Friday, August 30, 2013

Mixed Signals

The latest issue of the Commercial Record illustrates our current problem for sellers and buyers.  If you look at New Haven county for June, the most recent month available, compared to the same month last year, sales are down by 12% and prices for the whole county are up by almost 6%.  If you look just at the shoreline towns and add Woodbridge, to try to capture the higher end of the market, sales are slightly up and prices are down.  Go figure. 

I guess the lesson as a whole is that we can't pay too much attention to what we read in the national press.  Connecticut is following its own, slower, path to recovery.  Our listors at the high end of the market are beginning to accept that there seems to be a ceiling on prices for luxury homes, and that no one can say what a given home is "worth".  We can predict that it won't sell for what the seller thinks it should, given what money is in the house and what the condition is, but we can't find examples that will pinpoint the exact price.  We can't even promise that it will sell at a lower price, nor can we swear that we're not "making a market" by lowering prices, causing low prices to slip lower.  What can we say?  We can tell buyers that it's a great time to buy direct waterfront, or properties over a million dollars.

In other submarkets, the picture is murkier.  The numbers of months of supply in houses has declined, and is now in the range of a balanced market.  That should mean that neither seller or buyer has an advantage.  But, depending upon where you are, and the type of house you have, you could find a bidding war or few showings, with maybe a lowball offer.  However, the only way to test the market is to put the property on at a "fair" price and see. 

There is a bump every fall, when buyers try to close and move before the end of the year, and, this season, it may tell the final tale of 2013.  Let's see what happens.  We do know this--mortgage rates, over the long run, matter much more than a few thousand dollars here or there in the sales price.  So buyers should definitely act, because interest rates have already gone up about 15% from their lowest point, and will likely rise further after the elections.  Time is fleeting--carpe diem!