Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Animal symbols of wealth in Feng Shui

Picture taken from http://tinyurl.com/ddfm6m

The Chinese believe that there are three kinds of luck:

1. Heaven luck which is determined by the time and place of your birth

2. Karma which is determined by your choices and actions in this life and previous lives.

3. Earth luck, the kind you get from living in harmony with your environment.

"Feng shui does not improve your fortunes in magical or supernatural ways. It won’t make you win the lottery or instantly find Ms or Mr right. But by achieving balance and harmony in your environment, you will feel happier and experience an enhanced sense of well-being, which over time will yield positive results in all the important areas of your life-health, wealth, career and relationships. Things will fall into place for you." http://fengshuibeginners.info/?

Over the next few weeks I will be focusing on animal symbols that are considered to bring prosperity and wealth to one's life. The thought is that by displaying these objects, one will increase their good fortune.

"Feng Shui recommends that peacock's 100 eyes on its tail, could activate fame luck, promote public admiration and bring positive motives from other people. The 100 eyes can also protect you from disasters and dangers". http://www.indusguru.com/peacock-symbols-of-love-and-life/

Keep in mind that the wealth and prosperity area of your home is located in the back left corner of any room or home when standing and looking in from the front door. Display the peacock here or you can display it in the southeast area of your home which is the wealth area as well. I just realized I have a struggling Orchid in my wealth area of my home. Yikes! Remove any objects that could be draining energy. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on this. You can email me at mbedard@hickokandboardman.com

Also be sure to check out your most auspicious directions and those directions you should NEVER face. Check out Find my KUA number

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New listing in Five Sister Neighborhood (Burlington)

I'm anticipating this listing will sell within a few days. It was listed by my colleague Chris Von Trapp. I just previewed it and it is beautiful and in an exceptional location. Home offers; high ceilings, lots of light, hardwood floors, 3 bedrooms, lake and mountain views, garage, 2 bathrooms, 2080 square feet, and more! 50 Caroline Street, Burlington, Vermont $499,000

For listing click here

Friday, April 17, 2009

How do I use Feng Shui to sell my house?

As the West continues to face challenges economically, many people are starting to expand their awareness and philosophies and look for answers and suggestions from other cultures. Feng Shui is an ancient Art and Science that started over 3,000 years ago in China. My personal opinion is that the West and East will continue to learn and borrow from each other as we find the balance between our lifestyles and thinking. Feng shui is a balance in the energies that exists around us continuously. I have developed a list of necessities that I think are important for sellers to complete before listing their property. My hope is that you will have fun with it as the feedback I usually get from people is, "After I did this I felt so much better!"

Picture is taken from Murins in Bali on http://www.flicker.com/

1. Come in or go away? Stand outside your home and face your front door. What do you see? If you see garbage or other debris/unnecessary items, remove them. Are the plants and trees healthy? If not, remove them. Do you have flowers and a nice welcome mat welcoming your potential home buyer into your home? Is the lighting near your front door bright and working? Is your front door in good working order? Fix any items that need fixing. Remember that broken/dirty or old items drain fresh energy from the surroundings making it difficult for new energy to enter your home.

2. You feel welcomed to keep going or you feel trapped and want to leave? Once you open your front door take a look around your home. What immediately do you see? Are the halls open allowing energy to flow through? Are there obstacles immediately facing you as you open the door? If there are shoes near the front door remove them. Place them in a closet or other modern organizer (shelf, bench) so that as one opens the door they are greeted immediately with open space as an invitation. I once opened a door to a home that was listed for sale for over 6 months and the first thing I saw was over 15 pairs of shoes that smelled really bad! Each time you open the door in Feng shui the energy from outside comes in and disperses the energy throughout your home. I think I could even smell the shoes from the kitchen of this home!

3. You see open space for future or you see chaos? Now take a look at each room of your home. Don't do this all at once! Do 15-20 minutes at a time. This is NOT easy. Look at all the furniture and "stuff" you have. It is probably time to de-clutter. Clutter is stagnation and energy gets stuck here. Clutter, "usually represents things we resist and places we don't wish to pay attention to" http://tinyurl.com/cksgv2 One would think that it would be easy to de-clutter but it can actually be really hard for people who "hold onto" the past or get stuck in their emotions. Do yourself a favor before doing this. Open the windows, turn on ALL the lights and play your favorite upbeat music to put you in a good emotional mood. Take three boxes and start with one room at a time (maybe even one corner of a room if you have A LOT of clutter). Now, for each item in the room, pick it up and hold it. What do you FEEL? Does this item hold positive memories for you? Do you smile when you think about this item? If the item reminds you of something unfriendly, throw it in the first box. Give it away. It no longer serves you. If it is trash and you are certain that NOBODY wants it then throw it in box number two which you will later bring to the dump. If you love this item and it makes you FEEL good when you hold it, put it to one side. If you are uncertain about the item, perhaps conflicted about if you really need or want it still, place it in box number three. This box will get saved in a basement or garage which you will unpack in 6 months. If you open it six months later and decide you did not miss this item, it is time to give it away.

Now again, this is not an easy exercise for everyone. Do it in stages. It gets a lot easier over time and I actually look forward to it and encourage my family to do this regularly with me. In the past three weeks I have donated over 7 boxes of items to the Salvation Army. I LOVE giving away beautiful items that I no longer need. The act of giving makes me feel good when I think about how someone may love that picture or item in their home and it opens up space for me in my home to bring in newer ideas and new opportunities and energy. To this day, I have NEVER regretted giving anything away. Isn't that interesting? Practice non-attachment. Have fun with this. Once you start giving, you won't stop. It feels good and my opinion is that the universe will support this behavior! It saddens me that a lot of Westerners are living in fear and "scarcity mode" holding on to all they have right now. The media even encourages us to "save, save, save!" The East would argue that we have everything we need and as long as we continue to give we will continue to receive. I've given more away to charity this year than I have ever given previously. Trust this process.

4. Sit down and relax or be careful not to trip and fall? Similar to removing the clutter in your rooms, are there pieces of furniture that are waiting to stab you or trip you as you move through the room? Remember that Feng Shui is about energy flowing and moving. If there are large pieces of furniture in a room with sharp or pointy edges, they may jeopardize your future and keep it in the shadows. I am a fan of antique armoires and I used to own about eight. I'm down to three! I've learned that the Chinese do not like sharp corners and prefer round smooth edges (ex round tables, and round end furniture and coffee tables). If you have an item that has sharp edges, consider placing a plant with long leaves to hang over the sharp edge so that it doesn't "stab" you or someone sitting across from it. These are known in Feng shui as, "poison arrows" and can do a lot of harm to someones well being. Along this line, are there too many pieces of furniture in your home? If you remove some pieces will you have more room for energy to flow and more light? Remove it from the room for a few minutes and see how it looks and feels.

5. Remove personal items. No potential buyer wants to see what toothpaste you use. They don't want to see your brand of coffee on your counter. Imagine that you were taking a picture of the room for a magazine. Do you see these items? Put these items in cabinets and drawers and get into the habit of doing it daily. Remember that real estate is about people buying a dream. You want them to walk into your home and imagine themselves there...not you. The more that you can hide personal items (especially photos of family and friends) the more people will be able to envision themselves living there. I can't tell you how many times I have shown a home and my clients start to get involved with the pictures of the people that live there. 9 out of 10 times they turn to me after viewing the house and say, "I like the home, but it doesn't feel like my home". Get the picture!?

6. Clean clean clean! Are your windows clean to allow in new light? Are your mirrors clean? Are the floors bright and shiny? Are your counter tops clean and sparkly and free from all daily use items? (Place your toasters, etc. in cabinets). Try to only have three items on your counter top! Coffee maker, butter dish, toaster oven (you choose your three items)...that is it! Try it...its not easy.

Picture from http://tinyurl.com/cy7t5n

7. "Oh there is lots of room" or "I would outgrow this place quickly". Now open your closets and cabinets (hopefully you don't have to take a step back to protect yourself). Is there space? Lots of space? If a potential buyer opens your closets or cabinets and sees that it is full to the max, they will immediately think that they too will outgrow the space and have no room. If they open the space and find that there is LOTS of room and that items are neatly placed in bins and carefully organized, not only will they be envious and want to be as organized as you but they will envision that if they live here they could have that closet with lots of space as well!

8. Finally, do your walls need a fresh coat of paint? Are your walls painted bright orange, purple, neon green, hot pink, or electric blue? If you answered yes to any of these its time to neutralize. Look to paint your walls soft colors that are neutral such as off-white, ivory, cream, etc. Fresh paint can really brighten a room and the less color you have the more a potential buyer will be able to envision their furniture in that room. If you have strong patterned window treatments or bed spreads, its time to take them down and again look for light, neutral colors.

This portion of the Feng Shui real estate blog is to help you de-clutter and sell your home. In another upcoming blog I will speak more about how to increase your likelihood of selling as well as increase your wealth by using feng shui enhancers. If you have any questions about this or would like to comment, feel free to email me at mbedard@hickokandboardman.com In addition, please keep in mind that it is important that you have your home priced appropriately! If you have had your house on the market for awhile and you are not getting offers, in addition to the above you may want to consider a price reduction.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Is the market balanced in Chittenden County?

Market Statistics in Chittenden County suggest a seller's market for most!!! WHAT??

How do we know if it is a seller's or buyer's market? A balanced market is considered a market where you find a six month available inventory.

A seller's market therefore is indicated by less than a six month inventory and a buyer's market is indicated by more than a six month available inventory. Well guess what our recent statistics show in Chittenden County? For homes priced under $350k, it is a seller's market with the inventory showing about 4 month supply. And do you know what else?? Sellers don't know it yet! Which gives you an opportunity to cash in on some great home prices AND low interest rates.

Look at these recent statistics: http://tinyurl.com/cacj6m

What does this mean for the homes that are priced over 351k in Chittenden County? It means that all of those people who are selling their homes under 351k are NOW READY to buy those homes and are, "moving on up" as the Jeffersons would say!!

If you are interested in taking advantage of this moment, I would suggest that you call a lender now and, "lock in" your rate before they go up. Just like gas prices go up as we approach summer... so do the interest rates which means you could save yourself LOTS of money a month down the road by "locking in" today while you shop for your new home. If you wish to see homes within your price range or you have other real estate needs, contact me at mbedard@hickokandboardman.com and I would be happy to be of assistance!

Do I qualify for the first time home buyer tax credit? What is it?


􀂄 In 2008, Congress created a $7,500 First-Time>Homebuyer Income Tax Credit. It went into effect
April 8, 2008 and was set to expire July 1, 2009.

􀂄 One of the criticisms of the credit was that a homebuyer
who received the tax credit had to repay it over 15 years.

􀂄 It has been modified and has new rules effective for
homes purchased on or after January 1, 2009 and before
December 1, 2009.

􀂄 One of the key modifications is that in most circumstances
the homebuyer does not have to repay the tax credit.

The Modified Tax Credit

􀂄 Removed the repayment requirement, provided the
homebuyer does not resell the home for three years.

􀂄 Extended the time period for home purchases out to
December 1, 2009.

􀂄 Credit maximum was increased from $7,500 to $8,000.
The credit is calculated as 10% of the purchase price.
Example: If purchase price is $70,000, the credit is
$7,000. (Assume a property price of over $80,000 for the
rest of the discussion).

􀂄 It is still only for first-time homebuyers, and only for
properties that are the buyer’s primary residence.

First-Time Homebuyer Definition

􀂄 Again, the credit is for first-time homebuyers only.

􀂄 A homebuyer who owned another primary home at any
time during the three years prior to the date of purchase is
not eligible for the tax credit.

􀂄 For example, if a person purchases a home on
January 1, 2009 and has not owned, or had an
ownership interest in, another home at any time from
January 1, 2006 through January 1, 2009, he or she is
eligible for the tax credit, even if the new home is not
the person’s “first” home purchase.

Who cannot take this Tax Credit …Other than
Buyers Who Aren’t First-Time Homebuyers?

􀂄 A homebuyer whose income exceeds the phase-out range.

􀂄 This means joint filers with Modified Adjusted Gross
Income (MAGI) of $170,000 and above and other
taxpayers with MAGI of $95,000 and above.

􀂄 A homebuyer who buys a home from a close relative. This
includes a spouse, parent, grandparent, child or

>􀂄 A homebuyer who stops using the home subject to the
credit as a main residence.

􀂄 A nonresident alien.

􀂄 Note: A homebuyer who sells the home subject to the
credit within three years must pay back the tax credit

More on Income Limits


Single Filers $95,000 $75,000

Married Filers $170,000 $150,000

This means that for singles making over $75,000 and couples
making over $150,000, the credit is proportionately reduced as
incomes approach $95,000 and $170,000 respectively.
So if a couple makes $165,000, the excess amount is used to
create a fraction 15,000/20,000 (.75) times the credit amount.
75% or 6 000 of disallowed They would
still get a tax credit of $2000

The Home

􀂄 The home subject to the credit must be the “main home”
(i.e.: principal residence, where the homeowner spends
50% or more of his or her time.) It can be a condo, single
family detached, co-op, townhouse or something similar.

􀂄 The home must be located in the United States.

􀂄 Vacation homes and rental properties are not eligible.

􀂄 For new construction, the “purchase date” is the date the
homebuyer occupies the home. So the move-in date
must be before December 1, 2009.

Recapture - 3 Year Residency

􀂄 If the home is resold prior to three years of ownership,
the tax credit must be repaid.

􀂄 This is an improvement from the prior credit. That
credit needed to be repaid in total over 15 years or the
balance had to be repaid on resale.

􀂄 This provision is designed to prevent flipping homes in
order to get the tax credit

Other Provisions

􀂄 The new credit is now also available to residents of the
District of Columbia.

􀂄 Purchasers who utilize state/local revenue bond financing
can now use the credit.

􀂄 Purchasers who bought before January 1, 2009 are still
subject to the terms of the repayable credit that was put
into effect in April 2008.

When Can You Claim the Credit?

􀂄 It can be claimed on your 2008 Tax Return
(to be filed by April 15, 2009), an amended
2008 Tax Return, or your 2009 Tax Return.


􀂄 The new credit is greatly improved compared to the old

􀂄 The credit does not need to be repaid as long as you
occupy the home for 3 years.

􀂄 Hundreds of thousands of potential buyers are estimated
to take advantage of the credit.

􀂄 For more info on the credit and the 2009 Stimulus
legislation visit http://tinyurl.com/5u9o4z or consult your tax advisor.


This is based on information available as of
February 18, 2009 and is not meant to be tax or
legal advice.

As with any tax law change, check with a tax
advisor regarding availability, eligibility and
possible timing of any tax credit.

Re-distributed by Coldwell Banker Hickok & Boardman Realty · www.HickokandBoardman.com