Judy Rivard - Sawicki Real Estate


Finding the house of your dreams is a process that requires a lot of clarity, diligence, and patience. While it is possible for the first house you look at to be the ideal choice, it's a lot more likely you'll have to look at a dozen or more houses before finding the one that matches your requirements and feels like home.

Whether you're searching for your first home or your tenth, your decision will primarily be based on four factors: affordability, practicality, emotional appeal, and prevailing market conditions.

Affordability is a vital element in the mix because it's difficult to enjoy a beautiful new home if you're always stressed out about whether you'll be able to make the next mortgage payment! Developing a realistic and well thought-out budget is one of the first preliminary steps involved in launching a full-fledged search for your next home. In addition to being able to cover your current expenses and the cost of mortgage payments, you'll also want to ensure that there's a cushion in your budget for things like home maintenance, repairs, improvements, HOA fees (if applicable), property taxes, school taxes, and homeowner's insurance.

As far as practicality goes, your new home should -- at the very least -- live up to your basic needs and expectations. Ideally, all systems should work properly and be in good condition. Proximity to key locations, such as your job, shopping, and essential services can also have a direct impact on your quality of life. Long commutes, cramped quarters, or being buried by an avalanche of repair bills can definitely take some of the pleasure out of home ownership!

The majority of houses you'll look at will probably need some degree of updating, decorating, or repairs, but ideally, you'll want to tackle those projects over the next couple of years, rather than the immediate future! Having an experienced home inspector do a thorough inspection of the home you're interested in will help ensure you're not buying a home riddled with flaws, headaches waiting to happen, and other problems.

Although cost and practicality are vital aspects of buying a new home, you can't (and wouldn't want to) ignore factors such as aesthetics and emotional appeal. If you can't imagine you and your family living in and enjoying a house you're considering buying, it might be time to continue your search elsewhere! The house you ultimately choose should support your lifestyle, provide sufficient space for your family to grow and thrive, and be situated in a neighborhood in which you feel comfortable and safe.

To make the most of your available time and money, find an experienced real estate agent who's responsive to your needs and knowledgeable about the local real estate market. They will help you streamline your search, find houses that meet your criteria and negotiate the best possible price on your behalf.


Are you a minimalist? If you’ve heard this question recently, you may be wondering just what it means and how does it affect you. It is NOT a set of rules.It is NOT about how much you own.

It is NOT about how much money you earn. 
It is NOT about buying specific items or giving up certain things.
It is NOT about being frugal.
It is NOT throwing out all your belongings and sleeping in a yurt (unless that makes you happy).
It is NOT about living in a tiny house (although it can be for you).
It IS about quality over quantity; peace over disorder; satisfaction over extravagance.

Minimalism is a mindset about what we require to be happy and what only clutters up our homes and our lives. It is about getting rid of the unnecessary things that take up space, consume time, and contribute to frustration and exhaustion. You can be a true minimalist in a mansion, a townhome, an apartment, or a houseboat as long as what fills your space contributes to contentment and order rather than stress and chaos.

When it comes to buying a home, minimalists look for spaces that reflect their personality rather than the latest trend. A minimalist is a different type of homebuyer. Becoming minimalist might be right up your alley if you hate the over-stuffed closet or messy junk drawer, find yourself irritated by clutter and uncomfortable with a hodgepodge of decorative items you subconsciously think of as “dust collectors.”

While a form of minimalism is an architectural style commonly seen in Japanese design with an aesthetic toward simplicity and clean lines, most homes do not fit into this category. Does that mean you can’t have a minimalist lifestyle? Of course not. Just adopt minimalist concepts to fit into any living space.

One way to accomplish this is to reduce the amount of furniture you have in each room. Opt for the pieces that everyone uses and give away ones that only fill up space. Reduce window coverings to a minimum rather than the multi-layered blind-sheer-drape-valance style. Organize the items that you keep so that each has a home. Reduce clutter by highlighting one or two items of a collection and rotating special pieces instead of displaying them all at once.

Simplify in other ways by installing native grasses and plants, thereby reducing the need for lawn care and gardening. Add interest to your yard with hardscaping: rock gardens or paver stones in decorative patterns.

When seeking a new home visualize what makes you most happy as you walk through model homes and open houses letting your imagination discard what doesn’t fit. Help your real estate professional know about your aesthetic to have the best chance of finding your minimalist home.


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Whether you’re buying a house or selling a home, the smartest move you can make is to hire a real estate agent to represent your interests. But before you do, take these important steps so you can be best prepared for the next stages.

Have An Idea Of What Kind Of House You Want To Buy

If planning to purchase a new house, prepare for your real estate agent interview by figuring out what kind of house you’re interested in. For this, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the various house style terms, like ranch, colonial, craftsman, Tudor, etc. Knowing these terms and knowing what you want will enable you and your agent to communicate easier, and your agent will be able to more quickly find the kind of homes you’d be interested in.

Get Your Financing In Order

Nothing’s worse than finding the house of your dreams, only to find out you can’t get approved for a mortgage. Before you do anything else, get your financing in order. Speak to a lender about getting pre-approved for a mortgage. This will let you know how much you’re approved for and how much house you can afford. Your pre-approval status is also a powerful bargaining chip if for some reason you need to compete with other bidders.

Be Ready to Move

If you hire a good real estate agent to sell your house, you could be looking at a closing date just 30 days away. A good agent can have potential buyers ready to close fast. Are you ready for that? Before hiring your real estate agent, make sure you’re ready to move. Have a contingency plan in place if you need to move out quickly, including:

  • Storage facility
  • School documents for your children
  • Place to move into
  • Cleaning company
  • Know Where You Stand With Your Existing Mortgage

    You should have a very clear understanding of where you currently stand with your existing mortgage if you’re thinking of selling. You need to know the minimum of what you need to sell your house for so you can make the profit that you hope to gain. Also, go through your mortgage paperwork to ensure there will be no surprises regarding special clauses or contingencies when it comes to selling the house. Depending on the restrictions of your mortgage, there may be caveats as far as transferring title or changing terms.

    Ask About the Real Estate Agent’s Track Record

    During your interview with a prospective real estate agent, it’s fair to ask them what their track record is. Real estate agents keep tabs on how many houses they’ve bought and sold in any year, so the agent will be able to rattle off their “statistics” for you. Be sure to ask how long their houses stayed on the market, too, since that will reflect on the agent’s salesmanship skills.

    These steps will ensure that your real estate experience will be a positive one. Once you’ve gone through these steps, you’ll be ready to hire a real estate agent to buy or sell your home!


    Photo by Sandid via Pixabay

    Everyone loves pampering. Your home is no different. A little pre-snow cleanup gives your house that extra special attention it needs. Giving your home some special treatment will reward you with comfort, less clutter and a bright, clean environment.

    Autumn Clean Up

    During warm weather, dust, dirt, and sand sneak into corners and crevices. Attack the tight spaces between garden sheds and fences with an intense burst of water to dislodge debris. Rake decaying leaves and foliage away from your foundation. Clean out your gutters. Clogged gutters during a heavy rain may put your roof at risk of water damage. Call a gutter service if it is too dangerous or difficult for you to reach. In fact, this might be an excellent time to have your roof inspected too.

    Check Your Outdoor Equipment

    If you have cold-weather equipment in the garage or other storage, now is the time to clean it. Get it serviced and check it for rust, salt or de-icing residue and prepare it for the weather to come. Clean up your gardening equipment too. Storing away your spring and summer paraphernalia gives you more space to set up outdoor decorations. Remember to schedule the reverse in the spring: clean and stow your wintertime equipment in preparation for spring.

    Take a moment to change out the contents in your car trunk. Switch out bug cleaner for anti-freeze and stow your summer beach gear. Change out that sun-shield for an ice scraper and replace your wiper blades. Add a winter survival kit (blankets, a candle, lighter, gloves, sand, and road flares) for a little added precaution.

    Clean the Outside

    Whether you have brick or stucco, vinyl siding or cedar shakes, soot, grime, mold, and mildew can build up. Clean vinyl siding using a soft cloth or brush and a mixture of 70% water with 30% white vinegar. Alternatively, use a mix of an oxygen-based bleach with a powdered household cleaner. Other biodegradable cleaners, especially if they are gentle, will work well too, but avoid harsh detergents or abrasive scrubbing. Make sure you carefully follow the advice of your siding manufacturer.

    For stone, stucco, or bricks, use a power washer, but watch the PSI since too strong a stream may dislodge the mortar or loosen stucco. Remove mold, moss stains and mildew with specially formulated chemicals for your exterior type.

    With a clean exterior, your house is ready for any hits from winter weather. As a bonus, if you’re placing your home on the market this winter, your extra efforts outdoors will make it stand out. For more winter curb appeal ideas, talk to your real estate professional.


    Buying a home represents a life-changing decision. As such, you'll want to look beyond the price of a residence as you search for your dream house.

    Ultimately, there are many factors beyond price that you should consider as you pursue your ideal residence, including:

    1. A Home's Location

    For most homebuyers, a house's location is the number one factor when they explore the real estate market, and perhaps it is easy to understand why.

    Finding a home in a location that is convenient for you is priceless. And if you know how to conduct a comprehensive home search, you can quickly discover a high-quality home in a wonderful location.

    As you prepare to kick off your home search, consider whether you'd like to live in a city or town. This will enable you to narrow your home search.

    You also may want to consider homes that are located near work or school. By doing so, you can ensure that you won't have to travel too far to get to destinations that you frequently visit.

    2. A Home's Condition

    A home may look like a great investment at first, but its condition may have deteriorated over time. Thus, you'll want to take a close look at a house's condition before you finalize a home purchase.

    Typically, a homebuyer will complete a property inspection after a home seller accepts an offer on a residence. This inspection will enable a homebuyer to perform an in-depth assessment of a residence and learn about its strengths and weaknesses. Then, a homebuyer can determine whether to move forward with a home acquisition.

    If a property inspector discovers myriad issues that impact a home's condition, a homebuyer may want to reconsider his or her offer. At this point, a homebuyer can still walk away from a home purchase. Or, a homebuyer can ask the home seller to complete various home improvements as well.

    On the other hand, a homebuyer who falls in love with a house may choose to proceed with a home purchase, regardless of the residence's condition. If you choose this option, however, it is important to consider the potential long-term ramifications of your decision.

    3. Your Future

    It is paramount for a homebuyer to find a house that he or she can enjoy for years to come. Therefore, a homebuyer should consider his or her future before finalizing a home purchase.

    For example, if you plan to settle down and start a family, you may want to evaluate houses that are close to schools. Conversely, if you eventually want to work in the big city, you may want to consider homes that will make it easy to commute into the city day after day.

    Don't forget to hire a real estate agent to help you during the homebuying journey too. With a real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble examining a broad range of top-notch houses that won't force you to break your budget.




    Loading