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Below are blog posts about Vermont real estate focused specifically on the Okemo and general south central vermont area.

First Anniversary of Vermont’s Recovery from Tropical Storm Irene

On August 28th, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont. The flooding hit many parts of that state, some worse than others. The storm caused more damage than many here have ever seen.

While many people (and their communities) that weren’t affected have moved on, they’re not always aware that there are still many that continue to deal with the aftermath of Irene.

Vermont has made much progress in rebuilding. It’s been a lot of hard work. Almost immediately after the Irene hit, those that weren’t affected volunteered to help out their fellow neighbors salvage their personal belongings, clean up and rebuild. To this date there are still many volunteers helping out.

You can see more about what volunteers have done and volunteer yourself at: SerVErmont for Irene Recovery

The “SerVermont for Irene Recovery” facebook page is a place for people to share experiences about Irene in Vermont and what the experience has meant to them and also collaborate with other volunteers.

You can also contribute to the efforts by buying a Vermont Strong licence plate, which sell for $25. You can find a retail location here: Vermont Strong Licence Plate Retailers

The “One Year Stronger: A Commemorative Gathering on the First Anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene” will take place on August 28th at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph. The free event will be from 7–8:30 p.m. Everyone is invited.

“This event is a celebration of how far we’ve come in recovering from one of the worst storms in this state’s history, thanks to the commitment of Vermonters to their neighbors and communities,” Gov. Peter Shumlin said. “It is also a recognition that there are still people who need assistance and work that remains for those struggling to recover from the devastation of the storm.”

The commemortive gathering will include speaches from the Governor, flood survivors, recovery heroes and volunteers. There will be musical performances by Vermont musicians such as Diane Martin, Shyla Nelson and Jon Gailmor as well as by the VYO Chorus and Vermont Youth Orchestra.

There will also be an exhibit of photography and artwork expressing the impact of Irene on Vermonter’s lives displayed at the Chandler from 4-8:30 p.m.

Other Irene Anniversary events will be happening statewide this month. Many local Irene events should be posted on the Vermont Strong website.,

More Vermont Irene Recovery Resources:

Five Habits of Highly Productive Real Estate Agents

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  You could take the title of this blog and replace “Real Estate Agents” with your profession and you would increase your productivity!  But Real Estate is my business and time management is a real challenge that I want to address from the perspective of being a Real Estate Agent.

With so many distractions, it is a wonder that real estate agents are productive at all.  Working to become a highly productive real estate agent is an ongoing process.  Creating habits that produce consistent results allows you to achieve your maximum potential.  Between phone calls, emails, listing presentations, prospecting calls and buyer appointments, how do I stay productive?

I keep myself focused, alert and on tract with these five habits:

  1. Focus on the Most Important Tasks.  Be mindful to focus on income generating tasks and tasks that produce results.  Schedule time on your calendar and list out everything you will work on.  Number each item and work through your list.  Complete what you can during your scheduled time without any interruptions or distractions (see #2).  Do this every day.
  2. Remove Distractions.  The day can quickly get away from you between the phone, email, Internet and any other interruption.  Turn it all off and stay focused on your task at hand.  Don’t allow yourself a quick vacation on Facebook or getting off track by answering emails.  Cut yourself off from all distractions, work down your list and take a break once you are complete.
  3. Use Positive Affirmations.  Crazy, I know but they actually do work!  They can take a negative attitude and turn it around just by repeating a few constructive, upbeat words. 
  4. Take a Cat Nap.  Making time and grabbing a few z‘s might seem like an odd productivity tip, but studies have shown that feeling refreshed after a nap can significantly improve concentration and performance.  30 minutes is all it takes.
  5. Set Daily Goals.  Wake up each morning with your goals outlined.  These should be incorporated into your daily tasks.  Setting your sites on a goal each day offers clarity and promotes a more sustained drive.

Here’s a bonus.  Break out of the norm.  Don’t be afraid to branch out and try something that makes you a little uncomfortable.  Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be an amazing place that offers growth potential you never believed possible. Whatever your profession, these habits will contribute to your productivity. 

Until next time, Irene

Is the Economy Encouraging Home Buying?

There seems to be a shift in several key housing market indicators, according to Fannie Mae’s March 2012 consumer attitudinal National Housing Survey.  More Americans now expect both home rental and home purchase prices to increase over the next year.  In addition, confidence in consumers’ views of their own finances is stabilizing.  Are these trends providing Americans with an increased sense of urgency to buy a home?

73% of Americans now believe it is a good time to buy a home.  This is up from 70% in February.  “Conditions are coming together to encourage people to want to buy homes,” says Doug Duncan, Vice President and Chief Economist of Fannie Mae.  “With an increasing share of consumers expecting higher mortgage rates and home prices over the next 12 months, some may feel that renting is becoming more costly and that homeownership is a more compelling housing choice.”

A number of factors seem to be contributing to Americans’ Expectations:

  • Home prices are expected to increase over the next year.
  • Mortgage rates are expected to go up over the next year.
  • People feel “it is a good time to buy”.
  • Home rental prices are expected to increase over 4% – a significant increase.

There appears to be good news about the economy in general and Americans’ household finances.  There was a rise in confidence in the overall economy this month.  35% of respondents think the economy is on the right track.  A very low (12%) of respondents think their personal financial situation will worsen in the next 12 months.  This is good news for everyone.

For more information, visit http://www.fanniemae.com.

Until next time, Irene

Real Estate Agent – or – Expert Advisor

 Real Estate Agent – or – Expert Advisor

Spring is a great time to look at the business landscape.  My business is Real Estate so naturally, I’m interested in what’s happening in my industry – and the real estate industry is changing.  Anthony Robbins says, “Success leaves clues”.  Well, I am determined to follow those clues and remain successful in this business I love – and navigate this changing environment!

Remember when you used a travel agent to book your vacation?  Or walked into your neighborhood Hardware Store and said hello to the owner by name?  How about your local coffee shop?  Okay, I still have a local coffee shop but you see where I’m going.  Expedia, Travelocity and Priceline are your “travel agents”!  There are 2,248 Home Depot big-box format stores that have become your neighborhood Hardware Store.  The same thing that happened in these industries is happening in the real estate industry and it requires all of us to look for the clues to remain successful.  That is good for our industry, good for us and very good for our clients and customers.

A Real Estate sale is more than putting a sign in someone’s front lawn, loading the listing onto the MLS and running an ad.  I was a very early adapter of using the internet to market myself and communicate with others and I continue to use these tools for the common good.  Many traditional real estate agents don’t want to share their best practices, but as an “expert advisor” sharing knowledge and information helps everyone grow.  Sharing best practices, leadership and standards helps build consistency in our industry.  You can be committed to your own success and also to the success of others.

In addition to being committed to sharing and helping others as they help themselves, expert advisors are what their name implies – experts who give good counsel to clients and colleagues alike.  Being an expert doesn’t come easily but being an expert in real estate – understanding people, business, marketing, sales and relationship building is the only true way to create rock-solid and long lasting success.  Expert advisors are 100% committed to doing whatever it takes to get their sellers’ homes the exposure they need to drive up the demand on the home, which will ultimately result in a top-dollar offer.

Expert advisors look to foster strong personal and professional relationships with the agents in their area.  Well-managed relationships help expert advisors collaborate and cooperate with other agents in such a way that they’re able to drive demand up on their listings.  It makes sense that if agents like and want to work with you, more agents will show your listings to potential buyers. 

So I encourage you to find someone who has grown beyond the “traditional” real estate agent role and has become the Expert Advisor.  That person is open to sharing the best and brightest ideas – and has a network of others just like them – and that is good for selling or buying a home.  I will leave you with one last thought:

Compare buying or selling a home with booking a hotel room in Boston.  One decision can be made with a few key-strokes, and one is a significant life decision.  Which one requires an Expert Advisor?

Until next time, Irene

Warren Buffett’s thoughts on Real Estate

Well, spring has descended upon us!  I am trying to enjoy the 70 degree weather here in Vermont in March – and trying not to think about how this over-the-top spring like weather is affecting the local economy. 

While the weather patterns dictate our local travel and tourism based economy, there are some general economic factors that support a healthy real estate forecast for 2012 and beyond.  Recently, Warren Buffett – the so called “Oracle of Omaha” was interviewed on CNBC.  He recommends buying real estate over investing in a diversified group of leading companies. 

It has been a long time since buyers and sellers heard that kind of good news!

Buffett said that along with stocks, single-family homes are cheap and attractive investments.  In contrast, investments in Treasury bills, gold or simply keeping money in cash are not as attractive.  He also said that if he had a way to buy “a couple hundred thousand single-family homes” and easily manage them, he would “load up on them” and “take mortgages out at very, very low rates”. 

In reality, managing “a couple of hundred thousand single-family homes” is an impossibly Herculean logistical task.  In my last blog I mentioned several reasons for the real estate market improvement:

  • Interest rates are at a historic record low.
  • Baby Boomers are nearing retirement and have the ability to snap up high end properties at lower than usual prices.
  • Some people who watch the real estate market feel we won’t see further drops in value.
  • Some buyers who have been on the side-lines for the past several years are ready to re-enter the market.

Let’s face it – it is much easier to buy stocks with a few keystrokes and mouse-clicks.

So while this news is good for investors and Warren Buffett followers – who really will benefit?  When asked if a young individual should buy stocks or his first single-family home, Buffett recommended buying a single-family home with a 30-year mortgage.  “It’s a terrific deal,” he said.  “It’s a leveraged way of owning a very cheap asset now and I think that’s probably as an attractive an investment as you can make right now.”

Are you looking to complete the “American Dream” and own your own home?  Are you interested in the second-home market?  There are great buys to be had out there and interest rates make an attractive investment.  As I’ve mentioned before – if you are thinking about buying property in this area – now is the time to do so!

Until next time, Irene

Improvement on the real estate front!

After several months blogging about the Vermont towns that I know and love and after a reminder about how important your own life should be as we enter 2012 – well, it’s time to get back to business!  Let’s talk about real estate.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that it wasn’t a breakout year in 2011 for residential real estate sales.  In my opinion however, there was slight improvement.  While the percentage increase in residential home, condo sales and second home buyers vary from county to county and town to town, the real estate market has been positively affected by the following:

  • Interest rates are at a historic record low.
  • Baby Boomers are nearing retirement and have the ability to snap up high end properties at lower than usual prices.
  • Some people who watch the real estate market feel we won’t see further drops in value.
  • Some buyers who have been on the side-lines for the past several years are ready to re-enter the market.

This does not mean that we will all enjoy easy and quick real estate transactions.  Clients will be cautious, as they should be.  Many home prices remain depressed and are well below their replacement value that it would take to build a new home – which is not necessarily good for builders – but good for qualified home buyers.  There are great buys to be had out there and with interest rates where they are right now, the average person still has a great opportunity to own the “American Dream”. 

Due to the financial hardships that many of the American people have endured in recent history and the country’s Financial Institution’s past lending policies – in my opinion a good credit score and adequate down payment are most important for your future real estate transactions.  There are programs out there for first-time home buyers who qualify so if you are in the market to buy a home, it would be foolish not to look into it now.

I’m happy to live in Vermont in a 4-season resort area.  I believe we will remain a strong second-home market and also a destination supported by our local tourism based partners who continue to focus on that economy and add to their year-round amenities.  If you’ve been thinking about buying property in this area – well, now is the time to do so!

Until next time, Irene

For all your real estate needs in South Central Vermont, contact me at:

[email protected]

802-353-1983

New Shop in Ludlow

Please stop in to visit the new store for FRAME IT IN SKIS – in LaMere Plaza!  Perfect place for an unusal gift or something for yourself; a bit about them below:
 

We are a small family owned business who love what we do. Our unique gifts and picture frames are handmade and handcrafted in Vermont out of used and recycled skis, snowboards and other winter sports equipment. Standard products include picture frames, message boards, mirrors, clocks, and wind chimes. Please visit our online store often as we will be adding more and more unique gifts along with specials and one-of-a-kind items. Please email us with suggestions and comments as we are always looking for new ideas and welcome your opinion.

Always try to recycle, reuse, and repurpose! One person’s junk is another person’s craft project!

 
 
FRAME IT IN SKIS.
3 Lamere Square (across the street from Shaws)
Ludlow, VT 05149
ph: 201.281.0854 email: gotskis [!at] yahoo.com

2012 is a Brand New Year!

Happy New Year to you!  As most of us do at this time of year, we reflect on what has happened over the past year and what we want to have happen in the coming year.  I find that my own behavior contributes to the success that I enjoy, whether it is a personal success or a professional one. 

So I wanted to take a moment and outline some of the thoughts that I hope to keep close this year.  Consider these some great ideas to improve your life in 2012!

  • Wake up each day thankful for your life.  No matter how good or bad you have it, someone, somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.  Instead of thinking about what you are missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing and be grateful.
  • Take Responsibility for your life.  The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life.  Blaming people or circumstances gives others power over that part of your life.
  • Don’t follow the path of least resistance.  Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile.  Don’t take the easy way out.  Do something extraordinary!
  • Face your problems head on.  It is much easier to run!  Know that there is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them.  It’s okay to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall.  The purpose of living is to face problems, learn, adapt and solve them over the course of time.  This will help mold you into the person you eventually become.
  • Be yourself.  One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.  Someone might always be prettier, smarter or younger – but they will never be YOU!  Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
  • It’s okay to make a mistake.  Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing!  Every success has a trail of failures behind it and every failure leads you toward success.  Don’t regret any of your life experiences.
  • Be ready for a challenge.  Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zone, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.  But when you overcome that challenge – what a feeling!
  • Be sure to look at the beauty of small moments.  Enjoy the little things because one day you may look back and discover they were really the big things.  The best part of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.

Here is wishing you the best year you can possibly have!

Until next time, Irene

Ludlow Tent comes down!

Shaw’s Supermarket in Ludlow will be closing it’s temporary (tent) location at 7 p.m. on MONDAY January 16th and will celebrate it’s Grand Reopening at 7 a.m. on FRIDAY January 27th. During this 10 day closure the temporary store will be removed from the parking lot, making way for a totally renovated and expanded store.
We look forward to getting back into our permanent location and hope to see all of you there on opening day.”

This month’s featured town – Weston, VT

Weston Playhouse on the Green

Weston, Vermont is a beautiful village and never more so than during the Holidays.  Originally part of Andover and called “West Town” it was incorporated in October of 1979 because Markham and Terrible mountains blocked travel between the town’s halves.  Route 100 South out of Ludlow to Weston has always been referred to as Terrible Mountain – most people don’t know there is an actual mountain named as such!

As beautiful as Weston is while driving through town, there are hidden treasures as well.  Vermont’s oldest professional theater, The Weston Playhouse Theater Company was founded in 1935. This non-profit organization serves a community of artists and audiences through a broad spectrum of dramatic works and educational programs.  Visit www.westonplayhouse.org for the exciting shows scheduled for next season.  

The Kinhaven Music School is celebrating 60 years next July!   They offer four classical music programs each summer providing a music making experience where friendship, mutual support, learning and community are always present.  Find out more about the music classes and workshops for both youths and adults at www.kinhaven.org

Do you know about the Benedictine Priory on Priory Hill Road?  Founded in 1953 and inspired by a monastic tradition reaching back to the earliest centuries of the church, a community of Benedictine Monks have created their own community about four miles north of the village.  All are welcome to visit and the Chapel, Visitor’s Center and grounds afford an atmosphere in which quiet reflection and prayer are accessible to all.  More information is available at www.westonpriory.org.

I chose to write about Weston in December because of its small town beauty during the Christmas season.  What could be more beautiful than shopping during the Holidays?!  The Christmas Shop has the best selection of Ornaments you’ll find.  Artistically placed and decoratively arranged, this shop provides an experience you won’t want to miss. 

Then take a walk across the street to the Vermont Country Store.  This is the original store founded by the Orton Family in 1946 along with their first catalogue.  Think of catering to a farmer’s wife back in the day – they still adhere to old fashioned values set forth by Vrest and Ellen Orton.  The Vermont Country Store takes pride in being purveyors of the practical and hard to find.  When you check out their website at www.vermontcountrystore.com you’ll find their Customer Bill of Rights – including a 100% guarantee.  The Vermont Country Store is a great place to find one-of-a-kind gifts with superior customer service!

There are many Inn’s and places to dine and I couldn’t do justice to them all by naming them here.  If you have never been to Weston, visit the Village of Weston Website for more detailed information.  www.westonvt.com 

The entire village of Weston is listed on the National Register of Historic Places so the “prettiest village in all of Vermont” will be preserved for future generations.  Weston is magical under a blanket of snow!  I hope to see you on a Sleigh Ride in Weston soon!

Vermont Country Store

 
 

Until next time, Irene