By Guy Page
With the first day of school just three to four weeks away, almost 3000 posted openings for educators remain unfilled – and lack of housing is one reason why, according to the 802 Ed newsletter.
“The wild ups and downs of the last school year have finally simmered down, at least as far as the job market is concerned. Or have they? There were almost 3,000 posted openings in early June, and now that number is… still hovering just under 3,000,” Editor Steve Berbeco said in the August 1 issue.
Every school district has its own “first day of school for students” schedule. Montpelier, for example, begins its school year Thursday, August 25. The Southwest Supervisory Union, by contrast, holds the first day of school on Wednesday, August 31.
Early data from the past couple weeks is trending to good news. Teacher postings have dropped by about a third, principal postings have dropped by about half, and postings for aides look pretty steady. (Data from SchoolSpring)
Berbeco called the high demand for educators “a buyer’s market – at least for jobs in education.”
He cited at least one pressing reason why schools are having a hard time finding educators: lack of housing. “The housing situation may seem intractable for many buyers. Recent analysis published in Stateline points out that almost 20% of all home sales in this state last year were to investors, contributing to an even smaller inventory of available properties for school staff looking to buy a home.”
In addition to the pandemic-era phenomenon of investor purchasing of Vermont real estate, other contributing factors to Vermont’s unprecedented affordable housing shortage are:
- A net growth in Vermont population by about 5000 during the pandemic.
- Lack of new housing. In 2021, Vermont was 48th in new housing permits (1,487) and units authorized (2,319), leading only Alaska and Rhode Island.
- Steep increase in cost of homes for sale. The median Vermont primary home sold for $295,000 throughout the first six months of 2022, compared to $270,000 throughout 2021, a 9.3 percent increase for the first half of the year, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency reported July 21. The median single family non-vacation home sold for $300,000, the median condominium sold for $286,250 and the median manufactured home sold for $130,000.
- Growing interest rates. A conventional home loan at present carries an interest rate of 5.5%, VHFA said. In other words, financing 80% of a 30-year loan $300,000 home at 5.5% interest, after a $60,000 down payment, would produce a $1,363 mortgage payment. Interest rates are on the rise nationwide as the federal government raises the prime lending rate in an effort to reduce inflation.
- Other home ownership cost increases. Vermont property taxes and home insurance would add an estimated $600 (depending on community and location). The estimated “pre-buy” cost of heating oil at present is $2.05 per gallon, or about double of last winter.
- Renting market tight, too – VHFA reported in March that “Vermont has a low rental vacancy rate, being approximately 2-3% behind the national average. In some places like Chittenden County, the currently rate hovers around 1%, which makes it difficult for renters of all income levels to find an apartment, and makes it increasingly near-impossible for low-income households.”