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A Fall Home-Maintenance Checklist

You've heard of spring cleaning, but what about fall? Cooler temperatures and storms often mean unexpected leaks, cold drafts, home repairs-and home repair bills. Fortunately, basic fall home maintenance can prevent many of these repairs. Below are a few tips to prepare your home and prevent maintenance issues.

Seal the Gaps. Use silicone caulk to seal windows and cracks in the siding, and use weather stripping around doors to keep cool air from seeping in.

Is Your Home Ventilated? While sealing gaps keeps the cold air out, your home needs to be properly ventilated to combat high indoor humidity, to expel potentially dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide, and to prevent moisture-related home repairs such as rot, mold, and insect infestation. In the fall, test exhaust fans, clean exhaust fan grills and dryer vents, and use your exhaust fans liberally.

Inspect and Clean the Chimney. This is one area where it pays to hire a professional chimney sweep. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends annual inspections to ensure the safety and efficiency of your chimney. This inspection will also address the chimney's role in ventilation.

Clear Rain Gutters. Keeping gutters clear of debris can prevent accumulated leaves and/or ice from forming "dams," which if left untreated can lead to major roof and siding leaks.

Test Your Detectors. The Consumer Products Safety Commission recommends changing the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at least once per year, typically when changing your clocks either in the fall or spring. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends testing them monthly and replacing them every ten years.

Examine the Roof. Use binoculars to scan the roof for missing, loose, or damaged shingles. Keep an eye out for signs of wind damage. If you notice any issues, take appropriate measures to secure the compromised area before more severe weather arrives. A minor repair now could save you from major repairs (and water damage) later.

Tune Up Your HVAC System. At a minimum, change your furnace filters. This will go a long way in improving the efficiency of your HVAC system and potentially extending its useful life. Many HVAC service companies offer affordable HVAC tune-ups this time of year in which they'll change the filters, clean the coils, check the thermostat, and inspect the system's components for signs of wear and tear.

Call Your Gas Company. Most gas utility companies offer free services in the fall and winter in which a technician will light your pilot lights and inspect your furnace, water heater, and other gas appliances.

4 Ways to Minimize a Home's Flaws

No house is perfect. Here are some clever interior design tricks to minimize your home's flaws and make it a more beautiful place to live:

1. Dark Rooms
Everyone loves light-filled rooms. If your home's small windows don't let in enough light, paint the walls a light color to help brighten dark corners. Hanging mirrors on walls opposite windows will bounce daylight around a room. Reflective surfaces can also brighten a space, so decorate with gold and silver accessories and invest in furniture with high-gloss finishes. Lastly, make sure that sunlight can reach your windows; trim any overhanging branches outside your home.

2. Lack of Storage
Storage space is no longer a luxury-it's a requirement. If your closets are overflowing, it's time to clear the clutter. Start by donating the items you no longer need to local charities. Invest in organizers for your home's bedroom and front hall closets. A double clothes rail and a few shelves for shoes and sweaters can double or even triple the amount of storage space in a closet. Finally, toss those old wire hangers; wooden hangers make a closet look organized and tidy.

3. Awkward Architecture
Low, sloping ceilings in the bedrooms, narrow hallways, and steep staircases don't help a home's appeal. To help take the focus off a low ceiling, paint the walls and the ceiling the same color, preferably a light one. If you want to make a narrow hallway feel wider, paint the walls and the trim in a pale, cool tone; colors on the cool end of the spectrum visually expand a space. To camouflage a steep staircase, tack a horizontal-striped carpet runner on the treads and risers.

4. Ugly Views
You can't change your home's location, but you can help disguise the train tracks in the backyard or the factory across the street. Outside your home, plant a row of evergreen trees to hide the view (investing in more mature trees will give you immediate cover). Inside your home, hang curtains with bold patterns or colors. The bright curtains keep the eye focused on the home's interior instead of that unfortunate exterior view.

First-time Buyers Increase, Home Sales Climb Nationwide

First-time buyers represented 32 percent of the market in May, a 2 percent increase from April and a 5 percent increase from a year ago. First-time buyers haven't had this much of a presence in the housing market since September 2012. Unemployment is down among young adults, and many lenders are lowering their down payment requirements. These factors combined with more affordable mortgage insurance options are enticing many first-time buyers to leave their rentals and purchase homes. Economists with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) believe that the number of first-time buyers in the market will continue to rise. The percentage of these buyers will depend, however, on how fast mortgage rates and home prices climb.

Fewer Investors
While first-time buyers saw opportunity in the improving housing market, investors saw fewer deals. Individual investors purchased just 14 percent of all homes sold in May, a drop of 2 percent from a year ago. For the third month in a row, all-cash transactions accounted for 24 percent of all homes sold, down from 32 percent a year ago.

Demand Exceeding Supply
In May, housing inventory was up slightly because more homeowners put their houses on the market. Total housing inventory rose 3.2 percent to 2.29 million existing homes for sale. The housing supply is 1.8 percent greater than it was a year ago. At the current sales pace, this level of inventory represents a 5.1 month supply. Despite the modest increase in inventory, demand still far exceeds supply. On average, homes in May stayed on the market for 40 days. This is the third shortest time recorded since NAR began tracking this statistic in May 2011. The inventory shortage led to an increase in home prices. So not only was May the 39th month in a row to record year-over-year price gains, but every region in the country saw home prices increase.

Sales Climb Nationwide
In May, all regions of the country experienced sales increases. The Northeast posted the largest gains with existing-home sales jumping 11.3 percent, for a total increase of 11.3 percent from a year earlier. In the Midwest, sales climbed 4.1 percent month-over-month and an impressive 12.4 percent year-over-year. The South and West both saw an increase of 4.3 percent from April. When compared with May 2014, sales were 6.9 percent higher in the South and 9 percent higher in the West.

Preferred Properties

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  • Williston, VT
  • 05495
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info@preferredpropertiesvt.com