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Jan. 23, 2024

Vermont Home Seller Frequently Asked Questions



What is the process for scheduling a consultation with an agent? 

To schedule a consultation with an agent, contact New England Landmark Realty by clicking on the envelope icon at the top right of this page, or phone (802) 253-4711 or email ( Let us know if you want to schedule a consultation and provide relevant details about your needs and preferences. Share your availability so we can find a suitable time for both parties. They will give the appointment details once we confirm an agent's or broker's availability. Make sure to verify the appointment to secure your consultation time. Before the scheduled consultation, gather any necessary documents or information related to your real estate goals or questions. 


What are the fees or costs of scheduling a consultation with an agent or broker?

At New England Landmark Realty, we're delighted to provide initial consultations at no cost. This allows potential clients to meet with our experienced agents or brokers, discuss their unique needs, and learn more about our services. Unless otherwise stated, you can schedule a consultation without any financial obligation. There may be associated costs if the consultation progresses into specific services such as property evaluations and marketing. For detailed information about our fee structure, contact us directly.


What is my home worth? As a Vermont-based real estate agency with years of experience in the local housing market, we understand that determining a home's value can be complex. Our expert agents and brokers would happily assist with a comparative market analysis (CMA) to provide a personalized estimate of your home's worth. Our team will consider factors like the location, size, condition, and recent sales of comparable properties in the area to provide a more informed estimate of your home's value. Remember that valuing a home is not an exact science, and factors like the current market conditions and buyer demand can influence the final sale price. We are committed to providing our clients with the highest level of expertise and support throughout the selling process, and we would be honored to help you achieve your real estate goals. So, feel free to reach out today to learn more about how we can assist you sell your home with confidence!


How long will it take to sell my home? 

We understand that the timeline for marketing a home can be essential to your decision-making process. However, many factors can influence how quickly a home sells, including location, price, market trends, and buyer demand.

 We typically see an average time frame of 30-60 days between listing and sale for homes in Vermont. However, this can vary based on the specifics of your home and the current market conditions.

That's why, as part of our comprehensive home selling services, we'll work with you to create a tailored marketing plan designed to help sell your home as quickly as possible while maximizing the final sale price.

Our experience in the local Vermont real estate market has helped us develop an effective and proven strategy to attract the right buyers and leverage social media, online listings, and direct marketing to sell your home as quickly as possible.

As a full-service real estate agency, we handle every detail from listing to closing. Our expert agents and brokers will guide you through every step, offering invaluable insights and personalized support to help you achieve your real estate goals.

Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with one of our expert agents or brokers. Together, we'll help you sell your Vermont home quickly and efficiently.


How much should I list my home for? 

Determining the optimal listing price for your Vermont home is essential to the selling process. Our experienced agents and brokers can perform a comparative market analysis (CMA) that will consider your home's size, location, condition, and recent sales of comparable properties in the area to determine a fair market value.

We know that pricing your home too high can negatively impact your ability to sell quickly, while underselling can result in lost profits. Our personalized approach considers your goals, priorities, and current market conditions.

At New England Landmark Realty, our team of real estate professionals has years of experience navigating the complexities of the local Vermont real estate market. We'll work with you to develop a customized strategy that balances your goals with current market trends to ensure your home is listed at a reasonable price that aligns with your needs.

Contact us to schedule your free consultation with one of our expert agents or brokers today. We look forward to helping you achieve maximum value for your Vermont home!


Should I make repairs or improvements before listing my home? 

This is a common question among many Vermont home sellers. The answer will depend on the specific condition of your property and your goals for the sale.

Making repairs or improvements before listing your home can help increase its value and appeal to potential buyers. Minor repairs such as fixing leaks, replacing old carpets, or repainting walls can significantly enhance your home's appeal and attractiveness to buyers. Moreover, an updated home can sometimes lead to multiple offers in a hot market, leading to the seller ultimately selecting an attractive offer. At New England Landmark Realty, our experienced agents and brokers can provide expert insight into what repairs or improvements are worth making based on your specific goals and timelines. We will work with you to identify the repairs and improvements necessary to get your home in the best possible condition and present it in the best way possible.

Don't hesitate to schedule a consultation with our real estate experts. We'll review your property, discuss your goals, and provide personalized recommendations for whether or not making repairs or improvements would be worth it for your specific property.


What commission do real estate agents typically charge? 

Commission rates are a significant factor in your decision-making process, and at New England Landmark Realty, we prioritize transparency and competitiveness. Our commission rates typically range from 4% to 7% of the final sale price. Why consider working with us? Our team of experienced agents and brokers offers top-notch knowledge, expertise, and support throughout the selling process. We collaborate with you to determine a fair commission that aligns with your goals. What sets us apart? When you choose us, you can expect comprehensive services tailored to your unique needs. From preparing your home for sale to handling marketing, negotiations, and navigating real estate transactions, we are committed to guiding you at every step. If you're ready to begin, contact us today for a free consultation with one of our expert agents or brokers. Let us demonstrate how we can help you sell your Vermont home with confidence and success.


What are the most effective marketing strategies New England Landmark Realty uses to sell homes in Vermont?

New England Landmark Realty utilizes innovative marketing strategies tailored to each property's unique characteristics and current market conditions to sell homes in Vermont effectively. One pivotal strategy is strategic positioning; conducting an in-depth comparative market analysis shows that each home is competitively priced and targeted toward suitable buyer demographics.


In today's digital age, New England Landmark Realty harnesses the power of digital advertising and social media promotion to reach a wider audience, increase visibility, and foster community engagement. High-quality professional and drone photography plays a vital role in the marketing process, showcasing the best features of each property from unique perspectives and making a solid first impression.


The team's local market expertise allows them to provide valuable advice to sellers and identify the best neighborhoods, schools, and amenities, thereby enhancing the appeal of the properties. Comprehensive property promotion is achieved by creating brochures highlighting each property's unique features.


Additionally, New England Landmark Realty positions itself as a thought leader in the real estate industry by offering resources like free e-books and informative blog posts. These resources provide valuable tips to sellers on how to make their property stand out. Through these strategic marketing efforts, New England Landmark Realty ensures maximum exposure for each property, leading to optimal sale prices.


How do I choose a real estate agent? 

As a prospective seller in Vermont, it's essential to ensure that you select an experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent to represent you throughout the selling process. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a real estate agent:

Experience: Look for an agent with experience selling homes in your area and a track record of successful sales.


Local Knowledge: It is essential to choose an extensively knowledgeable agent about the local Vermont real estate market, including trends and market conditions.

Professionalism: Look for an agent who is professional, responsive, and has excellent communication skills.

Marketing Strategy: A good agent should have a clear and effective marketing strategy to help your home stand out in a crowded market. An agent who embraces traditional and digital marketing methods should be sought out.

Support: Choose an agent who values open communication and provides guidance, support, and transparency throughout the selling process. 


At New England Landmark Realty, our experienced agents and brokers embody all these qualities. We have extensive experience selling homes throughout Vermont and deeply understand the nuances of the local real estate market. We prioritize transparent communication and go above and beyond to ensure our client's satisfaction and success. We recommend scheduling a free consultation with one of our expert agents or brokers. You can discuss your goals and priorities during this meeting and determine if we fit you. Contact us today to get started!


What is the best time of year to sell a home in Vermont? 

As a real estate agency with a strong foothold in Vermont, we frequently encounter this question from potential home sellers: "When is the optimal time to sell a house in Vermont?" The answer varies and is influenced by numerous factors. Due to increased buyer activity, the spring and summer months have traditionally been considered prime seasons for selling homes in Vermont. However, recent trends in the Vermont housing market suggest that homes sell well throughout the year. Autumn and winter have become increasingly popular for home sales thanks to the stunning fall foliage and relatively lower competition.

At New England Landmark Realty, the best time to sell your home in Vermont is when it aligns with your needs and goals. Our skilled agents and brokers will work closely with you to pinpoint the ideal timing for your property sale, considering weather conditions, school schedules, tax season, and supply and demand trends in the local market.

If you're considering selling your home in Vermont, we encourage you to arrange a complimentary consultation with our knowledgeable agents or brokers. In this meeting, we'll discuss your unique circumstances, identify the most advantageous time to list your property and develop a tailored marketing strategy to attract prospective buyers. Reach out to us today!


How do I prepare my home for showings? 

Organizing your home for showings can be critical in securing a quick and successful sale. Here are a few tips to help you get your Vermont home ready for potential buyers:

Declutter and Depersonalize: Consider removing personal items such as photos, keepsakes, and excess clutter to help potential buyers envision themselves in your home instead of feeling as though they are intruding in another person's space.

Clean and Tidy Up: Keep your home neat. This means everything from vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the kitchen counters, removing trash, and doing the laundry.

Make Repairs and Minor Upgrades: Small changes can significantly maximize your home's appeal to buyers. Consider making minor repairs such as fixing leaks, replacing bulbs that don't work, touching up paint, or installing updated light fixtures that are appealing.

Focus on Curb Appeal: The first impression does count. Mow the lawn, trim the shrubs, pull any weeds, and tidy up your landscape to create an attractive entrance to your home.

At New England Landmark Realty, we've helped many Vermont homeowners prepare their homes for successful showings. Our experienced agents and brokers can provide customized recommendations and guidance based on your home and goals. We can walk through your home with you and identify the most critical areas to address to ensure your home stands out from the competition.

Don't hesitate to schedule a consultation with our real estate professionals. We'll help you prepare your Vermont home for showings and guide you throughout the sale to ensure a successful and profitable sale!


Are there any requirements or restrictions for repairs or improvements that must be made before listing a home for sale?

Vermont has no specific legal requirements or restrictions for repairs or improvements before listing a home for sale. However, it is generally recommended that necessary maintenance and aesthetic improvements be undertaken to secure a favorable sale price. This could include tasks like improving curb appeal, fixing the roof or foundation, or renovating critical areas of the home.

While it's not legally required, a home inspection before listing your property can identify potential issues that could affect the sale process.

When selling a house in Vermont, sellers must disclose any known material defects to potential buyers, including problems with the roof or foundation. If you've made significant improvements to the home, providing a list of these adjustments can be beneficial, especially if an appraisal is required.

However, according to Vermont statutes, specific legal obligations may arise if a contract or agreement is made to erect, repair, move, or alter real property improvements.

Ultimately, the aim is to present the home in the best light possible, as upgrades or repairs can lead to higher offers and a faster sale. However, it's always advisable to consult with a realtor or a legal expert to understand the specifics based on the condition and location of your property.


What is the process for accepting an offer and closing a sale? 

At New England Landmark Realty, we ensure your home-selling process is seamless and stress-free. Here's what you can expect in terms of accepting an offer and closing a sale:

Receiving Offers: Once your property is listed, we'll work with you to establish a reasonable asking price and market it to prospective buyers. When an interested buyer is identified, they'll submit an offer you can accept, reject, or counter.

Negotiating Terms: If you decide to accept an offer, we'll work with you and the buyer to negotiate the terms of the purchase agreement. We'll carefully review the buyer's offer and provide guidance and advice on counter-offering and negotiating the best possible terms for you as the seller.

Home Inspection: At this stage, the buyer will typically schedule a home inspection to evaluate the condition of your property. If any issues are identified, the buyer may request that you make additional repairs or adjustments before closing the sale.

Closing: Once all conditions are met, the sale of your home will be scheduled for closing. During the closing process, the buyer will pay the agreed-upon purchase price, and you'll sign the necessary paperwork to transfer ownership of your property to the buyer.

Remember that there may be additional steps or variations in the process depending on the specifics of your property and the terms of the sale. Your experienced agent or broker at New England Landmark Realty will guide you through the process every step of the way.


Do I need to hire a lawyer to sell my home? In Vermont, employing a lawyer to transfer ownership of your home is not legally required, but we recommend that you do so to ensure a smooth and successful home sale.

While real estate agents can provide guidance and support throughout the selling process, their role is limited to real estate only and not legal matters. An experienced real estate attorney can provide invaluable insight and support in navigating the legal complexities of selling your home.

Your attorney can help review and prepare contracts, ensure compliance with local and state laws, and advise on various legal issues that may arise during the selling process. They can also guide you in managing the proceeds from your sale, ensuring they're protected and tax-efficient.

At New England Landmark Realty, we work alongside a network of tried and tested professionals, including experienced real estate attorneys. We'd happily provide recommendations and guidance on choosing the right attorney to support you throughout the selling process.


What documents and paperwork are required to sell a home? Marketing a home in Vermont requires certain documents and paperwork to be completed and submitted. Here's a rundown of the necessary documents and paperwork:

Property Disclosure Forms: Vermont law requires sellers to complete a Property Disclosure Form. This form details any known defects or issues with the property and must be provided to the buyer before the sale.

Purchase and Sale Agreement: This is a legally binding document outlining the terms of the sale, including the sale price, closing date, and any contingencies.

Deed: The deed is the legal document that transfers property ownership from the seller to the buyer.

Title Report: This document ensures that the title is clear and that there aren't any liens, encumbrances, or judgments against the property.

Bill of Sale: A bill of sale is a document that transfers ownership of personal property included in the sale, like appliances or furniture.

Closing Statement: This document details all of the financial aspects of the sale, including fees, taxes, and other closing costs.

At New England Landmark Realty, our experienced agents and brokers are well-versed in the legal documentation and paperwork required to sell a Vermont home. We will work with you to ensure all necessary documentation and paperwork are completed accurately and promptly. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our expert agents or brokers, and we'll help you sell your Vermont home with confidence and success!


What are my options if my home doesn't sell? At New England Landmark Realty, we understand that sometimes a home does not sell as quickly as expected or does not sell at all. Here are a few options for the seller to consider in this situation:

Revisit the Asking Price: The first and most common reason a home may not sell is because the asking price is too high. Revisiting the asking price and examining the market can help correct this issue. A price reduction could make the home more attractive and allow it to sell quickly.

Rebrand or Re-list: Sometimes, a fresh start is needed. Rebranding the home with new photos, a new listing, or a new marketing strategy can attract new buyers. Alternatively, re-listing the house after being off the market can generate new attention.

Consider Renting: If a sale isn't happening, consider renting out the property. Renting can help cover costs while waiting for the market to improve or other selling options.

Please consult With an Expert: Our real estate professionals are always ready to help determine why your home has not been selling. We can provide expert knowledge and solutions based on years of experience in the real estate market.

At New England Landmark Realty, we are committed to ensuring that our clients have access to all options and expert advice to address unique challenges in the selling process. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you sell your Vermont home with confidence and success!


What other services does the agency offer besides marketing and selling homes? 

In addition to marketing and selling homes, New England Landmark Realty provides top-notch buyer representation services involving a comprehensive package designed to make your home-buying process seamless and enjoyable.


We begin with an in-depth property search tailored to your unique needs, preferences, and budget. Our team is dedicated to understanding what you're looking for in a home and presenting options that align with your vision.


We provide exhaustive market analysis to ensure you're making an informed decision. This gives you a clear picture of the local real estate landscape, helping you gauge where the best opportunities lie.


Once you've found a potential property, we evaluate it carefully. We help scrutinize everything from the property's condition to its neighborhood, ensuring it meets your requirements and is priced reasonably.


Our services extend to negotiation. We act as your advocates, handling negotiations to secure the best price and terms possible for you.


We manage all the transaction details from contract to closing. We coordinate with other professionals involved in the process, handle the paperwork, and keep you updated every step of the way.


And our commitment to you continues once the sale is complete. We offer post-purchase support to help you transition into your new home. Whether you need assistance moving in, finding local service providers, or learning about your new neighborhood, we're here.


You gain more than a real estate agency when you choose us for buyer representation. You're getting a committed partner to guide you through your home-buying journey.

Dec. 7, 2023

Efficient Land Development in Vermont: A Comprehensive Guide for Savvy Property Owners

Are you a savvy Vermont landowner looking for tips to maximize your property's potential? From clearing the land and constructing roads to finding the right development team, developing land in Vermont can seem daunting. But with proper guidance and attention to detail, it doesn't have to be! This comprehensive guide breaks down all aspects of efficiently developing your Vermont property - from understanding local regulations and choosing an appropriate design plan to completing the project. If you're ready to make intelligent decisions that effectively turn your raw acreage into something extraordinary, read on!

An Overview of Land Development in Vermont 

Vermont, considered by many to be one of the most picturesque states in the country, boasts quite a unique real estate market. Being a place where the preservation of natural resources and sustainable living are of utmost importance, it's no surprise that land development in Vermont is approached with great care and thoughtfulness. The demand for Vermont Homes & Land, including New Vermont Homes, has increased over the years, leading to a growth in the number of projects. However, the state maintains strict regulations to ensure these development projects align with its residents' values. From sprawling farmlands to quaint villages, Vermont offers a diverse range of property options for those looking to make this state their home.

Understanding the Different Types of Land Use Permits 

As a property owner in Vermont, understanding the different types of land use permits can be daunting. However, navigating the regulatory process and ensuring compliance with local zoning laws is essential. The three primary types of permits are conditional use, subdivision, and site plan review. Conditional use permits are required for properties that intend to carry out specific uses, such as a new commercial building or expanding an existing one. Subdivision permits are needed when a property is subdivided into two or more parcels to ensure each has adequate access to utilities and roads. Site plan review permits review of the layout and dimensions of the property's developed area and its environmental impact. A clear understanding of these types of permits and their specific usage can save property owners a lot of headaches down the line.

Strategies for Efficiently Navigating the Land Development Process 

Navigating the land development process can be complex and time-consuming, especially in Vermont. However, with the right strategies, you can efficiently move through the necessary steps to develop your land. One key strategy is to work with local professionals who are familiar with Vermont land regulations and requirements. Additionally, taking the time to thoroughly research and understand the zoning laws and permitting processes ahead of time can save you significant headaches down the road. Another strategy is communicating effectively with all parties involved, including contractors, architects, and government officials. By utilizing these and other efficient strategies, you can successfully navigate the land development process in Vermont and achieve your desired outcomes.


Tips for Developing Vacant Properties in Vermont 

Developing vacant properties in Vermont can be challenging, but with the right tips, you can turn your investment into a lucrative endeavor in the Vermont real estate market. One tip is to thoroughly research the property before investing time and money and learning about the property's zoning, permits, and potential environmental issues. Working with a reputable contractor with experience working on projects in Vermont is also crucial. Another important tip is to consider the property's location and how it can attract potential buyers or renters. Focusing on these essential factors can turn a vacant property into a valuable asset in the Vermont market.

Best Practices for Buying and Selling Property in Vermont 

Buying or selling a property can be daunting, especially in a place like Vermont, where the real estate market can be competitive. That's why it's crucial to work with a knowledgeable Vermont REALTOR or Vermont Real Estate Professional who understands the local market trends and can guide you through the buying or selling. Some best practices to remember include researching, being realistic about your expectations, and understanding the legal processes involved. Additionally, it's essential to have open communication with your agent and trust their expertise in facilitating the transaction smoothly. By following these tips and working with a reliable professional, you can confidently and quickly achieve your real estate goals in Vermont.

Updating Your Property to Comply with Local Building Codes and Regulations 

If you're planning on buying a home in Vermont, it's essential to remember the state's building codes and regulations. To ensure that your property is safe and up to code, it's crucial to stay up to date and comply with the latest regulations. This may include updating your electrical or plumbing systems, installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, or making structural changes to your home. While it may seem overwhelming, having a safe and compliant home is worth it in the long run. Consulting with an experienced contractor can help guide you through the process and ensure your property complies with all local building codes and regulations.

Utilizing Sustainable Practices When Developing Land in Vermont 

When developing land in Vermont, we must prioritize sustainable practices. As a state known for its natural beauty and preserved landscapes, protecting Vermont's land should be on our minds. This ensures that our environment remains healthy and thriving and makes for a more economically viable and attractive destination for residents and visitors alike. From using eco-friendly building materials to incorporating renewable energy sources, there are countless ways we can work towards a more sustainable future while still fostering growth and development in our communities. By taking proactive steps to prioritize green practices, we can ensure that Vermont remains a treasured destination for generations to come.



Benefits of Investing in Green Infrastructure Projects in Vermont 

As environmental issues continue to plague the world, Vermont is making significant strides toward becoming greener through green infrastructure projects. Not only do these initiatives aim to reduce our carbon footprint, but they also offer substantial benefits to Vermont homes. Investing in green infrastructure projects can improve the overall value of homes by increasing energy efficiency, creating healthier living environments, and reducing maintenance costs. Additionally, these projects help to mitigate the risk of flooding and erosion, protecting properties and preserving their value over time. By investing in green infrastructure projects, Vermont homeowners are not only doing their part for the environment but also positioning themselves for long-term financial benefits.

Working with an Experienced Property Developer to Create a Successful Land Development Project

Embarking on a land development project can be overwhelming, but teaming up with an experienced property developer can make all the difference. For those looking to build in Vermont, working with a seasoned professional who understands the complexities of the market can ensure a successful endeavor. Collaborating with a property developer with a track record of expertise in new construction can help you navigate the process, from selecting the right location to securing permits and financing. Together, you can bring your vision to life and create a development that meets your needs and exceeds your expectations. With the right partnership, your land development project in Vermont can be a resounding success.

Developing a piece of property in Vermont may seem daunting, especially for those unfamiliar with the complexities of land use planning and regulations. However, it can be done successfully, provided that one knows what steps to take beforehand. From an overview of land development and understanding the different types of land use permits to strategies for navigating the process and utilizing sustainable practices, it is possible to correctly make a lasting impression and investment in this beautiful state. Additionally, having an experienced property developer on your team to help navigate each step or utilizing services like can help you create a successful project for yourself and benefit the local community through adapted green infrastructure projects. In the end, no matter what type of Vermont property you're interested in buying, selling, or developing, you can ensure your projects are sustainable and profitable by being intentional about the due diligence required upfront and consulting with experts throughout the process. Ultimately, this will create not only a meaningful project but also one that will last for years to come.

Nov. 30, 2023

How Flood Insurance May or May Not Help Homeowners


As the name suggests, flood insurance is a type of insurance policy that will pay out if your home is damaged by flood waters.

If you are taking out a mortgage to buy a home in a federally designated flood zone, you are required to buy a flood insurance policy. These zones are in parts of the country in which the risk of serious floods is high. Your lender won't give you a mortgage in these parts of the country if you don't first buy flood insurance.

To find out whether the home you are buying sits in one of these areas, enter your ZIP code in FEMA's flood map service center. Your mortgage lender will also be able to tell you whether you are required to buy flood insurance.

If your home isn't in one of these areas, you still have the choice of whether to purchase this insurance or not.

Should you buy flood insurance?

If you want to lower the risk that a flood will leave you with a massive home repair bill, you should invest in flood insurance, even if your home doesn't sit in a federally designated flood zone. As mentioned earlier, floods can cause serious damage to homes. And flood insurance isn't overly expensive.

How much you pay will vary depending on your home's elevation and how likely your area is to experience flooding. But you can expect to pay between $900 and $1,000 a year for this protection. To purchase flood insurance, call your insurance company or agent. You can find here a list of insurers that provide flood insurance.

You can purchase flood insurance for a residence that provides coverage for up to $250,000 for your property and $100,000 for its contents. If your home needs $50,000 in repairs after a flood, your insurance will cover this cost.

What does flood insurance cover?

The challenge with flood insurance is that it doesn't cover all kinds of water damage.

The National Flood Insurance Program says that flood insurance covers damage caused by floods but not what it calls random water damage.

According to the NFIP, a flood is a temporary condition in which two or more acres of formerly dry land, or two or more properties, are flooded because of the unusual or rapid accumulation of runoff or surface waters. If your area is hit by heavy rainfall that results in flooded homes throughout the neighborhood, your flood insurance policy will typically cover damages.

Random water damage is different. This is when your water heater bursts, the pipe leading to your kitchen sink bursts or the sewer in your basement backs up. Your flood insurance policy won't pay out in these instances. Your standard homeowners' insurance policy might cover random water damage, although you will have to check with your insurer to be certain.

Are you debating whether flood insurance is a smart purchase? Contact your insurance provider, who can take you through the pros and cons of this type of protection.


Nov. 26, 2023

Feng Shui — Bringing Peace and Prosperity Home


The wisdom of the past informs design in the present. For more than 6,000 years, the Chinese have been practicing the principles of feng shui, a tradition that seeks to bring together opposing forces in the world to create harmony and balance in homes. "Feng shui" translated into English is "wind" and "water" — two basic elements found in nature.

To achieve this harmony, interior designers decorate using the five feng shui elements of wind, water, fire, wood and metal. Each element symbolizes certain desirable qualities that we seek to make our lives fulfilling, such as balance, creativity, vitality and stability. The design begins with a bagua, or a map of a room divided into eight sections, each one representing a desired aspect of your life like family, good health and prosperity. The bagua is placed on top of the floor plan to see where each room lies. The front door appears on the bottom. If the living room falls in the wealth quadrant, then wood and blue are called for. If it falls in the fire quadrant, then furnishings in red should be dominant.

A fresh approach

The one overarching principle is a minimalistic design approach, which emphasizes that "less is more." For that reason, before doing anything else, it is important to declutter and air out your home to maximize the flow of positive energy into it. It is a good idea to keep windows open as much as possible to allow fresh air to circulate throughout the home.

Another essential feng shui principle is to remove your shoes before entering a house to leave any negative energy at the door so it does not travel into the home. The sound of wind chimes tinkling softly outside your front door also creates positive energy. Make sure to remove any dead plants or broken items in your home to continue the unhindered flow of feng shui throughout the house.

Here are some easy to implement design ideas for the main rooms in your own home.

Living room

Feng shui suggests that the seating furniture is the main element in the room and needs to be placed ideally on a wall with a clear view of the door. This is known as the Commanding Position in feng shui design. This seating arrangement seeks to encourage conversation. Where the living room falls on the bagua will help you decide which element to bring in. Consult the bagua to determine colors and shapes. Furniture with curved lines and soft edges is most beneficial. For example, if the living room falls in the family area on the bagua, consider bringing family heirlooms into the room to create positive energy. Adding houseplants, bamboo or even a small tabletop fountain is a way to encourage positive natural energy inside any room as well.

Home office

Only items that promote productivity and professional growth should be visible in your office. Like the living room furniture, the desk should be positioned against a wall facing the door. A wooden desk is optimal as it brings a natural aesthetic to the room. Shades of yellow, green and blue are best for encouraging creativity and relaxation to counterbalance stressful working situations.

Sleeping quarters

The bed, as the largest piece of furniture in the room, should be placed in the Commanding Position. Ideally, the bed should have an upholstered headboard to impart protection and support while you are sleeping. Avoid furniture made from hard materials such as metal. The key is to enhance relaxation with soft materials. Choose bedding made from natural fibers such as cotton and linen. Earth-hued colors such as terracotta, beige, off-white or gray in your bedding contribute to the restful atmosphere of the room. Sleeping in a down comforter boosts the positive calming energy in the room.

Once you have made feng shui part of your lifestyle, hopefully you will begin to see the rewards of its positive energy in your home and in yourself. Contact us for more ideas on how to make your home a relaxing retreat from daily cares.

Nov. 22, 2023

What's Up With Sculleries?


What is a scullery, you may ask?

A scullery is a second small kitchen used for prep work and storage. All the mess and cleaning associated with meal prep takes place there, out of sight of the main kitchen. In Victorian times, English manor houses employed kitchen servants to do all the activities needed to cook family meals in the "downstairs" section of the house. A separate scullery was part of the kitchen landscape and it was staffed by a scullery maid.

Nowadays, homeowners have a scullery to conceal all the mess of meal prep, leaving their kitchens spotless and ready to entertain guests. In other words, all the meal prep magic happens out of sight, like behind a magician's curtain. A basic scullery includes storage space, countertops and a sink. This room can be customized to fit the space you have and the needs of your household.

Consider layout

Ideally, it would be best to include a scullery as part of your new-home construction plans. However, if that is not your situation, you can think about converting another space adjacent to the kitchen for this purpose. The scullery serves as the place for washing dishes, and for storing dry goods and wines, cookware, fine china, paper supplies, silverware, crystal, and everyday dishes. A sink for washing dishes is an essential element of a scullery, so the area must have plumbing available.

It's a definite advantage to have an extra kitchen during the holiday season to handle the overflow from the kitchen. Having the extra counter space allows for more than one person to help prepare and clean up large holiday meals. Messy dishes, pots, pans, glasses and silverware can be swept from the table directly to the scullery to be dealt with after the guests have all gone home.

A scullery is a convenient place to house small appliances like coffee makers, microwave ovens and food processors, leaving the main kitchen looking uncluttered. Without the clutter, the glossy surface of the kitchen countertops can shine through.

Think about decoration

A scullery provides the opportunity to be more adventurous in design and décor. It can be a departure from the main kitchen. Because a scullery is hidden from view, most homeowners will select lower-cost materials to complete this room. Decorating an extra kitchen may spark creativity, bringing bolder and brighter colors along with more casual and fun elements into the room.

Sculleries can serve as multifunctional spaces when combined with other uses such as a laundry room. Do you have enough room to include a space in the scullery for hobbies, crafts or even a home office? You are only limited by your budget, the space you have available for the project and your imagination.

Here are some ideas on where to "hide" your scullery:

  • The hidden scullery has a door that closes it off from the rest of the house. It is usually located adjacent to the main kitchen. This is the most private type.
  • A walk-in scullery is the choice for those wanting to combine a food pantry with a scullery. This option provides for generous storage.
  • Screen sculleries are extra workspaces that are sectioned off from the rest of the space by a partition such as a screen. While not as secluded as other types, it does afford additional space for meal prep.
  • A butler's pantry and a scullery can be blended into one room — a combination that offers ample storage. This is especially helpful for storing items only used for special occasions, such as fine china, silverware and crystal. More mundane everyday chores such as washing and cutting fruits and vegetables can be completed here as well.

Whether your scullery is "maid" to order or repurposed from an existing space, it is a luxury that may turn into a necessity. Contact us and bring a little bit of Victorian England into your home.


Nov. 16, 2023

Welcome Home To Fancy Garage Doors


While a home’s decorative front doors attract most of the attention, garage doors are often ignored. Available in a variety of materials, finishes and colors similar to those of front doors, garage doors are coming into their own as an important design element. Along with front doors, garage doors create a unified style statement about your home.

Garage door materials fit all budget levels, and choices include steel, fiberglass, wood or aluminum. Glass windows or inserts are custom options. Another option to consider is insulation. Opening and closing garage doors several times each day will decrease your home’s energy-efficiency. Insulation may be the solution. This is especially true for areas experiencing extreme hot or cold temperatures. Insulation is a good idea if you use the garage as a workspace or a place where you keep pets or if the garage is attached to your home.

The most common types of residential garage doors are sectional or those that slide to the side, are hinged on the sides or roll up. Here is a rundown on what each type offers.

Sectional doors are especially popular. These doors are made of panels linked together by hinges. As the door opens and closes, the panels roll over tracks on each side of the door. Usually made from steel, sectionals require little maintenance and can be customized to include window inserts.

Slide-to-the-side doors operate with panels moving to one or both sides of the door opening. Because they are not mounted on the ceiling, sliders free up much-needed overhead storage space in your garage.

Side-hinged doors open outward like a traditional door. This is a desirable choice for garages with limited headroom or if you use your garage for storage.

Roll-up doors are usually found on commercial properties because they are durable and can withstand heavy use. These doors are made of multiple narrow horizontal slats that roll up and into a drum over the door, offering more ceiling space. This type would work well for those seeking a modern aesthetic.

Garage doors that express your style

Classic traditional raised-panel doors convey a clean look for traditional homes.

Carriage house- or barn-style doors have a distinctive rustic look, usually with customizable window options. These doors work well with Victorian-style homes as well as Craftsman or Mission styles, offering the warmth of wood or faux wood with artistic detailing.

Modern flush-panel garage doors in subtle colors convey a sleek, modern look for your midcentury, contemporary or modern home. Full or partial glass garage door panels make a bold modern statement to complement your modern home design.

Go bold with color

In addition to style choice, color choice is equally important. The traditional rule of thumb is to select a color that matches the dominant color of your house. White or gray are always popular monochromatic choices that make the same-color house appear larger and the doors themselves less conspicuous. However, the trend toward vibrant colors such as bold red, midnight blue and elegant black, which will attract attention and create drama, is gaining speed. The architectural style and location of the home need to be considered in the color choice as well. For example, if you live near the mountains or woods, consider earthy tones. Play up blues and greens in your color scheme if you live near a lake or the ocean.

Smart technology

Your smartphone allows you to conveniently and remotely open and close your garage doors. No one wants to get out of the car in the pouring rain to open a garage door. Some apps will even give you the option of setting a timer for how long to keep a door open or shut or of giving you an alert to let you know a door is open. Another smart feature lets you know how many times your spring-operated doors have gone up and down, making sure your doors are operating properly.

Once considered an afterthought, garage doors are emerging as an important design element on their own. Contact us for more ideas on how your garage doors can complement your personal style.

Nov. 14, 2023

Open Kitchen Shelf Design: Time For A Switch


Open shelving is as popular as ever given, its versatility and ability to adapt, to any kitchen style. Open shelving offers easy access to frequently used kitchen items. They also provide a place for displaying decorative items such as baskets, plates, and cookbooks that add a pop of personality to your kitchen.

An open-door policy

If you are only planning to include a shelf or two open shelving installation can be a simple DIY project You can choose interesting brackets or corbels made from metal, stone, or wood to finish the look. Directions and videos on how to install shelves are readily available on the web. However, for more advanced projects, you may want to consult with a contractor especially with an up-scale existing kitchen.

Blow the hinges off

For the budget conscious use existing cabinets. Take off the doors, and convert them into open shelves. You may want consider painting or papering the inside of the cabinets a color different than the frame to add a surprising touch. You can remove the upper shelves altogether and replace them with open shelves.

Another idea you may want to consider is  contrast the colors of the upper and lower shelves. Install upper shelves in a lighter color and keep the cabinets below in darker shades. By matching the shelves to the wall color, the shelves will blend in unobtrusively. Removing doors from the kitchen island can also become open storage spaces housing smaller appliances and dry goods.

Traditional open shelves are generally thought of as wood, more modern glass shelves are sleek and brighten up a wall especially if it is secured to a tile wall. Metal shelf finishes often coordinate well with other kitchen elements such as the faucet, doorknobs, pulls, and lighting fixtures. Glass is a good choice for displaying barware, especially if is near a wine rack or cooler. Create a coffee bar by hanging mugs on hooks from the shelf above a coffee maker .

Mix textures by arranging houseplants along with baskets, pottery, and artwork interspersed alongside practical kitchen items. A single shelf above a stove could conveniently hold an artfully arranged collection of spices.

Corner spaces work well for storing less attractive small appliances like toasters, blenders or small microwaves in a less visible place.

One last piece of advice: Be careful not to create cluttered shelves. You will want an open airy feel to the room.

If you are ready to blow the doors off your cabinets, contact us for more ideas on making your kitchen more accessible.


Nov. 10, 2023

SFR, fix-and-flip sectors are in a ‘bit of a malaise’



October 17, 2023, 4:10 pm By 

The single-family rental (SFR) sector and its close cousin, the fix-and-flip market, are now essentially treading water in an environment of high interest rates, approaching 8%; high home prices; and a dearth of home-purchase inventory.

Still, even in this difficult-to-agonizing supply-challenged housing market, SFR and fix-and-flip investors, which both target existing-home inventory, are still finding ways to make a profit — at a thin margin in most cases, but a profit, nonetheless. That’s particularly true for mom-and-pop investors across both market segments. 

Companies and individual investors in the SFR sector focus on purchasing existing single-family homes or building them for rent. Fix-and-flip investors — who tend to be smaller entrepreneurial players — acquire, renovate and then sell existing single-family homes — and, in some cases, hold them for rent for a time, depending on market conditions.

Experts in both those housing-market sectors say smaller investors are leading the charge now in an inventory-depressed market, in part, because they have a more flexible return-on-investment threshold.

“Our data shows that home flipping activity around the United States dropped during the second quarter of 2023,” said Rob Barber, CEO of real estate analytics firm ATTOM. “… At the same time, profit margins on typical home flips jumped almost 5 percentage points, from about 22.9% in first quarter to 27.5% in the second quarter. 

“… The latest investment return (ROI) for home flips certainly isn’t great, [however]. It remained way below the 44.6% level from the second quarter of 2022 and far beneath a recent peak of 60.8% hit in the second quarter of 2021.”

Barber added that, unfortunately, the current profit-margin mark “could easily be wiped out by flipping carrying costs — mainly mortgage payments, renovation costs and property taxes.” That reality appears to have helped convert more than a few fix-and-flippers to the role of short-term landlords in the SFR market.

Although the home-flipping rate (flips as a percentage of overall home sales) dropped quarter over quarter during the first half of 2023, the actual number of home flips was up slightly over that period, according to ATTOM’s data. Total home flips jumped slightly from 82,180 in the first quarter of this year to 84,350 in the second quarter. Over the same period last year, ATTOM’s data show, total flips came in at about 130,000 per quarter.

Another real estate-analytics firm, CoreLogicissued a report in August that tracked investor home purchases in the SFR space in the second quarter of this year. It shows that home purchases by these investors declined by 90,000 year over year. CoreLogic defines an investor as an individual or corporate entity that has retained three or more properties at the same time within the past decade.

“Throughout Q2 2023, large [100 to 900 properties] and mega-investors [1,000 or more properties] showed muted activity,” the CoreLogic report states. “In April, May and June [of this year], large and mega-investors each made between 7,000 and 9,000 purchases per month [or a total of 21,000 to 27,000 in each category, which translates to a market share of between 8% to 10% each month].

“… In the case of mega-investors, this is a drastic decline from the high of 17% of all investor purchases recorded in June 2022. … Small investors [three to nine properties] made 38,000, 46,000 and 38,000 purchases [122,000 total] in April, May and June [2023], respectively.”

The CoreLogic report also notes that SFR investors are now more likely to be smaller players, operating three to nine properties. In June, the report states that this group “accounted for 47% of investor purchases, the highest level since 2011.” Still, the CoreLogic report notes, that even among the small investor group, purchase activity in the second quarter of this year represents “a big drop from 2021 and 2022.”

“Inventory levels continue to be constrained, partially because many owners are unwilling to sell and give up the low interest rates that current borrowers secured by refinancing during the pandemic,” the report continues. “This trend could potentially be behind the rise of small investor activity [in the SFR sector] in recent months, as members of this group may have chosen to rent their properties rather than sell.”

Longer hold times for fix-and-flip investors also may be contributing to the rise of mom-and-pop rentals as well.

Arvind Mohan, CEO of fix and flip lender Kiavi, said his company’s data shows that in 2019, just prior to the pandemic, 45% to 50% of homes purchased by fix-and-flip investors were sold within six months of the purchase date. Last year, that figure decreased to 33% — but jumped up to 42% as of the first quarter of this year.

“One of the inferences is that … flippers are holding onto properties for longer time,” Mohan said. “So, it’s rented out [as an SFR] or to take advantage of further HPA [home price appreciation].”

Other datapoints paint a picture of SFR and fix-and-flip sectors that remain active and opportunistic, but with deal-flow at much lower levels than last year due to high rates and low housing inventory. Sector leaders are predicting more of the same for 2024. 

Shifting market dynamics 

Brandon Lwowski, senior director of research at HouseCanary, a proptech firm that provides institutional investors, lenders and other clients with residential real estate analysis, said there are some 75 mega-SFR companies nationwide, those operating more than 1,000 single-family rentals — a figure that he said has remained fairly constant over the past three or four years. 

Lwowski added, however, that HouseCanary’s data shows a big shift in the mid-sized SFR market segment (those controlling 50 to 99 SFR properties), whose numbers have dwindled from around 700 in 2021 to fewer than 300 this year.

L.D. Salmanson, CEO of Cherre, a leading real estate data-integration and analytics platform with a focus on the SFR market, said the largest SFR players — institutional investors that now control between 3% to 5% of the SFR market — this year have shifted their strategy away from buying homes on the open market and toward build-for-rent (BFR) opportunities. 

The National Association of Home Builders estimates that 69,000 BFR homes started construction last year, up 33% year over year. That estimate includes only homes built by builders and held for rent. It excludes homes sold to another entity to be rented, which the industry group estimates may add another 5% or more single-family home starts to the total.

“They [large institutional SFR entities controlling thousands of rentals] are so thirsty for supply, they’re not only buying what’s on the market,” Salmanson said. “They’re buying future [new-home] supply [from builders], so they’re locking up future demand as well.”

He added that smaller SFR players — those with 10 or fewer properties — control 80% or more of the SFR market. At the top of the market, however, he said the largest players are buying out SFR companies in the mid-range of the market — which helps to explain HouseCanary’s data showing a reduction in mid-sized SFR operators over the past few years.

“A big strategy we see right now [for the largest institutional SFR players] is portfolio acquisitions,” Salmanson said. “So, anything between 100 and 250, or even 50 to 250 [SFR units], those are the prime portfolio [targets].”

Although the SFR market is essentially treading water now until market conditions improve and are more favorable for the sector, Salmanson remains bullish on its future long-term prospects due to market dynamics that favor renting over buying for many individuals and families.

“Out of the 110 million to 115 million or so [existing] single-family homes in the US, somewhere between 15 million to 16 million are SFRs,” he said. “That’s [SFR number is] going to double by the end of this decade….”

Rise of the mom and pops

Fred Matera, chief investment officer at Redwood Trust, which operates CoreVest, a division focused on providing business-purpose loans for investment-property purchases, said the “smaller and middle market sector of the [SFR/fix-and-flip] industry has historically been a core client base for us at CoreVest.”

“These smaller investors generally have lower return targets for their equity than the larger institutions, who are much more influenced by the global increase in [investment] return bogeys for equity investors that the market has experienced over the last 12 to 18 months,” he added. “This helps to explain why individuals and smaller investors are able to pay more for a home and tolerate a lower return than an institutional investor, at least in this current market created by the monetary-policy tightening.”

The rise of the mom-and-pop investors, then, is being propelled by their ability to tolerate tight profit margins — as inflation continues to bump up costs while strong home prices still make it possible for them to still eke out a narrow return on investment.

“Today, there are more financing alternatives available to these investors than there have been previously, which certainly facilitates the ability for mom-and-pops to purchase investment properties,” Matera added. “In particular, we are witnessing this trend in terms of the demand we are seeing for our DSCR [debt-service coverage ratio] product, … [which is] designed for these types of investors.”

Still, even for the mom-and-pops, the low levels of housing inventory in play are making for a difficult operating environment. As evidence, the number of private-label securitization (PLS) deals involving DSCR loans as part of the collateral pools [typically up to about half of the loans by count] is down considerably this year so far, compared to 2022. 

PLS data provided by Kroll Bond Rating Agency shows that year to date as of mid-October, there were some 49 PLS deals valued at $18.6 billion involving DSCR loan collateral. That compares with 90 deals last year over the same period valued at $35.1 billion. 

The securitization picture for largest institutional investors this year is even more bleak, however, with only three PLS deals issued through mid-October. Those securitizations were valued at $1.1 billion and involved collateral pools with a total of 4,346 properties. That compares with 13 deals in 2022 valued at $9.1 billion involving collateral pools with a total of 30,247 properties, KBRA data shows. (Of course, not all properties purchased by institutional investors are securitized, although securitization is a major liquidity outlet for the class.)

“You know, we’ve got a million houses on the market right now,” said Kurt Carlton, co-founder and president of New Western, a national private real-estate investment marketplace serving some 150,000 investors. “In 2006, we had 4 million houses on the market, so there’s just a tremendous lack of inventory. 

“… But remember, you have the exit of [institutional] SFR [players from the open market] and IBuyers, so close to that whole segment of the market has gone away [or is far less active as buyers], and those guys were a big part of the market. 

“I think you’ve got the independents [or mom-and-pops] taking the market share back.  … The consistent theme here, I think, is that there is still a tremendous demand for housing, and I don’t think that’s going away, so I don’t think asset values are going to plummet.”

Still, Kiavi’s Mohan is not very optimistic about the housing market and the landscape for investors in the year ahead. He said the housing market is now riding out an environment of “low inventory and high rates.” 

“I think what we see right now is a continuation of that trend, essentially,” he added. “So, we’re in a bit of a malaise now, and things are just stuck.

“And we don’t see anything impending that really drives a significant change in 2024. It’s almost kind of that transition year for the market as we work through inflation and the rate market, and the implications there.” 

Rick Sharga, CEO of CJ Patrick Co., a market intelligence and business advisory firm focused on the real estate and mortgage industries, predicts that rising financing costs, if not abated soon, are likely to fuel a “bit of a dip in home prices” in the near future. He said the large institutional players now on the sidelines in the open market “may be waiting to buy on the dip and are keeping their powder dry until they can maximize that buying opportunity.”

“I think if we’re looking at fix-and-flip investors and single-family rental property investors, things will gradually improve as we get through the end of this year and into 2024,” Sharga said. “I think the reason for overall optimism is that the numbers [including rental rates and home prices] still favor real estate investors in the long run — the math does. 

“We have millions of millennials and Gen Z individuals who are coming of age to form households. … And the overwhelming majority of them would prefer to live indoors.”

Nov. 7, 2023

Regulation hasn’t caught up to generative AI


October 16, 2023, 5:36 pm By 

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) has tremendous potential to cut costs and improve customer experience, but regulation has not caught up to develop a governance program, industry pros said of AI’s implementation in mortgage lending.

Bias, discrimination, privacy and security concerns related to consumer information are some of the biggest risks in implementing generative AI, noted Brian Stucky, lead at Rocket Ethical AI at Rocket Mortgage

“We still do not have AI-specific regulation (…) We have to operate under the Fair Lending Act. Have we developed a model that is in fact fair? If you are using it in marketing, we need to make sure it does not infringe intellectual property,” Stucky said at an AI session at the 2023 Mortgage Bankers Association Annual Convention & Expo in Philadelphia on Monday. 

“With this rapidly evolving technology, there are a lot of risks. I think there are things that we don’t know yet and all of these risks are going to impact data privacy, cybersecurity and other concerns,” said Michele Buschman, chief information officer at American Pacific Mortgage Corporation.

The panel noted the findings of the latest Fannie Mae mortgage lender sentiment survey. More than one in four lenders (26%) considered misinformation to be the biggest risk in using AI and machine learning (ML), followed by cybersecurity (18%), bias and discrimination (16%) and privacy and security concerns related to consumer information (15%).

Lenders that adopt generative AI into the mortgage lending landscape wanted to see operational efficiency, the survey showed.

AI-based compliance review (50%), AI-based anomaly detection automation (39%) and AI-based mortgage loan offerings (32%) were noted as being the most appealing AI/ML application ideas.

Generative AI is still at an infancy stage and It’s important for lenders to experiment with what works and what doesn’t work for using generative AI, Stucky added. 

With AI expected to “lead to lasting change” unlike other technology hype cycles, enterprises will be significantly impacted whether they invest in AI or not, noted Buschman.

“Lenders will have to work with legal, risk, compliance and IT to define AI governance before implementing AI technologies,” Buschman said. 

Vendors might not be as experienced with utilizing AI, so asking due diligence questions for for data security is also key, Joseph Zeibert, vice president of FICO, pointed out. 

“There is not one playbook (in terms of implementing AI) (…) Not every problem has the same AI tool,” Zeibert noted.

Making use of data sources will be how lenders could differentiate themselves from other competitors, Felipe Millon, senior sales manager of housing finance at Amazon Web Services, said. 

“How do I start using it with other data sources we have? That is where the true value is in competitive advantage (…) How do you use that data that your competitors don’t have access to?” Millon said.  


Nov. 7, 2023

Video: If homebuyer demand is so weak, why aren’t home prices falling?


October 24, 2023, 8:00 am By 

Everyone knows that potential homebuyers are waiting for better affordability. But if demand for homes at current prices is down then why haven’t home prices fallen to meet the lower demand?

The short answer is that while homebuyer demand is indeed low, new supply remains very low, too. For home prices to adjust significantly, we need an imbalance of supply versus demand, and this market is surprisingly balanced.

To get the weekly picture about the housing market, watch the video above.

Don’t have time? Here are some quick takeaways from our latest data dive at Altos Research.

Inventory is up as homes sit for longer

As of Oct. 23, there were 554,000 single-family homes on the market. That’s up 1.5% from last week. Inventory is growing faster than last year at this time.

There were only 57,000 new listings of single-family homes unsold again this week. There are fewer sellers now than any recent year.

Housing supply shows no signs of easing

There were 325,000 single-family homes in the contract-pending stage, or 6% fewer home sales than last year. Meanwhile, we saw 55,000 new contracts for single-family homes this week. That’s 1,000 more sales than the same week last year.

Homebuyer demand is historically weak, but we don’t measure any precipitous further drop in demand even with mortgage rates now over 8%. What’s more, 38.5% of the homes on the market have taken a price reduction, and this will keep increasing.

Price cuts show balanced market is tilting slowly to supply

The median price of single-family homes in the United States is now at $435,000. Even though the demand indicators are weak, home prices have stayed reasonably stable, especially when compared to last year.

In fact, we’re seeing home-price gains of 1% to 2% over last year. We’ll see the median price of single-family homes going into contract each week ticking lower, but this is mostly seasonal as we head into the holiday season.