Blog :: 08-2014

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.

Change of Address Checklist

There are so many details to keep track of when moving that homeowners sometimes forget the little things - like filing the numerous change of address forms necessary to keep track of their accounts and assets.

Although a change of address form filed at your local post office is helpful, paper mail may still be delayed two to four weeks during the forwarding process. Personally sharing your new address and contact information with individual service providers and organizations is the most effective way to make sure you don't lose touch during your move.

Use the following checklist to manage the details of your upcoming change of address:

Change of Address Checklist

Financial Institutions

ð       Credit reporting agencies

ð       Banks

ð       Investment brokers

ð       Insurance companies (auto, home, medical, dental, disability, life)

ð       Lenders (mortgage, auto, student loan, home equity)

Government

ð       Department of Revenue/IRS (Form )

ð       DMV (Vermont Form Here)

ð       Business license offices U.S. Post Office

Memberships

ð       Professional associations

ð       Magazine and other subscriptions

ð       Civic organizations

ð       Churches

ð       Children's extracurricular activities

ð       PTA, neighborhood associations and other community groups

ð       Licensing/certification boards

ð       Health clubs

ð       Social or country clubs

Service Providers

ð       Schools

ð       Attorney

ð       Accountant

ð       Physicians

ð       Cleaning services

ð       Lawn care services

ð       Trash removal

ð       Snow removal

ð       Delivery services

ð       Babysitters or daycare centers

ð       Pet groomer

ð       Veterinarian

Utilities

ð       Telephone

ð       Cell phone

ð       Electric

ð       Gas

ð       Cable/Satellite

ð       Water and sewer

ð       Internet

 

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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.