Market Trends

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. 


August Signature Report


We are about two years into a national trend of decreased housing supply and increasing average sales prices. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but the market is shifting predominately in favor of home sellers. This is great news for homeowners, and home sellers, as property values continue to rise along with demand. Purchasers will be happy to hear that interest rates have remained low, but are expected to creep up in the year to come.

We've seen dozens of multiple-offer situations over the summer, which makes having a realtor on your side crucial to negotiate the best price and terms for your sale or purchase. With a market this aggressive, having a professional working on your behalf is more important than ever. 

With an increased demand for homes the average amount of time a property spent on the market in August continued to decrease. This is especially true of homes listed by a licensed real estate agent as they're more widely visible to potential purchasers. Not only are homes selling quickly, but the multiple-offer situations referenced above can drive the sale price up.


August 2016 vs. August 2017 Chittenden County Statistics

As pictured in the graphs below, the number of available listings this August is down 15.6% from last year at month's end. Most notably however, is the substantial jump (over 12%!) in sales price from this time last year, netting sellers nearly $37,000 extra! These statistics are based on homes sold with the assistance of a trained professional; according to a recent study, homes sold without the help of a realtor net substantially less, and spend more time on the market. 


Sale Price vs. List Price Comparison

Below you'll find two charts comparing the average sales price versus list price of properties sold so far in 2017. As you'll see, month over month, Signature Properties of Vermont realtors are able to achieve or exceed our sellers' expectations. Signature Properties of Vermont boasts slightly higher  results than competing firms with our sellers receiving 100% of their asking price, on average. 



August Firm Rankings

We're proud to once again be in the top 10 performing brokerages this month, and year to date! It is important to us as a company that we maintain a small, productive team which allows us to handle each transaction with the personal attention and care it deserves. At Signature Properties, our clients, and their properties, are treated with the utmost respect. We'd like to think that our consistently high ranking reflects the time and attention we work to provide. 


As always, if you have any questions about your home, or the market in general, please give us a call! We are thankful to be your real estate resource. 

Make sure your listing reaches Millennial home buyers!


Generation Y, also known as Millennials were born between 1980 and 2000 and are largely regarded as a unique, somewhat mysterious group. The wants and needs of Millennials are vastly different from those of their baby boomer parents. Their specialized interests mean that marketing strategies need to be adjusted to attract Millennials to your home, but, also note the  added challenge that Millennials despise being told what to buy through marketing. Your most effective strategy will be to highlight the features of your home and neighborhood without being pitchy or 'traditional.'

Is it starting to sound as though reaching this generation is more trouble than it's worth? Don't be fooled. Although many Millennials are choosing to rent, they have substantial buying power and studies show that they by and large still value home ownership.

If you're looking to sell your home, these are the things you'll need to do to attract Millennial buyers:

Play Up Your Strengths

While Baby Boomers may want a two-car garage, large kitchen and extra storage space, Millennials have their own ideas. This generation is looking for something different than their parents:

  • Open floor plans - a large amount of square footage is not necessarily a selling point with the trend of tiny homes on the rise
  • Single-story homes
  • Energy efficiency - saving the environment (and money) is especially important to this generation
  • Split floor plans
  • Media rooms - Millennials are more 'plugged in' than any other generation. Be sure to highlight any tech-savvy features your home has to offer.
  • Hardwood or tile floors

Marketing these features will help get the attention of this generation.

Sell Your Neighborhood

For many Millennials, the neighborhood they live in matters just as much--or more--than the house they buy, and they're looking to meet a specific need.

This generation is extremely technology driven and are used to receiving information instantly. This translates to the amount of time they are willing to spend getting from point A to point B. Make sure to point out how close your home is to all attractive amenities - especially if your property is located in the heart of town. Extra bonus points if you're within walking or biking distance to recreation, schools and shopping!

Show Off Environmentally-Friendly Features

It is no secret this generation is environmentally-conscious, and they'll be looking for homes that have green features. Make sure to highlight any recent upgrades - especially new windows and energy efficient appliances.

Think Clean and Modern

Modern homes are popular choices for younger buyers, but your house doesn't need to be brand new or designed by a minimalist architect to appeal to this generation. Some simple home staging before your showing or open house could be all you need to bring in an offer. Take the 'less is more' approach and eliminate clutter (this applies to all generations as well!).

Online Advertising is MANDATORY

To find younger home buyers, you'll have to place your ads where they will see them, and that is largely online. Social media is an ideal place to advertise your property in a way that won't seem pushy or aggressive.


Fall is a great time to sell!

Sell in fall blog

Putting your home on the market in the "off seasons" of fall and winter is a smart strategy that is often overlooked. The available inventory of homes is less by this time, giving the pool of buyers fewer suitable options. With less competition, it is easier to highlight your home's best features and stand out in the crowd. Furthermore, buyers searching during this time are generally more serious, qualified and feeling a sense of urgency. This combination makes for the absolute perfect selling atmosphere.

Now that you know why fall is a great time to list, let's talk about how to make your home a standout. 



Curb Appeal. If you follow our blog, you know how important this topic is. Whether searching online, or driving through the neighborhood, buyers are hyper-critical - and rightfully so! They are looking for well maintained homes that show that the owners care and have made upkeep a priority. If your home isn't presented well, buyers won't give it a second look, and certainly won't make an appointment to see it from the inside. Before your listing photos are taken, and the entire time your home is on the market, make sure walkways are clear of debris, landscaping is neat, windows are clean and your entryway is welcoming. Any outdoor furniture should be stored away by this time as well. Your Realtor should take pictures on a well lit day to paint your home in the best possible light. Adding a new welcome mat, some seasonal mums and maybe a pumpkin or wreath to your door add a thoughtful touch that buyers will notice and appreciate. 

Lighting. Now that the days are getting shorter, it's important that you leave your exterior lights on during all showing hours - both for safety and for a subliminally welcoming aesthetic. If you can, adding solar lights to walkways is a nice touch and added safety feature.


Maintenance. Just as with the exterior of your home, the interior needs to be viewer ready at all times. Keep up with the obvious routine housework as well as tending to any maintenance that may need attention. You may not notice that sticky window, or squeaky cellar door, but it will be a red flag in a buyer's mind. Keep drapes and blinds pulled back to let the sunlight in and clear out any clutter to give the appearance of large, open, clean spaces.

Scent. Did you know that scent is the sense most closely linked to memory? When buyers remember your home, make sure they're recalling the pleasant, seasonal smells and not a musky basement or stale dog bed. Strategically place scented oils and plug-in air fresheners throughout your rooms in warm, seasonal scents such as cinnamon, vanilla or pumpkin spice. Not only are these uplifting in the moment, but they tend to bring back happy memories and allow people to reminisce -- exactly the mood you want buyers in when they're viewing your home! 

Create Warmth. Sweater weather isn't just for people -- apply it to your decor too! Make your home look like a cozy place to curl up by strategically adding warm, chunky throw blankets to living room furniture, choosing pillows in seasonal fabrics and colors and using plenty of accent lighting.  If you have a fireplace, arrange furniture around it to make it a focal point. Think of the textures and colors that make you think of a cozy fall day, and apply those to your home. There's no need to break the bank with these updates -- retailers such as Home Goods have a huge selection of lovely options to add flare and comfort even on a budget.

Remember, you're selling the feeling of your home as much as the property itself. Make sure buyers can see themselves living in and enjoying your home by paying attention to the small details and you'll have no trouble selling your home this fall. In fact, you'll find the process is much easier than expected!

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*


Meet The Smarter, More Connected Homes Of The Future

Sixty-one percent of consumers say they're interested in learning more about home automation, according to recent market research from the Consumer Electronic Association. Home owners have an increasing number of options, too.

Smart-home technologies are growing, with everything from the ability to remotely control a home's lights and temperature to sending text messages to appliances or monitoring a home's security and energy consumption from a smartphone.

Several technology companies are showing off gadgets for the connected home during this week's 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Smart Home Technology Debuts at CES

A range of smart home technologies were featured at this year's CES, including:

  • Texting appliances: LG's new Home Chat smart platform connects your home's appliances to your smartphone, allowing you to text back and forth. For example, you can text your fridge: "What groceries do I need?" And it'll respond with a text containing a grocery list.
  • App-controlled home: Samsung debuted its Smart Home App, which allows home owners to control several appliances in their home, from the TV to connected appliances, wearable tech, and more. Home owners can personalize settings on their electronics and then control them remotely. For example, they can view cameras in their TV or other devices while they're away from home; receive alerts from the Smart Customer Service feature when something in their home is going wrong, such as an appliance malfunctioning; and use a voice-control setting to speak commands to the home, such as turning off the lights by saying "leaving."
  • Voice-controlled thermostat: Honeywell recently introduced a Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat that responds to voice commands. For example, say "make it cooler," and the thermostat will cool the house by one degree. Or, tell the thermostat to "make it five degrees warmer," and the thermostat will follow your voice prompts.
  • Touchscreen locks: Schlage touted a new lock that can be opened or locked with a four-digit code and controlled with a smartphone app. The lock will also send home owners alerts if the lock is being tampered with or the wrong code has been entered a certain amount of times.
  • Smart lights: Lumen introduced an app-enabled LED Smart Bulb that can be controlled wirelessly via a smartphone. You can dim the lights, set the lights to come on at a certain time, and even choose from 1 million colors to set the right mood. The lights also can be set to blink to alert you when you have an incoming phone call.

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.

School Districts Top Family Priorities



60% of Home Buyers are swayed by school district choices.

Kids are housing game changers. Growing families face new and often unfamiliar concerns. The home that once was comfortable for a couple can soon become overcrowded as little ones grow. Children also bring up other concerns for parents including neighborhood safety and educational opportunities. A recent study by found that 3 out of 5 buyers say school boundary lines were a deciding factor in their purchase decision. Buyers were also shown to be willing to give up other luxuries and go above and beyond to secure their children seats in premier classrooms.

Of those home buyers who ranked school boundary lines as deciding factors:

Pay More For Schools


Those same home buyers were willing to forego entirely:

Give Up

Vermont is fortunate to boast a 90% high-school graduation rate-one of the nation's highest! now offers a search by school district function.

Have a school in mind? Contact a Signature Agent to help find a home in that area!

Mortgages Simplified


 Let's face it-financing is not the most exciting part of buying a new home. While most of us would rather be shopping for paint colors than interest rates-understanding how to choose the right mortgage is a crucial step.

Feeling overwhelmed with options and information? Use the guide below to familiarize yourself with the most common choices available to you.

1. The 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage:  This is the traditional mortgage most people immediately associate with home-ownership. A fixed rate mortgage ensures a stable interest rate over the life of the loan regardless of market fluctuations. If you've found a house you plan to stay in for a long time and like the security of knowing your monthly payments, this is a good option for you to consider.

2. The 15 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage: These loans are exactly like the 30 year option except you save thousands in interest by paying the loan back in half the time. If you like the security of a fixed rate but are financially able to afford a larger payment look into this type of loan.

3. FHA Loans: The Federal Housing Administration backs these mortgages making them "unconventional." With government backing, you become a less risky borrower-even if your credit score could use some work. Another benefit to FHA loans are the 3.5% minimum down payments-much lower than standard loans. This type also allows the seller to contribute up to 6% of the sales price in closing costs--a good deal if you can negotiate it! There are income requirements associated with this type of mortgage so it's best to speak with your lender about options and qualifications.

4. VA Loans: This special type of mortgage is also government-backed and available only to military veterans. Unlike other loans, 100% financing is available as a "Thank You" for serving in the armed forces. VA Loans are available in 15 or 30 year re-payment schedules allowing for even more flexibility.

5. Jumbo Loans: Specifically designed for financing amounts over $417,000, jumbo loans are perfect for those of you purchasing your dream home. Considering the higher principle, lenders will require a much more substantial down payment since they consider loaning such a large amount a risk. Jumbo loans are available in even higher increments ($650,000+) and are called "Super Jumbo" Loans. These are available in combination with 30-Year Fixed, FHA and Adjustable Rate mortgages. If you are able to qualify for an FHA loan in a jumbo amount, you receive the added benefit of nearly 97% financing up-front.

6. Adjustable Rate Mortgages: This type of loan is different from the others and may not be ideal for the "slow and steady" crowd. ARM's have a fixed interest rate for a set period of time (5, 7 etc.) but then the rate adjusts monthly, quarterly or annually depending on the current market. This is a great option for people who won't be staying in their home for more than 5 years or are market savvy and like to keep on top of interest rates to re-finance to their benefit.

There are pros and cons to all types of loans-the best thing to do is sit down with a lender you trust and discussing your financial situation honestly. A good lender will be able to steer you in the right direction and choose the best option for you.

Real-Estate's Positive Impact in Vermont

Church Street


The National Association of Realtors has released some interesting economic findings on real estate's impact in Vermont. The money that is spent before, during and after a home sale/purchase directly impacts our communities--in a good way! When a home is listed, a sort of economic ripple effect begins-Realtors, Attorneys, Appraisers and Inspectors are hired to assist with the sale. Once the home is purchased, Movers, Painters, Landscapers (and more!) are often utilized to make the transition as seamless as possible. Furthermore new, excited homeowners inevitably shop for furniture, appliances and other items while getting settled. In fact, on average home buyers spend nearly $6,000 on such things shortly after their purchase and around $4,000 more on improvements during the following two years.

All of these purchases sink money back into our state's economy, helping us all in turn. With the housing market on an upswing, Vermont can expect even greater benefits in the coming months. If you're interested in buying or selling now may be the right time for you--a Signature Agent would love to help you decide!

The complete NAR report is available HERE


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