2020 was a banner year for the Connecticut real estate market, bringing an influx of new residents to the state. NBC Connecticut Investigates has analyzed new data that shows some cities and towns saw double and triple digit percentage increases in the number of home sales in 2020 compared to the year before.
"Things were flying off the shelf,” said Nikki Anderson, a realtor with ERA Hart Real Estate. "Things were listed today and gone tomorrow. We've experienced it locally, as well as statewide. The business was booming.”
Not only was Anderson assisting an increased number of would-be buyers and sellers, she also purchased a home in 2020. Anderson said she knew that in this seller’s market, there was not going to be much time for her to haggle about price. She said she gave the sellers exactly what they wanted in order to make sure her offer was accepted.
NBC Connecticut Investigates analyzed newly released home sales data from SmartMLS, which represents more than 18,000 real estate professionals across Connecticut, to show the percentage change between 2019 and 2020.
When it comes to the actual number of homes sold in 2020, Fairfield County had several communities at the top of the list, including the town of Fairfield with 1,089 homes sold. Stamford had 943 home sales and Norwalk finished the year with 829, according to SmartMLS.
The figures from SmartMLS showed that Waterbury, in New Haven County, had 941 homes sell in 2020 and 720 sales took place in the town of Hamden, according to the same data.
In Hartford County, West Hartford had the highest number of sales last year with 914. Bristol had 797 homes sold in 2020, the SmartMLS data showed.
Percentage-wise, the largest increase in New Haven County was in Southbury, where there was an increase of 29% in 2020. Sales in Burlington, which is located in Hartford County, were up 50% year to year. In Tolland County, Hebron had an increase of 52%. Sales in Westbrook, which is in Middlesex County, increased 55%, according to the SmartMLS data.
There was a 64% increase in home sales in Salem, which is in New London County. Weston, in Fairfield County, had home sales jump 82%. In Ashford, located in Windham County, was up 98% in 2020. In the small town of Warren in Litchfield County, even though there were just 47 homes sold, it represented a 213% increase from 2019, the data showed.
The current president of the Connecticut Association of Realtors said this week that home prices in the state have increased 18% to 20% in the last year.
"We saw a big influx of people coming in from New York, some from the Boston area, but primarily from New York,” said Joanne Breen, who was president of the Connecticut Association of Realtors in 2020. Breen said it was not only out-of-staters picking up and moving to Connecticut.
"It is being driven by people making a move within Connecticut,” said Breen. "People are making a move because they reevaluated whether their house works for them."
Breen said that this is the strongest Connecticut’s real estate market has been in years. She said that sellers are getting offers that are over the asking price. But, she said, there are benefits for buyers, too.
"Because the rates stayed so low, it remained a very good market for buyers as well even though they were paying a little bit more for the houses,” Breen said.
David Sacco, who worked for 25 years in the investment banking world, now serves as a practitioner in residence teaching at the University of New Haven. Sacco said the migration to Connecticut is not only about people moving their families to this state, but they are bringing their wealth as well.
“This migration in the short-term drives up real estate prices, which will probably hurt current residents,” Sacco said. “Over the medium term, it starts to bring more service business and those service businesses bring jobs to Connecticut. In the long-term, it will lead to more entrepreneurship opportunities, which is a good thing for Connecticut residents,” he said.
Sacco added that much of the impact of a strong real estate market will take time to be felt by the people who already live in Connecticut. He said future economic policy decisions will be an important part of encouraging those who moved to the state in 2020 to want to stay here post-pandemic.
Meanwhile, realtors have already seen evidence that the booming 2020 market is stretching into 2021.
"They're just not staying on the market. The market is just very active,” said Anderson.
"From what we're seeing and hearing, I think this year is going to be as good as or better than last year,” Breen said.