Viewing the real estate market with a mixture of gratitude and concern

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Viewing the real estate market with a mixture of gratitude and concern

Sun, 10/17/2021 - 3:50pm -- tim

by Olga Peters, Vermont Business Magazine Annie Bessette feels grateful.

The principal broker with TPW Real Estate said that the past 18 months have treated the Bennington real estate market well. Residential sales have remained constant, and new people have settled in the county.

Instead of shutting the market down, the pandemic has attracted new people with vibrant energy to the community, she said.

“It’s wonderful,” Bessette said.

TPW has more demand for residential properties than it has inventory.

As of September, there were 125 properties on the market in the county and 158 under contract.

Bessette has witnessed many cases of listings receiving multiple offers. Some buyers have added escalation clauses to their bids in hopes of beating out the competition.

An escalation clause allows a potential buyer to increase their offer by a predetermined amount if the seller receives a higher bid.

Referring to data from the New England Real Estate Network multiple listing service (NEREN MLS), Bessette noted that, yes, home sales have increased since last year. Sales prices, however, have increased even more.

According to NEREN, between January and September 2021, the number of residential listings sold in Bennington county increased 12 percent compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, the total dollar amount increased 25 percent, Bessette said.

She added that the median sales price for the county as of September was $315,000.

In 2020, the median was $289,000.

Max Squires, director of operations for KW Vermont, Brenda Jones Real Estate Group described the county’s market as unpredictable.

For example, the number of listings has increased since the beginning of the summer, he said.

“At the beginning of the summer, we had, I would say, 95 listings countywide,” he said. “And now they're starting to build back up a little bit, and usually, that build-up comes in the spring, not near the end of the selling season.”

It’s still a seller’s market, and if the house is priced well, the listing tends to sell within a week, Squires said.

Squires still sees homes sell for cash way above the asking price but that the market has cooled a little. Overpriced homes sitting on the market longer, he said.

One problem facing the county’s real estate market is closing times.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of appraisers and attorneys handling real estate transactions has dropped, Squires said. Most have retired or moved out of the area, he added.

In some areas of the country, people might close on a house within 21 days, Squires said. In Bennington county, most closings take 60 or 75 days.

“Typically, we have until the middle part of November to get stuff under contract to close by the end of the year,” he said. “We're already scheduling stuff now for Thanksgiving time.”

Bessette said that the active real estate market comes with blessings and concerns. She is excited to welcome new residents to the state. Simultaneously, Bessette has witnessed the affordability issues people face.

“It’s heartbreaking for me to see the affordability of living and working in our local towns is getting out of reach for many, many people,” she said.

Still, Bessette is shining a positive light on the county’s housing struggles because she believes communities can develop solutions.

“Yes, we have some housing challenges, but we are fortunate to have many creative members who truly care about the future of communities,” she said. “Working together, I believe our vibrant Bennington county towns will continue to flourish.”

Olga Peters is a freelance writer from Windham County. She is also the marketing coordinator at Stevens & Associates, one of the companies redeveloping the Putnam Block.