Blog :: 2012

First Time Home Buyer's Guide


Are you thinking that now is the time to go from that rental you've grown out of into a home of your very own? At Signature Properties, we would be honored to show you the way home. We work with both buyers and sellers, and with interest rates and home prices where they are, it is certainly your time to buy.

Here are some things to consider when thinking about buying a home:

1. How much can you afford? Fannie Mae recommends keeping your housing expenses to about 28% of your income. If you go much above this, you may find yourself to be stretched too thin. There are a variety of mortgage calculators out there that will calculate a monthly payment based on estimated interest rate, insurance, and money down. This can be a good place to start.

2. What are you looking for? Come up with a list of what your must-haves, likes, and dislikes, then browse our Signature Listings and the MLS  for any homes that you think might suit your needs and budget.

3. Talk to a REALTOR: There are many benefits to working with a REALTOR. Our agents have extensive knowledge of the area market and can help you find your perfect place. We have many helpful contacts of lawyers, inspectors, lenders, and more that can help you through the process. We will be here for you from start to finish!

4. Ask questions! When working with an agent to buy your first home, if you have a question, ask! We are here to help and want to make sure you have a good understanding of the process. We know it can be a frustrating and confusing path, don't worry we will guide you along the way.

5. Think: Think about the future and how long you might like to stay in your home, then look at homes around you and what they might be selling for now. This can help you plan for the future; especially if you plan on re-doing that kitchen that you really aren't a big fan of.

6. Consider a new construction: Hank Gintof, one of our valued agents, works a lot with custom built new construction homes. Do you have a wish list a mile long? Talk to Hank and chances are, he has something that can be turned into your dream home

7.Enjoy! Buy magazines, get ideas, and dream about how you are going to decorate your newly purchased home. Its important to settle down and enjoy the process, if you can. You will be a first time home buyer before you know it!



The 10 Best Apps for Home Buyers


Long gone are the days when house hunting meant sifting through stacks of newspapers with your trusty highlighter. Today over 90% of  home buyers utilize the internet in their search. From cozy apartments to grandiose mansions, your smart phone can help lead you to the home of your dreams.


Finding the perfect home

1. Signature Properties of Vermont - Have you searched through the Signature Properties of Vermont mobile site yet? It's a great way to peruse local listings! Best of all, contacting an Agent is just a "click-to-call" away! Now you can take Signature Properties with you on your home search, we are thrilled to be along for the ride!  

2. - Throw those newspapers in the recycle bin and join the 21st century! This is technology's greatest guide to listings. The app includes up-to-date real estate listings in the U.S., including homes for sale, for rent or recently sold. Each listing includes photos, property details, open house information, and pricing. It allows you to share favorite listings with friends and family, and highlight a customized area that you would like to search. Best of all, it's free!

3. House Hunter - Having trouble making a decision? Don't waste time asking your in-laws for opinions! Look no further than "House Hunter," a unique app that offers a scoring method to help you identify your favorite houses. It has a comprehensive list of over 80 different home features. If you're looking for something specific, you can personalize and prioritize the features list to fit your own needs. While doing a walk-through of the home, you can score each feature and check it off on the list. The app will automatically calculate an overall score for the home, taking into account things like size, location, age of the house, and price per square foot. You can even take and store pictures of the home. For only $3.99, it's a super effective way to organize your thoughts about possible homes in one place.

4. Mortgage Calculator by Quicken Loans - Get the lowdown on mortgage products right from the source. The "do-it-all" app for the future home buyer, the Quicken Loans Mortgage Calculator offers five different calculators, which allow you to compare options and effortlessly evaluate your choices. No more waiting for the information you need, so you can get some peace of mind and feel confident about your options.

Checking out the neighborhood

1. Wikihood - For any iOS users, Wikihood uses the world of Wikipedia to bring you the latest and greatest information on your neighborhood of choice. Using Wikihood will give you a feel for the culture of a neighborhood, including important people, landmark buildings, local companies, and geographical information. It also offers a virtual tour of the city with an enhanced map.

2.  Safe Neighborhood - If you're not familiar with an area, it's important to check ahead and make sure it's safe. If you're looking for safety stats, download Safe Neighborhood. It gives you access to the National Sex Offender Registry so you can scout out the offenders in your area. You can actually pull up names and pictures of the offenders. This is free for Android users, but there are many apps just like it for iPhone; for the iOS user, download Sex Offender Search, another freebie.

3. Around Me - Location, location, location! Looking for easy access to banks, gas stations, and coffee shops? Input an address, and Around Me will tell you the distances to those spots and more. And for the low, low, price of FREE, why not?

4. SiteWise - At $9.99, it's on the pricier side of apps, but SiteWise will give you the lowdown on area demographics. Maybe you're looking for an area with lots of young families, or you'd like to fit in at a cool college town. Using information from the 2010 Census, the app will give you a demographic report which includes population by age, education level, number of children, household income, and more. This concise report is one of the best ways to pinpoint your ideal city, even if you've never visited the area before.

Designing your new space

1. Houzz Interior Design Ideas - One of my favorite TV shows is HGTV's Millionaire Dollar Rooms, a Tuesday night series which profiles the most expensive rooms in people's houses. I like to daydream about what types of features I would have if I had a million dollars to spend on a room. If you need fabulous inspiration for your own home, this free app has it all. It's an intuitive photo bank of over 150,000 images from buildings all over the world. Take a peek, get inspired, and unleash your inner designer!

2.  iHandy Level Free - A free app so cool I can't contain myself, iHandy transforms your phone into a Level for precise alignment. If you're in the mood for some home improvement, download iHandy to make sure your picture frames are straight so you don't have to nail more holes in the wall than you should!

3.  I.D. Wood - A friend of mine is crazy about her hardwood floors. She's completely right to be, since they cost a pretty penny, but God forbid you drop something or scratch the wood! That's why it's important to research wood types if you're looking to do anything with wood in your home. I.D. Wood is a visual wood dictionary, providing information on over 160 different kinds of woods, including data on their durability and sustainability. If you're investing in hardwood floors, it's essential to pick the right type of wood, and this app can be a big help.

Whether you're looking for a family-friendly neighborhood, a stunning sunroom, or just a crime-free block, one of these apps will help you find it. Of course, as always, The Signature Team is happy to follow up with you on your new wish list!