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

A Creative Alternative

I thought you might appreciate a reminder that Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 14. You have probably given flowers, candy, cards and all the other traditional gifts. A new idea is to give the important mothers in your life a Vermont Teddy Bear.

These adorable bears are hand-made in Vermont and guaranteed for life. I don’t know a woman who doesn’t like a Teddy Bear…doesn’t matter what age we are.

You can purchase you Teddy Bear by clicking here.
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Thinking of buying or selling a home? Vist my website for the current market value of your home or to view all local real estate listings.

Post-Contract Pitfalls

Selling a home is like climbing Mount Everest – getting a signed contract is a great accomplishment, but that’s only half the journey. The typical home sale today involves more than 20 steps after the initial contract is accepted to complete the transaction.

Much of what needs to be done before the closing is the responsibility of appraisers, loan processors, attorneys, and inspectors — my role, as your REALTOR®, is to coordinate those responsibilities, helping to ensure that others do their jobs promptly and correctly and that the closing isn’t jeopardized.

Many steps between contract ratification and closing involve the cooperation of both buyer and seller, and it takes attentive REALTORS® on both sides of the transaction to troubleshoot and keep everyone on track. When things go wrong, closing can easily fall behind. Here’s how much time to expect on particular delays:

One-Week Delays
1. Buyer submits incorrect information to lender.
2. Source of down payment changes.
3. Escrow fails to notify parties about missing documents.
4. Principals leave town without signing all necessary papers.
5. Unknown defects are discovered in the property.
6. Last-minute liens discovered.
7. Cloud on title.
8. Move-out date changes.

Two-Week Delays
1. Lender decides at the last minute it doesn’t approve of the borrower or the property.
2. Lender raises interest rates.
3. Lender requires last minute reappraisal or repairs.
4. Appraisal too low.

I have extensive experience in handling problems that may arise during the time between contract and closing; I can anticipate difficulties and address them in time to ensure a smooth settlement for all involved.

To ensure a smooth settlement when buying or selling your home, give me a call, 802-226-8022. I’m here to help!

Considering a Home Remodel? Make Sure It Will Pay Off

If your family has to wait in line to take a shower, or if you’re storing pots and pans in the laundry room due to lack of cabinet space, it could be time to consider a home remodeling project. Not only will an updated space make your house more pleasant for you and your family, it can pay off in higher resale value.

To find out if your project will add to the resale value of your home, take stock of other houses in your neighborhood. Have many of them been upgraded in the past few years? If everyone on the block has added a bathroom or upgraded their master suite, these projects would be worth considering. On the other hand, you may not want to price your house out of the market by adding a third or fourth garage if that’s not the standard in your area.

Remodeling Magazine conducts an annual survey that compares construction costs with resale values. Over the past four years, bathroom and kitchen remodeling have consistently shown good returns on investment. In 2005, a kitchen remodel that included updating cabinet fronts; replacing the oven, stove, sink and faucet; adding new paint or wall coverings; and replacing existing flooring recouped 98.5 percent of the job cost at resale time as a national average.

Bathroom remodels pay off even better. Updating a bathroom that is 25 years old with new fixtures, tub, and toilet; adding new tile, a solid surface vanity counter, ceramic floor and wallpaper recoups on average 102.2 percent.

Of course, you won’t want to tackle a home improvement project solely for the resale value, especially if you intend to stay put for a while. A remodel can contribute to a better quality of living for your family while your house increases in value. “Choose an improvement that makes sense for you and your family and one that you can afford,” says Maxine Sweet, vice president of public education for Experian, a global information solutions company.

To decide if a home remodeling project is right for you, make a list of features that you would like in the room to be renovated, taking into account how you and your family use the space. Consider traffic patterns, lighting and special features you’d like, such as a wet bar or walk-in shower.

Next, figure out how much you can spend on the project. You might want to consider taking out a home equity loan to finance the remodel. Because the loan is secured by your home, it will likely have a lower annual percentage rate, and you may get some tax breaks, too. The amount you can borrow is limited by the equity you have in your home. Other factors that may influence the amount you can borrow include your credit history, income and current financial responsibilities. Also, be sure to have a plan for how you will repay the loan. You don’t want to put your home at risk or add too much stress to the family budget.

To make sure your financing is ready when you are, visit a credit reporting company online such as www.experian.com to quickly and easily access your credit report. “If you notice anything questionable, such as accounts you don’t recognize, or payment disputes, deal with those issues before applying for a home equity loan,” says Sweet. “It can also be helpful to have your credit score which will tell you specifically the factors in your credit history that could be considered risky by lenders.”

Finally, get bids from several contractors to see how your budget and the cost of your dream remodel compare. Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations, or ask your lender if they’re familiar with the contractors you’re considering. Another great way to check out a company is SmartBusinessReports, also available through Experian. These business credit reports provide consumers with background information, comprehensive financial information and credit risk facts about the business they are considering using in an easy-to-read, online format.

As with any big project, you’ll need to be flexible and not let the inevitable glitches get in the way of the big picture – when you’re done, you’ll have a beautiful new space for you and your family to enjoy for years to come. (ARA)

If you would like input from a real estate professional as to whether or not your home improvement project will add resale value to your home or if you are over-improving for the neighborhood, just give me a call at 802-226-8022. I am glad to help.

BIG RIVER DAY Saturday June 10, 2006 Come and Join the FUN!!!

BIG RIVER DAY Saturday June 10, 2006 Come and Join the FUN!!!

Featuring:
Canoeing, Fishing Derbies,
River Clean-ups, Storm Drain Marking & More!
Marine City Fishing Fun Day: (10am – 1pm) Free fishing at Broadway Park on the corners of Water and Broadway streets. Fishing poles, tackle, and bait provided. Informational literature on Michigan’s fish and reptiles available. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Contact: Marine City Recreation at (810) 765-8094 or mailto:[email protected]?subject=Marine .
Marine City: Wastewater Plant Tours (8am – 11am) Have you ever given thought to where your dirty water goes after it leaves your house? How does it get cleaned? Find out during this unforgettable tour. Located at 1696 South Parker Street (M-29). Contact: Jeff Wren at (810) 765-9011 or mailto:[email protected]?subject=Waste

Visit My Web site, http://www.wynnea.com/, for more information or Call Wynne on cell 586-260-7653

Vermont Real Estate Bursts Into Spring

The National Association Of Realtors predictions that the housing market will remain on a high plateau (see previous post) is holding true for Central/Southern Vermont.

The March real estate sales report is in and though March 2006 is not quite what March 2005 was, the market remains strong.

The number of New Listings for March 2006 is down by 17% from the March 2005 numbers. The Sold Listings in March 2006, however, are up 67% over the same time period in 2005. The Average Sales Price is also up by 5%.

What does this mean for Vermont buyers and sellers?

For buyers, it means there is less inventory or less homes to choose from. There is stiff competition among buyers for the good properties. This is a market that you want to have an experienced Realtor representing you who knows the nuances of a competitive market.

For sellers, it means you need the advice and counsel of a Realtor who is knowledgeable and the has experience needed help you price your home neither too high or nor too low.

I have earned my CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) designation. This is the highest designation in the real estate industry. The CRS is held by only 2% of all real estate agents nation-wide. This designation is held by the best!

So choose the best to represent you in your next real estate transaction. Give me a call, 802-226-8022. Don’t settle for anything less!

Housing Market To Stay on High Plateau

Home sales should remain strong this year according to a report just released from the National Association of Realtors. The association expects sales to move up and down somewhat over for the rest of the year, but are predicting 2006 as being the third strongest year in history.

NAR President Thomas M. Stevens from Vienna, Va., said home prices are expected to cool, but not as much as in earlier projections.

So if you were waiting for the real estate market to go bust before you buy, you probably shouldn’t hesitate any longer. Visit my website, www.ISellVermontRealEstate.com, or contact me by phone, 802-226-8022, or e-mail. I will show you how you can take advantage of this strong market and low interest rates.

Important Tax Information for Vermont Home Owners

Important Tax Information for Vermont Home Owners
(In Vermont the deadline is April 18 this year)

The April 18 tax deadline is only a few days away and hopefully you are well on your way to completing your tax return and you won’t be one of those people in line at the post office late at night on April 17!

If you purchased a home in 2005, you will need the HUD-1 Statement from the closing on your new home, when calculating your taxes. This is the document itemizing the monies at closing. Your accountant or tax advisor will be able to tell you which of your closing costs are tax deductible.

The mortgage interest that is reflected on the HUD-1 is not calculated in the interest reflected on your year end statement that you will receive from your mortgage company. So, be sure to add the interest in the HUD-1 to other interest paid for the year.

If I can help with any other questions concerning the purchase of your home last year or if you are considering buying a home this year, give me a call, 802-226-8022. I’m glad to help. Or visit my website, www.ISellVermontRealEstate.com. You will find a wealth of information there.

Tips To Prevent Identity Theft

A friend of mine was just a victim of Identity Theft. Someone got her my credit card number. They made 2 credit cards with her number on it and used these cards to charge $500 at Bed Bath and Beyond in Rockville, Md. At the same time (within 2 hours), they spent $500 at Walmart in Lakeland, FL. My friend discovered something was amiss when she went to use her card and it was declined.

The following is a memo from my friend’s attorney to his office staff:

1. The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.

2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put “PHOTO ID REQUIRED.”

3. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the “For” line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won’t have access to it.

4. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a P.O. Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a P.O. Box, use your work address.

5. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

6. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of my passport when travel either here or abroad.

We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards. Unfortunately I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieve(s) ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more.

But here’s some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:

1. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.

2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

But here’s what is perhaps most important of all: (I never even thought to do this.)

3. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves’ purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away. This weekend someone turned it in. It seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks.Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, etc., has been stolen:

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
3.) Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

This all makes good sense and we are glad to be able to share it with you. So, please protect yourself!

What Is Your Okemo Mountain Home Really Worth?

A new website claims to give the numbers in Okemo Mountain and beyond. Wherever you live, if you plan to buy or sell a home, one of the most important pieces of information you will need is the home’s current value in reasonably accurate terms. Zillow.com is a new national website that purports to be able to tell you that so that you – uh – won’t need a Realtor like me.

Well, I just read a good post on this by my friend Margaret Rome in Baltimore, Maryland and want to share it with you. It really says it all: “In the last few days, a new Web site launched with great fanfare but spotty performance. When CNN included a story about it on their evening news, the site couldn’t keep up with the hits. Why all the fuss? Zillow promises to give homebuyers and sellers up to date and complete information about the value of their home and comparables in their area.

Some have suggested this will make real estate agents obsolete because people will be able to price their own homes to be competitive. The early returns are that the site’s information is incomplete and sometimes wrong, which makes the suggested price ranges they give hard to justify. In some cases, the range is optimistically high, and for others, I’ve negotiated sales higher than their top amount.

The site depends on public records for its data. But public records will not show factors, like recent additions and improvements or the condition of the interior, that affect price. Public records can also be wrong; a friend of mine checked her house and said she wants that fireplace she’s supposed to have, but will not give up the second bathroom they didn’t count. If the information about a house is wrong, how valid is the price estimate? In time, the site will undoubtedly improve, but for now – caution.

There is no question about real estate agents becoming an endangered species because of this or any other site. Price is only one factor in buying or selling your home, and getting to the settlement table means avoiding traps and overcoming obstacles. A top agent will be experienced at:
negotiating the terms of your contract,
making sure only qualified buyers troop through your home,
meeting and dealing with appraisers, and
working with home inspectors and title companies to be sure you are protected from start to finish.

Buying or selling a home is an emotionally-charged transaction. Now more than ever it pays to have an experienced professional on your side. Embrace the benefits of new technology, but don’t fall into the trap of believing it will replace market knowledge and personal service.
The end of real estate agents? Not any time soon. Margaret”

Visit Margaret Rome’s Blog here.

I am glad to provide you with a complete, accurate home evaluaton. Click here for your no-obligation report.

Chester Rental

Chester Rental – Large 1 bedroom apt. on second floor – $625 per month, includes heat, hot water, trash and snow removal. No Pets! 1st, last and security required – credit check and references. Available May 1, 2006