real estate

Interactive: Where CT's Real Estate Inventory is Shrinking Drastically

NBC Universal, Inc.

After a year-long boom in Connecticut’s housing market, finding real estate is now becoming a real challenge for would-be homebuyers. Realtors believe the state’s strongest real estate market in years is quickly becoming one of the tightest.

Home sales continue to surge in 2021, according to local realtors and new figures from SmartMLS, which represents more than 18,000 real estate professionals across Connecticut. Many buyers, however, are having a difficult time finding the right property at the right price in the right timeframe.

“We’ve just had such a huge jump in the amount of demand which is why we’re seeing these huge inventory cuts,” said Alexa Kebalo Hughes, a realtor with The Kebalo Group of eXp Realty and current president of the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors (GHAR).

Kebalo Hughes has been focused in recent months on Hartford County’s steep decline in the inventory of homes for sale, which was down more than 52% in February 2021 compared to that same month in 2020, according to the GHAR.

“Demand has gone up exponentially, whereas our inventory has really, really struggled,” said Kebalo Hughes. “It’s absolutely unbelievable, unheard of, we’ve never experienced this in Connecticut – at least for as long as I’ve been doing this.”

Statewide, there has been a similar inventory picture. Recent figures from SmartMLS show the number of active listings in February 2020 was 25,502 compared to only 15,792 in 2021. That change represented a 38% decline in available homes for sale, year-to-year.

“It’s like blood in the water. You can’t get your buyers there fast enough,” said Tammy Felenstein, 2021 president-elect of the Connecticut Association of Realtors. Felenstein also serves as a realtor, executive vice president and managing director of sales at Stamford-based Brown Harris Stevens.

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.

“People want space and they want space and they want quality of life,” Felenstein said of the ongoing decrease in inventory. “Connecticut was due for an upswing. We had never really recovered from the Great Recession, so I think we were due.”

Realtors urge prospective homebuyers to be persistent and realistic about the current climate.

“Do not be surprised if you’re paying much above list price and, in fact, that is the market price,” said Kebalo Hughes. “A home is worth what a seller is willing to sell for and a ready, willing and able buyer is willing to pay for.”

“It could be here today and gone tomorrow. And, quite frankly, it could be here today and gone in a few hours from now,” Kebalo Hughes added.

Many realtors believe that the strong sales Connecticut continues to see in 2021 would be much higher, if more of inventory was available. Industry experts said it is unlikely there will be any major increases in inventory levels until interest rates go back up from historic lows.

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