Our mobile site is optimized for smaller screens.


Home Design and Style

Past clients and now famous Stowe home owners

530 White Gate Kitchen AfterIt was a pleasure to assist Richard Cherney and Ronda Diamond as buyer clients in their effort to find a suitable home in Stowe.  Like us, they were long time fans of Stowe. They enjoyed the town as their home away from home because of the life style Stowe caters to - skiing , Stowe Farmers Market, rec path, hiking and more.  Richard and Ronda were also very knowledgeable and understanding of real estate transactions and the available properties in Stowe.  That is, homes on the market in Stowe were largely built to suit the creature comforts of the people building the home - not to appeal to the masses.

Many homes in Stowe, maybe even more so Vermont, have unique features that are revered by their owners, but just don't resonate with the pool of buyers today when it comes time to sell.  For example, indoor trout ponds, design layouts that are not functional or exhibit poor forethought, interior pools and designs that don't mimic the rustic Vermont landscape or the indigenous architectural vernacular.   Those would be McMansions that are more apropos the Pennsyl-tucky region of New Jersey than the hills and mountains of Vermont.

In any market, this is called functional obsolescence.  A classic example is homes with one bathroom and more than two bedrooms.  These might be the hardest type of property to sell or lease.  The reason for the obsolescence is that today's home buyers prefer their guests not use their personal bathroom and use a guest bathroom instead.  When the owners of those homes with functional obsolescent become sellers, they often say "It only takes one" as the marketing strategy for selling their house.  For a host of reasons, the homes on the market in Stowe and Vermont will most likely not meet 100% of what you are looking for regardless of the market conditions.

Richard and Ronda understood this.  As Richard said, "There are no perfect deals, but there are very good deals".  That is that mindset that I try pass along to my clients.  It is fairly common for house hunters in Stowe to look around at the properties on the market and say nothing is available that meets our needs, or it is priced too high for what is offered.  That buyer type, who waits for the perfect house, more often than not winds up renting in town for years, wasting equity, waiting for the perfect house.  Some buyers even build for $300 plus per foot in a market when 10 year old housing inventory is selling for approximately $200 per foot.  Those people then build their dream house, with their personal creature comforts and later on down the line have to sell the home into the prevailing real estate market conditions - often the end result includes a financial sting.

There are areas of Stowe and segments of the market that currently prove out the feasibility of a construction project, click this link to hear about a few.  A recent article in the Stowe Reporter highlighted the resurgence of development in Stowe, from shops to apartments, because certain developments make financial sense now.  Building a new house is currently more expensive than buying and renovating a slightly older one.  With the trajectory of the market, this will not last long.

Where someone can make money in this market is to buy a home and renovate the property.  Richard and Ronda did some real work looking for a suitable house.   After looking at a number of homes they finally found White Gates Lane, a desirable and convenient section of Stowe.  The sub-division has classic nose to chin views of Mt. Mansfield, is convenient to town and is removed enough to embody that sleepy Vermont feel.

The interior of 530 White Gates didn't excite them.  However, the mid 2000 vintage house was very well constructed and handily passed a building inspection.  Richard and Ronda were able to get the house for $178 per sq ft - a bargain for the area and quality of the house.  Our analysis concluded that the offer would full value the lot and the structure, but zero value the interior finishes.  That meant Richard and Ronda could then rip out the interior and re-build it to have all they wanted in their new Stowe house.

Instead of charging ahead and building a house full of their creature comforts, they enlisted the assistance of an interior designer - interior architect and design expert Tania Kratt.    Please click this link to view an article the Stowe Reporter did on the interior design - the interior is fantastic.  The look and feel resonates with the buyer pool today.  Their efforts and forethought instantly increased the value of the home and enhanced their investment.  Our opinion is that the renovated house would sell in the $250/ sq ft range - a price point already demonstrated in the neighborhood.

It was a pleasure to help a client realize their dream of 1) having a place in Stowe and 2) that their purchase also made financial sense.  They could have blindly followed an agent - who added no value to the process, bought a house and been left with a marginal investment return.  However, being an engaged client who sought out guidance, assimilates facts and moves forward with deliberate purpose to create value benefited them greatly.  It is out goal with every client to help them make profitable real estate investments.  Those are clients that realize the value of Stowe - well beyond the lifestyle.  If Richard and Ronda decide to sell and move out of Stowe, their memory will not include the financial sting of selling a home that was built just for them.  Wouldn't you rather have your memory of living in Stowe not include the financial sting of a real estate mishap?

Contemporary vs. Traditional Housing in Vermont's Counterculture

Usually contemporary homes sell for less, on a per square foot basis, than more traditional looking homes.  This is especially true of homes in suburban areas around major metropolitan areas.  Generally, people prefer homes that looks like the typical setting for the All-American family.  Sometimes the price disparity between the two styles can be so great that builders will buy contemporary homes and then renovate them so the home becomes a traditional looking home.  The sever functional obsolecence in those markets is a result of people's changing tastes.  Like most things here though, we like to keep Vermont weird.

Stowe and Vermont, saw rapid growth in the 1970s.  As VPR stated in a recent piece "Vermont's counterculture of the 1970s" marked a time a massive social change, and it continues to influence the state today.  It was a decade when the state's population increased by 15 percent, and communes and agricultural experiments proliferated, along with political and social activism."  [click here for VPR's piece] If history repeats itself, the State is well on its way to this type of population growth, political activism and sanctity of our agricultural system.  See GMO labeling law, projects popping up and Bernie Sanders.  The State just need to work on the population growth, although we wrote about how that might be changing, click here for the article.  Instead of changing and turning away from that legacy, it is celebrated.  The same can be said of Stowe's, and Vermont's, contemporary homes - they are celebrated in this reale estate market.

A great example of this was a home Stowevt.com recently sold, 288 Pinnacle Rd in Stowe Hollow.  It was a 1970s contemporary ski chalet that had a dated interior and it exhibited years of use as a rental ski house, click this link to see prior photos.  The purchaser didn't turn away from this style house - one that is almost as popular as a more traditional home in this market - they celebrated the style in their renovations.  The house can be seen online at twocreekhill.com.  The purchaser had great vision, keeping the look, feel and lines of the original house.  They used that motif and combined it with sleek modern lines, lightly stained wood and - this is required in any renovation regardless of style - modern kitchens and baths.

When these houses come to market they represent a chance for a buyer to reap the benefit of updating the property and making it more modern.  Another house that offers this type of opportunity is 475 Bouchard Farm Rd in Stowe VT - click here for info.  The house is immaculately kept and a new buyer would do well to make the house more modern while keeping the original aesthetic.  Abutting Bouchard Farm, the house benefits from two conservation easements which protect the view of the Worcester Mountain Range.

Whether you will be living there as a primary residence or using it part time and renting it, the updated look and feel should increase value considerably.  Something else we at Stowevt.com recommend looking at when considering a renovation effort is the assessed value of your neighbors.  475 Bouchard Farm Rd in Stowe has the lowest assessed value on the road.  That is generally indication that improvements will be rewarded financially by the real estate market.  In the rising real estate market this house is ready to be renovated and could offer the new owner real increase in the equity value of the home.

Celebrate Vermont's counter culture!