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Buyers are Looking for Burlington, Vermont Homes. Should Yours Be One of Them?

by Matt Hurlburt Group

Buyers Are Searching For Your House!!!

Buyers Are Searching For Your House | MyKCM

 

The most recent Pending Homes Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors revealed a slight bump in contracts with an increase of 1.6% in December. This news comes as existing home sales are also forecasted to be on pace for 5.54 million in 2017, a 1.7% increase over 2016, which was the best year for sales in a decade.

The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed.

According to NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun,

Pending sales bounded last month as enough buyers fended off rising mortgage rates and alarmingly low inventory levels to sign a contract.

So, what’s the problem?

Buyers are searching for existing homes, but supply is not keeping up with their demand! The Group has buyers right now looking for a new home, but are not finding that perfect match. YOU may be on the fence about selling. Is it time to downsize? Upsize for a growing family? Headed out of state? You may want to seriously consider if now is the time to get into the market!!

Yun went on to explain,

The main storyline in the early months of 2017 will be if supply can meaningfully increase to keep price growth at a moderate enough level for households to absorb higher borrowing cost. Sales will struggle to build on last year’s strong pace if inventory conditions don’t improve.” (emphasis added)

What does all this mean for you? 

Buyers are looking! If you are considering selling your home this year, the early months of 2017 will be a great option. Call us today to discuss how you can capitalize on current market conditions. Let our Risk Free Listings give you piece of mind that you will be utilizing over two decades of experience in the greater Burlington, Vt. real estate market.

www.MattHurlburtGroup.com   Expect More.

Boomers are Staying in their Burlington, Vermont Homes!

by Matt Hurlburt Group

In the Burlington, Vt. housing market, there seems to have been an accepted progression for homeowners going from starter home, to gradually moving into one’s dream home, then, downsizing after becoming an empty nester and finally, into a retirement home. However, Marianne Cusato’s 2016 Aging-in-Place Report indicates that many older Americans don’t plan on following that pattern.

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61% of homeowners above the age of 55 intend on staying in their homes indefinitely. 2/3 of them believe that the home’s layout will serve their needs without having to make aging-related improvements.

Some of the reasons being cited for staying in place are:

  • 66% say their home is conveniently located
  • 38% say they live close to their family
  • 68% say they feel independent in their home
  • 54% say they are familiar with their neighborhood
  • 66% say the feel safe in their home

Renovations that might be considered for their current home are things like grab bars in the tub or shower, shower seats, taller toilets, handheld shower heads and additional handrails on stairways.

The report’s conclusion is that regardless of a homeowner’s age, they want to thrive in their home. The same emotional reasons that causes a person to want to buy a home are the things that cause them to hold onto them if is practical. It is nice to see practicality in today's society!

If you do find yourself in the market, call today to experience the difference that a family real estate group can offer. We feel that, regardless of where you are in your life, you should always Expect More.

                                                     www.MattHurlburtGroup.com

 

Is your Burlington,Vt. house not selling? Here are some tips!

by Matt Hurlburt Group

Is your Burlington,Vt. area home still sitting on the market? Why? Location? Condition? Price?

Here are a few quick things you can do to spruce up the "condition."

Changes to Consider for Your Home

personal belongings cluttered in a home's attic, a DO NOT home selling tipMany home sellers feel overwhelmed when they are trying to sell their home for a number of reasons: There is the daunting task of decluttering, the sometimes unexpected repairs that have to be made, and the seemingly endless list of squeaky doors and minor fixes that buyers would notice almost immediately.

And all of this happens in a short time. (Read this Popular Mechanics article about what surprises this first-time home seller experienced to get an idea of what can happen.)

 Feel Less Stressed Later

You are in the perfect position right now to do what many Burlington,Vt. home sellers do not think to do while their home is on the market, It may feel like going backwards, but if done properly, these little things can make a big difference in your end result.

1. Necessary Repairs?

Free yourself from future stress by making any major repairs now, whether that is repairing the HVAC or replacing the hot water heater. If you have an aging HVAC system you might consider replacing it now for several reasons. First, new and modern systems are way more efficient than they used to be. That means you’ll start saving on your fuel bill right off the bat and buyers will be more generous with an offer if they see a shiny new furnace instead of that rusty old clunker you used to have. Some pretty simple things like adding extra insulation overhead will pay you big dividends too. You can probably bring your current insulation up to R-49 or higher for under $2,000 dollars. And remember, when those guys are in your attic blowing in insulation, it costs very little to go a few inches deeper. If your house is old and the insulation has settled over time, you should see a big difference immediately in both comfort and reduced heating and cooling costs. Insulation not only keeps heat in but it also keeps heat out on those hot summer days.

paint roll and paint brushes2. Go for Neutral Colors

If you want to give your walls a fresh coat of paint, opt for more neutral colors. During home showings, neutral colors and decor make it easier for home buyers to picture themselves living in your home, which is your ultimate goal. If you’re not a good, neat painter this might be one project worth talking with a professional about.

3. Start Decluttering Now

Home sellers often find that decluttering is one of the more frustrating and overwhelming tasks, but if you start cleaning the clutter now, you will thank yourself later. Buyers can't envision their things in a space completely dominated by your belongings. Less, in this case, can mean more.  A good rule of thumb: If you don’t love something and use it, lose it. It’s a perfect time to go through all your closets and get rid of clothes you no longer wear or have gone out of fashion. You can bundle up all your unwanted clothing and donate it to a local thrift store or someone like the Salvation Army and take a tax deduction for your donation in most cases. That not only leans out your closet but could put more money back into your pocket at tax time.

4. Deep Clean Your Home Periodically

small vacuum cleaner on dark floors in a homeSometimes it feels like the little things pile up quickly, don’t they? Try to stay ahead of minor maintenance and cleaning tasks by:

  • cleaning fixtures and light switch covers
  • fixing broken doorbells
  • repairing squeaky doors
  • dusting high and low
  • cleaning floors and windows

5. Refresh Your Front Entrance

During the home selling process, making a fantastic first impression is the key to getting buyers in the door. Refresh your home’s curb appeal by purchasing a new welcome mat, painting the front door, and polishing or replacing the doorknob. Be sure and look all around your front entry and remove cobwebs,  bird nests, etc. from over door sills, outside light fixtures, etc. This can mean the difference between an offer and a drive by.

List Your Home with Us for a Smooth Experience

We hope you found these home selling tips helpful. We know that selling a home can be overwhelming, especially if the unexpected happens. But we want to make sure that you have as painless of a sale as possible, so we will do everything we can to help you sell your home for top dollar and in a short time. So when you do decide to list your home, just give us a call.

The Matt Hurlburt Group       Expect More.

WARNING! Don't trust a website to value your Burlington, Vt. home!!

by Matt Hurlburt Group

A large part of our data research for our sellers is arriving at a suggested price we believe we can sell a home for in the Burlington, Vermont area.  

Not a week goes by that we don’t hear from a buyer or seller insisting that a property is worth a different amount than the bank appraised it for. We get it: everyone wants to gain the most value from their transaction… so why do the home valuation sites tend to get it so wrong?

Here’s why: they don’t see the whole picture.

It’s the real estate equivalent of looking at an iceberg from the surface.

Don't rely on the tip of the icebert

AVMs are only the tip of the iceberg- (insert disastrous Titanic analogy here.....)

To truly understand the value of a Burlington, Vermont area home requires more than just knowing the number of bedrooms, baths and square footage. To get the full picture, you need the advice of an experienced real estate professional.

Essentially, if you think accuracy is important, you need to know the difference between an AVM and a BPO:

AVM stands for Automated Valuation Method. Essentially, it’s software that reaches out for publicly available data and then uses that data to offer a suggested value. This is what Zillow’s popular Zestimate is– a quick result produced by software that can’t see the whole picture.

BPO stands for Broker Price Opinion, and it’s a much more thoughtful and market-informed process. Here, a real estate professional who knows, works, and  lives in the area, uses their actual brain to improve upon the data provided by an AVM. A BPO allows us to take into consideration what we know to be true about intangible values like good design and tasteful upgrades– stuff that requires human understanding in order to derive a meaningful conclusion. You can trust an algorithm, or you can have over twenty years of experience in your corner, working in your best interest.

We also take into consideration current, local market conditions like an area’s Absorption Rate, current interest rates, current inventory of comparable homes for sale,  pending sales, and many other factors about Burlington real estate that a robot cannot do.

The bottom line is that AVM’s are fine until you’re serious about buying or selling. Then, it’s time to call your local real estate professional (yep, I’m talking about the MHG!). Do you know anyone that would like to know what their home is actually worth? We can help.

The MHG not only offers Risk Free Listings, but also our own home valuation system to get you started in the process. Using your information, we complete a Comparative Market Analysis to give you the most up to date and thorough BPO possible. Better yet- once we have given your home our careful attention-we sit down face-to-face and walk you through how we came to our value. Lets see an online site do that. You are not a robot, so why trust your home value to one?  

Shouldn't you Expect More? Call or message today to see the difference a family group of professionals can make for you!  

 

www.MattHurlburtGroup.com  Expect More.

 

Selling in Burlington, Vermont? Tips and MHG Seller Services

by Matt Hurlburt Group


What services does the Matt Hurlburt Group offer to our clients? 

  • When we host an open house, we are there to sell your home! Other agents may seize the opportunity to build their own businesses and find buyers without agents, our only goal is to sell your home.
  • We solicit feedback from every agent who shows your home so we know how Buyers are reacting to it.
  • We provide weekly status reports (or more often if you want) about the number of showings, the feedback about your home and what’s been happening in the market while you’ve been listed.
  • 24 Hour Exposure! Online, Print, and Video that is specifically designed to sell your home quickly and at the right price!
  • Call us! You will get a person to speak to that knows you, your home, and the latest information about your sale. 
  • All of this is Risk Free to all of our sellers. 

​​

Your home is ready, the price is right, the marketing has worked, and the Buyers want to see it. Here’s our best advice for showing your home to potential buyers:

1. Be flexible with showing times

Selling your home is an inconvenience, there’s no denying that. But if you want top dollar for your home, you’ll want to be flexible with when you allow people to see it. Remember that most people work from 9-5 Monday-Friday, so they’ll most likely want to see your home in the evenings or on weekends.

2. Leave your house during showings

While I’m sure you could tell potential Buyers all about your renovations and the leaky basement, Buyers aren’t comfortable looking at a house when the Sellers are home, so it’s best to let them explore at their own leisure. Go for a walk, catch a movie or temporarily move in with a friend—do whatever you need to do to allow potential Buyers free reign.

3. Make sure your home is always in top condition

Make your bed, do the dishes, wash the floors, clean the litter box—and always remember to crate the dog (or better yet, take him with you).

4. Open Houses

While the official stats are that 4% of houses sell as a result of an open house, our personal experience is that they’re much more effective than that. Open houses allow potential Buyers (and let’s face it, curious neighbors) to see your house in a non-threatening, low-pressure environment. Many a Buyer who wasn’t in the market to buy a house fell in love at an open house.

5. Feedback

Remember: what really matters in selling your home is what Buyers are seeing and feeling. Responding to their concerns and objections in a timely matter will go a long way to reducing how long your home is on the market.

As always, we are there for our clients for every step of the way. Contact us today to see why you should Expect More. 


 

If you’re in the market to buy a house in Burlington, there’s a lot of due diligence that you and your MHG Agent will have to do. Here’s a list of 10 important questions to ask before making an offer:

1. Have there been any water issues in the basement? With wild weather swings, some years haven’t been kind to home owners. Given some of the basement flooding that has happened, most Sellers should know if they have a wet basement. Find out if there have been any issues and what (if anything) the Sellers did to waterproof the house.

​​2. Is there any knob and tube wiring in the house? Much of Burlington's housing stock is older, (vintage? classic?)  and many houses still have knob and tube wiring. Knob and tube wiring is often hard to find and given a house may have changed several times in the last few years, the Sellers themselves may not know they have knob and tube – but it’s an important question to ask. 

 

3. Can I get copies of the water and gas bills? It’s important to know how much your utility bills are going to be, and there’s no better way than asking the Seller for their bills. Unusually high or low bills are a good indicator of the energy efficiency of the home.

4. Have there been issues with any of the neighbors? Here’s where you have to hope for some honesty (smart Sellers would disclose any ongoing issues). 

5. Were the renovations completed with permits? Are copies of those permits available? If you’re buying a home that’s been renovated, this is an important questions – a lot of renovations require permits (and thus get inspected), but it doesn’t always mean that the home owners got the permits. We often run into renovations that should have had permits and didn’t, so each house has to be evaluated separately.

6. Is anything in the house rented? In Burlington, it’s pretty common for hot water tanks to be rented and it’s important to know all the costs you’ll be taking over.

7. Is there any history of pests? Always a good question to ask. It’s safe to assume that most houses may have issues with squirrels, raccoons, mice, or other pests.

8. Are the pipes lead? Has the supply line from the city been changed? Understanding not only your water cost, but also any potential water issues can be important. City water will have available public information about water quality. If it is a private well, has it been tested? 

9. Is there anything else about the house we should know? Sellers have a duty to disclose anything that could materially affect the buyer’s enjoyment of the house. This is always an important question to ask.

10. Disclosure, disclosure disclosure! Have the sellers filled out a Property Information Report? Ask to see it before any offer!

 

There are more, but we will be there, helping with due diligence, every step of the way. 

Expect More.

What do buyers agents do? Why not just handle it yourself?

Buyer Agent's Job

 

As a Buyer Agent’s, our job is to get you from Point A (Would-be Buyer) to Point B (Happy Home Owner) in a safe, simple, and professional manner. More specifically, it’s our job to:

1. Educate You About the Neighborhood

Choosing a new neighborhood is part of the fun! We will play a critical role in educating you about the pros and cons of various neighborhoods. You could  go knocking on doors and speaking to neighbors, but it is not necessary. We can help you understand the neighborhood schools, crime rate, transportation options, demographics, nearby restaurants/shops/services and the trends that are happening in that neighborhood.

[See our related: Burlington Neighborhood Guide]

2. Perform Due Diligence on the Property

Another critical role is helping you do your due diligence on the property. That involves:

  • Being there to fully  investigate the property. This means going into the scary basement, looking for signs of knob and tube wiring, failing windows, or strange plumbing/ heating issues. We also can refer you to outside professionals as necessary.

  • We ask the important questions: Have there been any water issues in the basement? Were the renovations completed with permits? Are there any issues with the neighbors?

  • We investigate and report back  the ongoing costs of the property (hydro, heat, water, etc.)

One of the Buyer Agent’s most important jobs is to make sure you don’t buy the WRONG house.

3. Negotiate Price and Contract Terms

The Buyer’s agent works for the Buyer, so their job is to negotiate the lowest possible price with the best possible terms for the Buyer. We investigate the price history of the homes you’re interested in, the prices of comparable homes recently sold in the neighborhood and what’s happening right now in the market. Helping you understand how the differences between properties affect value (for example, lot size, the number of bathrooms, finishes or view) is crucial when making big decisions. Buyer’s agents also protect you by making your offer conditional on, for example, obtaining suitable financing or performing a home inspection.

4. Help You Find the Home

Long ago, a Buyer’s Agent’s primary role was to introduce properties to buyers. There was a magical book that contained all the homes for sale and if you wanted to buy a house, you hired an agent to find out what was for sale. Enter the internet. Today’s Buyers are often identifying the homes they are interested in themselves…but that doesn’t mean that Buyer Agents don’t play an important role in locating homes. Sometimes that means introducing the perfect home that was overlooked because it didn’t fit the initial criteria or neighborhood or finding an opportunity to buy a house that seemed out of budget (but really won’t be after negotiations). Fact: what you think you want when you begin your home search is often not what you decide to buy in the end.

5. But Wait! There’s More!

A Buyer’s Agent will also:

  • Help you determine your needs, wants, and priority criteria

  • Reduce financial surprises by helping you determine the full cost of buying a property and the ongoing costs of owning it [Related: Closing Costs]

  • See ‘potential’ in a home and educate you on value in the property.

  • Connect you with the best lawyers, lenders and home inspectors (Vendor Lists)

  • Be an ongoing resource for connecting you with home professionals to help once you own the home

But Does Who I Hire Matter?

Not all agents are created equal! Who you hire to represent you on the purchase of a home MATTERS. Who you choose to work with will impact the choice of the home you buy, the neighborhood you buy it in, and final cost. It can mean the difference between:

  • Overpaying for a home vs. paying market value

  • Buying a condo in a building filled with college students vs. buying a condo housing professional couples like you

  • Unknowingly buying a house that will cost you $50K in surprise repairs vs. knowing before you buy

  • Losing money on your real estate investment vs. being cash-positive

Buyer Agent Hiring

As always, you can choose any agent. But wouldn’t it be nice to go with a time tested, experienced group of agents? Shouldn't you Expect More?

 

HGTV Syndrome in Burlington, Vermont Real Estate? Don't let this happen to you!

by Matt Hurlburt Group

When is it reasonable to Expect More? Do you believe that you can create a brand new kitchen for under $10,000? Even though I can put in 80+ hour weeks focused on my clients, I still hit the couch and indulge in a "House Hunters" or "Flip or Flop." I laugh away my cares! Fantasy can be fun, can't it?

 

Let us get to the bottom of the Pinterest and HGTV Phenomenon.  

 

For example, in real life it is common to look at more than three homes for a client to pick one. The one they do pick comes with several contingencies (home inspection, appraisal, securing financing, etc.) It costs more than $8,000 for a kitchen renovation; and there isn’t always a fat profit on a flipped property. That designer turn key home is not the standard for every home, regardless of your budget.  Watch these programs with no education and an illness sets in. HGTV Syndrome.

 

Untitled design (36)     Afflicted with HGTV Syndrome image via Shutterstock.

Symptoms of HGTV Syndrome can vary from person to person; however, some common attributes are listed below:

  • Do you consider black and white appliances old? Even if they are brand new?

  • Does the word "Formica" make your stomach turn?

  • Does that flake of chipped paint on the door trim make your roll your eyes?

  • Is your budget for a full kitchen renovation (demolition, new cabinets, travertine flooring, appliances, backsplash, lighting and accessories) around $9500?

  • Do you think flipping a house for profit is easy as long as you demand long hours of your contractors and spend time at the designer home center picking out the cheapest recycled Lava Stone countertops?

If you have answered yes to any one of these questions, you need to seek immediate help.

Are you at risk for HGTV Syndrome?

YES! All of you!

Does this really happen? Will a buyer offer $40,000 less than the asking price and justify it with upgrades like the need for a brand new kitchen appliances because they are not stainless steel? They will HAVE to redo all the bathrooms because that tile color is SO 2015. How will they live without the recycled decking and local marble pizza oven with recycled rainforest fair trade pergola and hand carved mahogany dining set? Don't get me started on the three car garage concession! (Not Kidding!)

 
 

WARNING! Your agent might have it too!

Is there a cure? The cure can set you free!

 

No! Not that Cure!

 

How can you be sure you don’t come down with a case of HGTV Syndrome? Take a preventative, healthy dose of reality by speaking with a us first! Armed with the knowledge and perspective, you to can ward off any hint of home fantasy. We can provide a detailed assessment on what to expect in a certain town, neighborhood, and community. For some properties may be normal to have granite countertops — thus, if the home you are considering does not, then your expectation is justified. In other areas, it may be that popcorn ceilings and older appliances are the norm, and to expect a seller to drop their price so you can upgrade to your own personal taste is not considered reasonable.

 

See? Piece of cake!

 
 

 

As we enter Cyber Monday, I started thinking about buyers entering the Burlington real estate market.

It is easy to get information about anything online. A dozen sites, like the MHG or RE/MAX.com can provide the home, or homes, of your dreams. If you have been considering a move, or that dream home purchase, you have probably spent hours pouring over kitchen and family room pictures, scrutinizing that bathroom tile choice, or deciding if a lake or mountain view is most important. Pinterest has been known to push and pull buyers in all kinds of directions. Before you dive in head first, consider these thoughts. What do you and your family WANT? What do you NEED?

Do you really need that subway tile in the kitchen in order to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the man cave (or Mom cave) of your dreams be a future renovation project? Or, must that be an immediate feature?

The first thing that I recommend in the  home buying process is to get a mortgage pre-approval.. This allows you to know your budget and narrow (or expand) your focus. I can then provide options based on your wants and needs list. the easy way is to follow this simple plan.

List all the features of a home that you would like, and qualify them as follows:

  • ‘Must Haves’ – if a property does not have these features, then it shouldn’t even be considered. (ex: distance from work or family, number of bedrooms/bathrooms)
  • ‘Should Haves’ – if the property checks off the haves and some of the should haves, it stays in contention, but does not need to have all of these features.
  • ‘Absolute Wish List’ – if we find a property in our budget that has all of the ‘must haves,’ most of the ‘should haves,’ and ANY of these, it’s goes to the top of the list!

The Bottom Line

Creating this list at the beginning will save you time, money, and frustration. It helps me determine what features are most important and provides a clear focus for desired areas and home specifications. What is important to you is important to me. 

 

Expect More. 

 

What Exactly are 1031 Exchanges in Burlington Real Estate?

by Matt Hurlburt Group

What is a 1031 Exchange?

This blog post was going to be be about the best ways to show up your neighbor's Christmas light display, but  I chose instead to focus on 1031 exchanges! These can be exciting, if planned for and executed correctly. When real estate owners sell their investment, rental, business, or vacation real estate and reinvest the net proceeds in other property, this is called a 1031 tax deferred property exchange. When a property is held for this purpose, it is called a like-kind, or 1031, property. An owner must meet the requirements of Internal Revenue Code 1031 exchange in order to sell like-kind property and defer taxes on the profit of this sale.

The 1031 exchange is often referred to as a "tax free" ex­change. This not a truly tax free exchange. For qualifying properties, the 1031 exchange allows a way to defer taxes due as a re­sult of gain on the sale of commercial or investment properties. The amount of taxes deferred depends on the value of properties exchanged. If a higher value property is ex­changed for one of lesser value, so cash (or personal property) is included to compen­sate for this difference in value, capital gains tax would be due at closing for that portion that was not real property.

Section 1031 transactions don't have to involve identical types of investment properties. You can swap an apartment building for a shopping center, or a piece of undeveloped, raw land for an office or building. You can even swap a second home that you rent out for a parking lot.

There's also no limit as to how many times you can use a Section 1031 exchange. It's entirely possible to roll over the gain from your investment swaps for many years and avoid paying capital gains tax until a property is finally sold. Keep in mind, however, that gain is deferred, but not forgiven, in a like-kind exchange and you must calculate and keep track of your basis in the new property you acquired in the exchange.

Section 1031 is not for personal use. For example, you can't use it for stocks, bonds, and other securities, or personal property (with limited exceptions such as artwork).

 

Other Considerations for 1031 Exchanges

There are considerations that must be taken into account. For example, properties of unequal value, current mortgage debt, and personal residences and vacation homes all require advance planning if utilizing a 1031 exchange. 

Other Notable 1031 Considerations:

  • A 1031 Is Only For Investment/Business Property 
  • Some Personal Property Qualifies 
  • “Like-Kind” Is Broad Term 
  • A “Delayed” Exchange Is An Option
  • You Must Identify Your Replacement Property Within 45 Days 
  • You May Designate Multiple Replacement Properties
  • You Must Close Within 6 Months 
  • Cash Left Over Is Taxed
  • You Need To Consider Differences In Mortgages And Debt  

 An exchange offers the astute investor an opportunity to reinvest the federal capital gains that would normally be handed over to the IRS and put that money to work for himself. You work too hard to simply pay the tax without carefully considering this reinvestment option. Essentially, 1031 Exchanges should be thought of as an interest free loan from the IRS; one in which the principal may be increased through subsequent exchanges and may never require repayment, if you plan properly."

 

 

To learn more about 1031 Tax Deferred Property Exchange, please see the Internal Revenue Service's website hereAs always, we know just enough to be dangerous. We recommend consulting your attorney to ensure that your property exchange is eligible for 1031. 

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Contact Information

Photo of Matt Hurlburt Group Real Estate
Matt Hurlburt Group
RE/MAX North Professionals
70 S Winooski, 2C
Burlington VT 05401
Phone: 802-861-6244
802-861-7246
Fax: 866-660-0032