By David Dion

Travel and Leisure magazine recently published a list of the most beautiful places in the U.S. Not surprisingly the Cape Cod National Seashore was the top choice for Massachusetts. Well, if you’ve ever visited the Mad River Valley on a gloriously sunny day in May, or walked along Waitsfield’s Common Road during peak foliage, then you will know why the Mad River Valley got the nod for Vermont!


But while many think the Mad River Valley is a beautiful place to live and work and recreate, others fear the region is rapidly becoming an unaffordable place to live. And that’s largely because real estate sales and rental prices have soared to unprecedented levels in the past few years. In this capitalist world we live in most property owners want to sell or rent their property for the most money they can get. That’s their choice and if we don’t like it, we can look somewhere else. But it’s not always about the money. In fact, myriad other issues can factor into the decision to rent or sell a home. For example, some might qualify for the “friends and family discount.” The property owner’s sense of community and altruism can also impact the decision. And we tend to be kinder when we know who we are dealing with.

Following is a great example where sense of community clearly showed it’s not always about the money.

A home came on the market and was expected to receive a lot of interest. Sure enough, within a few days there were five purchase offers. One offer was for the asking price and the other four offers were all at over the asking price. Of course, the seller could only accept one offer. 

The lowest offer was from a nurse who works at a Vermont hospital. Prior to that she was a substance abuse and mental health counselor for women and their children. She was a single mom who graduated from Harwood Union High School and her daughter was enrolled at Harwood Union. She wanted to continue to live in the Mad River Valley but was being rapidly priced out of the market. And the “greedflation” of the past few years was not helping.


When the contracts were sent to the seller, (she was born and raised in the Mad River Valley) she asked about each prospective purchaser. That’s when she learned about the nurse. She was so moved by her plight she actually started to cry. The short story is the nurse’s offer was accepted and the nurse got the home!

There has been a lot of talk about affordable housing lately. Or perhaps a lack of more affordable housing is more accurate. And there’s also been a lot of finger-pointing. Most of the finger pointing is from folks who aren’t doing anything about it. Well, this one homeowner did something about it!  

What are you doing to address the need for more affordable housing in the Mad River Valley? Are you a talker, or are you a doer? 

At Mad River Valley Real Estate, we take the issue of community and the issue of affordable housing very seriously. Please call or write to ask how we can help you to make the Mad River Valley both a beautiful and also more affordable place to live.

Dion is a Waitsfield resident and a broker at Mad River Valley Real Estate.