Diane Stone - CENTURY 21 Commonwealth



Posted by Diane Stone on 2/18/2018

You may be in the market to buy a vacation home in the near future. Getting ready to purchase a second home can be a big decision and a big financial commitment. Aside from a good investment, buying a vacation home brings enjoyment to you and your family. To help you make a good decision on when and where to buy your vacation home, read on. 


Itís All About Location


You need ton know why you want to buy a second home. Do you spend a lot of time in one specific area? Do you want to explore one particular place a bit more on a frequent basis? The reason behind why you purchase a home for vacation purposes will fuel your decision on location. If youíre looking for a simple getaway with your family several times a year, the answer may be different than if you want to have a rental property. Choose a location that has varied seasons. You donít want the prime time for use of the property to be the same as when youíd like to be on the property with your family.   


Donít Purchase On A Whim


While it can be tempting to search for homes while youíre on a getaway, you should rent several times before you make the decision to buy in a particular place. Vacations can give buyers this sense of awe that could quickly fade. You donít want your decision to be fueled by emotion. You need to be certain that youíll actually enjoy an area for the long term. 


Shopping for a vacation home is quite similar to shopping for your main house. You want to know youíre in a good area and that youíll enjoy the house or the long haul. Itís tough to do that if you donít have a basic understanding or appreciation of the area.  


How Often Will You Use The House, Really?


You need to be realistic about how often youíll actually use your vacation house. It may not be worth it to buy in an area that will only be used one week out of the year. If you know youíll be able to use the space all of the time, then go for buying a home in the location of your dreams. If, however, youíre unsure of how often youíll be able to get to the house you might want to think twice. You could do just as well finding a spot that you can use as a reliable rental when you want it. Donít forget that buying a second home means having a second home to maintain. Not everyone is up for that challenge.           





Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Diane Stone on 2/11/2018

If your household budget seems a little tight, lately, there may be several ways to ease it.

It's amazing how many people do not keep track of where their money goes, which is often the reason it disappears so quickly!

Another piece of the puzzle is the fact that we're all creatures of habit. With few exceptions, most of us go through the motions of our lives on auto-pilot. In some ways, that works to our advantage, but in other ways, it can hinder our progress.

Saving Money Begins With Awareness

One approach to reducing stress and improving the quality of life is to save money and curb expenses, whenever possible. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to deprive yourself or your family of anything you need or want. What it does mean is eliminating spending that is wasteful, unnecessary, or redundant.

The first step involves sitting down and creating a household budget on your computer. There's no need to purchase and learn any fancy software. Many people are comfortable with creating budgets and other documents on Excel spreadsheets or Quicken, while others prefer setting up simple tables on a word processing program like MS Word. The interesting thing about creating a document with your monthly expenses and income on it is that it provides a visual depiction of your cash flow. In other words, it shows where, when, and how your money is coming and going!

Analyze and Take Action

After you've identified areas in which you can cut back without causing any hardship, the next step is to actually implement those changes. If you weren't able to identify any sources of wasteful, unnecessary, or excessive spending from creating a budget, then take a look at your monthly invoices for items like credit cards, cable TV, cell phones, and other services.

By examining the services you're paying for, you may realize you're paying for more than you need or even use. Sometimes by switching your service plan to a more basic option, you can save hundreds of dollars a year. In the case of credit cards, if you've been paying your bills on time and not making a habit of maxing out your account, you may be able to request and receive a lower interest rate. This is yet another way to reduce your expenses and keep more of what your earn. Comparing insurance plans and switching to a more economical plan or provider is another strategy for reducing costs and easing budgetary strains.

There are also free worksheets, budget calculators, and other resources online that can help you take charge of your spending and saving habits. Setting financial goals, establishing priorities, controlling impulse buying, saving a portion of your income (especially bonuses, tax refunds, and raises) and keeping track of your spending on a daily basis are also key parts of an effective money management plan. As a side note: If you need to consult with a reliable credit counselor for help, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission provides helpful information.





Posted by Diane Stone on 2/4/2018

Let's face it Ė buying a home can be difficult, particularly for those who are exploring the real estate market for the first time.

As a homebuyer, it is your responsibility to learn about the ins and outs of the housing market. By doing so, you can understand what differentiates a high-quality house from a subpar residence and proceed accordingly.

Furthermore, an informed homebuyer will know how to evaluate a home's exterior properly.

What does it take to conduct an in-depth assessment of a house's exterior? Here are three questions that every homebuyer should consider as he or she examines a home's exterior.

1. How do I feel about a home's exterior?

For many homebuyers, finding a house with an awe-inspiring exterior is a top priority. However, it is important to consider how you feel when you see a home's exterior for the first time.

A home's exterior should impress. At the same time, you need to evaluate a house's exterior in conjunction with other home features.

For example, a home may boast a massive kitchen and other dazzling interior features. On the other hand, a home's exterior may leave much to be desired.

Consider the pros and cons of a home's interior and exterior as you determine whether to submit an offer on a house. And if you need extra help along the way, be sure to consult with a real estate agent.

2. Will home exterior repairs be needed in the near future?

Examine a house's driveway, walkways and lawn as you conduct a home exterior evaluation. This will allow you to review the condition of these home exterior areas and determine whether repairs may be needed sooner rather than later.

Home exterior renovations sometimes can be costly and time-intensive. Thus, if you notice home siding that is cracked or other exterior issues, you will want to consider the time and expenses that may be required to fix such problems.

3. How much time will I need to commit to home exterior maintenance projects?

A home may have a beautiful exterior. In order to keep a house's exterior looking great, you'll need to conduct regular maintenance.

Consider what you will need to do to maintain a house's dazzling exterior as you explore all of the options at your disposal.

Will you need to hire a landscaping company to mow the lawn and trim the hedges? Or, are you willing to commit the time and resources necessary to perform assorted home exterior maintenance tasks on your own? These are just a few of the home exterior maintenance questions to consider as you review a property.

Of course, if you need guidance during the homebuying process, real estate agents are available to provide expert assistance.

A real estate agent possesses comprehensive housing market knowledge and can offer real estate insights that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere. With a real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble examining a house Ė both inside and out Ė and making an informed homebuying decision.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Diane Stone on 1/28/2018

When choosing a color scheme for the rooms of your home, you may put a lot of thought into what color combinations look good together. There are actually many colors that go together. The bigger question is, will these color combinations stand the test of time? There are certain color combinations that always look good and stand the test of time. 


Shades Of Blue


Blue has become thought of as a neutral color. It looks good in many different rooms of the house. Accents of other neutral colors can easily be added to the room and look great. You can mix and match shades of blue. Dark blues look great with lighter shades of turquoise or sky blue.  


Black And White


This seemingly simple color combination comes with a lot of class. Because of the high contrast of the two colors, it looks quite sophisticated. It works in many different rooms. Accents of silver, wood, and even some warmer colors like shades of red that pop can add definition to a room with a black and white base.  


Tan With Blue Or Green


Shades of tan or beige go along really well with blues and greens. With a beige base, itís possible to really make accents of other earthy tones stand out in a room. 


Gray With Blue Or Green


Just as tans go along really well with blue and green shades, so to do shades of gray. The gray base provides a soothing palette for earthy tones to shine through.


Gray And Shades Of White


Just like black and white shades of gray (usually darker tones) go along well with many different shades of white. With these two very neutral colors at the base of a room, it allows other colors to shine through. You donít even need to focus on earth tones. Allow your imagination to flow and choose from a variety of colors of the rainbow.



Green And Brown


With touches of white mixed in- even a white wall, you can really make green and brown work well together without making a room seem like a jungle. You can give the room touches of other earth-toned accents in order to bring depth in the space.  

 


Blue Shades And Gray With White


These colors may all look kind of bland on their own, but when you put them together, they shine. The 3 colors together make a usually cool color scheme seem warmer and more inviting. Just remember if youíre using a shade of deep blue not to overdo it in any room as it can be overpowering.  

 

When you choose your colors wisely, your home will never go out of style. As you can see, thereís plenty of workable color combinations that allow you to keep your home looking stylish.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Diane Stone on 1/21/2018

If youíre planning to stay in your home as you age, or "age in place", itís wise to begin planning to renovate your home for your future self sooner rather than later. This will save you money and headaches down the road. I know itís not an exciting topic of conversation to discuss aging and how to make your home more accessible. However, itís certainly an important one. And even if you never use these features yourself, they are great to have in a home even if just for visitors, such as your parents.

Renovating before retirement ensures you have the cash flow to fund each change you make to your home. By making these changes now when you donít need them, instead of as you go, allows you time to do research on best pricing and how to add features that will look seamless in your home. Just because you are ďsenior proofingĒ your home doesnít mean it has to look like an assisted living facility.

The best, and arguably most important, place to start is in the bathroom. This is also a room that accommodations can double as accessible and chic. For example, a lipless walk-in shower, also known as the European Wet Room, eliminates the need to step up which can result in tripping. But it also opens up the room to appear more spacious and allow natural lighting to reach every corner. When renovating choose dimensions that leave enough room for a wheelchair to enter.

You may also want to consider adding a built-in shower bench. This could be a seamless tiled addition styled like a window seat or a chic wooden seat that folds up and out of the way. Grab bars donít need to be an eyesore either. There are so many options on the market for bars that integrate with your bathroomís style instead of looking like an afterthought.

When house hunting for a new home, look for one-level open floor plans. Open floor plans are very on trend and a feature many buyers are looking for anyways. They come with the added bonus of having plenty of room for someone in a wheelchair or walker to get around. If a home you are looking at has any hallways measure them to make sure they are wide enough to be accessible for these kinds of mobility aids.

Choosing a home that is a one-floor plan is another subtle way you can ďsenior proofĒ your home. Stairs can become troublesome when mobility becomes limited due to arthritis for example. A lack of a staircase to climb also means never having to buy a chairlift down the line. Potentially saving your future self-money and the integrity of your homeís decor.