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Get Ready Before It’s Too Late

November 23, 2011

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

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Copyright 2011 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Thanksgiving Proclamation for 2011

November 23, 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

THANKSGIVING DAY, 2011
November 24, 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.

BARACK OBAMA


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Renovation vs. New Build and Job Creation

November 9, 2011

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

November 9, 2011

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

November 9, 2011

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

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Realtor.com Comes to the iPad

November 9, 2011

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Realtor.com 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 Realtor.com, 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

November 9, 2011

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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