Buying? Beware the Beautiful Home!

Buying?  Beware the beautiful home!

I love working with buyers!  Think about it!–to get to participate with folks in getting the place to be more rooted and develop community, where they will provide security for their kids, celebrate birthdays, have control of their choice of pets, personalize their living space so that it represents what matters to them.  Few things are better than that.  In a world in which we’re powerless over so much, home is where we can create—were we rule!

Choosing a home has pitfalls however.  Who do you know who will admit to making some errors?  One land mine may be the absolutely beautiful home!  Why?  Oh, beauty is a good thing.  No question.  However–just like in the choice of a mate–if beauty distracts from what is most important, look out!

So…I've had buyers who fell in love with a pretty face–and didn't consider the costs in time and money of the home they desired. Do you have the kind of time required to maintain the grounds in country club status as they are now?  Do you even have the desire?  How old is the heating system?  Will the roof need replacing soon?  Have you had the septic inspected?

And what about the commute?  Remember, it's not only the cost of gas or wear and tear on the car that needs considering.  What about your time?  What family time are you losing?  Or enjoyment of hobbies?   Will it eat into the time you’d move your body and enhance your health?  Will it isolate you from friends?

When buying, it’s vital to think not only ‘today’, but ‘tomorrow’ as well.  While it’s true that most of us move several times throughout life, in today’s market, selling in 2-5 years may present some problems.  Often you’ll not be able to recover your costs if you sell that soon.

Buying successfully means getting real about your skills and motivation.  What does the house need?  If the beautiful home needs a family room in the basement to truly meet your needs, how soon will you have the money to do it?  Do you really have the skill to do it yourself?  Would you be likely to do it?  And finally, will you be happy in the house if you never add that room?

A beautiful home can impair your judgment just like too much wine.  Keep your wits about you!

Posted on March 15, 2016 at 7:44 pm
Kathleen Szostek | Posted in Happy Home Buying |

Buying the Jay-Livermore-Livermore Falls Community!

We're Buying a Community!
You know, it’s true:  we’re just not buying a box when we buy a house.  We’re buying a community, a location, a tribe.  When I deal with out-of-the-area clients, I share the area as much as anything else.  I give them the local Chamber Area Guide, the Androscoggin Greenway recreational map.  I speak with them about what this area has to offer.  And it’s considerable!
When you’ve lived ‘away’ as I have, it may be that the assets we have here are more apparent.  Although I grew up in small-town Maine, over 20 years of living in the Boston-Cambridge area of Massachusetts has me appreciating what we have locally.
At one time I lived as a single in gorgeous Greenville, Maine.  Beautiful!  But I have to say, it was daunting to visit a bookstore or go to a movie.  It meant a long drive.  One thing I love about Livermore Falls is how central it is.  Twenty minutes or less to Farmington, 40 to Augusta and Lewiston-Auburn.  Even Portland or Brunswick are within easy reach.
We have striking natural beauty.  Lakes, mountains, the Androscoggin River.   We have a great route for walking, riding a horse, biking, ATVing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling.  Scenic and serene.   Spruce Mountain Ski area across the river has eleven trails
I value the enterprising spirit of folks here.  It takes creativity for many of us to support ourselves.  We may have more than one job.  There’s a price for the quality of life we enjoy.  And that price is never so apparent as around the topic of job and career.  Yet folks make it work.  They do what needs to be done.
We’re Mainers.  Hardy folks.
Volunteering is alive and well here!  Churches, the Jay-Livermore Falls Lions Club, The  Livermore Falls Downtown Betterment Group, the Gazebo Committee, the Spirit of the Season Committee as well as individual efforts that may be quietly in the background.
We have a wide variety of celebrations and special events:  The Apple Pumpkin Festival, Bowman Field Fly-In, Frantasia Festival of Out Music & Arts, and parades celebrating Christmas, Independence Day, the Pumpkin Walk.
Our heritage is honored—with active historical societies,  Maine’s Paper and Heritage Museum , Washburn Norlands Living History Center, Livermore Falls History Night.

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And how can you put a price on community?  I would be hard pressed to find a people more giving. Do you notice the abundant fund-raising suppers and raffles?  Folks want to help when there is a need.  You see community spirit in parades and in the veterans who greets us at the war memorial on Route 4.
It’s easy to sell what you love!  And I have to say, I love living right here.

Posted on March 15, 2016 at 7:44 pm
Kathleen Szostek | Posted in Happy Home Buying |

Selling? The One Thing You Don’t Know That Can Hurt you!

Selling?  The One Thing You Don’t Know That Can Hurt You!

There are many components to a successful sale.  However,  one thing can derail a possible sale right off the bat.  What is it? It’s the seller’s failure to know what the presentation looks like on   This site, the statewide Multiple Listing Service, will feed other real estate websites.

Firstly, is the text accurate?  At the request of the owner, I visited a home this week to consider listing it.   However, my GPS didn’t register the street.  Oh, I did find the home!   However, the street name was incorrect on the prior listing. And it had been that way for nearly a year.

I’ve showed homes where the square footage was obviously incorrect , the fireplace was not listed, the awesome view was not noted.   Sure, mistakes can and sometimes will happen.   But don’t let them live for a year.  Or a month.  Review the listing as soon as it is live—and get any corrections made immediately.

Just as it is vital to review the text, take a hard look at how the photos represent the property.  Are there enough?  With photos, more is better!  And today, 35 photos are allowed on the Multiple Listing Service.  Do the still photos have captions that draw attention to what is an asset to the home, the lot, the surrounding area?  Is there a virtual tour?  Now I’m not talking about the very same photos used in the still section—with a bounce added to them.  Don’t waste a buyer’s time!  Is there any additional information provided in the tour?

Using a voice narration may further emphasizes the best features of a home.  What educators know is the mantra, ‘repetition, repetition, repetition’.  Works here, too.   Don’t let prospective buyers forget about what your home has to offer.

Most buyers begin their search on-line.   We’re not selling the furniture, the dog, the alarm clock (the focal point of some listing photos).  Make sure the pictures are abundant; brightly lit, show a wide swath of the room (not just a corner at a time); and that they display the windows, floor, ceilings in some of the views.    Be certain that your home stands out!

Posted on March 15, 2016 at 7:44 pm
Kathleen Szostek | Posted in Selling Success! | Tagged , ,

Buying the “Forever” Home

Buying Your 'Forever' Home!

If you’re tired of moving—and/or find that your needs have changed considerably—perhaps you’re in the market for your last or ‘forever’ home.  It’s more than just four walls, don’t you think?

What we seek may go way beyond the actual home.  Sure, we want a living space that reflects the way we live day-to-day.  If cooking is a priority, an appropriate kitchen.  Space for hobbies.  Enough room to share with those we love.  An outlet for our green thumb, perhaps.  Maybe we’re dealing with physical infirmities that require adjustments in our home. Maybe we’re adamant about being able to house our kids and grandkids when they visit.  Or perhaps we’re planning for an uncertain future—and want a home that could accommodate a wide variety of health scenarios.  But clearly it’s not all about the actual home, as important as that is.  When we buy, we’re actually buying a wider community.  

We may be buying recreational opportunities.   We may want to ensure that we’re near a community of faith.  Shopping options may be a concern.  Or healthcare facilities.  Is there enough green-space around?  Would a nearby college be an attraction?  Are there theater groups?  What about canoeing or boating possibilities?  Is there a good library?  How is the commute to the ocean?  Are there mountains within an easy drive?  Is the town walkable?

As I once heard jazz trumpeter Winton Marsalis say ‘It takes a long time to play yourself.’  And yes!  Often it takes a long time to ‘be’ yourself.  It’s a plus of aging!  Hopefully, we’ve cycled in and out of various life stages…and know what we hold dear ‘for all time.’  The core values that remain with us no matter what the season of life.  Hopefully, they inform our choice of an area for that ‘forever’ home.


Posted on March 15, 2016 at 7:44 pm
Kathleen Szostek | Posted in Happy Home Buying |