On March 11, 2020

Real Estate market is busy throughout Rutland County

Demand up, inventory low, prices best in state

By Karen D. Lorentz

Nationally, a homebuyer is looking at higher prices and more competition this spring with greater demand from Millennials as well as lower inventories and low mortgage rates, contributing to a tight market that will price some would-be buyers out.

But in Rutland County, prices remain affordable despite some price appreciation and the housing stock diverse although local real estate agents stress it’s that inventory is low.

They report the last four years have been the best for real estate activity since 2008, noting each year has been progressively better than a prior year and agree Rutland County still has the best home prices in the state and prices have not yet reached pre-2008 levels.

Century 21 Premiere Properties

Ed Patch, principal broker and owner of Century 21 Premiere Properties, located at 210 South Main St., Rutland, said the last four years have been the best he’s “seen since 2008 for single-family homes sold. For 2019, 644 single-family residences, including homes and condos, were sold according to Rutland County MLS.”

Prices are lower in Rutland City than in Rutland Town, which is the most desirable and sought after town in the county for primary residents, he said. He attributed higher demand for Rutland Town properties to: good location, lower taxes, some newer housing, lot sizes that are usually bigger, smaller school, and high school choice.

Killington is the most sought after for second homes, he added.

Inventory is the lowest it’s been in four years, so it’s a good time to list if thinking of selling, Patch noted, explaining that when the weather breaks in mid-March to April, the busiest season begins for the Rutland area. “This year there are currently 65 single-family homes for sale in the city and four years ago they averaged 115 for sale at the start of the busy season,” he said by way of comparison.

There are condos in the city and town, but not a lot are for sale, so when they come on the market and are priced correctly they tend to sell quickly, he added. He agreed that Rutland median prices are the best in the state and represent good value. A three-bedroom home can be found for less than $200,000 in the city, but

prices county-wide vary depending on the town where located, he added.

While observing that “typically things slow down in an election year,” Patch expects “real estate activity will continue to do well in this region due to what he sees as pent-up demand, a good economy, and low mortgage rates — in the 3% range. “It’s an incredible market for our area, but there’s no one answer as to why the market is doing so well,” he commented, noting the many positives of the region and economy.

Alison McCullough Real Estate

Alison McCullough, Realtor and principal broker of Alison McCullough Real Estate, located at 29 Center St., reports that from January first through March 6, 81 residential properties closed with prices ranging from $32,500 to $532,500 in Rutland County.

“The norm used to be the busy season started in spring, but there was no lull this winter. We saw buyers from everywhere and worked seven days a week, and now that days are longer, we will work longer hours and show more houses,” she added, indicating she doesn’t foresee a letup.

Noting prices have been slowly moving up as a factor of supply and demand, she said they are good values and that “location, condition, and price” continue to be key. “Homes that are well maintained and priced right sell quickly,” she added.

McCullough said there is a need for more listings in all price ranges throughout Rutland County, especially for homes under $150,000.

Currently, there are 23 properties listed from $999,000 to $6.9 million, with $1-million-plus properties found throughout the county. And they “do sell,” McCullough noted.

She attributes the continuing demand to: prices that are good; low mortgage rates that recently reached lows of 3.5% or less (depending on credit scores); first-time home buyers in their late 20s to 30s, who are even looking in the $250,000 to 300,000 range; baby boomers from outside Vermont who want to get away from long commutes; and people who can work from their homes and want the slower pace and quality of life Vermont is known for.

She also noted, “There are a number of professionals who want to rent but there is a lack of rentals here.”

Observing that, “Killington is cranking” in terms of activity, she also noted that NBT Bank in Rutland has an loan program for homes purchased in Rutland City that doesn’t charge PMI [private mortgage insurance], which is assessed for loans where less than 20% is put down and continues until 20% equity in the property is reached.

Sotheby’s International Realty

Noting she has sold real estate for 42 years, Freddie Ann Bohlig, a real estate broker at Sotheby’s International Realty located at 85 North Main St. Rutland, said last year was her best year ever with $20 million in sales.

“Agents are working seven days a week to keep up with the demand, inventory is extremely low, and buyers are having to spend more time finding a home,” she said.
Rutland County is a market where first-time homebuyers can get into the market, Bohlig agreed, adding that “Higher priced homes that were typically harder to sell last year are going under deposit this quarter, but we need inventory in the downsized segment.”

According to Rutland County MLS data that Bohlig supplied to the Mountain Times, from Jan. 1, 2019 through Jan. 31, 2020, over 900 listings closed with an average of 117 days on the market, median price of $160,000, average sales price of $194,082, and a maximum sales price of $2.4 million. Two properties sold for $2.4 million in Pittsford and Killington, Bohlig said.

The data for Jan. 1, 2020 through March 7 show 105 Rutland County listings closed with an average of 117 days on the market, a median price of $160,000 and average sales price of $176,515 and maximum price of $532,500.

Bohlig cited the economy, good values, low mortgage rates, and the quality of life as contributing to the demand for residences in the county and seeing people from California and Florida purchasing properties. “We’re seeing cash buyers for large tracts of land with nice homes on them,” she said, adding some out-of-state buyers are second-home owners with plans to retire here.

Bohlig was also upbeat on the outlook for real estate activity, stating, “Our Rutland community is showing signs of growth. Killington’s recent permit to expand, and RRMC construction of a $23 million addition are tremendous assets to our community. Starbucks and Chipotle are under construction and several new cafes and car dealerships are all positive signs for the Rutland Area. We have a robust Rutland Economic Development Committee which encourages and enhances business success and an incredible arts and theatre presence. Rutland is a wonderful place to raise a family and is known for an active life style, all of which are adding to the growth of our community.”

Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Cohen echoed Bohlig’s view on the quality of life attracting people to the region. With the chamber team working on several initiatives to attract new people to Rutland County, including marketing initiatives, stay-to-stay programs, and concierge services, she noted, “The people we are in contact with who are considering a move or who have moved to Rutland County are attracted by the affordable housing prices and some of the diverse housing stock. There are very few places at the bottom of a world-class ski mountain that can be called affordable. Here in Rutland, it is a reality.”

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