Blog :: 05-2008

Marathon Fever

I ran in the local marathon this past weekend and I must say it was extremely exhilarating. I ran the last leg 5.6 miles on a relay team with some friends. What an incredible event the city of Burlington puts on. There were over 7200 runners and 30,000 spectators experiencing the event. The weather was great, a balmy 70 plus degrees sunny, and not to hot to run with a slight breeze. I have run the last leg a number of times before helping friends complete the full marathon but this was my first time to actually participate in the event. It was hard not to get caught up in the emotion of it all. My first mile was pretty quick for me at 7.33 minutes so I knew I had to try to slow it down a bit in order to not over due it before I got to the finish line. Our final time for the event was 4 hours exactly. Not bad for a few old farts. Our team name was the Phat 40's so you can figure it out from there. We finished a little bit better than 50% for our age group with a mixed relay team. It was truly gratifying as I approached the finish line and they were counting down to the four hour mark I had to sprint to the finish to try to get there at fours or less and I just made it. Lots of fun for a great group of friends.

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    More on the ball field

    DuringMemorial Day, me and two other volunteers took advantage of our time off to put the roof on the new storage shed that we will have for our new baseball field for the kids when it is complete. We started this project almost a year ago to construct a new baseball field and we are getting in the home stretch for completion. We hopefully will be done in a month or so. The grass is starting to grow really well in the infield and we have most all of the work done on the two dugouts. It certainly is a labor of love for us and we can't wait to be able to get the kids out there to play ball. We spent 6 hours yesterday before the rain came and got the weather shield on before we got wet. Next will be the metal roof and that part of the project will be complete.

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      Happy Post Memorial Day

      I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone well after such a wonderful weekend we had here. The weather could not have been better for the Memorial Day Weeend festivities. I hope all of you were able to spend the time the way that you wanted to. Ialso want to acknowledge the huge sacrifices that all our Veterans have made so that we do have the freedoms that we enjoy today. My son had two baseball games on Saturday which were successful and Sunday my wife, son and myself took part in the Key Bank Marathon right here in Burlington. It was an absolutely magnificent day to run and spend time with friends and family. Afterwards we got time to get out on the Lake followed by a big time barbecue. Couldn't have had a better time and I hope all of you did as well.

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        Selling tips 101

        If you are thinking of selling your home today, here are a few pointers that you may want to take advantage of to help sell your home. First of all, make sure that you are completely realistic about your price. If you are at the top of the competition, plan on staying put for quite some time. Secondly, hire an experienced agent. Someone who has experienced a slow down in the market before. If your realtor hasn't gone through at least one recession, he probably will not have the werewithall to market your home. Thirdly, take a look at your home with a home stager. Not just the inside, but maybe the outside as well. We all look at our homes through a biased eye, so having a professional making adjustments may do the trick. Next offer some type of buyer monetary incentive. Why not? Money talks and you know the rest of the story. And lastly, if your home is sinking you, consider a short sale. Negotiatiate with the bank and see if that is a possibility.

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          Too Happy to be Rich?

          I just got done reading an interesting article in Money magazine which compared the amount of happiness one felt with their financial status and spending habits. Based on a study done by World Values Survey which measured the happiness of their respondents on a scale of 1- 10 with 10 being the happiest, they found that income did indeed increase as ones happiness increased, except at the top level. What they found was, that people who earned a 10 on the happiness scale earned significantly less than the people who scored in the 8's or 9's. Additionally the lower scoring people people typically saved more money and typically had college degrees. The author of the study concluded that it was better to behappy than euphoric. Thehappypeople seemed to be strivers, save more money and work harder verses the euphoric individuals who seemed to over spend, day trade more and have higher debt because of their eternal optimism that things would be okay. Needless to say, this article was quite enlightening and interesting. As a side note, the article daysay that the 10's would be better volunteers, dating partners and good at maintaining close friendships. So now the question becomes, are you just happy, or really really happy? I think I can settle for just being happy and work on being a betterfriend. It seems less stressful.

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            Market Upswing

            Today's local newspaper has an article in it talking about the positive turn the real estate market has taken in a number of places across the country. This speaks to the point that there is no such thing as a national real estate market, just like there is no such thing as a national weather report. All real estate is local and so is the weather. Our company is in fact up 31% from last year at this time. So if you ask me,I think the market is fantastic. It is a great time to buy and get a great deal, so if you don't do it soon, according to the local newspaper, you might miss one of the best opportunities tobuy that we have had in a very long time.

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              Enhance Your Curb Appeal

              If you are thinking about selling your home, you may want to take a moment to think about what makes some homes sell faster than others in a neighborhood full of like kind homes. There is definitely one thing that all of them have in common, curb appeal. Most homeowners view their homes as being bigger and better than most of their neighbors, or sometimes they just become accustomed to the dirty finger prints next to the door knobs or the slightly faded paint on the garage doors. Either way you look at it, things need to be done especially in this market to help your home sell faster than your competitions. The following is a list of things to potentially do that will help your home sell faster when it is combined with the proper price. First of all, give your home an interior face-lift by repainting some of the more critical areas. don't overdue it with sharp contrasting colors. Often times for a few hundred dollars you can get a professional opinion to mix and match the proper color scheme to make the home feel large and alive. Clean out your clutter. If you feel like you are busting out at the seams so will your potential buyer. Now is the perfect opportunity to purge some of that stuff you haven't used in the last 10 years. Have a yard sale, make a donation or give it away. Just make a decision to clean out your home to the way it was when you probably bought it. Replace light fixtures with something a little more up to date. Lighting can have a huge effect, especially if you are selling your home in the winter. Make sure your lawn is well manicured and the kids toys are neatly put away and clean out your garage. If they can't figure out the car is supposed to go in there, then you might have a problem. These are just a few things that can help get your home sold more quickly. For a more extensive list, contact me. Thanks. Brian

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                Legislative Session Ends

                I just went to a Government Affairs Committee meeting this morning to get an overview of what the last minute finagling by our legislators did for the future of housing in our state. All in all I was pleased by the report we received by our representative, but also put on notice that there will be some things down the road that we will need to keep ourselves involved in. For one, the lawmakers are studying the possibility of creating a state wide rental registry for Landlords and their apartments. This in itself is a bees nest just waiting to be poked. As a landlord in Burlington and Winooski, I can attest to the fact that there are already costly registration fees that we pay to these cities. Adding another fee is only going to make it more expensive to tenants for their housing. When these fees are levied, most often the cost is passed down to the occupant of the apartment. It has to be because of the rising cost of taxes, insurance, registration fees and maintenance fees for these properties. It is getting more and more difficult to provide quality housing for the people that need it the most. The legislators should be aware of this before they get more government involved withour free enterprise system.

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                  Healthy Living

                  May is almost half gone and we are all starting to feel good about the warmer temperatures. My kids are playing baseball and soccer and my wife and I are training to run in the marathon. Living in Vermont is such a wonderful experience. There are so many outdoor activities to get involved in that it truly makes Vermont one of the most healthiest places to raise a family. Lake Champlain will soon be beckoning for us to take advantage of all it's beauty and activities and summer will be in full swing. Winter in Vermont is really something, but the summer I believe is absolutely phenomenal. All you have to do is get off the couch, step away from the computer and get active. You only live once so why not make the best of it.

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                    Our Business is Up

                    We just got our numbers through April and I have to admit, our business is up from last yearat this time. If you listen to the national news and even the local media, they are promoting a picture of real estate doom and gloom . Well let me tell you folks, we have had 3 deals in the last two weeks where there were two offers on the same property at the same time. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Our buyer's are getting an education on how to approach this situation and our sellers are infused with optimism with the number of showings they are getting on their homes. If I have said it once, I have said it a hundred times, don't wait until this great time to buy has gone past. If you aren't buying now, you are going to kick yourself next year at this time when interest rates will probably be higher than they are now, and it will cost you more money to buy the same home.

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                      Retire or Not ?

                      Today's retirees are much different than retirees of past. Years ago we thought of retirement as the end of the line. Nothing much planned other than to kick back and wait for our maker. Certainly, retirees look much different in today's world. Most of them have a plan and don't take the plunge until they are ready to fulfill new dreams, goals, and activities. People are much more active and involved in staying healthy and pursuing options that will lengthen their time on this earth. It seems quite odd for people to just retire for the sake of retiring without some type of post midlife option for fullfillment. I applaude those individuals that take that approach and it gives me great optimism that I too will want to live my life this way. But let's not put the cart before the horse. My reccommendation is to get your financial house in order and develop a plan. Test the plan whether it be renting a condo in an area where you might want to live in the future, or start up a small business on the side to see if it is really what you think it might be full time if having your own business is one of your goals. Live today like it is your last day, but save and invest for the future. If you do this, retirement might be everything you hoped it would be.

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                        Steps to Buying a Home

                        It is a funny thing when you talk to some people about buying their first home. They often have the impression that it's a couple of steps, find a home and get a loan. Not to mention that is the order of how they think it should go. Needless to say, the order is incorrect especially after the mortgage crisis that we have recently experienced and there are many more steps to this process that buyers need to be aware of. Recently we evalutated the process and came up with 15 different steps in the buying process that should be followed in order to have a successful real estate transaction. When people hire us as their representatives we provide them with a home buyers guide that walks them through the process and puts it in a flow chart form as well so they can see where we are at all times in helping them reach their goals. Our job is to make our buyer's lives more simple and fun as they search for their new home. This means avoiding any surprises that could come up by not being prepared. If you are thinking about buying your first home or your 5th home, you should give me a call and I will provide you with our system for having your purchase be a success and we may have some fun while we do it.

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                          Happy One Hundred Years

                          Did you know that this year marks the 100th Anniversary for the founding of our Realtor Association? It was at that time that a group of real estate practitioners met in Chicago with one goal in mind, toestablish a licensed professional group with a list of priorities that included a code of ethics, continuing education,licensing laws and a need to influence a number of relative issues affecting the buying and selling of real estate. A few of those things would include establishing a tax code, building of highways and community planning. Today's agents are not much different. We strive to live by our code of ethics and treat the consumer with the utmost respect and professionalism. We work hard to be a positive influence in our communities and most of us give a tremendous amount of time and money to those less fortunate than ourselves. I am proud to belong to such a tremendous group of professionals and I will always promote the values that make living here such a wonderful experience. Happy one hundred years to my fellow peers and competitors. Without you, I wouldn't be whereI am today.

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                            Foreclosures Can be Everybody's Problem

                            Ijust read an article on MsnMoney.com talking about the affects that a foreclosure can have on a neighborhood. It is easy for people that are making their payments on time to notthink aboutthose individuals who may be living in their neighborhood struggling to make their payments. Unfortunately, everyone needs to stop and think about the ramifications of their neighbors losing their homes and the effects that it will have on their neighborhoods and the value of their homes. When people have their homes taken away, the homes can take on a stigma of their own. Things start to deteriorate, the lawn becomes overgrown and in the larger cities drug dealers and prostitutes take over vacant homes to use at their discretion. All of this, affects the vitality of the neighborhood and the value of the surrounding homes. Therefore it is everyone's problem. If you see a home become vacant inyourneighborhood, don't just sit by and wait to see what ishappening. Get involved and don't let your neighbor's bad luck adversely affect yourhome.According to their numbers the projected number of foreclosures are the worst in Nevada where one out of every 11 homeowners will be foreclosed upon. The best state according to their predictions is North Dakota where 1 out of 165 will experience it. Vermont thank goodness is fourth in the country with them predicting 1 out of 86 people will be foreclosed upon.

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                              Second-Home sales fall in '07

                              According to the National Association of Realtors, sales of vacation and investment homes fell with the overall market in 2007, but second homes still made up a third of all home sales. Investment properties accounted for 21% of the market in 2007 down from 22% in 2006. Vacation homes sales accounted for 12 percent of the market down from 14 percent in 2006. According to N.A. R.'s annual Investment and Vacation Home Buyer's Survey, whichshowed vacation homes dropping by 30.6% to 740,000 down from a record 1.07 million in 2006.

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                                Can my Realtor help me get a loan?

                                In today's world there are a many options one has to choose from when trying to obtain a mortgage for their new home. The reality is that there are so many options that often times it can become confusing and that is where your Realtor can lend a hand. Because a Realtor is in the business of helping people buy and sell homes, they are intricately involved with the financing process and are able to experience what works and what doesn't. Additionally they are privy to what mortgage companys are able to do and not to do. If I was shopping for a home with my Realtor, I would ask for a list of potential loan officers who he or she has done business with and has hadsuccess. Especially with people who may be in a similar financial situation as myself. It's important to get a referral in today's world, after all, the mortgage industry is in a mess because of some of the poor business practices of a number of mortgage companies. Thank goodness in our area wefared well and did not experience those types of business practices that lots of areas around the country experienced.

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                                  Protect Your Money

                                  With so many publications, television and radio promoting so much doom and gloom I thought it might be prudent to give some advise on how to protect yourself from the recurring nightmares that are being discussed. If you have forgotten or walkthrough life with your head in the sand, let me remind you of the big four. Let's start with the one that can affect everyone, Inflation. Currently consumer products are already rising 4% ,more than double the rate in early 2004 according to an article in Money Magazine. We are talking about all those things that you use or eat on a daily basis. Take a look at what you can cut back on to help you afford the basics, ie food in the refrigerator and fuel for the furnace. Next comes the big R- word, Recession. This can affect your earning power and the ability to keep your job. Stock up on cash and increase your emergency fund to hopefully 6 months or more. Rome wasn't built in a day so if you haven't started yet, do something about it today. The third catastrophe is a collapse of the dollar. How does this affect you? First of all it affects the cost of everything that we import. Again, this affects our ability to save and purchase goods to survive. Again, evaluate what you are spending and prioritize your financial commitments. Lastly is the credit crunch. It's not just mortgages that are harder to get, but also auto loans or credit cards even for those individuals with good credit. If you are shopping for one of these items, it will behoove you to get pre-approved before you sign on the dotted line or you may be in for a big disappointment.

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