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Skolnick's Scoop / Real estate market has stabilized

Published 4:35 pm, Thursday, October 4, 2012
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What's happening in Westport's real estate market through the first nine months of the year? Buyers seem to believe prices are finally steady, while sellers are sure prices are on their way up.

Without a crystal ball, no one can tell the future. But based on comparisons of 2011 and 2012 sales data, the market is certainly stable, with values for buyers out there.

Current values are estimated to be close to those in 2003, according to data from the Greater-Fairfield County Multiple Listing Service.

Anyone who purchased a home after 2003 who is selling now should expect to lose money on the sale side. Hopefully, they would recoup it if they buy another home. Mortgage rates continue to be historically low, but the time period to receive a commitment from a bank is considerably longer than in the past, often taking a few months instead of a few weeks.

As of Oct. 1, the county's MLS showed 321 Westport houses on the market, with an average list price of $1,829,552.

The highest list price was $27,500,000 on Beachside Avenue estate owned by two of Westport's most famous residents. It offers 6.56 acres, a 8716 square foot main house plus a free standing gym on more than 2 acres, including 420 feet of direct waterfront access.

The least expensive home on the market in Westport is listed for $309,000 on Crescent Park Road. The 1,152-square-foot house on 0.12 acre has three bedrooms, two baths, and a fireplace.

This year through Oct. 1, 277 homes have sold, with a median list price of $1,485,000 and a median sales price of $1,225,000 -- 17.5 percent below list.

The most expensive closed for $5,250,000. It is new construction on 1.23 acres on Minute Man Hill, with 7,600 square feet, an in-ground pool and is within walking distance of the beach. The least expensive sale was $390,000 on Frescenius Road.

In 2011, during the same time period, 286 homes also sold in Westport. With a median list price of $1,399,000 and median sales price of $1,085,625 -- 22 percent below list. The most expensive home sold last year during the same time period closed for $6,300,000 on Bluewater Hill Road. The home featured sweeping views of the sound, a pool, 7,500 square foot house on one acre with tennis courts as part of the Bluewater Hill association.

Typically, the most closings happen between May and August, and 2012 it was no different. During May, 32 homes closed, compared to 42 the same month last year; in June, 54, same as the previous year; July, 49, up from 36; in August, 39, down from 43; and September, 22 compared to 26.

The 321 Westport listings as of Oct. 1 had a total volume of $802,705,928. Currently, 17 months of inventory is available for sale compared to 15 months of inventory the same time last year.

The bottom line: the Westport Market is alive. Properties are selling when priced correctly. Buyers in Westport are well educated. They know the market and are not willing to overpay.

When median listing prices are compared to the median sale prices, there appears to be a large quantity of overpriced listings. The market will not allow you to under-price your home (the price will be bid up by savvy buyers), but the market will allow you to hold on to your overpriced listing for years.

Price it right and be ready to negotiate.

Linda Skolnick's "Skolnick's Scoop" appears every other Friday. She is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Riverside in Westport and can be reached by calling 203-246-0088 or by through her website, www.GoAskLinda.com.