Blog :: 02-2012

Unique Houses | $89K house on the railroad tracks - Video

As Realtors we see a lot of different ways to live and locations for living.  This is an interesting home located in Portland, OR where the home owner converted a 1880's Pullman rail card into a home.  The house is located on siding tracks of a local rail yard, that she rents for $200 a month.  This is one home that gives new meaning to traveling by rail.

Click below to view the video featuring the home on

$89K house on the railroad tracks - Video - Personal Finance.

Stowe, VT On Real Estate | McKee Macdonald's monthly article in the Stowe Report

This week's edition of the Stowe Reporter featured McKee's monthly real estate article.  This month McKee explored first time home buyers.  Here's a copy of the article:

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, 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, or email letters to .

To read the article at the Stowe Reporter click here.

Housing Crisis to End in 2012 as Banks Loosen Credit Standards

Another sign that housing continues to turn around is that banks are starting to loosen credit standards in 2012.  Since the banks currently have money available to lend they are looking at lowering certain standards like credit levels from around 750 to 720 and perhaps lower.  They are also looking to lower their loan to value ratios which will help buyers afford a bit more with less of a down payment.  Read more below.

Housing Crisis to End in 2012 as Banks Loosen Credit Standards.

Stowe Area Architects | Offering Unique Homes | Beyond the Pale | New England Home

Grandview Farm Designed by Cushman Design Group

New England Home Magazine is featuring a Rowayton architect and real estate developer built for themselves.  Locally we have several architect's that work with local builders to create special homes for themselves and their customers.

Check out Cushman Design Group, who designs some of the areas most spectacular homes.  According to their website, "The Cushman Design Group, Inc. provides integrated architectural design services, specializing in all aspects of high quality residential, commercial, interior, site planning and landscape design. We are committed to design excellence and achieve it with a balance of creativity and technology coupled with attention to our clients´ budgetary and programmatic requirements"

Sam Scofield also brings a unique eye to building in the Stowe area.  Stating on his website, "My strengths lie in tailoring projects to the often conflicting needs and desires of my clients with thoughtful design, as well as consideration for the site, applicable codes and zoning regulations, and acknowledgement of construction practices.  As a result of my extensive building and project management experience, I can integrate architectural and construction perspectives while assuring quality and cost effectiveness for successful and enjoyable projects"

Youkel, named for it's founder Alain Youkel, does a lot of work in the Stowe area but also in Burlington and Montreal.  "We believes that the built environment has a direct influence on the way we live, work and play. Architecture addresses the social, material and spiritual need of the people based on their culture and the climate of the place. Our practice is based on creation of value, context and function through design excellence. We believe that high quality of design is attained through a clear understanding of the objectives, intensive dialogue, budget and program control, and proficient project management throughout the design process." according to their website.

For more architects in the Stowe area click here.

Beyond the Pale | New England Home.

Will the Housing Market Finally Start Rebounding in 2012? -

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article and based on the year end numbers from our local market, now is a good time to buy a house.  Over 71% of people surveyed in a recent study felt that it was a good time to purchase a home.

Locally this holds true, Stowe and the surrounding area have continued to remain affordable for buyers.  The historically low interest rates are helping purchasers get into homes that might otherwise be out of reach.  That and the seller's realization that by making adjustments to their asking price can result in finding a buyer.

Read the WSJ article here:

Will the Housing Market Finally Start Rebounding in 2012? -

New Listing 2 Bed, 1 Bath Condo Located in Prime Downtown Burlington!

Check out our new listing located just three blocks from Church Street in downtown Burlington.  This two bedroom condo is a perfect starter apartment or for students who want to invest in the area and not pay rent. Call us today to arrange a showing.

Click here for the listing info.


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          December Existing-Home Sales Show Uptrend

          The market had a rebound in December for existing home sales, jumping 3.6% compared to December 2010 according to statistics provided by The National Association of Realtors.  Overall inventory also decreased, sales in the Northeast rose 3.3 percent compared to December 2010.

          Click here to read more from NAR December Existing-Home Sales Show Uptrend.


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