Catherine Albiani - Sales Associate - CENTURY 21 Commonwealth | Winchester, MA

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Your air conditioner isn't the only way to dampen the heat during the warmer parts of the year or country. With the right materials and decorating choices you can make your home feel even more comfortable in hot climates. Here are some tips and tricks for interior decorating that will help you beat the heat:

Window Coverings

Using the right window treatments can make an enormous difference in the indoor temperature of your home. Create some shade by covering any windows during the hottest parts of the day. The best type of window dressings for keeping out the heat are fabric curtains and drapes. Choose curtains if you don’t want the fabric to extend to the floor, but make sure they are the right size for your window. Curtains and drapes are most effective when hanging close to the window and touch a surface at the bottom, whether it be a windowsill or floor.

Covering your windows doesn’t mean the room has to feel dark, either. The best way to keep the room cool is to use thick, opaque fabrics in medium-range colors. Patterns and colors are your choice as long as the fabric itself has a tight weave. You can also find special insulating drapes with white outer layers to reflect heat even more effectively. Either way, you have plenty of options for factoring these cooling window treatments into your interior design.

Cool Surfaces

Using materials that are cool to the touch is a simple way to keep the entire space feeling comfortable in hot weather. This is especially important for flooring. Tile or stone flooring will not absorb heat like hardwood or carpet, and will feel comfortably cool throughout the day. Other cooling floor options include marble and cement. However, avoid faux stone made of vinyl or fiberglass as those materials tend to trap heat.

This same concept applies to other surfaces like counters. If you’re building or renovating in a hot-weather home, consider using granite or marble rather than artificial alternatives. They may have a higher price tag, but they will last a long time and add a cooling feel to your kitchens and bathrooms.

Light Colors

While the idea of a dark room might seem cool, lighter colors will actually keep the temperature down. It all comes down to the science of light: black will attract and absorb heat, while white will reflect it. The lighter the color you choose, the lighter the room will feel. Also, because light colors create the illusion of more space in a room, this can make you feel more calm and comfortable on hot days compared to stuffy and cramped rooms full of dark decor.

That said, you don’t have to make everything plain white to feel cooler. Try colors like cream, beige, or pale blue for wall colors and large furniture pieces. Even these changes alone can make a noticeable impact on the overall feel of a room. Patterns, prints and color are all up to you, but sticking with a lighter palette will prevent absorption of excess heat.

These are only a few ways you can keep your home interiors cool in a hot climate. While structural factors like windows and ventilation will make the biggest difference, every bit can help. You’ll find it’s easy to explore your own style while getting the added benefit of keeping the temperature down and the comfort level up.

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

Many homebuyers face their credit score just before they’re ready to purchase. Your credit score is an important factor when trying to get funding for your new home, and it’s always a good practice to know where you stand.

Here are a few tips and tidbits to help you get your credit score in top shape before buying a home.

Why Do We Have Credit Scores? 

Credit scores are numbers that show how likely a person is to repay a loan on time, or their creditworthiness. Lenders examine your score to assess how risky a person may be to lend to. They’re used to lessen the potential risk of borrower default. If your score is good, you’re more likely to get the loans and lower interest rates you need. However, you may have to go elsewhere for funding if your score is lower than the required minimum score for the loan. 

What’s A Good Score?

Credit scores range from 300 to 850, with 850 being the highest score you can get. A credit score of 700 to 799 is “good.” A credit score above 800 to 850 is “excellent.”

If your credit score isn’t perfect, there are ways to correct it before you look for your loan.

Pay Off Outstanding Debt 

Outstanding debt can make it harder for you to secure funding. If you have accounts in collections, high-balance credit cards, medical bills or any other outstanding debt, pay off as much as you can. By paying off these outstanding debts, your score rises as your debt-to-income ratio shrinks.

Rebuild Your Credit

You’ll need to keep up any accounts that you have with excellent payment history. Maintain those on-time payments to keep your creditworthiness in shape. If you have accounts with late payments, you can work to get the accounts to “current” status. 

If you don’t have any accounts that can help you build credit, you’ll need to get and use at least one. Apply for a credit card and charge a small amount each month. Pay the amount off monthly. This will help you build or repair your credit for an excellent credit history.

Look At Your Whole Financial Picture

Aside from your credit score, you’ll need to look at your bigger financial picture. You need sufficient income, decent credit and an airtight budget to buy a home and provide a down payment along with money to pay closing costs. 

Once you dive into your credit score and how to improve it, you’ll be on your way to better financial health and keys to your new home.

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While "the perfect neighborhood" means different things to different people, everyone can use the same process for narrowing down their options. Choosing the right neighborhood is an integral aspect of the buying process. You want an area that matches your needs for community, lifestyle, price range and more. If you're planning to rent or sell the house in the future, you should also consider the resale value of the neighborhood. Even though areas change over time, some areas can be relied on to maintain their value. Often this is due to other longer-term location features such as a university or access to a city's main shopping or services. Current price range and property values will always vary by neighborhood.

Getting from Place to Place

You’ve probably considered how long of a work commute you’re willing to make. While this is helpful as a starting point, it's vital to consider everywhere else you'll need to go on a regular basis. If you eat out or order in, how close are restaurants? Do you have choices within walking, biking or jogging distance? What are the alternatives for delivery? Find the nearest grocery store options and check to make sure they carry the kinds of food you want to buy. Be certain that their parking or public transportation access works for your shopping needs. Don't forget the business hours. If you get off work at 5 pm, then have an hour commute home, and the grocery store closes at 6:30 pm, your shopping will always be stressful, and the timing will inevitably be tight. Speaking of commutes, where is the nearest gas station? Find it and visit a view times to figure out how busy it is during rush hour or when you expect to need it in a hurry.

Schools and Healthcare

If you have or are planning to have children while living in this house, schools are an essential neighborhood feature. Visit schools for different ages and find out how the school district works in the community. Talk to administrators about dress codes, honor policies, class availability and how your kids will get there. Some schools have dedicated buses or walking routes. Some offer free or discounted public transportation passes. Others have strict rules about driving and drop-off times, so ask all these questions upfront.

Access to healthcare is a vital feature of any neighborhood. If your insurance requires your doctors and hospitals to be part of a particular health network, do your research. Find all the doctors, dentists, hospitals and pharmacies, and map them out. Use this map to ensure your favorite neighborhood isn't a considerable distance away from your emergency room, just in case.

Finding the perfect neighborhood can seem like a chore, but it is mandatory that you put the right amount of time into it if you want to get the most out of your new home purchase. Talk to your professional real estate agent about your specific needs and use their inside knowledge to help eliminate or favorite the areas on your list before searching for your forever home.

There is no one-size-fits-all plan to find and purchase a home. In some instances, a buyer instantly discovers a great residence at a budget-friendly price. Or, in other cases, it may take a buyer many weeks or months to find the perfect house.

Although the homebuying journey varies from person to person, there are several things that a buyer can do to simplify the property buying cycle. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you quickly and effortlessly find your ideal residence.

1. Establish Homebuying Expectations

As a homebuyer, it is important not to get too high or too low during the property buying journey. If you establish realistic homebuying expectations, you should have a good idea about what to anticipate as you search for your dream house.

Oftentimes, it helps to put together homebuying criteria. Think about where you want to find your dream house, as well as the home features you want. With this information at your disposal, you can narrow your home search and accelerate the property buying journey.

2. Create a Homebuying Budget

Like most homebuyers, you probably have only a finite amount of money to spend on a new house. Fortunately, if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can enter the housing market with a budget in hand.

Banks and credit unions are happy to teach you about different types of mortgages. These financial institutions can provide insights into adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgage options and offer details about mortgage terms. Then, once you review all of your mortgage options, you can select a mortgage that complements your financial situation.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

You may want to pursue a house on your own, but this approach may prove to be problematic. A homebuyer who conducts a home search without expert assistance may miss out on the opportunity to find and buy a terrific house at an affordable price. Perhaps even worse, without housing market guidance, a buyer may wind up overpaying for a residence that fails to match his or her expectations.

If you want to achieve the optimal results during your quest for your ideal residence, you should hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional is ready to guide you along the homebuying journey and help you make informed property buying decisions.

A real estate agent will go the extra mile to make the homebuying cycle as simple as possible. He or she will teach you about the real estate market, learn about your homebuying goals and help you hone your house search. Plus, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about residences that fall within your price range and are located in your preferred cities and towns. And if you find a house that you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase this home.

Simplify the homebuying journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you'll be better equipped than ever before to enjoy a quick, stress-free property buying experience.

Shopping for a home is an exciting time for any hopeful homeowner. After weeks of scouring listings looking for the perfect home in the ideal location for you and your family, it can seem like you’ve found the needle in the haystack.

When it’s time to go visit that home, it’s easy to put on rose-colored lenses and overlook issues that should, at the very least, be taken into consideration when it comes to deciding whether or not you should make a bid on the home and how much you should offer.

Today’s post is all about preparing you for that first viewing. We’ll give you tips on what to look out for and how to factor these things into your equation when it comes to making an offer.

Check the listing for omissions

Even if a home looks perfect on paper (or on its website listing), it’s still quite likely that there are things you’ll want to know about before considering an offer. A home listing should attempt to address several questions you might have. But ultimately, it’s main goal is to attract interest in the home.

So, what type of things should be in the listing that the seller might leave out?

  • Poor street conditions, heavy traffic, and blind driveways are all things that will factor into your decision but most likely won’t be mentioned in a listing

  • Odors of any kind can be off-putting and difficult to remove. Some homeowners may not even know that their home has an offensive odor if they’ve become used to it.

  • Room omissions. If the home is listed as having two bathrooms but there are only photos of one, this could be a sign that there are problems with the second bathroom that the seller doesn’t want you to see quite yet.

Top dollar home repairs

A professional home inspection will be able to give you an idea of the kind of money you’ll need to spend on renovations in the coming years. But why wait? When touring a home, ask questions about the last time important renovations and repairs were made.

Roofs, septic systems, and electrical work are just a few of the things that are expensive to repair or replace. If the previous homeowner has a small family or lives alone and you plan on moving in with a houseful of kids, you might find that your impact on the septic and electrical systems of the home are too much for the house to handle. You’ll want to take this into account before considering a bid on the home.

Utility costs

The cost of heating a home in the winter and keeping it cool in the summer can be hefty if the home isn’t properly sealed and weatherproofed. Ask the current homeowner what they spend per month on utilities to get an idea of what you might be spending.

Then, take a look at the windows and doors. Cracks, malfunctioning locks, and worn weatherstripping are all signs that the home will need some work to be energy-efficient.

Don’t ignore the little things

Small fixes may not seem like a big deal when viewing a home. They can even deceive you into thinking that you’re getting a good deal by buying a fixer-upper for a price that’s lower than the market average.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that small fixes around the house are a sign that bigger problems are also being neglected. Don’t be too quick to assume the house will be a good deal before getting it professionally inspected.