550 Fern Street, West Hartford

550 Fern Street, West Hartford

550 Fern is a turnkey home with a family room addition off the back.

A landscaped front yard invites you to enter the traditional Colonial. The front-to-back living room is spacious, and includes a gas fireplace. The updated kitchen is open to the dining room, and features stainless appliances, stone counters, multiple pantry closets, and counter seating. A family room with built-in shelving connects the kitchen back around to the living room. The updated full bath on the main level allows the family room to easily be converted to in-law space.

There is a stone patio outside the kitchen that is perfect for a grill. Beyond the patio is a large, level yard with storage shed.

The three upstairs bedrooms are all a reasonable size. The full bath on the upper level was recently remodeled, and includes a Jacuzzi tub.

The home has newer vinyl siding, most of the windows have been replaced, and has many new doors. The high efficiency gas furnace also includes micro-filtration and humidification to cut down on allergies. Central air will keep you cool all summer long.

550 Fern is across the street from the Fernridge Park tennis courts, swimming pool and playground. West Hartford Center and all its dining and entertainment options are a short walk away. The convenient Fern Street bus line provides a green, and stress-free, alternative to driving to Downtown Hartford for work.

550 Fern Street is offered at $369,900. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing, visit the open house on Sunday 5/21/2017 from 1:00 to 3:00, or call Kyle at 860-655-2922 to schedule a visit. More details and a photo tour are available.

April Contracts: It’s a Miss

2017-05-07 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in April 2017

Hartford County finished April 2017 with 967 single-family contacts. The total was a 6% decrease from April 2016, putting the County about 2% behind last year on a year-to-date basis.

April was a miss. It was a surprising decline in market activity from the March 2017 total. Deal counts are usually highest in April, May, and June. March is also generally an indicator as to how the spring will go. How did March get it so wrong?

I believe that the answer is in the supply of available homes. The number of active listings is down compared to previous years. The CTMLS includes a statistics function that reports historical monthly data on the number of active listings. The chart below shows the number of active single-family listings in Hartford County during April going back to 2007.

2017-05-07 Active Hartford County Single Family Listings in April 2017

From 2007 through 2014 there were right around 5,000 active listings in April. The total dropped to about 4,000 in 2015 and 2016. This year is even lower still, with only about 3,500.

The low supply is also visible in the inventory calculation included in the table below. At the current pace of sales, it would only take 3.3 months for buyers to put all the active listings under contract. A “seller’s market” is generally defined as being 3 months of inventory or less, so Hartford County is quite close to that threshold. Twelve individual towns have a inventory of 3.0 months or less.

We don’t have an answer to the big question … why are there so many fewer listings this spring?

One hypothesis is that owners of starter homes are content to stick with their smaller spaces rather than moving up to larger homes. Another hypothesis is that rising interest rates are trapping homeowners in their current properties since higher financing costs make their next home less affordable. A third possibility is that homeowners are being squeezed financially on other fronts (higher costs for taxes, healthcare, utilites, food, etc.), encouraging them to stick with their current housing option.

At this point we just don’t know, though we keep an eye out for articles, studies, and surveys that investigate this question.

Despite the decrease in the number of deals in April, Hartford County real estate markets are doing well. It’s possible that we will see price appreciation in the lower price bands, which have the largest mismatch between supply and demand.

2017-05-07 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in April 2017 by Town

93 Lancaster Road, West Hartford

93 Lancaster Rd, West Hartford

Welcome to a charming Colonial that is centrally located in West Hartford, and is in the Bugbee school district.

The enclosed porch is an outdoor room with space for a table, seating, and even a swing. Inside, the foyer opens to a large living room with fireplace. Pass through a wide opening into the spacious dining room with built-in cabinet and chair rail. The kitchen includes eat-in space, newer appliances, and a comfortable layout for cooking. A powder room completes the main level.

Upstairs, the master bedroom features double closets. It opens directly to another small bedroom that could be a lovely nursery or office if the space is not needed as the fourth bedroom. Two more bedrooms and a full bath complete the second level.

A full staircase leads to the third floor, which is currently used for storage, but could be converted into something more. The lower level is divided into two areas, and has finishing potential.

The back deck, right off the kitchen, is a nice outdoor space overlooking the yard. The home has a two car garage, gas utilities, and replacement windows.

Walk to many of West Hartford’s top destinations from this convenient location. It’s a short stroll to the restaurants on Park Road and Farmington Avenue. Blue Back Square and West Hartford Center are both about a 15 minute walk, which is about how long it takes to drive, park, and then walk to your destination. There’s a great path through the Kingswood Oxford campus that means you can avoid the busy streets. Don’t miss this lovely home!

93 Lancaster Road is offered at $275,000. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing, visit the open house on Sunday 4/30/2017 from 1:00 to 3:00, or call Kyle at 860-655-2922 to schedule a visit. More details and a photo tour are available.

March Contracts: Bouncing Back

Hartford County finished March with 984 single-family contracts, a 2.3% increase over March of 2016. The slight outperformance brought the year-to-date contract total to within one deal of the first quarter of 2016.

2017-04-07 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in March 2017

The market continues to be very active, with strong demand from buyers. The County-wide market is on the verge of being a seller’s market, which is traditionally defined as having less than 3 months of inventory. In general, sellers have an advantage at low price points and buyers have an advantage at high price points. However, people actually in the market looking to buy or sell need to look closely into the dynamics of the individual towns, price points, or both, to get a true picture of their situation.

The count of active listings for this time of year is down compared to recent years. The MLS reported 2,471 active single-family homes in Hartford County when I downloaded data a few days ago. Last year at this time there were 3,178. There were 3,188 in 2015.

Since the number of deals is virtually identical to last year, but the number of active listings is about 22% lower, it seems safe to conclude that the “problem” is on the supply side. Meaningfully fewer owners have listed their property for sale this spring, limiting the supply of available homes.

Too few listings is a great problem for property owners. It gives people thinking about a move some comfort that there will be buyers interested in their home. Hopefully the favorable dynamics will allow them to sell for a good price. We’ve been telling our seller clients to consider getting their home onto the market sooner rather than later.

If you’re considering a sale, we would love to have a chance to interview for your listing and provide a more in-depth analysis about your situation. Feel free to reach out to us at any point.

Finally, I should note that the table showing the number of contracts by town has been updated to include the year-to-date totals. Monthly results can be quite volatile, especially for the smaller towns. Adding the deal total over a longer time period should give a better sense of what is happening in each town’s market.

2017-04-07 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in March 2017 by Town

WH Real Estate News: Mar 2017

The West Hartford real estate market continued its strong start with 66 closed single-family sales in March. On a year-to-date basis, the 156 closed sales in the first quarter were the most since the height of the real estate boom in 2004.

West Hartford Sales by Month - March 2017

Growth in sales activity over the past 12 months has been broadly distributed through the Town’s many price points. Only two segments of the market showed a decrease in activity, but for very different reasons.

West Hartford Sales by Price - March 2017

The decrease in the number sales below $200,000 is a positive for property owners, as it shows the strength of the market. Demand is much higher than supply, and competition between buyers has caused values to increase to the point where homes that used to be worth just less than $200,000 are now worth slightly more.

The top end of the West Hartford market has a different dynamic, with the supply of homes outpacing demand. The $1,000,000+ market is never very active in Town, but the pace of seven figure sales has fallen over the past 12 months. What we’re seeing anecdotally is that buyers are not particularly interested in taking on large historic homes that need updating.

Inventory data shows the supply and demand dynamics of all the price points quite clearly. West Hartford has too few available listings at price points below $500,000. There is a reasonable number of listings between $500,000 and $700,000. Above $700,000 the market strongly favors buyers.

West Hartford Inventory - March 2017

At some point buyers will hopefully realize that there are good opportunities at the upper price points in West Hartford. The biggest opportunity continues to be for move-up buyers. They have the chance to sell their smaller home into a strong market, and buy their larger home in a weak market.

I’m always happy to talk about the local real estate markets, so feel free to reach out to me at any point.