Home Owners

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.

Expectations for Your First Year in a New Home

Jaymi Naciri, of Realty Times, is here to prepare you for the inevitable. Your first year in a home is going to be great, but it's also going to challenge you. Naciri has created a list of some things you might want to keep in mind while getting settled in your new place so, when something comes up, you can handle it with ease.

Moving can be exciting, and it can also be scary. It can be smooth sailing or so wrought with silly (or serious) issues that your cat peeing in the box of towels because you haven't unpacked his cat dish yet sends you into the kind of rolling-on-the-ground, slapping-your-leg, crying-big-fat-tears laughter that makes your family wonder if you need medical intervention. And that's just the beginning of the adventure.

In the first year in a new home, you'll likely experience the full spectrum of human emotions, sometimes in the span of a few minutes. And while you can't know everything that's going to happen, you can prepare yourself for some of the inevitabilities, of both the good and not-so-good variety.

Something's going to break

It could just be a sprinkler head or it could be your air conditioning unit in the heat of summer, but knowing that something will eventually break in the house is the best reason of all to be proactive. Being able to quickly deal with a leaking water heater or a roof that's been damaged in a hail storm is key to minimizing the damage to your finances, and your sanity.

There are four main keys to being prepared:

  • Saving your money -"Owning a house doesn't change the rule of thumb that it's wise to have approximately six months' worth of income in a rainy day fund, and more experts are now recommending that you build up nine months to a year," said Zacks Investment Research. "What changes is the amount of your monthly expenses that will be consumed if you need to tap into the fund. If your mortgage, tax, insurance, utilities and other payments rise with a new mortgage, you could use your savings up more quickly. With this in mind, if you were saving less than the guideline, intending to tighten your belt, the increased bills that come with homeownership makes skimping on your rainy day fund a dangerous business."
  • Knowing where everything is located - You don't want to get caught in an emergency situation and be scrambling around trying to figure out how to shut off your gas.
  • Finding a trustworthy handyman - Unless someone in the house is handy, and actually does the stuff they say they are going to do in a timely manner, you'll want to find a handyman. Having someone you can call in a pinch to repair the doggy door or the garage door opener or add a ceiling fan to a room that stays five degrees warmer than the rest of the house is clutch. Next Door is a great place to find a handyman, as well as a babysitter, dog walker, and lost cat.
  • Getting a warranty - In many cases, you can buy a home warranty after you've purchased your home. If you have an older home, are someone who could be sunk by a broken air conditioning unit that costs several thousands of dollars to repair or replace, or just want to make sure you're covered for all those things that could bust, a warranty might be a good thing to consider. "A home warranty is a contract between a homeowner and a home warranty company that provides for discounted repair and replacement service on a home's major components, such as the furnace, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical system," said Investopedia. "A home warranty may also cover major appliances such as washers and dryers, refrigerators and swimming pools. Most plans have a basic component that provides all homeowners who purchase a policy with certain coverages. Homeowners can also purchase one or more optional components that provide additional coverage at additional cost."

Junk mail city

Expect to see a full mailbox for months after you move. A lot of it will be junk, but there will also be some valuable stuff in there, like coupons from local stores that can save you money on furniture and housewares. Don't forget to also take advantage of the coupons that are part of the U.S. Postal Services change of address package.

You'll probably also get some refinancing offers. If your home happens to gain equity during the first year and rates dip, you might be able to refi and lower your payment.

You're going to make friends

Unless you're a total hermit who never exits the house even to take a walk, get the mail, or water the flowers, you're bound to make some new friends in your new neighborhood. Maybe even lifelong friends. But, if anyone in the household is nervous about this aspect of moving, there are ways to increase the friendship-making quotient for kids, and adults.

The updates you knew you needed when you moved in will become a priority

That ugly floor and those outdated countertops are just staring at you, taunting you, even. When you just can't take it one more minute, consider this: You don't have to shell out a bunch of cash for them. Use interest-free credit at Home Depot or Lowe's and you can break up the spend into manageable monthly payments over a period of time. Just make sure to make your payments by the due date every month. Missing one, being late, or not paying the minimum due for even one month will void your agreement and add a whole bunch of interest to your total.

Need furniture or electronics more than you need floors? Lots of stores like Rooms To Go and Best Buy offer the same type of interest-free deal.

You're going to have big dreams and big reality checks

Unless you've bought a brand-new home, there are a few things you're going to want to change, beyond furniture and furnishings. It may just be carpet in the bedrooms and a splash of new paint, or it might be ripping out your entire kitchen.

Budget concerns will probably keep the renovations in check for many people. But you'll also want to assess the return on investment for the renovations you have in mind. Even if you're not planning to turn around and sell your home in a year or two, knowing that the updates you make are valuable and will be a good investment is always important. Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report is a great guide to see which items pay you back.

It's going to cost more than you thought

This ties back to the saving your money thing, because there will always be stuff that needs to be fixed and updated. But there will undoubtedly also be surprising costs. For instance, if you're going up in square footage, you may not have considered the extra heating and cooling costs.

There are tactics you can use to address some of these costs:

  • Do an energy audit -"A home energy audit, also known as a home energy assessment, is the first step to assess how much energy your home consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. An assessment will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time," said Energy.gov. "Items shown here include checking for leaks, examining insulation, inspecting the furnace and ductwork, performing a blower door test and using an infrared camera."
  • Research utility options - In many cities, you have options for your energy providers, and some may cost significantly less than the traditional providers you've gone with in the past. Be sure to check out solar options, too, especially if you're interested in green living. The newest advancements in solar energy for residential homes make it possible to use the sun's energy without having to purchase expensive systems and pay thousands of dollars upfront.
  • Check out alternative credit cards - If you're looking for creative ways to save money, check that junk mail again. There may be some valuable credit card offers in there with lower interest rates or an interest-free balance transfer option.

You might have to do some things you never thought of

You probably weren't thinking about cleaning out your ducts when you were envisioning your new life in your new home. But you probably won't know how long it's been since the last cleaning, and dirty ducks can cost you money if you're HVAC system isn't running efficiently. Thet can also be dangerous because of the accumulation of dust and dirt inside. Poor indoor air quality can worsen allergies and asthma.

A clogged dryer vent can also cost you money because it makes your dryer work harder. But, more importantly, it can be dangerous and even deadly. "Lint is highly flammable and can pose a severe fire hazard when dryer vents are not cleaned regularly and properly," said Barineau Heating and Air Conditioning. "According to the U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Data Center, clothes dryers are responsible for more than 15,000 structure fires around the country each year, and 80 percent of those fires start with clogged dryer vents."

You'll get woken up in the middle of the night by a fire alarm

Because batteries only die at 3am. Every. Single. Time. You can avoid this nuisance and keep your family safe by changing your batteries when you first move in. While you're at it, change your filters, which will help your HVAC to work more efficiently.

To read the original article click here.

Ideas to Improve your Small Front Yard

We realize it's still snowing, but before long we're going to have spring flowers popping out of the ground. If you live in a more rural area of Vermont chances are you've got a lot of yard to work with, but that's not everyone. If you've got a home in town or live on a bustling street, it can be hard to make your small front yard seem comfortable and appealing. Whether you're looking to sell or simply upgrade your own digs these tips, from Andrea Davis at Realty Times, could give you some ideas to work with. 

There are many ways to improve your small front yard without uprooting your driveway or dialing back your front porch. In fact, with the right touches, small front yards can be just as appealing as large ones. Here are some ideas to make your small yard more appealing year round:

#1 Take a symmetrical approach.

One way to make your small front yard more appealing is to use symmetry. Balancing the elements of your yard on either side of your sidewalk -- grass, fencing, flowers, shrubs -- will make it look grand and inviting; it will also cost less than it would in a larger yard because you have less acreage to cover. You can also find a local landscaper to map out and implement a symmetrical yard plan for you.

#2 Make a seamless transition from yard to house.

Use materials like box planters, stone steps or retaining walls to blend your home and yard together. Potted plants on your front porch or patio will also extend the yard without cluttering it. Make sure you choose plants that complement one another, so you don't have a lot of overgrowth.

#3 Use a hint of color.

If you want to wow people in your small front yard, pick a brightly colored flower, shrub or tree that stands out either on the porch or in the yard itself. Then use neutral colors around to make it stand out. This will be the eye-catching piece in your small yard that people will never miss.

 

#4 Hang basket flowers.

Hang flower baskets around your front porch or patio. They add fresh color and a natural element to your home without cluttering the porch area itself. You can change them every season or every year, depending on the flowers or shrubs you choose.

#5 Light it up.

Your front yard might be less appealing if people see it at night. That's why you should add plenty of lighting. One option is to install standing, solar-powered lamps along the walkway; another is to hang lamps on your front porch to illuminate the plants there. It just depends on how much money and time you want to invest.

#6 Refresh your front door.

While not a traditional part of the "yard", your front porch is still important to the beauty of the area as a whole. This means your front door needs to be appealing as well. Fix any cracks, scratches or other damage to the door. Also, think about revitalizing it with a new coat of paint. Choose a color that complements the exterior landscape.

Conclusion

These are only a few tips to help you improve your small front yard. You want to make it seem bigger, if not at least more comfortable. Adding a fence might be another option to consider, though you'll want to lean towards an open design pattern like picket or chain link. Just keep your budget in mind and try not to clutter your yard while trying to redesign it. 

To read the original article click here.

Home Renovations on a Budget

It seems like every time you look around your house there's something else that could be improved. The windows might be drafty in the winter, your bathroom hasn't been remodeled since the 70's, and the rug in your living room is not the same color it used to be. These can seem like huge problems if taken on all at once but just making a few adjustments around the house can wildly improve its atmosphere. The staff at Realty Times points out some important places, in your house, you might want to consider looking at and how to fix them without draining your bank account.

If you’re looking to get the best return on your investment or just improve your property to attract high-quality tenants, a kitchen remodel is one of the highest value projects. The most recent cost vs. value report, released in January 2014, shows that property owners will recoup 82.7 percent of the cost on a minor kitchen remodel, an increase of more than five percent over 2013.

The good news is that high-value renovations like these don’t have to break the bank. There are a number of options for making improvements to your property that can significantly better its appearance without spending an arm and a leg.

Kitchen

The first thing people look at when buying a house is the kitchen and bathrooms, according to the director of the remodeling futures program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. It’s no different for potential renters, and Rental.Us.com reports these two rooms are considered the best investments for property owners.

Minor improvements such as replacing the kitchen faucet and adding new cabinet door handles can make a big difference in the look of your kitchen. Consider switching out old fluorescent lights for new track lighting or adding a new countertop; laminate isn’t too expensive and can really help update the room. If the appliances don’t match and you can’t afford to replace them with new ones, a less pricey option is to replace their doors or face panels with matching colors which can generally be ordered direct from the manufacturer.

Bathrooms

As bathrooms are also a high priority for home buyers and renters, don’t leave them out when sprucing up your property. Consider changing out old towel bars, toilet seats and sink faucets. If your tiling is old and outdated, it should also be replaced. Re-grouting the tile around the shower and bath is also an easy and inexpensive update.

Flooring

Floors are another important factor that can make or break a home’s appearance. If you can afford it, consider replacing wall-to-wall carpeting with wood laminate flooring. It is cheaper than other hardwoods but can potentially save you thousands of dollars over the years in maintenance costs. For landlords, this makes a lot of sense as it’s much easier to clean between tenants. At a minimum, you should have the carpets professionally cleaned.

The Front Door

Entry door replacement was on the top of the list when it comes to high-value renovations, according to the 2014 cost vs. value report. This is one of the first things potential renters and buyers will notice. If replacing the door is not in your budget, consider repainting it to add curb appeal and changing out the handle-and-lock to help suggest that it’s a solid, sturdy home.

The Exterior

Of course, an attractive home exterior is a must, enticing prospective buyers or renters to want to take a closer look. If the outside looks shabby there is a good chance that it will be passed by.

General cleaning and maintenance of the exterior can greatly improve curb appeal. Remove any items that are left sitting unused, including old, rusty patio furniture or broken garden tools and equipment. These things generally can’t be picked up by your local garbage company and you may need to find a rental dumpster service so that you can tidy up your yard and easily dispose of those unwanted items. Additionally, make sure that walkways are swept and the lawn is well-manicured.

To read the original article click here.

Staging vs. Decorating: What's the Difference?

Kristie Barnett, from Houzz, wrote this very enlightening article on what could be the difference between people buying or walking away from your house. Playing up your home's assets can be tricky when you need to keep the space neutral and inviting for anyone who might walk through the door. Here are some of her tips on staging and decorating:

Selling your home means selling a lifestyle, but not necessarily your own. In home staging, you're striving for a look that is fresh and welcoming yet not really taste specific. People with varying tastes need to feel that they can make the home their own if they purchase it.

This is the distinction between decorating your home and staging it to sell. It can be hard to understand at first, but if you don't know the difference, you might not sell your house as quickly as you like.

Although everyone has different tastes in decor and furnishings, most people want a home that is welcoming, functional, peaceful and organized. Tailor your house so that buyers will describe it in those terms rather than by your style of decorating. Getting rid of clutter and having fewer but larger accessories is a great place to start.

Making sure your home isn't taste specific doesn't mean your rooms should be devoid of color. Instead, keep color schemes simple and dose them with an on-trend neutral, like a clean tan, a soft gray or a warm white. (Photo by Kristie Barnett, The Decorologist)

If you have a distinctive decorating style — whether it's Tuscan, shabby chic or modern — you're going to need to scale it back a bit. If you don't, your home will appeal to the small percentage of potential buyers who love your chosen style. Staging is about strategic editing and depersonalizing, rather than decorating and personalizing.

Dated is dreary. Strive to stage your space with a current and fresh feel. Use updated neutrals on the walls and furnishings that are clean-lined and simple. Punches of color are great; just use them sparingly. A room arranged symmetrically and centered on the architecture reads as peaceful — one of those important aesthetics every buyer is drawn to.


This guest bedroom is full of great staging ideas. It has lots of on-trend design details, but it's sparse on accessories and other distractions. The color palette is simple, easy on the eyes and would be attractive to both men and women. Most potential buyers would remember this appealing room long after leaving the house. (Photo by Andrea May Hunter/Gatherer)

This clever arrangement draws attention to the unique architecture in the space and illustrates a smart use for the area under the stairs: an office nook. This area is nicely decorated, not staged. (Photo by Warline Painting Ltd.)

If I were staging this area, I would keep the desk, chair and lamp, remove overly personal items such as family photos, and leave a few pieces of art and an attractive notebook and pen. Simple accessories can help draw attention to a functional space.

If you are updating a kitchen or bath before putting your home on the market, keep the finishes neutral and classic. This is not the time to show off your personal style. You want to broaden your buying audience by appealing to a wide variety of tastes and preferences. This bathroom would definitely appeal to buyers with either traditional or contemporary taste, and could later be personalized with the new homeowner's preferences for color and accessories.

Sure, this may not be what normally sits on your countertop, but doesn't it look better than the usual bills and coupons? Remember, you are selling an idealized lifestyle, not your reality.

The bottom line is that you have to get outside your head and inside the mind of a potential home buyer. It's very difficult to be objective about your own home, but it's crucial if you want to sell it.

To read the original article click here.

Comments

  1. No comments. Be the first to comment.

Six Mistakes to Avoid When Decluttering Your Home

HomeAdvisor editor Andrea Davis wrote this wonderful article on some ways to make decluttering your home effective. Even if you don't plan on buying or selling a place anytime soon, these tips will make for a better living space overall.

If you're getting ready to move or sell your home, clutter is your worst enemy. It makes packing a nightmare, and finding the one item you need could take an extra 15 minutes to more than an hour. Decluttering is a great way to get rid of the things you don't need before moving or preparing your house for a walkthrough. But you need to avoid some of the common mistakes that come with this seemingly daunting job. Here are some of the roadblocks you could run into and how to handle them:

#1 Laziness or procrastination.

If you don't feel like decluttering your house will achieve significant results or make your house feel cleaner, then you're not going to do it effectively. At the same time, if you drag your feet, it may take weeks to get the job done. Have a set goal in mind and stick to it when starting this project, especially if you plan to do the entire house. If you need someone to help or keep you on track, you can hire a home organizer to set a schedule and make the process more manageable.

#2 Tackling too much at once.

You can't organize the entire house in a day. It's simply not doable. And it will sound far too overwhelming from the start, deterring you from ever finishing. Spend just a few hours each day decluttering, tackling one room at a time. If that's too much to do, start with one closet or a few drawers and work your way up. Remember, you will always have a bigger mess before you have something more manageable. If you make a mess of your entire house, you may never regain the energy or desire to go back to the project. For more tips on how to organize your home quickly and easily, check out this post from HuffPost Homes.

#3 Not having an organization plan.

Once you start pulling items from your closets, drawers and other parts of your room, you need to have an organization plan in place. You don't want to throw everything into one big pile -- that creates another mess to sort through later. Instead, tackle it strategically by putting each item into a dedicated pile: donate, sell or throw away. That way, you'll know where it goes and how to handle it once the room is completely decluttered.

#4 Letting emotions do the talking.

You may be tempted to keep certain items because of their sentimental worth -- they were a present, belonged to a family member, have old memories attached, etc. -- but oftentimes the pieces we hold onto are of no use. You shouldn't keep pointless items just for emotions' sake, unless the emotions are so overwhelming that you simply can't help yourself. Old toys, pieces of clothing, shoes -- these are better off at secondhand stores or in the trash. Yes, there will be pieces of jewelry or photos to keep, but be choosy.

#5 Getting rid of things.

Once everything is organized and out of the room, take the next step. Don't let the garbage, donation items or garage sale pieces just sit around. You need to drive them down to the secondhand store or landfill. If you need to sell stuff, arrange a garage sale for the following weekend. Waiting until the opportune moment to finalize your decluttering could lead to more piles, which means more hassle for you.

#6 Waiting too long to declutter again.

Once you've decluttered every room -- whether in preparation to move or sell your home -- don't get too relaxed. There will be another time, perhaps in the near future, where you will need to declutter again. It's a natural part of life - getting rid of old items and making room for new ones. People accumulate things throughout their lives, and it's imperative to keep cleaning out the house. Otherwise, you'll be back at square one in a few years.

To read the original article click here.

9 Tips for Selling Your House in Winter

Laura Gaskill wrote this excellent article for Realty Times on how to make winter work for you when you're selling your house. Winters, especially in Vermont, can be harsh and make the showing of your home's assets a little tricky. Here are some tips and tricks to stand out this winter:

With people away on trips and cold weather making house hunting less appealing, winter can be a challenging time to sell your home. On the other hand, fewer homes on the market means yours will get more attention from buyers. By upping the cozy factor, making the most of winter assets and paying attention to details, you can make your house really stand out.

Here are nine ways to prepare and stage your home for success, and create a warm and welcoming vision for buyers, even when the weather outside is frightful.

1. Have a cozy, crackling fire (or not).

If you have a gas fireplace or new clean-burning woodstove, go ahead and light a fire to welcome visitors. But if your home's wood-burning fireplace is older and leaves a smoky smell in the room, hold off. Those with allergies or smoke sensitivities can be turned off — or literally turned away when they have to go outside. No fire? Consider offering warm apple cider instead.

2. Keep entryways scrupulously clean.

As with any time of year, a clean and clutter-free house will sell more easily (and maybe at a higher price) than one with more visible clutter. During winter it is especially important to remove mucky boots outside and keep family gear hidden in a closet or trunk, where potential buyers won't trip over them. A Swiffer-style mop kept in the coat closet can be used to quickly freshen entry floors before each showing.

3. Give each room a warm touch.

A folded throw draped over the back of an armchair, a plump quilt at the foot of the bed or an area rug in warm hues are a few small additions that will make a big difference in the way a room feels to prospective buyers. Also, be sure that every light is on — even for daytime showings. Winter days can be quite dim, and your house will look its best when it's as warmly lit as possible.

4. Show how outdoor rooms can be used even in the coldest months.

If you have a covered porch or outdoor fireplace, be sure to keep the area fully furnished. Turn on outdoor lights, build a fire in the fireplace and drape a few thick throws over your outdoor furniture.

5. Emphasize spaces that will appeal in winter.

Basement playrooms, indoor exercise areas, heated toolsheds and the like will be especially welcome in a place with a cold winter. Remove all unrelated stuff to make the purpose of the room clear, and be sure to have your Realtor bring it up when showing the house to potential buyers.

6. Showcase the entertaining possibilities of your home.

Winter is prime time for festive parties and holiday open houses, so whet prospective buyers' appetites with an enticing display. Set out stacks of plates and fresh flowers on a dining room buffet or display holiday cookies on cake stands in the kitchen.

7. Use structural elements in the garden for winter interest.

In the middle of winter, it can be hard to visualize a blooming garden. Large urns and planters, benches, rock walls and other garden structures will help buyers see the potential even in the snow.

8. Clear all exterior pathways of snow and ice.

Nothing will turn away potential buyers faster than a treacherously icy path. Open-house guests should be able to easily walk all the way around the house and access outbuildings. Provide as much off-street (snow-cleared) parking as you can to make things easy for visitors.

9. Do decorate for the holidays.

Buyers want to be able to envision living in your home, so it pays to make that vision as inviting as possible. Festive twinkling lights, green wreaths or topiary, and a decorated tree near Christmas will strike the right note. That doesn't mean you have to go overboard — in fact, a house overly cluttered with holiday decor can be a real turnoff.

To read the original article,  click here.

The Moving-Day Survival Kit

Houzz.com wrote an excellent article for Realty Times entitled "The Moving-Day Survival Kit: Lifesaving Items & Niceties," on items that will make your move a lot easier. This is a very stressful time for everyone so why not take as much stress out at possible? Check out what you should have on hand:

What to Put in Your Moving-Day Kit:

At least a few rolls of toilet paper. This is the number-one most important thing to include, and you will never convince me otherwise.

Aspirin and all of your medications. This is the second-most important thing to include. I've never been so happy to see a little packet of aspirin as I was when I unearthed it at the bottom of my move-in bucket. It was a lifesaver. If you have antianxiety medication, moving day is a really good day to take some.

Of course, you will want all of your medications, important documents, laptop, jewelry and anything else that's very important or of great value somewhere that you're keeping track of and not with the movers.

OK, you've taken care of t.p. and your aches and pains; how important the rest of these items are is more subjective. I'd love to know what you think is the number-one thing, so be sure to voice your opinion in the Comments section later.

Toilet plunger. If you have only one bathroom, this is very important. The more bathrooms you have, the less crucial a plunger is for move-in day.

Cash. You should tip your movers, unless they call you "baby girl" or "princess" throughout the entire move, and talk on the phone in the cab of the loudly running semi truck all day while charging by the hour. Actually, I think I wound up tipping that guy too, because he knew where I lived.

Leatherman knife. While having the whole toolbox handy would be great, there are only so many things you can fit into the move-in-day survival kit, and a Leatherman or Swiss Army knife will fit in a pocket.

It's great for opening boxes, putting little pieces of furniture together and, most important, opening that bottle of wine you're saving for when the movers leave. If you don't think you'll be organized enough to have a Leatherman handy, make sure you have a box cutter and a box of wine.

Trash bags. You're going to want the big, sturdy yard trash bags as well as the clear recycling bags.

For those of you who still manage to be on the ball during moving chaos, look up what is recyclable locally before your trip so you can be sure to recycle all of your packing materials, or coordinate with someone else who is about to move to come pick up your boxes, Bubble Wrap, and tissue paper when you're done.

Power strip and mobile phone charger. The power strip will come in handy because you'll probably clear one little area to keep chaos at bay and wind up plugging in a lot of various things, like lamps, a laptop, your iPod dock and more.

Toothpaste and a toothbrush. Actually, expand this. You should pack a weekend overnight bag and Dopp kit for yourself, including soap, shampoo, deodorant, a razor and anything else you'd need for two to three days away.

All-purpose cleaner, Clorox wipes and a roll of paper towels. Hopefully, move-in day will not be a big cleaning day. Good sellers will have your home thoroughly scoured for you before then, but you'll want to be prepared if they are bad sellers. (Don't let it come to this, though; if you're moving from out of town, have your Realtor scope it out and help you find some cleaning help before the moving truck ever pulls up.)

No matter what, you'll want to give the toilet a cleaning, and some of your furniture may be dusty and have a cobweb or two as it comes off the truck. An all-purpose cleaner and paper towels should be enough to tide you over.

Bottled water and granola bars. You're not going to remember to eat until you are very hungry. Have some immediate snacks around for sustenance until you can get a meal together, and by "together," I mean "delivered."

Ideally, you would have paper plates and plastic utensils at the ready, but you can make do with what comes with the food, your Leatherman knife and that roll of paper towels I already told you to bring.

Local restaurant menus and phone numbers. Do some Yelping around and figure out what restaurants deliver or find a good local delivery service because you are going to feel filthy and exhausted by the time you get around to foraging for food.

Bandages. While a complete first aid kit is great for overachievers, soap, water, paper towels and a box of bandages should take care of any move-in mishaps. If not, you should probably head to Urgent Care anyway. Also remember that a handful of cars come with first aid kits weirdly hidden in the backseat armrest. I just remembered for the first time in eight years that mine has one.

Notepad and pen. Moving day is a time when many to-do lists are made, new numbers are learned and names of neighbors who have stopped by and introduced themselves are furiously scribbled down before they fly out of your head. I realize that many tech-savvy folks and young whippersnappers do all of this on their phones, but I believe in the usefulness of pen and paper.

Something to freshen the air. Whether you prefer a Glade plug-in, a bottle of Febreze or a fancy candle, even the cleanest house in the world will smell a little musty when it's been closed up for awhile. Get your own favorite scent wafting through the air.

Flashlight. This will come in handy at night as well as for checking out your new crawl space or any other dark corners. Speaking of light, be sure to pack a few extra batteries, a few lightbulbs and a nightlight that will help guide you to the bathroom in this foreign place.

Unpack certain boxes first. Hopefully, you've labeled everything well and the movers are putting the appropriate boxes in the appropriate rooms. While they are, watch like a hawk for linens and bathroom stuff. As soon as a bed is assembled and you've found the sheets, make up a bed. By the time you get to fall into it, you'll be way too tired to put the sheets on.

Also, unpacking the kitchen is a huge accomplishment that will make life from here seem much more normal. As soon as you have your own toaster oven, coffeemaker, blender and other appliances ready, you'll feel like you can do your first big grocery shop and start preparing meals that don't arrive in Styrofoam containers.

Be nice to your own buyers. Conversely, if you are moving out of a place, try to make the moving process pleasant for the new owners, unless they were jerks at the closing — well, even then, take the high road. Make the place spotless, leave a welcome note, organize instruction manuals for any appliances they are inheriting from you, leave the names of service providers you recommend and the numbers of a few good food delivery spots (or if they were jerks at the closing, just leave them the number of the so-so spots). These moves will keep your moving karma clean so that all will go well on your end.

To read the original article click here.

Thanksgiving 2016 Survival Guide

We found this article titled, "Thanksgiving 2016 Survival Guide: How to Get Through this Year's Gathering with a Smile on your Face" by Jaymi Naciri at Realty Times. It's been a little...tense this past month and while this should be a time for family and friends, we don't always see eye to eye on integral parts of our lives. Here are some tips on how to avoid an all out brawl at your holiday meal.

For many people across the country, Thanksgiving represents a time of togetherness when the entire brood can gather around the table and sink into some family love - and a vat of mashed potatoes. For others, it's a terrifying time of strife and stress.

Well, get ready for the "normal" fabric of family dynamics to be stretched to its limits this year. In the aftermath of the most contentious U.S. election of our time, nerves are frayed, and two distinct and disagreeable (and that's putting it mildly) camps of voters could make sitting across the table from each other more challenging than usual.

So how can you get through it, and maybe even enjoy yourself? Here's your Thanksgiving 2016 Survival Guide.

Cocktails Any One?

Depending on your family dynamic, you may already be quite familiar with the whole drinking at Thanksgiving thing. But this year may call for more - and stronger - imbibing.

There are a lot of great, Traditional (and some not so traditional) Thanksgiving cocktails out there, like these from the The Food Network. If you think you can inspire a little humor in your family members, set up a blue and red bar and allow everyone to show their true colors. Or, go with Purple Drinks that mix the blue and red to show unity.

Make dinner a multicultural affair

What better way to make a statement about acceptance than by bringing in some new cultural dishes? "Thanksgiving dinner is conventionally associated with very specific foods. Turkey. Pumpkin pie. Stuffing. But that's not where every family's tradition begins and ends," said Mashable. "The U.S. is a melting pot. It's all about different cultures coming together with family traditions that blend the best of the old world with customs of the new.You might want to try them yourself this year. After all, the blending of American tradition and familial culture often starts with food."

A few of their suggestions: An eastern European Braised Red Cabbage with Bacon, Persian basmati rice stuffing, and Argentinian alfajores,  buttery dulce de leche-filled cookies that are perfect with that post-meal cup of coffee.  Will it cure the ills of the world? No. But it'll be tasty.

Play a game

Thanksgiving Bingo is a fun way to get through a strained holiday, but cards from years past probably won't do this year. Generate your own Thanksgiving Bingo cards (Great Aunt Linda starts talking about the woman down the street, and you're just waiting for her to drop the "N" word; Cousin Bill uses the words "whiny," "pansy," and/or "loser" when referring to Democrats), and pass them out to a few family members, or give them to friends who you know could really use some help at the dinner table next year. Keeping your ears open for the next winning phrase by making it a game could help soften the tension.

Volunteer

Maybe what your family needs this year is to not sit down to eat together at all, but, rather, to be of service. Volunteering at Thanksgiving can be rewarding for those who are on both the giving end and the receiving end. You can check VolunteerMatch to find a local spot in your area.

Be truly, sincerely, thankful

It's easy to get lost in the minutiae of sorrow or regret, especially when the big picture is also not one you can find much solace in. Whether you're feeling dread at what the next four years hold, or if you're feeling joy, or somewhere in between, taking a moment to get in touch with what you're grateful for can be powerful. Health, wealth, a good job, strong friendships, a loving family (even if this year some are a tad less so), and a table full of food to enjoy offer plenty of reasons to be thankful, which, not coincidentally, is the name of the game on this holiday. If you need help getting in touch with your gratitude, check out these tips.

To read the original article click here.