To See or Not To See, That is the Question

I have been reflecting lately on the changes happening in the real estate business. New tools and and protocols are coming at a fast and furious pace and are tricky to absorb and manage. Buyers have expressed to me that they sometimes feel like they are walking through a field with dodge balls being thrown at them from every direction.

The biggest single change is that most real estate information is available to everyone everywhere at all hours of the day. The internet tells buyers and sellers every property’s asking price, its sales history, school ranking, neighborhood crime info, and more. For the most part, this is great because buyers and sellers come to me having already decided exactly what they want to do and be willing to be paid or pay for their home—and they can back it with their own internet research.

But there’s a problem.  People often “see” only the information that supports the outcome they want and do “not see” what doesn’t reinforce the picture they have in their mind. This is not wrong or deceptive, simply human nature. When it comes to buying or selling your home; a place where your life’s latest act is about to give way to the next (eg. upsizing to accommodate more children or downsizing to prepare for retirement), each stage carries with it a huge emotional as well as financial commitment.

When I meet with buyers or sellers who have already “established their outcome” I first double-check their internet research and then work on earning their trust so that they feel assured of not only my professional and objective knowledge of the real estate market in Central Vermont but also that my goal is get them the best possible outcome.

It’s easy to be seduced by the stories about the ease and simplicity of buying or selling a home through Twitter or Facebook. However, for every success you read about on social media, you can be assured there are hundreds that are like a bad visit to the dentist. Zillow’s “zestimates” are often shockingly incorrect or out-of-date. And while all the info on the web is good, it doesn’t hold a candle to the human understanding that comes from having been in thousands of homes in the area.

A professional to help guide you through the ups and downs of this emotional process, someone to help you keep perspective and someone to help you with face to face negotiations, to make sure the process remains smooth, and that issues are handled professionally, is still a priceless benefit to our clients. Maybe it helps to think of our job as managing the slings and arrows of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow that creep in their petty paces from yesterday to today...

Sue Aldrich

with some help from Wm. Shakespeare



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    THE HITCHING POST (or, A Simple Guide To Getting Married In Vermont)

    Traditionally, June is a very popular month for weddings. Here in Vermont it seems like every month (well maybe not “stick season” November and “mud season” April) has become popular for weddings, especially so-called “destination weddings.” 

    As a Realtor, I love this because once people visit this beautiful state they tend to do everything they can to move here permanently or to purchase a vacation home. I can't tell you how many times a wedding has brought me buyer clients.

    So, I decided that since the Vermont wedding industry has served me so well, I will use our website and this blog to promote a few local area wedding planners, venues, caterers, bakers, etc. just to get you started.

    In addition to my own knowledge of local providers, I have spent hours perusing many beautiful web sites and I have to say, I have had SO much fun! I have been married for 28 years now and I expect all four of my children to benefit from my hard work.  At some point. In the distant future. Maybe.

    But I digress…

    At first I thought I would need to write thoughtful, witty commentary on the following sites, but I really can’t improve on the recommendation to simply browse and enjoy the scenery. From stunning Vermont landscapes, to quaint inns, rustic barns, mills, the State House lawn, and many other unique and glorious places for weddings, you really can have the wedding of your dreams. All I ask for in return is a small invitation! ;)

    Finally, when you and the rest of your extended family decide you just have to move to Vermont to make the experience permanent, give us a call at Coldwell Banker Classic Properties.


    Wedding and Event Planning

    * Woodstock Productions , Woodstock, Sabrina Brown, proprietor

    (also worth checking into: Storied Events, Waterbury)


    * Birchgrove Bakery, Montpelier, Jennifer Toce and John Belding, owners

    (also worth checking into: Rainbow Sweets Bakery, Marshfield; Capital Cupcakes, Montpelier; Vermont Cake Studio, Waterbury; Delicate Decadence, Barre)





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      Spring in Vermont

      Spring in Vermont brings, after a May snow squall or two, lovely warm weather, flowers, lilac breezes, fiddleheads, wild ramps and the promise of a short, hot summer. The other thing that comes in the spring is the dreaded black fly.

      Three interesting facts about black flies: 1) only females bite 2) they don’t bite after dark (unlike mosquitoes) 3) they only breed in clean, running water which means that if there are black flies, at least there are babbling brooks too.

      The black fly is bigger than a skeeter but smaller than a housefly and it’s bite is ferocious and it swells, seeps and ITCHES for days. I have been bitten near my eye and it looked like I’d been in the boxing ring with Muhammad Ali. These awful pests are pretty much gone by July 4th which gives us even more reason to celebrate America’s Birthday!

      In the hamlet of Adamant, in the town of Calais, they decided 16 years ago to celebrate the black fly.  So began the Black Fly Festival, with a parade where everyone dresses up as black flies, a black fly pie contest, live music, all kinds of delicious grilled foods, etc. And guess what? The black fly bites you might get are free, woo hoo! If you can’t beat ‘em, party with ‘em!

      The Black Fly Festival is tons of fun and not an event to miss. This year it will take place on Saturday, June 2 with grilling and music starting around 11 am. The "black and blood" themed pie contest starts at 1 pm and the Black Fly Parade and Fashion Show at 2 pm. There will also be a writer’s slam hosted by famed local poet Geof Hewitt, as well as a silent auction.

      I still hate black fly bites but this festival makes them a teeny bit more tolerable. At least that’s what I tell myself! 

      Sue Aldrich


      Coldwell Banker Classic Properties


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        HGTV becomes CVTV for a day!

          Today is the day of my television debut!!! At 10 pm tonight (9 pm central time) I will be the Realtor on an episode of House and Garden TV’s hit program House Hunters. Even though it’s been six months since the actual filming I am still in semi shock that my buyers and I got chosen. There are not very many episodes filmed in Vermont and I believe this is the first episode in the Capitol area of Montpelier and Central Vermont which is pretty exciting because it means it’s also a debut for our gorgeous little neck of the woods! Hiking, biking, camping, skiing (both downhill and x country) history, New England charm, antebellum (Revolutionary War, that is) buildings, waterfalls, crystal clear swimming holes, hidden hamlets where folks gather around a wood stove, miles of dirt roads, world famous fall foliage and, of course, sugar shacks dotting the country side waiting for the maple syrup season.   Shooting this episode was totally fun in particular because the buyers, Justin and Caitlin, were so much fun to hang out with and the producer, Darby from Los Angeles, had a great sense of humor as did the camera man, sound guy, and the key grip. It was sort of like a daytime party where you had to reenact some things over and over again. Try re-enacting something again and again—it makes it the most common place actions hilarious.  I am excited to see our show although I am sure I will be horrified by the way I look but that’s always the case and plus, I am 57 years old. On the flip side, one of the stars of our episode will look stunning as always—Montpelier and Central Vermont will shine and I am anticipating a surge in calls asking for my help in finding a place to live here in paradise. Cat’s out of the bag I guess. 


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          Don't Miss Us On House Hunters!

          House Hunters Logo

          Don't miss us our very own Sue Aldrich on House Hunters Monday, April 30, at 10 pm! If you miss the initial air time don't worry – you can watch full episodes on the HGTV website anytime!


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            Pet Cemetery?

            Are you preparing to list your home? Something very interesting occurred the other day after the sale of a home where I represented the buyers. 

            The entire process went incredibly smoothly and was a total delight because the parties to the sale were smart, fun and interesting. So while I was happy when we found the perfect home for the buyers, I was also a little sad because it meant I wouldn’t be seeing them as regularly. 

            A couple days after the sale, Mr. Buyer called me to say he’d been scouting the edge of the yard to put up a dog fence when he came across a gravestone (with a man’s name on it) on his acreage which had previously been covered by snow. This concerned him quite a bit because he knew that if a body or ashes were buried there his wife would freak out, especially since the death date was a fairly recent 1999.

            Yikes! I immediately called the seller’s agent who in turn called the seller who was on her way to a new house out of state. 

            All’s well that ends well because there was no body under the stone—a friend in the granite industry had made the flat headstone and given it to her as a memorial gift when her husband had passed and she had just placed it out in the woods and forgotten all about it. Phew. No body. No ID HD special!

            The take away from this tale is it’s probably a good idea to disclose all burials located on your property, pet as well as human. Old cemeteries out on your acreage might not bother you, but they are often worrisome to others. You can’t lose by disclosing!

            Sue Aldrich
            Coldwell Banker Classic Properties


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              You Want Peace of Mind? Here are five things to prepare for selling your home!

              Are you thinking about selling your house? Here are five easy things to do before you list it that will not only make the sale of your house more likely to happen but, once it is under contract, these tips guarantee the transaction will flow more easily towards the happy outcome you and the buyers want and deserve!


              1) Clean and inspect your boiler/furnace/pellet or wood stove/heat pump or whatever type of heating system you have. Proof of recent servicing from a professional (certified, where possible), is an important show of good faith to the buyer that you have been taking good care of the home.

              2) Have your chimney(s) professionally cleaned and inspected and reported to be in good working order. If the chimney expert recommends a lining simply disclose this in the listing and then you will be in a better place to say no to a buyer’s request that you have the chimney lined after the buyer’s inspector tells the buyer that the chimney is not lined.

              3) Have your septic system pumped and inspected. Of course, if you are on town sewer, you can just ignore this one!

              4) Have a basic water test done if your supply is from a well or a spring. If you're on your Town's water system, you can ignore this step as well.

              5) Have a licensed electrician make sure your electrical system is up to current codes. You might have "updated everything" in just the last couple of years, however it is very possible that your house is not up to code because (no shock here!) the code is so frequently updated. Generally speaking, it is fairly inexpensive to add extra Ground Fault Circuit Interruptors (GFCI’s). If you have an older home, have your electrician check for any active knob and tube wiring. If the electrician finds any it is a good idea to disclose this, just like the chimney liner.

              For all of the above, be sure to keep all receipts! This way, your Realtor can attach copies to your listing as proof for all the world to see!

              Doing these things not only helps you avoid surprises but it also sends a subtle but good message/feeling to the buyers (and buyer’s agent) that you have been a good steward of the home and that they needn’t worry too much about the any hidden, and perhaps expensive flaws that will surface within days after they own the property.

              Finally, if your house doesn’t sell for whatever reason, doing these five steps will certainly give you great peace of mind!  At least you know you are that much further removed from an unexpected repair, or worse, a chimney fire, or a septic failure!

              Sue Aldrich
              Coldwell Banker Classic Properties
              3336 Airport Road, Suite #3 - Berlin
              Barre, VT  05641



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                March Madness, Vermont Style

                All over the country, avid basketball fans and casual observers alike are getting ready to fill out
                the annual NCAA College Basketball playoff bracket. The goal is to choose the winner of the
                national championship from 64 teams that make the playoffs. Serious basketball aficionados
                immerse themselves in research on teams and individual players, trying to give themselves an
                edge as they call the games. The more casual among us choose the winners in mere minutes,
                with no knowledge of the teams, or even basketball, just for fun and hoping for good fortune. In
                my own family, one family member in particular has chosen the winners in the past based on
                the team mascots, the team songs and the college cafeteria ratings. Basketball brackets are
                found at workplaces, with friend groups and in family circles. Some folks compete with the
                brackets that their local watering hole provides. Central Vermont’s daily newspaper, the Barre
                Montpelier Times Argus, prints a bracket every March that anybody can complete and send in
                and try for the $100 prize money. It’s a bit of a national obsession.

                Here in Central Vermont, we have our version of March Madness at the Barre Auditorium, or the
                Barre Aud as most people call it. The Division II, III and IV girls and boys high school playoffs
                are held here every year and it’s a magical time. The bigger high schools, the Division I teams,
                have their playoffs in Burlington. But the smaller schools have the opportunity to play in this
                older, historic building that feels like it will combust with excitement when a good game is being
                played. For many small communities in Vermont, it’s a really big deal if their local high school
                team makes it to the championships at the Aud. A town of 500 people may see close to half
                their population make the drive to Barre to see their local kids make a run for the state
                championship. Homemade banners and signs are everywhere in the stands, and team colors
                abound in the clothing choices, painted faces and even hair color of the fans! Lots of hoarse
                fans spill out of the building at the end of the games, some more ebullient than others,
                depending of course on the outcome. But win or lose, players will always remember their
                experience going for the championship at the Aud, where so many have tried before them. If
                you can get a ticket, take in a game at the Barre Aud during this championship run, and soak in
                the atmosphere of locals going wild for their team. The venue may not be as grand as the
                NCAA College stadiums, but the scale of enthusiasm and pride in Vermont basketball in the
                month of March will make your heart swell.


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                  Embrace the Mud. Be the Mud.

                  We are entering that lovely time of year when one day it's 70 degrees and sunny and the next day you're cursing the freezing rain and wintry mix. Oh, and who can ignore the mud-sucking back roads that appear even before it's officially "mud season?"

                  Luckily, I have my husband's birthday to help brighten this time of year up with a nice dinner out, hopefully at Kismet  or possibly at J. Morgan's Steakhouse, two of our favorites in Montpelier.

                  But I digress.

                  This time of year is also when maple sugaring goes into high gear. When I first moved to Vermont 20 plus years ago, I was delighted and enthralled by this wonderful Vermont process which I learned had been happening since the Abenaki were stewards of the land. Seeing small and large sugar shacks out in the country with the steam coming out of the roof makes up otherwise, a lot, for the rutted, scary, back-road driving.

                  Where is the best place to see sugaring in action? My preference is to go to The Morse Farm in East Montpelier. If you're lucky either Burr Morse or his brother Elliot will be there to show you the how-to of sugaring. They are both charming guys with great jokes and a lot of history and lore to share even as they practice their sugaring craft with great care.

                  After hanging out in the fragrant, steamy room and hearing from the masters you can wander over to the gift store and buy all things maple; from maple creemees to sugar-on-snow (with dill pickles to cut the sweet--a seasonal delight), from maple candy to maple kettle corn, and of course, all the grades of maple syrup. I stop by sometimes all by my lonesome (we'll keep that a secret, okay?) because my personal favorite is Grade A Dark Amber. But each to his/her own.

                  If you have out-of-state guests, this is perfect way to entertain them and entice them back for future visits. But even if it's just you and your family it's still great fun, and heck, if the snow is still right, you can even sneak in a run or two on their groomed cross country trails! Otherwise, break out your waders, it's mud-hiking time...! 


                  Sue Aldrich, Broker/Owner
                  Coldwell Banker Classic Properties
                  3336 Airport Road   Ste #3 - Berlin
                  Barre, VT 05641
                  802-223-6300  office
                  802-223-6544  fax
                  802-839-0213  cell



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                    Frozen Frolics

                    February 11th was Amanda Pelkey day in Montpelier as the community celebrated her accomplishment as a member of the 2018 Olympic Women’s hockey team. The city of Montpelier is flying the Olympic flag in front of City Hall throughout the Olympic games to honor her. How cool is that? Amanda grew up in Montpelier and learned to play hockey at the BOR in Barre. She played in a number of youth hockey leagues before graduating from Montpelier High School and then went on to be a hockey star on the Division 1 women’s hockey team at the University of Vermont. Amanda’s exceptional talent, hard work and dedication has now brought her to the Olympics.  Not every kid who plays hockey is going to the Olympics, but most kids in Central Vermont can take advantage of our winter sports paradise in some way. Families can lace up their skates and head to the BOR or the Civic Center in Montpelier, the town offices in Berlin, numerous ponds and lakes that have offer excellent access to skaters, and even the lawn of the State House in Montpelier where there is a postcard-worthy skating rink for all to enjoy.

                    Don’t like to skate?  Grab a sled and find a sledding hill (Hubbard Park in Montpelier will do fine!).  Cross country skiers can find numerous places to ski throughout East Montpelier and Calais, and a favorite of many is Morse Farm Ski Touring Center in East Montpelier which has gorgeous, groomed trails and their famous Maple Creemees for an apres ski treat.

                    Downhill enthusiasts can find world-renowned ski areas within an hour’s drive of most Central Vermont communities (Stowe and Sugarbush to name two). Putting on a pair of snowshoes after a fresh snowfall and heading to the woods somewhere is a delight. Whether on foot, one of those fat tire bikes, or snowmobiling on the VAST trail system, kids of all ages have seemingly endless ways to frolic in Vermont’s winter wonderland.

                    This may be the reason that Vermont has more Winter Olympians per capita than any other state in the Union (at least this year)! So as we celebrate Amanda Pelkey, Mikaela Shiffrin, and the spirit of the Olympics, let’s celebrate that we get to live here! Put on those warm clothes and head outside. I’m ready with my down parka to show you the perfect property!

                    Janel Johnson, Agent
                    Coldwell Banker Classic Properties


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