JoAnn Asselin | Westfield Real Estate, Agawam Real Estate, West Springfield Real Estate




Photo by Linda Knicely on Unsplash

Luxury homes have been gaining popularity for at least the last two years, says Washington Post. And while no one has set exact parameters for what is and isn't considered luxury, many real estate agents use the term to describe homes priced in the million-dollar range or higher. These are the residences that offer genuine stone and marble finishes, smart appliances, real hardwood throughout and space that goes on for days. It's not unusual for a luxury home to boast equally luxurious landscaping, such as an outdoor home theater set-up or an in-ground, stone pool designed to look like a natural waterfall. 

Many young and upwardly mobile couples are searching for today's luxury homes -- particularly those living and working in and around our nations' capital. This market, that extends into Arlington, VA, attracts buyers whose annual household income tops $350,000 -- the lawyers, the bio-tech engineers and young millennials who are taking over their parents' businesses. Spare time for this demographic isn't an available resource, which is why today's luxury landscaping must be both eco-conscious and low maintenance:

Smart Irrigation

A smart irrigation system can monitor the weather forecast in the area and check moisture levels in the soil. Using this information, it can turn sprinklers on and off at will, watering only the areas that require attention. A smart irrigation system is usually compatible with mobile devices, allowing operation from a cell phone, tablet or laptop. It may even offer support for Amazon Alexa. Smart irrigation systems require little-to-no maintenance and save big dollars on monthly water bills. 

Hardscaping

Examples of hardscaping include rock walls, stone pavers and decorative stone stairs -- solid surfaces that provide both function and convenience without requiring much in the way of routine care. Many luxury homes boast outdoor kitchens with cooking and cooling appliances built into stone architecture. They may also feature full, outdoor living spaces that are complete with waterproof entertainment systems, in-ground fire pits and rock walls that double as seating areas. 

Backyard features such as these require little in the way of maintenance, but they're beautiful places for busy families to relax together with friends and unwind after trying days. 

Multi-Function Design

Landscaping that serves multiple purposes is also a popular choice for luxury homes. Vines that have been planted across a pergola to provide shade is a good example. A trickling water features that hides the sound of traffic on a nearby freeway is another. Plants such as herbs that look nice, taste good and repel mosquitoes may be found in on the grounds of a luxury estate, as well. 

If you've landed the luxury home of your dreams, and need workable ideas for equally luxurious landscaping, consider those options listed here. They're planet-friendly, easy to maintain and gorgeous ways to make the most of your upscale backyard. 


If you intend to list your residence in the near future, you may want to complete various property renovations. In fact, there are many reasons to perform home renovations before you add your house to the real estate market, and these reasons include:

1. You can revamp the look and feel of your home.

If your home has a drab interior or exterior, now may be the perfect time to update your residence. That way, you can reinvent your house and make it an attractive choice for homebuyers.

As you look for ways to renovate your house, it may be beneficial to conduct a home inspection too. A house inspection typically is requested by a homebuyer after a seller accepts an offer to purchase. However, performing an inspection before you list your residence may help you establish home renovation priorities.

During a home inspection, a property expert will assess a residence both inside and out. A homeowner then will receive an inspection report that provides insights into a house's strengths and weaknesses. And with this report in hand, a homeowner can allocate time and resources to prioritize home renovations and find ways to upgrade his or her residence before listing it.

2. You can increase the likelihood of a quick house sale.

A house that boasts outstanding curb appeal is likely to make a positive first impression on buyers. Thus, this home may be more likely than others to stir up lots of interest among buyers, which may lead to a quick house sale.

If you want to speed up the house selling process, you should perform home renovations. Because the sooner you update your residence, the sooner you may be able to accept a competitive offer to purchase your home.

3. You can boost your house's value.

Home renovations may help you bolster the value of your home. These renovations also can help you differentiate your residence from other available houses – something that is exceedingly important in a fierce real estate market.

When it comes to renovating your home, it may be helpful to work with a real estate agent. If you have a real estate agent at your side, you may be better equipped than ever before to plan ahead for home renovation projects.

A real estate agent may be able to put you in touch with the best home renovation experts in your city or town. For example, if you want to improve your home's interior, a real estate agent can offer interior decorator recommendations. Or, if you need to perform roof repairs, a real estate agent can help you find the top local roofing companies.

Before you list your home, complete home renovations – you'll be glad you did. If you perform myriad house renovations, you could help your residence stand out in a crowded real estate market. Best of all, home renovations could make it easy for you to enjoy a fast, profitable home selling experience.


If you own lots of items and plan to buy a house in the foreseeable future, now may be a good time to list any unwanted items online. That way, you can simultaneously eliminate clutter and earn extra cash for your excess items.

Ultimately, selling items online before you pursue a home can be simple – here are three tips to help you showcase your unwanted items online to dozens of potential buyers.

1. Provide Relevant Information in Your Item Listings

Find out as much as you can about any items you decide to list online. Because the more information you can provide to prospective buyers, the easier it becomes for a buyer to determine whether a particular item is the right choice.

There is no need to stretch the truth in your online item listings, either. If you provide accurate, relevant information, you can help a buyer make an informed decision.

2. Add High-Quality Photos

A picture is worth a thousand words, particularly for those who list items online. Thus, if you add high-quality photos to complement your online listings, you can instantly show off your items to large groups of prospective buyers.

You don't need to be an expert photographer to take high-quality photographs of your items. If you use a smartphone, tablet or digital camera, you should have no trouble capturing top-notch images that you can upload onto a computer without delay. Then, you can add these photos to your item listings and help buyers see exactly what you have to offer.

3. Be Ready to Respond to Concerns and Questions

If a buyer has a concern or question about an online item listing, you should be ready to quickly connect with this individual and provide him or her with the requested information. By doing so, you may be able to speed up the process of getting rid of unwanted items.

As you start selling items online and get ready to search for a house, you may want to find a real estate agent as well. If you hire a real estate agent, you can receive expert housing market assistance as you prepare to pursue your dream residence.

A real estate agent is happy to guide you along each stage of the homebuying journey. First, he or she will help you craft an effective homebuying strategy. A real estate agent next will keep you up to date about houses that fall within your price range and meet your desired criteria. Furthermore, if you find a home you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase. And if your offer is approved, a real estate agent will do everything possible to ensure you can finalize your home purchase as soon as possible.

Don't wait to get started on the homebuying journey – reach out to a real estate agent today, and you can begin your quest for your dream house.



 Photo by Mona Tootoonchinia via Pixabay

When you purchase a home, your lender charges you for a title insurance policy. You are also given the option to buy your own title insurance policy. Depending on your agreement with the seller, the seller might purchase the buyer’s title insurance policy. Before a seller can sell his or her property, it must have clear title. However, the title searchers could miss something. Title insurance protects the buyer and the mortgage company against financial problems that might come with a “dirty” title.

What Is a Title Search?

A title search looks at public records to determine the legal ownership of a property. The title search should uncover any liens against the property in addition to easements and other problems with the title. Building code violations, unpaid taxes and erroneous surveys are just some of the items that cause a title to be “dirty.” If a title has issues, the seller must rectify those issues before they are allowed to close on the deal.

What Is Title Insurance?

The title insurance protects the holder of the policy from any defects in the title. When you think of insurance, you generally think of being insured against things that will happen in the future. Title insurance protects you against things that happened to the title in the past. The insurance policy usually covers fraud concerning title documents, forgery on title documents, ownership by someone else, incorrect signatures, flawed record-keeping, flawed records, terms that reduce enjoyment (such as unrecorded easements) and encumbrances (such as liens and outstanding lawsuits).

The Cost and Types of Title Insurance

The cost depends on the title insurance company, but is usually around 1 percent of the purchase price of the property. The types of title insurance are owner’s insurance and lender’s insurance. As previously mentioned, the buyer buys the policy for the lender. The buyer or seller purchases the owner’s (buyer’s) policy.

The lender’s policy does not protect the buyer from loss – it protects only the lender. If you want to be covered against losses, you should always purchase your own policy if the seller doesn’t do it for you. Never rely on a title search, as it is easy enough to miss something that clouds the title.

For example, if the title search does not show that the seller has unpaid taxes and the closing goes through, the buyer is now responsible for those unpaid taxes. A title insurance policy protects the buyer against situations such as this.

If you are purchasing a home that was in foreclosure, the title is more likely to have issues because the sellers might not have more liens against the property in addition to the foreclosure. For example, if a seller does not pay a $20,000 hospital bill, the hospital could place a lien on the property. If the title search does not find that lien because someone erred in recording it, the buyer is responsible for that hospital bill once they close on the property. It is recommended that you always buy your own title insurance policy, whether you or the seller pays for it.


Before you kick off a home search, it is important to differentiate an ordinary house from a dream residence. That way, you can set realistic goals for your home search and accelerate the process of acquiring a house that matches your expectations.

Ultimately, each homebuyer's definition of a dream home varies. But for homebuyers who want to streamline the search for a dream home, there are several home factors to consider, and these include:

1. The Age and Condition of a Home

Dedicate the necessary time and resources to learn about a home's age and condition – you'll be glad you did. With these home insights, you can determine whether a home will require substantial repairs in the immediate future.

To evaluate a house's age and condition, you should hire a home inspector. This professional will examine a residence both inside and out and search for any structural problems with the property. Then, the home inspector will provide a detailed report that outlines any home issues.

A home inspection offers a valuable learning opportunity, one that can help you determine if a house is right for you. And if a home inspection reveals your dream home is actually a dud, you can always rescind a home offer and reenter the housing market.

2. A Home's Price

Many people want to own large, extravagant mansions. Yet the costs of these properties can be prohibitive, which is why most homebuyers search for houses that fall within a specific price range.

As you prepare to search for your dream home, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will enable you to enter the housing market with a budget in hand and avoid the temptation to spend too much on a house.

Also, it is important to realize that no home is perfect. Although you may search far and wide for a dream house that has all the amenities and features that you want, you'll likely need to make trade-offs to find your ideal residence.

Creating a list of must-haves and wants for your dream home usually is a great idea. This list will enable you to narrow your home search, evaluate properties that fall within your price range and discover your dream home faster than ever before.

3. A Home's Location

Consider where you want to live before you launch a home search. By doing so, you can identify available houses in certain cities and towns and map out your home search accordingly.

Think about what's important to you in terms of home location. For example, if you want a home that's close to your office in the city, you may want to search for residences in or near the city itself. Or, if you want to live close to the beach, you can explore properties that are conveniently nestled along the beachfront.

Lastly, if you need help finding your dream home, you should hire a real estate agent. With a real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble making your homeownership dreams come true.