Monthly Archives: February 2016

The 8 Stages of Buying a Home

Are you finally thinking of buying your own house? Congratulations!Before you take the plunge, you may want to learn more about the8 stages of the home buying process.

  • Get pre-qualified

If you’re serious about buying a home, the first step is to determine how much you can afford. This involves having your financial profile assessed. You’ll be asked about your income, debt, and assets.It’s a fairly simple process you can do online or over the phone.
Getting pre-qualified shows you the amount for which you may qualify for a mortgage.

  • Hire a local agent or a broker

Find someone who has a great track record. You will want to check if they havegood reviews from both buyers and sellers. There’s nothing like a word-of-mouth recommendation!

At this very early stage, an agent will also be able to help you go through the next stage of the process, which is pre-approval.

  • Get pre-approved

The pre-approval process is a more in-depth version of the pre-qualification stage. It involves getting your financials thoroughly checked, including your credit report, and crucially, your ability to buy a home.

Here, you’ll need to fill up a mortgage application and surrender your financial records to the lender. Your agent can help you identify, if not gather, the required documents to complete the process.

Once you’ve been pre-approved, you’ll know two things:

      • The specific amount forwhich you qualify for a mortgage
      • A fair idea on the interest rate you’ll be charged on the loan
  • Decide where you’d like to live

Now that you’ve been pre-approved, it’s time to think about the kind of community you’d like to belong to. Scour the Internet and read up on areas and specific neighborhoods you see yourself living in. Create a checklist of what you deem important, including amenities, commutes, and cost of living.

  • Return to your agent

Meet with your agent and discuss the kind of home you’re looking for based on your pre-approval and your neighborhood checklist.

Your broker may probe you about your current needs and future plans to make sure you get the kind of home you can grow with. Are you a new couple looking to have kids in the near future? Or are you a retiree who may need outside assistance down the road?

Your agent will look through available listings and arrange viewings of homes that fit your bill.

  • Have the property inspected

Once you decide to make an offer on a home, have it inspected within days of the seller accepting your offer. A professional home inspector will make sure there are no issues related to structural integrity, plumbing, cracks, heating, etc. If there are potential problems, your agent will talk to the sellerto renegotiate the original offer or figure out how to settle repairs.

  • Have the home appraised

Your lender will contact a third-party appraiser to make sure the home you intend to buy is fairly priced.

  • Finalize your loan

Work with your lender to ensure the terms of your mortgage match your priorities. Do you want your monthly payments fixed? What if you plan to move again in a few years; what’s the best product to answer that need?

As you go through these 8 steps, your agent will be there to complete the paperwork, negotiate on your behalf, and ensure that no detail is overlookedas you move towards theclose of the sale.

If you’re looking for homes in Westchester County, New York, contact us today.


6 Budget-Friendly Ways to Spruce Up Your Yard

Whether you own a home with a small lawn or a property with acreage, there are many money-saving ideas to beautify your yard. Even better, you don’t even have to break a sweat on some of the highly effective tips that follow:

Budget1. Paint it

Nothing could be simpler then painting the exterior of your home for instant curb appeal. Choose paint color in neutral shades like beige, taupe, or light grayto complement the landscaping features of your yard.

2. Stain it

You can do more than wash your patio. Consider renewing it with concrete stain, a water-based product you apply by spraying onto a wet concrete floor. Once it dries, the stain becomes a permanent part of the surface. You can also reapply the stain to obtain a darker hue, or experiment with a checkerboard pattern. Concrete staining is cheap, foolproof, and effective.

3. Pave it

Add interest to a grassy expanse by creating a pathway. You can do so by using simple materials like pavers or quarter-inch crushed rocks.

4. Plant it

Nothing works like lush greens and flowering plants to vivify your yard. Add succulents and unusual perennials like veronica, sage, and allium for a modern feel.

5. Unify it

Aside from improving soil health, mulch can also be the perfect fillers for your flowerbeds and exposed soil.Adding mulch to these areas unifies the look of your yard.

6. Go vertical

Adding a few vertical details can be a quick and easy way to spruce up your yard. A trellis is a great accent to your garden.It can be an elegant focal point, serve as a threshold to a flower bed or vegetable patch, or become a pretty arbor for garden chairs.

If you’re looking for homes in Westchester County, New York, contact us today.


Say Goodbye to These Home Design Trends

Open kitchen shelving

Let’s face it: open kitchen shelves look good but are impractical. Just think about the dust accumulating on your dinnerware and grease splattering on kitchenware.

Update it with: Stylish cabinets using mixed materials and deeper kitchen drawers. You can add chic black stainless steel appliances (predicted to be big this 2016).


While driftwood is an interesting home accent, it can be troublesome to maintain. Unless you actually live on the coast,decorating your home with driftwood has been deemed out of style this year.

Replace it with: Real plants and flowers to decorate your living space.

Black and white

Although using black and white in the master suite or dining area continues to bring sophistication and glamour to a room, it can get dull after a time.

Update it with: A burst of color (like royal blue or bright pink) and some unique accents. Wood, for example, gives warmth to a stark white room.

The color marsala

Marsala is a reddish brown hue created by world-renowned color authority Pantone. It was named after the wine of the same name and in 2015, the company declared marsala the color of the year. It was used widely for accent walls, carpeting, and upholstery.

Replace it with: Pantone’s new colors for 2016: the blush-like Rose Quartz and the dusty blue Serenity. Combined, they represent “connection and wellness, as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”

Chintz and floral prints

Floral is a trend that’s endured for so long it’s become a classic. Over the years, floral evolved and became stylized (in geometric or watercolor treatments, for example). However, some classics must be set aside to refresh a room or make a home look more contemporary.

Update it with: Simple, unfussy patterns.


If you’re looking for homes in Westchester County, New York, contact us today.


Take your Kids to the Greenburgh Nature Center

Photo courtesy of Greenburgh National Center Facebook Page.

Photo courtesy of Greenburgh Nature Center Facebook Page.

If you’re searching for a new place to take your kids during the weekend, the Greenburgh Nature Center is a terrific choice.

Located just off Central Avenue in Scarsdale, the 33-acre preserve offers children a fun, interactive, and educational experience with nature. The sprawling nature preserve boasts over 30 acres of woodland, two wetland sites, educational exhibits, and hundreds of fascinating wildlife species.

Here are several attractions available in this scenic hidden paradise:

Hiking trails

The Greenburgh Nature Center’s Blue Trail offers a memorable outdoor adventure for visitors. The trail is about 1/3 mile in length starting from the back of the main building, circling around Woodfrog Pond, and back to the starting point.

Hikers on the Blue Trail will be treated to a scenic adventure on unpaved paths surrounded by wildlife, majestic oaks, dogwoods, viburnum shrubs, wildflowers, and mushrooms.

Native plant meadow

See a fascinating collection of indigenous plants, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife at Greenburgh Nature Center’s native plant meadow.

Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the meadow’s walking paths or quietly observe the beautiful surroundings in the comfortable seating area.

The native plant meadow also serves as the venue for the center’s annual live butterfly exhibit during the summer.

Indoor exhibits

Greenburgh Nature Center’s live animal museum boasts a massive collection of more than a hundred species and a diverse variety of plants collected from all over the world.

In addition to its plant and animal collection, the museum also hosts nature-related photo and art exhibits featuring the work of talented local and visiting artists.

Nature camps

The Greenburgh Nature Center offers educational camps where children can enjoy a wide range of nature-based activities and games. They’ll be able to interact with animals, create artwork, develop essential survival skills, and learn more about the vast wonders of nature.


Family-Friendly Activities and Destinations in Rye

Known as a predominantly residential community, the city of Rye boasts plenty of fantastic attractions and fun things to do for residents of all ages.

If you’re planning a weekend trip or looking for new places for you and your family to visit, here are a few of the best activities and destinations to enjoy in Rye:


Rye Town Park and Playland

Rye Town Park and Playland

Open since the late 1920s, Playland is an amusement park that has entertained thousands of families with its assortment of thrilling rides and attractions.

The 280-acre park is home to the iconic Dragon Coaster, one of the few operational wooden roller coasters in the country. Open since 1929, the classic ride features over 3,400 feet of track, and a maximum height of approximately 85 feet.

Playland is especially popular during the summer, as many visitors take advantage of the nice weather to enjoy the park’s paddle boat rides, swimming pools, and live concert series.

Oakland Beach and Rye Beach

Located along the same stretch of sand, both Oakland Beach and Rye Beach are perfect for families looking to enjoy a relaxing day under the sun.

Enjoy a long walk along the coastline, bring a blanket and umbrella and relax on the sand, or enjoy a refreshing dip in the ocean (or the nearby swimming pool, in case it gets too hot on the beach).

Rye Town Park

Rye Town Park is a terrific place to relax, soak in the beautiful scenery, and enjoy outdoor activities with the entire family. Included on the National Register of Historic Places, the 62-acre park has provided unforgettable memories for generations of families for more than a hundred years.

Features include nearly 30 acres of lawns with pathways, picnic areas, gazebos, a naturalized duck pond, and an expansive beachfront with magnificent views. There’s also a restaurant and snack bar where residents can fuel up after a tiring day of outdoor fun.


5 Affordable Home Improvement Projects to Start this Year

Improving some parts of your home doesn’t have to cost a huge dent on your future. Check out these affordable home improvement projects you can do without breaking the bank.

  1. Increase your home’s curb appeal. Spending some time in your home’s front yard is highly recommended even if you’re not planning on selling your home sometime in the future. Consider planting perennials that look lush and lively all year round, and invest on quality gardening tools. Basic curb appeal projects usually cost less than $500 – just dedicate some of your time to make your yard bloom.
  2. GioHomesRepaint your walls. Repairing and applying a fresh coat of paint to your home’s interior walls make for a subtle update to your home’s overall look. Simple repairs such as patching holes or sanding don’t cost much, while paint and primer usually start around $30 per gallon. Consult a professional to avoid overspending.
  3. Install smart-home devices that monitor energy usage. Such devices initially cost more, but these gadgets will ultimately help you save some bucks on your utility and energy bills. The Iris Comfort and Control kit helps regulate home temperature and costs around $80, while add-on devices like the Utilitech Water Leak system will make sure there are zero water leaks in your home.
  4. Fix your front door. Sprucing up your front door and entryway will not only add to your home’s curb appeal – it will also make you and your guests feel welcome in your home. A fresh coat of paint and some new hardware can do wonders for your home, while a new doorbell and lighting also add inexpensive yet welcome touches. Add a clean doormat and a fresh pot of flowers and voila, you’ve updated your front door for less than $500.
  5. Update your home’s light fixtures. You can give your home a fresh look without spending too much by changing your light fixtures. Wall sconces usually cost around $100 or less, while bigger fixtures can cost around $200. If you really want to add value, invest in energy efficient bulbs like LEDs or CFLs.

These simple fixes can help you update your home’s look (and even add some value) without spending a fortune. For more tips, don’t hesitate to contact me.