Checking out home prices

Last month, increases in asking home prices nationwide (looking at 2012 as compared to 2013) slowed for the first time since the price recovery started in 2012. But overall, home prices increased nearly 11.9% year-over-year in December compared with November’s 12.2 % year increase.

According to Trulia, quarter-over-quarter asking prices increased in 83 of the 100 largest metros and decreased in 17, representing the most declines in 10 months. The 10 metro areas most impacted by the housing downturn, understandably, registered the largest price increases in 2013. Prices in these 10 metros declined by at least a third from peak to trough and by 50% or more in a few metros like Las Vegas, Sacramento, and Riverside-San Bernadino.

In most metro areas where the housing downturn was less significant, price rises were “modest” when 2012 was compared to 2013. Areas of exceptions include Austin, Dallas and Houston, where the price increases were in the single digits.

Areas of Florida, however, which were hard hit by the housing downturn had slower price increases last year than most California and Nevada metros.

In around 1,500 cities, home values are at least 25% lower than at the peak of the market. Across the country, home values decreased 23.8% between 2007 and 2011 before recovering 9.9% from the bottom of the market in late 2011. According to Zillow, home values are approximately 16.3% below the peak of the real estate market.

While the accuracy of Zillow home values is of question, it is safe to say that prices in many parts of the country are still below the peak of the real estate market.

The median sale price of single-family homes in Greenwich (all areas) increased 2.2% between 2012 and 2013. It had decreased 10.88% between 2011 and 2012. Also of importance is that the number of homes sold in 2013 was 472 as compared to 792 in 2012.

The median price of a home in Greenwich is $1,100,000. Belle Haven had the highest median price, $2,500,000, of all the areas of Greenwich. Riverside had the most sales of all the towns of Greenwich and a median sales price of $1,535,000, according to Greenwich MLS and town records.

Some home sellers in Greenwich are having a difficult time responding to buyer offers, especially those who purchased during the peak of the market. Others have not really adjusted to the existing home values specific to Greenwich and its towns. The media highlights the national improvement of the real estate market, but not the inconsistency in the markets. Realtors can provide the information and analysis to appropriately price a home.

In Fairfield County, 11.4% of all residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity for third quarter of 2013 compared to 11.8% in the prior quarter. There are signs of improvement, but it is taking time.

Another issue is that there is a shortage of new construction and inventory in many price points. Interest rates are ticking up, prompting buyers to look now in earnest. This spring’s market is expected to be active as a result of these market conditions.

However, people should remember that appropriate pricing is key to a successful launch and sale of a home.


Mary Ann Clark is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker at 177 West Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. Questions or comments may be emailed to [email protected]  

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