Welcome to the 2020 Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate Market Report; our current examination of the real estate market in the Stowe area. This report uses market-wide data based on transactions that closed in 2020 in the Multiple Listing Service as compared to sales that took place in 2019.
View Full Screen Here: CBCRE 2020 Q3 Market Report by Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate
Multiple Market Impacts. Last year at this time we reported that low inventory had impacted sales to a large degree over the first 9 months of 2019 and that pending sales were up. Well, this year we can say the same, although with a greater increase. It’s otherwise been a challenging year, to say the least, as the nation and world have had to deal with the uncertainty of a pandemic. We are grateful to be living in a state that has been reportedly the most successful in dealing with the outbreak which has led to businesses having the ability to be open over the summer and fall. Visitors have streamed to Vermont and the Stowe area, enjoying all there is that’s offered here. As soon as travel restrictions began to loosen back in May, buyers with pent-up demand for investing in real estate began to migrate here in search of properties to purchase. Since then, sales have increased to levels not seen in over the past 12 years. The numbers for Q3 reveal a continuation of the extraordinary demand for purchasing homes, condominiums, and land as primary or second home properties. Similar to what we saw after 9/11, many have chosen to move and live here full time, including enrolling their children in our local schools. Whatever the reasons, overall, buyers are finding our communities and Vermont lifestyle more appealing than ever.
Nationally, real estate sales have been on the rise. By the end of August, the 10.5% increase in the number of home sales, year over year, was the highest recorded since 2006. And the median sales price was the highest ever. In Stowe, home sales increased by 10%, which includes the temporary interruption in buying activity due to stay-at-home-orders early in the spring. The increase in condominium sales in Stowe was more significant, at 43%. Residential sales in the rest of Lamoille County were virtually even, but Waterbury saw the highest increase - up 14%. Pricing rose by significant amounts as well. What didn’t go up was the amount of available housing inventory which was down by over half in some towns. As the choices continued to diminish, coupled with strong buyer demand and historically low-interest rates, it is possible that these trends could continue. It is definitely a seller’s market and one in which buyers are often challenged by the reality of multiple offers and escalating prices. Never before have buyers appreciated the value of their real estate agents as much as they do now, as they help to guide them through what has increasingly become a complex and challenging process.
Real Estate Activity Holding up Despite Challenges. The last few months have been a challenge for everyone. Back in March when states began to issue stay-at-home orders, no one was sure what the next days and weeks would bring. There was so much uncertainty, and everyone had to make so many sacrifices. Thankfully, our Vermont community stayed strong despite adversity; and with everyone cooperating to stay safe and healthy, positive outcomes resulted. As life and businesses have progressively gotten back to encouraging levels of normalcy, real estate transactions have increased on many fronts. With the benefit of our professional tools and resources, we were able to adapt and leverage enhanced technologies to serve our customers’ and clients’ needs. By shifting our practices to offer more virtual tours online, and provide the ability to do FaceTime showings with buyers, consumers were able to more easily engage in the process of buying and selling. Once we were able to physically show properties again, we found that buyers were very eager to making appointments to renew their search. Properties started going under contract immediately, and have continued to do so since. Buyer demand remains very strong, yet consumers are still hampered by a shortage of inventory and a variety of listings to choose from. Interest rates remain historically low, offering another advantage to purchasing and investing in real estate at this time.
As we review the sales data for the 1st 6 months of this year, we need to consider the fact that business in general nearly came to a halt for almost 2 months. Despite this interruption though, some sectors of market activity held steady, and some even surpassing that of last year. Our market area has always been a destination that people have been attracted to for a variety of reasons including it being a safe, healthy, and satisfying 4-season lifestyle, which may now be more desirable than ever to some.
Looking back at the last six months of this year, it was not completely surprising to see that most sales across our market area were down. Exceptions were condominiums in Stowe which edged up ever so slightly; and land sales in Lamoille North. Although most sales were down because of the interruption, there was a significant increase overall of homes that went under contract for Q2 in all market areas, many of which took place after stay-at-home orders were lifted, signifying a rebounding of activity and continuation of strong buyer demand. The increase in these pending home sales was 31% in Stowe; and 46% in Waterbury. And, by the end of Q2, there were as many as 53 pending home sales in Lamoille North (excluding Stowe).