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Newtown Home Values Slip by $173K Since 2006

Home values all over Fairfield County have dropped continuously since the market peaked in 2006, according to the UConn School of Business's Center for Real Estate and Urban Economic Studies. Here's a 2012 'State of the Real Estate' in Fairfield County.

 

Much of the United States has been on a slow path to recovery following the "Great Recession," but recent real estate data reveal that Fairfield County home values have dropped continuously since 2006, when the market peaked.

According to the UConn School of Business’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Economic Studies, mid-tier* home values in 14 Fairfield County cities and towns have diminished by an average of nearly $250,000 since 2006.

Dr. John Glascock, director of the Center, blames the “severe downturn” in real estate on the national liquidity crisis, which led to the bankruptcy of large financial institutions like Lehman Brothers.

While some look back at the subprime mortgage crisis as a huge factor that lead to the Great Recession, Glascock said only 15 percent of the general economic calamity could be attributed to subprime mortgages.

Looking at the Fairfield County market, the town of Trumbull is the lone anomaly—its home values rose by a net increase of $20,000 between the first quarter to 2011 and the first quarter of 2012. The rest of the Fairfield County markets cited in the indices have seen, for the most part, quarter-to-quarter drops since 2007. Exceptions include a good quarter or few per town.  

Town

Last Increase in Mid-Tier Home Values

Bethel

2006 - Qtr 4

Danbury

2006 - Qtr 1

Darien

2011 - Qtr 1

Fairfield

2008 - Qtr 1

Greenwich

2010 - Qtr 4

Monroe

2011 - Qtr 3

New Canaan

2011 - Qtr 2

Newtown

2010 - Qtr 2

Norwalk

2011 - Qtr 1

Shelton

2011 - Qtr 4

Stamford

2010 - Qtr 4

Trumbull

2012 - Qtr 1

Westport

2011 - Qtr 2

Wilton

2011 - Qtr 1

[Editor’s Note: UConn’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Economic Studies produces and updates “constant quality” price indices for 69 towns in Connecticut, 14 of which represent markets in Fairfield County. The figures date back to 1999 and estimate the prices that homes with specific characteristics will sell for in a given quarter, thus neutralizing market demand and making it possible to compare year-to-year market information. See the bottom of the story for more data and charts.]

When Lehman Brothers failed, Glascock said, Real Estate Investment Trust Prices “dropped like a rock.” The dip in housing prices followed, along with climbing unemployment rates and a sour economy.

The combined liquidity crisis and high rate of unemployment contributed to the lasting housing downturn, Glascock said. “People will hold off on purchasing a home when there’s high unemployment.”

Local Real Estate Agents Weigh In

Local real estate agents agree. Cathy Masi, broker and president of , said that in 2009—the year when the national unemployment rate hit 10 percent and Connecticut’s hovered between 8 and 9 percent—“was a wasteland. Nothing was going on.”

Grim data aside, Glascock expects the market to begin to stabilize this year or next year. When that happens and prices start to creep up, “people will be rushing in to get the bottom price” on listed homes.

Taxes, particularly in Fairfield County, “make a big impact” on how the market will turn, according to William Raveis, founder, chairman, and CEO of , who operates out of a Raveis office in Southport.

“Taxes are killing everybody,” he said. “It’s almost too expensive to live here.”

Raveis thinks a true upturn won’t occur until 2013, partly due to tax rates acting as “ankle weights” on prospective buyers. He hopes new tax policies will help stabilize the state of real estate.

The state of the job market also plays a role in improving the markets. While Raveis cited the “huge opportunity” that the current market’s affordability factors—the depressed home prices and close-to-3-percent interest rates on mortgages—represent, he said only those prospective buyers who feel financially sound are jumping to buy.

“The only way buyers will seize opportunities will be if we can bring jobs to Connecticut,” Raveis said. 

Signs of Life in 2012 Spring Market

The early start of spring 2012, however, has shown some promising signs already. Raveis said the his company’s numbers for April look “pretty good.

They’re going north for the first time—there have been more transactions.”

Down in Greenwich, real estate agents at have seen a recent uptick in sales in that market, according to Managing Broker .

Agents in her office have been taking two to three prospective buyers out each day to look at homes in the area. In fact, just minutes before speaking with Patch, Anderson heard from one of her top agents, who said one of her buyers found their dream home. At the same time one of the real estate agent’s listings had an accepted offer.

“I think it’s really moving now…it feels like we’re here, we made it,” Anderson said. “We’re feeling very optimistic and excited bout the wave of the market.”

Up in Newtown, Cathy Masi said she’s seen multiple offers on listed homes, something that hasn’t occurred in recent years. Demand for homes hasn’t quite reached a level that would mean a rise in home values and prices, but we’re slowly heading toward a balanced market, she said, because sales activity is getting closer to the number of homes for sale.

“Buyers want to get on with their lives; sellers want to get on with their lives. That’s the trend I’ve been seeing,” Masi said.

Appendix

Comparing Quarter 1 to Quarter 1 from 2006 to 2012 (2012 Q1 numbers were just released earlier in April)

Year Bethel Danbury Darien Fairfield Greenwich Monroe New Canaan Newtown Norwalk Shelton Stamford Trumbull Westport Wilton   2006 $419,940 $372,764 $1,169,668 $559,908 $1,225,982 $478,195 $1,528,607 $472,665 $517,356 $510,164 $699,246 $492,563 $1,310,374 $898,833   2007 $419,940 $349,314 $1,126,463 $569,593 $1,163,741 $445,950 $1,468,065 $415,836 $496,935 $518,939 $676,137 $480,819 $1,320,192 $873,618   2008 $390,593 $322,863 $1,039,126 $570,570 $1,145,492 $439,624 $1,398,965 $378,852 $500,847 $492,331 $644,197 $394,882 $1,304,541 $856,939   2009 $357,300 $282,215 $878,361 $477,024 $952,343 $409,736 N/A $328,712 $400,757 $433,182 $547,279 $326,620 $1,081,408 N/A   2010 $320,296 $270,420 $851,357 $426,721 $942,268 $375,948 $1,181,401 $335,835 $392,016 $405,927 $541,092 $304,635 $1,013,565 $669,311   2011 $305,066 $242,899 $856,431 $415,810 $921,374 $364,489 $1,178,210 $327,825 $403,177 $388,693 $537,660 $270,216 $1,047,119 $676,393   2012 $278,470 $222,082 $796,603 $401,788 $905,918 $348,611 $995,549 $299,237 $321,980 $358,040 $512,703 $290,709 $933,288 $574,618   Net Increase/(Decrease) from Q1, 2006 to Q1, 2012 ($141,470) ($150,682) ($373,065) ($158,120) ($320,064) ($129,584) ($533,058) ($173,428) ($195,376) ($152,124) ($186,543) ($201,854) ($377,086) ($324,215) Ave Net Decrease: $244,047.79 Net Increase/(Decrease) from Q1, 2011 to Q1, 2012 ($26,596) ($20,817) ($59,828) ($14,022) ($15,456) ($15,878) ($182,661) ($28,588) ($81,197) ($30,653) ($24,957) $20,493 ($113,831) ($101,775) Ave Net Decrease: $49,697.57

 

*Mid-Tier: Mid-tier describes the characteristics of homes in the “middle” of each market—those homes that fall into the middle of the range of square footage, age, and price within a town. See the attached PDF for details for each market in the state.

– Michael Dinan contributed to this report.

Gary L. Fillion April 25, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Does this mean our taxes should be reduced?
dave T April 25, 2012 at 11:52 AM
One with any common sense would think so... however special interest groups (Board of education) lobbysist see it differently. They seem to think the more money that goes to education correlates to property values... Obviously not the case based on the education budget trend vs property values ober the past few years. I personally dont wanna wait 20 years to find out when my children enter the workforce....
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com April 25, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Statistics can be made to paint many pictures. According to The Warren Group, the leading reporter of home sale statistics the median price in Newtown in 2011 was $375,000 verses $419,250 in 2010.In 2006 it was $490,000. A drop of $115,000, verses what the Patch reported of $175,000 decrease. The median is where half the sales were below and half above.
DONNA DEVINE April 25, 2012 at 01:34 PM
if we have fdk, will house values rebound by 115 thusand? so annoyed, thought refirrendum was today...drat
Clare April 25, 2012 at 02:13 PM
We just voted yesterday on the town budget and they wanted to increase the mill rate so even though our houses are worth less, we would essentially be paying the same. Then when houses go back up, we would be paying more.
Andy April 25, 2012 at 02:51 PM
That is supposed to make us feel better? The fact remains that our homes are worth a lot less than what we paid for them.
Tony April 25, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Dave T.....houses in Ridgefield CT cost more because the schools are better. I would move to Ridgefield because of the schools if I could afford to buy a house there. I know people moving from Newtown to Ridgefield and downsizing because the schools are better. More money does not make our schools better...I agree. We should be targeting the wasteful spending at FFH or at the Newtown dump. Leave the schools alone. Enrollment is down at our schools because the Newtown schools are average at best.
Truthteller April 25, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Clare you will always pay, the money must come from somewhere. If there is no commercial tax base, if houses are empty, or worth less than before the bills remain and we will pay. The issue, as Tony states, I believe is: what will get in return for your money? Where's the value??
Paul Alexander April 25, 2012 at 03:50 PM
There are TWO sides to a balance sheet. Income and Expenses. Why is the expenses side of the towns balalnce sheet so sacred and off limits to material reductions?
Liam Heller April 25, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Gary ~ There's a difference between a market value/appraisal of a home and tax assessment. Your home is taxed, based on the tax assessment. It's like going by the blue book value of your used car, versus what you think you can get some Joe Shmoe to pay for it, after conning him into thinking it's worth more than it really is. You might recall, when you bought your very first home, that the tax assessment was significantly lower than what the purchase price was, as told to you by your real estate agent or your mortgage broker. You may have been insulted and thought the town was under the impression that your house was garbage. You may have also thought that you might have gotten shafted into paying WAY more than you should have. In most cases... The latter is probably true. A lot of people overpaid for their homes and are now finding the market value to be dropping. The tax assessment, however, does not. Unfortunately.
Alex Tytler April 25, 2012 at 09:21 PM
It's not Paul. There are guys walking around with sandwich boards pleading for us to vote no, and we did, and we will over and over and over.
Paul Alexander April 25, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Old school. Awesome!
darrylzcortez April 26, 2012 at 09:23 AM
The Refi Plus program will waive the normal credit score requirement for a refinance; it will have reduced documentation standards for proof of income; and it will allow for computer-based appraisals, which tend to inflate the value of a home and make it easier to qualify for a refinance. Search online for 123 Refinance they are the best and fast.
Alex Tytler April 26, 2012 at 09:53 AM
There you go, we just need more credit to cure our credit hangover.
Dee Dee April 26, 2012 at 09:59 AM
WARNING - just because you can get your credit score requirement waived, not have to provide income documentation and/or can produce a higher appraisal number - and thus get a higher loan amount - IT DOES NOT MEAN YOU WILL BE ABLE TO MAKE THE PAYMENTS! You would think we would have learned this by now.
dave T April 26, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Tony, I agree with you BOE isnt the only pork in the budget and there are plenty of other areas to trim some expense... I do disagree with the statement and using Ridgefield as an example of the ideal... values are higher because they are lower fairfield county.. commutable to stamford and manhattan, have a train station, and a history of affluence... I would guess the % of private school attendees is much higher there as well.
The Bearded One April 27, 2012 at 12:58 AM
When the high interest rates kick in on the national debt in a few years housing prices will really drop.
Douglas Brennan August 01, 2012 at 10:17 AM
The lack of disciplined thought in academic circles these days is amazing. The gap in disciplined thinking is so large that perhaps the "THINKERS" from global warming have found it important to provide additional meaningless and misleading data for the housing market in Connecticut. And to think tha some of the tax dollars that are extorted from us actually provide funds to this institution. And to all those that actually attend these institutions and think; publications like this only lessen the value of your degree! That is a real "estate" shame.

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