From Greenwich to Lyme, which CT towns are leading the real estate boom?
Greenwich remains entrenched as the dominant Connecticut market for home sales with gaudy numbers for prices and transactions through May, according to a Hearst Connecticut analysis of statewide real estate data published by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties.
But on the east bank of the Connecticut River, tiny Lyme has also seen numbers swell, placing it in the topmost tier of towns across nine of 20 categories tracked for sales or trends compared to a year earlier.
The Berkshire Hathaway report is the first to include sales transactions from May 2020 when COVID-19 infections intensified interest in extra space, particularly among those living in New York City.
Overall sales were up 26 percent from the first five months of last year, as more than 19,100 Connecticut deeds changed hands and brokers predicting more big numbers this summer.
Speaking Thursday with reporters on the state budget, Gov. Ned Lamont referenced the economic impact the newcomers are having and the cascade effect on the state's fiscal outlook.
"We have tens of thousands of families moving into the state of Connecticut who are now beginning to pay taxes," Lamont said. "We have a lot of our cities beginning to lower their taxes — at least holding the line — in part because their economic pie is growing [and] their grand list is growing."
New listings are not keeping up, however, with Berkshire Hathaway reporting a 10 percent increase from last year.
"There's not going to be a better market than today to sell your property in this part of the country — this is it," said Candace Adams, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties based in Wallingford. "There are also properties that I think people realize the value ... and the reasons they want to live there."
Fairfield County continues to draw buyers in droves; seven of the 10 biggest markets for house and condominium sales through the first five months of the year are in Fairfield County, according to Berkshire Hathaway figures.
Entering June, Stamford had generated the most sales and new listings of any Connecticut municipality this year — more than 1,000 homes listed for sale and close to 700 changing hands.
Greenwich is far out front of the rest of the state for prices, with average and median home sale prices of $2 million and $2.6 million on the year. The town also had the biggest increase in the number of properties changing hands, at nearly 240 more than in 2020 at the outset of the pandemic.
"May was another all-time record for sales," said Mark Pruner, a broker in the Greenwich office of Berkshire Hathaway who tracks local trends on his Greenwich Streets blog. "I think we're going to see a continued high level of sales for the next several months, but we may not see them accelerating like they were for the first four months of the year."
Bethlehem, in Litchfield County, has seen the greatest revival from a year ago of any town in Connecticut, with 21 homes selling through May after just four in the first five months of 2020.
Only two slots behind is Lyme, whose real estate market jumps off the chart if looking at year-over-year gains across several criteria; like Bethlehem, Lyme is boosted by the law of small numbers. From six property sales in the first five months of 2020, Lyme has seen 22 homes change hands this year according to Berkshire Hathaway, a 270 percent increase on paper.
Lyme transaction prices are up 65 percent on average from a year ago — the highest for any town with at least 20 sales — and homes are going under contract four months faster than in 2020. Only a small handful of towns have shaved more time off the average sale, with Eastford and Washington leading the state sales executed five months faster than the 2020 crop of transactions.
Still, Lyme is only middle of the pack in Connecticut on one key criterion for sellers — whether buyers will pay the full asking price to land a home. Lyme sellers averaged getting just 96.7 percent of what they sought for their properties. Even in Greenwich, however, sellers yet to get their full asking prices on average, with the town placing only a few spots ahead of Lyme.
Realtor.com lists more than 60 Greenwich homes where sellers have reduced their prices, of nearly 1,500 in Connecticut.
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