Blog :: 2017

Sellers: Breaking Down Home Staging

Home staging is not a new marketing technique for home sellers but it is extremely effective. We want to share with you why you'll want to invest some time into it. It has the potential to make the selling process a lot easier.

The Data

  • A survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp. found that staged homes spend half the time on the market than non-staged homes.
  • 81% of buyers say home staging makes it easier to visualize the property as their future home.
  • 45% of buyers say it will positively impact the value of the home if it is decorated to the buyer’s tastes.

The most common rooms to stage are the kitchen, living room, and master bedroom. These are the rooms that are going to see the most activity so they need to make a good impact. Common rules of thumb for staging are:

  • Declutter: The fewer odds and ends hanging around the better. Less clutter will show off more space which will appeal to your buyers. Plus, a clean house is more attractive to the eye and won't leave a bad impression.
  • No personal items: You may love the countless family photos hanging on your walls but it won't help your potential buyer when they're trying to envision living there. Put away any items that will interfere with the buyer seeing their future there.
  • Style: You might love your style but a vintage-chic or edgy contemporary style might not be appealing if it's too overpowering. Try to rein it in during the selling process, you can design your new home to your heart's content.
  • Floors: This is easy to overlook but a messy floor will give the impression that it might be hard to keep up with the cleaning of the home. A quick vacuum, sweep, or mop can take care of this easily. 
  • Furniture: Symmetrical arrangements are generally a good way to go. While many suggest pushing the furniture against the wall to make the room feel bigger, this can create issues if you are so far away from your company that they can't hear you. Pull the furniture off the wall to create a more community feel where you can envision actually having conversations.
  • Neutral Colors: Painting might not be in the budget but simply choosing neutral colors for pillows and throw rugs will allow for a relaxed atmosphere. Taking risks with bright colors isn't a good idea when it can turn off buyers. 
  • Pets: Clean, clean, clean! Having pets can make selling your home more difficult if there are paw prints and pet hair everywhere. Make sure you're doing a complete sweep of the home before potential buyers come over, especially if they don't have pets of their own. (Use deodorizers while cleaning to get rid of any smells. It's easy to become desensitized as the person living there but your guests will smell it!)

Depending on your budget you might want to hire a stager to do this for you or go the DIY route. For those going it on their own, check out Pinterest. The site has a ton of ideas to make your house shine. Just search things like "home staging" and "redecorating." Good Luck!

Sources:

https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/profile-of-home-staging

 

 

A Guide to Selling Your Home in Winter

While many are hesitant to put their home on the market during the winter months, there are actually some things working in your favor. Some benefits to selling in winter include less competition from similar homes on the market and first-quarter job relocation is in full swing since companies want their employees settled in for the new year. Let's dive into some tips on how to make your home even more appealing during the winter months and guarantee that sale.

Turn up the heat

Who doesn't love stepping into a warm and cozy home from the chill of winter? The tendency to try and save money by keeping the temperature cooler in the winter can work against you if your potential buyers don't even feel they can take their coats off. If you have a wood-burning or gas fireplace, fire that baby up: a warm home is an inviting home.

Safety first

One of the absolute musts during the winter months is making sure your driveway and walkway are accessible and safe. Shovel your walkways and put down salt or sand when the ground is icy and make sure your driveway has been plowed recently, especially if there has been a recent storm. Your likelihood of a sale goes down exponentially if the buyers can't get into the house.

Front door clutter

A common tendency during the winter months is to kick off your boots and strip off your coat as soon as you walk through the door. Make sure these areas are neat when your home is on the market. Organize the coat closet and make sure the boots are lined up instead of scattered around. If you have hardwood floors, make sure no one left footprints behind from snowy boots.

Holiday decor

A home that is strung up for the season can be a big draw, but you don't want to overdo it. Having too many large or overly bright decorations can distract from what your home actually looks like. When indoors, feel free to add some cute holiday touches but go easy on things like scents from candles or air fresheners. Many people are allergic to certain scents and deodorizers.

Photos

There are a couple of sweet spots for taking home photos during the winter months. No one wants to see a photo of the property when all the trees look dead and the grass is browning. Try taking pictures during peak fall or once the snow has already fallen, taking care to rake leaves or shovel the walkway. Photos in winter can have a magical affect if done correctly and can look like a winter wonderland.

Tricks for Getting Treats

Halloween is quickly approaching, and there are so many fun activities for kids and adults alike.

Trick or Treating streets to visit: 

Waterbury

  • Randall Street
  • Stowe Street
  • Main Street
  • Winooski Street
  • Union Street

Stowe

  • Maple Street

Warren

  • Main Street
  • Brook Road

Montpelier

  • Barre Street
  • Hubbard Street
  • Ridge Street
  • 1st Ave

Looking for more than free candy this Halloween season?

October 21st - NW Nightmares Zombie Run will have your heart pumping as you run as either a human or zombie. 

October 27th - Witches Brew Bash on the Waterfront is Vermont's largest Halloween party. And you better dress up because a $500 prize is on the line.

October 27th & 28th - Enjoy an incredible Jack-O-Lantern display in Middlesex -> Facebook Event here.

October 27th & 28th - Get your pants scared off on the Tunbridge Haunted Trail -> Facebook Event here.

October 28th - Explore the Shelburne Museum by flashlight on this 21+ Evening of the Weird, Thrilling, and Fantastic tour.

October 29th - Dress up in your finest costume and attend Haunted Happenings at the Shelburne Museum.

Click here to see a list of Vermont Halloween Events.

Benefits Of Buying Or Selling Your Home In The Fall

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

Less Competition

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

Tax Breaks

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

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

Home Improvement

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

Are Tiny Homes a Wise Investment?

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Tiny Houses are becoming very fashionable in today's word. The absolute height of modernism and simplicity, a tiny home is meant to push the boundaries of living efficiently. Typically smaller than 400 square feet, these miniature abodes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Is this surge of small spaces a sign of things to come? Or nothing other than a fad? Tony Gilbert of The Real FX Group examined all of the pros and cons of the tiny homes and compared them to traditional homes and living expenses. 

 

It seems there are Tiny Homes popping up everywhere. Magazines, websites, and reality TV shows all praise the space-saving miniature houses that typically range between 180 and 400 square feet in size. Is it a practical lifestyle choice? Is it truly possible to live comfortably with another person in such a tiny space? Do people still enjoy living in tiny homes after the first year? How much do they cost? These are questions you need to ask before you consider purchasing a tiny home.

What Does A Tiny Home Cost?

When you start visiting tiny home builder websites, you quickly realize these miniature residences aren't cheap. Prices for tiny homes as small as 200 square feet of comparably cramped living space can start at nearly $70,000, and the prices can increase significantly, depending on quality of materials.

One thing many tiny home buyers sometimes forget to take into account is that the price of the home does not include the land the home will eventually sit on. And, when you consider the fact that bathrooms average less than 3 feet wide, often contain recreational vehicle toilets, and have little or no plumbing, and the kitchens may not include normal appliances, that's a pretty high price tag for such a tiny space.

Do People Live In Tiny Homes?

Research on the internet, and you'll find stories from people who lived in their Tiny Homes for a short period of time, as the reality of living in such tight quarters becomes apparent. Some owners build the homes and decide to rent them. A few people manage to live in a tiny home for a few years, but many other people discover tiny homes don't meet their lifestyle or family needs.

While the idea of living more simply or off the grid can be appealing in our hectic world, the reality is very often not what people expect. Moving into a tiny home means disposing of or storing most of your belongings because obviously, tiny homes aren't known for their ample storage space. And storage space costs money.

There may be only a couple of cabinets for food in the kitchen area. Refrigerators are usually very small and fit under a counter. Loft bedrooms are very low, and placing a mattress on the floor serves as a bed. You can also have seating downstairs that serves as a bed at night. Some loft stairs have built-in drawers below them for clothing. And for some people, having no separate space to go when they want to enjoy some alone time, can be a major problem.

Buying A Traditional vs. Tiny Home

Fortunately, there are cozy and small traditional homes which can house a family comfortably, provide storage, give them roots in a community, and allow the potential for the homeowner to build equity. You don't need to give up the conveniences of being connected to town water, electricity, and cable to live in a cozier space.

Either way, if living more simply, and with a smaller footprint is the goal, be sure to consider all smaller home or condo options before spending your savings on a tiny home. Don't jump on the Tiny House bandwaggon without carefully considering all of your home buying options, because doing so may save you many thousands in the long run, and will give you peace of mind when it comes time to make a final decision.

To read the original article, click here.

Find Your Harvest Festival!

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It's sad to see but August is coming to an end and harvest season is upon us. As always, Vermont has numerous celebrations planned in honor of the harvest and fall season. Check out the ones listed below:

39th Annual Harvest Festival in Shelburne - Saturday, September 16th (10am - 4pm) - Explore a tent full of children’s activities, entertainers performing on multiple stages, artisans sharing their skills and crafts, and of course, delicious farm-fresh food. Farm animals and horse-drawn hayrides, too! It’s a community event for the whole family. 

Stowe Rotary's Oktoberfest in Stowe - September 29th - October 1st - A celebration of the harvest highlighting our local beers. Bavarian style bands perform during the weekend, with food, fun and dancing for all ages. Come enjoy peak foliage and have a beer or two. 

Rocktoberfest in Morrisville on Saturday, September 30th - Starting with Copley’s “Run for the Heart” 5K Fun Run/Walk starting at Oxbow Park, followed by a street festival featuring live, well known bands, a fabulous food court, the great chili cook-off, recyclable miniature golf, creative events, local merchants, massages, live Chair-Art-Able Auction, local brews and the best of the best in the region! 

Sam Mazza's Harvest Festival in Colchester - October 1st & 2nd - The festival offers lots of on-grounds entertainment. The children can enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, a hay ride down to the pumpkin patch, the corn maze and many craft and entertainment activities held under the tent. 

Sugarbush Oktoberfest at Lincoln Peak on October 8th - Will feature Bavarian inspired food, drink, games, and the Mad Bavarian Brass Band. Compete in the stein hoisting competition, keg tossing, and corn hole tournament for a chance to win lift tickets for the upcoming winter season. Friendly Lens will provide photo booth fun.

 

Why to Buy, Not Rent

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/houseofjoyphotos/5810687168

Photo:  Flickr Brent & Amanda I

While buying a house is a huge step, it's not as impossible as it may seem. We're going to break down some of the reasons why it might be time to start looking into it.

Express yourself

Living in an apartment, condo, or any situation on a rental basis means you're probably not allowed to make any significant changes to the living space. The paint on the wall, flooring, and cabinet situation are all here to stay regardless of your feelings.

Most changes you are allowed to make are temporary. Now, wouldn't you prefer being able to make changes when you want and how you want in your own space?

Not as pricey as you think

You're probably thinking, "but I have to pay 20% down!" Truth is, most people don't pay that anymore. If you go to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), you could pay as little as 3.5% down. Not so great credit score? Credit requirements aren't as strict with housing loans as opposed to other types of loans. In the end, you could be spending less on housing payments per month than you are currently spending on rent per month.

Pets

A lot of apartments still don't allow pets. Ones that do generally require a large pet deposit and extra monthly pet rent. Owning your own home erases all those issues. Plus, if your new home has a yard, then your dog has plenty of room to frolic. 

Student loan issues

New rule changes to how student loans affect debt to income ratio calculations could reduce your monthly housing payments.

Everyone's doing it

First-time home buyers are making their move. 42% of homebuyers in 2017 are first-time buyers, over double the number of new-renters.

Creative Ways to Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

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The heat and humidity of summer are great...outside. Luckily, there are lots of tricks to keeping your home cool without running your air conditioning and racking up your energy bill. Realty Times posted a blog by Jaymi Naciri on some tips to get started.

Standing fans

A fan placed in the middle of the room can give you some relief from the heat, allowing you to turn down you're A/C. With so many fan options out there you'll want to check out the reviews, which will give you specific info so you can find the best option for you. Personally, we're into this Soleus Air tower fan. Two words: remote control!

On a really hot day, you may also want to think about getting creative with your fan. "Not even an air conditioner can give off a faux sea breeze... but this simple trick can," said Huffington Post. "Fill a mixing bowl with ice (or something equally cold, like an ice pack) and position it at an angle in front of a large fan, so that the air whips off the ice at an extra-chilled, extra-misty temperature. Trust us: it's magic."

Get blinds

If you're considering different window covering options and heat coming through your windows is a concern, blinds may be a good choice. Choose white reflective blinds and you can reduce heat gain by 45 percent, while still having the option of raising or opening them easily whenever you want.

Take a look at your sheets

Getting through the day during a steamy summer may not be a problem, especially if you work outside of the house. But those nights when the temps don't go down can be unbearable. Sheets made of certain materials can make it worse, but new options can help.

"Cool bed sheets are made with natural fibers that are breathable and can prevent perspiration or feature moisture-wicking fabrics that whisk your sweat away faster than you can produce it — so you'll stay dry through the night," said Bustle. "Considering that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees, it stands to reason that sleeping with sheets that keep you cool can make your bed feel less like a sauna is a very good idea."

Look for natural fibers like cotton (especially Egyptian) or bamboo, and away from sateen and silk.

For more tips on keeping your home cool without constantly running your air conditioning click here.

Vermont Community Events

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Crowd ConcertVermonter's love to celebrate. Seriously, we'll celebrate everything from cheese and wine to bikes and cars. We like to think we know how to have a good time, which is evident from our numerous festivals and fairs. Upcoming fun includes:

Music in the Meadow - A summer-long concert series at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT.

July 14-15 - Waterbury Arts Fest - Kick off this fun-filled event with a Friday night block party, followed by a day of entertainment, crafts, food, and more. This event has quickly become one of the most anticipated of the summer.

July 15 - Vermont Cheesemakers Festival (Waitsfield) - Don't be fooled, this festival celebrates much more than cheese with local foods, wines, ciders, beers and spirits for you to try. 

July 21-23 - Vermont Mountain Bike Festival - Head to Sugarbush for this festival celebrating all things mountain biking, but the fun doesn't end there with live music, BBQ's, a bonfire, games, and much more all weekend long

August 11-13 - Stowe Antique Car Show - In its 60th year, this car show is the one of the biggest and longest running in New England. Check out over 800 vehicles on display with lots of fun music, contests, and activities throughout the show.

August 27 - Race to the Top of Vermont - Bike, hike, or ride to the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak with this challenging course. Then, rest and relax with a BBQ and Music at the base lodge. 

Easy Summer Patio Upgrades

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One of the many fun things to do during summer is to enjoy spending time outside on your patio. It's a place where you can rest and relax or party it up on summer nights. There are some easy way that you can make this space work for you 

Update your furniture

If you're looking to change things up you might be in the market for a new look for your patio. New chairs, tables, and cushions can completely alter the look and feel of this space. You might simply need to upgrade furniture that has weathered through one too many seasons. 

Shade

If your patio receives a lot of sun, then you'll definitely want to invest in some man-made shade. Table or free standing umbrellas are super easy but you could go bigger with a canopy or pergola. 

Light

When the sun goes down you might still want to enjoy your patio and that's why it's a good idea to install some light fixtures. These can be as simple as hanging lights off the side of your house or citronella torches to keep those pesky bugs away.

Party Time

Ensure that every get-together is a blast with a grill and cooler to keep the refreshments coming. Lawn games are super fun and with those lights, you don't have to stop when the sun goes down.