South Wilton is so hot right now

If you believe what real estate giant Zillow.com has to say about Wilton’s housing market, today’s not the best time to be selling a house in town. If you prefer to take your advice from local real estate agents, the market may not be as bad as the company seems to think.

According to Zillow’s Market Health Index — which illustrates the current health of a region’s housing market relative to other markets around the country — Wilton’s health currently sits around 3.4 out of 10.

New Canaan and Westport, for comparison, rank similarly low with scores of 4.0 and 4.1.

For the first half of this year, 109 single-family homes have been sold in Wilton, compared to 125 for the first six months in 2013.

The average price this year stands at $926,039 compared to $864,061 for the same period in 2013.

The median price is $780,000 in 2014, compared to $775,000 in 2013, an increase of 0.6%.

In June of this year, there were 38 home sales, compared to 37 in June 2013.

At July 1, there were 174 homes on the market with an average list price of $1.3 million. Of those, 38 were new to the market.

From William Pitt Sotheby’s Realtor Kevin Hickey’s perspective, however, 2014 hasn’t been such a bad year for Wilton real estate.

“There was a slow start in January and February where the weather was so against us and the snow really put a cap on the market,” Mr. Hickey said by phone Monday. “Home buyers don’t like homes when there is snow everywhere. The homes are difficult to show, and buyers don’t want to go out in that weather. It really slows things down. But, by March and April it started picking up steam, and at [the current time] the season has been running long.”

By running long, Mr. Hickey means Wilton’s real estate market has remained strong from the spring through to July and August, two months when sales are historically slow.

According to Marion Filley, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway who publishes a monthly column on The Bulletin’s business page, one negative trend in Wilton’s market is a lack of home sales in the $700,000 to $900,000 range due to a lack of inventory.

Mr. Hickey said he wasn’t surprised to hear such a statement, and agreed there is a low inventory because “that’s the hottest part of the market right now.”

“The $500,000 to $800,000 range has been a really active part of the market, especially in south Wilton where there is a lot of value for home buyers,” he said. “Homes go on the market and they sell right away. Often, we have multiple offers on one home in that price range. In fact, sales are busy until you get to $1.2 million —then things tend to get a little slower.”

In fact, according to consolidated multiple listing service data, homes between $900,000 and $1.1 million have seen a 46% increase in the past month.

“Traditionally, there’s been a slowdown in July and August, but this July has been tremendous,” Mr. Hickey said. “Inventory is still at a low. It’s not been the standard year, but it’s not been a bad year.”

Though the fall often sees a decrease in home sales, William Raveis Realtor Susan Resch, who has 18 years of experience in Wilton, is optimistic the positive trends in July and August will continue into the fall.

“I’m hopeful that [trend] will continue and we will be on an upswing for the fall. I’m looking forward to a strong fall market,” she said.

What buyers look for

Geographically, Mr. Hickey says he has seen south Wilton rising to the top of home buyers’ lists lately.

“South Wilton is more popular than north Wilton, it’s much more active,” he said. “People are looking for ease of commute and getting around to places.”

A house considered “move-in-ready,” both Mr. Hickey and Ms. Resch said, is often quicker to sell than one that needs a bit of work.

“Everything is relative,” Ms. Resch said. “Some houses sell quickly, while others take a little bit longer. I think it depends on location, condition, and who happens to be out and ready to buy when a house goes on the market.

“Buyers are conscious of condition and value — what they’re actually paying for. Homes sell pretty quickly where buyers can move right in and not have to do any work.”

Home features Mr. Hickey has seen increase in popularity over the past year include small well-designed bathrooms and an emphasis on communal square footage.

“Movie rooms and in-home gyms have been a trend in the past, but we’re also seeing buyers less concerned about total square footage compared to usable square footage. They will spend most of their time in the kitchen and dining room combination areas,” Mr. Hickey said. “When that area is well sized and well laid out, it makes a big difference. Communal family areas is what I’m seeing.”

From Ms. Resch’s vantage-point, a big seller this year was outdoor and patio spaces.

“Outside finished spaces are really trending now,” she said. “People want gathering places outside whether it’s a finished solarium-type room that lends itself to being outdoors more, or finished pool spaces with built-in pools and patios.”