09/17/2009

By Lizzy Hewitt, contributing reporter/editor

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In 2008, the number of residential real estate units sold in Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield and Warren totaled 175 -- the lowest number of sales over the past 18 years. The downward turn in the local real estate market is part of a dramatic statewide trend.

SAME TIME PERIOD

According to data released in the August-September 2009 issue of the Vermont Property Owners Report, the number of real estate sales around the state has plummeted. The number of sales of single-family primary homes has crashed from 2,038 in March through June of 2005 to 787 in the spring of this year. Primary home condominium sales fell from 360 to 107 in the same time period.

Land sales fell from 209 in March through June of 2005 to 66 in March through June of 2009.

Statewide vacation property sales are showing similar patterns. Single-family vacation homes in the same quarter dropped from 427 in 2005 to 181 in 2009.

Data from the Vermont Property Transfer Tax Public Records, accumulated by David Dion of David Dion Real Estate, shows that the local real estate market is following statewide trends. It peaked in 2003 with a total of 443 units sold in the four Mad River Valley towns. Since then, the market has dramatically declined, falling to 175 in 2008.

NUMBER OF UNITS SOLD

2008 saw the lowest number of units sold in Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston in almost two decades. Since dipping to 195 in 1992, the total number of units sold had not fallen below 200.

At the peak of the local market in 2003, the total dollar volume of sales in the Mad River Valley was over $65 million. Even as the number of sales decreased slightly over the following years, the dollar volume continued to increase. It reached a peak of nearly $81.7 million in 2006, when there were 354 sales.

The total dollar volume in 2006 includes $30.2 million in Sugarbush's Clay Brook sales. When those sales are not included, the peak was $73.3 million in 2005.

Total dollar volume of sales in 2007 was shy of $56 million. A total of 239 units were sold that year. In 2008, the total dollar volume fell further to $46 million.

LOWER PRICES STATEWIDE

Statewide, the real estate market is seeing lower prices. The average price of a single-family primary home in Vermont between March and June of 2007 was $258,121. In March through June of 2009, the average price was $230,460. Primary home condominiums are down from $197,801 in 2007 to $186,796 in 2009.

Local real estate prices have not followed the statewide trends. After oscillating under $100,000 through the 1990s, the average sale price of real estate in the Mad River Valley has been steadily increasing. Although the number of sales has been decreasing since 2003, and total dollar volume has been falling since its peak in 2006, prices paradoxically have continued to rise.

In 2008, the average sale price of local real estate was $263,278. In 2005, it was $200,968. In 2000, it was $106,987.

DIFFERENT PATTERN

Statewide trends on vacation property sales show a different pattern. Single-family vacation home prices increased to $328,425 in March through June 2008, from $275,068 in the spring of the previous year. This spring, prices fell to $268,652.

Local properties fetch higher prices than the averages around the county and state. Between March and June of 2009, $267,500 bought a house on 56.6 acres in Cabot or a house on 2.3 acres in Moretown. Just over the mountain, a house on two acres in Williamstown sold for $70,950 this spring. A house on two acres in Fayston sold for $405,000.

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