Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Checklist of Items Needed for Your First Home

Checklist of Items Needed for Your First Home

Whether you're moving from your parents' home for the first time or making that first transition from a rental unit to a home of your own, knowing what you need will make this new beginning an easy one. Too much stuff will just add clutter, while not having what you need may leave you scrambling or stretching your budget to fill in the gaps. Smart planning will provide the essentials you need in your first home.

The Basics
Depending upon the home you're moving into, you may need some large items to set up your first house or apartment. While most rentals include a range and dishwasher, not all will have a refrigerator. Check with your landlord to avoid surprises before you move into your new place. You'll also need, at minimum, a place to sleep and a place to sit, so plan on a bed and linens, table and at least two chairs. If possible, you'll likely want a couch or upholstered chairs and a dresser.

Cleaning Supplies
This is an often-forgotten home essential, particularly if you've never been responsible for daily home upkeep before. You will need a good all-purpose cleaner. Choose one that cleans and disinfects to use in both the kitchen and bath. Add a glass cleaner, a scrubbing powder, dish soap and toilet bowl cleaner. Make sure you have a broom and dustpan, vacuum cleaner, dusting and cleaning cloths and a toilet brush. For convenient storage, tuck your supplies into an inexpensive plastic caddy. Laundry and clothing care essentials include laundry detergent, stain remover, a basket and hangers.

Home Maintenance
Whether you live in a house or an apartment, a few basic tools will help you handle basic home repairs. The most important of these, in everyday terms, is the toilet plunger. You should also have a hammer, flat-head screwdriver, Phillips-head screwdriver and a pair of pliers on hand. Depending upon your rental agreement, you may also want a picture hanging kit or no-residue adhesive strips to hang pictures. Homeowners may find that they need additional tools and supplies for maintenance, without the benefit of a landlord to call.

Kitchen Supplies
Stocking your kitchen will allow you to prepare simple meals at home, save money and stay healthy. You need, at minimum, a saucepan and a skillet, plates, bowls, glasses, silverware and cups. Small appliances, like a coffee pot or toaster, are a good idea if you need or will use them. Include a can opener, at least one good knife, a cutting board and a dish drainer. A few wooden spoons, a spatula, measuring spoons and a colander or strainer are helpful. You'll also want a kitchen trash can and trash bags on hand. In addition, pick up salt, pepper, oil and other pantry essentials right after your move.

The Bathroom
The bathroom has its own list of must-haves. You will need at least two bath towels, plus hand towels and several wash cloths per person in the household. Stock your preferred personal supplies and items, including bar soap, shampoo, feminine hygiene needs and hand soap. When you're planning your move, don't forget the toilet paper. Tuck at least two rolls into the bathroom box or one into an "open immediately" box for your first home.

Let us know if we missed any basics in the comments and good luck in your new 1st home!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Buying Old vs. New

What do you think of when you picture the home you'd like to live in? To most people it bears a passing resemblance to the one they grew up in. A traditional Victorian or, perhaps, a brownstone townhouse straight out of a familiar TV show. Then again, maybe that is not what you are looking for. Maybe you'd prefer something newer, something with contemporary style, the latest amenities and a lot less maintenance. When it comes to home buying, one size does not fit all. It really helps to understand the differences when it comes to buying an older house and buying new construction.
Just What You Were Thinking
"We wanted to live in one of those cool, funky neighborhoods like in old Brooklyn, New York but we didn't want to have to renovate. It just made more sense to get into a new place." – Donna M.
A New House Built for You?
If not a custom-built house on its own lot, then most new homes today are built in community developments with a cohesive style. These developments can be as small as the old style cul-de-sac neighborhoods, or they can be as big as a former farm filled with dozens and dozens of homes. These homes are built to the latest planning and zoning codes and standards, they tend to be contemporary in style, energy efficient and are often less expensive than resale homes of a similar size. Sometimes, these types of new home developments can represent a savings over established neighborhoods. Either way, the decision about whether to sacrifice an established community is worth thinking about and taking time to weigh your options. Specific details may vary depending on your circumstances, but consider these pros and cons.
Pros and Cons of New Construction
·         Contemporary style
·         Some flexibility on design during construction phase
·         Cheaper to maintain (new appliances = fewer repairs)
·         Cheaper to operate (energy-efficient construction)
·         Extended warranties
·         Cohesive neighborhood (consistent layout, common areas, amenities)
·         Frequently have a homeowners association (helps protect resale value)
·         It's brand-new!
·         Cookie-cutter design
·         Limited negotiating room on price
·         Most likely homeowners association dues
·         Frequently less character, more than likely identical designs
·         Frequently have a homeowners association (can put limits on how you use your property)
Of course, one home buyer's pro ("No one has lived in it before us, so we won't inherit any problems.") can be another's con ("No one has lived in it before us, so we have no way of knowing about any problems."). Fortunately, there are ways to make sure the house you're buying is really the house you want:
·         Check the builder's track record. What else has the company built? Were previous projects completed on time, on budget and without bad blood between the builder and buyers?
·         Walk the streets. If you live nearby and previous stages of the development are occupied, ask the residents if the builder did quality work and lived up to contractual commitments.
·         Picture your home, not the model home. You can certainly have the granite counters, surround-sound home theater and jetted tub you saw in the model home, but they're not included in the base price. You will pay extra for them.
·         Bring your own agent. If the builder has a real estate agent on site, the agent will be more than happy to help you. But, on-site agents work for the builders who hire them. Their best interests will be for the builder, not you.
Finally, consider the intangibles. Similarly styled homes attract like-minded buyers, and most developments are built with families in mind. Depending on your point of view, the consistency, conformity and kids playing in the street can be a blessing or a curse.
Existing /Resale Homes
Just what you were thinking
"We liked the charm factor of an older home -- even if it meant living in a construction zone for months during our renovation." – Jeffery W.
Old = Character?
With new developments popping up almost overnight, it's obvious that new construction is on the rise. And yet, most people buy an older home; i.e., a home that someone else has lived in but is now on the market again. Call them old if you like — existing home sounds better — but they're the kind of houses that many people would like to call home.
Of course, there are pros and cons with older homes, too. (That cute cottage with the casement windows? It can be mighty drafty come winter.) In general, older homes tend to be more available and less expensive than new homes, but they can also be full of surprises.
The Pros and Cons of Older Homes
·         More choices, more styles to choose from
·         Price may be more negotiable
·         Known issues will be revealed in disclosure documents
·         Established neighborhood
·         Could contain more charm and character
·         More maintenance: Things break or wear out
·         Less energy-efficient: More costly to operate
·         Dated design, older appliances and amenities
·         It's been lived in!
As with new construction, there are ways to make buying a resale home less scary:
·         Have the home inspected. You do not want to find out the foundation is cracked or the roof needs to be replaced after you move in.
·         Consider a counter-offer. If the inspection reveals fixable flaws, propose the seller do the repairs or lower the price.
·         Expect the unexpected. Pipes leak, electrical work becomes outdated and furnaces fail — get used to it.
·         Be honest with yourself. If major repairs are required, you'll either have to do them yourself or bring in the professionals. Some people enjoy D.I.Y. or hiring professionals; others don’t.

The bottom line in older homes is this: Don't buy someone else's problems unless you can handle the issues. Find a house you like, consider its pros and cons — objectively, as well as emotionally — and think about the consequences and sacrifices you may have to make. The more logically you approach buying a house, the more you're going to love your home!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Copper Square – New Community offers First-Class, Carefree, Lifestyle in Beautiful Townhomes and Duplex Residences

 By Pamela Brown
      The buzzword in the building industry is customization – getting features in a home that suit your specific lifestyle. Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or an empty nester downsizing from a maintenance-intensive home, you’ll appreciate the opportunity to select the details to create your personal living space. Copper Square is a new community in Bethel, CT featuring beautiful modern townhomes and duplex residences. The townhomes, affordably priced from $299,900, and duplexes from $369,900.00 offer an exceptional value in the Fairfield County marketplace.
      The interiors of the homes at Copper Square are spectacular. Julia Walters of JL Walters Design Associates designed the spaces with a keen knowledge of color, comfort, and livability, integrating thoughtful interior elements into the home plans. “I wanted to create a canvas for the homeowner that would easily compliment their individual style; be it contemporary, transitional, traditional, or even eclectic. It is not just a home – it’s a lifestyle. The most important objective was to design homes which support how families and individuals live and function today,” said Walters. “The homes have open floor plans with expansive kitchen and dining spaces and shared spaces for family members to reconnect at the end of the day. With many companies offering remote work situations to their employees, we offer home office spaces in several of our plans. For those who prefer one-level living, we have first floor master bedrooms and first floor laundry/mudrooms.” For Walters, another important item beneficial to health and well-being is natural sunlight, so window placement and size were an important consideration.
      Copper Square’s award-winning builder RMS Companies leads the region in creating dynamic, state-of-the-art tools that help buyers envision their homes, simplify selections, and enhance the overall home buying experience.   “It’s very important to me that each homeowner become a part of the design process and have a direct hand in selecting the options to create their dream home,” said Walters. Copper Square provides a state-of-the-art Design Studio with a highly professional sales and service staff to assist buyers during all phases of their purchase decision. The user-friendly Studio shows every option available, including colors, materials, fixtures, cabinetry, finishes, and style. Buyers will feel like they’re in the actual home as the Studio provides space to move and be inspired, offering multiple kitchen vignettes showcasing examples in a professionally-curated, experiential way. Buyers can view an actual island with cabinets above or see how a floor color relates to or enhances what they envision for their home. “The options we have curated in the Design Studio allow the homeowner a tremendous amount of design freedom,” she said.  
      Additionally, Copper Square offers Kitchen Options Changer, an online software program. After a tour, when buyers leave the property to consider their new home, they can use this innovative and interactive tool to help them visualize their future home, choose options, make changes, and try different scenarios before making a decision. “We wanted prospective buyers to get that immersive experience, to get involved, to touch everything, and to truly envision their space.  Our aim was to infuse flexibility into the home buying process by giving buyers spaces they can work with and tools to create their ideal living arrangement,” said Randy Salvatore, President of RMS Companies.    
     The townhomes range in size from 1,967 to 2,466 square feet. Three of the townhome designs have two bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a kitchen with center island or peninsula, a dining room or dining area, a living room with crown molding, and an entertainment room. The fourth and largest townhome has three bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. This unique plan offers a complete first-floor living area with increased accessibility features, a main second floor living area with an office, and a third floor with a master bedroom suite and an additional bedroom. All townhomes feature one car garages, and master suites with a walk-in closet, oversized shower, and double granite vanity.
            The two and three bedroom duplexes range in size from 1,615 to 2,431 square feet.  All have two story entry floor plan or center hall feel. Two of the duplex designs feature first floor master suites, with two additional bedrooms and a loft area on the second floor.  Two plans also offer a home office/library on the main level. All duplex homes feature two car garages, bluestone patios, gas fireplaces, and luxurious master suites with walk-in closets, soaking tubs, and a separate shower.
      Both townhome and duplex residence come standard with hardwood floors in all main living areas, including stairways, lofts, and upstairs hallways, carpeting in the bedrooms and entertainment rooms, and kitchens with Mastercraft cabinets, stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops.  Central air conditioning, security systems, and separate laundry room areas with connections for laundry equipment are also standard in all homes; washer/dryer appliances are optional. 
        “The individual home is just one part of how the design philosophy incorporates lifestyle,” said Walters. Buyers enjoy membership in the 7,500+ square-foot Club Copper featuring a fireside lounge; a Mac Bar with iPads and iMac computers; a generously-sized kitchen with 20’ ceilings and a bar; a billiards/gaming area; a cappuccino bar with Wi-Fi; a conference loft; a state-of-the-art fitness center; and a sport and screening room featuring a 120” screen, surround sound, and stadium seating. Also, there’s an outdoor bluestone fire pit, a grilling area, and a spa-inspired outdoor heated pool with a sun deck and a bar for entertaining. “All of these elements are seamlessly integrated into the homeowner’s daily lifestyle,” she said.  
     At Copper Square, you can customize your dream home and create the perfect interior living space.  You will also enjoy a carefree lifestyle in which all exterior maintenance, including snow removal, landscaping, and lawn care is provided. Bask in a comfortable, sophisticated, and personalized home and indulge the exceptional amenities offered at this new community. You will discover what Copper Square’s design philosophy and mantra--You’re In Your Element--is all about.
Copper Square is located at 48 Stony Hill Road (Route 6), Bethel CT.  For more information, please visit wwwLiveCopperSquare.com, view the latest photos Instagram.com/livecoppersquare, or call the office at (203)701-7697. The Sales Center and Design Studio is open Monday through Saturday, from 10a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 11a.m. to 5p.m. Models are Available.