Does Decorating Matter – How do I Stage my House for the Holiday Season?

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p: jennycookies.com

As we get into the decorating holidays, Sellers always ask, “can I decorate for the holiday?” The short answer, “yes, with some ‘staging’ recommendations.”

True story – I once showed a house with one fully decorated artificial Christmas tree in every room. Well that’s not too weird, right? Did I mention it was July?? Sometimes it’s difficult to imagine “not” displaying treasured holiday keepsakes or seasonal decorations when your house is on the market. So, what about decorating for holidays when it makes sense – October, Halloween; November, Thanksgiving; December, Christmas/Hanukkah? Unless you are showing houses to Scrooge, most buyers are in the holiday mood and a welcoming seasonal wreath, doormat, or display on the kitchen island makes them feel welcome. Too many decorations can be distracting to buyers, much like a wall of family photos. Here are the Weaver Team’s tips for the upcoming holiday season.

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p: houseofhargrove.com

First, Halloween. Don’t get us wrong, we love Halloween – who doesn’t? The candy, the costumes, the orange & black decorations – what’s not to love? Many of you will even buy a costume for Fido or Kitty. Awe! Cute! Pumpkins, mums, decorative kale and cabbage, all safe bets if your house is for sale. Unfortunately, most buyers are a little scared of zombies, skulls, and anything with fake blood. For more formal spaces, like living rooms and dining rooms, try a “Martha Stewart” type vibe with white Cinderella pumpkins and black branches. Orange and black are not everyone’s favorite color combination so be careful not spread the decorations into every room. If you need to be “spooky” try to keep it on the front porch or back deck, that way once inside the house the buyers feel more at ease.

1-Rustic-Fall-DecorNext, Thanksgiving. Autumn and fall colors blend nicely with most décor. A spray of silk autumn leaves or mums fit nicely into nooks and bookshelves. Your fall-themed pillows, blanket throws and flower arrangements will add a cozy and warm vibe to the interior. Don’t skip the autumn decorations in November and go right to Christmas. If you get weary of thinking that you need to overhaul the house again for November here’s another Weaver Team tip – “layer” your decorations. Place autumn first as a base, think leaves, mums, fall colors and then add your Halloween decorations. When it comes time to switch on November 1st just remove Halloween and voila! All set for November.

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p: theharperhouse.com

Finally, everyone’s favorite decorating holiday – Christmas. Okay, you have permission to dive right into the holly and “ho-ho-ho” the day after Thanksgiving. Here, again, just a caution about overusing red and green in every room. Like Halloween, you may want to research a more elegant look for your formal rooms. Gold, silver and white may be decorative enough to add an air of festiveness to your living room without overwhelming the buyer’s senses. If you celebrate Hanukkah then you are all set as the silver, white, gold and blue theme compliments almost all styles.

So, go ahead! Trim the tree, display the Menorah, put a scarecrow on your front porch. But, remember, take them down when the celebrations are over. You don’t want to end up in my blog – like the condominium owner that still had a Halloween mat at his front door – in March!

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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.

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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.

6 Reasons to Sell With a Realtor®

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p: MarketWatch

If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, you’ve likely thought about selling on your own to forgo the cost of commission. Listing your home on your own can cost your time, stress, and in reality, it can end up costing you money – research shows that FSBO (for sale by owner) listings sell for about 5.5% less than comparable properties sold through the MLS.

Before you decide to go the do-it-yourself route, consider 6 of the invaluable benefits listing with a Realtor® offers:

Knowledge – A Realtor’s knowledge is priceless, we can provide insight that you cannot get online. We know how to make sense of the data and the entire selling process so that you and your home are fully prepared before hitting the market.

Time – Do you have time to play the Realtor’s role? Are you available to show your home at a moment’s notice? How will you handle showing requests if you are away? Are you able to respond to buyer’s questions, concerns, and/or objections in a manner to help overcome hesitation and move forward? Are you able to offer solutions to buyer-perceived obstacles with the property? Are these questions stressing you out? Uncertainty in any of these areas could translate into a lost opportunity, thankfully, we handle everything.

Presentation – Image is everything when it comes to real estate. Do you know how to prepare your home for sale? We can tell you what your home needs, what you need to get rid of, what needs to be fixed, and how to stage it to appeal to potential buyers. We also take professional photos and video to show your home in the best light.

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p: Zillow

Marketing – How are you going to market your property? You can post your listing yourself on Zillow, FSBO sites, or Craigslist, but you’re not going to reach all of your potential buyers. We have a network of agents that we pre-market your property to, sometimes selling a property before it even hits the market! We also enter your listing in the MLS that sends the listing info to all of the top real estate sites that buyers are searching.

Negotiation – So you’ve received an offer, how do you respond? What do you look for in a purchase agreement? Are you prepared to take multiple offers in a hot market? Do you know how to negotiate to keep the buyer in the game versus walking away? What costs should you and shouldn’t you incur? We negotiate on your behalf to ensure you are getting the best deal possible, while still working with the buyer to put the deal together.

Inspection – How should you handle items that are flagged as needing repair or replacement by a home inspector? Who do you contact to take care of the repairs? We will negotiate with the buyer’s agent to only take care of necessary items, and once the list is nailed down, we have a roster of professionals we recommend for the work.

This post was adapted from “8 reasons selling without a real estate agent is a recipe for disaster” by Cara Ameer, inman.com.

4 DIY Projects Under $500

It seems there is always something that could use a little sprucing up, and with HGTV, DIY Network, and Pinterest, it’s hard not to catch the renovation bug. Luckily, there are some budget-friendly projects that you can handle yourself on a weekend! Here are our top 4 DIY projects under $500:

076a1834479ec7782ee48b24169cebd7--fern-on-front-porch-front-door-patio-ideasHit the refresh button on your entry. If your front entry is looking a little tired and offers no curb appeal, it’s time to freshen things up. A welcoming entrance will improve the whole house and it’s easy to create. Add a fresh coat of paint and new hardware to your front door – switch out old brass hardware for oil-rubbed bronze. Choose some sleek house numbers to add to the door or next to the door. A few brightly colored plants and a new welcome mat will add some life to the entry.

Update lighting. Changing out dated light fixtures is a quick project that will make a huge impact. Consider swapping any brass fixtures with brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze. Select fixtures that complement each other and your home’s overall style.

Replace kitchen hardware. It’s amazing the difference upgrading your kitchen cabinet and drawer pulls will make! Hardware comes in a huge array of styles and price points. Look at the finishes that already exist in your home – if you have stainless appliances, brushed nickel hardware will match well. If you’ve gone the route of black stainless appliances or have oil-rubbed bronze light fixtures, flat black hardware will blend nicely.

small-bathroom-makeover-ideas-astonishing-on-pertaining-to-best-25-makeovers-pinterest-11Upgrade the bathroom. Since it’s typically one of the smaller rooms in your home, the bath is a great area to upgrade, and a little will go a long way. You can choose some more expensive finishes in this space because it is so small. If you’ve had your eye on some marble tile, splurge on the small bathroom floor. Replacing the vanity will completely change the look of the room – you can find simple, single sink vanities for under $500, but will likely have to spend more for double vanities. Upgrade your shower head for a touch of luxury that will make you want to get out of bed.

These improvements will make your home more stylish and will help you to enjoy your home more every day. If you’re thinking of selling, these projects will add value by making your home ‘show ready’ to garner that all important positive first impression.

5 Ways to Stage a Home on the Cheap

At The Weaver Team, we wholeheartedly believe in the power of staging. Staging will create a more buyer-friendly space that will help your home sell faster and for a higher price. Here are 5 staging tricks you can implement that cost little to no money:

Langlais SummerCurb appeal – The exterior appearance of your home should entice buyers to come in and see more, so keep it neat and tidy. Make sure to mow the lawn, trim the bushes, weed the flower beds, and add a new layer of mulch to really freshen up the landscape. Add some flowers or plants in colorful pots to the porch and dress up the front door with a seasonal wreath to add warmth and a ‘welcome’ vibe.

Declutter – If there is only one thing you do before putting your home on the market, get rid of the clutter! Buyers cannot see past your personal items. Use the 90 day rule – remove anything that you will not need for 90 days. This applies to every area of the home, even closets and cabinets. Think of it as preparing for your move, you won’t have to pack these items again when your house sells! If you do not have storage space in a basement and garage for the boxes, rent a small storage unit.

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P: Houzz

Stage rooms with a purpose – If you’ve been using your dining room as an office, it’s time to get rid of the desk and bring in your dining table. If you’ve got a spare bedroom that you’ve been using for storage, remove the boxes and bring in a bed and side table, or stage it as an office with a desk and chair. Make sure each room has a single purpose, if it’s not clear to the buyer they may be confused as to how they could use the space themselves.

It’s all in the details – Go beyond your every day cleaning routine and really make your home sparkle. Detail each room – dust every surface, wipe down all baseboards and trim, and shine any fixtures. Replace any broken or worn outlet covers and switch plates with contractor grade plates that are inexpensive, but will make a world of difference. Fix any dripping faucets, squeaky hinges, or loose fixtures.

bright-living-room-on-living-room-pertaining-to-bright-colored-design-ideas-9Light it up – Clean all of the windows to let the light shine in! If you have heavy drapery that blocks the light, opt for a lighter or sheer curtain to ensure light fills the room, or remove the drapery all together. Make sure all of the light fixtures have working bulbs, and all at a similar wattage so that they all glow evenly.

5  Inconvenient Truths About Finding a Good Real Estate Agent

Finding a good real estate agent may not be as easy as searching Google or Yelp, read on to learn why you can’t believe everything you see on the Internet when it comes to real estate.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.05.40 PM1.     The “Premiere Agent” on Zillow has paid to be in that #1 position. Many agents pay third party search engines to pop up at the top of the list of real estate agents in your area. This truth extends to Realtor.com, Trulia.com and Yelp.com. Many times, your top local real estate experts who provide exceptional service and results stay in business through repeat clients, past client referrals, and general “word-of-mouth” networks. Ask your colleagues, friends and family who they recommend before jumping on the internet to look for an agent.

2.     All “public” websites that provide house searches include “for sale by owner” properties. Many buyers are thrown off guard when they find out that the house listed on Realtor.com and other real estate websites may not necessarily be offered through a real estate agency. Buyer beware as dealing directly with the owner may result in a “lopsided” transaction where the buyer is not aware of traditional real estate practices in their local area and many times is at a disadvantage dealing with the seller.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.34.09 PM3.     Internet sites that promote “We will match you with a Top Agent” usually send your information to several agents that have signed up for that websites services. These agents scramble to be the “first” to contact you and the agents pay a hefty “finder” fee to the service.

4.     Reviews may not tell the whole story about an agent. While it’s interesting to read the 5 star reviews, sometimes when you see a “plethora” of them you may need to ask “Why are there so many reviews for this one agent?” There are no rules or regulations governing the procurement of these reviews from previous customers. Let that sink in.

5.     Sometimes your “marquee agents” burn and churn their clients. Again, the agents that pay to show up on searches may not be the type of agent that you are looking for. Many so-called “top” producing agents are working with multiple agents on their team who are doing most of the work with the buyers and sellers. You may not have access to the “top agent” at all.

 

Hurricane Season in Vermont?

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P: Mashable

This year, as Texas and Florida recover from Harvey and Irma, respectively, we are reminded how the weather effects the real estate industry. Yes, occasionally there is a rogue hurricane that whips through Vermont and causes flooding havoc like Hurricane Irene in 2011. But, for the most part, Vermont’s weather tends to be best known for cool autumn evenings and long, cold winters.

If you’ve lived in New England you know the saying, “If you don’t like the weather wait a minute and it will change.” Now, more than ever this seems to be the case. On the heels of a few weeks of cool, fall weather early in September many of us removed our window air conditioner units. Now, since the air conditioners are safely tucked away until next season, we are experiencing high humidity and summer-like temperatures that reach 80+ degrees during the day. It’s tough to think about mums and pumpkins when your annuals are still blazing with color.

What does this mean for Vermont real estate? It means that our local market is sensitive to changes in the weather. When it’s hot and humid few people find it appealing to look at houses. When it’s raining and snowing buyers like to look on-line rather than “in person.”

Roberts FallBut, does the real estate market slow down in the fall? How about winter? Years ago, real estate was more of a “seasonal” business, and, in some parts of the country it still is. Real estate market statistics are useless unless you see a “seasonally adjusted” number along with the monthly charts.

On the Weaver Team we have experienced the ups and downs of the years and the seasons, though none of our “trends” seem to hold from one year to the next. On one year we can have a record breaking December and the next year, not so much. A “January thaw” can jump start the next year’s sales. Due to the unpredictable nature of the weather and the market, it seems like real estate is turning into a year-round business, no longer dependent on the infamous “spring market.”

Many of our sellers decide to keep their houses listed and on the market through the holidays and winter months as the competition tends to drop off. We have sold houses right after major Nor’easter storms. You never know when a family will make a decision to make their home here, Home Sweet Vermont.

Specialist or General Practitioner?

19437377_1440448489379498_3950650927319035020_nDo you need to hire a “specialist” or do you need a “general practitioner” when assessing the best real estate agent when you are looking to jump into the real estate market as a buyer or seller?

If you come across a real estate agent that is touting themselves as a “specialist” here’s what you need to ask:

“I see you are a ‘Listing Specialist’ do you ever take buyers out to look at homes?”

“I see you are a ‘Buyer Specialist’ do you ever list homes and meet sellers?”

If the answer is no, then proceed with caution. The only way you can “specialize” in today’s real estate market is to understand the market from the buyer’s and seller’s unique perspectives, rarely do these overlap.

As a “general practitioner” I work with both buyers and sellers. The combination of meeting with sellers for listings and taking buyers on home buying tours invites a unique perspective on the whole marketplace, not just a segment.

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P: msrealtors.org

If you don’t take buyers to see houses, how do you know how houses compare to each other in your local market? Likewise, if you don’t counsel sellers on pre-marketing strategies, how do you know the best way to position their house in the market compared to other houses you have taken buyers to see? The short answer is – you don’t! You don’t know how houses compare in your local market place unless you are “all over” the market in terms of buyers and sellers.

Instead of a “specialist” you need a general real estate practitioner. Much like a family doctor who sees a wide range of maladies, your general real estate practitioner deals with the whole market, buyers and sellers. At the core of a general real estate practitioner, one who deals with buyers and sellers, is a true “specialist.”