Blog :: 2016

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.

The Moving-Day Survival Kit

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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.

Super Easy DIY Tips for Saving on Winter Heating

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Vermont winters are a force to be reckoned with. With mornings in the negative double digits, your home heating bill can shoot through the roof. This article, by Jaymi Naciri, points out some steps you can take to combat raising your heating costs. 

Have you taken steps to winterize your home this year? It's not too late to take a look at all the nooks and crannies (Seriously, you should start with the nooks and crannies since they're probably letting all that cold air in and the hot air out!) and make some easy, DIY changes.

Time Money reports that 45% of the average household's energy bill goes to heating. "According to the Department of Energy, heating is the largest expense in the average American home," they said. Have natural gas heating? The average cost of heating your home from October through March is $649. That number goes to $938 for those with electric heating, they said. A little time and effort can make a big difference in how efficiently your home runs - and how high (or not) your winter bills soar.

Change out your filters

You should be doing this on a regular basis, anyway, but, if it's been awhile, it's time to hit Home Depot. New filters help your HVAC system to run more efficiently, which can mean lower heating bills and a heater that lasts longer.

Close up leaks around doors and windows

"A one-eighth-inch" gap under a 36-inch-wide door... will let in as much cold air as a 2.4-inch-diameter hole punched in the wall," said Time: Money. That's a lot of air coming in and a lot of money going out.

Draft guards under doors can plug those holes for a minimal cost ($10–15). For doors and windows, weather stripping tape is cheap, easy, and effective at sealing holes. Still drafty? "Any remaining gaps in siding, windows, or doors can be filled with caulk," said Bob Vila. "For extra drafty windows and doors, caulk the inside too, pulling off moldings to fill all gaps in the insulation. Cost: $20 for a basic caulk gun and $5 to $10 for a tube of caulk."

Cover your windows

Taking care of the leaks around the windows is only half the battle. Heat loss through the windows themselves can also be costly. Insulated drapes can help, and so can insulation film applied directly to the windows. "It may not be the most fashionable tip, but window insulation film can keep up to 70% of your heat from leaking out of windows," said Bob Vila. "Cost: $20 to $35 per kit."

Switch your fans

Most fans come with a reverse switch, but many people don't know what it's for. Turns out, your fan can actually help you feel cozy in the winter and give your heater a bit of a break. "Most people think of fans only when they want to be cool, but many ceiling units come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades," said Popular Mechanics. "Counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes, while switching to clockwise makes it warmer. Air pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space—cutting your heating costs as much as 10 percent!"

Banish the exhaust fans

Do you usually flip on the exhaust when you're cooking dinner, taking a shower, or running your laundry? Eliminating this one action could save you money.

"An exhaust fan blows the warm air in your house outside, dropping the temperature of your home as that air is replaced with cooler air," said The Simple Dollar. "Even worse, exhaust fans are usually blowing out moist air, which does a better job of holding the temperature. Instead of flipping on the exhaust fan when you take a shower, just leave the bathroom door open. This allows the warm air to naturally flow into the rest of the house, bringing the warmth of your shower along with it."

Lower the temps

It's no secret that the higher your thermostat is in the winter, the higher your heating costs. But did you know just how much you can save by going lower? "Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees," said the Consumer Energy Center. "For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you'll save up to 5 percent on heating costs. Set the thermostat back to 55 degrees or off at night or when leaving home for an extended time, saving 5-20 percent of your heating costs."

That goes for hot water heaters, too. "Set your water heater to the "normal" setting or 120-degrees Fahrenheit, unless the owner's manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting," they said. "Savings are 7-11 percent of water heating costs."

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.

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.

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.

Seasonal Fun

There are a lot of fun things to do leading up to the holidays. Many local towns have ongoing events for whatever your interest. Check out some of these events this month:

Nov 11: Rusty Nail Dance Benefit for Veterans

Nov 12 & 25: Cider Tasting: Champlain Orchards

Nov 12: 40th Annual Milton Pre-Christmas Craft Show

Nov 14: Pint Night at the Reservoir Restaurant and Tap Room

Nov 24: Turkey Skate in Stowe

Nov 25: Homemade Candy Cane Demonstrations

Nov 25 - Dec 17: Waterbury's Wrap It Up & Win

Nov 26: Waterbury Holiday Artisan Boutique & Small Business Saturday

Dec 2: 24th Annual Vermont International Festival

Dec 2 - 4: Mad River Valley Country Holiday Fest

Dec 3: River of Light Lander Parade

There's something for everyone! We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season. Click here for more Mad River Valley Events, Waterbury Events, Stowe Events, and Burlington Events.

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.

10 Tips for Staying Sane While DIYing

Just bought a new home? Or been putting off some improvements that are long overdue? Do-it-yourself projects can be super fun but super stressful if you don't plan and handle the transition well. This article from Jaymi Naciri brings up some very good points on things you should think of before you get out the paint and tools. 

The home renovation industry continues to grow every day, and growing in lockstep: the number of people who are doing it themselves, with, well, varying results. Launching into a difficult project with no experience or training can prove disastrous. So can undertaking a renovation without a strong foundation in place - and that applies to both the home you're working on and your relationship.

Follow a few tips to help you DIY without leaving your body, your house, your marriage, or your finances DOA.

Make a plan - and stick to it

The research and planning you do beforehand will save you time and aggravation later on. Figure out your new floorplan, if there is one, and all the materials, details, and resources before you swing that hammer. The tighter your plan, the better your chances for achieving your desired result.

Take a broad view

Yes, experts insist that the secret to a successful remodel is planning, but "more specifically, a master plan," said The Oklahoman. "Having a master plan doesn't necessarily mean you are going to do a full house remodel this year. It just means you have an ultimate vision for your house - a clear goal as to how you want it to function now and in the future."

Choose - and order - your products early on

So, you fall in love with this floor tile that looks just like old barnwood, but you wait until the last minute to order it, and... it's been discontinued. Uh oh. Selecting your products at the beginning of your project is important because it helps you develop the big picture, but make sure you get them ordered, too, or you might have to start over.

"Making product selections early can prevent delays later," said Better Homes and Gardens. "Proper planning can also help keep you on budget."

Create a realistic budget

Speaking of budget...

You may think you can fully renovate your entire kitchen and master bath for $5,000, but...nah. Unless you have some trick for getting products for free, you're dreaming. Can you make some significant changes to your spaces without depleting your bank balances? Sure. But your budget has to match up with reality, or you'll just end up frustrated and disappointed. And don't forget to add in a contingency to your budget so when you have oopsies and overages, you don't have to scramble to find extra cash.

Be realistic about the timeline, too

Do your research when it comes to figuring out how much time to set aside for your renovation projects. Then add some more. And, if you're a super-novice, sprinkle some more on that. It's better to err on the long side of a potential timeline; that way, if you're making arrangements to be off work, to stay with friends, or to have someone watch your kids or dogs, you'll be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Learn a little something

Resources are out there to help you become skilled at all kinds of stuff. Take that online class or head to Lowe's for that workshop. The more you know, the easier it should go.

Bring in the pros for the tough stuff

Knocking down walls or getting into electrical or plumbing? it might be a good idea to bring in contractors to accomplish those tasks.

Communicate!

Renovating with a spouse or significant other? Be kind to each other and keep the communication flowing. Renovating is known to be one of the most stressful activities a couple can do together. You don't want to end up with a beautiful kitchen but a broken marriage.

Don't sweat the small stuff

The success of your renovation, to a large degree, depends on your ability to roll with it when things don't go your way. The stain color for the floor will be off. The bathroom tile will be backordered. The countertop will be delivered with a massive crack in it. Does that all qualify as "small stuff?" Maybe not, but keeping a good attitude - and keeping your eye on the prize - will help you make it through, even when it seems like your project is going off the rails.

"Sure, remodeling is exciting," said Better Homes and Gardens. "But there's also a lot of frustration as you encounter unexpected snags, delays, and the inevitable inconveniences that come from living in a construction zone. You'll handle the lows better if you know they're coming."

Practice the art of compromise

Back to the stress of renovating and the effect it can have on your relationship...

Want to know why couples fight during the process? Taste issues, according to a survey on Houzz. "Why all the tension? It's everyone's style choices, dear. The survey found that one-third of respondents did not like their significant other's taste," they said. The answer: compromise. "Indeed, renovating is a crash course in compromise. But that's one of the great things about it, because compromise often creates the best design."

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