Rockin' Returns From Rentals

conway nh multi familyI was fortunate enough to own a multi-family property about a decade ago. For whatever reason, someone convinced me it was the right thing to do and would be a good investment. I owe them a debt of gratitude and likely a few six-packs! It was the best financial decision I have made in a long time and has continued to encourage me in the direction of making my money work FOR me!

One of the cornerstone principals in building wealth is creating positive cash flow. You don’t have to go to “Hahvahd” to know that more money coming in vs. going out is a good thing. Rental properties create a great opportunity for that cash flow. A property with multiple units can generate income each month that goes towards the mortgage (more on that later) and other expenses such as repairs and improvements.

There is certainly risk involved in owning rental properties and those should not be ignored. Mainly, the income generated by tenants is only going to work for you if you actually HAVE tenants! Occupancy rates are something to be aware of and should be considered when you’re working out your budget. The bank will certainly consider them when figuring out your mortgage (usually at around 70%), so you should be aware of that as well. There are lots of whack-jobs out there as well. A friend of mine had someone “plant” the walls of his apartment. By that I mean he mixed grass seed in with wallpaper paste and planted grass on the walls. Yeah, he didn’t last long.

Assuming you have tenants (and those tenants are paying their rent!) any improvements you make on the property will increase its value. While this seems like an obvious concept, the beauty of this lies in the difference between improvements on your home and improvements on the rental property. By utilizing the cash flow created by the tenants, you can improve the value of the home without decreasing your own wealth. Much like a business owner will re-invest any profits back into the company, you are taking the income, beyond what is covering the mortgage and other expenses, and reinvesting it into the home. See how smart you are!?

Tax benefits are another of the great features of owning rental property. You can use the improvement expenses, rental expenses, depreciation and mortgage interest all in your favor. In the first year of owning my duplex, I spent over $10,000 in updates and renovations. A big percentage of that was taken right off the top of my income that year and helped out a ton at tax time.

As we mentioned earlier, the bank will consider the occupancy rate when establishing the amount they are willing to loan you for this investment. The other side of this coin is the actual amount you are charging for rent. While you still need to stay competitive within your regional market, as you increase your rents, the value of your property increases. If the bank can see that your property generates “X” amount in rent each month, they are more inclined to lend you more money for that property because its value, in their eyes, has increased. This also comes in handy when it comes time for a home equity loan.

“Any investment is risky, but you need to take that first step to see if it is right for you,” notes Badger Realty owner, Dick Badger. He continued, “Investing in property that will pay you back is a fundamental principal in real estate. Whether your investment capacity is for a small duplex or a large commercial property, the benefits can be seen on any scale”.

The current condition of the real estate market is another factor in the value and appreciation of your rental asset. In the valley, we all understand that property is at a premium and the prices continue to remain strong. The same can be said of rental properties (Have you searched for a rental lately?!). With the basic economic concept of supply and demand at play, as the market appreciates, so does the value and rent-ability of your property.

Lastly, and my personal favorite portion of rental property, is that someone else is paying your mortgage. My first tenants ever were an adorable couple with two small kids. While they seemingly struggled to pay the rent, and almost always paid it at least a week late, they always came through and their check always cleared. They loved having a clean, safe and convenient place to live and raise their kids and I loved having respectful, quiet tenants living upstairs from me. Finding tenants that respect your property and continue to pay the rent is a welcome treat. Having money in the bank each month to make the mortgage payment (and not having that money come from my own personal paycheck) is a godsend.

Rental property is not for everyone. My brother and his wife just moved across the country and sold a house over in Cape Elizabeth that would have been a gold-mine in the rental market over there. The headache and stress was not going to be worth it to them and they decided to sell. I totally understand and appreciate their position. You’ll have to do some soul-searching to see if you are willing to deal with the stress. I think you’ll find that the payoff will outweigh the annoyances.

Savvy Saving Strategeries

gwbNo (real) disrespect to the former POTUS, but that’s one of my favorite words, ever. This is also one of my favorite topics, recently. My honey is a saver, but I have not traditionally been one. My mom used to say I’d sell HER so I could go buy another piece of candy. The truth is, I’m a sucker for a good deal and have only recently started getting really good at saying no. Most recently, I have been itching to eliminate some lingering credit card debt and we were saving for the house. I needed a good plan, some discipline and a specific goal to get myself started.

There are loads of ways to save money. Honestly, there are loads of ways to do most anything; the trick is to actually DO them! I am reading a book on time management and business management (I know, riveting stuff, right!?). One of the first things the author talks about is the fact that most people who attend his seminars, buy his books or read his blog, will not take any action on what they learn. We are all guilty of this.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been instructed to stretch and strengthen my back. But none of those instructions seem to sink in until I’ve strained my back again and am lying on the couch, covered in ice packs and popping ibuprofen. Now, I stretch every single morning and do strengthening exercises a couple times a week. Not surprisingly, my back has been fantastic for over a year now! No amount of exercise equipment, sitting in your basement, is going to help you lose that extra weight.

With saving money, just like strengthening your body, the benefits are tangible and life changing. Rather than thinking about savings as a deprivation and focusing on all the things you can’t have, shift that focus to the end-result. The younger generations are missing this skill and it is one that can provide greater satisfaction in the long run. Immediate gratification is nice, but when you have to work for something over a longer period, the benefit is always sweeter.

The end goal of savings almost always equals freedom. For me, it will be freedom from the credit card companies and freedom to spend that money on something for myself, perhaps even a real savings account! (What a concept!) For others, it can mean the freedom from a landlord and the power to purchase their first home. When you decide to start saving, focus on the things that this money will allow you to do, not the short-term limitations and sacrifices you will make right now.

north conway nh home savingsI’m a visual person. I prefer to be taught by watching and doing. I am more motivated by visual cues as well. For your savings plan, I would encourage you to make it a visual goal rather than just a row of numbers in a checkbook or on a website. You don’t have to get as crazy as the big companies do with their massive thermometers, although that would be cool. You can take a page from that book and add visual cues around the house, office, car, etc. Use those images to remind yourself of why you are making these short-term sacrifices and of the long-term goals. Pictures of your dream home, a new car or even your kid’s college graduation are all great items to use.

If you are the competitive type, you can also turn this savings goal into a challenge. There are loads of ways to do this. Choosing a specific amount each week to put in the “jar”, trying to not spend ANY money over a period of time or, one of my favorites, seeing how long you can go without buying any new food. That last one is a blast! Besides the fact that you’ll be eating pasta for a week straight, it is a great way to clean out the cabinets and I assure you it will save you some money for as long as you can hold out. We are in the process of this challenge right now, just so we have less stuff to move to the new house!

As someone who loves to be rewarded for a job well done, don’t be afraid to attach a reward to the end of your challenge. “Having a goal is great, but adding a bonus for achieving that goal is even sweeter,” notes Badger Realty agent, Diane McGregor. She went on, “Even if your goal is to establish an emergency fund, kicking yourself a couple hundred dollars for a spa day, money towards new skis or a pass or just a night out with friends will more than likely increase your motivation to keep socking that money away.”

Saving money, for whatever your goal may be, is a challenge for most of us. If your goal is to eliminate debt, to buy a home or to provide yourself with some other lifestyle upgrade, the reward is going to be worth the efforts. Keep your focus on the fact that these short-term sacrifices will pay off with long-term freedom. Aren’t you glad this newspaper is still free!?

Inspection Reflection

north conway nh house huntingWe're finally through the inspection and re-negotiation phase of the home-buying process and there were some lessons to be learned. The process itself was quite painless and the sellers were very amenable to the short list of items for which we wanted concessions. All in all, I think it took 2 days and 2 revisions of the contract. It was really not too bad. I once helped a friend purchase property up in Whitefield that included over fifteen concessions and contingencies. Believe it or not, that deal also went through!

The lessons we learned through this process were more about being specific. During the first walk-through of a home, you are not really looking that deeply into every nook and cranny. In our case, we had been through dozens of homes already and were beginning to tire of the whole process. With lots of driving, climbing in and out of cars, walking around, being “sold” by the agent and then more driving, we were ready to be done and not really focusing on the small things. That is why there is a home inspection (and honestly, the pre-closing walk-through!).

I spent the four hours at the house with the inspector and cannot encourage you strongly enough to do the same. Rarely will you have the opportunity to spend this much time with a professional and be able to ask countless questions about every stick and system at the property. After the first hour, my eyes and ears became far more focused on the tiny details of the home. The electrical, plumbing, windows and doors all came under the scrutiny of this well-trained professional and I.

There were a handful of findings for which we negotiated and will receive concessions, but overall the home is in great shape. The issues that needed attention were mostly due to safety. There was poorly constructed flashing across the front of the house where the deck attaches. This caused a softening of the wood to which the deck is connected. A simple replacement of that area will sure up the deck and keep the water flowing away from the home from this point forward.

Another area that is being fixed was a few light switches and outlets that were just not up to code. In a home such as this, less than 25 years old, that sort of thing is just a result of lazy installations by the previous owner or, in our case, add-ons by an earlier tenant. (more on them later.) Either way, a couple of hours with an electrician can fix these safety concerns and ensure all of the three-way fixtures are actually attached to three-way switches!

Since we live in the north, cold weather is a considerable factor. One of the highlighted areas of this home were the windows. Many of them had failed seals between the panes and were developing condensation. This was one of the things that we actually noticed during our first walk-through. Thankfully, the replacement of these windows was already on the seller’s “to-do” list and they have all since been swapped out. Not only is the condensation visually annoying, it is an indication of the start of that window’s failure and lessened ability to keep the heat in.

“Although seemingly silly, a good inspector will test the heat in the summer and air conditioning in the winter,” notes Badger Realty agent, Kevin Killourie. He continued, “I encourage buyers, regardless of the season, to test out every aspect of the home during the inspection. Opening and closing windows in the winter and considering the cost to heat with those big cathedral ceilings, even while in the dog-days of summer, are good practice.”

One of the more amusing issues (to us, not the seller) about this home was the strange electrical setup in the basement. The issues were related to extra taps into specific breakers and the addition of a large-capacity electrical wire run into the garage. While we can only speculate, it appeared that the previous tenants were using the garage as a “grow room”. The additional wattage supported the necessary lighting and exhaust fans and the industrial timers on the electrical outlets provided the daylight-mimicking cycles.

conway nh homesLast, but not least, were the woodpecker holes in the siding. If you have wooden (cedar in our case) siding on your home, perhaps you have run into this before. Apparently the birds see the holes, caused by knots in the wood popping out, and think it looks like a great place to start pecking. The seller had already patched a handful of holes, but there were a bunch more that needed attention. In this particular case, the negotiation settled on our being allowed to fix these on our own, but with compensation or “financial concessions” made by the seller.

In the end, you have lots of choices with the results of your home inspection. In our case, the seller was motivated to put this home behind him and did not have the skills to perform the necessary repairs. As part of the agreement, there was money set aside, in escrow, intended to offset the cost of the items in our contract. This allows for us to choose the contractor and ensure that any of those related repairs are made to our satisfaction. The alternative is to have the seller handle the repairs before closing. Both are adequate options, the choice will depend on your specific deal.

The lesson here was to never skip the home inspection. I learned more in those four hours than I would have ever learned in the coming years of simply living in the home. Take full advantage of a professional home inspector and be sure you are available for the full day. You will rarely have the chance to dig deep in to the corners of your home with a skilled advisor like this!

Minimize Moving Day Mania

north conway nh home movingAs the big day approaches, let’s hope I can heed some of my own advice and make this move as painless as possible. It’s a big day, no matter how you slice it. Fortunately, we’re utilizing the services of an awesome moving company so the “big stuff” is taken care of. Of course, I’ll handle my computers and monitors, the TV and my tools. I mean, come on. Priorities, people!

My honey is an organizational wizard. I kid you not, she balances her mom’s checkbook (and my company’s accounting) to relax. While I’m out on a 50-mile bike ride, she’s happily adding and subtracting in calculator-induced bliss. Because of this, the logistics portion of our move is likely already planned out and ready for initiation. If you are more like me, you are likely not quite so organized. Either way you approach this day, there are a few things you can do to prepare a little better and make the day a bit less stressful. All of the planning in the world can’t account for every one of those “what-if” scenarios.

Anticipation is the name of the game here. Nobody goes into an MMA fight without first viewing tapes of their opponent. The Patriots review game film on every opposing team they face. For moving-day, I would encourage you to prepare for the inevitable distractions that will come up. Consider the fact that when you’re driving home from work, you often go for large stretches of road and let your mind wander about freely. Then, when something catches your eye, you snap back to the present moment and realize you don’t remember the last 400 yards of Rt. 16! That, my friends, is called distraction.

As the day begins to unfold, mentally prepare yourself for the impending onslaught of distractions that will attempt to pull you away from focusing on the task at hand. Mostly, you’d like to make it through the day without upsetting your family, friends and (maybe today, slightly more importantly) your new neighbors. As people are pecking away with questions: “How much did you pay for the house?”, “Why are you moving?”, “Did you get fired?”, “Were you involved in a football-deflating scandal?” ; make sure you have appropriate answers so you are not caught off-guard. In general, people are genuinely interested in your goings-on and are not trying to be distracting.

Right along with preparing for nosey neighbors, it is important to prepare yourself physically for this long and challenging day. I’m prepping for a century ride this fall and honestly the same rules apply. I assure you that while out on the course that day I won’t be eating junk food. In fact, even during the days leading up to that ride, I will be trying to fill my body with the best fuel possible to prepare for the long, grueling task ahead.

conway nh homes berriesI’d encourage you to do the same thing. Much like adjusting your daily food intake with more fruits and veggies, it is much easier to stick to the plan if you make it convenient. Before moving day, take the time to cut up fruits and stick them in Tupperware or baggies in the fridge. This makes the “grab-n-go” feasible and much more convenient. If you add to that mix a few other healthy snacks, some bottles of water and maybe even some vitamins, you will be far less tempted to swing through the fast “goo” places and poison yourself with their stuff. (Let’s be honest, we can’t call it food!)

Save the frosty beer, huge pizza and crashing on the living room floor for when the last box (for the day) is in the correct room, the sheets are on the bed and there’s towels in the bathroom. Then you’ve earned your “crash”!

Before you load up the truck and head to your awesome new home, do a little research. Assuming you are moving a town or two away, you will want to familiarize yourself with the area so you are not wasting time on moving day trying to find the hardware store. Locate the bank, grocery store, gas station, hardware store and even (yikes) the hospital. At least you’ll have your bearings in the new area so you can get to the necessities. (OK, let’s be honest, find the liquor store as well!)

“There are lots of things people can do to make the moving day a much more pleasant experience,” notes Badger Realty agent, Kerry MacDougall. She continued, “I encourage families to divvy up responsibilities before the day begins. This ensures that one person is not stuck making small talk with the neighbors while another is busy carrying boxes. While important in every-day living, this process is even more important during this stressful day”.

Moving day is exciting. It represents new beginnings, big changes and new opportunities. While there is certainly a level of stress that goes along with it, it does not have to be a miserable day. Take a few steps to prepare yourself and you might even be able to enjoy it! By the way… Is anyone available to help me move…

Do As I Do

conway nh homes for saleNo, Mom, the title does not indicate that I’m getting married. (Sorry, just had to get that out of the way.) Truth is, we actually ARE getting closer to finding a home and the process has been nothing short of educational, eye opening and yes, even fun. For all the years of writing about, working in and actually buying and selling real estate, one thing has proven true over and over again. Experience is a great teacher and should be paid more attention. Put another way, I should heed some of my own advice.

After viewing hundreds of homes online and actually walking through dozens more in person, we sat down last weekend and actually wrote out our list of wants and needs. (I know, right!?) The beauty (and frustration) of living in an area that has bustling downtown areas, remote mountain properties and everything in between, is deciding upon which of those “lives” you want to commit. I love both.

When we would view a property within walking (or at least biking) distance to downtown, I enjoyed visions of in-town concerts, late “stumble-home” nights out with friends and quick trips to the store for milk and eggs. Contrast that with the benefits of mountain living, including wildlife in the yard, silent (and pitch black) nights on the deck and a re-prioritizing of that “need” for whatever appears to be missing from the fridge. There truly are highlights for both choices.

This past weekend we decided to establish our “wants” and “needs” list. Yes, this is something that should have been done weeks ago. And although we had this list in our heads, nothing can replace the act of putting pen to paper. (Yes, people under 30, it’s still legal to use pen and paper in most states.) We all know (well, people over 30 know) that putting pen to paper for a “pro’s and con’s” list is not always a great idea, just ask Ross. For the rest of the time, give it a shot.

Something clicks when you make this list during (or before!) the home search process. The most important piece is it allows you to focus more on the “needs” than the wow-factor of any home you may see. This practice helps solidify your resolve when viewing potential homes and helps keep your emotions in check in the face of an in ground pool or a breath-taking view.

A while back we did a couple drive-bys in one of the more remote areas we have looked. One property in particular scored huge points in the “mountain living” department. No neighbors in sight, Large, flat lot with room for a garden and places to wander, and the home itself was large enough with room for an office and garage space for my (eventual) early 70’s Beetle restoration project. (Priorities, people!) All of that said the drive back towards civilization was simply brutal. The roads were paved and smooth, but the distance, inability to pass other motorists and nearly 35 minute time-trial (one-way) raised too many red-flags on our “need” list. This was not going to be a tolerable commute for my partner (on dry roads, never mind snowy), especially on those nights when she was on call.

Other properties shared the same fate, but on the other side of the scale. One in particular was a beautiful home. The garage was spacious. There was plenty of room inside. It was right downtown, yet still shielded from the hustle of 16. All signs were looking up until I walked into the master bathroom. The neighbor’s window felt like we could have shared our shaving cream during our morning routines. I’m all for in-town living (sort-of), but our list of “needs” sent us screaming away from this home.

“Finicky buyers are challenging, but typically end up being the most satisfied with their purchase,” notes Badger Realty agent, Kathleen Sullivan Head. She went on, “Although the home-search process is made more challenging by their selective nature, the end result is almost always more satisfying. When these types of buyers finally find the home they want, you can see their eyes light up and you know they have found ‘the one’.”

I fully recognize that I’m looking for my cake and the ability to eat it too. Tough! At the end of the day, this is a massive investment and, more importantly, a place I want to call “home”. I want to come home to this place and feel a sense of respite from the world. I just don’t want to be so far from it that we feel isolated and on our own. To Kathy’s point above, having a specific list of “needs” and sticking to that list inevitably leads to more confidence in the decision and a more satisfied buyer.

Patience Is…

conway nh homesPatience is… A real pain in the neck and not always convenient! No, wait. That doesn’t sound right. Although there’s a hint of truth to that, the reality is patience is a virtue and patience is often (almost always!?) rewarded. In the world of real estate, patience can play a role in multiple situations. I’d like to take a peek at a few of these and, more importantly, expound on why patience can be a very good thing!

When my brother and his wife decided they were ready to buy, they were living in an “over-the-garage” apartment in Gray, Maine. It was comfortable, quiet and the landlord was amenable to their storage needs and even a pet. This made the home search less stressful and provided them with the ability to take their time. All in all, they walked through dozens of homes, looked at hundreds more online and took nearly a full calendar year to settle on “the one”.

Most real estate professionals, myself included, are much more practical than the buyers they work with. Before you freak out, understand that I’m only referring to the actual process of home buying. Let’s be honest, most real estate agents are nuts! But, when reviewing, scrutinizing, nit-picking, evaluating and inevitably choosing a home to purchase, an objective third party is going to be just that: more objective. We will all tell you that there is no “one” home for you to buy. Each and every one (even if you build the silly thing yourself!), is going to have those few things that are just not perfect. And that’s OK!

The patience of my brother and sister-in-law paid off. When they found the house online, they both were surprised at how many of their “needs” and “wants” were met. When they walked through the front door and into the house, their hopes were encouraged with every step into every room. Before they left the driveway, they had handed the agent the deposit check and signed the purchase and sales agreement. They had found “the one” (for them).

It doesn’t always work that way, and there were still a few concessions they had to make. But their patience paid off. Again, they had the luxury of not “having” to move, and this made the process; although long and tedious, garner a better outcome.

There’s something to be said about their agent as well. If you recall, agents don’t make a single, shiny penny until the buyers find, offer and close on a home. I’m not suggesting that my brother’s agent was out with them every day, through rain, sleet, wind and snow, for an entire year. But it is safe to say he put in a significant amount of time and effort to get them into the home they so dearly love. The patience of a good agent is a trait to be appreciated and enjoyed. They can really make the process much more enjoyable and help to minimize the stress on the buyers.

“I’ve been playing in the real estate world for over half a century and learned, early-on, that patience is a critical skill in the toolbox of a successful agent,” noted Badger Realty owner, Dick Badger. He continued, “You have to learn that you can’t rush the market, you can’t rush the closing process and you can’t rush the buyers. Everyone eventually finds the right home in their right time. As an agent, you’re just there to help them along the path.”

Last week, we were out looking at homes (yes, again!) and had just finished up walking through the last of the 4 homes for that day. All the while, we kept thinking about that one house we really liked, put an offer on, and lost to another buyer. Since, earlier that week, that contract had fallen through, we decided to head back up to the house and re-evaluate the length of the drive. It is up a bit in elevation, snow will certainly be a factor, but the views, the space, the lack of neighbors and the exposure to the southern sun were all still dancing in our heads.

As we parted ways from our agent, I decided to call him up just to see if he could meet us at the house. It was already 5pm and I’m sure he was headed home. Without hesitation, he joked that he had already obtained the lock-box code and was on his way. (He actually got there before we did!)

We got to the house, this would be our third time walking through, and made the rounds again. We opened and closed every window and door and tried every faucet and toilet in the whole house. We walked the property boundary and enjoyed the mountain views and thick trees in the back yard. We sat on the front deck and took in the scenery and enjoyed the silence. After a full 45 minutes of literally walking the same steps we had walked twice before, the decision was made. 24 hours later, we were under contract and are now anxiously on our way towards closing.

The agent didn’t need to join us that day. His family was at home and I’m sure he would have rather been with them. He had already spent over 3 hours with us and another hour, past 5pm at that, was not (I’m sure) on his “to-do” list that day. But his patience paid off and we all get to reap the benefits. He gets to make a commission and we get to (hopefully) move into our new home in a couple weeks.

If you’re getting into the game, take the advice of Mr. Badger and learn from the experiences of hundreds of successful agents, buyers and sellers before you. Don’t rush. Unless you are under a strict deadline to make this decision (which happens, I understand), take your time and help ensure you are going to get into the “right” home for you. There’s a good chance it is out there.

The Benefits of Living Near the Water

north conway waterfront propertyOther than waking up each morning to a spectacular view, there are some interesting benefits to living next to a lake, pond, river, or creek. There are also great health benefits to living by the ocean.

At the heart of New Hampshire is the Lakes Region, where beautiful home sites can be found alongside the shoreline of Lake Winnipesaukee. New Hampshire’s adjacent state, Maine, has a wide expanse of coast bordering the ocean.

Psychological benefits of living near the ocean

According to Lauren Suval writing for PsychCentral.com, Matthew White, an environmental scientist, said that moving to the coast increases one’s positive well-being:

  • Stress is reduced due to the minerals in the sea air and the effect the sound of the waves has on altering one’s brain patterns
  • A person’s concentration and alertness improve due to the presence of negatively charged ions in the air near an ocean
  • One’s mood improves due to the salt air’s assistance with maintaining neurotransmitters

Researchers Jenny Roe and Michael Depledge have been studying the effects of living near aquatic environments and feel that they are in many ways comparable to the effects of living near the ocean. Studies have shown that living near water induces a sense of calm and well-being.

De-stress in natural environments

Getting back to nature is also a positive benefit of being near the water. There are many creatures that live in and around ponds, lakes, and streams, and they can be a joy to watch. Any environment we enter is going to affect our body’s systems and how they operate.

One study showed that over 2/3 of the people polled chose a natural environment as a retreat when they were stressed. Being in nature has more positive benefits than just reducing stress:

  • Being in nature offers a reduction in fear and anger
  • It decreases feelings of anxiety
  • It distracts us from any pain we may be feeling
  • Being around nature improves our mood
  • It increases alertness and improves cognitive performance.

Walking barefoot in natural environments like those near water also increases health.

According to Dr. Mercola, we are electrical beings, and we can recharge our body systems by connecting with the earth’s negative charge. This leads to:

  • Disease prevention
  • Pain relief
  • Improved sleep

The free electrons entering the body from the Earth’s surface assist with neutralizing free radicals in the body. They also cause a reduction of inflammation, both chronic and acute, which are the inciting factors in many diseases and conditions.

Water is important

Our bodies are around 60% water, with the muscles and brain at 75%, and the bones at 22%. Our blood, which is mostly water, transports oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients, and waste products. Is it any wonder that bodies of water have so much influence over our mental and physical being?

Finding a place by the water

A good realtor can find you a wonderful place by the water. HGTV.com offers several suggestions for searching for that dream house by the water:

  1. Find a realtor like Badger Realty that specializes in waterfront property.
  2. Make sure the property is close enough to amenities and work.
  3. Ensure that it fits your lifestyle and budget.
  4. Check it out thoroughly for insuring purposes and loans.
  5. Evaluate any property restrictions from neighborhoods and localities.

With a property that is right for you, you can have it all, good health, the benefits of waterfront living, and an incredible view.

The More Things Change

north conway nh homes for saleThere’s no question our notion of the “ideal” or “dream” home changes over time. As a kid, if you had asked me to construct my ideal home it would have either been up in a tree, or made from chocolate bars, Necco wafers for the shingles and anything “gummy” for the floors. I mean, let’s be honest, that would be the most awesome house ever!

Moving into my early teens, my ideal home would have included a half-pipe on the main floor and a concrete skate-park in the back yard. In college, I think I would have been satisfied if I could have just lived in the girl’s dorms. ☺ Moving past college, my ideal home would have been a tent in the woods (oh, that one actually came true!). Now, as I settle into the ripe old age of “noneofyourbusiness”, I’m searching for enough space for an office, some additional garage space for my eventual beetle and a covered porch so I can do a crossword and enjoy a gin and tonic during a rainstorm. Regardless of our goals or ambitions, or even where we “are” at a given stage in our lives, our vision of the ideal home shifts over time.

The same is true of the evolution of what we’ll call the “American Home”. An article in REALTOR magazine this week explored the changes in “newly constructed” American homes over the last 20 years. Besides the average sales price more than doubling (from $154,500 to $345,800), we have expanded inside and outside the home as well as focused our wants and needs for amenities in the home. Let’s take a peek.

The actual square footage has not changed that drastically. While we did go through the “mcmansion” phase a few years ago, thankfully that has passed. The percentage of homes in the 1,800 – 2,400 square feet range has only gone from 28% to 26% in the last 20 years. It turns out we have not bumped up in size all that much, but we’re making better USE of that space. 58% of homes were built with 3 bedrooms in 1994. In 2004, nearly 50% of homes had more than 4 bedrooms. Even though we’re keeping our homes in the same footprint, we’re stuffing more people into them. You know, like a clown car!

The same is true of the bathrooms. 40% of the homes built in 1994 only had 2 baths. Now, nearly 40% of homes built have more than 3. When we first moved into the home we’re currently renting, I thought the presence of 3 bathrooms was a bit silly. With 2 full and one half, I mostly saw more work for me on cleaning weekends! After living here for a few weeks, and then entertaining overnight guests on a few occasions, it became obvious that more really is better when it comes to bathrooms.

The amenities we now choose also seems to have taken a shift. Nearly 60% of all homes built in 1994 had at least one fireplace. Now, 50% of homes have zero. It appears we’d rather be outside since the average number of homes with porches or patios has jumped almost 5% as well. I’d be curious if those numbers are different for New England homes. I certainly love sitting by a fireplace or woodstove on those cold, raw evenings. During the summer months, we have fallen in love with air conditioning. Jumping from 79% to over 90% in just 20 years. That number was under 50% in the early 70’s. (And you thought global warming was a myth!)

Even though there are a handful of differences over the last couple decades, there are still some things that have stood the test of time. The number of levels of a home has stayed pretty consistent. 49% of homes had 2 stories 1994 and 53% had 2 in 2014. And those of us who chant the mantra “vinyl is final”, apparently 30% of us today, would have been in the company of 28% in 1994. Vinyl siding is hanging on to that spot as a preferred exterior type. Garage capacity (around 60% for 2 spaces) has stayed pretty consistent as well.

Trends have certainly shifted over the years, but really not that much. Interestingly the biggest change we have seen in in climate control. (Scary.) I think the lesson in all of these numbers is we need to focus internally when buying or building a new home. So many times we fall into the trap of worrying about what the “Joneses” are going to be building or buying. What we really should be focused on is what WE want and/or need. If you think that third garage bay is going to be important for you, go for it. I can’t imagine that in our lifetimes the demand for these types of features is going to change that much. While the percentages may shift a bit, the core needs will remain consistent. All that said, I think it might be time to invest in air conditioning stock!

Badger Realty to Host an “Open House” Baby Shower for Mother Seton House

Mother Seton HouseGiving Back by Supporting Young Mothers and their Babies in Need

On Wednesday, August 12, Badger Realty is hosting an “Open House” Baby Shower to benefit the mothers and babies of the Mother Seton House. The community is invited to attend the event, which will be held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church Hall in Fryeburg from 4pm to 7pm. All attending are encouraged to bring a gift appropriate for an expectant or new mother or baby.

David Cianciolo of Badger Realty is a board member of Mother Seton House, recently explained the nonprofit’s mission, “We believe that every baby deserves a good start in life. At Mother Seton House, single pregnant women and new mothers in difficult circumstances receive free housing and support at no cost throughout their pregnancy and until their baby is a year old.”

Cyndi Broyer, the nonprofit’s director, added, “The volunteers who provide 24/7 coverage for the House do it with so much love. In this caring and nurturing environment, the women receive mentoring along with academic and parenting education; physical, emotional and spiritual support. And since Mother Seton House is 100 percent volunteer run, all the donations we receive go directly to the mothers and babies.”

According to Cianciolo, “This Baby Shower will be a chance to celebrate the work of the Mother Seton House, and to provide some much-needed items to the mothers and babies that the House serves. We hope members of the community will join us in this effort. From now through August 12th, those who can’t attend the Baby Shower can drop gifts off at Badger Realty’s office on Main Street in North Conway. ”

The wish list for the “Open House” Baby Shower includes diapers sizes newborn through size 4; nightgowns for newborns; infant health care kits; baby wash and shampoo; 99% water-type baby wipes; board books; developmental toys for ages newborn to age one; Halo brand Sleepsack wearable blankets or Summer brand Swaddle Me sleep sacks; receiving blankets; and two bathtub spout covers. Other items needed include: liquid (not antibacterial) soap, deodorant, paper towels, toilet paper that’s safe for septic systems, tissues, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, household cleaning products that are safe for pregnant women, AA and AAA batteries, permanent markers, invisible tape and masking or duct tape; waxed paper, foil, and plastic wrap; kitchen-size and 4 gallon trash bags; and a boot tray.  Also appreciated: gift cards in any denomination for Shaws, WalMart, Hannaford, Lowes, Home Depot, Shell or Irving Gas.

“We also have a gift registry on Facebook and smile.Amazon.com with other items on our wish list,” said Broyer.

As a resident of Mother Seton House wrote recently about finding out she was pregnant, “I was very scared because I didn’t have anyone to turn to for support and was about to be out on the streets until I heard about the Mother Seton House. I knew then that there was hope. I found out that I would be able to have my baby, clean up my life and start over fresh for both me and my child.”

And if you can’t attend the event, you can drop off a donation at Badger Realty office at 2633 White Mountain Highway in North Conway Village, or at Chalmers Insurance at 557 Main Street, Fryeburg Village, Maine.

For more on Badger Realty’s “Year of Giving Back,” contact Brenda Leavitt or David Cianciolo at 603-356-5757.

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Badger Realty's Ice Cream Social For Residents of Merriman House

merriman-house-300x223On Friday, June 5th at 2pm, Badger Realty hosted an old-fashioned ice cream social for the residents, their families and the staff of Merriman House Nursing Home at Memorial Hospital.

“We’re working with Sue Ruka, Director of Population Health at Memorial Hospital, to arrange this event for the residents and staff,” said Dick Badger in making the announcement about the event. “We’re hoping that the families of the residents will join us, too. There will be music by Mary Bastoni, a wonderful vocal artist, from 2pm to 3pm, and of course, ice cream with all the toppings. We also plan to bring some new games and puzzles to be added to Merriman House’s library of activities.”

CollageBadger went on to explain the event is part of Badger Realty’s “Year of Giving Back,” in celebration of the firm’s 50th anniversary. “Merriman House is an important resource for local families with loved ones who have memory disorders. It’s important that we as a community remember these residents and recognize the contributions that they have made during their lives. We also want to thank the staff who contribute so much to the residents’ quality of life. We are so fortunate to have a facility of this caliber here in Mt. Washington Valley.”

“All of us at Badger Realty appreciate the support the community has given us over the past 50 years,” Badger concluded. “We feel fortunate to be able to give back.”

For more on Badger Realty’s “Year of Giving Back,” contact Brenda Leavitt or Debbie Anderson at 603-356-5757