Julie Sagan GRI - Sagan REALTORS ®, Swampscott, MA Real Estate, Marblehead, MA Real Estate

Go Green: Budget-Friendly Ways For Sustainable Living at Home

When you hear the phrase, “sustainable living,” what do you picture? You might picture a picturesque home in the middle of a farm that utilizes all of its natural surroundings. Or you may be picturing a home in the suburbs that was very expensive to outfit with solar panels and green appliances. While both of these scenarios exist, you may be pleased to know that you can live sustainably anywhere with a few simple, smart changes! It all starts with one step, and many of these small changes are affordable and easy! Let’s go green together!

 Sustainable living is attainable!

Let’s start outside since that’s where all the nature is! Think about making a small garden at home! Growing some of your own food is a great way to go green, that doesn’t have to be a massively expensive project. Start small with a few vegetable plants and see the difference. While you’re at it in the garden, think of ways you can increase your recycling and composting efforts. Food scraps can make a great fertilizer for your garden. Look into outdoor compost options, and keep a compost bin inside where it’s easy to access and a good reminder every time you go to the trash. If you’re using hoses or sprinkler systems to water your garden, consider using rainwater. There are a myriad of ways to collect rainwater, some simple and some more intricate that involve installing collectors to your gutters. 

Speaking of water, and moving on inside, an easy way to live sustainably is to fix any leaking faucets in your home. Repairing these leaks can save a lot of water each month, and will contribute to lower monthly bills as well.

When it’s not raining, and the sun is shining, it’s a great reminder of our energy usage! Using natural light to warm and light your home cuts down on

energy costs and adds some much needed sunshine to our daily grind. Using that sunlight to its fullest also means sealing up your windows and doors tightly to either keep cool air or warm heat inside. You’ll be surprised at the result when you get your next cooling and heating bill!

What are the benefits of sustainable living? Whatever your lifestyle, the benefits far outweigh the cost and effort. Maybe you’re doing your best to keep our planet clean and safe and leave less of a footprint. Maybe you’re just trying to reduce your everyday costs and monthly bills. No matter what your end goal is, sustainable living is attainable! See for yourself!


2021 Design Trends: 

How this Year Changed Our Definition of Home

2020 changed what we needed in a home. What once were just houses, became an office, a classroom, a gym, and a spa. We brought the outside world in and transformed our houses into homes. Our homes became our safe haven where we knew we could stay safe and healthy. This past year has changed the way we look at real estate, and our potential dream homes. The list of wants and needs of the past, took on a new shape as we entered into the new year. So let’s take a look at some of the design and renovation trends we plan on seeing in 2021, that will reflect the changes we made this year.

As we enter into 2021, fashion meets function takes on a whole new meaning. When looking for a new home, or starting a new build, a home office wasn’t always on the top of the priority list. Many sought out a small extra bedroom to house a desk and small functioning workspace. This year, the home office is going to see some major changes. People are looking for spaces that double as regular living space and workspace. Gone are the days of a small dark office corner. Home design and renovation are taking function and self-care, and turning them into home offices that are big, bright, and built for productivity. Working from home isn’t just a luxury anymore, it’s a lifestyle. So the home office is going to bring some permanency to its place in the home.

2020 was all about self-care. We plan on seeing some major prioritization of bathroom design that will bring a whole new level of relaxation to the

home. This year, our families spent most of their time at home, which means a lot less quiet time for yourself. Plan on seeing a lot of focus on the at-home spa experience, including bigger bathrooms to accommodate luxuries like soaking tubs, and the maximizing of small bathroom space to create a spa-getaway right in your own home. 

Especially in regions that experience the four seasons, or extreme temperatures like New England, we tried to soak up every available minute of outdoor time we could. 2021 is sure to bring some interesting outdoor living space designs, to maximize the space you have and extend your livable space. Outdoor dining, transportable office furniture, and temperature control are going to be big features of our outdoor spaces. Home design is all about easy access and a design flow that makes sense. Large windows bring the outdoors in while you have to be inside, and cozy furniture outside makes it easy to view your outdoor space as an extension of your relaxing living space.

This year brought us a new perspective on what home and family mean to us. The new year makes us want to seek out a home that brings us peace and happiness and maximizes our functional living space. I am here to help you find your dream home, whatever that means for you. We are all excited to see what the new year brings in terms of home design and real estate, so let’s work together and give you and your family a fresh new start!

Buying a Home During a Pandemic: Communication is Key


The pandemic has changed a lot of things about our daily lives, but it hasn’t changed our basic needs or stopped us from making big decisions. Buying a home amidst normal conditions can be quite the undertaking, even more so when the process is unfamiliar and under trying conditions. Don’t lose hope! Houses are selling faster than ever, and people are moving away from the big cities, so many homes have become available but are moving fast. We can still find you your dream home, we just need to make a few adjustments.

Communication has now become the most important part of the home search and buying process. The first step you need to take is finding a real estate agent that you mesh well with. My priority is to find you what YOU want, according to YOUR budget, and YOUR list of wants, and must-haves. Communication starts right at the beginning when we talk about what kind of home you are looking for. Much of the process is now online or over the phone, so communicating clearly has become much more important. Working with an agent that understands you, and that you feel like you can talk to is vital to the process. During something like a pandemic, making a big decision can be daunting and you may often change your mind about the details. Your agent has to understand you, and more importantly the ins and outs of the home buying process so they can reassure you and make the journey a success!

Communication becomes even more vital as you start to look at prospective properties. Due to certain restrictions, you may not be able to frequently meet face-to-face with your agent, or view homes together. Communicating after viewing a home can help you narrow down your choices and clearly define what you want in a future home.

When it comes to making an offer on a property, there may be back and forth between you and the seller and your agent. Communicating your budget, and how flexible it is will help you feel comfortable if any counter offers or outside bidders should pop up. It’s important to let your agent know how far you’re willing to stretch your budget so they know how to proceed and won’t push you outside your comfort zone.

Another vital step is the inspection. Many inspectors have new restrictions during these times, so you want to do your research. Finding an inspector who will let you or your agent be there for the inspection in person may be something you need to feel comfortable. Talk with your agent and they can guide you to reliable sources. 

You’re already one step closer to finding your dream home! Buying a home doesn’t have to be scary, and can be a bright new change amidst unsteady conditions. Stay positive, and communicate with your agent. Your dream home is out there waiting for you!


Buying a Home in 10 Easy Steps

Buying a home is a milestone. It’s exciting to start a new chapter, but it can be intimidating to make such a large change and investment if you aren’t clear on the best process. I want you and your family to remember how special this time is, not feel stressed. I’ve broken the home buying process down into 10 easy steps so that when you take your first step toward buying a home, you can do so confidently.

1. Meet with your agent. It’s important to pick a real estate agent who works for you. I believe everyone deserves to find a safe place to call home. When you meet with your agent, they can give you a clear idea of how the process will work. Take the time to really think about what you want in a home, and make sure your agent knows what you’re looking for. Your agent knows what’s available and attainable within your wish list, and can connect you to other important people you’ll need along the way, like a lender, inspector, etc.

2. Obtain Financial Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval. In order to truly understand what your budget and buying power are, you should consult with multiple lenders. This will help you narrow your home search, and will help later when providing an offer on a property.

3. Begin Your Home Search. At this point, your realtor will be providing property options for you to consider, and look at in person, according to the wishlist and budget you’ve provided. It’s important to keep an open mind during this process. Not every home your agent provides will seem like a perfect match, but as you see what different homes have to offer, you’ll learn what you really want in a home. Viewing homes in person can give you a clear idea of what not only the home but the neighborhoods and surrounding amenities are like.

4. Make and Negotiate an Offer. Once you have found your dream home, you’ll need to make an offer. Your agent will help you write up an offer, and work out the details including inspection, financing, and closing. Your agent will then negotiate with the seller to provide the best price and terms for you and your family. A seller can accept or reject your offer, or make a counteroffer. Once negotiations have concluded, as the buyer, you can agree to the terms or not.

5. Inspection. Usually, these terms are contingent upon a home inspection and financing. There will be an agreed-upon amount of time to complete the inspection. During this period, you can bring in a licensed inspector to help determine the state of the home and give you the information you may need.

6. Sign the Purchase & Sale Agreement. After both parties, the buyer (you) and seller, have come to an agreement, you will sign the purchase and sale agreement.

7. Complete the Mortgage Application. At this time, you will be finalizing all the necessary information in preparation for closing. Your lender will need all necessary documents for review.

8. Obtain Loan Approval. If you are approved, your lender will clear you for closing, and provide you with a letter of approval.

9. Close. Now is the time for a final walkthrough, where you can make sure the house is in the condition agreed upon at signing.

10. Take The Keys! Your paperwork is finished and you’re ready to make your dream home a reality!

There are a lot of moving factors when finding a home, from start to finish. But it doesn’t have to be taxing and stressful. With my expertise & years of experience, we will focus on what’s best for your family and make this important decision a happy one!


The Want Vs Need Wishlist: How to Determine What You’re Actually Looking For in a New Home

Searching for your dream home takes a lot of preparation, thought, and list-making. But sometimes, before you get out there and see what’s available, what’s possible, your wishlist and your need-list seem to mesh into one long list that pulls you in too many different directions. Let’s chat about the difference between what you want in a house, and what you need in a house. Even though we’re on a mission to find you your perfect home, you’d be surprised what compromises you are willing to make when you clearly see what you want and need to make it perfect for you and your family.

There’s nothing wrong with a wishlist, in fact that’s exactly where you should start. Your wishlist can be as long and extravagant as you want it to be. When you’re finished mapping out the home of your dreams, it will be easy for you to take a second look and see what you can easily eliminate, what is non-negotiable, and what would just be nice if it’s available. 

The more realistic you can be before actually looking at homes, the easier it will be to stay on track.

As you look at homes, you’ll quickly discover that many homes won’t be in the exact perfect condition and style you’re hoping for, but your real estate

agent can also help you see what is easily changeable after buying, and what things may actually increase or decrease the value by adding or removing them.

To get started narrowing down, establish a flexible budget with comfortable wiggle room for your agent to work with, and choose a prime location. This will give you a realistic picture of what’s available in that area within your budget and can help you to start prioritizing the features you really need in your home. A home in the heart of a city, might not be equipped with a pool and large yard. A home with nature views might be quite the commute to work. A historical neighborhood may not have many newly constructed homes, just like a new neighborhood might not have mature trees or colonial-style homes. 

When it comes to compromising in a home, it doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your dream home or everything on your wishlist. It means considering your timeline and your priorities. Is what you want now, what you’ll need in a few years? Do you need extra bedrooms for future children? Will maintaining a pool become a hassle quickly? Will you need a home office in the years to come? What you want to have, and what you’ll need soon are sometimes very different. Planning for the future can be just as fun as getting exactly what you want now. Think ahead, and think big picture!

Finding a home is a journey, one that really helps you examine your style, your needs, your wants, and the future you see for your family. I’m here to help you find your dream home with ease, and help you easily transition into your next chapter!