Connecticut home sales in June posted the strongest gains so far this year — with Hartford County leading the way — an indication that the well-watched spring home buying season may have been a bit stronger than first thought.
Sales of single-family houses statewide rose nearly 6 percent in June, to 2,779, compared with 2,646 for the same month a year ago, according to a new report Tuesday from The Warren Group, which tracks housing trends in New England.
"No question, it is better than this time last year," John Zubretsky Jr., president of Weichert, Realtors -- The Zubretsky Group in Wethersfield, said. "People who were concerned last year, are a little less concerned this year for their jobs. There's more optimism than at any time last year."
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Zubretsky said the spring market — typically the busiest of the year — was disappointing, but there are still interested buyers and sellers in the market. Statewide sales declined on a year-over-year basis in both April and May — so June's sales were welcome, he said.
Hartford County registered the strongest gain among the state's eight counties, with sales jumping nearly 14 percent, according to Warren Group.
The median sale price again showed weakness in June. Statewide, the median — where half the sales are above, half below — fell 3.2 percent in June, to $276,000, from $285,000, for the same month in 2013. Hartford County also saw a similar decline, down 3.7 percent, to $231,000 from $240,000 a year earlier.
Donald L. Klepper-Smith, an economist at DataCore Partners, Inc. in New Haven, said the decline in median is not so much a reflection of declining values but an indication of the mix of houses that are selling. There is much more activity among lower priced homes, he said.
"There is a lot of the upper-priced stuff that isn't selling," Klepper-Smith said.
Timothy M Warren Jr., Warren Group's chief executive, said Connecticut continues to show signs of improvement in what has been a prolonged, slow recovery from the last recession.
"Real estate closings in June, July and August are typically the highest of the year as the deals made during the spring selling season get officially recorded," Warren said. "While not robust, the Connecticut real estate market continues to show a solid recovery."
Even with the encouraging bump up in June, sales of single-family houses statewide are still lagging last year's pace. Through the first six months of 2014, sales are down almost 2 percent, compared with the same period last year. Prices also are lower, down 3.2 percent for the first six months of this year, compared with 2013.
Ronald F. Van Winkle, an economist and West Hartford town manager, said even with the increased June sales, the levels are still below the 4,000 or so sales Van Winkle said he would expect in a healthy June market in Connecticut.
Connecticut ended 2013 with a 6 percent gain in sales and an 8.3 percent increase in the median sale price.
Klepper-Smith said he expects both sales and the median price to end 2014 with increases in the low- to mid-single digits.
"I fully expect by December, the numbers are going to look positive," Klepper-Smith said.