Real Estate Market Rebounds Sharply in Lower Connecticut River Valley

Across Chester, Essex, Deep River, Old Saybrook, Lyme and Old Lyme — after a sharp drop in listings and closings in March — the real estate market has quickly rebounded despite continued shutdowns ordered in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Coldwell Banker, April sales are up 22 percent compared to March.

“What we are seeing now is that things are picking up in the past two weeks with a dramatic increase in out-of-state people looking for houses,” explained Jamie Childs, a Senior Real Estate Advisor at William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Essex. “We think people are trying to leave the City. It’s the same phenomenon we saw post 9/11. People are worried about being in Manhattan.”

In the last month, Childs said that he had personally worked with ten different families from Manhattan and Brooklyn looking for rentals in the area.

During the last week of April, there were 45 closings in Middlesex County and 61 in New London County, almost equivalent to the last week of March when there were 45 and 75 respectively, according to Childs. In Middlesex County, the number of listings has also begun to climb again, with 50 new listings last week compared to 36 the last week of March.

In the Connecticut River Valley in April sales were only 4 percent lower than in 2019, but the number of houses on the market was 31.7 percent less. 

Nancy Mesham, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker, said that many potential sellers are waiting to put their properties on the market until the state loosens social distancing restrictions.

“New listings are way down because a lot of people are waiting to bring their house to market,” Mesham said. “As things come on throughout the spring and summer there will be continued demand and growth.”

For the last decade the real estate market in Connecticut has been slow, with just 44,700 homes, townhouses and condominiums sold statewide in 2019.

“It really never recovered since 2008,” Childs said. “We had a net exodus of people going out of state, people leaving for Florida and jobs leaving the state.”

At the start of 2020, the market finally started to grow. In January alone, there was a 10 percent increase in sales, according to Smart MLS.

“The first quarter was an amazing market with a lot of activity,” Mesham said. “Then there were three weeks where things essentially shut down.”

Despite that, Childs and Mesham said they expect the growth seen in the first quarter will only continue throughout the year and into the next year.

“I think we are going to be in a good spot as we adjust to the new normal. Connecticut real estate is going to pick up. It is happening already,” he said. “You are seeing people put a premium on quality of life again. Quality of life is more important now than getting into the rat race.”

And it’s not just one type of house or property that is selling.

“It’s interesting, at every price point we are seeing a very vigorous market with multiple offers on all properties,” Mesham said.

At the moment, although the market is picking up for sellers, Mesham explained that because of low interest rates, at least for now, it’s still a good time for buyers too.