Marion Filley's Closing Comments: December

The end of the year in Wilton real estate followed the pattern of the rest of 2014. December saw a drop of close to 48% in unit sales compared to December 2013. However, the median sale price rose more than $150,000, or almost 21%, to somewhat balance things. However, the average price dipped more than $211,000, or just under 19%. This is not surprising, given that the highest sale ever recorded on the current Multiple Listing Service occurred in December 2013. Inventory ended the year slightly higher than last year but the average price was $200,000 lower.

The slow end of the year left 2014 trailing 2013 in unit sales by 11.5%. While still a disappointing 30 homes behind the previous year, the total was the second highest since 2006. The median sale held on to a 2.5% gain, $20,000 ahead of last year. Meanwhile, the average sales price tightened to a 1% gain, up just over $5,000. Total revenue ended the year trailing 2013 by slightly over 11%, down more than $25 million.

Looking at surrounding towns, Westport was down almost 17% in single-family sales in 2014, dropping from a high of 465 to 386. The median sale price rose almost 6%, to $1,323,205. New Canaan was down 12.5% in unit sales with a rise in median price of almost 19%, to $1,680,000. Ridgefield dropped just under 15% in unit sales and had a slight increase in median price of just under 2%, to $661,500. Weston was down 12% in unit sales, with just over a 6% rise in median to $810,000. This illustrates that despite double-digit drops in unit sales, the performance in one town does not spill over into the neighboring town.

Despite some increase in general consumer confidence and indications of job growth, the 2015 market needs to be approached with caution. It is clear that wage strength has not peaked and banks continue to be conservative in approving mortgages, especially large ones. Perhaps the major concern for Fairfield County and Connecticut in general is the strength of the local economy. Home prices are usually in direct proportion to local economy. For example, the booming tech industry is pushing the San Francisco and surrounding area home prices higher. The direction of Fairfield County’s economy, on the other hand, remains unsettled.