February is an awkward month. It’s technically the beginning of the Spring Season, but at times it certainly does not feel like it. Listings start to climb, but more are yet to come, and importantly, statistics are often reported as year to date, which offers limited value in February. There is typically a two month lag between contract signing and closings, with some faster and others designed for delayed closings. So sales that occurred at the end of the prior year actually close in January and February. Are closings in the first two months indicative of last year or this year? Does it matter if sales are on a continuum, with competitive inventory and bids out of one’s immediate control and limited predictive power of when one might find a house or buyer and arrive at a successful negotiated contract. When looking at year to date numbers in February are statistics swayed by inclement weather, few large sales or a lack there of in those particular months?
Year to date 2017 each of sold volume and the median sales price is up 33%. Wow. One might conclude that this is a fantastic market. Looking through such a narrow lense, one might be overly optimistic. In fact, closings were down 15% in February compared to the prior year, so that’s not good, except that they are up 18% year to date, so that’s not bad.
What’s going on? January was a strong month, but it came off a weak November, which was particularly slow with election jitters (and people glued to TVs and social media). Sales and closings might have been shifted to 2017. While there is a seasonality to residential sales, monthly sales patterns often look like they are tracking a yo yo, particularly in markets with an exceptionally wide price range of inventory. Better to look at trailing twelve months for a clearer, more consistent and realistic view.
Looking at the trailing twelve months, residential sales are down 6%, volume is down 9% and average sales prices are down 4%. Single family sales are down only 4%. This feels more like it.
Sales have been off (with certain areas and particular price points faring considerably better than others). While some inventory is functionally obsolete or geographically undesirable, other inventory holds value and desirability. Townwide optimism lags the nation because real estate is worth considerably more in Greenwich than elsewhere. Higher price points will naturally lag and sales will take longer to reflect growing optimism. Looking at a cross section of data, there is reason for muted optimism.
February Closings and Open Houses
Take a look at February Closing Report (clink link) and some of the 81 open houses on Sunday and then give me a call for a private viewing and instruction on how to prepare for the next steps in listing or purchasing a home. March 12, 2017 Open House Report (click link)*
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