It’s north of normal in these second home markets
After that trip, Bloomer began to take a closer look at the nearby second home market – and this fall, his long-held dream of owning a ski house came true. “This is the year we decided we wanted to get a place – which was also, unfortunately, the year everyone decided to get a place,” he said with a laugh. ironic. In years past, he’s watched properties linger for months before they sell; this year, the houses flew off the market in a matter of days.
Bloomer’s real estate agent Adam Palmiter advises his buyers to be patient. Because even if new listings continue to arrive on the market, they are still not enough to meet the demand. “Every day I get at least five to ten people sending me emails that are totally new to the market,” said Palmiter, of Berkley & Veller Greenwood Country Realtors. “We’re not at a point yet where inventory has kind of caught up with buyers.”
At the same time, buyers are worried. It takes about eight weeks to close a property now, Palmiter said, because appraisers and lawyers are very busy; skiers want to get into a place before the snow blows away. And with so many owners using their properties more themselves – working remotely from their Vermont home, say, instead of renting it out to skiers – “there’s a negligible rental inventory for vacation rentals,” said Palmiter said, “which means people who want to have a place for the season almost have to buy to have something locked up.
From the Berkshires to the Green and White Mountains to western Maine, it’s the same story. The ski area may offer a refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life, but not from its hectic real estate market.
While Bloomer disliked wading through a vendor market in the mountains, Natick’s resident was no stranger to auction wars. “I said, okay, I think we’re going to have to use the old ‘Boston strategy’ here and take a pretty aggressive offer with our offer,” he said, “which ultimately got us given the place we wanted. ” The family bought a four-bedroom, one-acre, post-and-beam house with a toboggan hill, which Bloomer’s children delight in. “They are over the moon about it.”
“It’s a very tight market,” said Cassie Mason, broker at Cassie Mason Real Estate in Bethel, Maine, near Sunday River. “Before COVID, 180 days were our average days in the market,” Mason said. But from June 1 to September 30, homes listed in Bethel, Newry and Greenwood sold in just 22 days on average, she said.
It’s not just a commotion inspired by COVID and nature’s work that is driving prices up near ski resorts. The popularity of short-term rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO has attracted a new set of second home buyers to ski resorts. “Even before the pandemic, I would say that over the past three to five years, buyers have run into investors who historically would not have considered owning a home this far in western Maine,” Mason said. But the fact that a vacation home, rented by the night or by the week, can not only pay off but even be a worthwhile investment, she said, “has really changed our buyer profiles.”
With more and more people able to work remotely and many ski towns evolving into four-season destinations, the pressure on these housing markets has only increased. In Stowe, Vermont, stocks were slim even before the pandemic, but COVID has elevated competition to new heights. “More than ever here I am receiving buyers from all over the country,” said Craig Santenello, owner-broker at Vermont Life Real Estate Agents. “Historically, the majority of buyers came from Boston, New York, Montreal. Now people are competing with… a lot of Californians, Texans, a lot of Chicago people, southerners, ”he said.
“Stowe was very quiet in the fall and spring the restaurants were closing, it was just pretty quiet. And now those shoulder seasons have almost evaporated, ”added Santenello.
The same has happened around Sunday River, Mason said, with the popularity of mountain biking and trail systems, the Mahousuc Land Trust created. “The mountain biking community has exploded since Mount Abram set up its mountain biking park,” she said. “I would be surprised if their income is not parallel enough to what they do in the winter.”
The competition around Sunday River is not as dramatic as it was a year ago, Mason said, when buyers made fierce blind and unanticipated offers. “We don’t have that kind of chaos anymore. And I think we’ve hit our cap a bit so far with where we can push the prices, ”Mason said. “But there are still enough buyers and there is still enough interest that we have multiple offers on most listings at fair prices – and ‘fairly’ means the new fair.” Homes that were selling in the $ 500,000 are now solidly in the $ 800,000, she said.
Across the state border in New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley, prices also boarded a high-speed quadruple chair in what was traditionally a second home market. more affordable. “Year over year, prices have gone up 30% in the Valley – and that’s, I think, a 30% increase over the previous year,” said Josh Brustin, owner / principal broker at Pinkham Real Estate in North Conway. “Buyers two years ago who would have been, say, in the under $ 300,000 price range, which would have been sort of your standard second home purchase… that price is now $ 100,000 to $ 150. $ 000 more. “
Prices at high elevation near Cranmore and Attitash put more remote destinations on the map for homebuyers in White Mountain, Brustin said. “Even places like Gorham, New Hampshire – which is 40 minutes a way [from North Conway], you have to go through a notch to get there – whereas a year ago it seemed to be by Mars, right now it seems very present on the radar, ”Brustin said. “It’s more affordable, we stay close to several ski areas. It looks like what North Conway might have looked like 20 years ago.
Palmiter observes a similar phenomenon around Mount Snow. “Basically if you draw a circle around the main towns of Dover and Wilmington, everything on the outskirts gets a little jostled as well,” he said. And outside of Stowe Village, Santenello said, sales in nearby Waterbury have skyrocketed, with median prices rising nearly 60%. Meanwhile, buyers discouraged by low stocks are thinking even further off the beaten track. “Land sales are unlike anything I’ve seen before,” he said.
With most Stowe homes selling in around 10 days, buyers need to be “flexible and fluid” if they are to win a bid, Santenello said. When a new ad appears in the market, it usually visits it and sends a video to its buyers; if they are interested, he recommends that they go see him the next day. “Being here in person is important,” he said. While invisible offers were common during the early days of the pandemic, enough sales were scuttled by backward buyers that sellers are now wary of such offers, he said.
And don’t forget to bring cash. “One of the most important things I’m finding right now is the abundance of money, more than I’ve ever seen in the market here,” Santenello said. “Most of every property is a multiple offer situation. And of these multiple offers, in most cases, a few are cash. Buyers must therefore be very creative in their contracts with the unforeseen, what they are willing to give up, what they feel comfortable with.
Santenello said that while a home inspection clause can be fatal in such a hot market, it is also a risky proposition in Green Mountain state. “Vermont is like the real estate Wild West,” he said. “You don’t even have to have a license to be a builder here… there are a lot of pitfalls. Thus, Santenello often adds language allowing “near-inspections” of at least the most expensive items, such as the boiler, heating system and chimneys.
And the septic tank. Unlike Massachusetts, which since 1995 has required a home’s septic system to pass a Title V inspection before being sold, Vermont had no state oversight over waste management systems until 2007. Thus, Santenello always asks its customers to perform a septic installation to spot potential problems, such as the “septic tank” that Santenello once encountered and which was in fact an old Volkswagen bug. “He was buried with a pipe in it,” he said. “It was the dry well.”
Yet, said Santenello, there is no denying the call of the mountains. “I tell all of my buyers, once they close I say, ‘I’m going to give you about four years before you move in here full time,'” he said. “And most of the time, I’m right.
Jon Gorey blogs about homes at HouseandHammer.com. Send feedback to [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @jongorey. Subscribe to our free real estate newsletter on pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp. follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter @globehomes.