Betty Stroll | Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich Real Estate, Riverside Real Estate

If you have more than a couple children or an extended family that likes to visit frequently, then owning a large home may be a good match for your lifestyle. While some people immediately assume that a large house would be too expensive, that's not necessarily the case. There are several factors which influence price -- including location, market conditions, and, of course, the house itself. An experienced real estate agent can provide you with the guidance to determine what type of house is best suited to your family's needs, your budget, and your goals. Advantages of a Big House If you love to throw big holiday parties and host family gatherings, then a spacious house can be the perfect setting for that kind of lifestyle -- especially, if overnight guests are part of the plan. Having extra bedrooms also provides space for things like home offices, exercise rooms, and children's play areas. Big homes are ideal for large families because they enable parents and children to pursue separate activities in different parts of the house without disturbing each other. Lots of bathrooms come in handy when you have a houseful of company or just a big family all wanting to use the bathroom at the same time! Side note: A challenge for some home owners is resisting the temptation to use spare rooms as repositories for obsolete electronics, out of date clothing, outgrown toys, old magazines, and other things of questionable value. (I'll reserve that topic for a future blog post!) Are Big Houses "High Maintenance"? The first potential disadvantage that comes to mind when discussing the pros and cons of a spacious home is the monumental task of keeping the house clean. If your budget allows it, a good residential cleaning service is an expense that's well worth the cost. As is the case with all professional services, there's a lot of variation between prices, guarantees, quality, and personalities. That's why it pays to get at least two or three estimates to help ensure you're receiving the most value for your money. Another set of costs to keep in mind when eyeing a large house is heating, cooling, and maintenance. If you're thinking about buying a big home, those things should be factored into your decision. Other details to notice when checking out homes for sale is the amount of insulation in the attic and the energy efficiency of the windows and doors. A knowledgeable home inspector can help you make sure the house is well insulated and energy efficient. Otherwise, you could find yourself saddled with enormous energy bills that could have otherwise been avoided. Ideally, a spacious home should have a climate control system that enables you to regulate different 'zones' individually. That way, you don't have to waste energy heating or cooling parts of the house that are essentially unoccupied at certain times. Programming your HVAC system to accommodate changing energy needs at night and during the work day is another way to help control potentially high utility bills in a large house.

There's one thing all successful real estate agents, advertising executives, and marketing professionals know about human behavior: Many people make buying decisions for emotional reasons, and then justify those decisions with facts. In other words, they might say they bought a particular house because of all the updates and stainless steel appliances, but the real reason was that they could imagine themselves living there, being happy, entertaining friends and family, raising their children, and even growing old together there.

For some home buyers, the deciding factor is that it reminds them of fond childhood memories or perhaps the house they grew up in. Whenever a home for sale stirs up good feelings, happy  memories, or positive thoughts in the mind of prospective buyers, it increases the chances they'll make an offer on the house.

Home Staging Tips

If your house is now on the market or you're considering putting it up for sale, there are a lot of steps you can take to make it more attractive to buyers. Obvious improvements like doing a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning of the house can make a big difference, but there are literally dozens of other things you can do to attract more offers and get the highest possible price for your property. Sometimes it's something as simple as a creating a pleasing scent, like cinnamon, lavender, hot coffee, of freshly baked bread, cookies, or muffins, that can create a comforting and enticing ambiance for potential buyers.

Although your real estate agent should already be well versed in the nuances of home staging, it would be to your benefit to do some research on it and participate in the process. Some home owners hire a professional home staging consultant to make sure no details are overlooked.

Avoiding Home Staging Pitfalls

Attractively decorating your home can be one aspect of making a good impression on potential buyers, but it's necessary to cast the widest possible net, so to speak, when making decorating choices. In other words, you would want the appearance, style, and color choices in your home to appeal to a wide variety of different tastes, rather than just a select few. That's why it's beneficial to get an objective opinion from an experienced real estate agent, a professional decorator, or a home staging consultant. Since you've been living in your home for umpteen years, you're probably going to be "too close to the trees to see the forest."

Some things that homeowners often tend to overlook just before prospective buyers arrive to tour their house include the following:

  • Furniture that's arranged in a haphazard, disjointed, or cluttered way
  • 'Welcome' mats that are dirty, faded, and anything but welcoming
  • Overflowing or grungy-looking trash baskets
  • Overgrown shrubbery
  • Smudged or cobweb-laden windows
  • Kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas of the house that are disorganized and visibly unclean
Keeping your home in immaculate condition at all times is definitely one of the more challenging aspects of putting it up for sale. However, when you consider the cost of keeping a house on the market for longer than necessary and eventually having to lower the price, the extra effort is well worth it!


Although you might have entered the housing market with a strategy to help you streamline your search for your dream home, it is important to remember that even the best-laid plan may need to be changed. And if you fail to discover your ideal residence after a comprehensive search, now may be a great time to revise your homebuying strategy.

Let's take a look at three tips to help you revamp your homebuying plan.

1. Consider Your Home Must-Haves and Wants

Creating a list of home must-haves and wants may be done at the start of a house search. Over time, however, this list may evolve. And if you update your list, you may be better equipped than ever before to reenter the real estate market with a fresh perspective.

Think about where you want to live in the foreseeable future too. Then, you can narrow your home search to specific cities and towns and accelerate the homebuying journey.

2. Review Your Budget

If you recently paid off your student loans or eliminated your credit cards, you may want to reassess your homebuying budget. That way, you can hone your house search and explore residences that fall within your up-to-date price range.

Of course, if you have yet to get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can still do so. Meet with banks and credit unions to learn about all of the mortgage options that are available. This will enable you to gain the insights you need to select a mortgage that matches your finances.

3. Learn About the Housing Market

The housing market may favor buyers or sellers. And if you have been searching for your dream home for several weeks or months, the market may have changed.

It does not take long for a buyer's market to become a seller's market, or vice-versa. As you consider your homebuying options, you should study the local real estate sector closely to determine whether the current housing market favors buyers or sellers.

Evaluating the prices of recently sold houses in a particular city or town usually is a good idea. This housing market data will enable you to find out whether sellers are receiving offers at or near their initial home asking prices.

You also should find out how long current residences in a particular city or town have been listed. If houses linger on the real estate market for an extended period of time, you may be operating in a market that favors buyers. Or, if homes are selling quickly, you may be operating in a seller's market.

Lastly, hiring a real estate agent often is helpful, particularly for homebuyers who are struggling to identify the perfect residence. A real estate agent can offer lots of tips as you conduct your search for your dream residence. Plus, if you need to revamp your homebuying strategy, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to do just that.

Once you have bought a new house, you may feel lost as to where to start. There’s a long checklist of things that you should do to get yourself established in a new space. Here, you'll find a plan on what to do next. 

Get Recommendations On Local People You Can Work With 

Your realtor is a good place to start in asking who they recommend for many types of workers including plumbers, electricians, contractors, and more. You may even want to talk to your next door neighbors and see who they have used in the past for these types of handy work jobs. Even if you don’t need any kind of work done immediately, it’s a good idea to have some names and numbers on hand for future reference.

Don’t Paint Right Away

Although it seems much more practical to paint an empty house, once you live in your new home for awhile, you’ll get a sense of where the light hits and what colors will complement your furniture. When you pick colors in a rush, you run the risk of choosing shades that you may not love in the long term. Focus on properly lighting your rooms before you even start to paint.

Don’t Forget The Housewarming Party!

If you plan a housewarming party for a date that’s not too far after you move in, it will give you motivation to get things done in the house. The housewarming party is your accountability partner to get you to unpack those boxes and get decorating. Try to plan the party somewhere between one and two months after your planned move-in date. This will give you time to get things done, just not too much time!  

Meet The Neighbors

You should take some time very soon after you move in to meet your new neighbors. They can be a great resource for you as to what happens in your new neighborhood. Find out if any of your new neighbors have dogs that your own dog could meet for a friendly walk. Your new friends will even give you information about a neighborhood watch or important community activities as well.

Safety First

You’ll want to check all of your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and alarm systems. Be sure that they work. Then, change the batteries in each system to start fresh. You should also equip your house with a fire extinguisher or two. You can never be too prepared for an emergency. 

Next, you should check all of the door and window locks. Replace anything that used a key. You never know who had keys to the home before it was sold.

When you start small in a new home, things will begin to come together slowly but surely just like puzzle pieces.

Most homeowners would love to be able to pay off their mortgage early. However, few see it as a possibility when they take into account their earnings and other bills.

 There are, however, a few ways to pay down your mortgage earlier than planned. But first, let’s talk about when it makes sense to try and pay off your mortgage.

 When to consider paying off your mortgage early

If you recently got a promotion, have someone move in with you who contributes to paying the bills, or recently got a secondary form of income, you might want to consider making extra payments on your mortgage.

However, having extra money doesn’t always mean you should spend it immediately on your home loan.

First, consider if you have a large enough emergency savings fund. It might be tempting to try and throw any extra money at your mortgage as soon as possible, but there are other financial commitments you should plan for as well.

If you have kids who will be applying to college soon, remember that student aid takes into account their parents’ finances. If your children plan on applying to institutions with high tuition, then your equity will be counted against you.

Refinancing to pay your mortgage early

Refinancing your home loan is one option if you’re considering increasing the payments on your mortgage. If you can refinance a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan with a lower interest rate, you’ll save money in two ways--your lower interest rate and the fact that you’ll be accruing interest for less time.

There is a downside to refinancing. Once you refinance, you’re locked into your new payment amount. So, if your higher income isn’t dependable, it might not make sense to commit to a higher monthly payment that you aren’t sure you’re going to be able to keep paying.

There’s also the matter of refinancing costs. Just like the costs associated with signing on your mortgage, you’ll have to pay closing costs on refinancing. You’ll need to weigh the cost of refinancing against the amount you’ll save on interest over the term of your mortgage to see if it truly makes sense to go through the refinancing process.

Paying more on your current loan

Even if you aren’t sure that refinancing is the best option, there are other ways you can make payments on your mortgage to pay it off years sooner than your term length.

One of the common methods is to simply make thirteen payments each year instead of twelve. To do this, homeowners often use their tax returns or savings to make the thirteenth payment. Over a thirty year mortgage, this could save you over full two years of added interest.

A second option is to make two bi-weekly payments rather than one monthly payment. By making biweekly payments you have the ability to make 26 payments in a year. If you were to just make two payments per month then you would make 24 total payments. Over time, those two extra payments per year add up.