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Home Sellers, Realtors Remain Positive



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Home Sellers, Realtors Remain Positive

By Nancy K. Crevier

In a housing market that might seem to invite sitting tight instead of trading up, local realtors are not seeing Newtown buyers and sellers despair. Rather than taking slow moving homes off the market to build on additions or invest in expensive renovations, clients who are counting on selling their home in order to buy another home that better suits their present lifestyle are hanging in there, said Jill Wolowitz, a broker with Prudential Connecticut Realty. “People are seeing opportunities now, houses are starting to sell,” said Ms Wolowitz.

Since October, when sales were virtually at a standstill, sales have gradually improved through the end of 2006. “People have gotten more realistic in pricing their homes. They aren’t giving up on selling.”

Ms Wolowitz has not seen any indication that sellers are opting to take houses off of the market and expanding their existing homes to accommodate their needs. She does not recommend that potential sellers get involved in any kind of extensive renovation. “Sellers should take the cost of renovation off the price of a house. Let the buyer do the renovations,” she said. “Depending on when the home was purchased, it could be a long time before any money put into renovations is recouped.”

The positive point that realtor Alice Holmes of William Pitt Sotheby’s sees to renovating kitchens, bathrooms, or lower levels of homes prior to putting them on the market would be a possible decrease in the marketing time. “Sellers will not get back dollar for dollar what they put into renovating,” she warned, but making a home more workable could reduce the time the house is on the market.

“On the whole, we are anticipating a fairly respectable spring,” said Ms Holmes, echoing Ms Wolowitz’s observation that the housing market in Newtown is beginning to stabilize.

Builders in town have experienced a tremendous slowdown in housing the past year, as well, and that includes erecting additions for existing homes.

 Bill Weber of Nutmeg Builders in Newtown said that normally when the housing market stagnates, the trend is to see more people putting additions on to their homes rather than trying to trade up to a bigger home. But despite last year’s slow market, he did not have an unusual number of requests for additions in 2006. “What I was doing was a lot of finished basements,” he said, and not necessarily for the pure enjoyment of the homeowners or to boost the potential future sales value. “Kids are finding they can’t make it on their own and are moving back home, so parents are finishing off the basements for them to live in,” said Mr Weber.

At Danziger Homes, owner Kim Danziger said, “Usually you would think that [people would be opting to put on additions] when homes aren’t selling, but we have not seen an increase in requests for additions. Overall, building has slowed dramatically.” As long as people do not absolutely have to sell their homes and move, said Mr Danziger, he believes they have decided to sit tight. Oddly enough, said Mr Danziger, when the housing market was hot, “We couldn’t keep up with the addition requests.”

“Anytime people consider trading up, they compare the decision to add on,” said Rich DeLollis of Coldwell Banker on Church Hill Road. “We are seeing a little bit more of that happening than we did in 2005. But inventory is working its way down, so we’re looking forward to a better spring,” said Mr DeLollis. He has observed very little indication of sellers planning to take their homes off of the improving market to put on an addition and stay put.

“The rates are still good, interest is still low, so people are keeping their homes on the market,” he said.

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