Dream Green Kitchen

Posted by nelrealty

Sep 21, 2013 12:38:05 PM

Create Your Dream Green Kitchen

Family Features--Today’s newly remodeled kitchens boast more than just rich hues and shiny appliances – they have an eco-conscious ambiance that marries great style with respect for the environment.

Dreaming of a fresh, modern kitchen that is also eco-friendly and strikingly beautiful? Achieving this transformation is more attainable than you may think. Environmental lifestyle expert, Danny Seo, provides these helpful tips on how to add earth-friendly updates to your kitchen:

Refrigerator

When searching for a new refrigerator, be sure to look for more than just the Energy Star label to ensure maximum energy efficiency. It is also important the new appliance fits your needs and the size of your kitchen. A larger refrigerator uses more energy. If the one you select is too big for your needs, you will be wasting energy and money.

Blocked wood countertops

With their rugged durability and timeless style, butcher block countertops are making a huge comeback. Though typically made from cherry, walnut and oak, greener options, such as high pressure laminate designs made by Wilsonart, can contribute to US Green Building Council LEED accreditation as an eco-friendly material to use in your home. For more information on their new Blocked Wood designs – Old Mill Oak and Truss Maple –visit www.wilsonart.com.

Flooring

For a more sustainable approach to kitchen flooring, there are several options available. If you love the hard, classic appeal of wood, look for reclaimed, recycled or sustainably sourced materials. Bamboo is also a beloved choice among eco-conscious remodelers for its biodegradable nature and high renewability.

“Going green at home can be overwhelming, so I always advise people to not sweat the small stuff and focus on the one room of the house where it matters the most: the kitchen,” says Seo. “Being kind to the planet in the kitchen can also be kind on your wallet over time, so it's worth it to invest in sustainable upgrades.”

Backsplash

Recycled materials are the star of the show when looking to add green touches to your backsplash. There are three main types of recycled materials: ceramic, metal and glass. Old bottles and windows make up the materials in glass tile; old plates and clay vases are recycled to become ceramic tile; and those old soda cans become aluminum metal tile. All of these materials come in a variety of shades and styles to fit the look of your dream kitchen.

Dishwasher

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, using an Energy Star labeled dishwasher is the most efficient use of energy and water, even more so than hand washing. When looking to update your dishwasher, pay close attention to the EnergyGuide labels, which include the annual estimated costs to run them. This valuable information can help you compare models to find the best fit for your family’s needs.

A dream kitchen that is both eco-friendly and chic is easier to attain than you think. With a few changes not only will you be smiling, but so too will Mother Earth.

 

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

For further information about creating your green home in Vermont: http://www.vermontgreenhomealliance.org/

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Topics: Energy

Closing the Deal

Posted by nelrealty

Aug 30, 2013 6:38:27 PM

You spend months marketing your property, cleaning the house for showings and then you get an offer and work through all details (negotiating, inspection, appraisal, financing, other contingencies), looking forward to closing. Or, you spend months looking at multiple properties, reconfiguring your expectations, narrowing down the prospects, making an offer and working through the same details as above.

Everyone patiently waits for that hopeful “Clear to Close” from the lender. You are thrilled when you get it and usually it is clear sailing from there. But that is not always the case. What can go wrong at the closing table? Let’s see…

Some unexpected things can happen either at closing, or the days just prior. There are some things you can do to avoid a delay.

Take care of all inspection items early on. You may find yourself at the mercy of contractors’ schedules or waiting on ordered parts. If you are the Buyer, do not wait until the walk-through to make sure the items have been done.

Look over your closing statement very carefully. You want to make sure all pro-rations, commissions and deposits are accounted for. Were the utilities, association fees, and taxes (town and/or village) all taken into account? A missing item can cause disruption at the closing table.

If you are wiring money, make sure the process is started in a timely manner in relation to your closing day and time. If the money is not there, you won’t close.

If needed, set up a Power of Attorney (POA) ahead of time, so your attorney (or other appropriate person) can sign the papers for you if you cannot be there. If you are the executor of an estate, make sure you qualify to have POA to sign the paperwork. Recent laws preclude those who benefit from a sale to have POA to sign the closing documents.

All Buyers should do a final walk-through to ensure all personal property has been removed, all appliances/items that were to remain are still there, and the home is broom clean. This is also an opportunity to make sure all work that was promised to be done has been completed.

If you are the Seller…don’t save your packing for the week before closing. Moving always takes longer than you think and Buyers rightfully expect a final walk through with the home cleared of all the Seller’s personal belongings and clean. It is in the contract.

One last tip. It is not advised to allow a Buyer to move personal property into the home prior to closing. If the closing is held up or does not happen, it can lead to a very awkward and possibly contentious situation. We all want to play nice…but it is still really good advice to heed!

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Topics: National Real estate trends, VT Real estate trends

A Home's Material Facts: Let us Ask and Disclose

Posted by nelrealty

Aug 21, 2013 3:18:02 PM

Today’s real estate climate is not the “Buyer Beware” of decades ago.  No longer do you hide the facts and hold your breath that the Buyer doesn’t ask the right questions.

Even with the most honorable intentions, issues can arise. Typically, the more serious issues that come up between buyers and sellers are questionable boundary lines (location of, easements, rights-of-way), septic problems (failing system), and moisture issues around rot and mold. These can become contentious, leading to terminated contracts or legal battles.

Disclose, disclose, disclose. That is the key to keeping things moving forward and avoiding the post-closing litigation. A property owner who lists with a professional will be asked to fill out a 6-page Seller’s Property Information Report. This facilitates full disclosure of material facts regarding the home. It encompasses 7 sections: Land, Mechanical systems, structural components, water supply, sewer/septic wastewater system, additional information, and condo/homeowners’ associations.

Sellers are expected to fill this out accurately and to the best of their knowledge. Such disclosures protect both the buyer and the seller.

If a home is not listed with a professional, a buyer needs to ask all the right questions, and a Seller needs to come clean about everything related to the house. This includes, but is not limited to, information regarding flood areas, underground storage tanks, accurate boundary lines, rights-of-way/easements, condition of appliances, septic maintenance, and results of radon and water tests. Getting this information in writing is essential.

This is not a don’t ask, don’t tell situation. If you are aware of or should be aware of material facts about the home, you need to disclose.  There is no perfect home and buyers understand this.  They just want there to be no surprises after the fact. They want to be aware of everything before jumping in.

The home inspection is a time when the unknowns should come to light, including home issues that the seller was not aware of. If an inspector’s list of issues includes a handful of things the buyer was told about pre-inspection, those things are not deal breakers. It’s the surprises that tend to slam the breaks on a deal, or at least make everyone head back to the negotiation stage.

So, whether you are using a real estate professional or going it alone, make sure you disclose everything about the home. If you are on the buying side, ask lots of questions. When it comes to the material facts of the home, nothing is off limits.

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Topics: National Real estate trends, VT Real estate trends

Financing Your Vermont Home

Posted by nelrealty

Aug 14, 2013 3:21:28 PM

If you’ve been following home-buying news and trends over the past four years, you have heard that lending is tight and it is hard to get a home loan. With expertise in the Vermont market, I have to say this is not the reality of the situation.  Mortgage underwriters are requiring more verification’s than the pre-2008 era and you may need to provide a bit more documentation, especially if you are self-employed, but loans to purchase Vermont real estate are still readily available.

If you are a first time home buyer looking to get into the Vermont real estate market you are in luck.  This is a great time to purchase a home, especially in the Burlington, Richmond, Waterbury, Stowe or Morrisville area.  Mortgage interest rates are still low, home prices are beginning to recover, and there are plenty of good lending programs to allow you entrance into the market.

One such lending program is the FHA program, allowing you to purchase a home with as little as 3.5% down-payment, possibly a gift from a parent or grandparent, and the seller can pay your closing costs.  FHA will allow as low as a 640 credit score and a debt-to-income ratio as high as 50%.

Another great program available to interested buyers in Vermont is Rural Development. This product allows 100% financing, though it does have a few more restrictions, such as income limitations and geographic restrictions. Luckily, most of the Vermont real estate market will allow buyers to qualify for such financing. In addition, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have low down payment programs, with as little as 5% down on a primary residence or 10% on a second home.  For the most success using a conforming loan such as this one, you will want to have a stronger credit score.

The best thing to do is to meet with a loan originator to go over your situation, see which programs you qualify for, how much you can borrow, and decide how much you are comfortable paying each month. Then you will be ready to go out and shop in whichever Vermont real estate market you choose. So, get pre-qualified and happy house hunting.

Article written for NELR by Jeff Teplitz, Mortgage Loan Officer, EverBank - Dedicated to helping clients throughout the mortgage process, with over 8 years of mortgage experience and a thorough knowledge of the Vermont and Northern New England markets.

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Topics: VT Real estate trends

Vermont Real Estate News: Time to Jump Into the Market

Posted by nelrealty

Aug 3, 2013 2:51:30 PM

To buy, or not. That is something many people have struggled with over the past 5 years.  Will home prices decrease further? Will interest rates stay low or continue to rise? Can I time it just right to get the best value for my money? Well, if you are out there looking now, then I would say that you have timed it well.

But now your worry may be, will my offer be better than the competition’s offer? News flash: homes are getting looks from buyers…many buyers.  And we are seeing multiple offers on properties in varying price ranges. Wait a minute. Is this a flash back to 2006? 2006 is often referred to as the end of the hot market but if we compare today’s market to that of 2006, it becomes clear that now is an ideal time to jump into the housing market.

Looking at Vermont real estate trends, specifically in Chittenden, Lamoille and Washington County, we see that the average number of homes sold in quarter 2 (about 900) and the average sell price (about $280,000) is about the same this year as it was in 2006. The difference is, homes aren’t selling quite as quickly in this market even though interest rates are lower now than they were then. In 2006, interest rates in Vermont were at 6.75% and with that rate a $300,000 loan for 30 years would cost about $1945 a month in principle and interest. Now, if you were to get the same loan with today’s interest rate of 4.75% it would cost $1565, about $400 less. It is also important to note that people are employing much more creative financing these days. In Vermont in 2006, the home selling market was fueled almost entirely by conventional loans. Now, in 2013, there are many more low-income loans, cash sales, and with many veteran’s returning from war, there is a large increase in veteran’s association financing for home sales. There are certainly more financing options available to you than just the conventional loan.

If you look at the numbers, it is a buyer eye-opener. Supply is low; demand is high. The Vermont real estate market, as well has national trends, show that inventory has been decreasing in the last six months and while Interest rates have risen 1 point in last year and 2 points in last 5 years inventory is having a more significant impact on the market. National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said last month that compared to interest rates “the bigger concern remains too few homes available for sale, especially among homes in the lower price range” (http://speakingof realestate.blogs.realtor.org). So, while there has been talk about rising interest rates, they still remain historically low and owning is often more economical choice than renting. In fact, the mortgage you will pay on that $250,000 home is comparable to what you would pay to rent a modest 2-bedroom house.

Let’s not forget the other advantages of owning your home.  Every month you pay your mortgage you are putting money into your own pocket. You have a tax deduction as well as a payment toward equity.  And don’t forget appreciation. All market indications show that home prices have leveled, with the average sell price remaining about the same in the Vermont real estate market over the past seven years, leaving us to expect housing prices to see modest appreciation in the next few years and beyond. That should prompt you to start your home search.

As wonderful as all of this sounds, it still is only attainable for those who feel a sense of job security, have taken care of their credit, and have managed to save money for their required down payment and closing costs.

Go out into the home buying arena prepared. Talk to your lender to see what you can afford. Go out there with your eyes wide open. You may be surprised. And as always, feel free to contact us at New England Landmark Realty with any questions you may have.

Feature Image courtesy of: http://www.hopperdesignllc.com

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Topics: National Real estate trends, VT Real estate trends

Summer Storm

Posted by nelrealty

Jul 15, 2013 12:47:06 PM

Local photographer Andrew Gimino captured the beauty of a VT summer storm through his camera lens. This is quite an artistic feat because by this time in the summer I know we were all pretty tired of the rain. Locally, we have seen oppressive heat, record high precipitation levels, and frequent thunderstorms in the month of June and the first half of July. While this doesn't seem to follow past trends for summer weather in Vermont, we are all wondering if it will shift to become the new norm in our area.

While the effects if climate change may seem subtle, it is important to protect our homes from the damage it may cause in the future. John Banta, author of the "Extreme Weather Hits Home" said, "Our homes are one of the most expensive investments we will ever make. They are also our refuge from the elements, and we must protect them so they can protect us." In the past, protecting the home in Vermont has often meant preparing for the cold weather and harsh conditions of winter, but with changing climate it may also mean increased protection from flooding, strong winds, and severe storms. Regular maintenance is a good preventative tool, as the weather patterns may have shifted since the time your house was built or even in recent years. Some suggestions include, refastening exterior light fixtures, trimming trees and shrubs, reinforcing or shielding windows, maintaining roofing, as well as revisiting home insurance policies. While we are fortunate in Vermont to be protected from many natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and forest fires, it is still important to protect our home according to the changing climate.

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The Value of Home Ownership in Shifting Economic Times

Posted by nelrealty

Jul 15, 2013 12:33:35 PM

The Value of Home Ownership in Shifting Economic Times

Feature image: www.sdseacoastblog.com

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Topics: National Real estate trends, VT Real estate trends

Shelburne Museum Names New Art & Education Center » Vermont Life Magazine

Posted by nelrealty

Jul 11, 2013 10:09:06 PM

Vermont Life Magazine Shelburne Museum Names New Art & Education Center » Vermont Life Magazine.

This building will be a "new and important cultural and educational resource for Vermont." It features gallery space, an auditorium, educational classroom, and meets the criteria as a LEED certified building, using local materials and energy efficient technologies. We hope that this building can be used as an engaging resource for local residents. The Shelburne Museum is a very valued local space that brings many people to the area and contributes greatly to the local community. This is one of the many attractions that might make you consider making Shelburne your home.


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Topics: Vermont culture/events

Arianna Huffington's Secret to Success: Sleep

Posted by nelrealty

Jul 10, 2013 11:23:16 PM

[ted id=1044]

"Shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside us. Shut your engines and discover the power of sleep." According to Huffington, this is what's best for our personal health and well-being as well as what's best for the condition of the world. As a small business we are always looking for ways to improve the health of our employees and the community and if sleep is one simple step in the right direction then we will embrace Huffington's secret to success. Through doing so we hope to foster new and innovative ideas, engage with the local community and grow.


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Topics: Business

Hen of the Wood Burlington

Posted by nelrealty

Jul 10, 2013 10:59:56 PM

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORcPW76WfKI&w=560&h=315]

Hen of the Wood has been in Waterbury for almost eight years now and in that time co-owners Eric Warnstedt and William McNeil have helped to foster a great sense of community and local flavor within a carefully crafted dining experience. This is an experience soon to be had in Burlington as well. Hen of the Wood will be opening at Hotel Vermont with the same intuitive vision for pursuing local partnerships, operating like a family, supporting the local community and economy, and creating simple, yet innovative and inspiring cuisine. You can help make this all possible by becoming a seatholder at both Hen of the Wood locations. By making a $500 donation to this expansion project you will receive a 15% discount for the life of both businesses and give a gift in return to a community business that has helped grow the Waterbury economy.

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Topics: Vermont culture/events