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Home Buying 101: How to Get the Most Out of Home Showings (Part 2)

Home Showings part 2

Home showings are typically scheduled to range between 20-30 minutes long, depending on the size of the home. So how can you get the most out of that limited window of time inside each home? Here are some practical showing tips for home buyers to get the most out of home showings.

Take Notes!

Whether you’re going to see one house or six at a time, it’s important to take notes for you to reference later. With the limited amount of time you get inside each home it’s going to be difficult for you to remember all that you observe and have questions about. It will be much easier to recall later if you jot it down.

If you’re seeing multiple houses close together, taking notes will help you to distinguish between the different properties, which will make it much less confusing. It can also save everyone time from having to schedule additional showings of the same home simply because you can’t remember what you liked, or didn’t like.

Use All Your Senses & Ask Questions

Once you’re inside the home, now is the time to let your curiosity run wild. Ask questions when you have them. If your agent doesn’t know the answer immediately, he or she can make a note to find out later.

Remember to activate your senses. Don’t just use your eyes when you’re viewing a home. You are allowed to touch the floor, woodwork, cabinets, etc., but be sure to keep an eye on any children present.

Don’t forget about your sense of smell too. Does the home smell musty, smoky, or worse? That can tip you off to look for and ask about potential mildew, mold and such. Granted, sometimes a home has been vacant and closed up for some time, which can make it smell stale. Your agent can tell you that.

Picture Yourself There

Now it’s time to activate your imagination. Can you see yourself, your family, your belongings in this home? Consider where your large pieces of furniture could go. You may even want to have measurements on-hand of particularly large pieces to be sure they would fit in a given room.

Try to see beyond the possessions that are currently there. As a homeowner, there are numerous changes and upgrades you can do. After all, if you buy it, then it will be your home. So consider what would be an easy change, like painting the walls, and what may be more time-consuming and expensive, like tearing out a wall or building an addition.

Listen to Your Gut

If you walk into a home and immediately know it’s not the right one for you, then be honest and let your real estate agent know. Explain why you feel that way as best you can. It can give a clue to another home your agent could show you, or another one to cross off your list.

Plus, this could allow you to spend a little more time at a home you really do like. Depending on the scheduling of the showings, you can travel to the next home on your list immediately. If you find there’s a little time to kill, take the opportunity to look over your notes of what you’ve already seen and give some feedback to your Realtor.

Next Steps After Home Showings

This is where knowing the speed of the market comes into play. If you have time to make a decision and consider making an offer, then take time to go over your notes and look at the photos and information again.

Be honest with yourself, your partner, and your buyer agent to let them know what you liked and didn’t like about the homes you saw. Reference your notes. If you didn’t find the right fit today, maybe you need to reevaluate your search criteria. Or maybe you want to schedule a second showing of one or two homes you saw.

Scheduling multiple showings of the same property is okay. Just be considerate of the current resident if the home is occupied. Each time you want to go in, they have to go out, and stay out for a while. They may want to do some additional cleaning too, or have children and/or pets they have to keep occupied during that time. So keep in mind the time it takes for the resident, and even your realtor, to revisit a property.

Be prepared. Take notes. Process your next steps.

If you are beginning this phase of home buying and don’t have a buyer agent yet, it is worth considering. You can see how they are particularly helpful at this stage of the home buying process, but they are there to support you every step of the way. They are there to represent you and have your best interest in mind.

Contact us at CG Shepherd Realty, LLC to speak to our qualified REALTORS® about our buyer services.

Read How to Make the Most of Home Showings (Part 1) for more on taking your online home search offline.

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Home Buying 101: How to Get the Most Out of Home Showings

Home Buying 101 how to get the most out of home showings

So you've been looking at homes online for a while now, maybe even setup a saved search to email you properties that seem to be a good match. But now you're ready to take your online home buying search offline. The next step for most people in the home buying process is to schedule home showings to view properties in-person.

Home showings are not typically very long. Most are scheduled to range between 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the home. So how can you get the most out of that limited window of time? Here are some showing tips for home buyers to get the most out of showings.

Selecting What Homes to View

First, you need to decide what homes you actually want to view in-person. Home showings take time for you, your real estate agent, and the current resident of the home. So you need to narrow down your list of homes you want to see. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Look online at property details and photos multiple times.
  2. Solidify your "must-haves". These are features of the home that are deal-breakers. You and/or your partner need to be clear on what those features are.
  3. Ask questions ahead of time. If you are wondering about some features of the property or have questions about information you don't see or don't understand on the MLS sheet, ask your real estate agent. Your Buyer Agent can get the answer to see if the home makes the cut to the must-see list.
  4. Ask your Realtor for additional recommendations. Your local realtor is a wealth of information and has likely been inside many of the homes that are for sale before. He or she may know of a property that just came on the market or can recommend another that maybe didn't come up in your initial search.

Caution: If You Can't Afford It, Don't Go See It!

When you're deciding what homes to see in-person, know your budget. You don't want to fall in love with a home you simply can't afford.

There are reasons for that listing price (square footage, great features, views, etc.) that warrant the price tag. If you see that and then see the homes that are truly within your budget, you'll likely compare them and be disappointed. It can also make it difficult to commit to the right home for you right now.

Yes, it can be disheartening to know you can't afford that dream home yet, but save yourself the heartache, stick with homes in your price range, and consider saving up for that dream home in the future.

The Logistics of Scheduling Home Showings

Some home buyers will call the listing agent of every home they want to see to schedule a showing. This is another instance where having a Buyer Agent is a great asset. One Buyer Agent can make all those calls for you and efficiently schedule a series of home showings.

An experienced real estate agent considers factors like allowing driving distance between properties, overlapping showing windows, and planning the best route that will be a great time saver for everyone involved. Your Realtor can also realistically recommend how many homes you can see in a given timeframe so you don't get overwhelmed.

Wouldn't it be helpful to have a professional walk you through each home, answer questions you have during the showing, and be a sounding board for comparing and contrasting homes afterward? Those are just some of the things a Buyer Agent can do for you.

Is There a Need for Speed?

Your final step of preparation is to know the pace of the current local real estate market. Again, your Realtor can answer this question. You can also ask other people you know who are currently looking or have recently bought or sold a home in the same area.

In a fast-paced market, if you don't make an offer today, someone else will tomorrow, or later that afternoon. In a moderate or slower-paced market, you have more time to process what you see and weigh your options before deciding whether or not to make an offer. Find this out ahead of time so you're prepared with the right mindset going into the showings.

If you're ready to take the next step in your home search in the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region, contact us at CG Shepherd Realty, LLC to find a Buyer Agent who will help you schedule home showings and represent your best interests throughout the home buying process.

Read How to Get the Most Out of Home Showings (Part 2) for practical tips to optimize your time inside each home.

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4 Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell

4 Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell

In today's real estate market, it is more important than ever to make your home for sale as appealing as possible to potential buyers. Whether they are viewing photos online or personally walking through your home for a showing or open house, home buyers are looking at your home with a critical eye, comparing it to dozens of others on the market. To get your home sold, you must prepare your home to undergo this critique and come out on top.

We like to call the process "staging." Some home owners hire a professional home stager to bring in furniture and decor, but for many homes, it only requires some small cosmetic changes that you can easily do yourself.

Clear Out the Clutter:

How can home buyers see the best features of your home when they're distracted by clutter? Clutter comes in many forms: piles of papers, clothes strewn about, or even an overwhelming number of photos or tchotchkes on display. Whatever its form, clutter is not only a distraction, but also tends to make your home appear smaller because valuable space is taken up and taken over. Here are some tips for tackling clutter in your home to get it ready to sell.

De-Personalize:

Speaking of photos and figurines, consider how easy, or difficult, it is for a home buyer to walk into your home and see themselves living there. It's often hard enough to do with differing tastes in furniture and decor. So make it easier for them. Consider removing some of your personal items from view, such as family photos, sports memorabilia, or your doll collection. Then buyers can walk into your house envisioning how their own personal touches could make this their home instead of yours.

How you store your personalized items, and previously mentioned clutter, is also important. You don't want to crowd your closets or garage making your home's storage areas appear smaller or insufficient. Here are some great ideas for stashing away your stuff.

Clean Every Nook & Cranny:

The cobwebs in the corner and dust on the windowsills aren't a good representation of your home. Clean everything, even more than what you do in your normal routine. Really scrub the grout of your bathroom tile and dust off the baseboards throughout your home. Don't forget about your appliances too. Wipe off the splattered grease from your stovetop and fingerprints from your refrigerator. It's amazing what a thorough cleaning can do to make your home look its best.

Make Minor Repairs:

It's easy to put minor home repairs on a to-do list for later and then never get around to them. If you're preparing your home to sell, it's time you dust off your tool box and take care of these repairs. Perhaps you have a leaky faucet you've been meaning to fix or a broken piece of trim just waiting to be nailed back to the wall. Check the small things you use everyday and have probably grown accustomed to using as is, like that wiggly door knob or light fixtures with burnt out or missing light bulbs.

Completing these small repairs makes a world of difference to prospective home buyers. They won't be calculating the time, effort and money they would have to spend on all those repairs themselves. Plus, it gives your home a finished, well-maintained look.

If you're considering taking on larger home repairs, talk to your Realtor first. As a professional, your real estate agent can tell you what repairs are worth making yourself and what is better left to the home buyer.

Staging your home to sell takes some time and effort, but it can really pay off by helping your home sell faster. If you already have your home listed for sale, it's not too late! Complete these recommendations and ask your Realtor to take new photos so that your home will look its very best online...and in person.

If you are considering listing your home for sale, contact us at CG Shepherd Realty, LLC for an initial consultation, home valuation and more tips for preparing your home to sell.

Meet Christine Engert, Realtor with CG Shepherd Realty, LLC

Christine Engert Agent PhotoCG Shepherd Realty, LLC welcomes Christine Engert, REALTOR® to their team. Christine is a long-time local resident who wants to put her personal and professional real estate experiences to work for you!

Growing up in a family of custom home builders where home buying, building and renovating was a regular part of life, Christine has always loved houses and all the potential they hold for becoming places of rest and solace for people.

"A house can be personalized to become a home like nothing else can!"

Personal Experience & Local Knowledge

After many personal real estate experiences of her own, Christine began to dream of helping others find their place, their home. She is now a licensed REALTOR® in NH representing buyers and sellers in the Upper Valley and Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region.

Christine is detail oriented, energetic and personable. Her positive attitude and desire to help people find a home they love is a winning combination for her clients. In addition, she has a great perspective on the real estate process she's garnered from her own experiences.

"As an adult, I have been both a buyer and a seller on multiple occasions, which include both building and renovating. I understand the stresses, challenges and joys on both sides!"

She also knows the area very well. Christine grew up in the Lake Sunapee Region and has lived in the Upper Valley for 8 years.

A Vibrant Community with Natural Beauty

Even after many years in this area, Christine still wonders at its natural beauty with every season having it's own amazing adventure and charm.

"There are so many places in this region where you come around a corner and something will just take your breath away."

Christine also loves the camaraderie of the people who live here. It is a great community, and she especially likes how the larger community encourages its residents to get outside and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds them.

That's exactly what Christine likes to do. She loves any outdoor activity, like hiking, skiing, swimming and kayaking, that takes her on an adventure with her family and friends. She also enjoys spending time with her extended family, who all live around the area. Christine is married and has three sons.

If you're looking to buy or sell a home in the Upper Valley or Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region, contact Christine Engert today!

New Hampshire Real Estate Market Data: Q2 2015

We've compiled some highlights from the Q2 2015 New Hampshire real estate market data, recently released by the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS®, to provide some insight into what's happening in the NH real estate market this year.

All of New Hampshire

For the second quarter this year, the whole state of New Hampshire saw another positive increase in residential closed sales compared to Q2 2014. Closed sales were up 9.5% this quarter compared to 2014. We also had an increase in median sale price, pending sales, and sales volume compared to last year. Additionally, the days on market decreased by 4.2% from Q2 2014 resulting in an average of 91 days on market for single family residential homes in the state.

Let’s take a look at the local real estate market in Sullivan County and Grafton County.

Sullivan County Single Family Residential Sales

Unlike the market for the entire state, Sullivan County saw a decrease in residential home closed sales from Q2 2014 to Q2 2015. Closed sales were down 6.7% to 125 closings in the county.

Median sales price and pending sales also decreased this quarter compared to last year, 0.5% and 3.1% respectively. However, the days on market also decreased 2.7% from Q2 2014 to an average of 145 days on market for single family homes in Sullivan County.

Looking at the first half of 2015 compared to the first half of 2014, Sullivan County is down 7.8% in residential closed sales resulting in 188 total homes sold so far this year. However, for the second quarter in a row, the sales volume has increased. The total sales volume this year-to-date totals nearly $40 million in Sullivan County. That’s up 6.4% compared to 2014.

Although fewer homes have sold so far this year in Sullivan County, they are being sold at higher prices.

Grafton County Single Family Residential Sales

Grafton County, on the other hand, experienced a large 24.4% increase in closed residential home sales in Q2 2015 compared to Q2 2014, resulting in 291 total single family residential closed sales for the quarter.

The county also saw a positive increase in the number of pending home sales, from 239 in Q2 2014 to 284 in Q2 2015. Median sales price was up 9.3% from last year to $205,000, and the days on market was increased by only one day to 129 average days on market for Grafton County single family residential homes.

Grafton County continues it’s trend upward in 2015. This year-to-date, Grafton County is up 17.1% from 2014 at this time with a total of 439 closed residential home sales so far this year. It is a good year to be selling your home in Grafton County.

NH County Condo Closings

Let’s not forget about condominium sales. Condo closed sales were up 11% for the entire state of New Hampshire in Q2 2015 compared to the same time last year. While Grafton County experienced some of this with a 7.7% increase to 112 condo closed sales this quarter, Sullivan County experienced a 50% decrease in condo closed sales resulting in only 6 closings in Q2 2015.

Although the condo closings in Sullivan County dropped significantly this quarter, so did the average days on market. The Q2 2015 days on market for condos decreased 33.2% from 322 days in Q2 2014 to 215 days this year. Fewer condos sold, but those that did sold much more quickly.

Inventory Needed to Meet the Demand

The recurring theme for this year seems to be high demand and low inventory. In a recent news release from the National Association of Realtors®, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun referred to the effect of this trend on sales prices. "Steady rent increases, the slow rise in mortgage rates and stronger local job markets fueled demand throughout most of the country this spring," said Yun. "While this led to a boost in sales paces not seen since before the downturn, overall supply failed to keep up and pushed prices higher in a majority of metro areas."

In New Hampshire, we continue to see month after month of decreased inventory of both homes and condos for sale when compared to the previous year. In the second quarter alone, there were 6% fewer NH homes on the market than in 2014.

If you’re considering listing your home for sale in the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region, contact CG Shepherd Realty, LLC to speak with one of our licensed REALTORS® about the regional real estate market.

(Data for this article was found in the following NHAR Real Estate Market Data Reports:Q2 2015 NHAR Market Data and June 2015 and Year-To-Date NHAR Market Data)

View previous NH real estate market data from NHAR.

Meet Doreen Strew, Realtor with CG Shepherd Realty, LLC

Doreen Strew Realtor PhotoCG Shepherd Realty, LLC welcomes REALTOR® Doreen Strew to their team. Doreen is passionate about real estate and ready to help you find your dream home!

Living the American Dream

Doreen was born and raised in Germany (Eastern Germany). She was an exchange student here in New Hampshire and graduated from high school in Newport, NH in 1994. She returned to Germany to attend dental school, but her dream was to live here in the USA. So she decided to immigrate and received her permanent resident card in 2004.

She earned her Bachelor of Science and graduated summa cum laude in 2006, then worked in dentistry until December 2011, when her son Parker was born. In May 2011, Doreen also became a licensed REALTOR® in NH and VT and was an agent with a local real estate agency; however, she decided to deactivate her license to raise her son.

A Passion for Real Estate

She recently reactivated her real estate license to pick up and dust off this dream of hers to help many other people find the home of their dreams.

"In Germany, we build or buy a house and stay there. Period," Doreen explains. So the idea of selling a house and buying a different one to better fit your needs was initially foreign to her, but she was drawn to the opportunities of the American real estate industry.

"I love houses and the possibility to find a dream home...I love the prospect of helping people do just that."

Doreen also loves to help her clients embrace life as it comes, with all the different situations that may be thrown their way.

Doreen takes pride in being detail-oriented and efficient. You can see from her life's story that she believes determination and focus can help you accomplish your goals and reach your dreams.

"People can expect a passion for what I do and professionalism from me."

Exploring the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region

In her spare time, Doreen likes to explore the area of the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region with her family. They like to go to local farms and lakes, take part in the summer town events, and take bike rides up in the hills of Vermont and New Hampshire. Hanging out on the porch and playing games is one of their favorite family pastimes, though.

If you're considering buying or selling a home in the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region, Doreen can help you achieve your real estate goals. Contact Doreen Strew today!

Find Vacation Homes for Sale in Eastman, NH


Eastman NH Vacation Homes

You’ll find beautiful vacation homes for sale in Eastman, NH, a  four-season residential and recreational community near Hanover, New Hampshire and just a short drive from the Boston area.

Eastman, NH does have full-time residents, but it is also a year-round vacation community ideal for seasonal retreats and weekend getaways for those who enjoy outdoor recreation and are looking for a change of pace.

For decades, vacationers have returned to Eastman year after year to make memories that will last a lifetime. Now second and third generations are growing up with the same tradition and consider Eastman to be their second home, a getaway from the congestion of the city, and a respite from the busyness of life.

Unmatched Setting and Amenities in Eastman, NH

This friendly New Hampshire vacation community provides the perfect retreat and is unmatched for its setting and amenities.

Eastman’s 3,700 acres of environmentally protected woodlands and waterways surrounds a 2-mile lake and an 18-hole championship golf course. Eastman Lake offers six private, sandy beaches along with boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and swimming during the warmer months of the year. The Eastman Recreation Department also offers programs for children of all ages during the summer and other school vacations.

Eastman, NH also makes a great ski vacation spot during the winter. When New England winter hits, you can take advantage of the abundance of snow with over 36 kilometers of groomed cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails in Eastman or alpine ski at the nearby Mount Sunapee.

In any weather, the community South Cove Activity Center provides an indoor lap pool, fitness center, sauna, and game room for your enjoyment.

Convenient Vacation Location

Besides having many desirable amenities and activities, Eastman is centrally located with easy access to the Upper Valley and Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region as well as I-89.  Brookline, Cambridge, Newton, Wellesley, and Boston are only a short 1.5 to 2-hour drive from this brilliant New Hampshire community.

Search Vacation Homes for Sale in Eastman, NH

You’ll find a number of vacation homes for sale in Eastman, NH, as well as condominiums, that will provide you with access to all the wonderful amenities of this recreational community throughout the year. Whether you’re looking for a waterfront condo with beautiful lake views or a golf course home overlooking the fairway, Eastman has the vacation home for you.

Contact us at CG Shepherd Realty, LLC for more information about the community and to find Eastman, NH vacation homes and condos currently for sale so you can start making your own memories in Eastman.

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New Hampshire Real Estate Market Data: Q1 2015


Whether you currently have your New Hampshire home listed for sale or you would like to stay updated on the activity of the local real estate market as a potential buyer or seller, it is important to look at past real estate market data to understand and anticipate future trends. The New Hampshire Association of REALTORS® (NHAR) has recently released the March 2015, year-to-date and 2015 Q1 data for the New Hampshire real estate market.

NH Closed Residential Sales in Q1 2015
All of New Hampshire

The entire state of New Hampshire saw a positive change across the board in residential home closed sales, median sales price, sales volume, and pending sales in the first quarter of 2015.

Compared to the first quarter of 2014, there was a 2.2% increase in closed residential sales, a 1.6% increase in median sales price, a 2.5% increase in sales volume, and a 1.7% increase in pending sales. Also, the average days on market for residential homes in the first quarter of 2015 decreased 1.8%, which is good news for home sellers as homes spent fewer days on the market.

Additionally, New Hampshire condominium sales saw improvements in the first quarter of 2015 with a 5.8% increase to 604 units closed and an 8.6% increase to 696 units pending sales compared to the first quarter of 2014.

Since “location, location, location” in real estate is a critical driving element in sales, let’s take a closer look at county data for Sullivan County and Grafton County.

Sullivan County Single Family Residential Sales

While the single family residential home sales for the state increased, home sales in Sullivan County decreased in the first quarter of 2015 compared to last year by 10% to 63 closed sales. Pending sales decreased 2.5% to 78. The average number of days on market also moved in the wrong direction, up 27.6% to 157 days.

Although Sullivan County experienced fewer residential home closings in Q1 2015, the homes sold were at higher prices evidenced by the jump in total residential sales volume from $10 million in Q1 2014  to $12 million in Q1 2015.

Grafton County Single Family Residential Sales

After two months of decreased residential home sales in January and February 2015, Grafton County completed the first quarter up in sales, thanks to a 20% sales increase in March 2015.

Overall, Grafton County experienced a 5% increase in residential home sales with 148 closings this quarter compared to 141 closings in Q1 2014. Pending home sales also increased 8.6% to 164 pending sales.

Grafton County also experienced a small 1.5% increase in median sales price in Q1 2015. However, total sales volume in Grafton County was down 8.5%. So although there were more home closings in Q1 2015, the sales prices of those homes combined (the total sales volume) were less than those in Q1 2014.

NH County Condo Closings

Sullivan County saw large jumps in the first quarter of 2015 in the number of condo sales with closed sales up 166.7% to 8 and pending sales up 125% to 9.

The condo market in Grafton County in Q1 2015 remained comparable to Q1 2014.  Closed condo sales this quarter were exactly the same as last year (56 closings), and pending sales went down 8.2% to 56.

National Real Estate Market Trends

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) announced existing home sales, which include single family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, on the national level jumped in March 2015.

According to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun in this NAR article, "The combination of low interest rates and the ongoing stability in the job market is improving buyer confidence and finally releasing some of the sizable pent-up demand that accumulated in recent years." However, Yun notes the need for increased inventory to match a significant increase in demand that has been observed nationally. “‘More listings and new home construction are still needed to tame price growth and provide more opportunity for first-time buyers to enter the market.’”

If you’re on the fence about buying or selling your New Hampshire home, hopefully these New Hampshire real estate market insights are helpful. If you’re located in the Upper Valley or Dartmouth - Lake Sunapee Region, our qualified Realtors at CG Shepherd Realty, LLC are happy to speak with you about the real estate market in your local community. Contact us at CG Shepherd Realty, LLC.

(Data for this article was found in the following NHAR Real Estate Market Data Reports: March 2015 and Year-to-Date NHAR Market Data and Q1 2015 NHAR Market Data)

View past 2014 and 2013 New Hampshire Real Estate Market Data.

New Hampshire Home Foreclosures Drop 42% in February 2015

 

According to the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority (NHHFA), New Hampshire hit record lows for the number of home foreclosures this decade with only 133 foreclosure deeds filed in February 2015.

NH Home Foreclosure Drop title image

Short-term and Long-term Improvement in NH Home Foreclosures

Not only was this (133) the lowest number of foreclosures the state has seen this decade, but also it was 42% less than those filed just last year in February 2014. That means in one year, we have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of people who have lost or are at risk for losing their homes to foreclosure.

Additionally, the number of foreclosure auction notices in February dropped even more from February of last year, down 60%, to only 100. It is rare for this number to be lower than the number of filed foreclosures (133) because it is a gauge of the number of people who could lose their homes in the coming months.

Compared to five years ago, so far in January and February of this year foreclosure filings are a whopping 60% lower than they were two months into 2010.

Factors Influencing Fewer NH Home Foreclosures

So, why are we seeing these drastic improvements in the number of New Hampshire home foreclosures both long-term and more recently in just the last year? There are multiple contributing factors. “The NHHFA attributes the improved numbers to an improved economy, and the fact that some banks are allowing short sales rather than taking borrowers’ homes.” (NH Business Review)

Along with the improving economy and banks allowing more short sales, new initiatives have cropped up specifically to assist NH homeowners at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. This recent article celebrates the success of the HomeHelpNH counseling program that helped 750 households avoid foreclosure over the last two years.

Whatever the factors, these improved numbers are a good sign looking toward the spring that we’ll continue to see fewer home foreclosures in New Hampshire in 2015.

Winter Propane Safety Reminders for Your Home

With the substantial amount of snow accumulation we've experienced across the Upper Valley and Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee regions, it is important to keep in mind some snow hazards specific to your home propane heating system.

According to Irving Energy, "two of the biggest risks for your propane heating system related to snowfall and drifting snow are propane or oil leaks as a result of damaged fittings and carbon monoxide poisoning due to blocked vents."

Hopefully, the most severe winter weather here in New England is through, but we all know the snow hangs around for a long time and can cause damage even after the storm has passed.

So, here are some steps you can take to help ensure your safety before and after heavy snowfalls and icy conditions:

Before a Snowstorm:

  • Mark the location of your storage tank, vent, and/or fill pipe so that it can be easily located.
  • Ensure you know how and where to shut off the outdoor propane or oil supply and any indoor appliances in the event that a problem occurs. Especially if you recently moved into a new residence, put this on your New Homeowner To-Do List...we know you have one.
  • Be sure to clear the snow from your house number so that emergency services will be able to find your home in the case of an emergency. Your house number should be easily visible on the road for emergency responders.

After Each Snowfall or Icy Conditions:

  • Carefully clear heavy snow and ice from regulators, regulator vents, piping, tubing and valves. Failure to do so can cause damage that could result in an oil or gas leak. Appliance vents, chimneys and flues must also be kept clear of snow and ice so appliances can vent properly. Again, be very careful when doing so to avoid damage to system components. Finally, carefully clear snow and ice off the top of tanks, gauges, fittings, and lines. Using a broom to do so will help avoid damaging the tank or system components.
  • Watch for heavy icicles or large amounts of snow falling from the roof or eaves that can be very damaging to a tank and system components. Safely remove these hazards from above and around your tank, fill pipes, regulator, piping, tubing and valves, being careful not to damage your system.
  • Inspect your equipment frequently. If you notice your tank has shifted position, gas or oil lines are bent, broken or damaged, or you see something else unusual about your system or appliance, turn off the main gas or oil supply valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so. Then call your propane supplier.

Throughout the Winter Season:

  • Test your Carbon Monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly, and change the batteries, if needed.
  • Be on the lookout for any signs of gas or oil leaks in and around your home. Although gas leaks can occur any time of year, severe winter weather conditions can make your system equipment and appliances more prone to leaks. So even if you are taking the proper precautions stated above, you should still be cognizant of the smell or indication of a leak. 

If you smell propane or suspect a propane leak in your home, follow these safety procedures (provided by Irving Energy):

  1. No Flames or Sparks
    - Immediately put out all smoking materials and pre-existing open flames
    - Do not turn on any lights or appliances
    - Do not use telephones or cell phones
  2. Leave the Area Immediately
    - Get everyone out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking
  3. Shut Off the Gas
    - Turn off the main gas supply valve on your tank, if it is safe to do so
    - Close the valve by turning it clockwise (to the right)
  4. Report the Leak
    - Once safely away from the area, call 911 or your local fire department
    - Then call your propane supplier
  5. Do Not Return to the Building or Area
    - Wait until the fire department or qualified service technician determines the area is safe
  6. Get Your System Checked
    - Your propane supplier should inspect your entire propane system to ensure it is leak free before using any heating source or appliance


Propane is an efficient and versatile fuel that is safe when properly used. By being mindful of the hazards and taking these precautions, you can ensure your safety when using propane heating in your home.

Some of the above information was adapted from Irving Energy's Winter Safety article.

For more information on propane safety, visit the Propane Education & Research Council website, or Irving Energy's Propane Safety Guide.

Comments

  1. Cheryl Smith on

    Checking the carbon monoxide monitor throughout the winter season is very important. I replace the batteries every six months just to make sure it is working properly. Being safe is the ultimate goal when dealing with my home. http://www.andersonspropane.com/