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4th Of July Celebrations In Our Area

 

There are lots of fun activities happening locally for the 4th of July! Check out the list of events in our area: 

 

July 1st:

Bay Day Fireworks - St. Albans Find more information here

July 3rd:

4th Of July Celebration & Ice Cream Social - 195 Central School Drive, Williston  Find more information here

4th Of July Festivities & Fireworks - Rte. 116 Hinesburg  Find more information here

Independence Day Celebration & Fireworks - 1 Lake Street, Burlington  Find more information here

July 4th:

4th Of July Celebration - 75 Maple Street Park, Essex Jct.   Find more information here

4th Of July Celebration  & Fireworks - Lakeshore Drive, Colchester  Find more information here

4th Of July Celebration & Fireworks - 43 Bombardier Recreation Park, Milton   Find more information here

Old Fashioned 4th Of July - Main Street, Stowe   Find more information here

4th Of July Festivities - East Main Street, Richmond   Find more information here

 

Wishing you a fun, and safe, holiday!

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Tips to get your grill ready for summer

 

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and with it comes a time to remember the sacrifices made by so many to defend our freedom, as well as the official kick-off to the summer season! We hope you'll be enjoying some rest and relaxation with friends and family. In fact, this may be the perfect opportunity to whip out your grill if you haven't already this season. Here are some tips to make sure your weekend festivities go off without a hitch!

 

If you have a gas grill:

 

First, get the outside of your grill looking brand new using a solution of 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts warm water and a microfiber cloth, and soft bristled brush. The vinegar will help cut through any grease stains, and the soft cloth will ensure you don't scratch the metal. 

Next, move onto the inside of the grill, where you can be a little more aggressive. Remove the grates and place in a large container filled with warm water and dish soap. Using a stainless steel grill brush and some elbow grease, slough off any residue that's baked on, and rinse well. If you forgot to clean the tray out at the end of last season, remove it and brush any remnants into the trash. 

After you've replaced the tray and grates, be sure the gas tank is filled and secure before closing the lid of the grill and turning the heat on high for 15 - 20 minutes. This last step will ensure any leftover cleaning residue has been removed and help keep your burgers from sticking the next time you grill.

If you have a charcoal grill:

The first step is the same as if you have a gas grill -  using a solution of 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts warm water and a microfiber cloth, and soft bristled brush. The vinegar will help cut through any grease stains, and the soft cloth will ensure you don't scratch the metal. 

Next take a look inside and be sure there is no remaining charcoal left from last season. Remove the cooking grate, and leave it to soak in a solution of warm water, vinegar and dish soap. While that's soaking, take a look at the bowl of your grill - if you grill a lot, you may see some peeling, which is most likely carbonized grease. Using a stainless steel grill brush, and warm soapy water, scrub the inside until all of the layers have come off. Now that the bowl is clean, the soap solution should have loosened up any debris on the cooking grate. Go after that with the stainless steel grill brush and it'll look like new before you know it!

 

You're officially ready to start grilling!

 

If you're looking for a new home with a great backyard for barbecues, check out these listings!

 

5 Expert Tips for First Time Home-Buyers

 

April 1st is historically the beginning of real estate's busy season with both buyers and sellers beginning to flood the market. We're sure you've heard time and time again that interest rates are at an-all time low, but will be rising in the very near future. That means that now is the best time to get the home buying process started!

 

 Here are 5 of our best tips to help 1st time home-buyers get started on the road to financial stability:

1. Evaluate your financial health.

First things first, run a credit report on yourself, and anyone else who will be on your mortgage with you. Generally speaking, lenders are looking to see a credit score of at least 600 which indicates that you have a track record of being responsible with your money. While you're looking at your credit report, be sure to take note of any ongoing liabilities and make sure that 1) they are all accurate and 2) check to see if there are any which you could pay off right away. The fewer monthly bills you have (car payment, student loans etc.) the higher your buying power will be!

Next, make an honest budget of your monthly income and expenses; don't forget to factor in the "extra" things like entertainment and dining out! Once you have an accurate assessment of your monthly funds, decide on how much you're comfortable allocating for housing. Keep in mind that the bank will most likely require your monthly housing costs to be at or below 30% of your gross income. 

2. Talk to a lender.

Once you've evaluated your credit and budget, it's time to seek out a knowledgeable lender in your area to determine your borrowing power. We recommend speaking to someone local and accessible as it can make your entire home buying process much less stressful. Your lender will ask for a list of documents in order to complete your pre-approval application, so be prepared to provide things like your most recent pay-stub, bank account information and tax information. The pre-approval process is very quick and relatively simple. Within a day or two you'll know the maximum amount that the bank would be willing to lend to you based on your financial situation. 

Your lender will also be able to discuss their current mortgage programs with you, and help you to decide on the one that will be most viable for your personal situation. Be sure to keep in mind that certain programs will only be available for certain properties, so be sure to discuss your preferred lending program with your realtor. 

3. Find a knowledgeable realtor. 

Speaking of realtors, the next task to tackle is finding a knowledgeable, trusted realtor to assist you. Keep in mind that as the home buyer, you do not pay commission to the realtor, the seller of the home does (there are certain circumstances where that is not the case, but they are very rare). It is of your best interest to have someone on your side negotiating for you and fighting for your best interests. 

We suggest researching testimonials from past clients to get a feel for each realtor's individual style and specialty. Once you've decided on someone you'd work well with, they will ask you to sign a few routine documents, talk to you about your individual needs, preferences and price range, and set to work finding homes to show you. 

Your realtor will be your go-to person during the entire home-buying process. An experienced realtor will be able to field any question you may have and either answer it themselves, or provide you with the resources you need. The process can be stressful, but a good agent will communicate all details and deadlines with you and work to ensure that everything is handled seamlessly. 

4. Decide on your comfort zone.

Now that you know your borrowing power, and you've found a qualified agent to help you, it's time to get down to the details. You'll need to decide first and foremost what you're comfortable spending each month on your home. Share that with your realtor who will help you determine what that means in terms of your down payment and the overall price range of homes you'll be looking at. Remember, just because you're pre-qualified for a certain amount doesn't mean you have to actually spend that much. It's a personal decision, but often times people would rather buy below their maximum and feel more comfortable with their cash flow each month, instead of feeling pinched for cash. 

With your budget in mind, it's time to talk about your preferred locations. Be flexible here; you may start out having your heart set on a certain neighborhood, but see a house across town that meets all of your criteria. Prepare a list of areas that would interest you, and likewise, a list of areas that are out of the question. The more information your realtor has, the more efficient they'll be at finding you something you love!

5. Remain calm and trust the process.  

Once you've found a home, made an offer, and begun the purchase process, your lender will need to turn your pre-approval into a mortgage application. They will set up a meeting with you and give you a list of items that they'll need to get the ball rolling. This may seem intimidating, but hang in there, stay organized, and make sure to ask questions if you have any. Your lender and realtor are working on your behalf, toward a common goal, so be sure to utilize their expertise when needed!

You will, most likely, opt to have your prospective home inspected. This will uncover any abnormalities and give you a solid idea of the home's condition. Next, the bank will require that the home is appraised to ensure that they are making a good investment. The home will be expected to "meet value" meaning it must appraise for at least the amount that you are borrowing. For example, say you're purchasing a $200,000 home and lending $180,000 from the bank, the appraisal must state that the home is valued at $180,000 or above. 

Most importantly, try your best to stay calm during the process. It can be stressful, but keep in mind that 9 times out of 10, any hiccups can be resolved - just keep the lines of communication open. Most purchases take 4-6 weeks from contract to closing day, so just hang in there and focus on the end goal of owning your chosen home!

Help Us Fight Hunger This Holiday Season!

 

The Signature Team has organized a food drive to fight hunger in Chittenden County this holiday season!

We're thrilled to be giving back to the community which offers us so much support year round. If you'd like to participate, please stop by our office with donations, or to pick up donation bags for your business. 

***One participant will win a $50 The Farmhouse Tap & Grill gift card!

Feel free to contact our Office Manager, Jarah LaRock with any questions! She can be reached at (802) 872-8881. 

Thank you for your continued support! Together we can make a difference in the lives of our neighbors. Donations benefit the Vermont Foodbank and Chittenden County Emergency Food Shelf.

From our table to yours...Cranberry Baked Brie Recipe

It's that time of year again, when we gather with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving and count all of our blessings. This year, the Signature Team wanted to share one of our favorite recipes with you. We hope you enjoy it!

 

Cranberry Baked Brie - the perfect Thanksgiving appetizer!

  • 8-ounce round brie cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • honey to drizzle
  • Fresh rosemary, to garnish

1. Preheat oven to 425. Peel or slice off the top rind of the brie and scrape out a small amount of cheese to form a shallow hollow in the center. Place the cheese in a small baking dish like a pie pan. (If you plan on transferring the cheese to a serving dish after it's baked, line the pie pan with a square of parchment paper.)

2. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water and white sugar to a boil.

3. Add cranberries, vanilla extract, orange zest, ginger, nutmeg and brown sugar. Simmer until cranberries have popped. The smell will be fabulous!

4. Spoon the cranberry mixture on top of the brie.

5. Bake 8-12 minutes. Transfer carefully to a serving plate, drizzle honey and use rosemary to garnish.

Serve your baked brie with crackers, or sliced apples. Enjoy!

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5 Tips to organize your kitchen like a professional chef

If your kitchen were designed by a professional chef...

With the holidays upon us, you may find yourself spending more time in the kitchen than usual. House Logic interviewed two renowned chefs to find out how they set up their own home kitchens. Their tips are easier than you might think! Here's what they had to say...

 

Check out the full article here. Want to design your own dream kitchen? We can help with that! Take a look at new construction opportunities in your area.

From Our Home To Yours...A Thanksgiving Tradition


There is nothing like the smell of a turkey cooking to bring back fond memories of time spent with loved ones over the holidays. We'd like to share a delicious recipe with you, that has been a Thanksgiving staple for years in the hopes that it brings joy to your family. Maybe it will even become a tradition! Bon appetit!

Sweet Potato Souffle

Base

- 6 Large sweet potatoes cleaned, peeled and cut into chunks

-1/2 Cup Full Fat Coconut Milk

-4 TB Butter

-1 TB Maple Syrup

-1 TB Allspice or Pumpkin Pie Spice

-I TB Cinnamon

-1 TB Vanilla Extract

Topping

-1 Cup Chopped Pecans or Walnuts

-1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

-2 TB Melted Butter

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2. Boil sweet potatoes until fork tender then drain

3. Add Coconut Milk and Butter to Sweet Potatoes and mash until smooth

4. Stir in remaining Base Ingredients until well comined

5. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into a medium sized casserole and set aside

6. In a medium sized bowl, add the brown sugar to the melted butter and stir until combined

7. Stir in chopped nuts until well coated (add more melted butter or sugar to taste)

8. Sprinkle the Topping over the sweet potato mixture coating the top thoroughly

9. Bake for 20 minutes and enjoy immediately! 

Win A Mexican Vacation!

We owe our success to our great customers and we are excited to be offering a FANTASTIC Mexican Vacation to one lucky past client! See entry instructions above and call (802) 872-8881 with your referrals. Best of luck!