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Land sales skyrocket in eastern Connecticut

New London and Windham counties saw a 97.3% increase in land sales and an 18.6% increase in single-family home sales in the second quarter of 2021, compared to the same period last year, according to new stats from the Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors.

While April through June of 2020 was an unusual time for the real estate market due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sales are also up this year compared to the second quarter of 2019. There were 54 land sales in the second quarter of 2019, 74 in 2020, and 146 in 2021. Single-family home sales went from 1,228 to 1,100 to 1,304.

From 2020 to 2021, the median price for land sales increased 40.7% while the average price went up 72.3%, indicating there were outliers on the high end that drove the average up.

"The whole market has been moving tremendously," ECAR CEO Susy Hurlbert said. She said the huge increase in land sales is consistent with the national trend, despite high costs for materials, and hopes it's for the development of more housing units.

Waterford Realtor Greg Hanner, past president of the ECAR board of directors, said a lot of people think of land sales as an alternative to the existing housing market, but people get sticker shock at land prices and "it's not a lateral move; it's definitely an upgrade to existing housing."

He added that some land purchases may not go right to build, as a lot of builders are backed up and completely booked this year.

Even in this market, he advises against buyers waiving home inspections, saying they could end up with an expensive septic repair, for example.

In New London County, the average single-family home sale was 100.6% of the list price, compared to 97.6% this time last year. ECAR has posted quarterly stats for the county going back to 2007, and this is the first time the sale price has been higher than the list price.

The number of days a single-family home spent on the market dropped from 68 days in the second quarter of 2019 to 63 last year to 30 this year.

Hurlbert said bidding wars continue in eastern Connecticut, and the fact that the median single-family home sale price rose 18.6% over the year across both counties — to $295,000 — shows that a slowdown hasn't happened yet.

Multifamily home sales increased 90.3%, and Hurlbert noted the multifamily market has been growing for several years now. Condo sales were up 42.8%.

SmartMLS data for June specifically showed that new listings for townhouses and condos increased 34.7% compared to last June, while new listings for single-family homes increased only 0.6%. Inventory decreased 44.4% for single-family homes and 47.5% for condos.

Hurlbert said she is hearing from the National Association of Realtors that more homes will come on the market, due to increased building and the federal forbearance extension ending.

e.moser@theday.com

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