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Skolnick's Scoop / Westport's realty market gaining momentum

Updated 1:20 pm, Thursday, February 28, 2013
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The year 2013 has come in like a lion for those in the real estate market.

Multiple offers have become common, and bidding wars are happening again. Some homes are selling as soon as they hit the market, sometimes for more than their asking prices.

Even the largest blizzard to hit the Northeast in over 30 years couldn't put a damper on the enthusiasm.

The 2012 market was stronger than 2011. And while activity in 2013 is hardly rivals the boom era, its energy would be contagious. So what's driving the liveliness?

A simple case of supply and demand plays an important role in Westport's real estate market. Inventory has declined, forcing prices to at the least stabilize while also creating a need for new construction.

November 2012 offered a nine- month supply of inventory compared to the 18-month supply a year earlier. December 2012 had seven months of inventory compared to the prior year's 15-month supply. January 2013's 11 months of supply matched January 2012's.

During the last two years, I've continually heard buyers say, " I am not going to buy now, because prices are still dropping." While prices are not necessarily up, you will be hard pressed to find a knowledgeable investor who claims prices are down.

With that said, buyers believe they are buying at the bottom of the market. There is pent up demand waiting to be released. While mortgage lending can still be a labor-intensive practice at the onset, a good mortgage broker can help you through the process. Mortgages seem to be getting approved fasterthan a year ago with credit restrictions easing.

Appraisers have a greater number of comparables to work with, since more properties have sold, making a fair and accurate appraisal easier to obtain. Interest rates, while creeping up slightly, are still historically low.

In addition, the rental market has been strong. Vacancy rates have plunged while rental rates have increased. With monthly rental prices rising, homeownership is often becoming a more viable option.

There are still terrific deals for qualified buyers. But sellers should not mistake a strong market with a rising market. Prices are stable. They are still not up enough for sellers to start raising their asking price. Buyers are educated and ready to react, but they will not overpay.

Have your agent provide a Comparable Market Analysis to properly price your home, and be ready to reap the benefits of a strong and active market.

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.