What to Know Before Buying a Home in Vermont’s Booming Real Estate Market
A year-round enclave for people who love the outdoors, the northeastern state also appeals to those looking for history, charm, and plenty of green
Long a summer haven for prominent families such as the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers, Vermont comes alive in the wintertime, when the pint-size New England state clocks an annual snowfall greater than any other place in the U.S., including glacier-dotted Alaska. “There’s an old Vermont joke: We have ten months of winter and two months of tough sledding,” laughs longtime resident Laird Bradley, owner of the Williamson Group at Sotheby’s International Realty.
While Vermont lures amateur photographers with its covered bridges and epicureans who come for the maple syrup, the state is a major regional hub for outdoor enthusiasts, drawn to the abundance of activities that include the usual skiing and snowboarding and less common pursuits such as ice climbing and dogsledding. Much of the action is centered on the towering Green Mountains, which snake 250 miles down the backbone of the state and boast some of the country’s best slopes outside of the Rockies.
Indeed, the picturesque alpine village of Stowe has earned the nickname “Aspen of the East,” thanks to lavish amenities such as Spruce Peak, a burgeoning resort and residential community providing the vaunted ski-in, ski-out lifestyle. (On the state’s tallest mountain, no less.) Other magnets for visitors include the storybook hamlets of Killington, Okemo, Woodstock, and Stratton—all of which experienced a major housing bump amid the pandemic. “During COVID-19, Vermont showed its mettle,” says Bradley. “People looking for a safe haven were attracted to our small communities that work cooperatively on a micro level. Everybody helps their neighbors.”
The ripples are still reverberating through the housing market. In 2022, property prices rose 17 percent year-over-year, the third-highest increase in the nation. Part of the appeal is no doubt the handsome housing stock, which includes an array of historic farmhouses as well as lavish Victorian and Greek Revival manors from the Gilded Age heyday. Central Park landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted even designed some 4,000 acres around Lake Champlain for one of the Vanderbilts. The massive estate has since been spun off into parcels and christened Shelburne Farms; one plot is on the market for $18 million with LandVest/Christie’s.
Clearly, Vermont has shown it’s punching above its weight when it comes to year-round offerings. “People come to ski, but they stay for the summer,” adds Bradley, ticking off assets, including bucolic vistas adorned with quintessential farms. “Norman Rockwell couldn’t have painted a better picture.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2023 Winter Issue under the headline “Seasonal Beauty.” Subscribe to the magazine.