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Welcome to our blog! Here, we'll keep you updated on everything you need to know about the real estate market in the Upper Valley. We keep our finger on the pulse of the local real estate market from our office in Enfield, NH. 

Questions about real estate in the Upper Valley? Contact us today!

5 Things Every Newlywed Couple Needs in Their Home

Newlyweds in front of HomeWedding season is officially behind us and as you curl up with your new husband or wife, you may be thinking ‘what is our new home missing?’ Below you will find the 5 things every newlywed couple should have in their home.

A High-Quality Mattress

A quality nights sleep is of the utmost important — so don’t skimp when purchasing a new mattress. If you’ve recently moved in together this is a great opportunity to throw out your old mattresses and buy something together that you both like. Take the time to research all the options out there and pick a mattress that fits both of your needs. Mattresses may seem a bit pricey, and they can be but remember that you will be spending 6+ hours every single night in it for years to come. 

A Good Set of Knives

High-quality knives are not only safer to use than dull worn out knives, but they also make cooking easier. You can find a good set of knives at most department stores, cooking stores, or online. Most even come with sharpeners so you won’t have to pay someone else to keep them from dulling. 

A Nice Set of Dishes

You will inevitably have company as newlyweds, and when you do you won’t want to serve your guests on mismatched dishes you’ve been collecting since graduation. A nice set of dishes, that can withstand normal wear and tear and fit with a multitude of different occasions. White dishes are always a good choice as they can be casual for everyday use, or dressed up with napkins and placemats for a more sophisticated feel. 

Tools

Now that you are homeowners or soon-to-be homeowners, you can no longer rely on your landlord or building maintenance to fix household problems. Having a decent tool kit, with all the essentials, will make your life that much easier when something inevitably breaks.

Art

Now that the two of you are sharing a space it’s time to find art that appeals to both of your sensibilities. As great as that band poster from when you were in high school is, it may not be the best choice for over the sofa. Picking out art together can also be a fun way to express your newlywed character throughout your home. 

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    3 Home Office Mistakes to Avoid

    Home office Illustration

    According to a study conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, 50% of the United States workforce holds a job that is able to be done from home, at least partially. 80% to 90% of the workforce says they are willing to work remotely. More and more companies are becoming more flexible and more and more people are working from home. One in five American’s are now working from home on a regular basis. The Upper Valley is no exception. Working from home definitely has plenty of benefits, it also comes with some disadvantages that can really cause you some pain. You'll definitely want to avoid these mistakes when working from home. 

    Working from the Couch or from Your Bed

    You should really make a designated office space. It’s important to get your mind into work mode. The better we define rooms and their purposes, the more productive they become. You are more likely to stay on task and get your work done in a room with no distractions and the tools you need to succeed, rather than a room where you spend your Sunday’s binge watching your favorite show.  

    Using a Terrible Chair 

    Many sofas and couches are low and deep, creating a c-shaped spine. This puts stress on several parts of your body which can lead to serious injury if not fixed. Keep your spine in line with a good office chair. There are six things you will want to consider when buying an office chair.

    • Height — whether it’s adjustable or not, you will want to make sure the chair sits at the proper height for the desk or table you are using. A good rule of thumb is to position the seat so your feet remain flat on the floor and your arms are within easy reach of your desk. Your knees should be at 90 degrees and your thighs should be parallel to the ground. 
    • Seat Depth — you'd be surprised how often a chair doesn’t fit your body. Keep your feet firmly on the floor, the backs of your knees should be about three inches away from the seat. 
    • Reclining Seat — experts recommend a seat that reclines at a 135-degree angle, give or take.
    • Wheels — this is really personal preference, and really comes down to the type of floor. You want something that you won’t have to continually adjust back to its place throughout the day. 
    • Armrests — armrests should allow you to rest your arms comfortably without effort and without placing stress on your joints. 
    • Lumbar Support — find a chair that offers a firm, adjustable support for your lower back. 

    Working in the Dark 

    Home offices tend to lack proper lighting in order to make you truly productive. Improper lighting can lead to sleepiness, squinting, or hunching. Supplement the lighting you have in your office space with task lighting to make sure everything is well lit. Home workers need at least 50 watts of halogen light on their workspace or 5-10 watts of LED. Dimmer switches can also help, you will want to be able to adjust lighting based on the natural light outside as well as your mood. 

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      4 Ways Buying a Home is Like Dating

      Dating your HomeWhat do House Hunters and the Dating Game have in common? More than you might think. When it comes to finding your dream home and your soulmate, there are plenty of similarities. 

      You Have to be Open to it

      Whether you are looking for the perfect home or the perfect man, you have to believe it’s possible. According to a Marist poll, 73% of Americans believe they will find true love, while only 52% believe they will find their dream home. When it comes to homes, you have to keep an open mind. You wouldn’t turn down mr.right because he drove a beat-up car, just like you shouldn’t necessarily say no to a house that could use a little work. 

      Looking Online Leads to Success

      The internet has made finding a home, and “The One”, easier than ever. 92% of homebuyers look on the internet before contacting a realtor to schedule. showing. It’s a lot easier to narrow down houses you would like to see in person after you have already seen all of your options online. Similarly, those who use the web to find love say they are more likely to find a better romantic match because you can assess all of your options beforehand. 

      It’s a Numbers Game

      You’re more than likely going to date more than one person before you get married. Just like you’re going to look at more than one home before you buy. On average, home buyers look at an average of 10 homes before they make a purchase. A man on average dates six people before finding “The One” while women typically date five people before “The One”. 

      First Impressions Matter

      Whether it’s love at first sight with a person or property, the majority of American’s believe in it. 77% of homebuyers said they know immediately when they found the perfect home. According to a study, it only takes 12 minutes on a first date to determine if you’re interested in the other person and want to see them again. 

      When it comes to both people and homes, neither are ever truly perfect. The most important thing is to know what you need and want; if you assess a variety of options you’re more likely to find a pretty good fit. It’s most likely going to take time and effort to find “The One”. 

      Take the Plunge, and Start Your Real Estate Search Today!
      Questions? Contact Us

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        April Showers Bring May Flowers

        Coule Smiling in the RainWe’ve all heard the rhyme, “April showers bring May flowers,” and while that may be true, April showers can also bring basement flooding and a headache to the home selling process. Most of us in the Upper Valley are accustomed to the occasional spring flooding in our basements, but when it’s time to put your home on the market you may be wondering whether you need to tell potential buyers about it — the answer is yes and no. 

        Most states require homeowners to give a written disclosure report to potential buyers. These reports require you to disclose all sorts of things about your house such as:

        • plumbing and sewage issues
        • water leakage of any type (including basement flooding)
        • termites or other infestations
        • roof defects
        • heating or air conditioning issues
        • property drainage problems
        • Foundation instabilities or cracks
        • problems with the title
        • issues with the neighbors that aren’t obvious

        New Hampshire, however, is not as strict. Disclosure law in the Granite State only requires you to disclose information about a few specific aspects of your home:

        • information about the private sewage disposal system including its location, malfunctions, the date it was most recently serviced, and the name of the contractor who services the system. 
        • information about the type of private water supply system, including its location, malfunctions, date of installation, date of most recent water test, and whether or not you have experienced a problem (such as an unsatisfactory water test) with notations
        • information about your home’s insulation, including type and location
        • notices about radon gas, lead paint, and arsenic

        Not only does New Hampshire have few regulations when it comes to seller disclosure, but courts adhere to caveat emptor — or buyer beware, which really goes back the Live Free or Die sentiment that our great state is founded upon. 

        Despite having relaxed disclosure laws for sellers, New Hampshire does have realtor regulations which state that “the duties of [an agent] acting on behalf of a seller include treating all prospective buyers honestly [and] disclosing to a prospective buyer or tenant any physical, regulatory, mechanical, or on-site environmental condition affecting the subject property of which [they] have actual knowledge”. This disclosure must occur before any written offer is made on a property. 

        For example, you are trying to sell your home in Grafton and your basement floods every Spring as the snow melts and the rains come and you tell your real estate agent that you only want to show your house on sunny days so potential buyers don’t see water in the basement, or similarly, your realtor comes to take photos of the property and notices flooding in the basement. The agent has a legal obligation to report these issues to potential buyers. However, agents are under no obligation to inspect properties for potential problems. 

        Limited legislation on disclosure doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea to disclose anything you are aware of (just to protect yourself down the road). The New Hampshire Association of Realtors provides a commonly used disclosure form which covers many critical areas of the home. Questions include how old the home is, whether it’s subject to any liens or lawsuits, and whether you are aware of any major issues such as with the heating, cooling, or plumbing. 

        This form should give buyers a fairly comprehensive snapshot of any defects, but it is always a smart idea for buyers to commission an official home inspection — in the end, it’s better to sleep at night knowing these are absolutely no issues with your new home rather than finding out later there is a massive issue. 

        Have Questions? We're Here to Help!
        Contact Us Today

        Now is the Time to List Your Home!

        While there is still snow on the ground, now is the time to get your home on the market!  Our days have varying weather patterns that can be hard to predict, but we are busy out listing and showing homes.  Many think they need to wait until April or May roll around and the grass is getting greener and the flowers are blooming, but that's not always the case.  This 5th New England season, mud season, is the time where we start to see inventory climbing and people out looking at houses.  

        So wrap up the last minute de-cluttering, touch up painting, and give us a call to get your house listed!  Not sure what the value on your home may be?  Give us a call!  We will give you our opinion of what you may be able to sell for!  What are you waiting for???

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          Does your home have the Top 7 things today's homeowners really want?

          A new report, The Housing Satisfaction Gap: What People Want, but Don’t Have, measured the gap between the home features people want and the features they currently have in their own homes.

          Here’s what made the list, and what you can do to close your home’s satisfaction gap so you get top dollar when you’re ready to sell:

           

          1. Energy Efficiency
          Have an energy audit done to identify the best investment for your energy-improvement dollars.

           

          2. Renovations
          Replace worn flooring and repaint in neutral colors.

           

          3. Updated Kitchen
          You can replace your whole kitchen, or if you’re on a budget, paint the cabinets and update lighting and plumbing fixtures.

           

          4. Aging-Friendly Design
          Any time you do a major renovation, remodel with aging in mind. Consider adding a first-floor owner’s suite with a roll-in shower in the bath. When possible, replace hallways and any narrow doorways with an open floor plan.

           

          5. Safe Neighborhood
          Start a neighborhood watch.

           

          6. Privacy
          Plant hedges, put up a fence or add hardscaping features to increase the privacy of your outdoor spaces.

           

          7. Storage Space
          Add large closets when you remodel. Install organizers to maximize the storage space you already have in closets, the garage and outbuildings.

          6 Common First Time Home Buying Mistakes

           

          If you are a first-time home buyer, finding the right home for you and your family can be overwhelming and stressful.  There are so many decisions to make!  Before you start looking, make sure you're not committing one of these classic first-time buyer mistakes.

           

          1. Not knowing what you can afford to buy

          If you haven't been pre-approved, don't go shopping.  Understand the math of your future home loan or mortgage and know what you'll qualify for - this will stop you from looking at homes or neighborhoods that are beyond your financial reach.  Be aware that pre-qualifications are not the same as pre-approvals.  So make sure you know what you can afford with an official pre-approval notice.  A real estate agent can recommend lending institutions or banks.  Be sure you shop around for the best short- and long-term plans for your particular financial situation.

           

          2. Ignoring the additional costs

          Although you may be used to paying rent and utilities, there are more monthly and annual expenses associated with home ownership.  Some costs are easy to calculate prior to home ownership like property taxes, homeowner's insurance or even homeowner's association fees.  But there are a multitude of unforeseen additional costs like emergency repairs or replacements.  Along with regular maintenance costs, first-time home buyers should have a clear understanding of just how much it might cost to own and operate the home each month.  Most experts advise setting aside about 1%-5% of the cost of the home each year to save for future upgrades and maintenance costs. Although that might sound like a significant amount, knowing that you've saved money for emergency repairs will help alleviate stress on your paycheck.

           

          3. Thinking a fixer-upper is easy and cheap

          Although a few first-time home buyers purchase a home with the expectation of a full-scale renovation, most homebuyers simply want to move in and make it their own.  Making cosmetic changes like painting walls, replacing the front door or refinishing floors are fairly easy and inexpensive.  But all too often, first-time home buyers see a home as having unlimited potential without understanding how much it might actually cost to renovate.  They might also make the mistake of thinking they can do it all themselves.  It's too simple to think that you can tackle major structural changes on your own.  If you're tempted to purchase a home and really want an expert opinion as to potential costs, code upgrades, permits required or other important information, consider hiring a professional general contractor to tour the home with you and give you a realistic cost and time estimate for your desired renovations.

           

          4. Not hiring a home inspector

          Even if your bank doesn't require it, you should always have a home inspection contingency on your home purchase.  Hiring a licensed and experienced home inspector (ask us who we recommend!) who will thoroughly inspect your home is an important step on the home buying experience.  Regardless of the age and condition of the home, first-time home buyers can benefit from the expert advice of a home inspector.  Home inspectors spend several hours assessing a home and provide a lengthy, written report on their findings.  Although they cannot say if the work was done well, they can let you know if the home was built to code.

           

          5. Thinking you can do it on your own

          Although you've probably done your homework, it's always best to hire a licensed real estate agent, especially if this is your first home. Real estate agents know the market, they understand the comps (the competitive prices of comparable homes), and can help you identify the home that will best fit your needs.

           

          6. Being distracted by over-the-top features

          A potential home should have good curb appeal - this means that the homeowners have taken the time to fix up their home.  Expect a certain amount of investment from the owners; they may have invested in a few upgrades aimed to please potential buyers, but don't let yourself be distracted by over-the-top improvements or home features that you won't end up using.  A swimming pool, for example, may have you dreaming of hosting summer parties however, swimming pools are high maintenance and very expensive.  Same goes for elaborate landscaping or rooms dedicated to a specific hobby (like a wine cellar, craft room or gym).  You may luck out and be the buyer that is right for this home or you may hate these features and have to spend money removing them.

           

          3 Key Tips To Help Ensure Your Mortgage Pre-Approval Is Not Declined

          If you’re thinking about buying a new home and using a mortgage to help cover some of the purchase costs, it’s a good idea to get an initial pre-approval from your lender before putting in an offer.

          In today’s blog post we’ll share three quick tips that can help to ensure that your mortgage pre-approval isn’t declined.

           

          Demonstrate Your Income and Good Credit

          A mortgage is a major financial transaction and one that carries a certain amount of risk for the lender. It’s your goal to help them see that you have the ability to make your monthly payments and that there is very little risk in approving your mortgage. Be ready to demonstrate all of your sources of income and that your credit rating is clean.

          It may be worth paying for your credit report before starting the pre-approval process so you can clean up any black marks or false reports and so that you can see what the lender will see when they check your credit history.

           

          Choose the Right Property at the Right Price

          As the home you’re buying will be used as collateral to back the mortgage, the lender will need to see that there is enough value in the home to cover the cost of the mortgage should you fail to pay it back. The “loan to value” or LTV ratio is the amount of your mortgage divided by the value of the home. For example, if you’re borrowing $150,000 to buy a home valued at $200,000, you’ll have a LTV ratio of 75 percent. Keep in mind that each lender will have their own target LTV that they prefer to work with, so you may need to shop around a bit.

           

          Start the Process with Multiple Lenders

          Finally, if you feel that your income or credit history isn’t perfect you may want to consider visiting a couple of different mortgage lenders to see what they can offer you. There are dozens of different mortgage products on the market today, and each lender has their own set of qualification criteria that they will use to assess risk and whether they feel that you can afford to pay the mortgage back. Getting a second opinion may help you to discover a more suitable mortgage or one with a better interest rate.

           

          If you have more questions about loans and mortgages, or don't know where to start... ask us!  We work with plenty of lenders around the Upper Valley on a regular basis and we're more than happy to help you! 

          Benefits of Renting in The Upper Valley

          The Upper Valley is a diverse area with almost unlimited possibilities for work, careers, school, housing, life styles and more.  The Upper Valley stretches to both sides of the Connecticut River, in New Hampshire and Vermont, to Walpole, NH and Westminster, VT in the south and Bath, NH and Ryegate, NH to the north and everywhere in between.  This area is very scenic and beautiful in all four seasons of the year.  The employment opportunities in this area are plentiful.  In many of the Upper Valley towns, the sense of community is so warming to know that everyone comes together for events throughout the years, fundraisers, activities and more.   There are endless restaurants, diners and cafes throughout the area, as well as plenty of department stores and small shops.  Many of the small shops are owned and ran by local natives who have been in the area for many years. 

          We, Vanessa Stone Real Estate, cover rentals in Lebanon, Enfield, Canaan, Orange, Grafton, and Claremont and these towns are located in central Upper Valley, with all easy commutes to busy areas with plenty of job opportunities, public transportation companies to get where you need to go, even if you do not have a vehicle.  There are many lakes, ponds, rivers, mountains, and walking and hiking trails throughout the area which attracts people as well.  Many of the big cities, such as Boston, New York City, Burlington, Portland (Maine), etc are all within a couple of hours and could be easy day or weekend getaway trips.  

          The Upper Valley is such a beautiful and great area, we hope that you will enjoy all it has to offer and be able to call one of these towns "home", even if it's for a short period of time while renting.  

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            How You Can Get The Full Selling Price You Want For Your Home

            When it comes to selling your home and getting the full selling price you want, there are certain tactics and methods you can employ to ensure that this wish becomes a reality.

            Avoiding the commonly made mistakes that end up lowering the value of your home and discouraging people from viewing it is ultimately the key in getting top dollar, as well carrying out the showings and sale of your home in a professional manner.

            Listen to the professionals, and make sure you employ these real estate sale methods to get your desired number on your home sale.

             

            Listing Tactic: Adding A Buffer

            Always dependent on the type of market you find yourself in, a common and successful tactic in getting the price you really want for your home is adding a buffer on the list price.

            This means that if you want $500,000 for your home, you should list your home somewhere around $510,000 to $520,000 to allow for some negotiating room. Even if you'd prefer not to negotiate, the majority of buyers will always assume that you have room to come down on the price, and will put in their offers accordingly.

             

            Overpricing: Avoid At All Costs

            With that being said, you don't want to overprice your home too much so as to discourage potential buyers from looking at it, or to put your home outside of a financial bracket. Make sure you speak to your trusted real estate advisor on exactly what the right list price should be to obtain your desired value.

             

            Increase Desire: Have Your Home Staged

            In order to get the price you want for your home, you need to make a good impression on the prospective buyers. Having your home professionally staged can dramatically increase the amount of interest you receive on your home, perhaps even creating multiple offers - which is the best situation a home seller can be in!

             

            Appeal To Online Shoppers With Professional Photos

            With so much of today's modern real estate shopping happening online, you want to ensure that your home has a strong online presence with professional photos and a digital floor plan available to prospective buyers. Also make sure that all information online is full and complete, and presents your home in the best light possible.

             

            Always Say Yes To Open Houses And Showings

            Especially in a hot market, you want to ensure that you leave your home empty for your real estate agent on weekends so that they can hold it open to the public. This is especially important early on in your list date so that the buyers on the market who are ready to make a move can see your house right away.

            You should also apply the same importance to showings, and ensure that each showing request is promptly responded to with an easy "yes."

            If you put these tactics into your home selling plan, you will find that it will be much easier to obtain more interest from buyers. And with more interest, it will be much more likely that you will be able to obtain the price you want for your home.

            So don't underestimate the importance of these factors, and discuss them today with your trusted mortgage professional.

             

            To discuss how to best sell your Enfield area property with local realtors, contact us today. We're excited to hear from you!