It's hardly news that the pandemic, and the rapid rise it has caused in remote work, have caused changes in real estate sales patterns. People want more space for work in their homes, and they increasingly are able to work from anywhere. While winter certainly leads to more relocation to warmer climates, there is an underlying long-term trend toward planning for a hybrid work schedule. Workers who feel that they may end up working a couple of days a week in the office, or even who might have to head into work on an as-needed basis, will often choose to have a home that has more indoor and outdoor space than they could afford in a large city, but that is commutable. Connecticut clearly fits that bill. Winter, with its travel delays for air traffic, prompt buyers to lean toward a place like Connecticut, where the possibility of commuting by rail or even by car is reasonable. This is good news for our region.
Second Home Appeal
Across the country, Redfin reports that searches for second homes were up 77% in November, based on mortgage rate locks. That was down from a high of 92% in January. Maybe surprisingly, January is the most popular time to start a second-home search. The rate stayed high through the summer and fall, fell in October, and then rose again. Although housing in general has leveled off, it has leveled off at a higher plateau than before. Second homes appeal to people who saved a lot during COVID lockdowns, who have made a great deal of money in the stock market, or those who want a tangible investment. Mortgage rates, although they are being raised for second-home purchases, still remain low by traditional measures.
What does this mean for us?
If you are a buyer, you need to start looking now. Whether you are buying your main home or a vacation retreat, you need to be looking when others are, if you want the best choices. If searches are up now, then it suggests that demand will be strong in the Northeast, since those planning to move South would have started last year. What better occupation during pandemic shutdowns and winter weather than house hunting?
For sellers, it's time to think big about what qualifies as a second home. All of Connecticut would fall into that category for workers in New York, and even Boston, for the eastern part of the state. Getting your home ready to list soon is important, since the lag in RTO (return to office) is fueling a need for workers to make decisions. Many have been camping out in rentals, VRBOs, or with relatives, and will buy this year, if they can find a home. Yours could be their choice, if you put it on the market when demand is strong and listings are scarce.
Overall, we have seen our selling season move up earlier and earlier in the calendar year, and this year is unlikely to prove to be the exception. So, seize the day!