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REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT—The year 2011 got off to a great start by posting the first two strongest quarters for pending sales since the first half of 2010. Unfortunately, unexpected weather conditions—such as the record-breaking snow fall at the beginning of the year—followed by the devastating hurricane and Halloween snow storm, all contributed to a slow finish for the year.

While there were some positive movements in certain market segments, there are still many challenges that lay ahead as the market continues to show signs of stabilization. Closed sales slowed their pace statewide with single family homes down 7.5 percent, on average and condominium sales were down 11.8 percent from a year ago.

Available inventory for single family homes and condominiums for sale in the fourth quarter fell from the third quarter of 2011. While a very healthy market generally takes about 6 months to sell off inventory, current levels remain at 7.2 months.

“Even with the devastating weather-related events of 2011, we continue to see positive signs in certain areas of the Connecticut real estate market,” said Peter Helie, Chairman and CEO of Prudential Connecticut Realty. “With prices leveling off and stabilization returning to the market, sales should slowly recover throughout the year.”

Signs for improvement in the real estate market are visible in many places. Statewide sales of luxury homes rose 2.1 percent, while Hartford County buyers pushed the market even higher. In Greenwich, the average days on market fell 10 percent, showing that buyers are continuing to take advantage of softer prices. In addition, the rental market remained strong, increasing 5 percent over last year and is expected to continue to play a vital role in housing over the next few years. The State’s unemployment rate fell slightly to its lowest level since 2009 and consumer confidence began to rise towards the end of the year.

Today’s real estate market is no longer as predictable and interest rate driven as it has been in the past. While 2012 will most likely present its challenges, there should be many opportunities for both buyers and investors alike to come back to the market due to lower sales prices, low interest rates and improved market confidence.

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