Out-of-staters tired of pandemic turn housing market into food frenzy

How crazy has the real estate market gone in the Haute Vallée? Ask Amanda Addington.

Addington and her partner, both 32, share a one-bedroom apartment in Hartland with their cat, Gary, and since September have been actively looking to buy their first home. They want to settle in the area with a bigger place.

The professional couple – she works in the development office at Dartmouth College, he is a social worker in Vermont – visited 23 homes and condos, from Canaan to Quechee and Enfield to Thetford. They made eight offers, not one less than the asking price.

And each time they have been outbid by another buyer.

“We knew it would be difficult, but we weren’t expecting this at all,” said Addington, who moved to the Upper Valley three years ago. “We figured that with the number of offers we made, one of them would work.”

Addington’s experience illustrates what many people are facing after a year of city dwellers and suburbs fleeing the pandemic who have moved to more rural communities and have driven up house prices. As out-of-state buyers, many of whom can offer cash and do without the unexpected, flock to the upper valley, less affluent buyers rooted in the community are squeezed out of contention.

In addition, the number of homes on the market this spring has dropped significantly due to strong demand.

“There are a lot of cash buyers right now. A lot of people are excluded from the market, ”said Nan Carroll, a Hanover broker at Coldwell Banker who has been selling homes in the Upper Valley since 2003 and who estimates that of his sales over the past year“ 90% came from out of the area.

A recent analysis of real estate transactions supports Carroll’s observation.

The Vermont Center for Geographic Information, using property transfer tax addresses collected by the Vermont Department of Taxes, found that sales of properties in Vermont to out-of-state buyers increased 38% in 2020 compared to the previous year. Among individual Vermont towns in the Upper Valley, the surge of out-of-state buyers is even greater: up 97% in Woodstock (36 sales for 71 sales), 29% in Hartford (106 sales for 137 sales) ) and 113% in Norwich (8 sales for 17 sales).

These results are synchronized with an analysis of address changes published last month in The New York Times, which, based on data from the U.S. Postal Service, shows that the region of Lebanon has experienced one of the largest inflows of population to the country, ranking 7th out of 926 metropolitan areas measured with a positive net change of 3 , 7% of immigration from 2019 to 2020.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal published a list in collaboration with Realtor.com of the country’s most sought-after places for homebuyers looking for valued values ​​with “appealing lifestyle amenities” and ranked Liban-Claremont 183 in 300 metropolitan markets (Concord , NH, was # 8, Manchester-Nashua, NH, was # 9, and Burlington, Vt., # 92).

Sounds fair to Paul Rea, a Randolph real estate broker specializing in Orange County.

“It’s a lot of people in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, all over the country looking for the safety and security that Vermont offers,” Rea said of the buyers he saw at the over the past 17 months.

Rea, who normally sells 35 to 40 homes a year totaling around $ 6 million in sales, said he sold 64 properties totaling $ 10 million in sales in 2020, beating his previous 2018 record of 42 properties totaling 7.5 million. dollars in sales.

But the result of record real estate sales means the number of homes available for sale has run out, in some towns in the Haute Vallée to near zero levels, one of the Nadir estate agents says they never remember having seen.

“Usually at this time of year, in February and March, I will have 25 to 30 announcements and up to 40 and 50 in April and May,” Rea said last week. “Today, I have two: a duplex and a one-bedroom mobile home that I just listed this morning and which will probably go in a few days.”

With the market booming in 2020, pandemic-driven Upper Valley home sales continued to climb in the first quarter of the year, according to data collected by the New Hampshire and Vermont real estate trade groups .

Closed sales of single-family homes in Grafton County jumped 21.1% to 230 between January and March, while the median selling price rose 29.1% to $ 270,950, according to New Hampshire Realtors. Closed sales in Sullivan County increased 0.9% to 118, but sales volume increased 36.2% to $ 36.9 million and median selling price increased 23.4% at $ 215,900.

All of those home sales mean more tax revenue for the state and county, said Kelley Monahan, Grafton County Deeds Register. She said her office accepted 17,541 documents – documents relating to deeds, mortgages and liens – in fiscal 2020, an increase of 2,473 from 2019, processing $ 12.4 million in distributed taxes and fees. to the State tax offices, to the investment program for land and community heritage. and Grafton County.

Based on real estate activity over the past nine months, Monahan estimates his office is on track to register 22,000 documents and collect “over $ 15-16 million” in revenue for the fiscal year ending. June 30. or at the end of the work week.

“Fridays and Mondays are always crazy,” she says.

Home sales have also been galloping in Windsor County, Vermont, with data showing how few properties remain on the market this spring, typically the busiest time for home sales, according to Vermont. Association of Realtors.

In Windsor County, a total of 183 home sales were closed in the first quarter, up 36.6% from the same period a year ago, while new sales on hold – the sales contracted but not yet closed – jumped 18% to 256. Closed sales volume soared 87.6% to $ 69.6 million and new pending sales volume climbed 62 , 6% to $ 113.2 million.

The median selling price in Windsor County rose 35% to $ 277,754 and the average selling price rose 37.3% to $ 380,305 in the first quarter, VAR reported.

At the same time, home sales have exploded, the number of homes for sale has dropped.

In March, there were only 125 homes actively listed in Windsor County, up from 448 in the same month of 2019. Active listings fell in White River Junction (from 36 to four), Norwich (23 to five), Woodstock (45 to 14) and Randolph (29 to 6), according to VAR.

The crisis not only freezes people in the Upper Valley who want to buy their first house, but also poses problems for house sellers who will have to find another place.

“The first question I ask my landlord is, do you have a place to go because I don’t want to make you homeless,” said Vanessa Stone, an Enfield real estate broker who focuses on the valley. by Mascoma.

Stone said that in her 32 years of selling real estate, the current frenzy even outstrips the door-to-door sales market in the early 2000s before the 2007 crash.

She had an open house on April 24 for an 1,800 square foot home on Kilton Pond in Grafton that was listed at $ 299,000. Within five hours, 62 parties signed the registration book (there were actually over 62 people since most parties had multiple people). Stone, who won’t say how many people were bidding or what the final sale price was because the sale is underway) had to send three agents on site to manage the crowd.

They added a second open house on Sunday, when 13 other parties showed up.

“Seventy-five evenings in two days,” she said. “I’ve never had anything like it. There were locals but also people from Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, you name it. It’s pretty much madness.


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