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10 Ways to Upgrade Your Home with Your Tax Refund

It’s that time of year again — the weather is getting warmer, flowers are starting to bloom, and taxes are being returned. With a little extra cash in your pocket, there are endless possibilities of what you can do with it. Why not spend some of it on updating your space? Below you will find 10 ways to update your home with your check from Uncle Sam. 

Recaulk / Paint
A fresh coat of paint can brighten a whole space. Even just painting baseboards (which get dirty and are often forgotten about) will make a world of difference. 

Buy a Fabulous Rugopen living room with rug
Rugs are a great way to tie a space together. As a general rule, the outer edges of the rug should be around 6 inches from the wall in a small room and 18 inches from the wall in larger areas. In an open-concept floor plan, area rugs are a great way to frame seating and dining areas, which will help to define the different uses of the space. 

Upgrade Your Water Heater
Not the most exciting purchase in the world, but buying a new water heater can save you money down the road. New models are energy efficient. 

Upgrade Your Ceiling
It may be time to actually / finally get rid of the popcorn ceilings in your home. Save yourself some time and a backache and hire a professional to do it. Installing crown molding or box beams can go a long way to creating a fresh look that's visually interesting. 

Upgrade Your Lighting
Updating an outdated lighting fixture with a new one can change the entire vibe of a space. If nothing else, you should upgrade your bulbs to LEDS — which are really affordable now, will save you energy and come in a wide variety of colors and wattages. 

kitchenUpgrade Your Flooring
Expect to pay between $7 and $12 per square feet for quality wood flooring, more if you have it professionally installed. Hardwood floors, which are super popular among homebuyers, can return 1.5 - 2 times its cost when you sell. 

Add a Backsplash
Whether it's peel and stick, or hand-painted glass times, kitchen updates have some of the highest returns on investment. Have natural woods and neutral walls? Opt for a bold pattern!

Add Curb Appeal
Why not update your mailbox, get new house numbers, or repaint your front door. Feeling motivated? Repaint the trim around your windows. 

outdoor patioBuild a Deck
Homebuyers love decks, and they really aren't that expensive these days (keep in mind price will vary based on materials and size). They typically bring in an 80% - 120% return on your investment. â€‹

Upgrade Your Outdoor Space
As warmer weather approaches it's a great time to really make an oasis in your backyard. Think comfy seating, a fire pit, a new grill, water features — the possibilities are truly endless. 

Central Vermont Real Estate - 2013 Market Report

We shared with you the numbers calculated for the housing indicator: number of sales per town for 2013 in the last post. Take a look at the results of other housing indicators of the central Vermont real estate market in 2013.

Average Sale Price

Average sale price is perhaps the most talked about housing indicator. The chart below illustrates the volatility of this indicator over the last 5 years. For example the U-32 towns (Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Middlesex and Worcester) showed phenomenal growth in average sale price in 2013 over 2012. This more than compensated for the drop in average sale price which dropped sharply from 2011 to 2012. Montpelier continued to show solid appreciation with an 8.3% increase in average sale price to $239,930. Barre Town, a leader in growth in total number of sales showed a lesser increase in its average sale price. This followed a substantial $29,500 decrease in average sale price from 2011 to 2012. Waterbury's average sale price of $305,777 was one of the highest in Washington County. The average sale price of a Washington County home was $233,096 for 2013.

AVERAGE SALE PRICE BY TOWN

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Barre City

124,080

129,785

131,568

125,371

132,044

Barre Town

157,560

175,922

188,845

159,387

170,331

Montpelier

182,527

196,112

218,808

221,463

239,930

U32

213,396

204,757

213,214

186,604

241,047

Northfield

151,440

155,857

150,630

207,675

148,625

                                                                                                         Average Sale Price

Days on Market

Day on the market (DOM) is a dynamic number that indicates the number of days a property has been on the market until it goes under contract. The escrow period (between accepted offer and closing) is not part of this calculation. DOM is viewed as a loose indictor of the health of the market. Information for this one is only available for properties listed and sold through realtors. This information is not available for sales by unrepresented sellers. In addition, DOM only considers the time that a property was listed with the final listing broker and does not reflect that a seller or another broker may have previously had the property on the market. In smaller towns with fewer total sales, a few properties that take longer to sell will have an undue impact on this number.    

                                                                                             2013 AVERAGE DAYS ON MARKET

TOWN DOM
Barre City 123
Barre Town 152
Montpelier 115
U32 : Berlin 150
U32 : Calais 281
U32 : E.  Montpelier 107
U32 : Middlesex 185
U32 : Worcester 125
Northfield 133
Waterbury 147
Washington County Avg 154

 

 

 DOM

In 2012 the typical DOM was 5 to 6 months on the market and for 2013 dropped 4 to 5 months. This is a sign that the market has shifted from a "Buyer's Market" dynamic to a more balanced dynamic.

 

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    Real estate is all about figures, prices and payments and if you are into property buying and selling, you need to at least familiarize yourself with these essential aspects.

    2013 - A Year of Growth for Central Vermont Real Estate

    How is the Central Vermont real estate market?

    This is a frequently asked question and a good one too;  the health of the housing market is an economic indicator that impacts buyers, sellers, and everyone in between.

    We took a look at some key indicators of  real estate in Central Vermont for 2013 using data compiled from some major sources and compared these 2013 indicators to the previous four years. One major source we utilized is the multiple listing service (MLS), where the majority of Vermont real estate sales transacted by licensed brokers are recorded. In addition to MLS, we utilized the Vermont real estate sales online database which gathers information from the Vermont Department of Taxes to create a comprehensive list of all real estate sales that may or may not be recorded in the MLS. From the statistics gathered, it is exciting to report that growth and improvement summarize Central Vermont real estate market in 2013.

    The key indicators that we looked at are the number of sales of single family residences, average sale price, and number of days a property was on the market. The towns focused on while looking at these indicators are:  MontpelierBarre, U32 (BerlinCalaisEast MontpelierMiddlesex and Worcester), and Northfield

    The information presented below will specifically be about the number of sales of single family residences in Washington County, categorized by town.

    In 2013 home sales increased in every major community as compared with the number of home sales in 2012. 2013 also produced the highest number of Central Vermont Real Estate home sales for any year in the last five years.

    NUMBER OF SALES BY TOWN

    2009

    2010

    2011

    2012

    2013

    Barre City

    60

    64

    41

    55

    76

    Barre Town

    59

    55

    51

    71

    102

    Montpelier

    74

    57

    58

    61

    75

    U32

    51

    58

    58

    51

    96

    Northfield

    27

    18

    22

    26

    48

    Totals

    271

    252

    230

    264

    397

                                   

                                                                                                         Graph

    As you will note above, Barre Town posted a strong increase year after year and the U-32 towns  posted an amazing 88% jump after four years of consistent numbers. Waterbury posted around 57 residential sales.

    Numbers don't lie. Considering the overall increase of number of sales in 2013 and the kickoff of activity we've experienced in the new year, we expect 2014 to be another year of steady growth for Central Vermont real estate.

    Check out what is on the market now at our new and improved website heneyrealtors.com and don't forget to visit our Facebook page!

    Should I do a Radon Test?

    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- http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/rad/radon.aspx   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?

     

    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

    Jackpot of Fabulous Prizes

    Negotiating and personal property with buying real estate in Barre

    But wait, there's more!

    By Ray Mikus

    In addition to an actual house, when you buy real estate in the Montpelier/Barre area, you may be interested in some additional personal property. Personal property are items such as appliances, or furniture that may or may not be included in the transaction.

    Many items of personal property are commonly included (at no monetary value) in the sale of real estate.

    Sometimes other items come up during negotiations. Common examples are lawnmowers, snowblowers, tools, and yard equipment (including tractors). I've even seen a buyer ask for a canoe that was being stored in the garage.

    Everything's open to negotiation when you're buying a house in the Montpelier/Barre area. The glitch is that if a lender feels as if the value of the personal property is, well, some real value. Banks make loans collateralized on real estate. So if the canoe comes with the property, it's sometimes better to make a separate purchase between the buyer and the seller.

    On occasion, sellers are happy to get rid of things they won't need anymore. A few hundred dollars might set up a new homeowner with dining room furniture, bedframes, televisions, or more. Just make sure that everything is in writing, everything is on the level, and that the jackpot of fabulous prizes doesn't get to be more of an important factor than the real estate itself.

    October Real Estate Market Report--Montpelier, Barre, Northfield, U32

    Ray Mikus

    Here's the unofficial state of the Central Vermont real estate market for the end of September. The data comes from research that I have done on the current and past sales and market activity.

     

    Active New in Sept Under Contract Closed in Sept
    Barre City 69 11 6 2
    Barre Town 71 11 7 8
    Montpelier 45 7 9 5
    U32 66 7 9 4
    Northfield 54 3 3 3
    Totals 305 39 34 22

     

    And comparing to the same numbers over the past 12 months:

     

    New 9/11 New 9/12 Closed 9/11 Closed 9/12 Closed 9/10-9/11 Closed 9/11-9/12
    Barre City 7 11 9 2 51 66
    Barre Town 15 11 7 8 64 68
    Montpelier 11 7 6 5 66 66
    U32 6 7 8 4 64 58
    Northfield 4 3 0 3 18 27
    Totals 43 39 24 22 263 285

     

    Numbers like these are a continual source of entertainment for me.  Barre Town, Montpelier, and U32 all saw nearly identical sales figures over the past two years. Northfield and Barre City experienced notable increases in the number of sales. In fact, where there were 22 additional sales in 2011-2012 in the total central Vermont market, there were 24 additional sales in those two (the smallest two) markets.

    Here's another reminder that Heney Realtors is expanding to meet the growing need for our services to both buyers and sellers. If you are, or you know someone who might be interested in a career in real estate, please call or email.  Sales experience is helpful, but not necessary. We're not looking for people who are good Realtors. Instead, we want good people who are Realtors.

    And, just because you're curious and like to be the life of the party, here are September's sales figures. I took the extra time to track each closed property to see the original list price, the original list date, and whether there were any price concessions made. The days on market column takes into consideration whether a property was on the market, and removed before coming back on. It does not take into consideration when property was for sale by owner, then listed with a Realtor and sold.

    Please call or email for additional information, or if you have any questions (preferably, but not necessarily, related to real estate).

     

    Town Address Original Price Final Price Closing Price Days on Mkt
    Barre City 190 Fairview $99,900 $99,900 $96,900 10
    Barre City 29 Warren $119,000 $119,000 $120,000 11
    Barre City 4 Daniel Drive $225,000 $199,000 $187,900 123
    Barre City 43 Circle $109,000 $105,000 $94,000 236
    Barre City 122 Batchelder #7 $127,800 $127,800 $122,000 338
    Barre City 11 Westwood Pkwy $140,000 $135,000 $125,000 356
    Barre City 34 Fecteau #25 $195,000 $175,000 $173,500 539
    Barre Town 13 Lisa Drive $375,000 $375,000 $365,000 6
    Barre Town 22 Orchard Terrace $140,000 $140,000 $140,500 34
    Barre Town 5 West Skylark $169,900 $159,900 $145,900 36
    Barre Town 104 Sugarwoods $297,000 $297,000 $285,000 38
    Barre Town 80 Cassie $153,000 $153,000 $153,000 67
    Barre Town 58 LePage $189,000 $179,000 $150,000 225
    Barre Town 20 Countryside $300,000 $265,000 $250,000 318
    Barre Town 479 Cutler Corner $399,000 $344,900 $315,000 500
    Barre Town 24 Granview $175,000 $149,000 $148,410 838
    Calais 104 Justa Rd $246,000 $199,000 $196,000 31
    Calais 6067 Route 14 $189,000 $175,000 $165,000 774
    East Montpelier 405 Haggett $209,000 $209,000 $199,500 100
    Middlesex 24 Bolduc $177,000 $177,000 $177,500 57
    Worcester 104 Worcester Village Rd $259,500 $248,500 $248,500 136
    Montpelier 3 Pleasant $248,000 $248,000 $245,200 3
    Montpelier 273 Berlin $184,000 $184,000 $178,000 12
    Montpelier 23 Roberts $180,000 $180,000 $177,000 33
    Montpelier 20 Deerfield Dr $254,900 $254,900 $235,000 82
    Montpelier 3 Taplin $155,000 $102,000 $94,500 117
    Montpelier 26 Woodrow $384,000 $385,000 $370,000 174
    Montpelier 212 Cityside #53 $208,900 $208,900 $188,000 235
    Montpelier 95 East State $228,000 $224,900 $210,000 274
    Montpelier 179 North St $278,000 $278,000 $238,500 358
    Montpelier 10 Hubbard Park Dr $320,000 $305,000 $305,000 446
    Northfield 5 Riverside $40,000 $40,000 $35,600 39
    Northfield 1443 Hallstrom $112,500 $112,500 $106,100 141
    Northfield 745 Freeman $975,000 $825,000 $742,500 1164
    Roxbury 1025 Thurston Hill $203,000 $189,000 $168,000 67