National Real Estate Market Slow; Vermont MLS Volume Up

Burlington Vermont Real EstateI was interviewed last week for my views by the reporter from the VPOR. Below is the article in full…

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NATIONAL REAL ESTATE MARKET SLOW; VERMONT MLS VOLUME UP

National reports on property sales and prices tell a familiar story for the last months of the summer: a market varying from month to month and location to location, but in no hurry to recover from the market plunge of recent years. By comparison, Vermont’s market still looks better than most.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) offered the most optimistic report, announcing on October 25 that sales of existing homes nationally rose in September by 10% over August (by 10.1% in the Northeast), “affirming that a sales recovery has begun.” However, the national median existing-home price for all housing types was 2.4% below a year ago, the NAR said (the median fell 1.4% in the Northeast).

As the previous article discusses, foreclosures – and homebuyers’ wariness of them – threaten to further suppress the market, according to the Associated Press. It reported that 23% of the Realtors it surveyed had clients who were declining to consider foreclosed properties, out of a concern that such purchases might be challenged on the basis of flawed foreclosure practices.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported on October 26 that U.S. housing prices rose 0.4% from July to August. But on the same day, Standard & Poor’s announced that home values overall had decreased from July to August, according to its Case-Shiller index of 20 major markets. An S&P spokesman called the report “disappointing,” noting that “home prices broadly declined in August.”

If these inconsistent, sometimes contradictory, reports prove anything, it is to substantiate Burlington-area Realtor Chris Hurd’s maxim that, like politics, “All real estate is local.”

Hurd, proprietor of Akin Associates, deals in residential properties in Chittenden, Addison, and Grand Isle counties, with a focus on Burlington, Shelburne and Charlotte. To his surprise, he said, 2009 turned out for him to be “a very strong year,” one of his best as a Realtor. 2010 has been a different story; he expects that when all is said and done it will turn out to be an average year, but deals are taking an unusually long time to gel.

Normally he’s wrapping things up in the fall after a busy summer – and the summer of 2010 was, indeed busy. “But this year,” he says, “everything is late. It’s primarily because people have spent months and months testing the market, testing the sellers, waiting for the fall and getting close to winter to see if they can eke out every last dollar from the seller.”

The sellers are in no hurry, either. “Vermonters are a funny group,” Hurd said. “They tend to hunker down and wait. They’re not going to give away the store.” The result is a kind of stasis.

Statewide, the real estate market has shown some signs of improvement this year. The number of single-family homes, both primary and vacation, sold by Realtors from January through September this year is up 7.7% from the same time period in 2009, according to the statewide MLS system. The single-family median price has edged up from $199,000 last year to $200,000 in 2010, according to the same report.

But, in his work, Hurd has seen a big change in the focus of market activity. He said that not long ago he was selling homes for $600,000, routinely. Now “the bulk” of his market comes in at $300,000. “If you get a buyer over that, it’s an anomaly,” he said.

Because of Vermont’s relatively better economy and relatively smaller foreclosure problem, Hurd sees prices remaining stable. But he does not think a robust recovery in Vermont’s real estate market is imminent. Historically, Vermont has had a tendency to lag behind the economic trends of the rest of the country, Hurd said, so he expects it to be some time before the market emerges from this depressed cycle and regains its former vitality.

Reprinted with permission from
Vermont Property Owners Report

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If you are considering buying Burlington Vermont real estate (or surrounding areas), please give me a call on my cell at 802.238.5256 or email me to discuss our real estate market and your options.

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