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Ridgefield’s 2018 Mid Year Market Report

The Ridgefield Real Estate market continues to favor the buyer, but we have had a number of multiple bid situations on properties that are updated and priced correctly. Condition, along with location and proximity to Main Street, continue to be key drivers for sales across all price points. Buyers are becoming increasingly savvy about market conditions and trends due to the availability of data on public websites such as Zillow and Realtor.com. The threat of a mortgage rate increase does not seem to be affecting buyer decisions either as they bide their time and wait for the ‘right’ home.

The good news is that buyers are still willing to pay for properties they find desirable with properly priced homes selling at 96.5% of their listed price. As was the case last year, properties under $800,000 seem to hit the sweet spot in Ridgefield. The town continues to be a destination for families moving from areas within the metropolitan region, as well as relocating from other states due to our family-friendly environment, quality of life and access to major commerce centers. We also continue to see families move within Ridgefield, which is a testament to the ‘staying power’ of our town.

No Gain In Value
Overall, the Ridgefield real estate market continues to remain relatively flat across the board. A six-week weather delay created a sluggish spring market, resulting in lower unit sales and decreased overall volume sold. 147 homes were sold during the first six months of 2018, as opposed to 178 last year. The total sales volume registered a 21% decrease, ending the mid-year at $98,851,250. However, the median sales price remained on par with last year at $625,000 compared with $627,000 from January to June in 2017.

Where Are Buyer’s Buying?
As in previous years, during the first half of 2018 in-town properties are in demand with 42 percent of all sales occurring within a two-mile radius of Town Hall (considered Village center). The median sales price of these homes was $692,500, and the average sales price was $724,526 – both of which are above the town as a whole. Three of the four luxury condominiums valued at over $700,000 were also located in-town. These sales reflect the growing trend for more walkable properties close to restaurants, shopping and culture

Condo Report
There were 33 condominium sales in the first half of 2018 ranging in price from $135,000 for a one bedroom, one bath townhouse in Fox Hill to $865,000 for a three bedroom, two full and two half bath townhouse on Sunset Lane. The median sales price was $267,000, while the average sales price was $354,567. Compared to the first six months of 2017, the median sales price has risen by 14%, while the average sale price decreased by 12%. This discrepancy is due to a greater number of higher priced condominiums selling in the first half of 2017 compared to 2018.

The Luxury Market
Luxury market sales – defined as homes selling for $1.5 million and above – are comparable to the 2017 mid-year mark. So far we have seen one sale for $1,540,000 close, as compared to two during the same period last year. As of July 1st five luxury properties are either under deposit or in contract to close in the third quarter ranging in value from $1.745 million to $2.395 million. Historically, more luxury properties close in the third and fourth quarters. Anecdotally, interest in the upper price range remains strong with many homes experiencing a number of showings. Many luxury properties have also adjusted their pricing to attract the upper tier buyer looking for value and compelling offerings.

Activity Down In Fairfield County
After several years of growth, unit sales throughout Fairfield County slipped during the first half of 2018 with decreases noted across the board. Towns closer to Manhattan such as Greenwich, Darien and Norwalk saw modest increases in the median sales price, but still registered a decreased number of unit sales. While Fairfield County is still considered attractive for families due to the quality of life and great schools, the sense of urgency by buyers to make the move seems to have slowed. Looking ahead, market activity seems slightly higher than normal as we move into the summer months, which will hopefully equate to increased sales in the second half of the year.

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Ridgefield’s 2017 Year In Review

Ridgefield Market Snapshot
The Ridgefield Real Estate market for single-family homes once again rallied and came out ahead of last year’s market with respect to all key indicators. Overall, the number of homes sold was up 6.3% with 370 homes selling in 2017 as compared to 348 in 2016. The total sales volume also increased by 5.3% resulting in a total of $273,224,044 transacting as compared to $259,407,724 in 2016. The median sales price for a Ridgefield single-family home increased slightly ending the year at $642,500 as compared to $640,000 in 2016. However, the average sales price decreased one percent from $745,424 to $738,443. The sales-to-list price ratio remained the same with homes selling at an average of 96.5% of their listed price.

Condo Report
There were 70 condominium sales in Ridgefield in 2017 ranging in price from $100,500 for a studio apartment to $1,860,000 for a five bedroom, custom-built Main Street luxury condominium in The Elms. The average sales price was $384,920, while the median sales price was $250,000. This compares favorably to 2016 when the average price was $371,990 and the median price was $216,000.

When Are People Buying?
An interesting finding of 2017 is that the seasonality of real estate is becoming less applicable, while consumer confidence seems to be playing more of a factor. Based on the assumption that properties generally take 60 days to close, to have the number of properties closing in the spring (116 properties) equal those in the summer (117 properties) is unusual. The general take-away is that with increased online visibility and ‘arm-chair‘ real estate, no matter the season buyers are willing to purchase if they find what they like.

The Luxury Market
The luxury market in Ridgefield – defined as homes selling for $1.5 million and above – held firm this year with continued strong sales. Overall, 13 luxury homes and one luxury condominium sold in 2017, as compared to 19 homes in 2016. Of particular note, five homes sold between $2 and $3 million, while the $3 million plus segment saw three sales happen. The highest priced home to sell this year closed for $3,318,183. As a Christie’s International Real Estate Luxury Specialist, in 2017 I was proud to represent 9 buyers and sellers with homes or condos priced between $1.86 and $3.1 million. Down county towns such as Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan and Westport have all seen an increase in luxury sales. Historically Ridgefield is not far behind.

Good News for Fairfield County
Overall, it was good news throughout most of Fairfield County. The number of homes sold was up, with median price not deviating too much from last year throughout most of the towns we evaluated. Darien recovered from 2016’s decreases, posting the largest year-over- year growth in median price. New Canaan rebounded nicely with a 39% increase in units sold when compared to 2016, which was 24% lower versus 2015. In Westport, the amount of speculative home building is also on the rise indicating a returning confidence in the market. Unfortunately, Redding and Wilton experienced an appreciable drop in median values, possibly due to a lack of high-end market sales. All other towns experienced a relatively flat market when compared to 2016.

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Karla’s Musings On A Snowy Day

Happy New Year!

And what a way to start 2018.

While watching the “bomb–cyclone” bury us in inches of snow yesterday, I started to make lists in my head about regular maintenance issues that are often overlooked until they present an issue. Things like: what is the condition of the systems in my house? When did I last get the chimney cleaned? Are the gutters susceptible to ice damming? And so on, and so forth.

It’s easy when we purchase a home to feel overwhelmed with all the maintenance and upkeep associated with it, and as such miss key milestones required to keep it in tip-top shape. And the same can be said for the complacency we project if we’ve been homeowners of the same property for quite some time without issue.

As a quick reminder, here are a few items you might want to schedule now and put in your calendar in order to keep you cool in the summer, warm in the winter and healthy throughout the year.

Furnace or Boiler
Ideally scheduled for September or October, before you really need to depend on it, a routine check-up is key to keeping things running smoothly. Think of it as an investment in the health of your heating system, much like a yearly physical.

Air Conditioning System
While AC is pretty far from your mind while the temperature sits in the teens outside, yearly maintenance slots for AC units book up fast. Call your provider now to lock in an ideal slot in April or May and keep your cool as the temperature heats up.

Septic System
Unless you live in town and are fortunate enough have a town sewer, you will definitely want to get on a plan to inspect and pump your septic every two years. Septic systems can be costly to replace, so finding small problems early – such as invading tree roots or cracks in tank lids – and correcting them early, can save you in the end.

Gutters
Truly an integral part of home maintenance, clean gutters prevent ice damming in the winter, and foundation and basement flooding in the spring rains by making sure water is directed away from the house. Many landscapers make gutter cleaning a part of their spring and fall clean-up, as well as additionally handling excess leaves according to your property. It’s also easy enough to get on a four time-a-year gutter cleaning program if you don’t have a landscaping company. With most companies, you don’t even need to be home – they just come and take care of it and then give you a heads up!

Chimney Clean Out or Gas Fireplace Servicing
Don’t ignore this – it can literally kill you. Carbon monoxide is an issue with an improperly functioning gas fireplace, and chimney fires caused by a build-up of creosote can be deadly. If you haven’t already, put this on the list of must-do’s immediately!

Stay safe and stay warm. Here’s to a great 2018!

Who’s Buying and Selling Homes in 2017?

The National Association of Realtors just released the  2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey which provides demographic insights into the real estate market nationally. For most home buyers, the purchase of real estate is one of the largest financial transactions they will make. Buyers purchase a home not only for the desire to own a home of their own, but also because of changes in jobs, family situations, and the need for a smaller or larger living area. This annual survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors® of recent home buyers and sellers provides insight into detailed information about their experiences with this important transaction. Here are highlights from the latest report.

  • First-time buyers made up 34 percent of all home buyers, a decrease from last year’s 35 percent.
  • Age for first-time buyers remains flat, but the age of repeat buyers continues to climb—now at an all-time high of 54.
  • Married couples continue at 3-year decline, while single females increased for the 3rd year.
    Buyer and seller use of agent remains at historical highs, 87% and 89% respectively. FSBOs remain at an all-time low of 8%.
  • Drop in those who stalled their sale of the home because they were underwater to 10%, but it is still common among those who purchased 8-10 years ago at 26%.
  • Tenure (holding on to the same property)  remains at an all-time high of 10 years.

In Ridgefield, we are seeing young families make the move to the suburbs, while empty-nesters are starting to downsize. While we may not have seen the gains in value that some of the country is experiencing, 2017 has been a strong year for both single-family unit sales and median home values.  We hope to see this trend continue through the end of the year.

 

Source: “2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers,” National Association of REALTORS® (Oct. 30, 2017)

Ridgefield’s 2017 Mid-Year Market Report

The first half of 2017 had sellers chomping at the bit to get their homes on the market early and take advantage of the relatively mild weather. Buyers were also out in full force looking to move when the school year ended and take advantage of the increased inventory. A very wet spring curtailed some of the action but unit sales have still surpassed 2016 by 17%, which is encouraging for steady growth. While home values have not risen, we have seen a competitive marketplace with multiple offers and homes selling for more than the asking price on numerous occasions. Also interesting is the segmentation that seems to be occurring in the market with the greatest gains seen in the $500,000-$600,000 and the $800,000-$900,000 categories. This is encouraging for middle-class families who are looking to upsize, downsize or move to the area for our wonderful schools, low crime, superb cultural offerings, family-friendly lifestyle, and proximity to major commerce centers.

Ridgefield Market Snapshot
Overall, the first half of 2017 has been a success for the Ridgefield Real Estate market. Unit sales increased 17.1% from January to June 2017 with 178 parcels selling compared to 152 in the first half of 2016. Total sales volume was also up 6.1% from $118,218,854 last year to $125,453,815 in 2017. The majority of home sales were priced under $1 million. If the market continues at its current pace, we are on track to match or exceed last year’s results.

Sellers Or Buyers Market
Inventory hit a record low in June 2017 with only six months worth of housing available for purchase. While this would suggest a sellers market, it does not yet seem to be playing out that way. The mid-year Sales-to-List Price Ratio held steady at 96.8%, slightly up from 2016’s 96.2%. However, pricing and the condition of the home still seem to be the key to selling with buyers using technology to assess for themselves what they think a property is worth. Sellers are also becoming increasingly savvy by staging and upgrading their homes for a quicker, more profitable sale.

Prices Holding Steady
The Median Sales Price for a single-family home in Ridgefield decreased by 5.0% from $660,000 in the first half of 2016 to $627,000 during the same time period in 2017. The average sales price also decreased from $772,672 to $704,797. Most of the growth in the first half of 2017 was seen in the $500,000 to $900,000 sector with 101 homes sold as compared to only 71 last year.

The Luxury Market
The luxury market – generally defined as homes selling for $1.5 million and above – saw a marked decrease in activity over the first half of 2017. Only two homes sold in this price range – one for $2.9 million and one for $3.1 million. There were no home sales between $1.5 and $2 million, which is unusual. Currently, as of July 1st there are four additional homes in this price range that are either under deposit or under contract to close by Labor Day, and anecdotally activity has picked up with more showings occurring in this price point. Sales were strong in the $1 million to $1.5 million category mimicking 2016 with 21 sales as compared to 22 last year.

Where Are People Buying?
Using Town Hall as the center of the Village, 37% of all sales occurred within a 2 mile radius in what would be considered “in-town” properties. Additionally, these in-town properties commanded a Median Sales Price of $739,000 and an Average Sales Price of $807,288, which is well above the town as a whole. The results support a continuing trend towards more walkable residences. We expect to see in-town properties remain desirable as both younger families escape the city and empty-nesters downsize. Upper end condominiums were also in high demand with five sold that were priced over $700,000, including one priced at $1,860,000.

Sales Up Across The Board
All Fairfield County towns experienced significant growth in the number of homes sold during the first half of 2017, reiterating the fact that individuals and families still consider Fairfield County a great place to live. However, it was a mixed message when it came to median home values with some towns showing double-digit increases, while others saw prices remain relatively flat or somewhat decreased. Traditionally more affordable towns like Stamford and Norwalk saw gains in pricing, while Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding saw values slip. Surprisingly, Westport experienced an almost 10% increase in median home value after seeing decreases during the past two years. Overall, slow but steady growth seems to be what we can expect throughout the county in the upcoming year.

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Fairfield County High Schools Among Best In Connecticut in 2017

The annual Niche.com ranking has been released and Fairfield County public high schools have done well.
Niche, a website for researching schools, used a variety of factors, including SAT/ACT scores, student-teacher ratio, the quality of colleges students consider and reviews from students and parents for its ranking.

In the number 1 position was New Canaan High School, followed by Staples High School in Westport, Greenwich High School and Weston High School. Wilton High School ranked number 7, Joel Barlow in Redding at 8, Darien High School at 9, and Ridgefield High School number 12.

The ranking also took into account how parents and students responded to surveys about their school, cultural diversity on campus, school absenteeism, teachers salary, state test scores, facilities, and the availability of clubs and activities, to name a few.

To see the full ranking list and to read more about the methodology, see the Full Report.

Ridgefield’s 2016 Year End Market Report

What a year! The Ridgefield Real Estate market rallied resulting in the best year since 2013’s banner season. Overall sales volume was up at $259,407,724 as compared to $241,208,027 in 2015. Unit sales increased 8.1% with 348 homes selling in 2016 compared to 322 the year before. With the uncertainty of an election year behind us, as well as steady increases seen in financial markets and slowly rising interest rates, there is reason to believe that this trend towards slow and steady growth in the Ridgefield Real Estate market will continue.

A Buyer’s Market
Buyers were out in force in 2016, and they had a lot to choose from. Armed with a plethora of information at their fingertips, historically low interest rates and a 12.5% increase in Ridgefield home inventory over 2015, they were able to make better, more informed decisions than ever before. The fourth quarter of 2016 was unusually busy and set up a strong pipeline into the first quarter of 2017. This is reminiscent of what happened at the end of 2012 and into 2013. Predictors suggest continued growth and improving sales throughout 2017.

No Bump In Price
The median sales price for a Ridgefield home remained relatively the same in 2016, decreasing
by only 1.9% to $640,000 from last year’s 2015 $652,500. The average sales price was $745,424
compared to $749,093 in 2015, while the sale to list price ratio was 96.4%. The rise of the “HGTV -phenomenon” placed a burden on sellers with buyers expecting homes to have kitchen and
bathroom upgrades, as well as more current design elements. We see this trend continuing.

Looking Ahead
While there has been no appreciable increase in home values, the market indicators continue to point to a stable real estate market. With inventory increasing, and interest rates slowly climbing, buyers will continue to look to invest in homes they feel offer real value. As always, location plays a key role in purchasing decisions with homes residing in-town or in good commute locations creating the greatest demand. As baby boomers become empty nesters, all indicators point to a demand for more functional homes that can be easily maintained. At the same time, we have seen upward movement in the market from Ridgefield residents moving their families into more spacious homes, as well as from buyers moving into Ridgefield to take advantage of our highly-ranked schools and great community.

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Happy Holidays To All

During the Holiday Season, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our progress possible. It is in that spirit that we say thank you. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year from all of us at Karla Murtaugh Homes.

Ridgefield Market Report : Mid Year Review 2016

Holding Steady

Coming off a mild winter, we were anticipating a better than average Spring Market and unit sales were actually up 9% over the same period last year. While the median sales price remained somewhat flat, the average price for a single family home experienced a 4.3% increase.

News of GE moving its headquarters out of nearby Fairfield, CT was disappointing, but has not had a negative effect on the property values here in Ridgefield. Fairfield County continues to be one of the most desirable regions in the tri-state area to live, and Ridgefield in particular continues to offer great value with the award-winning schools, vibrant downtown, numerous cultural destinations, strong community presence, beautiful landscapes, amazing quality of life and a reputation as of being one of the safest towns in the US.

Supply and demand will continue to drive the market. Most of our growth occurred in the under $1 million segment, but we did experience a small increase in units sold in the upper segments as well. We saw more demand in the $600,000- $800,000 segment outpacing the inventory available during the spring market. At the same time, inventory grew in the luxury segment, where demand was not as high. It remains a buyers market, which keeps raising the bar in terms of expectations. Buyers respond favorably to properties that reflect the latest design trends, are in “turn-key” condition and are priced properly, therefore portraying good value.

Looking Ahead

Another strong indicator of a healthy market is the number and value of pending sales. As of July 1st – based on the number of properties already in contract and under deposit – we have the potential to sell an additional 100 properties before Labor Day. This should keep us on track until the end of the year – and at a minimum – it will keep us on par with 2015. The fourth quarter is a bit tricky to predict considering the upcoming Presidential Election and the mitigating economic factors such as Brexit and other international influences. With interest rates still historically low, we should see serious buyers strongly seeking out the best value.

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