Real estate market thaws out, a bit, in time for spring
A recent uptick in the housing market has brokers encouraged because they are seeing signs of life in time for the traditional spring sales period.
Sales in the first quarter of this year are up from 2009. There were 108 single-family home sales through March, up more than 300 percent from the 35 recorded during the same time last year, according to data released this week by Riverside-based Shore & Country Properties.
The jump comes along with a decline in the median home sale price from $1.6 million to $1.3 million.
The bad news, said Shore & Country owner and partner Russell Pruner, is that spring is usually not a time when sellers are willing to negotiate.
"They tend to hold closer to their listing prices in the spring than into the summer lull," Pruner said. "It might mean that we move our activity in a spring market into the summer and fall. It might mean that these people prolong their decision to buy."
At the same time, rising interest rates could also encourage people to make decisions.
"The people that have to buy, I think they're going to go ahead and buy," Pruner said.
Some of the good signs that agents are seeing are multiple offers and bidding wars.
Julianne Ward of Prudential Connecticut Realty she's seen four bidding wars since last week on various properties, from land under $1 million to three houses between $2 million and $3 million. One of them had been on the market for close to two years, while the others just recently come on. Ward said the properties would have been going for 20 percent to 30 percent more in 2007.
"I think what made them attractive is the one that's been on for a while reduced (the) price and the one that came on, came on at the right price," Ward said.
It's a sign that things are improving, but not that the market is in full recovery mode, however.
"I think it's going to be a long time until we get to every sale being a multiple offer," said Ward Davol of William Raveis Real Estate. "It's not coming back really quickly, but it's coming back fairly quickly."
"The buyers are putting decent offers in. ... They're not throwing their money around. They're being very conservative and they're spending it wisely," Milligan said.
Short sales have also become a new force in the market, though they are not for everyone, Milligan said. One client has been waiting nearly nine months for a deal to go through, as banks consider the situation.
"A lot of houses are upside down," Milligan said. "(But) to get the deal you've got to be a very special buyer."
Staff Writer Lisa Chamoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-625-4439.