Kathy Kelley | Wellesley Real Estate, Natick Real Estate, Needham Real Estate, Weston Real Estate


If you want to streamline your home search, there is no need to worry. In fact, there are several things you can do to quickly and effortlessly discover a great house at a budget-friendly price.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you streamline your search for your ideal house.

1. Create Homebuying Criteria

Homebuying criteria may help you save time as you embark on a quest to find your dream home. Because if you enter the housing market with homebuying criteria in hand, you'll know what you want to discover in your ideal residence.

To create homebuying criteria, think about your home must-haves and wants. Then, you can search for houses based on your homebuying criteria and move one step closer to finding a residence that you can enjoy for years to come.

Of course, it is important to remain flexible as you pursue your dream house too. And if necessary, you should be ready to adjust your homebuying criteria as your home search progresses.

2. Hone Your Home Search to Preferred Cities and Towns

You know you want to buy a house, but you still have no idea where you want to settle down. If you make a list of preferred cities and towns, however, you may be able to accelerate your home search.

Consider your short- and long-term aspirations as you prepare a list of preferred cities and towns. For instance, if your long-term goal is to work in the city, you may want to focus on houses in or near the city itself. On the other hand, if you want to own lots of land in a small town, you may want to consider small town residences.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

Searching for a home on your own may prove to be time-consuming. Fortunately, real estate agents are homebuying experts who are happy to help you simplify your house search.

By hiring a real estate agent, you can receive comprehensive assistance throughout the property buying journey. A real estate agent will teach you about the housing market and respond to your homebuying concerns and queries. Plus, he or she will offer recommendations and suggestions to help you make an informed home purchase.

In addition, a real estate agent is ready to assist you in a number of ways. He or she will set up home showings, keep you up to date about new houses that become available in your preferred cities and towns and help you submit a competitive offer to purchase your dream home. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will do whatever it takes to help you acquire a terrific residence at an affordable price.

As you get set to embark on a home search, it generally is a good idea to enter the housing market as a prepared property buyer. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can conduct an in-depth home search without delay. And as a result, you can use these tips to discover your dream house in no time at all.


Aromatic oils have been used for millennia by cultures like the ancient Greeks and Egyptians for use in medicines and ointments. And, to this day, many of us use products containing essential oils, such as perfumes, shampoo, cleaning supplies, and even the food we eat.

More recently, essential oils have become a popular DIY ingredient for household items. In this post, I’m going to share with you some of the many household uses for essential oils and break down which oils are suited for each purpose.

Read on for tips on using essential oils in your home.

Oil diffusers


Perhaps the most common use for essential oils is in an oil diffuser that emits an aromatic steam into the air of your home. Oil diffusers are great for a desktop that you work by, particularly in the winter time when the air tends to be dry. This mist can help mitigate the effects of dry air on your throat and nasal passage, and emit a pleasant air freshening odor into the room.

There are several oils and oil blends that are used in oil diffusers. Some of the most common oils used are lavender, peppermint, and several citrus-scents like lemon, bergamot, and wild orange.

When using an oil diffuser, be sure to use only a few drops of the oil--using too much can become easily overpowering and even irritating to the skin, nose, and eyes.

Room mists

Many top-brand air fresheners use essential oils as part of their ingredients. However, they also contain a number of other additives that you might not enjoy. Essential oils give you the ability to create a blend that works for you.

Combine water with a few drops of essential oils into a spray bottle for a refreshing room mist. This solution can even be used on most fabrics--however, just like with an oil diffuser, make sure you don’t put too many drops of essential oils in your solution to protect your fabrics.

Cleaning solutions

Cleaning supplies can get expensive very quickly. Fortunately, the ingredients to make a simple all-purpose cleaner are cheap and can make over a gallon of solution that you can keep refilling as needed.

Vinegar and water-based cleaning solutions often incorporate a few drops of essential oils like peppermint, lemon, and other fresh, “clean” smelling scents.

The best part? These solutions are made from non-toxic ingredients that can typically be used on your countertops, inside microwaves, and on other surfaces that food may come into contact with.


A quick warning: essential oils are made by distilling vast amounts of plant material into very concentrated oils. This means that the oils are exponentially more potent than their plant counterparts. Overuse can easily cause rashes and irritation, so use sparingly, avoid contact with your eyes when working with oils, and always read instructions before use.



 Photo by Vit Ducken via Pixabay

There has been a lot of concern about the state of rural America and how it's being affected by large businesses. Big box stores like are said to destroy local businesses, causing an economic drought in small towns. But despite the statistics, there's a bigger picture to consider. We'll look at how big businesses cause big and small changes alike for the rural homelands of America. 

The Dominos 

Many people living in a small town will tell you that big business destroys it from the outside in. In Winchester, IL, one local lawyer met serious challenges in trying to get a local market off the ground, largely because his main produce supplier backed out of their original deal. 

His concern is that if neighbors can't even buy a banana in their town, what exactly is their incentive to stay? There are about 5 million people living in rural areas that need to travel at least 10 miles or more to purchase fresh (not prepackaged or frozen) groceries. 

Real Estate in Rural America 

The story of grocery stores is an important one when trying to understand the larger effects of what big businesses do to small towns. These anecdotal tales support the larger real estate trends in America, in that there are few people moving to small towns. This lack of interest has caused very few property owners to improve or modernize properties in rural areas.

The scarcity of well-maintained homes has caused their value to increase. So while the average cost of a home in rural America may seem very affordable, it's likely because the home is in a state of disrepair. In addition, financing may be difficult to obtain, due to the lack of available lenders in the area. 

The Good News 

The people who still live in rural America are not prepared to let their communities fall by the wayside. Across the country, residents are creating (and supporting) local markets that offer everything from fresh food to homemade crafts. Other communities are offering everything from utility credits to free swim passes for families. 

There are also government programs available that incentivize people to move to rural areas and invest their efforts into the forgotten properties. USDA loans offer extremely reasonable interest rates and lending terms to buyers who want the chance to own their own home and participate in their community. 


Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay

When you plan on getting a mortgage, you have some choices. There are conventional, FHA, VA and other options. One term you'll likely hear is a conforming or a non-conforming loan. If you aren't sure what that means, you could end up confused about the kind of loan you're actually getting for your property. To protect your investment and your finances, make sure you understand your loan type. Here's what you need to know about conforming loans.

What Are Conforming Loans?

Conforming loans are generally what most people think of as conventional or traditional loans. They're what most banks and other lenders offer to the majority of borrowers when those borrowers need a mortgage. The reason they're called conforming loans is that they meet federal guidelines for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These are two agencies that buy the loans from the bank. Being able to sell the loan to one of these agencies is a benefit to the lender.

Who Can Receive a Conforming Loan?

Anyone who meets the qualifications -- and chooses a property that also qualifies -- can receive a conforming loan. Typically, to be conforming the loan has to be under a set dollar amount. For single-unit properties, for example, that limit was $484,350 as of 2019. If you want or need a mortgage bigger than that on a single-family home, you'd have to choose a nonconforming loan.

You'll also need a credit score of at least 620 (this may need to be higher based on your down payment and other factors), a debt-to-income ratio below 36 percent (or 45 percent for some loans) and private mortgage insurance if you don't have a 20 percent down payment. You'll also need to be 18 or older and have proof of income and identity.

Why Would You Choose This Loan Type?

Most people don't really choose this type of loan. It's just the one that's typically offered to them. It's the most common loan type, and it works very well for the majority of people. Lenders will often assume that this is the kind of loan you want, but there's no harm in asking them if another type of loan would be a better fit for your real estate needs.

How Can You Get This Kind of Loan?

As long as you meet the qualifications, you can get this type of loan. There aren't any special requirements, such as being a veteran or purchasing a property in a specific area of the country. Most people who apply for a conventional mortgage to buy a primary residence will have a conforming loan, because it's used most often and easier for banks to work with. Choosing this kind of loan is often easier for everyone involved.


A smart home device may prove to be a time (and money) saver. However, not all smart house devices are ideal for all homeowners. If you select a smart home gadget that fails to accommodate your day-to-day needs, you risk wasting time and resources on a device that delivers little to no return on investment.

Ultimately, it helps to conduct an in-depth search for the right smart home devices based on your individual needs. With a comprehensive search, you can find one or more terrific smart house gadgets that suit you perfectly.

For those who are on the lookout for reliable and budget-friendly smart home devices, there are lots of things you can do to perform an extensive search for gadgets that will serve you well. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you find the right smart house gadgets for your residence.

1. Assess Your House

Think about why you want a smart home device, as well as how you might use this gadget in your house. Then, you can determine how exactly a smart house device can help you streamline various day-to-day tasks.

For instance, if you strive to reduce your electricity bills, you may want to invest in smart light bulbs. This investment could deliver long-lasting cost savings, as smart light bulbs will allow you to simultaneously brighten up your residence and lower your electricity consumption.

On the other hand, if you want a new doorbell, now may be an ideal time to invest in a smart doorbell. With a smart doorbell at your disposal, you can use the video camera that allows you to see visitors as soon as they approach your home.

2. Start Small and Scale Accordingly

Although you may be tempted to buy multiple smart home devices at once, it often is a good idea to purchase one smart house gadget at a time. That way, you can avoid the risk of getting overwhelmed by myriad smart home devices at once.

Generally, it helps to perform research, find out if a smart home device is right for you and make your smart house gadget purchase. If your investment works out well, you then should consider additional smart home devices.

Of course, if you find a particular smart home device fails to match your expectations, there is no need to stress. Smart home technology is constantly evolving, and as such, new and improved smart house devices soon may be available to fulfill your needs.

3. Review Your Budget

Set a budget for your smart home device spending. Next, try to stick to this budget as closely as possible to ensure you don't spend beyond your means to purchase smart house gadgets.

Shop around for a smart home device, too. This will allow you to pick up a quality smart house gadget at a price that corresponds to your budget.

Clearly, there is a lot to consider relative to smart home devices. If you use the aforementioned tips, you may be better equipped than ever before to determine if a particular smart house gadget is right for you.




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