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Monday, March 12, 2018

6 Stats About Millennial Home Buyers That Realtors Must Know

It seems like we’re regularly met by a barrage of conflicting information about home-buying Millennials (those individuals born between the early ‘80s and late ‘90s). One report will say that this young cohort is hesitant to enter the housing market, while another will say that buyers under the age of 35 are driving the housing market. One article may suggest that most Millennials want to keep renting close to city centers, and another will argue that Millennials are all flocking to the suburbs.

It can be challenging to sort out fact from fiction and to determine which statistics are most relevant to you as a buyer’s agent. That’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting for you: check out six of the most important statistics about Millennial home buyers below.

Millennials Are Fueling the Housing Market

In 2017, the national homeownership rate increased for the first time in 13 years, and Millennials were the driving force behind that boost. The homeownership rate for households headed by someone under the age of 35 increased from 34.7% in 2016 to 36% the following year. That may not sound like a big increase, but it represents the largest growth of any age group during that period.

Millennials have been slower to enter the housing market than previous generations, in large part thanks to barriers including student loan debt, low wages in the wake of the recession, and tightening credit requirements. But now that the oldest Millennials are in their mid-30s, they’re reaching a point where they can transition from renting to buying. Millennials are projected to be the largest home buying generation since Baby Boomers, which means it will be essential to cater to this generation’s needs and preferences in the coming years.

2 Out of 3 Millennials Plan to Sell Their Starter Home

Millennials are pragmatists when it comes to buying their first house, and most don’t expect to move into their dream home right away. 68% of Millennials say they see their first home as an investment to help them get the home they really want in the future. While the average homeowner will stay in their first house for 10 years before selling, the average Millennial homeowner will stay in their first home for just 6.

Millennials Are Group Most Likely to Consider Buying a Foreclosure

Millennials are more willing than older generations to consider buying a home that’s been foreclosed on by a bank. Foreclosures sell for 20% below market value on average, and these discounted prices can be a big incentive for young buyers who may be struggling to enter the housing market.

While a foreclosure can be a great deal, it’s important to educate Millennials about some of the challenges they should expect. Talk to Millennial buyers about the specialty inspections they should conduct before buying and the costs they’ll have to pay for repairs and maintenance after they close. It’s also a good idea to talk to young buyers about 203(k) loans that can help with extensive renovations.

Almost Half of Millennials Live in the Suburbs

While Millennials are often stereotyped as urban dwellers, most members of this generation are looking beyond city centers when buying their first home. According to a recent Zillow report, 47% of Millennials live in the suburbs, compared to 33% in cities and 20% in rural areas. Affordability is a major factor, as first-time buyers are frequently priced out of centrally-located city neighborhoods. Many Millennial buyers want more space for their money but also want access to urban amenities like local restaurants and walkable neighborhoods. Expect to see suburbs gradually transforming to meet these needs.

Millennial Home Buyers Are Group Most Likely to Research Online

95% of all home buyers do some research online, but that number goes up to 99% for Millennial buyers. 58% of Millennial homeowners found a home by doing research on a mobile device, while 76% have driven by a home after seeing it in an online ad. While the home search might start online, Millennials are still seeking the in-person help of real estate experts. 92% of Millennial homeowners purchased their home through a Realtor.

Myths About Home Buying Assistance Abound

87% of first-time home buyers say they would take advantage of a home financing program if they qualified, but 47% believe they’re ineligible. Additionally, 90% of first-time home buyers believe that their down payment must be at least 10% of a home’s price. In reality, the national average for a down payment is only 6%.

It’s important to help dispel these myths and educate young home buyers about their options. Many prospective home buyers may still be hesitating to enter the market because of perceived financial barriers, and as a Realtor, you can help them overcome these obstacles.

Monday, March 12, 2018

How to Avoid Home Buyer's Remorse

Buyer’s remorse—that feeling of second-guessing something you’ve bought—often occurs after large purchases. And since a house is the largest purchase most people will ever make, home buyer’s remorse is a common experience. One 2017 survey of 2,000 homeowners found that 44 percent had some regrets about their current house or the process they went through to buy it.

You may experience that twinge of regret after buying a home, but it doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision. Do your research, avoid rushing the process, and follow our additional tips for avoiding (or at least minimizing) home buyer’s remorse.

Avoiding Sources of Remorse Before You Buy

Cost

One of the most common causes of home buyer’s remorse is spending more than originally planned. Avoid this problem by setting a strict budget before you start looking at listings. If you start looking at listings before establishing your budget, you risk falling in love with a property that’s outside your price range, which could cause you to feel like you have to “settle” for something more affordable.

When establishing your budget, remember that it doesn’t have to be the maximum loan amount for which you’ve been pre-approved. You’ll need to decide on a budget that will allow you and your family to live comfortably—and have reasonable monthly mortgage expenses-- after you make your down payment. You should also budget for property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, maintenance costs, and emergencies.  

Neighborhood

You can’t change your neighborhood after buying a house, so do your research before you make an offer. Visit the neighborhood where you’re interested in buying during the day and at night so you know what the noise level is like. Go for a walk and talk to neighbors whenever you can. Locate the nearest grocery store, parks, restaurants, and other amenities that matter to you.

Commute

If you visit a listing in the middle of the day, you might think that your commute to work won’t be too bad. But what’s the commute like during rush hour? If possible, test out the commute in both directions at the times you normally travel to and from work. If the commute is longer than what you’re used to, you’ll have to decide if the home you’re considering is worth spending more time in transit.

Renovations

Unexpected renovation costs can be a source of regret for many homeowners. If you’re planning to purchase a fixer upper, do the math on the renovation costs before you buy. Talk to contractors who can give you estimates, and research material costs for projects you plan to tackle on your own.

In addition to thinking about renovation costs, think about your comfort and sanity. Are you willing to live in a home with ongoing renovations? Do you have the time and energy required for big DIY projects? Be realistic in your expectations.

Minimizing Home Buyer’s Remorse After You Close   

Even if you’ve done your research and stuck to your budget, you may still feel some regret after the initial excitement of buying a home wears off. Remind yourself that this is normal and will likely pass. In the meantime, try these strategies to minimize buyer’s remorse:

  • Decorate your new home. Surround yourself with the things you love to make your new home feel like it’s truly yours.
  • Stop looking at listings. There’s no reason to keep looking at listings, and if you do, you may end up feeling like you’ve missed out on something.
  • Focus on what you love about your new home. There may be some imperfections, but there will also be features that you love—that’s why you bought the house, after all.
Monday, March 5, 2018

How to Plan a Budget for Home Renovations

Budgeting for a home renovation project can be a tricky business. You have a vision in mind—a beautiful new bathroom or kitchen, for instance--but how do you determine what it’s going to cost? It’s important to consider all the included expenses and factor in a cushion for unexpected costs so that you don’t run out of money before the end of the project. By starting off with the right numbers, you can anticipate your expenses and ensure the renovation will be a good return on investment.

Step #1: Estimate Your Costs

What kind of renovation do you want? Different projects and rooms in your home will give you different returns on investment (ROIs). Kitchens and bathrooms are the most frequently used rooms in most homes and can be a good start toward remodeling. Sit down with an architect, contractor, or interior designer and determine the basic costs for the project. Get multiple bids for the project to ensure you’re getting a fair price. While most contactors’ fees will include some materials, you’ll need to choose your fixtures and finishes. Do some research on what items will cost and fill those costs in as you purchase them.

Step #2: Extra Expenses Like Taxes and Shipping

It’s easy to forget about important fees that come along with building materials. Taxes on your purchases can be as high as 10% in some areas. Large items like cabinets, countertops, and bathroom hardware come with expensive shipping or delivery fees. Maintain consistency and avoid surprises by budgeting for these items in your initial budget.

Step #3: Add a Cushion

Something will go wrong on the project. It might be an incorrect order, damage to your home’s structure, or some other unforeseen cost. Build in 10-15% extra for any eventualities that may occur, including delays. Depending on the scope of the project, the initial projection may be pushed back if there are delays on materials or construction problems. Understand that renovations are unpredictable, and you can’t control everything, but a cushion can help account for that.

Step #4: Stay the Course

It’s tempting to upgrade to the best of everything when renovating or tack on another “small project” because you’ve already started. Every time you change the plan, you’re adding additional lead time, costs, and complexity. Develop a plan with your architect or contractor and stick to it. Keeping it simple will help you stay focused and help the project run smoothly.

Don’t rush blindly into your next renovation. Whether you’re improving your home to sell it or planning your dream remodel, create a budget that can absorb any surprises. Your Realtor may be able to help you find experienced professionals in your area and direct you toward securing a home equity line of credit.

Monday, March 5, 2018

What Do Professional Home Stagers Do?

Home staging is about creating a beautiful interior to sell your home. Your furniture and decor might seem perfect to you, but it’s important to display the right image to potential buyers. A professional home stager works to make your home shine—helping it look cleaner, brighter, and easy for a buyer to see themselves in. After you’ve cleaned, painted your home in neutral colors, and made repairs, hiring a stager can be a push to help sell your home for the best price. Talk to your Realtor for recommendations on the best home stagers in your market and get the “oomph” you need.

What Is a Home Stager?

Home stagers aren’t just personal decorators; they’re professional artists who can take a home and make it appeal to almost any buyer. A home stager has the skills of an interior designer, set decorator, and illusionist—all rolled into one. A home staging consultation may result in a simple rearrangement of furniture and removal of personal objects, but it can be so much more than that. Home stagers may recommend new paint, landscaping, and renting new furniture.

Why Should You Get Home Staging?

As a seller, you don’t want your home to sit on the market for months without offers. An experienced home stager can help increase your home’s appeal and decrease its time on the market. While staging is an investment—anywhere between $500-$5000 or more depending on the scope, region, and square footage of your home-- it can pay off quickly. If you want to make a big impact when selling your home, hire a home stager.

What Will a Home Stager Do for You?

Staging is about creating a scene for the buyer when they enter the home, either at a private showing or an open house. A home stager brings in their expertise and insights to appeal not only to buyers’ eyes but also to their sense of smell and touch as they tour your home. Some of their popular techniques include:

  • Renting furniture that will appeal to a variety of buyers
  • Using window coverings to add ambiance and warmth
  • Creating vignettes with furniture to highlight specific areas
  • Adding decorative elements that draw attention to selling points

Home stagers also bring in additional decorative elements that help potential buyers imagine themselves living there. Common elements include:

  • Throw Pillows
  • Plants
  • Baskets
  • Mirrors
  • Rugs
  • Fresh or Silk Flowers

A home stager’s job is to help your home look its best and appeal to the buyers in your area. Work with your Realtor to find an accredited home stager to bring your listing to the next level. You may be able to sell your home faster and for a better price with the help of a staging expert.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Affordable Design Trends to Try in 2018

We’re already beginning to see predictions for the biggest interior design trends of 2018, and many of us are eager to incorporate some of our favorites into our homes. But what if you don’t have the budget to install a farmhouse-inspired kitchen sink or buy a statement velvet couch?

Fortunately, many 2018 design trends can be implemented with a little DIY effort and a few accessories sourced from thrift stores or eBay. Here are our picks for some of the best low-cost design trends of 2018.

More Color in the Kitchen

All-white kitchens may be timeless, but they can also seem sterile and monotonous when overdone. After several years of white kitchens as the be-all and end-all, we’re starting to see bright colors making a comeback. Colors like coral, sunny yellow, and even olive green are beginning to find a place on walls, trim, cabinets, and window fixtures. And for those who don’t want to take the big step of adding bold colors to the kitchen, there’s good news: neutral shades like gray and blue are also seeing a surge in popularity. Try painting your upper cabinets a neutral shade to ease into a more colorful kitchen—and capitalize on the two-tone cabinet trend that’s still going strong.

Vintage Light Fixtures

Add personality to your home and enjoy the thrill of the hunt by sourcing vintage light fixtures from thrift stores, furniture consignment shops, or flea markets. You can also check sites like eBay and 1stDibs for a wide selection of hard-to-come-by fixtures at a reasonable price. Look for fixtures that match the existing aesthetic of your home. For example, if your home has a mid-century modern look, keep an eye out for well-made chandeliers and pendant lights from the ‘50s or ‘60s.

Oversized Geometric Art

Bold geometric patterns are popular this year, but if you aren’t ready to wallpaper your living room or buy a hexagon-patterned loveseat, there are alternatives. Oversized geometric wall art gives you the same effect as a statement wall with greater flexibility. Look for large canvas prints that come ready to hang (no frame required). Keep your wall from looking too busy by choosing a print with just a few large shapes or curved lines.

Statement Ceilings

Statement ceilings are another good alternative to the statement wall. Try giving your living room a new look by painting the ceiling a bright color or covering it with patterned wallpaper. However, if you’re getting ready to sell your home, this is one trend you might want to pass on—you have no way to know if your prospective buyers will like the same ceiling colors and patterns as you.

Décor That Doubles as Storage

The minimalist aesthetic is still popular this year, and one easy way to cut down on clutter is to look for functional décor that doubles as storage. You could, for example, place a vintage trunk or an ottoman with built-in storage at the foot of your bed, or add a small bar cart to your kitchen for additional counter space.

Concrete Accents

Concrete is becoming increasingly popular for tiles, countertops, and decorative accessories. Homeowners on a budget have reason to celebrate, as concrete is a relatively inexpensive building material. Those looking for small ways to incorporate concrete into their home design can start with accessories like planters, bookends, and decorative bowls. Those looking to go a little bigger could try concrete end tables, kitchen countertops, or even a new hearth.

If you’re thinking about trying any of the biggest design trends of 2018, take a minute to reflect on what will work well with your home’s aesthetic and continue to look good for years. And ultimately, you’ll need to decide what design trends you’ll be happy to see whenever you walk through the door.

Friday, February 23, 2018

5 Renovations to Avoid When Selling Your Home

It seems like such a simple concept: embark on renovations to spruce up your home, and you’ll be able to recoup your money by selling your property for more. This strategy may work for certain projects—such as adding more insulation to your attic or installing a new garage door—but for every high-ROI project, there’s another that just isn’t worth it.

Here are five renovation projects that are unlikely to pay off when you sell your home:

Adding a Swimming Pool

A swimming pool may not be the hot commodity that you think it is, especially in regions where outdoor swimming is limited to the summer months. In fact, a swimming pool may be a turn-off for some prospective buyers: many people won’t want to deal with the ongoing maintenance, and parents with young children may have safety concerns. Even if there are buyers in your area who like the idea of a backyard pool, you won’t see much payoff. The cost to install a pool is typically higher than the value it adds to the home.

Going Overboard on the Landscaping

Many prospective buyers will feel the same way about elaborate landscaping as they do about swimming pools: they might think it’s a nice idea but won’t want to deal with the time-consuming maintenance. Adding a complex water feature or formal garden to your yard is unlikely to increase your home’s value. Instead, concentrate on keeping your yard looking tidy, and add a few low-maintenance trees or plants if you feel like your outdoor space is missing something.

Repurposing a Bedroom

Maybe you have two bedrooms next to each other and have been toying with the idea of taking out the shared wall to create a large master suite. Or maybe you have an unused guest bedroom and have been thinking about adding new features, such as built-in shelves, to turn it into a home office or library. In either case, resist the urge. Removing a bedroom will limit your pool of potential buyers. For example, if you go from three to two bedrooms, buyers who are looking for a three-bedroom home will immediately dismiss your listing.

Converting the Garage into a Living Area

You may like the idea of converting your garage to a man cave or hobby room, but you should avoid adding features that will make it hard to convert back to its original state. Most buyers will want a sheltered area to park their car or will at least be banking on using the garage as a storage area. Turning your garage into a living area is unlikely to increase the value of your home and could even be a deal-breaker for some prospective buyers.

Choosing Unnecessary Luxury Updates

It’s one thing to update your home with granite countertops after seeing that every other listing in your neighborhood has them. It’s another thing to add an outdoor kitchen or luxury master suite when no other homes in your neighborhood have these features. You don’t want your home to be the most expensive one on the block because the surrounding properties will, at least in part, dictate what you can ask for it. Talk to your Realtor before performing any major renovations to make sure you’re not going to price yourself out of the neighborhood.

When thinking about renovation projects to tackle before listing your home, think about the ones that will have universal appeal and bring real value to prospective buyers. Don’t let yourself get distracted by trendy features or projects that appeal to you; ultimately, your buyers need to see a future for themselves in the home.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Helping Baby Boomers Find a Home to Age in Place

For many Baby Boomers (the generation born between 1946-1964), it’s time to start thinking about retirement. As a Realtor, it’s your job to help find them a home that has the features they need to age in place. Many future retirees are making a choice to stay in their homes as long as possible with supplementary services. When searching for listings for Baby Boomers, consider what features they’ll want in a home and what will help them stay in their residences for many years.

Boomers are more active than other generations of retirees, and many have embraced technology. They want to have everything at their fingertips in their new homes, including features like high-speed Internet, appliances that shut off when not being used, and more. Discover what Baby Boomers are looking for in a new home so you’ll be ready for your next clients.

Smart Home Technology

With many Baby Boomers looking to retire in the next few years or decades, smart home technology can make their lives easier. A home equipped with a smart hub, smart lighting system, and a smart thermostat can reduce walking and make controlling basic functions easier. While full integration is not a prerequisite, many Boomers want to move into a home where they don’t need to do any work. Built-in smart home technology makes lives easier and is one less thing to install when moving into a home to age in place.

Low Maintenance Exterior

When entering retirement, the last thing people want to do is deal with maintaining a large yard. Concentrate on finding beautiful listings that offer xeriscaping (no water required) or a small amount of grass. You could also consider showing them homes that are part of an HOA offering maintenance as part of their monthly or annual fees. The less work required as they get older, the better.

Single Story Homes and First Floor Masters

Many buyers in this age bracket are looking for ranch-style homes or at least first-floor master bedrooms to consider the future. While they may be able to use the stairs adequately now, they want to live in the home comfortably for years into the future. Other convenient features to look for include multi-level countertops, raised dishwashers, and reduced-height microwaves for easy access. Along with luxury appliances and flooring, these ease of living features are some of the most important details to Baby Boomers looking for a new home.

Help Your Clients Find the Perfect Home

In your home search with Baby Boomers, consider your clients’ individual needs in purchasing a home for their retiring future. Help them find a property that allows them to stay independent for as long as possible, with smart and convenient features that work for them. With your help, your client can find a great home to age in place.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Is a Fixer-Upper Right for You?

The idea of purchasing a fixer-upper is appealing to many homebuyers. It follows the ethos of “buying the worst house on the best block,” a real estate cliché that can result in investment gains. Working on an old or broken-down house and fixing it up can be a rewarding process. After finding something rundown in a neighborhood you love, you spend time and love renovating it, and after a few months, you’ve got a new house and have gained equity.

But that’s vastly simplifying the process. Fixer-uppers can often have hidden problems, and most prospective homebuyers don’t have the expertise to take on renovation tasks themselves.

So, who is a fixer-upper right for? You don’t need to be plumber-electrician-handyman, but you should be organized and inventive. If you’re ready to deal with problems as they come up and think you can handle the stress, a fixer-upper might be a good choice. Look for houses that need a little TLC with your Realtor, and if you feel comfortable taking on the work, you can begin exploring next steps.

Pluses and Minuses of a Fixer-Upper

Fixer-uppers can be a smart investment, especially if your Realtor can help you negotiate a good price for the property. The right projects, like improving the kitchen, bathrooms, and flooring, can greatly improve home value. These cosmetic fixes can be relatively simple, and the choices for materials are seemingly endless. You can create spaces you’ll enjoy living in, instead of dealing with the decisions previous buyers made.

However, fixer-uppers often come with more complex structural problems, such as issues with plumbing, electricity, or the foundation. Consider hiring an expert for these repairs instead of trying to DIY as mistakes could cost thousands of dollars. It’s important to know what you’re getting into before purchasing a fixer-upper. You can quickly get under water if too many repairs are needed to bring the house up to code and make it livable.

What to Do Before Purchasing

Don’t make an offer on a fixer-upper lightly. Do your research and get a detailed home inspection beforehand. Work with your Realtor and a contractor to determine what kind of work is required and how much it will cost. Once you have an estimate for the work, you can make an appropriate offer, adding a 5-10% cushion for any issues that may crop up during renovations. Your Realtor will be a lot of help during this process, helping ensure you get a fair deal.

Once your offer has been accepted, it’s time to start looking for a contractor. Get multiple bids and compare them based on timelines, price, and reputation. Get everything in writing. It’s possible to do some renovation work yourself, learning from YouTube videos and articles online. With some preparation and a little practice, you’ll be a DIY expert.

Get into Your Fixer-Upper

Renovating a home certainly isn’t for everyone, but it can be a rewarding process. Enter the process slowly, do your research, and rely on experts for complex problems and projects. After your first fixer-upper, you may be hooked.

Monday, February 12, 2018

House Hunting Distractions That Shouldn't Affect Your Final Decision

House style, number of bedrooms, school district: there are a lot of factors you need to consider when buying a new home. However, the seller’s preferred design aesthetic shouldn’t be one of them. Learn what factors are little more than distractions—and what you should pay attention to before buying a house.

Wallpaper, Paint Colors, and Carpet

You might not love the nautical-themed wallpaper in the bedroom or the outdated beige carpet in the living room, but the good news is that they’re not permanent. It’s relatively easy and affordable to repaint walls and remove carpets. Even an unattractive popcorn ceiling can be fixed without a full renovation; HomeAdvisor estimates that hiring someone to remove a popcorn ceiling costs between $1 and $2 per square foot.

Rooms With Creative Uses

It can be surprising to walk into what you thought was the second bedroom and discover that the current owner has turned it into a wine cellar. But keep in mind that after buying the home, you don’t have to continue using every room the same way as the seller. Try to picture how you want to use the available space rather than getting hung up on what the seller has decided to do with it.

Lack of Curb Appeal

Don’t be disheartened to find that a home’s lawn is a little long or that the paint on the front door is starting to chip. Many sellers put extra effort into boosting their curb appeal, as it will be potential buyers’ first impression of the home, but just because someone neglected their landscaping doesn’t mean you should walk away. As with ugly wallpaper and carpeting, the house’s landscaping is something you can easily fix. Poor curb appeal could even work in your favor. If other potential buyers are soured on the listing because of the view from the curb, the seller may be forced to reduce their price.

Staging That You Love

You shouldn’t let bad home staging sway you, but you also shouldn’t decide to purchase a home just because you love the way the seller has staged it. Remember, the furniture is not coming with the home (unless the owner is specifically offering to sell the home furnished), and that high-end sectional couch isn’t what you’re paying for. Look past the staging and decide whether the layout of the home will work for your lifestyle.

What You Shouldn’t Ignore

There are a lot of things that you can change after buying a home, but there are also a few you can’t, including:

  • The Neighborhood—Make sure you can live with the sights and sounds of the home’s neighborhood because they won’t go away when you move in.
  • Your Commute Length—It’s a good idea to test out your potential commute from a new home so that you can decide if you can handle it every day.
  • Natural Light in the House—You may be able to let more light into the home by switching out the window treatment, but there may be certain rooms that don’t get a lot of natural light due to the home’s position or the surrounding properties.
  • Available Parking—Some properties may not come with a garage or carport, and unless there’s room on the lot to add one, you may have to park on the street.

Before you start house hunting, it may be helpful to make a list of must-have features and deal-breakers. This list will allow you and your Realtor to hone in on the properties that are the best fit for you and help you tune out the distractions.

Monday, February 12, 2018

5 Romantic Weekend Getaways Outside of Boston

Maybe you’re planning a getaway for the weekend after Valentine’s Day, or maybe you’re already thinking about traveling somewhere to celebrate your anniversary or partner’s birthday later in the year. Fortunately for Massachusetts residents, there are plenty of romantic New England vacation spots within easy driving distance. We’ve got five recommendations for great couples’ trips that you can fit into a weekend (although you’ll probably want to stay longer).

Lexington and Concord, MA

Couples who want to soak up some history without going far from Boston should head to the towns of Lexington and Concord. A trip to Lexington and Concord isn’t just about checking out the historic sites along Battle Road Trail; couples will be spoiled for choices when it comes to upscale restaurants and hotels in the area. Standout hotels include the 4-star Inn at Hastings Park, Hawthorne Inn, a boutique bed and breakfast, and Element Lexington, which has eco-friendly amenities and its own bike sharing program. Meanwhile, fine dining spots like 80 Thoreau and Wood Hills Table prove that Boston doesn’t have a monopoly on great restaurants in Massachusetts.

Chatham, MA

Located on the “elbow” of the Cape, Chatham is an ideal central point to explore all that Cape Cod has to offer. It’s also home to the Chatham Bars Inn, which was ranked one of the best resorts in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine. With the resort’s ocean views, private beach, full spa, and other luxury amenities, it’s not hard to see how it earned that distinction.

Of course, there’s still plenty to do in the area even if you and your better half don’t stay at the Chatham Bars Inn. The Chatham Lighthouse is a must if you’re looking for spectacular views of the coastline, and restaurants like Impudent Oyster and Del Mar Bar & Bistro will help you get your fill of fresh seafood. And if you’re looking for an intimate dinner spot with an extensive wine menu, Chatham Wine Bar has you covered.

Portland, ME

Just a two-hour drive north of Boston, Portland is a playground for couples who know that trying new foods and drinks is the best part of any vacation. Popular Portland restaurants include Chaval, which serves up French- and Spanish-inspired dishes, Central Provisions, which is known for its small plates and wide selection of drinks, and waterfront seafood spot Scales. Beer lovers will have more than a dozen breweries to choose from, including the can’t-miss Rising Tide Brewing Company and Liquid Riot.

If you and your significant other want to work up an appetite before checking out Portland’s restaurants and breweries, you can rent bikes and take a self-paced tour of the city’s historic homes.

North Adams, MA

Some might say that North Adams is easy to miss, given its location in the northwest corner of Massachusetts. However, those who fail to visit this unassuming town are missing out on an impressive arts community. North Adams is home to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) as well as many downtown galleries and studios, making it the perfect spot for art-loving couples. And after a day of taking in art across a wide range of mediums, couples won’t have to travel far for good food. The Grammercy Bistro is inside Mass MoCA, while Italian restaurant Grazie is just across the street.

The White Mountains, NH

Couples who love the outdoors should make weekend plans in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. There’s no shortage of activities to try, no matter what time of year you visit the White Mountains. In the winter, you’ll find slopes for skiing and snowboarding, as well as teams of horses ready to take you and your partner on a romantic sleigh ride. During the warmer months, you’ll stay busy with hiking, kayaking, zip lining, and more. You’ll also find a wide range of accommodations, from full-service resorts to quaint B&Bs.

There are vacation spots in New England that cover every definition of “romantic,” whether you and your partner prefer candlelit dinners or mountain bike rides. Take advantage of living in such a vibrant area and plan a weekend getaway with your sweetheart.

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