We are pleased to provide our noteworthy stats for the first half of 2019. We've accomplished some great results with our new website, paid search ads, print advertising, and social media. Click on the image below to view the full report from Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty.
Contact the Kathy O'Brien Team for all of your Vermont real estate needs. We're happy to share our expertise with you!
Burlington Housing Summit
June 11, 2019 at Contois Auditorium in City Hall
For many years, Burlington has faced a housing crisis. Meanwhile, right now, progressive cities around the country are looking to housing policy as a solution to many of our central challenges, and reforming outdated land use policies that increase income inequality, promote sprawl, and drive up rents. Here in Burlington, we can do the same.
Please join us on June 11 for the Burlington Housing Summit, where we will delve into our housing challenges, opportunities, and key policy reforms. We plan to emerge from this summit with a list of priority housing initiatives that the Administration will spearhead in consultation with the City Council, the Planning Commission, housing stakeholders, and the public in the coming months. Our goal will be to deliver draft ordinances for these priority reforms to the City Council for action this fall.
We know that beyond the next few months, there will be more work to do. To this end, the Summit will also include space to hear from the community about other ideas we should consider in the future.
We need all of your voices at the Burlington Housing Summit. Together, we can take a step toward a future where housing is a human right and where Burlington is the sustainable, vibrant, affordable, inclusive, and equitable place that we strive to be.
Burlington Housing Summit schedule:
Noon-5pm Working Meeting
- 11:30am Check-in and lunch
- Noon Welcome
- 12:05pm Keynote from Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender
- 12:30 Questions with President Bender
- 12:45 Address from Mayor Miro Weinberger
- 1:00 Presentations on 5 Specific Housing Policy Reforms
- 1:30 Break
- 1:45 Break-outs to Workshop 2 Policy Reforms:
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Parking minimums
- 2:30 Break
- 2:40 Break-outs to Workshop 3 Policy Reforms:
Housing Trust Fund, Short-term rentals, and Energy efficiency in rental housing
- 3:25 Break
- 3:35 Open Space: Self-organized, small group discussion
What other housing policy reforms should be on the City’s list for the future?
- 4:40 Close and next steps
6-8pm Town Hall Meeting
- 6:00 Welcome
- 6:05 Keynote from Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender
- 6:20 Address from Mayor Miro Weinberger
- 6:30 Questions with President Bender and Mayor Weinberger
- 6:40 Overview of 5 Specific Housing Policy Reforms
- 6:50 Overview of following hour
- 7:00 Open House on 5 Housing Policy Reforms
Attendees talk with City subject matter experts about these 5 areas
- 7:25 Open Space: Self-organized, small group discussion
What other housing policy reforms should be on the City’s list for the future?
- 7:55 Close and next steps
Exact schedule and timing subject to change.
*** The noon-5pm working meeting is open to all but free advanced registration is required through Eventbrite. For the 6-8pm Town Hall Meeting, no registration required, though RSVP through the Facebook event is helpful. See you there! ***
For a preview of the Summit, see this video with Mayor Weinberger and the City's Meagan Tuttle and David White:
Lisa Bender is the President of the Minneapolis City Council, where her housing policy achievements include leading the City Council’s adoption of the Minneapolis 2040 Plan, a comprehensive plan to guide growth, prioritize racial equity, and fight climate change; authoring the City’s Inclusionary Zoning policy; and writing the City’s Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance.
First elected in 2013, President Bender has also championed the implementation of the City’s Complete Streets policy, including securing $400 million for investment in complete streets; led the adoption of the Midwest’s first $15 local minimum wage; and advocated for community-led approaches to public safety. President Bender earned a Master's Degree in City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and has over a decade of experience in shaping transportation and land use choices to make cities more equitable and sustainable.
Lisa will be the keynote speaker at both the working meeting and the Town Hall.
About the Policies:
At the Burlington Housing Summit, we will workshop several key housing policy reforms, and hear from partners and the community about how to get these right. The Summit will prioritize remaining, unfinished business from the City's 2015 Housing Action Plan. These policies include:
Housing Trust Fund – restoring and increasing funding to the City's Housing Trust Fund, which provides grants and loans for the promotion, retention and creation of long-term affordable housing
Learn more about the Housing Trust Fund: "Housing Trust Fund," City of Burlington, last updated May 2019.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) – rule changes to make it easier to create small houses or apartments that exist on the same property lot as a single-family residence, which are known as Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs
Learn more about ADUs: 1) "The ABCs of ADUs: A guide to Accessory Dwelling Units and how they expand housing options for people of all ages," AARP, 2019 [PDF], and 2) "Accessory Dwelling Units in Burlington," CEDO, February 2019 [PDF].
Short-term rentals – regulating short-term rentals like Airbnb in order to balance the economic benefit for Burlingtonians with potential impacts on renters and neighborhoods
Learn more about short-term rentals and cities:
- Impacts on rental housing affordability and availability: 1) "Research: When Airbnb Listings in a City Increase, So Do Rent Prices," Harvard Business Review, April 17, 2019 and 2) "Cities Tell Airbnb to Make Room for Affordable Housing," PEW, October 2018.
- Local regulatory frameworks: 1) "San Francisco Office of Short-Term Rentals," 2) "Frequently Asked Questions about Short-Term Rentals," Town of Stowe, Vermont [PDF], and 3) "Short-Term Rentals," Vermont Department of Taxes.
Parking minimums – changing the parking we require for new homes, especially in the downtown
Learn more about parking minimums: 1) "People Over Parking," Planning, October 2018, and 2) "How Parking Requirements Hurt the Poor," The Washington Post, March 2016.
Energy efficiency in rental housing – updates to protect renters from unreasonably and wastefully high utility costs
Learn more about energy efficiency in rental housing: 1) "Cities Hold the Keys to Greener, More Efficient Homes," Rocky Mountain Institute, April 2019, and 2) "Time of Sale Energy Efficiency Ordinance," Burlington Electric Department.
The Administration's goal is to deliver draft ordinances for reforms in each of these areas to the City Council for action this fall. We also know that there is more work to do. Along with discussion of these five areas, the Housing Summit will also include space to generate a list of additional policies that the City should consider for the future.
When we create more homes in our urban centers, we fight climate change by structuring our land use in a way that requires less energy to meet our heating, cooling, and ground transportation needs. Downtown residents produce half or less of the climate emissions of their suburban counterparts.
When we create more homes, we strengthen our local businesses by addressing their top concern: that our shortage of housing makes it tough to attract and retain workers and create new jobs.
When we create more homes, we share the costs of our high-quality public services and amenities over a larger tax base.
When we create more homes, we open up the opportunity for welcoming new Burlingtonians into our neighborhoods, and becoming a more racially diverse and inclusive community.
When we create more homes, we fight income inequality in the most potent way we can as local officials. Indeed, President Obama released a report just before he left office citing local regulations that stifle housing creation as one of the country’s major drivers of income inequality.
When we create more resources for those experiencing homelessness, we make good on our deeply-held value of caring for the most vulnerable in our community.
In short, when we create more homes, we are taking a step toward a future where housing is a human right and where Burlington is the sustainable, vibrant, affordable, inclusive, and equitable place that we strive to be.
Other progressive cities around the country are taking up the mantle of housing reform. In Minneapolis, a grassroots group Neighbors for More Neighbors just successfully advocated to upzone large swaths of the city to address its history of redlining and exclusion. In Seattle, Boston, Madison, and other cities, progressive activist groups are pushing the forces of the status quo to say yes to more housing, with the goal of creating truly walkable, affordable, and diverse cities.
Burlington faces a similar, long-simmering challenge. For decades, well-intentioned but highly restrictive land use rules have kept housing supply from keeping up with dramatically rising demand. As a result, the average Burlingtonian spends more than 40 percent of their income on rent, making us one of the most expensive communities in the country to live in.
For the last seven years we have been charting a different course with a two-part strategy: 1) We have continued Burlington’s proud legacy of building as much permanently affordable housing as possible; and 2) We also have pursued policies and proactive efforts to create more homes for households of all backgrounds. This second strategy recognizes that there will never be enough subsidies to solve our housing problems with traditional affordable housing solutions alone, and both permanently affordable homes and all new homes are important.
This effort to increase more homes for all – more housing supply – is working. There has been anecdotal evidence of this for a while, including last spring when Seven Days reported that the 300 new beds in Champlain College’s 194 St. Paul Street building were “spurring competition to fill student rentals that once could practically lease themselves... In response, some landlords are cutting rents. Others are waiving deposits.”
We are now starting to see this progress in the data. The City recently commissioned a study of vacancy trends in the apartment market. We studied vacancy rates because very low vacancy rates drive rent increases and often other problems for tenants and the City. The report findings are clear. During the years 2006 to 2011 the city produced only 67 new apartments and had an average vacancy rate of just .7 percent during that period. Over the past seven years housing production jumped to 579 new homes and the average vacancy rate more than doubled to 1.5 percent.
Now, 1.5 percent is still too low. We will need to see sustained vacancy rates of twice that or more to get to our affordability and inclusion goals. However, these trends of increased new homes and rising vacancy rates refute the idea that new housing supply doesn’t matter, and should be seen as a call to more action.
There is much more for us to do. For years, we have had consensus that numerous local regulations were getting in the way of creating new homes, but progress to reform them is not happening quickly enough. In order to make more timely progress, we need to bring focus and urgency to this effort.
To that end, the Mayor’s Office will host the Burlington Housing Summit on June 11 in order to review a range of key housing policies that we first outlined in our 2015 Housing Action Plan, including: Our downtown parking policies, rule changes to create more Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) throughout the City, increased funding to our local Housing Trust Fund, policies to regulate short-term rentals, and updates to protect renters from unreasonably and wastefully high utility costs. The Summit will also include space to hear from the community about other ideas we should consider in the future.
We plan to emerge from this summit with a list of priority housing initiatives that the Administration will spearhead in consultation with the City Council, the Planning Commission, housing stakeholders, and the public in the coming months. Our goal will be to deliver draft ordinances for these priority reforms to the Council for formal vetting and action this fall.
For decades, our community has struggled with the cost of housing. Let us resolve together that 2019 will be the year we accomplish the structural fixes needed to make housing for all a reality.
- Adapted from Mayor Miro Weinberger’s annual State of the City address, April 1, 2019
- Mayor's Office
- Contact Information
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- Mayor's Updates
- Burlington Housing Summit
- State of the City
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Contact the MayorMiro Weinberger, Mayor
City Hall, Room 34
149 Church Street
Burlington, VT 05401
Listed by Kathy O'Brien and Patrick O'Connell of Four Seasons Sotheby's Int'l Realty
Much admired 1896 Historic Burlington Hill Section Brick & Marble Style Victorian home located on one of Burlington's most desirable streets. The house has served this family well since the floor plan is smart & can flex as families grow or shrink! Friends and family gather in the warm, bustling new kitchen, lounging on sofas or propping up the central island, with a glass of wine while the chef does their magic. With 10 ft ceilings, nicely scaled rooms & period architectural detail, the first floor offers elegant formal spaces as well as a cozy living room with fireplace. A breathtaking entry with cherry & oak grand staircase leads to the stunning landing with floor to ceiling 19th century Tiffany windows. The Master suite boasts a copper soaking tub, gas fireplace, curved turret bedroom & custom walk in dressing room/closet (this room was once a bedroom). A generous bedroom, tiled bath with claw foot soaking tub & stall shower, laundry room & back staircase complete the second floor. The third floor with a large family room, two bedrooms with lake views, bath & small kitchen was perfect for the owners two teenage boys. It's great for guests. This home has been lovingly restored and meticulously maintained by the current owners. "It's a beautiful home, but more importantly, it's alive, living and breathing with us, meeting our needs before we even know we have them". Ideally located within walking distance to downtown Burlington and Lake Champlain.
2018 Luxury Market Report Q1-Q3
Home buying has gone high tech and the market has millennials and fintech companies to thank.
Rewind a few years and most people shopping for a home would scoff at taking a virtual reality tour, applying for a mortgage on their mobile phone or purchasing a house without stepping foot in it. But millennials, the newest crop of homebuyers, grew up with a smartphone attached to their hip and are much more comfortable buying everything from clothing to a house over the Internet. According to a Redfin survey released earlier this year 45% of millennial homebuyers made offers sight-unseen in 2017.
And despite talk the younger generations aren’t purchasing new homes, the National Research Association found consumers aged 36 and younger represented the biggest share of home buyers, 34% of all purchases, last year.
Millennials, as well as their older counterparts, start their home searches online. But they are willing to take it a step further and the real estate fintechs know that. They are rolling out virtual reality tours, speedy online mortgage applications and live streaming open houses.
VR Tours Popular Among Buyers
Take VR tours for starters. In January Coldwell Banker Real Estate polled 3,000 U.S. adults to gauge their interest in virtual reality home tours. It found that 77% of survey respondents want to take VR tours of homes before visiting while 84% want to see video footage. They don’t just want to get an idea of the layout and condition of the home. More than two-thirds or 68% said they want to use VR to see how their current furniture looks in the home. What’s more 62% of survey respondents said they would go with a real estate agent who made VR technology available. Recognizing the demand, Sotheby's International Realty offers customers 3D and virtual reality tours of its properties. Sotheby's said on its Website that the 3D and VR Tours are made possible by placing cameras throughout the home. Users can view the 3D tour directly from the Sotheby's website and VR tours via a mobile device that is paired with a VR headset.
Real estate has also gotten more social with some real estate agents using Facebook to host real-time open houses via Facebook Live. RE/MAX, the real estate company, recently highlighted one agent in Winnipeg, Manitoba that uses Facebook Live for his open houses, giving viewers a real-time tour of the house and simultaneously answering questions from the comment section. The live stream is recorded automatically, turning the open house into a virtual tour that can live indefinitely online.
Mortgages Get Speedier Thanks To Tech
Technology isn’t only disrupting the home search process but it is changing the way people apply for and are approved for mortgages. Take Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage mobile service that enables a would-be borrower to apply for a mortgage in minutes. The loan closes in less than a month, something most traditional lenders can’t do. Rocket Mortgage is a pioneer in this area but it's not alone. Lenda, the mortgage lending fintech that’s been in the market since 2014, boasts the ability for borrowers to fill out the the application in minutes and for the loan to close in two weeks. The company told American Banker earlier this year the goal is for a mortgage transaction to take thirty minutes. Lendra is able to speed up the process by having the underwriting begin as the customer fills out an application. Lendra also automates as much of the work as possible including income and employment verification. It enables customers to log into their bank accounts from the platform to get the bank statements necessary for the mortgage, furthering speeding up the process. Other fintechs going after the mortgage market include Social Finance, otherwise known as SoFi and Roostify.
Voice Command Real Estate Searches Coming
Still in the early phases of deployment, a new technology making its way into the real estate market are chatbots. Thanks in part to Amazon.com’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri voice activated assistants, the ability to interact with the Internet and devices via voice is growing in popularity. That hasn’t been lost on a handful of technology companies that are working on apps to enable users to search real estate listing and get information via natural language commands. Ask DOSS, a startup out of Houston Texas, is working on an intelligent personal assistant that is said will be similar to Siri, but exclusive to the real estate market. Users will be able to ask the app questions about a property and get instant answers 24 hours a day. The company is developing the app for the residential real estate market but said on its website the next phase of development will be answering questions and displaying listings for commercial properties. A beta launch of the app went live in October of 2017. The company is working on a relaunch and is tight-lipped about when it will bring it to the market.
With all this technology at the ready, fintechs are transforming the way we buy homes. The older generations may not be ready for it, but millennials and those younger are. They have come to expect technology to drive all aspects of their lives including the home purchasing process.
LAWN TO LAKE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY
website by Lake Champlain Basin Program
GRAND ISLE – The good news from Lake Champlain is that no new invasive species have made their way into its waters since 2014, but the by now familiar bad news is that phosphorus levels in many parts of the lake remain disconcertingly high.
These were among the findings in the 2018 State of the Lake Report released on Friday. The report, a health check compiled every three years by the Lake Champlain Basin Program, covers water quality, aquatic species, and economics. The basin program, a creation of Congress, is a partnership of the states of Vermont and New York, and the Canadian province of Quebec, to monitor the health of the lake and its more than 8,000 square mile watershed.
“Without monitoring and assessing the results of all this work, we wouldn’t know if we were making progress,” said Melville Cote, EPA project manager, addressing those assembled for the report’s release at the basin program’s Grand Isle offices.
The emphasis on invasive species monitoring is so that Lake Champlain doesn’t suffer the fate of the Great Lakes, whose fisheries were devastated when the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 allowed the introduction of non-native species.
Vermont in recent years has ramped up efforts to stop invasive aquatic species from entering its own great lake. Boat greeters are stationed at access points around the lake, to educate boaters about invasive species and to remove plant material from watercraft entering and leaving the lake. Greeters have removed 4,782 invasive specimens from the 95,177 boats they have surveyed, according to the report.
As a result, the water chestnut that in 1999 choked more than 25 percent of the narrow south end of Lake Champlain, clogging boat motors and destroying fish habitat, has been significantly reduced. Removal may soon get more high-tech with the use of drones to detect any new spread of water chestnut all around the lake.
A long term sea lamprey management program has led to a significant decrease in the lake’s most notorious invasive species. Sea lamprey come equipped with a suction-cup mouth — and a ring of many teeth. They feed on freshwater fish by latching onto their smooth sides, and draining bodily fluids.
There has been a marked decline in the “wounding” of salmon over the last 15 years, but for reasons that are not entirely clear, the wounding of lake trout “has increased dramatically” in the past two years, Ellen Kujawa, technical associate for the basin program.
Even so, the juvenile lake trout population nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017, and for the first time in a century landlocked Atlantic salmon have begun to reproduce naturally in the Winooski River, Kujawa said. “For the most part, Lake Champlain sport fish continue to thrive,” she added.
The stubborn phosphorus problem is in part a result of the geography of the lake. For every square mile of water, 18 square miles of land drain into the lake, which is significantly more than the drainage into the Great Lakes, said Matt Vaughan, technical coordinator with the LCBP.
“Most nutrients come from sources on the land, so the relatively high land-to-lake ratio for Lake Champlain poses significant challenges in limiting pollution,” said Vaughan, who added that the lake’s tributaries deliver around 2 million pounds of phosphorus each year.
“Long term phosphorus loading trends have not improved for most Lake Champlain tributaries,” he said.
Phosphorus levels are highest in the Missisquoi Bay, the South Lake and St. Albans Bay — areas that face a potent combination of shallow water and heavy agricultural runoff. ANR Secretary Julie Moore said the northern bay areas have cyanobacteria blooms that “continue to be persistent despite all our efforts to reduce nonpoint source pollution.”
Although 38 percent of the lake’s phosphorus load comes from agricultural lands, developed land contributes more than twice as much phosphorus per square mile, according to the report. The state is using edge of field monitoring to determine the effectiveness of agricultural best practices such as cover cropping and no-till planting in reducing sediment runoff into the lake, Lake Champlain Basin Program manager Eric Howe said. Moore called the ongoing effort to reduce phosphorus across the watershed a “sustained heavy lift” by partners around Vermont, New York and Quebec.
Lake Champlain generates $300 million in tourist revenue each year, and a decline in water quality could lead to a $16.8 million decrease in summertime business, the report warned. Speakers at the report release highlighted the importance of funding infrastructure, like boat access points and lakeside bike trails, that connects tourists and residents to the lake.
“Vermont’s crown jewel,” Gov. Phil Scott called the lake on Friday. “Water quality goes hand-in-hand with the growth of our economy,” Scott said, though he added, “From my perspective, we don’t have to choose between the environment and our economy — we can support both.”
Fairfield, Vt. | $699,000
A 2002 house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms
This architect-designed timber-frame home, with a three-bedroom septic plan, was built for an airplane pilot who used it as a retreat. It sits on 98 acres, 45 minutes from Burlington, Vt. The Canadian border is about 40 minutes away. Lake Champlain is visible from the property, as are (on clear nights) the twinkling lights of Montreal.
Size: 1,424 square feet
Price per square foot: $491
Indoors: The house is warmed visually by custom cherry, maple and mahogany finishes and physically by radiant-heated floors. The centerpiece is a great room with a double-height ceiling and wood-burning fireplace. This level also has a kitchen with a built-in beer tap and cooler, a small library and a bathroom with a shower.
Upstairs, the main bedroom is part of a suite overlooking the great room that includes a bathroom with a soaking tub and a study that could be converted into a bunk room. A ladder provides access to a loft that sleeps an additional two people. The house also has a full basement with a workshop and a wine storage area.
Outdoor space: The owner personally hauled the rose-colored granite used for the path to the entrance and created several trails through the property. The land is divided equally between meadows and forest.
Reduce Refinancing Costs
There is much more than a lower rate and payment to determine whether to refinance a mortgage. Lenders try to make refinancing as attractive as possible by rolling the closing costs into the new mortgage so there isn't any out of pocket cash required.
The closing costs associated with a new loan could add several thousand dollars to your mortgage balance. The following suggestions may help you to reduce the expense to refinance.
? Tell the lender up-front that you want to have the loan quoted with minimal closing costs.
? Check with your existing lender to see if the rate and closing costs might be cheaper.
? Shop around with other lenders and compare rate and closing costs.
? If you're refinancing an FHA or VA loan, consider the streamline refinance.
? Credit unions may have lower closing costs because they are generally loaning deposits and their cost of funds is less.
? Reducing the loan-to-value so mortgage insurance is not required will reduce expenses and lower the payment.
? Ask if the lender can use an AVM, automated valuation model, instead of an appraisal.
? You may not need a new survey if no changes have been made.
? There may be a discount on the mortgagee's title policy available on a refinance.
? Points on refinancing, unlike a purchase, are ratably deductible over the life of the loan ($3,000 in points on a 30-year loan would result in a $100 tax deduction each year.)
? Consider a 15-year loan. If you can afford the higher payments, you can expect a lower interest rate than a 30-year loan and obviously, it will build equity faster and pay off in half the time.
A lender must provide you a list of the fees involved with making the loan within 3 days of making a loan application in the form of a Loan Estimate and a Closing Disclosure Form. Every dollar counts, and they belong to you.
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