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!