March Contracts: Building Towards Spring Peak

2018-04-09 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in March 2018

The Hartford County single-family market finished March with 919 contracts signed, which represented a nice step up from the February total as the market moved into the prime spring selling season. The monthly total was more than 6% behind the unusually active March 2017 count, and on a year-to-date basis the County is about 3.5% behind the 2017 deal pace.

The March total shows that 2018 is progressing nicely. Hartford County has basically maintained the pace of the past two years, which were both very active for real estate deals.

Inventory levels continue to be quite low. At the current pace of deals it would take buyers about 2.8 months to put all the available homes in the County under contract. That’s a guide rather than a rule, unfortunately, as the supply and demand dynamics vary widely between towns, and even between price points within each town.

It’s interesting to look back and see what the inventory levels were at this point in previous years. We reported inventory as 2.8 months right now, 3.0 months at this point in 2017, 4.0 in 2016, 4.8 in 2015, 5.0 in 2014, 4.6 in 2013, 6.5 in 2012, and 7.0 in 2011. A clear trend is visible over that time, as the balance between buyers and sellers moved from a buyer’s market in 2011 to a borderline seller’s market in 2018.

This is the time of the year when properties tend to move quickly. If you’re in the market looking to buy, then be sure to have your financing in order and pay attention to new listings as they pop up. Owners considering a sale need to decide if this is the year, and get their home on the market quickly if they want to go for it. This is about as favorable an environment as we’ve seen in a while, and nobody knows how long it will last.

Feel free to reach out, we’re happy to advise.

2018-04-09 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in March 2018 by Town

Virtual Reality: Please Step Inside

Like all industries, real estate is being constantly reshaped by technology. We’ve been following the progress of virtual reality for a while, and had an opportunity to take a first hand look at the current state of the art.

A company called Matterport developed a specialized camera that takes 360 degree photos, and then uses the resulting images to present the home in different ways. Below is an example of their presentation for 88 Terry Road in Hartford’s West End.

The Viewing Options

One presentation is the “dollhouse” view, which presents the entire building with the exterior walls missing. You are able to spin the house to look into the different rooms. This presentation gives a sense of the floor plan, and how the different rooms relate to each other in space.

Another presentation is the “floor plan” view, which is basically the same as the “dollhouse” except you are looking straight down from above. You can select which level of the home to view, and see the different spaces with their furnishings in place.

Next, Matterport lets you “explore 3D space.” This view positions you at the various camera locations and allows you to pan side to side, and up and down, to see in every direction from that spot. You can move from spot to spot, touring the entire home. The navigation and overall experience is similar to the online mapping sites’ street views, and works well on a phone.

Finally, the “virtual reality” presentation makes the 3D space immersive by allowing you use VR goggles to stand at the camera locations and look around as if you were physically standing in the building. This is the newest presentation format, and the one that I was most excited to try. I wanted to see what kind of experience the system offered.

Getting Started with Virtual Reality

Getting involved in virtual reality sounds expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need cutting edge technology to tour a house, so I decided to start with the most basic experience.

I brought a Google Cardboard compatible viewer for $5 at my local electronics store, and paired it with a retired cell phone. It was easy to get the equipment up and running, and accessing the VR experience for the house was equally simple.

VR Viewer

As my first virtual reality experience, immersing myself in the home tour was easy and enjoyable. The software makes it obvious how to jump between camera locations, and the processing power on my old phone was more than enough to allow the images to move seamlessly as I turned my head from side to side.

I had fun exploring the house. My best experiences in traveling though the home were while sitting in my desk chair, which allowed me to easily spin 360 degrees without worrying about falling over or walking into anything.

Virtual Reality and Selling Homes

The question we’re hoping to answer with this test run is this: is virtual reality a good way to present a home so that it makes a favorable impression on potential buyers? It’s a cool experience, and it’s fun to try out, but how will buyers use it during their home search?

Most technologies are adopted very slowly in the real estate industry. The decision to use virtual reality, or any new technology, is made on an agent by agent basis. Every market is highly fragmented, with even the best agents only listing a small percentage of the properties.

Since marketing expenses like this are fronted by the listing agent and only covered if the house sells, agents can be reluctant to try new technologies that have a high cost and unknown value. For example, many agents still take their own listing photos rather than pay for a professional photographer. In the near term, buyers won’t be able to experience the majority of the homes they are interested in touring using virtual reality.

If our listings offer VR tours, will that be an advantage or a detriment? Only a small percentage of buyers are likely to choose to experience the home in VR. And, a virtual tour is highly unlikely to be sufficient to convince a buyer to submit an offer. But will buyers feel like the VR experience is enough to eliminate a property from consideration? My goal as a listing agent is to get buyers into the house, since that’s where the purchase decision is made.

Another way to think about the VR experience is as an alternative to an open house. A main benefit of open houses is that it gives buyers who have already seen the house in person an opportunity to explore it again and reflect on how they would use the space. Will buyers use the virtual reality tour to reinforce the positive impressions they had while touring a home in person?

We would love to get additional input on virtual reality as a technology for presenting houses. What do you think? Would you consider exploring a home in this manner? Does the technology and presentation make you think more favorably about the home? Please leave a comment, or send me a quick note at KyleB@KyleB-RE.com.

101 Kenyon St, Hartford’s West End

101 Kenyon St, Hartford

This West End Victorian has charming original details and nice entertaining spaces. It offers 4 bedrooms and 2.1 baths over 2,861 square feet.

An enclosed front porch welcomes you into an open foyer with parquet floors and turned staircase. The oversized living room has a wood burning fireplace and built-ins, and leads to a lovely sunroom. The formal dining room is a perfect space for entertaining and has original details with a bay window and stained glass sidelights. The open kitchen was remodeled and includes plenty of eat-in space. Off the kitchen is a mudroom, half bath and covered back porch.

On the second floor you’ll find a large master bedroom with double closets, three additional bedrooms, a full bath and an open seating area.

The third floor offers a large main room, one smaller room, and a full bathroom with bonus storage area. It is currently used as a family room space, but could easily serve as the master suite.

Outside there is a 2-car garage, bluestone patio and a nice backyard for gardening or just relaxing.

101 Kenyon Street is offered at $325,000. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing or call Kyle at 860-655-2922 to schedule a visit. More details and a photo tour are available.

24 Hoskins Road, Bloomfield

24 Hoskins Rd, Bloomfield

You’ll love coming home to this stylish Mid-Century Modern ranch!

Period details begin with the front door and carry throughout the home. The spacious open living room, with fireplace and built-ins, wraps around to the dining area. Custom shelves with frosted glass create a partial boundary with the eat-in kitchen. You’ll enjoy cooking in this stylish space with plenty of cabinetry, stainless Fisher & Paykel appliances, and a mid-century banquette seating area.

A bright bonus space connects the kitchen to the back yard, and to a cozy sunroom that is the perfect place to relax with a book. The home includes three generous bedrooms and two full bathrooms.

The main level of the house is lovely, but the real fun is downstairs. The lower level family room feels like a private lounge, with fireplace, bar, and more of the mid-century modern vibe. There is also a considerable amount of unfinished space, the laundry area, and a new boiler that was installed in 2017.

Outside, there are spaces for all occasions. Relax on the rear patio, or garden in the fenced area with raised beds. There is a large shed for equipment and storage, and an attached 2 car garage with walk-up storage overhead.

Don’t miss this charming home!

24 Hoskins Road is offered at $214,900. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing or call Kyle at 860-655-2922 to schedule a visit. More details and a photo tour are available.

February Contracts: Still on Trend

2018-03-05 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in February 2018

After the first two months of the year, the Hartford County real estate market remains on trend with the prior year. The number of single-family contracts in February was 2.7% ahead of the same month in 2017, bringing the year-to-date total to only 1.1% (15 deals) behind 2016.

There is not a lot of data to work with at this point in the year, so we generally refrain from trying to draw too many conclusions. But it is difficult to look at the town-by-town numbers and not wonder what is going on in some of the markets showing the largest changes from 2017.

For example, Canton is off to a very fast start with 33 deals so far, compared to 13 through two months in 2017. Looking back to 2012, the previous two month totals were 19, 18, 19, 16, 14, and 13 before this year’s 33. Go Canton!

West Hartford is at the other end of the spectrum, with 97 deals so far, compared to 143 through two months in 2017. This situation is easier to explain when looking back at historical data. Beginning in 2012, the two month totals for West Hartford were 86, 102, 79, 84, 115, 143, and 97. The current year total is therefore not a huge miss, but is instead a reversion to the normal range in the County’s most active town market. All indications are that West Hartford is doing just fine this year.

The general trend continues to be that buyers are active despite the erratic weather swings, and that many towns are experiencing low inventory levels for the number of buyers shopping for a home. Supply and demand should balance out as we get further into the spring, so we expect that 2018 will be another strong real estate year.

2018-03-05 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in February 2018 by Town