Q&A with Sarah Blue Vaughan

Editor’s Note:  Our featured VV&W agent for November is Sarah Blue Vaughan.  Below is a fun Q&A we did with her recently. 

Sarah Blue Vaughn, realtor with Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Properties in Huntsville, Alabama.

1.  What should a buyer or seller expect when working with you?  What makes you different from other agents?

I loved looking for my own home and how each house I saw could be modified to become our home.  Because I discovered how much I enjoyed seeing houses and how to improve the floor plans, I knew real estate was perfect for me; I could do what I already knew I loved and also be able to help someone else.  Since I am relatively new at this, I have time to spend on marketing a home, researching other properties to compare prices, searching for the perfect home online, in the car, and by word-of-mouth, and helping advise on improving a floor plan if needed. I truly enjoy the relationships made by helping clients who I now consider friends.

2. Why did you choose VV&W? What do you see as a client’s greatest benefit to working with us?

What makes VV&W outstanding and above other companies comes down to one word: teamwork.  Working at VV&W has been fantastic because everyone treats each other like family and truly works as a team with one goal in mind—helping others.  Since I started, I have had so much help, advice, and training from each person.  When you are working with VV&W, you work with the entire group.  You get the expertise, opinions, and knowledge of the whole company.

3.  What was the last thing that made you laugh uncontrollably?

A couple of weeks ago, my son, Christopher, came home from school and told my husband and I that his class had a funeral at school.  We were of course shocked since a funeral was the last thing we were expecting to hear about when asked about his day.  He went on to tell us that the class clock had been acting funny and not keeping good time for a few days. His cute young teacher told the students that she was going to have to remove the batteries and that they would have a moment of silence for the clock. Then students were able to say any “last words” and almost all volunteered.  Christopher said, “Clock, we have only known you for a few months, but you have been a good clock and will be missed.” My husband and I laugh because of things he says all the time.  He is a comedian.

4.  Do you prefer chocolate or fruit?

I actually prefer vegetables (good Southern-cooked) and fruit—or anything sour like pickles, lemons, and any vinargrettes.

5.  Scary movie or happy endings?

Definitely happy endings especially if they are romantic and sappy—Hallmark and Nicholas Sparks are the best!

6.  Favorite smells?

The best smell is found when walking into your warm family home during the holidays because the house is filled with cinnamon, pumpkin, and all the familiar aromas of delicious food being cooked.

7.  Where were you born?

My husband and I were both born in Huntsville, and we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.  We have both lived in other places and are very happy to be back.

8.  What are your hobbies?

I love to cook especially if it is something new, plan parties in particular for my son’s birthdays, and paint and craft when I have time.

9.  Do you have any pets?

Yes, my son has an adorable, spoiled-rotten cocker spaniel named Reuben that Santa brought him a couple of years ago.

10.  Do you have any siblings? Are you similar or opposites?

Yes, I have a younger brother, John; two sisters-in-law, Jennifer and Fleming; and a brother-in-law, Kevin.  I have the best siblings ever.  I guess we are all pretty similar since we get along and have so much fun together.

11.  Funniest moment throughout schoool?

There are too many to count, and some probably shouldn’t be repeated.  I loved school and laughed a lot.

For all your real estate needs, contact Sarah Blue Vaughan, at  256-652-9063 or sarahblue4500@gmail.com.  And for Huntsville real estate news, including fine and historic homes available across North Alabama, join the VV&W Facebook page and newsletter.  Or give us a call at 256-539-0505.

Q&A with Elizabeth Thames Foster

Editor’s Note:  Our featured VV&W agent for October is Elizabeth Thames Foster.  Below is a fun Q&A we did with her recently.  Also, don’t miss her excellent advice for homebuyers from earlier this month: The Ultimate Seduction Parlor.

VV&W Agent Elizabeth Thames Foster

1.  What should a buyer or seller expect when working with you?  What makes you different from other agents?

I have never thought of myself as a salesperson.  When working with buyers, I truly want them to find the home that they love. There is nothing better than walking in a house and seeing the look on their faces that says…this is the one!

2. Why did you choose VV&W? What do you see as a client’s greatest benefit to working with us?

I told Nancy that I took a big leap of faith when I got my Realtor’s license because VV&W is the only place I pictured myself working. I am a good 8 inches taller than every Van Valkenburgh but I really feel like a part of the family!  I definitely think VV&W clients get more personal service.  The unspoken motto in our office is to “do the right thing for your client”  I see every agent in our office go above and beyond for our clients 24 hours a day.

3.  Favorite client story or something funny that has happened to you in your career.

I love this job because every single transaction is different.  I have had some crazy things happen…guy lounging on the couch as I am showing his house, raccoon falling out of a fireplace during the home inspection, extreme hoarding, escaped pets. It is always something.

4.  Are you named after anyone? – I am named after my mother.  I was actually named Katherine for one week!

My parents changed it because they wanted a family name. And the weird thing is…people sometimes call me Katherine!

5.  What was the last thing that  made you laugh uncontrollably?

I am in my car so much that I have started listening to things other than music.  I was listening to the Comedy Channel on XM Radio in the carpool line the other day.  The comedian Jim Gaffigan did a bit on body wash (google it)  I was hyperventilating with laughter but was trying to hold it together so I didn’t freak out the other parents in carpool!

6.  Do you have kids?

Harry (12 and in 7th grade)  Margaret (16 and in 11th grade)

7.  Do you prefer chocolate or fruit?

I really try and eat healthy but chocolate is so much more fun than fruit.

8.  What’s the first thing you notice about people?

I notice their warmth and sincerity.

9.  What is your eye color?

Boring old brown!

10.  Do you have any pets?

Too many…2 dogs Ruby (Mutt) and Wilbur (Pug) and 2 cats Rascal and Charlie.

For all your real estate needs, contact Elizabeth Thames Foster, at  256-652-9063 or elizabethfoster1704@yahoo.com.  And for Huntsville real estate news, including fine and historic homes available across North Alabama, join the VV&W Facebook page and newsletter.  Or give us a call at 256-539-0505.

The Ultimate Seduction Parlor by Elizabeth Thames Foster

Editor’s Note:  Our featured VV&W agent for October is Elizabeth Thames Foster. Here, she shares some wise advice she has for buyers. Check this space later in the week for her fun Q&A.

We recently got rid of cable.  I miss it sometimes but it has made our TV viewing more intentional.  My husband and I started watching  Netflix and discovered a series of nature shows called “Life” The narrator has a distinguished British accent and the episodes are broken down into groups of animals. We love it and have even talked our teenage kids into watching it with us.

We were all watching the “bird” episode and learned about a bird called a Bowerbird. They are closely related to birds of paradise and live in Australia and New Guinea.  It was fascinating because the birds decorate their homes very elaborately. They spend years building giant nests and they each have a color they are attracted to. They collect flowers, seeds, mushrooms and berries and use them as decorations. And they each have their own style!  One bird was attracted to oranges and reds and his neighbor prefers collecting blues and grays. Of course, like most things in nature, the main purpose of these displays of color is to attract a mate.  The narrator says, “this is no nest, it is the ultimate seduction parlor.”

 

My family thought that was pretty funny, but it got me thinking about my job as a Realtor.  When you are trying to sell your home you do need to create a seduction parlor.  You are actually trying to seduce a buyer!  When you are trying to sell your home you want to put in the time and energy to make it attractive to buyers. Decluttering, depersonalizing, organizing, cleaning and staging are some things that sellers should do to make their property more attractive than the competition. I find that when a home is fresh, clean, neutral, bright and inviting it attracts a buyer quickly. In a saturated housing market, you have to make your nest the most seductive!

 

For Huntsville real estate news, including fine and historic homes available across North Alabama, join the VV&W Facebook page and newsletter.  Or give us a call at 256-539-0505.

 

Spring 2017 Smart Buy: Jones Valley

We’re advising clients to keep a close eye on Jones Valley , which we consider a Smart-Buy area this spring. In fact, we feel so strongly about it, we’re having a big Jones Valley Open House Fair this Sunday so you can see the proof.

“Exactly why is Jones Valley a smart buy?” you might ask.  We’ll answer that question with a few questions of our own:

Do you like the idea of a spacious yard and floor plan, meticulously maintained, at a reasonable price?

Beautiful, spacious kitchen at 1404 Toney Drive, in the Jones Valley neighborhood of Huntsville, Alabama.

Lovely back-yard entertaining area at 1404 Toney Drive, Huntsville, Alabama, in the Jones Valley area.

Lovely back-yard entertaining area at 1404 Toney Drive.

Do you want to live in a beautiful area where community gathers around and supports schools, neighborhood pools, and nature areas?

Jones Valley Elementary School in the beautiful Jones Valley neighborhood in Huntsville, Alabama.

Jones Valley Pool, in Huntsville, Alabama's lovely Jones Valley neighborhood.

 

 

Would you like living a stone’s throw away from some of Huntsville’s best shopping areas, salons, and restaurants?

Valley Bend shopping center in Huntsville, Alabama's Jones Valley neighborhood.

 

Do you like the idea of a neighborhood set around a scenic farm, giving it a fresh, pastoral feel unique in such a central area?

Beautiful Jones Valley Farm, set in the heart of the Jones Valley residential area of Huntsville, AL.

Morning in Jones Valley. Used with permission of LendonofHuntsville.com

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, Jones Valley may be for you. Come on out this Sunday from 2-4 to our Open House Fair and see what Jones Valley has to offer. You’ll be glad you did.

Seller Q&A: 1404 Toney Drive

The Hobbs family moved to Huntsville after Brad Hobbs finished his residency training.  It was love at first sight when he and his wife, Tessa, saw this hidden gem of a city that felt family friendly and “just the right size.”  The fact that it was close to their home state of Georgia was an added bonus! So Brad joined the thriving practice North Alabama ENT and the family purchased a lovely canary-diamond colored, two-story home in Jones Valley.  Today, we asked them a few quick questions about the house and the new adventure they are embarking on as a family.

After a happy time at 1404 Toney Drive, the owners need more space for their new child.

What attracted you to the Jones Valley neighborhood?

You really can’t find a more perfectly convenient location than Jones Valley. The Jones Farm right in the middle of town still makes us happy as we drive past it each and every day. The close proximity to the hospital and the practice offices- both in Huntsville and Madison- were must-have on our list. We also loved that the schools that are in the area are rated at the top of the charts in Huntsville.
Beautiful Jones Valley Farm, set in the heart of the Jones Valley residential area of Huntsville, AL.

Morning in Jones Valley. Used with permission of LendonofHuntsville.com

What was the first thing you noticed/liked about 1404 Toney?  

We had pinpointed that we wanted to be in Jones Valley- but every house that was available was either going to be a huge fixer upper renovation (which we weren’t in the market for since we had a 2, 3, and 5 year old at the time) or was way out of our price range. We loved the curb appeal at 1404 Toney as well as the neighborhood feel of Greenwyche- the beautiful streets, well taken care of homes, large lots, mature trees, a vibrant neighborhood pool and rec area, all tucked away at the foot of a mountain with beautiful views.

The front view of 1404 Toney Drive, Huntsville, AL–an attractive family home with loads of curb appeal.

Favorite neighborhood amenity, shop and or/restaurant

We are so close to almost everything–but as a young family, we make the most trips to and from Chick-fil-a on Whitesburg, and of course Target on Carl T Jones. We love eating at Little Rosie’s as well as many of the other restaurants in the area. We have started using online Wal-Mart grocery ordering since we have 2 pick up locations close by. I can order online–drive 5 minutes in the morning and have our groceries delivered to the car! Our church is also only 6 minutes away–which helps when you’re getting a family of 6 out the door on Sundays and Wednesdays! We love having everything close by–but our favorite neighborhood amenity is most definitely Greenwyche Pool during the summer, and then the beautiful streets that we enjoy walking and biking on.

What are some tips the new owner should know?

  • Fabulous floor plan could suit many different buyer needs
  • Main level offers circular flow & family room open to kitchen – great for enjoying evenings together…
  • Wonderful neighborhood with precious people
  • Cozy nights snuggled up in front of the fireplace – we will leave some of our chopped wood for you to enjoy!
  • Although newer construction, the home is recently remodeled – especially our favorite spot: the kitchen
  • The driveway, though sloped, easily parks 4+ cars and is easy to maneuver.
  • The large lot offers a safe, fenced in “adventure” to be explored by the children.
  • Award winning schools just steps away from the house

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What is leading you to move?
We have just recently added a wonderful addition to our family- we adopted a precious little girl from China in August! This wonderful, life-changing family event came when we least expected it–but we felt the Lord leading to take a step of faith and pursue adoption, so we did.
 A new family member brings happiness and a need for more space.

It was a whirlwind of a year leading up to welcoming her into our family. In the midst of paperwork, lots of praying about our family’s future changes, we realized that we would most likely be looking to expand into a larger square footage home to raise our family and hopefully stay put in a “forever home.” We are hoping to stay in this exact same neighborhood- but find something with a little more space to play and raise 4 rowdy and rambunctious little ones!  We are torn because we absolutely love everything about the Toney house.–

To find out more about this wonderful home, please call:

Sarah Lauren V. Kattos

Associate Broker – VanValkenburgh & Wilkinson Properties, Inc.
204 Gates Avenue
Huntsville, AL 35801

Open House at 115 Woods End Road – Sunday 1/8

Come out to 115 Woods End Road Sunday from 2-4 p.m. to see this terrific one-level 4BR/2.5BA executive home. Full of natural light, this home is open and airy, with clearly defined living spaces. The lovely kitchen flows into a keeping room complete with gas fireplace. And steps away, a screened-in back porch looks out over a large back yard enclosed by an attractive wood privacy fence.  For more information and photos, please see the listing page.  Or contact Kristian Denis at kristian.e.denis@gmail.com or (256) 527-9463.

Exterior shot of 115 Woods End Road Huntsville, Alabama 35806, a home for sale through Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Realtors.

Exterior shot of 115 Woods End Road Huntsville, Alabama 35806, a home for sale through Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Realtors.

Interior shot of 115 Woods End Road Huntsville, Alabama 35806, a home for sale through Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Realtors.

Interior shot of 115 Woods End Road Huntsville, Alabama 35806, a home for sale through Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Realtors.
Interior shot of 115 Woods End Road Huntsville, Alabama 35806, a home for sale through Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Realtors.

Interior shot of 115 Woods End Road Huntsville, Alabama 35806, a home for sale through Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Realtors.

Interior shot of 115 Woods End Road Huntsville, Alabama 35806, a home for sale through Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Realtors.

Interior shot of 115 Woods End Road Huntsville, Alabama 35806, a home for sale through Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Realtors.

Interior shot of 115 Woods End Road Huntsville, Alabama 35806, a home for sale through Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Realtors.

Interior shot of 115 Woods End Road Huntsville, Alabama 35806, a home for sale through Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Realtors.

Interior shot of 115 Woods End Road Huntsville, Alabama 35806, a home for sale through Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Realtors.
Interior shot of 115 Woods End Road Huntsville, Alabama 35806, a home for sale through Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson Realtors.

For Huntsville real estate news, including fine and historic homes available across North Alabama, join our Facebook page and newsletter.  Or give us a call at 256-539-0505.

Happy New Year: 2017 Edition!

Happy New Year card with glittering background.

The Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson team wishes all of our friends and family a very Happy New Year!  We hope 2017 brings wonderful things to you, to Huntsville and Madison County, and to America and people across the world.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve your real estate needs.  Happy 2017!

For Huntsville real estate news, including fine and historic homes available across North Alabama, join our Facebook page and newsletter.  Or give us a call at 256-539-0505.

Be Wise and Winterize

Winter weather can cause unpleasant and expensive problems for homeowners, even here in Huntsville and North Alabama, where we have the occasional bout of freezing weather.  So you would be wise to take a few precautions, especially if your house is going to be vacated at any point during the winter.

 

A snowy Christmas Day on Adams Street in downtown Huntsville, AL.

An unusual Christmas Day snow in downtown Huntsville in 2010.

Burst pipes are a particular headache, so take precautions against water freezing in your pipes. The very safest course, if you’re going away for any significant period over the winter, is to turn off water to the house and drain all the pipes. But that degree of caution is unusual for homeowners in the Deep South.  So at least keep your thermostat set at an adequate temperature to prevent frozen water in your pipes, and leave the sink doors open so warmer air can get to the pipes underneath.

Outdoor hosepipe faucets are particularly vulnerable.  In colder areas, these often have a dedicated shutoff valve so they can be drained before winter.  In the alternative, an insulating faucet cap offers some easy and inexpensive protection to your outdoor faucets.  The amazing Lewter’s Hardware in downtown Huntsville (222 Washington Street, NE, Huntsville AL 35801)  has these for just $2.50.

To install these, use the plastic loop inside the faucet cover.

And hook it over your outdoor faucet wheel.

Then tighten up the stopper until the cop is securely against the house.

And then you have a little added protection for cold weather.

For information on Huntsville real estate, historic homes and other fine properties in Madison County and North Alabama, follow Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.  Or give us a call at 256-539-0505.

 

2016 Spirit of Christmas Past Home Tour and Luminaries

Tonight marks the 38th Spirit of Christmas Past Home Tour and Luminaries celebration in the Twickenham Historic District of downtown Huntsville.  Join visitors  from around the Huntsville region to downtown for music, lights, decorations, and a look at some of the architectural treasures of this region.  To find out more about the tour, visit https://www.weedenhousemuseum.com/twickenham-tour-of-homes.html.

A preview article on one of the tour homes mentions VV&W’s Richard Van Valkenburgh, who sold the home to its current owner, Andy Lowery.

For information on Huntsville real estate, historic homes and other fine properties in Madison County and North Alabama, follow Van Valkenburgh and Wilkinson on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.