Connecticut closes spring home sale season on the upside

Hartford pressures downtown landlord to renovate blighted building

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Connecticut closed out the spring home buying market on a positive, with both sales and prices rising in July, a new report showed.

Sales of single-family houses statewide rose 7% in July compared with a year earlier, only the second month this year in which a year-over-year increase has been registered, according to the monthly report from The Warren Group.

The median sale price for a single-family house rose 4.1% in July, to $280,000, compared with $269,000 a year ago.

Despite the predominance of monthly sale declines, the median price has risen on a year-over-year basis in all but one month so far this year, according to Warren Group data.

Carl A. Lantz III, a real estate agent at RE/MAX Premier Realtors in West Hartford, said he attributes the contrast in sales declines and price increases to what buyers are currently looking for in the market.

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Lantz said buyers are looking for houses — across all price ranges — that are both priced well and renovated. It is those limited number of properties that are commanding higher prices, sometimes in multiple bids, he said.

“Houses getting the top dollar are edging the price forward a hair,” Lantz said. “That is what is driving the market as a whole.”

In Hartford County, single-family house sales rose 1.4% in July compared with a year ago. The median price increased 6.3%, to $249,825, compared with $235,000 the previous July.

Connecticut’s housing market, as a whole, has struggled to recover from a deep recession that lasted from March, 2008 to February, 2010. Overall median prices are still 15% below where they were at the most recent peak of the market in 2007.

The recovery, at least this year, has not followed the typical path of sales rising first, followed by prices.

Median prices, however, may be poised to register an annual, year-over-year increase. Through the first seven months of this year, the median sale price gained 4%, rising to $260,000, from $249,900 for the same period in 2017. Sales were essentially flat in the same periods.

Donald L. Klepper-Smith, chief economist at DataCore Partners Inc. in Durham, said Connecticut’s “mildly improving economy translates into a mildly improving housing market.”

Klepper-Smith said he does not foresee the threat of a recession in the near future, and he noted that consumer confidence is up both in New England and nationally.

That bodes well for the state’s housing market going into the fall home buying season, the second most popular time to purchase a home, behind spring, Klepper-Smith said.

Klepper-Smith said it is probable that median prices will rise 3 or 4% in 2018 compared with the previous year. Sales will increase 2 or 3%, he forecasts.

Across Connecticut’s eight counties, sales showed similar strength as the state as a whole, with just one county — Windham — registering a decline. The median sale price rose in all counties, except New London and New Haven.

Shifts in the median price do not mean all sales are following the same trend or that home values are generally rising or falling. The median also can be influenced by the mix of houses sold. Prices can vary widely from town to town and even neighborhood to neighborhood.

The median sale price, however, does provide a broad, overall indicator in price trends.

Tribune Content Agency

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