Photo: Alexander Soule / Hearst Connecticut Media
The only way most people see movement in their local real estate markets is via the “for sale” signs mysteriously vanishing on the routes they regularly traverse in their towns.
Those signs are coming down in Fairfield County — though at prices that remain stubbornly low. But at least one real estate industry expert expects that to change in the coming year.
While the Connecticut Association of Realtors reported the price of the median home sold in April as up 4.2 percent from a year ago, CoreLogic released a report this week showing Connecticut to be the only state in the nation where homes declined in value that month based on the difference in prices of any single property’s two most recent sale transactions.
Connecticut home sales on the CoreLogic Home Price Index were off 0.5 percent, compared to a 5.9 percent increase in New York, a 5 percent gain in Rhode Island and a 4.8 percent bump in Massachusetts (Florida led the East with a 7.7 percent hike). And New York was among 17 states to see prices reach an all-time high on the CoreLogic Home Price Index.
Fairfield County and Connecticut have seen great momentum in sales transactions, according to Mike Feldman, president of Connecticut Realtors and an agent in the Stamford office of William Raveis. Feldman added that the strong spring market shows signs of maintaining momentum into the summer and fall months.
“Rates are sub-4 percent and … people are getting off the fence,” Feldman said. “That’s why you’ve had this nationwide increase of pending sales. … As long as interest rates are attractive and mortgages are readily available — which they are — you are still going to see some demand.”
If that has yet to result in accompanying price increases in comparison with other states, CoreLogic predicts things will improve in the coming year, forecasting Connecticut home prices increasing 4.5 percent in the coming 12 months, about on par with New York and only slightly behind Massachusetts.
Still, in the first quarter Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties tracked just four Fairfield County municipalities seeing year-over-year increases in sales transactions, median and average prices, and declines in days a house is listed for sale: Bridgeport, Danbury, Easton and Trumbull.
The mixed data has some taking a wait-and-see approach.
“I’d call a gain in the median sales price a positive sign, but it’s too early to call it a trend or a precursor of more increases,” said Tim Warren, CEO of the Boston-based Warren Group, which tracks Connecticut home sales. “It was the first gain we’ve seen in any month for over a year. … What we are seeing is a very uneven recovery of the real estate market.”
Nationally, pending home sales — those that are under contract but which have yet to close — reached their highest level in over a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors, including in the Northeast.
“What’s driving this demand is just the fundamentals of … exceptionally low mortgage rates and job creation,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, in an online interview accompanying the NAR report. “These two factors are really bringing buyers into the market.”
Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-964-2236; www.twitter.com/casoulman