Brian Clarke welcomed two prospective buyers to a Water Street condominium where he was hosting an open house Sunday. He was pleased. Neither was from the building itself -- they had responded to his advertising and stopped in to look. Their timing was good, he said.
"If you're in the market you can't get a better buy than right now," he said. "Interest rates are historically low. ... It's a little bit harder to get a mortgage now, but overall, if you can afford it, do it."
The national decline in housing prices is hitting Norwalk. The median sales price took a sharp drop at the end of 2010, falling 10.3 percent from the previous quarter. Compared with the same period a year ago, it was down 23.2 percent, Trulia.com reports.
These comparisons zig-zag from month to month and don't measure the value of individual homes, but they show a trend. Norwalk saw its healthiest market in mid-2006 and again in mid-2008, just before the financial collapse. After that, prices dribbled down. Over the past five years, home values have depreciated by more than 21 percent.
Trulia reports that the number of homes sold in Norwalk plunged by 27 percent, compared with a year ago at this time. "Sales overall from last year were up," said Clarke, an agent in the Wilton office of William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty.
Jeff Gagliardo agreed. "It's been going very well," he said. "Winter has not had an effect, I would say. I geared up at the beginning of the year and it has paid off."
Gagliardo was hosting an open house at 1 Deerwood Manor . The home is priced at $365,000, above the local median price of $327,500. Gagliardo said he had two visitors to the open house, and that there are offers on the home.
"Now is a good time to buy because the inventory is still soft in pricing and while the rates have gone up a little bit they are not up to where they could go," said Gagliardo, an agent in the Norwalk office of William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty. People with a secure job and a good credit history have the best opportunities he has seen in his 26 years as a real estate agent.
Weather has not been an issue. "December was unusual because it was busy and then it carried in to the new year, even with all the snow," Gagliardo said.
"Last year for me, my December, was the busiest time," Clarke said. "I sold five houses. I was excited."
Are you shopping for a house? Or just wish you could buy one?
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