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2010 Smith Macdonald Report is featured in the Waterbury Record and News and Citizen

News & Citizen
  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."