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Are Tiny Homes a Wise Investment?

Tiny Houses are becoming very fashionable in today's word. The absolute height of modernism and simplicity, a tiny home is meant to push the boundaries of living efficiently. Typically smaller than 400 square feet, these miniature abodes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Is this surge of small spaces a sign of things to come? Or nothing other than a fad? Tony Gilbert of The Real FX Group examined all of the pros and cons of the tiny homes and compared them to traditional homes and living expenses. 

 

It seems there are Tiny Homes popping up everywhere. Magazines, websites, and reality TV shows all praise the space-saving miniature houses that typically range between 180 and 400 square feet in size. Is it a practical lifestyle choice? Is it truly possible to live comfortably with another person in such a tiny space? Do people still enjoy living in tiny homes after the first year? How much do they cost? These are questions you need to ask before you consider purchasing a tiny home.

What Does A Tiny Home Cost?

When you start visiting tiny home builder websites, you quickly realize these miniature residences aren't cheap. Prices for tiny homes as small as 200 square feet of comparably cramped living space can start at nearly $70,000, and the prices can increase significantly, depending on quality of materials.

One thing many tiny home buyers sometimes forget to take into account is that the price of the home does not include the land the home will eventually sit on. And, when you consider the fact that bathrooms average less than 3 feet wide, often contain recreational vehicle toilets, and have little or no plumbing, and the kitchens may not include normal appliances, that's a pretty high price tag for such a tiny space.

Do People Live In Tiny Homes?

Research on the internet, and you'll find stories from people who lived in their Tiny Homes for a short period of time, as the reality of living in such tight quarters becomes apparent. Some owners build the homes and decide to rent them. A few people manage to live in a tiny home for a few years, but many other people discover tiny homes don't meet their lifestyle or family needs.

While the idea of living more simply or off the grid can be appealing in our hectic world, the reality is very often not what people expect. Moving into a tiny home means disposing of or storing most of your belongings because obviously, tiny homes aren't known for their ample storage space. And storage space costs money.

There may be only a couple of cabinets for food in the kitchen area. Refrigerators are usually very small and fit under a counter. Loft bedrooms are very low, and placing a mattress on the floor serves as a bed. You can also have seating downstairs that serves as a bed at night. Some loft stairs have built-in drawers below them for clothing. And for some people, having no separate space to go when they want to enjoy some alone time, can be a major problem.

Buying A Traditional vs. Tiny Home

Fortunately, there are cozy and small traditional homes which can house a family comfortably, provide storage, give them roots in a community, and allow the potential for the homeowner to build equity. You don't need to give up the conveniences of being connected to town water, electricity, and cable to live in a cozier space.

Either way, if living more simply, and with a smaller footprint is the goal, be sure to consider all smaller home or condo options before spending your savings on a tiny home. Don't jump on the Tiny House bandwaggon without carefully considering all of your home buying options, because doing so may save you many thousands in the long run, and will give you peace of mind when it comes time to make a final decision.

To read the original article, click here.

Find Your Harvest Festival!

It's sad to see but August is coming to an end and harvest season is upon us. As always, Vermont has numerous celebrations planned in honor of the harvest and fall season. Check out the ones listed below:

39th Annual Harvest Festival in Shelburne - Saturday, September 16th (10am - 4pm) - Explore a tent full of children’s activities, entertainers performing on multiple stages, artisans sharing their skills and crafts, and of course, delicious farm-fresh food. Farm animals and horse-drawn hayrides, too! It’s a community event for the whole family. 

Stowe Rotary's Oktoberfest in Stowe - September 29th - October 1st - A celebration of the harvest highlighting our local beers. Bavarian style bands perform during the weekend, with food, fun and dancing for all ages. Come enjoy peak foliage and have a beer or two. 

Rocktoberfest in Morrisville on Saturday, September 30th - Starting with Copley’s “Run for the Heart” 5K Fun Run/Walk starting at Oxbow Park, followed by a street festival featuring live, well known bands, a fabulous food court, the great chili cook-off, recyclable miniature golf, creative events, local merchants, massages, live Chair-Art-Able Auction, local brews and the best of the best in the region! 

Sam Mazza's Harvest Festival in Colchester - October 1st & 2nd - The festival offers lots of on-grounds entertainment. The children can enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, a hay ride down to the pumpkin patch, the corn maze and many craft and entertainment activities held under the tent. 

Sugarbush Oktoberfest at Lincoln Peak on October 8th - Will feature Bavarian inspired food, drink, games, and the Mad Bavarian Brass Band. Compete in the stein hoisting competition, keg tossing, and corn hole tournament for a chance to win lift tickets for the upcoming winter season. Friendly Lens will provide photo booth fun.

 

Why to Buy, Not Rent

https://www.flickr.com/photos/houseofjoyphotos/5810687168

Photo:  Flickr Brent & Amanda I

While buying a house is a huge step, it's not as impossible as it may seem. We're going to break down some of the reasons why it might be time to start looking into it.

Express yourself

Living in an apartment, condo, or any situation on a rental basis means you're probably not allowed to make any significant changes to the living space. The paint on the wall, flooring, and cabinet situation are all here to stay regardless of your feelings.

Most changes you are allowed to make are temporary. Now, wouldn't you prefer being able to make changes when you want and how you want in your own space?

Not as pricey as you think

You're probably thinking, "but I have to pay 20% down!" Truth is, most people don't pay that anymore. If you go to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), you could pay as little as 3.5% down. Not so great credit score? Credit requirements aren't as strict with housing loans as opposed to other types of loans. In the end, you could be spending less on housing payments per month than you are currently spending on rent per month.

Pets

A lot of apartments still don't allow pets. Ones that do generally require a large pet deposit and extra monthly pet rent. Owning your own home erases all those issues. Plus, if your new home has a yard, then your dog has plenty of room to frolic. 

Student loan issues

New rule changes to how student loans affect debt to income ratio calculations could reduce your monthly housing payments.

Everyone's doing it

First-time home buyers are making their move. 42% of homebuyers in 2017 are first-time buyers, over double the number of new-renters.

Creative Ways to Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

The heat and humidity of summer are great...outside. Luckily, there are lots of tricks to keeping your home cool without running your air conditioning and racking up your energy bill. Realty Times posted a blog by Jaymi Naciri on some tips to get started.

Standing fans

A fan placed in the middle of the room can give you some relief from the heat, allowing you to turn down you're A/C. With so many fan options out there you'll want to check out the reviews, which will give you specific info so you can find the best option for you. Personally, we're into this Soleus Air tower fan. Two words: remote control!

On a really hot day, you may also want to think about getting creative with your fan. "Not even an air conditioner can give off a faux sea breeze... but this simple trick can," said Huffington Post. "Fill a mixing bowl with ice (or something equally cold, like an ice pack) and position it at an angle in front of a large fan, so that the air whips off the ice at an extra-chilled, extra-misty temperature. Trust us: it's magic."

Get blinds

If you're considering different window covering options and heat coming through your windows is a concern, blinds may be a good choice. Choose white reflective blinds and you can reduce heat gain by 45 percent, while still having the option of raising or opening them easily whenever you want.

Take a look at your sheets

Getting through the day during a steamy summer may not be a problem, especially if you work outside of the house. But those nights when the temps don't go down can be unbearable. Sheets made of certain materials can make it worse, but new options can help.

"Cool bed sheets are made with natural fibers that are breathable and can prevent perspiration or feature moisture-wicking fabrics that whisk your sweat away faster than you can produce it — so you'll stay dry through the night," said Bustle. "Considering that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees, it stands to reason that sleeping with sheets that keep you cool can make your bed feel less like a sauna is a very good idea."

Look for natural fibers like cotton (especially Egyptian) or bamboo, and away from sateen and silk.

For more tips on keeping your home cool without constantly running your air conditioning click here.

Vermont Community Events

Crowd ConcertVermonter's love to celebrate. Seriously, we'll celebrate everything from cheese and wine to bikes and cars. We like to think we know how to have a good time, which is evident from our numerous festivals and fairs. Upcoming fun includes:

Music in the Meadow - A summer-long concert series at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT.

July 14-15 - Waterbury Arts Fest - Kick off this fun-filled event with a Friday night block party, followed by a day of entertainment, crafts, food, and more. This event has quickly become one of the most anticipated of the summer.

July 15 - Vermont Cheesemakers Festival (Waitsfield) - Don't be fooled, this festival celebrates much more than cheese with local foods, wines, ciders, beers and spirits for you to try. 

July 21-23 - Vermont Mountain Bike Festival - Head to Sugarbush for this festival celebrating all things mountain biking, but the fun doesn't end there with live music, BBQ's, a bonfire, games, and much more all weekend long

August 11-13 - Stowe Antique Car Show - In its 60th year, this car show is the one of the biggest and longest running in New England. Check out over 800 vehicles on display with lots of fun music, contests, and activities throughout the show.

August 27 - Race to the Top of Vermont - Bike, hike, or ride to the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak with this challenging course. Then, rest and relax with a BBQ and Music at the base lodge. 

Easy Summer Patio Upgrades

One of the many fun things to do during summer is to enjoy spending time outside on your patio. It's a place where you can rest and relax or party it up on summer nights. There are some easy way that you can make this space work for you 

Update your furniture

If you're looking to change things up you might be in the market for a new look for your patio. New chairs, tables, and cushions can completely alter the look and feel of this space. You might simply need to upgrade furniture that has weathered through one too many seasons. 

Shade

If your patio receives a lot of sun, then you'll definitely want to invest in some man-made shade. Table or free standing umbrellas are super easy but you could go bigger with a canopy or pergola. 

Light

When the sun goes down you might still want to enjoy your patio and that's why it's a good idea to install some light fixtures. These can be as simple as hanging lights off the side of your house or citronella torches to keep those pesky bugs away.

Party Time

Ensure that every get-together is a blast with a grill and cooler to keep the refreshments coming. Lawn games are super fun and with those lights, you don't have to stop when the sun goes down. 

11 Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Home

Summertime is the perfect time to relax and stop worrying about muddy footprints, snow removal, and other problems. Unfortunately, it's also a great time to catch up on, or keep up on, maintenance of your home. Winters in Vermont can be brutal, and it seems like we haven't seen the sunshine since summer began. Making sure your gutters are clean, your roof is leakproof, and taking some time to deep clean your carpets, can do wonders for a house that's been put through the ringer. Jaymi Naciri, from Realty Times, brings us 11 things you should at least consider looking at this summer.

  1. Clean out your Gutters - This is a given, you want rain water to be able to drain efficiently off your roof, specifically into an area that it's supposed to.
  2. Deep Fridge Cleanout - We're all guilty of forgetting something that has been in the fridge for a little too long. Maybe something spilled and left a sticky mess, the point is, it get's gross, really fast. The easiest way to stay on top of cleaning your fridge is to schedule a time each month or so to keep up with it.
  3. Change batteries in your Smoke Detector - Another very important thing to keep up on, your smoke detector is there to keep you safe. Make sure it's functioning properly so you know you can depend on it in an emergency.
  4. Change your Filters - This is especially important if you have allergies. An overused filter will allow more dirt, pollen, dust, and other allergens to enter your home.
  5. Deep Clean your Carpets - As a pet owner, I know how dirty carpets can get in just a short amount of time and a simple vacuum isn't always going to cut it. Stains and smells can set into your carpet and you may not even notice because you become desensitized to it. Do yourself, and anyone who visits your home a favor and do a deep clean. You can usually rent one at a local supermarket.
  6. Have your Air Conditioning Unit Serviced - Air conditioners work better and last longer if they are regularly serviced and cleaned. If it's not working at it's best, it could be racking up your electricity bill.
  7. Check your Deck - Your deck stands strong through all the seasons but that doesn't mean it shouldn't get a little TLC. Harsh rain and snow can do a number on it so you should keep an eye out for loose planks, nails, and possible rotting. Putting a fresh coat of sealant may be required.
  8. Shower Heads - This can be a place many of us don't think to look but you don't want to miss it. Bacteria and soap scum can build up and eventually affect the flow of your shower. Check out Wikihow's two methods of cleaning a removable and non-removable shower head.
  9. Dryer Vent - This is a must for keeping your house safe. Dryer lint is a highly flammable substance that accumulates after each use. It's best to empty this after every load to be safe. 
  10. Check the Roof - A long winter or rainy season can leave your roof needing a little touch-up. Check for any loose tiles or shingles to help prevent leaks
  11. Do a Leak Check - To save water, make sure to check hoses and faucets for leaks. Even a small drop adds up to a lot of water over time.

 

 

Festival Season

Summer in Vermont is bursting with festivals and fairs for anyone and everyone. We like to have a good time, and you can see that with how many events we have going on in June alone! From family friendly Renaissance fairs to more music festivals than you can count, we've got something for everyone. Check out the lineup: 

June 10th - (Warren) Sugarbush Brew-Grass Festival - Dozens of brewers, three bands, and a variety of food vendors make up the Brew-Grass Festival in the Lincoln Peak Courtyard.

June 23rd - 25th (Essex Junction) - Vermont Quilt Festival - The oldest and largest quilt festival in New England is back for another year! Contests, classes, presentations, exhibits, and much more make this a great way to immerse yourself in the quilting community.

June 23rd - 25th (Stowe) Stowe B3 Festival (Bikes, Brews, & Beats) - Kicking off on a Friday with a block party for the whole family. The rest of the weekend hosts multiple group rides and other events for mountain bike enthusiasts.

June 24th - (Waterbury) Grooves and Brews Festival - Following the Waterbury Parade and ending with the firework display, this festival brings you three kicking bands, tons of delicious food options, the best of von Trapp Brewery, and much more!

June 24th - (Stowe) - 25th Vermont Renaissance Faire - Travel back in time as you enjoy all the best of a festival with a Renaissance twist. Attendees are encouraged to come in garb, so it makes for some pretty memorable photos!

June 29th - July 1st (Warren) Frendly Gathering Music Festival - (There is no "I" in frends) With over twenty bands playing throughout the festival grounds this event is all about the fun. Enjoy camping, yoga, art, local food, dance workshops, and much more!

 

 

 

Tips To Get Your House Sold

Let's face it, most Vermont towns can sell themselves with their close-knit feel, community activities, local amenities, beautiful landscapes, etc., but that doesn't mean someone will be willing to buy a house there if it doesn't make a good impression. Buying a house is a huge deal, and you want someone to be wowed when they enter yours for an open house or private viewing. Making a few improvements doesn't have to break the bank, but it can be the difference between them walking out the door or making an offer. Jaymi Naciri, from Realty Times, has written up ten tips to help you on your way.

Staging your home is a critical step in getting it sold, but all the recommended updates and upgrades can get pricey. Thankfully, there are tricks you can use to make your home look bigger, better, and brighter, without spending a dime.

1. Fix up your floors

Don't want to pay to replace or refinish your floors? No prob. Grab a brown crayon to fill in divots. A one-to-one mix of olive oil and vinegar rubbed directly on scratched areas will also help make it look new. You can also use canola if you don't have olive, but then use a one-part vinegar, three-part oil mixture. 

Floors look great but don't sound so hot? "Fix creaky wood floors with a generous dusting of baby powder," said One Crazy House. "Work it into the cracks until the floor is no longer noisy."

2. Make it sparkle

Presumably, you already have cleaning supplies, sponges, and paper towels in the house. Now all you need is some elbow grease to make your home look shiny and new.

When selling your home, you need to take the cleaning beyond your typical weekly run-through. Think "Spring cleaning" turned up a notch or two. Remember that potential buyers will be looking everywhere, including inside drawers and cabinets. Make sure they're crumb-free and well organized. They may also open your refrigerator. While this can seem intrusive, you don't want to give them a reason to walk away, so make sure to tidy up the inside, wipe up any spills, throw away rotten food, and put a nice big box of Baking Soda in there to absorb any leftover smells.

3. Let the light in

Everyone is looking for "natural light," so show off what you've got by opening up those blinds and drapes. Did you just reveal a bunch of dirty windows and sills? Ewww. Grab that cleaning spray and make them shine. An old toothbrush is a great way to get gunk out of corners and in window tracks.

If your place isn't light and bright, even with all the blinds and drapes drawn, you'll need to depend on artificial lighting. This is no time to have lightbulbs out. Go hit that stash in your laundry room cabinet and switch out for fresh bulbs.

4. Declutter

Home stagers will tell you there is no more important step when preparing your home for sale. "If you are serious about staging your home, all clutter must go, end of story," said Houzz. "It's not easy, and it may even require utilizing offsite storage (or a nice relative's garage) temporarily, but it is well worth the trouble."

Do a walk-through with an outsider's eye, or ask a friend or family member to help since they'll be more objective. Anything that isn't used regularly or is taking away from the open feel of the house can be packed away. Small appliances and anything else hanging out on countertops can be put in a cabinet if you're not ready to stick it in a box. You want people to see the bones of the house, not your blender.

5. Depersonalize

While, you're decluttering, keep personalization in mind. Buyers want to be able to picture themselves living in the home, and they might not be able to do so if they can't take their eyes off your wall of taxidermy.

6. Create closet space

Even if you have the world's largest walk-in closet in the master bedroom, you can give buyers the impression that there isn't enough space by overfilling it. Stagers recommend taking half of your clothes and shoes out and packing them away to create some airiness. Does the idea of packing up your stuff freak you out? You're going to have to do it when you move, anyway. This is just giving you a head start.

7. Remove the stink

Does your home greet guests with a big whiff of cat box? Potential home buyers might just turn right back around and get in the car. You also want to make sure your animals aren't irritating those who are touring or impeding them from entering certain rooms. Don't want to board them? Surely you have a friend or family member who'd love to watch your pets during showings, right?

8. Pull those weeds

You really can't overestimate the importance of curb appeal today. Even if you don't want to spring for a few bags of mulch and some colorful flowers to frame your door, there are easy and free steps you can take to give buyers a great first impression. Dispose of any visible weeds, leaves, and other unwanted stuff hanging out in the yard. Give your bushes a trim and mow the yard. If you can't power wash your home, at least wash the outside of the exterior windows that are within eye level.

And don't forget about the area closest to your front door. Sweep that stoop and make sure your welcome mat is actually welcoming, instead of dusty and dirty.

9. Address your furniture

Some of the most common problems in homes when it comes to furniture: 1) It's ugly; 2) It's old; There's too much of it; The arrangement is uninviting. Ugly and old might be hard to overcome when you're trying not to spend money, but the rest you can do something about.

"Sometimes when sellers are trying to make a small room seem like it's more spacious, they have a tendency to push all of their furniture against the walls to leave a big open space in the middle. This type of arrangement may leave a lot of open space, but ultimately leaves the interior design looking unfinished -- a big turn off for buyers. In this situation, it's better to create furniture groupings. First, envision the way the space should be used," said Freshome. "Do you have a huge flatscreen TV that requires a lot of seating? Is there a corner in your living room that would serve perfectly as a reading nook? Group the furniture in ways that would make sense for the intended use. Then, make sure that there are clean and direct pathways through the room. You want potential buyers to be able to envision themselves living in your home and one of the quickest ways to do that is by creating a cozy seating area that's fit for conversation."

If the problem is that you've created a crowded space by using too much furniture, ditch a few pieces in a friend's garage for the time being (or, even better, donate them!) to create an intimate seating area. You can always bring those pieces back into your new home.

10. Borrow stuff

If, at the end of the day, your home still isn't looking show-ready, maybe it's time to raid a friend's house. Have a loved one who has an extra couch that's more neutral than yours or a couple of great accessories? It's time to test their love for you.

To read the original article click here.

Improve the Value of Your Home in 5 Easy Steps

Damien Justus, of Realty Times, offers some great suggestions to boost the value of your home without going completely overboard. These are things that can be applied to any house, in any neighborhood. 

What increases the value of one home might not increase the value of another. A resort-style pool and outdoor kitchen in Wyoming might not hold as much value for buyers as the same resort-style pool and outdoor kitchen added to a home in South Florida. What works and what doesn't is dependent upon the current market conditions in your area, what buyers in your area want, and the overall feel of your neighborhood. It's not to say you cannot add something no one else has, but you have to add the right thing.

Building a 4,000-square foot addition to your 1,200-square foot home in a neighborhood that consists of all small starter homes is not a wise home improvement. If you're looking to add some value to your home, try one of these five easy steps that almost always adds value no matter where your home is located.

Start Outside

What's the first thing buyers see when they drive up to your home? Your lawn and front door, and they make more of an impression than you might imagine. If your lawn is a mess, your door needs some paint, and your house is dirty, the first thing you do is get it all cleaned up. You're not going to spend thousands on elaborate landscaping, but you might be surprised just how much of a difference a freshly mowed lawn and some brand-new mulch in the flower beds make.

Move it Indoors

Paint is everything in a home. You can have your home any color you want but if you choose to sell and want to increase the value of your home, you're going to add value by adding a nice, neutral paint color to every wall. No more personal colors in bedrooms, no more accent walls, and no more old, dirty paint. Even if your paint is only a few years old, you will make a big difference in the overall value with a fresh coat.

Upgrade the Fixtures

Next is the fixtures. It's time for new door knobs, light fixtures, and faucets in the kitchen and bath. Cabinet and drawer pulls are also important, and every one of these very small details makes a very large difference. You can upgrade these for next to nothing while seeing a significant improvement on the value of your home.

Fix Any Small Issues

If you want to add value to your home, it's time to fix the small issues. If you have a leaking faucet, get it fixed. If the air conditioner makes a funny noise when it runs, call the home warranty company and ask them to come out and take a look. If it's broken, they'll replace it. If it's fixable, you just got rid of that pesky noise and increased the overall value of your home in the eyes of buyers. Small issues are some of the biggest issues. Repair any little dings or holes in the walls, fix any broken baseboards, and repair anything that's not quite perfect. These little things add up substantially.

Clean it Up

Finally, it's time to clean your house. Hire a professional to come in and clean every single nook and cranny. You're not tidying up for dinner guests anymore. You're cleaning cabinets, drawers, walls, floorboards, ground, baseboards, trim, and everything in between. You might not think a home that's clean is worth more, but you'd be surprised. If your sparkling clean house is for sale for the same price as another house down the street that's almost identical but isn't spotless and has a lower asking price, people will want your home. Even if it's more money, it's less work for them and it's cleaner.

A house is an investment, and that's why it's imperative you do what you can to increase the value of your home without spending much money. It's not always expensive upgrades and renovations that add a few extra dollars to the overall cost of your home. Sometimes it's small, easily forgettable details that make the biggest difference to a buyer.

To read the original article click here.