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!

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Sunday Open Houses or Private Showings?

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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.

3 Reasons Why Your Listing Agent Isn’t Showing Your House

realtor_showing_house_451242040Every once in a while a seller client will ask, “Why aren’t you ever showing my house?” It’s a very good question. Shouldn’t the seller’s real estate agent, the one who listed the house, the one whose sign is in the front lawn, be the agent that shows the house the most? Just a common sense, right? Actually there are 3 reasons why your listing agent isn’t the one showing your house.

1. Buyers are represented by Buyer’s Agents who represent the buyer, not the seller in the transaction.

2. Your listing agent may get inquiries on your property, but when the buyer finds out that the listing agent can’t represent them in the transaction they seek out a Buyer’s Agent.

3. The listing agent’s marketing is reaching buyers who are just entering the market and will eventually sign up with a Buyer’s Agent.

Over the last few decades Buyer’s Agents have been able to represent buyers in many markets. Years ago, all agents where agents of the Seller. No agents were looking out for the buyers.

Realtor Showing Hispanic Couple Around New HomeAs state regulations on the real estate industry evolved it became part of real estate law to recognize that buyers may need protection in the real estate industry. In today’s real estate world most of the activity occurs on the internet. Real estate agents “buy” leads. When a prospective buyer finds your house on a website the inquiry to show the house goes to an agent “other” than your listing agent. As listing agents, we make sure that we promote our listings to all real estate agents, our friends, past and current clients.

When there is a request for a showing we make sure that the “showing agent or buyer’s agent” knows all of the features and amenities of your property to show it in its best light.

5 Reasons Why Keller Williams Vermont is our Happy Place

KW Office ExteriorWe are obsessed with lists. The top five places to camp in Vermont. The best ice cream in the area. Budget-friendly design secrets from the pros. So, when Keller Williams Realty was named in the Forbes magazine list of “The Ten Happiest Companies to Work for in 2018,” we were intrigued.

After all, that is where the Weaver Team hangs a Vermont real estate license. So, in the true spirit of lists we have compiled the top five reasons why, indeed, Keller Williams Vermont is one of the “Happiest Companies” in Vermont.

Welcoming atmosphere. From the day we walked into Keller Williams in September, 2014, the atmosphere has always been upbeat, friendly and professional. From the lobby to the conference rooms you will see people smiling, greeting one another warmly.

Educational classes and seminars. Every day there is a class or seminar in the training room that adds to the real estate knowledge that we have accrued over the years. National and local experts keep us up to date on financing options, inspection items and economic and housing trends.

Training roomModern offices, lunch room, meeting spaces and conference rooms. You need to visit our South Burlington office to understand. Let’s just say we have views of the Mount Mansfield Green Mountain range and a lunch room with two refrigerators. Oh, and if you come in when it is dark the lights automatically turn on as you enter the building.

Access to Industry Leaders. On-site mortgage lenders, attorneys and our leadership team provide face-to-face interaction on a daily basis for questions and provide solutions to challenging situations.

Culture. This is the sum of all of the above. Why we are here. If you don’t believe us, call us for a seller or buyer consultation and meet us in the office. Would love to show you our Happy Place.

Home Inspections – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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p: lasvegasrealproperty.com

If you are buying or selling a house in Chittenden County, Vermont then heed this warning, “The house may not pass a building inspection.” What do you mean, “pass an inspection?” Are inspections now pass or fail? The short answer is “yes.”

Your Purchase and Sale Contract may include an Inspection addendum, with the caveat “Inspection report shall be to Purchaser’s satisfaction.” Satisfaction? Like a Yelp review on a restaurant? Does satisfaction mean a 5-star review? Or just, yeah, okay, satisfactory, like a 3-star review. Or satisfaction like the Rolling Stones, “Can’t get no satisfaction?”

And finally, is it a case of, there are no bad inspections, just buyers with high expectations? Let’s explore.

Let’s dive into the good, a 5-star inspection. Congratulations, the house you are buying has no significant structural, mechanical, electrical or plumbing defects. You may move along toward closing, this contingency is satisfied and the purchase price on the original contract remains intact. Or, maybe the house needs some GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and a mixing valve on the hot water tank. Oh, and the smoke detectors are over 10 years old and now need to be photoelectric. As the seller you will have to sign a document that states the smoke/fire/co2 detectors meet the current electric code. Most sellers will concede to some electrical updating along with the smoke/fire/co2 detectors.

What-Is-Section-8-Inspection-FAQs-PictureGarden-The-Image-Bank-Getty-Images-575c30f13df78c98dc23ed5e

p: thebalancesmb.com

Let’s look at a bad inspection, one that produces a laundry list of items that includes every historical leak (darn it, we knew we should have repainted the ceiling after the tub overflowed 5 years ago), creak, nail pop and flaw in the house, interior and exterior. The exterior suffers from peeling paint on the trim, curling asphalt shingles on the roof, gutters that are full of leaves and a driveway with potholes.

Now, let’s look at a plain old ugly inspection. This one has an active leak, usually a sewer pipe in the basement (don’t step in the puddle), mold (dead or alive?) in a poorly ventilated attic, and, everyone’s favorite, an old oil tank in the basement or an old furnace.

The issues that arise at inspection range from good, bad to ugly. That is why you want to hire an experienced real estate agent to walk you through the different scenarios. As a buyer, your agent can tell you which items you should ask the seller to take care of, if you should ask for money back, or if you should back out of the deal all together. As a seller, your agent will be able to advise you on which items are typically taken care of and what you can say no to.

Are you Looking for a House or a Home?

DSCN4282Are you looking for a house or a home? This question seems redundant. Is there a distinct difference between a house and a home? Houses exist everywhere, they are easy to find. Finding a home is more elusive.

Looking out my kitchen window I can see two houses across the street. Opening my KW app (download the app here) on my phone it’s easy scroll “nearby houses” with photos and prices of houses in Williston. Jumping in my truck and driving to Shaw’s at Maple Tree Place I pass village houses, neighborhood houses and a condominium community all within my four-mile drive. These are all physical places where people live.

A house is a building where people live. Location, size, bedrooms, bathrooms typically define a house. For example, a friend may call and ask me to look for a 4-bedroom house within walking distance of UVM Medical Center. Moving involves changing your physical location from one house to another. Often, when showing a house I am asked, “Why are they selling?” In all cases, it’s simply because they are moving.

DSCN4717When it’s time to change your physical location, or move to a new house, many real estate agents will engage you in a “Buyer Consultation.” Notes from this meeting include your wants, needs, and wishes for your new house. Most of the time, this involves the components or features of a house. For example, small yard, space for a garden, privacy, flat driveway, ½ bath on first level, walk-out basement, two-car garage, pool, etc. Most important, though, is your preferred location. Discussions about location involve a particular lifestyle that will, eventually, lead to finding a home. Another conversation follows involving personal questions. These are lifestyle questions, which, may sound intrusive or prying, but this is what I need to know to help you find a home. To assist in this quest for a change in location, there is a need to assess your lifestyle. Hence, the need to tell me about yourself. From parrots to parties, please “tell all.” No need to feel self-conscious as I am not judging you, just trying to help you find a home. Include your preferred forms of recreation, shopping, eating, traveling, exercising, etc.

Finding a home is more elusive than finding a house. The word “home” elicits an emotional connection to a physical place where one reads, cooks, relaxes. Your home does not need to fit the physical definition of a house. It can be an apartment, a boat, a trailer, a cabin, a room over a garage, or a yurt.

600x600bb-85If you’re still skeptical, watch one of my favorite HGTV shows, Love It or List It. A simple premise of “should we stay or should we go?” The “Love It” portion involves designer Hilary. “List It” features David a real estate agent. While it may seem counterintuitive for me to cheer for the “Love It” part of the show, let me explain. David finds them a physical house that seems to meet their expressed need to move. Yet, the physical house that he finds does not meet their lifestyle needs. Either the commute is too long, the schools have changed, they are no longer near their favorite gym, restaurant, juice bar. In the end, the talented Hilary has revamped their living space to make it truly a “love it” and the place that they call “home.” In conclusion, the perfect house may not be the perfect home.