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Get Ready Before It's Too Late

Winter is just around the corner. Are you ready? Here are some things to check.

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Thanksgiving Proclamation for 2011

This is the time of the year to come together and remember how fortunate we are for all we have. Every year our current president gives a Thanksgiving Proclamation. Below is President Obama's for this year. You can view previous proclamations at the Pilgrim Hall Museum. Happy Thanksgiving!  

Thanksgiving Day 2011 A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America


     One of our Nation's oldest and most cherished traditions, Thanksgiving Day brings us closer to our loved ones and invites us to reflect on the blessings that enrich our lives.  The observance recalls the celebration of an autumn harvest centuries ago, when the Wampanoag tribe joined the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony to share in the fruits of a bountiful season.  The feast honored the Wampanoag for generously extending their knowledge of local game and agriculture to the Pilgrims, and today we renew our gratitude to all American Indians and Alaska Natives.  We take this time to remember the ways that the First Americans have enriched our Nation's heritage, from their generosity centuries ago to the everyday contributions they make to all facets of American life.  As we come together with friends, family, and neighbors to celebrate, let us set aside our daily concerns and give thanks for the providence bestowed upon us.

     Though our traditions have evolved, the spirit of grace and humility at the heart of Thanksgiving has persisted through every chapter of our story.  When President George Washington proclaimed our country's first Thanksgiving, he praised a generous and knowing God for shepherding our young Republic through its uncertain beginnings.  Decades later, President Abraham Lincoln looked to the divine to protect those who had known the worst of civil war, and to restore the Nation "to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union."

     In times of adversity and times of plenty, we have lifted our hearts by giving humble thanks for the blessings we have received and for those who bring meaning to our lives.  Today, let us offer gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their many sacrifices, and keep in our thoughts the families who save an empty seat at the table for a loved one stationed in harm's way.  And as members of our American family make do with less, let us rededicate ourselves to our friends and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand.

     As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives.  Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come.

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 2011, as a National Day of Thanksgiving.  I encourage the people of the United States to come together    whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors    to give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and to share our bounty with others.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


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Renovation vs. New Build and Job Creation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

Is it better to build new or rehab the old?

I just read an article in The Atlantic - Cities that hits home for me. Should our industry keep promoting newly built homes or renovating and retrofitting existing buildings? I realize that there is a substantial number of people who make their livings building new homes, and as our population grows here in Vermont, we do require housing for more people. At the same time though, there are buildings in every city that lay vacant and/or abandoned. No one likes seeing empty buildings or dilapidated homes. It not only looks bad, but it effects everyone's property. It is harder to sell a home if it is in a neighborhood with vacant or deteriorating houses. Just think about it, would you buy a new home in a neighborhood with homes that are vacant or falling apart? Of course not. Does it really make sense to keep using up available land to build new communities?

Thirty years ago I was accepted into an apprentice program with the National Trust For Historic Preservation and for a number of reasons I declined the invitation. I knew at the time it was one of those major forks in my road of life, and I often think how my life would have been different if I had taken that path. Regardless, my strong interest and devotion in preservation remains.

Which is better for job creation?

In her article, Emily Badger describes how restoration is better for job creation. Actually repairing existing buildings creates up to 50% more jobs. She sites, "Nationally, about 41 percent of the cost of residential repair goes to labor. For new construction, that number is just 28 percent, meaning considerably more than half of any investment in a new home goes not to construction jobs, but to materials, equipment and things like trucking services". This type of shift won't come on it's own, because it is somewhat of a paradigm shift. What we require is financing companies and municipal organizations to get on board and incentivize reahabilitation. Contractors that are currently building new could just as easily be renovating.

I am clear that this idea isn't as easy as I state it here and that there are parameters that are complicated, yet what has to happen is for people to start talking out loud about what is best for  whole communities and not just individuals.

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Foliage in Vermont

Vermont Fall Foilage | Living in Vermont | VT HomesVermont Is Heaven

Vermont is one of the most visited states in the country for leaf peeping. Maybe it's because the colors are more vibrant here due to the sugar maples and the wide variety of deciduous trees. Maybe it's because of the blend of mountains, valleys and bodies of water. Maybe it's the relatively short distance to Boston and Montreal. I'd like to think that it is all those plus the quality of life, food, air and people. I am biased, but I think Vermont is as close to heaven you can get while still breathing.

'Tis the Season

Although Vermont is beautiful in all her seasons, fall happens to be the most precious. The weather is mild, the black flies and mosquitoes have moved on and the color is magnificent. We get an average of 3.6 million foliage visitors each year and they boost the economy by around $331.9 million. It's a win-win.

It's Not Too Late

Traditionally Columbus Day marks the peak of foliage season, I am still stopping by the side of the road daily to take photos of the vibrant colors. Some people I know in Boston have asked me if they could still drive around back roads, due to the damage from Hurricane Irene. The facts are that there are still some roads under repair, but most hard hit areas have fixed roads to allow traffic flow and those not hit as hard, are back to normal. Some have come and thanked me because they would have missed this year's foliage display if they hadn't spoken to me.

I know I must sound like I work for the state or the Chamber of Commerce, but I don't. I just wish for everyone to be visit and see what heaven really looks like....and maybe be just a little jealous they don't live here......yet.


This article submitted by Steve Overton, Keller Williams GMP

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Everywhere You Look, Steve Jobs Touched That

Steve Jobs at the WWDC 07

Critics be silent...for now.

I am a Realtor professionally, but as you probably can already tell, I am an Apple fan. When Steve Jobs retired from Apple a month ago, I wrote about him and the impact he had on me. Well now he's gone. The tributes are everywhere and unfortunately so are the criticisms. For now, let the critics be silent. I have some more to say.

I have been using computers since the card punch days. I learned to program in Fortran back then and 'liked' it so much I never did it again. It was amazing to be able to make lines of symbols print out a circle and all, but I wasn't interested in that aspect of computering. When Apple developed a computer that didn't require typing commands, I was hooked. What was then called the graphical user interface (GUI),  turned into what we see on all our computers. Steve Jobs did that.

That was the beginning of his quest to design products with the user in mind. He wanted our experience with computers to be friendly, to be easy, to be intuitive. That's what Apple products have always been, and still are today.

But Apple didn't invent that...

Steve didn't invent the mouse, but he turned it into a must have accessory which hundreds of companies copied or built themselves. He didn't invent the all-in-one computer, but he made one that started the obsession with all-in-one's. He didn't invent the smartphone, but he made one that had one button and a touch screen, which is now the industry standard. He didn't invent the tablet computer, but made one that has sent every other tablet to the recycling bin. He didn't invent the personal music player, but made one that could hold thousands of songs and fit in your pocket. He didn't invent animated movies, but at Pixar, he showed what was possible and even Disney was left to play catch up. In short, Steve set many of the standards for products we use today.

Do you see a fan base of people lining up to buy the newest thing from Android, or Microsoft, or Blackberry? Is the press overcome by reports or rumors of what's coming out next in any other industry, anywhere? When you walk down the street do you see large numbers of people with headphones in their ears, many of them white? Ten years ago it was rare for anyone to wear headphones in public, or have a personal phone they carried with them.

Do you know anyone who loves their PC? I can give you a long list of people who love their Macs. How come? My brother, (a consumate PC tinkerer) would say it is a personal problem, but I say it is because Steve Jobs knew what most people want. They want to use their computers (or phones) and not have to figure out on their own how everything works. People spend less time tinkering and more time doing.

iPads are for everyone.

He was also committed to getting Macs into schools. Why should school IT departments and students spend large amounts of time learning and tweeking hardware and software when they could simply provide computers that would allow students to get to work and create. Both Maine and New Hampshire have seen the logic in this idea.

When I see videos of a two year old using an iPad as a learning tool and a 99 year old woman rediscovering her ability to read, I understand that what Steve set out to do, he accomplished. He made technology accessible to the masses. The two year old will never know a world without an iPad and the 99 year old who never used computers has learned how to use a one to be able to read again.

What's important to see here is that a man with a vision, who was called crazy, among other things, has changed the world as we know it. He not only gave us gadgets, but he also raised the bar for what we expect in the future, both from ourselves and from those that build things. Stay crazy and stay foolish and the world will be a better place. Thank you Steve, I'll miss you.


This article submitted by Steve Overton, Keller Williams GMP

Enhanced by Zemanta Comes to the iPad

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase has had an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch for a while now and it has been more than useable on the iPad. But now you can use it in full screen delight. This app is by far the best I have found for searching properties on line, bar none. Since it is produced by the National Association of Realtors, it has the most accurate information and it's depth of features is striking. My favorite feature is the ability to draw a line around the area you are interested in on a map, and watch as the push pins drop out of the sky to mark each available house.I confess that even though I am a realtor, I have never really been a fan of, but this app has really made me sit up and take notice. Now I use this app on a regular basis.

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The Real Estate Website Redesign

Barnes and Noble Books|The Real Estate Guide Vermont

Why the Real Estate Guide?

Some say that with the popularity of the web, and the ease with which information is distributed through it, that print media will disappear. I disagree. It is true that in the real estate industry, more than 80 percent of people begin their search online. It is also true that ebooks and emagazines are becoming more popular because of the Kindle and iPad. Borders has gone out of business, some say because no one is buying books anymore, but all I have to do is take a trip to Barnes and Noble and watch people line up at the counter with books to buy to see something else is at play.

Borders didn't move at all to the web or to digital media. They saw no need to adjust. Barnes and Noble did. They saw what was coming well in advance, they had vision and the will to move into those areas because that is what the public wanted. Companies have to pay attention to what the public wants. That is what the Real Estate Guide does and has always done. They serve two masters. Realtors and house hunters. Realtors are the ones that are responsible for the content of the magazine and house hunters are the majority of the readership. Michael and his staff have always done a masterful job of taking the content that Realtors submit and create a visually appealing and interesting magazine. They distribute it everywhere, or so it seems. Everywhere I go, I see their red boxes that look like London phone booths.

The house hunting public does search online, but almost every client I have worked with over the years tells me about a house they saw in the Real Estate Guide. They are not using just one media to search for a new home, they are looking everywhere. The Real Estate Guide has had a website since for many years in addition to the magazine. It has worked well for Realtors because it generated additional interested clients.

It's a New Day

Over the years the Real Estate Guide's website served everyone well, but it needed an upgrade. Union Street Media, the premier real estate web designers, created what we think is a cleaner and more friendly site. House hunters can search for properties right from the home page now. There is information about living in Vermont that is helpful and informative. Inquiries about ads in the magazine are directed to the advertising Realtors....everyone wins.

I hope you like the site as much as we do and keep coming back to read up on what's happening in real estate and to do your house hunting.


This article submitted by Steve Overton, Keller Williams GMP

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Think Different and Stay Crazy

Image representing iPhone Vermont Real Estate Software

I love Apple Computer and Steve Jobs. There I've said it. Think what you will about Steve Jobs. What can't be denied is that he has transformed the way we interact with each other. He inspired brilliant people to destroy accepted paradigms and create a future, unimagined. It started in his garage in Cupertino with Steve Wozniak when they had the crazy idea that computers should be on everyone's desk....and now we all have one in our pockets.

Matthew Shadbolt of The Corcoran Group wrote a very good article for Inman Next about Steve Jobs and the contribution he has been. Steve has affected much more than the obvious computer industry. He built Pixar Studios, which has brought us amazing, award winning animated movies and set the bar very high for all other animated movie producers. Some people don't remember a day without mp3 players. Walkmans live in museums now because of Steve's vision. Having our whole music collection in our pockets wasn't even something we thought we'd want......that is until Apple showed us what was possible at a cost we could afford.

Steve Jobs Envisioning the Future

When Steve returned to Apple in 1996, one of the first cuts he made was the Newton. I was mad. I had the future in my pocket and he said it was just a scribble pad and he was getting rid of it. I remember thinking he was making a big mistake and that he'd regret it. Well, we were both right. I did have the future in my pocket.....and he envisioned a future I couldn't.....then he brought into being. iPhones are now everywhere you look. 74 million have been sold since June of 2007. Cell phone manufacturers has been trying to catch up ever since and have been copying the iPhone design in order to compete. Now we have the iPad which is only a little over a year old. 15 million have been sold since it hit the street. I got one two days after it went on sale. I felt special for a while, but now everywhere you look, there they are. They are in schools, hospitals, retail shops, real estate, automobiles.....the list goes on and on.

Real Estate Software eEdge

Steve is responsible for transforming the way we work and play. For example, Keller Williams has rolled out a new software program called eEdge. It is a web based suite of programs that keep track of contacts, marketing, lead generation, and paperless transactions. When someone visits my website and has a question, or a client signs a document online, I receive a text message on my iPhone alerting me. I can then get back to people within seconds. I have more than 20 apps on my iPhone and iPad that are real estate related that help find homes for sale, calculate mortgages, annotate pdf's, and create powerpoint presentations that can be displayed on large screen monitors wirelessly, to name just a few. During my drives to and from work I listen to podcasts to catch up on news or listen to books "on tape".

When I listen to Steve's commencement address at Stanford,

I am inspired to always be vigilant to look for what's not obvious, to solve problems by not paying attention to the way it looks but by looking for what's possible.

I am so grateful for Steve's constant inspiration. My life is better because of his influence.......and so is yours.

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This article submitted by Steve Overton, Keller Williams GMP

Top Financial Considerations When Buying A Home

Worried about homebuying costs? Buying your new home, whether here in Vermont or anywhere, is a big decision. It can be the best financial investment you ever make......provided you think it through and make some sound decisions. In an article written by Terri Briseno for, she goes through a financial checklist of areas for consideration. She brings to light some of the hidden expenses that often are a surprise to first time home buyers. Things like cost of a home inspection, insurances, association fees, closing costs and more. Most of these expenses should be discussed by your Realtor, but sometimes they are not explained in detail. The most disheartening thing can be the feeling of being "nickled and dimed" as the closing draws near. Many home buyers get so involved with the emotional side of finding the right home and wrapped up in imagining themselves living in a new place and in a new neighborhood, they don't pay attention to or don't even know the many details that lie ahead.

Regular Home Maintenance Costs

In her article, Terri spells out the actual costs of buying a home and considerations of what to expect so as not to be surprised. Have you thought about regular home maintenance costs, or how you might pay for a major repair? While renting, it's easy to just call the maintenance or management company, but when you are the owner, you will be that person. Will you have enough money put away for an emergency, or will you have emptied your savings account for closing costs and inspection fees? As a homeowner you will be paying real estate taxes and will have to have homeowners insurance, again things as a renter you probably didn't think twice about. The gist of all this is to be prepared and informed and you will have a much easier and pleasant experience.

CNN Money Says..........

Buying a home is now cheaper than renting. In 74% of the 50 largest cities in the US, it is now a better investment to buy than to rent. This is the article they quote Trulia and report that since prices have been pushed down, in addition to the decline in interest rates, people are starting to see the advantage of going from renting to buying.

Top 10 IRS Tax Tips for Sellers posted some very sound and useful tips for people who are thinking about selling their home here. The article clarifies capital gains and what can be deducted and what can't, plus 9 more tips. Forms are available from this site as well. If you do one thing, bookmark this page for later reference.

Create a Webpage From Your Phone in Under a Minute

Imagine you are at a family picnic and you're taking photos like wild. You are sure you want to share this time with everyone who couldn't be there. Normally what you would do is go home after the party and start the process of getting the photos onto your computer and create a web page that people could go to. Of course you could post them to your Facebook account, but what if you could simply open an app on your iPhone, choose the photos, add some descriptions and push a button? Really, that's all you have to do to have a webpage that everyone can go to, to see the photos. The site would be up before you even leave the party. The app is call Zapd and you should go to itunes and download it.....why?.....because it's free. The app is free, and the webpage is free. Imagine the possibilities!


What is blogging for, really?

I started blogging in April 2006. I have really no idea who reads it. I started because I didn't know anything about it and wanted to learn. Many times I have thought it is a waste of time, it hasn't brought me any business, it must be a failure, a mistake. .....but today I saw this video of two of my most respected men in the field, and I now know the answer to all those questions and doubts. for the iPad has had an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch for a while now and it has been more than useable on the iPad. But now you can use it in full screen delight. This app is by far the best I have found for searching properties on line, bar none. Since it is produced by the National Association of Realtors, it has the most accurate information and it's depth of features is striking. My favorite feature is the ability to draw a line around the area you are interested in on a map, and watch as the push pins drop out of the sky to mark each available house. I confess that even though I am a realtor, I have never really been a fan of, but this app has really made me sit up and take notice. Now I use this app on a regular basis.

Intuition and Ego

This blog post for the Harvard Business Review talks about how successful CEOs trust their gut, especially when they are well informed. Intuition is something we all have. We get a feeling about a decision we are making. The real skill comes when we can determine the difference between that and our egoic mind. Warren Buffet thought he was making a good decision when he bought a textile company so he could fire the CEO who screwed him.

But what does this have to do with us and real estate?  Well, can you tell the difference between ego and intuition? Have you ever made a decision you regretted. Have you ever had an idea or gut feeling that you ignored and regretted it. We work with all kinds of people; buyers, sellers, realtors, attorneys, mortgage lenders every day. How do you separate yourself from everyone's agendas....including your own? The best quote from the article is "know your business, know yourself", but that may not necessarily be the correct order.


No More Flip :(

Cisco just nailed the coffin shut on the Flip camera. They bought the camera a couple of years ago, but now I guess the sales have dropped as a result of video being available on every smartphone on the market. iPhones now can not only take very respectable video, but it can now be edited with iMovie right on the phone. Then it can be uploaded to a website or YouTube without having to even be near a computer. Actually, it is a shame. The Flip was more than a capable video camera, easy to use and compact. The only problem is, you have to remember to take it with probably never go anywhere without your phone.

I can't believe what a short run it had. I never would have predicted that one.



The Real Estate Market - Good, Bad ???

KCM Crew has written a blog reporting on the health of the real estate market. Right or wrong, Realtors look for the positive news, and the public is bombarded with doom and gloom. Who do you believe? Realtors have a vested interest in wearing rose colored glasses and the media sells by reporting doom and gloom. Well I think our job is to stay impartial and present respected sources that report factually. I have my opinions, but who cares? People are more inclined to listen to the Wall Street Journal and Forbes Magazine than to me. This is a good article with good advice.