Blog :: 2012

Be Smarter--Like Heney Realtors on Facebook

We have a wide audience of readers for our Montpelier/Barre real estate blog. Some of you are locals, some of you are far-flung (yes, we consider Australia to be far-flung).

The updates and commentary that are making you a genius are only part of what's available. Check out our Facebook page. You'll find the fastest updates on new listings, price changes, and all sorts of information you'll want to know regarding the Montpelier and Barre real estate markets.

But it's also fun. There are contests, prizes, quizzes, the popular "Day in the Life" updates, "Market Slices" (come on, you know you're curious about that!), community information, and more.

Let's make it official. You know you like us. Go to Facebook.com/heneyrealtors and really like us.

--Ray Mikus

Montpelier Caravan--Our Picks

Today was the Montpelier Realtors' Caravan. It's a great chance to highlight the new listings in Montpelier. Selfishly, it's an opportunity for Realtors to preview the new listings, so that we can deepen our market knowledge.

Today's caravan featured five new listings...and four of them were those of Heney Realtors.

So...here are the picks:

15 North Park: This unassuming 1991 house surprised the crowd with its high end touches. Quartz countertop, tile floors, corain bathroom vanities, and a custom fireplace. Just plain beautiful. There's a direct entry two car garage, and the fenced yard backs right up to Hubbard Park. At $289,000, we were impressed.

 

295 Pine Hill Road--East Montpelier.  Built in 2004, this house has the layout that today's buyers want. Big, open rooms, nice natural light, and an efficient heating system. It's at the end of a cul de sac, and close to U32 high school, Montpelier, and Barre. Great location. Solid house. And hence, a top pick.

How Long Does it Take?

How Long Does it Take to Buy a House in the Montpelier/Barre Area?

Counting Down the Days

From the time an offer is accepted, how long does it take for the transaction to complete? Most of the time when people ask that they're using a lender and getting a mortgage. If you're buying a house in the Montpelier or Barre area, it's helpful to know how long it's going to take.

If that's the case, then you can expect 6-8 weeks of "escrow" in the Montpelier real estate market. It seems like a long time, and it might be different in other parts of the country, but, well, we're in this part of the country.

Initially, it can take time to work through a home inspection and other contingencies. There are some water tests that take two weeks to get results. Those tests are determined by the lender (and the type of loan), so it's important that when you're trying to figure the time frame you've talked openly with your Realtor about what kind of loan/financing you're using.

After the inspection contingencies, the biggest chunk of time is in the loan underwriting. It can take 2-3 weeks just to get the appraisal completed and the report to the bank.

When that's all done, then you should be able to get a finance commitment letter--which is typically the last contingency.  There's got to be some time between the issuance of the commitment letter and the actual closing too.

So...add it all up, and you're looking at 6-8 weeks. I've seen closings happen in as little as four weeks, but that was something of a miracle. I seem to remember hearing choirs of angels...

--Ray Mikus

Buying a House in Montpelier or Barre? Here's a Tip

Once upon a time buyers could get loans for pretty much however much they wanted, and could buy pretty much whatever they wanted. Those times have long since passed. Thankfully.

What's important now for folks buying homes in the Montpelier/Barre real estate market is knowing what you can afford. Not just in terms of the total amount of a mortgage, but also in terms of the monthly payment.

Having a pre-approval letter from a lender makes you a very powerful buyer. You know what you can afford. You know what you can look at. You might also find out that if you pay off that car loan (or even just a little more of it), you can qualify for a different amount. Hey, it's be worth a shot!

Also, when you find the right house, you're going to be in a perfect position to make a solid offer.

Sellers want to see that buyers have actually talked with a lender. And while it is possible to make an offer without having a pre-approval letter, savvy sellers will want to see one before they make any sort of counteroffer.

The beauty is that in the Montpelier/Barre market, there are several very good lenders. If you haven't connected with one of them, let us know, and we can make several solid recommendations.

Now get out there and get pre-approved!

Barre Caravan--Top Pick!

Barre Caravan This week's Barre Caravan featured nine new listings in Barre Town and Barre City. Talk about a range of property! Everything from a $39,000 fixer upper on Summer Street to a gorgeous house with an indoor pool up on Tree Top View.

Here are the picks of the caravan:

21 Wildersburg Common in Barre Town.

Wildersburg Common Barre Town Condo

It's been beautifully done, with custom floors. The overall impression was CLEAN. Plus, it's single floor living...which is important to some people. Three bedrooms, two and a half baths, and the convenience of condo living. These Wildersburg units don't come up very often.

 

 

  Actually, condos in Barre don't come on the market that often. Right now, the other great condo pick is 122 Batchelder Street in Barre City.It's the perfect, manageable size, and it's tucked away in a quiet area not far from Spaulding High School. Plus...it's super affordable at $127,800.

Batchelder Condo Barre VT

Wildersburg Common Barre Town Condo

63 Terrace Street--Flexible Like Yoga

63 Terrace Street in Montpelieris the kind of house that people dream of getting. Three bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, an attached garage, and hardwood floors. But that's just the start of what makes it great.

By Ray Mikus

63 Terrace Street Montpelier

It's got flexibility.

Two bedrooms are upstairs, and one downstairs, along with the full bathroom. That means that whoever lives at 63 Terrace Street in Montpelier has the option of having one-floor living. You don't have to live all on the first floor, but you can.

Or you could in a few years.

Or your guests/relatives/friends who are staying for a visit could.  You have that flexibility.

There's also the recently finished basement, with nice detail work, including a gas-fireplace insert for heat and ambiance.  The basement space works as a tv room, a teen hangout, an office, and more.

The living room features a solid brick hearth surrounding a wood fireplace. The combination of appealing Craftsman building style, the fireplace, and the efficiency of a new System 2000 boiler make this an easy house to heat, and an easy house to maintain.

All this, and walking distance to downtown Montpelier. Anyone thinking of buying a house in Montpelier could find inner peace with this.

A Week in the Life of a Montpelier Realtor

Curious as to what Montpelier Realtors does during the day?

It's impossible to spell out a "typical" day.

On a recent sunny (but freezing cold) day, I spent the afternoon driving around Barre, Northfield, Roxbury, and Montpelier taking updated photos of listings.  Bright blue sky and bright white snow made for great pictures.

And yes, that was me traipsing through a 10 acre piece of land for sale in Northfield, wearing a tie and snowboots, taking pictures.

Another day last week, I met with buyers in a vacant house. No power, no heat.  But they knew exactly

Cold Enough Fer Ya?

what they wanted, and were ready to write up an offer.  So there we were, in the waning hours of daylight, in a freezing cold house for sale in Barre Town, filling out paperwork.

But I've been in their shoes before, and I recognized their excitement. They didn't want to wait a day to put in an offer. And while my handwriting was a little sloppier than usual due to the cold, we got everything together and submitted a good, solid offer.

Lastly, Friday afternoon was a fairly slow day in the office, and I was trying to catch up on paperwork, and put some finishing touches on a couple of negotiations. A client came in with a bottle of champagne (presumably for my wife and me) and a bottle of

Cold Enough Fer Ya?

sparkling apple juice (presumably for our daughters). We caught up and reconnected--and did NOT pop the champagne!

It was a powerful reminder of one of the great parts of being a Realtor in Central Vermont.

242 Elm Street in Montpelier--Gorgeous 4-unit

242 Elm Street in Montpelier is one of the most easily recognizable, and beautiful buildings in town. It's the house with the big white columns. It's the house with the great double lot (a half acre!). It stands out, and in a good way.

242 Elm Street in Montpelier

It's also a rock solid investment. Four units, including one of the nicest owner-occupied units around. This main unit, with three bedrooms, has hardwood floors, an upgraded kitchen, and sumptuously preserved historic detail, including a marble hearth and woodwork.

The second floor two-bedroom unit has bright hardwood floors, and gets lots of natural light. It's a classy unit, and, like the main unit, gets above market rents (as it should).

The remaining two units (one bedroom and two bedroom) allow more opportunity for the next owner to put a personal touch. Don't get me wrong, they're in perfectly good condition, they just aren't at the level of the first two units. I haven't seen very many apartments in Montpelier that are.

242 Elm Street in Montpelier has one of the keys to investment property in Montpelier--parking. There's a five bay garage that's in great condition, plus a sizeable parking area that allows for snow removal. Housing with off-street parking? What a concept!

The back of the building is what would be called a shed. It's attached to the house, but is unfinished space. Two stories of unfinished space with an existing footprint. Could it be a fifth unit? Could it be studio space? Could it be amazing storage? There are lots of options that are worth pursuing.

The list of improvements and updates is extensive. Standing seam metal roof and architectural asphalt shingle roof. Updated electric (no knob and tube wiring in this one). Hardwired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. But one of the best features of the building is something that was done at construction--it's made of solid wood.

That's right, it's built like a boat. Wood stacked on top of wood, not framed in. Want to know how such a grand property stays so straight? Solid construction. You've got to see it to really appreciate it.

Great rental history, great rents (call or email for details), and great tenants. All four units are currently rented, showing it works as a Montpelier investment property, but imagine the opportunity for growing net worth if you were to move in and make it owner-occupied...

The Ageless Question: Rent or Buy

Rent or Buy?

Good question. There are a couple ways to think about this.

Financial: Compare what you're paying in rent with what you'd have as a mortgage payment. But that's just one part of it. You also get to factor in the taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance. Honestly, it's going to look like it'll cost more than renting an apartment.

But...that's not really the true comparison. If you're coming from an apartment in Barre and, say, buying a house in Barre, you're comparing apples and oranges.

Plus, once you buy your house, you'll likely be able to start itemizing deductions on your income taxes. Oh yeah, I'm talking about deducting your interest and property taxes. I'm talking about lowering your tax bill (but talk to your tax professional to be sure).

Prices and interest rates are low right now, and, as the principal is paid down on your mortgage, eventually you'll own the house free and clear. That's huge.

Emotional: Don't discount emotions. If you're thinking of buying a house in Montpelier, think of what it'll mean for you to know that you can stay there as long as you want. To know that you can do whatever you want to the rooms, the walls, the floors, the yard, and the kitchen. Don't like the way that one of the rooms feels? No problem--it's your house, you can fix it.

Think of what it'll mean to not have to deal with a landlord, to be the boss. Sure, it's more responsibility, but you're the one who gets to choose how things get done.

I've made enough "real estate is like love" references that I think my wife is starting to look at me kind of funny. But here's another one. Just like there being no perfect time to get married (or civilly united), or no perfect time to start a family, there's no perfect time to buy a house. Just like with relationships, sometimes it just feels right, and you go for it.

Ray Mikus, Broker