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October, no matter its ties to Halloween, didn't scare off homebuyers.
A new report on New London County real estate sales shows that overall single-family real estate volume was up by almost 20 percent in October compared with last year's numbers. Sales rose more than 11 percent, and the median price of a local home jumped more than 8 percent in the same comparison, according to numbers released this week by Les Bray, principal at Stonington-based Sound Investment Consultants.
The median home price of $216,500 last month compared with $200,000 in the same period a year ago.
"It's really surprising that the numbers are holding up," Bray said. "The numbers are looking quite respectable."
Bray mentioned the government shutdown and the region's job woes as possible drags on home sales. The Norwich-New London region shed 200 jobs in August - the last numbers that were available before the government shutdown - and has lost 1,600 positions so far this year, the worst performance of any major labor market in Connecticut.
Yet Bray's numbers show local single-family home sales continuing to rise in double digits throughout the year. The only questionable statistic has been the median sales price, which is down about 2 percent over the past year, though October's figures were more encouraging.
"The median continues to slide in the wrong direction," Bray said. "That's what separates us from what's reported in other parts of the state."
Bray is concerned about both median prices and sales next year, when new lending rules are instituted that will make it more difficult for buyers to to qualify for federal loans. The rules will fall predominantly on low-end buyers, the same people who are driving three-quarters of the home sales in the region, he said.
"When you're in that lower end, (the new rules) can make a big difference," he said.
Though lower-end sales are strong locally, Bray pointed out that sales of homes from a broad range of prices are showing signs of life. Only the sales of homes in the $750,000 to $1 million range are weaker than they were last year, he said.
Another housing segment showing sales improvement is the condominium market. While October numbers were only incrementally higher, the yearlong trend shows an 8 percent gain in sales, even as the median price has dropped 4.6 percent.
Last month, the median price of a New London County condo fell to $119,000. That's nearly $8,000 less than a year ago and about $13,000 less than the median seen throughout the past year.
OCTOBER REAL ESTATE TRENDS
|Condo units sold||26||27||+3.85%|
|Condo median price||$126,900||$119,000||-6.23%|