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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.


Big Spaces in Stowe VT Real Estate -

Stowe VT Real Estate Featured in Wall Street Journal

Stowe VT real estate has seen steady growth in homes sold over the past two years.  The Smith Macdonald Group was contacted by Nancy Keates of the Wall Street Journal for an article she wrote regarding a shared house in Stowe Vermont.  As a part of the article Nancy featured a home listed for sale by the Smith Macdonald Group.

The home, 496 Manelick Drive is an 82 acre estate property located in Stowe Hollow, one of the premier Stowe VT real estate locations.  Top of the world location with panoramic views from Camel's Hump to Mt. Mansfield, including Trapp Family Lodge, sits this luxury six bedroom home tucked into a backdrop of exposed rock. This high-end home opens to the living room with cathedral ceilings, over sized hearth and wall of western facing windows. There is excellent flow through to the dining room and into the kitchen, with reclaimed posts and beams throughout. The chef's kitchen has hand crafted cabinets and a custom antique island. Main floor master suite with hearth, home office with hearth all afford unobstructed western views. Three spacious bedrooms upstairs. The lower level has a hand crafted wine cellar, two bedrooms, state of the art theater room and game room. The spectacular views from home, pool and hot tub will inspire you every minute of the day. Enjoy sunsets on the wrap around deck. Two car garage, extensive gardens, stone work and Jai Lai court complete this 82 acre private estate.

The property can also be sold as land and the house separately.  Here are some photos of this stunning home.


Stowe VT Real Estate

Mt. Mansfield Views from the living room

Stowe VT Real Estate

Elegant Home Office with Fireplace

Stowe VT Real Estate

Hand Crafted Wine Cellar

To find out more about Manelick Drive, click here.  To read the full Wall Street Journal article, click here: Designing Common Ground -


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      My favorite picture is by far the Crafted Wine Cellar. The wooden wine box shelving in the center island is remarkable! It gives the space an old world style accent. If your looking for original wine boxes or crates for your own wine cellar shelving visit Winepine -

      The "Values" Of A Home | Stowe Blog | Smith Macdonald Group

      On Real Estate with McKee Macdonald

      The "Values" of a Home

      When it comes to real estate there is a lot of information to digest, whether you are a buyer or a seller it can be overwhelming.  Determining value is one section of the market where there is extensive information and it isn't always clear.  When we deal with value we look at many different factors to come up with a home's value, the majority of this is based on current market transactions.

      There is another factor that helps to make up value, but it can't be gauged by numbers or comparables.  That is the emotional value of what makes your house a home.  How does this translate into useable information for you as a seller and is it something that a buyer will view as valuable to them?

      According to the National Association of Realtors, "Homeownership boosts the educational performance of children, induces higher participation in civic and volunteering activity, improves health care outcomes, lowers crime rates and lessens welfare dependency."  These are all aspects of what makes a home important beyond the physical walls and the quantitative value.

      Obviously the good times you've had with family and friends, the milestones you've celebrated in your home mean something to you, but does anyone else care about those experiences?  Is there something else beyond personal experiences that creates added value in your home?  What happens to you when you come home, how does it change or enhance who you are.  This is the qualitative degree of importance that isn't always easy to convey.

      I've reached out to some homeowners in the area to get their thoughts on what makes their house a home.  Second home owner Don Hollis reflects "Our Stowe Hollow home has beautiful views in all directions, upon arrival, we 'become one with nature' - given the comprehensive mix of wildlife which complements the pond, trees, shrubs, and flowers plus the beautiful work done by Vermont carpenters and masons."  In Don's case the ability to "become one with nature" has significant importance to them and is one aspect of their home that presents added value to not only them, but others who wish to experience the same connection.

      Andrew Volansky grew up in Stowe, and is now a full time resident in Morrisville with his wife Jen and two sons, Tucker and Jaxon.  He offers two unique perspectives as not only a local but also as an architect for the Cushman Design Group based in Stowe.  For his personal home Andrew says "One of the more intangible aspects of our home is its location within our neighborhood, we see little to no traffic and the privacy that that affords us is hard to realize until you spend a fair amount of time at our home.  Our young boys have grown up riding their bikes and scooters on the road with little fear or danger of a car passing by, the few that do are usually our neighbors.  We also find that due to the fact that our road is a loop, we get to interact with our neighbors as they walk or bike for exercise."

      Andrew also offered up the view point of working with people who are designing and building new homes in the area, often times these people are new to the area and this is their entrance into the community.  According to Andrew "One of the more rewarding aspects of designing custom homes for my clients is the frequent site meetings that occur during construction.  Most of our clients enjoy seeing incremental progress that occurs throughout construction.  The clients often develop lasting relationships with the crews."  He goes on to say, "For the clients, they get to know the people that create their homes and it makes the experience that much more personal to them."

      Finally I was able to speak with long time Hyde Park residents Ed Connors and Carolyn Roberts, who have lived and worked in the area for many years.  For them their home and community bring different sets of emotions & value to the surface.  "We built here over 20 years ago and have found that living in Hyde Park is vastly underrated!  We are able to live in a very rural setting with total privacy and magnificent views and still be minutes from an excellent hospital, easily accessible schools and wonderful community of arts and culture."  Additionally they mention, "The close proximity to Stowe, Smuggler's Notch and Jay Peak offer many choices in winter and summer activities."

      As our locals have described, there is always added value within a home beyond the number.  Finding ways to convey the emotional value is always a hard task, but it's an important aspect to what makes your house a home.  Using this value along with market realities can create the right mix of quantitative and qualitative values.

      To see this article as it was featured in the Stowe Reporter, click here.



      Subscribe to the Smith Macdonald Group's Blog

      For information about Stowe area real estate and happenings sign up to receive our blog.  We've packed it with useful information regarding real estate, area events, happenings in Stowe and Vermont, art, outdoor activity information and much much more.

      To join, click here.

      Stowe, VT On Real Estate with McKee Macdonald

      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:

      First-Time Home Buyers, looking at the facts.

      It has been over a year since the expiration of the Home Buyer Tax Credit; it's time to reexamine what statistics make up the current first-time home buyer. 

      According to Ron Phipps, 2011 National Association of Realtors President, "First-time home buyers fell to a 37 percent market share in the past year from a record high of 50 percent in the 2010 study."  This drop off is directly related to the expiration of the home buyer tax credit.  Phipps goes on to say "Long-term survey averages show that four out of 10 buyers are typically first-time buyers."

      Who are these buyers, how do they purchase and what motivates them?

      • Median age of first-time is 31 and median income is $62,400
      • 48% are married couples, 23% single women, 15% single male
      • 68% have no children, 18% have one child, 11% have two children
      • 94% chose a fixed-rate mortgage, 54% financed with low-downpayment FHA mortgage and 6% used a VA loan with no downpayment
      • 60% state "desire to own their own home" as their driving factor in purchasing
      • 95% stated being able to personalize their own space and growing value over time as the main benefits of homeownership

      The majority of first-time buyers' purchase in urban or suburban areas, but there are three other categories where first-time buyers do purchase that apply to the Stowe area. 

      • 16% purchase in a small town
      • 11% in a rural area
      • 3% in a resort or recreation area

      How do these buyers find the homes they purchase?

      • 88% use the Internet
      • 87% use a real estate professional
      • 55% yard signs (not allowed in Stowe)
      • 30% print or newspaper ad

      The following is a more in-depth understanding as to where first-time buyers actually identify the home they ended up purchasing.

      • 40% used the internet
      • 35% used a real estate professional
      • 6% from a neighbor, friend or relative
      • 5% from home builder
      • 2% print or newspaper ad
      • Less than 1% from a home book or magazine

      While Stowe caters to many different types of purchasers, the fact that the sub $500K price point makes up 55% of the local market, makes it clear first-time buyers remain an important part of the marketplace. 


      Sources: 2011 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers; Coldwell Banker

      To view the article online, click here.

      McKee's Monthly Real Estate Advice Article Debuts in Stowe Reporter

      McKee will be featured on a monthly basis in the Stowe Reporter in his column "On Real Estate."  Each month McKee will explore different facets of the real estate industry and market offering an in-depth analysis and opinions.

      Stowe, VT offers a unique real estate experience for the New England area, it has better access to world class skiing and resort than any eastern mountain.  Buying and selling in Stowe, VT requires a local expert.

      Take a look at this month's article, by clicking here.

      If there are topics you would like discussed please feel free to email McKee with suggestions at


      2011 Mid-Year Smith Macdonald Report and Broker McKee Macdonald Featured in the Stowe Reporter

      2011 Mid-Year Smith Macdonald Report Featured in Stowe Reporter

      Stowe, VT Real Estate

      This week's edition of the Stowe Reporter ran a front page article featuring the 2011 Mid-Year Smith Macdonald Report and Broker McKee Macdonald.  Using the data generated in the Mid-Year Report the Reporter focused on the continued positive trend of increased sales and their relationship to town assessed value.  In addition McKee is quoted throughout regarding proper pricing and inventory.  The article also focused on condo sales in Stowe and Lamoille County outside of Stowe, pulling data from the Mid-Year Report.

      View the full article here.

      Request a copy of the report 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.

      Click here to request a copy of the report.

      Click here to view the Westmount Examiner.

      2011 Mid-Year Smith Macdonald Report Realesed -- A Comprehensive Analysis of the Stowe Area Real Estate Market


      It is our pleasure to inform you that Smith Macdonald Real Estate Group has released its Mid-Year 2011 Report, our survey of residential real estate sales in Stowe, Lamoille County and Waterbury. This report compares data based on deals that closed in Q1 & Q2 2011 (January 1 through June 30) with those closed in the prior quarter and in the 1st half of 2010.

      The momentum generated by the Stowe area real estate market last year continued into 2011.  Market-wide, first half of 2011 sales transactions increased 23% versus a year ago.  This continues the positive market direction from the bottom in 2009. 

      The Smith Macdonald Group of Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate represented 25% of all Stowe residential sales transactions during the first half of 2011.  We are finding strong activity stretching beyond the lower price points.  There continues to be a need for sellers to find ways to meet buyers on their terms, but when they do transactions are moving ahead quickly and sellers are finding qualified buyers for their homes.

      As always, we continue to follow closely this area's sales activity and trends in residential and land real estate, and would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have about the report or the market generally.

      Request a copy of the report!

      Stowe U-14 Boys' Soccer Team Finishes Season Undefeated

      I'm really proud to announce the Boy's U-14 Soccer Team finished the season undefeated.  We played our final game last Sunday against Middlebury and won 4 to 1.

      It was a great season, my first coaching, and the group of guys was really fun to coach and see play.  Overall the team progressed from taking what we learned in practice and bringing it into the games.

      I had a lot of fun and look forward to watching these kids play at the next level.

      Read more about the final game and other Stowe Soccer Teams.