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How to Choose the Right Home for Your Family

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

You’ve probably heard more than once that today’s perfect storm of low prices, high inventory, and affordable interest rates are making this the right time for you to buy that home you’ve always wanted. As you begin to shop around, however, there are several important criteria to consider in order to make the best choice for you and your family.

Discuss the following with your real estate agent before you begin looking for a home. This will help narrow down the choices and shorten the search process.

Type of home: One-story or two, single-family, duplex or condo? How will paying homeowner dues affect your overall buying power? Will a swimming pool be a bonus or a hindrance? Making these decisions in advance will help you focus on the right types of homes to look at.

New or existing: A new home is all shiny and clean, but will carry with it some hefty initial costs such as landscaping and window coverings. Many builders are offering great deals on new homes that aren’t yet in move-in condition. Weigh the potential bargain against the costs involved in completing the home on your own. While these factors don’t come into play with existing homes, you need to assess its general condition, which will also impact your budget.

Features: Weigh the costs of gas vs. electric heating and cooling, the possible need for fencing, etc. How important is a fireplace? Does the home have enough bedrooms and bathrooms to support your family in the coming years?

Ease of maintenance: What is the condition of the roof? The appliances? Will you have to paint the interior or exterior and/or replace the carpeting? Be sure to factor in such costs in your budget and your negotiations.

Location: For many of today’s home buyers, it’s all about lifestyle. Do you want to be in the city or in the country? Nearer to libraries, parks and entertainment or set among tall trees and lakes? What about the need for public transportation? Nearby hospitals and schools?

Crime rate and public schools: Check with local enforcement and local residents to get a feeling for statistics and quality. Your real estate agent should be able to run detailed crime and school reports for your perusal.

Economic stability: Whether an area is growing or not can affect its future property value – as will the economic stability of the area.

Property tax: Examine the annual amount of real estate taxes and other assessments levied in the neighborhoods you are considering.

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Fairfield County Real Estate Market Statistics

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

There is a healthy, active inventory of 8,078 single family homes on the Greater Fairfield County Consolidated Multiple Listing Service. We have 3,371 closed sales representing a unit sales decrease of 11.6% vs. the first six months of 2010. The result is a 14 month supply of homes currently on the market. The median selling price county-wide is $400,000 which is only a 0.7% increase versus this same time frame last year. This is not the case in every town and can be broken down for each specific property so it is important to talk to a local REALTOR® about the advantages of buying or selling in a specific town and price range at this time.

There are 1,192 properties with fully executed contracts waiting to close. That is 8.1% less than last year at this same time. The median price of those homes is $364,950, 9.6% lower than the median price of closed homes so far this year.

There are 534 properties with accepted offers vs. 536 last year, just about flat.  The median list price of those homes with accepted offers is $394,950, 1.2% lower than the median selling price of the properties that have closed so far this year.  This shows that prices are still soft but declining at a slower rate than in prior years. 

Sales in the upper tier have slowed versus last year with 145 closed single family sales priced over $2MM this year, which is 9.8% less than the number of sales in that price range last year.  62 single family homes over $3MM have sold so far this year representing a unit sales increase of 3.3%.  We will monitor the top of the market to determine if a trend towards stabilization is in fact developing.

Sellers should talk to their REALTORS about ways to make their homes stand out above their competition and if they really want to sell they must price realistically! It is interesting to note that 15% of sales in one Fairfield County town closed at or above list price.  Buyers recognize a fair deal and will compete with other buyers when they see a fairly priced property.

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Cheryl Scott-Daniels
CSD Select Homes
991 Post Rd East
Westport CT 06880
203-341-0100
203-200-0065
Fax: 866-806-6909