Vermont Real Estate

Benefits Of Buying Or Selling Your Home In The Fall

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Now that summer is over, you may be noticing fewer for-sale signs around. This is great news for buyers and sellers as the marketing is less competitive and you can take advantage of potential tax breaks and seasonal deals. 

Less Competition

There are generally fewer homes on the market in fall, but there are also fewer buyers competing for the house you want. An article from Forbes says, "Families on a mission to move into a new home before school starts are out of the picture. Competition for houses drops off in the fall, a time many people consider to be off-season in real estate. But there are still homes for sale - and in some cases, there's just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer."

Tax Breaks

"Fortunately for home buyers, owning a home can yield great dividends in tax returns. For example, both mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible from gross income. Furthermore, if you have prepaid some interest before the due date of your first payment, and if you close your loan before the year's end, that interest can also be deducted." Deena Weinberg wrote for Realtor.com

Check out potential tax breaks for home sellers by clicking here.

Home Improvement

End-of-year sales on everything from appliances to home maintenance. Consumer Reports keeps track of the best times to buy what you need from lawn mowers in October to TV's and kitchen cookware in December.

Are Tiny Homes a Wise Investment?

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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.

Why to Buy, Not Rent

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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.

11 Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Home

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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.

 

 

Tips To Get Your House Sold

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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.

Homes with High Standards

Green building practices and Energy Star ratings are growing in importance among home buyers and home builders, alike. Paul Arnot, of Arnot Development Group in Waterbury, is a respected builder who understands the importance of green design and technology. Arnot is well known for his Waterbury Commons village community, which meets the Energy Star criteria. It is a close-knit neighborhood that embodies the term "community."

"The Blue Energy Star on a new home means it was designed and built to standards well above most other homes on the market today. When Energy Star's rigorous requirements are applied to new home construction the result is a home built better from the ground up, delivering better durability, better comfort, and reduced utility and maintenance costs," according to Energy Star.

Not only do Waterbury Common homes earn the Energy Star rating, but other aspects of the community fit nicely in the sustainability category of being in close proximity to public transit, and walkable to many village amenities like shopping, restaurants, library, schools and recreational venues.

For more information on Waterbury Commons, visit waterburycommonsvt.com

Ideas to Improve your Small Front Yard

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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.

9 Tips for Selling Your House in Winter

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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.

A Fresh New Look (That's Mobile Responsive Too!)

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Vermont Realty Website

We are continually working to keep on top of our industry's trends. But sometimes these trends have nothing to do with the preferred bath to bedroom ratios or predicting the up and coming neighborhoods; sometimes, it has everything to do with how buyers are finding what they want.

The keyword here is MOBILE!

This is why we just went through a website redesign to become mobile responsive. Not just mobile friendly, responsive. Our website will now realize the size screen you are on and determine the best view for you.

Pretty neat huh? So go ahead and try us on your phone vs tablet, laptop vs desktop. No matter where you are or what device you have, we'll always be ready and right at your fingertips with the most up to date information on all things VT realty.

Weighing the Pros & Cons of a Home Addition

Andrea Davis, the editor for HomeAdvisor, brings up some important things to think about when a home addition might be in the cards. The cost of living in Vermont is pretty high, so you want to make sure you're getting the most out of your living space, even if that means doing a little construction.

Adding a new addition to your home is a great idea for various reasons. But interest rates and property values can change the effectiveness of your investment. If you are considering building a home addition, you'll want to consider the following information as you make your decision.

Cost

Possibly the greatest consideration regarding home additions is cost. Generally, many homeowners opt to build or renovate when interest rates are low and they can take advantage of home equity loans. When budgeting for your addition, it's important to plan for the costs that are often associated with major home improvement projects. The hefty cost of a new home addition is something that homeowners need to consider closely before embarking on this type of construction. It's also important to consider the additional costs of utilities and taxes that will affect your annual budget.

Investment Value

Experts suggest that you can recover the cost of a mid-range home addition at the point of sale. This is the main inspiration for many homeowners investing in extra square footage. Even though extra square footage should drive up the value of your home, sellers don't necessarily recoup their entire investment due to other variables associated with property values.

 

Enjoyment Factor

Cost and investment aren't always the main considerations for homeowners who opt for new additions. Many people simply want to enjoy the added space or have a significant need for expanding their home. Whether you're considering extra bedrooms or an expanded kitchen, an addition will improve the functionality of your home and increase your overall enjoyment.

Stress

From conflicts with contractors to the inconvenience of living in a construction zone, home renovations and new additions can be fraught with stress. While stress is a con, it's also likely to be a temporary problem. Moreover, selling your home and buying a new one may prove no less stressful. By working with skilled reputable contractors and planning carefully, you can avoid many of the headaches associated with residential building projects.

Design Aesthetic

A poorly designed addition can detract from the appearance of your home. It's important for homeowners to work with an architect who has the experience and knowledge to create an addition in keeping with the aesthetics of your home. An addition that's mismatched with the main structure can detract from the visual appeal of the house and ultimately turn off buyers.

Other Pros and Cons of a Home Addition

Unless your new addition is a second-story addition, a home expansion is going to swallow up some of your property. Less yard space could prove to be a turnoff to some home buyers. On the other hand, staying in your home allows you to keep your great neighbors and reside in the community you love. Adding on to your home also allows you to customize the entire project to suit your household's needs.

Conclusion

Consider all of the pros and cons when it comes to making a decision about a new home addition. Talking to other homeowners can also help you gather advice and enhance your decision-making process.

To read the original article click here.