Blog :: 2017

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

Improve the safety of your home drinking water

Your tap water is probably not as clean as you think. 

We all know that water is essential for survival and maintaining health, but if you're drinking straight out of the tap, there are some things you should be aware of. When you drink tap water, especially municipal water, there are loads of additives, including beneficial minerals (like magnesium), and harmful contaminants like lead, mercury, pesticides and trace amounts of prescription medications. It can be a witches' cauldron of potentially harmful unknowns. One common misconception is that boiling tap water will remove all trace substances; it will kill off any living organisms, but it won't actually remove any contaminants in the process. However, there are some options to mitigate your exposure. 

You may be wondering how the water from your tap could possibly be so dirty. Well, simply put, it has most likely traveled several miles, through pipes which can pass along lead, chlorine, ammonia etc. before finally arriving to your home. The problem is, we may not know exactly which contaminants are present in our water. The Environmental Working Group investigated the nation's drinking water supply over the course of 3 years and found that 85% of the population's water contained more than 300 contaminants, more than half of which are not regulated by the EPA. 

Now, you may be thinking bottled water is the holy grail at this point. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case. In fact, bottled water is also not regulated by the EPA and there are no studies proving that it's any safer than the water from your tap! Not to mention the resources that are used to produce and transport the water, and the contaminants leached from the plastic bottle itself into the water. 

Some of the most common water chemicals & contaminants...

1. Fluoride

Adding fluoride to drinking water is a process that began back in the 1940’s to help reduce tooth decay. It sounds like a noble cause but fluoride is a neurotoxin and an endocrine disruptor. It can harm the thyroid gland and calcify the pineal gland. Fluoride is toxic, and several countries have banned the practice of adding it to water. 

2. Chlorine

 Chlorine is known to be a sanitizing agent, and has been added to drinking water as a purification technique, despite not being completely safe. Chlorine  bonds with water, including the water in your gut, to produce poisonous hydrochloric acid. Long term effects include memory loss and impaired balance.

3. Lead

Corroded pipes can release up to ten times the allowable amount of lead into the water. Lead is extremely toxic, especially to children and can cause developmental issues, stunted growth and even brain damage.

4. Mercury

Mercury is a naturally occurring element, which does not mean that it's safe. It can find its way into our water supply as a byproduct of mining practices. Unfortunately, it is an extremely efficient traveler and transfers easily from wind to water. Mercury exposure can cause brain damage, blindness, nerve damage, muscle loss and a host of other conditions.

5. Prescription Medications

If you're drinking public water, you are ingesting trace amounts of hormones, antibiotics and other prescription medications. When wastewater is treated, most contaminants are cleared, but the process cannot remove all excreted substances. Although levels are low, the risk of ingesting trace prescriptions over the course of a lifetime are unknown.

Now that we've gone over the gloom and doom, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

If you don't already have a home water filtration system, you may want to look into one. There are several options depending on your budget and your level of concern. You can go as far as to install a whole-house filtration system, or you can go the more minimally invasive route and invest in an individual drinking water and shower filter unit. 

For drinking water, you have a few options:

You can choose an undercounter unit that will be tucked away and do a great job at filtering out contaminants. There is some installation required, and the initial cost may be slightly off putting, but there are other options.

- You could opt for a countertop filter which uses water pressure to force the filtration process and results in healthier, better tasting water. These require minimal installation, little space and are cost effective.

- Lastly, you could opt for a water pitcher filter which is great if you're low on counter space, and working within a budget. These fit easily in your refrigerator and are very simple to use. 

When it comes to showering, there are a few things to consider:

Your skin is incredibly absorbent, which means any of those nasty water chemicals can enter your bloodstream. Now, you could install a shower water filter which will help mitigate exposure. These are cost effective and simple to put into place. If that isn't an option, try to reduce the time spent in the shower and reduce the temperature of the water so that pores don't absorb as much. 

Your morning shower should not include daily exposure to chlorine, carcinogens and vaporized chemical contaminants being absorbed into your skin and breathed into your lungs. Without a shower filter, it does.

We hope this information is useful to you! Investing in a water filtration system of some sort is a good idea whether you live in an area with town water, or if you use well water. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Essential Oils To Keep Your Home Clean, Safe & Smelling Great

 

If you've ever visited our office, you'll know right away that we love essential oils! Not only are they a healthy way to give your home a nice scent, but they are also extremely effective sanitizing agents as well!

 

There are tons of cleaning products on the market today. Most of which have an ingredient list that can't be pronounced. If you're concerned about keeping your home both clean and safe, we'd highly suggest throwing some essential oils in the mix! They may seem like a bit of an investment at first, but a little bit goes a LONG way. You'll likely even save money over time. 

 

The 10 must have essential oils for your home are below. Enjoy!

 

 

1. Lemon

Not only does lemon smell clean, it's also a powerhouse filled with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. You can use it to de-grease, sanitize your kitchen, clean flooring, deodorize and even combine with olive oil (10 drops lemon oil with 1/2 cup olive oil) to create a wood/leather polish!

2. Tea Tree 

Tea tree is another great oil to keep on hand. It fights germs, bacteria, viruses and bugs. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a spray bottle with water and put an end to pesky insects. Bonus - this combination also makes a great daily shower spray!

3. Rosemary

With antibacterial and antiseptic properties, rosemary is a wonderful addition to any dish soap or laundry detergent. Combine a few drops with peppermint oil in a diffuser for a refreshing blend to keep you focused. 

4. Wild Orange

It's no surprise that many common household cleaners are lemon or orange scented. Let's get back to the basics and use the oil itself to keep our homes clean (and free of toxic chemicals!). Orange oil is an excellent de-greaser - mix 10 drops with 1/4 cup castile soap  and you've got yourself a powerful stovetop and counter cleaner. The scent is unbeatable, too!

5. Lavender

One of the most popular oils, lavender is naturally antibacterial and incredibly soothing. To make a beautiful linen spray, combine 5 TB vodka with 20 drops lavender oil and 2 cups of water in a shaker bottle. Sweet dreams!

6. Eucalyptus

Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your next load of laundry - your clothes will smell wonderful and your washer will stay nice and clean as well! A powerful natural germicide, eucalyptus is a great oil to use in the kitchen, bathroom, and anywhere mildew or mold might be found. 

7. Peppermint

Peppermint is an excellent oil to rid your home of spiders, ants and other pesky insects! Mix 10-15 drops of peppermint oil with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray the mix along crevices and anywhere pests like to congregate. As a bonus, the cool, invigorating scent will leave your home smelling fresh and clean!

 

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    Tips to maximize your small kitchen.

    Not every home is equipped with a spacious kitchen, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style or function! We have some great tips to help maximize any small kitchen.

     

    The ceiling is the limit. 

    The extent to which you'll be able to expand your storage upward will depend upon the amount of cabinetry your kitchen has. That being said, nearly every kitchen can use some amount of wall space. If you have an older home with less cabinets, installing rows of shelves is an excellent way to get utensils, appliances, cutting boards cookbooks up off of the counters. If you don't have room for extra shelving, you will have to make the most of the space between the counter tops and the bottoms of the cabinets. This can be a great area to install a spice rack, or hang magnetic strips for knives. You can even set up metal rods to hang utensils from! Sometimes it just takes a little extra creativity to figure out what will work best. 

     

     

     

    Under the sink storage.

    If you're like most of us, the area under your kitchen sink has become a black hole filled with miscellaneous cleaning supplies. If that sounds like you, it's time to invest in some under the sink storage  to make the most of this space. You'll be shocked at how much room you have once you get everything up and organized! You might even find a lost "treasure" or two in the process. 

     

     

    Upgrade your lighting.

    You know what makes a small kitchen feel even smaller? Bad lighting. Upgrading your fixtures is a relatively simple and inexpensive project that'll not only make your space feel more open, but also give you a chance to show off your style! We're especially fond of pendant lights in a small kitchen. You can find some great ones here

     

     

     

    Pops of color.

    Last but not least, don't be afraid to add a few pops of color! Like we said earlier, having a small space doesn't mean you need to sacrifice style. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how far a well placed piece of art, a colorful dish towel or a vase of flowers will go toward adding interest. 

     

    Top Home Staging Tips That Sell Homes Faster & For More Money

     

     

    According to the National Association of Realtors, for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400! Staged homes not only bring in higher offers, but they normally sell much quicker than their non-staged counterparts. If you're thinking of listing your home, we would highly recommend at least some level of staging. Read on for our top tips to get your home prepped for sale.

     

     

     

    Keep Decor Neutral.

    Neutral doesn't have to mean boring. What we mean is avoid bold, bright colors (this includes stark white!) all throughout the home. The goal here is to appeal to the masses, and while your favorite color may be fuchsia, it won't necessarily translate well to potential buyers. That being said, we're providing tips to give you the best return on your investment, so if re-painting is out of the question, it'll just require some extra attention and thoughtful accessorizing to convince buyers that fuchsia might be their new favorite color.

     

     

     

    De-Clutter

    When buyers walk into your home, they want to be able to picture themselves, and their belongings there. Think of this step as a head-start on packing, and really minimize any extra possessions. A vase of flowers and a nice painting here and there will be great, but it's time to pack up personal pictures, diplomas, framed certificates, refrigerator art, etc. It's not that buyers wouldn't like your taste, it's that their goal is to make the space their own. It's easier to do that if personal possessions are kept to a minimum. While we're on the topic, this is also a good time to consider removing anything that could be considered divisive (think political memorabilia and the like). 

     

     

     

     

    Strike a balance.

    Yes, you're right, we just told you to minimize your personal possessions. But, what you don't want to do is go too far and remove every stitch of personality from the home. Selling a vacant home can be just as challenging as selling an overcrowded one. Remember how we said buyers are trying to picture themselves living in your home? That'll be a lot easier to do when rooms remain furnished. Surprisingly, furnished rooms actually appear bigger than empty ones! They also show less flaws and make it appear as though you're not in a huge rush to sell. Sometimes a vacant home can give that impression and therefore bring in lower offers. 

     

     

     

     

    Remodel with caution.

    Not only is remodeling generally a very pricey and time consuming process, but it can be a big gamble. Furthermore, if you need to take out a loan in order to fund your remodel, it could be harmful to your credit score and run you the risk of not recouping your investment. Even sellers with the best of intentions can't predict what buyers will be looking for in terms of decor. This is one of those situations where you'd be wise to consult with your realtor and get their opinion before taking on an extensive remodel. That being said, cosmetic fixes and repairs are always good things to get taken care of before listing your home. 

     

     

     

     

    Be Timeless.

    Interior design trends, just like fashion trends, come and go and there is a fine line between retro-funk and just plain out dated decor. When preparing your home for sale, it's best to air on the side of caution and avoid anything too trendy. A pop of color here and there (think pillows, curtains, bedding) can be very tasteful, but avoid anything that could read as out dated (shag carpeting, ruffled tapestry etc.).

     

    Did you know that we offer home staging advice? If you're considering listing your home, we will happily offer personalized guidance to steer you in the right direction! Send us an email for more information. 

    We're expecting magnificent foliage this year!

    Photo credit: Elliot Rocheleau

     

    Fall is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful times of the year in Vermont. We're known to have some of the best, and most vibrant foliage in the entire nation! With the season quickly approaching, we're anticipating an especially magnificent array this year.

     

    A mild summer with rain early on, and tapering in the later months has set the stage for near perfect foliage, according to Jim Salge of Yankee Magazine. In fact, he claims "It's the most optimistic forecast I've had in a couple of years!

    With foliage set to peak in our area at the end of September and early weeks of October, we have a lot to look forward to this year. There are lots of fun fall activities for the entire family that will allow you to really take in the color. Some of our favorites include apple picking, pumpkin picking, foliage hikes and family corn mazes.

     

    We'd love to see photos of the foliage in your area! Please send photos to our Marketing Director to be featured on our Facebook page!

     

     

     

     

    Tips to make your mudroom look like a million bucks

    What better time to revamp your mudroom than at the beginning of a new school year? We have some tips to put your entryway to work and keep your family organized. These suggestions won't break the bank and they'll be sure to help you get out the door faster every morning, and keep your home from seasonal damage.

     

    A message board, or large calendar, will help keep you and your family organized. I've found making lists not only helps with organization, but also time management and stress relief. Plus, if everyone knows what's on the schedule for the upcoming week, it'll be a lot easier to get out the door on time!

     

    Add some hooks for easy and quick organization! We'd suggest at least 4 hooks per person to keep every day essentials (keys, backpacks, totes, jackets etc.) at-the-ready when you need them.

    If space allows, building cubbies is an EXCELLENT way to maximize space and really take organization to the next level. Imagine the convenience of every family member having a designated space for the things they take to work or school every day! This may not seem life changing in the summer, but think about winter when we have to add bulky coats, hats, mittens and boots into the mix. You'll be thankful for the extra space. 

    Mud rooms and entry ways are typically on the smaller side. Adding a mirror will make your space look larger while also giving everyone one last chance to get themselves together before running out the door. 

    If space allows, we would highly suggest adding a bench or two to your mud room. Not only will it make it easier to put on and pull off boots and shoes, but it'll encourage your guests to remove footwear before entering your home.

    We can't stress this tip enough! We know by now that life in Vermont gets messy - especially in the winter and spring. Choosing flooring that will hold up to moisture is crucial. We'd suggest tile flooring which will withstand whatever you throw at it, and is easy to clean.

    The mud room is an excellent place to organize your pet's accessories as well! A couple of hooks will keep leashes and other necessities at-the-ready when walk time rolls around. This is also a nice place to keep extra pet food, toys and pet carriers. 

    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. 

    Do these things now if you want to sell your home this fall

    We're not trying to wish away the last few weeks of summer, but if you're thinking of listing your home for sale this fall, now is the time to prepare. Fall and winter may not traditionally be the busiest times for real estate sales, but they do attract the most serious buyers. With inventory decreasing, you can bet more eyes will be on your home! These tips will help make it even more attractive.

     

     

    The most important step you can take when you decide to sell your home is to find a trustworthy agent to assist you. According to the National Association of Realtors, 89% of home sellers choose to work with a realtor rather than attempting to sell their home themselves. There are many reasons home sellers seek out professional help, including a notable increase in selling price, a decreased amount of time spent on the market, and the peace of mind that comes with having a seasoned realtor on call. 

    It's important to find a realtor that you feel comfortable and secure with. A home is usually the largest financial asset our clients own, and it deserves to be treated with care and respect. A great realtor will keep in contact, explain every detail of the sales process, market your home widely to qualified buyers, and most importantly, help you get the greatest return possible on your investment. 

    If you're considering selling your home, one of our agents would be more than happy to hear your thoughts, and provide you with a report on your home's value!

     

     

    Our second tip is to start a home maintenance "to do" list and start checking things off. Take care of any obvious repairs and maintenance that you can in advance so your home is ready to be shown when it hits the market.

    Below are a few commonly forgotten items that really make a difference to prospective buyers:

    Inside:

    - touch up paint 

    - replace burned out light bulbs

    - be sure doors and windows are jam-free

    - shampoo carpets

    - replace any broken screens

    - deodorize areas exposed to pets or smoke

    - pack up any superfluous belongings to make the home show-ready

    Outside:

    - keep grass and landscaping tidy

    - rake excess leaves - especially important this time of year!

    - be sure any outdoor lights are working properly

    - clean garage/barn

    - touch up paint if necessary

    - clean gutters and windows

    - be sure walkways are clear of debris

     

     

    Fall in Vermont is one of the most beautiful times of year! As the daylight hours become fewer, it's important to add a few extra lights to your home before you list it. If you don't already have a porch light, it would be a very nice, welcoming touch - be sure to leave it on before showings, too! Inside you may want to add a few lamps here and there to brighten your space.

    If your home has a fireplace, now is the time to emphasize it! With chilly days ahead, making your home feel cozy and warm will be especially attractive to buyers.

     

     

    Curb appeal is essential for home sellers regardless of season, but it's especially important in the fall. Summer spoils us with lush greenery and beautiful flowers, and can make late fall feel dreary in comparison. Add a few potted plants or pumpkins by your front door or mailbox, remember the front porch light, and keep landscaping tidy. All of these things will help your home to stand out when it comes time to sell!

    6 Garden Tips To Transition From Summer To Fall

    Summer isn't over yet, but it's time to start thinking about the upcoming transition to fall. We've put together 6 tips to keep your garden looking beautiful into the foliage season.

     

    Before you do anything, take lots of photos of your current garden and landscaping. Take notes on which plants did well, which didn't and where you would like to see changes next year. Put together a binder, or digital photo album to look back on next year when spring rolls around. 

     

    Now the real work begins. It's time to remove any annuals that are past their prime, rake the soil and add fresh mulch where necessary. This is also a good opportunity to trim bushes, and prune perennials. 

    Fall is the time to look at your perennials and divide any that may be getting too large. This is a great opportunity to re-plant in other areas, or trade with friends to diversify your garden!

    Fall doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your flower garden! There are lots of hardy plants that will thrive this time of year. Mums and pansies add a vibrant pop of color and look wonderful planted in your garden, or in pots by your entry!

    With the change of seasons comes a change in temperature. Invest in some frost covers for planted flowers and bushes, and prepare to move potted plants indoors at night. 

     

    Last but not least, fall is the time to think ahead to your spring garden. Remember those photos you took? Re-purchase any bulbs that did especially well, because now is the time to get those in the ground for next season. If you're not sure which bulbs will do well in your garden, this site has a comprehensive list with planting tips.