Press Mentions: 2010-2014

Purchasing a Home and Getting a Loan in Today’s Market

 

Although inventory in Stowe declined by 15% in 2011, this is still considered a buyer’s market, but people are buying as evidenced by the 23% increase in sales volume this past year.  For those buyers thinking about starting their search understanding the mortgage process is paramount to reaching the goal of homeownership.

Today’s lending environment has changed dramatically from before the economic downturn.  Financial institutions became extremely cautious following the downturn as reflected in their lending standards.

“Mortgage rates are near historic levels. Even though lenders have tightened up lending guidelines, with the right preparation and expectations, it is possible to take advantage of the current low rates,” according to Mark Stanton, CMP, of Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc. located in Stowe.  For a buyer taking advantage of these rates this means often being able to afford more at a lower monthly payment.

As a buyer searches out a realtor they should also be contacting a bank, mortgage broker or other financial institution to help determine what they can afford.  Key to navigating the lending process is having a strong team with good communication.

When preparing to purchase a home, here are a few items buyers should prepare:

  • Check your credit score and status.  Make sure to check with each of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  Your lender can help with this.

  • Prepare your documents; pull together recent pay stubs, portfolio, bank, credit card, and loan statements.

  • Employment verification; have your HR department prepare an employment letter stating history and salary.  Prepare them to verify this information again as you get close to closing.

  • Figure out your down payment.  To take advantage of the best rates many lenders require a 20% down payment of the purchase price.  Know how much you have to put down and where it’s coming from.

  • Two Years Tax Returns.  If you are a salaried employee this helps to verify your income.  If you are self employed or receive a 1099, this will establish and verify your income.

In a recent CNN Money article, Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com, even expects that lenders will ease up on borrowing requirements -- marginally -- in 2012.  "Instead of requiring a 740 credit score for the best rates, lenders will dip their toes into 720 waters," he said.  Knowing your score ahead of time will help you and your team best determine the right loan and property.

Vermont has the lowest foreclosure rate in the country and that is a result of local lenders and mortgage brokers helping Vermonters find the right product.  “There are still great programs out there to help borrowers with little or no down payment.” says Jeff Teplitz, Residential Mortgage Loan Consultant with EverBank, located in Stowe.  “FHA requires a 3.5% down payment, Rural Development and VA allow for no down payment.  All three programs allow the seller to contribute up to 6% of the purchase price towards closing costs.  If you have 5% to put down, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still offering very competitive products as well.”

The forecast for rates in 2012 is that they will remain historically low, this coupled with continued affordability should help the national and local markets continue to stabilize.  Locally our market is viewed as a stable market and is attractive to lenders.  For buyers, Stowe continues to be a sound place to invest in real estate.

McKee Macdonald is a broker with the Smith Macdonald Group, part of Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate of Stowe. Comment on this article at stowereporter.com, or email letters to news@stowereporter.com .

 

To read the article at the Stowe Reporter click here.

 

2011 Mid-Year Smith Macdonald Report Featured in Westmount Examiner

The 2011 Mid-Year Smith Macdonald Report was featured in the out of town real estate section of Montreal's Westmount Examiner on July 14, 2011.  The Montreal market remains an important section of the Stowe real estate market and being featured in this paper is just another level of service that the Smith Macdonald Group of Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate bring to their customers and clients.

 

Smith Macdonald 1st Quarter Report and Macdonald Featured in Stowe Reporter

Stowe Reporter, April 14, 2011 

Real estate sales run ahead of last year

By Lisa McCormack

Things are looking up in the local real-estate market, where right-priced homes and low mortgage rates have sparked an increase in sales.

First-quarter real-estate sales in Stowe ran 24 percent ahead of year-ago numbers, and across the rest of Lamoille County, sales were up 25 percent.

“On the heels of 2010’s 30 percent increase in annual sales vs. 2009, this is a positive indicator that the Stowe-area real-estate market is continuing a move in a healthy direction,” said McKee Macdonald, a broker with Stowe-based Smith Macdonald Real Estate Group, part of Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate.

However, the numbers are fairly small:

• Fourteen houses were sold in Stowe between Jan. 1 and March 31, compared to 11 in the same period in 2010. The median selling price dropped 7 percent, to $555,000, compared to $599,000 during the first quarter of 2010. The average price decreased 44 percent, to $475,568 from $845,809 in 2010.

Six houses sold for under $500,000; eight sold for between $500,000 and $1 million.

• Seven condominium units were sold in Stowe during the first quarter, up from five a year earlier. That improvement of two sales equates to a 40 percent increase. The median price increased 37 percent, from $263,934 in 2010 to $361,500 this year.

Additionally, a mountain cabin at Spruce Peak sold for $2.5 million.

• Open land is the slowest area of the Stowe market, with no sales in the first quarter of 2011, and just one a year earlier. Meanwhile, there was a 23 percent increase in the number of open land parcels on the market.

Unlike home prices, land prices haven’t receded, resulting in fewer land sales, said Eric Phaneuf, owner-broker of Sterling Realty.

“There’s a finite supply of land,” Phaneuf said. “Pricing will come up in land, but you’ve got to move the houses first. Right now, there’s enough inventory to find what you want. It’s still cheaper to buy a home than to build one.”

Second-home buyers have driven the Stowe rebound, with Realtors reporting that buyers are looking beyond the lower price points that dominated sales in 2010.

Price is the key

Buyers are interested in a wide range of properties, from small ski chalets to rambling farmhouses, but it’s the purchase price that’s the most important factor in closing a sale, Realtors say.

“Those properties that are moving are priced for the current market,” said Joni Gaines, an owner-broker with New England Landmark Realty. “That’s what’s making the buyers get off the fence. If they realistically want to price for the market, their property will sell.”

While tighter lending restrictions are making things more challenging for first-time homeowners, local banks are offering some programs to help.

“It’s a matter of educating people who are renting that they can buy if they get the right program,” Gaines said.

The sales surge “shows that sellers who understand the market and properly price their homes will spend less time on the market,” Macdonald said, “as buyers are educated and recognize when a home is properly priced. Sellers who continue to live in markets past, with unrealistic goals, will remain on the market and continue to see the value of their homes decline.”

Selling prices are generally about 95 percent of asking prices, Phaneuf said.

“The stronger properties built in desirable neighborhoods have held their value well,” Phaneuf said. “But if you built a house on a postage stamp-sized lot, or purchased and fixed up a home and didn’t do it well, you’re going to get killed.”

No rush to buy

Phaneuf’s clients have diverse budgets and needs. One is looking for a ski house in the $450,000 to $600,000 range. Another is looking to build and has a budget of up to $1.5 million. Still another wants to buy a primary residence for around $350,000.

Most are confident enough to buy because “they sense that the market has bottomed out and that asking prices are fair,” Phaneuf said. 

But they’re taking time to find properties that match their criteria.

“None of them seem compelled to do it tomorrow,” Phaneuf said. “It could be now, or it could be 12 months from now.”

In the first quarter, houses priced between $500,000 and $1 million had the largest increase in sales — 21 percent — compared to the fourth quarter of last year, Macdonald said. 

“The return of the higher price-point sales reflects the renewed confidence in the second-home market, as well as a return of wealthier buyers to the marketplace,” he said. “This reflects an overall confidence in the Stowe-area market.”

There were no first-quarter sales of homes priced $1 million and higher; there were two sales in the first quarter of 2010.

Realtors say most buyers for million-dollar properties make purchasing decisions later in the year, after they’ve received yearly bonuses and paid their taxes.

Inventory down

The number of houses for sale in Stowe is shrinking this year, after rising sharply last year.

The number of houses for sale dropped 7 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to year-ago numbers, and dropped 20 percent from the fourth quarter.

That bodes well for future sales, because shrinking supply generally translates to higher prices and quicker sales.

“The clearing of inventory means correct property values are being achieved and it reflects a return to a more traditional healthy market,” Macdonald said. “The trend toward more units sold year over year should continue and prices will begin to follow as the economy strengthens.”

Lamoille sales, prices up

Outside of Stowe, the Lamoille County housing market shows 20 sales in the first quarter, compared to 18 a year earlier.

Unlike the Stowe market, the median and average prices increased from the first quarter 2010. The median price rose 12 percent, from $175,750 to $196,002. The average price increased 16 percent, from $178,908 to $206,765.

“The buyers are coming out now and it has become very busy in the Morrisville office,” said Penny Mason-Anderson, a Realtor with Pall Spera Company Realtors.

Many are first-time buyers looking for homes in the $150,000 to $200,000 price range.

“I find Morrisville to be hot on the list of where to buy,” Mason-Anderson said. “Folks seem to want to be close to town but with some acreage, too.”

Price counts, though. Morristown had 11 first-quarter sales of homes under $200,000, the same as in the first quarter of 2010. Seven homes sold at prices between $200,000 and $300,000, up from five a year earlier. Two houses sold for more than $300,000, the same as the first quarter of 2010.

The number of houses for sale in Morristown rose 3 percent from a year earlier.

Open land sells better in Lamoille County than it does in Stowe, mostly because it sells for less. Most parcels of open land are priced below $100,000 in the county. Five parcels of open land were sold during the first quarter 2011, up from two a year earlier. The median price for open land dropped 39 percent, from $99,000 to $60,000. The average price decreased by 33 percent, from $99,000 to $66,000.

Four pieces of land sold for less than $100,000; one sold for between $100,000 and $200,00, and none sold for more than $200,000.

“The encouraging news for Lamoille County land is that it is moving, as compared to the near-standstill in first quarter 2010 and compared to the Stowe market,” Macdonald said. “Sellers who can offer financing and building packages will create more traffic and interest. As with the Stowe land market, those who are in a position to purchase land will find a favorable market.”

 

 

Smith, Macdonald Earn Sales Awards

Stowe Reporter, Thursday April 7, 2011

Peggy Smith and McKee Macdonald, brokers with Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate on Main Street, Stowe, working as the Smith Macdonald Real Estate Group, have received Coldwell Banker sales awards for 2010. 

Smith earned membership in the company’s International Diamond Society, a level achieved by only the top 15 percent of all representatives worldwide in the Coldwell Banker system. 
Macdonald has been named to the company’s International President’s Elite. Only the top 3 percent of all representatives worldwide in the Coldwell Banker system qualified for this group. 
Smith was named to the Coldwell Banker International Sterling Society and Diamond Society in 2008 and 2009. Macdonald is a member of Corcoran’s Multimillion Dollar Club for 2010. Both are Coldwell Banker Previews International specialists.

 

Macdonald earns real-estate designation

Stowe Reporter, March 31, 2011

McKee Macdonald of Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate of Stowe has earned the Coldwell Banker Previews International Property Specialist designation.  Only 8 percent of more than 97,000 Coldwell Banker sales associates have earned the designation.  Coldwell Banker Previews International is a comprehensive marketing effort designed specifically for marketing luxury residential properties to affluent buyers worldwide.

 

Certification requires meeting performance criteria in sales of luxury properties, and completion of a prescribed certification course, said Leslie Gauff, broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate.

 

Macdonald, a Stowe native, recently joined Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate after eight years with Corcoran Real Estate in New York City. He received the Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite sales award for 2010 and he was a member of Corcoran’s Multi-Million Dollar Club for 2010.

 

News & Citizen

 

2010 Real Estate Report Released

 

 
By Andrew Martin

The Smith MacDonald Rest Estate Group official 2010 year end report appears to have some good news for Lamoille County. The report is a yearly survey of residential real estate sales in Stowe and the rest of Lamoille County, as well as Waterbury. In the report, data from all transactions that took place in the last calendar year is compared with those sales that were closed in each of the previous four years in order to provide an overall examination and analysis of the local residential and land real estate markets. 
According to the Smith MacDonald report, the Stowe area market “showed continued resilience in 2010.” Sales transactions in Stowe saw a 30% increase over those completed in 2009. The report stated that this increase was yet another sign that the local economy was continuing to recover and that people in the Stowe area were more likely to buy property given “stabilizing prices and attractive mortgage rates.”
The report went on to state that Lamoille County also saw an upward trend in real estate sales, but that Waterbury actually saw a decrease in 2010. According to the report, the rest of Lamoille County (excluding Stowe) saw a 27% increase in real estate sales as compared to 2009. Waterbury saw a 38% decrease in 2010 from 2009, but the decrease may have been due, in part, to the high increase that Waterbury experienced in 2009.


Continuing the Smith MacDonald report stated, as is the case elsewhere in the country, the sale of large numbers of low to moderately priced homes is helping to lead the overall increase in the sale of real estate. While the lower priced houses led the market recovery, the report stated that the higher priced houses lagged behind the general upward trend for real estate sales during the past year. In fact, those higher priced homes that did sell were sold at much less than their assessed value. According to the report “Homes priced under $500,000 are selling slightly below their assessed value, while those priced from $500,000 to $1.5 million are selling just above their assessed value. The area that has seen a drastic departure from the assessed value is at the very high end, over $1.5 million.”
Along with the sales of lower priced homes, another factor related to the overall increase in real estate sales across the county was the attractive low mortgage rates throughout the 2010 year, with the 30-year fixed rate mortgage reaching a record low in the month of November.
In the report it was stated that the Smith MacDonald Real Estate Group was “encouraged by the direction and activity seen in the second half of 2010…we expect the positive market trend to continue as long as the economy as a whole moves in that direction.”

 

 Waterbury Record

Real estate appears poised for a comeback

Posted: Thursday, January 27, 2011 2:00 pm

By Lisa McCormack

After a steep decline in 2010, the Waterbury real-estate market appears poised for a comeback.

Residential real-estate sales dropped 34 percent in 2010 compared to 2009, with 21 units sold vs. 32. Sale prices also fell. The median price — the price at which half of all sales are higher and half are lower — dropped 8 percent, from $264,500 in 2009 to $243,000 in 2010. The average price fell further, 21 percent, from $303,248 in 2009 to $238,414 in 2010.

While the number of land-sale transactions was down from 2009, prices were higher.

There were just two land-sale transactions in 2010, down from five in 2009. However, the median price went from $89,000 in 2009 to $207,500 in 2010, and the average price went from $130,600 in 2009 to $207,500 in 2010.

The new year is showing strong signs of a turnaround, said McKee Macdonald, a broker with the Smith Macdonald Real Estate Group, Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate in Stowe.

“We see positive signs for the Waterbury market in 2011,” Macdonald said. “Already this year, we are seeing sales in several price points and we are seeing interest in land, which didn’t exist in 2010.”

Cindy Lyons at Landmark Realty in Waterbury also reports a busy start to this year.

“Things already seem to be turning around for 2011,” Lyons said. “Early on, we are very busy with buyers in all price ranges and it is turning into a phenomenal January. Buyers are not only looking, but ready to make offers.”

Mid-price popular

Many real-estate buyers in Waterbury are looking for mid-priced homes that don’t need a lot of work.

The majority of homes sold in Waterbury in 2010 were between $200,000 and $300,000. There were 10 in that category, compared to 15 in 2009.

There were eight sales of homes priced below $200,000, compared to six in 2009.  Many of those buyers wanted to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer credit before it expired last summer.

There were two sales of homes priced between $300,000 and $400,000, five fewer than in 2009. There was only one sale above $400,000 in 2010.

Because of its central location, Waterbury also draws a number of second-home buyers.

“Since Waterbury is right on the highway, but close to Stowe, we do see people looking for the second homes,” Macdonald said. “Those buyers can have a large range when it comes to price and size, based on their personal financial situations. Some looked above $400,000 for larger homes and then several looked below $400,000 for the smaller, more traditional second home.”

Lyons saw a similar trend.

“We worked with many first-time home buyers in 2010, looking for small, energy-efficient homes under $300,000,” Lyons said. “They generally were not interested in homes that needed a lot of work. Updated features were important.

“There were a number of buyers looking above the $400,000 price point, but they were doing a lot of looking, and slower to make moves.”

Signs of a strong 2011

In real estate, strong sales often come down to location. Waterbury’s convenient location, coupled with the predicted economic recovery, could translate to an upturn in 2011.

“There are many positive aspects to the Waterbury market that lead us to believe the activity there will continue to move in a positive direction,” Macdonald said. “First, the inventory on a whole is lower than in Stowe and Lamoille County. This gives people less options and should drive more sales to happen.”

He also predicts prices will move higher.

“We don’t expect major gains in price, but do we expect them to be moving in an upward trend for the year,” Macdonald said. “Additionally, the strong commercial industry that Waterbury hosts helps to drive this market and we see those industries gaining more positive ground in 2011.”

He points to expansion at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters as reason to be optimistic about new people moving to the area.

“With this growth, we expect more employment opportunities in the area and thus a larger demand for properties,” Macdonald said. “Also, the fact that Waterbury sits almost equal distance to Burlington, Montpelier and Stowe adds to its market appeal.

“As with the rest of the area and country, if the economy continues to gain ground, we should see the local real-estate market move in that direction as well.”

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Things are looking up in the local real-estate market, where right-priced homes and low mortgage rates have sparked an increase in sales.  First-quarter real-estate sales in Stowe ran 24 percent ahead of year-ago numbers, and across the rest of Lamoille County, sales were up 25 percent.

“On the heels of 2010’s 30 percent increase in annual sales vs. 2009, this is a positive indicator that the Stowe-area real-estate market is continuing a move in a healthy direction,” said McKee Macdonald, a broker with Stowe-based Smith Macdonald Real Estate Group, part of Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate.

However, the numbers are fairly small:

• Fourteen houses were sold in Stowe between Jan. 1 and March 31, compared to 11 in the same period in 2010. The median selling price dropped 7 percent, to $555,000, compared to $599,000 during the first quarter of 2010. The average price decreased 44 percent, to $475,568 from $845,809 in 2010.

Six houses sold for under $500,000; eight sold for between $500,000 and $1 million.

• Seven condominium units were sold in Stowe during the first quarter, up from five a year earlier. That improvement of two sales equates to a 40 percent increase. The median price increased 37 percent, from $263,934 in 2010 to $361,500 this year.

Additionally, a mountain cabin at Spruce Peak sold for $2.5 million.

• Open land is the slowest area of the Stowe market, with no sales in the first quarter of 2011, and just one a year earlier. Meanwhile, there was a 23 percent increase in the number of open land parcels on the market.

Unlike home prices, land prices haven’t receded, resulting in fewer land sales, said Eric Phaneuf, owner-broker of Sterling Realty.

“There’s a finite supply of land,” Phaneuf said. “Pricing will come up in land, but you’ve got to move the houses first. Right now, there’s enough inventory to find what you want. It’s still cheaper to buy a home than to build one.”

Second-home buyers have driven the Stowe rebound, with Realtors reporting that buyers are looking beyond the lower price points that dominated sales in 2010.

Price is the key

Buyers are interested in a wide range of properties, from small ski chalets to rambling farmhouses, but it’s the purchase price that’s the most important factor in closing a sale, Realtors say.

“Those properties that are moving are priced for the current market,” said Joni Gaines, an owner-broker with New England Landmark Realty. “That’s what’s making the buyers get off the fence. If they realistically want to price for the market, their property will sell.”

While tighter lending restrictions are making things more challenging for first-time homeowners, local banks are offering some programs to help.

“It’s a matter of educating people who are renting that they can buy if they get the right program,” Gaines said.

The sales surge “shows that sellers who understand the market and properly price their homes will spend less time on the market,” Macdonald said, “as buyers are educated and recognize when a home is properly priced. Sellers who continue to live in markets past, with unrealistic goals, will remain on the market and continue to see the value of their homes decline.”

Selling prices are generally about 95 percent of asking prices, Phaneuf said.

“The stronger properties built in desirable neighborhoods have held their value well,” Phaneuf said. “But if you built a house on a postage stamp-sized lot, or purchased and fixed up a home and didn’t do it well, you’re going to get killed.”

No rush to buy

Phaneuf’s clients have diverse budgets and needs. One is looking for a ski house in the $450,000 to $600,000 range. Another is looking to build and has a budget of up to $1.5 million. Still another wants to buy a primary residence for around $350,000.

Most are confident enough to buy because “they sense that the market has bottomed out and that asking prices are fair,” Phaneuf said. 

But they’re taking time to find properties that match their criteria.

“None of them seem compelled to do it tomorrow,” Phaneuf said. “It could be now, or it could be 12 months from now.”

In the first quarter, houses priced between $500,000 and $1 million had the largest increase in sales — 21 percent — compared to the fourth quarter of last year, Macdonald said. 

“The return of the higher price-point sales reflects the renewed confidence in the second-home market, as well as a return of wealthier buyers to the marketplace,” he said. “This reflects an overall confidence in the Stowe-area market.”

There were no first-quarter sales of homes priced $1 million and higher; there were two sales in the first quarter of 2010.

Realtors say most buyers for million-dollar properties make purchasing decisions later in the year, after they’ve received yearly bonuses and paid their taxes.

Inventory down

The number of houses for sale in Stowe is shrinking this year, after rising sharply last year.

The number of houses for sale dropped 7 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to year-ago numbers, and dropped 20 percent from the fourth quarter.

That bodes well for future sales, because shrinking supply generally translates to higher prices and quicker sales.

“The clearing of inventory means correct property values are being achieved and it reflects a return to a more traditional healthy market,” Macdonald said. “The trend toward more units sold year over year should continue and prices will begin to follow as the economy strengthens.”

Lamoille sales, prices up

Outside of Stowe, the Lamoille County housing market shows 20 sales in the first quarter, compared to 18 a year earlier.

Unlike the Stowe market, the median and average prices increased from the first quarter 2010. The median price rose 12 percent, from $175,750 to $196,002. The average price increased 16 percent, from $178,908 to $206,765.

“The buyers are coming out now and it has become very busy in the Morrisville office,” said Penny Mason-Anderson, a Realtor with Pall Spera Company Realtors.

Many are first-time buyers looking for homes in the $150,000 to $200,000 price range.

“I find Morrisville to be hot on the list of where to buy,” Mason-Anderson said. “Folks seem to want to be close to town but with some acreage, too.”

Price counts, though. Morristown had 11 first-quarter sales of homes under $200,000, the same as in the first quarter of 2010. Seven homes sold at prices between $200,000 and $300,000, up from five a year earlier. Two houses sold for more than $300,000, the same as the first quarter of 2010.

The number of houses for sale in Morristown rose 3 percent from a year earlier.

Open land sells better in Lamoille County than it does in Stowe, mostly because it sells for less. Most parcels of open land are priced below $100,000 in the county. Five parcels of open land were sold during the first quarter 2011, up from two a year earlier. The median price for open land dropped 39 percent, from $99,000 to $60,000. The average price decreased by 33 percent, from $99,000 to $66,000.

Four pieces of land sold for less than $100,000; one sold for between $100,000 and $200,00, and none sold for more than $200,000.

“The encouraging news for Lamoille County land is that it is moving, as compared to the near-standstill in first quarter 2010 and compared to the Stowe market,” Macdonald said. “Sellers who can offer financing and building packages will create more traffic and interest. As with the Stowe land market, those who are in a position to purchase land will find a favorable market.”