Home sales in greater Hartford got a welcome bump in November compared with a year ago, but buyers did not pay up for their purchases, a new report shows.
The median sale price of a single-family house in the greater Hartford area — in which half the sales are above, half below — was $215,000 in November, down 1.8 percent from $219,000 for the same month ago, according to the monthly report from the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors. The industry group tracks a 57-town area from Enfield south to Middletown.
Sales jumped 8 percent in November, compared with a year ago, the report showed.
Holly Callanan, the association’s chief executive, said the sales could give the market some strength going into the winter, a traditionally slow season.
Inventory, Callanan said, could pose an obstacle because the number of houses for sale continues to drop. In October, inventory dropped nearly 17 percent compared with a year ago, the latest in a string of monthly declines, according to the report.
While a tightening inventory can generally push up prices, too few houses — especially ones in attractive locations or with updated kitchens and baths — can hold back the housing market. Without enough fresh properties coming on the market, buyers can lose interest and retreat to the sidelines.
Low prices certainly are a boon to buyers but the failure of the median price to move up significantly signals a weakness in the housing market still struggling to recover from the last downturn a decade ago.
In a typical housing recovery, sales, which have been relatively strong in greater Hartford, are usually followed by rising prices.
Economists blame the state’s weak employment growth and a tenuous fiscal situation in state government that are combining to create uncertainty among potential house buyers.
In 2016, home sale prices in greater Hartford rose for the first time in three years, giving rise to hope for more gains this year.
November’s decline in the median makes an overall gain for the year less likely.
Through the first 11 months of the year, the median sale price of a single-family house was down just under 1 percent, to $220,500 from $222,000 for the same period a year ago.
Sales were up about 3.5 percent for the same period.
The overall price and sales numbers do not necessarily mean that all towns and cities are experiencing the same conditions. The housing market can vary widely from town to town and even neighborhood to neighborhood.
But the overall figures are considered a good indicator of broader trends in the market.
In a separate report Wednesday from Connecticut Realtors, the median sale price of a single-family house statewide was $247,500, down just under 1 percent, from $248,750 for the same month a year ago.
Sales statewide were weaker than greater Hartford in November, down a little under 1 percent, the report showed.
Both associations draw their statistics from the Multiple Listing Service.