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Housing trends in the Mad River Valley

By Rachel Goff

The 2013 Data Report published earlier this year by the Mad River Valley Planning District (MRVPD) took a look at housing in the area, whose slight uptick in sales reflect national economic trends.

As of 2010, housing in Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston has continued to be split fairly evenly between full-time residents (48 percent) and second-home owners (47 percent), with just a small percentage of housing available (5 percent).

The data report shows the number of vacation homes sold starting to increase after plummeting during the 2008-09 economic recession. Warren, which experienced the steepest decline in sales due to the high concentration of condominiums and apartments located near Lincoln Peak at Sugarbush Resort, is experiencing a slight uptick in sales, as is Fayston on a much smaller scale, with around 10 vacation homes sold in 2012, compared to Warren's 50. In Waitsfield the number of vacation homes sold each year has remained relatively constant (around five homes sold in 2012).

Likewise, the median vacation home sales prices have rebounded somewhat since plummeting in 2008-09, but The Valley remains well below its 2007-08 peak. In Fayston, the median vacation home cost $280,000 in 2008 but fell to $175,000 in 2012. In Warren, the median vacation home cost $245,000 in 2008 but fell to $229,000 in 2012.

2013 MRVPD Housing Images

The median vacation home sales price for Vermont fell from $239,000 in 2008 to $203,000 in 2012, showing that Valley towns are largely following state trends for housing with the exception of Waitsfield, which has varied considerably over the past few years. For reference, in 2008 the median vacation home price in Waitsfield was $303,000 compared to the state median of $239,000, but it fell to $108,000 in 2012.

Primary residence sales prices in The Valley have overall increased more than vacation homes sales prices since 2009. In 2001, all three towns reported sales prices well above the state average of $195,000. 2012 saw a drop in all three towns, but sales prices still remained above the statewide average. For reference, the median home in Waitsfield cost $255,000 in 2012 and $223,500 in Fayston, while Warren's median home price was $247,500.

While their sales prices are up, the number of primary homes sold has declined in recent years, and The Valley has reverted back to 1990s' low levels of between 5 and 15 homes sold a year, compared to 2000s' high levels of between 20 and 40 homes sold a year.

Rather than buying a house, however, more Valley residents are choosing to build their own. One leading indicator of new home construction is zoning permits, and the data report shows that the number of permits issued for all three towns increased from 804 in 2011 to 889 in 2012.

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