Closing Comments: February

February was a month to stay warm. Unit sales were below 2013 by a single closing, but ahead of the 2009-2012 marks for the month. However, the median sales price was up more than $475,000 over 2013, more a reminder that we have to be careful about exuberance or despair based on a single month.

The average sale rose over $190,000. Inventory rose 16% to 107 (something of a surprise as some neighboring towns saw declines, in part due to weather). This is basically the same level as March 1, 2011, but trails most other years. While there was an increase in the $2-3,000,000 range, the average price fell by about $65,000 and only one house was added in the $1-2,000,000 range. We fully expect the inventory picture to change in the next six weeks.

For the year-to-date, closings are still ahead of 2013. It is the increases in median (over $50,000) and average (over $130,000 or almost 18%) sales price that are most encouraging. Another positive indicator is the more than 22% increase in total sale revenue for single-family homes. That said, until we have another 60 days of trends available, it is too early to get a real sense of the 2014 market. Without a doubt weather kept both inventory and buyers on the sideline and with most mortgages requiring 60 days or so to close it will not be surprising to see less optimistic numbers over the next couple of months.

Despite the new regulations, we are hearing of faster mortgage approval times in many cases. The turbulence and uncertainty of world politics and the inevitable economic fallout — not to mention the impact of the weather — leave real estate in a little bit of flux at this time. How much inventory comes to market in the next three to five weeks  — and, of course — whether we see a corresponding increase in the numbers of buyers will be crucial.