WH Real Estate News: Mar 2017

The West Hartford real estate market continued its strong start with 66 closed single-family sales in March. On a year-to-date basis, the 156 closed sales in the first quarter were the most since the height of the real estate boom in 2004.

West Hartford Sales by Month - March 2017

Growth in sales activity over the past 12 months has been broadly distributed through the Town’s many price points. Only two segments of the market showed a decrease in activity, but for very different reasons.

West Hartford Sales by Price - March 2017

The decrease in the number sales below $200,000 is a positive for property owners, as it shows the strength of the market. Demand is much higher than supply, and competition between buyers has caused values to increase to the point where homes that used to be worth just less than $200,000 are now worth slightly more.

The top end of the West Hartford market has a different dynamic, with the supply of homes outpacing demand. The $1,000,000+ market is never very active in Town, but the pace of seven figure sales has fallen over the past 12 months. What we’re seeing anecdotally is that buyers are not particularly interested in taking on large historic homes that need updating.

Inventory data shows the supply and demand dynamics of all the price points quite clearly. West Hartford has too few available listings at price points below $500,000. There is a reasonable number of listings between $500,000 and $700,000. Above $700,000 the market strongly favors buyers.

West Hartford Inventory - March 2017

At some point buyers will hopefully realize that there are good opportunities at the upper price points in West Hartford. The biggest opportunity continues to be for move-up buyers. They have the chance to sell their smaller home into a strong market, and buy their larger home in a weak market.

I’m always happy to talk about the local real estate markets, so feel free to reach out to me at any point.

214 Cheshire Street, Hartford

214 Cheshire

Located in the Southwest neighborhood, there is plenty of space and sunlight in this move-in ready, 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom brick Cape.

The first floor is larger than you’ll find with most Cape-style homes, offering a formal living room with fireplace and formal dining room with built-in hutch. The kitchen has lots of storage and work space, as well as a large eat-in area. There is an oversized bedroom, which could act as the master bedroom if needed, as well as a full bathroom.

Upstairs, the full rear dormer allows for two more large bedrooms, a smaller bedroom, an office space, and another full bathroom.

The home features refinished hardwood floors, fresh paint throughout, gas heat and hot water, an attached garage, and a sunny, partially fenced yard.

214 Cheshire Street is offered at $185,000. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing, or call me at 860-655-2125 to schedule a visit. More details and a photo tour are available.

1930 Boulevard, West Hartford

1930 Boulevard

Close to West Hartford Center, the Duffy/Sedgwick/Conard schools, shopping, and highway access, your new home is waiting for you!

Freshly painted throughout, with refinished hardwood floors, this traditional Colonial really shines. The entry foyer is flanked by the formal living and dining rooms. An office with built-in book shelves provides a quiet work area. The remodeled kitchen features newer appliances, plenty of cabinets for storage, and an island with eat-in space. A newly added screened-in porch with vaulted ceiling and recessed lighting is perfect for outdoor meals and relaxing. The first floor also offers an updated powder room and mudroom.

Upstairs, the oversized master bedroom has an en-suite bathroom and space for a sitting area. Three additional bedrooms and a remodeled full bathroom complete the second level.

The walk-up attic provides plenty of room for storage or expansion potential. A partially finished basement (unheated) offers additional casual living space, and houses the laundry area.

The home has updated windows, 200 amp electrical service, a new gas hot water heater, and gas boiler. The current owners recently installed solar panels (owned, not leased), so the next owner will enjoy low electric bills for years to come.

Outside, the front yard has mature plantings that frame the facade of the house, as well as an irrigation system. The fenced, level backyard features a brick patio and plenty of space to garden and play. A 2-car detached garage is perfect for cars and storage.

1930 Boulevard is offered at $399,000. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing, visit the open house on Sunday 4/2/2017 from 1:00 to 3:00, or call me at 860-655-2125 to schedule a visit. More details and a photo tour are available.

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.