Closing Comments: December 2015

December brought an end-of-year uptick in closings to the Wilton real estate market. While a traditionally slow sales month, this year’s 16 topped 2014 by more than 30%. With the exception of the surprisingly strong 2013, we have not seen December sales at this level since 2005. This trend did not follow in the level of the sales. The median price was down more than $135,000 or over 15%. The average sale level trailed December 2014 by just under 12%, more than $109,000. The inventory dropped almost 49% to 80 active single-family properties. Only in 2014 have we seen lower inventory and then by a single property. While the average inventory price is down to around $1,020,000 (about $600,000 less than the average in 2014) that is due in large part to a few very high-end properties being off the market.

The increase in December sales compared to 2014 allowed unit sales to finish less than 10% below the annual level for last year. Median sales price was exactly the same as last year. The average sale fell approximately $36,000 or just under 4%. This left the total single-family revenue down 13%.

Performance in neighboring towns varied to the point that comparisons are not good indicators for the Wilton market. While the drop in the number of sales was the largest for the nine towns measured, only four showed growth in median sale prices, making Wilton the fifth-best performer. Only three had growth in average sales price levels with Wilton ranking fifth in that category as well. Wilton ended the year with more than 18% of its sales at or above the last list price, a positive sign for the market.

So far the Fed rate increase has not been accompanied by a major increase in mortgage rates. In all likelihood this will change in 2016. In the meantime, current rates continue to be attractive. The recent GE announcement that their headquarters will move to Boston resolves that much-discussed possibility. While the headquarters move will have an effect on the local real estate market, it is likely the spinoff of GE Capital has already had the strongest impact for the real estate market in Wilton and some surrounding towns. Certainly the future sale and use of that office space will be important to fill the void. There continues to be good value in the market though it is expected that we will see a return to the high inventory levels of 2015 as we move further into the spring.