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

Vermont Festival of the Arts

August is a spectacular time to be anywhere in Vermont. But in particular the Mad River Valley shines with arts culture in all forms during the month of August, and that is thanks to the Vermont Festival of the Arts. If you live here, there are an endless number of opportunities to attend art related events, and even activities for everyone to tap into their artistic side all month long. Their website (see link above) has enough to explore to suck you in for hours – and it’s well organized too – so go there to find what you can take part in on a daily basis. But here is a SHORT run-down of what you can experience; July 31st (and Aug 1 & 2) – Tweed River Music Festival August 1st – Stained Glass Demo August 2nd – Fairie House Building August 9th – Taste of the Valley August 15th – Pie eating contest August 22nd – Cooking Classes at The Store August 28th – Valley 9 and Dine September 6th – Mad River Valley Craft Fair   If you’re a visitor you just can’t go wrong coming to the Mad River Valley for a day or a week during August – check out the Vermont Festival of the Arts website to find what appeals to you. Come wake up the right side of your brain and head on over to one of these spectacular... read more

Celebrating the 4th in the Mad River Valley

It’s almost time to get your Red, White and Blue on, and the 4th of July in the Mad River Valley is worth the price of admission. The parade in Warren is not your typical parade – there may be some emergency vehicles and fast cars in there, but you won’t find any Marching Bands or Shriners driving itty-bitty cars (what’s that all about anyway?). You will find political statements coming out the wahzoo, you might find some African dancing, you will definitely see an intricate float display from one of our iconic communities, yes, there will be candy, and probably a giant soaking gun and maybe, just maybe there will be Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders. In the past, he’s been a staple of the Warren Parade, and there’s a bit of chatter going on around this year: will he be there or won’t he? My prediction is: Yes, he will be there. Oh and there will be what is my wife’s favorite part of the Parade: a fly by from our Vermont Air National Guard. Once the parade has passed – make your way up to the Brooks Field at the Warren Elementary School for food, music and kid friendly festivities. Since the 4th is on a Saturday, don’t forget to visit the Waitsfield Farmer’s Market. If you’re here Friday night getting ready to wave your flag on the 4th, I highly recommend having dinner at Mad River Glen’s General Stark’s Pub (or any summer weekend evening for that matter)  – that deck is just as awesome in the summer as it is in the winter And as... read more

Understanding the language of real estate – what did that Realtor just say to me?

Real estate agents (we call them licensees, for reasons that will become clear later on) licensed in the State of Vermont are required to take 24 hours of Continuing Education courses every two years in order to maintain their license. The Vermont Real Estate Commission, which is made up of 3 real estate brokers, 1 salesperson, an attorney and 2 members of the general public, have established that this is a reasonable amount of training to keep Licensees and Brokers up to speed with the ever changing rules and regulations of our industry. The truth is, this is a bare minimum to someone just starting in the business. Like most rookie licensees in the beginning, I had just passed my real estate licensing exam when I started working in the business and I was exempt from any required  course work for two years (this is no longer the case). I did, however, take a Code of Ethics class right away, which the National Association of Realtors requires of its membership upon entering into their fraternity. It was a four hour course that could have been taught in greek for all I understood about the language they were speaking. So it occurred to me that if Realtors speak a different language, it’s possible that the consumers they serve could be as confused as I was, and perhaps it would make sense to provide a bit of translation. So from time to time I will do so, most notably as the questions arise in my day-to-day activities working as a broker in the Mad River Valley real estate industry. What exactly... read more

Lending a hand in the Mad River Valley

Sure, I can help you with that. As American Flatbread prepares to celebrate their 30th anniversary by throwing a huge party for those who volunteer in our community, I thought it might be a good moment to think about those who volunteer, and what they mean to communities like ours. I moved to the Mad River Valley because I felt an immediate connection to the place on my first visit while I was in College. Some friends had moved here, I visited a few times, and the next thing I knew, I was living here. Initially I didn’t give an awful lot of thought to what it was about this place that I loved so much. On the surface it was clear – I loved skiing, and there was a lot of great skiing here. I grew up canoeing, and there was terrific paddling everywhere you looked. I was learning to mountain bike, and sure enough, a growing community of mountain bikers existed here. Check. check. check. But this was the most unique place I had ever lived, yet there is skiing and mountain biking everywhere. What made this place so great? I suppose at the time it may have been that it was the first place I had ever lived where people were different than where I grew up. They were people who chose the outdoors over the indoors, put recreation and lifestyle before career, accepted that one may need to work a few jobs in order to commit to that healthy outdoor lifestyle over all else. Where I came from people thought I was a nut for... read more

Spring into Summer in Vermont’s Mad River Valley

So here we are, the epic winter of 2015 behind us, and now it’s time to revel in all that Vermont has to offer in the warmer months. It’s one of the many things that I love about Vermont – the distinct seasons. Taking me from the highs of our mountain tops deep with snow, to the lows of our valley floors flowing with clear water. Having youngish kids, we spend as much time around the rivers as we can – this time of year, it’s mostly skipping rocks, but I bet the water will be warm enough for swimming on a hot day not too long from now. There are miles of easy walking trails around the valley – many of them right along the Mad River. If you’re not familiar with the many trailheads that provide access to those walks, you can find them here: on the Mad River Path website. If you’re looking for a more challenging hike – we’ve got plenty of those as well. Where to even begin with those options. Only have an hour or so? Then the hike to Sunset Rock in Warren, Vermont is the way to go. Looking for a hike that takes a half a day or so – then Burnt Rock in Fayston Vermont is a nice hike that rewards with some spectacular views at the top. I’ll stop there, but the list goes on – you want an all day hike? Then head to Camels Hump, or do a gap to gap hike: Lincoln Gap to the Appalachian Gap taking you across the peaks of our Mad River... read more

Mad River Valley Vermont Real Estate – Time to Refinance

We have been talking about historically low interest rates now for so long that homeowners and homebuyers have actually begun to take it for granted that they will remain historically low. Well, if you follow the news, you already know that the Fed will begin putting an end to that some time in June. If you have decent credit and a job, you might as well make the call to your friendly neighborhood mortgage guy and see what bounty awaits for your mindfulness. When I made that call I found that the savings over the life of my mortgage were over $50,000; thats a lot of cake no matter how you split it up, and it cost me next to nothing. When you work in the Mad River Valley real estate industry as I do, you speak with a great many mortgage brokers. And when you listen to what the good ones have to say, you can learn some very interesting things. You might even save a few bucks in the process. Case in point. I started receiving notices from the bank that owns my mortgage about 6 months ago. They were offering me exceptional,  good-looking, super-terrific opportunities to refi my current mortgage, and lower my monthly nut by increasingly significant numbers . Of course they were. I’m one of their best clients, right? It must be because of my exceptional reputation, my obsessive compulsive tendency to pay early and often, all the referrals I give that tiny local bank in the Citi. I’m not a number, I’m a name, for heavens sake. This is clearly my reward. Needless... read more

Bidding wars, are they worth it in the Mad River Real Estate Market?

I’ve never had someone walk into my office and say “lets go to war over this property” or “ let’s have a really nasty negotiation and put everyone involved on the defensive”. And the reason you never hear that is that no one really wants negotiations to be hostile. No one wants the person (or people) on the other side of the transaction to be on the defensive. It’s counter-intuitive and irrational. So what is the deal with bidding wars, and why on earth would you want one? To start, every Realtor has an opinion on this subject. There are some who love them and there are some that hate them. Those that love them generally enjoy the fight and feel as though they have performed their job to maximum efficiency. Those that hate them have probably been involved in one that went terribly awry, and the experience left them sitting alone at the table with more questions than answers – generally from their client.  Those that do not have an opinion on bidding wars have never experienced one, plain and simple. To answer the first question, though, you need to answer another, more revealing question: who benefits? A bidding war, by definition, is when two competing offers are presented on the same property, during an overlapping time period, thus allowing the opportunity for a competition between two buyers, resulting in a higher sale price for the property. In theory. So the short answer is that the Seller benefits by getting more money for their property. The Realtor benefits collaterally because his client does well and is generally happy... read more

Vermont Hilaria

While I was thinking about writing today, I got to wondering what the history was behind April Fool’s Day. I found that it actually goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times. Now you’re thinking “Alright Cliff Claven, what more useless information do you have?”. But seriously, how much more appropriate this year is the description of the ancient version of April Fool’s day – then known as Hilaria – than this: “its celebration was the first after the vernal equinox, or the first day of the year which was longer than the night. The winter with its gloom had died, and the first day of a better season was spent in rejoicings.” Say goodbye to winter cold, bring on the warm laughs. In previous years, local businesses have gotten involved in some great pranks: there was this one about traffic lights being installed in our non-light town. Or this one about Mad River Glen purchasing Mt Ellen. My personal favorite was a sign in the field of the iconic barn at the corner of German Flats and Route 17 owned by long time Fayston legend Arthur Williams declaring the site as a “Future home of McDonalds”. Now what better year than this cold one we’ve had in the Mad River Valley to celebrate Hilaria. I’m not wishing the snow away, oh no. But I am wishing for some corn snow to soften the turns, sunny skies to bring on the goggle tan and warm temps so we can shed the layers. And more specifically I’m ready to enjoy a cold beer on one of our iconic ski area... read more

Vermont Homestead Declaration

2017 Upate: Link here for the current VT Homestead Forms YAWN. You must think I’m crazy, sitting here expecting you to listen to me talk taxes. I know, you can’t think of anything more boring. Trust me. I’m with you on this one. 500 words or less. Give me a chance, hang in with me here. Form HS-122 – Section A For residents of Vermont, the Department of Taxes has messed with us good on this one. First it was to be filed yearly. Then it became file it once until your circumstances change. Back to filing yearly. Make up your mind, which is it??? Well, it’s yearly now, love it or leave it. The good news is – the form takes but a second to file. Even I could file it, but I know better to stay out of that part of my life and I leave it either to my wife or our accountant. You can do it online, no fee for the service. You can also download a fillable PDF copy here: 2014HS-122. Really, you can do this, but you will need a copy of your tax bill in front of you. When do you have to do this? BY APRIL 15th. And this is key: you need to do it by April 15th whether or not you’re filing an extension for your taxes. Section A has nothing to do with your income, Section B does, but if you follow the instructions – you’ll see a place where you can check that you will be filing a Property Tax Adjustment claim later (as in, you’re filing an... read more
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