December listings spike a sign for 2019 Connecticut real estate?

Southwestern Connecticut real estate listings surged in December, a possible harbinger that would-be buyers will have more choices in the spring market if greater numbers of homeowners look to sell.

In the holiday month of December when real estate markets grind to a crawl, 445 new listings hit the Fairfield County market, according to Stamford-based William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty, a 44 percent increase from a year ago.

That occurred despite a continued malaise in home sales locally and statewide, with William Pitt Sotheby’s reporting declines of nearly 3 percent in both December and the full year for the Fairfield County market, with market statistics maintained by Norwalk-based SmartMLS and a few independent multiple listing services.

In a separate report published Wednesday, the Peabody, Mass.-based Warren Group calculated that Connecticut home sales ebbed a fourth consecutive month in November, though the price of the median home sold ticked up from the equivalent sale a year earlier.

About 225 fewer single-family houses sold statewide in November for about 2,370 properties in all, a 9 percent decline according to the Warren Group, with condominium sales also down from a year earlier. Through the first 11 months of the year, Connecticut home sales were down 2 percent from the same stretch in 2017, with nearly 31,140 properties changing hands. Of that group, the median home sold was purchased for $260,000, a 4 percent increase from 2017, with William Pitt Sotheby’s reporting a 4 percent drop in the December median sale price in Fairfield County to $440,000.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve signaled the possibility of two interest rate increases this year, one fewer than an earlier forecast, with any increases making mortgages more expensive for home buyers.

In an Attom Data Solutions study this week on housing affordability nationally, Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven counties were listed among those in Connecticut where wage growth is outpacing that of home prices, with the opposite trend evident in Hartford and Middlesex counties.

Last year, the Northeast housing market was hit with an additional hurdle after the Trump administration capped at $10,000 the IRS deductions homeowners could take on state and local taxes they pay —or SALT shorthand — having been able to take a full deduction in previous years. In 2015, more than 40 percent of Connecticut taxpayers took SALT deductions, the second highest preponderance in the nation, according to the Government Financial Officers Association, at an average deduction of $19,700 per filer.

According to the Tax Foundation, Connecticut has the highest property taxes in the nation, with newly sworn-in Gov. Ned Lamont having pledged to find ways to reduce that burden among the early goals of his new administration.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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