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Archive for the ‘Real Estate’ Category

Apple iPad mini

Small Grows Up

Rating: 9/10 Nearly flawless

  • The iPad mini with Retina display is roughly the same size as the original. It’s ever-so-slightly thicker, and has a little bit more heft, weighing in at .75 pounds for the LTE model and .73 for Wi-Fi only.
  • WIRED

Gorgeous 2048 x 1536 pixel display. 10-plus hour battery life will more than serve your cross-country plane flight, or close to a week of casual daily use. A7 processor (with M7 co-processor) offers more power than you may ever need on a 7-inch tablet. Tons of Retina-optimized apps to choose from.

TIRED

Pricey — similar sized and specced tablets go for closer to $200. Stereo speakers both located on one end of the device. Would be nice if it had TouchID like the iPhone 5s, but with the problems cropping up related to that feature lately, we’re wondering if not including it was a smart move after all.

This is the iPad mini we’ve all been waiting for.

When the first generation iPad mini debuted last year, it was a terrific product. Apple’s first stab at a smaller tablet looked more far more elegant than the competition, managed to squeeze a larger 7.9-inch display in a traditionally 7-inch tablet form factor, and featured remarkable battery life. But its 1024 x 768 resolution display was a major let down compared to the Retina displays on the iPhone and full size iPad, as well as the growing number of HD screen-sporting Android tablets. And inside, a two-generations-old A5 chip powered the tablet — nothing too shabby, but not really impressive, either.

Apple stepped up its game for this year’s iPad mini. The new mini is essentially the same tablet as the 9.7-inch iPad Air, right down to its 2048 x 1536 resolution Retina display. It’s just packed into a smaller package. A new A7 processor meshes with iOS 7 to create a super-powerful slate that gets all-day battery life. The only real difference between the two is the pared-down size, and the $100 cheaper starting price.

The iPad mini with Retina display is roughly the same size as the original. It’s ever-so-slightly thicker, and has a little bit more heft, weighing in at .75 pounds for the LTE model and .73 for Wi-Fi only. Last year’s model weighed .68 pounds.

Compared to Google’s flagship 7-incher, the Nexus 7, the mini is about a tenth of a pound heavier, but marginally thinner, while squeezing in a larger 7.9 inch display. It’s comfortable to wield one-handed, but I feel less confident waving it around than I would a tablet with a slightly rubberized back. The aluminum is more attractive visually, but “soft touch”-type materials like you see on the Nexus 7 are, well, handy.

While the Nexus 7 sports an excellent 1920 x 1200 resolution display, the screen on the new mini looks even better. Side by side, there’s just no comparison. And the old iPad mini might as well be 8-bit compared to the pixel-packed Retina screen. It’s obvious in graphics — the icons in Safari, app icons on the homescreen — as well as in text, which doesn’t render nearly as well on the old iPad mini. On the Retina mini, text maintains crystal clarity even when zoomed in to a ridiculous level. In an HD Planet Earth video, the definition of pebbles on a beach and leaves on trees are razor sharp, creating a greater sense of depth than the old mini’s display.

At 100 percent brightness, I only lost about 10 percent battery life per hour while watching Netflix over Wi-Fi. Streaming a 1080p HD YouTube video over Wi-Fi ate up even less — more like 8 percent per hour. Streaming Rdio and other lower intensity tasks like reading and web surfing made a minimal dent in battery life. Apple’s 10-hour promise seems right on target, if not at the low end of what its 23.8 Watt-hour battery can deliver.

“The old iPad mini might as well be 8-bit compared to the new pixel-packed Retina screen.”

The device can get noticeably warm during CPU intensive activities like heavy gaming or HD playback, but not alarmingly so. And it handles those activities swimmingly. Situations where I noticed ever-so-slight stuttering on last year’s model, the 2013 iPad mini handled with aplomb. Again, it’s basically an iPad Air but packed into a smaller package, which is kind of mind blowing.

For a 7.9-inch tablet, the stereo speakers are exceptionally powerful, but they still don’t have the depth and bass you’d get from a pair of dedicated speakers — no surprises there. While stereo (each speaker is positioned on either side of the lightning port at the bottom of the device) they’re still located on the same end of the device, so if you’re watching a film in landscape mode, you only get sound from one end. I find this a bit irksome.

When I reviewed the iPad Air after getting my hands on the iPhone 5s, I was largely struck by its lack of TouchID. But between using the Air more regularly, and seeing some inconsistencies with TouchID arise, I’m far less affected by the Retina mini’s lack of a fingerprint sensor than I was before. Although, it would be convenient.

While the Retina mini doesn’t include 802.11ac Wi-Fi like Apple’s notebook offerings, the company did addMIMO to the mini (and the Air), which means it can share or receive more data in parallel, and maintain a strong Wi-Fi signal farther away from the base station. Indeed, videos loaded faster on the Retina mini than on the first gen model, and apps downloaded noticeably quicker.

The iPad mini is exactly the type of product we expect from Apple. Stunning good looks, a display so high resolution it’d take a magnifying glass to pick out the pixels, and unparalleled performance. This is the smaller iPad that should have debuted last year, but hey, better late than never.

Photos: Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 for info on technology, selling or purchasing a house, condo or land in Vermont or to get more details on local Vermont real estate market conditions.

Referrals & recommendations are welcome & appreciated.
Vermont Required Consumer Information 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.
If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.

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Giant Lumber Slabs in line to Skating Heaven

Tucked away at the edge of the Freeman Brook and Flat Iron Road in historic Warren Village, an incredible new business is born. You’d never know what was hatching inside without an invitation or some inside information.

Stacked outside the otherwise innocuous two bay garage converted into an open studio are thick slabs of hardwoods divine. The side room full of wood samples including a palette of mahogany shipped by Gibson for guitar neck experimentation. But music isn’t the main focus here in this brilliant and buzzing space.

Welcome to Warren Pieces.

The woodstove crackling, fueled by the scraps of progress. Tools across the floor, sawdust, the intoxicating aroma of exotic hardwood.

Luscious Detailing

Matt Groom & Whitney Phillips are at work.

Whitney walks in and though it’s first thing in the morning, he’s unusually clear as his wife Jesse is in contraction, the waves every twelve minutes.  Any time now….  As if their powerful industrial incubation wasn’t enough.

Stylefully Induced Camber for extra Spring in the Ride

Witnessing the start of something so clearly loaded with promise and success would be a thrill under any circumstances, but seeing the intense focus on a product so dear to boys across the planet is, for anyone who has ridden or likes to ride, like walking into a candy shop for the first time.

When I was in my early teens I’d jump the subway in Manhattan and go all the way down to the epicenter of 1970’s skateboarding, Paragon Sports. There were hundreds of boards displayed in force with kids riding through the store, wheels and tracks of every shape and color. G&S was big in long boards. But nothing in that store came close, even in the heart of the largest US city, to the ultra-fine craftsmanship on clear display on Flat Iron Road in Warren this week. Local luxury defined.

Nest of Champions

Rare Highly Sought After Spalted Maple, Choicest Raw Materials Selection

Matt shows off one of the new purchases, a radio frequency driven wood welder harnessing dielectric heating: disturbed water molecules cause friction with twenty seven million cycle changes per second translating to heat, vastly accelerating wood curing time, allowing faster production without sacrificing strength. Matt’s comes to Warren Pieces from Matt Groom Building & Remodeling, already widely acclaimed for carpentry & design excellence.

Mahogany Core, Brightens Wet

Artful Forms, Jagged Foot Grips, Wide Trucks

Skateboard Wall Hanging Piece with Rear Illumination

Exquisite Surfaces, Like No Other. Spalted Maple Detailing.

Camber Master, Hand Made Press

Whitney Phillips & Matt Groom, Warren Pieces

Warren Pieces is aiming for a special niche market, with long boards at $350, other price points to follow. Out of the gate, they can’t make enough to keep up with the traffic through the shop. One purchase after the next, for a friend or relative here or far away, a real piece of Vermont to show the surfing dudes  you don’t need an ocean to rock. It won’t be long before the word will get out, the online orders will pour in, and Matt & Whitney will be celebrities on the world skateboarding circuit.

When you take your board home, it won’t just rest in the corner or under you bed. They’ve designed stunning wall mounts to be illuminated from behind that are works of art themselves and would make any adolescent’s room jump.

QR codes will be etched in copper on board underbellies for an instant link to Warren Pieces, the website evolving now.

Everything about this entrepreneurial effort sparkles.

With Whitney’s years of sports branding and sales with Mad River Rocket the original extreme sled co., and Matt’s discerning eye, stylistic excellence and superior craftsmanship, this is one new business you can bet on. Whether you stay at the Relais & Chateau Pitcher Inn around the corner or more modest digs, don’t miss this visit.

To order your own Warren Pieces skateboard or one as a gift for family or friend, reach Whitney @ 802.371.9020 whitney@warrenpieces.com or Matt @ 802.279.3597 matt@warrenpieces.com

Stiletto Grace, Pintail.

Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 for more info on Warren Pieces, to arrange for showings,  list your property,  or look into Vermont’s real estate market. Skateboard showings an option…

Referrals & recommendations are welcome & appreciated.
Vermont Required Consumer Information 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.

If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.

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De-Mystifying Vermont’s Current Use Program. Forest Management, Tax Reduction, Harvesting

Vermont’s forests

are lush with treasure. Exquisite tiger maple, hemlock for tenacious post and beam house frames, sweet maple sap which sugared down, covers pancackes across the land and gives our green mountain state a claim to fame.

Misty Trail

Defining Current Use

What then is Vermont’s Current Use Program? It’s often referred to as “the most important, most successful conservation program in Vermont.”

If you own 27 or more acres, you’re already likely familiar with this increasingly popular land tax reduction and deferral opportunity, but to the layman less familiar with tree related tax breaks, the name Current Use itself is cryptic enough without tackling taxation intricacies.

Current Use landowners practice long term forest management to achieve taxation based on forest valuation vs fair market valuation. This very substantial savings which can be as much as 70 to 80 per cent of what the taxes would be otherwise, comes at a cost. The state attaches a permanent lien to the deed until such time as the landowner withdraws, the legislature ends the program, or the parcel is discontinued by the Division of Property Valuation & Review.

Woodpeckers of North America

The Tax Benefits

can be huge. By placing your forest or agricultural property in Current Use you can dramatically decrease your yearly tax burden. For forested land graced with valuable timber, periodically required forest management (ready the chain saw) can yield the added bonus of incoming checks for the land owner from the logger harvesting precious hardwoods.

Starksboro Chain Saw Workshop, Addison County

For forest land to qualify, you need at least 27 acres for 25 to enroll with a two acre exclusion for your house site. When purchasing land already enrolled, with the plan to continue enrollment, you can’t move the excluded area but, assuming you have well over 25 acres, you can withdraw another section to build your home, though you’ll incur a land use change tax. This withdrawal penalty is also levied if you decide to withdraw the entire property from current use. One of the most common questions and concerns: so how much will it cost me to withdraw from the program?

Use Change Tax Calculation

Elizabeth Hunt, one of the three Current Use personnel listed on Vermont’s current use website is immensely helpful. According to Elizabeth, Use change tax determination is based on the assessed value of the land enrolled divided by the town’s CLA, or Common Level of Appraisal or Adjustment, the tax department’s attempt to adjust assessed values to fair market value. To get the state’s assessment of your enrolled current use acreage, call Elizabeth or the state’s current use department. Once you’ve divided the enrolled acreage current use assessment by the CLA, and multiplied that figure by the percentage of the number of acres being withdrawn, you’ve got your alleged fair market value of acreage being withdrawn. Your use change penalty depends on how long the land’s been in current use. If ten or more years, the penalty is ten per cent of the fair market value of the land being withdrawn; if less than ten years, then 20 per cent.

Pine, Areas to Prune

H.237, a bill intended to strengthen the current use tax base, proposed a change in the percentages the use change tax is determined by. Property held less than 12 years would incur 10%, property held 12 to 20 years 8%, and property held over 20 years just five per cent. It passed the House in 2011 but not the Senate. An effort was made to incorporate it into miscellaneous tab bill H.782 this year but it stalled in the Senate Finance Committee. Proponents of the bill include the Vermont Natural Resources Council.

Vermont Hemlock, Strong Post & Beam Frames. Billings Museum, Woodstock, VT.

For more details on penalty calculation  see pages 16-18 of Vermont UVA (Use Value Appraisal) manual. Family members can step into the shoes of a current use owner but new owners inheriting an unrelated property owner’s current use land have to start the clock ticking all over.

State of Vermont Acres Enrolled in Current Use Graph

For more details on the entire program, see the same manual and the Vermont Division of Forestry site.

The Vermont graph below shows the increasing popularity of Current Use, especially in Forest.

Foresters, Loggers & Harvesting

Engaging a forester to prepare your forest management plan may run up to a couple of thousand, varying, including application fees.

Be sure to get a contract with your logger once you get that far. There are stories of property owners wondering what happened to their checks once the loggers were long gone.

Have Culvert, Will Travel

Vermont County Foresters are excellent resources for current use information and can recommend non-county foresters to prepare forest management plans and help you oversee your forest  during program inclusion, as well as recommend dependable and honest loggers to work with.

Click here for a Current Use Application, and here for a Change of Ownership Form.

Before cutting any of your enrolled forest, you or your forester must submit your forest management plan, or all the land must exit the program, a change tax levied, and eligibility denied for the ensuing five years during which taxes would go back to normal.

Gustav Klimt, Tree of Life

If your management plan calls for cutting but the timber values are depressed, you can delay cutting up to a couple of years with county forester approval.

On harvest yield, you might expect 1,000 to 1,500 board feet per acre. Harvesting may occur every ten years or more. Wind throw from storm damage can necessitate cutting earlier.

Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to arrange for showings,  list your property,  or look further into Vermont’s real estate market.

Referrals & recommendations are welcome & appreciated.
Vermont Required Consumer Information 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.

If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.

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Maple Sweet Real Estate

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Irene. A Retrospective by Waitsfield, Vermont Photographer David Garten

After the Flood, Sediment Streets

Hands On, Silt Patterns

The Green Cup's East Wall Facing the Mad River

Route 100 Submerged @ Bridge Street Shot From Garten Studio

Studio Birke Engulfed in the Rising RIver Tide

Studio Birke Swept Off Foundation

Route 100 Become River

Ravaged Pavement

Ravaged Pavement

Couples Baseball Field of Grass No More

Best Laid Plans, Architectural Misfortune

Radio Wreckage

Relief Organization Born

David Garten has photographed weddings throughout Vermont and New England, as well as New York, California, and Madrid, Spain for 23 years. From 1994 to 2004 David traveled often to Havana, Cuba where he photographed the worlds of music and dance, as well as daily life. His cuban photos have been published in the New York Times, Latin Beat Magazine, books such as “Cuban Ballet” by Octavio Roca and “My Sax Life” by Paquito D’Rivera, and on Grammy-nominated CD’s by Cuban musicians such as Chucho Valdés and Irakere. David has exhibited at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, and the Jazz Gallery in New York.

To reach David Garten for weddings, portraits or other assignments: dgarten@madriver.com

4412 Main Street #2, PO Box 210, Waitsfield, VT 802.496.5516

Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to list your property, arrange for showings, or look further into Vermont’s real estate market or Act 250 reform.

…..
Thank you for visiting Maple Sweet Real Estate’s blog, Light Amber.
…..
Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly by default. 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.
…..
If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.

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Clear Air Clear Water

Watching over Vermont’s land & water. Act 250 is a public, quasi-judicial process reviewing & managing the environmental, social & fiscal impacts of Vermont development. Nine district commissions review permit applications based on criteria articulated by state statutes.

In 2005 Vermont’s legislature created the Natural Resources Board (NRB) with Act 115  to replace the Environmental Water Resources Boards. The NRB includes a full-time chair (state employee), and two citizen panels, a land use panel and a water resources panel, consisting of four persons each, with the chair serving as chair of each of the two panels. Act 115  consolidated environmental appeals and land use development law revisions. View the full text of Act 115 in which substantial previous language is stricken making deletions clear and new language underlined.

Middlebury Gravel Pit Panorama

The NRB administers the Act 250 process and has rule making and enforcement authority over land-use permit violations (significant time is spent prosecuting violations) as well as the right to participate in certain Environmental Court appeals.

Peter Young

Northfield Attorney Peter Young chaired the NRB from 2006 when appointed by former Governor Jim Douglas following an appointment to the District 5 Environmental Commission in 2003. Young’s challenges included dealing with applicants who had already developed: building a project and belatedly coming to the NRB for permits. Innocent oversight or planning to beg forgiveness later?

Protecting Our Groundwater

In 2007 the Board appointed John Wakefield of Redstone, a Burlington Real Estate Development company permit specialist, as it’s first Permit Compliance Officer.

Ron Shems

Burlington Attorney Ron Shems, formerly and co-founder of Shems, Dunkiel, Raubvogel & Saunders replaced Young April 1st of this year when Shems was appointed the new Natural Resources Board Chair by newly elected Governor Shumlin.

Act 250 Proponents, since its 1970 enactment in 1970, see it as setting a reasonable set of guidelines for developers and business owners, protecting Vermont from odious American sprawl. Citizen participation and protecting the
environment are the heart and soul of Act 250. They view Act 250 reform suspiciously as attempts to circumvent environmental protection and eviscerate regulations leaving Vermont vulnerable to unbridled exploitation.

Business Proponents consider Act 250 unpredictable, unfriendly and decidedly antagonistic economically, causing in some cases many year permitting periods and exorbitant additional legal expenses. With interested party status, “the Interveners” can become unjust obstructionists.

“To a developer, it doesn’t matter if you’re spending time before the local boards or the state or Act
250. It’s all permits, and if you can simplify the process, the whole
state benefits.” James Pizzigalli, Co-Chairman of Pizzigalli Construction

Presby Environmental Advanced Septic System

Former Governor Jim Douglas claimed the average permit took companies 278 days to receive but the NRB cited different numbers, with two-thirds of all applicants gaining permits within 60 days.

Streamlining objectives & options:

  • Eliminating duplicate permitting requirements at the state & local level and within the state level.
  • Minimizing special consultants including attorneys, engineers and planners so applicants may run the process on their own except in the most complicated circumstances.
  • Adding a state facilitator. Bill H-475 called for a pilot program to add a facilitator to help council businesses on the Act 250 process.
  • Clear and consistent intervener standards. Predictability for who and how interveners can participate. Limiting interveners to those having legitimate interests.

Wetlands Anatomy

The Wetlands Regulations took over three years to hammer out.

Act 250 revision includes the launch of the Permitting & Compliance Portal including a wealth of easily accessible information including an environmental permit summary and the Vermont Permit Handbook.

Get a better idea of Vermont’s Land Use & Development Act’s history, hear Jane Lindholm of Vermont Public Radio here in an Act 250 special program including notes on the “culture of no” and the importance of working as well as looking at the view.

Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to list your property, arrange for showings, or look further into Vermont’s real estate market or Act 250 reform.

…..
Thank you for visiting Maple Sweet Real Estate’s blog, Light Amber.
…..
Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly by default. 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.
…..
If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.


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This article is from realtor.org and comes at a time with appraisers and realtors providing comparable sales face downward pressure from a host of short sales and foreclosures.

Should residential appraisals use distress sales as comparables? It’s a thorny question that some states are weighing.

In a recent Realty Times article, the author notes that in a normal market using distress sales as comparables is often viewed as inappropriate because such sales are unusual and do not represent the standard market.

However, nowadays in many markets, distress sales may comprise 30 percent to 40 percent of current sales activity and may be impossible to ignore.

Equity in the Balance

Four states are considering laws that would affect how appraisers should consider the sale of distressed properties. Here’s a breakdown of legislation those states are considering:

Illinois: A proposed law says that an appraiser may not “use as a comparable sale the sale price for a residential property that was sold at a judicial sale at any time within 12 months after the date of the judicial sale… .” The Illinois law would sunset after five years, according to the Realty Times article.

Missouri: Legislation says that appraisers must comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), but not in cases when a property has been foreclosed. “An appraiser shall not utilize the foreclosure price as a comparable property when developing an appraisal,” the legislation states.

Maryland: The proposed law is somewhat vague, but it says in cases of duress or unusual circumstances “such as a foreclosure sale or short sale,” the appraiser is to “consider” the property’s history (e.g. whether it’s being sold at auction or as a short sale) and “consider” the seller’s motivation, such as if the home owner was seeking to avoid foreclosure.

Nevada: A pending law covers both short sales and foreclosures: “Except as otherwise required by federal law or regulation, an appraiser shall not include as a comparable sale in an appraisal a short sale or a sale of property which was the subject of a foreclosure sale.”

Appraisers are required to comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice guidelines for weighing comparables in federal transactions, which “mandates that appraisers must analyze such comparable sales as are available. Further, the standard cannot be voided by a state or local government.” That said, a recent article at Appraiser News Online raises the issue that appraisers have a difficult decision to make when their state has different regulations than USPAP when it comes to weighing distressed sales.

Source: “Should Distress Sales Be Used as Comparables?” Realty Times (April 5, 2011)

Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to list your property, arrange for showings, or look further into Vermont’s real estate market.

…..
Thank you for connecting to Maple Sweet Real Estate’s blog, Light Amber.
…..
Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly by default. 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.
…..
If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.


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