Vermont’s Vacation Home Market Is Growing
Entering a new year always feels like a much-needed fresh start, and finding a new niche market can rejuvenate your career while expanding your real estate business.
For example, vacation or secondary homes provide a great niche market for new and experienced real estate agents alike. Vacation home sales skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing by 16% year-over-year in 2020, according to a report from the National Association of REALTORS®.
Vermont’s vacation home market followed this trend, with the Green Mountain State ranking in the top 1% of vacation home counties in 2021, thanks to three counties (Windham, Bennington, and Windsor). According to NAR, the New England region, which includes Vermont, saw a 33.8% year-over-year increase in vacation home sales, and the median vacation home sales price rose by 25.3% year-over-year from 2019 to 2020.
Vermont’s Vacation Home Market
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel outside of the country has slowed, prompting residents on the East Coast to seek an escape with views, privacy, and outdoor activities by heading north.
Home prices throughout the Northeast have increased significantly, mainly due to the high demand for second homes and the lack of housing inventory (though they may have hit their limit — at least for now). The high demand and limited supply playing out in markets like Vermont’s Mad River Valley are reminiscent of other popular vacation markets on the East Coast like Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.
This fervent demand for second homes in Vermont is projected to continue, as one of the Green Mountain State’s counties has ranked in the top 10 hottest second destinations in America for 2022.
This news is particularly great for real estate agents as second and vacation homes represent a significant share of Vermont’s housing market. In towns like Wilmington, an analysis by real estate experts found that more than 60% of its homes are vacant part of the year and used seasonally.
Additionally, many properties originally purchased as seasonal homes subsequently became primary residences thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic as their owners either retired or had the flexibility to work remotely.
With this information in mind, it’s unsurprising that home sales in Vermont have seen a boom in recent years. Beyond the fact that COVID-19 has altered many people’s property needs, the pandemic also increased home prices in the Northeast to new highs that priced most Americans out of the market.
Vermont’s median price per home is lower than its neighboring popular vacation markets found in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island. After being priced out of these markets, Americans in the Northeast sought more affordable homes in markets like Vermont. Sales of Vermont homes to out-of-state buyers jumped by 38% in 2020, and we expect this momentum to continue.
“One near-certain aspect of the post-pandemic economy, when it comes, is the flexible work schedule,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist, told The Escape Home. “It is very hard to envision five days a week in the office. Therefore, vacation home sales will continue to move higher, this year, next year, and for the foreseeable future.”
As Americans seek an escape from their homes and remote work continues to provide more flexibility than ever before, vacation home sales are projected to continue rising over the next few years. If you’re interested in securing your slice of this niche market, check out these tips for getting started.
Earn Your Real Estate License in Vermont
If you're already licensed in Vermont, great! But if you're not, you'll need to hold a Vermont real estate license to conduct your business in the Green Mountain State. Some of your education may apply, but there are state-specific requirements you’ll need to meet.
Vermont doesn't offer formal real estate license reciprocity with any state. The Vermont Real Estate Commission may waive all or a part of the examination requirement if you are a real estate Broker or Salesperson regulated under the laws of another jurisdiction. For more information on Vermont’s real estate license reciprocity, check out our real estate license reciprocity page.
If you have any questions on building a custom education package to support your multi-state business needs, please reach out to our Customer Support team.
Pick a Vacation Market You Know (or Are Willing to Learn!)
Location, location, location remains a tried-and-true principle within the real estate industry, and in a niche market like vacation homes, it’s more crucial than ever before.
Vermont’s vacation home market is rich with opportunity, but you don’t need to capture all of that business at once. Instead, start smaller by getting comfortable with one market at a time. To help you hone in on your ideal location, here are the top vacation home markets in Vermont:
- Stowe’s median home value: $613,077
- Killington’s median home value: $362,361
- Ludlow’s median home value: $416,776
- Warren’s median home value: $316,720
- Jericho’s median home value: $455,150
Dial-In Your Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve figured out which vacation home market you want to enter, honing your marketing strategy will boost awareness of your business by attracting buyers looking for their dream vacation paradise.
The best way to build your marketing strategy is to know your audience and what kind of vacation home they desire. Are they luxury homeowners adding another property to their portfolio? Do they want to find a vacation home in a touristy area like Deerfield Valley that they can rent out throughout the year? Or do they simply want a paradise retreat near Groton State Forest that will allow them to disconnect and relax?
Knowing what your audience is looking for in a vacation home will help you determine the best way to market your services, which will allow you to spend your time and money in the channels that will generate the most leads for your business. Instead of trying every lead generation tool, focus on four prospecting pillars based on your audience and location:
1. Referrals - This source of leads should be a permanent part of your business that can feed you leads primarily by word of mouth.
2. Paid leads - Paying for leads doesn’t have to be costly and can turn into referrals over time, making the price per lead even less expensive.
3. Open houses - Hosting an open house, whether in person or virtually, is a great way to increase your listing’s visibility and offers an opportunity for agents to answer questions.
4. Probates - Vermont’s probate process is simple. If there is a written will that names the heir to the property, it’s a done deal. However, in the case there is no will and no heirs to claim the property, then there are companies that sell listings of real estate in probate. You can also check county records to find these properties since they’re open to the public.
Once you’ve established these pillars in your business, focus on identifying your audience and how you can market to them.
- For the buyer who wants to earn extra money by renting out their vacation home, consider securing a billboard near an airport or another highly-trafficked part of town.
- For the buyer looking to disconnect and relax, try online ads or targeted social media ads aimed at those searching for smaller coastal or lakeside retreats.
Stay Connected and Keep Your Clients Informed
It’s more than likely that some of your clients will not live in the market in which you’re pulling listings, making it all the more important for you to keep them informed about what’s happening with home prices and local news that might impact the market. Adding a CRM into your arsenal of tools is a great way to keep your clients organized so you can better connect with them over time. Exchange contact information, enter it (along with any relevant notes) into your CRM, and assure your clients that you will connect with them on a regular basis.
To that end, consider how you can stay top-of-mind as they daydream about their vacation home. Perhaps you could start a newsletter that keeps clients up to date on local news and market shifts. Texting is also a great way to stay connected without bothering a client with calls and voicemails. Sending links to listings or even a quick text to check in and gauge interest is an effective way to stay connected with clients. Just remember to balance being present with being annoying; no one likes to be bothered day-in and day-out. Establish communication expectations with each client, note their preferences in your CRM, and then reach out as agreed upon.
Beyond sending a text, calling, or emailing, being available is the key to keeping clients and eventually making a sale. The life of a real estate agent can extend beyond typical business hours. As industry veterans know, client questions can pop up at all hours of the day.
Be prepared to answer questions at any time to show them your commitment and market insight, and your clients will be ready to relax in their new vacation home tucked in Vermont’s sugar maple mountains.