Glut of houses crowds the market

With 270 Wilton homes on the market out of a taxable home inventory of 5,371, there are more single-family houses on the market today than there have been in years, since at least 2005, three years before the recession that Connecticut still has not recovered from began.

In 2005, there were 180 homes on the market in Wilton, according to data provided by Realty Seven. It has generally risen ever since, and this year and last year marked the peak, with 270 homes on the multiple listing service, or about 5%  of the homes.

At the same time, it is taking longer to sell a home and the average listing price is much less, showing weakness in the sales market. The average listing price today is just about $1.1 million, compared with nearly $1.4 million in 2005, according to the data. It takes an average 162 days to sell a home in Wilton today, compared with 70 days in 2005. That means it takes double the time on the market to find a buyer and complete a sale.

It would be interesting to note whether this is a statewide pattern. However, a spokesman for the Connecticut Board of Realtors said data like that is not available for Connecticut as a whole. The National Board of Realtors indicated it is the opposite of what is happening nationally. On a nationwide scale, the number of days for a home on the market has shrunk considerably since tracking began in May 2011. Low supply of available homes for sale has been an ongoing issue in recent years and is why home prices nationwide in general have risen for 62 straight months. Nationwide, it takes 29 days to sell a home, a spokesman at the NAR said.

Why is Wilton’s case so different?

It’s not only Wilton, it’s Weston and surrounding towns with high-end housing stock, said Ninfa Valella, agent for Coldwell Banker in Wilton.

“It’s a very soft market, with absolutely more inventory than buyers,” Valella said. “The spring season has been dismal, with a flurry of activity in the first quarter, and now it’s very quiet.”

The reason is simple, she believes.

“There are not enough buyers, people are leaving the area,” she said, figuring that high taxes and too much acreage to care for, as well as large households that need to be downsized, are the reason.

“New Canaan is worse for high-end homes,” she said. “They sit there doing nothing.”

In New Canaan, 322 homes out of about 5,000 are on the market, or 6.4%, which she called a 17-month supply.

A healthy market would have a six-month supply on hand, she said.

The housing supply in area towns is also high:

  • Weston — 182 homes are on the market out of 3,526 homes, or 5.2%,

  • Ridgefield — 371 homes are on the market, out of a housing base of 10,000 homes, or 3.7%.

  • Darien — 230 homes out of 5,640 on the market, about 4.1%.

  • Westport —  there are 377 homes for sale out of a total 9,450, for 3.9%.

Realtor Donna A. Williams of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty does not see it that way.

“Properties that come on the market is seasonal and cyclical,” Williams said. More units have come on, but more have been sold, too.

“We are actually experiencing a fairly healthy market at the moment with Wilton being a great value proposition for buyers compared to some surrounding towns,” Williams said.

Basically, there appears to be no “normality” in the predictive course of real estate sales anymore, said Peg Koellmer, broker at Realty Seven.

“One thing we keep an eye on at this time of the year is the number of properties taking a price reduction as opposed to the number of new listings coming on. Normally, when new listings are surpassed by price decreases, that would tell us that the spring market is slowing down for the summer. But, we can’t rely on the traditional indicators anymore,” Koellmer said.

“In Wilton we are dealing with record-high inventory, increase in days on market and the average sales price has declined year over year. Homeowners should have realistic expectations when entering the housing market. We’re facing some special challenges in Connecticut with increasing state and local taxes and some major companies leaving the state. Connecticut now has more residents moving out of the state than moving in,” Koellmer said.

According to U.S. Census estimates, Connecticut has lost 19,551 residents since 2013, the last year of growth. The state population was estimated at 3,576,452 in 2016.

“The Realtor Association in Connecticut is working hard on the state level to influence lawmakers to make our state one that is easier to sell. That being said, we are holding steady and hoping for slow, steady and sustainable growth over the next five years,” Koellmer said.