It 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?