Blog :: 12-2016

9 Tips for Selling Your House in Winter

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

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

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

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

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

2. Keep entryways scrupulously clean.

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

3. Give each room a warm touch.

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

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

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

5. Emphasize spaces that will appeal in winter.

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

6. Showcase the entertaining possibilities of your home.

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

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

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

8. Clear all exterior pathways of snow and ice.

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

9. Do decorate for the holidays.

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

To read the original article,  click here.

The Moving-Day Survival Kit

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

What to Put in Your Moving-Day Kit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To read the original article click here.

Super Easy DIY Tips for Saving on Winter Heating

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!)

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.