Blog :: 2013

Vermont Property Owners Report Market Update | Stowe Blog

Vermont Property Owners Report Market Update

vt prop cover_20131205124517_00001Smith Macdonald Group's McKee Macdonald was featured in Vermont Property Owners Report Market Update regarding market conditions in Stowe, VT for December 2013-January 2014.  Vermont Property Owners Report is distributed throughout the state and covers all issues related to property owners.  They cover Vermont news, updates on the market, law & taxes, court decisions, interviews and sampling of recent sales from around Vermont.

For the Market Update in this issue they looked at the state as a whole with sales still improving state-wide, but Stowe and Manchester showing much improved numbers this year.  Here's an excerpt featuring Smith Macdonald Group's McKee Macdonald: "In Stowe, single-family home sales through October were up 21% from a year earlier, according to broker McKee Macdonald of Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate.  We have definitely seen prices tighten on the lower end, and that will creep up into the higher price ranges, he said.  He also reported an increase in the people looking in the $1 million to $1.5 million range."

As we move toward the end of 2013, the numbers for sales in Stowe remain strong.  Look for our year-end report due out in early 2014.

Here's the full Market Update from the Vermont Property Owners Report:

Vermont Property Owners Report Market Update

Here's the 2013 mid-year Smith Macdonald Report:

2013 mid-year SM Report



Stowe VT Luxury Property Featured on Bloomberg | Stowe Blog


SMG's Stowe, VT Luxury Property Featured on Bloomberg!

Smith Macdonald Group's Stowe, VT Luxury Property, Le Château des Monts Verts, was featured on Bloomberg, under luxury homes for sale with chef-worthy kitchens.

This elegant couDSC02799ntry property is unique in quality, luxury and style. Reminiscent of a home in the French countryside, it was designed by world class architect Bruce Anderson, it is located more than 1,000 feet above Stowe Village and from virtually all rooms enjoy exceptional panoramic views west to the Green Mountains and Stowe Mt. Resort. The property sits just below 13,000 acres of environmentally protected Putnam State Forest providing total privacy. The open main level overlooks the large deck and includes a luxurious chef's kitchen equipped with Meile, Sub-Zero and Thermador appliances, living room, dining room and a solarium that brings the outside in during every season; this main level is ideal for entertaining. From this level one can ascend via a custom crafted grand master staircase to two master suites each with Jacuzzi baths and excellent mountain views.

DSC02883The lower level has a large bath, a home theater with HD and surround sounds, a home office with custom cabinetry and a garden room for flower arranging and potting. This floor includes two very private walk out bedrooms to a large covered terrace. This terrace enters a lovely garden walk to the heated pool and cabana with a half bath and kitchenette. This is a smart house that includes a security system and a premium sound system in the main rooms and deck. This one of a kind home has finishes imported from France, Italy, Brazil and Canada, all blended beautifully with a local Vermont craftsmanship. These unique features, inside and out combine into a truly exceptional country home.

Bloomberg Homes for Sale with Chef-Worthy Kitchens.


Stowe, VT #2 Place To Ski Now | Men's Journal | Stowe Blog

Winter View 1 (Large)Stowe, VT ranked #2 Place To Ski

In the November issue of Men's Journal featuring the five best ski resorts in North America, Stowe, VT ranked number 2.  The combination of over 2,000 feet of vertical, history dating back to 1933 and a true New England village Stowe offers something for everyone.  The recent renovations and upgrades in the infrastructure and luxury at Stowe Mt. Resort have created a skiing experience that rivals many high-end resorts in the Rockies.

One of Stowe's most famous skiers Tiger Shaw was recently named CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, which governs Olympic freeskiing and snowboarding in the U.S.  This adds to the long history of ski industry pioneers who have come from Stowe or chose to call it home.

Check out the Article below from Men's Journal:

Stowe SnowLike all ski resorts in the Northeast, Stowe is a hostage to geography. But unlike any of the others, Stowe is a big mountain in miniature - 3,719 feet, with 2,160 feet of vertical, to be exact. It's a steep, rugged crag of Appalachian relief with groomers as wide as interstates, some of the scariest bump runs in America, and glades and gullies that reward an adventurous spirit. "Stowe offers some of the steepest terrain in the country and is one of the few places on the East Coast where you can get the feel of big-mountain skiing," says Chip Knight, a three-time U.S. Olympic team skier who has skied Stowe his entire life. "Hike up to the Chin or duck into the trees off Nosedive or Chin-Clip after a big snowstorm and you'll even find some exceptional sidecountry skiing."

Terrain aside, Stowe is also the rare resort with the one quality that separates a good ski town from a great one, no matter what part of the country you're in: history. There's a difference between a ski area that exists because it has good mountains and one that was a town before, with a farming or mining industry. It's the difference between Vail and Aspen, Whistler and Revelstoke, or between pretty much any other resort in the East and Stowe.

Whittled out of the Green Mountains and drizzled in maple-syrupy charm, Stowe was a mill town, then a farm village, and then a kind of refuge for European immigrants who wanted a place to log and trap and mine that reminded them of home. It didn't hurt, of course, that the state's highest peak, Mount Mansfield, was there, on whose inclines these same immigrants began to climb up and slide down on trails cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps way back in 1933. Seven years later, the longest, highest chairlift in America was installed, broke down the first day, and then went on to run for nearly 50 years.

The modern world has long since arrived at Stowe in the few ways that really matter - a high-speed gondola, numerous high-speed quads, and the slope-side Stowe Mountain Lodge, a six-story, 312-room timber-and-stone temple to luxury that is one of the finest ski hotels in America. But to visit the town itself, you'd hardly know it. The main street (called, what else, Main Street) has steeples and taverns and actual candles burning in windows. The Matterhorn, everyone's favorite après bar since the days when celebrities and Kennedys skied Stowe, is reachable on skis and looks pretty much the way it did when it opened, in 1950. When McDonald's somehow managed to circumvent the town's ferocious zoning laws, residents were so angered that they ignored it out of business.

"What attracted me is that it feels authentic," says Scott Coggins, a 39-year-old who relocated to the village from New York City in 2010. "So many ski towns have activity on weekends, but they're not real towns. People actually live here." Once or twice a week in season, Coggins gets up, drives 20 minutes to the mountain, and is on the first lift at 8 am so he can get a couple of runs in before work. If it happens to have snowed the night before (not unlikely, since Stowe averages more than 300 inches a year, the most of any Vermont resort), he'll go even earlier, hike up, and lay some of the first tracks in Goat Woods, one of the many glades on a mountain known for its trees and gullies. He definitely won't be alone. "On real powder days, you can see people coming off the mountain with headlamps on."


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    Winter Rendezvous 2014 | Stowe VT | Stowe Blog

     Winter Rendezvous Celebrates 30 Years!

    Winter Rendezvous ad


    The longest running gay ski weekend in the Northeast is celebrating 30 years of coming to Stowe, VT.  Stowe and Stowe Mountain Resort have played host to this fun and exciting crowd for 30 years and are looking forward to the next 30 years.  This year the Winter Rendezvous will take place January 22 to 26, 2014.

    The weekend offers a full array of activities other than just skiing.  Each night offers entertainment, check here for the schedule.  Nightly activities.

    If you've been before or this is your first time you probably have questions, well here are the answers. FAQ

    They offer hotel packages, but if you prefer to stay in a ski home please contact us we have plenty of wonderful ski homes that can accommodate any size party and pets, because who can leave fluffy behind when it's time to party in Stowe!  Ski rental homes.

    For more information on the Winter Rendezvous, click below: offering GLBT travel& SCUBA Adventures.

    2013 Mid-Year Smith Macdonald Report | Stowe Real Estate Market Analysis

    2013 Mid-Year Smith Macdonald Report

    Smith Macdonald Report

    Welcome to the Smith Macdonald Report, our examination of the 1st six months of the Stowe, Lamoille County and Waterbury's residential and land real estate market.  This report uses market-wide data based on transactions that closed in the first six months of 2013 and compares them to closings that took place during the first six months of 2012.  Closings usually occur four-to-eight weeks after a contract is signed for that reason, the sales activity charted here reflects transactions that closed during and through the end of the 1st  & 2nd Quarters, and does not include contracts signed that have not closed.

    As the economic recovery continues to take hold and markets around the country rebound; the Stowe market is starting to follow suit.  As many of us know the Stowe and Vermont markets tend to lag behind many of these national markets.  The market saw gains in units sold of 39% compared to the same time period in 2012.  39 total residential homes sold in the 1st six months of 2013, exceeding market high sales volume from 2007.  While the majority of the sales remain below $500K, 61%, down from 68% a year ago, the $500K to $1 million price point almost doubled from six to 11 sales, increasing its market share to 28% from 21% a year ago.  We also saw the median and average prices only slightly decline by 2% and 4% respectively. There was a slight uptick in inventory, due to seasonality and a strengthening market, of 9% from a year ago.  The more positive market indicator is the overall months of supply have decreased from 23 months to 18, equaling a 22% decline.

    Lamoille County continued to improve in 2013 compared to 2012 with a 34% increase in residential sales volume.  It did however see a slight decrease in median and average prices, dropping 3% and 5% respectively.  Inventory in Lamoille County continues to be a concern with over 298 units available, with 221 units being priced from $300K and below.  Waterbury residential sales volume had a strong turn-around, with an increase of 67% in units sold compared to this time a year ago.  This did result in declines in median prices of 20%, but increases in average prices, 7% compared to the first six months of 2012.  Sales between $200K and $300K helped anchor the market in Waterbury, with 7 of the 35 total sales happening in this price point, thus causing the median prices to decrease.

    The recent movement in interest rates will require further monitoring before its full affect is known.   The Smith Macdonald Group and Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate have started to take a different approach to positioning homes in this ever strengthening market by looking at absorption rates and odds of selling, a key factor to helping you buy or sell.  Contact us to understand how this affects your property.

    One factor will always remain; we are your trusted real estate advisors and are ready to provide you with unmatched expertise and advice. We hope you find the Smith Macdonald Report helpful and we welcome any questions you may have regarding it.

    Click here to access the 2013 Mid-Year report and other Smith Macdonald Report's.


    Peggy Smith                                                          McKee Macdonald

    President/Broker                                                 Broker

    802.793.3566                                                       802.375.5009


    Smith Macdonald Group of Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate

    25 Main Street, PO Box 300 Stowe, VT 05672

    Selling a House? 5 Reasons You Should Do It Now | Stowe Blog

    Selling a House, Now is the Time.

    Good tips in here for why you should consider selling.  We at Smith Macdonald Group feel the shift in interest rates is the largest reason why.  The current shift up in rates means the buying power of buyers decreased between $40K to $60K.  That's a significant shift, a buyer who on June 1 could have afforded a $300K house can now only afford a $250K house.  That's real money on both sides of the transaction.


    Selling a House? 5 Reasons You Should Do It Now.

    Stowe VT Luxury Real Estate | Luxury Realtors | Stowe Blog

    Luxury Stowe Real Estate

    Smith Macdonald Group Featured in Seven Days on Luxury Realtors

    Seven Days ran their annual real estate issue and featured the Smith Macdonald Group as one of Vermont's premier luxury realtors. Peggy Smith was quoted extensively throughout the article regarding luxury real estate in Stowe.  In addition to the interview several of the Smith Macdonald Group's high-end exclusives were displayed through photographs.  Here is the full article here:

    High Rollers: When Money Is No Object, Vermont's Luxury Realtors Step In

    By Kathryn Flagg [03.13.13]
    $2.15 million home in the Stowe Hollow neighborhood$2.15 million home in the Stowe Hollow neighborhood

    If your pockets are deep enough, there are some beauts to be snapped up in the Vermont real estate market. Looking for that classic Vermont gentleman's farm? Nearly $8 million could buy an "exceptional family recreational retreat" on more than 1000 acres in Woodstock. For $1.9 million, you could own a cozy, 4670-square-foot lakefront residence in Colchester with three bedrooms, two libraries and "wonderful open and airy living spaces." And, if you're really going for broke, $9.9 million could buy you a staggeringly huge, 18,095-square-foot getaway in Stowe that one real estate listing bafflingly describes as a "synergy of past and future" and a "carefree and efficient luxury residence."

    If you're dreaming of a piece of Vermont paradise to call your own, chances are there's a house out there for you. And ready to help you find it is a small band of real estate agents who specialize in the luxury market and are adept at discussing the finer points of wine cellars, boat moorings and private tennis courts.

    These agents say the luxury market is picking up.

    "I think that Vermont will always carry that mystique, and we will continue to have a cycle of people willing to bear the expenses of owning real estate in Vermont," said Wade Weathers, the regional manager for residential brokerage at LandVest, a regional luxury real estate agency.

    Of course, the luxury market -- like all sectors of the real estate world -- took a hit in the recent economic downturn. Prices dropped between 25 and 30 percent for high-end properties. In fact, according to Weathers, the high-end real estate market started to shift before most Americans even knew a recession was on the way. "We actually started to see a change in 2006," he said. "Buyers began to get nervous. They follow the stock market ... and they're always ahead of the curve."

    In particular, LandVest saw its second-home market -- which had traditionally made up 70 percent of the company's sales -- slow precipitously. Buyers who might otherwise have been interested in second homes sat on the sidelines and watched, Weathers said, until the financial forecast began to improve. Even now, some of those buyers -- in their fifties and sixties -- find themselves with fewer "earning years" ahead of them, and a second-home purchase seems less enticing.

    And, just as markets are always shifting, so are buyers' preferences in swanky real estate. Weathers specializes in waterfront properties and classic gentleman's farms. While the waterfront homes are still extremely desirable, he said, those end-of-the-road farmhouses are less so than in the past. Buyers today want turnkey properties on a ski slope or the water, where they have access to "instant-gratification" recreation in their backyards, Weathers said.

    For an up-close-and-personal look at Vermont's high-end real estate market, I headed to one of the state's toniest playgrounds, Stowe, to meet with the Smith Macdonald Real Estate Group -- aka mother-and-son realty team Peggy Smith and McKee Macdonald. Smith joked that she's the "grande dame" of real estate in Stowe: She's been in the business since the 1970s, when "high end" meant a modest (by today's standards) ski chalet on Mountain Road. Macdonald grew up in Stowe, left Vermont to work in real estate in New York City for 10 years and returned two years ago to step into the family business.

    Last year, according to an annual report that Smith and Macdonald compiled, 11 percent of all residential sales in Stowe topped $1 million. They estimate that about a quarter of their own business is what they'd call the luxury market, which they define as houses costing at least $900,000.

    Like Weathers, Smith and Macdonald agreed that residential real estate sales -- in both the high- and low-end markets -- are bouncing back; total residential sales numbered 74 homes in Stowe last year, the same figure as in 2006 and 2007.

    The recession was a reality check for some in the market, particularly homeowners looking to unload their expensive properties. Smith and Macdonald noted that it took some sellers a few years to realize that their property investments might not translate into the asking prices they had envisioned.

    Meanwhile, in recent years prospective buyers have become savvier. "They wanted a deal -- a real deal," Macdonald said, and those buyers were willing to hold out on purchasing when they suspected they weren't scooping up a luxury home at a (comparatively) low price. Both factors -- higher-than-realistic price tags and bargain-hungry house hunters -- combined to slow down real estate movement during the worst years of the recession. The Stowe market reached the bottom in 2009, when just 47 residential properties traded hands.

    Above: Interior of the Stowe Hollow property

    Smith took the lead as we set off to explore two properties in Stowe's upscale neighborhoods. Turns out, taking a spin through the town with her is almost as illuminating as poring over property-transfer data at the town clerk's office. As she navigated the streets in her Subaru Outback, Smith casually pointed out various properties she'd sold and rattled off their prices: $2 million here, $3 million there. She's been inside so many Stowe homes that, at dinner parties, Smith often finds herself showing other guests where the bathroom is.

    Our first stop was a nearly 7000-square-foot home in the Stowe Hollow neighborhood, on the market for $2.15 million. The big selling point here, as Smith sees it, is the floor-to-ceiling windows. To demonstrate, she pulled up the blinds on a few, exposing views out to Stowe Pinnacle, but left the rest shut. With 56 windows in the house, it takes her a half hour to open the blinds before a showing -- and just as long to close up shop afterward.

    Smith urged me into what she called her favorite room in the house: an enormous walk-in pantry the size of my own kitchen, where we both ooh'ed and ahh'ed over the storage space. We peered out at the decks that jutted from several of the house's six bedrooms and admired a stone gazebo with an enormous fire pit. I trailed Smith as she padded around the house in her Darn Toughs, peeking into closets and bathrooms. Because the owners still used the vacation home, it remained fully furnished, with the occasional family photo or trinket displayed on a bedside table.

    The owners had, however, followed Smith's advice to purge the house of most of their visible personal paraphernalia, making it as easy as possible for prospective buyers to envision themselves there without interference from another family's private life. Even so, Smith confided, many buyers are picky and fickle, easily turned off by a property because they don't like the current owner's choice of sofa.

    That led Smith to mention a curious quirk of the luxury real estate market in her neck of the woods. Even clients who have near-boundless resources and easily could embark on dramatic renovations or redecorating sprees, she said, rarely want to take on a major project. If the tile or paint color in a home isn't just right, many people will keep looking.

    Smith herself has never had that problem. An art teacher before she entered the real estate biz, she said she's always had a knack for imagining the design or decorating possibilities of a home. "I'm probably a frustrated architect," she confided, after relating one story about taking a crowbar to a ceiling in one of her first residences to expose the beginnings of a cathedral ceiling.

    Her job, as she sees it, is to help buyers imagine the possibilities of a home.

    Above: $3.8 million home in the Taber Hill neighborhood

    Our second stop was a $3.8 million home on 82 acres in the Taber Hill neighborhood -- with some of the best views in Stowe, Smith promised. Sure enough, after we wound our way up the mile-long driveway, we were rewarded with a sweeping vista stretching from Camel's Hump to Mt. Mansfield, with Trapp Family Lodge visible in the distance.

    A thick layer of snow hid the swimming pool, but Smith pointed out another recreational perk: a fronton, the walled court used to play a handball game known as Basque pelota. The house wasn't more than 20 years old, but a few reclaimed posts and beams accented its open floor plan. This felt like a rustic mountain getaway, just right for an après-ski feast among friends, with a gorgeous wine cellar to augment the festivities.

    In Smith's experience, she said, few of the high-roller buyers looking for real estate in Stowe gravitate toward historic properties. More modern homes, outfitted with luxury amenities, move faster on the market. Customers want at least five or six bedrooms -- and as many bathrooms. They're looking for open floor plans, "drop-dead views" and high ceilings -- not exactly the forte of rambling old farmhouses. Nothing too quirky is desirable, Smith said.

    "Unless they find that perfect combination, they won't buy," she said.

    I asked Weathers, Smith and Macdonald if catering to an upscale clientele is any different from handling your average, middle-of-the-road real estate deal. Some clients are demanding, Weathers admitted, but they can also be incredibly gracious. "You can't make a mistake," he said. "I suspect it's a lot like selling most anything, but you have to be careful all the way."

    If anything, Smith and Macdonald said, some first-time homebuyers going for more modest properties need more "hand- holding." High-end clients typically have a level of financial sophistication that makes the real estate agents' jobs a bit easier. That said, Smith added, sales at both ends of the spectrum tend to be "as much work either way."

    "You're going to get the same level of service if you're buying a $100,000 home or a $3 million home," she said. One difference? With the former, you can probably count out the wine cellar.

    Interior of the Taber Hill property

    High Rollers: When Money Is No Object, Vermont's Luxury Realtors Step In | Seven Days.


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            Luxury Mountain Homes | Smith Macdonald Group Featured on

            Fall 2012 Arieal 1

            Stone Hollow in Stowe Vermont

            Luxury Mountain Homes

            Stowe luxury mountain homes and Smith Macdonald Group's McKee Macdonald, were recently featured by for their article titled "Luxury Homes at the Top of the World".  The Smith Macdonald Group was one of only four brokers in North America interviewed for the article.  The article featured brokers from the select luxury markets of Aspen, Park City, Whistler and Stowe.  Additionally the article featured a photo of the Smith Macdonald Group's luxury listing, Stone Hollow.



            Here's the full article, but if you prefer to read it on, please click here.

            Luxury Homes at the Top of the World

            By: Ryan   |    Posted on February 4, 2013

            When it comes to luxury living, few things go together as well as gorgeous homes and world class ski resorts. As far as those criteria go, there are a few mountain towns that have established truly elite reputations for themselves: Aspen, Whistler, Park City, and Stowe. I recently reached out to the most prominent realtors in each of these towns to ask them 5 questions about how their local markets are faring, and what luxury buyers can expect over the coming years. Here's what they had to say:

            1. How is the luxury mountain real estate market faring in these complicated economic times?

            "Park City and Deer Valley's luxury market has faired well throughout much of the economic downturn. Some areas were hit hard but for the most part, the ski real estate values held their value better than others. As we've hit the bottom, there are still a number of great deals on the market for luxury homes that are starting to get snatched up quickly. Since the first of the year we've seen a large increase in pended and closed sales on a variety of properties over 1M." - Ben Fisher, The Fisher Group/Summit Sotheby's International Realty (Park City, Utah)

            "Sales volume is down slightly from 2011 but the median sale price for chalets in Whistler have increased 14% in the last year and 18% since 2009! Whistler will always be among the best places to live on Earth! This is illustrated by the many awards Whistler Village and Whistler Blackcomb Mountains won in 2012, like being named No. 1 Ski Resort in North America by Ski Magazine." - Matthew Callaghan, Sutton Group West Coast Realty (Whistler, British Columbia)

            "Aspen has always been the last mountain resort to be negatively affected by economic events and is usually the first to recover. The luxury end of the Aspen real estate market has stabilized and is making slow, incremental improvement." - Gary Feldman, Joshua & Co./Christie's Great Estates (Aspen, Colorado)

            2. Have you seen an increase in international buyers in recent years, and if so, why do you think that is?

            "Not particularly. Stowe has always had international appeal and buyers, but there hasn't been a large increase in these buyers. We've seen more of an increase in buyers from the Boston area than any other surrounding market." - McKee Macdonald, Smith Macdonald Real Estate Group/Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate (Stowe, Vermont)

            "Historically, Aspen has welcomed buyers from around the globe. They buy in Aspen because they understand the dynamics of real estate in a market where the supply has been limited by local regulations and is sought after by the world's wealthiest people. Two weeks ago, I represented an international buyer with the purchase of a $15,000,000 home purchase." - Gary Feldman, Joshua & Co./Christie's Great Estates (Aspen, Colorado)

            3. What kind of features and amenities does a luxury client typically look for in a mountain home these days?

            "Luxury buyers in Whistler are looking for high end homes that capture the natural beauty of the Whistler Valley and local mountains but also a home that reflects its environment with authentically West Coast construction, materials and design. Whistler is home to some of Canada's best builders and designers, and this is reflected when looking at luxury homes in Stonebridge, Kadenwood, Sunridge Plateau, Horstman Lane and Blueberry Hill just to name a few." - Matthew Callaghan, Sutton Group West Coast Realty (Whistler, British Columbia)

            "Ski access is a huge part of our marketplace and a must for many buyers. Dual master suites, large ski room, mountain views, heated driveways, and many more features are always a must in the luxury price range." - Ben Fisher, The Fisher Group/Summit Sotheby's International Realty (Park City, Utah)

            "They are looking for high-end finishes, but up here that means hand crafted woodwork done by local tradesmen. They want open layouts with luxury kitchens and baths. View is a major driving factor, as well as having some land surrounding the house. Access to skiing is also important and one can be at Stowe Mt. Resort within 10 minutess from anywhere in Stowe." - McKee Macdonald, Smith Macdonald Real Estate Group/Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate (Stowe, Vermont)

            4. Which trends in architecture and home design are becoming more popular in recent years?

            "We're seeing a lot of the luxury builders incorporating modern West Coast designs that are also environmentally friendly and showcase sustainable building practices by reducing waste in construction and are often equipped with state of the art geothermal heating and cooling systems. This is showcased in a recent Georgie Award® and Gold standard for Green Design construction on recent projects by Schreyer Construction in the Spring Creek neighbourhood of Whistler. The new $55 million dollar public library was the first LEED® Gold certified library in Canada and won the Lieutenant Governor of BC Awards for Architecture in 2009. Luxury meets sustainability in a harmonious way in Whistler that you just have to see for yourself!" - Matthew Callaghan, Sutton Group West Coast Realty (Whistler, British Columbia)

            "Open layouts with good flow from the kitchen to the living rooms. Windows that allow for a lot of natural sunlight and views to be a part of the home from within. Master suites transitioning to the main level of the home is also something that has become more popular." - McKee Macdonald, Smith Macdonald Real Estate Group/Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate (Stowe, Vermont)

            5. Where do you see things going in your market over the next 5 years?

            "I see Aspen rebounding as it has since the 1970's. Aspen real estate is a finite commodity being chased by the world's wealthiest people. People will look back to the period from 2009-2012 as the good old days. Prices will continue to rise." - Gary Feldman, Joshua & Co./Christie's Great Estates (Aspen, Colorado)

            "The Park City market is poised for a solid rebound from the bottom of the market we saw at the end of 2009. We've seen a much healthier increase in pricing over the last 3 years at a slow upward rate and expect to see that movement continue over the coming year. With pricing where it is now, those luxury buyers can find themselves at a great advantage by purchasing real estate in today's economy." - Ben Fisher, The Fisher Group/Summit Sotheby's International Realty (Park City, Utah)

            2012 Year-End Smith Macdonald Report and McKee Macdonald Featured in Stowe Reporter

            reporter 1-30_20130131144515_000012012 Year-End Smith Macdonald Report in Stowe Reporter

            This week's Stowe Reporter featured an article by Lisa McCormack about the real estate market in Stowe.  The article also featured Broker McKee Macdonald and his views on the past year in real estate as well as what we expect to see in 2013.  Also used in the article were statistics from the 2012 Year-End Smith Macdonald Report.

            Here's the article in full or click here to read it on the Reporters website.  Click here for the 2012 Year-End Smith Macdonald Report

            Home sales up, prices down in 2012

            Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 12:00 pm

            By Lisa McCormack

            74 homes sold in Stowe

            The Stowe real estate market is picking up steam, though it could be a while before prices reach the peaks they enjoyed prior to the economic crisis, according to local real estate experts.

            The number of housing units sold in Stowe last year hit a four-year high while median sales prices dropped slightly, according to a recent report.

            Seventy-four single-family homes were sold, a 7 percent increase from 69 in 2011. The median sales price -- the point where half of sales fell above and half below -- fell 9 percent from $426,000 to $387,400.

            Sixty-three percent of the home sales involved prices below $500,000, said McKee Macdonald, a broker with the Smith MacDonald Group of Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate in Stowe.

            The Smith McDonald Group's yearly market report was released earlier this month. The report does not include sales that had not closed by the end of December.

            On average, houses priced under $1 million sold for 7 percent below the original asking price, while houses priced at $1 million and above sold for 21 percent less.

            Homes generally sold for close to the assessed value the town government uses for property-tax purposes, with homes priced below $500,000 selling closer to their assessed value than more expensive homes.

            Eight houses sold for $1 million or more, down from 10 in 2011. Five sold for between $1 million and $1.5 million, and three sold for more than $1.5 million.

            All but one of the million-dollar sales were cash transactions, McDonald said.

            "People are feeling more confident with the economy," McDonald said. "We're seeing people who have decided that they're not going to put their personal plans on hold waiting to see what happens with the government or the tax codes. There's a nice storm of people with money and the ability to get loans at low rate."

            While second homebuyers tend to gravitate toward Mountain Road neighborhoods, in 2012, residential sales were spread evenly throughout Stowe, he said.

            The number of Stowe houses for sale shrank 20 percent from 2011.

            Based on the law of supply and demand, that should eventually help to move prices upward, McDonald said.

            Excluding Stowe, sales of residential housing units in the rest of Lamoille County rose 8 percent, with 118 units sold compared to 109 in 2011.

            The median sales price increased 1 percent, from $188,000 to $189,250.

            While the market is moving in a positive direction, the inventory of homes has increased by 22 percent, from 208 to 253, which may counteract the momentum, according to McDonald.

            Land and condo sales up

            After several years of stagnant growth, sales of Stowe land parcels increased by 317 percent. There were 19 sales of open land, compared to six sales in 2011. Median prices rose by 24 percent, driven by sales over $500,000.

            Meanwhile, inventory decreased by 9 percent; 75 land parcels remain on the market compared to 82 a year ago.

            While condominium sales increased last year, sale prices dropped.

            Thirty units sold in 2012, up from 24 in 2011, a 25 percent increase. However, the median selling price dropped 30 percent, from $372,500 in 2011 to $262,000.

            Most condos sold for less than their town-assessed value with units between $200,000 and $400,000 taking the biggest hit; on average they sold for 9 percent below their assessed value.

            Stellar amenities draw buyers

            Stowe real-estate offices report a busy year. Last year's sales were just eight units shy of the market high of 82 homes sold in 2005.

            Stowe's reputation as a four-season resort community continues to draw second homebuyers while the town's excellent school system attracts primary homeowners, said Pall Spera, owner of Pall Spera Co. Realtors in Stowe and Morristown.

            Business at Spera's three offices increased between 30 and 40 percent last year.

            Improvements made at Stowe Mountain Resort have helped to generate interest the housing market, Spera said.

            "Our pedigree has been enhanced by what they've done up there," Spera said. "Businesses in the entire county are looking at ways to improve their quality of service as a result of the economic challenges from the past few years. You're not going to survive if you don't get it."

            Despite the upswing in sales last year, it's still a buyer's market. Making sure that a home is in good condition and pricing it right are essential, given the relatively large number of houses from which buyers can choose, Spera said.

            McDonald is seeing a healthy mix of both primary and second-home buyers.

            Primary homebuyers tend to make up most of the under $500,000 market and several first-time homeowners have taken advantage of the under $300,000 market, McDonald said.

            "They've been renting and now they have enough saved for down payment and are looking at the opportunity to buy into the Stowe market," McDonald said.

            Historically low mortgage interest rates are also helping sales, he said.

            While the $500,000 and above market tends to attract second-homebuyers, they're looking for good deals.

            "It's a turn in the right direction but not a turn to the height of the market where prices were exploding," McDonald said.

            Trends for 2013

            McDonald expects to see an increase in second-home sales in 2013 as the stock market strengthens and investors look for real estate deals.

            "People see the value here," McDonald said. "They see the cultural aspects that Stowe provides. We expect that sales volume will continue to grow and the stabilization of the market will continue.

            "We fully expect the sub $500,00 price point to be the driver, but I wouldn't be surprised to see high-end cash purchases to come back and luxury homes to command a larger portion of the market."

            Home prices will likely be lower than during the real-estate peak of 2005, but higher than when the market tanked in 2008, predicts Spera.

            "I don't see that we'll have a jump up in pricing this year," Spera said. "We'll have a gradual solidifying of prices, which will build confidence in market."

            He also expects more people to put their homes on the market.

            "Many people have been holding off on selling and they might sell now that market is recovering," Spera said. "This spring you'll see quite a few new properties coming on the market."

            Buyers will also continue to consider a home's tax bill when making a purchase, and they'll put an emphasis on whether a home has cell-phone signal and wireless Internet access, Spera said.