July 4th in the Mad River Valley

July 4th in the Mad River Valley

Have you heard? Frendly Gathering is coming to Fayston – Mt. Ellen at Sugarbush to be exact, from June 29-July 1st. You know what that means right? There’s an opening act for Warren’s Fourth of July celebration! Buy your tickets early – they have weekend car camping passes, day passes for the music, weekend long passes for music only! It’s great to have summer music back at Mt Ellen, and it’s sure to be a great time. After the Frendly Gathering you then have two days to rest and recharge for the 4th of July celebration in Warren. This years theme is “Stars & Stripes”. I’m thinking there will be more than one float with an orange face on it. AND then, the Circus is coming to town (Waitsfield) July 5th & 6th. So, really you need to make a full week for this years visit for the celebration of independence day. Here is a YUGE list of other haps in and around the Mad River Valley here in Central Vermont. Here’s a short list to get you started: Rock of Ages at the Valley Players – runs Thursday thru Saturday from June 29th to July 15th General Stark’s Pub – Dinners Thursday to Saturday Waitsfield Farmers Market – Saturday July 1st Warren 4th of July Parade Circus Smirkus at Kenyons Field – July 5th & 6th Round up on the River – Happening down by the ‘S turn’ on the Mad River (Bridge Stree) every Wednesday from 5 til dark until September... read more

Almost There: The Mad River Valley (video)

“An unscripted film about the community we call Vermont’s Mad River Valley. We like to say ‘they come for the mountains, but they stay for the valley.’ In this video you will see local farmers, business people, tourists, barns, markets, craft beer, music festivals, skiing, kayaking, running, biking, swimming, golfing and more. Basically everything that steers our community toward the relaxing and enjoyable place it is. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoy living, working and playing here in the Mad River Valley.” Mad River Valley Chamber of... read more
Mad River Valley Real Estate – 2016 Year In Review

Mad River Valley Real Estate – 2016 Year In Review

As 2016 approached an end, it seemed like just about everyone I knew was happy to kiss this one good bye. We came off an awful 2015/16 ski season, the after-effects of which were hard on local businesses and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The fall brought lots of sadness to the Mad River Valley, and the ongoing drama of the presidential race did little to calm people’s nerves. From a purely real estate perspective, however, 2016 was a barn-burner, and there seems to be little on the horizon to indicate 2017 will be any different. As the presidential campaign came to a close, the stock market rallied into uncharted territory, with most major indices hitting all time highs, before flattening into an early 2017 slump. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when the bulls run on Wall Street, good things follow in real estate, and we are riding the coat-tails of the second longest bull market in history. There is a natural tendency for investors to go conservative following a big run, and real estate has returned to top dog status as the best place to put your money in the long run. While median home prices nationally have returned to pre-crash levels, housing starts are half what they were in 2005 and foreclosures are at a 17 year low, easing fears that this is just another growing bubble waiting to pop. Combine this with a national glut in inventory, you have the makings of the perfect place to park your money as the outlook for Wall Street is a little less cheerie for 2017.  Optimism is... read more
4 things the Real Estate Industry can learn from Millennials

4 things the Real Estate Industry can learn from Millennials

The millennials are growing up. Generation Y’s will start to hit 30 this year and that’s big news for the real estate industry. For the second straight year, this quirky, trendy, techno-savvy, hard-to-pin-down demographic will represent the largest group of home buyers in the United States, representing 32% of all home purchases. 8 years ago they didn’t even warrant a generational nickname, 5 years ago they were all but written off by the real estate industry as renters for life, or worse yet, voted most likely to live in their parents basement…… forever, endlessly searching the internet for the perfect job. Today they represent the lifeblood of the real estate industry, and more importantly the economy that sits squarely upon the mountain of debt that comes from those bankrolled purchases. Huh. So, if they are so crucial to the economy, certainly there are lessons to be learned. And there are. Buying a home is not romantic. The Millennials came into adulthood with the largest college debt load and the worst job market in history. They watched in horror as their parents lost the “American Dream” homes which they had spent their childhoods in, and vowed never to make the same mistakes. As this group has come of age their focus on home ownership has become as sharp as ever with special attention paid to economy and value, not bigger and better as their parents generation espoused. Instead of risky, zero-down, interest up loans, they are focused on saving to make significant down payments and smart business decisions. 38% of millennial buyers say they will delay their wedding in order... read more
4 Keys to Identifying Your First Home

4 Keys to Identifying Your First Home

Typically a first time home buyer will be limited most significantly by price. After all, it’s a first home and most young home buyers have not yet hit their prime earning years. This means income and savings will be a driving force in making the decision about what to purchase. There will certainly be compromises – ugly carpet, small living rooms, deferred maintenance and lack of garage to name a few. But having limited resources does not prevent a buyer from making wise choices and paying close attention to the key indicators of a wise real estate investment. Neighborhood – It’s been said that the only thing more important than location is location. Beyond that, location is pretty important too. Get my drift?  The place you buy is almost more important that what you buy in that place. Almost 90 percent of home buyers search online for real estate and identify properties of interest before they ever make an appointment to see a house. This is essential market research and tells you what is available in your price range. Take that a step further and do a drive around. Walk the neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon. Talk to the neighbors, ask about the schools, the roads, and town services. Drive up and down the street in the evening and see what it looks like in the evening. Are there people walking around? Are the neighbors friendly? Check things out and see if you can imagine yourself living there. If it feels wrong, you may have already answered the most important question before you even started. Schools – You may... read more
How to Break a Real Estate Contract (without losing your shirt)

How to Break a Real Estate Contract (without losing your shirt)

We have all worked for buyers who got into a real estate transaction with the best of intentions, only to find that it was not the right deal for them. It may be the price they are paying, it may be unanticipated expenses moving forward, it may be financing, and it may be items that were uncovered during the inspection. It could be just about anything, but in real estate it’s almost  always about the money. And let’s be honest – the biggest responsibility that a Realtor has to his client when negotiating a contract is to protect them at all legal cost, and to make sure they don’t lose their money.   1. Protect yourself We have all read that “cash is king” and perhaps the best way to secure a property in a hot real estate market is to make your offer the most attractive. If you have the means, cash is a great way to go. But it does not mean you should get into a contract without protecting yourself, and this is the primary reason you should hire a Buyer Broker. There are good ways to make a great offer and there are bad ways to make a great offer and the worst way is to offer cash with no contingencies. Contingencies are your safety net and if you need to break a contract that contains no contingencies, you will forfeit your deposit. In a typical transaction that may be upwards of 10% of the purchase price. Furthermore, if a buyer breaks a full priced offer with no contingencies, the Sellers Agent still gets paid.... read more
Roll Back the Clock at Mad River Glen

Roll Back the Clock at Mad River Glen

    January 26, 2016 – Roll back the clock to 1948 Ski for $3.50 (You can’t even buy a cup of Joe for that anymore – well, you probably can at Mad River Glen) Plus, they have a ridiculous amount of things happening that day: Test G3 Telemark skis with Clearwater Sports PHAT (Protect your Head at All Times) event RAMP Sports demo Vermont Specialty Food Day and Starline Rhythm Boys in the General Stark’s... read more
The Year In Review on the Mad River Valley Real Estate Scene

The Year In Review on the Mad River Valley Real Estate Scene

Overall 2015 was a very good year in the Mad River Valley Real Estate Market. Volume was up, prices were up and winter finally appeared at Sugarbush and Mad River Glen, following an extended hiatus. Yet numerous people still approach me and ask “how’s the market” and the expression on their face betrays the unease they clearly feel. I suppose it is natural to be skeptical, considering that the most tumultuous financial disaster in our nation’s history still remains vivid in our memories, and that disaster badly damaged much of the perceived equity many had staked in their homes. We still feel the after-effects, and will continue to feel them for many years to come. It’s difficult to feel entirely whole, even some time on. So I perform a healthy exercise when an imbalance appears between perception and my day-to-day observations in this market. To counter that inevitable skepticism, I went to the numbers and found some reassuring data that should make even the heartiest skeptics feel better. In fact there were 86 residential sales in 2015 which represents a 15% increase in sales volume over fiscal year 2014, which had been the previous high-water mark since the crash. Furthermore, the median home sale price increased from $284,500 in 2014 to $303,325 in 2015 – an increase of nearly 7%. More importantly this is the first time median sales of homes in the Mad River Valley have topped the $300,000 mark since 2008, when the median reached a pinnacle of $325,000. The 86 residential home sales represented the highest volume of sales since 2004, which was arguably at the... read more
What are you trying to sell me here? (It’s not a house)

What are you trying to sell me here? (It’s not a house)

This is my real estate blog. But really, it’s more of a Mad River Valley blog. A lifestyle blog. When people ask me why so little of what I write is actually about real estate, the answer is pretty simple. I live in the Mad River Valley because it’s one of the most idyllic places I have ever been, and I live a lifestyle that I love to share; the Mad River Valley is a place where the intangibles are ju st as good as the attractions. We play at world class ski area’s as an afterthought, grabbing a few runs after work before flying home (a little late) to make dinner. Our kids get out of school at 11:00 am one day a week to go skiing, as part of their curriculum, and ride the bus home from the ski area. They participate in after-school nordic skiing, and play outdoors at recess, no matter the weather. During the heat of the summer I frequently abandon my office and work from a beach chair along the river, while my children and their friends swim nearby. I don’t see a stoplight for months on end, and I get excited when the ski socks go on sale in November. Maple syrup flows like water in every restaurant and kitchen I know. In the summer it is so green here that it feels like we live in a painting. And when I drive home in the winter I still marvel at the sight of Mt Ellen towering over me as I go. How much better can it be? I stopped here on... read more
3 Keys to a smooth Real Estate transaction

3 Keys to a smooth Real Estate transaction

When you work as a Realtor, you are involved in all kinds of real estate transactions. There are easy buyers and difficult sellers. There are easy sellers and difficult buyers. There are unrealistic requests and there are outrageous holdups. And there are misunderstandings – sometimes lots of them. But most buyers and sellers don’t do this for a living so these hold ups, challenges and misunderstandings feel like a much bigger deal than they need to be. A good broker will help their client understand, but in the moment, it is hard for a buyer not to feel frustrated. So what can you do to ensure a smooth transaction?   Get pre-qualified before you start shopping – this seems obvious, but most buyers take it for granted.  The math is easy and most people know what they can afford because they are already paying rent. Furthermore, they can go online and find any number of free mortgage calculators, pop in the down-payment they can afford and an interest rate that seems about right, and instantly find a monthly payment that works for their particular income profile. However, buyers are frequently lulled into a false sense of security simply because they have saved a reasonable amount of money for a downpayment, and they earn enough to cover a likely mortgage. Yet knowing what a buyer can afford is very different from what the bank thinks that buyer can afford; and since the bank is taking on most of the financial risk, buyers have to play by their rules.  There are any number of things that can affect a buyer’s loan... read more
Pre-Sale Building Inspections

Pre-Sale Building Inspections

I used to think that these were a bad idea. Conventional thinking was that the Buyer would do this anyway, so why spend money to uncover things that another may not care about. Furthermore, any inspections performed provide a checklist of items which must now be disclosed, and once disclosed they must be dealt with. All true, and that’s the point. You can pay for it now or pay for it later. But usually later is while you are under Contract, and then you will pay. In a big way. The real estate market has become competitive like never before. Like. Never. Before. Not the old days when buyers were abundant and sellers could hold out for the best offer and the most favorable terms. Today’s market features higher inventory and picky buyers who have no tolerance for ill informed Sellers and homes in poor condition. Spending time looking at a home unworthy of the asking price, for many buyers, means missing out on the better homes that more discerning Buyers are already making offers on. Competition today means being the best home, at the best price, with the best features (for the money) and the least number of headaches for the buyer. And that means finding out what’s wrong with a home PRIOR to listing it, and then marketing the property in it’s best possible disposition. So where do you start? That’s the easy part: Plan Ahead. Give yourself a couple of months. If you wish to sell in the spring, call the Realtors in February. Get no fewer than 2 opinions about price, and if they are... read more
Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Sometimes it’s easy to say the words without really giving much thought to their meaning, to think of turkey and a table full of side dishes, leftovers and some over-indulgence. Black Friday and Internet Monday; a day with family and friends or a day off from work (hopefully) or school. But this year it seems there is so much more to be thankful for, given what’s been happening in the world beyond our lovely little piece of paradise that is the Mad River Valley. So I give thanks for all the things that sometimes I take for granted, because really, I shouldn’t. I’m grateful for the roof over my head and for my wife and our children, whom I adore. I’m grateful that my children are healthy, that they do not know hunger, and that they have a comfortable pillow to lay their heads on at night. I’m thankful for the schools in our community, where our children are safe and attend without fear of persecution; for the tireless hours the teachers and staff commit in giving our children the gift of knowledge and tolerance. I’m grateful that the cacophony of gunfire and bombs are sounds that I have never known. I’m thankful for my job and to those who have trusted me to work for them. I’m thankful for my health, and that of my family, my friends, my nearest and dearest. I’m thankful that I can move about the tiny world that I call home freely, without fear of retribution because of how I “look” or who I worship or what I believe to be true in... read more

High Performance Homes

Sounds exciting, right? Well it is if you value efficiency in your life and believe that there are basic things we can do as human beings to decrease our footprint on this planet (oh yeah, and save money in the process). The vast majority of Americans will make the decision to buy their next car based on two numbers – the price tag and the Mileage Rating. Why should buying a home be any different? So I ask what’s hotter than a high performance car? A High Performance Home, of course. A High Performance Home is exactly what it sounds like. A home that has been built or retrofitted to maximize efficiency and minimize long-term costs. New homes are required to meet certain efficiency standards and those that become certified are registered on resnet.org, and the Home Energy Rating Score (HERS 0-200)  is the equivalent of the MPG sticker on your new car. Existing homes, with the help of a Dept of Energy approved Home Efficiency Audit receive a less complicated Home Energy Score (0-10). Both serve to tell you something about the efficiency of your home as cost of consumption is compared to energy use (or loss). Did you know that those ratings also have minimum thresholds that can qualify your home for an across the board increase in appraised value, when documentation is presented to the appraiser? Yes, it increases the value of your home. And banks are taking notice: there is tangible data from CoreLogic that homeowners living in energy efficient homes are 32% less likely to default on their loans, because they have more money... read more

6469 W VT Route 17, Buels Gore VT 05487

Rare find for sale in Buels Gore, Vermont – 2 miles to Mad River Glen Ski Area, 4 privately situated acres with a cozy, modern, 4-season camp and engineer designed 3 bedroom septic system already installed. Choose between the Scandia wood stove or direct vent propane for heat. Perfect as a cozy camp, a starter home, a vacation retreat or a place to park your Airstream until the time is right to do more. No matter the use you’re one step closer to home in what just might be the best value in Central Vermont. Now Ski it if You... read more

“Here’s the bad news…”

When was the last time you heard a Realtor say that? Probably never, because Realtors generally don’t like to give bad news. They like to tell you everything is great. They like to tell you that it’s the perfect house and the perfect price and the perfect location. They like to tell you that an offer is coming in. They like to tell you that the feedback on that showing was great. So why haven’t you had a showing in a month? Why haven’t you had any offers? Why is your house still on the market? Although there are many factors and many different market conditions that can affect the marketing plan for your home, there is probably some bad news that’s being filtered, and as a Seller in the real estate market you are entitled to the bad news alongside the good. So be weary of strangers bearing gifts (and Realtors who only have good news). “I can’t sell it for that” – this is my favorite tidbit of bad news. I don’t like listing properties that are over-priced, so generally I don’t. And even though I rarely say no to a listing, I am usually blunt and honest about its market value, which can turn off a prospective Seller. But before you think that this is a terrible thing, consider that it only gets worse when your Realtor tells you what you want to hear instead of what is actually on their mind. If your Realtor pitches you a high price and you accept their advice, now they have to try and sell it for that.  If... read more

Millennials are getting a bad rap

I’ve written myself that the Millennial’s are the bane of every Realtors existence; a generation seemingly content to remain in their parents basements or in a group rental in perpetuity, going with the flow and landing wherever the latest relationship or social-media based job opportunity takes them. These are just not the people looking for houses to buy. At least that’s what I believed. Someone recently suggested to me that it was the result of a generation of adults (my generation) coddling their children and never requiring them to make a decision, allowing them to drift and stay at home as long as they needed a soft landing from their latest failed attempt to get out of the house. Seemed harsh, but in an amusing way, somewhat logical. It’s a generation whose family structures consisted of, for the first time in history, more single-parent households than “traditional” households; a generation where nearly 83% of those traditional households had two incomes and struggled to make ends meet. It makes sense that these parents would feel slightly more guilty of the time they spent at work and not with their kids. Naturally those parent allow their kids more freedom, more leeway, a softer landing and more second chances. The Entitled Generation. But a closer look at the data tells a very different story. Research shows that 75% of Millennials interviewed saw home-ownership as a long term goal, and nearly as many felt that it was also a good investment. Of those interviewed, 65% said that they planned to purchase in the next 5 years, and only 16% said that they did... read more

Columbus Day Weekend in the Mad River Valley

Looking for things to do? We’ve got it all – mountain biking, hiking, you are a bit too early for skiing and a huge list of events happening in and around our iconic Valley. So while this list is by no means extensive, it’s a start to get you going; Baked Beads Sale, Waitsfield VT: Friday to Sunday Oct 9-11 Sugarbush Community weekend, Warren VT: Saturday & Sunday Oct 10-11 Stephen Huneck’s Dog Mountain Fall Party, St. Johnsbury VT: Saturday Oct 10 Stratton Mountain Harvest & Craftbrew Fest, Stratton VT: Saturday Oct 10 Harvest Weekend at Billings Farm & Museum, Shelburne VT: Saturday & Sunday Oct 10-11 Everyday Cooking Class, Waitsfield VT: Friday & Saturday Oct 9-10 Great Vermont Corn Maze, Danville VT: every day from 10am Ibex Warehouse Sale, Berlin VT: Friday to Sunday Oct 9-11 The Vermont Moth, Burlington VT: Friday October 9 Stowe Foliage Arts Festival, Stowe VT: Friday to Sunday Oct... read more

The Mad River Valley – not just a ski town.

When I first came to the Mad River Valley I was not much of a skier. I arrived on the back of an old pair of Rossignol Quantums; museum pieces, strait as an arrow and utterly lacking any semblance of side cut. Although they might look fun on someone’s ski-house wall today, in 1994 they were just beat up old planks that drew amused laughter from my ski-patrolling sidekicks during that first season ski-bumming it at Sugarbush. By contrast, I owned a pretty nice mountain bike, which I had purchased for the ghastly sum of $550.00, cashing in my first several post-graduate paychecks in 1993. Since I had the bike, and not the skis, I considered myself a mountain biker first and foremost. And ride I did during that summer. Day in, day out, I peddled from the the apartment I was crashing in on Bridge Street in Waitsfield Village, through the covered bridge and up the East Warren Road; across the town line to Plunkton and down Fuller Hill to the Village where I was helping my friends renovate an 1830’s farmhouse. And every day at lunch time I would make the 12-mile trip in reverse, gaining as much elevation as I possibly could in order to rationalize the months of poverty to which that purchase had subjected me. The heart-pounding uphill was rewarded by miles of East Warren views. And the thrilling descent into Warren Village was the ultimate recompense, but I knew nothing of what lay beyond the open road, and what I was doing was hardly mountain biking. In those days mountain bikers blazed their own... read more

3 Strategies for Making a “Sweet” Deal in a Competitive Real Estate Market

You found a home you want to buy, and now you are ready to make an offer. Immediately the Seller’s agent informs you that there are multiple buyers interested and that they are expecting multiple offers. It sounds ludicrous after the 5-year market adjustment of the Great Recession, but bidding wars happen in all sorts of markets. In the Mad River Valley real estate market that I call home, they happen practically every day. If your default is to panic, take a step back and breath deeply. The last thing you want to do is over-react to the very ordinary possibility that there are other people interested in the same property you are. There are plenty of innovative ways to “sweeten the deal” without turning a good deal into a bad one. 1. Money talks – If you have cash you should utilize this position to your fullest advantage. Financing contingencies create great uncertainty for Sellers because they control nothing and the outcome is weeks away, by which time the “losers” in a bidding war may well have moved on. If you have the solitary cash offer, you are immediately in first place. Just don’t balance that by making a crappy, low-ball offer. Alternately, if you don’t have the cash, you can still make an attractive offer with the most favorable terms. This is not the time to strategize with your broker about how “low” the seller might go. With multiple buyers interested there is an excellent chance that the property will garner close to full asking price. As long as you can afford the loan and the market supports the... read more

Tips for first time home buyers in the Mad River Valley (and beyond).

Tips for first time home buyers It’s easy for someone who works in the real estate industry to minimize the stress involved in the home buying process. After all, we do this for a living. We work in a world of legalese; of purchase and sale contracts, building inspections and contingencies. The language and processes are genuinely second nature. And for real estate professionals who work in tourist economies such as the Valley I work in, the purchaser’s can be just as experienced as their professional counterparts, buying and selling real estate on a regular basis, which can make those professionals poorly adapted to working with beginners. But for the homebuyer who is doing this for the first time, the process can be fraught with obstacles big and small, real and imagined. Because in most cases a home is the largest investment a person will ever make, it is not something to be taken lightly – but armed with the proper information, it can be a truly enjoyable and equally edifying process. Be the most informed person in the room – This may sound stupid, but many home buyers start the process without any real understanding of what they’re looking for. They don’t know what mortgages cost, they don’t know how to figure out principal and interest, they don’t know what closing costs are, they don’t know how much cash they need to put down. They just know that they are sick of paying $1200/month in rent when they can be paying towards ownership. But ignorance is not the path to success and educating yourself before starting the process will... read more

Labor Day in the Mad River Valley

While the Vermont Festival of the Arts is winding down (and there are still plenty of events they are hosting this long weekend), things to be done in the Mad River Valley is not coming to a close, not by a long shot. This coming weekend the Valley will be inundated with riders – of the two wheel man powered kind. The Green Mountain Stage Race is coming to town. Friday, Saturday and Sunday you will find varying types of races being held in and around the Mad River Valley; and on Monday the race takes to the streets of downtown Burlington for the Criterium stage of the race (and one of our favorite parts of the race to watch). On Saturday and Sunday get yourself over to the Mad River Valley Craft Fair in Kenyon’s field. It is so worth the visit because the vendors are all spectacularly talented. On Sunday try out our new farmer collaborative food adventure – Domingo – at the Kingsbury Farm, it’s a Mesoamerican venture between the Aaron of Kingsbury Farm and Vermont Bean Crafters. As Seven Days wrote: “But even non-cooks will be attracted by the prepared cuisine. Each week, the menu will consist of foods that combine beans, chiles and tortillas with other local products. Queso fresco from Ploughgate Creamery figures into quesadillas, while the bones of Maple Wind Farm‘s chickens form the base of the posole. Each dish, including tacos, will come in a vegetarian and omnivore version. Scout’s Honor will sell ice cream in flavors including sweet-corn-lime sandwiched between bean-based cookies. Beer from Lawson’s Finest Liquids will flow to... read more

Cash-flow Real Estate Investing

There was a time not too long ago, when the consensus, long-term, safe investment was real estate. And there was really no close second place. Theoretically values always increased, so as long as you kept making the payments, you were going to cash out. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but cash out you would, virtually regardless of the property type. Fast-forward a few years and never has there been a greater disparity between that time, which seems so long ago, and the current state of the residential real estate market. While real estate values are actually on the increase for most of the largest demographic indicators, prices are still fluctuating here in vacation-land, and prospective investors are still watching with skepticism. Therefore, said investors bounce between the notion of moving forward and investing in a stabilizing market with great potential, and the risk of repeating the past, where values plummeted and fortunes were lost. Investors are getting better prices, but recent history has taught us that nothing is guaranteed, and despite plenty of strong evidence to the contrary the possibility still lurks that values could begin sliding once again. So there is a propensity to wait. Meanwhile, the Millennials are staying at home longer than any generation has ever before – eschewing independence for the security of their parents basement and eventually moving into a rental property rather than buying. Again, recent history has taught a new generation that the “american dream’ of home-ownership maybe wasn’t such a great dream. Or, to be a bit less cynical, maybe it just wasn’t for EVERYONE. Maybe the new “american dream’ is to... read more

Mad River Valley dog days of summer

I returned to the Mad River Valley over the weekend from a splendid two week vacation, and was immediately greeted by the hottest weather we have seen all summer. Temperatures have hovered in the upper-80’s which makes it a challenge to stay comfortable. Meanwhile, as the dog-days of summer waine, I do everything I can to remain outdoors and soak up the last of that warm summer sun. While it’s not so much a conundrum – I choose the outdoors when possible, even if it’s sweltering – it certainly presents a challenge, as much of what I enjoy about life in the Mad River Valley lies out the front door and not behind it. For me the goal is not so much being cool (my wife and kids will attest that this is an impossibility), but remaining comfortable in the blistering heat. So, here are a few ideas if your brain has over-heated and you’re struggling with the last heat-wave of the summer. Mountain Biking at Blueberry Lake – this may seem like an oxymoron on a hot day, but if the goal is to stay comfortable, the Blueberry lake trails are comfortable defined. The gently rolling trails have just enough uphill to gain the elevation required to get you rolling into a couple hours of well shaded outdoor entertainment – and just enough downhill to keep the breeze blowing across your perspiring body, making comfort on a hot day a reality not just an outdoor dream. When you are finished, jump in the lake to cool off. Reward yourself for getting outside on a hot, sticky day with... read more

Why Buy When I Can Rent (hint: so you can retire)

I think that there are, in general, people who are buyers and people who are renters. If you are predisposed to settle down, wish to establish roots in a community and inclined to invest and build equity towards a future, you already have an answer to this question. If you have not already bought, then you are probably just waiting until the right property comes along. If you like to go with the flow and land where the winds blows you, then maybe renting better suits your lifestyle. For me, I knew when I first moved to the Mad River Valley that I was going to stay here for a long time. The holdups were simple things – I was young, had plenty of time to get serious, and wasn’t sure whether I wanted a house, a condo, or a piece of land to park my Airstream on (I don’t own an Airstream, but I really want one). But it was also about money. While real estate in the Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston was relatively affordable, interest rates were outrageous – 9.5% at the time. It was, in fact, FAR cheaper to rent, even if I held no equity in that property. I could rent an apartment for $600/month whose equal would cost me $1200/month to buy. The numbers didn’t work. It was a temporary solution, but lower interest rates stagnant real estate growth and soaring rental rates over the past 5 years have changed that dramatically. Build a Nest Egg If you think of a home as an investment, rather than a place to live, you start to... read more

Vermont Music Fest

I hope no one thought that in writing about the Vermont Festival of the Arts last week that I had made a huge omission in not mentioning the Vermont Music Fest. Ok. Good. I’m glad, because I hadn’t forgotten – I just wanted to give it’s own spot light. This is the 6th year running of this awesome event; having started in 2010 as a wedding celebration of Jeff & Kelly Mack. It was a great party – from the music right down to the “cheese off” – a friendly, informal competition of Vermont and Wisconsin (where the two lovebirds met) dairy treats. And then they did it again, and again, and again. It’s grown. A lot. And until just this year it was a free event – I know right – who does anything for free anymore? In growing the spectacular event, the Macks turned it into a massive event that depends entirely on volunteers- so it went through some growing pains, and there was a time there where it looked like the festival would have to be shut down. But no, it continues! So, now there is an entry fee – but really $16 ($8 for 13-17 year olds) is a ridiculous good price for 11 bands (at least that’s what I counted as of today). Beyond the music there are other things to enjoy while at this Festival. The food is always outstanding, the Wiffle Ball Scramble, great things for the kids to create, always a game pick up soccer going on in the field and the framed self-portraits (this one of me and my daughter... read more
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