Connecticut home sales start 2020 on upbeat note

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Home sales across Connecticut started off 2020 on an upbeat note as overall prices paid in January rose to their highest level in 12 years for the month accompanied by an encouraging increase in sales, a new report Wednesday shows.

The median sale price of a single-family house — in which half the sales are above, half below — rose nearly 7%, to $251,000, from $235,000 for the same month a year ago, according to the monthly report from The Warren Group, which tracks real estate trends in New England and publishes The Commercial Record.

Single-family house sales statewide also rose almost 7% in the same period.

Hartford County saw some of the strongest gains among the state's eight counties, as sales surged more than 12%, pushing prices paid upward. The median sale price jumped more than 9%, to $218,200, from $199,450, for the same month a year ago.

January's report was welcome, considering the single-family home market — the largest part of the home sale market — ended 2019 on a lackluster note. Sales fell in 2019 compared with the previous year, and the median sale price barely squeezed out a gain, at less than 1%.

Even so, the second half of 2019 was marked by some strong gains across Connecticut in both sales and price increases, but not enough to offset some steep declines earlier in the year.

"Following a streak of gains at the end of 2019, Connecticut single-family homes started the new year on a high note," Warren Group chief executive Timothy Warren said. "I'll be interested to see if activity remains strong as the spring housing market approaches."

The spring home sale market — traditionally the strongest of the year — traditionally begins with the start of Daylight Saving Time. Clocks will be moved ahead one hour this weekend.

Low mortgage rates could continue to fuel home sales. Borrowing rates have dropped since the beginning of the year, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac, to their lowest level in three years, as the stock market reacted to the spread of the coronavirus.

The state's housing market has been slow to recover from the recession more than a decade ago. Some gains have been made: In 2019, the median sale price of a single-family house reached levels not seen since 2008, but the median was still 12% below the most recent peak in 2007.

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