5 Ways To "Turn Off" A Potential Homebuyer

Posted by New England Landmark Realty ltd.

Jan 4, 2015 5:02:37 PM

5 Ways To "Turn Off" A Potential Homebuyer


You want to sell your home, but your presentation may be driving potential buyers away. The appearance of your home is important. It isn't enough to have a solid foundation, a new furnace, and a good roof to interest people in your home. If your home doesn't look good, inside and out, it will be difficult to sell for the price you are asking.

A Dirty House

It is amazing how many people do not "super" clean their home before it is shown to a prospective buyer. If the carpets cannot be cleaned, they need to be replaced. If the house is heavy with pet smells, some buyers will turn around and leave. Tile and grout should be steam cleaned, and every inch of each bathroom must be scrubbed, painted, and shined. Windows and sills are another area owners often neglect. It's also important to know many real estate brokers don't want to show a dirty house and may choose not to give you a listing.

Old Wallpaper

Unless you are selling a historic home with period wallpaper, get rid of it. Sellers tend to look at wallpaper as another chore for the homebuyer to do, but the buyer sees it as a large negative. People who like wallpaper choose designs to match their tastes and interests, and not those of a future homebuyer. Strip off the old paper, and paint the walls a neutral color.  


Outdated Fixtures

There is a difference between old and antique. Old is not attractive and turns buyer's attentions elsewhere. Outdated light fixtures, cabinet handles, ceiling fans, and appliances should be replaced. If your plan is for the buyer's to replace all the fixtures, you are not going to get the best price for your home.



Homebuyers want to see your home, not your collection of 250 sets of salt and pepper shakers or your coffee mugs from every state capital. Pack up your collections if you intend to move them to your next home, or put them in a yard sale. If you like displaying framed photos around your home, reduce the number drastically and pack them up. Buyers want to see space, not the homeowner's personal clutter.  


Leave When Your House Is Being Shown

Don't be anywhere on the premises when the real estate agent arrives with the prospective buyer. Owners who hang around and try to insert information into the conversation between the agent and buyer, can kill a sale in minutes. Your real estate agent is a trained and licensed professional and knows how to present your home in the best light. You are paying for his or her expertise, and it's important not to undermine it by intruding.  

Follow these few simple guidelines and increase your chances of a quick sale.


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Topics: National Real estate trends, VT Real estate trends, Home Improvement, Home Sale Tips

How Much Home Can You Afford?

Posted by Craig Donofrio

Nov 24, 2014 10:59:34 AM


Looking at sprawling villas in the suburbs and 2,000-square-foot condos in the middle of downtown is one thing. How much home you can afford may be entirely different.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with looking. But when it comes down to finding a place that fits perfectly in looks, size and price, you need to know your affordability factor.

What Is Your Family Plan?

It’s not just how much you make; it’s also what you plan to do with it.

Do your best to anticipate what the next five years or so will be like for you and your family. Are you planning to have kids in the next few years? Is your teen graduating from high school? Will they need you to co-sign for a college loan? Are you planning for a wedding? All these can raise your debt-to-income ratio.

Even if you can afford a mortgage with a 40% debt-to-income ratio now, life events like having children can bring that ratio up to and over 50%.

Do your best to map out what the next five years or so will look like and keep an emergency fund for the unexpected. Plan for the house you can afford today—not what you can afford a few years from now when the raise kicks in.

What Is Your Payment Approach?

Do you want to plan conservatively, moderately or aggressively? The difference can determine the type of home within your ballpark range.

For example, if you make $73,000 a year, have a $40,000 down payment, $350 in monthly debts and want to buy a house in Ridgefield, CT, these are the scenarios to consider:

The conservative approach: no more than 28% of your income goes to housing expenses and 36% goes to debts. House affordability range: $303,000

The moderate approach: no more than 33% of your income goes to housing expenses and 38% goes to debts. House affordability range: $349,000

The aggressive approach: no more than 36% of your income goes to housing expenses and 41% goes to debts. House affordability range: $362,000

The more aggressive the approach, the more budgeting discipline you need.

You also will need better credit, as you will be taking on more debt for a more expensive home.

Figure out which works best for you—remember, it’s better to err on the safe side rather than be strapped for cash each month.

Check out the realtor.com® affordability calculator to see what spending approach looks like for you in the area of your choice.

What Is Your Preferred Location?

You might not have the means to afford a house in a central location. If that’s the case, consider a ZIP code in a neighboring area.

To get a feel for houses in your price range, use our affordability calculator for a nearby area and then check the listings at the bottom of the page. If you can’t find something you like, you can always go down in price or continue to rent until you have the means to afford that dream home.

What Are Other Homeownership Costs?

Home ownership isn’t as simple as paying the mortgage. You can be sure other expenses will pop up.

For example, if you can’t make at least a 20% down payment, you will need private mortgage insurance. If you have an FHA loan, you will have to budget for premiums.

There’s also property tax and home insurance on top of closing costs. Repairs, general maintenance, condo fees, utilities and buying new furniture for your new home also need to be anticipated.

The more thorough your budgeting, the more comfortable you’ll be when shopping for a home.

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Topics: National Real estate trends, Homes Sold, VT Real estate trends

Tips for Creating the Perfect Atmosphere for a Winter Home Sale

Posted by nelrealty

Nov 18, 2014 9:16:23 PM


To successfully sell your home, you must take advantage of every showing. This can be especially hard in winter when the light is poor and your yard is not looking its best.

Luckily there are a few simple things you can do boost your home's charm offensive.  

1. Turn up the heat Impressing buyers in winter means literally turning up the heat. Pop on the heaters at least an hour before potential buyers come round. The warmth will give them a good feeling as they step in from the cold. If you have an open fire, light it. Nothing screams warm and cozy like a beautiful fire.  

2. Banish the gloom Nobody likes dark places. If your property looks good in daylight, try to schedule your viewing when daylight is at its strongest. For evening viewings, switch on the center lights and add table lamps and up-lighters to brighten gloomy corners. A few scented candles in strategic places like the bathroom, the living room or the bedroom can add a homely, romantic feel.  

3. Clean light sources No seller should underestimate the power of a good clean. But if you are selling in winter, you need to pay particular attention to your light sources and window dressings -- window glass, curtains, blinds, shades and light bulbs. A dusty light bulb or dirty shade can obstruct as much as half the light, which will make your home look gloomy.  

4. Exploit the season Christmas is just around the corner and with it comes lights, ornaments and the smell of mulled wine! By using these decorations wisely, you can really sell a lifestyle to potential buyers. Remember that you want to create the illusion of space, so don't go overboard. Buyers want to imagine family celebrations in your property, not get trapped between the sofa and a ten-foot Christmas tree.

5. Reduce noise for a soothing atmosphere A house is a shelter from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Would-be buyers want a home that will make them feel comfortable and relaxed, especially in winter, when they are more likely to curl up with a book in front of the fire than kick a ball around the park. Create a soothing atmosphere by limiting the noise. Do not start the washer, dryer or dishwasher before receiving visitors. Turn off the TV. Background music is fine, but  keep it soothing.    

6. Pay attention to your outdoor space A winter garden need not be a neglected garden. Keep it tidy by deadheading old flowers, raking leaves and mowing your lawn. Consider planting some evergreen or winter flowering shrubs to add a splash of color to a yard or patio. A fire pit or patio heater is a great way to open up you outdoor pace if you are still getting some last-minute winter sun.   

If you make your property as welcoming as possible, you will stand the best chance of selling your property during the quieter winter season. Good luck!

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Topics: VT Real estate trends, Home Improvement

Four Things To Do If Your Property Doesn't Sell

Posted by Jayne Thompson

May 19, 2014 3:18:34 PM

House-For-SaleAll the signs suggest that we're in a seller's market. By rights, there should be more would-be buyers than houses for sale. Basic rules of supply and demand draw us to the conclusion that, in this market, your home should be selling in a matter of weeks, if not days. Yet here it is, dwindling on the market. Why are buyers not biting and -- more importantly -- how can you turn it around?

These four tips should get your home out of its rut. 



1.         Refresh Your Advertising

Today's buyers have access to thousands of listings on the internet, and many look at properties well in advance of purchase. Some research the market for years. If your listing and photographs remain unchanged for months on end, your pool of  would-be buyers will notice -- and disregard you as a result.


To shake up your advertising, begin by refreshing your photographs. Pictures spark interest, so it pays to get them right. Ask a friend to give you an honest opinion about the quality of your shots. Are they too dark or out of focus; do they show dirty dishcloths on the countertop? If your shots aren't accentuating the positive, have them redone. It's a small investment for potentially huge rewards.  


Next, review the language of your promotional material. Work with your agent, if you have one, to come up with new and creative ways to sell your home.  Aim your pitch directly at your target market. For example, if you're selling a family home, wax lyrical about the play room, child-friendly yard and great school district.  Take a look at your competition, vary your tactics and when the buyers schedule an inspection, press home your advantage.


2.         Lower Your Price


Location is one thing, but the two most important factors in selling a property are presentation and price.


  No matter what the market is doing, price is a sensitive metric. Financially, buyers put a cap on what they can afford. Psychologically, few buyers look at properties that exceed their financial cap, even if there's scope for a price negotiation, for fear of falling in love with a home that's simply beyond their means.    

  For sellers, this offers certain marketing advantages. Buyers tend to categorize properties in price bands, for example, $200,000 to $225,000.  A downward price shift of just one to five thousand dollars can be enough to spark interest among a whole new price-category of buyers, who feel a purchase is possible.

 3.         Give Your Property A Face Lift

When a property's not selling, it's time to find out what buyers really think. Solicit feedback. Ask everyone who passes through your doors for their honest opinion -- the good, the bad and the ugly.


You may find that the changes you need to make are relatively small -- a lick of paint perhaps, or a new bath tub. If the feedback's negative without being specific, invest in home staging.  The keen eye of a professional stager can capitalize on your chances of sale for comparatively little cost.


4. Take A Break From the Market


This sounds counterintuitive, but three things tend to happen when you keep your property on the market for a long time without generating a buzz. First, buyers will avoid it. A classic example of group think, buyers typically discount homes that linger on the market because they assume that other buyers have seen them and discounted them for some reason. Second, clever buyers will leverage your misery as a negotiating tool, and hit you with a low ball offer. Third, buyers will pass you over completely, because they've seen your listing so often it becomes part of the background.


If you can, take your property off the market for a few months. Use the time to refresh your decor, your price point and your marketing campaign and, by the time you're ready to re-list, a whole new batch of buyers will be waiting for you.


Above all, remember to stay positive. Everything sells in the end.



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Topics: Homes Sold, VT Real estate trends

What's Wrong With Modern Home Design?

Posted by nelrealty

Apr 22, 2014 3:47:00 PM

To Keep Or Not To Keep..

Home designs have traditionally been as diverse as the people who inhabit them. From log cabins of the frontier to stucco villas of the southwest, houses were usually influenced in style and design by the building materials readily available in the environment. A few features, however, were universal. Efficiency, room usability, and utilization of outdoor space were a few concepts instinctively considered when building a home.

Today, a home is often built en masse along with dozens of others. Developers are business people whom have contributed positively to the home experience by providing affordable and available homes, but their priority is cost-effective quantity. Even
custom built homes are subject to influence from the neighborhoods and homes already in existence. Property owners take cues from existing homes, thereby perpetuating home features which may not even meet their needs.

Certain home features of the last few decades have served their purpose but are outdated, while others from the past need to be resurrected. With these topics in mind, let's explore some of the possibilities for improving homes.


1. The Walk-Out Basement. Get Rid of It.

The walkout basement became a pervasive feature of many homes in the 1990s and 2000s. Finished basements in the 1970s and 1980s were often unavoidably dark or claustrophobic no matter how luxuriously they were finished. Walkout basements with direct access to the outside and possibility of large windows seemed like an ideal way to make the basement not only an extra living area, but a prominent and comfortable one as well.

This design logically meant putting the main floor of the home a story above the ground
in back. Therefore, with the exception of a deck and a steep flight of stairs, it eliminated the main floor access to the backyard. The habits of people, however, did not change. The basement still felt disconnected and navigating down several stairs to reach the yard took effort. The family backyard traditionally an extension of the home directly off the main living areas -became a thing of the past. Many backyards of homes with walkout basements are barren and underutilized. It is not uncommon to see homeowners trying

to create a backyard atmosphere in their front yard, complete with lawn chairs near the curb and the family pet tied up next to the car. This is based on a natural tendency to walk out the door with the quickest, most level access to the yard.

There is simply little reason for a walkout basement. Basements are meant to be disconnected, and window designs and lighting have evolved to help create a more comfortable space underground. Homes built with easy, direct yard access add to the enjoyment of the property.

2. The Front Porch. Bring It Back.

Regardless of the home style, most homes until the 1980s featured a front porch. Social and outdoor connection was so important that people often used valuable square footage for porches rather than indoor rooms. Front porches present a welcoming image that encourages others to visit. They promote neighborly interaction and allow a comfortable place from which to watch the children and enjoy the fresh air.

At some point in time, homeowners made privacy a top priority in home design. Front porches were eliminated and entrances are often indented into the house footprint rather than built as a central focal point. This discouraged visitors from feeling welcome to spontaneously knock on the door. Screen doors and sidewalks were also eliminated, lending more uninviting aspects to neighborhoods.

The demise of the front porch and the buried front entrance may be the saddest changes in home design. They create an aura of isolation and unnecessary privacy. Bringing back the front porch, repositioning entrances prominently, and creating connecting sidewalks should be strongly considered in new home design.

3. Garages as the Prominent Focal Point. Get Rid of It.

The current trend of garages being the dominating feature of the front of the home is outdated. Entire neighborhoods are built of homes where an enormous garage door juts out from the house footprint and often times nearly hides the home. This feature strongly connects to the problem previously listed in which home entrances are indented into the house footprint while large garages are given prominence.

Garages should ideally be regulated to the side or back of a home and should fit into the main house footprint rather than dominate it. If circumstances demand the garage entrance be in front, then it, rather than the front door, should be built to appear as noninvasive as possible.

4. Architectural Detail. Bring It Back.

Getting the most square footage for the money is a defining factor for most builders. This is an understandable viewpoint, but it often comes at the expense of features than make a home unique. These features are aesthetically pleasing and can add efficiency to a house. Builtin book cabinets with glass doors, strategically placed shelving, or small closets built into "dead space" are some examples of architectural details that were standard in older home designs. These types of features were often whimsical yet functional. Window details or pretty banisters may not have been necessary, but in many older homes they were considered just as important as square footage. Architectural details contribute beauty and functionality to a house and often pay for themselves by using space that would normally be forgotten.

5. Open Floor Plan. Get Rid of It.

By the 1990s and continuing today, one of the top requests for home design is the open floor plan. The open floor plan has become a substitute for good room flow. This plan consists of a large, totally open space that includes all or most main living areas: kitchen, dining, living room, den, and entrance. The design was initially sought after in the hopes it would encourage family interaction, make a home feel lighter and larger, and not isolate those working in the kitchen. It was also a feature intended to promote entertaining.

While the open floor plan might have enabled a few nice parties and created the illusion of a bigger house, there were better qualities it made obsolete. It made privacy impossible. People could no longer mingle in small gatherings without the drone of the entire house. Turning on the TV meant the all main areas were subjected to it. Kitchen smells and messes permeated the entire home. Every inhabitant or guest automatically became a part of what every other inhabitant or guest did or said, whether it was the TV, a conversation, or a sink full of dirty dishes.

Homes are better served by separate rooms, each one with it's own purpose. The light and open effect can be achieved with wide hallways, tall ceilings, large doorways, and ample windows. These features respect the purpose and privacy of each room and still maintaining an easy, unencumbered flow between areas.


6. The Garden Shed. Bring It Back.

Older homes often featured a shed to store items like lawn mowers, garden tools, and yard furniture. They were not only functional but often a charming, outdoor feature. However, at some point in the evolution of America home design, all things outdoor
were relegated to the garage. In some ways this made sense the car is an outdoor thing
so why not store everything outdoor related with it? The problem was the garage became cluttered and inefficient. Some homeowners not only built garages big enough for three cars, but also expanded them in order to store seasonal items. This is a factor that resulted in the enormous garages that contributed to some of the previously mentioned home design mistakes.

Homeowners associations have contributed to this mistake. Many home associations forbid outdoor sheds and other structures. There is no reason for this type of neighborhood rule when common sense guidelines can be followed. Hopefully, homeowners associations will eventually ease up on these restrictions. Small, inexpensive, garden sheds need not be an eyesore. They can free up valuable home square footage, provide easy access to outdoor items, and lend charm to the property.

Home design is a constantly evolving art form. Functionality, efficiency, longevity, and aesthetic appeal must always be considered when creating something as permanent as a house. Today, potential home builders can be better served by adapting a fresh perspective on features that are outdated trends and home characteristics from the past they may wish to revive.

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Topics: VT Real estate trends, Home Improvement

Bringing Fall Into Your Home

Posted by nelrealty

Oct 14, 2013 9:16:53 PM

With over half of all homeowners planning to make some type of improvement to their home this year, the question is, what exactly are they changing? Homeowners are choosing to wait until the high temperatures break and cooler weather hits to begin outdoor work, and home improvement companies are looking to unload new products to prepare for the new season, allowing homeowners to grab some great deals as autumn begins.

The most common fall home improvement projects include fencing, interior and exterior painting, window work, flooring, and roof repair, all of which are in preparation for the cold winter weather when home improvement projects are not at the top of your priority list. By getting these projects done before winter, you can put your home improvement projects to rest until spring without worrying about leaky roofs, cold air coming through cracks in the windows, and maintaining the value of your home with fencing and a fresh coat of paint.

"The cooler autumn temperatures make for the perfect time to focus more on the home and any remodeling projects," says Jeremy Floyd of Fence Center. "Such projects like adding in bamboo or aluminum fencing, not only increases your family's security, but the value of your home. Now that autumn is officially here, people are likely beginning to get these home improvement projects rolling."

[gallery columns="4" link="none" type="rectangular" ids="258,257,262,261,265,264,259,263"]

When the weather begins to turn cold, take cues from fall to warm up your world. Think about the decorating styles that appeal to you and use the following tips for guidance:

Look to Elemental Colors: Air, Earth, Fire and Water; nature inspires the most beautiful colors. Colors reflecting air will make your home breathe. Earth inspired colors will ground and calm a room. Colors pulling from water inspire playful fun, and lastly those reflecting fire will say bold confidence.

Take Natures Cues: As the air turns cool, nature gives us clues as to which colors make your home feel warm and cozy in the fall. Look around at the fall foliage and you'll see vibrant golds, rich reds, deep chocolate browns and toasty oranges. These colors inspire life and energy as the days get darker and cooler. Look for ways to incorporate these colors and scenes into your room decor. National Geographic Wallpaper or wall murals can help create this inviting nature setting.

Go Natural: With the increasing focus on the environment, there are abundant products available today that reflect and are good for nature. These products often incorporate earthy colors and textures; a perfect theme for fall. Choose eco-friendly shades which are PVC-free and 100 percent recyclable.

'Tis the Season: Carve out a tall pumpkin and use it as a flower vase or use small pumpkins for candles. A throw pillow, bowl of fresh citrus fruit or a bouquet of cut flowers are inexpensive ways to provide some color pop while welcoming your guests with the feel of nature.

Come Together: Gather around the fireplace. Rearrange your furniture to set your fireplace, instead of the TV, as the focal point of the room. Footstools, ottomans, and floor pillows by the fire create an inviting, warm atmosphere that will get you through the harshest days of winter. If you don't want the hassle of starting and maintaining a fire, try placing tall white candles in the fireplace for a similar glow.

Go Vibrant: Add a few splashes of vibrant color. They enrich any look and keep you from feeling drab. Deep colors also inspire confidence. Use an area rug to add warmth and personality to any room.

Go Circular: Designing a wreath is one of the easiest DIY projects you could hope for. And this time of year there is an abundance of colorful items to choose from at your local craft store or around your home. Get the kids involved and make it a family project.

Prepare for Winter: Now is the time to prep your home. There are several easy steps you can take. Consider insulating cellular shades or lined window treatments such as thermal curtains or foam-backed draperies for older, drafty windows. Insulate your water heater with insulation wrap. Seal leaks and drafts with caulk or weather strips. Clean your furnace and change your air filter. And lastly, but certainly not least, install a programmable thermostat. This allows you to conserve energy during the day while you're at work and at night while you sleep, but still come home or wake up to a warm, cozy home.


A fun fall project: Create an indoor play area

John Powell (powellrenovations.com) at Powell Custom Homes and Renovations of Des Moines, Washington provides these tips:

play-areaImage source: happytobeathome.net

Choose a theme - Plan the entire room around a single thematic element based on a child's favorite subject, game or character. Or use the theme to create variety, such as a “story time” theme with your child’s favorite storybook characters incorporated into the decor. A themed, “special” room will give your child more incentive to spend time there, and will even help him or her to keep it clean.

Go crazy with colors - Neon paint colors are just fine here; don’t worry about matching or clashing.  Think about the fantasy worlds your children are seeing on television - the more outlandish, the more tempting the space will be for them.

Think small - Kids love spaces that are sized for them. Plan the space for smaller people, but think ahead so your kids don’t outgrow the space within the year.

Kids play rough - No matter how bomb proof you make the space, someone is bound to knock his head against the side of any piece of furniture or anything built into the space. Try to find things with rounded edges. If you buy a piece of furniture with hard corners, ask your contractor to sand it down.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Feature image: thetutorializer.com

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Topics: National Real estate trends, VT Real estate trends, Home Improvement

Closing the Deal

Posted by nelrealty

Aug 30, 2013 6:38:27 PM

You spend months marketing your property, cleaning the house for showings and then you get an offer and work through all details (negotiating, inspection, appraisal, financing, other contingencies), looking forward to closing. Or, you spend months looking at multiple properties, reconfiguring your expectations, narrowing down the prospects, making an offer and working through the same details as above.

Everyone patiently waits for that hopeful “Clear to Close” from the lender. You are thrilled when you get it and usually it is clear sailing from there. But that is not always the case. What can go wrong at the closing table? Let’s see…

Some unexpected things can happen either at closing, or the days just prior. There are some things you can do to avoid a delay.

Take care of all inspection items early on. You may find yourself at the mercy of contractors’ schedules or waiting on ordered parts. If you are the Buyer, do not wait until the walk-through to make sure the items have been done.

Look over your closing statement very carefully. You want to make sure all pro-rations, commissions and deposits are accounted for. Were the utilities, association fees, and taxes (town and/or village) all taken into account? A missing item can cause disruption at the closing table.

If you are wiring money, make sure the process is started in a timely manner in relation to your closing day and time. If the money is not there, you won’t close.

If needed, set up a Power of Attorney (POA) ahead of time, so your attorney (or other appropriate person) can sign the papers for you if you cannot be there. If you are the executor of an estate, make sure you qualify to have POA to sign the paperwork. Recent laws preclude those who benefit from a sale to have POA to sign the closing documents.

All Buyers should do a final walk-through to ensure all personal property has been removed, all appliances/items that were to remain are still there, and the home is broom clean. This is also an opportunity to make sure all work that was promised to be done has been completed.

If you are the Seller…don’t save your packing for the week before closing. Moving always takes longer than you think and Buyers rightfully expect a final walk through with the home cleared of all the Seller’s personal belongings and clean. It is in the contract.

One last tip. It is not advised to allow a Buyer to move personal property into the home prior to closing. If the closing is held up or does not happen, it can lead to a very awkward and possibly contentious situation. We all want to play nice…but it is still really good advice to heed!

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Topics: National Real estate trends, VT Real estate trends

A Home's Material Facts: Let us Ask and Disclose

Posted by nelrealty

Aug 21, 2013 3:18:02 PM

Today’s real estate climate is not the “Buyer Beware” of decades ago.  No longer do you hide the facts and hold your breath that the Buyer doesn’t ask the right questions.

Even with the most honorable intentions, issues can arise. Typically, the more serious issues that come up between buyers and sellers are questionable boundary lines (location of, easements, rights-of-way), septic problems (failing system), and moisture issues around rot and mold. These can become contentious, leading to terminated contracts or legal battles.

Disclose, disclose, disclose. That is the key to keeping things moving forward and avoiding the post-closing litigation. A property owner who lists with a professional will be asked to fill out a 6-page Seller’s Property Information Report. This facilitates full disclosure of material facts regarding the home. It encompasses 7 sections: Land, Mechanical systems, structural components, water supply, sewer/septic wastewater system, additional information, and condo/homeowners’ associations.

Sellers are expected to fill this out accurately and to the best of their knowledge. Such disclosures protect both the buyer and the seller.

If a home is not listed with a professional, a buyer needs to ask all the right questions, and a Seller needs to come clean about everything related to the house. This includes, but is not limited to, information regarding flood areas, underground storage tanks, accurate boundary lines, rights-of-way/easements, condition of appliances, septic maintenance, and results of radon and water tests. Getting this information in writing is essential.

This is not a don’t ask, don’t tell situation. If you are aware of or should be aware of material facts about the home, you need to disclose.  There is no perfect home and buyers understand this.  They just want there to be no surprises after the fact. They want to be aware of everything before jumping in.

The home inspection is a time when the unknowns should come to light, including home issues that the seller was not aware of. If an inspector’s list of issues includes a handful of things the buyer was told about pre-inspection, those things are not deal breakers. It’s the surprises that tend to slam the breaks on a deal, or at least make everyone head back to the negotiation stage.

So, whether you are using a real estate professional or going it alone, make sure you disclose everything about the home. If you are on the buying side, ask lots of questions. When it comes to the material facts of the home, nothing is off limits.

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Topics: National Real estate trends, VT Real estate trends

Financing Your Vermont Home

Posted by nelrealty

Aug 14, 2013 3:21:28 PM

If you’ve been following home-buying news and trends over the past four years, you have heard that lending is tight and it is hard to get a home loan. With expertise in the Vermont market, I have to say this is not the reality of the situation.  Mortgage underwriters are requiring more verification’s than the pre-2008 era and you may need to provide a bit more documentation, especially if you are self-employed, but loans to purchase Vermont real estate are still readily available.

If you are a first time home buyer looking to get into the Vermont real estate market you are in luck.  This is a great time to purchase a home, especially in the Burlington, Richmond, Waterbury, Stowe or Morrisville area.  Mortgage interest rates are still low, home prices are beginning to recover, and there are plenty of good lending programs to allow you entrance into the market.

One such lending program is the FHA program, allowing you to purchase a home with as little as 3.5% down-payment, possibly a gift from a parent or grandparent, and the seller can pay your closing costs.  FHA will allow as low as a 640 credit score and a debt-to-income ratio as high as 50%.

Another great program available to interested buyers in Vermont is Rural Development. This product allows 100% financing, though it does have a few more restrictions, such as income limitations and geographic restrictions. Luckily, most of the Vermont real estate market will allow buyers to qualify for such financing. In addition, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have low down payment programs, with as little as 5% down on a primary residence or 10% on a second home.  For the most success using a conforming loan such as this one, you will want to have a stronger credit score.

The best thing to do is to meet with a loan originator to go over your situation, see which programs you qualify for, how much you can borrow, and decide how much you are comfortable paying each month. Then you will be ready to go out and shop in whichever Vermont real estate market you choose. So, get pre-qualified and happy house hunting.

Article written for NELR by Jeff Teplitz, Mortgage Loan Officer, EverBank - Dedicated to helping clients throughout the mortgage process, with over 8 years of mortgage experience and a thorough knowledge of the Vermont and Northern New England markets.

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Topics: VT Real estate trends

Vermont Real Estate News: Time to Jump Into the Market

Posted by nelrealty

Aug 3, 2013 2:51:30 PM

To buy, or not. That is something many people have struggled with over the past 5 years.  Will home prices decrease further? Will interest rates stay low or continue to rise? Can I time it just right to get the best value for my money? Well, if you are out there looking now, then I would say that you have timed it well.

But now your worry may be, will my offer be better than the competition’s offer? News flash: homes are getting looks from buyers…many buyers.  And we are seeing multiple offers on properties in varying price ranges. Wait a minute. Is this a flash back to 2006? 2006 is often referred to as the end of the hot market but if we compare today’s market to that of 2006, it becomes clear that now is an ideal time to jump into the housing market.

Looking at Vermont real estate trends, specifically in Chittenden, Lamoille and Washington County, we see that the average number of homes sold in quarter 2 (about 900) and the average sell price (about $280,000) is about the same this year as it was in 2006. The difference is, homes aren’t selling quite as quickly in this market even though interest rates are lower now than they were then. In 2006, interest rates in Vermont were at 6.75% and with that rate a $300,000 loan for 30 years would cost about $1945 a month in principle and interest. Now, if you were to get the same loan with today’s interest rate of 4.75% it would cost $1565, about $400 less. It is also important to note that people are employing much more creative financing these days. In Vermont in 2006, the home selling market was fueled almost entirely by conventional loans. Now, in 2013, there are many more low-income loans, cash sales, and with many veteran’s returning from war, there is a large increase in veteran’s association financing for home sales. There are certainly more financing options available to you than just the conventional loan.

If you look at the numbers, it is a buyer eye-opener. Supply is low; demand is high. The Vermont real estate market, as well has national trends, show that inventory has been decreasing in the last six months and while Interest rates have risen 1 point in last year and 2 points in last 5 years inventory is having a more significant impact on the market. National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said last month that compared to interest rates “the bigger concern remains too few homes available for sale, especially among homes in the lower price range” (http://speakingof realestate.blogs.realtor.org). So, while there has been talk about rising interest rates, they still remain historically low and owning is often more economical choice than renting. In fact, the mortgage you will pay on that $250,000 home is comparable to what you would pay to rent a modest 2-bedroom house.

Let’s not forget the other advantages of owning your home.  Every month you pay your mortgage you are putting money into your own pocket. You have a tax deduction as well as a payment toward equity.  And don’t forget appreciation. All market indications show that home prices have leveled, with the average sell price remaining about the same in the Vermont real estate market over the past seven years, leaving us to expect housing prices to see modest appreciation in the next few years and beyond. That should prompt you to start your home search.

As wonderful as all of this sounds, it still is only attainable for those who feel a sense of job security, have taken care of their credit, and have managed to save money for their required down payment and closing costs.

Go out into the home buying arena prepared. Talk to your lender to see what you can afford. Go out there with your eyes wide open. You may be surprised. And as always, feel free to contact us at New England Landmark Realty with any questions you may have.

Feature Image courtesy of: http://www.hopperdesignllc.com

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Topics: National Real estate trends, VT Real estate trends