What Is Your Zestimate?

Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 2.34.04 PMIf you’re a fan of Zillow.com then you are familiar with the “Zestimate” value of your house. Of course, it is an “estimate of value” but because it is generated by Zillow they have added the “Z” to make it proprietary. Recently a buyer asked why a Zestimate was so much lower than the asking price for a house. Good question. Let’s discuss.

Have you checked your house on Zillow lately? If you have, then you may be wondering how Zillow came up with that value. As a real estate agent and as a member of the National Assocation of Realtors, Vermont Association of Realtors, and the Northwestern Vermont Board of Realtors,  I have access to many estimating programs that use data differently than Zillow. In addition, I have access to hyper-local real estate information that is reported monthly.

If you are looking for a true “range of value” for your house, then I need to visit. There are many factors involved in pricing a property and the online resources give us a guide, but do not use data points that are crucial in our local area.

Back to the original question, “Why is the Zestimate so much lower than the asking price of the house?” The answer is, “Because Zillow has never been to the house, has never seen the house, and, relies on data that may or may not be accurate.”

For more information on your house, and, to see if your value has truly increased or decreased, get in touch with us.

3 Things That Happen in the Real Estate Market After Labor Day

four colourful houses

Photo by Jeffrey Czum on Pexels.com

Labor Day Weekend heralds the end of summer fun and vacations for most people. It’s back to school, back to business, and goodbye to the hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer. What does this mean for our local real estate market? There are 3 things that happen as the weather cools in our region:

Buyers jump back into the market, making looking for a home a priority. With the kids back in school, parents are able to look during the day without having to juggle swim lessons and camp pick-ups. While some families may want to wait until the end of the school year to make a move, many families are ready to transition during this season. Buyers who have been on “hold” due to vacations and trips to the beach are now committed to looking full-time.

Sellers concentrate on repairs, painting, and landscaping. Taking advantage of cooler temperatures and after-work daylight hours, sellers begin to focus on sprucing up their landscaping and the exterior of their homes.

Homes are priced realistically. Sellers who have their houses on the market in the fall are “ready to go” before the snow flies. Buyers, too, want to be settled in time for the December holidays.

For all of these reasons the “Fall market” continues to be one of our favorite times to help buyers and sellers. Many real estate agents tell you that “anytime” is a good time to buy or sell, but, is it? When it’s time for you to jump into the market be sure to contact us for an overview of the current market conditions.

“What? A Radon Test? I Have To Keep My Windows Closed? It’s August!”

apartment bed bedroom comfort

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Everyone looks for ways to cool off from the “dog days” of summer that settle upon Vermont in August. Whether it’s a trip to the Waterbury reservoir, a dip in a quarry, or a leisurely canoe ride down the Mad River, everyone has their own way to beat the heat. And, New Englanders know that it “cools off at night” so many of us forego air conditioning in the evening and throw open the sashes to enjoy summer evening breezes and fresh air.

If you’re selling your house this summer the heat and humidity pose another challenge – a radon test. When the buyer orders a home inspection as part of the contract they may add a radon test. The inspector instructs you to close up your house 24 hours prior to the radon inspection. Inevitably this will happen during a heat wave or during the hottest, most humid days of summer, called “dog days” as ancient Romans associated the steamy temperatures with the dog star, Sirius.

If you’re not ready to pack up and go camping prior to your radon inspection the here are some tips:

Get your Radon tested in January. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chose January as it’s Radon Awareness Month for a reason, having your house closed up in January usually is not a problem.

Contact the Vermont Department of Health to request a free kitTesting Your Home for Radon. The use of a long-term radon in air test kit is best because radon levels can change daily, weekly, and seasonally. We recommend that you test your home for 3 to 12 months (ideally including a heating season). Longer test periods ensure the most accurate measure of actual exposure. Free long-term radon in air test kits are available to Vermont residents. You can request one from the Radon Program by calling 800-439-8550 (toll-free in Vermont) or emailing radon@vermont.gov.

On the Weaver Team we are committed to help you prepare your home for sale and to help you throughout the process. Contact us for more tips and information, we are happy to help!

Are You Looking For a Unicorn? Download Our KW APP to Find Your Dream House!

IMG_6240Frustrated with your home search? Can’t find what you are looking for? Maybe your dream house doesn’t exist, can’t be built, or will never “pop up” on your Zillow alerts. Depressing, right? How did this happen? Why can’t you find the perfect house?

First, it’s not your fault. Perhaps you met with an enthusiastic real estate agent who promised you that, yes, indeed, your dream house is right around the corner and will hit the market soon. Or, you binge watched HGTV and want to find something similar to a house that Joanna Gaines renovated on Fixer Upper. In either case, you can’t find your dream house. Let’s regroup.

Does your perfect house exist? It’s easy to figure this out. Houses are everywhere. Get in your car, drive around and find your ideal house in your preferred location. Open your KW APP ( Download Here ) and see if there is anything available for sale in the area. If you see something in the area, then send it to me and I will let you know if I can make your dream house a reality!

Refresh Your Nest: The Forgotten “Spring Cleaning” Items

adeolu-eletu-101178-unsplashThe days are longer, the sun shines brighter, and, oh, those windows have a dirty film on them! Everyone sweeps floors, dusts baseboards, and neatens up at this time of year, but, how many of us remember to maintain and clean windows, screens, duct work, light fixtures, chandeliers, and bathroom fans?

Sometimes it’s the things you don’t “see” every day that really need to be cleaned. Instead of the usual “spring cleaning” blog this month we are taking a venture into the forgotten areas of the home. Check out these 3 neglected areas of your home:

Let the sunshine in! Windows and screens – What better time to throw open the curtains, open the windows, and let the fresh air in! You may want to hire a window cleaning company for the exteriors. Give your screens a quick sudsy bath before installing, rinse them twice!

What lies beneath? Duct work – Do you have a forced air heating and cooling system? Who gets their duct work cleaned? Duct cleaning professionals suggest getting the duct work cleaned every five years.

Look up! Light fixtures, chandeliers, ceiling fans – Start your cleaning from the top to the bottom. Choose from the many cleaning dusters that are available, there are even special cobweb dusters. While you are sweeping away the dust from the ceiling don’t forget to check on the bathroom ceiling fans.

If you need more information on spring cleaning or want our list of “tips and tricks” get in touch. If you are looking for a professional to help with any household issues we have many recommendations. We are always available to help you “refresh your nest.”

Sunday Open Houses or Private Showings?

OpenHouse

p: Enid Buzz

If you are selling, do you really want the public tromping through your house on a Sunday afternoon? If you are buying, do you really want to leave your shoes in a pile at the front door and hope no one slips into your shoes by accident on the way out? Some of the Weaver Team buyers frequent Open Houses with our approval as they are “scoping out” the area, so, they are helpful in that circumstance. Most of the time, though, beware of the pitfalls of this Sunday afternoon activity.

Based on my recent experience visiting a Sunday Open House, I now encourage buyers to call me for private showings. Bumping into other people in the hallway and stepping around toddlers in a basement rec room detracts from the overall house-viewing experience.

First, let’s look at it from the buyer perspective. Serious buyers typically sign Buyer Agent contracts with real estate agents. While most buyers say, “I will know it’s the right house when I see it,” that is just the beginning. In fact, the decision to buy property hinges on many factors including location, price, and condition. Material facts and information concerning major systems and components of the property weigh heavily in the completion of a purchase. Questions like, “Has the house been tested for radon gas?” and “What are the options for Internet?” simply cannot be answered thoroughly at an Open House.

Next, let’s look at it from the seller perspective. If you think that Facebook or Google is invading your privacy, that’s nothing compared to having the public crawling through your house unsupervised. Do you want strangers viewing your house and pawing through your linen closet and medicine cabinet? The contents of your medicine cabinets, closets, drawers, refrigerator, etc. are now exposed to random strangers. Alcohol, medication, jewelry, and small electronics provide temptation to some people, even if they look like honest, upstanding citizens.

In our opinion the “awe, c’mon in and look around” days of real estate are over. Buyers deserve more than a quick run through on a Sunday afternoon and sellers deserve more than random people pawing through their personal belongings. Reach out if you want to start the process of buying a home. We are happy to schedule private showings.

The Cold Truth About House Hunting in the Winter – 4 Challenges

winter driveway“Do people buy houses in the winter?” is a question that I often hear since winters in Vermont bring snow, sleet, ice and wind. Well, yes, people buy houses, however there are at least 4 challenges in the winter months:

Challenge #1: Vacant Houses – Get ready to trudge through knee-high snow in an unplowed driveway. I will never forget the buyer that drove to Vermont one year in a snowstorm because he had to buy a house that weekend. By the time he arrived the snow had stopped, but we ended up forging our own trails to the front doors. Even if a seller has arranged for a plow service to maintain the driveway and walkway after a snowstorm, the plow person may not see the vacant house as a priority.

Challenge #2: Chilly Houses – Forget about taking off your coats when you are looking at houses in the winter. With the high cost of fuel to heat houses most people turn down their thermostats when they leave for the day and turn them back up when they get home.

Challenge #3: Wet, Snowy Boots and Shoes – Unfortunately you will have to remove your wet footwear to avoid tracking snow and salt into the houses. Try to wear a pair that is easy on/easy off. Your feet will most likely suffer a bit (see #2, above) so we recommend a pair of Vermont Darn Tough wool socks to get you through these houses comfortably. Feel free to bring your own footwear in a separate bag if you are uncomfortable in stockinged feet.

Challenge #4: Icy Driveways and Walkways – This is a true hazard and best to be avoided. Inquire if driveways are icy. If you must go out, make sure you have proper footwear. One of my clients wore “Yax Trax” on her shoes and took them off when she got into the house. They are a removable “gripper” type contraption for your footwear.

So, yes, you can venture out. Just be ready for a few chills and hopefully no spills! If you are ready to face the elements, we are here to help you find your house, no matter what the weather brings.

Why You Won’t Find Your Dream Home on the Internet

aerial-agriculture-architecture-388830The home you are looking for may never show up on a public website like Realtor.com, Zillow.com, or your favorite real estate site. Over the last several years the public has increasingly become annoyed with searching for houses online. To really “find” your dream home you may need to “phone a friend.”

When I meet with buyers for the first time it is usually because they are tired of searching online. Tired of hearing a “ping” on their phone notifying them that a new house was just listed. Weary, because none of the houses seem to be just right for their needs. “Where are the good houses?” they ask me. By good houses they mean the floor plan, location, and condition that they “know” is out there, somewhere. Isn’t it?

Well, yes, their dream home exists. It is just never available, at least that’s what they are learning after contacting multiple agents online. For example, a house may appear to be available and for sale when, in fact, it may be under contract and not available. In other cases, consumers believe they are contacting the listing agent, when, in fact, their request for more information is sent to several different agents, none of whom represent the seller. The public is confused. Who are they calling? Who is showing me the house? Do I need Buyer representation? How does this work?

What is the answer to this morass? First, to untangle the “mess” of having several agents call and email for days, weeks, and months, it’s best not to click on any links that say “Ask a Question.” Instead, use the “phone a friend” approach. Call one of your friends, ask who they have worked with as a trusted real estate professional. Better yet, if you have a real estate agent as a friend, give that professional a call. Let your real estate contact know your house “wishes.”

Many times, because real estate agents are consistently meeting with buyers and sellers, we have inside information on houses that may be for sale soon. So, reach out, phone a friend, and log off the internet. Your dream house is right around the corner.

Why We Love Real Estate: 3 Things We Learned From Our Clients This Year

blogging-business-coffee-34601On the Weaver Team, we love to write our own blogs on real estate topics. While we often impart our real estate opinions, knowledge, and advice, we decided that this month our blog is all about you. These are the three things we learned this year from our dear Real Estate Clients:

Transitions in life are difficult, but there is a silver lining. We empathize with the struggles of selling a home and moving. We have moved several times ourselves and we understand the hassles and inconveniences involved. Because most of our clients are, or end up being our friends, we often hear, “It was a stressful process but now we are so happy that we made the move.” Nothing warms our hearts more than knowing that our clients are happily resettled in a new home.

Little things matter. Small details make all the difference in the real estate experience of a buyer or seller client. We know how to overcome most of the obstacles in a transaction with our advice that we have gained over many, many, real estate sales. Our clients appreciate our attention to the little things and have told us, “We never would have thought of that!” This makes us smile.

There are always options. Often, buyer and sellers are overwhelmed with the many aspects of today’s real estate transaction. Sometimes obstacles seem unsurmountable. Our knowledge and experience bring clarity to the situation. If you have options then you have an opportunity to move yourself forward in your real estate goals. Our clients appreciate our detailed assessments of their real estate dilemmas. We love hearing, “You took the time to explain everything in such detail it helped us decide which option was best.”

Every year we reflect on the three things that we learned from our real estate clients. We look forward to learning more next year and we will share it in our end of the year blog. Until then, we thank our clients for reminding us that there is a sliver lining, little things matter, and there are always options.

3 Reasons Why Daylight Showings Are Best

205 Fiddlehead Ln SPRINGWelcome to Daylight Savings 2018 where we “fall back” an hour on November 4 and await March 11, 2019 when we adjust our clocks again to “spring forward.” Until the Winter Solstice, December 21st losing a minute or so of daylight every day. By the end of November, the sun will set around 4:15pm in Vermont.

At this time of year real estate agents receive requests from buyer clients to see homes in the evening hours, usually after work. And yes, while we all know that real estate agents are “on call” for night and weekend showings there is an exception to these circumstances during the winter months.

There are 3 reasons why you should see property in the daylight:

DSCN5098Location, Neighbors and Views – You will want to be able to see the boundaries, tree lines, fences, etc. when you visit the house. In the dark you won’t be able to discern any of this. Also, you will want to see check out the view from all of the windows. Just “driving by” doesn’t give you a good sense of what you will see when you look out the windows onto the side yard or back yard. One buyer drove by a house, fell in love, then when finally able to get inside the house and look out the back window she realized that she was staring at a neighborhood playground that wasn’t visible from the street.

Condition of the Exterior and the Roof – Sure, you can shine a flashlight on the exterior, but who wants to circle the house in the dark hoping to see peeling paint on a fascia board? It’s even more difficult to see the condition of the roof.

DSCN4994Natural Light – Yes, you have a compass app but it is still no substitute for being inside the house to experience natural sunlight. How dark is the house, really, during the day? Is there enough natural light? You will only know if you view the property in the daytime hours.

You just can’t “see” in the dark, whether it be views, neighbor’s houses, boundaries, or the condition of the exterior. Carve out some “daylight” time to visit houses with your real estate agent. You will save yourself the frustration of guessing what the house offers in the daylight.