Thursday, July 22, 2010


Sometimes the frustration of not finding just the right home to purchase leads folks to consider building the exact home they envision. Finding suitable land requires more homework than finding suitable houses that have already undergone the research and development of the land involved in building. Before embarking on a journey that may lead to either your dream home or your nightmare, there are preliminary steps to follow.
Once you have located a parcel that feels like home to you, go to the town (or city) hall to check with the planning and zoning departments. Ask what the long range plans may be that would affect your enjoyment of your property. Heartbreak only begins to describe the aftermath of building a lifelong dream house next to lush natural surroundings that were subsequently cut down to make way for the super highway that had been in the planning for years. There may also be a school or a park planned that would bring all the crowds and ballplayers to your dinner table daily.
If you are certain that a future municipal airport will not be sharing your air space every night, you will want to determine if the land is in a recorded subdivision or lies within unrecorded acreage. Subdivisions come with plats (maps) that will have more updated details than the subdivision plan itself. You would be able to determine if your neighbor had the right to cut down all the beautiful woodlands on his property that had attracted you in the first place. The documents may show that those woodlands may never be cut down and that directly affects the resale value of the home you build.
The plat may show utility easements (the right of use or way over your land) that will restrict or prohibit construction. These easements can not always be seen, but their existence will determine what you can or can not do with the land.
Land within subdivisions generally comes with restrictions that limit the control you will have over your property. Limiting control is not necessarily a bad thing as restrictions exist to maintain certain standards of living and are applied to all owners within that subdivision. Without restrictions, a neighbor could decide to raise attack dogs in an unfenced back yard while another neighbor could express his inner self with lime green exterior paint that irritated the dogs.
Another consideration that must be addressed when evaluating land costs is the topography of the land itself. Is it mostly ledge that must be blasted? Is it on a slope that must be filled in with additional soil? Are there already utilities at the site? Is there water or sewerage at the site or will you have to drill a well and install a septic? The costs to preparing the land for building may be so high that once your home is built on such a top heavy site, you may never get a return on the value invested. After all, it would still only be one single family home in a market that will not reward the preparatory work involved in building it.
Building your own home on the perfect location is enormously rewarding when the research has been as thorough as is reasonably possible. When looking for land for homebuilding, it is imperative that you engage the services of knowledgeable professionals. Your Realtor, Builder and Lender should be with you throughout the process to avoid finding baseballs crashing through your picture window that overlooks the new town dump with aromas that float on the breeze to your patio that sits under the Boeing 747 that roars overhead periodically drowning out the symphony from super highway traffic that appeared after you built that dream home.

Friday, July 9, 2010


You have waited all year and it’s time to relax away from home. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, however, statistics show that July and August are the busiest months for burglars who love your being away almost as much as you do.
There are many ways to avoid becoming a victim of these menacing threats to our homes and lives. Here are some tips from the FBI, The Home Safety Council and this REALTOR that may serve to keep your homes secure while you enjoy much deserved time away:

1.Do not leave recorded messages that you are “out of town”.
2.Do not leave any key anywhere except in the hand of your REALTOR, a trusted friend or family member who will bring in your mail and any periodicals or newspapers while you are away.
3.Keep bushes, shrubs and any plantings trimmed under windows so burglars can not hide in them. (If your home is on the market, REALTORS don’t like hidden burglars at all.)
4.Let your trusted neighbors know that you will be away and that you are not expecting any visitors so that they may call the police about suspicious activity around your home. (Your REALTOR is NOT to be carted away)
5.All doors, windows, garages and sheds should have working locks.
6.Be sure the automatic garage door has been completely closed as you leave.
7.Make one last trip around the home to be sure all sliding glass doors, side doors, bulkheads etc are locked and secured.
8.Store ladders securely away in locked garage or shed so that they can not be used to access the home.
9.Use timers for selected lights or outdoor water sprinklers to make it appear that someone is home.
10.Mow the lawn one last time just before you leave. (Tall grass suggests that the homeowner may be away).
11.Put bright lights over porches and walk ways in front and back yards.
12.Do not leave any toys, tools or equipment in the yard.

Have the time of your good lives this summer and come home to your properties refreshed and happy. For those of you whose homes are on the market, just come home ready to close!

Broker/Realtor Janet Hilton is a former practicing attorney and critical care RN who with her husband retired Lynn Fire Lieutenant George Hilton owns and operates REMAX Country Crossroads at 144 Newburyport Turnpike in the Rowley Plaza. For excellence in providing Real Estate services, call the office 978-948-5333 or visit