Ridgefield real estate: Home sales strong, prices down

Ridgefield’s real estate market showed steady growth in 2017, with 22 more single-family homes being sold than in 2016. The total sales volume was also up from $259,407,724 in 2016 to $273,224,044 last year — good for a 5.3% increase.

Despite the increased sales volume, the average sales price of homes went down, from $745,424 in 2016 to $738,443 in 2017. The median sales price didn’t change much but did show a small increase, from $640,000 in 2016 to $642,500 in 2017.

The strongest part of Ridgefield’s real estate market was homes listed below $800,000.

“Anything up to $800,000 is really the most popular price point, and the most sales in Ridgefield,” said Mary Pat Sexton, president of the Ridgefield Board of Realtors.

Homes listed below the $999,000 threshold also tended to sell quickly “if priced correctly,” Sexton added.

Realtor Karla Murtaugh of Neumann Real Estate noted that sellers in the middle to high range might have better luck, thanks to low inventories on the market.

“We’ve also noticed a shortage of inventory in the $600,000 to $800,000 range, so if you are thinking of selling in this price range, now might be a good time,” she said.

Those looking to buy could see a good return on their investment.

“With mortgage rates remaining historically low and the market essentially flat, the promise of upside potential is enticing to many buyers,” Murtaugh said.

Slow finish

The fourth quarter market was slower in 2017 than in 2016.

Between October and December of 2017, 76 homes sold compared to 84 homes sold over that same period in 2016.

Although sales volume dropped in the fourth quarter, the average sale price rose to $711,373 — up from $689,337 over the same three-month period in 2016.

The median price also saw a boost, up from $607,000 in the fourth quarter of 2016 to $648,750 in 2017.

Highs and lows

In 2017, Ridgefield saw 43 homes sell for more than $1 million — one fewer than last year.

The market for luxury homes — those priced at $1.5 million or above — fell slightly, with 13 such homes selling in 2017 compared to 19 in 2016.

Legendary TV host Dick Cavett’s purchase of Sunset Hall in July topped the list for the year’s highest closing price, at $3,318,181. The 1912 mansion located at 162 Old West Mountain Road had previously been the proposed site of a private drug rehabilitation facility, but the applicants withdrew after withering criticism from neighbors opposed to the plan.

The sale of Sunset Hall, one of three homes that sold over the $3-million mark in 2017, failed to match the $4,975,000 price tag that the top seller from 2016 earned.

Ridgefield’s low-end market stayed above $200,000, with the lowest-priced sale of the year (a 1,400-square-foot home on a half-acre lot at 5 Lake Road, on the north end of town) closing for $205,000.

Conveyance tax

For 2017, the town took in $873,234 in conveyance taxes — taxes collected by the town when a piece of real estate property is transferred to a new owner — according to Town Clerk Barbara Serfilippi. That number was up from the year-end total of $797,547 for 2016.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, the town clerk’s office collected $198,401, a 3.7% increase from the $191,182 that was collected in the last quarter of 2016.

December was the busiest month of the fourth quarter in 2017, with Serfilippi collecting $72,708. She collected $59,643 in October and $66,049 in December.

“I think we’re doing quite well,” Serfilippi told The Press. “I’m meeting the numbers that the Board of Finance has estimated that I’ll collect in conveyance tax, and that’s always a good thing.”

“The under-$500,000 market is the strongest,” she added. “That’s been consistent for all last year [2017], and includes many condos.”

The condo market showed comparable growth, with 70 condo units sold during the year — up from the 63 sold in 2016 (see related story).

Days on market

Ridgefield homes sat on the market 173 days on average in 2017 — a week longer than the 166 days on average in 2016.

The fastest selling homes for 2017 were those priced below $499,000, which sold within two months on average. Homes priced for more than $750,000 but still under $999,000 also sold relatively quickly, with an average time on the market of eight and a half months.

Homes priced above $1 million took a little longer to sell, with homes in the $1-million to $1.49-million range taking eight and a half months to sell. Homes priced at $1.5 million and up remained on the market for an average of 30 months.

“As soon as you get about $1 million, or $1.5 million, it could take over a year to sell your house,” Sexton said.

What’s left

One thing that could impact the market, Murtaugh noted in her report, is the new federal tax legislation passed shortly before Christmas 2017.

“Tax reform is the unknown variable moving into 2018,” Murtaugh said.

Sexton said she believes 2018 will continue to be a busy year for the town’s real estate market, which currently has 154 single-family homes listed.

“The numbers seem to be even over the years — I think there will still be a busy market because of the low interest rates and the mortgage products that are out there,” she told The Press.

Shift to equality

Murtaugh said that one shift to notice heading into 2018 is when people are buying homes.

“To have the number of properties closing in the spring (116 properties) equal those in the summer (117 properties) is unusual,” she said of 2017.

“The general takeaway is that — with increased online visibility and ‘armchair‘ real estate — no matter the season, buyers are willing to purchase if they find what they like.”