At midyear, a modest contraction in Fairfield County’s resi market

<em>Miller Samuel's Jonathan Miller and downtown Stamford (Miller Samuel/Wikimedia Commons)</em>
Miller Samuel's Jonathan Miller and downtown Stamford (Miller Samuel/Wikimedia Commons)

Residential sales remained mostly flat in Fairfield County at the end of the second quarter, although there were some green shoots for the sagging Greenwich submarket, which saw a slight increase in median sales price.

A new market report from Douglas Elliman released Thursday detailed a 0.4 percent year-over-year increase in Fairfield County closed sales, to 3,099, while the median sales prices slipped by 1.2 percent, to $420,000.

Jonathan Miller, author of the Elliman report and CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, said the results are a sign that while the market remains “choppy,” the overall residential sector appeared to show encouraging signs of recovery after Fairfield County sales continued to fall during the first three months of 2019.

“After five quarters of year-over-year sales declines, the number of sales rose nominally, at 0.4 percent, but that was [really a] change in the longer-term trend,” Miller told The Real Deal. “While this is a nominal change from the pattern we have seen for a fairly long time, I think the 75 basis points mortgage rate drop over the last year had some influence in stimulating demand.”

Miller also cited the reduced impact of new federal tax laws, now in effect for nearly a year-and-a-half, and the passage of the April 15 tax deadline, both of which have been partially priced into the market.

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The trend of Fairfield County buyers opting for smaller residences was also undone in the second quarter, where for the first time in three quarters the median sales price expanded as listing inventory fell. Miller said this shows a synchronization between buyers and sellers, one also reflected in a quarterly 1.8 percent year-over-year decrease in months of supply — or the time needed to sell all listing inventory at the current rate of sales — to 5.6 months.

“The pace accelerated moderately 1.8 percent is not much but the market felt a little bit faster than it did one year ago,” Miller said. “The number of sales we saw in the second quarter is not something unusual. It’s not low or high, it’s closer to normal. We’re coming from a period that had heavier sales and now we’re transitioning to a time with more modest sales — and that’s because of the price discovery that had to occur over the last year-and-a-half.”

In the luxury market, Elliman reported what Miller called a “stabilization” of the available luxury product, which decreased by 0.1 percent in Fairfield County after five consecutive quarters of inventory increases, to 1,453. Elliman noted a 2.4 percent year-over-year second quarter dip in the median sales price for luxury product in Fairfield County, to $1.95 million, while the Greenwich submarket had a 9.5 percent gain in the metric, to $1.85 million.

Another report from Compass found that the Greenwich submarket had a year-to-date 4.8 percent decrease in median pricing for single-family homes, to $1.5 million. The Compass analysis, handled by high-profile Greenwich broker Robin Kencel, also found that trade velocity in the submarket has ticked up on a year-over-year basis for single-family homes and condos by 5.3 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively.

The Elliman report noted that the entry threshold in Fairfield County, which has become a busy market for first-time homebuyers, fell annually for the sixth straight quarter as the top of the residential market remained soft.

Median sales price in Fairfield County (courtesy of Douglas Elliman)