Jarah LaRock

Agent Spotlight: Emily Biron

Emily is a native Vermonter, and after working in Massachusetts for a number of years she is happy to be able to call Vermont home once again. After buying her first house at age 22 she quickly realized how empowering home ownership is and, with the right support, how achievable it is. As a real estate agent she is flexible, determined, and eager to help others feel the same way about their home buying/selling experience.  

With a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a masters in project management Emily’s career before becoming a real estate professional has equipped her with extensive professional and technical experience providing her a utility that is difficult to match.

This month, we've asked Emily a few questions about her experience as a Realtor! Let's learn a little more about her.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a realtor?

A: The best part about being an agent is meeting buyers or sellers and being able to match their needs, whether they are just starting to look for a home or test the waters with selling, or if they need to buy or sell quickly. Connecting and being able to help my clients with their unique situation is the best part of my job. 

 

Q: What makes you different than other agents?

A: I'm passionate about Vermont, and its so rewarding to help individuals and families find their home here, whether they live here full time or want to find a special place to vacation. Being a life-long Vermonter, its second nature to help others however I can by calling on the network and resources that I've developed and maintained. Whether its knowing about an off-market property, properly marketing a home, or just simply having a plumber and an electrician that will answer my call, its the home-grown connections that often make a huge difference. 

 

Q: What’s your top goal when working with a client?

A: I want my clients to feel comfortable. Comfortable with me and comfortable with the process of buying or selling. There is alot that goes into buying or selling a home and it can be confusing and frustrating especially if you don't have somebody you can trust through the process. Making sure my clients understand the process, being there to answer questions, and reducing the stress and anxiety of buying/selling is my #1 goal. 

Emily is ready to guide you through your next real estate transaction! Contact her any time to get started: 802.752.5800 or EMAIL.

Read Her Testimonials

 

 

5 Tips To Jazz Up Your Holiday Dining Table

 

The holidays are here again and if you're like us, you're looking forward to decorating and making your home feel cozy and inviting.

Here are some fun tips to spruce up your dining table this season and make your guests feel extra special without breaking the bank. 

Add a pop of color with a bold tablecloth

There's no need to splurge on pricey new place settings. Instead, pick up a festive tablecloth and coordinating runner and placemats. It's such an easy way to completely change the look of your table and inexpensive enough to allow you to buy a few different items to alternate through the season!

 

DIY greenery and floral touches

DIY greenery and florals are definitely in now more than ever! Instead of splurging on a premade bouquet, opt for individual stems or affordable greenery to tuck into your napkin rings or run down the center of the table.

Keeping your florals low and simple leaves more room for food and drinks and won't obstruct any views when catching up with your nearest and dearest over dinner. Stop by your local market or Trader Joe's and look for greens like eucalyptus, which looks—and smells—sumptuous. For extra oomph, throw in a couple of sprigs of rosemary to place in napkin holders.

 

Add festive copper mugs

Don’t want to spend a lot, but want a quick upgrade that will elevate the look of the entire table? Go buy a set of copper mugs! Your guests will love sipping something festive out of a special cup.

Copper mugs are everywhere now that the Moscow mule cocktail has grown in popularity, but even if you're not serving Moscow mules for the holidays, they make a nice touch. Try serving cold apple cider in your mugs, or any other cocktails you might have on your menu.

 

Modern farmhouse touches

The modern farmhouse look is still trending in home decor, and that doesn't stop at the holidays. The good news? You can get the vibe on a budget —just try some fun but affordable accents like birch logs, acorns, miniature pumpkins, buffalo check patterns, antlers, and greenery. Add some sparkling fairy lights to the mix, or wrapped around pine boughs, for an extra magical touch!

When in doubt, go monochromatic

This time of year our homes can be overwhelmed with festive decorations. Keep the focus on the meal by choosing a pretty tone and outfitting your entire table in it. Add a metallic of your choice for accents, and a few candles for a pop of interest. Not only is it simple to pull together, but the result is incredibly chic as well!

 

Brrrr! It's time to get your fireplace serviced!

With temperatures and snow falling fast, there's no better place to be than nestled in front of a cozy fireplace. Before settling in, there are a few safety measures to take to ensure you can relax and enjoy the comfort of a crackling fire all winter long. 

According to Susan McKelvey, a spokesperson for the National Fire Protection Association, half of all US home heating fires take place between December and February. Follow the tips below to put your mind at ease and start enjoying your fireplace right away!

1. Regularly clean the interior

Burning wood in fireplaces can release pollutants in the air and leave a buildup of dust, ash, and creosote, which can cause fires. Also watch for any accumulation of soot, which is softer than creosote, is flammable, and must be regularly cleaned from the chimney.

The NFPA recommends chimneys be cleaned at least once a year, at the beginning of winter, to remove soot and debris. For homes who use their fireplace regularly a more regular cleaning schedule may be better. Contact a local chimney cleaner to get a professional opinion.

2. Cap it

Use a wire mesh cap to cover the top of the chimney to keep birds, squirrels, rain, and other debris from entering. Some critters can mistake chimneys for trees and build nests inside them to escape the cold. This is not only a danger to the animals, but a potential fire hazard. Capping your chimney is an inexpensive fix, usually running around $75-$80.

3. Check the damper

The damper is a movable plate meant to seal the fireplace when not in use. Be sure your damper is working properly and free of debris that would keep it from opening and closing properly.

While you're checking the damper, also take a look at other components such as door latches, handles and grates. Over time these items can break or warp and should be repaired/replaced.

4. Monitor for smoke

Excess smoke can be caused by animal nests (see Tip 2), an unclean chimney that has creosote, soot buildup, a closed or partly open damper, or wood that is not burning completely.

Check that your chimney is properly vented to the outside to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure your smoke and CO alarms are functioning properly. 

5. Choose the right wood to burn

Hardwoods such as maple, oak, ash, and birch burn longer and hotter, have less pitch and sap, and will contribute less creosote buildup.

You can burn any type of untreated wood but to make sure it is properly seasoned. You'll know your wood is well-seasoned when it fades in color, is hard, sounds hollow when you knock on it, and has loose bark.The most effective way to dry out wood is to cut it, split it, and stack it.

6. Use heat-proof glass doors

Glass doors help protect against heat loss and keep embers, cinders, or logs from rolling out of the fireplace and causing damage. You can have doors installed on the frame of your fireplace or pick up a tempered glass screen. Of course, be sure to keep anything flammable well out of the way of the doors or grate. 

 

10 Fall Home Maintenance Tasks To Tackle This Weekend

 

Grab a pumpkin spice coffee, your favorite flannel and a pair of work gloves - it's time for fall home maintenance!

Why is seasonal maintenance important?

Sure, cleaning the gutters may not be your idea of a fun fall weekend, but taking the time to tackle seasonal maintenance will save you time and money in the long run. It's easier to prevent a problem than deal with the aftermath down the road. Here are 10 essentials to take care of before the snow flies...

1. Rake 'em Up

Oh how we wish the beautiful foliage would stay on the trees and off our lawns! Make raking a family affair and bag up your leaves to prevent them from killing the grass next spring.

2. Clean the gutters

Speaking of leaves, when they clog your gutters, rainwater can’t flow through and will eventually spill over. So what, right? This overflow can damage your home’s siding, roof and foundation.

It’s better to remove the leaves from your gutters than to chance the buildup turning into a costly problem.

3. Check the roof

While we’re on the subject of the roof, fall is a great time to check that all shingles are in place and in good shape before winter snowstorms pop up on your radar.

4. Conduct a walking inspection

Take a walk around the exterior of your home, keeping an eye open for damage along the pathways leading to your doors. Cracks could mean loose cement or gravel, increasing the likelihood that someone could trip or slip and fall.

To ensure the safety of visitors, seal any cracks you see. Be sure to inspect the siding and foundation while you’re at it, and tackle any repairs as soon as possible.

5. Cracks and gaps can cause problems indoors too

When you shut doors and windows, make sure there aren’t any spaces allowing air to escape. If there are, seal them before the real cold weather hits.

You may not think much of these little gaps right now, but you will when you open your heating bill and see how much you’re paying to keep the whole neighborhood warm, or when you find out that a mouse has made your cabinet his home for the winter.

6. Store summer staples

Patio furniture is susceptible to damage from winter weather. Since you probably won’t spend as much time outside, move patio furniture etc. into storage.

7. Sweep it up

Schedule a time to have your chimney and heating system cleaned and maintained, including swapping old filters for new ones. It’s important that everything is in good working condition to decrease the likelihood of house fires.

8. Pipe down

Shut off the water supply to exterior faucets and insulate your pipes before the weather dips below 32 degrees. This will help prevent pipes from freezing, bursting and flooding your home.

9. Take time to vent

Dryers are a leading cause of fires - make sure to have your dryer vent cleaned annually. Aside from safety issues, if your vent is clogged with lint, your machine will not be as energy efficient.

10. Testing … 1, 2, 3

Test safety devices, such as smoke alarms, and check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher. In case a fire ignites, it’s important to know that you and your family will be alerted and able to get out of the house quickly and safely, or able to extinguish smaller fires before significant damage is done.

Spring 2019 Market Update

 

It's not just the weather that's warming up, our local real estate market is coming into spring hot!

The number of closed homes in Quarter 1 2019 is right on track with 2018, but set to rise. With inventory remaining relatively low, sellers are benefitting for having their home on the market for fewer days, and selling for higher prices. This is a challenge for buyers trying to break into the market. We would suggest consulting a loan officer, obtaining a pre-approval and then developing a relationship with a tenacious Realtor who is prepared to write your winning offer.

While the low inventory is a challenge for buyers, mortgage interest rates are remaining low at an average of 4.125% for a conventional 30 year fixed rate. While these rates are still low, it's a great time to buy or to re-finance your existing home! It is possible that interest rates may begin to creep up later in the year, and while only time will tell, it's still advised to act quickly.

Signature Properties of Vermont remains among the Top 10 most productive brokerages in Northwestern Vermont! Our small team is experienced, capable and ready to help you with your home sale or purchase this spring.

Call us any time: 802-872-8881

HOW TO: Buy a home in a seller's market

 

Our area is currently experiencing a seller's market - there are less homes for sale, than interested buyers. This can make it difficult for buyers to break into the housing market; difficult, but not impossible. We have some tips to help you secure a home within your budget - even during a seller's market.

How seller's markets come to exist

The main metric used when evaluating housing markets is home price appreciation.There are several factors which can influence the price of homes in any given area, including:

  • Population growth. Generally, when there's an increase in the number of people moving to a town, demand for housing begins to exceed supply. The basic law of Supply and Demand will tell you that too few homes will lead to an increased sales price. 
  • Job growth. An influx of new companies and jobs can in turn fuel population growth that turns areas into seller's markets. This is a great indicator of economic progress! Unfortunately, it can also present challenges to buyers seeking to relocate to the area. 
  • Housing starts. The term "housing starts" refers to the number of new homes on which builders have started construction in any particular month. Because new construction directly affects supply, a decrease in housing starts can result in a sellers market. 

We are currently experiencing a seller's market. Here's how to tell:

  • Average days on market (DOM). This measurement will tell us the average number of days a home stays on the market before changing hands. In our area, this number has been steadily dropping since January 2017 and as of April 11, 2018, it sits right around 100 days from the day a home goes on the market, to the day the new owners receive the keys. Considering the time it takes to process a contract is about 60-80 days, this number is quite low!
  • Asking vs. final home price. In seller's markets, bidding wars can often erupt among buyers, which means sellers may enjoy a final sales price that's equal to their asking price, or more. So, if a home is listed at $450,000 and sells for $450,000, $460,000, or higher, that's a seller's market. In a strong seller's market, the final sales price is typically at least 10% higher than the asking price.

Buying a house in a seller's market

To compete against other buyers in a seller's market, you need to be prepared. First off, you should meet with a mortgage lender to discuss your finances, and find out what you can afford. You'll need a pre-approval letter before you start looking at homes; when competition is fierce, sellers want to know that the offers they're receiving are backed by actual buying power. 

Once you have a pre-approval, you'll want to hire a Realtor. It is crucial that you are represented during your purchase, especially in a seller's market. The Realtor who has the home listed is contractually bound to represent the seller's best interests not yours. You'll want to find a Realtor that you trust to advocate for you, and get you into the areas you're interested in. Often times Realtors will have knowledge of homes that haven't even hit the market yet - take advantage of that knowledge!

You'll want to discuss with your Realtor your wants, needs, and desired location. When housing supply is low, try to keep an open mind and consider exploring areas slightly outside of your target. Once you've found a home, you and your Realtor will work quickly to submit an offer. Consider adding an Escalation Clause to your contract, which basically states "if sellers receive an offer higher than this one, I am willing to increase my offer to X." You may also want to add a personal letter to the sellers with your contract, sometimes small details like that can really set your offer apart. 

 

Buyer Demand Far Outpaces Inventory...NOW Is The Time To Sell!

Inventory in our area is still very competitive for home sellers, and buyers are entering the market to take advantage of low interest rates. It is truly a great time to enter the real estate market no matter which end of the spectrum you're on!

The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, as well as the market demand. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their Realtors Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between Seller Traffic (supply) and Buyer Traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map on the right was created after asking the question:

“How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”

The darker the blue, the more buyers are looking for homes in that area. Only 3 states came in with a weak demand level.

 

 

Seller Supply

The Index also asked:

“How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”

As you can see from the map on the left, a good portion of the country has weak seller traffic, meaning there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are out looking for their dream homes.

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet the buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. This is great news for homeowners thinking of selling their home. Buyers should not be discouraged; low interest rates allow for affordable options even when inventory is low. 

 

Are you financially ready to buy your first home? Let's find out!

 

 

 

If you're wondering whether you're ready to stop renting and purchase your first home, we are here to help!

With current interest rates still being low, and the cost of rent in our area increasing year over year, now might be the ideal time for you to take the plunge into homeownership. Some might wonder if it makes sense to purchase a house before they are married and have a family, others might think they are too young, and still, others might think their current income would never enable them to qualify for a mortgage. Not to worry, we are here to help you navigate those questions, and any others that may arise. 

We want to share what the typical first-time homebuyer actually looks like based on the National Association of REALTORS most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers. Here are some interesting revelations on the first-time buyer:

Bottom Line

You very well may be ready to purchase your first home, and start building equity! Every situation is unique, and we are always available to answer questions for you.

Tips To Sell Your Home Faster (And For More Money!)

When our clients ask for our assistance selling their home, their two main concerns are timeline and price. 

 

We've been in the Real Estate industry a long time, and have amassed countless tips and strategies to address both of those concerns. We decided to put together an online magazine to make our best advice available to the whole community!

Below you'll find a link to check out our magazine and learn some of our best home selling strategies. When the time comes to list your home, we'll be here to walk you through the process and make it not only quick and painless, but fun and profitable as well! Give us a call any time, we're always happy to help.

 

 

Halloween For Home Sellers

 

 

The doorbell to your home is used more on October 31st than potentially any other day of the year. It’s Halloween and there’s arguably no holiday where home plays a bigger role.

Sure, other holidays have traditions, but none encourage families to get out and actually walk around their neighborhoods going door-to-door. This is a perfect opportunity to meet new neighbors and spread the word that your home is on the market! Leave a lasting impression with tasteful lights, decorations, and of course, candy for the kids. It’s a night where we literally open our doors to others and make preparations to give regardless of who steps to our front door - something we should probably do more often.

We hope this year you'll be dazzled by the decorations and charmed by the children’s (and the dog’s) costumes, and we hope it brings a little joy to your heart as you think of all that home means…even on the scariest night of the year.

Here’s to Halloween and all the things that make a house a home.

If you have pictures of your home from Halloweens past or present, share them with us on Instagram by tagging them with @SignatureVTHomes