Real Estate Blog


July 17, 2017

Beautiful Home in America's Coolest Small Town


3 bedroom / 3 bath single family home in Decatur Farm.

Discover this beautiful home on the quiet cul-de-sac featuring grand room cathedral ceiling, 1st floor master suite, walk-in closets, loft and oversized upstairs utility / bonus room. Nestled in well established community of Decatur Farm offering club house with outdoor pool, exercise rooms, outdoor playground and more.
Take an evening walk through nearby Decatur Park and continue to downtown Berlin to grab an ice cream at Island Creamery, stop by one of the famous antique shops or have dinner along Main Street in one of Berlin's top restaurants. Experience the best of shore life in America's coolest small town just minutes away from Ocean City and Assateague Island beaches.
Home is offered with 1 year home warranty.

More Info:

Tony Prochazka
Vantage Resort Realty of MD

Posted in Berlin, Tony Prochazka
Sept. 8, 2015

Understanding the Benefits of Energy Efficient Windows

It may be difficult to think of the windows in your home as valuable assets. Of course, standing in front of one of these outlets on a blazing summer day or frigid winter night can help you shift your point of view in quite a hurry. In order to give you the best defense against the elements – and potentially save you a few bucks along the way – let’s listen in as some of the most trusted online sources break down the benefits of energy efficient windows and how these offerings apply to your situation.


Letting in drafts and heat can be a nuisance, but is it enough of a reason to change out your windows entirely? Learning more about energy efficient windows and how these assets can affect your home life and budget can help answer this question once and for all.


When it comes to upgrading your home and improving the quality of life for you and your family, windows generally don’t rank very high in the overarching conversation, if they make an appearance at all. Unfortunately, this mentality overlooks one key detail – these fixtures serve as vital pieces of your home’s heating and cooling systems. If you’re still working with inefficient windows, chances are your home is far from optimized in terms of energy savings and expenditure.

Building a Quick Overview

Before delving into the particulars of why energy efficient windows can improve your home, it’s important to ensure that you have a basic understanding of the difference between these offerings and standard window units. To shed some light on these comparison, Karin Beuerlein of the National Association of Realtors’ House Logic blog breaks down energy efficient windows from a variety of angles.

For starters, the exterior of the window plays a major role in the efficiency rating of the installation. For some windows, several layers of glazing – from single to double and triple – can affect the degree of insulation this asset has against the exterior environment. In terms of the ability to repulse heat, a low emissivity (Low-E) metallic coating can further enhance the window’s ability to reflect and absorb outside weather and other external factors.

Once you get into the interior of the window, gas fills and spacers take center stage. A gas fill, as the name implies, is simply a layer of gas – usually argon or krypton – that’s sandwiched between glazing sheets as a means to improve insulation and reduce heat transfer. Different materials and designs comprise the spacer designation, but all variations still aim to handle the same goals found within the gas fill approach.

Of course, no overview of energy efficient windows would be complete without a look into the framing materials. From vinyl to fiberglass and aluminum, you have plenty of options on this front. Each have their strengths and weaknesses – which you’ll learn about shortly – thus requiring a deeper evaluation based upon your current home situation. The big takeaway here is that your region often dictates your framing options.

Gauging the Value of Energy Efficient Windows

So now that you’re an expert on how energy efficient windows work and what goes into these products, it’s time to look into why you should even bother with these upgrades in the first place. As Charles R. Hooper of Angie’s List explains, the most compelling reason offered up on this front comes in the form of saving money on your monthly energy bills and other energy-related expenses.

Essentially, by making the switch to this type of window, you’re trading an upfront installation cost for the ability to save a significantly larger amount of money over time. These savings can vary based on your specific climate and region, but the experts over at the Department of Energy note that in some cases, homeowners who take the plunge end up saving up to 31 percent on their energy bills per year. Needless to say, that’s far from an insignificant amount over the course of a useful window lifespan.

Benefits That Go Beyond Savings

Aside from the substantial savings generated by energy efficient windows, there’s also other key reasons to consider this alternative to standard offerings. In particular, the experts at the Department of Energy go on to explain that energy efficient windows improve the quality of life for you, your family, and any possessions that don’t hold up well to external concerns.

These selections reduce the impact of outside elements, such as overbearing summer heat and drafty gusts of wind during the winter months, thereby creating a more stable and controlled environment for anyone who calls this house a home. As far as the items in your house go, these windows act as a sort of “home sunscreen,” ensuring that sun damage and exposure to other exterior issues becomes a thing of the past.

Which Window Is Right for You?

If you’re ready to start talking about energy efficient options that fit your home, HGTV’s Alyson McNutt English suggests breaking down the discussion based on your regional needs, budget, and available components. While it would be nice to simply have one answer to this dilemma, varying environments and climates obfuscate the discussion a bit.

In terms of framing, English explains that options like aluminum work best in humid, rainy, and coastal climates, while wood and vinyl are better suited to handle the rigors of more arid locales. As you begin to weigh interior fill and spacing options, you’ll notice that the same propensity for regional concerns enter the picture. Specifically, gas fills simply don’t hold up well in higher altitudes, often leading to leaks and other transfer issues.

Once you’ve sorted out your climate considerations – or connected with an expert who can help you on this front – English finishes with one final piece of advice: Keep an eye out for your window ratings. The U-value of a window denotes this fixture’s ability to resist heat loss, while the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) measures how much heat radiation enters the home through this window.

As you can see, there’s plenty to consider once you enter the market for these windows. Depending on your personal needs and preferences, as well as the recommendations offered up by your trusted window professionals, how much stock you put into these ratings and components can vary drastically. However, at least now you can move forward with confidence as you put this information – and the rest of what you’ve learned about energy efficient windows and their benefits – to good use.


Posted in Real Estate
Sept. 2, 2015

The Hidden Costs of Flipping Homes

With countless TV shows providing a glamorous look into the world of flipping homes, it’s no surprise that more and more people are showing interest in this portion of the real estate world. However, do the benefits of flipping a home outweigh the sometimes hidden costs that trip up novice flippers? To answer this question, here’s an in-depth look at the subject from some of the most knowledgeable members of the online realty community.


Embracing your entrepreneurial spirit and taking a stab at a spot in the world of real estate can be the start of something truly exciting. Unfortunately, getting in over your head by trying to flip a home that’s not worth the work can negate these good vibes and leave you taking a major financial hit if you’re not careful.


Ever wondered what it’s like to flip homes and chase the substantial profits that come with this approach? While there’s plenty of excitement and potential found within this system, there’s also just as much risk. Before you reach out to your realtor and start picking up real estate assets to add to your portfolio, take a moment to delve into this cost-benefit analysis of the home-flipping process.

What Exactly Constitutes Flipping a Home?

If you’re especially new to this concept, it’s important to lay the groundwork with a strong understanding of what goes into flipping homes. As Lisa Smith of Investopedia explains, the goal of house flipping is to purchase a home at a cost that’s below its market value, then turn around and sell this selection for a profit.

Made popular in the early 2000s, flipping houses has become a cultural phenomenon of sorts with large swathes of the Internet and TV shows turning this process into a media sensation. In some cases, home renovations and upgrades also enter the picture as a way to add value to the property and make it more enticing for potential buyers.

Understanding Where Flippers Fall Short

With this simple goal of getting more out of the home than what you put into it leading the way, flipping homes should be a pretty straightforward affair, right? Unfortunately, this dangerous line of thought has grounded the dreams of plenty of homebuyers before they ever even had a chance to get off the ground.

In their look at the hidden costs and shortcomings of new house-flippers, ABC News’ Kinga Janik and Lauren Effron point out there are a few recurring themes that continue to plague these members of the real estate community. At the top of the list is failing to get the home inspected.

By skipping the part of the process where an expert comes in and gives the home a thorough review, you open yourself up to a variety of unexpected risk and potential expense. This in turn makes staying on budget unnecessarily difficult. Additionally, failing to get the right permits and licenses to fix up these issues continues the theme of getting tripped up by home-flipping paperwork and can easily put you in hot water with your local government.

From a bigger picture perspective, failing to research the neighborhood and the contractors who handle the necessary renovations and upgrades also serves as a stumbling point for many flippers. It might not seem like that big of a deal initially, but ending up with a property that’s otherwise fine – but ultimately undesirable thanks to a rough neighborhood – or a contractor who takes the money and run, constitutes a catastrophic failure that could have been avoided with a little research and foresight.

Is It Still worth the Risk?

At this point, it’s safe to say that flipping homes is in fact a risky proposition for the uninitiated. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth considering if you understand what it takes to be successful. As the team over at First Bank note, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort needed to flip a home the right way, you can expect to be handsomely rewarded for your hard work.

Successfully flipped homes serve as an excellent source of revenue – from both a short and long term perspective. If you’re able to stay on budget, selling a renovated home can net a substantial one-time gain at closing. For those that are open to the idea of renting out the home, this property can serve as a steady stream of income that continues to pay you back for taking on the upfront costs and risks that come with flipping properties.

Outside of the financial boons that come with this process, these experts also point out that flipping homes can be a rewarding and enriching endeavor. Whether you’re a new retiree who wants to try something different or an energetic, “hands-on” type of person who’s looking for a new challenge, seeing this home transform into a valuable asset provides a sense of achievement that only comes from working hard toward – and capturing – a lofty goal.

Building a Winning Strategy

Now that you understand that flipping homes does come with a series of costs and concerns that might not always be readily apparent, but that the process can be rewarding on many levels, it’s time to talk about how you can build a winning strategy. According to William Bronchick, J.D., of the investing news source CRE Online, it all starts with properly evaluating the situation in front of you.

Is it better to flip the home in question “as is,” or should you renovate and upgrade the property before putting it out onto the market? Securing the help of a real estate agent who understands the nuances of the local real estate community can help make these and other vital questions far more manageable as you acclimate yourself to the home-flipping scene.

From here, connecting with licensed and bonded contractors ensures that you steer clear of illegal practices and scams. Aside from keeping you on the straight and narrow, building these relationships now could set you up for more favorable arrangements and reduced pricing down the road; something that’s definitely worthwhile if you intend to regularly flip homes on a budget.

By putting everything you’ve learned here to good use, there’s nothing that can stand in your way as you begin to evaluate and purchase “flip worthy” homes. All that’s left now is to get out in your community or connect with your agent and start looking for the next great real estate opportunity in your area.


Posted in Real Estate
Aug. 26, 2015

Putting Safety First During a Home Sale

Selling or buying a home is an exciting, nerve-wracking, and important time, all rolled into one. Unfortunately, too many members of the marketplace end up making this event more stressful by failing to give safe practices their due. In an effort to keep you firmly out of this category, let’s reach out to some leading experts from around the real estate market and hear what they have to say about keeping everyone involved in a sale safe and secure.


Does something seem too good to be true with a potential new home? Is the other person involved in the process acting oddly? While these questions might seem over-the-top at first glance, the truth of the matter is that you can never be too cautious when dealing with others during the sale or purchase of a home.


If you’re reading this, chances are you’re ready to go see an available home or entertain a potential buyer at your house. While there’s usually nothing to worry about when it comes to dealing with other people, you can never do too much to avoid interacting with the small minority of the population that doesn’t have your best interests at heart. With this in mind, here’s some essential tips and considerations that can help keep you and your family protected during this pivotal point in your lives.

Meet and Greet in a Public Place

At the top of the list of safety tips to consider when heading into a sale, according to the Police Department of Criminal Prevention in Mesa, Arizona, is meeting and greeting with the other parties in a public place. Whether this means reaching out to your realtor in his or her office, or meeting with a buyer or seller at an agreed upon open location, sticking to areas that are full of other people and activity is a great way to avoid finding yourself in an unsavory or potentially harmful situation.

Once you’ve met up with the other parties involved, don’t hesitate to perform a “check-up from the neck up.” Aside from serving as a funny saying, this concept represents the notion that if something doesn’t seem right with the person you’re working with, don’t be afraid to call off the viewing of the home. Your instincts are an invaluable asset, so listening to them and avoiding a situation that just doesn’t feel safe is perfectly acceptable when it comes to dealing with strangers.

Leave a “Paper Trail”

In addition to strategically planning out your initial meetings with others, it’s also a good idea to leave a paper trail whenever you’re heading out to browse through home listings. Offering up a schedule or agenda to friends and family members, as well as carrying multiple forms of identification, ensures that at least one person knows where you are at all times in case something goes wrong.

If you really want to go the extra mile on this front as the seller of a property, requesting that any interested parties in your home have preapproval from a lending agency helps keep these viewers relegated to only the most serious of potential buyers.

Take Time to Assess the Situation

As far as searching for a new home goes, Lew Sichelman of the Los Angeles Times suggests spending a few minutes to assess the situation before rushing in headfirst. Exciting though it make be to explore a new home, dealing with all of the unknowns that come with this process naturally carries a certain amount of risk.

For instance, if you’re looking to purchase an abandoned or vacant home, structural damage, squatters, wild animals, and a variety of other issues could pose a threat to you and anyone else who joins you on this trip. While the odds of dealing with these problems are far less likely in a traditional home-purchasing situation, it still never hurts to spend a few moments assessing the situation for any safety risks or hazards.

Never Travel Alone

Speaking of heading out to view available properties, it’s also a good idea to bring along a friend, family member, or your trusted realtor when setting out on this path. Having a second set of eyes and ears available to you during this time can ensure that you properly audit the situation for any potential threats or concerns. Additionally, having someone else with you during this time can serve as a strong deterrent for any illicit or underhanded tactics committed by less than savory individuals.

Protect Your Home During a Showing

For those of you who aren’t looking to buy a home, but rather sell your current property, the experts over at the National Association of Realtors’ Realtor magazine point out that there’s still plenty of concerns worthy of consideration before you rush into entertaining strangers in your home. Specifically the open house and home-showing portions of the process stand out as major areas of concern.

Having unknown individuals in your home is always a risk, but participating in an event like an open house exacerbates the issue. To help safeguard your property, always lock away “high interest” items – like jewelry and electronics – before a viewing. This process takes just a few minutes and makes a world of difference when dealing with large groups of people.

In terms of handling visitors, a good rule of thumb is to always stick to a schedule. Much like the paper trail discussed earlier, only entertaining visitors who set an appointment to see your home ensures that unexpected “drop-ins” don’t become an issue.

Keeping Your Head on Straight

Unfortunately, there’s nothing that you can do to completely erase the risks that come with interacting with strangers during the buying and selling of a home. It’s an issue that plagues any industry built upon connecting with others – not just the real estate world. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re completely out of options for protecting and safeguarding yourself during these times.

By putting what you’ve learned here to good use – including partnering up for home visits and stowing away your valuables during an open house – and remaining vigilant throughout the process, there’s no reason that you and your family can’t find an outcome that’s just right for your needs.


Posted in Real Estate
Aug. 19, 2015

What to Look for in a Home When You’ve Got Furry Friends

Shopping for a new home is complicated enough when you’re dealing with humans. When you start factoring in your family members from the animal kingdom (no, we’re not talking about your Cousin Howard), things can start to get a little bit hairy. Will your yard meet your dog’s tastes? Is there enough space indoors for your cat to roam? With pets, you have to take these questions and more into consideration, just as you would with human roommates.


Is Your Pet Welcome?


Buying a house is certainly much different than renting. You make the rules, so no more strict guidelines on whether or not you can have your companions. However, you still have to comply with local regulations, or risk some severe consequences.


Familiarize yourself with local law on pet regulations. Laws on how many dogs can reside in a household vary not only between countries, states, and provinces, but can even vary from county to county. Thus, even a move a short hour away can potentially mean that you’ll have to apply for special permits to keep your animals around. Cats generally aren’t subject to laws as strict as canine regulations, but if you have a more exotic species than these, you’ll want to confirm that you’re not running afoul of any legalities. You may need to apply for licenses and permits, and be subject to inspections by state organizations. Be prepared, and reconsider the area if laws are too draconian.


Get the Facts on Whether the House Is Up to Standards


Some homes are better-suited for pets than others, and you should keep this in mind when house-hunting. Before you hit the pavement, make a list of some necessities that your pets will need in a home, and note whether or not they’re must-haves.


For example, if you have a dog, inspecting a prospective house’s yard is a must. Fencing is all but a necessity, and you’ll need to make sure that the fence is up to the task of keeping your dog safely inside. Is it tall enough that your dog is unable to jump it, and installed well enough that your dog can’t dig under? If you’ve fallen in love with a house that has a miniscule yard, you may be tempted to excuse away the flaw – after all, you can take your dog on walks, take them to the dog park, and so on – but if you’re not dedicated to following up on those promises, your pet will suffer for it. Sometimes, you can pick up the slack on a dream home by making the missing pieces into a home improvement project. Fencing can be installed, kitty windowsills can be built, and other pet-friendly amenities can be implemented after you’ve moved in. However, you don’t want to bind yourself into a potentially lengthy and expensive project right after you’ve signed that mortgage contract, and have your pet be bored and stressed while you try to get their new home up to speed. In a pinch, you might consider having your pets stay with a friend or relative while you fix up the place – it’ll keep them from being underfoot while construction is underway, and will let you introduce them to a fully settled home.


See Who Your Neighbors Are


When you’re considering a new home, you’ll need to consider the area around it, as well – and this goes double for if you have animals. See who your neighbors are, and see if your pet will receive a warm welcome…or if you’re going to be biting off more than you and your pets can chew.


A neighbor with pets may wind up being your new best friend if approached correctly, but can just as easily become a huge thorn in your side. Approach your neighbors and introduce yourself without any pets in tow. While you may want to have your pets be part of your welcoming crew, it’s just not a good idea: you don’t know if neighbors have pets that are flung into a frenzy at the mere whiff of another animal, you don’t know if neighbors are phobic of your pet, and you don’t know if your neighbors just plain don’t like animals. Tell your neighbors that you’re considering moving in nearby, and are feeling out the atmosphere for you, your family, and your pets. If you establish a good rapport with a neighbor, you may be able to ask if there are any households with problem animals around. As an example, if a neighbor has a dog that’s poorly-trained, aggressive, or a constant barker (or, heavens help you, all three), you may want to seriously reconsider moving in next door. If your neighbors aren’t interested in keeping their dog under control with proper training and restraints, you, your pets, and even your family members can wind up facing real and present danger.


Poorly-behaved neighbors and the pets that love them aren’t just limited to the canine stripe. A neighbor who lets an aggressive cat wander the outdoors can pose just as much a danger to you and yours – anyone who has owned a dog and cat at the same time can attest that cats are no slouch in a dog fight. Beyond cats and dogs, your neighbors may wind up owning something more exotic. While individuals who own unique pets (such as chickens, goats, alpaca, etc.) are generally in-touch with their care and will go to certain lengths to make sure their oddities don’t affect their neighbors, there are some things you have to accept as someone living next door to a chicken coop: a certain amount of clucking, and free eggs if you play your cards right. Know what you’re getting into, and bow out if it’s not something you can safely handle.


Researching a new home takes a lot out of you, but when it comes to having the best place for you and your family – pets and all – your efforts will be richly rewarded in the end. Do your homework, make some neighborhood friends, and have patience. Your pets will adapt to the change of scenery, and will come to love their new home.




Posted in Real Estate
Aug. 12, 2015

Great Things in Small Packages: How to Sell a Small Home

When you’re trying to sell your small home, no amount of dressing it up with words like “quaint” and “cozy” will disguise the cold, hard reality. When your home is small, you’ve got to address the issue, not just dance around it – sellers can tell when you’re doing so, and it definitely won’t result in a sale. There are ways to stage small homes that mask the space issues at hand, and furthermore, there are real benefits to smaller homes that you can communicate to buyers. Be upfront, be positive, and you’ll make the sale easily.

The Benefits of Living Small

While we all may dream of having vast acres of green lawn and massive master bedrooms, the fact of the matter is that big homes equal big bills and loads of upkeep. Utility bills for heat and air conditioning alone can double with larger houses, and large lawns equal long, boiling summer afternoons with your lawnmower. Couple that with more effort to clean and more room to collect clutter, and you will begin to see the benefits of a small home. Low upkeep and low utility bills are very attractive selling points for single buyers, young couples looking to buy their first home, and older couples looking to downsize and settle into a home where they can relax into retirement. Not every buyer has space as their main priority, but you should nevertheless make sure their hesitations are addressed.

Small homes rank far higher on the green grading scale for their higher efficiency in dissipating heat and A/C. If you want to play to the green market, make sure that you install other eco-friendly features to really seal the deal: energy-efficient windows, showers, toilets, and lighting are cheap to buy, easy to install DIY, and often make you eligible for government-mandated rebates. These features will add further value to any home, and will really make your small home the green purchase that buyers are looking for.

Interior Staging Tips for Small Homes

Home staging is all about making your home appeal to buyers by performing room renovations and makeovers. Staging is important for selling any home, but is absolutely vital when it comes to selling a small one. While many home sellers don’t have the funds or the appropriate floor plans to start knocking down walls for renovation projects, you can create the illusion of more space with the right furniture, and the right prep. 

Living rooms and bedrooms are perhaps the biggest battleground in home staging. To grant the illusion of more space in these rooms, go small – with small furniture, that is. For example, replace a large, bulky couch in your living room with a smaller loveseat. Your buyers will see more space available, and all you had to do was drag some furniture through the door. This trick works in most rooms, and also applies to things like sinks, toilets, and tubs. Replacing large, outdated hardware with smaller and modern options will not only allow you to take advantage of the optical trick, but will also help you get a step ahead on style.

Another common trick to give the illusion of a larger room involves light and mirrors. Having abundant lighting in a room will help your home feel more spacious, and mirrors add to the lighting’s effects as well as using their reflections to add depth to a room. Bringing in more light can be as simple as replacing heavy curtains with light, airy selections, and cleaning your window glass, or can be attained by installing tall corner lamps in corners to spread out the room.

And of course, any room can be made more spacious by removing clutter. Take out accumulated personal knickknacks: remove photographs and other wall ornaments, clean shelves and drawers, clear out your closets to make them look larger, and for goodness’ sake, make the rooms sparkling clean. A kitchen with dirty dishes in the sink won’t appeal to buyers, even if space wasn’t an issue! Consider this step as part of the greater moving project: packing away your things has to happen at some point, so why not get started now?

Don’t Forget the Exterior Work 

When staging a small home for sale, too many sellers forget that there’s another part of their home that needs their attention as well: the great outdoors. A small lawn can also be a difficult sell for some home buyers – for example, pet owners and gardening enthusiasts – so, you need to make the effort to space out your yard as well.

Spacing out the exterior of your home is at once easier and more difficult than interior staging – it can be a whole different animal, but certain principles still apply. First and foremost, decrease outdoor clutter before all else. Clean out fallen branches, overgrown gardens, and other various detritus that isn’t only unattractive and potentially dangerous, but makes your yard appear far smaller than it is. Replace cheap outdoor furniture with something more stylish – an attractive patio setup can draw a buyer’s eye away from a cramped yard. Just as small furniture and small hardware can make an indoor room feel more spacious, smaller landscaping features will help expand your yard. Skip bulky bushes and go with smaller, more ornamental flowers to line the property. Keep things minimalist, and your lawn will feel spacious indeed.

Modern home buyers want low-cost, low maintenance options, so selling a small home is easier than ever – however, that doesn’t mean there’s not a bit of work in it for you to make sure you get the best price possible. Staging and selling savvy is essential, and don’t forget to talk up your home’s proximity to local attractions when you’re able. Real estate is all about location, location, location, and if your home’s in a sweet spot, the rewards can be immense, even for the most cramped abode. Do your homework and throw in some elbow grease, and you’ll have the mortgage contract signed in no time flat. 

Aug. 5, 2015

Preparing Your Family for Your Big Move, Without the Stress

Moving is hard enough when you’re on your own, but as you factor in more and more variables, things can rapidly spiral out of control. Children, pets, your spouse; all of them will have opinions, emotions, and stress associated with the move that you have to address. When moving to a new area with your family, you will need to take the time to ensure that everyone is prepared and involved with the effort to ensure that stress remains low, and feelings remain unhurt.

Moving with Children

Planning a move with a child can be the most complicated – and often, most stressful – item on your moving list. Emotions will always run high, and there’s no blanket all ages how-to. A toddler will handle a change differently than a baby, a grade schooler differently than a toddler, and a teen differently than all of them. Moreover, it varies on a person-by-person level. Some children will handle the change better or worse than others: your teen may be singularly unaffected by the change, while your grade schooler may feel like it’s the end of the world.

Your children’s feelings are valid, so treat them with the respect they deserve. Whether they react with anger, tears, or joy – you should accept these emotions as they are, even if you’re negative. Tell them about the move as early as possible (they should be among the first you tell about the move, and you should tell them as such) and give them details on a level they can understand. For example, you can tell them that you’ve been promoted and must move for the position, but don’t confuse or overwhelm them with the irrelevant office politics that came with the decision. Let them be involved in the moving process if they’re able, and keep them updated every step of the way. If possible, take a weekend trip to see your new home and help your children familiarize themselves with the house, their new schools, and local fun spots. If the move is too far away, have a local friend or family member, or even your real estate agent, take some photos. Don’t forget the tech age we live in: even a simple smartphone can help give your family a live tour from a thousand miles away.

Be firm, and explain that the move is happening for a reason – and no amount of yelling or begging will be able to change that. While you can and should make the effort to help your children keep a connection with their old home if they so desire, don’t make promises you can’t keep. Allowing them to keep in contact with friends, family, and beloved teachers through social media and Skype is simple and safe. Making promises that you’ll go back to visit regularly, or hinting that the move is only temporary – if these promises aren’t absolutely something you’re determined to make happen, even breathing a word of them to your children is a recipe for disaster.

Moving Day With Furry Friends

Pets pose their own problems when it comes time for a move. While they may not hurl dramatic screeds at you across the kitchen table as an upset tween might, they can’t be reassured with a heart-to-heart talk – that language barrier is something awful. Pets can have just as many emotional and psychological ties to your old home as any other member of your household, and as such, they must be taken into consideration when planning your move. 

Cats and dogs are creatures of habit, and as such, you should expect behavioral hiccups when you’ve moved to your new home. Cats may hide under the bed all day, dogs may have accidents in the house – you have to expect this behavior, and not stress your pets further by getting angry or reprimanding them for it. Consider making arrangements to introduce your pets to the new home after all the dust has settled. Having them temporarily room with local friends or family members until the house is unpacked fully is not only a good way to help your pets settle at the sight and smell of familiar furniture, but will also keep them from being underfoot while you’re hauling and unpacking boxes.

Make the appropriate health and wellness arrangements for your pets before you touch down in your new home. Having an appropriate vet already lined up is essential at a time when your pets may be encountering a great deal of stress that can potentially influence their health, so do your research and interview veterinary hospitals online and over the phone before you’re out of your old home.

Keeping Your Partner in the Loop

Home buyers with partners or spouses often neglect the importance of considering their reactions to a move. Sure, you’re both adults, and at least nominally have a mature way to cope with change. Many moves happen due one partner’s job opportunities or transfers, and while these often can’t be avoided, they force the other partner to give up their job, their friends, their families, and all the local amenities they’ve become accustomed to. So, while one partner enjoys their new position, the other is stuck job-hunting while alienated from their previous life. This situation can breed great resentment in a relationship if not handled properly, which will only cause further stress and strife for children, pets, and all others involved.

If your partner expresses hesitations, trepidations, or resentment toward the move, listen to them and do all that is in your power to help them through the issues they bring up. They’re your equal in the household, are not to be treated like your children – they can, and absolutely should, be your partner in deciding all the aspects of the move and choosing your new home. Help them in their job hunts and accompany them in exploring your new town. Volunteer and hobby organizations can help you make some local friends, and the move itself presents a peerless opportunity for your spouse if they wish to further their education in a local university or community college. Remember: not considering your partner’s needs just as you would other members of your household will send the message that you don’t value them.

Posted in Real Estate
July 29, 2015

Room for Improvement: What’s Worth DIY, and What’s a Risk too Big to Take?


When you’re looking to buy a house, you won’t always find a place that satisfies every need on your home-buying checklist: in fact, it’s rarer to find a home that’s absolutely perfect. Homes that are a little bit imperfect can still be perfectly good buys, especially if the flaws can be fixed with a bit of DIY effort. However, you don’t want to sign yourself up for a long and grueling home improvement plan on top of your new mortgage. Some projects are a snap, while some are just not worth the time, effort, and most of all – cash.

Consider Your Resources First

Even the smallest of improvement projects need resources, so consider what you have available. You don’t want to sign up for a home improvement project that will bury you in work and stress from the moment you move in. If you’re an experienced technician or have good industry contacts to have things done professionally, you’re already a few steps ahead of the crowd. However, if you and your housemates all work forty-hour weeks, are in a new neighborhood with no knowledge of reliable contractors, or just don’t have the money to start, you’re starting behind the curve, and are paying mortgage on an inferior house right from the get-go. Really keep in mind what you’re prepared for, before you think about signing that mortgage.



Improvements Made Easy: When a Fixer-Upper Is Easily Fixed

Not all home improvement projects mean that you’ve got to call in the bulldozers, and not all home improvement projects need to be done professionally. Smaller projects can easily be done at home by someone with patience and determination, and will save you plenty of cash while still being able to enjoy your new home.

Consider, for example, a humble tiling job. Ripping up some ugly kitchen tiles and revamping the room with something a bit more stylish is an easy DIY project that fits easily inside a weekend, and won’t wind up making the home unusable in the process. Walkthroughs and tutorials are plentiful on YouTube and home improvement blogs alike, and you’ll find plenty of support and advice from the DIY community in their comments and forums. This project is medium-skilled, has few dangers, and isn’t likely to damage the home if left unimproved or if improved incorrectly: it’s a perfect DIY for nearly any new home owner, and can easily be excused as a minor imperfection when considering buying a home. Once you’ve gotten one DIY project complete, you’ll always find yourself hungry for more: suddenly, that overgrown yard doesn’t look so tough to tame into the garden of your dreams, and that ugly tub in the bathroom is easy enough to replace with a stylish free-standing ceramic number, or even a standing shower. You’ll find yourself not only improving the flaws that you originally saw, but improving your new home even further beyond that – increasing its resale value more and more as you go.

Even a project that requires a professional’s touch isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker as far as whether or not you should buy a home. If you’re really in love with a home’s look and all it’ll take to make things perfect is a professional knocking down a wall or two, you’ll find that it’s well worth the added price. Do your research, and investigate contracting companies around your home’s new area. You may wind up finding a company that you can really stick with for years to come, throughout all your home improvement projects.

When That Fixer-Upper Has too Many Flaws

Unfortunately, not all flaws can be easily dismissed when you’re out to buy a home. There are some home improvement needs that are just too severe and too resource-intensive to justify signing up for their responsibility, especially when you can’t safely enjoy your new home. If a single project will have you kicked out of the house for months on end, it’s time to reconsider the investment.

Electrical and plumbing issues are not only bothersome on a convenience level, but can also be very dangerous to anyone living in your home. Bad plumbing can damage the home’s structure (if it hasn’t already), and poor electrical work can potentially start fires. A home that has issues with pests –termites, cockroaches, rats, etc. – is unsanitary and unsafe for even the most devoted of animal-lovers. If your new home has issues with any of these items (a seller or real estate agent is legally obligated to inform you of them, lest you unleash judiciary wrath upon them down the line), it’s not just a home improvement project: it’s a big problem, and one that you may not want to get yourself tangled up in.

If you’re still determined to buy a particular home despite these glaring issues, demand that the seller or real estate agent take steps to sweeten the pot for you. Often, they can legally be given the financial responsibility for funding repairs, especially when it comes to issues that fly in the face of safety regulations: faulty electrical work, slapdash plumbing, insect or vermin, and so on. Don’t let yourself back down on these demands, as they’re well within your rights as a buyer – and believe us, a real estate agent or seller knows that they’ve got a house that gravely needs improvements on their hands. Real estate agents often have connections with local contractors to provide improvement services at a discount rate, and will be all too happy to sign you up with them to seal a sale. A good seller or agent will work with you on negotiating prices and demands. Remember: buy smart and buy safe, and don’t sign up for a home that you can’t really throw yourself behind improving.

April 28, 2015

Why You Deserve A Beach House

So for about twenty years or so, you've been working hard. You've done all the right things. You've invested cautiously. You've spent wisely. You're about to turn 40 something. You're a work hard, play harder type of person. Each year you've taken your annual two-week vacations, one at the beach, one in the mountains. When it comes to the beach, you come to Ocean City. You want to wake up each morning with the smell of salt in the air and the ocean lapping against the shore. Who hasn't grown up wanting that beach house that is your private retreat? You've done the math. You've accepted the financial part of this. You are ready. You earned the right to a beach retreat.

Take a moment to reflect on your best vacation. If you're anything like me it was at the beach, sitting on the deck and playing penny poker with my Dad. Everyone, especially around here, has that one photo whether they're big or small, where they're sat out on a beach towel with some dated bathing suit and big sunglasses. After so many years of back and forth, why not own a little property on your favorite stretch of sand.It's not about you. A beach house means family. Family is escaping with me. You're letting your kids know the real joys of sun and sand. Enjoy your wife's company with a margarita. This is your happy place.

It's not about you. A beach house means family. Family is escaping with me. You're letting your kids know the real joys of sun and sand. Enjoy your wife's company with a margarita. This is your happy place.



When you own a property at your favorite vacation spot, you have guaranteed yourself to more than just a once a week two year trip. You officially don't have to worry about hotel vacancies or remembering to pack your toothbrush. This is your second home. You've kicked back here before. It already has all the comforts of home but better. It has sun, sand, and surf!

Here is your rational statement! Look, your kids grow up fast. Your family grows faster. Time is the most precious commodity. Life is short. Your time with your kids is limited. Don't pass on an opportunity to create those moments and cultivate wonderful memories with them. Before you know it? Poof! They're grown up and headed to college. Poof! They've got a family of their own. What do you want them to know as an adult? You want them to know that time with family and time with their kids is where their best moments in life are cultivated. With a beach house, you've plucked them from their day to day and focused them on their time with their parents. When you get to the beach house, your brain is instantly in vacation mode. You're willing to relax more. You're willing to adventure more. You're willing to have more fun, and your kids will see that side of you. The beach brings that out in people.

Don't limit yourself to just two weeks of that.

No one ever lies on their death bed and says “Oh boy, I should have spent more time at work!” No. You think about the time you spent with your family, your kids, your spouse. When I think about a beach house, this is what I remind myself of. It's not about what you spent or splurged, it's about the memories you made while you were there.

When you own a beach house, you are creating a space for yourself that you don't settle into the way you would at home. You still care for it with the same due diligence you would of your primary residence, but you know when you turn that key that it's vacation time. It's the fun house. It's your best trophy ever, because making memories with your friends and family is really what makes for a wonderful life.



April 23, 2015

College: Could You Get In Again?

Could you get into the college you attended back in the day? I'll use  my lovely wife and I as examples. As most folks know, Beth attended Michigan State University. She took her college boards with her bathing suit under her clothes. She applied to two schools and picked MSU without ever visiting the campus! She had a successful four and a half years that provided her with great internship opportunities. She graduated with BA in Hospitality. At the time a board score of 1100, got you an admission to MSU. She started her college career with 9,349 other freshmen, of which 6,359 were first-time college students. There were no advanced placement classes in 1989. The admission requirements had been revised to mandate that each student have scored a minimum of 21 on their ACTs or have graduated in the upper half of their high school class. Today MSU requires an ACT of 23 or higher, as well as a SAT score of 1040-1210 in Critical Reading and Math. Yeah. Beth could attend MSU again.

My college search was a little different. All I wanted was to shoot hoops and play right away. Terry Riley isn't the type of guy to wait on a bench! So I looked all around Boston. I visited six or seven schools and talked to any Basketball Coach who would lend an ear. I ended up choosing the coach who promised the most playing time as a freshman. Bridgewater State College, which has since become Bridgewater State University, was my pick and my 1180 boards zipped me in. Today BSU would still be okay to get in with an admissions rate of 70%. However, Northeastern University MBA program would be a huge stretch for me these days! Northeastern has become a top ten MBA program! My GMATs were good. I had a BA in History with a minor in secondary education...I've come to terms with the fact I am unlikely to get in a second time around. They've got a 32% admissions rate. That's a big difference. 








So what about you? Where did you go to school? Could you get back in?



Posted in Terry Riley, Throwbacks