Chairman’s View: Revaluation and the condo market

Condominiums rose 9% in value in a 5-year total revaluation that was down 7.19% The average condo owner will see a double-digit increase in their taxes, Specifically, 955 condos will see average increases in taxes of $1,137. Many condo owners are upset. They’re organizing behind their condo presidents saying this is a regressive tax on our seniors and demanding that something be done.
What are our options? New Canaan could have asked the State to throw out the entire revaluation if we had a basis to do so. Or, we can follow the process, appealing assessments individually. Four hundred and ten people have filed appeals, a bit more than f years ago (285), but a little lower than 10 (419) or 15 years ago (421).
Here’s the math: In 2013 47 condos sold at an average price of $798,807 and a median of $760,000. The high end was supporting the market with five sales above $1.2 million in 2013 and six sales over $1.2 million in 2012.
In 2018, 46 condos sold averaging, $778,962 and a median of $690,000. We had only one sale above $1.2 million last year. The high-end of the condo market is struggling. Not so at the bottom end, where demand is strong and prices on a per-foot basis constant.
In 2018 condos sold for $417 per foot and 1.56 times their assessments. Contrast this with five years ago, when they sold for $420 per foot and only 1.32 times their assessments. That multiple of assessment is the key. They are selling for a greater multiple versus their assessments. Their assessments had to catch up. Contrast that 1.56 multiple with houses, which are selling at 1.26 times their assessments.
Why are condos selling? It’s a relatively inexpensive way to buy into the New Canaan school system. And, Darien has far fewer condominiums, only about one-quarter the number we have in New Canaan. In contrast to the single-family house market, the condo market is remarkably consistent, four sales per month for the last 10 years, the result of continued demand for workforce housing, entry-level families and downsizing seniors for only 13% of our housing stock.
Munival, based out of Fairfield, (for $222,000) was New Canaan’s choice instead of choosing Ryan or Vision, both out of Massachusetts. Munival also works for Greenwich, Stamford and Norwalk. Darien chose Munis/Tyler Technologies for about the same price, $209,900 (but without a full inspection on their commercial)
Condos are in demand faster than they are being built, prices on less expensive condos are rising, and if we don’t like that we should ask ourselves if our zoning laws adequately address an affordable condominium solution for the next 10 years. That’s the tool we can use. In my professional opinion as a Realtor and based on these values, the current re-valuation is accurate.
The opinions expressed in Chairman’s View are those of Chairman John Engel and not necessarily those of other Town Council members.