex project and one wrinkle in the process can shift things,” added Cranmore President and General Manager Ben Wilcox.  “The Fairbank Group, with support from CNL Lifestyle Properties, has invested $10,000,000 at Cranmore since purchasing the resort in 2010 and they are investing another $800,000 this winter to further enhance snowmaking and other mountain infrastructure.  The development project is a long term commitment that will transform the resort for the future.”

The sales office will remain open at Cranmore to furnish information about Kearsarge Brook Condominiums at Cranmore as well as other real estate opportunities in the Valley to prospective homeowners.  For further information go to www.cranmore.com/kearsargebrook, or call Badger Realty at 603-356-5757.

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Tips to Convert Your Attic Space

jackson nh real estate atticMoving up – vacating your current, smallish home for a larger, roomier abode – was the American way before the Great Recession. Now that the economy is humming again, at least some of the people who stayed put during those lean years will be looking to move into larger, nicer homes this summer. High demand and low inventory, however, may leave many with nowhere to go. Some will rediscover a time-honored space-gaining technique: attic conversion.

As home improvements go, converting an attic into usable living space has a high return on investment – about 84 percent at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. That’s if you use your unfinished attic to create a 15-by-15-foot bedroom and a modest 5-by-7-foot bathroom with shower. Create a larger, more luxurious and more elaborate space and the ROI could be even greater. If your family is bursting at the seams, the value of added space will be measured in comfort, convenience and peace of mind, rather than resale dollars.

As with any renovation project, achieving an attic conversion requires you to balance numerous factors, from budget and objective to space and architectural limitations. Some of your most-desired features – such as ample natural light or a full bathroom – may seem out of reach. They don’t have to be, though, if you rely on some time-tested techniques to maximize the space.

Lighting the natural way

Typically, attics aren’t built with a lot of windows, and adding them may be difficult if the ceiling is sloped. Yet natural light is a highly prized feature in virtually any room, especially if you’re converting your attic into a bedroom, family room or other public area. Traditional solutions include adding dormers, which can be costly and time-consuming. What’s more, windows and dormers can eat up wall space, which is often at a premium in attics.

Skylights or roof windows can be a better option in an attic space. They require less time and cost to install than dormers and can easily live on slanted ceilings. Choose Energy Star-qualified no-leak, solar-powered fresh-air skylights like those from VELUX America utilized in the O’More College of Design Alumni House, add solar-powered blinds, and you can achieve a light-filled attic room that is both beautiful and energy efficient. The cost of the products, including installation, are eligible for a 30-percent federal tax credit. And from now until August 15, there’s also a $200 cash rebate from VELUX on solar powered skylights. To learn more, visit www.whyskylights.com.

Roof windows, which are less expensive than dormers, are another cost-effective attic conversion option. VELUX offers both a top-hinged model and a double-sash balcony model that open at the top and bottom to create a roof balcony that admits much more light than a dormer while offering access to the outdoors.  Roof windows offer maximum ventilation plus the added advantage of meeting building code requirements as points of emergency escape and egress.

Heating and cooling

Attics are often the hottest or coldest room in the house, depending on the time of year and the quality of your home’s insulation. Creating a comfortable atmosphere in a converted attic requires expert planning.

You may need to increase insulation. Because insulation has such a significant impact on a home’s overall comfort and energy efficiency, it makes sense to invest in the best you can afford. Spray foam is often a good option for converted attics because it can go easily between existing joists and create a tight air barrier without losing the inches of space required for thick fiberglass batt insulation.

You’ll also need to consider how you will heat and cool the space. A heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system expert can help you determine the best approach.

Skylights and roof windows can also play an important role in your heating and cooling conversion plan due to the chimney effect they utilize to exhaust rising hot air from an attic space while providing abundant daylight and fresh air.

Plumbing made easier

Adding a bathroom anywhere in a home is usually a good investment. Bathroom additions return about 60 percent of your investment at the time of resale, according to the Cost vs. Value Report. Creating an attic bathroom can be simple – if pipes are already present – or challenging if no plumbing exists in the space.

One alternative to traditional plumbing is up-flush, which allows you to install sinks, toilets, showers and even bath tubs without engaging in major construction to accommodate traditional plumbing pipes. Up-flush plumbing cost less than traditional plumbing methods and is easier to fit into tight spaces – like the odd nooks that often occur in attics.

With planning and the right materials, it’s possible to convert an attic into a living space that makes your home even more livable for your family while you’re staying in place. Plus, it will enhance your home’s value down the road when you’re ready to move up.

 

Generation Who?

conway nh real estate sellI get a little lost with all the Generation (insert letter here) talk. I was born in 1971, but still can’t tell you which letter I am. I think I’m “Y”, but sometimes feel like “X”. Not surprisingly, younger people are getting in the real estate market and making an impact on both sides of the table. Not only are the younger sellers more savvy with their marketing strategies, younger buyers are making a splash in the market as well. In a study done by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate we get a glimpse into the new generation’s goals for the future.

Generation Z (defined as people aged 13-17) are soon going to be digging into the real estate market. If you find yourself in the mood to buy or sell, you may want to take notice of their building trends and goals in order to align yourself for success. This generation places home ownership in the center of what they believe the American dream consists of with 89% of respondents in agreement. This was followed by a college degree at 78%, marriage at 71% and starting a family at 68%.

In fact, ninety seven percent indicated that they will be homeowners one day and are willing to sacrifice to get there. 53% said they would give up social media for a year or do double their current homework load in order to attain the dream of home ownership. I’m not sure some of my current friends, most of which are well past this age group, would be willing to give up social media for an DAY, never mind a year.

This generation seems to be financially literate as well. While we’re just talking about a single survey done, the results were pretty impressive. Of that 97% that expect to own a home, they also indicated they would pay an average of $274, 323 for their first one. This same group also said they expect to have an advanced degree (60%), be married (59%), have a pet (58%) and have started a family (21%) all before becoming home owners. These folks have some work to do!

It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of these folks will start their home search online. This is the case for nearly all people looking for property. A few of them have some higher expectations of technology though. Nearly 30% indicated they would “expect” to be able to video-chat with their agents! While I enjoy an occasional Skype chat with my mom, I think these kids have much bigger plans!

It was nice to see that about 59% said they would utilize the help of a real estate professional. As much as technology is quickly taking over our daily lives, human expertise and interactions still retain some value. “In fear of tooting our own horns, there is still so much value an agent can provide that goes beyond what you can read on a listing sheet or a website,” notes Badger Realty agent, Kevin Killourie. He continued, “Instant information is useful to an extent, but I believe nothing can replace the insight of an experienced, local agent with real-life knowledge of the area and the local market”.

With 47% of the surveyed kids expecting to settle in a suburban area, I think Kevin’s comments are spot-on. That goes for the 20% who say they’ll live in a rural or “country” area. I’m fairly confident there won’t be a “walking score” for most of the more remote, but beautiful, towns up north. The insight of an agent who has lived, worked, played and grown-up in the Mount Washington Valley can be priceless.

Lastly, the actual size of the home will likely see a shift as this generation starts to get into the market. With the growth of micro-homes seemingly taking hold, these folks are going to be content with smaller living spaces until they are ready. They don’t necessarily want what mom and dad have since they don’t need it right now. Once they build their “family” with kids and a dog, they home size will appropriately increase. Perhaps the days of the McMansion are in the rear-view mirror. (We can hope!)

If you are in the market to sell your home, it makes good sense to be aware of the upcoming generations and perhaps cater to their needs and desires a bit. If you are looking to buy a home, knowing who you are up against will help you be more selective with your desired home style and location. So, which generation are you!?

Buy Now Or Else

north conway home salesI am the absolute best at hyperbole. I’m also the single most humble person I know. Since you’re reading this article, you are likely the most educated and intelligent person in the room. Because of that, you know I’m simply full of it. There is (almost) nothing more annoying in advertising and marketing today, than the “best”, “worst”, “now or never” mentality that comes with lots of company’s message.

There was a “going out of business” sale at a grocery store over in Lincoln a couple years ago and the town was abuzz with all the amazing “deals” they were offering. With everything marked down to 50% off and below, it was a legitimate sale to be excited about. My friend Jane and I were talking about the sale and planning our trip to the store when her husband chimed in from the other room. His only (sage) advice for both of us was “It is not a “deal” if it is something you don’t need”. His point was spot-on. If you come home with a product you have no use for, but you “saved 50%”, was it really a deal?

There are lots of real estate agents out there and no shortage of folks telling you to “buy now”. How do you cut through all the noise and take some intelligent and purposeful steps towards home ownership. I have a few thoughts that might get you started in the right direction.

First of all, be sure to talk to a couple different agents before jumping in. Like most things today, we all tend to ask the advice of our friends, neighbors and family before making a large purchase. This is no different and referrals are a major source of an agent’s business. If they continue to do a good job for their clients, the referrals will keep coming in. It is also important that the area you are looking to move is a place in which they live, work and/or play. You want to work with an agent that knows the town, knows the neighborhoods and can be a real resource in your hunt.

Beyond the neighborhood, look for an agent that knows the type of property in which you are most interested. If you have your heart set on a condo, be sure the agent is well versed in all the condo communities in the area. In the Mount Washington Valley there are loads of these communities and knowledge of their differences is a big deal. A well-educated agent will understand the different locations and their different regulations. While nobody can be expected to have all this stuff memorized, your agent should have these resources at their fingertips.

Your agent should also understand your intentions after the sale. If your goal is to purchase the property and immediately rent it out, an agent with experience in this process will serve you perfectly. Some condo associations frown on this behavior and others welcome it with open arms. If the opposite is true and you intend to live in the home, a neighborhood loaded with rental properties may not be what you are after at all. Again, this is where the agent’s experience is critical.

My last encouragement about choosing your agent is to be sure they are aware of the full scope of the home buying process. There is so much more to buying a home than the exchange of money and keys. There are title companies, inspections, insurance, contractors, moving, storage, cleaning and of course banks all involved in the process. An experienced agent, with a full-service agency, can be an incredibly valuable resource in helping you every step of the way.

On the personal side, I think it is important to remain patient with this process. Buying a home can take months and the markets can shift in that time frame. Your agent can help with lots of these things, but the market itself is out of their control. If you set a realistic expectation from the start, the process is less likely to become daunting and frustrating. “One of the first things I discuss with clients is their time frame,” notes Badger Realty agent, Kathleen Sullivan Head. “It establishes their urgency and objectives but also allows me the opportunity to align myself with their goals. Secondly I use this as a teaching opportunity to adjust their mindset a bit and ensure we are all being realistic,” she continued.

The last nugget for today is to keep your eyes open about the true cost of buying (and owning) a home. With mortgage interest, HOA fees, property taxes, utilities and home maintenance there is the opportunity for the first-time home buyer to be surprised by a few of these unknowns. An experienced agent can help you navigate through the process and make you aware of the extraneous expenses beyond the mortgage. This will help you buy within your means and make the whole experience a little less stressful.

Trulia just published their rent vs. buy report and in 100 of the largest metro areas in the US, the average cost of home ownership is 38% cheaper than renting. This number was 66% in Detroit! With mortgage rates where they are now, rates would have to increase more than 10% for renting to be cheaper in most markets. This really is a good time to buy and with the right agent, the process can be the best and most awesome thing you do in your entire life! Whoa… sorry, got a little carried away there. I told you I was the best!

Autumn Home Checks

conway nh property inspectionFall is a great time of year.  We start to sense the snowfall and get excited to hit the slopes.  The foliage in North Conway NH is second to none and the smells of wood stoves continues to be one of my favorites.  Before we settle into the winter, there are a few things you should check around the house to be sure you are ready for the coming cold.

Air leaks.  The main goal of winter time is to retain the heat you are creating in the home.  Wether by wood stove, furnace, electricity or solar energy you’ll want to keep the warm air in and the cold temps out this winter.  Take a visual look around the exterior windows and doors and target any dried or flaking caulking as this is a major culprit for air leaks.  Check under the doors in the home as well.  These seals become tired and cracked and will stop doing their job after a few years.  Working your way back around the home with some exterior-grade caulking will do wonders for your warmth and wallet.

Check the roof as well.  We’ve had some wild weather this summer and double-checking for damage to your roof is good advice for anyone (renters and owners alike).  Since you’re up there anyway, this is a good time to clean the chimney and fireplace and make sure both are in good working order.  Last but not least, give your smoke and CO alarms a safety check.  Clean out the dryer vent from any built up lint and swap out all of your batteries.  A little overview now will offer you some peace of mind when the fire is blazing.

Why Buyers REALLY Need a REALTOR!

conway nh real estate onlineDon’t get me wrong.  I am aware that there is an online tool out there for just about everything you could need with regards to real estate in North Conway NH.  If you have lived here for any amount of time, you are aware of the limitations of technology with regards to directions and navigation.  If you rely on your fancy GPS device or directions from an online mapping service, chances are you are going to get lost.  The reality is that the reality of the roads, streets, paths, etc. are foreign territory for online tools that have never really driven or walked these routes.  We have been preaching the value of using a real estate professional for as long as we have been in business.  Using a REALTOR to help you buy a home has a number of benefits.  I want to highlight a couple as they relate to all of the online tools available.

As we almost always find with a GPS, the online tools for real estate are not always the most accurate either.  These tools that supposedly tell you what your home is worth (or what someone else’s home is worth), admit to their evaluations being off by around 5 percent.  Standard and Poor’s did an independent study and found that discrepancy to be closer to as much as 20 percent!  Because the market is moving so fast and always changing, these tools are using out-dated data and therefore their calculations are off before they even start.

The other reason these tools hold little value is there are so many other factors that they cannot possibly be aware of.  Using an experienced, local REALTOR can provide you with insights that go way beyond the  few facts and figures from a database.  Factors like: Is the neighborhood safe? How are the schools? Can I walk to town or shopping? What has been the trend for these homes over the last few months?

When an experienced agent provides a CMA (competitive market analysis) they take into account an in-person inspection, updates on the property in question, neighborhood condition and the overall condition of the property.  None of these items are found with an online tool.

In an age of instant gratification and instant data, the real estate agent’s position in the buying or selling of a home could appear to be threatened.  I submit that the position of REALTOR is going to continue to be more important than ever.  Real estate is local and real estate is personal.  Working with an experienced “real, live” human being can never be replaced by a bunch of numbers.