Cray Cullen | Shrewsbury Real Estate, Northborough Real Estate, Westborough Real Estate


When we decorate and organize our homes, few of us give more than a passing thought to the way our choices will affect our mood and behavior in our home. Most of us simply organize and decorate based on what we like on a whim.

There are, however, entire fields of study devoted to the way our environment affects us (environmental psychology), and ways we can engineer and design our environments to change our moods and behaviors.

If you’ve ever visited a big city like New York you will likely have noticed an example of this firsthand in city parks.

When you sit down on a park bench, you’ll likely find that it isn’t the most comfortable place to sit. There’s more than just a tight budget at play here. Many engineers who plan parks use the idea of “unpleasant design.” They create benches with the intention of dissuading people from lying down  the benches by making them curved or putting arm rests in the middle of them.

In the same way that a city park can be designed to affect your behavior, your home can as well. In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how you can better arrange and decorate your home to have a positive impact on both your mood and behavior.

Organize to your advantage

Many of us think of our homes as the opposite of work--it’s a place we relax after a long day. However, there are a number of chores and tasks you’ll complete at home that can be optimally engineered to save you time.

One simple example is to think about the placement of the items you use in the kitchen. Is your trash can far from the countertop, requiring you to constantly walk away to toss out scraps?

A good way to find out the needless extra work you’re doing around the house is to take note of how you go about your daily routine. This will give you insight into areas where you might better use your time.

Declutter for productivity

Whether you work from home frequently or you just need a quiet place to do taxes or pay bills, a home office can be a good way to avoid distraction. That is, until you fill your home office with distractions.

When organizing your office, think about the content of it. For most people, a decluttered minimalist environment is most conducive to work. Leave out the television, keep your cell phone at bay, and don’t cover your desk in papers that you’ll constantly be rearranging.

Similarly, your computer needs to be tailored to productivity as well. We all know how tempting it is to head over to Facebook or Reddit when we should be focusing on work. A good way to help break this habit is to utilize a time tracking app that lets you know when it’s time for a break. Alternatively, you can use an extension or add-on for your browser that blocks sites like Facebook during the time you specify.

Colors matter more than you think

Each room in your home serves a different purpose. The kitchen is a place of activity and conversation, the bedroom is one of relaxation, and the home office one of focus.

Studies have shown that there is a correlation between the colors and brightness of the room we are in and our moods.

So, when you’re decorating a room in your home, think about the type of colors that fit how you would like to feel in that room.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Should you cosign on a mortgage loan to help someone else buy a house? 

Hopeful home buyers who lack the necessary credit history, W-2 income or overall income versus their debt can face problems getting a mortgage lender to approve a loan. Borrowers with a 43% or higher debt-to-income ratio may learn their income doesn't suffice. Yet if a cosigner steps up, promising to pay the mortgage if needed, the loan might be approved.

If you are the one who steps in, it's highly likely that your name will actually be on the title. Most lenders want it that way, so the asset can be pledged as collateral by both of you.

Are You Prepared to Do More Than Simply Cosign the Loan? Should You?

So, if the mortgage company asks you to serve as a co-borrower, not just a cosigner, understand the lender's expectations. Does the lender expect you to become a co-owner? If so, your name will appear, along with the primary borrower's, on the deed — even if you never set foot in the house and don't expect to pay anything.

If the person you are helping ever gets in a bind and can't make a mortgage payment, you'll be second in line to pay. And your credit report will be dented if you don't.

Were you a mere cosigner, you'd be asked to pay the debt but never have a claim to the value of the home. In other words, mere cosigners get liability for the debt — without the asset. 

What Does a Good Outcome Look Like?

Of course, you want the person you're helping to enjoy living in the home, to pay the monthly mortgage and, ultimately, to apply for a new loan that refinances the debt and turns the primary borrower into the sole borrower and the sole owner.

Even if you are 100% sure all will go as planned, it's a good idea to have a lawyer draw up a binding agreement that memorializes the primary borrower's intent to let you off the title, deed, mortgage and homeowner's insurance policy by a date certain after closing on the home. It will keep the primary borrower focused on making regular mortgage payments and developing strong credit, anticipating the refinancing application process. 

When the primary buyer successfully refinances the home mortgage, it will be time for you to take your name off the title. You can sign a quitclaim deed to release yourself from ownership.

Then you can congratulate yourself for enabling someone to buy a home. And congratulate the new homeowner for keeping both of your credit ratings as strong as your relationship.


The home selling journey offers no guarantees, and as such, there is no assurance that you'll be able to enjoy a fast, profitable home selling experience. Lucky for you, we're here to offer insights into the home seller's perspective and ensure you can reap the benefits of a successful home selling journey.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you become a smart home seller.

1. Analyze Your House's Strengths and Weaknesses

Although you've allocated significant time and resources to keep your house looking great over the years, your home soon may be just one of many houses that is available to property buyers. But if you analyze your residence's strengths and weaknesses, you may be able to identify opportunities to improve your house and differentiate it from others in a competitive real estate market.

Oftentimes, it helps to conduct a house inspection before you list a residence. This inspection will enable you to receive a comprehensive analysis of your house from a property expert. Then, you can use an inspection report to prioritize home improvement projects and upgrade your house accordingly.

2. Set an Aggressive Initial Asking Price

What you initially paid for your house is unlikely to match your home's present value. However, if you analyze the real estate market, you may be better equipped than ever before to establish an aggressive initial asking price for your residence.

Take a look at the prices of available houses in your city or town that are comparable to your own residence. By doing so, you can narrow the price range for homes in your region.

Furthermore, a home appraisal may prove to be exceedingly valuable. An appraisal enables you to receive a property valuation based on your house's condition, age and the current state of the real estate sector. With this appraisal in hand, you can set an asking price for your house that will hit the mark with many potential buyers.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

Even a home seller who is persistent and intelligent may require additional help to achieve the optimal results. Fortunately, real estate agents are available who can make it simple for a home seller to maximize his or her home sale earnings.

A real estate agent is a housing market expert who is unafraid to be honest with a home seller. This housing market professional will offer unbiased feedback about a residence's condition and provide recommendations to help a home seller improve his or her property. Plus, a real estate agent is happy to respond to a home seller's concerns and questions. This means a home seller can receive extensive housing market insights from his or her real estate agent and make informed decisions throughout the home selling journey.

When it comes to selling a home, there is no need to leave anything to chance. Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and anyone can enter the real estate market as a smart home seller.


If you want to find and purchase a great house at a budget-friendly price, it helps to enter the homebuying journey with a plan in hand. Lucky for you, we're here to help you prepare for all stages of the homebuying journey.

Now, let's take a look at three tips so you can set yourself up for success as you search for your dream residence.

1. Make a List of Home Must-Haves

The definition of a dream home varies from buyer to buyer. To define your dream home, you should craft a list of house must-haves and use this list to streamline your quest to acquire your ideal residence.

Think about which home features you need. For instance, if you require a house that boasts multiple bedrooms, you can tailor your house search accordingly. Or, if you need a home that is close to your office, you can search for a residence that provides convenient access to your office.

You may want to make a list of preferred cities and towns, too. This list will enable you to focus on available houses in cities and towns that match your expectations.

2. Create a Homebuying Budget

Learn about different types of mortgages – you'll be glad you did. Because if you make an informed mortgage selection, you can begin your home search with a budget at your disposal.

Generally, it is a good idea to meet with banks and credit unions before you launch a house search. Banks and credit unions are happy to teach you about myriad types of home financing. Then, you can select a mortgage that can help you make your homeownership dream come true.

If you are unsure about how various mortgage options work, there is no need to stress. Banks and credit unions employ courteous, knowledgeable mortgage specialists, and these professionals can teach you everything you need to know about home financing.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a homebuying expert who is happy to share his or her housing market insights with you. By doing so, a real estate agent will help you achieve your desired homebuying results as quickly as possible.

Typically, a real estate agent takes an in-depth approach to the homebuying journey. He or she first will learn about you and find out what you want to find in your dream residence. Next, a real estate agent will help you narrow your house search to residences that satisfy your needs and keep you up to date about available homes that may suit you perfectly. If you find a home you want to buy, a real estate agent then will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase this residence. Finally, if your offer to purchase a house is accepted, a real estate agent will help you complete the homebuying journey.

Want to acquire your ideal residence? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can put yourself in position to succeed as you pursue your dream home.


After you buy or sell a house, you may have only a short amount of time to relocate to a new address. As such, it helps to plan ahead for moving day. Because if you start preparing for your move right away, you can budget accordingly.

There are many moving costs you need to account for as you prepare to relocate, and these expenses include:

1. Packing

The costs of moving boxes, packing tape and other packing supplies can add up quickly if you are not careful. Fortunately, if you consider what you will require so you can pack your belongings, you may be able to minimize your packing costs.

Oftentimes, you can repurpose cardboard boxes for appliances and use them for moving day. If you have empty cardboard boxes for appliances you purchased, you may be able to re-use these boxes during your move.

You also may want to reach out to local supermarkets. In some instances, grocery stores have empty cardboard boxes and bubble wrap that they no longer need. And in these cases, you can pick up assorted supplies that you can use to get ready for your upcoming relocation.

2. Storage

If you have a large collection of items but do not have a place to keep them at your new address, there is no need to stress. In fact, you can rent a storage unit to keep these items safe until you are ready to bring them to your new home.

A storage unit is valuable for those who are moving to a temporary location until they find a permanent house. Or, you may want to rent a storage unit if you still unsure about which items you want to bring to your new residence.

There is no shortage of storage unit providers in cities and towns nationwide. If you shop around, you can find a storage unit company that offers you the space you need to keep your items safe for the time being.

3. Travel

If you want expert help on moving day, you may want to hire a moving company. That way, you can work with a moving company that can accommodate your moving day requests at a budget-friendly price.

Of course, you should account for travel costs associated with food and fuel, too. And if you are relocating from one state to another, you also may need to account for hotel costs as part of your travel expenses.

If you are uncertain about how to prepare for moving day, you may want to consult with a real estate agent as well. In addition to helping you buy or sell a house, a real estate agent can help you plan for moving day. Best of all, he or she can offer tips to help you seamlessly relocate from one location to another.

Create a moving day budget – you will be happy you did. If you account for the aforementioned moving expenses, you can avoid the risk of spending beyond your means to get ready for moving day.




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