5 Upgrades That Buyers Love

HGTV Smart Home 2022 in Wilmington, NC

HGTV Smart Home 2022 in Wilmington, NC

If you follow our blogs you know that Carolyn works with buyers and sellers in the Northwestern Vermont market. Buyers are “wowed” by certain features that may surprise you.

Here are our top 5 upgrades that buyers love:

  1. Trex or other types of composite decking – Previously this type of decking was a luxury item but now, due to the rising costs of pressure treated lumber, many houses are opting for composite decking. No more staining!
  2. Gas fireplace inserts – Nothing beats the smell of wood burning in a fireplace on a crisp Vermont evening, but the wood, ash, and family allergies sometimes puts a damper on this scene. Today’s updated inserts and realistic flames impress most buyers. No more chopping wood!
  3. Freshly sealed driveways – Vermont driveways take a beating. Snow, salt, sun, and the inevitable fading and cracking. A freshly sealed driveway upgrades your curb appeal instantly.
  4. Smart thermostats – Buyers love this energy efficient feature that you can control from anywhere with your phone, and helps reduce heating and cooling costs.
  5. Solar panels – Buyers get excited when they see solar panels for an alternative energy source. More people are driving electric vehicles in Vermont and they want to add charging stations to the system.

If you’ve been thinking about selling and want more information on any of these “wow” factor features, reach out! We will help you with everything – from the beginning to closing the deal.

6 Spring Cleaning Projects to Tackle for a Sparkling Home

pexels-jos-van-ouwerkerk-1075960Spring is just around the corner (March 20th to be exact), which means warmer temps, green grass, beautiful blooms and everyone’s favorite – Spring cleaning!

Here are 6 of our top Spring cleaning projects to get you started:

Complete a Thorough Dusting – You may swipe your Swiffer duster through the surfaces of your home on weekly basis, but we’re talking about getting down and dirty here. Remove all of the items from shelves and tabletops and give the surface a good wipe down with a multi-surface cleaner or furniture spray. Now is also the time to tackle ceiling fans and the top of cabinets.

Wash Walls, Cabinets, and Baseboards – Vertical surfaces may not look dirty, but enough dirt and dust cling to these surfaces to justify a seasonal cleaning. Use a clean sponge and water mixed with a few drops of dishwashing liquid to wipe down walls, cabinets, and baseboards.

Wash Windows – Step it up a notch from your normal Windex and paper towel routine and really take a minute to get your windows to sparkle. Vacuum the inside panes, sills, and window frame. Choose a cloudy day to clean your windows to prevent streaks – heat from the sun will dry the glass too quickly. Create a window wash solution by combining 1/2 cup sudsy ammonia (which is a specific type of ammonia), 1 pint of rubbing alcohol, 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, and 1 gallon of water.

Refresh Window Treatments – Just like your walls, they may not look dirty, but dust clings to everything! Take down and throw washable fabrics in the washer and air dry. Intricate curtains and draperies can be cleaned using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum, or you can take them to be dry cleaned. To remove dust from sheers, toss them in the dryer on low with a fabric softener sheet.

Clean Carpets – Rent a carpet cleaner and start with a hidden spot of carpet to make sure the treatment will not cause discoloration. To save yourself some time, move furniture slightly rather than clearing out a room. Place wax paper squares under the feet of furniture to protect the carpet and keep the furniture from getting wet as the carpet dries. Open windows to speed up the drying process. Don’t feel like all the work? Hire a professional to take care of the carpets for you.

Freshen Your Space – Not so much a cleaning project, but a quick and easy makeover for any room is changing up or adding textiles! Put a brightly colored table linen on your dining room table, spruce up your living room with fun throw pillows or a patterned rug, swap out your bedding, or switch out the towels in your bathroom – any of these will revive your home for Spring.

If you need a list to stay focused, or if you love the satisfaction of checking off a task when completed, we found a very thorough downloadable Spring cleaning checklist from Better Homes & Gardens.

Have You Seen The Muffin Pan? 5 Tips For Reorganizing Your Kitchen

kitchen cabinet storageTrue story – Carolyn spent most of this month looking for a muffin pan that she knew was somewhere in the kitchen. But where? The muffin pan odyssey led to a complete “redo” of her entire kitchen cabinets, drawers, and the troublesome lazy susan corner cabinet. This journey led to our 5 tips for reorganizing your kitchen:

  1. Take an inventory of the items in your kitchen and give away your “multiples.” Everyone love a good frying pan. How do you love 7 frying pans stacked on top of each other? Pick your favorites and find another home for the rest. We are giving the extras to a friend who just bought a second home and needs to stock a kitchen.
  1. Group all “like items” together. This advice would have saved hours of time searching for the muffin pan. All baking pans in one drawer. Period. Same advice for mixing bowls. This step, combined with the “inventory of items” led to another donation of two sets of bowls.
  1. Use containers in your drawers. I have to admit, this was not my idea. When a good friend, and, as I discovered a member of a professional organizing group visited my house I took her on a tour of kitchen. When I opened the drawer for pot holders, aprons, and kitchen towels they had already jumbled themselves together. While the grouping of “like items” together was successful the drawer was still messy. She suggested that I put the tea towels, aprons, and pot holders in their own separate plastic cubes/containers in the drawer to keep them divided. Brilliant! Thank you!
  1. Rethink your routines. Pet confession – our dog’s food, treats, medication, and pet bowls took up the entire base of our lazy susan corner cabinet. Every day we would spin the wheel to feed our furry friend. After the purging of the frying pans we had an entire drawer that was empty. To our amazement all of the dog items fit nicely into the empty drawer. Bonus space reclaimed in the lazy susan.
  1. Toss all spices that you never use. I’ll admit this isn’t easy. As soon as I toss the Old Bay Seasoning I will need it for a recipe, right? If your spices are overflowing you have to make some tough choices. If you haven’t cooked with that spice in a few years then it’s safe to say it’s not a keeper. We said goodbye to curry paste, mustard seeds, very old bay leaves, and whole peppercorns (we don’t have a grinder).

Where was the muffin pan anyway? In the midst of the entire kitchen redo we really can’t remember where it turned up. Now it has a home in the baking pan drawer. Blueberry muffins anyone?

Nightmare on Elm Street: True Real Estate Stories

nathan-wright-igpwuxZofgo-unsplashCozy up next to a fire and enjoy these strange tales from our real estate travels.

The Hot and Winding Road

It was a hot August day and Jennie was taking photos in a vacant house in the middle of nowhere. She stepped out and the door locked behind her. Unable to access her car keys or phone (left inside) she made the two mile trek to the closest general store to request a rescue. To this day we are not sure who or what caused the door to lock.

The Tale of Two Cats

The sellers should remove all personal property from the house prior to the new owners moving in, but does that include the family’s felines? A fellow Realtor phoned me with the news, “The seller will pick up her two cats later, they are in the yard.” Would they be retrieved or would they wander the neighborhood forever looking for a new home? Rest assured the felines are not haunting their former abode, their owner did return for her pets.

The Reluctant Mover

Sometimes people just don’t want to move. The day before the sale of Mr. Smith’s house I stopped by to see how his packing and moving was coming along. He greeted me with a big smile and told me he had several friends helping him load items into a truck. A cursory glance around the house led me to believe he had not yet begun to pack. Moving boxes were unassembled and the house was chock full of items to be boxed and loaded out. I stopped by the next morning and there he was in the same clothes as the evening before, rumpled and tired and seemingly unaware that he had to move. It looked like he had been up all night playing a poker game rather than packing. Would Mr. Smith pack his belongings and vacate? A few hours before the new buyers would take possession there was no truck. After calling in many favors we finally succeeded in sending Mr. Smith on to his next location. Maybe he wasn’t planning on leaving after all.

We hope you enjoyed our true real estate tales. Some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

FAQ: Food Scraps, Compost, and Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law

pexels-eva-elijas-5503338We’re sure that Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law has brought up a lot of questions on composting. For some clarification, we read up on the subject on VSECU’s blog where Anne Bijur from the Waste Management and Prevention Division of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources shares information on composting. We asked Anne if we could share her most frequently asked questions and answers – read on for everything you need to know about composting in Vermont.

MECHANICS OF COMPOSTING & WHAT TO DO WITH MEAT & BONES

What types of leftovers can I compost? If you are composting at home, you can include any type of leftover that does not contain meat, fish, or fats or oils. The smell from these foods might attract animals. The law allows you to put these types of leftovers in the trash. If you bring your food scraps to a drop off site or transfer station, you can include all types of leftovers, even with meat or fish.

You said that meat scraps, chicken skin and bones are still okay to put in your trash—that is the first I’d heard of that. Is that specified in the legislation/law? Yes, the law allows residents who compost at home to put meat and bones in the trash.

We have been composting for years. The only items we don’t add to our compost pile are meat scraps/bones as we believe they will attract wildlife. Do we need to bring those wastes to our recycling station for composting? Since you compost at home, the law allows you to put these items in the trash or bring to your local transfer station or recycling drop-off.

I think the public needs very clear directions on what can be recycled and how, what foods can be composted, and how to maximize the effort to compost. How about some posters that give clear instructions? I realize that I have been doing some things incorrectly, so I’d like to know how and why. The Vermonters Guide to Recycling is a poster that outlines what can and cannot be recycled in Vermont. It can be accessed at VTrecycles.com.

We have this graphic of what constitutes food scraps and can be composted, but you should always check with your local composter to see what they accept as their specific guidelines may differ. To find compost guidelines for your area, ask your hauler or go to 802recycles.com to find your local waste management or disposal entity for more information.

What is meant by “a thick layer of browns?” Browns consist of dried leaves or grass, wood chips, sawdust, or shredded paper or cardboard. They are the carbon sources in your compost pile and are necessary for the microorganisms to survive and make compost from food scraps (also referred to as “the greens”).

Can you tell me what I can do with expired canned goods? Eat them! Most of the time these foods are still good to eat. Expiration dates are not federally regulated, apart from infant formula, and are simply the manufacturer’s suggestion for when the food is at peak quality. Open the canister and look at the food in question; smell it. If it looks and smells okay, give it a taste. If it tastes good, then eat it! You’ll save money by not throwing uneaten food away. Another strategy for avoiding this situation is to periodically look through your cupboard and fridge and move any foods that are close to expiration dates front and center. Then create a meal plan to use them up.

How can I combat fruit flies? The best way is to frequently empty your food scrap container so they aren’t attracted to your kitchen. If fruit flies are still able to find you, put some red wine or apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and add a few drops of liquid soap. The flies are attracted to the smell and will get trapped in the liquid. There are also other non-toxic home remedies you can search online.

Where do you keep scraps till you get to the dump? Here’s a great answer from a VSECU member: “Our family collects food scraps in large Ziplock bag(s) and stores them in our freezer to minimize smell. On Saturdays, we drop it off for free at our local transfer station.” You can also store food scraps in a five-gallon bucket with a lid in a garage, basement or shed until you can get to a drop off site.

DISCOURAGING ANIMALS FROM YOUR COMPOST PILE

I have been composting for years. Any tips for keeping animals away? (Small and large) To deter rodents, try installing half-inch hardware cloth (galvanized wire mesh) under and around your compost bin. You’ll have to move your bin in order to do this so best to do late fall when emptying out your compost bin before the winter. See designs for use with the Soil Saver in DEC’s Compost with Confidence guide. If you live in bear country, the first thing to do is take down bird feeders. Bears have a very acute sense of smell (just think about the size of their noses) and will travel miles to track down a food source. Next, make sure you are adding enough “browns” or carbon sources. Browns include dried leaves or grass, wood chips, sawdust, or shredded paper or cardboard. Every time you add food scraps to your pile, you should add a thick layer, a few inches deep, of browns. Each week, or more or less frequently depending on how many food scraps you generate, you need to turn your pile. This will speed up the composting process and reduce odors which is what attracts animals.

ACCESSIBILITY AND COST

I can’t afford to compost and have no idea how to do it. Composting at home can be inexpensive. To collect food scraps, you can use a recycled yogurt container or a simple large bowl. For a larger container, many stores or restaurants will give away their used five-gallon buckets. You can make your own compost bin out of wooden pallets, chicken wire, or an old trash barrel poked with holes or dig a hole in your yard and bury food scraps (this is referred to as pit or trench composting). There is more information on how to compost inexpensively in our guide, The Dirt on Compost. In addition, many Solid Waste Districts around Vermont offer free workshops on how to compost. You can find your local waste experts at 802recycles.com.

Composting food scraps is a great idea for restaurants, hospitals, schools, state legislatures and the like. However, it’s ridiculously impossible for many individuals, especially the elderly. How many families have time for this? Not all of us are retired, and if we are, for how many years can we keep this up? Composting does not have to take a lot of time. You already sort trash and recyclables so you will need one more receptacle to collect food scraps. If you don’t want to compost at home, there are many haulers who will pick up your food scraps. Here is a statewide list.

If you have mobility issues and need help transporting or carrying your waste, including food scraps, try contacting a neighbor or find someone on Front Porch Forum. Your local solid waste entity might also be able to help or have ideas relevant to your community. Find them at 802recycles.com.

WHERE DO THE FOOD SCRAPS GO AND IS ANYONE ELSE DOING THIS?

What happens to food waste that is either taken to transfer stations or picked up by haulers? Where does it go? Most food scraps are taken to one of more than 17 different certified compost facilities or farms in Vermont. Different haulers and transfer stations bring their food scraps to different locations, depending on the facilities in their part of the state. Contact your hauler or transfer station directly to find out where they bring your materials. You can view the list of compost facilities here.

Are other States doing the composting? Yes, there are other states with food scrap landfill bans but most of them ban the disposal of food scraps from large food scrap generators of 1-2 tons or more a week, like hospitals and grocery stores. These other states with landfill bans include Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, California, New York, Maryland, and New Jersey. Several cities have landfill bans including New York and Portland, Oregon.

Please speak to putting food scraps into a garbage disposal that feeds a private septic tank. We don’t advise people to put food scraps down the drain, even when the scraps are blended, as they can clog up the pipes because of the fats and oils. Most septic systems aren’t designed to handle the extra load which leads to more frequent pumping. Public sewer systems usually don’t want food scraps either. This handout explains it further.

COMPLIANCE

Is this law enforceable? Yes, however the staff of Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation does not go through individuals trash looking for food scraps but focuses on education and outreach to help Vermonters comply with the food scrap ban. We do conduct sporadic “Spot Checks” at waste facilities to make sure haulers are complying with solid waste laws. Once we can visit facilities, we also do outreach at schools and businesses to help with waste sorts, distribute handouts, and provide technical assistance.

METHANE GENERATED ELECTRICITY AT LANDFILLS

I am a member of an electric utility that makes electric power from methane generated by food scraps. How will the utility continue to generate this power if the methane is no longer created at the landfill due to the government ban on food waste? The short answer is that even with the complete landfill ban in place, there will still be other organic materials like painted wood and sewer sludge that end up in the landfill producing methane gas and older waste that will continue to produce some methane.

We try to ensure that materials are used at their highest and best value, which is why food scraps are better composted than landfilled. When food scraps are landfilled, once they give off methane (and contribute to leachate that also has to be managed), their value is gone. When food scraps are composted, their value is put back into the soil to grow food which is hopefully then composted and the value becomes part of a continuous cycle. This handout provides more information.

WHAT ABOUT INDOOR WORM COMPOSTING?

Here’s an answer from a VSECU member: “At our location we cannot safely compost outdoors because of bears! Now, we compost almost all of our food scraps with a worm composting system, indoors, no odors and no bears, and wonderful worm castings for a fertile garden. There is lots of information available in books and online (YouTube videos). The worms are pretty tolerant; you don’t have to have a fancy system.”

 

This article was used with permission from the author. See the original post here.

Take It Outside: 3 Tips To Stage Your Backyard, Porch, or Deck

deck-decorating-63Summer is officially here and it’s time to get your exterior living spaces “show ready.” Even if you’re not selling your house it’s fun to add some quick and easy items to your outdoor spaces.

From decks to patios to porches, here are our top 3 tips:

Patio pots filled with annuals – Colorful patio pots are trending right now. The bigger the better! Instant color and décor for your pool area, deck, or front porch.  If you’re local, pick one up at Red Barn Gardens, RedBarnGardensVT.com.

Summer wreath for your front door – Wreaths aren’t just for Christmas! Add a decorated grapevine or straw wreath to compliment your style. Looking for inspiration? Lemons, strawberries, or even a red, white, and blue theme will make your front door “pop.”

String lights – There’s always a spot for string lights on your porch, patio, railing, or even in front of your garage. If you don’t have an electricity source try some solar lights.

We specialize in staging your home for sale or just for fun! Contact us today for a complimentary home visit for more tips, tricks, and “on trend” advice.

The Weaver Team’s Favorite Things

Step aside Oprah, our list features everything Vermont and maybe even a little something Pennsylvania 😉

truffles_f07fab6a-5b1c-4d31-b181-87db93b711d4_1024x1024A Box of Chocolates. Our local favorite is Snowflake Chocolates. Everyone loves chocolate and this Jericho-based family run operation has never let us down. We love the traditional assortments and the truffles. The customer service is unparalleled. They ship or you can pick up your order curbside.

Tree Ornaments made in the U.S.A. With a nod to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, we are decking the halls with a custom ornament from Mayhem Metalz in Beaver Falls, PA.

Scented Candles. We only buy them at Willow House located in Shelburne, VT. This month we are burning a Balsam Fir candle. Our all-time favorite is Buttered Maple Syrup.

Warm Woolen Socks. Buy them at Danform Shoes. This is where we stock up on our favorite Darn Tough socks. The wool socks are made in Vermont and you can pick them up curbside.

52301-p-crock-and-tray-hero-w-lrgHandmade Stoneware Pottery. We love the glazes Bennington Potters offers, and their serving dishes and sets are perfect for anyone who enjoys entertaining and serving up a beautiful table spread.

Deliciously Sweet Cupcakes. With a plethora of flavors sure to please anyone’s palate, you cannot go wrong bringing some Superb Cupcakes to a party … or stashing some at home when you need a sweet pick me up.

Netflix original movie The Prom. We like it for Meryl Streep’s line “I’m from Zelienople Pennsylvania.” Jennie’s hometown!

3 Ways to Light Up Your Life: Outdoor Inspiration for Your Backyard

Embrace the shorter days and cooler weather with a strategy to light up your surroundings.  We all want to stay outside and enjoy our yard space. If you’re not able to build a fire feature, then set your space ablaze with our lighting suggestions.

Gather ‘Round the Fire – If your municipal laws allow, set up an area to have an outdoor fire. Add a fire feature like a Fire Box from Mayhem Metalz. Made in the U.S.A. and shipped to your door! You won’t be disappointed. Carolyn hosted a Full Moon Fire Pit Party and everyone stayed until well into the evening. Don’t forget the s’mores!

Light Up Your Porch or Deck – Do you prefer white lights or a strand that “pops” with some color? Either way, check out your local hardware store or dig up some Christmas lights. Loop the outdoor string lights around your porch posts or your deck railings. You’ve got plenty of choices for power options – we love solar. Jennie has a set of solar string lights strung along her fence that charge all day and come on at dusk. For plug-in lights, invest in a timer to put them on at dusk. Stock up on batteries if you choose battery lights, many have built in 8-hour timers.

Trees That Twinkle – We found these amazing Weeping Willow Lights and are just trying to figure out where to put them!

If you want additional tips to brighten your home and your outside space, like us on Facebook to get our Tuesday Tips!

C’mon Get Cozy: Decorating for the Fall

1509030266860Welcome to decorating season! From now through Thanksgiving we will be refreshing our décor to reflect the upcoming season and holidays. This month we want to share our Fall decorating tips. From September through Thanksgiving our clients ask us for decorating tips. Take a quick trip to buy seasonal throw pillows and blanket throws. Stop by your local craft store for twinkle lights and autumn leaf garlands. Here’s what we do:

Layer your look. We start with a “base” of autumn accents in September through early October. Pick areas in your house where you can display fall “vignettes” of leaf garlands, scented candles, throws, and pillows. No need to rearrange entire bookshelves or curios, just “add” autumn color to your palette.

Add twinkle lights. As the days get shorter we like to add accent lighting to our displays. Lights with timers are the best. Carolyn has a remote control for her lights but she can’t find it … that’s a whole other blog post.

Mid-October – we bring out the “boo!” Jennie has a classy collection of skull-themed Halloween décor and Carolyn’s theme leans more toward “The Great Pumpkin” with Snoopy rising out of the Pumpkin Patch. Just layer it on top of your autumn base.

November – Now you see the method to our decorating – just strip off the “scary” and you’re left with the autumn hues to carry you through your Thanksgiving Feast.

If you’re looking for more decorating tips and tricks, “like” and follow us on Facebook for our Tuesday Tips.

4 Easy and Affordable Ways to Get Your House HGTV Show Ready

living room areaWho doesn’t love to watch HGTV (Home and Garden TV)? From “Love It or List It” to “Property Brothers,” we spend hours watching the transformation of living spaces.

Try our 4 favorite tips to create a designer “look” at your house:

Buy new pillows and throw blankets. Add seasonal trends with textiles. The easiest way to perk up your couch and bedrooms is to drape a colorful throw and stack different sized pillows.

Rearrange your bookshelves or built-in shelving units. Take a photo of the “before” then remove all books, objects, and decorative items from the shelves. When you put them back arrange by size, color, and special grouping of items. You don’t need to fill every space, think in terms of a decorative vignette to tell a story. Then, take an “after” photo to admire your decorating skills.

Add some local items to your décor. Whether it’s a welcome mat with your favorite sports team or a bowl of pinecones collected from your backyard, local touches are great conversation starters when guests arrive.

Pick up battery powered twinkle lights and a remote. Why not have some fun with setting a festive mood even if you are the only one to enjoy it! String the lights on a mantle, around a bannister, or even tucked into a floral arrangement. Use the timer feature on the remote so you don’t have to worry about turning them off.

Need more decorating help? Jennie is an Accredited Staging Professional and can help you create your dream spaces. We make house calls to get your house “show ready,” whether it’s just for your own enjoyment, or, if you are thinking of selling.