Vermont Real Estate

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.

 

 

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.

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

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

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!)

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.

 

9 Tips for Creating a Family Friendly Home

Vermont is a great place to raise a family with most towns having tight-knit, supportive communities. Most areas offer lots of activities for creative fun for all ages. Check out the local schools and businesses in your area to see what they offer. The rural lifestyle of Vermont is great for instilling an appreciation for nature and a lifelong love of the outdoors. A lot of new homeowners are, or were, in the market because they want to start a family. Having a safe but stylish home doesn't have to be such a crazy transition. This is an article by Jaymi Naciri from Realty Times, entitled "9 Tips for Creating a Family Friendly Home that Marry Form and Function." Here are some ideas to get you started down this new path and ease some worries you may have. 

Having a kid and trying to make sure you don't lose your sense of style as the home gets overrun by bouncy chairs and toys? Maybe you've been in kidland for several years and are looking to reclaim some of your style. It can be challenging.

"As tricky as it may be to live comfortably in a small one-bedroom or studio, decorating a big family home has its hurdles, too," said MY DOMAINE. "There are so many questions to ask: What fabrics are kid- and pet-friendly? Which coffee tables won't take my toddler's eye out? How can I give myself a little privacy? Once you figure out what works best for your brood, the next big thing to consider is how to do it all in style."

Here are some tips to help you navigate the space between form and function.

Fight against dirty walls

"There's no getting around it: Walls take a beating with young ones around," said HGTV. "Cleats are casually tossed against white baseboards. Bedroom doors become backboards for basketball practice. A fresh expanse of drywall morphs into a blank canvas for that new set of crayons. Sticky fingers trail along hallway walls."

But that doesn't mean you can't have beautiful color. Just make sure you choose paint that is washable and wipeable. Some family-friendly favorites can be found here.

Watch those corners

Sharp corners are the bane of a new parent's existence. You can mitigate them by using pool noodles or edge guards, but they're not so stylish. A round coffee table instead of one that's squared off can be a great addition to your living room, both from a functional and style perspective.

Bring in a little fun

Adding in fun touches keeps your home lively. This chalkboard barn door does the trick, and it comes in a variety of different finishes and textures to match your unique style.

You can have the white couch

We always chuckle when we see home design shows that give a growing family a big white couch. That's not happening in our house, where materials are chosen expressly for their ability to resist spills and dog hair, and colors chosen to best disguise dirty fingers and puppy stains. But, white can be done. You just need some washable slipcovers, a little diligence, and a good washing machine.

You don't need a glider chair

It's one of the first things new parents-to-be think about when preparing for their first child. And a glider chair is a great place to hold, rock, and nurse a baby. But, unless you're planning on having several children in a row or see the chair melding into your décor beyond the baby stage (especially if you're intending to put it in the middle of your living room), you might be able to do without - especially if you're on a budget.

There's a lot of back and forth about how much of a necessity (or not) a glider is, but if you're on the fence, don't want to spend the money, or would rather focus on something that better matches your style and long-term décor needs, you're justified.

You don't need duckies and bunnies or baseballs and mitts in the baby's room

Nor do you need a gender-specific color. Check out the chic HGTV star Jillian Harris created for new baby, Leo.

Don't go with a cheap rug

You might be worried about wear and tear and stains with kids, but a quality rug may be a better option than something cheap. "Invest in a wool rug," said The Chriselle Factor. "Wool rugs generally come at a higher price point, but for the family-friendly home, they're worth every penny. They're soft underfoot, help break the tumbles and falls of the newly-walking, and they're much more durable against foot traffic - so more often than not, you'll be saving in the long run."

Get creative with storage

Whether your kids are brand-new or heading into their teens, you always need more places to put stuff, and you want them to be as nice to look at as they are useful. If you're in the market for a new kitchen table, consider a banquet with a lift-top bench or slide-out drawers. They make great places to store kitchen or dining items, bibs and towels, and kids' art supplies.

Coffee tables with drawers or ottomans you can slide under desks or taller tables are key for families and also make great options for extra seating in a pinch. But when it comes to toy storage, they can start to overrun your house.

One of the keys to a good design scheme is mixing it up with interesting shapes, colors, and textures, so consider this tip from Huffington Post: "Think outside of the box with your storage! Who says toys need to be stored in ugly plastic bins? There are so many gorgeous baskets (or even an unexpected roomy tote) at a range of price points. Storage that doubles as décor also makes cleanup a cinch."

Keep the big picture in mind

There are several great tips in this chic living room: Ottomans keep it cushy and can be moved out of the way for floor play. Bookcases stuffed with games and toys put everything your little one wats at arm's reach and are easy to put back for a tidy space. The concrete table is "perfect for kids' crafts," said MY DOMAINE. And bright pops of color and a ship chandelier keep it all interesting.

To read the original article click here.

Top Tips for Selling your House in Fall & Winter

This article, from Jaymi Naciri at Realty Times, highlights some advantages and pitfalls to selling your house in the fall or winter. Admittedly there is a lot more work to do to keep your lawn looking good. Vermont's fall and winter scene can be unpredictable so make sure you stay on top of raking and plowing in the winter. Keeping in mind the holiday seasons, use decorations to your advantage but don't go overboard. People want to see your house, not the gazillion Christmas decorations you have from over the years. Check out the other tips listed below.

The temperature is dropping, the leaves are changing, and pumpkin spice everything has taken over the world. With fall color and produce so prominent at this time of year, you may be tempted to load up your home with an abundance of both. But if you're trying to sell your home now, a little discretion may go a long way. And that's just one of the tips for selling your house in the fall and winter.

Pay close attention to your curb appeal

We've admitted to having a problem resisting the temptation to buy every available pumpkin and decorative gourd at the market at this time year, so we feel your pain. But when it comes to styling your front porch, there's a slippery slope between nicely decorated and Farmer's Market.

The idea is to enhance your curb appeal, not obscure it. "While too many fall decorations will take focus off of your home and its best features, a few tasteful accents can create an inviting setting and make your home feel fresh," said HGTV.

You also want to make sure that fall leaves haven't taken a toll on your yard. Buyers may be understanding if your lawn is covered and unkempt, because they're living the same reality, but that doesn't mean the home will make a good impression.

Go Easy on the Holiday Displays

Apply the same logic when it comes to holiday decorations. Tasteful displays will, quite literally, show the home in its best light. Outfitting the home to compete with the Griswolds will make it a spectacle, but not necessarily saleable.

Let In the Light

It's always a good idea to open blinds and make sure windows are sparkly when trying to sell your home. But especially with shorter days in the fall and winter, you want to make sure you maximize the light in your home, which can make it look larger, fresher, and also "highlight your home's best features," said HGTV. Still need a little help? "Let in as much natural light as possible…and place plenty of lamps throughout your home for additional illumination."

Make your space inviting

As the weather cools down, a warm and cozy atmosphere will give potential homebuyers a warm and cozy feeling. Use plush throws on the couch and beds, add fall-accented pillows to choices and chairs, and, "Try displaying vases of fall foliage or bowls of seasonal fruit throughout your home," said HGTV.

Prepare your fireplace

A roaring fireplace during showings adds to the welcoming feeling. But, even if you're not yet ready to light a fire, making the fireplace look great is important. Clean those doors well, and sweep out the inside, too. If the paint inside your fireplace is wearing away, a fresh coat will help. Now, stack that wood nicely or replace it with some modern glass, and you're ready to go.

Use fall scents to your advantage

Cinnamon and pumpkin spice and vanilla, oh my! The flavors of fall are unmistakable, and when they're flowing through your home, you can create a powerful connection with buyers.

"The fall and winter months are associated with certain smells and flavors (think: pine needles, cinnamon, peppermint and pumpkin pie). Beyond setting the mood with decorations, you could try appealing to buyers' senses in multiple ways," said Smart Asset. "For example, if you're hosting an open house you could keep hot chocolate and pumpkin muffins on hand for visiting buyers. If you don't want to go that far, keeping a scented candle burning in the background or playing some holiday music can work wonders."

To read the original article click here.

Action Before Interest Rates Rise?

Cindy got an email from the other day from Mortgage Loan Originator, Mark Erickson, out of South Burlington. "Interest rates have recently dropped!" he exclaimed, "Now is a great time for a mortgage checkup." So we looked into it.

This article by PJ Wade discusses the importance of refinancing before rates increase. Are your kids heading off to college? Does the roof need some extra TLC? Now might be the right time to save a little extra money for the things that matter in your life. 

If you currently have a mortgage, what should you do before interest rates significantly increase?

The "when" related to interest rate increases has been the subject of debate for a while, but there is wide-spread agreement that rates will slide up. Whether that's slowly or quickly represents another debate.

Does the certainty of rate increases call for action from savvy property owners with one or two existing mortgages on their real estate?
While rates are near historic lows, refinancing to take advantage of lower interest rates may make good financial sense, but act soon. Combining existing primary and second mortgages into one loan may improve your financial situation and probably lower payments.

Mortgage contracts, which outline how much must be repaid to the lender according to specific terms, vary from lender to lender and from borrower to borrower, so do not assume anything about your mortgage. Read the mortgage documents yourself or contact the lender to clarify your obligations, rights, and alternatives.

This is a time of transition for the mortgage industry, so changes outside of your mortgage document may influence your borrowing options. You'll never know until you ask. No one will come knocking on your door to bring you up-to-date.

Homeowners with existing mortgages will be protected from immediate rate increases unless they have a variable-rate mortgage, also known as adjustable-rate or floating-rate mortgage. With these loans, the interest rate is not fixed, but fluctuates against a reference standard. Vulnerability to rising interest rates depends upon specific terms set out in mortgage documents. Talk to the lender for clarification of any unfavorable effects of rising interest rates and to understand your options.

Mortgages with fixed interest rates are not vulnerable to rate increases during the term or contractual length of the loan, which can be 6 months, 1 year, or decades long. However long the term is, eventually, the mortgage comes due and payable. That's when property owners and their mortgages are vulnerable to higher interest rates. If you must re-qualify for refinancing, significantly higher interest rates could pose qualification restrictions and limit the size of mortgage available to you.

Usually, re-qualification is low threat because, as the existing mortgage ages, the principal, or original amount borrowed, is paid down or reduced. Refinancing for a smaller mortgage at a higher rate should be affordable unless the property owner has had a change of employment or income.

Even if you expect to refinance with your current lender, shop around for the best rate and mortgage terms. Your current lender may decide to match the best offer you receive from a new lender to retain your business.

When comparing lenders with the help of a mortgage broker or contacting them yourself, ask questions about fees and terms like prepayment to be sure you are improving your situation by moving lenders. If you gain a half point or a point in interest, but face higher fees or less flexible terms, moving lenders may be an expensive decision. Real estate professionals are often excellent resources when dealing with mortgage issues.

Don't miss the chance to maintain your mortgage at a reasonable interest rate. Contact your lender if you are unsure about your vulnerability to rate increases. Once rates move up, "if only I'd…" recriminations will get you nowhere.

To read the original article click here.

Interested in talking to Mark about your mortgage? Click here.