WH Real Estate News: Feb 2017

The West Hartford real estate market performed well through the first two months of the year. The number of closed sales totaled 90, which was about 9% more than 2016’s total through February. It was strongest start to the year since 2007, which also had 90 deals in the first two months.

West Hartford Month February 2017

The Transactions by Price chart shows that over the past 12 months most of the increase in sales activity was between $200,000 and $499,999. These homes represent the core housing stock in town, and they drove median prices up about 3% in 2016.

West Hartford Price February 2017

You’ll notice that there was about a 17% decline in the number sales that closed in the $100,000s. The decline reflects a strengthening price environment at the low end of the market. Homes that in previous years were selling below $200,000 are now worth more, and many are selling in the next highest price band.

West Hartford Active February 2017

The Active Listings chart shows how many options buyers have in each of the price bands. However, the more interesting information is the ratio of the available listings to the number of sales over the past 12 months.

Consider the 44 active listings shown for the $200,000s, which is the highest count of all the price bands. Because that price band is so active, with 265 sales over the past 12 months, that only represents enough available listings for 2 months of sales. We refer to that price band as having 2 months of inventory. The $200,000s, and all the other price bands below $500,000, are markets that favor sellers. Properties that are in good shape, and that are marketed well, have an opportunity to generate considerable interest.

Inventory levels increase as the price point increases, but that doesn’t mean sellers are out of luck. West Hartford homes that are priced appropriately tend to sell. That’s one of the nice things about the town’s real estate market.

Although we like to let the data inform our opinions about the market, we also pay close attention to the day-to-day in town. We’re seeing bidding wars on nicer properties on a regular basis. The market is currently limited by the relatively few homes available in the lower and middle price points. We are expecting a strong spring real estate market in West Hartford.

Amy & Kyle Bergquist are residential real estate agents based in West Hartford Center. Reach out to us at any time for a free consultation – we would love to help you buy or sell a home!

Video Surveillance in Progress

Kids Room

Video technology has advanced considerably over the past 10 years. Cameras are smaller and cheaper than ever, with very high quality video.

Homeowners frequently have surveillance video at, and in, their homes. Home security monitoring companies now offer video that is accessible directly from a smartphone. Cable TV providers offer video cameras as part of a security add-on to their core data and entertainment services. Some owners install dedicated video surveillance systems to keep an eye on their property. Doorbells provide video feeds. Nanny cams can be placed anywhere inside a home.

When it comes time to sell the house, all those cameras are still in place. They can tell the owner when the buyers arrived at the house, and how long they stayed. This is convenient information if the seller had to gather their dogs/kids and make themselves scarce for an hour. Cameras on the inside of the home also have the potential to provide unique insight into what happened during the showing. Where in the home did the buyers go? What did they do while they were there? Did they touch anything they really shouldn’t have touched?

Despite the temptation to monitor every detail, we recommend that sellers not review video footage of buyer visits unless they notice something wrong at the house.

Buyers do and says a lot of things during a home tour without also noting how important that observation is to them. They need to take a step back and review the entire showing in order to prioritize their observations and reach a big-picture conclusion about the home. Big-picture feedback is best gathered from the buyer’s agent. It is part of the listing agent’s job to collect and interpret buyer feedback for the seller.

The other reason to not review the video footage is that seller will develop opinions about potential buyers. When a buyer makes an offer on the home, those opinions may get in the way of a successful negotiation. A mild example is a seller having hurt feelings because the buyer didn’t like their decor. In the worst case scenario, the video footage could cause the seller to illegally discriminate against a bidder.

Technology evolves faster than the law, so it is difficult to say with certainty what types of recordings are allowed versus not allowed. We consulted with legal counsel at the Connecticut Association of REALTORs. They reported that Connecticut state law requires that anytime anyone is recorded with audio inside a home that they have to sign a consent form. As a buyer’s agent, being asked to sign a consent form for video surveillance in order to show a home would get the showing off to a rocky start.

Knowing the theoretically correct thing for a seller to do is great, but all sellers may not follow those guidelines. Buyers should always be on their best behavior when touring a home. Assume the owner is watching and listening, and show their home the respect that it deserves. There is no need for the experience to be stressful since the vast majority of buyers act appropriately.

Video surveillance is the new norm, and will continue to expand into more and more homes. Sellers should disable the audio to make sure they’re in compliance with state laws. Buyers should assume they’re being recorded even if they don’t see cameras or any warning from the seller. Big brother is watching.

February Contracts: Spring is Coming

2017-03-05 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in February 2017

Hartford County finished February with 673 single-family contracts, which was 6.5% fewer deals than February 2016. On a year-to-date basis 2017 is 1.7% behind last year.

The market continues to be very active, and quite competitive. We’re not concerned about February under-performing last year. Two important factors played into the decline. The more important factor was that the inventory of available homes was quite low. As of the March 5th, when we analyzed the data, the 3 months of inventory put the County on the cusp of officially being a seller’s market.

The second, less important, factor was that the market lost a few days because of a significant snow storm. February had 28 days this year, so the 673 contracts resulted in an average of 24 per day. Most school districts cancelled two days because of the big storm. If buyers were snowed in those two days, then that translates to about 48 deals, which is almost exactly the difference between February of this year compared to February of last year.

All signs point to an active spring market for Hartford County. The only caveat is that we’re not yet sure how the upper end of the market will perform. Let us know if you’re interested in a particular town or towns. We’re happy to share a more fine-grained market analysis.

2017-03-05 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in February 2017 by Town

15 River Mead, Avon

15 River Mead, Avon

Move right into this updated townhouse in the River Mead community of Avon.

The main level features an updated kitchen with Corian counters and stainless appliances. A comfortable living room includes a fireplace, and a slider out to a deck facing the woods. There is a formal dining room and an updated powder room.

Upstairs the master bedroom includes double closets and an updated en-suite bathroom with heated floor. The second bedroom also has an updated en-suite bathroom.

The lower level is partially finished with family room space that walks out to a stone paver patio. The unit includes a private garage space, gas utilities, and central air.

15 River Mead is offered at $225,000. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing, or call me at 860-655-2922 to schedule a visit. More details and a photo tour are available.