Tuesday, April 03, 2007

First Quarter 2007 Mid-Fairfield Statistics

Rob Grodman & Associates

The first quarter sales of 2007 in Mid-Fairfield county reflected continued concerns in the overall real estate market amongst buyers, and somewhat unrealistic values of sellers. The result was a sluggish quarter that saw decreases in number of sales in most towns along with average sales price.

In Westport the number of sales dropped from 97 for this quarter in 2006 to 56 during the same first three months of 2007. This number is more representative of a continuation of the somber 4th quarter of 2006 than a strict comparison with the first quarter of ’06 which counted a certain number of sales that came about by the enthusiasm of the late 2005 market.

These numbers represent a 42% reduction in sales in Westport, which was the hardest hit in percentage terms of the four towns that we will examine today. Especially noteworthy is the drop in the average sales price in Westport, which went from $1,744,436 in the first quarter of ’06 to $1,482,415 in ’07, a drop of 15%. This would seem to follow the loss pattern of approximately 1% per month since April of 2006.

Of the 72 pending sales in Westport, 56 are over $1,000,000. Clearly the $1,000,000 house can no longer be considered part of the ‘high-end’ in Westport. The average sales price was slightly over 94% of asking price, which is a fractional fall off from previous years when a list to sales ratio of 95.5%-96% was most common.

The sister town of Weston followed a more steady progression than its southern neighbor. Sales for the quarter were 19 compared to the exact same number in ’06. 24 pending sales were slightly below expectations when compared to the size of the Westport market, since Weston’s population is approximately 39% of Westport’s.
13 of these 24 pending sales were of homes listed for more than $1,000,000, representing a much lower percentage than in Westport. The average sales price in Weston dropped from $1,279,763 in 2006 to $1,106,789 in 2007.

The inventory in all towns was slightly lower at this time than last year. This is a positive sign, given that some of this inventory has been carried over from 2006. We will need to watch the inventory in the coming month to see if the number of listings will follow the same curve as in 2006 or remain closer to average yearly numbers. The 138 current listings in Weston compares to 143 in the beginning of the second quarter of 2006, for example.

Wilton saw a 18% fall-off in first quarter sales, with sales dropping in 2007 to 33 compared to 46 in the 1st quarter of ’06. The average sales price also dropped, from $1,193,196 in 2006 to $1,123,672 in 2007. I don’t like to emphasize the latter statistic because we are not really comparing apples to apples. It is interesting to note though that of the current 39 pending sales 22 were over $1million. In all of the towns reviewed here the percentages seem to be mounting, and yet the average sales prices have decreased.

Last, and certainly not least, is the town of Fairfield. As the largest of the towns in the area, with a population of over 50,000, Fairfield consistently has the largest number of sales. 1st quarter sales were at 134 in 2007 down from 142 in 2006 (a 6% drop). Fairfield is generally the most consistent of the towns with the largest percentage of homes sold under $1,000,000. The average sales price in the first quarter of 2006 stood at $810,229, whereas it was $849,609 in the first quarter of 2007, the only town to see a price increase.

Of the 107 pending sales in Fairfield, only 33 are over $1million. With a large number of homes that are relatively affordable, Fairfield has an active market.

Interest rates continue to remain very low, and indications are that they will remain so, which is a positive aspect not to be forgotten. Showings of existing homes on the market have recently been increasing, leading one to believe that we may be seeing the beginning signs of a more active second quarter. Buyers are now realizing that it is an excellent time to be purchasing a house in our towns.