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      Clayton-Paul Cormier

      Have you Served? Real Estate Financing for American Servicemen, Servicewomen and Veterans in Vermont

      Maple Sweet Real Estate proudly helps American servicemen and servicewomen buy and sell Vermont homes and property.

      Navigating the complex ins and outs of securing home mortgages is complicated. Here's a primer to help you understand valuable considerations in the quest to secure the best military service financing options.

      VA (Veterans Administration) loans are mortgages guaranteed by the US Dept of Veterans Affairs but provided by various private mortgage lenders and not, as often thought, by the US Government. VA loans are intended for vets, active military, reservists and select surviving spouses with no down payment and, as per Wikipedia, allow for "103.3 percent financing without private mortgage insurance (PMI) or a 20 percent second mortgage and up to $6,000 for energy efficient improvements."

      Do you know your credit score? While the FHA  miniumum is 500 or 580 if puttiing 3.5% down, many lenders require a 620-640 miniumum vs the 680 sought for conventional loans. Benefit from relaxed credit requirements. Traditional DTIs (Debt to Income Ratios) for conforming loans are 28%. For VA loans it's most often 41%, quite a bit more lenient and, in certain cases up to a whopping 80%.

      Skip paying PMI Unlike conventional and FHA loans, VA loans don’t require monthly mortgage insurance. On a $250,000 mortgage, FHA’s annual mortgage insurance can add $170 per month to your mortgage insurance.That's $2,040 a year in savings for veterans borrowing $250k.

      Receive a  COE (Certificate of Eligibility) to qualify. Apply by mail with this application or apply online via the VA eBenefits portal.

      While there are myriad advantages to VA Mortgages, they are not free. The VA funding fee ranges from 0 to 3.3% of the loan amount are paid to the VA. It may be financed and some may qualify for an exemption. VA funding fees range from .5% to 2% of the loan amount unless the loan applicant receives 10% or more in disability compensation. For first-time homebuyers, the funding fee is typically:

      2.15% of the loan amount for those who've had active duty service.

      2.4% for those in reserves/national guard and

      3.3% for subsequent uses by active or reserve, national guard

      Most other closing costs can not be rolled into the loan but can be paid, if agreed to, by the seller(s), as well as up to 4% of the gross loan amount in contract related concessions.

      Maximum loan guarantees without down payment vary by county but are the same in all Vermont counties, $453,100. Compare this to the United State Dept of Agriculture Rural Development loan limit for Washington County, the highest in Vermont, $239,000.

      For more detailed info check out the Vermont Office of Veterans Affairsthe VA website , this VA home loans fact sheet or connect with a Veterans United loan specialist in more detail at 855-233-2427.

      To help you find Vermont lenders providing VA loans, here's a list to start with and a summary video from Quicken Loans to help shed light on VA loan requirements and loans.

      The most enjoyable part is of course finding the right home for your VA Mortgage. We look forward to hearing from you. Contact us today to schedule a showing or with any VA Mortgage or other Vermont real estate questions. And most of all, thank you ever so much for your service.

      Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 for info on selling or purchasing Vermont commercial properties, homes, condos or land or to get more information on Vermont real estate. 

      See all Maple Sweet Real Estate listings and the newest Vermont listings.

      Maple Sweet Real Estate delves into myriad issues affecting Vermont property owners, sellers, and purchasers.

      Referrals & recommendations are welcome & appreciated.

      Vermont Mandatory Consumer Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.

      Information Disclosure: information provided and relayed by Maple Sweet Real Estate is not represented to be accurate or free of errors. While substantial efforts are made to obtain and convey information from sources deemed dependable, Maple Sweet Real Estate does not guarantee or warranty such information is accurate or reliable. All information should be independently verified.

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        Listing Spotlight: 369 Strong Road, Fayston VT

        This Fayston, VT home was constructed in 2005 with a high-end design and energy efficient features. There are 6 bedrooms, including a handicap-accessible guest room on the basement floor. It is a beautiful hillside home with stunning mountain views. The kitchen is upgraded with blue mica cast concrete counters, stainless steel appliances, 6-burner stove, a wine cooler pantry, and a formal breakfast nook overlooking the backyard. The wrap-around porch in the backyard is the perfect spot to enjoy during spring, summer, and fall.

        Fayston VT Home: 369 Strong Road369 Strong Road, Fayston VT

        Fayston VT, 369 Strong Road - image 1Fayston VT, 369 Strong Road - image 2

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        Contact me to schedule a tour of this home! Click here to view the listing details.

        Listing Spotlight: 1698 Plunkton Road, Warren VT

        1698 Plunkton is a beautiful historic home in the Mad River Valley town of Warren, VT. On 7.5 +/- acres, this home abutts the Green Mountain National Forest and has stunning views year-round. Snowshoe the property in winter, grab a kayak to explore Blueberry Lake or hop on the recently built wonderful mountain bike trails during warmer months. There are 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, high-end kitchen, radiant heat, and a wood stove sauna below the pond.   

        1698 Plunkton Road, Warren VT - photo 21698 Plunkton Road, Warren VT - photo 31698 Plunkton Road, Warren VT - photo 41698 Plunkton Road, Warren Vermont - photo 51698 Plunkton Road, Warren Vermont - photo 61698 Plunkton Road, Warren Vermont - photo 71698 Plunkton Road, Warren Vermont - photo 8

        Contact me to schedule a tour of this home! Click here to view the listing details.

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          The Trump Effect on the U.S. Housing Market, by Clare Trapasso, realtor.com Senior News Editor

          The article below is from Realtor.com, written by Senior News Editor, Clare Trapasso.

          Trump-housing-market

          LPETTET/iStock

          By now everyone on the planet knows that the majority of polls were wrong. Dead wrong! Donald Trump was elected the 45th U.S. president in a stunning upset. And his presidency is expected to have a profound impact on the nation and world.

          Sure, everyone right now is obsessing over what kind of impact the new president-elect will have on immigration, taxes, international relations, and trade policies. But we have a more specific query: What will the real estate mogul turned most powerful man in the world mean for the future of residential housing? (We are realtor.com® after all.)

          In the short term, probably not all that much.

          However, we do know that the incoming president will limit the federal government’s role in the real estate market, as was outlined in the 66-page Republican Platform 2016. So, longer term, the implications of this for home buyers, sellers, and owners could be sweeping.

          Related Articles

          As for now, “our November elections come at one of the slowest time of the year for sales, so I doubt we will see much disruption to the normal seasonal pattern” of home buying and selling, says realtor.com’s chief economist, Jonathan Smoke. “However, one short-term risk could be if the [election] has a big impact to financial markets that lasts more than a few days.

          “About half of voters got what they wanted,” he adds. “If this does impact purchases, it is more likely to be in blue states and not the red heartland.”

          Could Trump make the housing market ‘great again’ for buyers?

          A Trump presidency could be a boon for home buyers struggling to save up for a hefty down payment.

          That’s because he has promised to cut taxes and shrink the number of tax brackets from seven to three. This could, in theory, leave buyers with more money to spend on the homes of their dreams.

          And it could give the luxury market, which has been slowing down as of late, a boost, says James Harris, one of the star real estate agents on “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.”

          “For the high-end, luxury market, it may turn into something very positive,” he says.

          But real estate analysts were quick to point out that some of the reforms laid out in the Republican platform could potentially force buyers to plunk down larger down payments or pay higher interest rates. That could be problematic for those without a few extra million dollars in their bank accounts.

          “The heart of Republican support—blue-collar, middle-aged workers—are the people who will [be affected] the most,” says Bob Edelstein, co-chair of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. “It may be harder to get mortgages, and those that will be available will be less advantageous.”

          Adios, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

          It appears that the Republican Party, now led by Trump, wants to do away with—or substantially shrink—both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, although the language in the platform was a bit vague. It referred to the business models of the pair as “corrupt” and allowing “shareholders and executives [to] reap huge profits while the taxpayers cover all losses.”

          Trump hasn’t yet provided a replacement plan for the current system, which relies heavily on both Fannie and Freddie.

          The Republicans will also stop the FHA from providing taxpayer-guaranteed mortgages to wealthy home buyers. The FHA typically insures loans for low-income, first-time, and other buyers who don’t have enough for a 20% down payment.

          Hit the road, Dodd-Frank?

          The Republicans have also said they want to repeal—or at the very least, limit—the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The act provides more oversight of financial institutions in the wake of the housing bust that plunged the nation into a recession.

          Trump’s party also wants to get rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (or subject it to congressional appropriation). The bureau, created through Dodd-Frank, is charged with protecting consumers against predatory financial services companies, including those providing mortgages.

          Dodd-Frank and agencies such as the CFPB are key to ensuring financial markets are kept in check and act fairly, says Edelstein.

          However, Republicans allege that its “regulatory harassment of local and regional banks, the source of most home mortgages and small business loans, advantages big banks and makes it harder for Americans to buy a home” in the platform.

          Unfortunately, no one at realtor.com has a crystal ball to see into the future of residential real estate under America’s new commander in chief. But it doesn’t look like demand from aspiring home buyers will taper off any time soon.

          The election is “going to absolutely create a short-term uncertainty like Brexit,” says Harris. “But in the long run, I think everything will be fine.”

          Clare Trapasso is the senior news editor of realtor.com. She previously covered finance for a Financial Times publication and wrote for the New York Daily News. Clare also teaches journalism at a local college, loves food festivals and bike trips, and enjoys playing with her dog.. Follow @claretrap

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            Vermont's Fall Foliage

            Vermont Fall FoliageSummer is coming to an end in Vermont. We are beginning to see signs of fall, from early morning chill to seasonal flavors and the turning of leaves. Vermont is famous for its beautiful change of color in fall. It is in the early stages, and soon most trees will be vibrant shades of orange, yellow, and red. Some trees that are known for their color change are maple, oak, and birch.

            This is leaf peeper season. Visitors from surrounding states travel to Vermont to get a glimpse of the fall foliage. Residents get outside to take in the array of colors and enjoy all that Vermont's fall has to offer. Whether you are traveling from afar or a Vermonter, there are many ways to take advantage of leaf peeping. The peak of foliage is usually in late September to early October, which is a popular time for Vermont vacationers. This is also an ideal time for hiking, biking, apple picking and much more.

            To celebrate the season, fall foliage events & festivals:

            Click here for more events and festivals happening throughout Vermont in September and October.

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              Sixty Nine Million Pounds. An Industrial Cathedral.

              Sixty Nine Million Pounds. A town named from a fist fight, Doctor Paddocks pulling hemlock splinters from the fighter's back and buttox.

              The largest block of granite ever quarried in Barre, Vermont, which took one thousand seven hundred flat cars to transport the smaller blocks it was cut into. Barre, Vermont is stone. The Vermont Granite Museum (VGM) @ 7 Jones Brothers Way in Barre, VT is an Industrial Cathedral, breathtaking in size and scope. Stone Arts School.

              Walk through the doors to discover clusters of plaster and stone sculptures cut by master-craftsman and modern artists, drawings, sets, polishing wheels and molds inside this spectacularly renovated massive warehouse. Built 130 years ago along the Winooski River Stevens Branch in an area once known as Wildersburgh. It was known as the Ellis Island of Vermont with sweat and toil from Scotland, Itlay, Spain, Canada, Norway and Finland. The population exploded between 1880 and 1894 from two to ten thousand.

               

               

              Religious inspiration, granite fest, buffing discs, rockfire, work in motion, a monumental renovation six and a half million dollars later and wonderful charitable cause. Email the museum to arrange your tour or donate today. 802-776-4605.

              The North Barre Granite Boys at work in the 1942 Granite Shed, from the VGM facebook page.

              Maple Sweet features blog posts on a wide array of real estate related subjects including architecture, art and culture. For more information Vermont real estate, the VGM, on selling or purchasing Vermont commercial properties, homes, condos or land connect to maplesweet.com, e-mailinfo@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965. See all Maple Sweet Real Estate listings and the newest Vermont listings.

              Vermont Mandatory Consumer Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details. Information Disclosure: information provided and relayed by Maple Sweet Real Estate is not represented to be accurate or free of errors. While substantial efforts are made to obtain and convey information from sources deemed dependable, Maple Sweet Real Estate does not guarantee or warranty such information is accurate or reliable. All information should be independently verified.

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                Summer Farmers Markets in Vermont

                Vermont's farmers market season is just around the corner.

                With over 30 markets throughout the state, these weekend events provide residents and visitors a chance to meet local farmers, florists, business owners, artists, and more. A few towns continue their markets throughout Winter, but nothing compares to Summer markets. Many Vermont farmers markets are a community gathering, with live music and outdoor seating.

                Burlington Vermont Farmers Market

                Farmers markets first started in Vermont in the 1970s. Since 1986, the number of markets has grown from 19 to 64. The Vermont Farmers Market Association (VTFMA), along with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, work to organize these community events. 

                From Burlington to Brattleboro, each market gives you the opportunity to meet and support local farmers. 

                Click here to find a farmer's market near you.

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                  When the Levee Breaks

                   

                  Vermont, the Green Mountain State, is green for a reason. 

                  Water.

                  We have an abundance, in stark contrast to Colorado and other parched western states where humidity levels are low and desert can be found. 

                  Vermont water oozes out of the ground even in the absence of rain, delicious spring water coming forth. Many houses across the state are lucky enough to tap into this ground water resource for their drinking water. It's so delicious, a cut above drilled well water. You can taste it. 

                  But when the skies cloud over and the big rains come or the snowmelt flows over the river banks, watershed becomes a curse. The mountains and ridgelines serve as giant canyon walls, the valley streams and rivers swell and, under just the right circumstances, unleash floods of awesome power that can sweep away entire houses and the land underneath them.

                  1927 flood, two years before the Great Depression, was massive. The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) didn't exist until five decades later, established in 1978. Hurricane Irene struck August 20th, 2011, followed by also devastating Hurricane Sandy the very next year in 2012 resulting in 13 million in private insurance claims in Vermont. Homeowners' insurance policies don't cover flood insurance, instead provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

                  Needless to say, when you're buying a house in Vermont you should be well informed as to the local watershed and if it lies in any flood zone. FEMA has this fantastic mapping tool. Type in the property (residential, commercial or any other) address and hit enter or the search tab. The "View Map" tab pulls the local Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) but the "Interactive Map" tab pulls a much more detailed version which makes it possible to see if even part of a house falls in the 100-year zone AE which would mean a major hike in flood insurance rates. The FEMA site has excellent information too on the various flood zones, flood insurance, and this tutorial on how to read a flood map. Zone AE includes more detailed information including Base Flood Elevations (BFEs). If a property is in the 100-year flood zone insurance rates are calculated based on the BFE and relative elevation of the lowest level of the house, including the basement floor if there is one (regardless of whether it's a dirt or concrete floor).

                  Banks can require the flood insurance even if only a small portion of the land (not structure) is in the 100-year zone. If it seems clear your structure is not in the 100-year flood zone and you don't think your lowest structure floor level, including the basement, is below the probable BFE, then it may be worth hiring a surveyor to create an elevation certificate and determine your structure location BFE (base flood elevation). Insurance agencies recommend having the BFE prepared. The ballpark surveyor cost is in the $400-$500 range. If high and dry, including the basement floor elevation relative to the BFE if you have a basement, you can file an LOMA (letter of Map Amendment) to request a change and flood zone designation and have FEMA reclassify your property as property out of the 100-year flood plain.

                  The table above is a rough (not intended to be accurate) indication of what the yearly flood insurance rate might run based on $175,000 of coverage. FEMA will insure up to $250,000 on residential and $500k on commercial and if you're borrowing money to purchase the bank will require flood insurance if the property falls into the 100-year flood plain for the mortgage amount or structure value, whichever is least. For a basement six or more feet below the BFE, it could run several thousand or more a year. One Hancock, Vermont property owner recently received an estimate of $4,800 per year to insure $175,000 home with a basement six or more feet below the BFE, rivaling yearly taxes. Every foot is rounded up or down at the half foot mark. 5" gets rounded down, 6" rounded up. Local insurance agents may find it hard to even roughly estimate what your flood insurance premium might be. Agencies call the National Flood Center for rates, 800-759-8656.

                  Pre-FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) buildings are those, as per FEMA's website, "buildings built before the effective date of the first FIRM for a community" and before "detailed flood hazard data and flood elevations were provided" and usually "before the community enacted comprehensive regulations on floodplain regulation, designed to help people afford flood insurance (via subsidized rates) even though their buildings were not built with flood protection in mind." Such subsidization is on a 5-25% diminishing track until rates hit market level.

                  For some purchasers this added carrying cost can be back breaking, lead to foreclosure and incur significantly longer marketing periods to sell. In some cases this 100 year flood zone properties suffer from dramatically lower sale prices as fewer buyers can handle the elevated level of carrying expense.

                  If the property falls in Zone X, the 500-year flood zone, no federal flood insurance is mandatory though maintaining a policy may make sense. To counter risk, some jack up the entire house and replace their foundations with higher foundation walls to elevate the lowest level above the BFE and avoid costly yearly flood insurance premiums. Others resignedly have their basements filled in, eliminating the sub-BFE level altogether.

                  Maple Sweet Real Estate delves deeply into myriad issues affecting Vermont property owners, sellers, and purchasers.

                  Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 for info on selling or purchasing Vermont commercial properties, homes, condos or land or to get more information on Vermont real estate. 

                  See all Maple Sweet Real Estate listings and the newest Vermont listings.

                  Referrals & recommendations are welcome & appreciated.
                   
                  Vermont Mandatory Consumer Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.
                   
                  Information Disclosure: information provided and relayed by Maple Sweet Real Estate is not represented to be accurate or free of errors. While substantial efforts are made to obtain and convey information from sources deemed dependable, Maple Sweet Real Estate does not guarantee or warranty such information is accurate or reliable. All information should be independently verified.

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