June Contracts: One Thousand

2017-07-08 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in June 2017

Hartford County finished June 2017 with 1,000 single-family contracts. Hitting four digits in a month is rare, a level of activity that the market only reaches during spring months of busy years. Despite reaching the 1,000 deal milestone, the month trailed the activity level of June 2016 by about 2.6%. On a year-to-date basis, 2017 trails 2016 by 0.5%.

Town-by-town results (below) are often widely scattered, but June’s results seem to be exceptionally diverse. Even in the smaller markets it’s unusual to see outperformance or underperformance of more than 50% for a month. Five of the 28 towns had at least a 50% swing in the number of deals compared to June 2016.

The year-to-date trends also show quite a bit of diversity. Many, but not all, of the less dense suburbs to the west and north of the City lagged last year’s performance by over 10%. At the other end of the spectrum, East Hartford and Manchester recorded the two largest increases in deals. East Hartford is 59 contracts ahead, while Manchester is at +57 contracts.

Inventory of active listings continues to follow the same trend we have been reporting for years. In the County overall, it is a seller’s market for properties worth less than $200,000, a neutral market for homes between $200,000 and $400,000, and a buyer’s market for prices above $400,000. The dynamics of individual towns definitely vary, but the general trend typically holds. Sellers have the advantage at the low end, while buyers have the advantage at the high end.

Although the summer has the reputation of being a slower period for real estate, the chart at the top shows that July and August are still active months for buyers. We’re looking forward to keeping the year going as we work with our buyer and seller clients. Let us know if you need some real estate help!

2017-07-09 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in June 2017 by Town

May Contracts: Rebound

Hartford County Single Family Contracts in May 2017

May contracts rebounded sharply from the seemingly out-of-line data point reported for April. Hartford County finished the month with 1,123 single-family contracts. It was a higher total than any of the spring months in 2016, or any other month since we began tracking contracts using this methodology in 2009. The May total brought the year to date deal count to within 2 of May 2016 count.

Inventory data showed that there was a modest increase in the number of available homes. The County’s months of inventory increased from 3.3 to 3.5. Additionally, the number of municipalities with 3.0 months of inventory or less declined from 12 to 8. There was more balance between supply and demand in May than in April.

Buyers intent on purchasing this spring faced two headwinds that may have caused the April data point to be an outlier.

First, competition from other buyers may have prevented home shoppers from “winning” properties that they tried to buy. This headwind was caused by the low inventory levels that were observed.

The second headwind was psychological, the natural tendency to want to wait to see if better options appear. The Greater Hartford real estate market is dominated by homes that were built decades ago. There is relatively little new construction, and virtually no large-scale subdivisions that offer new, cookie-cutter single-family homes.

Because of the nature of the housing stock, every home is different. Buyers who don’t love their options will often wait to see if something better comes onto the market. They want to find the right fit. However, there is a limit to their patience. At some point they have to pick from the available options so that they have a place to live.

May continued the strong spring real estate market. Hartford County is back on pace with 2016, and shows signs of continued strength into the late spring and early summer months.

Hartford County Single Family Contracts in May 2017 by Town

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.