March Contracts: Building Towards Spring Peak

2018-04-09 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in March 2018

The Hartford County single-family market finished March with 919 contracts signed, which represented a nice step up from the February total as the market moved into the prime spring selling season. The monthly total was more than 6% behind the unusually active March 2017 count, and on a year-to-date basis the County is about 3.5% behind the 2017 deal pace.

The March total shows that 2018 is progressing nicely. Hartford County has basically maintained the pace of the past two years, which were both very active for real estate deals.

Inventory levels continue to be quite low. At the current pace of deals it would take buyers about 2.8 months to put all the available homes in the County under contract. That’s a guide rather than a rule, unfortunately, as the supply and demand dynamics vary widely between towns, and even between price points within each town.

It’s interesting to look back and see what the inventory levels were at this point in previous years. We reported inventory as 2.8 months right now, 3.0 months at this point in 2017, 4.0 in 2016, 4.8 in 2015, 5.0 in 2014, 4.6 in 2013, 6.5 in 2012, and 7.0 in 2011. A clear trend is visible over that time, as the balance between buyers and sellers moved from a buyer’s market in 2011 to a borderline seller’s market in 2018.

This is the time of the year when properties tend to move quickly. If you’re in the market looking to buy, then be sure to have your financing in order and pay attention to new listings as they pop up. Owners considering a sale need to decide if this is the year, and get their home on the market quickly if they want to go for it. This is about as favorable an environment as we’ve seen in a while, and nobody knows how long it will last.

Feel free to reach out, we’re happy to advise.

2018-04-09 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in March 2018 by Town

February Contracts: Still on Trend

2018-03-05 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in February 2018

After the first two months of the year, the Hartford County real estate market remains on trend with the prior year. The number of single-family contracts in February was 2.7% ahead of the same month in 2017, bringing the year-to-date total to only 1.1% (15 deals) behind 2016.

There is not a lot of data to work with at this point in the year, so we generally refrain from trying to draw too many conclusions. But it is difficult to look at the town-by-town numbers and not wonder what is going on in some of the markets showing the largest changes from 2017.

For example, Canton is off to a very fast start with 33 deals so far, compared to 13 through two months in 2017. Looking back to 2012, the previous two month totals were 19, 18, 19, 16, 14, and 13 before this year’s 33. Go Canton!

West Hartford is at the other end of the spectrum, with 97 deals so far, compared to 143 through two months in 2017. This situation is easier to explain when looking back at historical data. Beginning in 2012, the two month totals for West Hartford were 86, 102, 79, 84, 115, 143, and 97. The current year total is therefore not a huge miss, but is instead a reversion to the normal range in the County’s most active town market. All indications are that West Hartford is doing just fine this year.

The general trend continues to be that buyers are active despite the erratic weather swings, and that many towns are experiencing low inventory levels for the number of buyers shopping for a home. Supply and demand should balance out as we get further into the spring, so we expect that 2018 will be another strong real estate year.

2018-03-05 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in February 2018 by Town

January Contracts: Solid Start

2018-02-05 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in January 2018

Welcome to 2018, and another exciting year in Greater Hartford real estate.

The new year began with a similar level of activity as observed during the past two years. There were 602 single-family contracts during January in Hartford County. This total was about 5% less than last year, but well ahead of the January totals for years prior to 2016.

The statistic that jumps out in this report is the inventory metric showing how few homes are available in the region. Inventory levels of less than 3 months are typically considered sellers’ markets. Hartford County is currently at 2.6 months. That said, the current total of available homes is seasonally depressed. More and more homes will come onto the market in the coming months as spring approaches.

Eight towns have 2.0 months, or less, of homes available. This will keep the deal total from climbing too high – buyers don’t have much to choose from. As a point of comparison, last year at this time there was 3.0 months of inventory available. Perhaps this explains why January 2018 trailed January 2017 slightly.

We’re expecting 2018 to be another strong year for the real estate market, and nothing that happened in January changed our minds. Reach out to either of us at any point for more information, or to get started with your transaction. We’re happy to help in any way we can.

2018-02-05 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in January 2018 by Town

2017 Hartford County Single-Family Sales Data

Hartford County finished 2017 with a slight increase in the number of single-family home sales compared to 2016. The total in the Connecticut MLS database as of 1/4/2018 was 8,649, or 1.6% higher than the previous year. Although there wasn’t significant growth in market activity, the deal total for the year remained close to the 2005 peak, signifying strong overall demand.

2018-01-07 Hartford County Single Family Sales

Looking at the trend in pricing, the chart below shows that both the average and median sales price fell in 2017 compared to 2016. There has been little progress in pricing for years, with both metrics just below the 2009 result, and well off the 2007 peak.

2018-01-07 Hartford County Single Family Prices

Pricing results are not uniformly bad, despite the middling numbers, but it is difficult to see the bright spots when reducing the entire market to a single data point. Additionally, the decrease in the average and median prices is a bit misleading, as will be discussed below.

Lower price bands showed a strong increase in activity over the past few years. Most of the housing stock in the region is worth between $100,000 and $300,000. In 2017 those deals represented nearly 65% of all sales. Those are the price bands that experienced consistent buyer interest and rising prices. The upper end of the market continues to struggle with low demand and downward pressure on prices.

2018-01-07 Hartford County Single Family Sales by Price Band

Distressed sales are a meaningful part of the Greater Hartford market. The percentage of single-family homes sales that were either foreclosures (bank owned) or short-sales (seller owed more than mortgage) remained steady at just over 13%. Most of the deals that closed for less than $100k were distressed (456 out of 652, or 70%), though more than half of the distressed deals closed for more than $100k.

Differences in buyer demand at the various price points have been evident for years. 2017 continued the trend of strength at the low end and weakness at the high end.

It appears that average and median prices decreased because of how those numbers are calculated rather than because of buyers bidding less. In 2017 the number of buyers for low end homes increased versus 2016, while the number of buyers for high end homes decreased. The mix of sold homes changed. Therefore, when the average and median prices were calculated, the mix of sales ($200,000 deals vs $500,000 deals) forced the overall average and median prices down.

Prices fell for technical reasons, not because individual homes are necessarily worth less than they were last year (though some are worth less). The big picture takeaway is that headline numbers like median sales price can’t always be trusted. It is important to get into the numbers to understand the details.

We’re looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings. As always, we are happy to answer questions for folks who would like more information.

December Contracts: That’s a Wrap

2018-01-04 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in December 2017

Hartford County finished December with 464 single-family home contracts, more than 12% fewer than December 2016. For the full year we observed 9,767 deals, a mere 17 fewer than the 2016 total. Local real estate performed well during 2017 despite the December finish.

We’ll get deeper into the statistics next week by analyzing closed sales for the year. Contract data is interesting because of its immediacy, which is why we report it on a monthly basis. However, the closed sales data available at the end of the year contains much more information.

Most importantly, closed sales include a true market price for each property. It is valuable to look at how pricing changes over time, but we don’t know the value of a home when the buyer and seller agree to the contract. We have to wait until the deal closes, which typically takes 45 – 60 days.

It is also nice to be able to use a full year’s worth of sales when analyzing pricing. As you can see from the chart at the top, the real estate market has strong seasonal trends. It’s better to compare a full year to a different full year so that the effects of seasonality are minimized.

The other advantage of using full year data sets is that there is a lot more data. Hartford County homes are not usually in large subdivisions, and most of the housing stock is at least 40 years old. Each property is different, both because it was built individually (versus being built with 100 other identical homes), and because owners have made different updates over the years. Therefore the mix of homes sold (style, size, price, …) can vary widely from month to month, and even quarter to quarter. The more data that is included in the analysis, the more significant the findings.

As we work to analyze the 2017 closed sales, here is the final tally of contracts for the year, which gives a good sense of market activity in the County overall and in individual towns.

Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful 2018!

2018-01-04 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in December 2017 by Town