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VHFA News

By: Mia Watson on 1/31/2019

Vermont home prices reached new highs in 2018, continuing a four year trend of growth. However, household incomes have not kept pace, making it increasingly difficult for low and middle-income Vermonters to become homeowners.

According to data from Vermont Property Transfer Tax records, the median price of a primary home in Vermont increased 3.6%, from $210,000 in 2017 to $217,500 in 2018. Prices increased more rapidly in fast-growing areas of the state like Chittenden County, which saw a 5% increase in home prices from last year. The number of homes sold in Vermont picked up slightly from 2017, to the highest level since the recession, but overall volume remains 35% lower than the peak year pre-recession. A low inventory of homes tends to increase competition among homebuyers, driving up prices.

At the same time home prices have increased, wages for most Vermonters have remained stagnant for years, according to the Public Assets Institute. To be able to afford the 2018 median home price of $217,500, a household would need to earn at least $68,635. However, the median household income for Vermonters is just $57,513, according to 2017 Census Bureau estimates. A lack of affordable housing may prevent employers from attracting skilled workers, hindering economic growth. 

The imbalance between incomes and prices can make it difficult to purchase a home, particular for first-time buyers. Fortunately, Vermont Housing Finance Agency’s homeownership programs can help young households afford their first home. VHFA’s ASSIST program offers up to $5,000 in down payment assistance, which can often be one of the most significant obstacles to homeownership.

By: Mia Watson on 1/30/2019

Do you need an affordable apartment or know someone who does?  

There are vacancies in 32 different apartment complexes across the state, according to the Vermont Directory of Affordable Rental Housing. Learn more about particular units by clicking on the development name below, or by visiting the vacancy profiles on the website.

Pictured: Wheeler Brook Apartments in Warren

Project Namesort descending Street Address City/Town Vacant Units Apts restricted to elderly and/or tenants with disabilities
86 Raymond Street 86 Raymond Street Lyndon 1 0
Autumn Leaves 24 Grove Street Poultney 1 0
Barre Street Apartments 39-40 Barre Street Montpelier 2 0
Black River Overlook 146, 147 & 161 Rublee Lane Ludlow 1 0
Bristol Family Housing 2066 - 2070 Hunt Farm Road. Bristol 2 0
Bromur Apartments 2 - 8 & 1 - 21 Bromur Street Barre City 1 0
Coventry Senior Housing 10 Covered Bridge Road Coventry 1 0
Cummings Street Apartments 21-25 Cummings Street Montpelier 2 0
Downstreet Apartments 22 Keith Avenue Barre City 2 0
French Block Apartments 34 Main St Montpelier 18 0
Green Mountain Seminary 201 Hollow Rd Waterbury 1 0
Hebert Farm Apartments 21 & 23 Hebert Road Montpelier 1 0
Heritage Court 624 York Street Poultney 1 1
Highgate Apartments Highgate Drive Barre City 9 0
Hollister Hill Apartments 42 & 94 Austin Road Marshfield 6 0
Island Pond 19 Walnut Street, 190 Derby Street, 74 Mountain Street, 84 Elm Street Brighton 2 0
Keen's Crossing 65 - 85 Winooski Falls Way; 15 Cascade Way and 16 Abenaki Way Winooski 6 0
Mad River Meadows 144 Butcher House Drive Waitsfield 2 2
Newport Senior Housing 107 & 119 Main Street Newport City 1 0
North Branch Apartments 87 & 89 Elm Street; 6 & 8 Monsignor Crosby Ave and 47 Barre Street Montpelier 4 0
Norwich Senior Housing 4 Dorrance Drive Norwich 1 1
Park House 16 Park Row Box 4 Rochester 4 0
Parker House 129 Church Street Rutland City 1 0
River Station Apartments 191 Barre Street Montpelier 1 0
Riverview Apartments 73 Westminster Street Rockingham 1 0
Sadawga Springs 9 School Street Whitingham 2 0
Southview Apartments 30 Stanley Road Springfield 1 0
Spear House and Spear House Apartments 69 Main Street North Newbury 1 0
Waits River Apartments 64, 68, 108, 234, 245 South Main Street; 33 South Pleasant Street and 25 Cobblestone Street Bradford 4 0
West River Valley - Assisted Living 461 Grafton Road Townshend 2 0
Wheeler Brook Apartments 19, 31 & 71 Wheeler Brook Drive Warren 1 0
Winooski River Apartments 11 Bailey Avenue; 15 Baldwin Avenue and 37 Barre Street Montpelier 4 0

 

By: Mia Watson on 1/22/2019

The State of Vermont's Department of Housing and Community Development will conduct a public hearing to receive input on its Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Consolidated 2019 Action Plan.

The Plan outlines priorities for the use of approximately $13 million in federal funds for affordable housing in the upcoming program year (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020). The purpose of the hearing is to listen to residents’ views about the state’s housing, homelessness, public facility and services, and non-housing community development needs, as well as gather ideas for grant activities the State should consider funding in the next program year. The Department is also seeking feedback on how the programs funded by HUD under past plans performed in meeting the State’s goals.

The meeting will be held Friday, February 1, 2019 from 3:30 - 4:00 p.m. in the Calvin Coolidge Room, 1 National Life Drive, Davis Building, 6th Floor, Montpelier. 

By: Mia Watson on 1/17/2019

Last week, VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins spoke on a housing panel at the Vermont Economic Conference in Burlington. She was joined by Jonathan Slason of Resource Systems Group, Inc. and moderator Leslee MacKenzie of Coldwell Banker Hickok & Boardman Realty.

Collins and Slason emphasized the fact that housing is a significant part of Vermont’s economy, typically accounting for 15-18% of Vermont’s GDP, which was $32.5 billion in 2017.  This includes construction and remodeling of homes, real estate activities, rents, and utilities paid by homeowners and renters. Collins described how a community’s housing stock can produce additional economic benefits for local businesses if it provides opportunities for employees to live near their jobs and spend no more than a third of their income for housing.

Collins discussed how the wages of top-growing occupations in Vermont are not high enough to afford prevailing housing prices. Wages continue to stagnate both in Vermont, even as rents and home prices increase. Food preparers, personal care aides, and RNs have the largest number of of new jobs in the state in recent years, yet none of these occupations have a median wage high enough to afford to buy a median-priced Vermont home.

Of particular concern is the millennial generation, which has now entered peak homebuying ages of 25 to 34. A recent report from the Urban Institute finds that the national homeownership rate of millennials in this age group was 37 percent in 2015, which is 8 percent lower than the homeownership rate of Gen Xers and baby boomers when they occupied that age bracket. The Urban Institute estimates that if the homeownership rate for millennials had stayed the same as previous generations, there would be 3.4 million more homeowners today. The report suggests that the most common causes are delayed marriage, high levels of debt, and a greater share of the population living in high-cost areas.

Vermont’s population growth is essentially flat, particularly among young households. High housing costs may be a significant factor preventing the state from attracting and retaining millennials. This has ripple effects across the entire economy, including making it difficult for employers to bring skilled workers to our area.

Fortunately, Vermont Housing Finance Agency’s homeownership programs can help young households afford their first home. VHFA’s ASSIST program offers up to $5,000 in down payment assistance, which can often be one of the most significant obstacles to homeownership.

Slides from the presentation are available on VHFA's website

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By: Leslie Black-Plumeau on 1/15/2019

Due to its upward pressure on home prices, VHFA urged the South Burlington City Council this week to end the ban on home building known as Interim Zoning.  South Burlington adopted the Interim Zoning Bylaw on November 13, 2018 after protests about future home building proposed within the City.

Next to Burlington, South Burlington has been the largest community in Vermont for many years. Since 2010, South Burlington experienced modest annual housing stock growth of 2%, similar to Essex, Shelburne and Williston.  With other parts of the state facing population and economic decline, allowing for growth near jobs is considered by many to be essential for local and regional economic vitality.

When housing construction is allowed to meet demand from potential home buyers, the market and home prices remain stable.  But when development is unduly constrained, prices often rise, quickly outpacing wage growth, especially in areas experiencing growing residential demand. Although local land use regulations are not the only reason for rising home prices, they are a factor municipalities can control.

Despite its focus on new homes, South Burlington’s interim zoning bylaw limits opportunities for Vermonters across the income spectrum due to a process referred to as “filtering.” New, privately developed homes are rarely affordable to middle income households but the older, prior homes of new home buyers often are. If an existing City resident wants to move to a newly constructed home here, but finds too limited a supply to meet their needs, they may not move.  Allowing the private market to build sufficient move-up options frees up an existing home for a middle or lower income buyer.

Residential development restrictions can exacerbate already low inventories of for-sale homes. The number of homes sold in South Burlington each year fell from 380 in 2013 to 309 in 2017.  Few options for buyers puts upward pressure on prices, reducing affordability for much-needed workers in growing employment sectors.

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