Published November 15. 2012 4:00AM
Hurricane Sandy may have chased off Halloween revelers, but it couldn't keep housebuyers from concluding deals last month in New London County.
October proved to be a strong month for the single-family home market, with sales surging 16.4 percent compared with the same period a year ago, according to figures provided by Les Bray of Sound Investment Consultants. Sales were up for all price categories below $500,000, but luxury homes were still not seeing much movement, Bray's statistics show.
Median prices so far this year are also up, from nearly $209,000 last year to almost $219,000 this year, according to a report by Randall Realtors. On the rolling-average basis that Bray prefers because it factors in a full year, median prices are at $215,000, up from $209,000 a year ago.
"Sales volume across New London County has been on an upward trajectory now for more than a year, as lending rates remain at historically low levels and more buyers qualify for mortgages," said Doug Randall, chief executive of Randall Realtors, in a statement.
Randall reported that housing inventories in the region continue to decline, a sign that the market is stabilizing from a price free-fall of more than 20 percent that started four years ago. While 2,218 homes were on the market at the beginning of November a year ago, only 1,995 had for-sale signs posted at the same time this year, the company said.
Bray pointed out that homes for sale under $300,000 are all at an improving inventory level of nine months or less, which means it would take nine months to sell all of these lower-priced homes currently on the market at the present pace of sales. This is off the traditional six-month inventory level locally but significantly better than for higher-priced homes, which are all at one-year inventory levels or above (four and a half years for million-dollar homes).
"We remain very encouraged by the New London County trends," Randall said. "Buyers who once were reluctant to enter the market are realizing that prices have stabilized and actually are increasing."
Bray agreed that the trends were encouraging, particularly gross sales volume, which has increased every single month starting in January. But he cautioned that 2011 was a particularly bad year for real estate in New London County, so it didn't take many sales this year to move the needle in a positive direction.
Randall said projections for future sales are holding firm as well, with 281 under contract as of Nov. 1, compared with 279 two months previously. Pending sales are 27 percent higher today than they were a year ago.
"Sustaining this recovery depends on sellers continuing to price their homes competitively," Randall said. "Pricing it right initially is so much better than having to drop the price later."