January Report: New Canaan, Westport, Wilton and Darien


New Listings. Westport wins with 47 new listings, an 88% rise. New Canaan had 16 new listings in January, a -24% drop from the previous January. This 20% decline in new listings was about typical among towns in our peer group. Darien is also lagging with only 13 new listings, a 19% drop. Wilton was far worse, pulling up the rear with only 8 new listings, a -53% drop.

Homes for Sale. New Canaan had 44 listings, but let’s not celebrate because even this is an exaggeration. That includes 10 listings for houses that have not been started. The real number as I write this is 29 houses you can move into. Darien has 22 listings, and both towns are -33% below the point where we were a year ago. Wilton, again, is the outlier in the group with only 12 listings, a -68% drop from a year ago.

Pending Sales vs. Closed Sales. New Canaan started the year strongly with 14 closings in January, double that of the previous January, but it’s not a sustainable level as those deals were replaced with only 9 new pending sales. Same thing in Wilton. While the 26 sales in January represented a strong start, they were replaced with only 11 new deals. Darien, with only 4 sales in January had nowhere to go but up but managed to put only 4 in the pending column last month. Westport, 28% larger than New Canaan had 50% more closings and pending in January, 20 and 14.

Months’ Supply. This is the real test of the health of the market. A balanced market is 5- or 6-months’ supply. Westport improved to lead the list with 2.9 months’ supply, down from a midyear peak of 4 months. New Canaan, with 2.4 months’ supply, has fallen significantly from a Springtime peak of nearly 5 months’ supply. Darien has been seriously out of balance, a seller’s market for several years now, currently at 1.2 months’ supply and never getting higher than 2.5 during the last year. Finally, Wilton looks to be the least balanced, least healthy, and most volatile market with only .7 months-supply, a -63% drop from a year ago and coming off a year which never crested higher than 3 months.

Dollar Volume of Closed Sales. Westport had the best year with months ranging from $40 million to nearly $140 million, helped by several high-end sales on the water and a strong summer selling season. Darien, too, had a weak Spring and Fall with a particularly strong Summer of sales, in part helped by the sale of Great Island for $85 million. New Canaan ranged from rather anemic level of $10 million last January to peak at $60 million during the summer before settling in to the current levels of about $30 million per month. New Canaan’s current level of $34 million in January is substantially better than a year ago, and better than either Wilton or Darien.

This is the time of year when we re-evaluate. I estimate $1.7 million in commissions was earned and split between 28 agents in New Canaan, representing 14 closed sales and the average commission check was $60,000. In Darien the average commission check was $77,000 while in Wilton it was $26,000 and Westport $63,000. But, that’s not normal. Nationally, the median gross income of Realtors was $56,400 per year in 2022 from 12 transactions. There are 534 active real estate agents in New Canaan, a town of 20,622. That’s 2.58 per capita. Connecticut has 18,664 agents, only .58 per capita. In 2012 Connecticut had the 7th highest number of Realtors per capita, 1 in every 229 residents. Leading the list that year was Arizona, then Hawaii, then Florida. A decade later, 2022 we see Connecticut and New England have some of the lowest concentrations in the country, while numbers have grown in the (wealthier) sunbelt states.

Notes from the Monday Meeting: I’m noticing an increased emphasis on referral business. Agents are looking outside the Fairfield County market, trying to connect and develop meaningful relationships in other markets around the country, particularly New York, Florida, California, and Texas. While Connecticut has always looked to New York, a Zoom-powered economy has allowed us to make and maintain agent relationships all over the globe. On my podcast recently (Boroughs & Burbs #117) agents talked about specializing in relocating sports and entertainment stars. This morning the podcast with Knight Frank in London revealed that as much as 30% of their luxury business is coming from the US. The globe is shrinking for Realtors®

Maybe it’s a function of low inventory and low transaction levels, or maybe a greater number of agents are thinking more strategically about their business.

New Canaan Sonnet

In New Canaan’s realm,
where whispers of grace,

The Playhouse, renovated,
finds its place,

While Library, anew, with knowledge beams,

And Glass House, historical, holds dreams.

In Fairfield’s embrace,
where beauty gleams,

Grace Farms, worldwide,
amidst the streams.

In education’s light,
our system reigns,

Number one, where young minds do attain.

I, John Engel,
scribe of this ode,

In New Canaan’s glory,
my words bestowed.

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