Friday, October 03, 2014

A Warm September

This title can also be applied to the September Real estate market locally. All towns saw a boost of activity when compared to the previous September. We are also seeing housing inventory decreasing-a good sign for Real Estate, although there are some mixed signs still out there, with overall sales still lagging behind 2013 levels. Activity was more robust in the early part of the month, representing perhaps some last minute purchases at the outset of the school year. The median prices in all towns continues to rise slightly, but I still believe this to be influenced by the upper end of the market which continues to increase in terms of percentage of overall inventory. In Westport, for example, more than one third of the current listings are over $2,000,000. In terms of September activity 52 homes went to contract in Westport compared to 33 in the previous year. Housing inventory is at 8.8 months, down 40.5% from 2013. We would love to see those numbers at about 6 months or less. At those levels there is a good balance between buyers and sellers, which makes the market more fluid. At current levels of inventory buyers seem to be having difficulty in making decisions. There is the perception that 'better' or less expensive homes may be coming to the market. Recent reports of likely increases in interest rates may help to change perceptions. Yearly sales are still behind 2013 levels with 292 closed sales year to date, 19.3% behind last year's total. Weston and Wilton are seeing their median prices climb incrementally. 3.9% for Weston and 1.7 % for Wilton. Their median prices are $805,000 for Weston and $815,000 for Wilton. Since new construction represents a very small percentage of the sales in these towns, these are more accurate indicators of what a 'true' median price is than in Westport. Housing inventory is slightly lower in Wilton at 9.3 months versus 9.8 months in Weston, and in both cases this is down over 50% from 2013, a sign that there markets are evening out. Previously the market was clearly a 'Buyer's Market'. We are slowly trending to a more neutral market. Closed sales are off 12-13% in both Weston and Wilton, though both towns saw a doubling of activity in September compared to the previous year. The recent correction in the stock market is another factor which can influence sales activity. What happens in the next months geopolitically can also have an effect on the real estate market. Fairfield, which has a median price of $581,000 is driven more by the lower end buyer. Overall sales were least affected in Fairfield, with 520 closed sales year to date compared to 566 at this time last year. Inventory levels are similar to other towns at 8.9 months and September sales jumped to 80 from 45 in September 2013.

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