Housing starts were 1,998 in 2015, up from 1,546 in 2014. Most residential building activity occurs in the Burlington area or communities with substantial seasonal and resort markets. The result is that much of Vermont has a housing stock that is aging (although not necessarily historic) with little replacement or additional housing created since the 1980s and 1990s.
Source: Vermont Department of Taxes
Last year home prices nudged slightly upwards again. The average price of year-round residences still hovers near 2005 levels. Seasonal home values are substantially lower than they were prior to the recession. They are also lower than non-seasonal homes, a divergence that has increased in the past decade and is likely attributable to a preponderance of condominiums in the seasonal stock. While the tax rate is higher for non-homestead properties, divergent trends in the base is undermining gains from the two-tiered property tax system.
Detached single family homes comprise 66.5% of Vermont housing units – much higher than the national average (61.5%). While housing production is slow and continues to favor single family homes in Vermont, in the past two years there has been a substantial uptick in multi-family unit creation, particularly in and around Chittenden County. Rental vacancy rates have been trending around 4% statewide, and around 1% in the Burlington area. Demographic trends towards seniors and single person households, along with changing preferences and purchasing power among younger people, are driving demand for smaller units and rentals in Vermont and nationwide.
27% of Vermont households are renters. Renting households are much more likely to be spending 35% or more of their total household income on housing costs. In Chittenden County the rate of cost burdened renters exceeds national averages (45% vs 43%). People who live in a home they own free of mortgage debt are least likely to be cost-burdened. However, in general Vermont homeowners are more likely to spend 35% or more of their income on housing than is typical for the U.S. Comparison with rural regions outside New England is particularly unfavorable. These census housing costs do include utilities, and for homeowners real estate taxes and fees.