The Papineau Team | Andover Real Estate, North Andover Real Estate, Boxford Real Estate


Thinking of buying a new home, building your dream home or remodeling the home you have? Before you reach out to your nearest real estate agent, find a building contractor or raid your local do-it-yourself home improvement store, gather and refine all your ideas in one place by creating an idea book.

As the name says, an idea book is a collection of all the ideas you have for your new home or remodel. It should include notes about what rooms you need, but also include things like the style. Do some research online or in magazines to determine what features you like and with what kind of home style they go. Include pictures of these features in case they are called something different so that you and your professional help, be it real estate agent or builder, knows what you are looking for in a home. Think about colors, size, layout and everything else you can think of to create the perfect home. 

Analog Idea Books

For many, this old-school method is the way to go. Get a notebook or a stack of paper and start writing things down. Then browse home design catalogs, real estate brochures and anything else you can get your hands on, cut out pictures and descriptions that appeal to you and glue, tape, staple or tuck the photos between the pages, so they don't get lost. If you'd rather see all your ideas at once, try tacking them to a corkboard or use magnets to stick your pictures and notes to your refrigerator. If you want to get extra extravagant with your idea book, get yourself a scrapbook with slip sheets and decorative pages.

Digital Idea Books

Websites like Houzz, Pinterest, and Photo Stream offer a way to keep your digital ideas all in one place. The photo collage layout of an online idea book lets you see your thoughts in one place like a corkboard, but organize them using folders and tags more like in a physical book. A lot of contractors and real estate agents prefer these online idea books since they are easy to share and help them understand what exactly you want.

Where to Start?

At first, you might think that it is just too much. There are so many styles, windows, furniture, and colors you simply don't know where to begin. That's just fine. Start with everything you like. Its easier to pare down your ideas once you've got examples of everything in front of you. You can help this process by grouping the ideas by room type: exterior in one place, backyard and landscaping in a second, kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, living room all in their individual folders or collages. Its also a good idea to cross reference your likes and dislikes by color, feel and even which member of your family came up with the idea.

As you progress, you’ll start to notice you gravitate toward certain types and styles including specific windows, rooflines, and color schemes. When the same kind of drawer handles shows up in seven of your ten favorite bathroom cabinet styles, it’s a sign that you like that style a lot. You can go as specific as you want with your idea book, or you can leave your options wide open, but get some basic parameters around what you do and don’t like.

Once your book is ready, find your real estate agent or builder and show them what you want!


Generally, the length of the homebuying journey depends on the individual. In some instances, a buyer will purchase the first house that he or she views in-person. Or, in other cases, it may take a buyer several weeks or months to find a house that matches his or her expectations.

There is no need to rush the homebuying journey. But if you know what to expect when you pursue your dream house, you may be able to seamlessly navigate the property buying cycle.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you streamline the homebuying journey.

1. Establish Homebuying Criteria

If you know where you want to live and what you want to find in your ideal residence, you can tailor your house search accordingly. And as a result, you may be better equipped than other property buyers to discover a great house at an affordable price.

As you put together homebuying criteria, it is important to consider your long-term plans as well. For instance, if you enjoy city life and want to spend as much time as possible in the city, a house in the city may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you want to raise your family in a small town, you may want to hone your search to houses in small towns.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

A home purchase likely will require you to obtain a mortgage. Fortunately, banks and credit unions are available nationwide, and these financial institutions can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Meet with several banks and credit unions so you can learn about all of the mortgage options at your disposal. Then, you can select a mortgage and enter the real estate market with a budget in hand.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

If you're on the lookout for your dream home, you may want to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can keep you up to date about new residences that become available in your preferred cities and towns – and much more.

Typically, a real estate agent will do whatever it takes to help you find and buy your dream home. He or she initially will learn about your homebuying goals and develop a custom homebuying strategy for you. Next, a real estate agent will set up home showings and keep you informed about open house events. And if you discover your ideal residence, a real estate agent will help you craft an aggressive offer to purchase this house.

Let's not forget about a real estate agent's homebuying expertise, either. If you ever have concerns or questions during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent can respond to them. That way, you can gain the insights you need to make an informed home purchase.

Simplify the homebuying journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble finding and acquiring your dream house.


If you recently bought a house, congratulations! Now, you just need to pack up your belongings, finalize your home purchase and relocate to your new address. You also may want to set up the following services prior to completing your move:

1. Electric

What good is a new house that lacks electricity? Fortunately, if you contact the electric company in your new home's city or town, you should have no trouble establishing electric services.

Typically, an electric company employs friendly, knowledgeable customer service representatives who will assist clients in any way they can. This means you can call the electric company in your new city or town, speak to a customer service representative and get the help you need to quickly set up electric services.

2. Cable and Internet

In many cities and towns, multiple cable and internet services providers are available. And if you allocate time and resources to review all of the options at your disposal, you may find a quality, affordable company for cable and internet services.

As you evaluate cable and internet services providers in your new city or town, don't forget to ask lots of questions. By doing so, you can find out what types of services are available, as well as the prices associated with these services.

Try to get several quotes too. If you receive multiple quotes, you can decide which cable and internet services provider offers the best value.

3. Water

Learn about how you pay for water in your new city or town prior to moving day – you'll be glad you did. That way, you can contact your new water provider in advance and ensure that you will have water available as soon as you arrive at your new house.

When it comes to completing a home purchase, many challenges can make it tough to achieve the best-possible results. But if you employ a real estate agent, you can receive extensive support at each stage of the property buying journey.

A real estate agent can offer recommendations to help you establish essential services at your new home. He or she may even be able to put you in touch with the best services providers in different cities and towns and help you find the best deals on various services.

Furthermore, a real estate agent is happy to help a homebuyer discover the perfect residence, at the right price. Before you kick off a home search, a real estate agent will learn about you and your homebuying goals. He or she next will help you establish homebuying criteria and hone your house search. Best of all, a real estate agent will set up home showings and keep you up to date about open house events, enabling you to find your ideal residence in no time at all.

Want to remove the guesswork commonly associated with finishing the homebuying journey? Hire a real estate agent, and you can get the support you need to enjoy a fast, seamless and stress-free property buying experience.


Believe it or not, buying a condo can be a quick, easy process, particularly for those who understand their homebuying needs.

Ultimately, there are several factors to consider before you purchase a condo, including:

1. Your Budget

How much can you afford to spend on a condo? You should evaluate your homebuying budget closely to ensure you can cover all of the costs associated with condo living.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage usually is ideal. With a mortgage in hand, you can browse a wide range of condos and find one that matches your budget perfectly.

Furthermore, don't forget to account for homeowners' association (HOA) fees before you buy a condo. HOA fees will vary depending on the condo community, and you should learn about them in advance so you can budget accordingly.

2. Property Size and Location

How much space do you need to accommodate your family? Consider the short- and long-term ramifications of a condo purchase, and you should have no trouble finding a condo that is the right size for you.

If you're uncertain about how big of a condo that you'll need, don't hesitate to consult with a real estate agent. This housing market expert will learn about your homebuying needs and help you narrow your search for the ideal condo.

Also, be sure to consider the location of a condo. If you want to find a place to live near school or work, you should search for condos that will help you cut down on your commute time.

3. Condo Rules and Regulations

Condo living is different from living in a traditional house. In a condo community, you'll have your own property, but there may be numerous condo rules and regulations in place that you'll need to follow at all times.

For example, many condo owners cannot modify a property's exterior without first getting approval from an HOA board. This means if you want to paint your condo bright pink or upgrade the property's windows, you'll need to ask the HOA board for permission.

Examine a condo community's rules and regulations prior to purchasing a condo. This will enable you to review the HOA board's mandates and determine whether you would feel comfortable following these rules and regulations.

When it comes to finding a condo, there is no need to look for a property on your own. Conversely, if you work with a real estate agent, you can take the guesswork out of searching for a top-notch condo.

Finding a real estate agent with condo experience is essential. This real estate professional will set up condo showings, keep you informed about new condos as they become available and negotiate with property sellers on your behalf. That way, this real estate agent will make it easy for you to acquire a first-rate condo at a budget-friendly price.

Kick off your search for the perfect condo today, and you can move closer to securing a condo that will serve you well for an extended period of time.


Let's face it – there are many risks that you may face during the homebuying journey. From submitting an offer on a house that ultimately proves to be a poor investment to failing to obtain a mortgage due to a bad credit score, there are various issues that may prevent you from achieving your desired results. Lucky for you, we're here to help you focus on the task at hand and eliminate potential risks as you search for your ideal residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you avoid risks throughout the homebuying journey.

1. Set Realistic Homebuying Expectations

How you search for a home may determine whether you are successful or unsuccessful. For example, if you evaluate houses that fall outside your price range, you may struggle to find a home that you can actually afford. On the other hand, if you establish realistic homebuying expectations from the get-go, you may be able to streamline your house search.

Think about where you want to live and how much you can afford to pay for a home. Also, you should consider home must-haves and wants. With this information at your disposal, you can avoid the risk of missing out on an opportunity to acquire a residence that matches your expectations.

2. Get a Mortgage

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is pivotal. Because if you obtain a mortgage today, you can enter the housing market with a budget and narrow your house search accordingly. Perhaps most important, a mortgage enables you to avoid the temptation to pursue homes that be priced beyond your budget.

Consult with banks and credit unions, and you can learn about a broad array of mortgage options. Then, you can select a mortgage and kick off your search for your dream residence.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

Problems may arise at any point during the homebuying journey. And if you're unsure about how to address these issues, it may be tough for you to acquire your ideal residence. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you may be able to identify and address homebuying problems before they escalate.

A real estate agent understands the housing market and is happy to share his or her expertise with you. This housing market professional can teach you about the differences between a buyer's and seller's market, help you prepare a homebuying strategy and much more.

Let's not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent can provide as you get ready to submit an offer on your dream home, either. A real estate agent will help you craft a competitive homebuying proposal. Furthermore, he or she will negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf and do everything possible to ensure you can acquire your dream residence at a budget-friendly price.

Take control of the homebuying journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you can limit risk as you search for your ideal house.




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