How To

Just Getting Started? Wondering How Buying a Home With a Real Estate Agent Works?

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getting started

Congratulations if you have just made the decision to pursue purchasing your next home. There is a great amount of information available and home buyers are better educated about the real estate market than ever before. However, more information generates more questions. Many people looking to find out about homes that are available for sale search the web and check major real estate websites to start. Some simply search "homes for sale in the area they wish to focus on". Most major real estate sites such as, Zillow and Trulia download information from Realtor operated MLS (Multiple Listing Service) websites. We recommend that you go right to the source and utilize either our MLS site which is or if you go to a brokerage website like our own, you will see our listing and a direct link into the NNEREN site. This will give you access to the most current information about most homes in Montpelier, Barre, Waterbury and surrounding communities in Washington and Orange Counties.

Now that you have current information about homes you wish to see, many people out in the hunt for their new home seem to call whichever sales person who has each property that they wish to see. In the end, these potential purchasers seem to bounce between a number of different real estate agents. Using this approach it is likely that none of these agents is working for the purchaser.

We think that the best way for you as a potential purchaser to approach this project is to meet with several licensed real estate salespeople or brokers who are active in the area where you wish to live. Then select an agent as the person that you trust to become educated with your list of "wants" and "needs" as well as your personal financial situation. This person will be in the best position to assist you to find and then purchase the home that you are dreaming of.

Once you select a Realtor to assist you, you will want discuss about how this relationship will work. You have choices about how you structure your business relationship with your Buyer Agent and you should discuss these options as you begin. Please give us a call to talk this over.

Should I do a Radon Test?

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Before you make a decision it helps to know a little bit about it:

  • What is radon?

Radon is a gas produced by the naturally occurring breakdown of uranium in rocks.  It is not something that you can see, smell or taste.  According to the Vermont Department of Health it is a class A carcinogen and a leading cause of lung cancer.

  • How does radon get into a home?

Radon comes up from the ground.  Houses act as a partial vacuum pulling gas from the soil.  It can get into a home through dirt floors, cracks in a finished floor, gaps around service pipes, cracks in foundation walls.

  • Are some Central Vermont homes more likely than others to have radon?

According to the Vermont Department of Health, a "radon problem cannot be predicted by a home's style, age, or location".

  • How much radon is okay?

In Vermont it is recommended that radon be mitigated when levels in the air are equal to or greater than 4.0 pCi/L (picoCuries/Liter).

  • How do you test for radon?

There are free kits available from the Vermont Department of Health that takes as little as 91 days and as long as one year to produce results.  Visit their website to order one-   The state will also provide a 2-7 day test for $25.00, which can be ordered from their website.

Most Central Vermont Home inspectors offer radon tests as part of their service.  Prices vary.  Give us a call if you would like a resources list of home inspectors.

  • How do you mitigate elevated levels of radon?

Typically there is a pvc pipe installed from the basement through the roof with a fan to expel the gas.  Whoever installs the system should be able to hide the pipe wherever possible through closets or on the outside of the house.  The Vermont Department of Health has a list of contractors approved for radon mitigation on their website.


Is Radon common in Vermont?

What is Radon and should I be worried about the levels in my house?


If you have questions about radon in homes, buying or selling a Central Vermont home.  Give us a call!

What typically conveys in a Central Vermont Real Estate Deal?

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what conveys with vt real estate?

Does the seller typically shoulder the fridge on the way out the door?


A question that often comes up in a Vermont home sale is, "what's staying and what's going?".

One answer is that everything is negotiable.  Sometimes the seller will throw in the pool table, put a price on the jungle gym, include the John Deer.  Other times the seller is so attached to that front loading Whirlpool that they leave an empty closet with hookups dangling from where the washer and dryer used to be.

Another answer is that there is an industry standard of things that are typically included in the sale, or "convey".  This is one area where working with a Realtor comes in handy.  When you're negotiating it's useful to know how things typically play out.  As a seller you don't want the deal to fall through over an $800 refrigerator (it happens) only to learn afterwards that it's normal to leave the fridge behind.

No matter what conveys with the house and what doesn't, you want to make sure that it's all in the contract before closing!

Items that most commonly convey with a Central Vermont Real Estate sale:

  1. Stove
  2. Refrigerator
  3. Dishwasher
  4. Washing Machine
  5. Dryer
  6. Built in microwave

Closing Costs? The Bottom Line

Buying a house in Central Vermont isn't free. But there shouldn't be too many surprises either.  One question that people often have is "What are the closing costs?"

Think of it in two parts:  Process costs and the closing costs.


Process costs include home inspections, water tests, loan application fees, and appraisals. $400-$1000 is a reasonable range depending on the complexity of the property.

Closing costs typically include the Vermont Transfer Tax, loan origination fees, attorney fees (title search and title insurance policy), tax and fuel perorations, and recording fees.  The transfer tax depends on the value of the property. Tax prorations depend on when in the town's tax year cycle the purchase takes place. Fuel perorations depend on how much oil or propane is left in the tank at the time of the purchase.

Very roughly, figuring 3%-5% of the purchase price for total closing and process costs is a good place to start.   Again, that's a ballpark number.

Give a call or an email for more detail.

By Ray Mikus

Finding that Perfect Home

Your Perfect Home?

Sometimes finding the perfect home in the Montpelier/Barre area is like falling in love. You can't describe ahead of time what you're looking for, but when it hits you, you know. I'm a romantic at heart, but more often, there's some real thinking and list making that goes into finding the perfect house. Usually more than with falling in love. Usually. It's a good idea to go through these lists with everyone who's going to have a say in the homebuying process. Some buyers like to go through this exercise separately, and then see how they compare. It can be interesting to see what's important to different people. (Wait--why do we need a third bedroom??) Here are some key things to keep in mind when looking to buy a home in the Montpelier area. With each of these, think about not only if they're important, but how important. Could you live without a first floor laundry, but simply not even consider a home that doesn't have a master bedroom? Location 1. Town--Which town(s)? 2. Distance--Walking distance to town, bicycling distance, or out in the country? 3. Yard--How much yard or land are you looking for? 4. Schools--Which school districts do you want? 5. Amenities--Is having paved roads, or town water and sewer important to you?

Type of House 1. Construction--wood frame, log home, manufactured, etc. 2. Condition--well-maintained, some deferred maintenance, fixer upper? Another way to think of this is to think of your preferred tools: Sledge hammer and respirator? Paintbrush and screwdriver? Leather sofa and lemonade? 3. Style--single family, multi-family, 1 story, 2 story, cape, colonial, raised ranch, manufactured, farmhouse, Victorian, yurt, etc. 4. Garage--attached, detached, 1 car, 2 car, shop, heated, etc. 5. Basement--finished, finishable, neither? 6. Porch? Deck? Sunroom? 7. Any special requirements for out buildings? 8. Age--new, mid-century, older, very old

Features of the House 1. Size--approximate square footage 2. Lifestyle--what's important to you? Entertaining guests, large bedrooms, separate spaces, etc. 3. Kitchen--eat-in, updated, level of finish 4. Dining Room--formal, informal, kitchen-dining combo 5. Bedrooms--number, size, 1st floor needed, master suite, any special furniture needs 6. Bathrooms--number of full, half, etc. 7. Accessory Unit--in-law apartment 8. Any special storage or closet needs? 9. Laundry/mudroom--1st floor laundry needed? 10. Fireplace/Stove 11. Heating System--oil, gas, wood, hot water, hot air, solar 12. Electrical System--any special requirements? 13. Plumbing--town water and sewer or well and septic tank?

Price Range--Think about a down payment and a mortgage. If you haven't talked with a lender yet to get pre-approved for a mortgage, go ahead and get started. We can give recommendations for good local lenders. Price is important. A wise person once said, "The perfect house is the one that's just out of everyone's price range." True! Not knowing what you can and want to pay for housing is going to result in a confused property search. The best thing to do is to run through your numbers, and get a solid idea as to what price range you're looking for.

Central VT Cleans Up After Irene

Communities share the relief effort 


Volunteers take a break in Moretown. Photo by Phil Scott


Following tropical storm Irene's path through Vermont is frightening. This storm presented in the form of heavy rain and the results of these torrents of water is difficult to imagine. Some communities were left unscathed while others were ravaged, and Montpelier seemed to have only minor damage when compared with nearby towns.

Barre fell on the "unscathed" list this time, which is most fortunate as they are still recovering from flooding at the end of May. Communities that received extensive damage in this central part of Vermont are Northfield, Moretown, Duxbury and Waterbury. Each in its own way is experiencing the members of the community coming together to rebuild. Although the Labor Day festivities have been cancelled in Northfield, the word is out for people to come help clean up instead. Efforts there are being coordinated with the assistance of Norwich University.

In Moretown, one home that we have been representing for sale was especially hard-hit with water flowing through the main floor. The owner said that yesterday some 36 people arrived to help them attempt to save their home.

Waterbury's downtown and several neighborhoods are digging out of the mud and rubble, but a walk down their main street makes it clear that the help on the ground is working quickly to provide services to those in need in as many numbers as they can muster. Thatcher Brook Primary School is the volunteer coordination center for clean up activities for Saturday, September 3. There is a volunteer coordination meeting at 9:00 AM at the school if you wish to join tomorrow.

For more up-to-date information and more ideas about how you can help, please check the #VTresponse blog.

- Tim Heney

Our Recommended VT Home Inspectors

Property Inspection

Most people who buy a house in Montpelier or Barre have a property inspection (or "home inspection"). The inspector will give their opinion of a property in terms of soundness, safety, durability, level of construction, quality, etc. on a detailed level.  The point of a property inspection is to discover any hidden defects or unknown problems in a house.  Inspections are thorough, and if anything comes up that makes you feel like this isn't the right house for you, you can rescind your contract (within a certain number of days--stay in touch with your Realtor) and your deposit may be returned.

There is no "Property Inspector" license. Anyone can inspect a building, although there are a number of highly qualified property inspectors in the area. It can be a very good idea and provide great peace of mind to have someone who has experience in property inspection. Here's our list of trusted names in the Central VT area :

Advantage Home Inspection, Marty McMahon (866) 341-2424

Better Home Inspections, James Breer (800) 335-5544 or onebld [at]

Construction Consulting Services, Peter A. Snyder (877) 859-5665 or pas [at]

Covered Bridge Professional, Todd Dukette (866) 388-2692 or todd [at]

Criterium Lalancette Engineers, Richard Lalancette (800) 639-4535 or engineer [at]

Jourdan Building Inspection Services, Jerry Jourdan (800) 491-6772 or gjour76849 [at]

Midstate Home Inspection Consultants, Scott Buck (866) 277-5400 or sctbuck [at]

Mountain Valley Building Inspections, Joel Templeton (802) 893-3344 or mcinspections [at]

- Ray Mikus

How to Buy a House in 10 Steps

There is no set process for buying a house. Steps can happen in a variety of orders and sometimes, simultaneously. Once you have an offer that is accepted, the general timeframe in the Barre/Montpelier area for closing and possession is 6-8 weeks -- longer if both parties prefer, shorter if the lender moves wicked fast. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's a general outline of what to expect when buying your first house.

1. Talk with a lender to see how much house you can afford

This is different than finding out how much money a lender will let you borrow. Look at the monthly payment, and see if you can make it work in your budget. Getting a pre-approval letter is helpful.


Fred Van Buskirk & Ray Mikus, Realtors


2. Talk with a Realtor

The best way to save a lot of time in the home buying process is to have a clear plan as to what you're looking for, and why. Sure, your goals might change, but starting with a clear plan and a Property Profile will make things much more focused, easier and give you peace of mind that you're buying the right house.

3. Get out there and look at properties

Some buyers look at just one or two and they know they've found the right one. Others look at more. The important thing is to know that you're targeting the right houses for you in the right price range.

4. Once you find your house, make an offer

There's no rule about what the first offer should be in relation to the asking price. Even in today's market, some houses go for at or above the asking price, but you won't know until you make the offer.

5. Protect yourself with contingencies

Common contingencies when buying a house in Montpelier or Barre include a property inspection, an appraisal and a financing contingency. If the house has serious problems, doesn't appraise for the contract price, or your loan falls apart, you should be able to get out of the contract without any problems.

6. Negotiate

Price and terms are both negotiable, as are timeframes.

7. Reach agreement

Voila! You're in contract.

8. Schedule the home inspection

You'll want to be there for the inspection. Plan on 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the house, outbuildings, etc. The idea is to get as much knowledge as possible about your new home. You don't want any big surprises and you want to be assured that you're buying what you thought you were buying.

8a. Assuming there are no surprises ...

Now, the process is turned over to the lender to do an appraisal and the final underwriting of the loan.

9. Financing commitment

The lender will let you know that you officially have the loan.

10.  Closing

Sign a stack of papers, take out the mortgage, assign the house as collateral, get the deed to the property and finally, take your keys to your new house.

- Ray Mikus