What Does $250,000 Buy You in Vermont?

With a quarter million (theoretically) to spend, Seven Days goes house hunting

| March 09, 2011

What can you get for $15 million?

A quarter-million bucks might not get you a whole lot in Chittenden County these days. That’s why you’re going to have to spend a little more to get a little more. Like, more than $14 million more.

If you have that kind of dosh —¬†and who doesn’t these days? — you can find yourself a pretty sweet little pad in Huntington. Just think of the easy commute!

Last year, Teal Farm, a 500-acre parcel nestled between Camel’s Hump State Forest and privately owned preserved land, went on the market. This razzle-dazzle permaculture showpiece began as a foundation project of LivingFuture, a nonprofit organization run by Melissa Hoffman and dedicated to creating “conditions perpetually conducive to life” and expanding “human creative capacity.” Right, then.

Here’s what your $15 million and change will buy you:

• Six bedrooms, five full bathrooms, two half baths, two gourmet kitchens, a media room, a great room, a library, an office, a finished basement, and assorted bells and whistles

• A luxurious, 8000-square-foot farmhouse, built in 1865 but lovingly renovated in 2003 with modern renewable heating and electrical systems

• A brand-new, 12,000-square-foot insulated “energy” barn, featuring a massive array of photovoltaic panels

• An antique, post-and-beam barn recently converted into a studio apartment

• A property manager’s residence

• A utility barn

• A $15 million mountain view

• A sustainably managed northern hardwood watershed with streams, a pond, wetlands, an extensive trail network, waterfalls and mountain pastures

• A 10-acre permaculture orchard of fruits, nuts, fuel wood, berries and fertilizing groundcovers, which grow in the “sculpted microclimates around the buildings”

That last one’s not something you read every day in a real estate listing, eh? But that’s what makes the property special, at least from the outside.

Inside, the farmhouse is the quintessence of responsible luxury —¬†think sustainability for the yachting set. The main kitchen, with its dual Wolf oven, custom cabinets and monster stainless-steel sink, is alone worth the $15 mill. The master suite features a colossal walk-in closet and a dreamy bath, as well as a custom king-size loft bed.

Everything at the farm was built to exacting green standards and is meant to stand as an example of what is possible when design and craftsmanship are married to sustainable technology. Oh, and married to a lot of money, as well.

So, why is the owner unloading such a decidedly kick-ass property? Because that kind of fanciness don’t come cheap. The money that’s spent on Teal Farm means less funding for LivingFuture’s other projects.

But that’s all the better for us. And by “us,” we mean some out-of-state moneybags with cash to burn and a conscience to feed.

-Lauren Ober


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You can get a lot of house for about $250,000 in Vermont. Or not. It all depends on that timeless real estate cliché, “location, location, location.”

In rural Windsor County, a quarter-million bucks could buy you a charming country home with an acre of land, wide pine floors, two woodstoves — even a guest house. In fact, we found such a property in Quechee with a name worthy of its fairy-tale features: “Snow White’s Retreat.” In Chittenden County, meanwhile, $250,000 usually buys you a far more modest house — maybe a 900-square-foot ranch in Essex, or a fixer-upper duplex in Burlington’s Old North End.

“The farther you get out of the core of Burlington, South Burlington, Essex and Colchester, the more value — or house — you get for your money,” says Northwestern Vermont Board of Realtors president David Raphael, stating what experienced house hunters already know.

Not only that, but the homes for sale in neighboring Franklin and Addison counties are usually a lot newer than those in the Burlington area, Raphael says, meaning they’re less likely to need major renovations or come with old-house headaches such as lead-based paint.

In the Burlington area, the median sale price for existing single-family homes has hovered around $250,000 for the last several years — ranging from $248,000 in 2008 to $261,000 last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. So, who’s spending a quarter mil on a house? Raphael says it’s mostly relocation buyers, empty nesters and people upgrading from condos or smaller homes.

Seven Days wondered what $250,000 or so would buy in Vermont, so we searched the Multiple Listing Service for single-family homes priced from $225,000 to $275,000. Below are seven houses that illustrate how far your dollars will go.


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The Village Victorian

South Pleasant Street, Randolph

Great house for a Clue party! A big, purple Victorian within walking distance of the Randolph Amtrak station. Original woodwork, multiple fireplaces, marble sink, stained-glass windows, hardwood floors and a terrace garden overlooking the backyard. Detached barn for extra storage and workshop.

Price: $229,000

Bedrooms: 3

Baths: 2

Square feet: 3506

Land: 1.6 acres

Year built: 1880

Photos courtesy of Marybeth Tevis/Era Hometown Realty.


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The Slopeside Crash Pad

Telemark #1 at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Cambridge

Walk to the lifts and lodges, then stumble home to this three-level townhouse in the heart of the village at Smuggs. End unit advertised as having good light and a gas fireplace. New and upgraded: couches, carpets, beds and bedspread, water heater, roof, deck, and siding.

Price: $249,900

Bedrooms: 4

Baths: 3

Square feet: 1800

Land: N/A

Year built: 1982

Photos courtesy of Jane Kiley/Lang McLaughry Spera Real Estate.




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Big Enough for the Whole Family

Province Street, Richford

Start an organic farm or host the next Phish megaconcert! Eight-bedroom, two-bath 1870s Greek Revival farmhouse set on 50 acres of land. This former hotel includes an efficiency apartment that rents for $400 a month, a Quonset-type barn, a horse barn and a four-car garage. Inside: butler’s pantry, French doors and crown molding in many of the 16-plus rooms.

Price: $254,000

Bedrooms: 8

Baths: 2

Square feet: 3766

Land: 49.07 acres

Year built: 1870

Photos courtesy of Mike Messier/C21 Jack Associates.


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The Modest Ranch

Maple Leaf Lane, Shelburne

Tell your friends you live in Shelburne! No-frills ranch on a quarter-acre lot in a neighborhood cul-de-sac. Kitchen renovated in 2004, plus new replacement windows and hardwood flooring. One-car garage, vinyl siding and level yard for gardening or a jungle gym.

Price: $227,500

Bedrooms: 3

Baths: 1

Square feet: 864

Land: 0.23 acres

Year built: 1967

Photos courtesy of Phyllis Martin/Greentree Real Estate.


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Lakeside Living

Route 2, Alburgh

Where else can you get a lakefront house for under half a million bucks? Waterfront bungalow with a sandy beach, a deck overlooking Lake Champlain, and southern exposure offering views of Jay Peak and Mount Mansfield. New standing-seam metal roof, new vinyl siding and a two-car garage.

Price: $265,000

Bedrooms: 2

Baths: 1

Square feet: 850

Land: 0.55 acres

Year built: 1971

Photos courtesy of John Biondolillo/BCK Real Estate.


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Downtown Burlington Flat

College Street, Burlington

So close to City Market, you can practically see how long the checkout line is from your window. Literally steps from the co-op, Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas, restaurants, the Fletcher Free Library and the Church Street Marketplace. Bonus: underground parking.

Price: $265,000

Bedrooms: 2

Baths: 2

Square feet: 861

Land: N/A

Year built: 1955

Photos courtesy of Steve Lipkin/Hickok & Boardman Realty





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The Country Charmer

Hartness Way, Quechee

Named “Snow White’s Retreat,” this home boasts “European flair” with a stone patio, wide pine floors, woodstoves, built-in bookcases, mud room, and master bedroom and bath. Comes with guesthouse/apartment over the two-car garage and a separate, heated playhouse that doubles as a storage and utility building — everything but the seven dwarves.

Price: $250,000

Bedrooms: 3

Baths: 4

Square feet: 1875

Land: 0.94 acres

Year built: 1971

Photos courtesy of Jill Stark/Remax Upper Valley.


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