The number of homes sold in the last quarter of last year increased slightly — and they sold for less than in the final quarter of the year before.

Eighty-two single-family homes sold from October to December — two more than in the fourth quarter of 2015. Total sales went down, from $62.9 million in 2015 to $61.7 million in 2016.

Favorable price tags drove buyers off the sidelines this quarter, as the average sale price for a single-family home was $689,337 — down from $760,935 in 2015, with the median sale price increasing from $601,000 to $607,000.

“We saw a lot more homes sell in the 400s and 500s this quarter,” said Kyle Neumann, president of the Ridgefield Board of Realtors, of the lower-end market. “Ridgefield wasn’t always practical for first-time home buyers, but there’s been a turnaround in youthful buyers who are entering their 30s and are seeing the potential for them to be here. …

“It’s giving buyers a great opportunity.”

The home with the highest sale price went for $1.9 million. The least expensive went for $250,000.

In total, 11 homes sold above $1 million in the fourth quarter, while 24 sold for under $500,000.

Neumann said that homes selling in both the $500,000-to-$750,000 price range and the $750,000-to-$1 million range haven’t suffered, despite the dip in average sale price.

“The highest sale volume is in the $400,000 to $600,000,” he said. “Those are the first-time home buyers who are driving up the market both here and nationally, but there are a lot of second-time home buyers who are trading up and finding a lot of good deals in that $750,000 area.”

The trend is proving unfriendly to sellers.

“They might have bought it in the high eights or low nines 10 years ago when the market was at its peak,” Neumann said.   

“Buyers do feel they have the leverage,” he said. “If it were a seller’s market, you’d see more bidding wars or even sale prices that go above the listed price — that’s the true definition of a seller’s market.”

Sellers shouldn’t be discouraged, though.

“A buyer’s market shouldn’t deter them from selling their homes,” Neumann said. “Interest rates are rising, which is pushing buyers to try to get there quicker.

“Buyers are out there.”

And that’s showing in the number of properties sold, but not necessarily the average days on market — 216 in 2016, compared to 163 in 2015.

“It’s not a stagnant town, it’s a growing town,” Neumann said.

“The median sales price is up for the quarter and stayed almost exactly the same year to year,” he said. “And there were 26 more single-family home sales this year than last — that’s an important number for people to see.”

Year-end

In the lower end there was a boost in single-family homes sold in 2016, with 89 purchased for under $500,000 compared to 74 in 2015.

In total, there were 348 homes sold in 2016 compared to 322 in 2015.

The upper-end market also fared better, with 60 homes going for $1 million — three more than in 2015, five of which went for above $2 million.

One home sold for $4,975,000 — an increase from the top seller in 2015, which sold for $3,660,000.

As for average sale price, it went down, from $749,093 in 2015 to $745,424 in 2016.

However, sales increased from $241,208,027 in 2015 to $259,407,724 in 2016.

“I think home buyers are feeling more confident in the market and more confident in the economy at large,” Neumann said. “Everybody feels good about taking that next step, and that leaves us feeling like we can have an even better 2017.”

Conveyance tax

Town Clerk Barbara Serfilippi reported that the town collected $90,915 in conveyance tax in October — the best month of the quarter.

The town also collected $50,759 in November and $49,507 in December, totaling $191,182 for the last quarter of 2016 — an increase from the $179,545 that was collected in the fourth quarter of 2015.

“December surprised me,” she said. “It came through, which was good for us.”

In total, the town collected $797,547 in 2016 — up from $737,523 in 2015.

“There was an increase over the last year and for this quarter,” she said.

Serfilippi agreed with Neumann’s assessment that the numbers show there is a trend of homes being bought in the lower price range.

“It’s amazing how under $500,000 is the most sales,” she said.

She said the trend began in 2015 and carried over to this past year.

“The $1-million to $2-million range has been the least active over the last two years,” she said.

Ivanha Paz contributed to this story.