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Tuesday November 21, 2006 Edition
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Nancy Foster Offers Her Expertise Concerning The Real Estate Market In Addison County

Nancy Foster, co-owner of Champlain Valley Properties (REMAX), located on Court Street in downtown Middlebury.
photo provided
Nancy Foster, co-owner of Champlain Valley Properties (REMAX), located on Court Street in downtown Middlebury.

Tuesday November 21, 2006

By Larry Johnson

   The Addison County real estate market is alive and well, according to Nancy Foster, co-owner of Champlain Valley Properties (REMAX), located on Court Street in downtown Middlebury.

     In the past several years, according to Nancy, single family housing costs have been increasing at 10% to 15% a year. The market is no longer experiencing this kind of appreciation, but “It’s a reasonable market for property reasonably priced,” Nancy explained.

     Affordable housing can be broadly defined as falling below the $200,000 price tag. “Higher- end” properties, ranging above $500,000, are taking longer to sell in 2006 than in the past five years. For instance, a $200,000 house may take a few weeks longer than in past years where as a high-end property may take a few months or more to place.

     But 2006 has been a good year for the five agents at Champlain Properties. In October alone, the agency had 21 closings and year-to-date the office has handled 112 transactions.

     Fixed interest rates have crept up, however, from below 6% to the mid to high 6s and this may have contributed to a longer selling period.

     Until recently, the Middlebury market has had trouble maintaining an affordable housing inventory. There were, in effect, more buyers than sellers and this necessarily contributed to inflated market pricing. But the new housing starts, that are beginning to come through the pipeline, will help to solve this problem in the near future.
New housing will also tend to cool down the cost of housing in the Middlebury area.

     High prices in housing are reflected in the low end of the market, such as trailers established on their own land. Nancy used the example of a recent sale, a single-wide trailer on about 10 acres that sold for its full asking price in just one week.

     Although there may be a perceptible shortage of affordable housing, middle class working people can almost always find adequate financing. In fact, there are a number of interesting mortgage options available today that didn’t exist just a few years ago.

     “It is possible,” Nancy explained, “to get 100% financing if you have good credit and an adequate source of income. One new product is called “80/20”. The financial institution will take an 80% first mortgage, at the lowest possible rate, and a 20% second mortgage at a higher interest rate. This allows the borrower to pay off the higher interest rate faster and to take advantage of the larger loan at a much lower rate of interest. And with good credit, some financial institutions will allow a borrower to allocate up to 45% of his or her income to housing, up from 28% just a few years ago.

     Although housing sales nationwide have dropped by nearly 20% over the past year, as a result of an overheated housing market, sales in Vermont, and especially Addison County, are good and promise to stay that way for the foreseeable future, according to Nancy Foster.


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