FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Second quarter reports from Fairfield County real estate brokers indicate a strengthening housing market with increases in sales volume, median price and new deposits.
The improving economy, consumer confidence and small increase in interest rates were some of the factors in the increased activity. William Pitt International Realty reported an increase of 26 percent in the first quarter in 2012 for single-family homes under contract and closed sales.
“It’s pretty consistent with what we thought was occurring during the second quarter,’’ said Terence Beaty, director of New Homes and Land Division for Prudential Connecticut Realty. “New deposits are up much stronger than they were in the first quarter. That’s a good sign that the market will carry over into the second half of the year.”
The William Pitt Sotheby's International report is online. The Prudential report is attached as a PDF.
There were 7,640 pending deals at the close of the second quarter, compared with 6,891 at the end of the first quarter, Beaty said. There were 4,230 pending deals at the end of the fourth quarter in 2012.
“The deals that have been going through seem to be a little more sane,’’ he said. “The playing field is a little more predictable. The last couple of years it was hard to keep deals together. If we can get a modicum of those deposits to close, it will be the first time in a few years we’ve been able to follow up with a strong second half after a strong first half.”
Rick Higgins, chief executive officer of the Higgins Group, said a slight rise in mortgage rates sparked people considering home purchases to take the plunge.
“People are coming to the realization the train’s going to leave the station,’’ Higgins said. “The home that they could buy for $600,000 might not be there much longer if the interest rates keep rising.”
Another important development in the shifting real estate tide is the dwindling inventory of single-family homes.
Brad Kimmelman, manager for William Pitt Sotheby’s International Reaty Fairfield | Southport Brokerage, said owners in today’s marketplace are motivated to sell. “The only homes on the market now are from people who want to sell,’’ Kimmelman said. “There are few market testers out there any more.”
Fewer foreclosures and short sales have also significantly reduced home inventory, he said.
Some Fairfield County communities saw huge increases in the sales of single-family homes, according to the Prudential report. The number increased by 52 percent in Weston, 47.2 percent in Redding and 35.7 percent in Norwalk. There was just a 0.3 percent increase in Fairfield, a 10.5 percent gain in Danbury and a 15.1 percent increase in Stamford.
Similarly, median sale prices fluctuated by community. Darien prices jumped 25 percent compared with the same quarter in 2012, and New Canaan jumped 17 percent. Prices in Rowayton declined 13 percent, while Ridgefield declined by 6 percent and Westport by 4 percent.
“Some prices jumped up a lot, but the upper ones haven’t seen an increase yet,’’ Higgins said. “But they might.”
Condominium sales in Fairfield County also rose sharply in the second quarter, according to the Prudential report. Sales of condos rose 25.3 percent over the same time frame last year, and the median sales price rose 4.8 percent to $240,000. Condos in Ridgefield saw a steep 47.9 percent increase in value.
Most of the home price increases have been incremental, which Kimmelman said is evidence that the recovery should show staying power.
“We’re happy to see incremental increases,’’ Kimmelman said. “As long as it stays steady, I think we’re poised for a nice future.”