Recent reports show that sales of mid to low-priced homes is up across the state of Vermont. Below is a VT Digger report on the subject:
Home sales were up across Vermont in the first half of the year, and the state’s housing market continues to slowly pick up steam. Overall, experts say that affordable homes are selling more quickly than luxury homes, and a tight, expensive rental market continues to make it hard for Vermonters to save for their first homes. The Vermont Housing Finance Agency used data from the first seven months of 2015, including homes listed “for sale by owner,” to determine that median prices of the homes being sold varied across each of Vermont’s 14 counties. Maura Collins, the director of policy and administration at the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, said the volume of home sales has been rising for several years, and that median home prices for single-family homes have gone up since 2014. “Each county is definitely unique,” Collins said. “Rutland’s prices, for instance, have been struggling for a long time, and Rutland’s prices have been dropping more than other counties in the somewhat recent past.” Chittenden has the most sales, and prices are escalating, she said. Windsor is No. 2, and prices are going up in that county as well. “There is always strong demand for more affordable homes because there are more people who qualify to buy those homes (and) have the incomes to support them,” she said. “We see a lot more competition, the more affordable a home is.” Two other studies, from the Vermont Realtors Association and Re/Max, use information from a national realtor’s database called the Multiple Listings Service to compile data, so they don’t include homes that are “for sale by owner.” The Vermont Realtors Association reported that median real estate prices are only up in six of 14 counties: Essex, Franklin, Lamoille, Orange, Washington and Windham. Two counties, Chittenden and Orleans, stayed flat. The rest declined. In another study, Re/Max Integra compiled a nationwide annual report in July. The Re/Max report said the state’s median rental price is down 7 percent overall, and sales were up 10.7 percent. But there are caveats. “It really depends on where in Vermont you are,” said Jess Peck, a real estate agent for RE/MAX in Burlington. “It’s a hard one to say overall things are down. We work primarily in Chittenden County, and we’re seeing prices up in Chittenden County.” “We’re still seeing multiple offers,” Peck said. Certain areas of Burlington especially, they’re seeing “full price or above-list-price offers. It’s really hyper-local as far as looking at the state as a whole.” An oversupply of luxury homes worth more than $600,000 is also building up in Chittenden County. They are moving slowly, and therefore driving down the state’s median home sale price in the Re/Max report, Peck said. “It’s not really so much as the (overall) prices are going down, but that the higher-end homes are not selling as quickly as the mid- to lower-price homes,” she said. “Something in that price range could easily be on the market for more than a year.” Jen Hollar, deputy commissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Development, said the housing market in Vermont is “generally strong,” although higher rents are making it harder for Vermonters to save up to buy their first homes. “If the price of housing is going up, it makes it harder for people to get into homeownership, so that means there’s more pressure on the rental stock,” Hollar said. “People get squeezed at the bottom when rents are higher and vacancy rates are lower.” In May, the Legislature passed an affordable housing program to help first-time homebuyers afford down-payments and closing costs.