Following a statewide trend, Warwick single-family home sales, totaling 1,303, led the state for 2016 according to a report released Wednesday by the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.
Single-family home sales in the city were more than double those of any other city or town except for Cranston with 884 sales. Warwick sales for 2016 were up 155 from 2015 for an increase of 13.5 percent. The median price of single-family homes in Warwick also saw an increase, climbing from $177,900 in 2015 to $199,900 for last year. Another market indicator – days on market - also reflected what some realtors are calling a “hot” market. The average days on the market for a Warwick home in 2016 was 62 days as compared to 65 in 2015. This compares to a statewide average of 77 days in 2016.
Philip Slocum who has been in the real estate business for 38 years isn’t troubled by what the association is characterizing as a “meteoric rise in activity.”
In an interview Wednesday he said the market isn’t on a roller coaster, but rather “climbing the mountain of recovery.” He finds comfort in the 6.6 percent rise in the median price of single-family homes statewide, observing that growth in the range of 4 to 6 percent is “sustainable” compared to the 15 to 20 percent “unsustainable” increases of the housing boom years.
“Sellers are recovering. Buyers have good opportunity,” he said.
Slocum said the Trump administration has already impacted the industry with the rollback in the FHA mortgage reduction, which he estimated could mean a $20 to $30 per month increase in monthly payments. Yet, he observed that President Trump built his “empire” on real estate and he would be surprised if Trump did anything to hurt the industry.
Maureen McGovern of Williams and Stewart called the condition a “seller’s market.”
“If I list a property that is priced right I’m going to get multiple offers,” she said. McGovern said most of her sales are below $300,000 and she is seeing a good number of first time homebuyers. She is also seeing buyers from out of state, especially in Johnston and north from Massachusetts who are looking to Rhode Island because of affordability and access. She didn’t think the Massachusetts buyer is as much a factor for Cranston, Warwick and south of Providence.
Mark McHugh, owner of Clearmark Real Estate, said the low inventory has been tough on those seeking to move up. He said in the last month he placed a family in a rental because they had sold their home and had yet to find a suitable larger property.
According to the report, 11,038 single-family homes were sold statewide for a 12.5 percent increase from the prior years leading the association to observe there were 1,013 more single-family home sales than the previous record reached in 2004, “leaving no doubt that 2016 was the year when Rhode Island’s housing market firmly re-established its footing.”
In addition to the rise in activity, the median price of single-family home sales rose 6.6 percent to $239,900 according to Realtor statistics. Though this represents a 15.2 percent lag behind the highest annual median price on record, realized at the peak of the housing boom, the vast majority of homeowners have regained the home equity lost during the housing downturn.
“As our economy has improved, so too has our housing market. There was activity at all ends of the market in 2016, from first-time homes to properties that sold in the millions. Sales started off strong in the beginning of the year and remained robust throughout. Even November’s controversial election didn’t quell activity,” Brenda L. Marchwicki, president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, said in a statement.
The condominium market saw the strongest gain in activity, with sales rising 15.6 percent from the previous year, thanks in part to legislation enacted last year, which tempered overly stringent financing rules for condos. The median price of condo sales remained relatively stable, falling $100 from the prior year to $199,900.
Sales of multifamily homes increased 7.9 percent year-over-year, while the median sales prices of those sales rose from $168,000 in 2015 to $182,900 in 2016, an 8.9 percent increase.
“Rhode Island’s housing market has a solid footing going into 2017. We are seeing diminished inventory but listing activity will pick up going into the spring selling season. Though interest rates have risen recently, we don’t expect to see a significant hike this year so as long as we see more property listings in the next few months, we should be in good shape for the year ahead,” said Marchwicki.
Statistics reported by the Rhode Island Association of Realtors represent all Realtor-assisted sales transacted through the State-Wide Multiple Listing Service.