Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

It's the time of year to count our blessings, and that makes us think of our many clients.  We deeply appreciate your patronage, your loyalty, and your belief in our region's economy.  As CEO, I am also grateful for our many accomplished agents, who are so dedicated and professional, and make us proud in every season of the year.  I also feel lucky to work with such a fine support staff, who always go above and beyond for both clients and agents. 

So, among my many Thanksgiving expressions of gratitude, I will be naming you all, and wishing for you all a happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday season.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Home for the Holidays

Although I write almost every year about the best time to buy a home--between Halloween and Thanksgiving--and the reason is that people are very motivated to sell at that point, I should also mention that there is one other tip.  If you have a home that is decorated beautifully for the holidays each year, and it is in mint condition, there are always some buyers that have to get a home before the beginning of the new year, usually for job-related reasons, and they are among the most motivated buyers that we see all year.  They're in a hurry, are anxious to get through with the process so that they too can celebrate the holidays, and aren't interested in doing extra work to a new home.  Anything new on the market, that shows well and needs no work, is prime for this type of buyer.  So don't assume that you can't sell your home before spring.  Just think realistically about the effort involved, the showings you'll have to be flexible about, and about the premium you might receive for that extra push.  It just might be worth it. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Current Absorption Rates

Explanation of absorption rate: The rate at which available homes are sold in a specific real estate market during a given time period.  If you look at the number for New Haven you can say “If market conditions do not change and if no new listings come on the market it will take 5.0 months for the current inventory to sell at the current pace of the market.  A balanced market’s absorption rate is typically between 5 - 7 months.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

Buyers, Your Time of Year Has Arrived!

After years of studying the market, I came to the conclusion years ago that the best time to buy a home is between Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Although this doesn't square with the traditional school-year market cycle, maybe that is exactly the point.  More listings come on in the spring, and many more buyers are out there looking.  They often wait, hoping to have the broadest possible choice.

In the past few years, choice has not been as much of a problem.  We in Connecticut have a higher absorption rate, meaning that our current supply of houses would last for longer at the current rate that properties are selling.  That results in more homes for people to look at during all times of the year.  And, since we have the lowest birth rate, fewer of our buyers have young children than in other states.

So why does that make this the best time of year?  For tax reasons, you can still get your purchase done before the end of the year, but that's not the biggest factor.  The biggest factor is that sellers do not want to take care of properties through the winter.  They have just started heating them, and, if the Farmer's Almanac is correct, they are going to be plowing much more snow than usual this season.  They also know that buyers are scarcer, and that it's harder in winter to get your home ready to sell, plus the landscaping that can sell a home is often less appealing in cold weather. 

All of that combines to make sellers more amenable to offers at the end of the fall.  They, too, would like to conclude the sale before the end of the year in many cases.  They, too, would like to start the new year with a different address.  Use those facts to prod yourselves into action, if you are buyers, and add them to the fact that interest rates, while low already, are usually at their lowest right around Election Day.  That's next week, so you'd better get moving! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Report from Madison, Wisconsin

Every spring and fall, I meet in some city around the country with broker/owners of large, independent real estate companies.  I always come back with a balanced perspective on what's happening in real estate nationally.  These past couple of years, there are areas where Connecticut is part of the pack, and areas where we have fallen off the pace.

In almost every market, the year is shaping up to be a booming one for real estate.  Only in our state are prices still falling.  However, that still puts our average price right in line with many other places.  Inventory, which was a huge problem in the spring, seems a little looser in most states.  Here, it's a little tighter, but there is still more inventory than there would be in a seller's ideal market.  Many regions had big supplies of homes on the very high end, though, whatever that was for their area.  It was common for brokers to mention more than a year's supply on the upper sales.

Everyone was worried about what would happen with the new mortgage regulations, which went into effect this past weekend.  No one doubted that there would be hiccups along the way, even with buyers already in the pipeline.  Although the rules technically impact only new applications, there seemed to be evidence that at least some lenders were going back and amending applications already in progress. Mortgage issues may change from year to year, but there always seems to be some new issue that plagues us.

Madison is a market that has traditionally looked, at least in statistics, a lot like greater New Haven.  We are both dominated by big universities, along with smaller ones, and have a lot of public sector employees.  Madison, as the State Capitol, has a greater number of those, and, partially as a result, has a large middle sector of the market, with very little on the upper and lower ends.  New Haven and its suburbs, as we all know by now, are distinguished nationally by the spread between haves and have nots, and we do skew both high and low.  So our numbers may look the same in the end, but they are made up very differently, and, right now, that's causing Madison to outperform us substantially.  Their prices and sales are up, and the market is booming.  Here, as you know, it's still well below 2007 levels.  Let's hope that the outcry from business in the current legislative environment, plus the departures, will serve as a wake-up call to the State.  Let's catch up to Madison!