COVID-19 Vermont Real Estate Market Update Through May 31st

April Market Update  | Q1 Market Update

The real estate market in northwest Vermont is recovering after the necessary shut down due to Covid-19. The stay at home order went into effect on March 25th with restricted showings beginning again in late April.

Market data for April was an indicator of what we did see in May. New listings in April declined 45% and pending contracts declined nearly 50%. As a result, a steep decline in closed sales followed in May. Real estate transactions typically take 45-60 days to close – therefore the restricted activity in late March and April is seen in May numbers. Although new listings in May declined over the same period last year, it is an improvement over April. And June appears on par with 2019. While the May numbers show a slight decline in the median price of homes sold, this is more a reflection of the smaller number of sales during that period than it is of a decline in value. In recent weeks, we have a seen an increase in sales in the upper end of the market – which was paused during the uncertainty in March and April.

Buyer demand remained strong through the shut down and has only increased in May and June. In Chittenden County the number of properties going “under contract” in May was the same as a year before despite dramatically less inventory to choose from. Agents are reporting multiple offers on new listings coming to market. So, buyers need to be prepared with a strong qualification from their lender and expert advice from their REALTOR if they want to purchase a home this summer.

County May-19May-20Change %
ChittendenFor Sale723548-24%
Under Contract2362360%
Sold200101-50%
New Listings310228-26%
Median Price330950318400-4%
AddisonFor Sale311196-37%
Under Contract6148-21%
Sold3818-53%
New Listings8844-50%
Median Price255000234500-8%
FranklinFor Sale400310-23%
Under Contract8410120%
Sold5848-17%
New Listings10886-20%
Median Price2285002452507%
Grand IsleFor Sale172103-40%
Under Contract2114-33%
Sold176-65%
New Listings4724-49%
Median Price244900198500-19%
4 CountiesFor Sale16061157-28%
Under Contract402399-1%
Sold313173-45%
New Listings553382-31%
Median Price294500287000-3%

The local media has reported that REALTORS across Vermont are seeing an increase in inquiries from out-of-state buyers. Presumably, these potential buyers are looking toward Vermont to seek refuge from their city homes. With a 14 day, mandatory quarantine still in effect for out-of-state travelers to Vermont, real estate sales in resort communities across the state report are largely on hold with the exception of a few buyers who will consider a “sight unseen” purchase.

Locally, our agents report that most buyers from outside of Vermont are relocating here for a job. They, too, are on hold until the mandatory quarantine is eased. With more than half of Americans working from home because of the coronavirus, and many companies saying they will be more flexible with remote options going forward, rural and suburban locales are more and more desirable. According to a Zillow survey conducted by Harris Poll, “Among Americans working from home because of the pandemic, 75 percent said they would prefer to continue to do so at least half the time, if given the option, after the pandemic subsides. And two-thirds (66%) of those employees said they would be at least somewhat likely to consider moving if they had the flexibility to work from home as often as they want.” Buyers said that they would consider a longer commute (current low gas prices certainly help) if they only have to go to a physical office a couple of times per week. In northwest Vermont, properties outside of the greater Burlington area – in neighboring Franklin and Addison Counties – have long been more affordable. With larger lots and more “home” for their money, buyers are attracted to communities that offer amenities to enhance their lifestyles. In May, the number of properties that went “under contract” in Franklin County increased by 20% over 2019 – likely helped by the inventory level and median sales price.

As June heats up, and we get back into the traditional “peak” of the real estate market – we are optimistic that inventory and sales will meet or exceed 2019 as the safety and value of owning a home remain a priority to Vermonters.

Resources for Out-Of-State Travelers 

First Quarter Market Report

Our model home at South Village in South Burlington.
Single Family    
Median Sale Price:Average Sale Price:Units Sold:Newly Listed:Days on Market:
$296,500 +2.4%
$338,089 +4.2%
374 +6%
529 -12.3%
99 +8.8%
Condo    
Median Sale Price:Average Sale Price:Units Sold:Newly Listed:Days on Market:
$257,600 +8.5% $283,475 +10.4%144 +26.3%184 +19.5%67 -14.1%

We cannot comment on the 1st quarter results without reflecting on the Coronavirus pandemic that arrived in the midst of it and will continue to impact us for the remainder of 2020. During the recent weeks, we have been reminded about the role HOME plays in our lives. We thank our state officials, health care providers, and all essential workers for the sacrifices and difficult decisions they continue to make to keep our community safe. 

Residential real estate transactions have a longer lead time than most consumer purchases. These transactions close, on average, 45-60 days from the time of contract. Therefore, results in this 1st quarter market report – with sales closed by March 31st – reflect business efforts from the 4th quarter of 2019 through January of this year.

The current public health crisis we find ourselves in is already resulting in an economic crisis. As the residual impact of COVID-19 begins to plateau, the question we are being asked is “what will the impact be on the real estate market?” We don’t have a crystal ball, however, John Burns Real Estate Consulting noted, “Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices) …. the current slowdown is playing out similarly thus far.” As of April 1, 2020, three of the major financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs are calling for a V type recovery. They do reserve the option to change that prediction as things proceed.

The Great Recession of 2008 was driven largely by the housing sector. This is not the case today. In fact, the leading indicators regarding housing were sound at the onset of this necessary pause. Nationally, inventory levels were at a 3-month supply (vs. 8-month supply in 2007); most economists believe a 6-month supply is a balanced market. We have been in a sellers’ market for some time. Price appreciation has been steady and moderate. In addition, the equity position for most home owners is strong.

We cannot predict how long we will be sheltering in place or how deep the impact will be prior to working our way out of this. We do believe that this time, housing is poised to be part of the solution.

“Housing is a foundational element of every person’s well-being. And with nearly a fifth of US gross domestic product rooted in housing-related expenditures, it is also critical to the well-being of our broader economy,” as recently noted by Chris Herbert of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. The fact that the Vermont housing sector enters this current recession underbuilt rather than overbuilt, coupled with continued historic low interest rates, positions housing to help lead our way out of this when the time comes.

In Northwest Vermont, the real estate market during the 1st quarter of 2020 was strong. The number of properties listed for sale continued to increase after years of decline. Buyer demand was strong amidst low interest rates and median prices were steadily growing. Governor Phil Scott issued a Stay At Home order on March 25th which effectively put the brakes on real estate services. Purchase contracts already in process faced some hurdles getting to closing. With safety and public health as a priority, attorneys and lenders adjusted their customary practices and closed real estate sales without parties present – via Power of Attorney. Buyers and Sellers in newer contracts, that had not worked through contingencies such as property inspections, have extended those contract deadlines when possible.

As of April 20th, the Governor is allowing limited in-person activities of no more than two people. Many buyers we have surveyed are remaining in the market. Detailed property photographs and video enable savvy buyers to make offers subject to inspections at such a time that is deemed safe. Our agents are advising clients to work with a local lender for an up to date mortgage pre-approval.

Sellers are using the time at home to prepare for market. Our Marketing Team is working closely with sellers to produce videos and strategically position their homes for optimal viewing by buyers. Our website, HickokandBoardman.com, has been visited by potential buyers across the country- notably from states effected early on by COVID-19. Vermont has long been considered a healthy and safe place to live. Particularly in the aftermath of a crisis, such as the events of 9/11, many residents of larger cities looked to Vermont to begin the next chapter in their lives. Recently, Conde Nast Traveler announced the 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards for the Friendliest Cities in the U.S., ranking Burlington 8th in the country – the only northern city on the list.

While working from home and conducting meetings via apps like Zoom may be new for many, our Agents have been effectively working remotely for several years. From using technology to share and sign contracts, to conducting showings and consultations via Facetime with out-of-state clients – we are well positioned to best serve our clients.

Never more than now, do we appreciate what HOME means to all of us. Stay safe and hold your family and friends close. We appreciate the relationships we share with all of you and together we will work to keep #VermontStrong.

We are All in this Together