Marion Filley's Closing Comments: July 17

The first half of the 2014 real estate market has been filled with changes in trends, both in Wilton and neighboring towns. In June, closings bounced back to exceed 2013 by a single sale for the month. However, that gain brought with it a double digit drop in median sale price, a pattern we often see. The drop in average sale, 7.7%, was not as severe thanks in part to a $3,000,000 sale during the month. Inventory increased by a scant 4% with the average price dropping close to $50,000 from the previous month.  While inventory is ahead of last year at this time, it is running below the July 1st level for 2010-2012. It is interesting to note that only 46 houses are currently available at or below the median price year-to-date and only an additional 19 below the average price. Whether 70% of the inventory above median price will slow sales or not remains to be seen.

As we move into the second half of the year, Wilton is in a better position as far as percentage of closed sales than most towns. While all neighboring towns are now down double digits, we are down close to 13% (only Norwalk has done better).  But a strong surge of pipeline closings, or rapid closings to get in before school starts, will be necessary to get into single digits. The median sale is currently just $5,000 above the 2013 level. The average is a relatively healthy 7%  (over $60,000) ahead of last year. However, the lower number of sales keeps the total revenue 6.5% below 2013 at this time.

As noted previously it has been very hard to find trends with real traction. Of five adjoining towns, one is down in median sale price (Norwalk), one is down in average price (Westport) and two have double digit increases in average price (Ridgefield and New Canaan), yet all are down by double digit percentage in number of homes sold year-to-date. Sales in Wilton when broken down into specific price bands reveal some hopeful signs. The number of sales below $700,000 is down 40%. Certainly much of this is due to lack of inventory in the price ranges. In the $700,000 - $900,000 band the number of transactions is down 16%, but from $900,000 - $1,100,000 the number of sales is up 46%. There also seems to be some indication that, while slower, the Spring market may extend further into the summer months.

Without a clear sense of direction it is difficult to predict a future trend. Mortgage rates have remained low but according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s application data show purchase activity fell 1% last week. For most of the past month, activity has been either down or flat.  This is not completely unexpected as we enter into the summer doldrums and the fall is typically the secondary market with fewer sales.  How many fewer will be of great interest as we look for continued stability in the housing market.