Friday, August 11, 2006

Steady But Slow

It is time to take a step back and look at what has happened in the past couple of months.

It is clear to say, as I have been saying for several months, that it is a different market. The main differences in comparing this market to the market of say the past 5 years, is that there is definitely more inventory, and homes are taking longer to sell than in the past. I would add a third point to that which was somewhat true in the past (unbeknownst to many buyers), and that is that more than half of the properties currently on the market will not sell. They will not sell during this listing period, and they may not sell 6 months from now.

The key word is INVENTORY. If the numbers remain high, with equal demand, the prices will decrease. In the 'old' market the inventory numbers would hit their highs in the spring, by either April or May, and tale off towards the end of the year in a classic Bell curve. In the past 5 years those numbers in Westport would be around 235-250 listings at the peak. This April we were at 340, which increased to 380 by the end of May. They went as high as 392 listings for Single Family homes in late June. As of this week, those numbers stood at 367; down from the highpoint, but well above typical levels.

Though many homes are not selling, the sales numbers are still high. On August 7th there were 278 sales in Westport compared to 316 at this time in 2005. That is off by 12%, but 2005 was a record year. By projecting the homes that are currently under contract as selling before the end of the year, we are on pace to sell 415 homes, even if nothing sells in the last 4 months of the year. Last year 33% of the sales took place during that last quarter.

What is more difficult to discern are the 'real' values. Homes that are not well maintained are actually losing value. The public has become more discerning as a result of seeing more homes, i.e., with increased inventory.

The statistics in Weston, however, are less optimistic. The 93 homes sold through August 7th, 2006 represented a 20% decrease from last year. When looking at current activity, there are 29 homes under contract and only 4 under binder. It this last figure which is somewhat telling. Based on sales year to date plus contractual activity Weston is on a pace to sell only 126 homes, which would be a decrease of nearly 33% compared to last year. In 2005, 38% of the sales took place in the 4th quarter, so this is a statistic that will have to be surveyed.