Blog :: 11-2008

What Exactly is the Market Doing up Here?

I think every top broker in this business will tell you that things are slower than normal right now. My biggest hurdle is that NY weekenders, our steadiest pool of $1 million+ home buyers, are too busy watching the stock market to buy houses. At last count I am working with 21 buyers. They are in various stages of buying. It ranges from one couple who has been looking for just the right thing for 4 years, to another couple who found their perfect dream house on the first and only time they looked (but they want to wait for one more bonus cycle to act). More typical are the several who have been renting and looking to buy for the last 6-12 months or so. They are committed to the area, and will step forward when the economic outlook is more stable. When the financial situation improves, these buyers will act at some point. Some will come in and get great deals while the getting is good (in the next few months) and some will prefer to wait until the all clear bell is rung somewhere. They may not get the bottom price, but they will feel safer with their decision. Im fine to help and wait as long as is necessary.

Below I am providing some hard facts for the area Real Estate market. I have to say that I am reluctant to furnish these facts. I hesitate to ever quote average market prices because this number can be very misleading. The main reason for this is because it does not take into account the improvements made to houses over time. This is, of course, an impossible number to calculate. An accurate average price number would have to take a basket of houses that sold one year, then had only basic maintenance done to them, and then have the same basket sell again in another year. That would give you the average price increase or decrease. For example a house that is bought for $1 million in 2006 and then the owner puts $500,000 into it and sells it for $1.4 million in 2007. Did the market go up or down? The average price statistic will tell you it went up, when in reality it went down. On top of that, average prices are also skewed in this area due to the very limited number of sales. Additionally, this info is only from sales that were publicly listed. Each year we have a handful of private sales in the area which are usually at the high end and would create a higher average price if they were included. This information is the average from Washington, Roxbury and Bridgewater combined.

# Houses Sold Avg. Price % Change From Prev. Yr

2002 105 $573,293

2003 113 $724,167 26.3%

2004 99 $849,251 17.2%

2005 121 $933,635 9.9%

2006 103 $963,265 3.2%

2007 106 $1,077,944 11.9%

2008 to date 70 $1,066,302 (1.1%)

So, is the market really only down 1.1% this year? For that matter, was it really up 11.9% last year? The answer is NO! If I look at what things could have sold for a couple of years ago, vs. what they would likely sell for now, I would estimate we are down at least 20% from the highs. The more interesting number here is the number of houses sold. There are currently 4 houses under agreement. If we assume that 3 of them close (I know for a fact that one will not close this year) and that a few more things sell with quick closings, we could be looking at only 75 or so sales this year. This would be down 30% from last year. Most buyers I have dealt with have put significant money into their houses. Almost every house up here needs something done. This amount of money that has gone into renovations, expansions, landscaping, pools, tennis courts, etc just cannot be factored into these numbers.

Comments and Questions?


  1. susanna on

    Very helpful info thanks
    • Stacey Matthews on

      Good question. Currently in Washington, Roxbury and Bridgewater there are 97 houses for sale over $1mil. In the last 12 month period, 28 houses sold over $1mil. So therefore, its about a 4 year inventory. There are a lot of sellers up here who are not motivated and not realistic and a lot of over priced houses. Those who are realistic will be lowering prices and getting deals done. The others may be waiting for many years to get an offer. Thanks for your question. Fondly, Stacey

      Saving Money on Your Utilities

      Friends of all income levels seem to be looking for ways to save money on their bills these days. Here are some relatively quick and easy tips:

      Electric Savings: My friend C.S. turned me onto switching to Public Power Utility. Learn about it online. It took 30 seconds to sign up and she says it saved her $50 a month. I'm awaiting my new lower bill next month! Thanks C.S.! She also recommended wrapping my copper water pipes it the basement with foam insulators which are easily available at the hardware store. I'll get my husband on that soon.

      Cable Deals: Every month I was aghast at how much I pay my cable company for TV and internet. I took a deep breath and called to see what they could do about it. With 15 minutes, I had a helpful rep on the phone. We went through the bill point by point and she found specials that they were running on most of my services. $50 a month off my bill! Its worth the 15 minutes, I think.

      Switching to Charter Cable for Phone Service: I have good back up cell phone service at my house and so have just switched over to Charter phone for my hard wired line. The new service seems to be working great, and I am promised it will save me $100 a month! I have heard that this works best in new houses with new wiring. I do have a friend who lives in an antique house who is happy with it, but she says they had to come back several times to get it working properly.

      Call Your Cell Phone Carrier: In ten minutes the other night, my husband lowered our $200 a month blackberry bill by $20 a month by cloosing a new plan that better suits are usage. I know, not a lot, but it all adds up!

      Snow Plowing My Gravel Driveway: This year my plow service has bought a new truck which they say allows them to raise the plow blade slightly and avoid pushing the loose gravel all over my lawn. As my driveway is flat, he thinks we can deal with the small amount of snow that will be left over after a plow. He thinks this will save me the $700+ that I spent last spring redistributing the gravel.

      Anybody else have any suggestions??


      1. KM on

        I think the blog is a great idea. The information regarding the real estate market is truly helpful.

        Welcome to My New Blog

        Over the past few years, many friends have suggested I write a Blog about the Litchfield County Real Estate Market. So here it goes! I will also include tidbits about our lifestyle and the local scene. Please check in regularly, make comments and ask questions!


        1. Veronica on

          I've always loved the Litchfield Hills and am looking forward to hearing more...thanks, v