Renting vs. Buying – Things to Know About Buying a Home in 2017

article1Whether you’re a renter or home owner, you’re paying a mortgage. The difference is, renters pay the mortgage for somebody else – the landlord – who benefits from the equity earned from the home. While home owners are forced to save by building equity in a home through monthly payments, renters basically throw their monthly payment away. They’ll never see or benefit from that money again.


Putting off buying a home makes no sense. Prices are predicted to increase at 4.7% in the next year according to HomeLogic’s latest Home Price Index. The same report indicates that prices have appreciated 7.2% during the previous 12 months. That means if you wait to purchase a home, you’ll pay more to get less, which makes about as much sense as throwing your monthly dwelling payment away.

article1.3Mortgage interest rates are also projected to increase. According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates have hovered around 4% for a 30-year mortgage. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the National Association of Realtors, as well as The Mortgage Bankers Association, project that rates will increase by this time next year.

The ‘cost’ of a home is comprised of two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate, and both are on the rise. Buying sooner rather than later can amount to substantial savings. It’s time to make your move! 

14th Annual Chili Cookoff in North Conway, NH

Image result for chiliNorth Conway’s 14th Annual Chili Cookoff has been moved from its traditional February/March date to April as the foodie event to lead the Mt. Washington Valley into spring. This year, the cook-off will be held Saturday, April 8, 2017. The non-professional chef competition will take place at the North Conway Community Center, while the professional chefs will faceoff at the Gibson Center for Senior Living.

Image result for 5 kAlso new this year – The Feelin’ Good 5K. This event is organized by the White Mountain Milers and will kick off the Chili Cookoff event at 9:30am. This friendly 5K race or walk is set to run through the North Conway Village starting and finishing in Schouler Park. Registration for the Feelin’ Good 5k can be found at and is $35 which includes entry into the chili cookoff for the participating runner. Additional chili cookoff entry tickets for friends and family may be purchased at the pre-race registration table from 8:00am-9:30am.

Participating businesses, the Red Hot Stops in the village, will be offering a variety of promotions such as discounts and tastings. Also, stop by the Mt. Washington Chamber of Commerece building, (right next door to the Gibson Center), to check out the Spring Artisan Fair that will be held on the first floor.

Image result for chiliAll professional chef chili entries will be judged by members from the American Culinary Federation White Mountain Chapter, headed by Bryant Alden, Chef from the Wildcat Tavern in Jackson. Awards for Best Chili will be given to the top 3 contenders. Professional and non-professional chefs will also have the chance to earn the People’s Choice Award for Best Chili, as determined by all tasters who attend the tour.

Tickets to attend the Chili Cookoff are on sale now through the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce at or at the door the day of the event. Those who bring an item from the 68 Hours of Hunger shopping list will receive $1 off the adult ticket price of $15.00. Children 12 and under are $7, 3 and under are free when accompanying a paying adult. Tickets may be purchased in advance here. (Payment may be made by check or credit card).

Chef registration is also available online. Chefs interested in participating click here >

Tickets purchased must be traded at the event for a wristband, allowing entry to the chili tables for sampling and promotions throughout the village.

After the competition join the fun at Abenaki Trail Restaurant and Pub. The public is welcome to attend the Chili Cookoff Awards Ceremony at 4pm, enjoy delicious appetizers and entertainment by the Riley Parkhurst Project. A cash bar will be available.

It’s Food and Fun all day long!





5 Covered Bridges in the North Conway, NH Area

Is there anything more New England than a covered bridge?

Covered bridges draw visitors from far and wide, and tend to be few and far between, but here in the Mt. Washington Valley, we have 5 of our own! 5! So next time you’re in the White Mountains, plan to spend a little time checking out the covered bridges in the Conway area.


bridge1bridgeAlbany, NH – This covered bridge crosses the swift river and can be found off a side trail that splits off the Kancamagus Highway (six miles west of N.H. Route 16 on Dugway Road). (Shown during 2 seasons.)

Bartlett, NH – Crossing the Saco River, this covered bridge is found west of Route 302 (4.5 miles east of Bartlett Village) and is now a gift shop opened seasonally, seven days a week from Memorial Day weekend until October, 10am-5pm.


Image result for conway, nh swift river covered bridgeImage result for conway, nh saco river covered bridgeConway, NH – There are two covered bridges in Conway. One crosses the Saco, and the other crosses the Swift River.The Saco River bridge is ½ mile north of Rt 16 at Conway Village (Can be seen on the left hand side following Rt 16 north). The Swift River Bridge is ½ mile north of Rt 16 at Conway Village (Located very close to the Saco River Covered Bridge).

Image result for jackson, nh covered bridgeImage result for jackson covered bridgeJackson, NH – Also known as the Honeymoon Bridge, this treasure is located at the intersection of Rt 16 and Rt 16A in Jackson Village NH, and spans the Ellis River. (Shown 2 seasons).


Drywall, Tiling and Grout, Oh My!

When Ben and I bought our house, we really liked the fireplace in the bedroom. Or, maybe I should say that we liked the idea of it. What we didn’t like was the outdated, beat-up unit that was currently in the wall. We also weren’t too thrilled that the model was a direct vent gas fireplace, which isn’t just unsafe, as everyone rushed to tell us – it’s also against building code, even here in New Hampshire, the “Live Free or Die” state. So I decided I’d swap it out with an electric model.

First, let me say, I don’t think I had a firm grasp on what the project would entail before I started. This wouldn’t be a quick out with the old, in with the new swap, but a multi-faceted job that would require several skills which I did not yet have.  So the first logical step would be doing some research – self-education and planning, right? Yes. Yes it would. Is that what I did? No, it was not. Because I am me, and in my world (ie. when I’m working on a project by myself that makes me emperor by default) I make the rules.

diyStep 1: Demo – Demolition is the first step for several reasons, all of which make perfect sense to me. For one, starting a project by having some fun gets things started right. For two, once you demo, you can’t change your mind. There’s no going back. Once there’s a hole in your wall, something has to be done about it. So, with Ben’s help, I pulled the old unit out, which meant pulling the stone strips that framed the old fireplace off the wall. FYI – the stone had been stuck to the wall using some extraterrestrial glue which was crazy strong and tore chunks out of the drywall. I’d love to get my hands on a tube of that stuff, so Alf, if you’re listening . . .


Step 2: This is the ‘reality strikes’ phase and it just might be the scariest step of all. It involves staring at the big hole you just made in the wall, and realizing that you’re the one who has to do something about it. So I put in the new electric model, which was quite a bit smaller than the original unit, and stared at the empty space around it. Then I turned the fireplace off and on a bunch of times for inspiration, so I could imagine how nice it would (hopefully) look when I was done. When it became apparent that the blank space wasn’t going to magically fill itself in for me, I reluctantly moved on.

diy2Step 3: I bought some drywall, joint compound and drywall tape (which isn’t really tape at all – it’s paper with no sticky side – who knew?). I also bought a brand new utility knife. This one had never tasted blood before, and I’m happy to say it still hasn’t. My last one was like that bloodthirsty plant in Little Shop of Horrors. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to use a knife without hearing it say, “Feed me, Shannon.”

diy1I’m not one of those people who watch YouTubes to see how to do something. I like to read how, and see step by step pictures. I used this LINK to learn how to drywall. I even cut it out in one piece with little rectangular ears on it to fix the drywall that was ripped off by the glue. It was perfect. Until I bent down to get the drywall tape and it fell on my head and broke. Go figure. I used the broken pieces and it turned out just fine. (NOTE – I knew I was going to tile over the area, so I did not have to be concerned with doing the neatest job, as you can see.)

diy3Step 4: After I admired my drywall job for a week, reveling in all my drywall handyman glory, it was time to learn how to tile. I used this LINK for the basics. Then I went to my local hardware store and found the perfect tile. Or, at least, the tile I really wanted to use. The catch – it was backsplash tile, and had interlocking edges. It was also made of stone. The interlocking ends meant that I would have to cut the ends off the tiles for my edges. The stone meant that it would have to be cut with a saw. The saw meant either buying or renting a piece of equipment that I wasn’t willing to spend money on. So I settled. I found square sheets of mosaic stone tile that would not need cutting.

Tiling diy4wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. It was actually pretty easy until I got to the grouting part. For some reason the grout was flinging around the room like I was a monkey with a pitcher’s arm. This being a bedroom and not a shower, I really wanted to keep the clean-up to a minimum, so I used my hand to apply it. diy5Maybe not the best idea, but it kept the fling radius to a minimum. My last remark about tiling is that scrubbing the grout off of the tops of stone tiles, with all their porous little clefts and crevices, was not the most enjoyable hour of my life. I imagine that it’s much easier to clean porcelain or ceramic tiles.

diy7Step 5: The last thing that remains to be done is to capture anybody with eyes that you can get your hands on and make them admire your handy work. This step would be easier if my emperor status and power extended beyond the realms of my own imagination, but they don’t. Just for the record, my dogs think I did a fantastic job, but prefer my kitchen adventures. I’d love to hear about any DIY adventures of your own!

10 Bakeries in the North Conway, NH area you’ve gotta try!

Delectable by Danette – This shop off Kearsarge Road may look small, but the goodies here pack big taste! Open Thursday – Sunday, stop by for a slice of flourless chocolate cake, or check out Danette’s fudge. With fun flavors like Orange Creamsicle and Bailey’s Irish Cream, you’re bound to find something you can’t live without trying! They also have a tasty supply of candy!


Image result for White Mountain Cupcakery North Conway

White Mountain Cupcakery – With stores located in North Conway Village and in Settlers Green, there’s no reason not to stop by and sink your teeth into one of these delicious gourmet cupcakes.

FYI, the North Conway Village location is closed Mondays & Tuesdays.


Image may contain: food and indoor

Riverstones Bakery is across the border in nearby Fryeburg, Maine, but is definitely worth the short drive over. Cakes, cookies, and muffins, oh my! And you definitely don’t miss out on their pizza braids!



Image result for leavitt's bakery conway nhLeavitt’s Bakery – Located on White Mountain Highway, this often overlooked bakery is one of the locals’ secrets! It’s a great place to grab your morning donut, but bring cash because they don’t accept credit.


Old Village Bakery – In North Conway Village off Seavey Street, this bakery does bread right! And pastries. And cake. And awesome lunch specials. Bottom line – you want to stop here. And stay here, if just for a while.



Big Dave’s Bagels & Deli – Big Dave’s is more than just bagels and lunch. They also have awesome cinnamon buns – but only on the weekends. During the week, don’t miss out on their coffee cake, cookies, brownies, and whatever else they feels like serving up!



The Local Grocer – The Local Grocer offers a tasty array of gluten free and organic treats. It’s also a health food store and deli, so it’s a great place to buy ingredients for your own baking endeavors as well!


Breakfast at the MetThe Met Coffee House – The Met bakes muffins, croissants, and more, daily. They also offer a range of specialty desserts sourced from local bakeries, many listed here!


Rainbow Cake

McKaella’s Sweet Shop – Now located in #piewholestuffer in North Conway Village, you’ll find a collection of gluten free items, desserts, sweet breads and more! Keep an eye out for their super popular rainbow cake!


Vintage Baking Company – This bakery is slightly north in Glen, NH, but how many bakeries also offer wine and cheese? If you’re in the mood for Danish, pastry, muffins or croissants, stop here. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

5th Annual Jimmy Buffett Weekend 3/24 & 3/25


Image result for tropical islandThe 5th annual Jimmy Buffett Weekend will be held March 24th and 25th at Max’s Restaurant & Pub located at Snowvillage Inn . The inn will be transformed into an island oasis to help melt away your winter blues! Chef Peter Willis has a great menu planned, and will be serving food with a Caribbean flare! Mango Groove will perform Saturday night, so if you love to relax to the sounds of steel drums, make sure not to miss this event!

Innkeeper Kevin has plenty of creative, fruity libations ready to keep your toes warm in your flip flops, so grab your favorite flowered shirt and head on over to this temporary Margaritaville while you can! Make a night of it and stay in one of the Snowvillage Inn’s cozy guests rooms, with packages starting at only $259, including a 3-course dinner!

What #Homebuyers Need to Know: Part 1 – Your Agent

Image result for home buyersSo . . . you’re buying a home. Maybe it’s your first, or your second, or maybe even a vacation house or an income property to rent out. Obviously, there’s no way to sum up what a Homebuyer needs to know in one blog post – or even a dozen! But there is one thing that we can tell you, something that should be one of the firsts on your ‘to do’ list after deciding to make a purchase, and it’s something that even many experienced homebuyers seem to not know.

Choose your agent wisely!

You don’t have to use the listing agent of the property you want to see, or even someone from the listing brokerage. You are free to use any agent licensed in the area in which you are looking. One agent can show you all the homes you are interested in. Take advantage of this!

Image result for home buyersYour home buying experience should be about you, not about the home an agent wants to show you or thinks you should buy. Having a good relationship with the agent of your choice can have a HUGE impact on the experience you have. A good agent will find out your wants, but more importantly, your needs. They’ll know the right questions to ask you about your finances, and will be able to inform you about your options when it comes to different financing programs and lenders. A good agent will work for you and with you – not against you.

If you’ve decided to buy a house, take a look at the agents that work for the different brokerages in the area. It’s okay to meet and interview them before you step foot through a single door. Find someone who is knowledgeable and with whom you have a good rapport. Sometimes, it can take a while before you find the place that’s right for you. A good agent knows this and will have the patience to see you through the process until your happy ending is in hand.

(Even smaller areas usually have plenty of agents to choose from. In North Conway and the surrounding Mt. Washington Valley, there are over 100 to choose from!)

Paddy O’Paws #Conway #Animal Shelter #Benefit

Where can you raise money for a good cause while eating a fantastic brunch AND bid on a photography safari to South Africa, among other fantastic items? At the annual Paddy O’Paws Benefit Brunch and Auction, that’s where!

This year the brunch, which benefits the Conway Humane Society, will be held Sunday, March 19th at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway, NH. The traditional Red Jacket Sunday brunch includes an omelet bar, fruits and pastries, a chef’s carving station, eggs benedict, and much more. Items up for auction are donated by local and national businesses, as well as friends of The Conway Area Humane Society.

Image result for safariSome goodies up for bid in this year’s auction (besides the safari!) include:

Gift certificates for  lodging, jewelry, gift baskets, museum passes, massages, tickets to local and out-of-town attractions and sports events, artwork, crafts, restaurant and service gift certificates, and much more!
(If you cannot make it to the event but would like to submit an absentee bid on any of these items please call (603) 447-5605)

Tickets are $40 per person. Call 447-5605 for more information or to buy tickets email

We hope you make it to the Mt. Washington Valley and help raise some money for a great cause among the white mountains!

Tin Mountain’s 31st First Season Dinner Auction

First Season Benefit Dinner & Auction

This Saturday, March 11th, from 5:30pm until 9pm at the Fryeburg Academy Field House in Fryeburg, Maine, join the Tin Mountain Conservation Center as they celebrate the coming of spring with the 31st First Season Benefit Dinner Auction. Good food and lots of great items up for bid.  Please consider being a supporter of Tin Mountain Conservation Center by contributing an item, being a sponsor and /or coming to the event.

Tickets are $55, reservations required. 603-447-6991.

Lisa Gardner Launches Book Tour in Valley


Unfortunately, this post is too late for you to attend the event, because this happened last month, but we had to share because it’s a perfect example of one of the many unique opportunities life in the Mt. Washington Valley has to offer.

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Lisa Gardner’s newest book, Right Behind You, was released January 31st of this year, but – if you’re lucky enough to live in the valley, you were able to get a copy, signed, in person, by the author herself January 30th at the book  launch, sponsored by local indie bookstore White Birch Books and hosted by Horsefeathers Restaurant, both located in North Conway, NH.

This is a yearly event, with those in the valley getting exclusive first access to Gardner’s latest book. Why? Because Gardiner, among other famous authors and artists, lives in the valley. Guess we’re not such a sleepy little town after all. If you haven’t read the book, you should definitely add it to your list. This fast paced, suspenseful thriller will leave you breathless!



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