Real estate market: First quarter shows slow, steady growth

Ridgefield’s real estate market appears to be holding steady with 72 houses and condominiums selling for a total of over $47.3 million in the first three months of 2017, compared to the 68 that sold for $44.5 million in the first quarter of 2016.

Both the number of sales and their dollar value increased roughly 6% in the first quarter from last year to this year, according to the figures, provided by the Ridgefield Board of Realtors.

“Homes are selling and people are buying,” said Kyle Neumann, president of the Ridgefield Board of Realtors.

“A total of 6% more houses selling in the first quarter than the first quarter of 2016 — it’s obviously showing me that the market’s growing,” he said. “It’s just great to see buyers are more confident, and they’re out there.

“I think interest rates rising in the fall probably played a part. It made people a little more willing to commit to a deal,” he added.

“Interest rates are so low, the lowest we’ve ever seen when they were in the ‘threes’ last year. Now that they’re seeing the Fed is actually starting to raise rates, I think that buyer who was on the fence about purchasing last year, they’re going to believe they’re going to continue to keep rising and give a little more of a push to go forward with a deal.”

Sales up, prices down

For single-family houses, the number of sales in the first quarter of 2017 was 61, up about 11%, from 55 houses sold in 2016’s first quarter.

The average selling price for single-family houses fell slightly — off about 4% — as those 61 single-family houses sold for an average of $721,085, down from an average sales price of $752,253 in the first three months of 2016.

This could reflect the properties that are being sold — their size, their condition, their age — as well as how hungry buyers are, Neumann said.

The median selling price — the midpoint sale with an equal number of closings above it and below it — increased from $541,000 in the first quarter of 2016 to $606,000 this year.

On average, houses were selling for 94% of their original listing price in the first quarter of 2017, compared to 90% of their original listing price from January through March in 2016.


The bulk of sales were again in the middle of the market, but the number of sales in the lower end was down a bit.

In first three months of 2017, 35 of the 61 houses sold for between $500,000 and $1 million, 14 houses sold for less $500,000, and 12 went for more than $1 million — with 11 selling between $1 million and $2 million, and one house going for more than $2 million.

That compares to a first quarter of 2016, when 21 of the 55 houses that sold went for between $500,000 and $1 million, 22 sold below $500.000, and 12 sold for over $1 million — 10 of them between $1 million and $2 million, and two selling at prices above the $2 million mark.

In the first three months of 2017, the highest individual house sale was $3,100,000, compared to a high of $4,975,000 for the first quarter of 2016. The lowest house sales price this quarter was $250,000, compared to a low house sale of $125,000 in the first quarter of 2016.

Houses that sold in 2017 had been on the market an average of 209 days before selling — a little longer than the average of 182 days last year at this time.

The total dollar volume for house sales in the first quarter of 2017 was $43,986,192, up from $41,373,900 in 2016’s first quarter.

Taxes and fees

The health of the real estate market shows up in the conveyance taxes and recording fees collected by the town.

“The conveyance tax is 0.0025% of the sales price,” said Town Clerk Barbara Serfilippi. “This goes into the general fund.”

Because it’s a percentage of price — though a very small percentage — on each transaction, conveyance tax collections reflect both the volume of sales and the prices properties are going for.

Conveyance taxes for 2017’s first quarter totaled $125,499, Serfilippi said, while last year in the same three-month period the town took in $117,422.

Month by month, the conveyance tax collections increased from January to February, then fell in March.

For 2017, the monthly conveyance taxes were: January, $43,161; February, $44,444; and March, $37,893.

“I can’t explain it,” she said of March. “Last year it was the same. …

“Whether people are waiting for the better weather, that’s why March is slow — I couldn’t tell you.”

Recording fees at the town clerk’s office are another measure of the market — again, an imprecise measure since they reflect refinancing of properties, as well as sales.

“As far as recording fees, we were a little under in 2017,” Serfilippi said. “2016 seemed to be better. I think that’s because the interest rates have gone up.”

Overall, the town clerk is optimistic.

“I think we’re doing well,” she said. “We’re up in the conveyance tax in the first quarter, and I think the next quarter and the quarter after that are going to be even better.”