Hank Gintof

2014-2015 Burlington Holiday Events Guide!

Your 2014-2015 Holiday Events Guide!

holiday-main

  • Meet Santa at the Burlington Town Center!  Santa and his helpers have lots of fun activities in store this season. 

  • Giant Menorah Lighting! Come down to the UVM Green Tuesday the 16th to celebrate the first night of Hannukah with music and treats from 5:30-Midnight.

  • The Nutcracker Ballet takes the stage at the Flynn Center Saturday December 20th! Enjoy a Christmas classic and a stroll up the beautifully decorated Church Street after! Get tickets here. 

  • Visit the Vermont Reindeer exhibit at the ECHO Center Saturday the 27th! This event will be magical for the whole family -- kids will love learning about and petting real reindeer. More information here. 

  • The Vermont Symphony Orchestra will perform at their annual Gala hosted by the Burlington Sheraton. Celebrate the season with beautiful music. More information here. 

  • First Night will be back in Burlington to ring in the New Year! Enjoy a day full of music, dance and celebration throughout Burlington. Buy your tickets and see the full calendar of events here. 

 

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Home Buyers Series: How To Avoid Paying Too Much Vol. 3

Location

Location, Location, Location.

You've heard it before--the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location. Virtually no other single factor has a bigger impact on the desirability and resale value of your home to be. No home is an island, and the value of yours is affected by the homes that surround it. Your first consideration is the neighborhood. If you're not familiar with the area or community you're moving into, talk to a real estate rofessional who has experience there and can point you in the right direction. Then visit those neighborhoods at various times of day and observe the homes carefully. Look also for things like traffic congestion, intrusive sounds or annoying smells. You may find the perfect home, but if the neighborhood has problems, your investment won't be worth much when it's time to sell. Also, remember that extremely large homes surrounded by smaller ones tend to appreciate less than a large home among other large homes. Conversely, the smallest home in the neighborhood tends to be "pulled up" by the others.

 

Home Buyers Series: How To Avoid Paying Too Much Vol. 1

Needs V Wants

Know what you're shopping for before you start.

Before you begin shopping for your next home, you should understand that there are two homes out there vying for your interest--the one that meets your needs and the one that fulfills your 'wants'. Ideally, you'd find a home that satisfies both. But, in reality you're going to find yourself confronted with choices. Do you choose the three-bedroom home with room for your family to grow, or the one with the big backyard and deck that's perfect for entertaining? Is having a big kitchen more important to you than a few extra rooms?

When you start shopping, you're going to find homes you fall in love with for different reasons. That's why you should list the features you want before you start shopping. Make a list with two categories--"Needs" and "Wants"--and prioritize the items you come up with. Understanding what you really need as opposed to what you'd like to have will help you keep your priorities straight as you shop around.

Don't let emotions cloud your judgment. Satisfy your needs first. If you find a home that meets your needs and fulfills some of your desires, great! Jump on it. The important thing is to know the difference before you get caught up in the excitement of the hunt.

Your 2014 Fall Foliage Guide

foliage guide

The colors are changing and with an unseasonably warm weekend ahead, there's no better time than to explore our beautiful state!

Looking for something to do? Check out these upcoming events!

1. Old Fashioned Harvest Market: Rt. 15 Underhill: September 27th - 28th: Annual Old Fashioned Harvest Market is centered at the United Church of Underhill. This family-oriented community fair features 2 days of entertainment, food & fun, with an opening parade, over 100 crafters, LOTS of great food, kids activities, & music. Many great kids activities, including:

  • PARADE - Saturday at 9:00 down River Road
  • ZUCCHINI CONTEST-Longest, heaviest, best decorated!
  • PET SHOW-Children under 12 are encouraged to bring their favorite pet to show off.
  • OLD-FASHIONED GAMES such as stilt walking, bobbing for apples, ring toss, penny pitch, hoops, nail drive, & a dunking booth.
  • SAW DUST CANDY SCRAMBLE - This popular fast-paced event is broken down into the following groups to make sure all ages have a fair shot at finding plenty of pieces of candy in the big sawdust pile: preschool & 1st grade; 2nd & 3rd grade; 4th & 5th grade; 6th & 7th grade; and 8th grade plus anyone who missed their slot.
  • ORGANIZED EVENTS such as Hoop races, sack races, a three-legged race, wheelbarrow races, and a water balloon toss will run from 1-3 on both days.

2. Fall Fun at Adams Farm Market & Orchard: 986 Old Stage Rd. Williston: 

September 27 & 28 Hands on Activities

  • Try your hand at cider making, create your own picturesque family photo-op.  We will have the materials and props...you bring the fun and smiles!

October 4 & 5th  Petting Zoo

  • Hannah Smith, from Vinegar Ridge Farm will be returning with her wonderful assortment of Vermont Farm Animals for you to visit.

3. Giant Pumpkin Weigh in at Sam Mazza's: 277 Lavigne Rd. Colchester: September 27th:

  • Bring the whole family to watch giant pumpkins battle for the heavy weight title. Take a Hayride to the Pumpkin Patch or Get Lost in the Corn Maze while you're here. Enjoy lunch with Pizza Papillo and an apple cider donut or treat from the Bakery.

4. Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival: 1746 Mountain Rd. Stowe: September 28th:

  • It is again time to get your pumpkin chuckin' trebuchet (gravity powered catapult) ready for the Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin' (VTPC) Festival at the Stoweflake Resort and Spa in Stowe, Vermont. The VTPC Festival is a fun, family event sponsored by the Stoweflake Resort and Spa and other local sponsors.The event benefits the Lamoille Family Center, which has a thirty-eight year history of supporting Lamoille Valley families through early care, and educational services, home visiting, parent education, playgrounds, child care resource and referral, youth services, and emergency assistance. The event gives kids and adults a chance to build something with their hands and compete; a cross between a shot put contest and a Soap Box Derby. Along with the pumpkin chuckin' contest comes music, children's activities, a bounce house, chili cook-off, and great food; all creating an enjoyable fall day. Music for this year's festival will again be provided by three bands; House Dunn, Ball Hammock and the duo Jen and John, which will be performing periodically from 11am to 4pm. 
    • 1st round: 12:30 pm
    • 2nd round: 1:30 pm
    • 3rd round: 2:30 pm
    • awards shortly after the last round
    • Music: 11 am - 4 pm (with occasional breaks) 

5. Pie Fest & Cider House Run at Shelburne Orchards: 216 Orchard Rd. Shelburne: September 28th:

  • Start the day with a run through the orchard. Then you can enter, enjoy, or eat the homemade apple pies in the Pie Fest!The Cider House Run/Walk (2 or 4 mile run or a 2 mile walk) begins at 11:00 a.m. Cost is $25 for anyone over 12 (includes a $5 Pick Your Own apples coupon). Kids under 12 are asked to pay $8 for the coupon. Please pre-register.The Pie Fest consists of 3 local judges taste-testing 30 double crusted apple pies. You MUST register prior to the contest by contacting Megan at 864-7528 or meganjhumphrey@gmail.com because entry slots are limited to 30 and fill up quickly. Once registered, you MUST arrive PRIOR TO 11:30 or you will forfeit your spot!!!
    • Judges then use their finely tuned palates to discover the winners among pies.
    • First Place walks away with $200 cash.

6. Stowe Oktoberfest: 331 West Shaw Hill Stowe: October 3-5:

  • Held in Stowe's Jackson's Area, the Annual Oktoberfest is a Bavarian festival that has fun for all ages. From oompah bands to authentic German foods, pumpkin and face painting and even a kinderplatz for kids with a Jumping house and face painting.Grand Parade
    • Saturday at 10:00am
    • Mountain Rd. & Main St. Stowe

    Join celebrity grand marshals and special guests at the Grand Parade to officially open Oktoberfest 2012. The parade will include marching bands, floats representing local clubs, organizations and companies, dignitaries, classic cars and a few surprises.

    Click for $1 off coupon here on the website.

7. Sam Mazza's Harvest Festival: 277 Lavigne Rd. Colchester: October 4th and 12th:

  • When the leaves start turning everyone at Mazza's celebrates fall and the wonderful experiences that this season brings by holding their annual Fall Festival. It is a great family experience. 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. 

8. Harvest Celebration at City Market: 250 Main St. Burlington: October 5th:

  • Head to City Market to sample some of Vermont's finest products.  They will have lots of delicious delights available to taste.  There will be prize giveaways, face painting, henna art, Sudzy Putty, live music, and more! It is fun for the entire family.

9. Rocktoberfest at Basin Harbor Club: 4800 Basin Harbor Rd. Vergennes: October 19th:

  • Rocktoberfest at Basin Harbor Club - a Bacon & Beer Festival that is family Friendly.

    Live Music Schedule

    • 5:45-6:15 Rehab Roadhouse
    • 6:30-7:15 Rumblecat
    • 7:30-8:20 Red Hot Juba
    • 8:30-9:30 Funk Wagon

    Mouthwatering foods, specialty bacon items -Think Bacon Tater Tots, Maple Glazed Bacon Wrapped Chicken. Bacon Caramel Corn, Maple Bacon Cheesecake Pops, Banana Bacon PB Whoopie Pie. Plus classics like burgers and sausages, maple cotton candy, hot soups, carmel apples and more.

    Kids activities from 3:00 - 7:00: dux the balloon guy, joeys jumpys. facepainting.

    Beer and Wine Tent with Magic Hat, Woodchuck Cider and specialty cocktails with Whistle Pig (visit the Whistle Pig Pigs)

    Bonfire at Dusk

For a full, statewide calendar events, visit HERE

Check HERE for foliage reports from across the state:

foliage

 

 

 

Prepare Your Home For Fall

Fall home prepIt's hard to believe, but summer is nearly over and soon enough the leaves will be changing. Fall in Vermont is undoubtedly beautiful and the crispness in the air serves as a reminder that winter is on its way.

As the seasons change, so do our home and property needs. We always suggest taking advantage of the still longer and warmer days to do a little fall  preparation and seasonal maintenance. As we Vermonters know, the weather can change quickly and being prepared is critical. A little extra work now will save you on last minute repairs and stress later.

Interior Maintenance

  1. Check for drafts. Feel for drafts around the edges of windows and doors. A good tip is to use a lighted candle and if the flame flickers, there's most likely a draft. If necessary, replace seals and repair caulking around window and door frames. Consider buying heavier or insulated drapery for especially drafty windows.
  2. Have your furnace inspected. Hire an HVAC professional to test for leaks, check heating efficiency, and change the filter. They can also do a carbon monoxide check to ensure air safety. It's also a good idea to stock up on extra air filters and change them every few months.
  3. Winterize air conditioning. If your home has central air conditioning, cover your outdoor unit for winter. If you use window air conditioning units, remove them to prevent air leaks.
  4. Programmable thermostat. Buy a programmable thermostat, if you don't have one. If you already have one, check the temperature settings. Setting your thermostat to lower the temperature automatically at night and when you're not home, can result in substantial cost savings. Some models can now be controlled remotely through your phone!
  5. Test home safety devices. Replace the batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices and test to make sure they're working properly.
  6. Clean humidifiers. Replace old filters and clean inside compartment. Vinegar is inexpensive and works well.
  7. Remove screens. Take down window and door screens to prevent winter damage. Make any necessary repairs and store away for next season.

Exterior Maintenance

  1. Do a roof check. You should be able to do at least a visual inspection of the roof from the ground. Grab some binoculars to get a closer look or if you're able and can do so safely, climb on up for a better view. Look for missing, damaged, or loose shingles. Remove leaves and debris with a roof sweeper.
  2. Check the chimney and fireplace. If you have a wood fireplace and use it often, have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional.
  3. Stock up on firewood. Order enough firewood for the season. If you gather your own firewood, make sure it's dry and ready. It's best to cover firewood and store away from the house for safety reasons. Of course, be careful when cutting, stacking and hauling the wood.
  4. Inspect siding. Check home exterior for cracks or holes.
  5. Clean the gutters. Remove leaves, nests, and debris from gutters and check for leaks.
  6. Check water drainage. Rainwater downspouts need to be clear of obstructions and direct water away from foundations, walkways, and driveways. Add extensions to downspouts if necessary.
  7. Turn off faucets and store hoses. Drain garden hoses and disconnect from the outside spigots. Shut off exterior faucets, and if you have an older home, you may need to turn off the valve inside your home. Store hoses in a dry place so any residual water won't freeze.
  8. Inspect trees. Check for damaged limbs that may break or that are too close to power lines or the roof.
  9. Trim landscaping. Cut back bushes, shrubs, and flowers and thoroughly weed your gardens.
  10. Bring in flowerpots. If you keep plants or flower in pots year-round, bring them inside. If you replace plants every year, empty, clean, dry pots and put away for next spring.
  11. Plant bulbs. If you plant bulbs for spring, now's the time to get them in the ground.
  12. Leaf removal. Rake and remove leaves from the yard. Put into a compost pile if you have one. Alternatively, put into yard garbage bags and leave at the curb for community pick up. Check with your local city or town for requirements and pick up schedules.
  13. Fertilize lawn. Applying fall lawn fertilizer will help prevent winter damage and spring weeds. Ask a local garden center or check online to find out which type of fertilizer you need and when to apply it.
  14. Put away seasonal furniture. Clean and store seasonal outdoor furniture. Remove and clean cushions. Wash and dry furniture and store in a dry place over winter.
  15. Close the pool. If you have a pool and live in an area where temperatures dip, schedule a service to come and close it for the season or if you know how, buy the supplies and do it yourself.
  16. Organize the shed. As your shed is filling up with summer items in storage it's a good time to organize and clean out the shed. Move summer items to the back and winter stuff up front for better access. Also, remove any liquids that will freeze.
  17. Arrange for snow removal. Find a company (or friend/neighbor) to plow your driveway, and shovel if necessary. Get your name on their list before the snow flies so you'll be taken care of right away.

In the Garage

  1. Service summer power equipment. Empty fuel and clean lawnmower and trimmer. Have lawnmower blades sharpened and oil changed. Have any necessary repairs done now, so that you're ready come spring.
  2. Store summer vehicles. If you have a motorcycle, summer car, ATV or other type seasonal vehicle, now's a good time to have that serviced as well.
  3. Get winter equipment ready. Service snow blower and make sure it is ready to go.
  4. Test the generator. If you have an emergency generator for power outages, give it a test, and make sure it's in good working order.
  5. Buy extra gasoline. Purchase extra gas to have on hand for use in your snow blower or generator, so you're prepared for emergencies. Make sure you store gasoline in tanks away from fire sources and out of children's reaches.
  6. Clean the garage. Since you're in the garage prepping for fall, you might as well purge, organize and clean it while you're there!

Ready or not, fall is on its way. Properly maintaining your home  enhances its value and appeal and is less effort than managing a crisis later.

What To Expect For The Fall 2014 Vermont Real Estate Market

July 2014 Housing

Despite a lower than normal housing supply and slightly stricter credit standards, home prices are rising in most areas. The job market has been strengthening, although wages have not yet caught up to the pricing gains in the current market. Buying a home is still far more affordable than it has been historically -- stable and continuously lower interest rates are substantial contributors. Looking forward, an increasing inventory of homes will give qualified buyers more choices, but with the overall supply still below normal levels buyers may feel the pressure to act sooner than later.

Summer 2014 Recap -

New Listings were down 0.5 percent for single-family homes but increased 3.7 percent for townhouse-condo properties. Pending Sales increased 1.5 percent for single-family homes but decreased 2.9 percent for townhouse-condo properties.

The Median Sales Price was down 1.8 percent to $216,000 for single-family homes but increased 15.3 percent to $198,000 for townhouse-condo properties. Months Supply of Inventory decreased 1.9 percent for single-family units and 18.3 percent for townhouse-condo units.

What To Expect -

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that GDP grew at a 4.0 percent annual rate in the second quarter and that the first quarter was less bad than previously thought. Consumer spending in the first quarter rose 2.5 percent, which is encouragingly in tandem with savings rates. Increased consumer spending means more demand for goods and labor; increased savings rates means more resources for downpayments. With rates still low, rents still rising and private job growth accelerating, now is looking like an advantageous time for both buyers and sellers to enter the housing market.

 

As always, the Signature Sales Team is here to answer any questions you may have. Give us a call at 802-872-8881!

*Information Courtesy of Vermont Realtors*

 

Vermont Ranks 5th Nationwide in Energy Efficiency!

VT Energy

When it comes to energy efficiency, Vermonters are among the most savvy and conscientious in the nation!

While Massachusetts overtook California, the leader for the past 4 years, for the top spot, Vermont still made an impressive showing by coming in 5th overall.

The American Council for and Energy-Efficient Economy awarded Vermont the top score overall for our utility and public efficiency programs as well as our policy programs. Our "innovative and aggressive programs" help to conserve energy across the state's economy while our budget allows for the most expansion of electrical efficiency of any state in the nation. Therefore, Vermonters are able to bring in the highest incremental electricity savings of any population in the United States!

If you're in the market for new appliances, find out the most energy efficient purchases here!

View the full FORBES article here

10 Landscaping Projects for Maximum Curb Appeal

Landscaping Ideas

A survey of more than 1,200 home owners by the Home Project Council identified the following DIY outdoor projects as most desirable:

1. Plant a garden

2. Use decorative pebbles, stones or rocks for landscaping

3. Build a deck

4. Create a fire pit or barbecue pit

5. Build a patio or walkway using concrete pavers or bricks

6. Install or build a shed or storage building

7. Stain or paint siding or windows

8. Build a privacy fence

9. Stain or paint exterior concrete surfaces (patio, pool deck, driveway, sidewalk, etc.)

10. Repair or seal concrete cracks in patios, steps, or driveways

The most difficult or intimidating DIY outdoor projects home owners identified were building an outdoor kitchen; pouring concrete slabs for patios, steps, or sidewalks; or building a deck, according to the Home Project Council's survey.

Rental Payments Could Soon Affect Credit Scores

Renters who have never been late with a rent payment will find that their stellar record wont do anything to lift their credit scores when it comes time to shop for a mortgage. But that may soon change: Two of the main credit reporting agencies, Experian and TransUnion, reportedly are starting to incorporate verified rental payment data into credit files and using it to compute the consumers' credit scores when they apply for a mortgage.

"At a time when record numbers of first-time buyers are missing in action in the home-purchase market -- many of them in part because their credit scores don't make the grade -- the non-reporting of key credit records is costly to them and the economy as a whole," The Columbus Dispatch reports.

Some companies also are stepping in to ensure renters get their on-time payment histories included when applying for a mortgage. ECredable, an alternative credit data company, says it will verify renters' payment histories that haven't been reported to the major credit bureaus, and then generate a credit report and score. Potential home buyers are then urged to present the report to mortgage loan officers and ask that the information be considered in their application for a mortgage (which the lender is required to do under federal credit regulations).

{Source: "Credit Scores Might Soon Reflect Rental Payments," The Columbus Dispatch (June 29, 2014)}