Burlington Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from Burlington-area market, local news and homeowner tips and tricks!

Nov. 10, 2020

6 Tips for Buying in a Competitive Market

Buying real estate in Chittenden County feels a little bit like a Black Friday Sale (without the low prices) – only serious buyers show up and get ready to throw some elbows.  But, before you get your war paint out, let’s talk about positioning.  Positioning yourself properly in this market is going to be key to successfully securing your next home.  So, think through these items prior to falling in love in your next home:

1.)    Financing: If you can pay cash, this is a “cash is king” market. A cash position could out-leverage higher competing offers – so open up those pockets (just remember, you will need to show you have sufficient funds when making an offer). But, if you’re like most buyers, you will probably be seeking financing.  Be sure you are pre-approved for a mortgage prior to looking at properties.  In this market, a pre-approval letter should accompany any offer to ensure you are a “ready and willing” buyer.  

2.)    Current Homeowners: If you are a current homeowner, you’ll be competing with buyers who may not have a property to sell.  You should discuss your position with your Realtor.  Sometimes, it makes sense not to include “Contingent Upon Sale” in your offer. If you do need to sell your home prior to purchase, you should have your property on the market before making any offers – and ideally, it should be Under Contract.  This shows any Seller that you are well on your way in the moving process.

3.)    Contingencies: If you’re in competition, remember that less is more.  Sellers are looking for offers with fewer contingencies (i.e. Financing, Inspection, Appraisal, etc). Talk with your Realtor about which contingencies you definitely should have, and which you might be comfortable leaving out. 

4.)    Offer: Home prices have inflated over the last year with such little inventory, and it is common to see offers that are above asking price. It’s important that you are shopping in the right price range – so instead of shopping at the top of your price point, you may want bring your price point down slightly – that way, if you need to stretch, you can go above asking price.

5.)    Act Quickly: Days on market (DOM) are at an all-time low. If you’ve done your homework ahead of time and have a good Realtor by your side, you should feel confident acting quickly if you walk into the home of your dreams. Time is of the essence, and we often counsel our sellers that the first offer is often the best offer – so act quickly if you can!

6.)    Resilience and Patience: It’s likely you will not get the first home you make an offer on.  This is where you need to draw on your resilience and patience to stay in the market and keep going. There are plenty of homes out there, and more than one can be right for you. Stay in the game, and keep looking.

As a buyer, it’s important to have the proper counsel to understand the buying process and market conditions.  Our Real Estate Associates believe that informed clients are the best clients.  We’d love an opportunity to talk with you about your real estate needs.  Contact us to set up a Buyer's Consultation.

Posted in Buyers
Nov. 3, 2020

How Much Mortgage Can You Afford?

By: G. M. Filisko from HouseLogic.com

What's a rule of thumb to determine how much mortgage you can afford? There's no one rule, but these four tips will tell you.

Home ownership should make you feel safe and secure, and that includes financially. Be sure you can afford your home by calculating how much of a mortgage you can safely fit into your budget.

Why not just take out the biggest mortgage a lender says you can have? Because your lender bases that number on a formula that doesn’t consider your current and future financial and personal goals.

Think ahead to major life events and consider how those might influence your budget. Do you want to return to school for an advanced degree? Will a new child add day care to your monthly expenses? Does a relative plan to eventually live with you and contribute to the mortgage? Do you like to travel?

Consider those lifestyle issues as you check out these four methods for estimating the amount of mortgage you can afford.

#1 Prepare a Detailed Budget

The oldest rule of thumb says you can typically afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. So, if you earn $100,000, you can typically afford a home between $200,000 and $300,000.

But that’s not the best method because it doesn’t take into account your monthly expenses and debts. Those costs greatly influence how much you can afford. Let’s say you earn $100,000 a year but have $1,000 in monthly payments for student debt, car loans, and credit card minimum payments. You don’t have as much money to pay your mortgage as someone earning the same income with no debts.

Better option: Prepare a family budget that tallies your ongoing monthly bills for everything -- credit cards, car and student loans, lunch at work, day care, date night, vacations, and savings.

See what’s left over to spend on home ownership costs, like your mortgage, property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable.

#2 Factor in Your Downpayment

How much money do you have for a down payment? The higher your downpayment, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you put down at least 20% of the home's cost, you may not have to get private mortgage insurance, which protects the lender if you default and costs hundreds each month. That leaves more money for your mortgage payment.

The lower your down payment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for and the higher your monthly mortgage payment.

But, if interest rates and/or home prices are rising and you wait to buy until you accumulate a bigger downpayment, you may end up paying more for your home.

#3 Consider Your Overall Debt

Lenders generally follow the 43% rule. Your monthly mortgage payments covering your home loan principal, interest, taxes and insurance, plus all your other bills, like car loans, utilities, and credit cards, shouldn’t exceed 43% of your gross annual income. 

Here’s an example of how the 43% calculation works for a home buyer making $100,000 a year before taxes:

  1. Your gross annual income is $100,000.
  2. Multiply $100,000 by 43% to get $43,000 in annual income.
  3. Divide $43,000 by 12 months to convert the annual 43% limit into a monthly upper limit of $3,583.
  4. All your monthly bills including your potential mortgage can’t go above $3,583 per month.

You might find a lender willing to give you a mortgage with a payment that goes above the 43% line, but consider carefully before you take it. Evidence from studies of mortgage loans suggest that borrowers who go over the limit are more likely to run into trouble making monthly payments, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warns.

#4 Use Your Rent as a Mortgage Guide

Use a calculator that compares renting and owning to help you see what makes sense for you.

If you’re struggling to keep up with your rent, buy a home that will give you the same payment rather than going up to a higher monthly payment. You’ll have additional costs for home ownership that your landlord now covers, like property taxes and repairs. If there’s no room in your budget for those extras, you could become financially stressed.

Also consider whether or not you’ll itemize your deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t also deduct mortgage interest payments. Talking to a tax adviser, or using a tax software program to do a “what if” tax return, can help you see your tax situation more clearly.

Posted in Buyers
Oct. 26, 2020

What Do I Do About Radon?


Chances are you don’t worry too much about radon until it is time to buy a home. Be sure to discuss the health risks associated with radon and your concerns with your property home inspector, or you can read about radon on the State of Vermont website. Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural decay of uranium, which can be found in nearly all soil types. It can travel through the soil, into the air and into your home through cracks, gaps or the water supply. Radon isn’t picky about the homes it enters, found in all types from new builds to 100-year-old homes. According to the State of Vermont, one in seven homes has elevated levels of radon.

So, how do you know if your home has radon? Having a test done is the only way to check your home’s radon levels. Generally, if you are under contract on a new home, the EPA recommends radon testing before finalizing any real estate transaction. Your property inspector can perform a short-term 48-hour radon test.  If the levels come back higher than the EPA limit, 4pCi/l or higher, you may have an opportunity to negotiate a mitigation system with the Sellers.

While short-term tests are common, the State of Vermont recommends doing a long-term test – between 3 and 12 months – and provides a free test kit. You can sign up for a test kit here.  These tests are generally performed after a property has already been purchased.

The most common radon mitigation systems rely on fans. Placed in an attic or outside the building, the fans are used to draw air out from under a crawl space, basement, or concrete slab. The fans reroute gases coming from the soil beneath your house to the outside the structure, far enough they can’t re-enter through the windows. Once your mitigation work is complete, you should have your home retested to ensure the radon is gone.

Posted in Buyers, Sellers
Oct. 20, 2020

6 Tips for Choosing The Best Offer On Your Home

Agent Handshake

Article From HouseLogic.com


Have a plan for reviewing purchase offers so you don't let the best slip through your fingers.

You've worked hard to get your home ready for sale and to price it properly. With any luck, offers will come quickly. You'll need to review each carefully to determine its strengths and drawbacks and pick one to accept. Here's a plan for evaluating offers.

You've worked hard to get your home ready for sale and to price it properly. With any luck, offers will come quickly. You'll need to review each carefully to determine its strengths and drawbacks and pick one to accept. Here's a plan for evaluating offers.

 1. Understand the process.

All offers are negotiable, as your agent will tell you. When you receive an offer, you can accept it, reject it, or respond by asking that terms be modified, which is called making a counteroffer.

 2. Set baselines.

Decide in advance what terms are most important to you. For instance, if price is most important, you may need to be flexible on your closing date. Or if you want certainty that the transaction won't fall apart because the buyer can't get a mortgage, require a prequalified or cash buyer.

 3. Create an offer review process.

If you think your home will receive multiple offers, work with your agent to establish a time frame during which buyers must submit offers. That gives your agent time to market your home to as many potential buyers as possible, and you time to review all the offers you receive.

 4. Don't take offers personally.

Selling your home can be emotional. But it's simply a business transaction, and you should treat it that way. If your agent tells you a buyer complained that your kitchen is horribly outdated, justifying a lowball offer, don't be offended. Consider it a sign the buyer is interested and understand that those comments are a negotiating tactic. Negotiate in kind.

 5. Review every term.

Carefully evaluate all the terms of each offer. Price is important, but so are other terms. What kind of contingencies are there - inspections? contingent sale? Is the buyer asking for additional personal property -- such as furniture, equipment, or window treatments -- to be included in the sale that you plan to take with you?

Is the amount of earnest money the buyer proposes to deposit toward the downpayment sufficient? The lower the earnest money, the less painful it will be for the buyer to forfeit those funds by walking away from the purchase if problems arise.

Have the buyers attach a prequalification or pre-approval letter, which means they've already been approved for financing? Or does the offer include a financing or other contingency? If so, the buyers can walk away from the deal if they can't get a mortgage, and they'll take their earnest money back, too. Are you comfortable with that uncertainty?

Is the buyer asking you to make concessions, like covering some closing costs? Are you willing, and can you afford to do that? Does the buyer's proposed closing date mesh with your timeline?

With each factor, ask yourself: Is this a deal breaker, or can I compromise to achieve my ultimate goal of closing the sale?

Your agent should discuss and explain each term of the offer and work with you to negotiate an acceptable offer that sets you up for a successful sale.


By: G. M. Filisko
Published: February 10, 2010

Posted in Sellers
Oct. 20, 2020

Prevent Cold Weather Falls On Your Property



Winter is coming which means an increased risk of ice on your property. While bad weather can be inevitable in Vermont, decreasing fall risk at your home can help. Here are a few ways to do just that:


The first step to preventing your own falls start indoors. Preparing your entryways can help! Try placing skid-resistant door mats near entrances to dry your footwear. Make sure you check the bottoms of your feet each time you enter the home, and clean off the accumulated ice, snow or water. Keeping your floors as dry as possible is another great way to prepare your home.

In addition, you will want to store a shovel and some salt and sand in a place that is easily accessible, in a mudroom, entry space or attached garage.


Prior to wintery weather, you should walk the exterior of your home to ensure exterior stairs and handrails, as well as pathways, are in good condition. Repair and fix any wobbly handrails and uneven surfaces.  In addition, ensure the grade of the ground is sloping away from your home and that water is shedding properly from driveways and walkways.  You will want to adjust downspouts to drive water away from pathways - it doesn’t take long for pooling water to become icy patches.


Once the snow flies, be sure to have adequate supplies of salt and sand on hand. Salt lowers the freezing point of water and can be spread on sidewalks or driveways to keep them from getting icy, or to help melt away ice that has already formed. Sand doesn’t melt ice but is applied to icy walkways to provide traction. If you don’t have sand on hand, other abrasive materials such as kitty litter, saw dust and wood ashes can be used to create traction on icy walkways. 


Clear your walkways with the shovel and treat outdoor surfaces with salt and sand immediately after storms to prevent falls. It’s easier to clear snow before it has been compacted by footsteps or melts and refreezes. 


Wooden porches, decks or steps can become especially slick in winter. Use a shovel to clear them off, and do not use salt on wood, as it will deteriorate the wood.


Make sure to shovel the pathway to the front or side door, and around your mailbox, to ensure safe delivery of packages and mail.  You should also clear around any vents and window wells on the exterior of your home, well caps and sewer vents and around the closest fire hydrant, in case of emergency.


If you park in the garage, periodically sweep out the garage to ensure any melted snow and salt from the car is not freezing on the garage floor.

July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!


Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.


We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates