Blog :: 2011

USDA Loans and Vermont Real Estate- What Can They Offer Buyers?

Kevin Pearia from USDA is spreading the word on USDA loans, and how they can HELP buyers in today's market. He contacted us at Dousevicz Real Estate to help in their cause, and asked that we include a write up on our blog. We're happy to help! You may be surprised at the amount of areas in Vermont that actual qualify-- it's not just for the extremely rural areas of our state! You'll find properties that qualify within a short commute to Burlington, South Burlington, Williston, Essex, and many more. Some of these towns even qualify themselves. USDA offers competitive rates, no down payment requirements, and much, much more! Here is the piece from Kevin- Thank you! Why USDA Loans Aren't Just for Farmers The USDA home loan program was originally established to help promote the development of rural areas by providing an easy and affordable mortgage to interested home buyers. Traditionally thought of as a home loan for farmers, the USDA actually provides a variety of loans that can be used for everything from housing to business expansion. The USDA Home Loan, however, has become one of the most popular of the USDA Loans. What are the Benefits of a USDA Home Loan? Contrary to popular belief, USDA home loans aren't just for homes in highly rural areas. Several homes located on the outskirts of major metropolitan area, or in developing areas of already established cities and towns qualify for USDA Loans. Choosing to purchase a home with a USDA loan is highly beneficial to borrowers because of the numerous ways the program reduces out-of-pocket expenses. Conventional lending programs might offer slightly lower interest rates, but they also require high down payments, near perfect credit, and generally high closing fees which can make financing a home almost unaffordable to most. However, USDA loans are 100 percent guaranteed by the government which allows lenders to offer eligible borrowers benefits they would normally be unable to obtain. In addition to flexible loan terms and competitive interest rates, the USDA program makes a home purchase more affordable by: Requiring no down payment Not having loan limits Requiring no private mortgage insurance What if a Single Family Home Loan Isn't for Me? The monthly mortgage of a single family home isn't always affordable, yet safe and comfortable housing is still a need of nearly every family in Vermont. The USDA recognizes this, and offers several programs to help families with lower incomes obtain quality housing. Mutual Self-Help Loans help low-income families build houses by all them to help each other build homes. The Rural Rental Housing makes renting more affordable. There are also several loans available to make the purchasing of land easier. The USDA home loan, and most of its other housing lending programs, has the most lenient eligibility requirements of any government backed lending program currently on the market. Aside from seeking to purchase a home in a USDA-approved area, borrowers must simply be able to afford monthly mortgage payments and not have an income that exceeds the area's median by 115 percent. The USDA home loan program is suited to most individuals seeking to purchase a USDA-deemed rural home. However, lenders will usually require a mid-range credit score of 620 or higher in order to approve the mortgage loan. Even if you have an imperfect credit history or believe that you may not be eligible, interest homebuyers are still encouraged to contact a USDA loan specialist. Kevin Pearia Content Director for USDALoans.com

Buying Vs Renting in Vermont- Should I buy that home or condo, or continue to rent?

Most agents won'ttell you this, butit really depends on your own personal situation- first and foremost. Look at your work situation, for example. Do you think you will be at your job for a few more years? If not, are you committed to staying in Vermont, for example, if you leave (or lose) your job? Be real with yourself...if you are unsure, continue to rent.Buying should not only be a financial choice, it should be a lifestyle choice. If buying seems like a good near to mid term option, then start your search- the timing is great right now, in particular in Vermont. Why? Because our rental market is "tight", so say the least. Dousevicz Real Estate occassionally works with renters, and we even develop our own rental projects- we know. Most vacancy rates for rentals in Chittenden County are BELOW the 3% mark, and there are even areas like South Burlington and Burlington where they are BELOW 1%. This means too things for potential renters:
  1. Low inventory to chose from for rentals. You probably won't find an apartment up to your criteria, location, and quality!
  2. High rent amounts. Yes, very high. One bedrooms can go for up to $1300, and two bedrooms can go for up to $1700. Wow.
Maybe buying is looking better? When we look at the current market, you may be able to afford that condo or home of your dreams. How? Two main aspects:
  1. Inventory- there's plenty of it, even in Chittenden County and towns like Burlington, Colchester, Essex, and South Burlington, both for condo's and homes. Competition is GREAT for homebuyers because it equates to LOWER prices--the oposite relationship to #1 above, HIGHER rents.
  2. Low Interest Rates. Yes, we've all heard- they are at record levels. Not just record levels people, levels we may NEVER see in our lifetime! 3.9%! Wow...that means your $ goes a loooooong way when you buy a home or condo, and overall affordability raises considerably.
Here's a great article from the WSJ that does a much better job explaining housing affordability:
In Summary, think you have some job stability for the next few years? Think that a move to a home or condo would be good for you and your family? Have you run the numbers on renting vs owning? You may just discover that you could actually SAVE money by buying vs renting- if so, give us a call. We'll walk you through the process, and start showing you some GREAT places for a GREAT value. Dousevicz Real Estate 802-87904477 ext 103 or Dousevicz@gmail.com

Real estate agents discuss Vt market - WCAX.COM

Real estate agents discuss Vt market - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-. A great day at "Day 1" of the Vermont Real Estate Conference in South Burlington, Vermonttoday. Attended two great seminars, and was able to mingle with some local colleagues. Some interesting points were made from the President of NAR, and to the strength of the local real estate market in Burlington, and the surrounding areas of Vermont. See the link above for more details! For help buying or selling real estate in Vermont, contact Brad Dousevicz of Dousevicz Real Estate today!

What Actually Happens at a Closing?

You've searched far and wide for a new home or condo- evaluated the market, agreed to a purchase price, and have completed all of your inspections. Financing is ready to go, and your closing for your new home in Vermont is scheduled. Well- what actually happens at your closing? On this episode on the "Real Estate Minute" as featured on Fox 44 in Burlington, Vermont, Brad Dousevicz of Dousevicz Real Estate explores what you can expect at the closing. From the transfer of title, financing, and recording of documents, Brad covers it all! See the Video HERE! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjxyUqRRRX0 For help with buying or selling real estate in Burlington, South Burlington, Williston, Essex, Shelburne, Charlotte, Colchester, or any other parts of Chittenden County contact Brad today at 802-238-9367! Happy home hunting!

Home Inspections- What to Ask your Inspector!

We at Dousevicz Real Estate consistently advise our clients looking to buy a home or condo in Vermont to get a home inspection with one of our trusted inspectors. It not only offers valuable insight to the condition of the home, it offers great "piece of mind" for the buyers we work with that they know EXACTLY what they are getting with their new home purchase.

A Good Home Inspector will give you some great insight to your new home- today we'll address what you should ask them!

We find, however, that some homebuyers can get a bit intimidated with the process, and may not know what to ask their home inspector after they get the report, or during the inspection itself. Here are some helpful tips we found at Trulia.com. Enjoy! 1. How bad is it - really? The best home inspectors are pretty even keeled, emotionally speaking. Theyre not alarmists that blow little things up into big ones, nor do they try to play down the importance of things. Theyre all about the facts. But sometimes, that straightforwardness makes it hard for you, the homes buyer, to understand whats a big deal and what isnt so much - the information you need to know whether to move forward with the deal, whether to renegotiate and what to plan ahead for. Ive seen things categorized in home inspection reports under Health and Safety Hazards that cost less than $100 to fix, like replacing a faucet that has hot and cold reversed. And Ive seen one-liners in inspection reports, like extensive earth-to-wood contact result, after further inspection, in foundation repair bids pricier than the whole cost of the home! In many states, home inspectors are not legally able to provide you with a repair bid, but if you attend the inspection and simply ask them whether or not something they say needs fixing is a big deal, nine times out of ten they will verbally give you the information you need to understand the degree to which the issue is a serious problem (or not). 2. Who should I have fix that? I always ask this question of home inspectors, with dual motives. First, very often, the inspectors response is - What do you mean? You dont need to pay someone to fix that. Go down to Home Depot, pick up a ___fill in the blank__, and heres how you pop it in. Should cost you $15 - tops. And thats useful information to know - it eliminates the horror of a laundry list of repairs and maintenance items at the end of an inspection report to know that a number of them are really DIY-type maintenance items. Even buyers who are really uncomfortable doing these things themselves then feel empowered to either (a) watch a few YouTube vids that show them how its done, or (b) hire a handyperson to do these small fixes, knowing they shouldnt be too terribly costly. And even on the larger repairs, your home inspector might be able to give you a few referrals to the plumbers, electricians or roofers youll need to get bids from during your contingency period, which you may be able to use to negotiate with your homes seller, and to get the work done after you own the place. Dropping the inspectors name might get you an appointment booked with the urgency you need it order to get your repair bids and estimates in hand before your contingency or objection period expires. And same goes for any further inspections they recommend - if neither you nor your agent knows a specialist, ask the general home inspector for a few referrals. 3. If this was your house, what would you fix, and when? Your home inspectors job is to point out everything, within the scope of the inspection, that might need repair, replacement, maintenance or further inspection - or seems like it might be on its last leg. But they also tend to be experienced enough with homes to know that no home is perfect. Many times, Ive asked this question about an item the inspector described as at the end of its serviceable lifetime and had them say, I wouldnt do a thing to it. Just know that it could break in the next 5 months, or in the next 5 years. And keep your home warranty in effect, because that should cover it when it does break. This question positions your home inspector to help you:
  • understand what does and doesnt need to be repaired,
  • prioritize the work you plan to do to your home (and budget or negotiate with the seller accordingly),
  • get used to the constant maintenance that is part and parcel of homeownership, and
  • understand the importance of having a home warranty plan.
4. Can you point that out to me? Often, when you attend the home inspection, youll be multi-tasking, taking pictures of the interior, measuring for drapes or furniture, even meeting the neighbors, or fielding several inspectors at a time. Worst case scenario is to get home, open up the inspectors report and have no clue whatsoever what he or she was referring to when they called out the wax ring that needs replacement or the temperature-pressure release valve that is improperly installed. Your best bet is to, at the end of the inspection and while youre all still in the property, just ask the inspector to take 10 or 15 minutes and walk you through the place, pointing out all the items theyve noted need repair, maintenance or further inspection. When you get the report, then, youll know what and where the various items belong. (One more best practice is to choose an inspector who takes digital pictures and inserts them into their reports!) 5. Can you show me how to work that? Many home inspectors are delighted to show you how to operate various mechanical or other systems in your home, and will walk you through the steps of operating everything from your thermostat, to your water heater, to your stove and dishwasher - and especially the emergency shutoffs for your gas, water and electrical utilities. This one single item is such a time and stress saver it alone is worth the lost income of missing a day of work to attend your inspections. Looking to buy or sell real estate in Vermont? Call Dousevicz Real Estate today! 802-879-4477 or 802-238-9367.

Tips for Buying in Today's Market- Without Fear!

Broderick Perkins offers some great insight today on buying or sellingin today's market. Buying or selling Real Estate in Vermont doesn't have to be complicated, or scary, for that matter. Takea look at these suggestions, and call Brad Dousevicz when your thinking about buying or selling in Burlington, South Burlington, Williston, Essex, Charlotte, and the surrouding areas! As any daredevil, extreme sports addict or adrenaline junkie knows, well-grounded preparation for the specific task at hand is what takes the fear out of trying. The sometimes risky sport of home buying is no different. Those who've suffered the agony of defeat in what's likely the most dangerous consumer game, learned the hard way that sheer fearlessness isn't enough to become and remain a homeowner -- through good times and bad. With the rules of the housing game changed forever, preparing to just squeak by the home buying ordeal isn't enough to achieve a decisive and lasting victory. The idea isn't just to buy a home. The goal is to keep your own roof over your head. Preparation is key, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). From NAR, here's how to get ready to be and remain a homeowner.
  • Create a wish list. Write down housing wants and needs. Include all the physical characteristics you want or need. Include style, size, layout and room configuration. Look at the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the basic amenities you must have. Include critical features such as location and services and a home's proximity to good schools or public transportation lines.
  • Browse for housing. Realtor.com and other Web sites offer home valuation features and neighborhood data on trends in local markets. Use features to determine how a listing compares with nearby, comparable properties in terms of value, actual sales prices, home features, neighborhood characteristics, and more.
  • Work with an expert. Finding a professional real estate agent who will represent your best interests can make the difference in location, negotiating the best offer, and closing the home of your dreams. Look for a full time real estate agent, who has uploaded telling photos and videos of their listings and look for agents with good Web sites to market your listing.
  • Get the complete picture before you visit. You can't know everything about a community from an online listing. Schools, crime, and proximity to shopping and work all impact property values. NAR says talk to a Realtor and go to Realtor.com to explore communities.
  • Make sure the property details are reliable. Buyers need know when a listing has experienced a price change. Look for Web sites like Realtor.com that updates listings frequently, including price changes. Fresh and reliable information is critical. Realtor.com time stamps listings to help buyers make better informed decisions. Get email alerts and stay on top of changes so you can be first to act. Written by Broderick Perkins
  • Spring Brings Showers, Showings, and Closings in Vermont this Year!

    The sun is shining as I type this. Thank god. This Spring has been the "rainiest" Spring on record for Vermont, and I know I'm not the only one ready for Summer. Thankfully this hasn't stopped home buyers in Vermontfrom getting out into the marketand seeing properties, making offers, and closing deals! We at Dousevicz Real Estate have seen RECORD activity inNorthern VermontReal Estatefor our office this year, thanks in no doubt to:
    • Still record low interest rates. Rates are still hovering in the mid 4's, which are phenominal!
    • A very nice housing stock in northern Vermont. Sellers are prepping their homes how they need to- making those improvements that have been needed, keeping their homes clean and lawns kept, and eliminating clutter whenever possible. Our clients LIKE WHAT THEY SEE when visiting most homes, which is sure to generate more offers!
    • Sellers and Buyers are willing to COMPROMISE. We've worked on a few deals this Spring where both the buyer and the seller were willing to give something up, in order to get the deal done. The great deal is where everyone wins, and everyone is happy around the closing table. We're seeing this more and more- keep up the good work buyers and sellers!
    Prices in Northern Vermont remain stable when compared to the previous year. What we ARE seeing is that homes in certain areas are on the market for LESS TIME. Much less than what we have seen in the previous 12 months. Specifically, we've experienced two deals for condominiums in South Burlington and Burlington where the deal we put together the condo's were on the market for less than 10 Days, and sometimes they had MORE THAN ONE offer! The lesson here? Be ready to negoatiate, come as a pre-qualified buyer, and try to make offers with minimal contingencies. Do these things and you can WIN the home and condo of your dreams in Burlington, South Burlington, Williston, Essex, or wherever your search takes you. Contact Brad Dousevicz of Dousevicz Real Estate today for the latest market data, your free market analysis for your home, or just to chat about your options. 802-879-4477 or 802-238-9367. Brad@dousevicz.com

    First Time Homebuyer? Dousevicz Real Estate and Fox 44 Explore the subject:

    In this episode of the "Real Estate Minute" as featured on Fox 44, Brad explores some of the important things to keep in mind when you are buying a home in Vermont for the first time. Tips on how to narrow down your search, obtaining financing with little or no money down, and much more! The homebuying process does not need to be complicated or intimidating. Let Brad and his team help you with the knowledge YOU need to make this important investment! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnhFo4W7GYo With Spring in the air, plenty of great homes on the market in Burlington, South Burlington, Essex, Williston, and the surrounding areas, and record low interest rates, it's a great time to buy! Contact Brad today to explore your options; 802-879-4477. Brad@Dousevicz.com

    What Taxes Should I Expect to Pay When I Buy or Sell a Home In Vermont?

    We get this question quite a bit. Especially from Vermont 1st Time Homebuyers, or buyers moving to Vermont from another State. Today, we'll take some time to dive into what you should expect to pay at closing when buying a home in Vermont. In Vermont, the buyer of real estate pays the "Vermont Property Transfer Tax." (This differs from State to State, so there is the possibility you may sell a home in one state, pay your tax, and then pay a tax when you buy in Vermont!) If the buyer is going to have the residence as their primary residence, the tax is calculated as follows:

    • .5% of the first $100,000, then 1.25% for that portion of the sales price over $100,000.
    The law allows for a few exemptions from this tax, and they should certainly be explored with your attorney:
    • a transfer directly to a creditor to secure a debt.
    • tansfers to a corporation
    • transfer without payment to a spouse, child, or grandparent
    Usually the property transfer tax form is filled out by the SELLERS attorney, and signed by each party at closing. For Sellers, if you are selling your primary residence, and it has been your primary residence for at least 2 years, you will avoid a capital gains tax. As for property taxes, see the following link for information from Town to Town: http://www.vermontrealestatetoday.com/newsletter/2009effectivetaxrates.pdf You will notice that property tax rates vary greatly from town to town. In conducting your Vermont home search, be sure you have a firm grasp on how taxes may differ from each town you may be looking. You may be surprised at the differences from one town to the next! For more information, or to ask about your options in buying Vermont Real Estate, contact Brad today at brad@dousevicz.com!

    Is it a good time to buy real estate in Vermont?

    The recent economic "meltdown" has effected the housing market in various ways in the last few years. We can't seem to escape the constantflow of bad news coming from our televisions every night on the evening news, can we? Today we'll explore why it's a great time to buy real estate in Vermont, and the Burlington and surrounding areas of Chittenden county, specifically. The first thing I always remind buyers and sellers is this; Vermont real estate, like politics is first and foremost LOCAL. What's happening in Miami, Las Vegas, or Southern California doesn't really affect us up here in Vermont. Here are some major reasons why:
    1. Vermont did not experience the "Boom" those other areas experienced, and we hence have not experienced the "Valley" either. Vermont's home values, even in the growing of the housing boom, staying fairly level. Vermont has laws that prevent speculative buying, and our building community to did not over-build the available inventory to sell. This has helped maintain home values in Vermont and the more localized areas of Burlington, South Burlington, Williston, Essex, Charlotte, Colchester, and Shelburne.
    2. The current national unemployment level is hovering at around 9%. The unemployment level in Vermont, and more precisely Chittenden County, is nearly 1/2 that amount. The bottom line is that jobs in Vermont have not been nearly as affected as they have in other parts of the country. Employers like UVM, IBM, and Fletcher Allen Health Care have a long employment record in and around Burlinton. There's no reason to believe they'll go anywhere in the time-being, either. If jobs are the key to the economic recovery, and an improved housing market- we're already where we need to be.
    3. Mortgage rates remaining remarkably low. In fact, you can STILL qualify for a low rate of 4.9% for a 30 year fixed rate. This low rate, coupled with the relatively flat but somewhat lower prices than what we have seen in recent years means that homes in Vermont are more affordable than ever. See the link here to a recent Vermont affordable housing study: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20110315/NEWS01/103150303/Study-Vermont-housing-more-affordable
    Simply put, it's a great time to buy- and there are plenty of great homes to chose from. Contact Brad or begin your home search today!