Despite resurgence of NY buyers, CT real estate listings still low except in two places

By: Alexander Soule, CT Insider • Published February 6, 2024
Kimberly Tapscott has one barometer in mind for the coming week on the vitality of the Connecticut real estate market in February. If the calendar is crammed with open houses on Super Bowl Sunday, that’s a sign sellers are scanning the field for motivated buyers.

Stamford had one of the better showings of any Connecticut municipality in January, with a 5 percent increase in new listings compared to a year earlier according to preliminary data from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties. That’s compared to a 6 percent drop statewide, with exceptions like Westport where new listings doubled from January 2023.

Tapscott said that high rental rates in New York and Connecticut are again pushing many to consider purchasing this year, particularly with expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this year to put downward pressure on mortgage rates.

“The buyers are definitely out there,” said Tapscott, a Keller Williams Prestige broker who is president of the Stamford Board of Realtors. “The last four clients I have signed as far as buyers, they’re all coming out of the state of New York.”

But outside of Stamford, Westport and select other towns, sellers have yet to put “for sale” signs out front in greater numbers. Just over 2,500 properties were listed for sale in January across Connecticut, as counted by Berkshire Hathaway, about 150 fewer than in January 2023. In Greenwich, new listings were on par with a year ago and down only slightly in Danbury, but Norwalk and Fairfield were among towns to see double-digit percentage drops.

Statewide, sale transactions also dropped as buyers took a pass on properties they deemed overpriced, with about 2,100 houses and condos changing hands in January for an 8 percent decline from a year earlier.

While fewer houses on the market can benefit sellers due to less competition that could prompt them to cut their asking prices, it does not bode well for home buyers who have fewer available options — and the possibility of more rival buyers jumping into any competitive bidding scenario to push up the price.

The median home statewide sold for $355,000 in January — a dozen went for that figure statewide — which was $40,000 above the state median in January 2023.

With the possibility of mortgage rates dropping this year, that has some home buyers getting a jump on the spring market, with sunny skies and seasonally mild temperatures forecast into the second week of February. But the Stamford increase only dented the gap significantly for overall “inventory” of houses available for sale, which in December was 22 percent below its level of a year earlier according to the Stamford Board of Realtors.

Plenty of buyers are out there — Connecticut showings have been consistently outpacing the numbers of a year earlier, according to statewide data published by Zillow affiliate ShowingTime.

“A lot of people are waiting to see if the rates go down,” Tapscott said. “It’s a great time to buy if the individual is ready — and I always say you marry the house, and you date the rate. Once you get into the house of your dreams, you can always refinance.”