West Hartford Real Estate Report- Aiken School District

I’ve decided to break down the West Hartford statistics by elementary school district. There are 11 schools, so I’ll try to post a couple a day. We’re going in alphabetical order, starting with Aiken.

If you’d like to see the school district map, here you go… wh_elemschlmap.pdf

Keep in mind that these are stats for single family residential houses only, listed in the Multiple Listing Service. No private sale data is included.
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West Hartford Real Estate Report- Single Family Residential

With national real estate reports coming out with mostly doom and gloom, I’ve had many people approach me about the local real estate market. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting stats from a variety of markets for both single family residential homes and condominiums. A few disclaimers…

1. All of the data will come from the CT Multiple Listing Service, so private sale data will not be included in my analysis.

2. I’m comparing data from April through September in 2006 to data from April through September in 2007. These months are typically the most active in our local markets.

3. Per the MLS I must state “Statistical information courtesy of the Connecticut Multiple Listing Service, Inc. for the periods described. The information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.”

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My takeaways for the overall West Hartford real estate market related to Single Family homes…

1. Prices are up 1% for the second and third quarters when comparing 2006 to 2007.

2. Average days on market are up slightly, but nothing drastic.

3. We have about 3.25 months worth of inventory on the market in West Hartford for single family homes. This is called the absorption rate and is calculated a few different ways. The simplest method is to take the number of Active homes on the market and divide it by the number of properties in Show status and Deposit status. For the West Hartford market, 3 months of inventory is healthy and in-line with the inventory levels of 2006. When inventory levels get too low, prices will usually go up because people are fighting over properties. When inventory levels get too high, prices will usually go down because there are many choices. Your everyday principles of supply and demand…

Note: The chart has been updated with the Median Sales Price and Average Days on Market info requested in the comments. I will include this going forward on all other data posts.

Dueling with Dual Agency

I often hear agents talk about how they are representing both the buyer and the seller in a transaction. This concept is called single-agent Dual Agency and it is legal in the state of Connecticut. I do not agree with this practice and believe that it is not in the best interest of either the buyer or the seller to work with the same agent during a transaction.

When you have a Real Estate agent represent you in a transaction, they are compensated to represent you and look after your best interests. If that same agent is also representing your counterpart, then they also have the responsibilty to do what is in the best interest of that person. Since it’s impossible to serve two masters, the end result may be that the agent is just trying to get the deal done as quickly and easily as possible, for them.

Consider this example: The seller is working with Agent Pat and tells Pat that the least they will accept for their house is $250,000. The house is currently listed at $265,000. Buyers come to an open house and decide that they like the house and want to put in an offer. They are not working with an agent at the time. Agent Pat offers to represent them and the buyers and sellers agree that this would be fine. The buyers tell Pat that they are qualified to spend $260,000. The buyers also tell Pat that they feel the house is overpriced compared to other comparable houses they have seen. They would like to initially offer $240,000 and will not go over $245,000 through the negotiations.

Now, what is Pat to do? Pat has a buyer willing to bring an offer for the house, but Pat knows that the buyer and seller are $5,000 apart from the most that will be paid and the least that will be accepted. What Pat should do is have the buyer submit their offer and present it to the seller. They will most likely negotiate back and forth to their upper and lower limits and then realize that there is no overlap.

However, $5,000 isn’t really that big of a gap to bridge, so Pat may try to get the buyer to extend their maximum offer price, or get the seller to lower their minimum selling price. It’s really tempting for an agent to “get the deal done” particularly if they have influence over both of the parties and know the size of the gap. If the agent feels the gap is surmountable, it’s tempting to convince one of the parties that they should offer more or accept less.

If you have your own buyer’s agent, this is less likely to happen. You tell your agent your maximum offer price. They present your offers to the seller’s agent, who then presents to the seller. You negotiate back and forth until neither party wants to go higher or lower. Your agent says this is the highest you will go. The seller’s agent says this is the lowest the sellers will go. You will walk away because you don’t want to offer more and your agent will not put undue pressure on you to buy this house. It is their job to help you find another house that works.

If you want to protect your best interests in a real estate transaction, it is always prudent to have your own independent representation. Think about how attorneys work, they never represent both the plaintiff and defendent in a case. It’s impossible to be impartial.

Giving Away Equity. How Much is Too Much?

A few weeks ago I was walking around my neighborhood in the West End of Hartford and saw a couple moving into a house. I welcomed them to the block and during our conversation they mentioned that they bought the house in a private sale. This is not uncommon for the West End. People fall in love with the architecture of certain homes and tell the owners that when they’re ready to move to give them a call.

Well, this past week I was doing a CMA for someone in my neighborhood and it turns out that the private sale house that recently sold was a comparable home. So I pulled up the city assessor data to see if the sales price had been recorded yet. It had. And I basically fell off my chair when I saw it. The house closed at a price at least $100,000 LESS than what it would have sold at if it was a public sale, or at approximately 62% of its estimated market value. Ugh. This made me feel sick for the previous homeowner.

Now, I realize that there may be reasons for purposely selling your house below market value. Maybe the buyer is a relative. Maybe the seller is financially distressed and needs to unload the property as quickly as possible. Maybe the seller is filthy rich and just doesn’t care. I don’t believe any of these reasons were the case in this particular situation. I believe the seller just didn’t know the market value of their property.

So, if you are thinking about selling your home on your own, please at least call a Real Estate professional to get an estimate of your home’s value. It is always free and there is no obligation. We understand that some people sell houses on their own, just like some people prefer to fix their own cars rather than going to a mechanic. It’s the nature of the business. However, we would also like to see you get the most for your home, whether you’re going it alone, or using an agent. Because finding out after the fact that you sold your house at 62% of market value, without intending to, will never leave you with warm fuzzies in your belly.