Posted by: Clayton-Paul Cormier, Jr. | April 10, 2013

Q1 2013

bidding war

Bidding War Revival


Vermont’s Q1 single family residential market improved markedly
 with 822 sales vs 744 in the previous year’s first quarter, an increase of just over ten percent, with an improved average sale price of $247,788 vs $224,096 in Q1 2012 and inching over the average sale price of the last quarter in 2012, $246,706.

Bidding Wars Are Back. Maple Sweet Real Estate clients enjoyed numerous bidding wars in the first quarter, another sign of significant market improvement.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

South Village

South Village 34, a condo just three doors away from the ski on ski off trails at Sugarbush’s Lincoln Peak, closed at $290,000 after a three-way bidding war, $15,000 over asking. After a nearly five-year buyers’ market, the tide is changing for Vermont sellers and consumer confidence is on the rise.

This CNN story highlights the increase nationally in bidding wars with some California cities with 9 out of 10 properties enjoying competitive offers. Vermont tends to trail national trends but signs of recovery here int he Green Mountains are rife including tales of house stalking, with desperate buyers in select markets purchasing houses that weren’t for sale.

The Vermont Land Trust announced plans to purchase and eventually transfer to the Mount Mansfield State Forest 1,100 acres in Bolton from the Redstone Group’s Catamount Bolton LLC including some of Bolton Valley’s back country nordic ski trail network after a focused fundraising campaign.

Saving Bolton Valley Back Country

Saving Bolton Valley Backcountry

 

Lender Optimism & Cautious Mortgage Expansion

From Inman News: Lenders are more confident about the direction of home prices than at any time in the last three years, according to a quarterly survey conducted for decision-management firm FICO by the Professional Risk Managers’ International Association.

cash loansAmong the bank professionals who responded to the survey, which measured sentiment in the first quarter of this year, 71 percent said that home prices are rising at a “sustainable pace” from a risk perspective, FICO reported. The survey also found that only 16 percent of lenders expect delinquencies to increase over the next six months, with 45 percent predicting that they will remain flat and 39 percent predicting that they will decrease, according to FICO.

“The latest survey results, combined with data that indicates the real estate market is improving in many regions, paint a positive picture for a sector of the economy that has been slow to join the recovery,” said Dr. Andrew Jennings, chief analytics officer at FICO and head of FICO Labs in a statement. “Mortgage lenders have been understandably guarded over the past five years. The improvement in their sentiment should be welcome news, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see lenders cautiously expanding their mortgage and home equity lending businesses.”

One key element of Q1 growth has been interest rates remaining stable near their historically lows. One key factor that will affect the next three quarters of this year for Vermont real estate owners and sellers is where the interest rates are going..

From Bloomberg Real Estate: “The days of historically high levels of housing affordability are numbered,” Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, said in the statement. When interest rates rise, property prices “will have to either remain stagnant while incomes catch up or, quite possibly, home values will have to fall in some markets. This will especially be the case in some markets that have seen strong home-value appreciation.

Rates may rise to about 4 percent by the end of this year, and 4.5 percent by late 2014, Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com, a Riverdale, New Jersey-based mortgage-information website, said in a telephone interview.”

existing home sales 1

Q1 Increasing Home Sales & Mortgage Rates Forecast

NBC in March reported existing February home sales hit a three year high.

From CNBC, a less optimistic assessment of spring real estate conditions with one silver lining: “A better sign for March, after two weeks of declines, mortgage applications to purchase a home jumped 7 percent during the past week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. This as interest rates fell slightly, due to concerns over the banking crisis in Cyprus.

To set up a complimentary comparative analysis of your own property, arrange for showings of Maple Sweet Real Estate listingsother Vermont listings,  or to  contact us with any other questions. call 800.525.7965, 802.496.9800, email us at info@maplesweet.com or visit www.maplesweet.com

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Referrals & recommendations are welcome & appreciated.
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If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.
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Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call us toll free at 800.525.7965 for further details.
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Posted by: Clayton-Paul Cormier, Jr. | January 10, 2013

2012 Vermont Real Estate Year in Review

2505 Fuller Hill Collage

South Hill Farm Warren

2013 is off to an auspicious start. Maple Sweet Real Estate  has just listed the spectacular  South Hill Farm on Fuller Hill Road in Warren, including 140 acres, Blueberry Lake X-Country groomed ski trails, a massive barn for equestrians, triple bay carriage house and numerous outbuildings for $3,100,000.

2012 was a record setting, banner year. In spite of dire Mayan Calendar predictions, this was far and away the best year  for our agency. With a good dollup of Irish luck and long work weeks, I was fortunate enough to come in as the top selling Mad River Valley realtor, with outstanding support from an increasingly strong Maple Sweet Real Estate team including Mary Davidson, Kristy Westvang & Jennfer Stella.

$5.5 million in closed property including 30 transaction sides on single family homes, condos, land and commercial property. Congratulations to the scores of our clients and customers with 2012 property closings, and a heartfelt thank you to our current clients and customers for your patience and perseverance in a still very challenging market. We are honored by your loyalty, thank you for an exceptionally productive & successful 2012, and grateful to serve you in 2013.’

fiscal cliff

Cliff Hanger

The burgeoning recovery has taken wing following the historic recession which began  in 2005, kicking into high gear in Vermont in the fall of 2008. Long buffeted from extreme national woes here in the Green Mountains, 2012 was a year of major successes and hope that 2013 will continue to yield excellent dividends and special pleasure for Vermont property investors.

National numbers were strong, with home prices climbing throughout the year out of a double dip following 2009-2010 appreciation. National home values posted, according to Zillow, their 13thconsecutive month of home value appreciation in November, and were up more than 5 percent year-over-year across the nation in December according to Trulia, with 82 of 100 metropolitan markets tracked showing gains vs just 12 of 100 in 2011.

The S&P/Case-Schiller Home Price Indices witness a sustained recovery in 2012 with a 4.3% increase in home prices, bringing national markets back to nearly the levels of the sustained 2010 market improvement, substantially better than in 2011.

S & P Case Schiller Home Price Indices

Central and northern Vermont, in contrast to Maple Sweet Real Estate’s experience in 2012, have by and large lagged the national comeback in single family home sales in four counties:  Chittenden county home prices enjoyed a modest gain, Washington county lost minor ground and Addison & Lamoille counties lost over 10% on average.

Addison County, 231, up from 227 in 2011, high $855,000 in Panton  Average $250,884,  -11.5%

Chittenden County, 1,035, up from 876 , high $3,180,000 in Charlotte  Average $318,526,  +1.5%

Lamoille County, 192, up from 177. high $1,985,000 in Stowe   Average  $325,850  -10.95%

Washington County, 366, up from 325, high $1,600,000 in Waterbury   Average $220,683  -2.53%

Condo Sales up in Sugarbush, down dramatically in Stowe:

Sugarbush, 44, up from 33, high $635,000 at Clay Brook, Average $198,522,  +3%

Stowe, 37, up from 28, high $599,000 on the Mountain Rd, Average $291,315  -27%

Land sales average prices, in contrast, improved significantly in all four counties, especially in Washington County, stats skewed by an unusually high sale in Warren, 77 acres on Senor Road closing at $1,064,000 after 2,218 days on the market.

Addison County,  high $455,000 in Bridport, Average $102,699  +4.98%

Chittenden County,  high $2,600,00 in Shelburne,  Average $209,314  +33.58%

Lamoille County,  high $995,000 in Stowe,  Average $187,700  +21.27%

Washington County, high $1,064,000 in Warren, Average $120.555  +158%

In celebration, check out this general year in review Youtube collage:

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49 states and five large banks agreed to a $25 billion dollar robo-signing settlement and today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announces new mortgage rules designed to protect borrowers from high risk loans and incent lenders to expand mortgage credit.

Tightened credit since the sub-prime fiasco five years ago, which caused both the financial and housing sectors to crash five years ago, has been bad news for many prospective borrowers with marginal credit profiles who even after having received lender pre-approval letters were denied a mortgage by underwriters following more stringent loan application reviews leading to cancelled contracts and lost prospective purchaser inspection fees and other contract related expenses.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

Mortgage Interest Deduction

Driving up German Flats Road this week, I picked up a hitchhiking Boston attorney skiing off the back country Slide Brook trails concerned the mortgage interest deduction (MID) may be capped or removed as part of the fiscal cliff related budget negotiations, and how that might affect Vermont real estate including his own second home here in the Mad River Valley.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) believes a removal of the MID could reduce property values by 15 percent. If affected, it’s likely the high earners, like many second Vermont homeowners, that would see their deductions capped or second home MID eliminated completely.

For more detail, here’s the NAR Mortgage Interest Deduction Field Guide.

We braced ourselves for  hurricane Sandy, fresh with nightmares of Irene, and were largely spared.

We braced ourselves for hurricane Sandy, fresh with nightmares of Irene, and were largely spared.

From a 2012 story by Reps Joan Lenes & Kate Webb from the Shelburne Newsletter:

“The Legislature fixed two problems that had been interfering with the ability to buy and sell some real estate.  First, it will now be possible for a Vermonter to hold a mortgage on a sale of property without needing a lender’s license so long as they do so infrequently.  This will help people who want to sell their property or business and be paid back over time.  Real estate loans to relatives are also now possible without getting a lender’s license.

Bankers and homebuyers were having problems trying to close loans on properties on private roads. Currently, Fannie Mae loans require a written road maintenance agreement or a state statue setting how maintenance disagreements will be treated. Closings subject to this guideline have been held up or canceled.  Act 123 puts into statute current common law that says if no written agreement exists, maintenance will be handled “rateably,” – should a disagreement arise, courts will take into all relevant factors, thus satisfying Fannie Mae.”

Sugarbush and Mad River Glen, for the first time in 54 year history, joined forces offering joint ski passes.

Sugarbush and Mad River Glen, for the first time in 54 year history, joined forces offering joint ski passes.
Sugarbush’s Win Smith & Mad River Glen’s Eric Friedman at the October announcement.

The Vermont Property Owners Report published a Special Report on Vermont Real Estate Taxes in March which is most helpful, viewable here, including coverage of taxes on the buyer, seller and holding real estate, (Acts 60 & 68).

To arrange for a showing of the South Hill Farm, any Maple Sweet Real Estate listingsother Vermont listings,  or to set up a complimentary comparative analysis of your own property,  contact us with any other questions or interests at 800.525.7965, 802.496.9800, info@maplesweet.com or www.maplesweet.com

……..
Referrals & recommendations are welcome & appreciated.
……..
If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.
……..
Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call us toll free at 800.525.7965 for further details.
Posted by: Clayton-Paul Cormier, Jr. | October 6, 2012

Q3 2012. Electric Pulse. Flat-Lined Market Revival

Three straight months of S&P/Case-Shiller home price index increases and improving existing and new home construction and sales are leading to less cautious optimism about the burgeoning rebound.

This week Maple Sweet Real Estate clients became frustrated with an out of state lender and requested an alternative. With a closing just three weeks away, we scrambled. A top shelf Vermont mortgage provider didn’t think it could happen and apologized only because  all of their appraisers were flat out, at least three or four weeks away from even getting into a new job to start the work, adding projected extra time to the contract to closing period. I made some calls and was able to find a single appraiser that could ratchet things up and now we’re back on track to close on time.  The close call and appraisal traffic jam are blessings in disguise as they signal significantly higher than usual volume of new mortgage and refinancing applications.

Who could have predicted 30 year mortgage rates would drop below 3.5% . Some property owners have refinanced three times in just five or six years.

32 Hurdle Road in Moretown, Q3 Maple Sweet Real Estate Bidding War Beneficiary

Maple Sweet Real Estate Q3 sales include a bidding war on this beautifully built William Moore built Moretown cape. Listed at $348,000, it closed at $355,000, both bidding buyers brought to the table by Maple Sweet.

Astute buyers and property owners are increasingly harvesting the spectacular combination of incredulously low mortgage rates and more realistic sellers motivated to move on following longer periods on the market related to pulling out of the recession. Looking back at an era of 12 and 13% interest rates shines an astonishing light on the opportunities for real estate investors, first time buyers, repeating home owners and home flippers. Fueling this record run of historic mortgage rates, the Federal Reserve is purchasing tens of billions in mortgages a month.

The National Association of Realtors outlined sales of previously owned homes rose at the fastest pace in August in more than two years. Joshua Pollard of Goldman Sachs predicted new government mortgage policies, tight previously owned home inventory and other factors could drive new home sales growth up as much as 30% over the next few  years.
Commercial vacancy is also improving. According to realtor.org office vacancy rates have dropped from 16.6% in 2011 to 15.7% in 2012, retail vacancy rates from 12.5% to 10.7%, and multi-family vacancy rates from 5.2 to 4.2%.

Luxury Q3 M LS Sales

5 in Chittenden County including 400 Crosswinds, Charlotte, $1,800,000

139 East Shore Road, South Hero, $1,115,000

466 Henry Hough Road, Waterbury, $1,600,000

112 Thomas Pasture Road, Stowe  $1,250,000

100 Haul Road, Stowe $1,200,000

Vermont, according to the Department of Labor, continues to hold the lowest unemployment rate in the northeast and the fifth lowest in the nation. Our diverse mix of businesses has helped insulate Vermont against the more dramatic recessionary conditions other states have experienced. Vermont’s population is approaching 630,000:; the only state with fewer people is Wyoming, and Vermont has no major urban areas and under 10,000 square miles.

There is little question the market has improved over the last year. Here are the third quarter stats for 2012 vs 2011:

Residential Sales, 1,632 vs 1,545            Land 193 vs 140             Commercial 28 vs 24

Median Q3 residential sale price comparisons, 2012 vs 2011 (as these are for just one quarter, #’s are  skewed in some cases by just one strong sale):

Warren  $279,000, up from $235,000

Waitsfield $310,000 up from $290,000

Montpelier $245,000 down from $252,250

Stowe $384,500 up from $349,000

Shelburne $337,000 down from $446,000

Burlington $352,750 up from $313,500

With the presidential election just a month away, there is cause to be even more hopeful as some investors are holding back to move forward until after the election given the ambiguity leading up to it. Affordability is hovering at all time highs as this article, “Election 2012: Will it Affect Your Decision to Buy a Home?” highlights from AOL Real Estate, forecasting further Q4 price increases. One consideration is whether Obama’s proposed refinancing expansion (of HARP, or the Home Affordable Refinancing Program) will become law, which could triple the number of homeowners eligible to refinance their mortgage. “We don’t know what the future holds, and we can’t afford to waste a lot of time.” stated Barbara Boxer, California Senator, in this Bloomberg Businessweek article.

Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to list your property, arrange for showings, or look further into Vermont’s real estate market.

 
If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.
Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.
Posted by: Clayton-Paul Cormier, Jr. | July 9, 2012

Mercurial Improvement. Q1 Q2 2012 Vermont Real Estate Markets in Review

Summer 2012.

Looking back over an historic first six moths of 2012: interest rates, in spite of predictions of rising tides, continued to tumble. Just this week, they hit an astounding 3.62 per cent on a 30 year note. Here’s a good article on exercising your option to refinance. It’s not just the weather that’s been breaking records.

Looking back over the last three years, there’s been lots of hurt in this empire of dirt.

In spite of national woes and seemingly ever present naysayers, Vermont’s real estate market is on the rise. A Maple Sweet Real Estate listing, just on the market, sparked a bidding war ending up in an above asking price contract. All the elements are in place for dramatic leaps forward.

May pending sales, according to the North Western Vermont Board of realtors, rose relative to years past. Inventory continued to shrink in May, down 13.9 percent to 1,137 units. Prices moved higher. The median sales price increased 4.3 percent to $245,000.

Over the last six months, 2,070 residential properties have sold in Vermont. Comparing the same time period in 2011, just 1,770 properties sold.

For a sampling of properties sold in the first two 2012 quarters:

15 Mad River Valley sales

9 in Stowe

36 in and around Burlington

9 in Addison County

9 in and around Montpelier

8 in Woodstock

Rismedia reported: “sales in Vermont increased by slightly over 10 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Compared to last year, MLS data for 2012 shows 955 sales while the first quarter of 2011 saw total sales of 867. This increase can be attributed to increased buyer confidence that the housing market is starting to return to equilibrium after 2008’s “Great Recession”.

Two outstanding Mad River Valley recent land sales bring hope the land market is on the mend too. These two sales, of 77 and 92 acres, each closed over a million.

Last month the commerce department reported “new home sales jumping almost 8 percent from April. Year-over-year, sales were a whopping 20 percent higher” and that ” economists are confident that the housing market has “hit bottom” after more than five years of steady home price declines and anemic demand.””

From US News, “our view that housing is in a moderate recovery phase” Michael Gapen of Barclays wrote in a note to clients.

Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies released a report forecasting sales are poised to improve including a surge in rental demand. “At some point, renters are going to realize they’re losing money each month they continue to rent.”

Here’s Fed chairman Ben Bernanke on the improving market:

Mercurial but improving. Maple Sweet Real Estate has seen steadily improving market conditions and expects the 3rd and 4th quarters to be fertile and productive.

Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to list your property, arrange for showings, or look further into Vermont’s real estate market.


If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.
Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.
Posted by: Clayton-Paul Cormier, Jr. | January 6, 2012

Vermont Real Estate 2011 Year in Review

Forces of Nature.

There’s little question in spite of a steadied 2011 real estate market after two to three years of precipitous decline and recession, Vermonters will remember the extensive damage to real estate and infrastructure brought by Hurricane Irene on the last Sunday in August more than 2011 as the year of market stabilization.

Rochester Home & Collapsed Embankment from Irene, 1.1.12

From homes and buildings swept off their foundations and lost completely to entire first floors of homes left deep in silt, it was a massive event materially,  in the psyche of the Green Mountain residents, and dominating government action in the fourth quarter. A sudden increase in rental demand, historic property losses and titanic insurance claims leading to the the near-collapse of the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) ensued.

By some estimates the damage amounts to some three quarters of a billion dollars. The last Vermont highway Vermonters, including those in the Mad River Valley, united to raise historic amounts of money to support those affected. 2011 will go down as the year of Irene for  watershed Vermonters.

Japan’s massive north east coast earthquake & tsunami sent reverberations across the globe. From the nuclear meltdown at numerous Fukushima Tepco reactors, ensuing evacuation zones, an estimated 25,000 tsumami related deaths  to improved US auto sales following supply interruptions for Japanese automakers, it was an unforgettable year following 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Japanese May 14 Earthquake & Tsunami

With disaster in the rear view mirror, many also view 2011 nationally as the worst year on record (nationally) for new home sales, single family permits, and single family home starts, at least since 1945.

East Warren Road View of Sugarbush

Maple Sweet Real Estate saw, in contrast, our best year in gross sales, tapping into Vermont’s petit economy’s insulation from the broader national woes. and capitalizing on budding demand based on stunningly low mortgage rates and improving employment. Governor Peter Shumlin, in his state of the state address  January 5th, outlined Vermont has among the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at just 5.3%. Buyers in Vermont made offers with less trepidation than in 2010.

Taking a look at 2011 residential sales statewide, measured in millions:

2011 Vermont MLS Residential Sales, from NNEREN.

2011 Vermont mls residential (excluding condominiums) sales numbered 4,012 units vs 3,986 in 2010, a slight uptick. Of these:

Stowe, 69 improved over 57 in 2010, Mad River Valley 54 vs 51,  Chittenden County 875 vs 856, Montpelier 45 vs 42, and in Addison County 228 vs 192. While the improvements are modest, these sales reflect the beginning of a gradual recovery.

377 Cross Road in Stowe, one of the highest Stowe sales, closed at $1,950,000 including 54 acres.

Among Highest 2011 Central & Northern Vermont Residential Sales:

Addison County $1,650,000 630 Mile Point Rd, Ferrisburgh, half an acre

Chittenden County $1,780,000 3611 Harbor Rd, Shelburne, 1.4 acres

Mad River Valley $1,275,000 1497 Bragg Hill Rd, 21 acres

Montpelier, $415,000 65 College St, just over half an acre

Stowe $4,000,000, 551 Edson Hill Road, 44 acres

“In the most recent report, the Census Bureau reported that the new-home market continued its rebound, with sales of new houses once again inching up last month. New-home sales rose 1.6 percent from October to November to an annualized rate of 315,000, and sales were up nearly 10 percent compared to November 2010.

The median sales price of a new home in November was $214,100, the Census Bureau reported, and the inventory of new houses nationwide decreased to a six-month supply at the current sales pace.”  -National Association of Realtors (NAR), RealtorMag 12.27.2011

And from NAR’s REALTOR.org: “Pending home sales continued to gain in November and reached the highest level in 19 months”. The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 7.3 percent to 100.1 in November from an upwardly revised 93.3 in October and is 5.9 percent above November 2010 when it stood at 94.5. The October upward revision resulted in a 10.4 percent monthly gain. The last time the index was higher was in April 2010 when it reached 111.5 as buyers rushed to beat the deadline for the home buyer tax credit. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the gains may result partially from delayed transactions.

Year of the Landlord

Housing affordability conditions are at a record high and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who’ve been on the sidelines, but contract failures have been running unusually high. Some of the increase in pending home sales appears to be from buyers recommitting after an initial contract ran into problems, often with the mortgage,” he said.

“November is doing reasonably well in comparison with the past year. The sustained rise in contract activity suggests that closed existing-home sales, which are the important final economic impact figures, should continue to improve in the months ahead,” Yun added.”

Morgan Stanley coined 2011 the “Year of the Landlord”. Rental property demand surged in line with tight money and tightened lending conditions in spite of historically low interest rates.  Multi-family homes,  a perennial investor favorite, have been an even more attractive investment given the difficulties of obtaining mortgages and the attraction of renting out one or more of the purchased units as a hedge against carrying costs.

2011 Vermont MLS Land Sales Volume in Millions

According to Reuters, starts for structures with five or more units increased nearly double year-over-year levels along with a 2.6% rental cost increase compared with just six tenths of a percent in 2010.

Standard & Poor’s downgraded American’s AAA debt rating in August to AA+. The Euro faced it’s biggest challenges yet with the dismal state of the 17 nation eurozone, putting some Vermont buyers on alert following rescues of both the Greek & Irish economies, strained situations in Italy, France & Spain, and tumbling stocks.  Many view it as the most serious european crisis since World War II.An historic run of low interest rates.

2011 S&P 500 from http://www.seekingalpha.com

The S&P 500 ended nearly where it started with major dips due to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and the resulting Fukushima Nuclear Crisis and the Budget debacle & US credit downgrade.

An unprecedented run of historcially low 30 year mortgage rates starting and ending in the four and three quarter per cent range, 2011 may go down in history as the year to have borrowed, not to mention the smiling faces of mortgage brokers all over the state as the refi (refinancing) apps came pouring in.  The brilliantly low interest rates are expected to continue early into 2012, remaining between four and five per cent for much of the new year.

Mike Donnelly of the Washington Post in a December 25th article: Distressed commercial real estate in the United States — including properties in default, foreclosure or taken back by lenders — totaled $171.6 billion in October 2011. That is a dip from the recent past.

2011 VT MLS Commercial Sales in Millions, NNEREN

The level of distress began to plateau when it reached $191.5 billion in March 2010, and it has stayed in the $175 billion to $190 billion range until now, according to data from Real Capital Analytics.”  Donnelly expects the distress levels, highest in office space, second in apartments, to continue to come down in 2012 and beyond assuming interest rates cooperate & economic expansion accelerates.
2012, Looking Forward.
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Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, predicts that home prices nationwide may still drop another 3 to 5 percent in 2012, but the new year will most likely finally bring a leveling off of home prices before gains start to take shape in 2013.
With median home prices having dropped some 40 per cent nationwide and super-low interest rates, housing affordability is at a record breaking level, and reduced inventories following three years of slowdown in the construction sector  should help spur increases in contracts and lead to a stronger market in spite of the foreclosure plague.
…..  …..  …..
With clicks up in sales volume of existing homes during Q3 and Q4 of 2011, continued improvements in housing stats are expected. While the darling first time home buyer’s tax credit expired, the Federal Housing Administration extended its anti-flipping waiver through the end of 2012, allowing buyers to purchase homes sold in the last 90 days to help clear foreclosures from inventory.
…..  …..

Mind the Gap

Also expected in 2012 is a continuance of the gap between home seller and buyer expectations, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association in this HousingWire article. With many sellers anchored to past value perceptions and buyers operating in still recessionary markets, a higher than usual per centage of offer and counter offer negotiations have fallen through than under more usual circumstances.

“Bottom line, whether due to even lower prices, historically low mortgage rates, falling inventory and a better labor market or a combination of all, the housing market is showing signs of stabilizing” according t0 Peter Boockvar at Miller Tabak.

Maple Sweet Real Estate welcomes outstanding sales associate Jennifer Stella, who moved to Vermont from Bermuda.

Maple Sweet advertising expands with a new Maple Sweet Vermont Public Radio ad campaign airing thrice weekly throughout 2012. Building on the record successes of 2011, and based on the state and national trends outlined above, we expect 2012 to continue to improve in terms of local and statewide sales.

Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to list your property, arrange for showings, or look further into Vermont’s real estate market.


If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.
Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.
Posted by: Clayton-Paul Cormier, Jr. | October 1, 2011

2011 Q2, Q3 Vermont Real Estate Update

Vermont Real Estate takes one to the jaw:  ferocity of Hurricane Irene leaves towns across the state in a state of disaster including particularly hard hit  Moretown, Pittsfield, Rochester & Waterbury.

The Green Cup Ravaged, Shot by David Garten

Homes swept off their foundations, total losses, coffins floating out of the cemetery. While stagnant recessionary market conditions and historic drops in interest rates mark the last six months, it’s Irene that has indelibly tattooed Vermonters’ consciousness. Herculean relief efforts, exemplary citizenry mobilization and altruism and a model government response shine the light not just on the perils of living in a flood zone or watershed but even more dramatically on how amazing Vermont is a place to live.

Vermont Public Radio Image of Rochester Home Destruction

Never never land in more ways than one.  Massive flooding and logistical relief challenges to a real estate market in a seriously extended bind.

Since the fall of Lehman Brothers and the sub-prime fiasco in 2008 that triggered the precipitous decline in real estate markets all over the United States, one pundit after another has forecast a burgeoning recovery, passage of the market’s bottom,  and hopes for brighter times.  This year it’s becoming clearer and clearer the recession is outlasting nearly all predictions, from our own Green Mountains to the European debt crisis, plummeting asian markets and well beyond.

2011 second and third quarters have witnessed a seemingly endless stream of media doom and gloom.

In April Vermont Public  Radio reports that while Vermont avoided the most serious credit & housing market problems, home prices declined. The S&P/Case-Schiller Home Price Indeces show the high in 2004 with the most dramatic drop in 2009, and this  year’s prices still off 4 per cent compared to a year ago.

2011 Year-to-Date VT Multiple Listing Service Sales, New Listings & Average Days on Market, Data Compliments of the Northern New England Real Estate Network

The National Association of Realtors publishes data showing existing home sales rose 7.7% in August relative to July, and were up an encouraging 18.6% from August 2010. NAR president Lawrence Yun cites positive market fundamentals including foreclosure absorption and inflation hedging despite Hurricane Irene sales disruptions. In Moretown, Vermont town office records were flooded delaying closings, forcing closing attorneys to scramble.

Today, with Q3 drawing to a close  the morrow, this article from Bloomberg  Pending U.S. Home Sales Decline 1.2% as Lower Prices Fail to Stoke Demand.

If you’re aiming to or trying to sell and thinking  mon Dieu, as the French say, or asking will this ever end, the market is far from dead. Talk about mixed messages. While it’s hard to know who to believe, pulling out of this historic recession and stoking the associated recovery is a complicated tapestry without conclusions as easily drawn as in more common times.

MLS Listings Sold in Q2 & Q3 by Price Range

One thing is clear. There are also historic opportunities for the discerning real estate investor, primary and secondary homeowners, and those looking to take advantages of 1041 exchanges. Check out these oustanding values: an over 11 acre prime east warren parcel with a house to renovate or remove and start afresh for just $249,000, a gambrel  home with a separate camp on over four acres for $285,000, a Mad River Glen 4BR ski chalet for $315,000, a sprawling open floor plan dormered Waitsfield cape with Sugarbush Lincoln Peak Views next to the Mad River protected by two large farms for just $575,000, and a cedar skylighted cape on 32.99 +/- acres including two extra already permitted lots with driveway roughed in for $669,000.

Maple Sweet Real Estate is enjoying a record breaking year of business with steady offers, closings and listings in the single family, condominium, commercial and land markets.

Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to list your property, arrange for showings, or look further into Vermont’s real estate market.


Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.
If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.
Posted by: Clayton-Paul Cormier, Jr. | April 24, 2011

2011 Q1

Have the Vermont and United States real estate markets hit bottom?

While many thought this question would have  been answered tidily in 2010, the question echoes into 2011. With historically low interest rates, significantly more motivated sellers and still ample inventory, buyers, especially first time home buyers, have all the incentives to want to jump but have continued to be in short supply with lenders seeing fewer gains and increased associated risk and as such tightening lending standards, effectively hemming in demand. Fits and starts, a sputtering recovery.

Optimists sing a different song.

Maple Sweet Real Estate has enjoyed more properties than usual under contract and the National Association of Realtors sees the country having hit bottom last summer.

Eyeing The Market

RISMEDIA, April 21, 2011—”Sales of existing-home sales rose in March 2011, continuing an uneven recovery that began after sales bottomed last July, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 3.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.10 million in March from an upwardly revised 4.92 million in February, but are 6.3% below the 5.44 million pace in March 2010. Sales were at elevated levels from March through June of 2010 in response to the home buyer tax credit.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expects the improving sales pattern to continue. “Existing-home sales have risen in six of the past eight months, so we’re clearly on a recovery path,” he said. “With rising jobs and excellent affordability conditions, we project moderate improvements into 2012, but not every month will show a gain—primarily because some buyers are finding it too difficult to obtain a mortgage. For those fortunate enough to qualify for financing, monthly mortgage payments as a percent of income have been at record lows.” See the full story.

Here are Vermont Northern New England Real Estate Network MLS stats for the whole state, comparing Q1 2011 with Q1 2010 showing residential sale volume up markedly in January and slightly in February relative to 2010, and while up a lot in March from the previous month, markedly lower than a in comparison to March of 2010 when the Home Buyer Tax Credit was in full swing.

…………………New      Pend     Cntg   Sold    AvgSold$    DOM
Jan 2011    824      325       209    332    $236,688     194

Jan 2010    995      384        94     271    $233,326     176

Read More…

Posted by: Clayton-Paul Cormier, Jr. | January 8, 2011

2010 Vermont Real Estate Year In Review

Capricious recovery. Rebounding, wobbling, teetering, another surge, a continuing crise de confiance marked by tempered inspirations and flights of optimism.

2010 Vermont Residential Sales Volume

Job shortages, swollen deficits, hammered mid-term election incumbents, 2010 was a year spent climbing out of the deepest recession since the 1930’s.

China muscles past Japan as the worlds’ second strongest economy, a stunning but not suprising reminder of the competition American supremacy faces. According to the World Bank, China, with a massive thirst for raw materials, could surpass the United States by 2020.

The real estate crisis commands headlines across the nation and here in Vermont. While 30 year interest rates dipped to 4.17% in November, the lowest in decades, one in four homeowners across the nation owed more than their property was worth leading to viral short sales and foreclosures, not even our Green Mountain paradise immune to the perils of the market’s flooring. Q4 saw a 23 state foreclosure freeze in the face of allegations of lender mishandling and robo-signers signing well over a hundred foreclosures a day without regarding case details.

2010 Vermont Land Sales Volume

Facebook tops 500 million users changing the way the world communicates including practitioners, buyers and sellers of real estate and iPads revolutionize browsing the internet with touch screens taking to larger an larger devices including jumbo flat screen monitors. At this rate it won’t be long before you can search for your new house or comparables of your existing home in the multiple listing service on a virtual bright lit screen in thin air.

Mobile Freedom: Working in the Clouds

The increasing importance of  cloud computing. Maple Sweet Real Estate transfers significant operations from remote devices to the cloud. The Econonomist publishes on our “clouded future”; the growth of e-labor and e-commerce.

These fundamental changes in how we work are liberating real estate investors to live full or part time in Vermont rather than being shackled to their metropolis.

Huffington Post on the struggling economy: “As the year closes, the economy makes broad gains. Factories produce more. Consumers – the backbone of the economy – return to the malls. Congress passes $858 billion in tax cuts and aid to the long-term unemployed. Yet more than 15 million Americans are still unemployed. Economists say a full economic recovery remains years away.”

In the face of historic tax revenue shortfalls, federal, state and local governments tighten their belts affecting Vermont property owners, schools and communities. School budgets are feeling the heat with programs and in some cases faculty being cut, on others pressure to consolidate schools. Among the ensuing potential changes in 2011, the Vermont legislature may vote into law what Governor Douglas vetoed in 2011,  fundamental changes to Vermont’s Current Use Program that would alter how the Land Use Change Tax (LUCT) is determined.

The definition of fair market value, on which the tax is calculated, would shift from the most recent assessed value of the land being withdrawn from Current Use to the prorated sale price at closing. In many towns across the state this change would constitute a significant increase in the LUCT (withdrawal penalty) for sellers, especially as inflation sets in and Vermont’s real estate market improvement accelerates.

2010 National Association of Realtors (NAR)Pending Home Sales Index showing pending home sales in the North East up in 4 of the last 5 months of 2010.

2010 NAR Existing Home Sales Index showing North East existing sales volume up 6.4% in November vs October (down 35.11% vs last year) and Existing Home Sale Prices up 9.2% vs last year.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a Video on the gradual recovery.

 

Businesses Hiring, Unemployment Falls to 9.4% in December, Lowest Since May 2009

CNN : “Overall, the economy rounded out 2010 with 1.1 million jobs added, the best one-year gain in hiring since 2007.

Vermont Unemployment Rate

While the latest data brings hope for 2011, economists caution that job gains will be gradual at best. There’s still “a long way to go to recover the 8.5 million jobs lost since the Great Recession began.”

Capricious indeed, but the flourishing recovery is in motion. Vermont property owners have much to celebrate being in a better position than 12 months ago & having a markedly brighter forecast for this year. Coming out of three historically difficult years, 2011 promises a better landscape to enjoy and take advantage of.

 

Connect to maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to list your property, arrange for showings, or look further into Vermont’s real estate market.


Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly by default. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.
If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.
Posted by: Clayton-Paul Cormier, Jr. | October 2, 2010

2010 Q3 Vermont Real Estate Update

Emerson

The Tables, They’re A Turnin’

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American 19th Century lecturer, essayist, poet & champion of individualism wrote that “A political victory,a rise in rents, the recovery of your sick, or return of your absent friend, or some other quite external event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles of “Self-Reliance””

Sound words in a season of struggle for so many Vermonters, a time in which month after month, in spite of scattered signs of recovery, local and national economic gurus pull back on their reigns on premature predictions of the revamping of the American Dream.  Despite the murky waters and the loss of equity for so many homeowners across the state and country, opportunists are capitalizing on extraordinary and plentiful options that such a dramatic shift offers. Interest rates at 4.375% on a 30 year note without rising substantially for months in spite of what is inevitable. Sellers finding reasons to move on and get to the closing table, buyers with historic breadth of choice and favorable purchasing conditions. Whether or not we’ve hit bottom, once past a certain point, it becomes a less and less valid question. Action now, sparks that lead to fire, agents of change. Confidence in the face of adversity.

Lawrence Yun, NAR (National Assocation of Realtors) chief economist, says home sales still remain subpar. “The housing market is trying to recover on its own power without the home buyer tax credit. Despite very attractive affordability conditions, a housing market recovery will likely be slow and gradual because of lingering economic uncertainty.”

And Yun, on fallout from the recession continuing to impact commercial real estate markets:

“Vacancy rates are beginning to level off in some sectors, but rent discounts and moderate levels of landlord concessions are widespread,” he said. “This is very much a tenant’s market, which is quite favorable for businesses that are considering expansion. It’s also encouraging that there is a modest improvement in the sentiment of commercial real estate practitioners.”

Timothy Geithner, US Treasury Secretary , a week ago: “You had this huge growth in leverage in the financial system, huge over investment in real estate in parts of the country, and those things made the crisis much more acute. But more relevant for us now, they make the recovery harder,”

unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted

Vermont Unemployment Dropping

“The momentum behind the national recovery seems to be waning. While we are encouraged by the local economic indicators available to us – such as early taxable receipts data and a stable, low unemployment rate relative to the current environment – the economic recovery remains uneven and uncertain. We continue to watch the national front for indications, as well as trends here in Vermont.”    Valerie Rickert, September 21, 2010, Vermont Department of Labor

A major indication?  Check this news out:

DOW up 15%, best third quarter since 1939! The stock market confounds skeptics in the third quarter, ending near its highs for the year with many of the riskiest stocks leading the charge, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Best 3rd Quarter since 1939! Picasso's Bull Market.

The rally that began in early spring gained steam over the summer. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 15% in the latest three months for its biggest quarterly gain since the fourth quarter of 1998 and its best third quarter since 1939.

The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index gained 137.76 points, or 15%, to 1057.08, in the third quarter, leaving it up 17% for the year and up 56% from its March low but off 32% from its October 2007 high.

The powerful rally came as the economy overall showed signs of stabilization. Corporate profits have come in above reduced expectations, in large part due to cost cutting. It steamrolled concerns that consumers remain hobbled by debt, high unemployment and depressed home prices.

Existing Home Sales, completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increase 7.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.13 million in August from an upwardly revised 3.84 million in July, but remain 19.0 percent below the 5.10 million-unit pace in August 2009.

The big gains followed a brutal bear market that hit hardest those companies with the shakiest balance sheets, heavy debt loads and high fixed costs. The Fed responded by cutting interest rates essentially to zero and flooded the credit markets with additional money, buying up Treasurys, government-backed mortgage securities and agency debt.

“There was a lot of talk this summer about a double-dip recession, and while it’s true things have slowed down, the technicals have really changed and it’s a much more healthy environment now.”  Kenny Landgraf, principal at Kenjol Capital Markets.

Maple Sweet Real Estate

Connect to www.maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to list your property, arrange for showings, or look further into the real estate market.


Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly by default. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.
If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.

Posted by: Clayton-Paul Cormier, Jr. | July 14, 2010

2010 Q2

Batten Down The Hatches

Gold Harbor

Dow Slides 10%, closing out at a new low for the year. Investors hunker down in defensive investments like gold and US treasurys as volatility spikes.  Short sales and foreclosures multiply, even in Vermont.

Wells Fargo reported the response to the ending tax credits for first-time home buyers and some trade-up purchases was fast and furious. New home sales plunge immediately following the April 30 deadline to put home purchases under contract. Existing home sales were expected to hold up for another couple of months, but posted a surprising 2.2 percent drop in May, as a large number of pending purchases had trouble clearing newly implemented credit and appraisal guidelines.

Buyers, realtors & attorneys struggle to consummate their property closings in short order as bank regs tighten leading to delays and marathon closings while waiting for the money to show.

Not a market for the meek at heart, but mortgage rates hit record lows, dipping to an astounding 4.5% prompting anyone with any liquidity to reach for a loan and happily capitalize on outstanding real estate opportunities.

Free Falling Mortgage Rates

While the sub-prime crisis was the perfect storm that led us into one of the worst recessions in modern american history, conditions now seem exquisitely aligned to buy. To paraphrase one femme fatale, offer baby offer.

The Financial Accelerator. How the financial shocks stemming from the fall of 2007 turned into a deep recession and how the value of collateral, one of the major forces behind mortgages, has weakened, and appraisals validity.

The key question many are asking is does a spate of negative economic data sets translate into a double dip recession?

Double Dipping

Consumer confidence dove in June, down by 10 per cent according to the Confeence Board Index, quite typical during recoveries from historic recessions as in ’92 and ’03. Continuing high unemployment figures of over 9 per cent coupled with the malaise surrounding almost three months of over a million gallons of British Petroleum crude gushing into the gulf and onto gulf coast state beaches. American President Obama’s popularity tumbles in this season of frustration.

Former Fed chariman Allen Greenspan termed this dip a typical “pause” cased in part by continuing apprehension surrounding crippling European debt levels. Add to that pending home and new single family homes sales were off by at or over a whopping 30 per cent, though some of that widely predicted discrepancy is due to the expiration of the lauded federal homebuyers tax credit at the end of May.

According to the Wall Street journal, apartment vacancies fell slightly during the second quarter, the first drop in three years, as improving consumer confidence reversed the trend of renters doubling up or moving in with family during the recession, though office vacancies continued to accumulate in the second quarter, the latest indication that businesses aren’t planning significant hiring in the near future.

Free Falling Sunset After more than three years of falling, real estate values have shown signs of stabilization in recent months.

There is well founded cause for hope. Home values nation wide were 4% higher than a year before. Q2 2010 saw 1,641 Vermont residential closings compared with just 1,289 in Q2 2009. Pending listings were slightly down, 1,723 vs 1,822 in 2009 and the average number of days on the market grew from 147 to 161. The average sale price rose from’Q2 ’09 to ’10 from $224.088 to $229,839

The IMF, on the economic recovery, sees 4.5% recovery in 2010 reflecting stronger activity in the first two quarters.

At or close to bottom, it’s still a buyer’s market but one clearly navigable for sellers. Keys to success are pricing competitively, under pricing to effect action as quickly as possible and with a little luck bidding wars, or taking the opposite tack and pricing with plenty of fat to help ensure that once the interested buyer shows up, there’s plenty of room to negotiate and allow the buyer to feel he or she is getting a phenomenal deal.

Adventures around every bend,  following the yellow brick road though forests of flying kidnapping monkeys and sleepy fields of perfume. Running from the wicked witch of the east in search of the great and powerful Oz.

Follow The Yellow Brick Road

Longer average periods on the market, patience. Addressing deferred maintenance and taking staging into consideration help not just in reducing the time on the market but also improving your bottom line.

Just as the crowds grow weary from recession, look up. Signs of rejuvenation abound. Just when the pack is running in the opposite direction, the savvy are putting their money into the spectacular real estate opportunities today, planning for the morrow.

Imagine 627 acres with an excellent more than mile long access road and a high meadow pond with views to die for just 20 minutes from the state capital. Formerly listed at 1.25 million, make them yours for just $730,000.

Teal Farm Hearth, 500 Huntington Acres

Purchase one of the most beautiful contemporaries in the state on 4 acres, designed by recently deceased architect Stewart Sutcliffe on 4 acres at the edge of a brook, asking just $279,000. A nearly 4,000 sq ft dormered cape with Sugarbush views for $595,000, or splurge in a big way and purchase the incomparable Teal Farm on some 500 acres in Huntington encircled by the Camel’s Hump State Forest, listed at $15,495,000 or this marquee hilltop Waterbury Pinnacle Point Home with marble jetted bath, hot tub,gunnite pool and massive panoramic views listed at $995,000.

Stowe Village Escape

Pick up a converted barn ski home right in Stowe Village with a ski railing & cast concrete kitchen counter for just $379,000. Or a charming Waterbury Center house close to Stowe on 5 acres with a new 2 bay garage with a finishable second floor for $373,000. Move to the Mad River Valley into a barn conversion three bedroom with cathedral ceiling, attached garage & big views for $459,000 or into a Starksboro home built circa 1795 on over 3 acres with a stream and a gorgeous four foot fireplace to welcome you for $349,000.

Looking for a year round home to escape to on Lake Champlain? Check out this Ferrisburgh beauty for just $585,000, or consider this eclectic cliff side home with elegant interior just minutes from the heart of Vermont’s state capital, Montpelier, for an amazing $199,900.

So much to take advantage of.

Connect to www.maplesweet.com, e-mail info@maplesweet.com or call toll-free 1-800-525-7965 to list your property, arrange for showings, or look further into the real estate market.

Vermont Required Consumer Information Disclosure: please note Vermont  real estate agencies represent Sellers directly or indirectly by default. Buyer representation can be gained for properties not already listed by Maple Sweet Real Estate. To better understand the merits of or arrange for buyer representation, please email or call for further details.
If your property is already listed for sale with another real estate agency, this is not intended as a solicitation of that agency’s listing.

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