December Contracts: Happy Holidays

2019-01-04 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in November 2018

December is traditionally the least active real estate month of the year, as folks take a step back to enjoy the holiday season. Although we saw the expected slowdown in number of deals, the month had respectable totals showing that many buyers and sellers had happy holidays.

When looking at contracts, the month was nearly 15% ahead of last December for single-family homes in Hartford County. We finished the year with about 1.3% fewer contracts in 2018 than in 2017.

At the big picture level this was all very positive – the local real estate market remained near peak levels of activity for the 3rd consecutive year.

A key story throughout 2018 was listing inventory. We noted regularly that there were few homes for buyers to choose from in the most popular price points, which was potentially holding back sales totals. Here is what the County-wide inventory looked like as of year end.

2019-01-04 Single-Family Inventory

The vertical axis in the chart is “months.” The height of the bar for each price band indicates the number of months it would take to sell all of the current listings at the pace of deals for that price band over the past year.

For example, there were 1,432 contracts signed over the past 12 months for homes with asking prices in the $300,000s. That translated to an average of 119 deals/month, so it should take about 3 months for the 362 listings currently available in that price band to find a buyer.

What I want to highlight is that inventory levels are lowest at the lowest price points, and steadily increase as the price point increases. This trend has been evident for years and, when combined with the deal totals, shows that the real estate market is active and working properly in the lower price bands that make up the majority of Hartford County’s housing stock. As a point of reference, over 70% of the contracts in 2018 were for properties with asking prices of $299k or less.

Since it is the end of the year, the next question we’ll investigate is related to pricing. How have prices changed during 2018? Look for an analysis of closed deals during the coming week.

2019-01-04 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in December 2018 by Town

November Contracts: Back on Trend

2018-12-05 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in November 2018

November exhibited the typical 4th quarter decline in activity, but outperformed November of 2017 by 4%. There were 672 single-family home contracts in Greater Hartford during the month, a number that was comparable to the September 2018 result.

As we approach the year end, the chart at the top has basically finalized its shape. The months of June, July, August, and September feel out of line. It’s not that we’re questioning the data, rather we’re observing that those four months do not smoothly connect the May and October data points like they do in some years.

The reasons behind the abrupt market change are, unfortunately, not a mystery that we are likely to solve. We neither predicted the change, nor were able to explain it as it happened. Even now, a few months removed, hindsight has not provided any additional information. No single factor has emerged as the defining narrative for the summer months. As always, we prefer to acknowledge the uncertainty and factor it into our thinking rather than pretend to be able to explain it.

Even though the year isn’t quite over, we’ve begun the planning process for 2019. We’re looking forward to another active year in the real estate markets.

How can we help you with your real estate goals?

2018-12-05 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in November 2018 by Town

October Contracts: Surprise!

2018-11-03 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in October 2018

Just when it seemed like the real estate year was over, the month of October turned out to be surprisingly active.

Hartford County recorded 812 single-family home contracts, which was more than 11% higher than October of last year. The total was also a significant jump from last month, September 2018, when the county finished with just 684 contracts.

This single-month reversal is one of the largest we have seen since we began reporting on monthly contract data. There appears to be no direct cause for the increase. The economy has not dramatically changed, election day has not arrived, mortgage rates remain slightly below 5%, and we are not aware of any major new narratives that would justify such a significant market shift.

We’re happy to be reporting positive market news, however unexpected it may be. Consult with your favorite real estate agent to find out how this upswing impacted your town or neighborhood market. There may still be opportunities this year, and this is the time to begin planning for next year’s spring market.

2018-11-03 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in October 2018 by Town

September Contracts: Falling Leaves and Deal Counts

Hartford County Single Family Contracts in September 2018

September was a down month for the Hartford County single-family market. The number of contracts signed declined more than 9% from the same month last year, leaving the County 4% behind on a year-to-date basis.

It appears that there will be a modest fall market in Hartford County this year. Other agents throughout the state are reporting similar observations about the market, so the deceleration does not appear to be unique to Greater Hartford.

I’ve heard a number of competing theories as to why we had a slow September, but it’s unfortunately impossible to know for sure why the number of deals moved downward this month. We cannot say for certain whether it is the local economy, rising mortgage interest rates, Connecticut’s political and economic situation, the national political environment, or something else entirely.

Most likely it is a combination of many factors.

Ironically, this may be an excellent opportunity for buyers to step in and find their new home. Let us know if you are considering a home search. We are always happy to talk real estate!

Hartford County Single Family Contracts in September 2018 by Town

August Contracts: Typical End of Summer

2018-09-07 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in August 2018

Hartford County finished August with 779 single-family contracts, slightly behind the August 2017 total of 785 deals. It continues to be a strong year for the county, with the total deal count only off last year’s total by about 3.4%.

Real estate markets took the traditional late summer step back in August. The pool of buyers trying to time the school year cycle typically phase out of the market at about this time of the year. Since it usually takes 45 – 60 days for a deal to close, putting a home under contract in August is unlikely to result in a move-in date before early September … after the school year has begun.

From now through March, buyers and sellers are folks who choosing to move for reasons that not related to schools. Downsizing continues to be a big trend in the region as the population ages. Work relocations are common because the Hartford area is a commercial hub. We are still seeing people buying their first home as they take advantage of the stable economy and the attractive mortgage interest rates.

Town-by-town performance is always interesting to track, and at this time of the year the numbers tend to settle because there is a meaningful amount of data. Focusing on the year-to-date column below, East Hartford and Manchester are the two municipalities showing the largest drop in the number of deals. Both are trailing 2017 by 104 contracts as of the end of August.

In East Hartford, the City had a very slow run in June and July. Those two months accounted for 57 deals of underperformance, which is more than half of the total for the year. Inventory levels are on the low side, at 2.8 months overall, but are no longer so low that buyers don’t have any homes to consider purchasing.

Manchester’s underperformance is actually more about last year than this year. The number of monthly deals this year has followed normal seasonal patterns, though it has been slightly below each corresponding month from last year. The main difference in the overall total was caused by surprisingly high deal counts in January, March, and April 2017. This year has been more of a typical year for Manchester.

Suffield has shown the largest increase in deals over 2017, with 29 more contracts leading to 25.7% more activity. As a smaller town, Suffield’s monthly data is more erratic than the East Hartford or Manchester. Consistent monthly deal counts during the summer of 2018 created the surplus deals after a hit-or-miss summer in 2017.

There could still be some surprises between now and the end of the year. Whether there are or not, 2018 is very likely to be another strong year for the local real estate markets.

2018-09-07 Hartford County Single Family Contracts in August 2018 by Town