Ridgefield’s real estate market is in pretty good shape heading into the new decade, with the fourth quarter of 2019 producing an uptick in the number of single-family homes sold and an increase in their average sales price.

A $3.09-million home sale in October on Spring Valley Road helped boost the quarter’s numbers and have Ridgefield Realtors looking ahead to 2020 with optimism.

“The fourth quarter came in strong,” said Toni Riordan of Berkshire Hathaway. “The sales volume was pretty much on par with what it was two years ago and exceeded last year’s total. The average sale price is way up from last year, too ... the $3-million sale helped the quarter, as did a few homes that sold over the $2-million mark. We had a lot of those under deposit for a while and they finally closed, and that was very nice to see.”

In October, November and December of 2019, Ridgefield saw 70 single-family homes sell compared to 68 over the same three-month stretch in 2018. The average sale price for homes was $758,181 in the fourth quarter of 2019 — compared to $711,373 in 2017 and $723,929 in 2018.

The total sales volume for the quarter was $53,072,650 — up from $49,227,161 last year and almost matching the $54,064,335 that was brought in during the final quarter of 2017.

In all of 2019, Ridgefield saw 246 out of 327 homes sell for less than $800,000, compared to 241 that sold under that same price tag the year prior.

“The homes under $800,000 are still very much our sweet spot — they’re always the quickest to sell,” said Lynne Boehm, president of Ridgefield Board of Realtors. “We had most of our traffic under $800,000 — that’s always where the activity has been and where most buyers are looking to get in at.”

The market saw three fewer single-family homes sell in 2019 than the previous year — 330 in 2018, compared to the 327 in 2019 — but the average sale price and total sales volume were almost completely flat.

The total sales volume for 2019 was $233,379,725, compared to $236,545,651 in 2018. The average sale price was $716,805 a year ago, dipping slightly to $713,699 in 2019.

“Our numbers show we were pretty steady,” Riordan said. “The $3-million sale helped give us a big boost not only in the quarter but also to the year-end numbers.”

Spring Valley savior

Spring Valley Road has already provided an additional boost in the first quarter of 2020. Another single-family home on that road sold for $3.3 million on Jan. 10, 2020 — exceeding the highest sale of the first quarter in all three of the previous years.

“And that was only 10 days into the new year,” said Riordan.

Looking ahead to 2020, Riordan said that 32 homes were already under deposit — 11 of which are listed for more than $1 million.

“We had 21 homes go under deposit in November and December of 2019 which was a great sign of things to come,” said Riordan. “In 2018, we had one home go under deposit during that same two-month stretch around the holidays. It was really quiet.”

Boehm, who attended a National Realtors Association conference in Washington D.C. late in 2019, said that the fourth quarter sales could be a sign of good things to come as millennials come off the sidelines to buy homes.

“There’s a pent up demand for housing among millennials and that makes housing predictions more positive than previously forecasted as many millennials move further into their 30s and 40s,” Boehm said, citing the NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun.

“You keep hearing housing sales are off but we’re holding our own,” Boehm said. “The numbers show we’re steady with 2018 in terms of number of units sold and the what they’re selling for. ... Having 32 units under deposit at this time of year is very good.”

Riordan agreed, noting that 48 units sold in the first quarter of 2018.

“If all 32 under deposit were to close — and that’s a big if, then that means we’re two-thirds of the way there and we’re only half way through January,” she said. “We could end up exceeding that 48 number pretty easily if the weather holds off this winter.”

Condos down

Ridgefield condo sales were both down for the fourth quarter and in general in 2019.

In the final quarter, nine fewer condo units sold — 20 in 2018, compared to 11 this past year, while the average sale price also dropped from $309,338 to $244,319.

It mirrored a yearlong trend, with 55 units being sold in 2019 altogether — a drop off from the 70 condos sold the previous year.

“Condos are always hard to judge because you have some that sell for a $1.4 million and then you have others that go for $140,000 — it’s such a wide range and that makes it hard to look at the average price,” Riordan explained.

The total sales volume was down from $23,112,165 in 2018 to $16,439,906 in 2019, and the fourth quarter was no different with $6,186,750 in condo sales recorded in 2018, compared to just $2,687,506 in sales in October, November and December of 2019.

“People still want to downsize and stay here,” Riordan said, “because condos are less maintenance than a home and usually have better proximity to town. There’s an attraction that’s still there but we’ve seen a drop off this year.”

The drop off might not be as bad as the numbers suggest though.

“There was a surge in building those high-end condo units in 2016 and 2017 and that’s reflected in those sale numbers,” Boehm explained. “There was a higher volume of units to be sold which increased the number of units sold. I still think our condo market is pretty healthy though. If you look at it, we had a $1.3-million condo sell in town this year. That’s a good sign that there are still buyers looking for condos and higher-end condos.”

What buyers want

Buyers are looking for both homes and condos that are move-in ready, according to Riordan and Boehm.

“New buyers don’t have the time — they don’t want to deal with construction, they’re too busy with their jobs during the week to pick up a hammer during the weekend or when they’re on vacation,” Riordan said.

Pricing a home is dependent on its condition, she added.

“If a home needs a makeover, then it needs to be priced to reflect that,” she said. “The competition is too fierce to put something on high that isn’t ready to be moved into immediately.”

Ridgefield home sellers do have one weapon in their arsenal though: The town they live in.

“Buyers want a lot of things but at the top of almost all of their lists is having a town and a center of town, and Ridgefield offers that,” Boehm said. “Ridgefield’s Main Street is still very desirable and the town offers events, restaurants, and entertainment that are really appealing to new buyers.”

“It’s really nice to have something like the Ridgefield Playhouse or the ACT of Connecticut right in your backyard,” Riordan added. “You can get top-level entertainment and not go very far for it.”

Ridgefield’s charm has helped attract buyers to spend on high-end homes. Forty-two home sold for over a million in 2019, and five of those went for more than $2 million and one (the home on Spring Valley Road that sold in October) went for more than $3 million.

“The sign of a healthy market is selling those higher-priced homes and we’re starting to move them, and that’s a great sign,” Boehm said.

“Some have been under deposit for a while and they’re now starting to close,” Riordan added. “We entered this past quarter with a bit of momentum and it’s now carrying over into the first quarter of the new year, which is nice to see.”