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

March Contracts: Bouncing Back

Hartford County finished March with 984 single-family contracts, a 2.3% increase over March of 2016. The slight outperformance brought the year-to-date contract total to within one deal of the first quarter of 2016.

2017-04-07 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in March 2017

The market continues to be very active, with strong demand from buyers. The County-wide market is on the verge of being a seller’s market, which is traditionally defined as having less than 3 months of inventory. In general, sellers have an advantage at low price points and buyers have an advantage at high price points. However, people actually in the market looking to buy or sell need to look closely into the dynamics of the individual towns, price points, or both, to get a true picture of their situation.

The count of active listings for this time of year is down compared to recent years. The MLS reported 2,471 active single-family homes in Hartford County when I downloaded data a few days ago. Last year at this time there were 3,178. There were 3,188 in 2015.

Since the number of deals is virtually identical to last year, but the number of active listings is about 22% lower, it seems safe to conclude that the “problem” is on the supply side. Meaningfully fewer owners have listed their property for sale this spring, limiting the supply of available homes.

Too few listings is a great problem for property owners. It gives people thinking about a move some comfort that there will be buyers interested in their home. Hopefully the favorable dynamics will allow them to sell for a good price. We’ve been telling our seller clients to consider getting their home onto the market sooner rather than later.

If you’re considering a sale, we would love to have a chance to interview for your listing and provide a more in-depth analysis about your situation. Feel free to reach out to us at any point.

Finally, I should note that the table showing the number of contracts by town has been updated to include the year-to-date totals. Monthly results can be quite volatile, especially for the smaller towns. Adding the deal total over a longer time period should give a better sense of what is happening in each town’s market.

2017-04-07 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in March 2017 by Town

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.

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

2016 Single-Family Sales by Town

The other day I posted the County level stats for sales activity and pricing. The big picture view gives a good sense of high level trends, but doesn’t provide much insight into the markets of individual towns. The reality of Greater Hartford real estate is that each town is its own market, and there can be very different dynamics at play.

Here is a summary chart showing the activity and price changes in each of Hartford County’s towns. This continues to be for single-family homes, which represent the majority of the housing stock in most towns.

2017-01-06 Hartford County Single Family Sales in 2016 by Town

How did your town do last year? If you’re interested, send me a quick note at KyleB@KyleB-RE.com and I can send you our town report to get deeper into the data.