Fairfield County home sales and median prices down

By Jane C. Timm | December 23, 2008 04:28PM

Real estate woes are hitting Fairfield County, market reports and brokers say, and this state of affairs is likely to be evident in data covering the entire year.

There was a 30 percent decline in sales in the first nine months of the year — and the last quarter will show a continuation of the drop in sales and median prices, says Barry Rosa, vice president of Prudential Realty Connecticut.

Prudential Realty’s data, covering the first three quarters of the year, showed an approximately 30 percent drop in the number of home sales in Fairfield County compared to the first nine months of the previous year — the highest county drop in the state. The drop in Fairfield County is five percent more than in the entire state during the same period.

The median single-family home sales price in Fairfield County dropped an average of 9.9 percent during the months of January to September compared to the same period last year. In the state as a whole, there was an 8.1 percent drop in median sales prices for single-family homes.

Another report showed the same dip in sales volume over the same period in Fairfield County. The Warren Group, an independent data collecting company that publishes an industry information report, the Commercial Record, showed a 30 percent sales drop in the county for single-family homes, but only a 4 percent drop in median sales price for the same home class.

“For the past two years, we’ve been heading down,” said Don Fabrizio-Garcia, an agent and appraiser at Keller Williams Realty, adding, “a lot of the first-time buyers can’t get the mortgages they were planning on getting and the investment market is gone.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom, Prudential’s Rosa said.

“At the end of the day, for the bulk of folks who buy residential real estate for a place to live, it still, over time, produces a tremendous return,” Rosa said.

To prove this, Rosa took a random sampling of Connecticut towns and compared the median sales prices of the single-family homes in 1995 according to the local multiple listing service, to the median sales prices of this year, through November. Each town showed an average 225 percent jump in the median sales prices. That doesn’t mean that every house will see a 225 percent price appreciation, Rosa explained, but it does show the value of investing in Connecticut homes.

Rosa said with mortgage rates and inventory rates falling, more renters are becoming purchasers.

Condo unit prices are feeling the crunch, too. Most Connecticut towns are seeing a 30 percent drop in the number of condo sales during the first nine months of this year and median sales prices dropped 2.5 percent.

Fabrizio-Garcia, of Keller Williams, said condo prices are falling at the same rates as single-family homes. Even in the rare town where condo prices are rising — such as New Canaan and Newtown, which each saw prices rise more than 20 percent in the first nine months of this year — the number of sales still fell more than 20 percent compared to the first three quarters of the previous year.

According to the Prudential report, some Fairfield County towns have seen real estate sales drop almost 50 percent between the first ninth months of 2008 and the same period last year. Darien sales fell 46.8 percent; Sherman fell 47.4 percent; and Greenwich, Westport, Fairfield, and Norwalk each fell more than 30 percent. Median price changes were almost entirely in the red. The biggest price change was in Bridgeport single-family homes, where the median sales price fell 18 percent during the first nine months of 2008 — dropping to $205,000 from 250,000.

Danbury has had a glut of short sales and foreclosures, Fabrizio-Garcia said, but some of the wealthier towns like Greenwich and Ridgefield are holding out because short sales and foreclosures are only just hitting those markets. 

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