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Skolnick's Scoop / Westport realty sales surge 22% year to date

Published 2:21 pm, Tuesday, July 9, 2013
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The real estate market continues to sizzle as the warm weather finally arrives. According to a June 27 report from the National Association of Realtors, "Contract activity is at the strongest pace since December 2006; pending sales have been above year-ago levels for the past 25 months."

Lawerence Yun, the association's chief economist, said there may be a fence-jumping effect.

"Even with limited choices, it appears some of the rise in contract signings could be from buyers wanting to take advantage of current affordability conditions before mortgage-interest rates move higher," he said. "This implies a continuation of double-digit price increases from a year earlier, with a strong push from pent-up demand."

In Westport alone, there are currently 90 homes under contract with sales pending and 40 more with accepted offers, leaving an inventory of 291 homes available for sale.

As of June 30, year-to-date closed sales in Westport totaled 222 units -- up 22 percent from the 182 homes sold in the same period last year, according to the Mid-Fairfield County Board of Realtors. Sales volume was nearly $350 million, up 34.4 percent from last year.

According to the national Realtors, existing-home sales nationally are projected to increase 8.5 to 9 percent this year, reaching about 5.07 million sales -- the most in seven years.

The next hurdle is how buyers are going to respond to climbing mortgage rates. Tim Martin, senior loan officer for NE Moves Mortgage, said that even with increases, rates still are in a historically low range.

"While rates are at two year highs, we have to realize that these are still historically low rates," he said. "They were incredible ... now they are `only' amazing. If you are in a position to qualify to purchase a home, rates should not hold you back."

Higher home prices have been easier to accept due to exceptionally low borrowing rates. Rates are still remarkable, and nothing close to the double-digit rates of the 1990s. The Federal Reserve could begin winding down its bond-buying program by year-end, which could push rates higher.

The bottom line on Westport's housing market: Sales remain strong as inventory dips.

If your house is on the market but not attracting offers, it's time to stop blaming the market and start looking at your pricing. If you are a buyer, get pre-qualified so you can jump when the right property becomes available -- and still enjoy noteworthy mortgage lending rates.

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.