When will Connecticut home prices fall? Study shows some listings costing 20% more than 2021

Photo of Alexander Soule
In Fairfield County, the median home sold for $615,000 over the 12-month period through March — some $64,000 above the median price last March, study shows.

In Fairfield County, the median home sold for $615,000 over the 12-month period through March — some $64,000 above the median price last March, study shows.

Gerry Broome / Associated Press

A new study suggests real estate prices in many Connecticut communities are up by double-digit percentages heading into the peak of the third buying season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some towns are seeing increases of 20 percent or more from last year, according to William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty, which has published home sale data for many Connecticut municipalities over the 12-month period ending in March, encompassing two years of pandemic sales.

In Fairfield County, the median home sold for $615,000 over the 12-month period through March — some $64,000 above the price of the median sale over 12 months through March 2021, according to William Pitt Sotheby’s.

In New Haven County, just three towns saw their median sale numbers fail to rise by at least 10 percent over the preceding 12 months.

Real estate transactions are down this spring, but industry experts attribute that to fewer homes being listed for sale. Agents say buyers continue to comb Connecticut for properties within their budget, but are often out-bid by others willing to pay more. In some instances, buyers are even willing to pay cash rather than waiting on a lender to approve a mortgage, agents said.

“The first six months of last year were exceptional — even relative to 2020 — so I was anticipating the first six months of this year to be off,” said Paul Breunich, CEO of William Pitt Sotheby’s. “Prices are inching up due to demand exceeding supply.”

An analysis last week of markets nationally where housing prices could fall, CoreLogic ranked the Stamford-Bridgeport corridor and the Hartford area among the top-five most likely to see a drop along with two Arizona regions and Honolulu. Like Connecticut, CoreLogic said a shortage of available listings is keeping prices at elevated levels in several parts of the country.

Pricing data is an inexact science in real estate. Averages can be skewed in any town by a mammoth sale or a concentration of foreclosure transactions. Median prices capture only a snapshot of individual houses at the midpoint of all properties sold in any given period, with the possibility of very different properties being compared between time periods.

As an example, the median home sold in Fairfield County in the first quarter went for the same amount as its equivalent a year earlier — $512,000, as tagged by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England, New York and Westchester Properties. But the Ridgefield house, which sold for that amount in January, had been purchased for just $362,000 last July — a $150,000 premium in the span of seven months for the modest two-bedroom on less than one-third of an acre of land.

Statewide in Connecticut, the median home sold for $314,700 during the first quarter of 2022, as identified by Berkshire Hathaway. That was up about 5 percent from the equivalent property sold in the first quarter of last year.

Darien registered the biggest increase in the William Pitt Sotheby’s study of towns averaging 50 sales per quarter over the previous 12 months. During that span, the median home in Darien sold for nearly $1.7 million, 32 percent more than a year ago.

New England home prices ballooned 15.9 percent in January from a year earlier, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. That was below the U.S. increase of 18.2 percent and in the bottom-third of the nine regions FHFA includes in its monthly House Price Index.

A year ago, New England’s 13.7 percent gain from January 2020 trailed only the Mountain region, which includes Arizona and Colorado. Those states led the nation again this year with a 23.1 percent hike in home prices.

Adjusted for seasonal home buying trends, New England’s January prices were flat from December 2021, with the eight other U.S. regions nationally seeing gains between 1.1 percent and 2.2 percent.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman