Now that we’re half way through January, our thoughts naturally turn from reviewing 2018 to looking ahead to 2019 and wondering what kind of year lies ahead. The real estate market holds its own sort of intrigue in these musings, so I thought I’d run through some of the areas that are most intriguing, such as new colors and staging trends, as well as pricing and mortgage ‘crystal ball’ predictions.

Color

This is one of my favorite topics and we are still seeing grey reigning supreme. Benjamin Moore has no worries about having to discontinue those perennial favorites such as Metropolitan Gray, Edgecomb Gray, Stonington and Gray
griege
of Revere Pewter. What we are seeing creep in is more navy: on kitchen islands, cabinets and bathroom vanities. Bedrooms are dramatic with feature walls of dramatic deep inky blue… think Hale Navy from Benjamin Moore or Drawing Room Blue from Farrow and Ball. Trim is still crisp and clean white, while the dark floors are giving way to lighter, more Scandinavian shades of blonde wood. friendly the

Staging

Staging used to be reserved for high-end, usually vacant homes. Now, many homes under $1m are now being staged and buyers are almost coming to expect it. I find it ironic that there are so many shows on television about transforming homes and spaces, yet some buyers seem desperately bereft of any kind of visualization skills when looking at cluttered or outdated rooms. This is where staging has just greased the wheels at all price points. Key trends are navy (see above) with touches of brushed golden brass and black metals. According to Westport’s staging queen Susan Tracey (managing partner of Housewhisperers), “Glitz is out and the farmhouse barn look is going to be tweaked to a more modern rendition.” Oh… and white windows are back… you heard it here first!

Pricing

We saw a dip last year, but 2019 is projected to be “fairly flat”. There is still great value in the lower end and I have seen continued fluidity in the under-$1m range, which I would expect would continue into 2019. One observation is that there’s more on the market in that range since the builders are not all scooping them up for teardowns like they were in previous years. The top end has stalled slightly, but not tragically. One other prediction I’d like to make is that many prospective buyers have not really had the reality of the SALT tax reform hit them yet, as they haven’t filed their 2018 taxes. I do believe that once this has been done, many buyers will be more acutely aware of the discrepancy in different towns’ mill rates and will start house not shopping
price, but also with more emphasis on the tax burden. (This would help towns like Westport with a low mill rate and we may see some extra Westchester buyers drifting across the state line as they wake up and smell the tax deductions,
or lack thereof!)by only

Mortgages

This is not my specific area of expertise, so I defer to my in-house mortgage expert Jorge Rivera (Regional VP of Sales) on this one. His general feeling is that most of the forecasting calls for rates “in the low 5’s” and does not feel they will impact the market much for those shopping for a home. Putting it in perspective, rates going from the 3s to the 4s has created a mental block, a ‘stop and think’ moment. According to Jorge, “We are still historically super-spoiled with rates this low!”

Water properties

I think many home owners around the waterfront in town will attest to increased flooding over the last year or two.  I think 2019 will see a an even greater buyer awareness of ‘flood zones’. Those houses that will be most valuable will be the ones enjoying water views, but without the flood zone while the worst affected will be the homes that are not FEMA compliant. This has been happening over the last couple of years, but I do think it will be more pronounced in 2019.

So, that about covers it… what do you think? Anything I’ve said ring true with you? I find buyers and sellers in this area are incredibly astute and well-researched, so I’ll be interested to hear if you agree with my predictions. Or have any of your own to add.

I can be reached at amy.swanson@raveis.com or 203.451.6807. I also write a weekly newsletter that includes: all of the week’s market changes in Weston and Westport, a complete list of the weekend’s open houses, and open house of the week, plus further market insight. Subscribe here.