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


Shopping for a new house can seem like an overwhelming experience because there are so many factors to consider.

The top priorities for the majority of house hunters include the quality of the school district, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the overall condition of the house. Price is also a major consideration, as is square footage, commuting distance, and the character of the neighborhood.

In many cases, house hunters have specific requirements in mind, ranging from privacy to the layout of the rooms.

Although your search will be much more efficient if you know exactly what you want, the process of looking at houses will help you clarify your preferences, needs, and design ideas for your next home. Touring houses online and browsing home decorating websites can give you a lot of useful ideas, but nothing compares to actually visiting houses and taking a close look at everything the property has to offer.

Working with an experienced real estate agent is often the best way to find a home that checks off most of your priority items and meets your expectations. Searching the real estate market on your own is like going on a self-guided tour of a large historical site or tourist attraction. Without expert guidance, you could easily overlook some of the best aspects of the property, and you could also miss some "red flags" and negotiating opportunities that only a trained real estate professional could recognize.

Other than price, location, size, and property condition, what are other key features you might want to keep your eye out for? Everyone has different priorities and "wish lists," but when you know what you want, you'll be a lot more likely to be satisfied with the outcome! While there is no shortage of house hunting checklists online, here's a quick overview of some of the features and property characteristics you'll want to keep in mind.

Although you'll generally want to have a home inspector take a close look at any home you've made an offer on, there are a few key things you can notice before you even get to that stage. The condition of interior walls, the roof, and basement are three areas worth paying close attention to. Wet basements are not uncommon, but they can cause damage to your foundation and many things you might want to store there. Wet basements are also breeding grounds for mold spores, so a chronically wet basement can potentially be hazardous to your health, too -- especially if you or your family is prone to allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. The Environmental Protection Agency is a good source of information on indoor air quality issues.

There are literally dozens of other details you'll want to pay attention to in prospective homes, including amount of storage space, the size of the back yard, privacy -- or the lack, thereof -- the house's distance from the street and other houses, the neighborhood noise level, the amount of street traffic, the reputation of nearby schools, and convenience to shopping centers, medical facilities, transportation, recreation, and entertainment. Other desirable features include a nice patio or deck, a garage, a fully functional HVAC system, updates to bathrooms and the kitchen, and enough room in the house for your growing family, overnight guests, and the occasional holiday party.


When it comes to purchasing a home, there is no need to settle for an "average" homebuying experience. Instead, there are many things that you can do to become an expert homebuyer, i.e. someone who can discover a first-rate house at a budget-friendly price.

Now, let's take a look at three ways that a "typical" homebuyer can become an extraordinary one:

1. Evaluate the Housing Market Closely

The housing market can be complicated, particularly for those who are searching for a house for the first time. Fortunately, an informed homebuyer will be able to identify real estate market trends and plan accordingly.

For example, if there is an abundance of houses available and a shortage of homebuyers, you likely are operating in a buyer's market. In this market, you should have no trouble locating a top-notch house at a price that corresponds to your budget.

On the other hand, a real estate market that features a limited number of outstanding houses commonly favors property sellers. Therefore, you'll need to proceed cautiously if you want to acquire a high-end house at an affordable price.

Of course, you should always check out a wide range of houses in cities and towns where you'd like to live. This will enable you to explore many houses and improve your chances of finding a residence that matches or exceeds your expectations.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Although you'd like to buy a home in the near future, you still need to figure out how you'll pay for it. Lucky for you, many credit unions and banks are available that can make it easy for you to get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Lenders are happy to meet with you at your convenience. These financial institutions can outline a variety of mortgage options and help you make an informed mortgage decision.

With a mortgage in hand, you can enter the real estate market with clear-cut financial expectations. This may help you avoid the temptation to overspend on a home. Plus, you'll be better equipped than other property buyers to narrow your home search, thereby accelerating the process of acquiring your ideal house.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a housing market professional. As such, he or she can help you simplify the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.

For homebuyers, hiring a real estate agent is essential. This housing market professional can keep you up to date about new properties as they become available, set up home showings, submit home offers on your behalf and much more.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is available to respond to your homebuying concerns and queries at any time. He or she will even provide homebuying recommendations to ensure you can navigate the property buying cycle quickly and effortlessly.

Ready to become an expert homebuyer? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can streamline the process of acquiring a terrific home that you can enjoy for years to come.


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.




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