Vermont Market News:
|The following report on current trends and prices first appeared the Vermont Market News section in the April - May 2013 edition (Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 14-15) of Vermont Property Owners Report.|
Market Activity Rises, Including At High End;
|The volume of primary and vacation home sales in Vermont has continued to increase in recent months, statistics show (the volume from two years ago in our chart at right was inflated by the start of electronic transfer tax return filing by the state). An improving economy, low but rising interest rates, and a recent stock market surge have apparently boosted buyer confidence, even in the second home market.
“Since just before the Christmas holidays, we’ve had a huge pickup in activity, with more closings as well as showings,” said Peg Montague, an owner of Vermont Country Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, with offices in Manchester and at Stratton, Okemo, Mount Snow and Stowe.
In the primary-home-dominated Chittenden County market, “we had a much stronger market in 2012, and we have not seen it slow down this winter,” said Leslee MacKenzie, owner of CB Hickok and Boardman Realty. “We are up over last year in both units sold and dollar volume.”
Nationally, the real estate market has improved so much there is a shortage of inventory in many states. That has not happened in Vermont, however, except perhaps in Chittenden County. As a result, while house prices are up here, they have not been rising as fast as the 12.3% annual median price increase reported for the nation by the National Association of Realtors.
Prices and values have not been rising strongly anywhere in New England, partly because they never dropped as far here. Home values in the region and Vermont were essentially flat in 2012, according to the federal House Price Index.
More recently, Vermont’s single-family primary home median price for the past four months was up 2% from a year ago, while the single-family vacation home price was up 5.1% (see charts). MLS statistics show sharper house price increases for the two-month January-February period.
One of the more notable aspects of the recent uptick in activity is that it has included resort areas and the higher end of the market. Montague said she has one longtime high-end listing that has seen more activity in the past 90 days than in the prior three to four years.
Lisa Coneeny, president of Vermont Country Properties who was attending three closings on a recent Friday said “there have been a ton of showings recently,” including on weekdays, which she said is unusual for the second home market.
The number of offers has not jumped as much, but “we do have contracts, and some of our brokers have gotten in bidding wars for properties that have had price reductions.” Since inventory is still high, buyers want to look at a number of properties before they act, she said. “I had one person e-mail me and say they wanted to come up and look at 10 properties on a Saturday,” Coneeny reported.
In Stowe, Pall Spera of Pall Spera Realty said sales are up but volume in dollars has not risen as much, meaning buyers are being cautious with their funds. “We see people walk in and ask first, ‘How much are the property taxes?’” he said. “They also want to know how many bars they will get on their [cell] phone at a property.”
Coneeny noted that her firm’s southern Vermont offices “are getting more deals going” than her Stowe office. “They are not getting the volume right now, though we did just have a $1 million sale in Stowe,” she said.
In the Chittenden County market, there is more activity in all price ranges, including luxury properties, MacKenzie said. Demand continues to be strongest for properties in or near Burlington, reducing close-in inventory. MacKenzie believes this will lead to upward pressure on prices in the Burlington area, but said it could also lead more buyers to shop for deals in nearby Addison and Franklin counties, which have higher inventories.
If Burlington is a strong primary home market, Rutland appears to be a weak one. A banker who works in Addison and Rutland counties said appraisals are now showing a decline in values in the Rutland County area.
In the Windsor County town of Hartford, which includes White River Junction as well as the large Quechee Lakes vacation home development, the market is divided, according to Hartford assessor Clarissa Holmes.
“Outside of Quechee Lakes, prices for our single-family neighborhoods seem to be leveling off after declining somewhat from our 2007 revaluation,” she said, noting the area has a low unemployment rate. “There seem to be a few more sales, and the brokers say they are busier.”
But at Quechee Lakes which has 600 homes and almost as many condos prices have dropped substantially from 2007 and are still down, especially for condos. The town plans to drop the tax assessments for many condos this year, she said.
In the Northeast Kingdom, the dollar volume of all types of sales is up, according to Nick Maclure, owner/broker at Century 21 Farm and Forest Realty, with offices in Derby and Burke. “It’s been one of the busiest winters I have seen in some time, in terms of buyer traffic,” he said. “Buyer confidence seems up, substantially.”
One factor helping sales in his area, which includes Newport and Jay Peak, is the ambitious $600 million development plan being promoted for Newport, Jay Peak, and Burke by Jay owner Bill Stenger, plans that could boost the demand for area housing (see VPOR, Vol. 27, No. 5, p. 3).
“Investors are coming around to look at properties,” Maclure said. “One buyer wanted to buy eight or 10 affordable houses and rent them out for a few years, though in the end he put more of his money into commercial property.” Other investors are shopping on a smaller scale, he said.
“I don’t think the investor interest has affected prices here yet,” he said. “But it will probably happen this year.”
[Graphs are also included in each full issue of VPOR.]
|This report on current trends and prices first appeared in the
April - May 2013 edition (Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 14-15)
of Vermont Property Owners Report.
|More sample articles from Vermont Property Owners Report