I have been in real estate for over 26 years. I had the good fortune to open my own business and hang my own shingle in my little town, Underhill, Vermont. I opened Pleasant Valley Real Estate in 2005 and over the past 8 years I have worked predominantly in the mountain towns of Underhill, Jericho, Cambridge, and Richmond, all in the foothills of Mount Mansfield. Because my focus was generalized I have been watching the housing market in this area carefully.
Here is an interesting overview of a house I sold three times between 2005 and now. It shows the swing in the housing market.
2005 selling price: $357,500.
2010 selling price: $347,000.
2013 list price: $540,000. Note: the owners made a substantial investment in a facelift, as you can see in the photos, which partly explains the significant increase in price. This house is due to close in May.
Here is a synopsis of the housing market from 2005 to now.
In 2005 I started noticing a marked increase in the amount of homes on the market in our area, but activity level was very good and prices were starting to go up. But by 2006-2007 I started to get worried. Prices were climbing and there were multiple bids on properties. Sellers were happy and buyers were hectic, trying to get into the house of their choice. It was truly a seller’s market.
We all know what happened to the housing market in 2008. It crashed due to poor lending practices and people over-vesting themselves in real estate that was already topped out. At this point inventory started to pile up, and it was easy to get a listing but hard to get anyone to buy it. Land still was holding its own, but you could tell that it, too, had peaked and would soon slow.
By 2009 we had plenty of homes and land for sale, and at the slow rate they were selling we had about two-years’ worth of inventory. The high end market, especially in our rural towns, came to a halt. Government incentives and low interest rates have pulled us through the worst of these times.
By 2010-2011 we were still sluggish, and then, due to Mr. Bernanke, interest rates were at an all-time low. Finally it was the best buyer’s market ever, with good inventory choices and low rates! Buyers demanded that the homes they bought be in good shape and clean. If they weren’t, those houses sat on the market and in some cases simply did not sell. Land inventory started really piling up and prices fell there, too.
Last year was by far the busiest I have ever been in real estate. No year (and there were 26 of them) had come close to what last year was like. By the second half of the year the tables were turning. Inventory was decreasing, interest rates were still low, and sellers were beginning to experience much faster sale times. Houses in “move in condition” sold within two months, sometimes within two weeks, as apposed to the four to six months we had been experiencing in previous years. In addition, these fast-selling houses often had a competing offer.
It is obvious that the housing market has turned a corner and we are coming around the bend here in the foothills of Mount Mansfield.
My advice for 2013
Sellers: It is still important to have your house in good condition for selling. Clean, de-clutter, paint, and spruce up!
Buyers: Be prepared; get your ducks in a row. A letter of pre-approval from a lender it is a must BEFORE you start looking. If you don’t have this letter you will most likely miss out on the house you really want, as you will not have an offer accepted or likely negotiated on until you have this letter. In addition, if you are looking for that special place, make sure your real estate agent keeps on top of things, so you can act quickly and beat the rush before competitive bids could come in.
Yes, the real estate market has come around. I hope this helps sheds some light on where the housing market is now. When you are ready to sell or buy a house or land, give call me at 802-858-9193 or email me. I’d love to help you achieve your goal.
Lea Van Winkle