WALLINGFORD — After recently getting divorced and facing high mortgage rates, Melissa Stensland has been looking for a new home in town for over a year now.

“I just feel like it’s impossible,” Stensland said.

Stensland, a lunch and recess aide at Cook Hill Elementary School and an Amazon employee, is looking to stay in town so her two children can stay in the school district. Currently, Stensland lives with her parents, but hopes to move out by August.

“I have no idea if that’s going to happen,” said Stensland, 36.

She hopes to find a two- or three-bedroom apartment, with a maximum rent of $1,800 per month.

“Everything I try to do went quickly because people are over-pricing and most places are beyond my budget to start with,” Stensland said.

Rents have risen nationwide by about 15.3% over the past year, according to apartmentlist.com. Kevin Green, an agent for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Wallingford, said that’s why he hasn’t seen more people choosing rentals over owning.

“Rents are also very high,” Green said. “…They save nothing by renting.”

Candace Adams, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, reported that in the first quarter of 2022, the number of new homes sold is down 15.2%.

For those buying new homes, bidding wars are still common, Green said.

Most Connecticut homes are selling “significantly above list price,” Adams wrote in the Quarterly Market Report. The median listing price for the first quarter of 2022 was $304,900, with a median sale price of $314,700.

“The competitiveness is still there,” Green said. “They bid on the list price usually between $15,000 and $30,000 in my experience, so they don’t give up, which is good in a way.”

Adams, in the report, wrote that according to a Realtor.com survey, about 64% of potential sellers in 2022 plan to list their homes within the next six months.

“Sellers are realizing they can make a lot of profit in this market,” Green said. “The problem is that when you sell high, you have to buy high. They must therefore understand this difficult situation.

Green said those looking for a new home need to be “persistent and consistent.”

“You have to get creative with your offerings,” Green said. “Obviously, the more money you invest, the stronger you seem as a buyer.”

Journalist Jessica Simms can be reached at [email protected]