Should You Purchase a Home in the Winter?

You're likely to hear both "yes" and "no" when you ask friends and family if winter is a good time to buy a home.  With interest rates continuing to be low and prices continuing to increase, winter may be just the right time for you to buy.  

Less Competition & Less Inventory: Traditionally, you face less competition from other buyers in the winter, as most Americans look for houses in the spring when the weather is nicer and the days are longer.  Also, the majority of people have been conditioned to think they must wait until the "spring market" to go out looking for a home.  In addition, many people want to close on their new home when the kids are out of school.  That allows their children to finish out the school year witout interruption, and use the summer to get settled in their new neighborhood, hopefully meeting new friends they'll go to school with.  These factors mean there will be less inventory on the market in the winter, but you'll also face less competition, and have less of a chance of getting into a bidding war.  

Motivated Sellers: It's not a guarantee, but there's a good possibility sellers will be more motivated when they're house is for sale in the winter.  Who wants to have people schlepping through their house with snowy boots, or booking a showing in the middle of the holiday season? Sellers who list in the winter may be facing a job relocation that starts at the beginning of the year. Or they may have decided this last barrage of snow and ice is enough, and they're heading to warmer climes! These situations may make for easier negotiations and a better purchase price for you.

Interest Rates and Home Prices: The Federal Reserve Board will see a new Governor in February, and indications are strong that interest rates may rise at least once in 2018.  With the strong economy, it is possible the rate could rise several times. With historically low rates, this is a good time to lock in a good mortgage rate.

Housing Prices Are Climbing: Housing prices have been steadily climbing and the trend is expected to continue, again thanks to the strong economy.  With both buyers and sellers looking at the prospect of higher prices, now is an even more appealing time to snag a house before prices tick up once more in the spring.  

Investment Rental Properties: The best deals on rental property purchases actually are in the colder markets - other than top ski destinations. Don't head to Florida or Arizona looking for a steal. The winter months in warmer climates are filled with snowbirds and many of them decide they want to purchase instead of continuing to rent every winter.  They drive up the purchase prices.  Wait until the weather heats up (and the renters are gone) for the prices to cool down!  The lower purchase price probability increases, along with your potential to maximize your investment returns. 

Winter, spring, summer or fall, the decision to purchase is yours, of course!  There are a lot of factors to consider and your personal situation is what takes precedence.  Whatever your timeframe, I am here to help you make an informed decision by providing in-depth market data and expert guidance.  

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Storing & Protecting Holiday Decorations

As another holiday season heads toward its inevitable end, it's time to think about how to store and protect your holiday decorations for next year.  And if you added to the collection this year, you may be short on storage space!  Below are some tips to keep in mind as you think about that dreaded chore of taking those decorations down and putting them away for another year.

Label The Lights

If it took you forever this year to figure out which string of lights goes where, you can make your life easier by labeling each string of lights with masking tape.  Coil each string of lights and wrap it with the tape to help keep it from tangling.  Wrapping the lights around a piece of cardboard is even better - you can re-use those gift boxes by cutting them into forms for the lights.  Use a permanent marker to indicate on the tape the location the lights are used in, so that you don’t end up having to figure it out by trial and error next year. Put all the lights in a box and label the outside of the box as well.  

Be Kind to the Packaging

Often it's easier and faster to rip open the box a new ornament comes in than to figure out how to get it out without ruining the box. Who designs these packages, anyway, especially the ones with mulltiple plastic tabs, tape and twisties? Keeping the packaging intact is definitely a better idea in the long run. To be sure your ornaments stay in one piece for next year, you can store them in their original box where there is likely padding and a custom space for them to sit until next holiday season.  Don't have all the original packages?  Check out the sales at the dollar stores, pharmacies and home improvement stores where you can get ruggedized corrugated cardboard or plastic containers with dividers to keep ornaments separated and protected in their own space.  

Food Ornaments (Non-Edible, Of Course)

There's nothing worse than pulling out that macaroni ornament your child made last year, only to find it crushed or eaten by critters.  You can protect that special gingerbreadman cookie, Rice Krispie wreath or macaroni tree pretty easily.  Just put any food-based decorations in re-sealable plastic sandwich bags before putting them into their designated compartment in the storage container you bought at Home Depot.

Label, Label, Label

This sounds like an easy and logical task, but many people forget to do it when hurrying (and often hating) to take down and store holiday decorations. Just use a permanent marker to make a quick list of the contents in the box before you put it in the basement or attic. Then next year you won't have to waste time and end up frustrated when searching for a must-have decoration! 

Take an Inventory

If you never know what decorating items you need to repurchase, there is an easy solution. When you’re putting decorations away for the year, make a list of all decorations you have on hand and concurrently create a list of things you need to replace. This is a good time to take advantage of sales, as stores want to unload their stock. 

Keep Candles in Shape

Almost everyone loves candles, especially at the holidays.  Whether you purchase them yourself, or receive the as gifts, you need to protect them from getting smashed, cracked or melting into lumpy messes.  If you want to keep your candles looking great for next holiday season, put tapers into paper towel tubes to protect them.  For larger candles, try using square tissue boxes (the candle will be held in place by the opening in the box).  It's best not to store candles in the attic, where summer's heat can melt them.

With your holiday decorations safely stored, you can now focus on your New Year's resolutions!

 

Should You Hang Your TV Over the Fireplace?

To hang or not to hang the TV over the fireplace, that is the burning question!  There have been plenty of arguments about whether or not to hang the TVs over the fireplace, and at this time of year you may be facing that dilemma yourself.  A fireplace is typically the focal point of the room.  So it makes sense to want your TV in the same spot. Hanging the TV also means leaving floor space open for other pieces of furniture or just to keep the space feeling more open.  Here's a quick look at the pros and cons of booting that mirror or painting and elevating your TV to the place of honor over the fireplace.
 
Pros
 
Space Saving

One of the biggest pros to hanging your TV over the fireplace is the space you save. The rest of your walls can now be used to hang photos and artwork. Since both the fireplace and the TV are focal points in your living room, putting them together will create one center for the room.  It will make it easier to arrange your furniture, since you won't have to decide whether the TV or the fireplace is the focal point. 
 
Aesthetics

The look of a TV mounted above a fireplace is aesthetically pleasing to many people and makes the room look cleaner, more modern and less fussy. The simplicity of having your TV matched with your fireplace will help create cohesiveness and won’t make the TV a distraction or take away from the fireplace. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the fireplace and the TV, helping to make the room appear larger.  If you really don't want the look of the TV above the fireplace, there are new models that will allow you to use the screen as a painting or print (or even your favorite photograph) when you aren't watching the television.
 
Cons
 
Height Issues

When you place your TV over your fireplace, it will sit higher than you're used to, and that can make it uncomfortable to watch your favorite shows and movies. Make sure to measure everything before mounting your TV so you won’t regret your decision later on. If you don’t feel as though you will be comfortable with the height of the TV above the fireplace, then think about another place where the TV will work for your floorplan and furniture layout.  If your home isn't already wired for hanging a TV over the fireplace, be sure to hire a professional to come in to run the wiring so it won't show, and to mount the TV to the wall.
 
Heat Damage

The heat that comes from the fireplace can damage your TV. You will need to figure out the exact temperature in the spot where you plan to mount the TV and be sure you insulate your chimney correctly. Calcium silicate plates will help you avoid this problem. But without proper protection, you can melt the entire bottom of the TV.  Be sure to plan ahead to avoid a meltdown!

So...

Now that you know about the pros and cons of hanging your TV over your fireplace, will you choose to hang it or place it somewhere else in the room?  The choice is yours!

It's Almost the Weekend!

Sadly the weather isn't looking that great for the weekend.  BUT...I've got a lot of fun indoor things you can do!  And some crossed fingers that Sunday's weather won't be rainy. Check 'em out below.

 Northern Lights Celebration opening weekend, Freeport, ME, hosted by LLBean.  An annual holiday event that promises fun for everyone, including contests, crafts, music, a giant snowglobe, adventure walks and free refreshments! And of course, outlet shopping! https://rem.ax/NorthernLights

Christmas on the River Craft Fair, Danvers. This annual event is a great place to start your holiday shopping! It's like going to a friend's house to shop.  It actually IS a house, totally decorated and filled with all sorts of locally crafted items.  Open Friday 9-8, Saturday adnd Sunday 9-4! https://rem.ax/ChristmasOnTheRiverDanvers

The Dragon's Nest in Newburyport, Annual Customer Appreciation Sale.  Come take advantage of the annual 20% off sale (15% off Legos) through Sunday at one of the most fun places in Newburyport! https://rem.ax/DragonsNest

"We Are Haverhill: Changing Faces of Haverhill's Neighborhoods" Exhibit, sponsored by the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill.  This photo exhibit hghlights residents from Haverhill's Acre and Mt. Washington neighborhoods, focusing on community members from the late 20th and early 21st century.  This is the opening weekend; the exhibit runs through February 16th at Harbor Place. https://rem.ax/WeAreHaverhill

Meat Pie, anyone? No, not the delicious Thwaite's Market meat pies, but the sinister version cooked up by Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett! Andover High's Theatre Arts and Music presents the musical "Sweeney Todd" at the Collins Center this Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.  https://rem.ax/SweeneyTodd

Sleigh Bell Artisan Fair at the Wenham Museum. Saturday from 10-4.  Have you been to the Museum? It's a children's favorite and is a hidden gem in the quaint North Shore town of Wenham. Special programs and activities for the kids, as well as the usual exhibits, will be available for the kids and the grown-up kids can peruse the wares of local artisans. Then head over to the Wenham Tea House for brunch (11:30-2:00). https://rem.ax/WenhamMuseum 

Middlesex Community College's Arts & Crafts Fair and Food Truck Festival, Bedford, MA.  Saturday from 9-3 you can check out the works of local artisans and then check out the variety of delicious oferings from the food trucks, including soup, shawarma, eggrolls, cupcakes and more. And don't miss the fresh produce from Mill City Grow's Mobile Market. https://rem.ax/MCCFair

Thomson School Holiday Fair, North Andover. Come support the Thomson Tigers PTO at the annual school fair.  There will be lots to do including prizes, raffles, pizza, bake sale, arts & crafts for the kids, and more. Saturday from 11-2. https://rem.ax/ThomsonSchool

Looking for a little grown up fun? How about seeing Joe DeVito, Master Hypnotist Saturday night at 8.  Sponsored by the Haverhill Lion's Club, it promises to be a night of laughs! https://rem.ax/Hypnotist

Something else for just the grownups is nationally known comedian Nick DiPaolo, performing Saturday night at the Cabot Theater in Beverly.  The historic 1920 theater is a beautiful remnant of days gone by, in the city where DiPaolo was born and raised. DiPaolo now has his own Sirius XM radio show in addition to continuing to do his traveling stand-up shows. https://rem.ax/ComedyShow

The 53rd Annual Haverhill VFW Post 29 Santa Parade! The parade steps off at 1:00 at the Bradford Fire Station on Sunday. If you grew up in the Merrimack Valley, you have probably been to this parade at least once in your lifetime. This year's parade thems is "It's Christmas Time in the City" and will feature 15-20 bands, antique cars, costumed characters, dancing and of course, an appearance by the big guy himself! Come make it part of your family traditions!Rain date Saturday November 15th at 10 am. http://vfwsantaparade.com/

***If you'd like me to include your special public event, please email the event details and your contact information to ctibaudo@remax.net***

Tips for Winterproofing Your Vacation Home

Do you have a summer home? Here are some tips for preparing it for being vacant all winter.  And many of these tips apply to a winter retreat that you don't visit during the warmer months!

Outside:

  • If you have any broken stairs or handrails, get them fixed before the season starts. It’s much easier for people to get seriously hurt if they can’t grab a handrail as they fall.
  • Seal any holes in outside walls and caulk or cover spigots and outdoor water pipes to protect them from bursting in cold temperatures. Sealing holes will also keep out any unwanted birds or animals who are seeking refuge during the winter.
  • Check skylights to be sure they are properly sealed to make sure the no rain, snow or ice gets inside your home.  In addition to causing damage to the structure and furnishings, any moisture left untreated can lead to mold growth.
  • Clean gutters! Make sure you've gotten rid of leaves and other debris so you don’t get a buildup of ice and snow.  Ice dam can cause serious damage. Consider installing gutter guards to prevent more debris from entering and building up.
  • Bring in any decorations or furniture that you keep outside. It can be damaged by the weather or animals, or be taken by a thief.
  • Throw away any broken items and donate to charity anything you didn't use over the season.

Inside:

  • Warm temperatures are key to preventing water damage.  Talk to and HVAC person regarding the optimal temperature for your home while you’re away.  You can usually set the thermostat lower in a well-insulated, newer home than in an older, less insulated home.
  • Install an emergency pressure release valve in the plumbing system. 
  • Leaving appliances and electronics plugged in is a waste of electricity, so unplug them. Prop the refrigerator door open so you won't come back to a modly, smelly mess.
  • If you don't plan to spend any time in the home during the winter, you may want to consider "winterizing" it. Turn off any nonessential utilities to save yourself money and avoid any chances of water leaks. If you’re in a cold climate, drain your water lines to prevent your pipes from freezing. Drain the water heater. Close the water lines to toilets, the washing machine, sinks and the dishwasher.
  • Put fresh batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, the thermostat, the security system and other vital home devices.
  • Connect your thermostat and one exterior door lock to a home automation system. Set the system to automatically send you a text if the temperature inside your home falls below a certain point. You'll know you need to call a furnace repair company and you'll also be able to unlock the door for the service person without having to be there
  • Close window treatments and storm shutters. Don't forget to activate your alarm system!
  •  

    If you're property is in a homeowner's association, be sure the association has your correct contact information, so it can reach you in an emergency.
  • Toss Trash And Take Home Perishables.  Disposing of trash will help keep rodents and other pests away. Same thing with any perishable food. You don’t want to come back to your home after a few months to find something growing in your fridge or pantry.  In many vacation areas, food banks or religious organizations hold change-over day collection drives where you can drop off your unused food on your way out of town.
  • Inventory Home Supplies.  Make a list of anything you need to replace before the start of the next season, like pots and pans or bed linens. You can shop for those at your leisure and bring the items with you when you reopen the house.

It shouldn't really take you very long to do these things, and you'll be thankful for the time well spent since you won't have to worry about your vacation home during the off season!

 

What's Up for the Weekend?

This Veteran's Day weekend is forecast to be brisk!  Time for some indoor events - and outdoor events for those willing to brave the chill! 

Mill 77 Trading Company's Vintage Holiday Marketplace takes place at Mill 77 in Newburyport on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday evening you can stop by and sample some delicious finger food and desserts, while Saturday and Sunday offer selfie stations, a scavenger hunt and vendors galore! bit.ly/2hXHU1l

Also in Newburyport this weekend is the Maudslay State Park Association's Stone House Fundraiser and Silent Auction, Saturday night. $40 admission fee allows you to sample hors d'oeurves, wine, and craft beers from Riverwalk Brewing Company and learn about the history and future of this incredible property.  Bid on a range of 50 auction items donated by local artists and businesses, from fine photography to fine dining.  Tickets are limited and can be purchased in advance at The Book Rack in Newburyport or through PayPal! Tickets at the door are $50. http://maudslayassociation.org/

Autumn Leaf Hunt at The Stevens Coolidge Place in North Andover. Bring the kids on Sunday from 10-12 to experience this fun fall outdoor adventure. The garden is full of discoveries and changes with the autumn season. Enjoy a scavenger hunt through the gardens, nature journaling or story time on the lawn and collect leaves for making celebratory fall crowns to take home. Pre-registration is encouraged, accompanying adult is free. bit.ly/2hnMQj7  

The Stevens Coolidge Place for an Herbal Gifts Workshop. Return on Sunday and join practicing herbalist and botanical educator, Steph Zabel in the greenhouse to learn how to make infused oils, herbal salves, aromatherapy sprays and elderberry syrup.  Learn about herbalism - the art and science of plant medicine. bit.ly/2jd6e2W

History Hike in Andover - Baker's Meadow, Indian Ridge and West Parish Meadow on Sunday at noon. Sponsored by the Andover Trails Committee.  Join fellow outdoor nad  history enthusiasts for a lovely autumn loop hike along Indian Ridge, West Parish Meadow and Bakers Meadow.  Along the way you'll also take in a portion of the Bay Circuit Trail, a 200 mile walking path that runs from Newburyport to Duxbury. Guide, Jeff LaFountain will share some of the rich history of the two reservations and point out the wealth of natural features that make these reservations true gems. Please meet at 11:45a on Abbot Bridge Drive, at the intersection with Central Street.

Boston Donuts and Drinks Festival, Sunday at 7 pm (21+ event) at Battery park Bar & Bistro in Boston. A fun (and fattening) event with a portion of the proceeds going to the Pine Street Inn for it's "turkey truck" for Thanksgiving deliveries to those in need. Tickets include all the freshly made donuts you can eat, a free beer, hot rum mulled cider or pumpkin martini and an interactive mixologist demo.  Cash bar and discounted food are also available. bit.ly/2mboWZA

PAWS on the Trail 4K Fun Run/Walk through the Town Forest in Reading on Saturday at 9 am. PAWS is a non-profit animal rescue group in Wakefield. The event includes a 4K Trail Fun Run, 4K Trail Walk, and a free Kitty Kat Dash for kids under 10. The Trail Fun Run/Walk is open to runners, walkers, teams and families of all ages. All proceeds of this event will be used to ensure PAWS can cover the medical expenses and extra-care needs of our homeless animals be they surrenders, moms & kittens, strays or abandoned.  

Hands-On History Workshop: Waterpower at the Boott Cotton Mills Museum in Lowell on Saturday. A free drop-in event for the whole family from 1-4. Join Lowell National Historical Park and the Tsongas Industrial History Center for an afternoon of hands-on history! Learn about how water can produce energy in our Waterpower Lab! Solve problems and engineer your own canal system. Make a hypothesis and test out waterwheels. While you're there, check out the Boott Cotton Mills Museum and see the working weave room! bit.ly/2iIQVet

Family Day at the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillip's Academy on Sunday at 2 pm. Families with children of all ages are invited to drop in and explore the Addison's fall exhibitions through hands-on activities related to the theme of “invisibility." Try writing with invisible ink to create a secret message! Children must be accompanied by an adult caregiver. bit.ly/2m8HI3T
 
Pet Photos with Santa at the Mall at Rockingham Park on Sunday at 6:30.  Yes, we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet, and already the photos with Santa are happening!  Pets will have their own turn to sit on Santa’s lap at The Mall at Rockingham Park on this special night! The popular Pet Photo Nights add a magical element to visiting with Santa and are hosted after the mall closes and the set gets an extensive cleaning following the event to remove any potential risk to allergy sufferers. Reservations can be made in advance.  Photo packages and pricing vary, inquire at the Santa set. bit.ly/2iHERKv  
 
Annual New England Craft & Specialty Food Fair at the indoor Topsfield Fairgrounds Arena in Topsfield Friday through Sunday from 10-5.  Over 200 of the regions finest Artisans will display and sell their American made arts and crafts.  A "food sampling" extravaganza will be presented with  gourmet Specialty Food delights. Something for everyone! bit.ly/2yKDnK1
 
Davis Square in Somerville Food Tour, Saturday at 10 am. A gastronomical food adventure gives you the opportunity to sample food from many local Davis Square restaurants and shops in one tour.  Tour guides will lead you on a quirky, fun, and delicious walk through the colorful, historic Davis Square, and learn why Davis Square is considered one of Boston's most diverse neighborhoods and best food scenes. Hear stories from local entrepreneurs and understand the most interesting tidbits from the rich history of this hip New England neighborhood where Boston locals live and dine. bit.ly/2yKCKjP
 
Chelmsford Agway Winter Farmer's Market, Saturday at 10 am.  Are you missing the summer and fall's farmer's markets? Check out the indoor winter farmers market with vendors selling farm fresh produce and meats, baked goods and juices, jams, teas, fudge, wine and more from small individually owned businesses. bit.ly/2jgWfd3
 
Veteran's Day Ceremonies, Andover and North Andover 

Andover will observe Veterans Day on Saturday, Nov. 11, with three brief ceremonies at the local cemeteries followed by a luncheon. The ceremonies are planned for 10 a.m. at West Parish Cemetery, 129 Reservation Road; 11 a.m. at Spring Grove Cemetery, 124 Abbot St.; and noon at Ballardvale Green at the intersection of Andover and Center streets. The luncheon will follow at 1 p.m. at the Masonic Temple at 7 High St. at 1 p.m.  The program will be held rain or shine. In case of moderate to heavy rain, a brief ceremony will be held at Elm Green at noon. 

North Andover will have its annual parade and ceremony to honor those who have served in the U.S. military. The parade will start at 10:15 a.m. and march up Main Street to Patriots Memorial Park for a ceremony. After the ceremony, the parade will reform and proceed up Main Street to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2104 on Park Street to raise the flag and salute veterans. In case of rain, services will be held in the Middle School Veteran’s Auditorium at 10:30 a.m. There will be a reception after the services at the VFW, with snacks and beverages. 

Open Houses. Check out your dream home on Sunday. Search on www.andover-topbroker.com

 

 

 

 

Thinking of Buying a Vacation Home?

Are you considering buying a vacation home?  Weighing the pros and cons? Wondering if it makes financial sense? There are several benefits you can reap besides just being at your favorite vacation spot in your own place.  Here are some of the bonuses you can realize from owning a second home:

Rental income

When you buy a home in a popular vacation destination, you may be able to rent it on a short-term basis to other vacationers. That rental income can help you cover the costs of your vacation home. Depending upon your situation, keep in mind that you may have to pay a rental or management company to coordinate renters or maintenance.  VRBO and Air BnB are a couple of websites that allow you to easily schedule rentals and collect payment.

Tax benefits 

You may be able to deduct the mortgage interest, property taxes and repairs you pay for your vacation home.  If you use it as a rental property you may be able to use your expenses to offset your rental income. Consult a tax adviser to see which tax rules and laws apply in your particular situation.  

Home equity 

Just as with your primary residence, the value of your vacation home may increase over time, giving you equity in your vacation home. As you pay off any mortgage on the property, you’ll also build equity.  You can opt to cash out some of the equity to fund other investments, projects, college tuition or whatever you need or want to do with the money.

Family bonding

Having a "free" place to stay at the beach or the mountains can be a stress reliever, both in providing a vacation in a place you love, and in not having to worry about finding a rental for the dates you want and price you can justify.  A vacation home also makes for a comfortable, familiar place for family to come and hang out and make lifelong memories.  It can be a nice place to invite friends to come visit, too.

The answers to these five questions can help you figure out if vacation homeownership is for you:

1. Do you have a down payment? 

Vacation home lenders typically require a 20 percent to 30 percent down payment. Talk to a mortgage professional to see what options you have for financing.  Condos generally require a larger down payment than single family properties.  And closing costs are also generally higher, as you need to escrow extra funds for prepaid condo fees.

2. Can you afford the additional expenses of vacation homeownership?

A vacation home generates many of the same annual and monthly bills as your primary home. Can you afford community association dues, homeowners insurance, insurance for natural disasters like floods and hurricanes, utilities, telecommunications and property taxes for a vacation home?  If you plan to rent the property you will also need to be sure it is fully furnished and equipped.  With tenants coming and going, items are more likely to break or "disappear" so you'll need to factor in replacement and repair costs.  You'll also need to calculate how much you can rent the property for, and for how many weeks or months, to see if it can generate enough income to cover your costs - or at least cover a portion of your costs if you need help with the bills.

3. If you plan to rent, will you be bothered by other people using your home?

As outlined above, rental income can help pay for your vacation home, but renters will also spill things on your floors, steal small decorative items and increase the wear and tear on your property. If you can’t deal with minor damage and disappearing pots and pans, you won’t be a happy landlord.  When furnishing a rental property you need to remember that it is a business and not your residence, so look for sturdy furnishings, don't buy top (ie, expensive) quality items, and don't decorate with personal things like photos of your family and your favorite candy dish from Aunt Mary.  If you'll be bothered by others renting the property, you might want to consider buying a less expensive place so you won't need to rely on rental income to afford it.

4. Do you plan to vacation in this location for several years?

There’s no guarantee that home values will rise in the future.  If you decide to sell in just a few years, is the property in a market where you'll be able to recoup your closing costs and expenses? One of the major reasons for investing in a vacation property is the potential for making a profit when you sell. The longer you plan to stay, the better your chance of building home equity before you sell.  

5. Will You Use It?

To get the most possible enjoyment from a vacation home, you have to stay in it. And the shorter the drive, the more likely you are to use the home. Or if it's in a place you go to every year, such a Disney World or Lake Tahoe, you'll likely use it all the time even though you have to fly there.  But if you just think you're going to like a spot you might want to "practice" the commute before you commit to a purchase.  That condo in Myrtle Beach might seem like a sweet deal when you spend a week there playing golf, but does it make sense to buy?  How often will you make the 12 hour drive?  Can you get a direct flight? How expensive is it to rent a car if you fly there? The sweet deal may end up being a costly mistake.

With all that said, if you’re buying a vacation home solely as an investment, being close by may not be as important to you.  The more important factors may be the rental income and year over year return on investment.

Are you still leaning toward buying a vacation property? Then give me a call and we'll come up with a plan to make your investment goal a reality!

BOO and Woo Hoo! It's Halloween Weekend!

It's going to be a mixed bag of weather this weekend, but who cares when it's Halloween and you're having fun!  Here are some ideas for indoor and outdoor entertainment for the weekend. 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, presented by Full Body Cast in Boston. Have you seen the cult classic movie? Whether you have or have not, this live shadowcast performance is a must see! Performances are Saturday night and Halloween night at 11 and as always, audience participation is encouraged. pm. https://www.fullbodycast.org/  

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: A Symphony by the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall. What could be more perfect than these two beloveds at one time? Seeing them on Halloween (or Halloween Eve)! Enjoy the movie, accompanied by a live performance by the Pops symphony. https://www.bso.org/brands/pops/features/nightmare-before-christmas.aspx

Want to experience the Halloween vibe in Boston, but in a more family-friendly way? Head to The Mandarin Hotel on Halloween from 3-5 pm where you and the kids can enjoy pumpkin donuts and cider, and trick-or-treat in the Halloween Haunted Hullabaloo in the hotel lobby.  What fun! https://www.bostonchefs.com/events/mandarin-oriental-hosts-halloween-party/

Hocus Pocus Villains Halloween Ball on Saturday, October 28th from 7-11 pm. Party the night away in true ghoulish fashion at the Higgins Armory Castle in Worcester! Dance, bring your own jack-o-lantern, enter the costume contest, get a free tarot reading and more! Age 18 and up. https://hocuspocusvilliansball.com/

Screemfest at Canobie Lake Park, Salem, NH on Friday and Saturday the 27th and 28th. Ages 13 and up are invited to check out the chills and thrills, including live performances, haunted houses, games and rides. And costumes are encouraged! http://www.canobie.com/screeemfest/  

Salem, MA - the offerings are nearly endless! Salem is interesting no matter what season, but the closer it gets to Halloween, the crazier it gets! Check out Witch City Walking Tours, the House of Seven Gables, the Witch and Pirate Museums and Horror Fest, just to name a few. You'll encounter every manner of ghoul, ghost, goblin and witch, and a fair amount of unicorns, princesses and Storm Troopers tossed into the mix. 

Pokemon Halloween Madness at The Maker Mill in North Andover on Friday from 6-8:30.  Kids K-8 are invited to come in costume, make Pokemon Halloween crafts, enjoy games, face painting, pizza and more. http://www.themakermill.com/workshops/halloween

Not So Spooky Halloween at Edaville Railroad in Carver. Edaville is fun any time of the year, but for family friendly trick or treating and cool stuff to do, check it out this weekend. Dress the kids up and they can enjoy the special Halloween events as well as admission to DinoLand, Thomas Land and all rides and attractions. Edaville also provides special quiet spaces and zones for those who need a break from sensory overload. http://www.edaville.com/attractions/not-so-spooky-halloween

Nocturnal Pumpkin Trail at the Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover on Saturday and Sunday. Families are invited to visit the Stevens-Coolidge Place for a Pumpkin Trail magical treat! Local nocturnal woodland creatures emerge to share their stories as participants are led along our pumpkin-lit garden trail. This is a non-scary event for all ages that combines fun and education in a unique way. Tours leave every 15 minutes. Costumes encouraged! Space is limited; Reservations recommended. https://www.facebook.com/stevenscoolidgeplace/ 

Halloween Costume Contest at North Andover CAM!  Be on TV this Halloween - visit North Andover CAM at 430 Osgood Street on Saturday between 12 and 3 for a chance to show off your costume.  While waiting for your turn to be on tv, there will be games and prizes off camera. Voting will take place online over the course of the following week, and the first place winner will get a gift card to a local business. 

Halloween at The Loop! Sunday is funday from 2 - 5 pm for the kids at The Loop. Special events include a scavenger hunt, pictures with the Ghostbusters and Halloween Shows with Jennie Mack. https://www.facebook.com/events/193779614397765/

Open Houses! Looking for a new home in the Merrimack Valley or North Shore? Search to your heart's content at www.andover-tobroker.com

Autumn's Trick or Treat and Shop at Brooksby Farm in Peabody. Brooksby's second annual Autumn's Trick-or-Treat and Shop features over 20 crafters and vendors for a fundraiser to benefit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Boston Children's Hospital! 

Legoland Discovery Center, Somerville, Monster Mash. A scavenger hunt, building challenge and crazy costume contest, pumpkin trail and more. Saturday, Sunday and Halloween day. https://boston.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/whats-inside/events/brick-or-treat/

Brooksby Farm in Peabody. Fall festival and shopping. Bring your little ones in costume to trick-or-treat with our vendors while you get your shop on! Guests in costume get a free pass on the Brooksby Farm Hayride. https://www.facebook.com/events/115022842559079/

Twilight Tour of the Old Burying Ground, Wakefield, Friday at 5:30 pm. This historic cemetery was first laid out in 1689! It features some of the most interesting and finest examples of Puritan gravestone art. https://wakefieldhistory.org/twilight-tour-of-the-old-burying-ground/

Local Trick or Treating!!! Andover merchants will be giving out candy to kids in costume on Halloween from 3-5 pm on the 31st. Door-to-door trick or treating takes place from 5:30-7:30.  North Andover trick or treating is on Halloween from 5:30-7:30 as well, while Methuen hours are 5-7.  For parents who work and have a hard time getting home in time to take the kids out, Haverhill hours are on Saturday from 5-7 pm. 

Wherever you go and whatever you do to celebrate Halloween, be mindful and be safe! 

 

How to Build Credit While in College

It's late October, which means most college students are about half way through the first semester of the year.  Do You Have a Child in College? Are You in College? Having a good credit score and understanding why and how to build credit in college is important. It can help a recent college graduate become financially successful as an adult and achieve a high credit score. A high credit score can make you more appealing as a tenant when looking to rent an apartment, get you lower interest rates on car loans, credit cards, and insurance premiums and help you get the best cellphone plan.  It may also help you beat out the competition when applying for a job, as some employers are now delving further into an applicant's background before making a hiring decision.

But how do you build credit while a college student?  (Actually, this is good advice for anyone at any age who needs to build or re-build good credit.) Start by getting a credit card and using it responsibly! Those under age 21 will need to prove they have an independent income or get a co-signer. Other options include having a parent make their student an authorized user on their credit card.  You can also get what is known as a secured credit card, which requires a cash deposit (often starting with $500) that becomes a line of credit.  Sort of like a debit card, but it helps you to build credit and learn to live within your means.

Once you have that credit card, keep these Do's and Don's in mind, and you'll be on your way to establishing great credit!

DO'S:

  • Only use the card for small purchases that can be repaid by the end of the billing cycle and emergencies
  • Pay your bills on time
  • Try to pay the card off every month to avoid interest charges. If you don't pay the entire balance one month, but do pay it off the next month, you'll still be charged interest for that second month. 
  • Keep credit card balances as low as possible
  • Select a card with cash back or rewards programs and no annual fee
  • Review your credit report for free once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com. Check for mistakes and negative information reported by creditors. Dispute any errors.

DONT'S:

  • Don’t open a credit card just for the free gym bag or water bottle. Ask yourself if you really need another card.
  • Don’t open too many credit cards at once. Get used to paying back one first.
  • Don’t co-sign for a friend’s credit card. If he or she doesn’t pay, you’re on the hook.
  • Try not to borrow more than you need to pay for college. Late student loan payments can hurt your credit score.
  • Don’t skip credit card payments or stop paying. It can take years to recover from a bad credit score. 

 

Creating Good Furniture Flow

Have you ever walked into someone's home and immediately felt it was inviting and open, even though the room wasn't large? The way you place furniture in a room can make all the difference in the world. Placement can either make a space feel open and inviting or cramped and off balance. Follow these tips used by interior decorators to help create balance and flow in the rooms in your home. 

It's About Balance.  

Placing large or heavy pieces right next to slender or minimal pieces can feel off kilter. Maintain a more balanced feel by grouping items of similar "visual weight" together. An oversized leather recliner next to a small glass and chrome side table just doesn't cut it!  

 The 3-foot rule. You don't have to have 2 left feet to trip over furniture! Paths between and around furniture will feel less restricted when kept at around 3 feet. Keep in mind, too, that curved and oval pieces are easier to navigate around than square ones. They also soften lines when people look around the room.

 

 

Don't Be a Wall-flower. Don't push all your furniture up against the walls, or try to fill every corner of a room with furniture. Moving furniture toward the center of the room dramatically increases the flow of your space and makes it feel more open. If you don't have a room large enough to allow for the "3-foot rule" between walls and sofas, 12 inches will do. Be sure to add some art to the walls, just don't go to art-happy and make the room feel heavy and over crowded again! 

Highs and Lows.The flow of a room has a lot to do with eye movement and perception of space. Maintain a clear view across the room especially toward windows. Keep items low in the center and high around the perimeter. High-backed chairs and floor lamps, for example, can reduce the feel of space and make a room feel choppy when they're placed in the natural line of sight. Remember to draw the eye to the wide outdoors - or at least draw the eye across the room!

Grandma's Left-over Chairs. If you have lots of accent chairs but no one sitting in them, you probably have too much seating - or uncomfortable seating! Create extra room and occasional seating with double-duty pieces like an oversized ottoman that can act as a coffee table when you don't have as many guests. Nesting tables are also a great space saver. 

 

 

Light and Lovely. While people these days love overhead lighting, keep it for when you really need to see something.  It's is fine for sewing, reading instructions, doing the crosswords and playing board games, but in the evening it can be harsh and unpleasant. Secondary lighting from table or floor lamps is much better for defining seating areas and hanging out with family and friends. It also provides for a warmer, more inviting feel.

By making a few changes you can enjoy your home more!