Housing Recovery’s Missing Link

The declining number of first-time home buyers in the market is the major missing piece in the housing recovery, says Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®.

Despite an uptick in home sales over the past year, the share of first-time home buyers in the housing market dropped for the third consecutive year, and remains at its lowest point in nearly three decades, according to the NAR 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report.

The increase in home sales over the past year has instead been driven by more repeat buyers with dual incomes, NAR’s report showed.

The share of first-time buyers fell to 32 percent in this year’s survey; last year first-time home buyers represented 33 percent of the market share. The share of first-time home buyers this year is at its lowest point since 1987, when first-time home buyers represented 30 percent of the market.

Historically, first-time home buyers typically represent nearly 40 percent of primary purchases.

“There are several reasons why there should be more first-time buyers reaching the market, including persistently low mortgage rates, healthy job prospects for those college-educated, and the fact that renting is becoming more unaffordable in many areas,” Yun says. “Unfortunately, there are just as many high hurdles slowing first-time buyers down. Increasing rents and home prices are impeding their ability to save for a down payment, there’s scarce inventory for new and existing-homes in their price range, and it’s still too difficult for some to get a mortgage.”

Twenty-five percent of would-be first-time home buyers said that saving for a down payment was the most difficult task in home ownership, and 58 percent reported student loans in particular were delaying their ability to save.

“With a median amount of student loan debt for all buyers at $25,000, it’s likely some younger households with even higher levels of debt can’t save for an adequate down payment or have decided to delay buying until their debt is at more comfortable levels,” Yun says.

Repeat buyers were mostly using the proceeds from the sale of their primary residence as their top source for a down payment on their next home purchase – 53 percent this year compared to 47 percent last year.

“With first-time buyers stuck on the sidelines, the majority of sales activity in most parts of the country is coming from pent-up sellers taking advantage of rising home values in their neighborhoods and using their equity to trade up or move down,” says Yun.

Married couples represented an increasing share of buyers: 67 percent of buyers were married couples (up from 65 percent last year). Married, repeat buyers have the highest income among all buyers too at $108,600.

Meanwhile, single females have been a growing share of buyers the past few years but are showing signs of retreating. The share of single, female buyers fell from 16 percent to 15 percent in the latest survey.

“Similar to some of the obstacles facing first-time buyers, tight credit conditions and having less purchasing power than households with dual incomes likely led to the share of single-female buyers declining to its lowest since 2001 (also 15 percent),” Yun says.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

ACBOR Wins Big at VR Awards & Installation Event

VR 2015 President Kristine Stell presents the ACBOR Realtor® of the Year Award to Sue Burdick.

The Addison County Board of Realtors® was in the spotlight at this year’s Vermont Realtors® Awards and Installation Banquet. The event, held on Oct. 7 at the Hilton Hotel in Burlington, recognized local boards of Realtors® and their members for an array of accomplishments throughout 2015.

Sue Burdick was recognized as ACBOR’s 2015 Realtor® of the Year. Sue is a Realtor® with the Lynn Jackson Group at Century 21 Jack Associates in Vergennes. She is a member of the ACBOR Board of Directors.

ACBOR President Lynn Jackson (center) receives the boards RPAC/CFA participation award from Ken Libby (left), VR’s RPAC Trustee, and Eric Johnston, VR’s Broker Involvement Council Member.

ACBOR also received accolades for its participation in RPAC (Realtor® Political Action Committee). Following is a list of ACBOR’s RPAC awards:

Third place for RPAC Member Participation at 54.55%. This award represents the percentage of ACBOR members that contributed to RPAC in 2015. ACBOR also received third place for Combined Participation Awards. This award recognizes local boards who had the highest combined member participation rates for both RPAC and Calls for Action. ACBOR was also recognized as a NAR Sterling “R” Investor for an annual association contribution of $1,000.

The 2016 Officers for the VR Board of Directors were also installed during the event. Claire Wallace, who serves as ACBOR’s NEREN representative, was installed as VR’s NAR Director.


ACBOR Member Claire Wallace was installed as VR’s NAR Director during the VR Awards and Installation banquet. Claire is pictured third from right.
Amey Ryan, who represents ACBOR on VR’s Advocacy Committee, receives ACBOR’s RPAC Participation Award from Ken Libby. Amey also serves as VR’s RPAC Chair.

Green Real Estate Symposium Slated for October

Vermont Realtors® and the Vermont Green Home Alliance will host the 2015 Green Real Estate Symposium on October 29 at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, VT. The symposium will feature powerhouse speakers and instructors with trending topics, panel discussions and much more. Following is the agenda for the event.

4CE Credits are available for Realtors® for this event.
4CE Credits are available for Appraisers for this event.
Registration is $100 and includes lunch.


Symposium Overview

8am – Registration

9am – Welcome & Keynote

9:45 – Break-out Workshops (2 hours)

  • Residential Green Evaluation Tools (2 hrs CE for Appraisers, 2 hrs CE (VT & NH) for RE Agents)
  • Realty’s New Reality: The Emerging High-Performance Home Market (2 hrs CE (VT & NH) RE Agents)
  • Vermont RBES/CBES and NH Energy Code (2 hrs CE for RE Agents in respective states)
  • Using Total Cost of Ownership in Finance & Sales (2 hrs CE (VT) RE Agents, pending in NH)

11:45 – Lunch

1pm – Break-Out Workshops (2 hours)

  • What Will Fannie & Freddie Allow?
  • Vermont RBES/CBES and NH Energy Code
  • Realty’s New Reality: The Emerging High-Performance Home Market
  • Using Total Cost of Ownership in Finance & Sales

3:15 – Panel Discussion

A Summary of Vermont’s Clean Water Act

On June 17, 2015, Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law the legislation that would put the wheels in motion for cleaning up Vermont’s lakes and waterways. The Clean Water Act is designed to enact multiple statues related to water quality in the State.   In doing so, small, medium, and large farms will have new annual registration fees, fees on non-agricultural fertilizer that is distributed within the State, and increased fees on pesticide products. The agricultural fees will be used to pay for new water quality staff positions.

The act requires owners and operators of farms to be trained on prevention of discharges to waters; mitigation of storm water runoff; land application of manure or nutrients; and nutrient management planning. The act amends several provisions regarding agricultural water quality by creating “required agricultural practices (RAPs).” Beginning on July 1, 2017, small farms shall certify compliance with the RAPs.

The Act also amends or establishes water quality requirement to be implemented by the Agency of Natural Resources. Some of the requirements are: developing a schedule to update the 15 watershed basin plans, regulate storm water, and storm water permitting including municipal roads.

There will be established a State Clean Water fund for a capital budged that includes $6.75 million for technical assistance and direct investment in water quality projects in the Lake Champlain Basin and around the state. According to Governor Shumlin, “This includes $1.6 million in state matching funds which will leverage $8.2 million in federal EPA grants for a total of $9.8 million for low-interest loans to municipalities through the clean water state revolving fund. The capital budget also increases to $3.75 million funding for innovative storm water management projects, and $1.4 million in funding for the Agency of Agriculture’s cost sharing program for livestock fencing and other agricultural practices. The Transportation bill also includes $3.2 million for storm water retrofits and other projects to reduce polluted runoff from our back roads. To assist communities and partners in restoring and protecting Vermont’s waterways, Act 64 sets up a Clean Water Fund to be funded with a 0.2 percent surcharge on the value of property subject to the property transfer tax.”

When calculating the 0.2 percent surcharge, no surcharge is assessed on: the first $100,000.00 in value of property used as a transferee’s principal residence; or the first $200,000 in value of property transferred if a purchaser’s mortgage is funded by the Vermont Housing Conservation Trust Fund, the Vermont Housing and Finance Agency, or U.S.D.A. Rural Development. The surcharge is deposited in the Clean Water Fund and is repealed on July 1, 2018.


By Katrina Spaulding
Vermont Realtors®
Advocacy and Development Director
Email: katrina@vermontrealtors.com

ACBOR Names 2015 Realtor® of the Year

Susan Burdick has been named ACBOR’s 2015 Realtor® of the Year (ROTY). Susan is a Realtor® with The Lynn Jackson Group at Century 21 Jack Associates in Vergennes. She is a member of the ACBOR Board of Directors and represents the association on the board of the Northern New England Real Estate Network.

Susan is very active in the community. She has served in numerous leadership positions for the Vergennes Rotary and has been very active with the Boys and Girls Club of Vergennes. As co-chair of the St. Peter’s Catholic Church, she helped raise over $1 million for the restoration of the Parish Hall.

Susan will be recognized at ACBOR’s Membership Meeting on Sept. 10.

Get Your ABR® Designation in Vermont!

The ABR Designation Course will be held on August 24-25 in Williston, VT. Learn more here.

Accredited Buyer’s Representatives (ABR®) stand for the benchmark of excellence in buyer representation. What’s their key to success? They know that you can’t count on the market—you have to count on your skills. ABR® education provides the expertise you need for an edge in serving today’s home buyers.

Not only do ABR® designees earn more, but member benefits such as publications, marketing tools, a referral network and other resources, help them maintain that edge. Now is the time. Earn the ABR® designation.


The Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation is designed for real estate buyer agents who focus on working directly with buyer-clients. When you decide to earn your ABR®, you gain:


  • Valuable real estate education that elevates your skills and knowledge in the eyes of home buyers.
  • Ongoing specialized information, programs and updates that help you stay on top of the issues and trends in successfully representing home buyers.
  • Access to REBAC members-only marketing tools and resources, which provide an additional competitive edge.


ABR® designation requirements are listed here.

The ABR® designation helped me take my business to a new level. I immediately began using the principles I learned and they worked! I had a buyer appointment 2 weeks after I took the class and by the time we finished our conversation, they were asking me if they could sign the Buyer’s Rep. I would highly recommend this class. It was worth every penny.

– M. Carmen Donaldson, ABR®, Keller Williams Realty Professionals, Spring, TX

Take Action on Patent Trolls

During the week of July 21,  the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on H.R. 9 – The Innovation Act of 2015 which will take vital steps to protect the real estate industry from frivolous lawsuits brought by patent trolls. It is critical that you urge your Member of Congress to support this important legislation.

Realtors® are targeted by patent trolls at alarming rates for simply using common business technologies like dropdown menus and search functions on websites or scan-to-email technologies found in every office scanner. Patent trolls exist solely to purchase old patents and to use the threat of expensive lawsuits to extort money from legitimate businesses.

Contact your U.S. Representative and urge them to support H.R. 9, the Innovation Act

Changes to Vermont Property Transfer Tax Returns

During the legislative session, law was passed to create a “Clean Water Surcharge” on all property transfers. The revenue that will be generated by the surcharge will be deposited in the “Clean Water Fund” to help clean the bodies of water throughout the State of Vermont.

This charge is an increase of 0.2% on the value of property subject to the property transfer tax.  The current rate is 1.25% and combined with the surcharge, will now total 1.45%.  Some special rates do apply for some transfers and the information fact sheet attached will illustrate who the special rates will be applicable for. The surcharge is scheduled to sunset on 7/01/2018.

As of Wednesday, June 17th, all closings on or after this date, will have a total surcharge for the property transfer tax at a rate of 1.45%.

The Department of Taxes has issued a new updated property transfer tax return (Form PT-172) that includes the Clean Water Surcharge.

Click here for the information Fact Sheet.

Get Low APR & More with the Realtor® Credit Card

Now available in partnership with REALTORS® Federal Credit Union, a Division of Northwest Federal Credit Union: NAR’s official REALTOR® Credit Card.

This unique card program is available to existing and new Credit Union members and includes card options for personal and business use. Features of the REALTOR® Credit Card include:

  • Customized real estate-themed designs
  • REALTOR® branding options
  • Competitive interest rates as low as 8% APR*
  • No annual fees, balance transfer or cash advance fees
  • Comprehensive rewards program (points never expire)

realtor-credit-card postManage Personal Purchases and Business Expenses

For record keeping and tax planning, apply for two separate personal consumer cards – one for making personal purchases and a second to track business expenses, and select different card designs for each. Apply online.

Members concerned about credit also have an option of the Secured Credit Card. A minimum balance of $500 is required, and is a great option for Credit Union members seeking to increase their credit worthiness. To see if you qualify for this option, start the application process here.

For Associations and Brokerages

Operate or manage an office with staff? A business (corporate) card option is also available to state and local associations, brokerages, MLSs, and business account holders. To apply, click here and select the Business (Corporate) Expenses option or call 866-295-6038.

Membership and Application

Membership in the Credit Union is required to apply for the REALTOR® Credit Card. REALTORS®, state and local association staff and family members are eligible to enroll in the Credit Union and apply. A complete Eligibility List is available online at REALTORSfcu.org.

If you are not yet a Credit Union member, the process is a streamlined for both Credit Union membership and REALTOR® Credit Card application. Apply today.

Realtors® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo

The REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo is where NAR members take an active role to advance the real estate industry, public policy and the association. Join us in Washington, DC, for special issues forums, committee meetings, legislative activities and the industry trade show.  Visit the event website here.

Mid Year SliderHighlights

Meeting Schedule
Legislative Activities
Trade Expo

Property Valuation Forum
Uncover how new technology is guiding valuations, including automated valuation models (AVMs), during this forum.

Risk Management Forum
Examine the law on three hot topics – teams, independent contractors and safety – during this three-prong program. Read

Federal Water Regulations
Do federal water regulations impact real estate activity in your market? Then, you won’t want to miss this session. Read