Vermont real estate listings: a picture is worth very few words

Real estate agents are skilled at taking great pictures of their listings.  The ultimate purpose for this is to show the excellent attributes of a home, while leaving the less desirable to the imagination.  For real estate investors, looking to make a play in the Vermont market, sometimes, a listing sheet, tax bill, sellers disclosure form and pictures are all they secure before making a determination if a piece of Vermont real estate is worth their investment dollars.

Although nothing can replace an actual site visit, there are ways to dig into the property without setting a foot on the land itself by looking into the land records to see if a story can be told as to the properties marketability.  Below are a few of the key documents one might look for in performing this research.

  1.  History of property.  Understanding the history of a piece of Vermont real estate, how many owners it is has had and whether or not there is an indication as to the price that was paid each time the property was transferred should give a prospective buyer a good indication of what the property may be worth currently.  Looking into the land records and finding the deeds mortgages and Vermont Property Transfer Return Forms may shed some light on this important question;
  2. Improvements To Property:  Anytime a structural change will be taken place to a building, a permit may be required before construction begins.  These permit applications should be available in the town clerk or zoning office.  The application itself may give a rough cost estimate and an overall sketch of the proposed improvement, which can be taken into consideration when making an offer.  Further, if a new septic or other improvement was completed during ownership, a Vermont waste water permit with a proposed plan conducted by a septic planner may be available either at the land records or by researching the septic application at the Vermont Agency for Natural Resources.
  3. Is the Seller Motivated?  There is a different selling ,mentality when selling a primary residence as opposed to a second home or one that was transferred as a result of an estate or trust.  In many occasions. where a property is transferred after the death of the owner, the new owner lives several states away.  This is an important piece of information that should be evidenced in the land records and can have a significant effect on how low a bid an owner is willing to take, when they consider the carrying costs of a home that is located so far from them.

The three examples above are just a few of the pieces of information when can extract from the Vermont Land records if they, or a Vermont title abstractor, visit the town clerk for a few hours.  This information can make all the difference in making the right bid for the right property.

The information above should not be considered legal advice.  Parties are encouraged to contact a Vermont attorney for specific questions regarding Vermont real estate transaction.

Where have all the Vermont title searchers gone?

Vermont is a tough place to get to.  With its mountainous terrain and narrow single lane roads that curve through the rugged landscape, it can be difficult for many to get from point A to point B within a reasonable amount of time.  Add some snow or ice, and the task can seem next to impossible for those who don’t have a half day to kill.  Thus, for those out of state businesses and individuals who wish to ascertain some information about Vermont real estate, looking for a local professional to provide travel to the town where the land records are stored can be extremely valuable.

However, finding a Vermont title searcher may not be an easy task, especially for properties that are located in the many rural towns throughout the State that are an hour’s drive or more from any major Vermont town or city.  Ever navigated your way through the beautiful mountains to the town of Chelsea?  Ever driven up over Brandon Gap from Route 7 to reach the town of Rochester?  For anyone who has some time on their hands, driving these rural routes to these quaint towns is an experience one may never forget.  However, reaching these towns on a strict time line can be just the opposite, an experience one wants to immediately forget.

A recent article by the Burlington Free Press has made public what many have known for a while, Vermont is aging faster then any other State in the nation.  As a result, less real estate professionals are entering the Vermont market then are leaving.

The Vermont real estate market is filled with opportunities, both for those looking to make Vermont a home, as well as those looking for a second home or investment property.  However, without knowing the true legal status of the property and what title issues may play a role in the marketability of the title of the real estate, one may not be able to fully grasp the risks versus the rewards of such an investment, windy icy mountain descents included.