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

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!


Things are Looking Up: Tips for Successful Downsizing

Your nest is finally empty, and you’re ready to downsize… that can seem like an overwhelming task. Where do you start? I’m here to tell you that downsizing doesn’t have to be so hard! With these tips, entering into this new chapter of your life can become full of memories and the best decision you made!

When you were building your nest, you were looking for space, and lots of it. You needed room for the kids to play, grow, and sleep. You needed room for storing toys, supplies, clothes, and memories! But now that the kids have moved out and begun assembling their own nests, you don’t need all that extra space anymore. Start with a plan.

If you’ve decided to downsize, you’ve most likely started looking at new homes. Once you’ve chosen one, with the help of your real estate agent, keep that new space at the forefront of your downsizing choices. Figure out how much room you’ll actually have before deciding what you’ll be taking with you. Consider packing room by room. It will seem less overwhelming this way, and only one room will be out of sorts at a time. If those rooms belonged to your kids, let them know you’ll be packing things up and giving things away, if they’d like to come to take anything they want to keep at their new place. If the furniture and objects in that room are for ages of children you no longer have, or your children don’t have, start a donation pile! There are plenty of families in need who would be happy to re-use! Give your family members a deadline, and give yourself one so it is easier to make decisions.

Downsizing can be an emotional process. Instead of feeling sad over the sentimental things you need to get rid of, take a stroll down memory

Relive the memories with your spouse or your family! Before getting rid of those items, relive the memory they gave you and those sentimental moments will become new memories.

Make sure you measure everything. If you’re downsizing, you may not have room for all the furniture you once had, even if you wanted to keep it. Picture what your new lifestyle will be! Are you and your mate planning on traveling and just need a place to come back to in-between adventures? Are you looking to retire and settle down and enjoy your home? Are you planning on reconnecting with friends and entertaining? If you dream up your new life before downsizing, you’ll know exactly what you want to bring with you! If you’re traveling and just need a place to rest your head, maybe you don’t need extra bedrooms and dining sets. If you’re settling down, maybe you want something more comfortable and cozy than functional.

There is a lot to consider when downsizing, but it can truly be the start of something new! This is an opportunity for you and your family to relish in the memories you spent together at home, and bask in the new lives that sprouted from the one you created. Downsizing might be a move in the right direction for you, and I’m here to guide you through it!

Back to Basics: How to Start A Veggie Garden

Now more than ever, homeowners are looking for practical, affordable, easy ways to grow food at home. On almost every apartment balcony, back porch, and in every yard vegetable gardens are sprouting up! Gardeners are finding their green thumbs and taking to the dirt. Maybe you’ve been wanting to try your hand at growing veggies but find yourself staring at your thumbs scouring for any shade of green. I’m here to tell you that it’s easier than you think, and if you follow these steps you’ll be picking peppers and plucking tomatoes in no time!

There’s nothing like the fresh taste of a homegrown vegetable that happen to be the fruits of your own labor. 

There are a lot of reasons to start your own veggie garden, not only because we’re trying to reduce the amount of time we spend in public and at stores, but for the taste! There’s nothing like the fresh taste of a homegrown vegetable that happens to be the fruits of your own labor. You may find yourself biting into a fresh tomato like an apple after seeing how fresh and tasty it looks on the vine!

First up, location location location! Your veggies need a sunny, moist, stable environment for the best results. Most vegetable plants require direct sunlight for a good portion of the day. They’ll want to hang out in well-drained soil, so consider building a raised bed if your yard isn’t conducive to water drainage. Be sure to plant your garden away from high traffic areas, and account for animals that may live in your yard that will want to taste the veggies before you do.

There is so much to know about each and every vegetable, but with a little research about what’s best for your local area, you’ll be planting in no time! Different veggies grow during different parts of the season, so you’ll want to group them together. Some veggies grow completely underground, while others will have to grow tall onto a lattice or support. So be sure to take note of how the sun shines on your garden so that plants won’t be blocking one another from the nourishing rays!

Think about your water sources. Are you close enough to a hose or sprinkler system? Otherwise, you could find yourself forming a fire brigade to water your veggies. It’s best to plan out your garden, measure a manageable size, and plan what you’ll grow so you can buy accordingly. Grow what you’ll eat! It may seem tempting to grow everything under the sun (no pun intended..) but there’s no use in growing veggies you won’t use.

A fantastic smelling idea to consider is planting low growing herbs or flowers around the perimeter of your garden to add to its beauty and add some spices and flavor to your dishes!

Speaking of which… when your vegetable garden is ready for harvesting, what will you make with your bounty? How about this Ratatouille recipe from tasty.co? It’s a delightful array of sautéed and baked vegetables in a beautiful pattern, a perfect way to show off your skills! (https://tasty.co/recipe/ratatouille)

For more information on starting a garden, visit HomeDepot.com for a fool-proof, detailed project guide: https://www.homedepot.com/c/ah/how-to-start-a-vegetable-garden/9ba683603be9fa5395fab90d6de2854