Shari Sagan McGuirk - Marblehead MA Real Estate, Swampscott MA Real Estate, Salem MA Real Estate


When you are ready to buy a house, it pays to plan ahead to conduct a successful house search. That way, you can quickly and effortlessly navigate the real estate market and make your homeownership dream come true in no time at all.

Ultimately, you don't need to be a real estate expert to navigate the housing market like a pro. To better understand what it takes to complete a successful house search, let's take a look at three tips to ensure you can seamlessly go from homebuyer to homeowner.

1. Create Homebuying Criteria

If you plan to purchase a house in the foreseeable future, it helps to establish homebuying criteria. By doing so, you can enter the real estate market with a plan.

Think about where you want to reside. For example, if your goal is to live in the same small town as your family members and friends, you may want to hone your house search to properties in this town. Or, if you want to own a house that is close to your office in the city, you may want to pursue residences in or around the city itself.

Consider what differentiates your dream house from an ordinary home too. Thus, if you want to own a home that boasts an in-ground pool, dazzling garden or other distinct features, you should include these criteria in your homebuying strategy.

2. Get Pre-Approved for Home Financing

Lenders can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage prior to launching a home search. Then, you can establish a budget for the homebuying journey.

There is no shortage of mortgage options available, regardless of your credit score, income and outstanding debt. If you meet with banks and credit unions, you can learn about different mortgage options and select a mortgage that is sure to serve you well.

Of course, when you meet with lenders, don't hesitate to ask questions. Lenders employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists, and these professionals are happy to help you make an informed mortgage selection.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can help you simplify your home search. In fact, with a real estate agent at your side, you can boost the likelihood of finding a terrific house at a budget-friendly price.

Generally, a real estate agent understands what it takes to pursue a home in any city or town, at any time. If you employ a real estate agent, you can get the help you need to accelerate your quest for your dream residence.

A real estate agent usually learns about a homebuyer's goals and maps out a homebuying plan. He or she sets up home showings and keeps a homebuyer up to date about new residences that fit a buyer's criteria. And if a homebuyer wants to submit an offer to purchase a residence, a real estate agent will help this buyer craft a competitive proposal.

Ready to buy a house? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can streamline your search for your ideal residence.


Moving is stressful at the best of times. But when you’re moving across the country rather than across town, it adds to the number of preparations you’ll need to make.

In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to best prepare for your long-distance move, whether it’s across the state, across the country, or to another country altogether.

Packing and moving

One of the biggest concerns you’ll have during a long distance move is the condition of your belongings.

If you’re using a moving company, you’ll want to make sure you trust them to handle your belongings with care. To ensure that they’re responsible movers, read over their reviews online. It’s also a good idea to review their contracts and to make sure you have enough insurance to cover any costly damages or losses. Speaking of moving companies, be sure to shop around to find out which one offers the best prices and delivery windows.

When it comes to packing your items, air on the side of caution and start boxing items well in advance of your move. Not only is it a good idea to label your boxes by room, but you should put your name and contact information on your boxes if they’re being shipped by a large moving company.

Remember that not everything needs to be in boxes. Soft items like clothing and towels can easily be packed in trash bags, suitcases, and duffel bags. You’ll be able to squeeze in more items and they’ll take up less space in the moving truck.

When filling the moving truck, be sure your fragile items aren’t the top box on a stack of boxes. Similarly, you don’t want fragile belongings underneath too many heavy boxes. Your movers likely have their own way of securing boxes, so be sure to indicate to them which boxes are the most fragile with labels.

Downsize your belongings

The month leading up to your move is a good time to sell or donate items you no longer use. It could save you space on the moving truck, and you could earn a few extra dollars before your big move.

Larger items should be your top priority. Bicycles, lawnmowers, and other big items that you’ve been thinking of replacing can be sold now and you can buy new ones at your future home. However, don’t discount the weight and size of things like DVD and book collections. Many people lug around bookcases from house to house and hardly ever touch the books on them. Furthermore, technology like Kindle and Netflix are making owning physical copies of your media less of a necessity.

Before you start packing the rest of your items into moving boxes, make sure you set aside a “survival kit” filled with your daily use items. Things like cell phone chargers, glasses and contacts, and sanitary items should be in your vehicle or carry on, not in the moving truck.

Saving money

Moving is expensive, but there are a number of ways you can squeeze some savings out of the experience. First, take advantage of free boxes from local stores and restaurants. Then, ask for friends and family to help you pack rather than hiring professionals, offer them lunch in exchange for their help.

When it comes to getting to your new home, don’t rule out flying as being the most expensive option. Hotels, gas, and eating out add up quickly if you’re making a road trip out of your move.

Finally, see if your move is tax-deductible. If you’re relocating for work, there’s a chance some of your moving expenses will be. If so, be sure to keep all of your receipts along the way.


After a move, everything feels fresh and energizing. This is, of course, in part because of the energy that comes with a big change. But it also comes from having a neatly, organized home. In the jumble of packing and unpacking, junk gets tossed and items get new homes. Everything gets a new dedicated area where it belongs. Everything is tidy, as it should be.

So how then can you maintain this wonderful feeling and continue to keep things neat and tidy?

First, you need to make a daily habit of doing a quick clean sweep every day. Whether you do it in the morning, afternoon or before bed isn’t important. What is important is that you do it every day.

Go through the house to make to corral up stray dishes, put items back into their dedicated places, and give homes to those who don’t have one yet.

And if you can’t think of somewhere to put it? Question its purpose and consider either donating or tossing it.

Aim to keep your surfaces clear of items. Allowing things to accumulate is one of the fastest for clutter to quickly take over. Stop it in its track by tidying up when you’re done using this “station” of your home.

Practice not being “lazy”. If you bring your tea to sip on the couch when you leave the room take your mug with you straight to the dishwasher. If you finished the last of the chips put the clip away where it belongs instead of leaving it out on the counter. Put pens back away after using them to jot out notes. Recycle magazines when you're done reading them.

If you find things are building up as clutter quickly you might have too much stuff. Which is okay, it happens!

Decluttering isn’t a one and done process. We need to consistently be assessing the things that collect in our homes and what benefit they are adding to your life. Sometimes we once used all the time have fallen out of favor or need to be repaired/replaced.

Make time once a month for a quick declutter session and once a season for a more detailed one.

And the best way to avoid clutter is to closely monitor what you’re allowing to come into your home in the first place. If you find you love to take things home just because they were free or on sale, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself why.

After all, the less stuff we have in our homes the less there is to manage. Which means more time spent doing what you enjoy doing, like spending time with your family, and less time organizing it all.

 


Putting your home on the market is not for the faint-hearted! As many people discover along the way, the road to selling a home can be rather bumpy -- especially if you attempt to sell it on your own.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do, right away, to make the journey shorter, smoother, and more rewarding. Here are three strategies that will greatly increase your chances of success.

Find a seasoned real estate agent. An experienced real estate agent will not only help you navigate state and federal regulations, negotiate with buyers, and get a handle on paperwork, but they'll also schedule showings of your home and provide continuous marketing help.

Enhance your curb appeal: When it comes to finding prospective buyers and setting up appointments, your real estate agent will do the lion's share of the work. However, it's mostly up to you to make sure your house looks its best and that the appearance of your property catches the eye of house hunters.

Once your home is listed online and a "for sale" sign is planted in your front yard, potential buyers are going to immediately take notice of how your house looks from the outside. Sometimes people browse listed houses from their cars, so it can really pay to make a great first impression from the street.

Some of the things that matter the most are a meticulous-looking yard, a clutter-free property, and a house that looks like it's well maintained. Adding a fresh coat of paint, displaying some colorful potted flowers, and taking care of unsightly weeds and overgrown bushes are a few things you can do to make your property look a lot more inviting.

Stage your home's interior: Once you've cleared the first big hurdle (curb appeal), your next priority -- or perhaps a simultaneous priority -- is to make the interior of your home look inviting and appealing. As is the case with boosting curb appeal, your real estate agent can provide you with cost-effective advice on how to get the most mileage from your efforts.

Some of the tried-and-proven methods of staging a home include reducing clutter, arranging living room furniture in "conversational groups" to depict a cozy, intimate environment, and letting plenty of natural light stream in to make your home appear as cheerful and bright as possible.

Fresh coats of neutral-colored paint should be applied to walls and ceilings on an as-needed basis, and all floors, tables, and counter tops should be kept immaculate. Home staging consultants often recommend removing (or toning down) certain decorating themes -- such as sports, religion, or even too many family photographs -- which may alienate some potential buyers.

The overall objective is to make it easy for house hunters to imagine themselves owning and living in your home. If there's anything about the appearance, decor, or smell of your home that makes people feel in any way uncomfortable, that could make it more difficult to find a committed buyer -- which, of course, is your ultimate goal!


Many home buyers seek out fixer-uppers or older homes as a way to save money. And, while this method can be a great way to save, it does come with a few caveats.

Upgrades and repairs can vary greatly in price. Some might be simple, whereas others can take weeks or months, require permits, and uproot your plans. For these reasons, it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into with home repairs.

In this article, we’re going to cover the most expensive home repairs and upgrades. That way when you find a home listing that you’re interested in, you can rule out these costly repairs early if you aren’t willing to spend the extra money on them after buying the house.

1. Sewer and septic

Finding out you need to replace a sewer line or a septic system can be a nightmare. Sewer lines are most often damaged by tree root growth, leaving older homes the most vulnerable. On average, homeowners spend around $2,500 to repair a main sewer line.

If you move into a new home that previously only had one inhabitant, you may find that the septic system can’t keep up with the increased workload. Repairs for a septic system average around $1,500. And to replace the septic system and install a new one? You can expect to spend around $5,000 or much more, depending on your needs and location.

2. Foundation repair

Older homes are also subject to foundation damage over the years, which can cause many problems, including safety concerns and water damage.

Houses that have poor drainage and high soil moisture are particularly vulnerable to foundation damage. And, like sewer and septic issues, tree roots can also pose a problem.

For minor cracks, foundation repairs can cost as little as $500. However, more severe damage can cost up to $10,000. On average, Americans spend around $4,000 when they repair a damaged foundation.

3. Roof replacement

Roof replacements are inevitable, but there are ways to ensure you won’t have to install a new one anytime soon. For example, slate and metal roofs can last over 50 years. And concrete? A hundred years or more.

The most common type of roofs, however, are made from asphalt shingles, which last around 20 years. In terms of price, asphalt tends to be the cheapest as well, costing as low as $2,000 to replace. Metal and slate roofs are significantly more expensive, starting at $5,000 and $17,000 respectively.

4. Heat pump installation

Installing a heat pump can be quite costly, with the national average being around $5,300. However, if you live in a moderate climate, a heat pump can replace both your furnace and your air conditioning unit.

Furthermore, if you plan on staying in the home for several years, a heat pump tends to be much more energy efficient than older alternatives.

5. Kitchen remodel

Of all the household remodeling projects--basement, bathrooms, etc.--a kitchen remodel tends to be the priciest. Americans spend about $21,000 on a kitchen remodel. The most expensive part? Cabinetry and hardware at $6,000.




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