Spring real estate: Home, condo sales down
Mother Nature continued to slow down Ridgefield’s real estate market in the second quarter of 2018, with 99 single-family homes selling in April, May, and June this year — 18 fewer than the 117 that sold during the same three-month period in 2017.
Fresh on the heels of a long, snowy winter that created a dip in the number of homes sold and their average selling price in the first quarter of 2018, the market couldn’t overcome a macroburst in mid-May that knocked out power for 2,632 electrical meters and left a dozen or so neighborhoods inaccessible with fallen tree limbs and downed utility poles.
Despite the slowdown in May — when the town clerk reported $60,436 in conveyance tax compared to the $109,004 collected in May 2017, the average sales price and median sale price of homes held steady.
The average sales price increased slightly from $696,561 in the second quarter last year to $699,724 in 2018. The median sale price fell by less than 1% in the second quarter this year — $629,000 in 2017 to $625,000 in 2018.
“I think we had a good second quarter,” said Mary Pat Sexton, president of the town Board of Realtors.
She pointed to the average number of days on market for a single-family house as an indicator that there remains a strong demand for home buying in Ridgefield — a good sign for sellers looking to make a quick sale.
The average days on market fell from 170 days in the second quarter of 2017 to 118 days this spring.
“I believe there are buyers out there,” Sexton said. “I believe there’s still good mortgage products out there and good rates.”
Buying and selling
She hesitated to describe Ridgefield as a buyer’s or seller’s market heading into the summer months of July, August, and September.
For sellers, Sexton recommended they price a home “tight to the market statistics,” provided by a real estate agent, “and have it in the best condition possible.”
“I do believe there are a good amount of buyers that like houses that are already renovated, as opposed to a house that they would have to do a lot of work to,” she said. “They’re busy with their jobs and their schedules, and they’re knowledgeable about quality and renovations.”
As for buyers, Sexton said that even as mortgage rates continue to rise, they still remain at “historically low” levels.
“Borrowing money is still at a historically, all-time low, so that’s good for the buyers out there,” she said.
Low, middle, high
Sales of Ridgefield’s entry-level houses — those priced under $500,000 — dipped slightly in the second quarter of 2018. Twenty-five such homes sold this spring, three fewer than were sold in the same period in 2017.
“People are looking for inventory there, too, I would say. That’s always popular,” said Sexton.
Homes priced between $500,000 and $1 million saw the most sales in this year’s second quarter, with 63 homes sold — down from the 74 homes that sold in that price range during the spring of 2017.
“Those family-size houses always do well,” Sexton said.
Homes listed under $1 million sold on average within five months of their listing, she added.
“So, it’s a balanced market — both a buyer’s and a seller’s market,” Sexton said.
Sales of high-end houses — those priced between $1 to $2 million — also dipped this spring, with 11 homes sold compared to 14 during the same three-month stretch last year.
“That is the market that takes the longest to sell,” Sexton said.
There were no sales of homes in the “ultra-high-end market” — those listed above $2 million — in the second quarter of 2018. There was one such sale during the same time last year.
The highest sale was a 6,000-square-foot home at 398 North Street constructed in 1982, with four bedrooms and six bathrooms on two acres of property. It sold for $1.5 million on May 23.
Sales of condos slumped this spring, compared to the second quarter of 2017.
The average sale price of a condo fell by almost $59,000 — about 13% — to $386,893 in the second quarter of 2018, compared to the same quarter last year.
Eighteen condos sold in the the second quarter of this year, eight fewer than the 26 that sold during the same time last year.
“More sold last year and the sale price was higher, but that was just due to new construction complexes — aka Sunset Lane and The Elms Inn — 2017,” said Sexton.
Right now the condo market is hurt by a lack of inventory, she said.
Like single family houses, condos for sale also spent less time on the market in the second quarter of this year, compared to 2017. On average, condos spent 101 days on the market, compared to 150 days during the second quarter of last year.
“It’s a very popular area, and we could use more inventory in it,” Sexton said.
A majority of the condos that went off the market in the second quarter this year — 12 of the 18 properties — sold below $500,000, compared to 17 sales in that price range in 2017.
The high-end condo market — those properties priced above $500,000 — was relatively steady with six condos selling in the second quarter of 2018, only one fewer than the same period last year.
There were no sales of condos over $1 million in the second quarter this year, compared to two that sold in the same time in 2017.
The general slowdown in the second quarter was also reflected in the town’s conveyance taxes — the cut the town makes when property is sold from one person to another — which provides a snapshot of the real estate market’s health.
This spring, the town took in $219,220 in conveyance taxes during the second quarter — $57,868 less than the same time in 2017.
“The month of May was not as good this year as it was last year, and that’s really what made the big difference,” said Town Clerk Barbara Serfilippi, who’s retiring at the end of August.
She was optimistic for the market’s future.
“I think it’s good,” she said. “We had a lot of activity now in June.”
“The trend for the last two years is that the homes [and condos] under $500,000 have the most sales,” Serfilippi said.
The price range remains a “good opportunity for young families to come into town,” according to the town clerk.
Condos and smaller homes also give elderly residents and opportunity to stay in town but downsize, she said.
“I think the aging population, who can’t afford to keep their homes, want to downsize,” Serfilippi said.
“I believe there’s a demand for more of that type of housing.”