I hope that everyone has enjoyed a happy and safe holiday season thus far. With the new year upon us, however, it is time to face the inevitable: the New Years Resolution. In 2008, why not make a few real estate resolutions? Here are some ideas to get you started:
Know your credit! Make a resolution to stay on top of your credit in 2008. Begin by getting a detailed credit report so that you know where you stand as the year begins. Check again at the end of the year to see how much your credit has improved!
Keep a budget. This can be a difficult one to stick to. Many people start the year with an idealistic budget, but soon let it go out the window – oftentimes, along with any hopes of saving for real estate investment! Begin with a goal of either setting aside a certain amount for a down payment on a real estate investment or putting away enough to make one extra mortgage payment in 2008.
Research real estate web sites. Be a snoop in 2008! Use web sites like mine to keep tabs on what homes in your neighborhood are selling for, where the foreclosures near you are, and what the general market is like in your area. When you are ready to make a real estate investment, you will already have a good feel for the local market.
Out with the old! Even if you are not planning to move in 2008, it never hurts to clean out your closets, garage, or attic and donate to charity. You’ll make your home more appealing to prospective buyers if you are selling, and you’ll feel more organized if you are staying put.
Best wishes for a very happy new year – see you in 2008!
For more information about Ludlow VT real estate, please visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com or call me at 802-353-1983. To begin searching for Ludlow VT homes, please use my complimentary MLS search!
Friday, December 28, 2007
I hope that everyone has enjoyed a happy and safe holiday season thus far. With the new year upon us, however, it is time to face the inevitable: the New Years Resolution. In 2008, why not make a few real estate resolutions? Here are some ideas to get you started:
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the data underscores the fact that all real estate is local. “Some metro areas are hot, while others are experiencing localized problems,” he said.
Moving into 2008, we will keep a close eye on the Okemo Mountain area market trends to see how prices affect sales volume. Since the market changes month to month and neighborhood to area, please contact me at 802-353-1983 or visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com to get the latest information on Ludlow VT real estate. To receive a complimentary home value analysis, please click here.
~Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!~
Thursday, December 13, 2007
What is a 1031 Exchange?
Put simply, it is the sale of one property in exchange for the purchase another property of similar value without the required payment of capital gains tax, all performed within a specific time frame. An example of when you might use a 1031 Exchange, as opposed to selling a home and purchasing a new one outright: you want to sell your current vacation home and purchase a new, similar one that has a few better features. You have not yet owned your current vacation home for two years, so you are subject to substantial capital gains taxes when you sell it. If you were to use a 1031 Exchange, you could “exchange” your current home for a new one and be relieved of the capital gains requirement. It is this difference between "exchanging" and not simply buying and selling which, in the end, allows you, the taxpayer, to qualify for a deferred gain treatment. In a nutshell: sales are taxable with the IRS and 1031 exchanges are not. US CODE: Title 26, §1031. Exchange of Property Held for Productive Use or Investment
Important Rules of 1031 Exchange
1. The total purchase price of the replacement "like kind" property must be equal to, or greater than the total net sales price of the relinquished, real estate, property.
2. All the equity received from the sale, of the relinquished real estate property, must be used to acquire the replacement, "like kind" property.
1031 Timelines and Rules
Identification period – the seller has exactly 45 days from the sale of the original property to identify other replacement property(s) that he proposes or wishes to buy.
Exchange period – the period during which the seller of the relinquished property must receive the replacement property. This period ends exactly 180 days after the date on which the person transfers the property relinquished or the due date for the person's tax return for that taxable year in which the transfer of the relinquished property has occurred, whichever situation is earlier.
If you want to learn more about strategies for buying and selling investment properties, or are interested in Okemo Mountain real estate, please call me at 802-353-1983 or visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com. To request more information about 1031 exchange, please click here and select the reports you would like!
Monday, December 10, 2007
· Use LED lights – using LED lights to decorate the inside and outside of your home will bring you many benefits. The lights last a whopping 50,000 hours – that means you could actually pass these lights down to your grandchildren some day! Adding to their cost effectiveness is the fact that you will be using 90% less energy with LED bulbs – resulting in an electricity bill that the Griswald family would envy! LED lights are also safer – they don’t produce as much heat and considerably reduce the risk of fire, always a concern during the holiday season.
· Use solar-powered decorations – the “new kid on the block” when it comes to holiday décor, these lights not only save you money on energy – they don’t use any energy at all! Place the solar panels where they can collect light during the day, and the lights will automatically light up when it gets dark and shine for about 8 hours.
· Use mother nature’s decorations – forget going out to shop for decorations. Some of the best décor can be found right in your own backyard! Use a real Christmas tree rather than a manufactured, non-biodegradable one. Even better, buy a young tree with roots and re-plant it after the holiday season! A basket of pinecones make a beautiful and rustic centerpiece, and fresh pine straw can be made into a lovely and fragrant wreath to display.
To learn more about Ludlow VT real estate, please visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com or call me at 802-353-1983. To receive a complimentary home value analysis, please click here.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Investor Christine Hrib Karpinski offers these three basic rules for purchasing and managing a vacation home:
- Vacation homes need to be rented 15 to 17 weeks a year in most areas to break even.
- Internet advertising is essential. Karpinski recommends advertising your home on 3-5 web sites to ensure the maximum amount of exposure.
- Consider cutting out the middle-man and being your own rental agent.
Karpinski also suggests asking yourself these four questions before jumping into vacation home ownership:
· Are you ready to do the research to find the right home in the right area for you?
· Are you willing to give up the use of your property during peak season?
· Are you willing to put in the necessary work, including advertising and maintenance duties?
· Can you hold on if things get tough?
If you are ready to begin your search for a Ludlow VT vacation home, please call me at 802-353-1983 or visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com. Or, click here to sign up to receive automated emails of new listings that match your criteria.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
We’ll be back next week with more of the latest Ludlow VT real estate news and information! In the meantime, please feel free to contact me at 802-353-1983 or visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The readers of SKI recognized the resort’s commitment to providing an excellent snow surface by rating Okemo second in the East for grooming, and number three in all of North America – surpassed only by Deer Valley and sister resort Mount Sunapee, in N.H. In the snow category, Okemo placed fourth in the East.
A complete “Top 50 Resort Guide” appears in the October issue of SKI Magazine or can be seen at www.skinet.com Nearly 7,000 SKI Magazine subscribers responded to the “Top 50 Resort Guide” survey, which was conducted by an independent research firm.
If you would like to call Ludlow VT “home” or even “home away from home,” please visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com, or call me at 802-353-1983. To begin searching Okemo Mountain real estate, please use my complimentary MLS search.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
- Skylights (pick ones that open and choose carefully where to put them)
- Big windows (install them to showcase your best views, but don’t forget to add small windows above or below them that open)
- Window height (put windows high on the wall, but not tight to the ceiling)
- Window grouping (group several windows together, but don’t separate them with fat supports)
- Window shades (install shades in windows that face east, west, and south; avoid using UV-inhibiting coating)
Following these tips for adding light to your home will help to increase your home’s value. To receive a complimentary comparative home value analysis, click here. For more information about Ludlow VT real estate, please visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com or call me at 802-353-1983.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
This article from Smart Money magazine explains how you can purchase a vacation home and afford to pay the taxes on it. In addition to covering timeshares and multiple residences, vacation homeownership is broken down into three main groups for tax-related purposes:
· Use a lot, rent a lot (home is considered a personal residence but income must be accounted for)
· Rent a lot, use a little (home is considered a rental property)
· Use a lot, rent a little (home is considered a personal residence and income does not have to be declared)
If you are thinking of purchasing a Ludlow VT vacation home, please call me at 802-353-1983 or visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com. Or click here to see my current listings!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
This printable Fire Safety Checklist, provided by FireSafety.gov, is a great resource for determining what fire hazards may lurk in your home, how to reduce those hazards, and what to do if there is a fire. The Today Show also provided some useful tips to ensure homeowners would be prepared to evacuate their homes with little or no notice in the event of an emergency such as fire. These tips include:
Make copies of your documents. Either put them in a waterproof and fire-proof safe, or give the copies to a trusted friend or relative. Make electronic copies, as well. Remember that valuables left in a safe deposit box at a bank could also be destroyed in the case of a widespread natural disaster.
Get your insurance information in order. If disaster strikes, make your claim right away, and be sure to take pictures of the damage.
Prepare an emergency kit. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Gather essential items such as a battery operated radio, bottled water, food, medication, blanket, first-aid kit, etc.
Come up with a family plan. Again, do it now! Make sure everyone knows where the important documents are, and agree on a meeting place in case you become separated.
Many of these items are tips we hear over and over again, but they never really seem useful until a disaster strikes close to home. By the time that happens, of course, it is generally too late to put the tips to use. Preparedness now can save time and, possibly, lives later.
If you are thinking of becoming a homeowner in Ludlow VT, please call me today at 802-353-1983 or visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com. You may also begin searching Ludlow VT real estate here!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Lawrence Yun, NAR senior economist, notes that widening credit availability will help turn around home sales. “Conforming loans are abundantly available at historically favorable mortgage rates. Pricing has steadily improved on jumbo mortgages since the August credit crunch, and FHA loans are replacing subprime mortgages,” he said.
Read the full article here, and remember that the Ludlow VT real estate market is always changing from month to month and neighborhood to neighborhood. For the most up-to-date information about Ludlow VT real estate, please call me at 802-353-1983 or visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com. Also click here to request relocation information!
Thursday, October 11, 2007
A great way to spruce up your home’s curbside appeal during this season is to decorate with a few locally-grown pumpkins – maybe even add some hay and a scarecrow to really get festive! Visiting a local pumpkin patch is also a fantastic way to enjoy the fall weather with your family and get some of those always-cute snapshots of the kids picking out their pumpkins. Why not start a new tradition this year and visit one of these local pumpkin patches?
To learn more about living here and Ludlow VT real estate, please visit my website or call me at 802-353-1983. You can also request complimentary copies of my e-Books here!
Thursday, October 04, 2007
While there are many homeowners today who are struggling to meet their mortgage payments, there are just as many would-be investors who are eager to capitalize on the situation by investing in foreclosures and – they hope – selling them for a hefty profit.
This may seem easy on the surface, given the rising number of foreclosed properties; however, potential investors should take the time to understand what they are getting into before heading to an auction or purchasing any bank-owned property.
This article from RealEstateJournal.com covers some of the caveats to investing in foreclosures. If you are investing in a property with the hopes of “flipping” it for a quick re-sale, you should consult an experienced Realtor first to get a clear picture of the current real estate market in your area. Homes may not be selling quickly in your area, which means you could end up with a property that continues to sit on the market while you keep making payments on it. Also, most homes purchased at auction cannot be inspected first, so your new property may come with major structural damage, hidden liens, or utility bills that need to be paid. It is up to the potential buyer to weigh out how much you are willing to invest in improvements over and above the actual price of the property.
If you are thinking of investing in Ludlow VT real estate, please email or call me at 802-353-1983. You can also visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com or begin searching the MLS here. I would be happy to help you invest in your future in Ludlow VT.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
What would you do if you were actually faced with the prospect of foreclosure? Would you have the information needed to make an informed decision on your financial future? Many homeowners think it can or will not happen to them, so they do not take the time to learn what the options are on the best way to move forward in a stressful situation such as foreclosure.
This article from FreddieMac.com outlines the terms associated with foreclosure and gives a good starting point with steps to take if you think you may soon be unable to pay your mortgage. Some of the topics covered in this helpful article:
- What to do if you can not pay your mortgage
- What if you can no longer afford to keep your home
- Beware of scam artists
I would like to add to the list of steps to take when facing foreclosure – contact an experienced Realtor! Along with a reputable lender, an experienced Realtor can help explain your options and guide you through the choice that is best for you.
For more information about Ludlow VT real estate, please call me today at 802-353-1983 or visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com, I would be happy to help you. You may also begin searching the MLS here!
Friday, September 21, 2007
If you are moving more than 35 miles from your current home, you can deduct all kinds of moving expenses, including but not limited to: your family’s travel expenses, including meals and lodging; the cost of transporting furniture, other household goods, and personal belongings; food and hotel bills for up to 30 days in the new city if you have to wait to move into your new home; and the costs associated with selling your old home or leasing your new home.
The IRS’s Publication 521, “Tax Information on Moving Expenses,” provides all of the details on deducting items related to your move, including limits to how much you may deduct. You can download the publication using the link above, or pick it up for free at any IRS office!
Thinking about moving to Ludlow, VT? Start by searching the MLS here, or call me at 802-353-1983 for all of your Ludlow VT real estate needs!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
But wait – does this mean we need to put on our ecologist hats and go digging in our yard with test tubes and Petri dishes? Of course not! The nice folks at the US Department of Agriculture’s have already done the “dirty” work for us and put together an extremely comprehensive Web Soil Survey website that contains digital maps and unbelievable amounts of digital soil data that has been methodically collected. Just type in your address and then explore almost anything you ever wanted to know about the soil upon which your home is sitting including chemical properties, erosion factors and likelihood, and its drainage class.
This is valuable information if you are considering building an addition to your existing home or just want to feel confident that the soil upon which your family treads every day is safe.
Please click here to request a complimentary e-book filled with information about selling your home and moving with kids and/or pets. Or feel free to visit my website or email me if you would like to learn more about Okemo Mountain VT real estate. I’m here to help!
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Paying cash certainly eliminates the risk that comes with rising interest rates and the growing rate of foreclosure. But does it limit the tax benefits of homeownership? And can you really afford to have that much money invested in one asset?
This is the question that was recently posed to columnist June Fletcher in the Real Estate Journal. Read her response and remember that an experienced Realtor is your best resource to help you find a lender who will give you sound, unbiased advice on the best way to finance the purchase of your dream home.
Please click here to begin searching the Ludlow VT MLS. You may also visit my website or email me to learn more about Okemo Mountain real estate. I would love to help you invest in your dream vacation home!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Visit this web site to see photos of the incredible vibrant colors of fall, get and share tips of where to spot the most stunning foliage, and get started planning a trip to take in the wonders of this perfect season in Vermont. You can also see maps and timetables that show the changing of the leaves through the season so that you won’t miss seeing Okemo Mountain in all of its autumnal glory!
An Okemo Mountain area vacation home is the perfect investment if you find yourself drawn to the splendor of Vermont every year. Please visit my website or email me today to learn how to make your dream a reality!
Thursday, August 23, 2007
1. Look for exclusions to coverage. For example, most policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage as a standard item – these coverages must be purchased separately.
2. Look for dollar limitations on claims. Even if you are covered for a risk, there may be a limit on how much the insurer will pay. For example, many policies limit the amount paid for stolen jewelry unless items are insured separately.
3. Understand replacement cost. If your home is destroyed you’ll receive money to replace it only to the maximum of your coverage, so be sure your insurance is sufficient. This means that if your home is insured for $150,000 and it costs $180,000 to replace it, you’ll only receive $150,000.
4. Understand actual cash value. If you choose not to replace your home when it’s destroyed, you’ll receive replacement cost, less depreciation.
5. Understand liability. Generally your homeowners insurance covers you for accidents that happen to other people on your property, including medical care, court costs, and awards by the court. However, there is usually an upper limit to the amount of coverage provided. Be sure that it’s sufficient if you have significant assets.
To learn more about homeownership and Okemo Mountain real estate, please visit my website or call me at 802-226-8022.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
We all know that walking is important for our health and, with all of the hype over “going green” lately, we know that walking instead of driving when possible is one way that we can all help to save the environment. In fact, it is recommended that adults tread 10,000 steps per day to reap the many benefits of walking. Why not consider the walk-ability of a neighborhood if you are in the market for a new home or a vacation home in Ludlow? Or, if you have recently purchased a vacation home in Vermont, check out the walk-ability to various destinations in your new “neighborhood away from home.”
To learn more about Okemo Mountain real estate and neighborhoods, please visit my website or call me today at 802-353-1983. I would love to help you find a new neighborhood to explore on foot!
Thursday, August 09, 2007
But what if you could share the cost of your dream home with friends? You’d still get to enjoy the resort at peak times and, if you decided to put the home in the rental market, you’d still benefit from those proceeds. But the investment and monthly cost of purchasing the home could be cut in half! It seems like everyone would win in this situation.
This article, published recently in the Wall Street Journal Online, lays out the many advantages of sharing home ownership. It also provides good questions to ask yourself before moving into such an investment situation – there are pitfalls to be aware of including the willingness of both parties to delegate control of the property, the future financial stability of both parties, and the comfort level of both parties when it comes to discussing and working out financial and other differences.
I would love to help you make Okemo Mountain Resort your home away from home. Please call me at 802-353-1983 or visit www.ISellVermontRealEstate.com to get started with your search for Okemo real estate!
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Whether you are new to the Ludlow area or already have kids in school here, now is the time to take a good look at how the schools are measuring up.
Below is a link to reports and data on Vermont schools – does YOUR child’s school make the grade?
Vermont School Reports
To learn more about moving your family and Ludlow VT real estate, please call me at 802-353-1983 or visit www.ISellVermontRealEstate.com.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
2. Wash your windows and screens to let more light into the interior.
3. Keep everything extra clean. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates. Mop and wax floors. Clean the stove and refrigerator. A clean house makes a better first impression and convinces buyers that the home has been well cared for.
4. Get rid of smells! Even if you think you house does not have smells, spring for a good carpet and drape cleaning to eliminate any possible cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Keep the windows open when possible (if road noise is not an issue).
5. Put higher wattage bulbs in light sockets to make rooms seem brighter, especially basements and other dark rooms. Replace any burnt-out bulbs.
6. Make minor repairs that can create a bad impression. Small problems, such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet, may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well maintained.
7. Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, trim the bushes, and edge the walks. Put a pot or two of bright flowers near the entryway.
8. Patch holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.
9. Clean your gutters. Remove any debris such as pine straw that has accumulated on the roof.
10. Polish your front doorknob and door numbers. Remember, the door is the first part of the home potential buyers see!
For more information about real estate and selling your home in Ludlow, VT please call me at 802-353-1983 or visit my Web site http://www.isellvermontrealestate.com/. I would love to help make your home more saleable!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
1. Go on a Bug Hunt Equip your child with a baby food jar or bug jar and encourage them to look for natural life around them. Look under leaves & stumps (be sure to turn them back over), on tree trunks & leaves and in flowers. Handle the bugs gently and let them go when you are done. Name your favorite bug according to its colors, the way it moves or something different about it.
2. Listen to the World Around You Have your child sit and listen to the sounds of nature by closing their eyes, and counting on their fingers the different sounds they hear. Compare natural vs. unnatural sounds. Try this in several different habitats such as in a field, near a pond and in a forest and compare the kinds and numbers of sounds heard.
3. Look at Nature Before a visit to a park, have your child decorate two toilet paper rolls. Staple them together to make mini-binoculars. Take them outside for a game of "I Spy" looking for items from nature. Look for things near by, in middle range and far away.
4. Get a New Perspective Have your child lie face upward under a large tree. Have them look into the branches. Can they see the top branch? What patterns can they see? What other things are present? They can pretend to be the roots of the tree in the soil. What do they feel like? What animals can they see moving around in the tree?
5. Use Imagination Choose an area with natural ground coverings such as leaves, cones, wild grass etc. and sit down. Give your child 6 short pieces of straw or toothpicks. Have them pretend to shrink down to the size of an ant with you. Their job is to lead a nature walk for creatures the size of an ant by choosing 6 interesting things along a one meter stretch of ground. Encourage them to use their imagination!
6. Wet Noses Wet the underside of your child's nose with a small wet sponge. This improves their sense of smell just as it does for deer and rabbits. Find familiar smells such as flowers to try, then go on to other things like rubbing a leaf between your fingers and smelling or scratching a pine needle. Also try moss, bark, pitch or grabbing an handful of leafy soil etc.
7. Discover Color in Nature Get 10 old paint swatches of various natural colors from a paint store. Cut them into individual squares and take these and your child to a natural area. One at a time, have your child look for each color in nature. You will be amazed at what colors you can find if you really look!
8. Touching Nature Blindfold your child and lead them to a tree to get to know it by feeling the bark texture, finding branches and any other way to recognize a specific tree without looking at it. Still blind-folded, lead your child back to where you started. Now take off the blindfold and have them try to find their tree using their sense of touch to confirm it. What other senses helped them to locate their tree? (sounds, sense of balance, smells, warmth etc.)
9. A Night time Experience Go with your child to a safe natural place at night. Cover your flashlight with red plastic so you won't startle the animals. Try out some of the ideas above to learn about plants & animals of the night. It takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust from bright light to darkness.
10. A Rainy Day Experience Dress to stay dry but with your hands free (no umbrellas) and go out on a rainy day with your child. Peek into puddles. Llisten for bird & frog calls. How many kinds of raindrops can you see? Can you find plants with a drip tip? Try to find out where animals go when it is raining.
For more information about living and real estate in Ludlow, VT please call me at 802-353-1983 or visit my Web site http://www.isellvermontrealestate.com/.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Below are links to several fun things to do with your children this summer to get them outside and enjoying this perfect time of year in Ludlow:
• State parks in southern Vermont
• Places to hike in south/south central Vermont
• Places to fish in south/south central Vermont
• Museums to visit in Vermont
• Factory tours in Vermont
• Go on a llama hike in Vermont!
For more information about living and real estate in Ludlow, VT please call me at 802-353-1983 or visit my Web site www.ISellVermontRealEstate.com. Happy trails, and here’s to an exciting second half of the summer!
Saturday, July 14, 2007
- I participate in a service process that results in the best real estate experience possible for you. To earn the Quality Service Certified designation I have met training and performance standards, and I maintain those standards on an on-going basis.
- My services are spelled out in the Quality Service Guarantee that shows you exactly what to expect—from an initial counseling session to after-sale service follow-up.
- I will remain accountable to you throughout the home finding or selling experience to do everything I promise. That includes giving you the opportunity to evaluate my service through a Quality Service Assurance Survey © conducted by an independent research firm.
- If you are contemplating buying or selling a home, you have a lot to think about, and the last thing you want is confusion and uncertainty. You can have greater confidence and peace of mind knowing that I will be with you every step of the way.
To experience the Quality Service Guarantee for yourself, or to find out more about Ludlow VT real estate, please visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com or give me a call at 800-659-1819, ext. 103. I’d love to show you what true quality service is all about!
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Most insurance companies will ask the proximity of your home to the nearest fire station or fire hydrant. The closer together they are the cheaper the insurance.
The theory behind this is, if there were to be a fire, the closer the house is to the fire station, the faster the response time and the less damage done to the house.
Often, your insurance agent will ask you how far the house is from the fire station and if you are like most new home buyers, you don't have any idea. This link shows the name and address of all Vermont fire departments. After locating the fire department for your town, you can map the distance from your house to the fire station.
For more information about homeowners insurance or Ludlow VT real estate visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com or give me a call at 800-659-1819. I'm glad to help!
Friday, June 29, 2007
Location: West Hill Park.
See you there!
For Ludlow real estate information, visit ISellVermontRealEstate.com.
Friday, June 22, 2007
More buyers are taking the environment into account when searching for a home—they’re looking for earth-friendly features that translate into lower energy bills and less pollution.
This growing trend gives you the opportunity to make your listing stand out from the rest by calling attention to all of its energy-efficient amenities, from properly-sealed windows to Energy Star appliances.
Whether your listing is a brand new condo or an old Victorian, just a bit of investigating can uncover many “green” features that will grab buyers’ attention. Use this list to identify areas of the home where energy efficiencies may be lurking:
- Appliances and lighting. From the laundry machine to the dining room chandelier, energy-efficient products are proven to save money and consume less energy. To confirm that various products outperform average standards, look for the blue-and-white Energy Star label. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issues this designation only to products that are among the most efficient on the market. The Energy Star Web site provides a comprehensive list of all Energy Star Qualified Products.
- Insulation. Air leaking through exterior surfaces—such as walls, windows, the roof, and the floor—can waste 25 percent to 40 percent of the energy used to heat or cool a home, according to Energy Star. Local building codes and the U.S. Department of Energy specify acceptable insulation, measured in R-values. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation. If your listing has insulation that surpasses local standards, that’s an advantage you can tout to potential buyers. Be sure to mention insulation installed in attics and crawlspaces. Also, don’t forget to point out wraps, sealants, foams, and tape installed to reduce air moving through the gaps around framing, piping, electrical wiring, and outlets.
- Windows. Depending on the climate and total glass area, windows account for 25 percent to 50 percent of a home’s heating and cooling needs. But technological advances in window materials mean much better energy efficiency. U-Factors rate insulating ability for windows; the lower the U-Factor, the better the insulation of the window. Typical U-Factor values range from 0.25 to 1.25. If your listing has insulated window frames or frames made of low-conductance materials (wood, vinyl, or fiberglass), you should call out these features to potential buyers.
- Heating and cooling systems. Efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment consumes less fuel, emits less pollution, and generally requires less maintenance. A furnace’s heating efficiency is measured by the annual fuel utilization efficiency rating, or AFUE. The U.S. Department of Energy requires all furnaces sold in the United States to have a minimum AFUE rating of 78 percent, which means that the furnace converts 78 percent of the fuel to heat. Only ratings of higher than 90 percent earn the Energy Star label. Similarly, air conditioners should have at least a 10 seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER. Energy Star requires a SEER rating of 12 or higher.
If the home has zoned systems that allow different areas to be heated and cooled separately, let potential buyers know that these features deliver additional operating savings. Point out programmable thermostats with timers and variable-air controls, as well as ceiling fans. Let buyers know if a fireplace has glass doors and a heat-air exchange mechanism, which returns warmed air to the room instead of letting it escape. And don’t forget to promote radiant flooring, which heats from the ground up and eliminates the draft and dust problems associated with forced air heating systems.
- Landscaping. Well-done landscaping can greatly reduce heating and cooling costs, protect the home from winter wind and summer sun, and help control noise and air pollution. Also, some species of trees, bushes, and grasses require less water than others, or are naturally more resistant to pests so they require fewer pesticides. Learn what kind of plants and trees are growing around the house and promote all of their benefits to buyers. For more details on what to look for, visit Landscaping for Energy Efficiency, an online guide from the U.S. Department of Energy.
- The entire house. Some new homes are rated for overall efficiency by the Energy Star program. A new home certified through the Energy Star program performs at least 30 percent more efficiently than houses built to the 1993 Model Energy Code (or 15 percent more efficient than your state energy code if that is more stringent). The Energy Star designation is verified by an accredited home energy rater and displayed on the inside of the circuit breaker.
Even if your listing isn’t a home that buyers would traditionally think of as being green, it is sure to have at least some eco-friendly features that will give it a marketing edge. Let potential buyers know how the home will help their energy bills and the environment, and you may be surprised at how fast you can clinch the sale.
- Energy Star ProgramThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced Energy Star in 1992 to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The label is now on appliances, lighting, home electronics, and other products. It also covers new homes and commercial and industrial buildings.
- Glossary of Energy-Related TermsThe acronyms alone can be confusing! If you can’t recall what AFUE measures or what SEER stands for, come to this glossary for clarification. You’ll also find definitions for hundreds of energy-related words.
- Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy & Money at HomeThis site, from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, offers energy-saving tips for all areas of the home, plus a variety of booklets you can download and print in English or Spanish.
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable EnergyThis portal site by the U.S. Department of Energy provides links to other Web sites and online information on energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Besure to visit my website for all your Ludlow VT real estate needs.
Friday, June 15, 2007
So sit back, turn up your speakers and click on the link below. And please share it with friends, family members and co-workers. They’ll love you for doing it!
Click here to watch the movie
Monday, June 11, 2007
Purchasing a Vermont vacation home is an exciting venture, but there are some things to think about that are different than when you purchased your primary residence.
1. What is the travel time between your primary home and the second home location? Is it a doable drive or travel distance, or will it become a deterrent to actually enjoying your vacation home?
2. What type of activities does the vacation home location offer and are these activities of interest to you? It is a good idea to visit the vacation home location at various times of the year to get a better idea of what the area is really like.
3. If you are financing your vacation home, interest rates are generally higher and down payments larger. I am glad to put you in touch with a local lender for you to talk loans with.
4. The interest paid on the mortgage for your vacation home is tax deductible, if you don't rent it out for more than two weeks a year. But unlike your primary residence, the profit you make from the sale of the property is subject to capital gains. One way around capital gains is to sell your primary residence, move into your vacation home and live there for two years before you sell it.
5. Insurance is another consideration. Homeowners insurance in a vacation home is usually higher than on your primary residence because it is vacant for much of the time.
One of the best recommendations I have for you is to get the assistance of a well qualified Realtor who knows the area who has lived in the area for awhile. If you are thinking of buying southern Vermont vacation home, I'm your Realtor!! Give me a call at 800-659-1819 # 103 or visit my website. I am a long time resident of Vermont and a long time Realtor. I'd love to help you buy your dream Vermont vacation home!
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Market Mortgage Survey reports a slight increase in rates this past week due to economic growth outside of the housing market, with a healthy consumer sector and improving business spending.
Interest rates this past week on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.42 percent compared to the previous week's rate of 6.37 percent. This time last year, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.67 percent.
Are you shopping for a mortgage for your Vermont home? This can be a daunting process, but I am glad to refer you to a reputable, knowledgeable and competitive mortgage lender who will take the time to explain your loan options to you. This will allow you to make an educated decision about which home loan is best for you. Just give me a call at 800-659-1819 #103. I'm here to help.
Be sure to visit my website to learn more about mortgages and the home buying process.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
By CDR Kelly Strong, USCG (Ret).
I watched the flag pass by one day.
I heard the sound of taps one night,
Friday, May 18, 2007
The report focused on an Internet based company, Redfin, whose business model is based on rebating commissions to buyers. The company uses the very commissions Redfin criticizes Realtors for collecting to its advantage. From what I could tell, without these commissions Redfin has nothing to offer the consumer.
Much of the information presented in the segment was incorrect and the National Association of Realtors was not interviewed to give another viewpoint, even though they offered more than once.
NAR's response to 60 Minutes can be read here.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
If you are considering building a new Vermont home, you might want to consider working with a builder who uses Energy Star products. They use less energy, save money, and help protect the environment.
Give me a call at 800-659-1819 #103, if you want more information concerning building a Vermont home. I am glad to put my experience and expertise to work for you.
Monday, May 07, 2007
According to Larry D. Romito, President, CEO of Quality Service Certification, Inc., “ Irene Gaffigan has joined a growing number of real estate professionals nationwide who are committing to the delivery of a defined service process and a higher standard of accountability in service delivery and customer satisfaction. This is an industry breakthrough in the establishment of a measurable standard of care and service.” An integral part of the sales agent’s ability to maintain Quality Service Certified® status, rests with service evaluation feedback from every buyer and seller served. Following the closing of each home purchase or home sale, an independent research company sends the consumer a Quality Service Assurance Survey? asking tough questions about the details and overall satisfaction of service provided by the sales agent and broker.
“Sales associates and brokers are highly motivated to protect their Quality Service Certified® status by delivering better service satisfaction, more service value and higher accountability. The Quality Service Certified® total service system offers a predictable, accountable, reliable, and consistent service outcome.” Romito added, “The era of real estate service ‘improv’ is coming to a close. The purchase or sale of what for most of us is our most valuable asset deserves the serious attention and accountability of a defined, written and communicated service process with measurable standards and that’s exactly what a Quality Service Certified® professional must deliver.”
Quality Service Certification, Inc. of San Juan Capistrano, California is the leading firm in service process delivery and measurable quality control in the real estate industry. Company spokesperson can be contacted at (949) 481-4438 or http://www.qualitycertified.org/.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Get your copy today and give me, Irene Gaffigan, a call at 800-659-1819 #103 with any questions you might have or to get a current market valuation on your Vermont home.
Friday, April 27, 2007
The mortgage interest you pay on your second home is tax deductible just as the interest on the mortgage on your first home is.
You can write off 100% of the interest you pay on up to $1 million of debt secured by your first and second homes and used to acquire or improve the properties. (That's a total of $1 million of debt, not $1 million on each home.)
However, if you rent your second home for more than 14 days a year different rules apply. See below.
You can deduct property taxes on your second home, too. In fact, you can deduct property taxes paid on any number of homes you own.
If you rent your second home out for 14 or fewer days during the year, you can pocket the cash tax-free. The house is considered a personal residence, so you deduct mortgage interest and property taxes just as you do for your principal home.
If you rent for more than 14 days, though, and you must report all rental income. You also get to deduct rental expenses, and that gets complicated because you need to allocate costs between the time the property is used for personal purposes and the time it is rented. Taxes are based on the amount of time the house is rented and it is a good idea to talk with your accountant concerning details.
You are allowed to take up to $500,000 of profit tax free when selling your principal residence. However if you make your second home your principal residence, you can extend this deduction.
Some retirees, for example, are selling the big family home and moving full time into what had been their vacation home. Once you live in that home for two years, up to $500,000 of profit can be tax free. (Any profit attributable to depreciation while you rented the place, though, would be taxable. Depreciation reduces your tax basis in the property and therefore increase profit dollar for dollar.)
Are you thinking of buying a second home in Vermont? Visit my website to view all Vermont real estate or give me a call at800-659-1819 #103. I'm glad to help you find your Vermont vacation home!
Friday, April 20, 2007
The rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.17 percent, down from last week when it averaged 6.22 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year averaged 6.53 percent.
This is great news for Ludlow home buyers. Historically rates inch up during the spring buying season. Now is when the most homes are available for sale and to have rates low is having your cake and eating it too.
Thinking of buying Ludlow real estate? Visit my website to view all Vermont real estate listings or give me a call at 800-659-1819 #103.
Friday, April 13, 2007
1. Ask for help.
Ask relatives if they would be willing to contribute to your down payment or give you a no interest loan with no repayment time frame.
2. Borrow from your life insurance.
If your life insurance has built up value, you can borrow against it. this does not count as a debt because you are borrowing from yourself.
3. Borrow from your IRA.
First-time home buyers can take $10,000 for an IRA to put toward a home purchase, penalty free.
4. Increase your income.
Get a second job and stash or do free lance work.
5. Change your withholding taxes.
This will give you more take-home pay, which you can start saving!
6. Consider government backed loans.
VA and FHA loans require lower down payments and there are many state loan programs available.
For more information on how to save your down payment and the Vermont home buying process, visit my website or give me a call at 800-659-1819 #103 for more personal service.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
For updates on Ludlow real estate market, visit my website or give me a call at 800-659-1819 #103.
Friday, March 30, 2007
All mortgage interest is tax deductible. You should have received a year-end statement from your lender showing how much interest you paid for 2006. However, this statement does not include the interest paid at closing. You will need to pull out your settlement statement or HUD-1 to determine how much interest was paid at closing. This amount can then be added to the number on your lender's statement. If in doubt, provide your HUD-1 to your accountant or tax preparer.
For information about buying a home in the Ludlow, VT area, visit my website or give me a call at 800-659-1819 #103.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
For mortgage loans that close on or after Feb. 1, 2007, VHFA will now allow the total cost of repairs to be included in the mortgage loan as long as those costs do not exceed the lesser of $25,000 or 25 percent of the purchase price which must include a 10 percent contingency. For loans that meet specific requirements, VHFA will purchase loans from lenders with an outstanding escrow for those repairs.
Eligible repair items include: items to complete the property, increase living space, construct a garage (maximum two-car), correct structural issues, bring property up to building codes or standards, correct or add needed safety features, repair or modernize mechanical and/or plumbing systems or fixtures and to repair or improve internal or external surfaces.
Contact me for more information on this program at 800-659-1819 #103
Monday, March 19, 2007
Buying a second home is a big step and likely your second most valuable investment. Never rush into a second home purchase. You need to consider it over time. Determine how much use your vacation home will get and how it can fit into your finances.
Don’t forget to double everything. Buying a vacation home means that you will not only have two mortgages, but two property tax bills, water bills, fuel bills etc. Two homes mean more maintenance, including two plumbing and heating systems, septic systems, and roofs. And if something breaks down in your second home, chances are you may not be there to see it. For some, this is just too stressful.
At the same time, owning a second home can be very rewarding. It can be the source of relaxation: a time to get closer to your family, a place to be a kid again, and a place to meet new friends. It can even be a place to retire.
Lastly, owning your own home is not like renting. You get to leave your stuff there to truly make it yours. You can make impromptu escapes, leaving the stress behind. And your children and grandchildren will feel more comfortable in a place they have learned to call home.
If you’re thinking about buying a vacation home, you’re not alone. The rate of second homeownership has jumped, as large numbers of Baby Boomers move into their prime wage-earning years. It is estimated that 6-10 percent of homes in the United States are second homes. That number is much higher in desirable vacation communities.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 32 percent of homes on Cape Cod are seasonal and prices have increased by more than 60 percent since 2000. Seasonal homes represent an even higher percentage on Cape May – 48 percent – and prices have increased by more than 70 percent since 2000, dwarfing the national average, which increased by about 32 percent.
The trend of second home ownership shows no signs of slowing. People in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond are much more active than their parents. They’re seeking outlets for fun, and with two wage-earners at home who have more disposable income than ever, the trend of second home ownership will continue.
If you’re considering a second home purchase, where do you start?
► Location. Consider your personal tastes, interests, and hobbies when you’re choosing a second home. For example, if you’re the type of person who thinks anything over a two-hour ride is long, you’ll have a fairly small geographic area in which to conduct your search. If you plan to use your second home for a couple of vacations every year and long holiday weekends, then you can extend your search to a larger radius. Many second homeowners purchase properties in their favorite vacation spots because they already enjoy the area and want to spend more time there.
► How much are you willing to spend?
Prices can vary greatly. Up and coming communities are less expensive than established vacation hotspots which have seen explosive appreciation. Prices in these popular areas range from a home on the beach worth $1 million to the same-sized home a mile down the road worth half that price. Check current mortgage rates to get an idea of what your monthly payment might be. Don’t shy from jumping in the car and spending weekends looking for different vacation homes.
► Get more specific on your location.
Is your dream vacation home near the lake or on the lake? Do you want to water ski on that lake? Or do you seek a quieter spot to kayak or fish? Or is the lake in the mountains so you can combine winter and summer sports? Is it in an area that is a plane ride away, but one in which you hope to retire? This part of the process will take some time, but you can easily find the prices of second homes in your desired area without leaving your computer.
► Think about what it should look like.
Is your dream vacation home a rustic cottage near the ocean? Or is it a condominium on a golf course? Perhaps it’s a ski chalet in the woods. You also need to determine how big it should be. Is it just for your immediate family or would you like to invite your extended family and friends?
► Find a great real estate agent.
This step is absolutely critical. A terrific real estate agent can not only find you a great home, but find one in a town with moderate property taxes and fun neighborhoods for your children. They can help you with the finerpoints of owning a second home – everything from obtaining beach stickers to trash removal to finding someone to watch your second home when you’re away. And if you rent out your second home, the agent can help you determine the rental price. When you are ready visit: http://isellvermontrealestate.com
► Take your time.
It’s tough to look for a second home, even with the Internet simplifying the process. A growing number of real estate agents make both interior and exterior photos available online to narrow your search without driving back and forth. Remember - rushing into a second home purchase can be a mistake. A trailer on the lake might look good today, but thinking about your long-term goals could lead you to a cottage down the street from a lake, just a mile from the ocean. Look at a second home in the same way as your primary home. The most costly home repair projects are:
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t purchase a second home with an outdated kitchen. Just understand that if you can’t tolerate the current kitchen, it could cost you $10,000 to $40,000 to update. Unlike your primary home, you’ll have the additional challenge of managing a renovation project long distance with a quality contractor you can trust.
Buy a second home that suits your personality and needs. If you don’t like working on your primary residence or dealing with contractors, look for a home that needs little work. At the same time, buying the smallest second home in the best neighborhood you can afford means your investment may appreciate at a higher rate.
While rentals in your chosen area may be strong today, make sure you can afford the mortgage without any rental income when budgeting for your purchase. There are many facets of second home ownership that are out of your direct control – everything from a gasoline shortage to a hurricane.
Taking the time to choose wisely means monitoring events in your desired vacation community. Learn how long homes have been on the market to get an idea of how much room you have in negotiation. Learning the overall direction of housing values in your region also helps you make educated buying decisions.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Friday, March 09, 2007
The average price of a home has risen 97 percent since 1996 to $197,000. An income of $66,000 is needed to purchase a home at this price, which is out of reach for 33 percent of Vermont residents. Home prices rose only 8 percent last year, but have risen 97 percent since 1996.
Additionally, the report reveals the cost of new housing has increased by 15 percent to $282,000, meaning that a Vermont family would need an annual income of $93,000 to afford to build a new home.
The Governor and the Legislature are both promising to address the rising cost of housing with several bills being introduced to bring relief to the affordability crisis. Let's hope this not not too little too late. Read the full story here.
If you are thinking of buying home, visit my website to view all Ludlow real estate listings or give me a call, 800-659-1819 #103. I have a network of lenders that can help you buy the Vermont home of your dreams.
Friday, March 02, 2007
"Mortgage rates drifted lower this week largely on the basis of new economic information suggesting a slower economy and lower inflation," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist.
This drop in rates reinforces last week's post that it is an excellent time to buy Ludlow real estate. Are you in the market to buy a home? Visit my website to view all Ludlow real estate listings. Or for more personalized service, give me a call, 800-659-1819 #103.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Interest rates have been hovering around 6.5 percent for over a year and there are no indications that this will change any time soon. The minor fluctuations in rates we have been seeing don't really effect your payment much.
Say you have a loan for $100,000. At 6.5 percent the payment on a 30-year fixed rate loan is $650. If the interest rate drops by 0.5 percent it only brings your monthly payment down $5.00. You would have to see a dramatic drop (or increase) in rates for it too effect your pocket book.
Will housing prices drop? The National Association of Realtors is predicting a rising market throughout 2007. Also, it is almost March and spring is the busiest time of year in real estate. Historically, prices increase in the spring which means gambling on a drop in prices may not be a great gamble.
Confused? Give me a call at 800-659-1819 #103. I am glad to discuss this with you further. Or visit my website. Here you can view all Ludlow, VT homes for sale.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Regionally, housing starts in January decreased by 28.5% in the West, 15.2% in the Midwest, and 11.8% in the South. Starts rose 8.9% in the Northeast.
Interested in Ludlow Vermont real estate? Contact me, 800-659-1819 #103 or visit my website to view homes for sale.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Most of these vacant homes are new construction, but the number of vacant resale homes is up also. If a home is for sale due to a job transfer, many owners will leave it vacant if it hasn't sold, rather than have the family separated for an extended period of time.
Vacant homes don't show as well as occupied homes do. It is harder for the buyer to visualize howfurniture will fit in a room if that room is empty. Furniture in the room allows easier spacial relationships.
If you are moving becasue of a job transfer and would like to talk about how to get your home sold in the shortest period of time and not leave it vacant, give me a call, 802-226-8022. Or visit my website to learn more about Ludlow Vt real estate.