Tough winter for real estate

The relentless winter of 2018 meant a slow first-quarter sales period for real estate in Wilton.

The total sales of single-family homes for the quarter was $28.4 million, down 30.8% from $41 million the previous first quarter. The total number of units of single-family homes sold was 34, down from 44 the previous first quarter.

To be fair, previous first quarters of recent years have fared worse. There were 26 sales at $24.6 million in 2016, and 29 sales at $26.5 million in 2015, according to data provided by Realty Seven. To find a first quarter that performed better, one would have to go back to 2013, when 39 units sold at $31.6 million.

The average sales price for the quarter was $834,908, compared with $932,066 the previous first quarter. Sellers had to come down 4.1% off their asking price to make the deal, compared with 5.9% discounting the previous first quarter. Homes sold faster, though, with 149 days on the market compared with 161 days on the market the previous first quarter.

The slow season was not a pattern for all towns in the region. A number of towns had increased sales in the first quarter, according to the data. These included Westport, at 84 from 66, Fairfield, at 130 from 120, Stamford, at 153 from 142, and Easton, up at 23 from 13.

For Wilton, the slow season was largely due to the winter weather conditions, said Peg Koellmer, broker with Realty Seven.

“A slow start doesn’t mean a slow finish. The weather was not favorable for putting homes on the spring market. Hopefully things will start to pick up now that spring is here,” Koellmer said.

Ninfa Valella of Coldwell Banker said lack of inventory was to blame. There are now 170 units available, compared with 231 a year earlier and 258 the year before that.

“I think that has some impact on the market, why we’re not as strong as we should be. Inventory is coming on, but slowly,” Valella said.

Days on the market is also a good indicator, she said.

Valella agreed that the wintry weather was also a factor.

“The weather has kind of stalled everything. Where is spring?” she said.

Condominium sales in Wilton were another matter. A total of four units sold, at a total sales volume of $819,500, up from two units at $765,000 a year earlier.

The condos sold faster, too. They spent an average 168 days on the market, compared with 202 days on the market a year earlier. Average sale price was lower, though, at $204,875, down from $382,500.

Condo sellers had to come down 5% from their asking price, compared with a 4.4% discount the previous first quarter.

Statewide, the prognosis for the second quarter is good, partly because of a strengthening market. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties reported that the number of foreclosures is decreasing. According to RealtyTrac data from February 2018, pre-foreclosures and bank-owned properties are down in Connecticut year over year by 20.2% and 32.3%, respectively. Because of the lengthy foreclosure process, Connecticut was one of the last states to suffer the consequences of the downturn, and the end finally appears to be in sight.