First Quarter Home Sales Increase 24% In New Canaan

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Home prices moved up in the first quarter of 2014, but activity trended down in the Fairfield County real estate market, according to recently released statistics.

Activity was down in the first quarter for Fairfield County real estate compared to last year, but prices in most communities increased.

Activity was down in the first quarter for Fairfield County real estate compared to last year, but prices in most communities increased.

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The number of closed sales was down 3 percent in Fairfield County for the first quarter, according to the quarterly report released by William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty. But at the same time, the median sales price for a single-family home in Fairfield County increased 5 percent, to $407,000, according to the report. That is the highest quarterly median sales price for the first quarter since 2011, when it was $408,000.

Click here for the report from William Pitt Sotheby's International. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties' report is attached as a PDF.

“I think the market is very fragile,’’ said Cheryl Scott-Daniels of Westport-based CSD Select Homes, who is also the president of the Mid-Fairfield County Association of Realtors. “Things are coming on and some are getting multiple offers. Buyers are feeling much more secure than they were in the past few years.” The report from her agency is also online.

“Buyers are not motivated just to buy,’’ said Brad Kimmelman, brokerage manager of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Southport.“They feel the need to get a deal. Homes priced right for the market, we are now seeing multiple offer situations. This is incrementally driving up prices. It’s becoming a balanced, healthy market.”

Westport saw 62 single-family home sales in the first quarter, according to statistics provided by Daniels. That represents a 20.51 percent drop from last year. The average sales price, however, climbed 10.57 percent to $1,580,659.

“We’re starting to see some things begin to move in the upper price in Westport,’’ Scott-Daniels said. “That’s encouraging. I think what the market is saying is people are willing to pay for a house that they think is a good value. They don’t have a lot of time to do a lot of work to it. They want homes that show well and are priced right. They don’t want to overpay in this market.”

Fairfield saw 101 closed sales in the first quarter, a 14 percent increase from last year and the highest first quarter figure since 2010. The quarterly median sales price fell 1 percent in Fairfield to $530,000.

“We’re hoping to see more inventory on the market,’’ Kimmelman said. “With supply and demand, you’d think prices would be shooting up. But people are only buying when they feel like they are getting value. We’re not seeing the market like it was in 2002-2004, when you could name the price for your home.”

Closed sales in Norwalk fell 10 percent and the median price fell 6 percent. Big increases in the number of closed were seen in Darien, up 27 percent, and New Canaan, up 24 percent. But steep declines were recorded in Ridgefield, down 27 percent, and Redding, down 24 percent.

The median price for single-family homes jumped double digits in many towns, including New Canaan, up 51 percent; Ridgefield up 29 percent; Darien up 20 percent; and Stamford and Weston, both up 19 percent.

“The start of 2014 is very encouraging as we head into the traditionally busy spring market,” said Diane M Ramirez, chief executive officer of Halstead Property.  “There is positive news in nearly every town that we cover in Fairfield County, with some towns posting very significant gains. With this data, we anticipate a positive trajectory for real estate this year.”

Rick Higgins, chairman and founder of The Higgins Group, said that after a "stop-and-go" first quarter, he believes the rest of the year could be good. "There weren't a lot of trends in the first quarter,'' Higgins said. "Now we're starting to see some trends on the upswing."

“I’m eager to see what happens as things continue to come on the market,’’ Scott-Daniels said. “Inventory was up in February, and down in March. It seems like the market absorbed the new listings. I’m cautiously optimistic. The fact that prices are going up is encouraging.”

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