Posted on January 21, 2019 - 09:32 AM
by Town & Country Realty
A little over 50 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. took the first steps to fair housing here in the US. In the wake of his death in 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act. For more information on this, please click the link below...
We here at Town & Country Realty, Inc. believe in this and practice it daily. We hope for a day when every one will be able to afford their own home. There are so many possibilities with financing these days as well. Let's all work together to continue this amazing effort set forth by Martin Luther King, Jr..
Posted on November 9, 2018 - 01:45 PM
by Town & Country Realty
Mike Montpetit MBA, CHLMS
Broker In Charge/Owner at Town & Country Realty, Inc.
EDUCATION: Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
Mike Montpetit, with Town & Country Realty Inc, earned The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing's Million Dollar GUILD™ recognition for experience, knowledge and expertise in million-dollar and above residential properties. Montpetit is a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist™, an exclusive group of real estate professionals who have completed The Institute's training and have a proven performance in the upper-tier market.
Posted on October 5, 2018 - 02:47 PM
by Town & Country Realty
Want to lower your home energy bills and be more environmentally friendly? Here are 10 simple ways to reduce energy waste, at home and at work:
1. Make the switch to LED
LEDs are a great example of how innovation and technology can make your life easier. They last at least 25 times longer and consume up to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.
Tip: By switching five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs, it’s possible to save $75 on energy costs annually.
2. Seal Those Leaks
On average, heating and cooling account for almost half of a home’s energy consumption. In fact, all the little leaks can be equivalent to leaving open a 3-foot-by-3-foot window.
Tip: Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding draft guards under your doors to save up to 20% on heating costs.
3. Heat and Cool Efficiently
Don’t waste money heating or cooling an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat and in colder weather schedule your home’s heat to lower when you are away or asleep, and increase the temperature when you are returning home or waking-up. In warm weather, schedule the thermostat to raise the temperature when you are away or asleep, and lower it at other times.
4. Maintain Your HVAC System
Make sure to clean or change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm (or cool) and costing you more money.
Tip: Consider getting a winter tune-up. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can be vital to improve efficiency, saving you money and making your home more comfortable.
5. Look for the ENERGY STAR® Label
ENERGY STAR® labeled windows can cut heating costs by as much as 30% compared to single-pane windows, while increasing indoor comfort and lessening fading of home furnishings.
Tip: If you are undertaking a major home remodel or new build, consider installing ENERGY STAR® qualified HVAC equipment and appliances.
6. Turn the Electronics Off
That sounds easy, but too often we forget and leave electronics plugged in that are not in use.
Tip: Turn off unnecessary/idle lights, appliances and electronics. A power strip can help turn off multiple items at once. (Sometimes the simplest things are really effective!)
7. Winter Tip: Invite the Sun In
It feels like the sun abandons us during the winter, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it during the shorter days.
Tip: Open curtains/shade on your west-and south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and save 2%-12%.
8. Summer Tip: Close Blinds and Shades
This tip is easy to forget, but vital: excess sunlight will make it harder to keep your home cool and comfortable.
Tip: During the day, keep your blinds and shades closed to prevent warm air from building up in your home.
9. Clean Your Clothing Efficiently
That’s an easy one. A washing machine spends 90% of its energy to heat water.
Tip: Consider using cold water instead. In addition, try to run full loads as much as possible, because the machine uses roughly the same amount of energy regardless of the load size. Also, consider air-drying.
10. Clean Up Your Dishes Efficiently
If there’s one thing that has the power to unite people, it’s food. And with food comes dishes to clean. Fear not – there really is a more efficient way to use your dishwasher.
Tip: Avoid the “rinse hold” cycle and skip heated drying – simply open the door at the end of the washing cycle and let the dishes air dry!
For more information on Energy Efficiency Day go to:
Posted on September 18, 2018 - 10:00 AM
by Town & Country Realty
Mike’s Team recently attended Sherwin-Williams Colormix Forecast 2019 presentation, where we went on a color voyage! Sherwin-Williams Color of the year is “Cavern Clay,” described as “forged by sun. Fired by desert.” Six paint palettes were introduced, each arranged into unique color personalities.
Cavern Clay is part of the “Wanderer” palette of colors. Inspired by the American Southwest, the colors are earthy and warm. Georgia O’keeffe meets the “modern cowgirl”--think unbridled adventure! Origami White provides a light, airy contrast to the rest of the palette. Make sure to incorporate some modern twists on accessories and furniture to give your room a carefree, bohemian look!
Look To The Skies!
Blues are still prominent in the 2019 color palettes. Last year’s color of the year, “Oceanside,” was a blue/green marine jewel-tone. Inspired by the atmosphere, spirituality, and technology, the 2019 “Shapeshifter” palette emphasizes the deep dark blues of the cosmos.
The Team was struck by the difference seen in Sherwin-Williams 2019 presentation from the Danish “Hygge” which so many designers have emulated in the last couple of years which created coziness through whites and greys, with a goal of minimalism and functionality. The Sherwin-Williams “Enthusiast” palette boasts that these fans don’t know the meaning of “less is more.” Instead, these unique spirits argue less is a bore! The palette embraces bright pops of vivid color and energy. Designing a cozy chaos will be easy with these colors. We saw fringes, patterned curtains and wallpapers, and over-the-top opulence.
If these palettes are not your style, investigate “Aficionado,” with colors evoking timeless tradition with copper, gold, dark grays, and merlot. A team favorite was the “Naturalist,” with lighter colors reminiscent of forest mushrooms, botanical prints, and terrariums. Finally, “Raconteur” draws inspiration from safaris, spice markets, and desert oases. Porcelain, beiges, and taupes mix richly with rustic reds and blacks in this palette.
Use These Colors as Accents
Do all of these colors sound amazing? Finding it difficult to choose your style? In Cary, our stagers recommend that these colors be used as an accent that keeps rooms and spaces “on-trend,” but easy to switch up as desired. Use the more neutral colors found in the palette in larger areas. Also, don’t forget that Sherwin-Williams offers a Color Snap It button which instantly identifies Sherwin-William paint colors contained in a selected image within a web page or your own photo with a simple click. This tool may also help you decide between all those shades!
Posted on August 27, 2018 - 02:34 PM
by Town & Country Realty
Because of its durability and low maintenance, tile floors have always been popular. Now, however, with digital photography tiles can look like anything from real wood to brick walls! Our friends at Daltile in Morrisville inform us that in the Triangle area faux wood, geometric, large size subway, and glass tiles are very popular. Sue Montpetit concurs and notes that some high- end model homes in the area are also using thin tile slabs as an accent wall.
Faux Wood Tile: Why So Popular?
Consumers are jumping at the opportunity of having a flooring product that looks like wood without the maintenance issues of wood. Tile doesn’t warp or scratch like wood. Homeowners can get the cozy look of wood in bathrooms without the fear of moisture damaging the floor. Faux wood tiles allow homeowners to create a floor using a variety of colors, patterns, and grains without the need for buying different wood types. Tile is usually a cheaper alternative to real wood floors. You also don’t have to pay more for a mahogany look vs an oak floor.
Why Are Some Faux Wood Tiles So Expensive?
Just like a picture, a tile may use a high resolution or a low-resolution printing process. The better tiles use high definition inkjet technology. A tile with 24 “faces” means that the same pattern will be repeated only every 24 pieces of tile. Some tile patterns may have a 100+ faces! If you have a pattern that repeats every 24 pieces and your installer puts two repeats of the same tile pieces next to each other, you may notice it. Another variable to keep in mind is shade. Tiles receive a V0-V4 shade variation category. V0 means that the pieces have a very slight shade variation. A tile with a V4 shade category means that the pieces vary substantially from one to another. To make sure that you are not surprised by the look of your floor, a mock-up board using different tile pieces is the best practice. Always look at several pieces of tile to make sure you will not regret your tile color decision. The length of tiles is another element to consider. Faux wood tiles used to be fairly limited in length and width. Now, tiles may be 72” in length or longer. Some expensive tiles may have varying lengths in a single box.
Porcelain vs. Ceramic Tile
In general, porcelain tile is more expensive than ceramic tile. Porcelain is non-porous so stains tend not to seep into the pattern. Porcelain is also more water resistant than ceramic, making it ideal for bathrooms and even steam rooms. If you drop an object on porcelain and chip it, the color and even the pattern may run consistently through the tile so that the chip is less noticeable. Ceramic is also a tough material, and depending upon how you will use it, may be just fine for your bathroom, and easier on your budget. If you drop an object on a ceramic tile and crack it, however, you will see a different color underneath the glaze. Whether porcelain or ceramic, make sure that you select the right tile for the right location. Walls tiles are not tough enough for foot traffic and may be very slippery. A PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) rating of 3 is good for most residential foot traffic.
What are the Downfalls of Tile?
As discussed earlier, tile can break, so make sure you order 10-20% extra tiles just in case. If you run out of tiles and order more at a later date, the colors might not match perfectly. Installation of tile can be tricky. The sub floor must be correctly prepped or else your tile may crack or buckle. Finally, tile is harder on your feet compared to wood and some types of tile may be slippery.
Need an Installer/Have Additional Questions?
Laying tile can be tricky. You may want to hire a professional tiler unless you are a confident DIYer. Check out Mike's List of Trusted Contractors for the name of a reputable tiler. If you are uncertain which tile you should use for resale purposes or have additional questions, call Mike and his team for advice!
*Thank you, Daltile for letting us use some of your pictures and letting us take some in your showroom!
Posted on August 16, 2018 - 11:55 AM
by Town & Country Realty
Bill Fletcher, a member of the Wake County Board of Education, recently gave an update on the state of Wake County schools. Fletcher discussed enrollment and caps, finances, and a host of other topics.
Enrollment & Caps:
Wake County keeps growing, and with it is an accompanying need for more schools. Approximately 4 new schools are opening, which should help remove some trailers and reduce some caps--but Fletcher quickly added, “no promises!” In Fletcher’s opinion, Wake County still needs 4 new elementary schools north of 64. He also advised that NC school grades unfortunately steer parents away from locating in some areas without caps. He explained that those grades reflect the level of income of the families attending the schools, not the quality of education found at that school. Fletcher advised all parents to visit the schools in areas without caps. Parents will discover that good schools are found in affordable areas. Individual school websites may be found on the Wake County web page at www.wcpss.net and clicking on “View Our Schools” on the top left of the home page. Fletcher also announced that almost no new students will be re-assigned, but that parents should check on the status of their location by going to the Wake County web page and clicking on the “enrollment” icon. For a list of capped schools, please see chart below.
Fletcher despaired of the lack of necessary state funding and the NC state government transferring state expenses to the county level. Retention of teachers is difficult. He noted that currently a teacher with 15 years of experience is capped at a maximum salary of $50,000. A lifetime salary maximum for a teacher, however, is only $52,000--only $2,000 more. Thus, companies are recruiting experienced teachers relatively easily. He added that Wake County pays out of its own pocket 17-18% above these salaries to keep teachers. The state is also threatening to tinker with pension plans, which could make the recruitment and retention of teachers even more difficult. These state proposals could also create funding issues for current retirement plans.
New Superintendent and Goals:
Finally, Fletcher announced that Wake County has a new superintendent, Cathy Moore, a veteran teacher and administrator. Moore will be Wake County’s first female and Latina superintendent. Moore’s leadership will help Wake County achieve goals such as graduation rates of at least 95% by 2020. Fletcher noted that Wake County has made tremendous gains in areas traditionally lagging.
Locating in The Triangle:
Moving to a new location is an important decision for you and your family, with many ramifications. Mike Montpetit is an experienced, knowledgeable broker who has been specializing in the Triangle real estate market for over 15 years. Make sure you make informed decisions when moving into the Triangle. Mike’s team would love to help you buy or sell your home!
Posted on July 31, 2018 - 03:17 PM
by Town & Country Realty
What are the Benefits of a New vs. Existing Home and How will the Triangle Housing Market Affect Your Decision?
Triangle Market: Triangle area buyers historically bought approximately 50% new homes vs. 50% existing homes. Currently, however, 75% of home purchases are new construction homes. Why? In part because the Triangle area is facing a shortage of existing home inventory. For example, many new residents from out of town looking for a home have more equity and a well-paying job. So, builders are building larger homes. Also, investors are hearing that Amazon and Google may be relocating to the Triangle area. Many investors are looking long term and buying homes in towns like Cary that have had historically a steady increase in value and are easy to rent. These factors create a tight market with increasing home prices. The Wake County Register of Deeds stated recently that during the second quarter of 2018, Wake County continued to see upward trends in the real estate market. The Triangle MLS, which covers 16 counties, also reported that the average sales price of homes which closed in the area was $341,518, a 5.6% increase year to date. Also, homes are selling quicker. The News & Observer notes that homes on the market are sold on average within 26 days, down from 30 days last year. A big improvement over the typical 80 days a house was on the market just a couple of years ago!
New Construction: So, what are the advantages to a new home? Few or no repairs! At least in the immediate future, you don’t have to worry about replacing the roof, heating or AC units, or water heater. Also, your house will be clean, bright and airy! No odd smells or stains to worry about. The house will have new amenities and modern features that may be hard to change at a later date, such as an open floor plan. What are the cons? To afford a house in your price range, you might have a longer commute. Sometimes building a home can be stressful, especially for first time buyers who don’t have experience in new construction. Often buyers may choose a home in a certain neighborhood that should be in their price range, but the price quickly balloons outside of the desired price range due to upgrades. Also, your idea of quality materials and standards may differ from what is used by certain builders. Some buyers don’t realize that the agent at the building site represents the builder. Make sure to have a real estate agent represent your interests--it doesn’t cost you anything!
Existing Construction: Why should you look at those older homes that might need repairs or are out of date? Existing homes tend to be less expensive and might be closer to your work or established schools with amazing PTA groups. The landscaping and the neighborhood will be more mature. Shade from a mature tree is a plus in our hot summers! The neighborhood might also have amenities already in place such as a swim team for the kids. Just make sure that if you buy an existing home that you use a reputable inspector so that unexpected issues don’t surprise you. Don’t know of one? Mike knows some top inspectors to recommend to you.
Buying a house is one of the most important financial decisions you will make in your life, whether new or existing. Make sure that you have a real estate agent to guide you through the process and help you make informed decisions. Mike’s team would love to be able to tell you “Congratulations, you own a home!”
Posted on July 19, 2018 - 06:00 AM
by Town & Country Realty
Courtesy of Kristin @loveonpine on Instagram
Everyone knows by now that staging a home is critical to the quick, successful sale of the home. But what does staging really mean? Basically, the goal of staging is to have your home appeal to the largest age group interested in buying homes in your location. Millennials now account for 25-40% of all buyers, so frequently professional stagers recommend targeting to the likes of this age group. Keep in mind that your location is also important. Style designs that are popular in the Southwest might not be appropriate for the Triangle area. So, don’t believe everything you read on the internet, but also don’t get insulted if someone advises you to remove items or change the placement of furniture. Instead, smile all the way to the bank!
What do Millennials like? Millennials are used to watching HGTV shows on TV and viewing internet sites like Pinterest and Instagram. As a group, they tend to be very aware of current style trends without even realizing it. If your style is over 10 years old, chances are it looks dated to them and reminds them of their parents. Fake ficus trees and English ivy are out. Real sedums, succulents, and orchids are the rage. Get rid of old swagged curtains. Simple panels and blinds are in.The Scandinavian home design of minimalist lines and functionality is hot. Dark furniture is not. Here in the Southeast, the farmhouse look (example: the popular Joanna and Chip Gaines designers) is also emulated to a certain degree. Creams and beiges are starting to replace grey walls.Open floor plans are valued for flexibility and entertainment purposes.
But don’t sweat the details. Mike and his team can help you decide whether substantial changes are needed depending on local factors such as neighborhoods and price points. A house in Cary might need a different level of staging compared to a house in a different area of the Triangle. Instead, concentrate on the basics.
Declutter your home! Go to builder show homes and you’ll get the idea. Bare those kitchen counters so that buyers can image where their items will go. Clear out those bookshelves of dusty knick knacks. Have fewer items artfully placed in the shelves so that a buyer has the feeling of space.
Make your home clean and bright! Remove screen windows to make sure that the pictures of your home look light and bright. While you are removing screens, clean window sills and windows. Make sure your carpets are cleaned and that your hardwoods are gleaming. Clean everything and everywhere.
Minor updates make a big difference! Does your home have old shiny brass door knobs? Now is the time to finally say goodbye to them. Buy packs of door knobs at your big box hardware store to save money. Brushed Nickel is frequently a safe option. Neutralize paint colors. Make sure to get rid of those dark or extreme colored walls. Ask Mike and Sue for more popular lighter paint colors.
Too many toys scattered about? Have an “indoor home garage sale.” Place a large laundry bin in the middle of your child’s room. Inspire children to fill the bin with stuffed animals and other toys that they no longer want in exchange for a fun activity or another small reward. You don’t want to pay movers to move unloved items. Corral the remaining toys in bins and hanging shoe organizers.
Have you already moved out of your home? You still want ideally some items to help the buyer imagine how the space may be used, especially for pictures. Stagers have ingenious tricks to fool the eye. For example, Sue used boxes covered with bedding to create the illusion of a bed for listing photos.
Overwhelmed? Need more advice? Contact Mike and Sue for staging ideas and tips. Don’t forget that Town & Country Realty Inc offers the first $500 worth of staging for free to their sellers! Getting your home ready to put on the market is tough, but you’ll be glad when your hard work pays off.
Posted on July 12, 2018 - 02:32 PM
by Town & Country Realty
Boosting your curb appeal through landscaping increases your home value and is vital if you are about to sell your home. Think of it this way, if a potential buyer doesn’t like the way the outside of your house looks, that buyer may not bother to enter your home to see those indoor upgrades such as new granite countertops or gleaming hardwood floors.
Getting ready to sell your home?
If you are planning on putting your home on the market soon:
Keep your lawn lush, and green. Fertilize, weed, and water as needed. Keep in mind, however, any requisite watering ordinances. For example, the Town of Cary has a year-round alternate day watering ordinance depending upon your address. Also, make sure that you carefully follow fertilizing instructions. Don’t make the mistake of burning your lawn.
Mow and edge your lawn to give your property a clean and finished look.
Make sure to lay down a fresh layer of mulch around shrubs, trees, and on any flowerbeds. Although there are different colors of mulch, brown mulch tends to look more natural and is better in photographs.
Trim dead branches from trees. Make sure bushes are not overgrown. Generally speaking, bushes should not
block your front windows, which can make your indoor rooms seem dark.
A planter filled with flowers close to your front door can add a pop of color, but commit to watering as needed. A planter greeting buyers with dead plants isn’t the impression you want!
Depending upon the market, your neighborhood, and the asking price of your home, additional landscaping may be in order to get top dollar. Talk to Mike’s team before you invest too much in a large outdoor expenditure.
Have you just purchased a new home?
You might be thinking that once you have unpacked, you shouldn’t be too concerned about landscaping. It’s all brand new, after all! This is the time, however, to evaluate your property’s landscaping.
Figure out what you got! Cary, Morrisville, and Apex is full of new construction. Frequently, the trees and bushes used by builders are meant to look good for the moment, not suitable for long term--that 3 foot bush next to the path to your door might be over 15 feet tall in 5 years. Make sure that any large trees such as a maple or oak are planted at least 20 feet from your house, or else the roots could damage your foundation.
Figure out what you need! Maybe you need privacy, have a slope difficult to mow, or need to hide an ugly obstacle. Maybe you would like a vegetable garden or sustainable landscaping in the form of xeriscaping
(low-water plants) or native plants to attract butterflies and birds.
Create a plan! One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is not having an overall plan. The bed designs spring up without a sense of order or design. Also, if you are a DIY type, keep track of the how sunny different locations are in the morning, afternoon, and late afternoon. Keep in mind that the sun patterns might change in the winter. If you buy a house in fall, that shady area may turn sunny in the summer. Check out the show gardens at J.C. Raulston Arboretum at NC State University for inspiration. Ask their Master Gardeners questions. The Garden Supply Company in Cary and Plants Delight in Raleigh, near Garner, can also provide advice as to which plants are best for your backyard and how to prepare the soil to ensure that they just don’t survive, but thrive.
Finally, don’t forget our recent “Local DIY Concerns” blog’s warning to call 1-800-632-4949 at least three business days in advance before you dig any new beds. Utility companies will come out and mark underground lines on your property for free. If you decide DIY landscaping is not for you or have remaining questions, make sure to ask Mike for the names of reputable landscape designers. As always, contact Mike to sell your house for top dollar!