Why does it seem like the market is so hot? Because it is. The number of new listings is way down. But the number of houses that have gone under contract is way up. Supply and demand!
Side note: Hey Sellers! We have been hired by MANY buyers to help them buy a house. Call us, and we can play matchmaker.
Almost all of that shortage in new listings has taken place in April and May:
And, almost all of the runup in houses getting into contract has taken place May 1-June 15:
You're not going crazy. It's a REALLY tight market right now in Central Vermont. The best thing to do is to get an expert from Green Light Real Estate to help you find, negotiate, and buy in this market. And don't worry, should you get stuck in a multi-bid situation as a result of this hot market, we've got your back.
Here are some good strategies to use to help when you’re in a good old fashioned bidding war:
Be prepared! Have your pre-approval letter in place. You can even get a couple letters, say in $25,000 increments. Then you can give whichever one makes the most sense with your offer. Also, it can help to be working with a local bank. Many sellers and listing agents would prefer to be working with a lender they actually know and not a cog in a wheel in a massive lending operation in Michigan or Texas (and yes, I’m talking about you--Quicken and USAA).
Come strong and come hard. Make your best offer, knowing that you may have to pay above the asking price. When you go on a first date, do you dress up and plan just enough to keep someone interested? Or do you go above and beyond? This not the time to do the bare minimum.
Reign in those contingencies. In a multi-bid situation, the fewer contingencies, the better your offer looks. You don’t have to get rid of the inspection contingency, but you could limit it in terms of the items to be “contingent”, a dollar figure, shortening the time frame, or more.
**Bonus tip! Don’t think that you’ll be able to do significant post-inspection negotiations. If there were three offers, it’s pretty likely that the other two are still looking for a house.**
Write a love letter. Hey, it helps sometimes. Tell the seller what you love about their house, and a little about yourself.
Show them the money. Make a big deposit. Or, make it non-refundable at a certain point. Or, how about sharing your credit score, your employment history, even some of your financial records with the sellers so they know that you’re able to buy their house. For that matter, give them your resume. They’ll get to know you. And maybe that professional network will help you.
Use an escalation clause. Promise to pay more than another offer. Best to talk this strategy with your Green Light Real Estate agent, because sometimes this confuses sellers and sellers’ agents. It’s not really that complicated, but still.
And the best...don’t have a bidding war! Your agent can just call the sellers’ agent and ask “Hey, these people want to buy the house. What will it take for the sellers go with them?” Honestly, it might be another $5000, or that the seller gets to leave the basement furniture. Big deal! If you get into a bidding war, you’re easily paying that much more anyway. Plus that bidding war is a zillion times more stressful.
These are just a few ways to help buyers get the house in a hot market.
For more details, more strategies, and more ways to make sure that you get your house,
One question that sellers ask us from time to time is “Are you on Zillow?”
The short answer is yes.
Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Homesnap, and countless other real estate sites get their information directly from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
Green Light Real Estate participates in the MLS. If you really want to go deep, the MLS that Vermont is in is the New England Real Estate Network, or NEREN. That means that all of our listings can be found on sites such as Zillow, as well as any other real estate site that buyers use.
We know that many buyers like to use Zillow to look for homes. We post all of our listings and our past sales on Zillow, as well as all of our reviews from past clients, because this is the type of information that buyers like to see.
And when your house is for sale, you want your real estate brokerage to do the things that buyers like!
Last, we have just a couple of cautions about using real estate portals such as Zillow.
First, they’re not always accurate. Sometimes they show a house is for sale when it really isn’t. If you’re ever unsure, just call, text, or email Green Light Real Estate and we can verify.
Second, their estimates of value are not always very accurate. The value of a house is not simply an algorithm. It’s not just a mathematical function of the square feet, zip code, number of bedrooms, and lot size. Condition, layout, micro-location, updates and much, much more factor into the value.
We recently listed a house for sale at 174% of the Zestimate, because that’s what the local market and recent comparable sales indicated.
It went under contract in two days. At full asking price.
Yes, we do put our listings on Zillow.
Yes, we do get inquiries from buyers through Zillow.
And yes, we do everything we can to get our sellers’ houses sold.
There is no denying that the slowdown / shutdown from COVID-19 is goinig to have very real impacts on people's finances. Loss of income and drawing down of savings may make it challenging for some to make their mortgage payments. And for others, who are at risk for foreclosure, the fears can be even greater right now.
Fannie Mae has made it possible to get some help with paying your mortgage. No, they won't pay it for you, but you may be able to postpone payments for up to 12 months. You actually have to be proactive to use this resource.
It's always been true that one of the leading causes of foreclosure is getting sick. Another leading cause is losing one's job.
Combining a pandemic with an economic shutdown can cause massive strain on a family's financial position. And adding the fear of losing your house to foreclosure in the midst of all of it might just be too much.
To help, Fannie Mae has made changes in how foreclosures are being handled: They're being paused for 60 days. We're not completely sure what the economy will be like in 60 days (for the country or for any individual household), but this can at least give some temporary assurance that people aren't going to be kicked out of their homes.
This doesn't mean that you don't have to pay the mortgage eventually, or that if you're on the path to foreclosure during those 60 days that foreclosure proceedings won't pick back up.
If you think you're on the path to being foreclosed, PLEASE contact Green Light Real Estate. There may be things that can be done to help. Maybe your house is worth more than you think. Maybe there is a buyer who could move quickly with the price you need. Maybe your house is a good candidate for a short sale. We help people in situations like this all the time. You just have to ASK. And, maybe there isn't anything that can be done. Maybe the house is going to be foreclosed on. But you'll at least have done everything you could.
You can contact us via email at info@GreenLight-RealEstate.com or via phone at 802-225-6425.
In a move to help move purchases, sales, and refinances through the system, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued new options for appraisers. Here's a video explaining some of the workarounds:
Typically, appraisers would need to do an interior and exterior inspection of the house that's being bought or refinanced. The new rules allow for exterior only inspections so that appraisers don't need to go inside the house. The inspection is accompanied by "desktop underwriting" in which appraisers use other sources of information and databases to get more information about particular houses as well as the local area.
At Green Light Real Estate, we think this is a great idea. It is up to individual banks and credit unions as to whether they will allow this, and individual lenders may have additional requirements for this workaround. In general, this should help move transactions forward, and help prevent the inevitable backlog of appraisals and loan underwriting that will happen when the COVID-19 slowdown has ended.
We are cooperating fully with appraisers and lenders. Honestly, we spend so much of our professional lives researching real estate, and we have several databases at our disposal to help answer questions about property. We also have great relationships with the different town clerks who are keys to getting supplemental property information. The point is, we're doing whatever we can to keep peoples' transactions moving forward. Because at the end of the day, what people really want is to get into their new house, or to finalize the sale.
Be well, stay safe, and take care of the people around you.
We’ve just about made it through another winter, and into another mud season. Congratulations to us all--hearty, brave, unflinching Vermonters!
By the Numbers--Snapshot
Sales Past 12 Months
Median Sale Price
Median Days on Market
We’re still seeing a strong market in Central Vermont, that’s kind of old news.
So, with this month’s real estate report, we’re going to look at how these numbers have changed over time.
Five Year Numbers--Median Sale Price
3/2015 to 3/2016
3/2016 to 3/207
3/2017 to 3/2018
3/2018 to 3/2019
3/2019 to 3/2020
Total % Change Over 5 Years
Since 2015, sale prices in Central Vermont have risen substantially. It is interesting that every single market had years of increases and years of decreases. On the whole, though, it’s clear that home prices are going up.
Days on Market
Home sales in Barre City have very steadily sped up, moving from a median days on market of 96 in 2015 to 33 days by March 2020. That’s an incredible change! Also, the bump up in days on market for U32 towns deserved a little more research. If we take out the two properties that took the longest to sell (770 days and 437 days--both with out of area real estate brokerages), the median days on market greatly improves.
Aside from numbers…
The teams from Green Light Real Estate and Stone and Browning Property Management got together at Cornerstone in Barre. It’s always good when we get to know the people we work with at different companies. And not only was it a great lunch, but Tasha Adams won a drawing for a $25 gift card for liking and commenting on Facebook!
As we get further into spring, the Montpelier and Barre area real estate markets are really going to start heating up. If you or anyone you know is thinking that 2020 is the year to buy or sell a house, give us a call or an email. The experienced team at Green Light Real Estate can help you put a plan together to give you an edge over other buyers and sellers.
The spring market is actually starting to begin! Typically we see an increase in buyer and seller activity beginning in February as a runway to the busier spring and summer seasons.
# Sales Past 12 Months
Median Sale Price
Median Days on Market
We can see that houses in Central Vermont continue to sell relatively quickly. But...I always take these numbers with a grain of salt. They show the results from the properties that have actually sold. The other side of the story is those properties that haven’t sold yet. They’ll become data points, they just haven’t yet.
Here’s the grain of salt:
Median List Price
Median Days on the Market
The properties that are for sale right now have substantially longer days on market than those that have sold in the past 12 months. I don’t have any grand conclusions to draw from this. I do have a couple observations. Some of the active listings are “unique”, which sometimes causes them to take longer to sell.
Also, being honest, some of the listings that have been on the market the longest are listed with brokerages from outside of the area. For example, in Barre Town, three of the four listings that have been on the market the longest are with firms from outside Barre/Montpelier. Local knowledge and local expertise goes a long way.
New Curveball for Transactions:
Oil tanks need to be inspected at least every three years. We’re now advising our selling clients to go ahead and get those inspections done, so there are no problems with the sale, or with delivery after the sale. We’re also advising our buyer clients to make sure the tanks are inspected as part of the due diligence process. Your local oil provider will be able to do the inspection for you.
And Speaking of Local…
Green Light Real Estate is embarking on a local restaurant tour/review campaign. We started by getting the crew together at Ladder One Grill in Barre. Situated in an old fire house, the restaurant is an attractive mix of firefighting mementos and twinkling lights. It’s our way of getting out and supporting local businesses, as well as having a good time together as a team.
Of course, we also had a drawing for a gift card. Next up on our review is Cornerstone in Barre-- Follow us out on Facebook and Instagram to see how you can win next time!
The Best Time Is Now!
If this spring or summer is the time for you to buy or sell a house, do yourself a HUGE favor, and talk to a real estate professional soon. The listing experts and buyer specialists at Green Light Real Estate can help you make a plan and prepare for success. Nothing’s more frustrating than losing out on your dream home because you weren’t prepared. And nothing’s more aggravating than putting a house on the market without a clear, well-thought plan on how you’re going to sell it. Don’t be those people. Be prepared. Call, text, or email Green Light Real Estate.
Have a great February folks, spring is around the corner! Right?
In the meantime, call 802-224-6425 or email us to buy, sell or chat real estate!
Friday February 7 is Art Walk in Montpelier! Organized by Montpelier Alive, Art Walk is a fun, free way to see the work of talented local artists. It’s also a great way to see your friends and neighbors as you walk through town.
There will be several venues throughout Montpelier showcasing different artists.
Green Light Real Estate will be hosting Bill Barnard. Bill will showcase his wildlife wood carvings, which are stunningly life-like. Bill is a retired Norwich University professor. He lives in Northfield which is also where his studio is.
Art Walk is February 7, from 4:00-8:00. Stop by to see Dr. Barnard’s work, to talk with him about process, about inspiration, about technique, or just to talk. Light refreshments, including beer, wine, and soft drinks will be served at Green Light Real Estate.
Other artists Green Light Real Estate has hosted in the past include:
For this end of year report, the main focus is on changes over the past five years. And the trend is strong!
Sale prices in Barre City increased by over 20%, U32 towns saw appreciation of almost 18%, and every market saw stronger sale prices. Our market as a whole saw price appreciation of 12.24% over five years.
While this isn’t the blazing hot increases that many major metropolitan areas have seen, it’s solid, steady price appreciation.
Again, we have seen largely consistent increases in the number of home sales over the past five years. The five U32 towns (Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Middlesex, and Worcester) saw the number of sales grow over 30%, while Northfield/Williamstown grew by just under 30%. These are strong sets of numbers for home sales!
Barre Town did see a dip the number of sales over the past five years. Also interestingly about the Barre Town real estate market is that it is the only one that has seen somewhat erratic numbers of annual sales. At Green Light Real Estate, we’re not concerned about this at all, there were still 86 sales in Barre Town in 2019.
This one blew our minds. Our Central Vermont market, on the whole, has seen a decrease of 38% in the median days on the market. That means sales are speeding up from 63 days on market in 2015 to 39 days on the market in 2019. And look at Montpelier--median days on market was 10 days!?
All of these point to a very strong, fast moving real estate market in Central Vermont!
Green Light Real Estate Book Club
We spend a LOT of time thinking and talking about real estate and about customer service. In 2019, we added something else. During the year, as a group, we read and discussed several books. It turned out to be a fantastic way to bring us closer together, to improve our practices, and allow us to better serve our clients.
The Customer Rules: The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Customer Service, by Lee Cockerell
Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki
Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson
7L: The Seven Levels of Communication, by Michael Maher
2019 was an active year for residential multi-family properties. Here we’ll focus on Barre City and Montpelier, which are the two most active multi-family towns in Central Vermont. And, truth be told, the bulk of the activity is in Barre City.
Here the number that jumps out is the number of sales. It increased steadily from 2015-2018 and then almost doubled from 18 to 35 sales in 2019. That’s a huge increase!
Total # of Sales
Looking only at duplex sales, there’s a clear increase in per unit sale price over the past five years.
Barre City Price Per Unit (Duplex)
Montpelier Price Per Unit (Duplex)
And last, thank you to all of our clients, past clients, friends, and supporters. In 2019, Green Light Real Estate helped with 161 sales, and more than half of those came from past clients, people who know us personally, and referrals. It means a lot when people make the effort to recommend that their friends work with Green Light Real Estate!