Housing Market Hot or Not?

The housing market still appears to be going strong both in the US and in NH.  Nationally, the median sales price through Aug. was up 4.7% to $278,200 and in NH it was up 5.6% to $299,900.  A strong labor  market, low interest rates, and low inventory continue to impact housing sales by pushing up home prices.  Locally, in the towns of Newbury, New London, & Sunapee combined, sales up are up - 164 homes sold YTD through Aug. compared to 135 sold in 2018.  Avg. days on market this year is 78 days compared to 116 days last year for the 3 towns and the avg. selling price was 96% of the asking price.   Interestingly enough, in our area the median sales price through Aug. stayed about the same at $351,000 (last year it was $350,000).

While the U.S. economy at large looks positive, experts are split on whether another recession is on the horizon. However, most signs point to continued good news for the housing market. The CoreLogic HPI Forecast predicts a moderate but healthy 5.6% acceleration in annual home price growth to June 2020.  Bottom line, the housing market is really good for buyers and sellers.  Mortgage rates are low and home prices are still rising.  Contact me to work with a realtor who understands how the market impacts you!  603-526-4116; www.DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com.

“Word of Mouth” is the best advertisement, and we love it when you refer your friends and family to Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

Seven Reasons Getting Rid of Clutter Helps a House Sell Faster

Whether you bought a starter home or what you hoped would be a forever home,circumstances change. One thing that doesn’t change though, is the inevitable expansion that occurs when you become a homeowner. As time goes on, you acquire tools that need to be used just once or twice a year, like step ladders and extension ladders, lawn mowers, edgers and leaf blowers. When it’s time to sell, you may find you’ve expanded just a bit too much. Getting rid of clutter is the first thing you need to do when you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, and sadly, unless you move frequently, there are very few peoplewho don’t accumulate more than they should.

Here are seven reasons you need to get rid of that clutter to ensure a quick home sale.

1. It’s all about imagined lives

Clutter makes it hard to think.You may not think of your collection of exotic masks from your foreign travels as clutter. But let’s face it, we don’t all like the same things, and if your home is bursting with small objects, buyers can’t imagine themselves in your space. You have to make room for them and their imagined lives in what might soon be their home rather than yours. Store the highly personal collections during the selling process so buyers can see the space as theirs, and they’ll be more likely to make an immediate offer.

2. Help the potential buyer maintain focus

Extra seating, family photos and bone china tea cup collections are all distractions.You don’t want potential buyers to become so intrigued (or puzzled) by the things you’ve collected—none of which they’ll be purchasing—that they don’t actually register the house itself. You want them to look at the space,appreciate its best features and become convinced of its potential for their family. 

3. Create the illusion of space to entice buyers

By getting rid of extra seating, paring down the clothes in your closets and weeding out everything in the pantry that’s past its best-before date, you create the illusion of more space, which is always a good thing when trying to sell a home. After all, empty rooms always look bigger than rooms filled with furniture. 

Be strategic, though, and don’t leave yourself with nowhere to sit. Think of your home as wearing its Sunday best rather than sweats and a t-shirt, and if there’s a chair the cat’s clawed, the sun has faded or that needs cleaning or reupholstering, get it out of the house while potential buyers are viewing. There will be plenty of time to kick back and relax in that past-its-prime lounger when you’re moved into your new home.

4. Well-staged homes photograph better

While you might get a viewing from a drive-by or after an open house, most potential buyers these days are going to look at your house and its listing online. Good photos make all the difference here, but you’re not going to get them if you haven’t decluttered. Put the family photos away, get all the toys into the toy box, remove the gym equipment that’s migrated from the basement to other living areas and make your real estate agent’s job easier by presenting a home that shows to advantage in both photos and real life.

5. Maximize kitchen counter space

Yes, it’s a pain. But even though your family uses the toaster and blender everyday, putting them away in cupboards before viewings provides a clean slate and makes potential home buyers think about all the meals they’re going to prepare in their new home. 

If your home’s being shown to first-time home buyers, chances are good they’re looking for more space, particularly an opportunity to expand from a galley kitchen to one that has room for a table and chairs. Help them believe they’regoing to be transformed into hosts with the most when they buy your home by giving them the visual space they need.

6. Don’t borrow trouble

Cluttered homes make potential buyers uneasy. Viewing someone else’s occupied home is slightly uncomfortable for most people. Clutter is not only a distraction; it makes your home look uncared for. This can make potential buyers start to ask themselves, “if they haven’t taken care of their possessions, what other problems are brewing here?” You could lose an offer if this kind of nebulous doubt sets in.

7. Let your home show itself

Let’s face it—you’re selling your home, not the couch and coffee table. By getting rid of clutter and replacing it with neutral but stylish accessories, you lead the buyer’s eye to the features of your home that are its true selling points. That means you’re going to get a quicker sale and a higher price than if you make a potential buyer struggle to see your home’s merits.

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

Don't Let the Flu Get You Down

It's that time of year again - flu season!  Be safe instead of sorry and get your flu shot.  Below is a list of clinics in the Lake Sunapee Region where you can get your shot:

Upcoming 2019 Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice Flu Clinics. For persons 19+ years of age.  LSRVNA will take Medicaid, Medicare and Medicare Replacement Plans.  Please bring your ID card(s).  If paying with cash or check, the cost is $35 for the regular dose and $80 for the high dose (recommended for persons 65+ years of age).    For more information go to www.flu.gov.  Call 603-526-4077 for updates and info.  www.lakesunapeevna.org

FLU CLINICS 2019

9/30  Newbury Library  5-7pm

10/1  Danbury Community Center  10am-noon

10/2  Warner Pharmace  9:30-11:30am

10/3  Claremont Senior Center  10-noon

10/3  Springfield Town Office  4-6pm

10/4  Lyon Brook, New London  10:30am-noon

10/4  Our Lady of Fatima, New London  1:30-3pm

10/7  The Center at Eastman, Grantham  9-noon

10/7  Sutton Town Hall, Sutton Mills  1-3pm

10/8  Bradford Senior Center  10-noon

10/8  St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, New London  1-3pm

10/10  Hilltop Place, New London  11-1pm

10/10  WCA Red Barn, Wilmot  1-7pm

10/14  Sunapee Cove  10-noon

10/15  Upper Valley Senior Center, Lebanon  10-noon

10/15  Kearsarge Area COA, New London  1-4pm

10/15  Washington Town Hall  5:30-7pm

10/16  South Newbury Union Church  4-6pm

10/17  Claremont Senior Center  11-noon

10/18  Kearsarge Presbyterian Church, New London 10-noon

10/21  Sunapee Seniors at United Methodist Church  10-noon

10/22  Cornish Town Hall Senior Lunch  11-12:30pm

10/23  Warner Pharmacy  9:30-11:30am

10/24  Plainfield Elementary School  11:30-1pm

10/24  First Baptist Church, New London  2-4pm

10/25  Newport Senior Center  11-12:30pm

10/28  Andover Town Hall  10-noon

10/28  Mascoma Area Senior Center, Canaan  10-11:30am

10/29  Marion Phillips Apartments, Claremont  12:30-1:30pm

10/30  Earl Bourdon Centre, Claremont  9:30-11:30am

10/30  Sugar River Mills, Claremont  12:30-1:30pm

10/31  Wilmot Town Office  9-11am

Want to Know My Pet Peeve?

OK – I confess – I have a pet peeve about photos.  Specifically about poorly done photos on properties that are listed for sale.  I get really annoyed when I see dimly lit rooms, kitchens with cluttered countertops, refrigerators covered in magnets and papers, and out of focus pictures.  Sellers, you deserve better - homes with high quality photos sell 32% faster.

Given that over 90% of buyers start their search online, if you don’t have great photos, your property is going to be bypassed in seconds.  And buyers will not go back to review it once they’ve weeded it out.   So sellers, do yourself a favor and go view how your house looks online.  If you are not seeing clean lines, decluttered and bright rooms with wide angle lens shots, and crisp photos, then it is time to have an honest conversation with your agent on how you can better prepare your house for photos.   And you need to ask the agent how they will take higher quality photos.  Contact me if you want to work with an agent who knows how to maximize your online presence.  DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com; 603-526-4116

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Pricing Your Home is Not Magic

If you are thinking about selling, determining the right value is your number one priority.  While sometimes it seems the price is picked out of thin air, there really are 3 methods for determining value.  Below is a brief explanation of each.

1.  Market Analysis - Prepared by a real estate agent to provide an estimate of the probable selling price, expressed as a range.  Using similar active and recently sold properties and factoring in the many characteirstics that impact value, it is a guide to help the seller determine a listing price.

2.  Appraisal - a much more in-depth analysis done by a licensed appraiser.  Typically appraisals are used in the loan process to ensure the value of the home is equal to or greater than the purchase price, thus protecting the lender's interest.

3.  Automated Valuation - Used by Zillow and other companies, the value is calculated by software based on mathematical modeling.  While convenient, it misses important price influences such as property condition and location (e.g. on a busy street).

Want to know your home's value?  Contact me - I just completed a 6 hour class on mastering the market analysis!  25 years in the business and still keeping current - so put my knowledge to work for you!  Donna Forest 526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

Looking for a positive home buying/selling experience? Call Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team!  603-526-4116

Curb Appeal on a Dime

Does your house or yard need a face-lift? These budget-friendly ideas will help you add interest to your home’s exterior—without a high price tag.

Illuminate pathways.

Curb appeal doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down—you can highlight pathways and landscaping with lights. This improves safety and can dramatically boost your home’s nighttime appearance.

Landscape for curb appeal.

Smooth the transition from street to front steps with these inexpensive landscaping ideas. A curved path to the home’s entry provides a pleasing welcome for visitors. Surround a walkway with midsize shrubs and flowers for plant groupings that have serious impact.

Add container plants.

Improve your front yard by turning your home’s entry into an inviting focal point with a few well-chosen plants on the front porch. Vary the container and plant sizes, and arrange them on multiple levels.

Replace old walkways.

Replace a dull or cracked concrete walkway with a fresh path made of stone or brick. Visitors access this front door via square pads of bluestone trimmed with brick. Narrow strips of turfgrass separate the squares, which step up slightly to follow the change in grade from the street to the house.

Get a healthy lawn.

If your lawn is sickly or choked with weeds, consider installing new sod. Remove the old lawn, lay new sod and keep it well-watered for a few weeks.

Create an appealing porch.

If you’re lucky enough to have a sizable front porch, it’s easy to transform it into a simple but inviting outdoor room. Add a swing, chairs or comfortable bench to create a conversation nook. Keep the porch free of clutter and ready for cozy gatherings.

Accent with color.

When repainting, take the opportunity to choose fresh hues or add an accent color to your exterior color scheme. Paint test patches before committing; some colors look great on a sample card but may be too intense for a house.

Restore an asphalt driveway.

To liven up a worn driveway, patch and seal the surface, filling holes and cracks with asphalt patch. Applying a fresh sealer can also make a driveway look new again.

Upgrade the garage door.

Sectional doors often feature windows in an upper panel, and some higher-end versions mimic the look of traditional carriage-house doors. If a new garage door isn’t an option, add character to the building with a pergola, new lighting or fresh paint.

Install a prefab trellis.

For exterior design on a dime, use an arbor or trellis to give form to your yard and complement your plantings.

Power-wash exterior surfaces.

Take a weekend to clean your home’s exterior. Aluminum, wood and vinyl siding are safe surfaces to power-wash, as are wood decks and concrete sidewalks. If you don’t own a power-washer, you can rent one from your local home improvement store.

Coordinate hardware.

Address numbers, mailboxes, locksets and porch lights are simple upgrades. These elements are small but add a lot of finesse to your look. Keep the colors and finishes consistent so the pieces look like an ensemble of accessories, not a batch of mismatched hardware.

Plant trees.

If you’re preparing to sell your house, consider adding a few small ornamental trees. If you’re staying put, think long-term and try oaks, maples, honey locust or other large species suitable for your region. Another option: fast-growing species or small ornamental trees such as pagoda dogwood, redbud, flowering pear, river birch or Japanese maple can add dramatic interest without requiring years to become established.

Beautify the driveway.

The colors and textures of the plants shown here soften the driveway’s expanse and make it look less utilitarian. Groundcovers and low-growing plants are best in beds along the sides (or in the middle!) of the driveway.

Bring style to a slope.

Cheap-looking materials detract from a yard’s appearance. For sloped areas that need terracing, use cut stone or precast decorative wall blocks for a high-end look.

Wow with windows.

There are numerous ways to increase the appeal of your windows. Shutters add style to plain windows, while painted trim in a modern color creates playful contrast. Window boxes filled with lush foliage also bring life to a home’s exterior.

Doll-up the driveway.

For an affordable driveway face-lift, line the pavement with plant containers that can be easily updated each season. Here, solar-powered lanterns between the planters provide flexible lighting.

Source:  www.bhgrelife.com

Teamwork from the Team that works –Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

The Housing Market is Blooming!

It is spring in the Granite State and the housing market is in full bloom.  While we are still experiencing low inventory, buyers are out buying and multiple offers are not uncommon.  Like last year, the lack of homes to sell is impacting prices.  Statewide in the 1st quarter, the median sales price grew from $260,000 in 2018 to $280,000 in 2019, up 7.7%.   The average days on market was 80 days.  Sales statewide are down by 2.8%; again due to low inventory. 

In the combined towns of Newbury, New London, and Sunapee, 1st quarter sales are about the same.  26 homes sold in 2019; 25 sold in 2018.  The average days on market dropped to 145 days vs. 201 days in 2018.  The median sales price was $350,250 in 2019 compared to $392,000 in 2018.  The higher median sales price in 2018 can be attributed to having 3 sales over $1 million close in the 1st quarter vs. the highest sales price this year was $750,000.

The good news for home buyers is no further rate hikes are expected and the 30 yr. fixed rate mortgage is under 4.5%.  Additionally it is still a tight job market which is pushing up income.  Bottom line, it’s still a good time to be a buyer or seller so contact me to get your jump on the spring market!  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, donna@donnaforest.com

Figures are based on information from the Northern New England Real Estate Network, Inc. for the period 1/1/18 – 3/31/18 and 1/1/19 – 3/31/19.

“Word of Mouth” is the best advertisement, and we love it when you refer your friends and family to Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

Weekend House Projects Under $20

You don’t have to spend big bucks to improve the functionality of your home. Try one or more of these projects this weekend to make your home look and feel its best.

Replace a window treatment.

Has the window shade above your kitchen sink been marred by repeated exposure to splashes and cooking liquids? Replace a stained window covering with an inexpensive fabric treatment and see your kitchen in a whole new light.

Brighten a bookcase.

Give a bookcase an exciting backdrop by applying contact paper, scrapbook paper or fabric to its back. If you don’t want to commit to a particular design or color scheme, measure the piece’s back panel and mount the background material on poster board, cut to the size of each shelf.

Tackle trimwork repairs.

You might not be able to install new trimwork in your home for $20, but you can make improvements to what you already have. Replace mismatched, missing or damaged moldings, end caps, quarter rounds or baseboard. Curved areas might require a special piece or trim made of an alternate material.

Create a charging station.

Construct a mini charging station for your family’s devices with this simple, inexpensive hack. Cut small slits in a basic ledge shelf to enable cords to run behind and inside the hollow shelf before being plugged in below. Mount the station to the wall to keep countertops clutter-free.

Organize the entry.

Keep dirt and mud contained with a boot tray near your home’s entryway. Buy one that’s easy to clean, or create your own from a jelly-roll pan. If storage space is limited, tuck the tray beneath a slim console table.

Mend your walkway.

Cracks and gaps in sidewalks and walkways can quickly expand throughout the year. Not only will a patch job make your pathway look nice, it’ll also make it safer for visitors and passersby. Fix your sidewalk with a patching compound specifically made for cement.

Get stylish underfoot.


Try your hand at a fun paint technique and update tired flooring with a custom rug. Using a vinyl floor remnant and paint, you can create a fun, personalized focal point. Varying the stripe widths creates a cool, casual look.

Add a cheap backsplash.

Turn a large vintage map into a distinctive backdrop that makes a statement. This map of Paris is a fun addition to an otherwise-neutral kitchen.

Tip: If you’re a renter or have boring ceramic tiles in your kitchen, use peel-and-stick decals to add less-permanent flair in a flash.

Replace switchplates.

Replace a plastic switchplate with a wood, metal or ceramic cover to make a visual statement. Some switchplates are even textured to blend in with marble, tile or stone surfaces. Do this for light switches, electrical outlets and phone and cable jacks.

Organize your closets.

Coax function from a messy closet with thoughtful accessories designed to elevate organization. Categorize hanging garments by type, day of the week, or family member with colorful tags. Slim, slip-free hangers look uniform and maximize space.

Recaulk the bathroom.

If the caulk in your bathroom is looking dingy, discolored or cracked, it’s time to remove it and start fresh. Whether it’s around your sink, bathtub or shower, old caulk can grow mildew and cause damage by leaking water—especially between the tub and bathroom floor. Remove the old caulk, clean the space well and replace it with a new layer. A good caulk seal will last up to 10 years.

Add a divider.

Drawer and cabinet dividers are a must when it comes to keeping kitchen tools in their respective places. Secure a wire rack inside a cabinet to provide sturdy storage for cookie sheets, muffin tins and cooling racks. Some units match your kitchen cabinetry design for a completely integrated and customized look.

Step up your storage game.

Plastic bins are a versatile and inexpensive way to restore order in almost every in-home trouble spot. Using clear bins for storage in a pantry or for a closet gift-wrap station, for example, is an easy way to take inventory and identify items at a glance. Use labels to ensure everything stays tidy and easy to access.

Designate a drop spot.

Enhance the style and storage of your entryway with a designated place for important drop-zone items. Create a mini hang-up station for house keys and outgoing mail on the back of a cabinet door. Use magnetic strips, pegboard or an old ceiling tin, and add hooks to store items in one convenient location near the door.

Update your house numbers.

All it takes is a screwdriver and few minutes to give your front door a personality-filled facelift. Change out poorly operating door hardware or make house numbers more readable for a pretty, practical update on the cheap.

Put towels and robes within reach.

Bid floor puddles goodbye by keeping after-bath accessories within reach. Add a towel bar or robe hook near your shower or bathtub, or move the one you already have to make it more accessible. Find bars or hooks that match or complement existing hardware in your bathroom.

Add hanging storage.

Free up valuable floor space in your basement, garage or entryway with hanging storage. Seasonal items, such as bikes and sleds, are difficult to store and take up lots of space. Add hooks to an unused wall or ceiling area and discover space you didn’t know you had.

Source:  www.bhgrelife.com

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5 Reasons You Should Sell in 2019

If you are on the fence about selling, this might be the best year to put your house on the market.  Below are 5 reasons why selling now will put more money in your pocket!

  • The median home price is at an all-time high.  In NH, the median home sales price was $282,500 in 2018, surpassing the peak of the market in 2005 at $270,000.
  • There still is low inventory which means buyers are competing for homes.  Multiple offers are not unusual!
  • Mortgage rates have fallen since the start of the year – meaning more buyers can afford to buy.
  • Milennials are entering the market – nearly 5 million will be turning 30 in the next 2 years – they scooped up homes last year and 2019 should be no different.
  • Some economists are predicting an economic slowdown in 2020, which could impact housing sales.

 If you are thinking about selling, contact me to see how the market could impact you.  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Living Room Design Tips to Bring Home

Lots of people will say the kitchen is the heart of the home—and that may be true, but the living room plays a huge role in how you entertain and use your house on a daily basis. Try incorporating these ideas next time you’re in the mood for a refresh.

Set the mood with color.

The colors you choose for your living room will affect how guests feel in the space. Colors can energize or relax the space, depending on how intense they are and how warm or cool they are.

A serene scheme of soft blue and white makes this spacious living room feel calm, cool and collected—a gracious setting for elegant gatherings. A light tan carpet underfoot warms the space and keeps the cool tones in balance.

Finish the walls and ceilings.

Traditionally, living room walls receive more elaborate or formal treatment than other rooms because the room is a public space. To make it a welcoming room that expresses your personality, choose wall coverings or treatments that reflect your style.

The walls in this room are wallpapered with a chic print. The effect brings warmth and texture to the walls and gives them a look of antiquity.

Add character with architectural trim work.

Trim work serves practical purposes, covering the seams where floors and ceilings meet walls and supporting the structure around openings. But these elements serve aesthetic purposes too. The style of trim work helps give your home a distinctive look, whether classical, contemporary, old-world or regional.

Projecting lintels over the door and windows, a deep cornice and a paneled and beamed vaulted ceiling combine to give this whitewashed living room a sense of place.

Choose stylish, comfortable flooring.

In keeping with the function of the living room as a public space, choose a floor covering that provides comfort underfoot and makes a design statement as well. A vibrant wall-to-wall carpet lays the foundation for a refined mix of florals and stripes.

If you prefer a less bold floor, choose a solid neutral flooring that allows attention to focus on furniture or art. Hardwood floors with area rugs are one of the most popular choices for living room floors, but ceramic tile, stone tile and full carpeting work too.

Create a focal point.

A focal point anchors the living room and helps draw you into the space. A fireplace is a natural focal point, symbolizing hearth and home, but in most living spaces, the television is the true center of attention. To keep them from competing, pair them up. A beautiful view or a stunning piece of art can also serve as a room’s focal point.

Here a the fireplace becomes the central point in this living room that features a simple and chic look.

Arrange furniture for conversation.

Living rooms are gathering spaces, so use furniture arrangement to promote conversation and interaction. Pull seating pieces away from the walls and arrange them to face each other.

If you have a large living room, break it into two conversational groups for a more comfortable, intimate feeling. Chairs and ottomans that can be pulled into the group as needed allow you to expand the circle and still keep the intimacy.

Include inviting lighting.

Lighting in the living room should be geared toward creating a relaxed, comfortable mood. Aim for layers of light, and position light sources so they form roughly a triangle to ensure good distribution of illumination.

Table lamps that focus the light down will encourage people to sit down and relax. The overlapping arcs of light illuminate the seating instead of the upper walls, sending the message to sit.

Dress the windows—or not.

Although heavy window treatments are mostly a thing of the past, living rooms are the place for elaboration and luxury if you’re so inclined. This combination of relaxed shades and floor-to-ceiling draperies is understated yet elegant.

The elegance comes from the generous use of fabric in the draperies—they’re not fancy, but the thick folds and puddling ends communicate luxury. The shades block light and provide privacy when desired.

Design a media center.

If your living room is also your family room, watching TV may be the main use of the room. Whether you have the newest model or an older one, incorporate it into the room’s design so that it’s a feature but not dominant.

A built-in bookcase is a perfect spot to accommodate the television.

Accessorize with art and collections.

Living room walls come alive when you use them to display art or collections that you love. Group items for impact, and hang them low enough to relate to nearby furnishings or architecture. The most common mistake in hanging pictures is putting them too high.

Source:  www.bhgre/life.com

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.