Blog :: 09-2010

Finding Great Views from Vermont Real Estate

Vermont Mountain View Homes

A Spectacular view of the Adirondack Mountains

Hands down, Vermont's most notable resource is it's beautiful landscape. Whether you are driving on a country road in Essex, Shelburne or Charlotte, or visiting a beach on the shore of Lake Champlain in Burlington, Colchester, or South Hero-- it is undoubtedly the views that you first notice. It's one of the many things that makes Vermont special to us all, and we are so very fortunate to have such a landscape to enjoy day in and day out. Buyers frequently contact my office looking for a "piece" of their own landscape - something they can enjoy from perhaps their own front porch, bedroom window, or yard. After all, a house is only as good as the location for which it is placed, and in Vermont, great views can always be related to a great location.

So where are buyers going to find great views of Vermont?

I'll explore some of those areas today.

Downtown Burlington

In addition to being the vibrant epicenter of the State, Burlington offers some of the most fantastic views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack mountains. As the marketing agent for the recently completed Westlake Condominiums in Downtown Burlington, I constantly met with buyers from all over the world and the feedback was always the same- the views from the building were perhaps the BEST they had EVER seen! Surely, the lake coupled with Burlington's beautiful waterfront park and the neighboring Adirondack Mountains all contribute to this unique view. There are a variety of properties that enjoy such views in downtown Burlington. The first that comes to mind are a few of the luxury condominium projects- Westlake and College and Battery, for example. You can also find views on select homes within the Hill Section as well.

Shelburne and Charlotte

If you are looking for a mix of country living, and perhaps the finest views in the state, then you'll find them in either Shelburne or Charlotte. Located a short drive from downtown Burlington, Shelburne and Charlotte are conveniently located destinations where you can find rolling country landscapes, and perhaps the finest lake front in Vermont along Lake Champlain.

Essex and South Burlington

View of Lake Champlain Vermont

A Spectacular view of the Adirondack Mountains

If you are looking for a property that is located a short distance from Burlington, but with easy accessibility to local shopping and other services, AND want a view, then look in South Burlington and Essex. The main "view corridors" for these areas are easy to find, but they sometimes go unnoticed by the general public looking for real estate with a view. For example, South Burlington has great Lake Front property off Shelburne Road, and wonderful mountain and lake views from Spear and Dorset Streets. Essex is a great country community that has some of the best Mountain views in the State. Try your search for land or homes near the Route 15 Corridor, specifically the areas near Old Stage Road, or Towers Road for example. You will find great views of Mt Mansfield (and easy accessibility to skiing) and a convenient location near local shopping, schools, and restaurants. Vermont is known for it's beautiful landscape, but it is important to know that you can find your own "piece" of the beautiful countryside in many properties throughout the greater Burlington area- you just need to know where to look!

Condominium Association Dues - What Should I Expect?

If you are searching for a new home or condominium in the greater Burlington Area, you have probably seen many of which have association fees. If you have rented in the past or have owned a home with it's own land, this may be a new concept for you. This post will dive into some of the details of Association Fees, so that you are more prepared when looking at a home or condo that may have them.

  • Single Family Homes May have Association Fees!

    A particularly popular concept in today's real estate market is one of "Carriage Homes." Simply put, these are typically singlefamily homes that are part of an association- similar to that of a condo. You may have exclusive rights to use the land immediately around your home, but the land is technically the associations. Along with this land being "common", comes the need for the association to maintain the lawns, and even remove snow from the driveways. Having limited maintenance is a huge benefit for some homeowners, but buyers should be aware there is an associated cost for such a neighborhood.
    Vermont condo associations

    An example of a "carriage home" in Essex

  • Condominium fees in "high rise" structures are typically based on square footage of each individual unit.

    From a management perspective, this is typically the easiest (and fairest) way to set each units fee. In Downtown Burlington's popular College and Battery complex, the fees can range from $250 for a 1 Bedroom Unit- $800+ for a 3 bedroom penthouse. In such a project, Gas heat for each unit is typically included along with general cleaning and maintenance of the building, along with water and sewer fees.
    Burlington Condo Real Estate

    An example of a "carriage home" in Essex

  • Parking is not always included!

    This is typically something you will need to examine asyou look at more "urban" located projects in downtown Burlington such as; "College and Battery", "The Westlake", "Hinds Lofts" and "The Stratos". Parking (and private storage)at the Westlake, for example, is included with the association fees for each unit owner. Having an attached parking garage makes this possible, but it should be noted that not all condominium projects in downtown Burlington have such a luxury. You may need to pay for off-site parking, which is obviously important to plan and budget for.
  • Who typically manages the association?

    Associations can either be privately managed amongst the homeowners, or contracted out to a private property manager. In my experience, this really comes down to the time that the individual homeowners have to manage their neighborhood. Sending out billing, managing maintenance of the grounds, and making sure you have the best pricing for contracted out services can take a great deal of time. On the other hand, associations that contract out their management will have cost associated with such a decision.
  • Always ask about reserves, and what they cover.

    Home-buyers typically ask how much their monthly dues are, but they often fail to ask how much reserves an association may have on hand. If you are looking at a condominium in a 20 year old complex, the reserves should be healthy enough to cover some major exterior improvements including a new roof, for example. If the condo complex does not have adequate reserves for basic improvements, you may be hit with a large assessment in the future!
In summary, not every association is created equal! Always ask the details of what is included, and never assume anything. When I have represented sellers, I have always found it beneficial to personally contact the property managers or association board members on behalf of my clients. It is something that can go a long way and prepare a future home-buyer for any unexpected expenses.