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.

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Baby It’s Cold Outside: Isn’t it Too Cold to Live in Vermont?

Roberts WinterBundle up! It’s that time of the year again. Many people move to Vermont every year for our quality of life. We are fortunate to live here, in Northern New England, as our weather and seasons are perpetually changing. If you have lived here for a while then you are familiar with an old New England adage, “If you don’t like the weather then wait a minute and it will change.”

After an unseasonably warm fall (we didn’t take our window unit air conditioner out until November 3rd) we are now experiencing cold temperatures. One question that newcomers to Vermont ask is “How do you live here? It’s so cold!”

Over the years, Realtors, in particular, have adapted to the cold weather in Vermont as we spend a good deal of time getting in and out of our vehicles and running in and out of houses in all weather. If you follow my blog you will remember the family from Connecticut that drove here in a blizzard after Christmas one year as they were going to move to Vermont for a change of lifestyle. We looked at vacant houses that hadn’t had their driveways plowed often tromping through three feet of snow.

Here are our 5 tips for getting through our coldest months:

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p: Darn Tough

Throw out all of your socks. Yes, that’s right. When you wear regular, everyday socks your feet experience sweating and cooling throughout the day, not the best thing in the winter. We recommend Darn Tough socks, made in Vermont, lifetime guarantee. Wear wool socks.

Layer the “right way.” Of course everyone knows you need layers. Again, your best “base layer” should be wool. Focus on your “core” with an insulated vest and invest in a warm scarf that matches all of your outerwear. Be ready to pull off the layers when you get inside a store, restaurant, movie theater. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than being too warm.

Invest in seat heaters for your vehicle. In Vermont this is not a luxury item. If your car does not have them we recommend having them installed with a local auto accessory shop. While you’re there you might as well get a remote car starter. There is nothing more jolting than getting into a cold car. While “warming up” your vehicle may not be recommended by others, trust us on this one.

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p: crystalinmarie.com

Wear a hat. You can see this for yourself. On your morning commute look around at the other drivers. Real Vermonters wear hats, winter hats. I have resisted this for years (pure vanity, afraid of “hat head/hair”) but now it is a necessity. Once it’s on you won’t want to take it off.

Electric blankets and throws really work. Many of us live in older homes that were built prior to the energy efficiency days. There is nothing better than sitting on your couch after a long day and putting a heated throw on your lap.

Prepare Your Home For Winter

P: Taylored Restoration

P: Taylored Restoration

Baby, it’s cold outside! The dreaded polar vortex has made it’s first unwelcome appearance in our neck of the woods, which means it’s time to get your home ready to weather the winter months.

You want to keep your home warm and toasty inside, but winterizing isn’t just about staying warm. By investing some time and energy of your own to prep your home, you will end up saving in energy costs. Preparing your home for the cold winter months will also save you the unexpected headaches of busted pipes or a failing furnace.

Follow our winter prep checklist to get your home ready for the deep freeze:

Clean your gutters. Water should be able to flow freely now to help prevent icicles and ice dams from forming later.

Change your furnace filter. Regularly replacing the filter can significantly improve its efficiency and longevity.

Invest in a programmable thermostat. Install a programmable thermostat and save money by setting the temperature lower while you are away or asleep. The US Department of Energy says that you can save as much as 1% on your energy bill for every degree you lower your home’s temperature in the winter.

Check for drafts. Cold air can easily leak in through windows, doors or any additional exterior gaps. Here are a few fixes:

  • Window insulation film – if you take the time to do it correctly, it won’t look tacky and will significantly lower your heating bill
  • Weatherstrip tape – simple and easy, seal your windows and doors tightly with weatherstripping
  • Caulk – fill any remaining gaps in siding, windows or doors with caulk

P: Better Homes and Gardens

P: Better Homes and Gardens

Reverse your ceiling fan. Having fan blades move in a clockwise direction will push the warm air back down to reheat the space.

Inspect your chimney. If you have a fireplace or wood stove with a chimney, check it for creosote buildup and have it cleaned if necessary. Also look for any blockages like bird nests.