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April 2013 – What’s happening in the real estate market here in the Mad River Valley towns?

Buyers and Sellers are once again hopeful, and the market is rebounding.  The national news is that builders are seeing demand once again.  This is reflected more in full time residential markets although the recreational areas are generally six months to a year behind.  Housing inventory is limited.  Lots and land have undergone a 30 to 50% reduction since mid-2006.  As a result of the reduction in the number of houses available for sale and the greatly reduced prices of land, people are once more looking at the option of purchasing land and building.

The rebound in the stock market is also a good sign for the real estate market.  The thriving stock market indicates more confidence in the overall economy.  And don’t forget interest rates.  When I built my first Vermont house in 1964 the interest rate was 5.75%. In the interim rates have been as high as 18%.   Yet if you are purchasing a house today, you will most likely get an interest rate from 3.5% to 4.25%.  This should be a big incentive for first home and vacation home buyers to buy a home now.

Just look at the difference between the monthly payment at a 3.75% rate and one at a 5.75% rate on a $200,000 mortgage amortized over 30 years, for example.  At 3.75% your monthly payment would be $926.24.  At 5.75% your monthly payment is $1,167.14, a difference of $240.90 per month.  Think of the savings that represents.  It won’t be around long, however.  Soon the house prices will adjust to the interest rates and compensate for the low interest rates.  So in this transitional market I think one can do quite well.

If you have been thinking about buying or selling give VARE a call, and we will fill you in on what is for sale. You can also search through the MLS listings on this site.  We are especially interested in new listings, so if you have been considering selling, we will provide you with all the information to help you make an informed decision.  We hope to hear from you soon.

It’s been snowing for the past few days.  March is a glorious time to be in Vermont.

Anna Whiteside

September 12, 2011 NOTES FROM THE VALLEY

The big news here is still the flood. I expect it will take years before the area can go back to “normal.” It is so sad to think of the loss of those icons that help define Vermont and its history such as the covered bridges, the lovely old homes from the 17, 18, and 1900’s, especially those along the beautiful Mad River.

Nonetheless the spirit that is Vermont is very evident everywhere. Donations of everything from physical labor, office and organizational help and money poured in from all over, visitors and second home owners alike could be seen making their contribution to the clean-up. Especially poignant is the fact that for several days after the flood, neighbors and friends put aside what they were doing and offered and gave their help. This is an ongoing process and will take a long time as thousands were affected in Vermont alone.

I’m sure many of you have seen the pictures on You Tube and the Valley Reporter and on television. I will try to post my photos sometime in the future.

The towns that suffered the most damage in this area were Moretown Village and Waterbury.


Tell me what you want to hear, and I’ll try to deliver. Seriously, one has to have a strong sense of humor to get through these times — that plus money helps too. And if you are one of the lucky people that have some burning a hole in your pocket — well you’re just the person I want to talk to.

Below is the hypothetical conversation I would like to have with you. Of course it’s more satisfying to write both sides of the script even if not very realistic.

ME “What does it take to get this economy going again? Take for example real estate”

YOU ” It would really be nice if LOW interest rates were available”.

ME ” I agree, but 4 to 4.5% seems pretty darn reasonable to me. That’s what Kittredge Mortgage is offering.”

YOU “I can’t seem to find the right property”

ME ” There are over 100 houses to choose from in the three towns of Warren, Fayston and Waitsfield. 116 condominiums and 96 pieces of land.”

YOU “Prices are quite high ‘ ( Aside — I have two answers for this one.)

ME (Answer #1)”That could have been said one year ago perhaps, but not now. Prices come down every day, and there are several excellent buys out there.”

ME (Answer #2) “Make an offer if you think the price is too high. It never hurts. In fact many owners expect you to make offers. Yes indeed there are always some who are firm on their price, but it is better to have tried and lost than to not have tried at all.”

YOU “As much as I would like to buy, I have to sell my house first, and I would hate to sell in this market since prices are so low. I could have gotten a lot more two years ago.”

ME “It is a perfect time for you to sell and buy. If one is selling and buying in the same market whatever you lose on the selling end, you gain on the buying end. And that is the truth. You can always sell ‘subject to finding suitable housing.'”.

Things we don’t have control over:

  • Unreasonable Sellers
  • Unreasonable Buyers
  • Bad appraisal calls
  • Overly strict mortgage calls
  • Anna Whiteside


Real estate continued to show signs of recovery this week. I just checked MLS and a few properties went under contract today. This blog will be brief. There was an article in the NEW YORK TIMES warning that interest rates are expected to rise from their very low level and this will convert to paying more for a property. To put it in perspective our present interest rates are lower now than they were in the early to mid 1960’s. It certainly is something to think about if you are in the market for a first or second home.


It turns out this was a great week in the Valley for getting real estate on the move once again. Several properties went under contract this week including houses, condos, and land and a commercial property. How’s that for affirmation.

From the point of view of seeing the property at its least glorious – i.e. brown, muddy, scraggly, this is the best time of year to shop – especially for land. I always tell my customers if you like it now, you’ll love it in a month when green-up happens and even more in June and July when all the flowers are in full bloom.

My personal favorite month for beauty is spring when you will see more shades of green than you ever dreamed existed. And when the fields are newly turned there are no more beautiful and rich browns. If you are planning for horses, raising vegetables, a vineyard, softball field for the kids to play or any outdoor activity that involves the land, the good part about shopping now is all the potential problems are visible. Therefore you will be forewarned that this might make an excellent horse pasture but you will need to do some drainage, or possibly it’s just not appropriate for the use you have in mind.

Anna Whiteside

Update on Valley Market – end March 2010

Let’s review the obvious first – sales are down across the board with very little activity since the beginning of 2010. This is especially hard on sellers many of whom (I am speaking especially of second home owners) are feeling the effects of this severe recession in their businesses and jobs where they live as well. .

When you consider there are over 30 full time agents in the valley whose livelihood depends on sales, you can get an idea of how down the market is as this is the same market that generally can support us..

And now the good part – the winners in this economy are the buyers. Why? Prices are at their lowest in years – I’ve been watching the Mad River Valley market for 45 years. For those of you fortunate and careful enough to have good credit scores, good incomes and/or access to cash (cash is still king) there are tremendous bargains to be had in every category. Interest rates are between 4.5% to 5% – one of our clients said he was told he could refinance to 4%.

On the primary resident front there are always sellers who want to or need to sell because of job requirements or family needs or retirement time or downsizing. Anyone, whether a primary resident or second home owner, who will be selling and buying in the same market should recognize that this is not a bad time to sell even if the prices don’t meet their expectations because they will have access to properties whose selling prices will be lower so basically it’s a wash.

Because there has been so little activity in the recent (especially the last six months) market there is a lot of pent up buying and selling. As a result of so little activity, the prices on most properties have been reduced – many of them significantly.

The market has been through a protracted slow down and value reduction – much of it was warranted, but tell that to a seller who purchased during the high market years. The market always comes back. The big question is when. If someone has inside information on that question, please share it with us. For now I can only offer my opinion. We need a few pieces of sustained good news to restore confidence. In the meantime, however, interest rates and prices are low – both at the same time – a happy combination.

I would suggest that if you are in the market to purchase, do your looking now so that you are prepared for when the buying frenzy starts – and it will if history is any barometer.

P.S. It’s been a year since the last update in spite of my intention to do better. You no doubt have also noticed the gigundo text; that is because I’ve gotten older, and anything smaller than this looks miniscule to me. I would love some feedback. Send feedback or questions to vare(at)madriver(dotted)com. Thanks for checking out the website. Now come and buy something.

April 1, 2009 – Not the kind of year we would like to get used to – there is an atmosphere of anxiety, and almost everyone has concerns over their jobs, their homes and mortgages, the banking debacle and Wall Street, the overall economy, and their children’s future. Yet, as we adjust to our new world, we see the possibilities for positive change which is a good thing And for those of you who are recession proof, we love you because you will keep the market going. This is a great time for first time homebuyers as well. There are many incentives that are out there for first time homebuyers such as the $8,000 tax

The real estate market locally has reacted pretty much the same way as markets everywhere across the United States. An excellent aspect of our market, however, is that it never experienced the huge boom that other, more heavily populated areas have. Therefore our prices have never gone up that dramatically and so too our market has not fallen significantly. If you are selling in this market and want to purchase in the same area, this is as good a time to sell since the lower prices you may experience selling should be made up for by the lower price you should have to pay.

Thus far this year, I personally have had a good year, better in fact than last year. There are always those who wish or need to sell and those who wish to or need to buy. Credit scores are more important than ever, and banks’ underwriting rules are tighter. Appraisers are being quite conservative, perhaps overly so because the banks have gotten more demanding. Prices on houses have not fallen dramatically if they were priced right to begin with. One of course sees that the biggest spread in listing price to selling price are on overpriced homes. The supply of new residential listings has just begun to increase — real estate rite of spring – and more attractive listings are coming on the market with much more realistic prices.

CONDOMINIUMS: My experience is that there is more negotiation room with condominiums than with homes. It is amazing that one is able to buy an attractive vacation condo in the price range of $75,000 to $120,000. Many of these have reasonable association fees and other related costs. Of course the luxury condos are priced higher, but even these have come down significantly.

The LAND market which has been practically non-existent for the past two and one half plus years is finally seeing some activity. We have had many inquiries on land in the past few weeks. To date not much land has sold this year, but that usually happens in the spring time when the ground is free of snow, and one can actually see the land so I’m hopeful land sales will increase. I am hearing more and more that people are exploring building modular homes as the technology improves and the houses are much more attractive. Of course one of the reasons no one purchased land these past few years is the high cost of materials.

INTEREST RATES are terrific right now — presently 4.75% to 5.75%, 30 years, no points. That is incredibly low – almost as low as an SBA disaster loans. The $8,000 tax credit is a big incentive if one is eligible. I have the ground rules if you are interested, and I can send them to you.

I spoke with a mortgage originator this morning, and he told me that credit scores as well as fluctuating rates determine what interest rate you will be able to secure. 740 is the benchment for very good scores and they will merit the best rate because it is felt that these borrorwers have less risk.

Well, it’s about time I updated my last report. I am embarrassed that the previous one was written so long ago. I promise to try to do better by keeping the site more up to date and bringing you other interesting news and useful information. Feel free to email me and ask questions about the market in the Mad River Valley. I love to help, and if you know anyone who is looking to buy or sell, I hope you will recommend VARE to them. We are very service oriented and committed to providing professional, friendly service backed by 45 years of experience in valley properties.

And don’t forget to come up and buy something. The Mad River Valley is just amazing.

Anna Whiteside