Ridgefield real estate: Prices up, sales flat in second quarter
Buoyed by a strong economy and low interest rates, Ridgefield’s real estate market attracted the same number of homebuyers in the second quarter of 2019 as it did last year.
Well, that’s not true. One more homebuyer.
In the second quarter, 102 homes sold this year compared to the 101 that switched hands in April, May and June 2018.
“Quarter to quarter were not far off,” said Toni Riordan, president of the Ridgefield Board of Realtors. “We’re pretty much the same as we were last year —so it’s a pretty steady market.”
The total sales volume increased slightly from $67,607,450 last year’s second quarter to $70,453,032 in 2019.
If that wasn’t enough good news, the average sale price and median sale price also both went up in the spring of 2019, compared to the same three month stretch last year.
In 2018, the average sale price was $669,381 and the median sale price was $618,000. A year later, and those numbers are both up — the average price was $690,716 and the median price was $635,000 this past quarter.
Perhaps most important, the market almost rebounded to match where it was in the second quarter of 2017 — a spring that wasn’t encumbered by several snowstorms like the ones that hit Ridgefield in March 2018 or the macroburst that closed schools for several days in mid-May that same year.
The average sale price and median sale price are almost the same as they were two years ago — “the median is actually slightly higher than it was that year,” said Riordan.
The numbers agree.
Two years ago, Ridgefield’s real estate market had an average sale price of $696,561 on single-family homes and a median sale price of $629,000.
“The numbers say we’re moving forward in a positive direction,” Riordan said. “There’s no big drop from year to year or from 2017 to 2019. ... Things are still moving, and that’s always a plus. It’s just not like it was back then, at the height of the market.”
The “back then” Riordan referenced was before the recession, when million dollar homes used to fly off the market.
Fast-forward a decade and that part of the market is still strong — seven homes sold for more than a $1 million in the first quarter and another seven sold above that price tag this spring quarter. But, according to Riordan, those types of homes take more time to sell.
“That’s not to say they’re not selling,” she said. “We’ve had a handful sell for over $2 million this year, and there are seven more that are under deposit and six more like that that are under contract — all over a million. Anything can happen, and these things do take a while, but they’re in the works. It could be a strong start to this new [summer] quarter. ... It’s good to know there are people still out there that are interested in buying million dollar homes in Ridgefield. They might just take a little longer to close.”
So what’s moving these days?
“The under $700,000 market is still thriving,” she said. “We’re moving steady elsewhere but that’s the one sweet spot that’s seeing a lot of action — faster movement.”
And what’s stimulating the faster sales, according to Riordan, are interest rates that are lower than 4% and a stronger national economy.
“Yeah, it’s a little slower — the number of days on the market are up, but buyers are still coming,” she said. “Spring is always our busiest time of year in terms of buyers coming in — the foot traffic. But summer is actually when we have the most closures. I expect with the way the rates are and the way the economy is that we’re going to see deals continue to close this next quarter.”
What about the macroburst?
Despite the severe weather in the spring of 2018, Riordan said Realtors don’t weigh external factors when crunching the numbers.
In other words, there’s no asterisk for bad weather — 2019’s second quarter success is not a by-product of a slow spring last year.
“Winter storms keep more buyers out than anything that can happen in the spring, and those snowstorms really just delay them,” she said. “If weather stops them, they’ll come back. It’s temporary. ... Weather plays a part but it doesn’t stop them. It only slows them down.”
Looking at the conveyance tax numbers for the second quarter of 2019, it’s apparent there wasn’t an advantage to having mostly fine weather this May.
Last year, Town Clerk Wendy Lionetti collected $60,435 in conveyance taxes from property transfers. That number decreased to $46,578 in May 2019.
Similar to single-family homes, the number of condominium units sold in the second quarter of 2019 was flat compared to the previous year.
Eighteen condos exchanged hands in this spring — the exact same amount that sold in 2018.
The average sale price and median sale price both dropped substantially — $386,983 to $328,883 and $309,500 to $234,000, respectively.
Riordan says condo sellers shouldn’t be too concerned.
“People are still buying condos,” she said. “They’re still moving and they’re still moving pretty quickly. People like to downsize — it’s a popular part of the market.”
The notable drop in prices might be caused by the recent sales of townhouses in the downtown area — over at 500 Main Street and 77 Sunset Lane.
“A lot of those went off the market in 2017, 2018,” she said. “They’re listed as [condo] units but these are places that go for more than some houses. Just this quarter we had one go for $1.3 million — it’s one of the new townhomes at the corner of Main and Gilbert [across from Ballard Park].”
Though that sale dwarfs the largest condo sale from 2018’s second quarter ($738,750), it didn’t make the drop off in sales volume any less steep. In 2019, Ridgefield recorded $5,919,900 in condo sales — down a million from $6,965,700 it took in during the same three months last year.
“The number of units is flat year to year, and the sales are down,” Riordan said. “There’s still a lot of people interested — and they’re not all outsiders. Lots of people who live in Ridgefield want to stay in town and this is an affordable way for them to do that.”
Lots to offer
The highest single-family home sale of this past quarter also lapped its 2018 counterpart.
The home at 845 North Salem Road went for $2,310,000 — compared to last year went he highest recorded sale of the second quarter was for $1,540,000.
“We’re still attracting plenty of homebuyers into town,” Riordan said. “We’re not that far off from prior years in terms of sales and sales volume, and we’re actually up in a few areas. And I really think that’s because Ridgefield still has a lot to offer. There’s a lot of culture here, and it’s a tight-knit community. Just look at the Memorial Day Parade this year — we had a record number of spectators and marchers, and we attracted more people than Norwalk and Stamford did with their city parades.
“That speaks volumes to how attractive we are — this is a quaint New England town that has maintained its charm,” she added. “You can’t just find that anywhere.”