A strong economy and low interest rates continue to propel Vermont’s housing market.
According to multiple listing service (MLS), year-to-date through July 12, there were 3,069 homes sold in the state, compared to 3,096 homes over the same period last year.
While the number of sales is down slightly, sellers are getting more for their homes.
The median sales price this year is $241,000 compared to $230,000 last year.
The average days on the market before a property is sold has improved to 132 days compared to 152 days a year earlier.
In Washington County, both the number of homes sold and the median sales price are up. Year-to-date through July 12, 242 homes were sold compared to 230 for the same period last year. The median sales price is up slightly to $225,750 from $225,500 a year ago.
At Century 21 Jack Associates in Montpelier, Lori Holt said her sales have been “brisk,” with nine closings since June 1, which is indicative of a strong market.
“Things seem to be moving along like they do typically this time of the year,” Holt said. “It seems you had a little bit of a later start because of the spring season lingering longer.”
Although supply and demand in every town is different, she said prices overall are at or above prices a year ago in Washington County.
Holt said inventory is tight.
“There’s not an adequate selection of choices for the most part,” she said. “There are a lot of qualified buyers that have seen everything that’s out there and are still kind of waiting to see if anything new is going to come in anytime soon.”
She said that’s especially true for homes priced in the $300,000 range.
Holt said if a property isn’t listed by the end of July for the summer selling season, “the inventory is not likely going to change tremendously, because there just aren’t that many houses that get listed in September and October unless they’re specifically targeting the foliage buyer.”
First-time homebuyers need to be creative to come up with the right financing package. She said it’s often difficult for a young couple to save up enough money for a down payment if they’re already saddled with student loans, car loans and credit card debt.
Sales of homes in Rutland County are also up, but the median sales price is down. There were 301 homes sold, compared with 274 the year before. The median sales price of $164,000 is down from $175,000 a year ago.
Lauren Hughes, principal broker with the Rutland office of Century 21 Premiere Properties, said 2019 is “the best year” in her 30 years of selling homes.
Hughes said the most basic explanation for the healthy housing market is the economy.
“Everyone I come in contact with, the economy is doing well, and a year ago we were predicting at this time to have an interest rate of 5.5%,” she said. “They’re now at like 3.7%, which is also helping.”
Hughes said one indication of the strong economy is GE Aviation, one of the county’s largest employers.
She said another bellwether is Killington, which is having a banner year. Hughes said when home sales in the ski town are strong, that has a ripple effect on the rest of the county.
Hughes said most sales activity is up to $400,000.
“From $425,000 and $650,000 that’s slow, and then when you jump up over that, that’s a healthier market,” she said.
She said the pricier homes are either in Killington or on Lake Bomoseen.
Homes around Lake Bomoseen sell quickly, said Brenda Winship, who handles sales at the Century 21 Premiere Properties office in Castleton.
Winship said the problem is inventory. She said there are few lakefront properties for sale.
She said the few year-round homes for sale on the lake are priced between $400,000 and $1 million.
Homes along Lake St. Catherine are in demand as well, she said.
Winship said there is a greater selection of homes for sale that sit back off the water.
She said those homes often have a common area for swimming and boating and are less expensive, in the $230,000 to $350,000 range.
“It’s a cheaper way of being on the water,” she said.
In the Mad River Valley, Clayton-Paul Cormier Jr. has much the same story to tell, with strong demand and low interest rates driving the market.
Like other realtors, Cormier also said that the market is tight for homes priced at or below $300,000. Above that mark, he said the market opens up.
Washington County is home to several ski areas including Sugarbush.
“I think condo sales, town-home sales are pretty good by and large,” said Cormier, principal broker at Maple Sweet in Waitsfield. “It depends on the ski area and how they’re doing, but I think Sugarbush, for example, the sales are good.”
According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales rebounded in May, up 2.5% from April.
“Each of the four major U.S. regions saw a growth in sales, with the Northeast experiencing the biggest surge last month,” the NAR said in its June press release.
MLS figures were compiled by Century 21 Jack Associates.