will herring / ctnewsjunkie

A rise in real estate activity across the state in 2020 led to increased demand for homes in Connecticut’s largest markets and steep price increases, according to industry experts.

Diane McAdams, president of the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors, says that a dwindling inventory of available housing is creating high demand, coming from a mixture of anxiety and people seeking larger homes in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also said that an influx of out-of-state buyers, combined with their changing preferences, has homes in Connecticut spending considerably less time on the market.

Fairfield County saw a 39.5% increase in the number of homes sold in the month of Aug. 2020 over Aug. 2019, according to Vikktoria Cooper, president of the Stamford Board of Realtors.

She said the county saw 1,815 single family homes, condos, and multi-family properties sold in Aug. 2020, versus 1,301 in 2019. Hartford County saw a 17.52% increase in the same period.

Britt Miglietta, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway in Glastonbury, says the pandemic has lowered inventory to the point that homes that normally would not sell are selling. Miglietta says a combination of low interest rates and buyers’ willingness to pay more for a finished home has shifted inventory to unusual lows. The Greater Hartford Association of Realtors reported the number of single-family homes available in Sept. 2020 has decreased 56% in one year.

This upward trend in sales has been reflected in the change of price. According to the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors, the median sales price of a single-family home in the Hartford area has increased by 14.17%, from $254,000 to $290,000.

The coronavirus has been driving residents out of urban areas, with many moving to suburban towns. Residents of New York City have seen Connecticut as a convenient escape from the crowded metropolitan area. According to a WFSB report in July, US Postal Service data says that over 10,000 New Yorkers changed their addresses to Connecticut from March through June. This compares to just 1,200 over the same period in 2019. This happened as businesses transitioned to a style of remote work that makes rural parts of the state more attractive to buyers. According to McAdams, as the demand in rural Connecticut rises and buyers look for more space, prices in those areas will rise as well.

As the pandemic has changed over the last several months, buyers’ preferences have also appeared to change. Individuals are looking for extra space in their homes for work and school. Larger yards with swimming pools are popular, benefitting the real estate markets in rural parts of Connecticut. McAdams says that the need for more space has increased activity in this part of the market, and that we are likely seeing prices rise as a reflection of that trend.

Realtors and sellers also have had to take new precautionary measures to protect themselves and their clients. The use of personal protective equipment, virtual tours, and limited open houses has meant a change in the approach to bringing prospective buyers to homes.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has reshaped how buyers approach a purchase as well.

“In terms of sale, this is a terrific opportunity to make sure buyers are a real buyer,” Cooper said, adding that sellers have more confidence that the buyers viewing their homes have done their research into the house before scheduling a tour.

The market appears to be staying hot in 2021, as the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors reported last week that December’s closed sales of single-family homes in greater Hartford had increased by more than 50% over December 2019.

Will Herring is a political science and economics student at Quinnipiac University from Glastonbury, Connecticut. He interned at CTNewsJunkie in Fall 2020.