2013 Vermont Housing Market

When it comes to its real estate market, where it isn´t seeing gains, Vermont is holding steady. Miami Beach

In a Jan. 23, 2013 blog post, the real estate firm Conroy & Company wrote of 2013, ¨we expect greater equilibrium between sellers and buyers meaning it’s no longer a buyer’s market or that there is a surplus of homes to be sold. That makes for a more competitive market and the return of modestly rising selling prices in spots. Homes that are well priced and well marketed may expect to see faster sales than over the past four years. The dollar volume for our area pretty much remained the same, which means the market is NOT losing value.¨

Coldwell Banker Hickok & Boardman released a 2013 outlook report for Vermont real estate that predicted good things ahead. ¨We finished 2012 on a high note: residential home sales in Northwest Vermont jumped 16 percent over the previous year –  well above the overall U.S housing market, which increased sales by about 6 percent last year.¨

Vermont´s ¨existing home sales could jump 15 percent, with home prices potentially increasing 1-3 percent, according to Northern Economic Counseling.

The National Association of Realtors is projecting an increase of home sales of as much as 8.8 percent across the U.S. – once again, highlighting the strength of Vermont’s Real Estate market.

The state´s high-end real estate market is on the upswing, according to a March 13, 2013 article in Seven Days (¨High Rollers: When Money Is No Object, Vermont’s Luxury Realtors Step In¨), ¨If you’re dreaming of a piece of Vermont paradise to call your own, chances are there’s a house out there for you. And ready to help you find it is a small band of real estate agents who specialize in the luxury market and are adept at discussing the finer points of wine cellars, boat moorings and private tennis courts.

These agents say the luxury market is picking up.¨

“´I think that Vermont will always carry that mystique, and we will continue to have a cycle of people willing to bear the expenses of owning real estate in Vermont,´ said Wade Weathers, the regional manager for residential brokerage at LandVest, a regional luxury real estate agency.

¨Of course, the luxury market — like all sectors of the real estate world — took a hit in the recent economic downturn. Prices dropped between 25 and 30 percent for high-end properties. In fact, according to Weathers, the high-end real estate market started to shift before most Americans even knew a recession was on the way. ´We actually started to see a change in 2006,´ he said. ´Buyers began to get nervous. They follow the stock market … and they’re always ahead of the curve.´¨

According to Vermont Real Estate News, ¨Multiple Listing Service (MLS) statewide data shows Vermont sales slipped a bit in October, with sales of single-family houses down 5.3 percent from a year earlier, and condo sales off 16.9 percent. That probably reflects, at least in part, the slowdown in showings and activity that occurred in some parts of the state right after Irene clobbered Vermont.

¨In the Brattleboro area, for example, ´all the media from Irene caused a lot of potential buyers to pause or rethink their plans,´ according to broker Jim Bellville of Bellville Real Estate. ´It has caused a little malfunction in the market.´

¨In some flooded towns, real estate closings were delayed because town land records were damaged or lenders asked for special flood inspections of properties due to sell.

¨But sales and interest in real estate have remained stronger than might have been expected, and high-end prices have stabilized in recent months, according to Woodstock real estate attorney Peter Vollers.

“´There have been a lot of people passing through Woodstock, even post-Irene,´ he said. ´The market is better, and we are seeing deals at all levels of the market, from a $3.5 million estate in Hartland to a $95,000 rental in Woodstock.´

¨On the other hand, broker Claudia Harris of Mary Mitchell Miller Real Estate in Weston said sales of second homes in her area, which includes Londonderry and Andover in addition to Weston, have slowed after a strong winter and spring. She blames the slowdown on economic uncertainty.

¨Properties priced under $250,000 have been selling over the past year, but higher-end properties are not selling and the sellers are not budging on their prices, she said. Inventory has dropped as some sellers have taken their properties off the market and others are waiting for the market to improve, Harris said.

¨In the Burlington area, dominated by primary home sales, sales did not increase after Labor Day as they usually do, according to salesperson Jessie Cook of Century 21/Jack Associates in South Burlington. Buyers have not shown much urgency, she said. ´A buyer will look at a listing, and then a month will go by, and they will call again to re-inquire about it,´ Cook said. But she is seeing some improvement in prices and says activity has increased recently.

¨Even with the statewide slowing of sales in October, sales for the year to date are up over last year in many parts of the state, including at some major ski resorts. Sales at many of those resorts had plummeted in 2009.

¨In Stowe, there have been 51 residential sales so far this year, up from 23 in 2009 and 42 in 2010 during the comparable period, according to broker Leslie Gauff of Carlson Real Estate. ´Overall, the year has been very good,´ she said, adding that she has heard activity at the new development at the Stowe ski resort is also much improved.

¨Prices are “sensitive” and still showing a bit of a decline, but they are holding up best in the $1 million to $1.5 million range, she said. Overall inventory in Stowe is dropping, which in combination with higher sales is a good sign, Gauff said.

¨This fall, though, Gauff has sensed an ´unsettled´ feeling among some buyers. ´People have to be fairly motivated to actually do something,´ she said. But she said she is also seeing a lot of first- time primary home buyers getting into the market in the $250,000 to $400,000 range.

¨In Killington, activity is also up. There were 51 real estate sales this year though September, up from 37 during the same period last year, according to the newsletter of Prestige Real Estate.

¨Activity slowed after Irene, Prestige said, but ´since road access has improved, real estate activity has increased dramatically in terms of number of showings, offers presented, and the number of properties currently under contract.´

¨Statewide, prices are a mixed bag. Single-family primary home median prices during the July to October period were up a strong 10.8 percent, but that may reflect an increase in sales of more expensive properties rather than price appreciation.

¨The median primary home condo price for the same period was up 2.5 percent from last year, but the vacation home median was down 5.7 percent and the vacation condo median was off 6.4 percent from the same period last year.

¨Year to date, the median price of single-family homes (primary and vacation combined) sold through MLS is up 5 percent, though the statewide median did dip in October.

¨As of the end of September, the counties with the strongest single-family home median price increases for the year, according to MLS data, were: Bennington (+22.4 percent), Addison (+16.3 percent), Lamoille (+14.6 percent), and Washington (+8.7 percent).

¨Prices in Vermont still seem to be performing better than the national market. In September, the national existing-home median price was $165,400, down 3.5 percent from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

¨In the second quarter of this year, according to the federal Home Price Index (HPI), Vermont home values were flat compared to a year earlier. But that performance was the fifth best among the 50 states and Washington, DC. Nationally, home price appreciation in the second quarter was a negative 5.9 percent, with Arizona’s -14.9 percent worst in the nation.¨

Click here for 2012 Predictions