Third quarter real estate: Faster sales, lower prices

A four-bedroom, three-bathroom single-family home located at 42 Barry Avenue is on the market for $1,025,000. — Steve Coulter photo

Ridgefield homes are selling faster than they did a year ago, but for less money.

Single-family homes spent 44 fewer days on the market in July, August, and September than they did over the same three-month period in 2017, but the average sales price dropped from $807,809 in the third quarter last year to $773,560 in 2018.

The median selling price of a house increased from $657,500 in the third quarter of 2017 to $670,000 this year.

The number of houses sold fell slightly, with 113 single-family homes selling in the past three months, compared to the 116 homes that sold in July, August, and September of 2017.

“The buyers feel it’s a buyer’s market and, across some categories, it certainly is,” said Mary Pat Sexton, president of the Ridgefield Board of Realtors. “If you have a house under $1 million, you should be able to sell it quickly if it’s priced correctly and in good condition.”

Sexton said the quick turnaround on homes under $1 million created good “buyer urgency” — the sense among buyers that they should jump on a purchase because they might miss out on a home if they wait.

In total sales volume, Ridgefield’s market fell from $93,705,894 in the third quarter last year to $87,412,240 over the same three-month stretch in 2018 — a decrease of just under $6.3 million.

Low, middle, high

The market for entry-level houses in Ridgefield — those priced below $500,000 — held steady.

Eleven such homes sold in the third quarter in 2018, one more sale than the third quarter last year.

The middle-market of homes priced between $500,000 and $1 million proved most popular, with 73 such homes sold in the third quarter this year, compared to 69 in the same quarter in 2017.

“The swiftest price points are, of course, anything under $500,000, and then five to $1 million,” Sexton said.

The high-end market of homes — priced $1 million and up — also showed steady sales, with 19 such homes selling in the third quarter this year. That was an increase compared to the third quarter of 2017, where 18 homes sold above the $1-million price tag.

Sellers be ready

There might be some hope for homeowners trying to sell a home priced above $1 million. According to Sexton, out of 46 houses that were waiting to close as of Friday, Oct. 12, 11 of them are priced over $1 million.

“We’re going to see a good number of closings in the fourth quarter,” Sexton said.

The ultra-high-end market — homes priced $2 million or more — faired worse. Only two such homes sold in the third quarter of 2018, compared to the four that sold in the same months of 2017.

The highest-priced home to sell between July and September was a five-bed, nine-bath brick colonial built in 2008 at 82 High Ridge Avenue, which spent more than two years on the market. The house closed at $2,550,000.

The lowest sale of the quarter was a three-bedroom, two-bathroom wood house on a one-acre lot on Cooper Road, which closed at $200,000.

Condos

Condominiums sold quickly in the third quarter of 2018.

In the past three months, condos spent 108 days on market — compared to 198 days in the third quarter of 2017.

Similar to single-family homes, condo prices also fell though.

The average price of a condo dropped from $457,571 in the third quarter of 2017 to $325,695 this year — a decline of about $132,000.

The median price was nearly cut in half — from a high of $431,500 in the third quarter last year to $232,500 over the same three months in 2018.

Mary Pat Sexton, president of the Ridgefield Board of Realtors, attributed the lower condo prices to new buildings that sold out last year.

“There was a lot of new [units] on Sunset Lane a year ago,” she said.

Despite the dip in prices, the number of condo units sold saw a slight bump — 16 sold in the third quarter of 2018, compared with 13 last year.

There are also seven condos currently waiting to close, Sexton said.

Sales of entry-level condos — priced below $360,000 — saw the best growth. Eleven such units sold in the third quarter of 2018, compared with six last year.

“The entry level condo market in Ridgefield is swift right now,” said Sexton.

The middle of the market — condos priced $360,000 to $500,000 — fared slightly worse. None sold between those price points in the third quarter of 2018, compared to four last year.

The high end for condos, priced between $500,000 and $1 million, saw an increase — five units sold in the third quarter of 2018, two more than last year.

Sexton said that for many buyers, condos are both attractive for downsizing and as a first home. “We always talk about first houses, but condos are first houses for a lot of people — because look at the prices,” she said.

The highest condo sale of the quarter was a unit at 77 Sunset Lane, which went for $593,599.

The lowest sale was for a unit at the Fox Hill condominium complex at 4 Cottonwood Lane, which sold for $129,000.

Conveyance tax

The drop in sales volume was also reflected in conveyance taxes, which the town collects when real estate property is transferred between owners.

In July, August, and September of 2018, the town took in a combined $258,593 — about $14,000 less than last year. Conveyance taxes peaked in July, the busiest month in sales volume.

There are currently 260 single-family homes and 20 condos listed on the market.

Sexton said the additional number of homes and condos waiting to close showed that third quarter was “healthy”.

“I think the story has more positives to it than people are used to hearing,” she said. “I believe we’re going to see a healthy fourth quarter.”

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