What's the "ELEPHANT" in the Spring Market 2018 Living Room?

What’s the “Elephant” in the Spring Market 2018 Living Room?

Murmurs abound. Home Sellers hesitate to ask out loud. How will the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” (TCJA) affect me in the 2018 Spring Market in Connecticut? That’s the elephant in the living room.

Short answer: it depends.

For most CT Sellers—fear not. Demand is there. Fairfield County’s State And Local Taxes (SALT) and utility costs still compare favorably to Westchester, Long Island and Northern NJ. Low-rate mortgages, stock market strength and hope of improved TCJA take-home pay already motivate 2018 Spring Market Buyers. Life-Phase (first-time buyers, young parents and empty-nesters) and Lifestyle Buyers already are out looking.

That said, 2018 Buyers are value-seeking, cross-town, digital shoppers. While CT’s low mil-rate towns will turn heads after TCJA among the SALT-conscious, property taxes are only one variable. Higher mil-rate towns with lower home prices will appeal to Buyers worried about the new interest deduction cap for mortgages over $750k. Some who dreamed of stretching for new construction before TCJA now may consider buying a lower-priced home and renovating, using a (still-deductible for improvements) home equity loan to achieve the location, space and style they need.

Value-seekers also invest long hours “deep-diving” on internet websites and social media, comparing commuter routes and municipal amenities, from schools, parks and beaches to shopping, restaurants and cultural attractions. Then, they drill down by price point to actual listings. Savvy Realtors are in tune with the hot buttons for digital shoppers and will help them align their financial and personal goals to emerging opportunities. Woe, however, to any Seller/Listing Agent who dares to post ugly house photos on the MLS! Many a Buyer today will refuse even to visit an un-prepped or poorly photographed home.

Ultimately, TCJA will not stop CT’s 2018 Spring Market, but it may alter Buyer choices and deal budgets. Sellers, to attract offers, must be alert to 2018 trends and old-fashioned best practices for prepping, staging, photographing and pricing to draw Buyers into their living rooms and keep the elephants away.

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15 Feb 2018

By Dorothy E. Curran