50 offers in one CT town, but real estate bidding wars flattening


As Connecticut’s spring real estate market nears the finish line, in some towns half of the houses sold in May went to contract in five days or less — and in a few select locales, in the span of a weekend.

Even compared to the super-heated market as families fled New York City a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, that was an accelerated pace for homes going under contract. Statewide in May, buyers bid 4.7 percent more on average than what sellers were seeking for their houses and condominiums, as computed by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties.

The median Connecticut property sold for $350,000 last month, the Wallingford-based brokerage determined — up a full $30,000 from the May 2021 median sale, or 9.4 percent.

There are fewer houses for buyers to consider this year, contributing to a 14 percent decline in closed sales in May to 3,856 properties and higher prices for those that are listed for sale. Over the first five months of the year, 16,733 houses and condos sold in Connecticut, down 15 percent from the same period in 2021.

Stamford led the state with 143 sales in May, down only 5 percent from a year earlier despite 20 percent fewer listings hitting the market. But Stamford sales took far longer to get to closing than the state median, at just over three weeks.

The market appears to have flattened in another aspect, according to CEO Candace Adams — the number of properties where sellers are getting more than a few offers, though some are still generating massive interest like a Woodbury house that unleashed a bidding war of 50 offers.

“We are starting to see if leveling off a little bit — the showings are a little bit down, the multiple offers are down,” Adams said Wednesday. “However, there are tons of buyers still out there and there are more listings coming on the market, so I think we’re going to have a phenomenal summer market.”

The National Association of Realtors has yet to release sales figures for May. The Northeast had the sharpest decline in pending sales in April on NAR’s most recent report, off 16 percent from the month before.

Hartford County was a Connecticut standout in May on the Berkshire Hathaway study, with the median house going under contract in just five days of just over 900 sold last month. In Avon where 32 properties sold in May, the median interval took just three days. In West Hartford, Farmington, Wethersfield, Granby, Newington, Burlington and Suffield, the median home sold took just four days to get to closing.

In its own May review, William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty calculated a 16 percent increase from a year earlier in the average price that Hartford-region houses were getting for each square foot, a metric that does not factor in the size of any lot. That was triple the increase seen in Fairfield County.

In West Hartford, an East Maxwell Drive sale was completed last month at $1.15 million, 6 percent more than what the seller wanted — and half more than the $765,000 that owner paid for the house in March 2020 less than two weeks in advance of the declared public health emergency to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Fairfield County sales were down 21 percent from May 2021 to 1,019 transactions, and for the first five months of the year the price of the median home sold was up only slightly to 545,000.

In a letter to clients reviewing May sales, however, William Pitt Sotheby’s CEO Paul Breunich said New York City buyers continue to eyeball Connecticut towns for getaway homes or outright moves. But with stocks dropping and interest rates rising, it is an open question on how many are taking a pause to assess where the economy is headed, particularly in a window of runaway inflation.

Adams said interest rates loom largest for buyers considering houses priced below the median, with the stock market coming into play for those scouting the upper-middle market. She thinks the pandemic continues to influence Connecticut real estate — particularly earners who are being offered an extended stretch of remote working.

“If you go back any year other than the last two years, and you say, ‘we’ve got two or three offers on our property in two days,’ you’d be saying that’s an amazing market,” Adams said. “Now we’re saying it’s cooling down, and it is — but it’s still an amazing market.”

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

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