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Blog :: 08-2011

Preparing your home for hurricane Irene

If you've been watching the news then you know that hurricane Irene is scheduled to hit the North East late this coming weekend. With winds predicted to reach anywhere from 50-70 mph with heavy rain, weather experts are predicting possible power outages, downed trees, and potential flooding.

Map of New England Hurricane Irene Impact


While New York and Boston will receive the worst of it, Vermont will still receive some major weather. So what should you do to make sure you're prepared? First things first, stay calm. At the very least make sure that by Saturday night all of you doors and windows are secured and be prepared to stay indoors. If you have any animals be sure that they too are secured indoors and can not easily escape if frightened by the storm. It would also be a good idea to make sure gutters and draining ditches are clear of debris. Secure outdoor lawn furniture and other outside objects that could be blown away as well.

It's best if you have a few extra supplies on hand like flashlights, batteries, non perishable food, extra water, and a full tank of gas in your car in case of power outages or flooding detours come Monday morning. Be sure to check in with local news reports to stay on top of the latest weather alerts and above all, stay safe Vermont!

For more information on hurricane Irene visit:

Donate Backpacks to the HowardCenter

The HowardCenter Child, Youth & Family Services is in need of about 100 backpacks to give to students for this school year that will otherwise go without.

I have seen first hand the power that a backpack can have on a student that doesn't have one. A few years ago, my friends 7 year old son who was in foster care had just come out of a residential treatment center and was assigned to the Baird school assessment classroom. He was incredibly sad and nervous about going to a "new" school. His whole body was so tense she thought he might snap. The only thing that made him smile that morning was the backpack that Ed Lord brought in for him. His sad face just lit up. The transformation was so incredible that his social worker and mother both cried. That is the kind of power that a backpack can have!

Donation Insturctions:

Drop off donations at my office: Geri Reilly Real Estate 205 Dorset Street Monday-Friday between 8am-5pm

Drop off donations to the HowardCenter: 208 Flynn Avenue Martie Majoros at the front desk

Mail donations to: HowardCenter 208 Flynn Avenue Ste 3J Burlington, VT 05401 Attn: Martie Majoros

Thank you in advance for your generosity!

The HowardCenter is dedicated to empowering people to get their needs met and to live full, rich lives. We believe everyone deserves support because sometimes we can't make it on our own. To learn more about the Child, Youth & Family Services provided by the HowardCenter, visit

Building Equity in Your Home


Beautiful Executive Home in St. Albans


Buying a home is a great way to improve your family's financial security. The main way this happens is through home equity. What is equity? The equity in your home is the difference between its market value and the balance on your mortgage. In other words, equity is the wealth built up in your home over time. If you could sell your home for $400,000 and the amount you owe on your mortgage is only $100,000, then your equity is $300,000.

Equity is built in three ways: down payment, mortgage payments, and market gains. Making a down payment is a reduction in your mortgage amount, giving you instant equity in your home.

Making house payments increases your equity as well, since every payment includes a portion for interest and a portion that reduces the amount of your loan amount (called the principal). Over time the amount of your payment that goes toward the principal increases and helps to build your equity even faster.

You also build equity as your home gains in value over time; this appreciation in market value can mean that you build equity simply by owning your home. Of course there are no guarantees that real estate values will continue to rise, but historically this has been the case. If your home is worth $250,000 and the market appreciates by 5% each year then after just two years you could add $25,000 in equity simply by living there.

Equity doesn't have to be an abstract concept; you can turn it into cash by applying for a home equity loan which uses the equity in your home as security and in many cases allows you to deduct the interest from your taxes, just as you do with your first mortgage.

Home equity loans are usually a cheaper source of funds than other types of credit (credit cards, for example) and can be an excellent way to pay for home renovation or to consolidate debt.

If you are considering buying a home, one of the first steps will be applying for a mortgage. Check out our Mortgage Application Checklist for tips on getting started. To apply for a mortgage or if you have questions about the entire process, we recommend contacting The Mortgage Guys at Spruce Mortgage. Visit them on the web at