If Cheryl Herrmann could wave a magic Upper Valley real estate wand, here's what she'd do

Magic or not, that wand is channeling a lot of real estate wisdom.

Cheryl Herrmann does not actually have a magic real estate wand, which is too bad, because as you can see by reading on, she would wield it wisely -- by making more Upper Valley homes affordable to more people. The funny thing about Herrmann's decades-long, wisdom-amassing career in local real estate is that it's really nothing she set out deliberately to do ... 

Why real estate? How did you get started?


I started my career in real estate more than 40 years ago when I decided that I wanted to buy my first home. After looking at some houses and talking with some agents, I found that I still had more questions than answers and I wanted to know more about the process and procedures involved in a real estate purchase before I got into a situation for which I was unprepared. So I put my home purchase on hold and signed up for a pre-licensing course with no plan whatsoever to make real estate brokerage my profession. I very much enjoyed the course and decided that while the information was fresh in my mind, I would go ahead and sit for the examination and if I passed, go ahead and get my license, still with no plan to be a professional broker.


It seems silly now, looking back after all of these years, but I passed the exam. got my license, bought a house, one thing led to another and I joined an agency on a trial basis. I found out that I enjoyed the process of understanding the market, seeing a lot of diverse properties, and meeting with people who had an interest in either buying or selling property. So it turns out that time passes pretty quickly when you are busy and now, though the business has changed radically since I began, it is still a very good feeling to help people who are out of their depth and uncertain about buying or selling property to understand the process and guide them through the various pitfalls and problems that can occur to a successful closing.


What’s the single biggest difference between real estate when you started and real estate now?


The biggest difference in the early days of my career and the present is the rules and regulations, particularly as they pertain to the concept of agency. Years ago, legal agency was limited to a broker's relationship with sellers.  Of course, this process came fully equipped with a plethora of rules and regulations that had to be understood and implemented.

For the past 30 years. Cheryl Herrmann has owned the RE/MAX franchise in Norwich.

Quite a few years later, the Real Estate Commission decided that buyers should also be afforded the same protections that had been given to sellers and buyer agency was born. Again, a new set of rules and regulations was promulgated and brokers and agents had to learn the niceties of the new process. Of course, as the years have gone by, more and more protections have accrued to both buyers and sellers, mostly written disclosures such as the Lead Paint Disclosure, Mold Disclosure, and Agency Disclosure, to name a few, as well as pages of caveats and protections in the standard purchase and listing contracts, all of which need to be observed and understood by agents and brokers, so they can be adequately explained to the buyers and sellers.


If all of this sounds complicated, it is, and the short answer to the original question is that the process of buying and selling real estate is simply more complicated than it has been in the past. Yet, we persevere.


What's one common misconception buyers or sellers have about the Upper Valley market?


Buyers do not understand that there are substantial differences in the market dynamics between Vermont and New Hampshire. Particularly, when a buyer is coming in from out of the area, the Upper Valley presents itself as one community and to some degree, it is. But as it pertains to real estate, which is both local and personal at the same time, the two states are different politically, culturally, and in many other subtle ways, not to mention that the rules and regulations of the real estate process are different in many ways. Real estate prices, real estate taxes, school systems, town-funded services all vary not only state by state, but in many cases town by town and as an agent, it takes some time and effort to "educate" prospective buyers so that they can make an informed decision about the property they purchase.


If you could change one thing about the market in the Upper Valley, what would it be?


If I could wave a magic wand and change the Upper Valley market, I would create more buildable land that would allow for the development of modestly priced homes. There is a dearth of quality properties in the less than $200,000 range and this leads to many first-time buyers and other prospective buyers of more modest means being effectively shut out of the market. This market shortcoming causes folks who work in the area to be forced to commute in from, in some cases, well outside of the area resulting in extra expense for them, snarled traffic, and a skewed real estate market that only efficiently serves part of the population. My magic wand could help provide a more vibrant market place, resulting in more vibrant communities, but tragically there is no magic wand.

(This article and "The Lowdown" are the work of Story Kitchen Creative.)

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