Friday, October 24, 2014


Are you thinking about buying a home and want it to be your "dream home"?  Let's think about your dream home, the financial impact, and your best path to one of the largest financial obligations that you will ever make.

Be practical:  Remember that “the perfect home” may not be available.  So develop some search criteria.  Make a list of the features most important to you and your lifestyle, prioritize your list and decided where you can be flexible. Then find a home that offers your "must have" features. Remember that compromise is a virtue! Paint, appliances and landscaping are items that you can take on one at a time as DIY projects. A little sweat along the way can turn into a good amount of equity when you are ready to sell.

Be budget wise: When you get pre-approved for a loan, you may be surprised by the amount for which you qualify. Be careful that you aren’t stretching to the last penny allowed by the lender. Be sure that you work with an amount that you feel comfortable spending every month. Taking on a mortgage that stresses your budget can cause you unnecessary stress in your relationships at home and work. So take an honest look at your budget.

Be selective:  When you buy a home, you are truly “putting down roots”.  Unlike renting, your contract isn’t short term.  Usually buyers go with a 30 year mortgage. According to a recent article, “Buy or Rent”, published by Zillow, the average time to break even in highly populated areas, is a little over two years. In less populated areas, the break even point may be closer to 4 years. So buy where you are prepared to stay for a while. Buy a home that will be easy to maintain. Remember to consider the upkeep - utilities, repairs and general improvements. Then keep it maintained. Doing a little work as you go will have you prepared when you are ready to sell.

Be an investor:  Realize that most Americans will buy more than one home during their lifetime. And the average turnaround time is only seven years. So buy the home that is comfortable for your budget and set time frames to trade up. Keep your eyes on the ball and you can “buy-up” to your dream home and be proud of your path as well.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


By Anita Tate, Century 21 West Main Realty & Auction

As temperatures drop and there are more dreary days than sunny, it’s natural for sellers begin to worry about selling their home during the winter months. To avoid the fears of your house staying on the market too long, here are a few tips that can make your home welcoming and appealing to buyers. 

Curb Appeal - First Impressions

Up Front: No matter the season, the first thing that prospective buyers see is the front of your house. So rake the leaves, sweep the drive, and trim those bushes! Taming the shrubbery is a must to enhance your home’s curb appeal. Overgrown shrubbery will actually make your house appear smaller. All bushes should be trimmed well below the bottom ledge of your windows. You have nothing to hide!

Helleborus blooming in the snow
Burst of Color: 
Winter doesn’t have to be drab. You can make your yard “pop” with various shades of green and textures of plants. You can create a dramatic effect with plants like helleborus and cyclamen that offer bright displays of color all winter. Pansies are favorites in climates that have fewer days of freezing. Color is unexpected in the winter. It will show buyers that you care and will set your home apart from other sellers who didn’t go for the extra effort and the small expense.

The Welcoming Entrance: 
Take a moment to stand at your front door as if it were your first visit. Look at the door, the hardware, and the welcome mat. For a low cost, you can make a huge difference. Paint the door in a glossy, bold color. Get new hardware or just polish and shine the old. Be sure to include your door knocker, lock-set, light fixtures, house numbers and mailbox. Replace your welcome mat with a new sea grass or coir mat and place potted plants on the landing. This small effort will do worlds to tell your buyers that they are import, they are expected and they are welcome. 

 All of these improvements can be accomplished in little more than a weekend, but what a difference they will make. Tidy, colorful and fresh vs. drab – you have greatly improved your odds over your competition. Selling in winter could be to your advantage! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


A guide to America’s Most common Home Styles
By Anita Tate

          Styles of houses vary across the country.  From the New England Cape Cod to the Victorians of San Francisco, the choices are almost endless.  Knowing which style you prefer is one of the basic elements in your hunt for the perfect home.  Following is a quick guide to help you recognize and use the professional terms for many of the most prevalent house styles:
  • Ranch:  these long, low houses rank among the most popular types
    in the country.
      The ranch, which developed from early homes in the West and Southwest, is one-story with a low pitched room.  The raised ranch, which is also common is the U.S.. has two levels, each accessible from the home’s entry foyer, which features staircases to both upper and lower levels.
  • Cape Cod:  this compact story-and-a-half house is small and symmetrical with a central entrance and a step, gable roof.  Brick, wood or aluminum siding are the materials most commonly seen.
  • Georgian:  Popular in New England, the Georgian has a very formal appearance with two or three stories and classic lines. Usually built of red brick, the rectangular house has thin columns alongside the entry, and multi-paned windows above the door and throughout the house.  Two large chimneys rise high above the roof at each end.
  • Tudor:   modeled after the English country cottage.  Tudor styling features trademark dark-wood timbering set against light-colored stucco that highlights the top half of the house and frames the numerous windows.  The bottom half of the house is often made of brick.
  • Queen Anne/Victorian:  Developed from styles originated in Great
    Britain, these homes are usually two-story frame with large rooms, high ceilings and porches along the front and sometimes sides of the house.
      Peaked roofs and ornamental wood trim, many times referred to as “gingerbread,” decorate these elaborate homes.
  • Pueblo/Santa Fe Style – Popular in the Southwest, these homes are either frame or adobe brick with a stucco exterior.  The flat rood has protruding, rounded beams called vigas.  One or two story, the homes feature covered/enclosed patios and an abundance of tile.
  • Dutch Colonial – the Dutch Colonial has two or tow-and-one-half stories covered by a gambrel roof (having two lopes on each side, with the lower slope steeper than the upper, flatter slope) and eaves that flare outward.  This style is traditionally make of brick or shingles.
  • New England Colonial – This two-and-one-half story early American style is box like with a gable roof.  The traditional material is narrow clapboard siding and a shingle roof.  The small-pane,
    double-hung windows usually have working wood shutters.
  • Southern Colonial –this large, two-to-three-story frame house is world famous for its large front columns and wide porches.
  • Split-levels: Split-level houses have one living level about half a floor above the other living level.  When this type of home is built on three different levels, it is called a tri-level.  
These are just a few of the many styles of homes available across the
country - some are more prominent in different areas than others. Knowing home style terms will help you zero in on the type of house that will fill your needs and suit your taste.  For a more in depth look at architectural styles the history and functionality, read "What Style Is It?", by John Poppeliers and Allen Chambers.  It's a quick read and a great reference book.