April real estate: More sales, but lower prices

Sales were up, but the median price paid for a home in New London County fell almost 10 percent in April compared with the same month a year ago, according to the latest statistics.

The numbers, compiled by Les Bray of Sound Investment Consultants in Stonington, showed an 8 percent increase in sales during the first key month of the home-selling season. But the median sale price of $207,500 was off by nearly 10 percent from a year ago.

Bray said it appears as if the region still hasn't found a bottom on single-family home prices, with the median sale so far this year 7 percent less than in 2012. He expected continued declines throughout the spring as homes in the $400,000 range slip into the $300,000 realm and others, in an avalanche effect, see prices fall as well.

"The number of jobs is a concern," Bray said. "There's been a significant lessening of jobs in the region, and the jobs brought in to fill the gap are not paying as well as the old ones."

Job reductions at Pfizer Inc. have been problematic in the market for homes between $500,000 and $1 million, he said, while lower-priced properties have been affected by downsizings at both Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun.

Bray, a former appraiser, added that he has analyzed the market for new homes built between 2005 and the present and has noted significant declines when a home is resold.

"I'm seeing red in almost every transaction," he said. "It's problematic."

While homes on the market for less than $300,000 have inventory levels at or approaching a typical six-month supply, more expensive properties are taking much longer to sell, approaching or above a one-year supply.

But John Bolduc, chief executive of the Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors, noted that supplies are on the way down and that the average inventory is at just above an eight-month supply, very close to the normal level of six to eight months. He also pointed out that prices on a one-year rolling average are flat, even though the first quarter of this year saw a decline.

"The encouraging sign is that sales are up and if sales are up, then demand is up and supples are coming down," Bolduc said. "That's a pretty good predictor that prices will be going up."

But condominium sales in New London County are down more than 16 percent year-over year, though prices have risen 4 percent. In April, the median price of a condo was $148,000, about $10,000 higher than for the same month last year.

l.howard@theday.com

 

April Real Estate Sales for New London County

Single-family sales: 173, up 8.1 percent

Single-family median price: $207,500, down 9.6 percent

Condominium sales: 67, down 16.3 percent

Condominium median price: $144,900, up 3.9 percent

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