Home Front: Cooking alfresco

Interest in outdoor kitchens continues to grow for many good reasons. One is that an outdoor kitchen adds both increased functionality and enjoyment to your home. Outdoor kitchens increase home values and they create additional space for entertaining, relaxing and enjoying nature.
Outdoor kitchens have evolved from a place to barbecue to a space that stands on its own to entertain and interact with friends and family. Thanks to technological advances and increased product options made specifically for outdoor use, you have a blank canvas to create a space that reflects your style and desires. Within the last five years, we've seen the addition of outdoor appliances, smokers, pizza ovens and refrigeration that deliver innovative new experiences.
Product advancements allow for an outdoor space that is comparable in quality, design and efficiency to indoor kitchens. In fact, it seems that outdoor kitchens are becoming an extension of indoor spaces. Seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor space can be enhanced by new door and window options. To complement the interior, we often specify porcelain floor coverings that look like stone or wood but have the texture to reduce slip-and-fall hazards caused by rain or snow.
Outdoor furniture is no longer confined to wicker or metal. There are new outdoor-rated fabrics that offer the look, feel and comfort of indoor pieces. Similarly, lighting has improved for outdoor kitchens, and sound systems and televisions enhance the space. Heaters allow for the kitchen to be used year round regardless of climate conditions.
Outdoor kitchens create new and exciting entertaining spaces for families and friends. It does not matter if you like to grill, but do you know anyone who would not enjoy a pizza baked in your outdoor wood-burning oven?
Many of our clients have more outdoor square footage than indoor square footage and are discovering they can use that space to add value to their homes and lifestyles. If you are interested in how Country Cabinets Etc. can create exciting outdoor space for you and your family give us a call at (603) 356-5766 or visit their showroom at 95 East Conway Road, Center Conway. You can also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.countrycabinetsetc.com.
 

Jason Robie: Are you real estate ready?

By Jason Robie

When I built my home over in Lincoln I had a decent job, had been there almost seven years, had good credit and I had a sprinkle of money in savings. That said I still did not feel ready to jump into the deep end of the real estate pool.

It is one thing to find a home you like and buy it. It was a bit more than I expected having to "GC" the construction of the home, wriggle the finances for three lots of land (split from a single lot), work with the town, banks, construction companies, attorneys and more. But still, with the help of a few invaluable mentors, a business partner and lots of time, we got it done.

Getting into real estate seems a bit overwhelming at first, but when you find yourself in the thick of things it tends to be a far more manageable process. There are a few things that you should consider before jumping in though. Let's peruse a few of those today.

It is no secret that money plays a large role in your investment into real estate. There are countless calculators that help you determine what you can afford. It will also be very helpful for you to speak to an experienced real estate professional to get a bit more insight into the process.

Someone who has been in the business (or even an experienced friend) can educate you on the additional costs like insurance, inspections, HOA fees, taxes and likely PMI. Armed with those additional facts, you can establish the savings account and ensure that you are ready for them when they creep up.

Another seemingly obvious consideration is knowing the type of home you want. If you are not building your own home, the available inventory will have something to say about your options. But even with that limitation the options are going to be a bit overwhelming.

The best advice I received was to create a "wants" and "needs" list before you ever even launch that browser to start your search. The list of "needs" will help focus your search and eliminate those homes that don't quite make the cut regardless of how adorable they may be. This process also helps focus your search by price range. You may quickly realize that you can't afford a home with an indoor football stadium, as much as we both agree that item belongs on the "needs" list.

Assuming you will not be paying cash for your new home, you would not be considering this is you didn't have good credit. Looking back over your financial history it should be free of large, untraceable debts, bankruptcy filings, missed payments, etc.

Banks love to see relationships with financial institutions lasting over a year and they love to see a consistent pattern of payments and paid off debts. The good news is if your credit has a few blemishes, you can take a few months to get it tidied up. While you can't erase the poor decisions you may have made years ago, you can take some time now to clean up what is current and show a pattern of responsible behavior.

Speaking of consistency, it is important that you intend to stick around the neighborhood for the coming couple of years. Not only will the front-loaded expenses of the home purchase still be fresh in your wallet, the ability for the home to appreciate is quite limited in a short time.

The general rule of thumb for buying a home is three to five years. If you think your job is in limbo or you are itching to answer the call of the Rocky Mountains, perhaps holding off on buying a home is the best option. But if you are sticking around, imagine the money you would spend in rent for those same 5 years being funneled into the account for your very own home.

"Many people are more ready for buying a home than they realize, the main missing ingredient is education," Badger Realty agent Linda Walker said. "Once first time buyers understand the financial requirements balanced with the benefits of home ownership, they are awakened to the potential and reality in front of them."

Walker is right. If you are considering home ownership, put down the newspaper and call your real estate professional today. It is true. You may not be ready to dip your proverbial toe into the real estate world just yet. But it would be great to know if you were and equally great to get educated on the path to get there.

Property of the Week: Black Bear Lodge — The ultimate mountain home

The custom-built Black Bear Lodge at 456 Glen Ledge Road in Bartlett is the ultimate mountain home you have been dreaming of. With picturesque views, it is no surprise that this stunning home was voted "Reader's Favorite" by Log Home Living Magazine.

As you step through the front door of this magnificent log and timber home you are greeted by a dramatic living room that features a cathedral ceiling with exposed beams and a wood burning stone fireplace. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the home with light, and overlook the expansive deck and peaceful mountain views.

The kitchen with beautiful granite counter tops has stainless steel appliances, a double wall oven, and a center island with a breakfast bar. The open layout of the main floor lends itself wonderfully to entertaining.

Property of the Week: Peaceful mountain living in Jackson


This week's property is located at 29 Stem Turn Hill Road in Jackson, quite possibly the nicest location in Jackson Village.

Nestled at the end of a private road, on 12 rolling acres, with mountain views, open fields, a small pond and sledding
hill, this home is a serene escape yet still close to the village. The home offers easy one-level living, a two-car garage, exquisite landscaping with flower and vegetable gardens, updated kitchen and baths, handsome hardwood flooring, two fireplaces, a wood stove and direct access to Jackson Ski Touring trails.

This home is totally efficient with no electric bill as it
generates 100 percent of its electricity and hot water from its roof mounted solar panels.

The listing price is $675,000. For more information, contact Kevin Killourie from Badger Realty at (603)356-5757 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..