Buyer's Guide to Winning in a Seller's Market

Photo by Grace Elletson/VTDigger

There has been a lot of press lately, both locally and nationally, about rising prices in real estate and the increased buyer demand that has followed the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many of these articles have shared stories of buyers who have lost out on numerous homes in situations of multiple offers, waived contingencies and all cash, quick closing offers.

While there is no denying that increased buyer competition has driven home prices up, a record number of home sales also means more buyers than ever are successfully purchasing new homes.  It’s more evident than ever that exceptional agent representation makes a significant impact on a buyer's chances to land that home of their dreams.

In a VTDigger article published in mid-March, I provided additional insight into the trends we were observing in the local market.

Burlington housing boom stokes rising home prices and affordability concerns |

Since that article was published, the market has continued along a similar path with more homes being listed and sold at or above list price.  And while it makes for eye-catching headlines, our local market isn’t being dominated by out-of-state cash buyers and great opportunities still exist for well-prepared buyers looking to make a move. 

The key is to partner with an agent and team that can guide you on how to best stand out from the competition and has proven results in this current, competitive seller’s market.  To learn more about our demonstrated, client-focused, strategies and services, give us a call at (802) 846-8800 or email us at   

City of Burlington Announces New Online Permitting Portal

Photo Credit: ©Scott Teresi

City of Burlington Announces New Online Permitting Portal

The City of Burlington debuted its new online permitting portal this week making it easier to get and track down permits.  Applicants can now save trips to the city’s office located on Pine Street and will be able to track their permits in real time.  The portal is currently set up to support the City’s permitting needs but will expand its system to support a wide range of applications. 

In 2020, the city estimated the likelihood of getting through permitting correctly the first time at around 20%.  With the new system in place, both applicants and Burlington employees will save time and move through the permitting process with fewer mistakes.

For more details check out the Vermont Digger Article, “Mayor encourages use of new online permitting portal

** If you are interested in learning more about Burlington’s Zoning Laws or Housing Market please give Steve a call at [802] 846-9575 or email us at 

Burlington's Tight Rental Market

Photo Credit: ©Eve Event Photography LLC

As Burlington’s housing market tightens, renters are reporting extreme difficulty in finding suitable and affordable housing in the Burlington area.  Over the past decade, Chittenden County’s rental vacancy has hovered around 2%.  The figure rose to 2.6% during the pandemic but has plummeted to 1.1% in a recent survey conducted by Allen, Brooks, and Minor.  Landlords are reporting unusually high demand on their postings with one landlord reporting over 50 inquiries in a two week span on a single vacancy.

Vermont has seen a large increase of out of staters migrating which has squeezed the market even more.  Landlords are also facing pressure as a city wide reassessment on property values has increased property taxes.  These factors have ramped up the demand as well as the cost of living in Chittenden County.  

For more details check out the Vermont Digger Article, “Burlington’s tightening housing market has renters scrambling

** If you are interested in learning more about the Burlington Housing Market please give Steve a call at [802] 846-9575 or email us at

Burlington Citywide Reappraisal Results

The City Assessor has just published the new Assessed values for all Burlington properties. Click HERE to search the property database for the updated Assessed value for your property.  Please note that updated property tax bills using the new assessed values will be mailed out to homeowners starting on July 2nd, 2021.   

As your local experts for Burlington real estate, please feel free to contact us to learn more how the updated taxes will impact your property's current market value. 

For additional information about the reappraisal process, check out the link below...


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    Resolution to Pay Workers Prevailing Wage Pushes Through City Place Settlement

    Photo Credit: ©James Buck | Seven Days


    Last Tuesday night, the Burlington City Council dropped their previous lawsuit and unanimously approved the new development agreement for City Place.  Six years after the plans were first introduced, the project is now scheduled to commence no later than September 2022.  

    The vote was previously delayed as it did not guarantee union workers labor for the project.  Earlier this week, Mayor Weinberger negotiated a deal with the developers that promised workers prevailing wage rates that pushed the vote through.  Now that the legal battle is over, the project is set to restart and turn “the pit” into an innovative city center. 

    For more details check out the Seven Days Article, “Burlington City Councilors Approve CityPlace Settlement”.

    ** If you are interested in learning more about the development / housing in Burlington and the surrounding communities please give Steve a call at [802] 846-9575 or email us at

    2020 Multi Family Review & 2021 Forecast

    The demand for Chittenden County Multi Family remains strong despite the most tumultuous year in any of our lifetimes. The Burlington area rental property market is well-positioned to endure bumps in the road while maintaining a consistent and moderate upward trajectory. A close look at the key metrics offers optimism for both tenants and landlords alike.

    The Chittenden County apartment market is experiencing the lowest apartment vacancy rate in the last 6 years according to Allen, Brooks & Minor (December 2020 = 1.1%). Government sponsored rental housing stabilization funding and a decrease in new construction coming on line are key contributing factors to the record-low vacancy rate. Anecdotally, we've also heard that student rental properties reported very few delinquencies even with the challenges that local universities are facing with in-person learning during a pandemic.

    The decrease in new apartments was heavily influenced by a six-week shutdown of all non-essential new construction in Spring of 2020 and a limited supply of labor and materials. Growth is projected to rebound in 2021 with Burlington accounting for one-quarter of all new projected units in Chittenden County. New construction at Eric Farrell’s Cambrian Rise is expected to account for the majority of Burlington’s apartment growth in 2021- in the meantime, there is renewed optimism at the long delayed CityPlace Burlington project. The new proposal includes over 400 units of housing- but isn’t expected to contribute to growth figures until phase one is completed in 2023 (hopefully!). Nearly 25% of Chittenden County’s new apartment growth will be within existing buildings like hotels and office buildings that are being redeveloped. In Essex, apartment growth will be concentrated in three separate projects all in the Five Corners neighborhood whereas Winooski is projected to add additional units along the primary gateways, including East Allen and Main Street.

    Demand from Multi Family investors fueled an increase in apartment sale prices, which similar to residential sales, was driven in part by historically low interest rates. The average sale price for 2020 was $552,952, up 16.3% from 2019. The average price per bedroom increased by 2.7% and the average price per square foot grew by 7.5%. Meanwhile, the annual rent inflation percentage has trended in the opposite direction from nearly 3% in 2015 to just over 1% in 2020. This data suggests that in 2020, landlords have been more focused on tenant retention and rent loss prevention versus increasing tenant rents to help offset the added operating expenses. Despite the increase in sale prices, Cap Rates remained relatively unchanged in large part due to flat rents and the average operating expense ratio growing from 30% to 33% over the past 6 years. Burlington Multi Family sales in 2020 saw an average sale price of $773,863 and a list to sale ratio of 96.6%. The average cap rate for sales in Burlington in 2020 was 6.77%.

    As reported by numerous national publications, Burlington is consistently ranked as one of the top places in the United States to live. The Burlington region is now benefiting from a surge in remote workers migrating from major cities seeking a better quality of life coupled with an emerging hi-tech workforce- most notable at Russ Scully’s redeveloped 143,022 square foot HULA campus on Burlington’s waterfront. Despite the chaos of 2020, the Burlington area Multi Family market fundamentals are solid, and we continue to see strong investor confidence. 

    Having helped hundreds of local clients build wealth through real estate investing, the Lipkin Audette Team understands that, as is the case with any investment, a successful investment strategy needs to be designed to fit an individual’s particular set of needs and goals. If you’d like to speak with our team about how to get started or what the current market value of your property / portfolio might be, give us a call anytime at [802] 846-9575 or email   

    Burlington and South Burlington Rank Among The Top Safest Cities in the U.S.

    Vermont is again receiving national recognition. This time for having two of the safest cities in the U.S.  In a study comparing 180 cities across 42 indicators, South Burlington ranked second safest while Burlington ranked the sixth safest. The study considered the fewest assaults per capita, fewest traffic fatalities per capita, lowest unemployment rate, and lowest number of uninsured population. Some indicators have a bigger multiplier and are weighted more heavily than others. For example the average Covid-19 cases over the last seven days per 100,000 people carries a triple weight and accounts for 6.8% of the score, tied for highest out of any category. Vermont has the second fewest cases per 100,000 people at 1,809, only trailing Hawaii by a slim margin.  It goes to show that implementing strict Covid guidelines and having a community devoted to caring about each other can help shape two of the safest cities in the country. Especially during these crazy times, a sense of peace, calm and safety is more important than ever.

    To read more about the safest cities in the U.S. and see the full list of rankings click the link below.

    Safest Cities in America |

    If you are interested in relocating to Vermont or would like to learn more about single family and multi family homes in Chittenden County, please give Steve Lipkin a call at [802] 846-9575 or email us at

    The Impact of COVID-19 on Small Landlords

    Starre Julia Vartan has owned her early 1900's Victorian home in Connecticut for over a decade. The house was supposed to be her forever home but a few years after her purchase, Vartan had the opportunity to move across the country with her boyfriend.  Still tied into her mortgage, Vartan was unable to sell the house at a fair price and reluctantly became a landlord 3,000 miles away from her home.

    Even though Vartan never intended to be a landlord, she views homeownership and renting to tenants as a privilege.  Like most small landlords, she takes pride in providing affordable housing, and becoming friends with her tenants who are usually teachers, nurses and other essential workers. When the government imposes regulations and increases taxes, small landlords are forced to pass those expenses on to their tenants who, many of the time, are the least likely to be able to afford it; especially during a pandemic!

    Click on the link below to read the entire article…

    Consider The Small Landlord | Starre Julia Vartan | The Boston Globe

    If you are a landlord with additional questions or would like to discuss anything related to investment properties in the greater Burlington area, please don’t hesitate to email us anytime at or call Steve Lipkin at (802) 846-9575.

    Burlington Welcomes Large Increase in Remote Workers

    Over the past few years, Burlington has seen an increase in remote workers, especially from the IT industry. Many of these new Vermonters are moving from larger tech hub spots such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles where the cost of housing has risen significantly. Recent reporting by NPR shows that Burlington VT is one of the top 5 cities in the country when it comes to an increase in migration to smaller cities from major metro areas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Migration to Burlington from large cities was up 103% in the Spring of 2020 compared to that of 2019. This is in large part thanks to the increasing ability of IT workers ability to work remotely.  The number of remote information technology job postings is up 58% compared to the same period last year. 

    To read more from NPR about the surge of remote workers moving to Burlington and other smaller cities click the link below:

    Small Cities Are A Big Draw For Remote Workers During The Pandemic |

    * Having helped countless clients relocate to Burlington and the surrounding towns, the Lipkin Audette Team understands the importance of finding the right home.  If you’d like to speak with our team on how to get started in relocating to Chittenden County give us a call anytime at [802] 846-9575 or email



    Burlington CityPlace | Local Partnership Steps Up

    (Image Courtesy of Freeman French Freeman)

    UPDATE:  It has been six years since developer Don Sinex first introduced his plans for the CityPlace Burlington project in the former site of the Burlington Square Mall.  Having overcome many obstacles along the way, the project hit its most serious roadblock this past summer when business partner and multinational company, Brookfield Asset Management, pulled out of the deal and sold their 50% share of the development back to Sinex.

    According to Sinex, Brookfield’s decision to withdraw from the project did not come as a big surprise to either him or the city of Burlington.  In fact, it was during this past January when, in anticipation of the moment, Sinex had initiated a conversation with a trio of local businessmen about taking over the project for if / when Brookfield officially pulled out.

    The trio turned out to be a natural fit as they are all well respected local Vermonters with years of experience with construction and development in our area.  Stepping up in place of Brookfield came Dave Farrington (President, Farrington Construction), Al Senecal (Owner, Omega Electric Construction) and Scott Ireland (President, S.D. Ireland).  With all three having previously consulted on the project, their familiarity with the development plans enabled the new local partnership to quickly file zoning permits and release their revised proposal to the city and community.

    Taking into account feedback from the local community as well as the side effects that the pandemic has had the downtown business landscape, the new plans no longer include the once-proposed 196-room hotel, additional office space and two 14-story towers.  Instead, the plan calls for an increase in the number of housing units to a total of 426, including 84 that fit the criteria of “affordable housing”.  The two towers remain prominent design elements but are downsized to one 10-story tower and one 9-story tower, with the southern tower to also include a rooftop restaurant and observation deck.

    While there remain many more hurdles that need to be jumped before construction can begin again, there is growing optimism that the new CityPlace concept could be the jumpstart that downtown Burlington needs after being hit hard by the global pandemic.  For more details check out the Seven Days article “A New Developer Team Wants a Shot at Building CityPlace Burlington”.

    ** If you are interested in learning more about the development / housing in Burlington and the surrounding communities please give Steve a call at [802] 846-9575 or email us at