The final quarter in 2013 remained strong in Connecticut characterized by an increased number of closed sales, higher prices in the condominium market, and less days on market for all inventory. In 2013, sales were up with some counties experiencing double-digit gains for single family homes and condominiums. Average prices were up 2.4% and Connecticut saw a sharp rise in condominium closings, the best in several years. By contrast, the rental market remained level compared to 2012, indicating a strengthening of the real estate market. Pending sales were softer in the fourth quarter, suggesting a long-range growth pattern.
Sales volume, an indicator of growth potential, showed robust gains in both single family and condominium sales during fourth quarter 2013. Year-over-year, the total dollar volume of single family homes sold rose 14.4% to $11,429,772,000, while condominium sales grossed $1,546,367,000, a 23.9% increase. Fairfield County grew by 20%, while Windham and New Haven Counties saw 15% and 10% growth, respectively. For condominiums, Litchfield County had an increase of 25% in sales volume and Tolland by 22%.
The number of pending sales, a leading indicator of real estate activity, dropped 6% in Connecticut for single family homes and dropped 8.8% for condominiums when compared to the fourth quarter of last year. However, when compared to the third quarter of this year, Connecticut’s pending sales show a decrease of 25.5% for single family homes and 22.8% for condominiums. The numbers indicate a slower real estate market at the end of the year coming off of stronger third quarter results.
There were 28,058 single family home sales in Connecticut in 2013, 12.3% higher than the number of sales in 2012 and totaling $11.4 billion in sales volume, one of the best years since 2006. At the same time, condominium closings totaled 7,174 up 19.8%. Most of the activity generated mid-year closed in the third quarter. Growth in home sales was strongest in Fairfield, Litchfield, Hartford, Windham and New London Counties.
Softening of the Connecticut real estate market during the fourth quarter resulted in a slight increase in inventory for single family homes. Homes for sale will now take approximately 5.1 months to sell verses 5% months last year, a 0.6% change, with condominiums taking 5.7 months to sell off, an 8% change.
The average price of a single family home rose 2.4% to $406,800 in Connecticut while the average price for condominiums rose 4% to $220,100. Single family average prices grew most in Windham County and in Litchfield County for condominiums. Median price increased 2.8% to $255,000 for single family properties and up 3.4% to $167,000 for condominiums. New Haven County median prices grew the most with a 4.3% change in single families and Litchfield grew 17% in condominiums.
Days on Market
Total days on market was 5.7% less in 2013 when compared to the year prior. Single family homes days on market dropped to 145 days and condominiums to 153 days. Days on market for single family homes experienced the most significant drop in Middlesex and New London counties.
The rental market in Connecticut has remained level compared to fourth quarter 2012. There were 14,431 leases signed in 2013, up just 0.9% from a year ago. The number of days a rental unit stayed on the market was 66 days, down one day from last year. Rental values are level with a median price of $1,500 per month.
New Housing Permits
Connecticut issued 3,741 residential building permits through November of 2013, up 3.5% over the same period in 2012 – the best year since 2008 when 4,910 permits were issued. The Census Bureau reports on only 128 of the 169 towns in Connecticut on a monthly basis. The remaining towns only report permit activity on an annual basis. Of those towns with higher permit activity, Fairfield had the largest increase in activity, with 147 new permits compared to last year’s 47, a 212% increase. Much of that activity is largely due to the restoration work being done in the beach area strongly damaged by Super Storm Sandy in 2012. Stratford and Milford also saw strong gains due to new apartment construction activity, also seeing increased activity were Groton, Bristol and Middletown. Of the residential permits issued this year, 59% of them were intended for single family homes, up sharply from a year ago when only 49% were for single homes. The rest have been largely intended for apartment buildings of 5 units or more.
Due to typical market seasonality, the luxury market softened toward the middle of 2013 but rebounded in the fourth quarter. Connecticut saw 510 sales of homes valued over $2 million in 2013, a 13.8% increase. The median price for a home in that price range remained relatively flat at $2,822,500. Litchfield County saw 20 sales in the category while New London had five luxury sales over the $2 million mark. The Town of Darien had 74 sales, Westport had 95 sales, and Greenwich led the way with 239 luxury sales over $2 million.
Connecticut’s foreclosure activity rate stands at 3.5%, the percentage of all mortgaged homes in some sort of legal action, according to data collecting company CoreLogic. This ranks the State in 5th place in the United States tied with the State of Maine for foreclosures. Connecticut had a level of 4% earlier in 2013, however, the country has seen a 29% decrease in foreclosure activity compared to November of 2012. Lower foreclosure inventories will help the real estate market improve.
In 2013, sales of single family homes were up 9.4% in Rhode Island and the state saw a sharp 28% rise in condominium closings, the best in several years. Single family homes total dollar volume rose by 9.5% to $2,296,127,000 and condominium volume rose 36.4% to $369,473,000. Pending sales were down 16% for both single families and condominiums alike indicating that the year’s performance was weaker at the close of 2013 than the end of 2012. As a leading indicator, pending sales will need a review in the first quarter to measure market strength. Rhode Island single families boasted an increase of 9.5% with 8,916 sales totaling $2.3 billion in volume. At the same time, condominium closings totaled 1,670 up 28%.
Rhode Island’s current inventory level is lower this year, with 8% fewer months supply for single family homes at 4.1 months while condominiums showed more strength with 31.3% fewer months supply, at 4.2 months. The average price of a single family home remained level at $267,700 in Rhode Island. Average price for condominiums were up 6.6% to $237,500. Median prices rose 7.9% to $204,000 for single family homes and 14% to $199,900 for condominiums, a positive change. Days on market for single family homes fell 9.9% to 137 days and condominiums fell 12.4% to 155 days with Newport and Providence counties leading the way.
Connecticut and Rhode Island continue to see steady gains in real estate activity. Job growth and budget cuts will bring each state toward a stronger economy and experts predict recovery over the next few years. Interestingly, the stronger condominium market, which has suffered for years due to harsh financing guidelines, is up 19.8% in Connecticut and 27.2% in Rhode Island, evidence that the real estate market is on solid ground. Its strength today speaks volumes for future growth.
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MLS information last updated 4/24/2014 7:20:00 AM
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