2017 Hartford County Single-Family Sales Data

Hartford County finished 2017 with a slight increase in the number of single-family home sales compared to 2016. The total in the Connecticut MLS database as of 1/4/2018 was 8,649, or 1.6% higher than the previous year. Although there wasn’t significant growth in market activity, the deal total for the year remained close to the 2005 peak, signifying strong overall demand.

2018-01-07 Hartford County Single Family Sales

Looking at the trend in pricing, the chart below shows that both the average and median sales price fell in 2017 compared to 2016. There has been little progress in pricing for years, with both metrics just below the 2009 result, and well off the 2007 peak.

2018-01-07 Hartford County Single Family Prices

Pricing results are not uniformly bad, despite the middling numbers, but it is difficult to see the bright spots when reducing the entire market to a single data point. Additionally, the decrease in the average and median prices is a bit misleading, as will be discussed below.

Lower price bands showed a strong increase in activity over the past few years. Most of the housing stock in the region is worth between $100,000 and $300,000. In 2017 those deals represented nearly 65% of all sales. Those are the price bands that experienced consistent buyer interest and rising prices. The upper end of the market continues to struggle with low demand and downward pressure on prices.

2018-01-07 Hartford County Single Family Sales by Price Band

Distressed sales are a meaningful part of the Greater Hartford market. The percentage of single-family homes sales that were either foreclosures (bank owned) or short-sales (seller owed more than mortgage) remained steady at just over 13%. Most of the deals that closed for less than $100k were distressed (456 out of 652, or 70%), though more than half of the distressed deals closed for more than $100k.

Differences in buyer demand at the various price points have been evident for years. 2017 continued the trend of strength at the low end and weakness at the high end.

It appears that average and median prices decreased because of how those numbers are calculated rather than because of buyers bidding less. In 2017 the number of buyers for low end homes increased versus 2016, while the number of buyers for high end homes decreased. The mix of sold homes changed. Therefore, when the average and median prices were calculated, the mix of sales ($200,000 deals vs $500,000 deals) forced the overall average and median prices down.

Prices fell for technical reasons, not because individual homes are necessarily worth less than they were last year (though some are worth less). The big picture takeaway is that headline numbers like median sales price can’t always be trusted. It is important to get into the numbers to understand the details.

We’re looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings. As always, we are happy to answer questions for folks who would like more information.

869 Farmington Ave Unit 206, West Hartford

869 Farmington 206

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December Contracts: That’s a Wrap

2018-01-04 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in December 2017

Hartford County finished December with 464 single-family home contracts, more than 12% fewer than December 2016. For the full year we observed 9,767 deals, a mere 17 fewer than the 2016 total. Local real estate performed well during 2017 despite the December finish.

We’ll get deeper into the statistics next week by analyzing closed sales for the year. Contract data is interesting because of its immediacy, which is why we report it on a monthly basis. However, the closed sales data available at the end of the year contains much more information.

Most importantly, closed sales include a true market price for each property. It is valuable to look at how pricing changes over time, but we don’t know the value of a home when the buyer and seller agree to the contract. We have to wait until the deal closes, which typically takes 45 – 60 days.

It is also nice to be able to use a full year’s worth of sales when analyzing pricing. As you can see from the chart at the top, the real estate market has strong seasonal trends. It’s better to compare a full year to a different full year so that the effects of seasonality are minimized.

The other advantage of using full year data sets is that there is a lot more data. Hartford County homes are not usually in large subdivisions, and most of the housing stock is at least 40 years old. Each property is different, both because it was built individually (versus being built with 100 other identical homes), and because owners have made different updates over the years. Therefore the mix of homes sold (style, size, price, …) can vary widely from month to month, and even quarter to quarter. The more data that is included in the analysis, the more significant the findings.

As we work to analyze the 2017 closed sales, here is the final tally of contracts for the year, which gives a good sense of market activity in the County overall and in individual towns.

Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful 2018!

2018-01-04 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in December 2017 by Town

November Contracts: Smooth Landing

2017-12-05 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in November 2017

Hartford County finished November with 646 single-family home contracts, which was slightly fewer than the total from November 2016. On a year-to-date basis, the market is about 0.5% ahead of last year.

Monthly deal counts followed the 2016 trends very closely for the past few months as the market began to wind down for the year. December is off to an active start, but will continue the quieting trend. There tend to be fewer home buyers at this time of year, but those who are shopping are generally more serious about their search.

There were very few differences in the number of deals in each of the different price bands. Most of the bands below $1 million are within 1% of their 2016 total. The $300,000s has been the largest gainer, with a 2.9% increase. There have been fewer deals at the million dollar level, but because that is such a small part of the overall market it is difficult to assess the significance.

Inventory levels are low, which is common because sellers take their homes off the market during the holiday season. This is the slowest time of the real estate year as both buyers and sellers regroup and begin to plan for the spring.

Have a happy holiday season … we’ll have a full analysis of the 2017 market in January.

2017-12-05 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in November 2017 by Town

October Contracts: Impact of the State Budget

2017-11-02 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in October 2017

Hartford County had 727 single-family homes deals come together during the month of October. The total was about 3% fewer than October 2016, though on a year-to-date basis the market is very slightly ahead of 2016.

Discussion of the State budget situation was unavoidable during October. It was regularly a leading news story, and was not fully resolved until the Governor signed a budget on Halloween. Budget talk seemed to come up all the time, in a way that made it plausible for the budget uncertainty to have a cooling effect on the regional real estate market. Now that the data is in, we can attempt to answer whether the State budget situation actually impacted buyer behavior.

Taking the widest possible view, a 3% variance from last year suggests that the budget debate wasn’t such a big deal. The chart at the top shows a tight cluster of October contract totals over the past three years. There was no huge miss for the month. Additionally, the chart shows that wild month-to-month swings are actually not unusual for the County. At a high level, there is no way to say that the uncertainty about the State budget definitely slowed the market in October.

There are trends with individual towns, many of them quite interesting. However, they are year-long trends rather than new and unique situations that popped up when the State budget took over the headlines.

One of the strongest trends is that buyers are showing a lot of interest in the core price bands of the more densely populated towns. The table below shows that East Hartford, Manchester, Bristol, Hartford, and Windsor Locks experienced year-to-date deal activity increases of more than 10%. Looking more deeply into the numbers, the increases were primarily due to an uptick in contracts on homes priced in the $100,000s. The October results for those five towns ranged from a 112% increase in the number of month-over-month deals to an 18% decrease. Again, it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the impact of the State budget standoff.

The narrowest view of the impact of the State budget uncertainty comes from conversations with individuals interested in real estate. Numerous home shoppers that I interacted with over the past month independently raised the State budget as a concern. I had multiple guests at a Hartford open house tell me they that lived in West Hartford and were concerned about buying a larger home in West Hartford because of the potential for even more property taxes if the State cut education funding to the town (as was proposed at one point by the Governor). My own buyer clients noted the budget standoff as a concern, though they did not tie it to any specific decisions. Agents in my office reported conversations about the State budget with their clients too.

At the end of the day, it is important to recognize that all sorts of factors impact the real estate markets. The State budget was the primary talking point in October. It was definitely on people’s minds, and influenced their decisions. However, there is no convincing statistical evidence (that we’ve seen) that those individual decisions caused October to be an unusual month in the noisy world of real estate.

It is interesting though … I wonder what everyone will be talking about in November?

2017-11-02 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in October 2017 by Town