“The market has been affected by COVID. Already four transactions have been terminated because of it,” said Erik Reisner, managing partner of Mad River Valley Real Estate, Waitsfield.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., Mad River Valley Real Estate was enjoying its most profitable year. The condo market was red hot. Land was selling more than before. “In terms of past sales, 2019 was our highest dollar volume in the Mad River Valley and the highest number of sales since 2006,” said Reisner.

Prior to the pandemic, Reisner and colleagues had been watching a steady rise in sales with finger-tapping anticipation. “We saw sales climbing and climbing. We were all wondering, when are we going to hit the peak? And well, we hit the peak.”


In the real estate world, sales are cyclical. A variety of factors are responsible for the constant ebb and flow of the housing market. “There’s a lot of different things that cause real estate cycles to change. Of course, this is one that we’ve never experienced in our lifetime,” said Reisner, referring to the pandemic.


While the housing market has plummeted for the moment, Reisner believes that it will come surging back when the crisis is over. “But I don’t think it’s going to be a flood of people deciding to move into The Valley. It’s going to be a trickle,” said Reisner. His reasoning is that, first, The Valley simply does not have enough homes to allow a flood of people to move in. Second, the difficulty of finding a good job in a rural area may disincentivize people from moving here, even if they are motivated by a postcrisis urge to settle in a safer, more remote town.

Reisner expects this trickle of postcoronavirus sales will come from both second-home scouters and those looking to move to The Valley full time. “Some folks that have the means, yes, they’ll be looking to get a second home up here, or a condo – a place they can go to get out of the city,” said Reisner. “But I also think, and this happened after 9/11, that families will be looking to move here permanently.”


Contrary to the general market trend, Reisner has had one client who bought a home in The Valley because of coronavirus. This out-of-state family was looking for a vacation house. When coronavirus hit the states, not only did they buy the house, but they decided to make a permanent move to Vermont.

“The job opportunities are very different here than in metropolitan New York or Boston. But if people are able to work remotely, they may be willing to take a pay cut for the safety of their family,” said Reisner about the pros and cons of moving to The Valley. “We’re very lucky to live here.”

Until the housing market picks up again, Reisner and colleagues are hunkering down like everybody else. “Real estate agents haven't been able to operate at all, apart from Facetime tours. All we can do is travel to a vacant property to take photos, videos and inspect it,” said Reisner, who believes it’s the company’s duty to maintain social-distancing practices. “We’re being very careful. We want to do the right thing.”