2022 Guide to Westchester County and Fairfield County Luxury Real Estate Market

Similar Markets with Remarkable Differences

by Mark Pruner

You might think that with the common issues of high demand and low inventory facing the luxury markets in all the high-end towns in Westchester and Fairfield County, that the market in each town would be similar. However, we see large differences among these towns, all of whom have median sold prices over $1 million.

We have been bemoaning our lack of inventory of inventory in Greenwich all year, but compared to Darien, we have a major surplus of inventory. We have 152 listings on the market, Darien has 12 single family homes on the market which works out to 10 days of supply.

We also have marveled at how many of our houses have gone for full list price or over list but among the high-end towns in Westchester and Fairfield County we’re actually at the bottom with only 41% of our listings going for full list price or over list. Compare this to the Sound Shore Communities in Westchester County. In Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Rye and Rye Brook 57% of the houses sold for list or over list with one of them actually going for 44% over the initial asking price.

We were quite pleased with our 11% median sales price appreciation, however, Westport had 18% price appreciation. The one place where we clearly were the leader is our 16% sales growth in the number of single-family homes sold in 2021 compared to 2020. We had 1,006 sales compared to last year’s 864 sales: more about this later.

Similar Issues

Across the country, COVID has initiated the reshaping of the housing market. The pandemic led to a huge increase in work from home and the associated increase in the demand for larger homes. For most of 2020 and 2021, we saw extraordinarily low interest rates that kept monthly mortgage payments low. Less talked about is the run up in the stock market and it’s effect on housing demand. There’s nothing like having a bunch of gains in your stock portfolio to make you think that now might be a good time to buy a house and reallocate some assets, in case the stock market goes down.

Inflation has also encouraged house buyers to move assets from cash that is devaluing into hard assets that are appreciating. They also want to buy, before prices go up further. We’ve seen a jump in sales in December and the first part of this month as mortgage rates go up, presaging the Fed’s announced interest rate increase in March.  

The common wisdom is that increased interest rates slow the economy and over a long enough period of time that’s certainly true, particularly if you sharply increase interest rates in a short time. However, in the short term, the anticipation of increased interest rates and the initial portion of rising rates only drives sales as people move to quickly buy before interest rates go even higher. We’ve certainly seen that in last two months as what is normally a very slow holiday season in December saw lots of people out looking and that has continued, and even heightened, in the new year.

          Inventory, Supply & Demand

For towns that had inventory in 2021, we saw big jumps in sales. For towns that didn’t have inventory, sales dropped or just inched up over 2020. Westport and Darien actually saw the number of single-family home sales drop in 2021 compared to 2020. In Westport, sales were down a remarkable 13%, but this drop was due to insufficient supply, not low demand. The biggest drop in sales also resulted in the biggest jump in median price, up 18% in Westport to $1,599,500 last year. Where inventory was the lowest relative to demand, we saw prices go up the most.

New Canaan was the one exception to lower sales, higher prices. In New Canaan, prices increased by 23% and sales increased by 13%.  The price increase bumped their median price to $1,725,000 and sales to 440 sales, not bad for a town of less than 20,000 people.

It’s gotten so bad that months of supply don’t really tell the story; we are now looking at days of supply. New Canaan, with only 49 active listings has only 39 days of supply at last year’s torrid sales price, it will be interesting to see what happens this year. In Connecticut, Greenwich also saw nice increases in sales numbers and median prices, just not to New Canaan’s level. Both these towns have the highest median price with a fair number of houses at the very high end. While sales at the high-end jumped last year, we still had good inventory to keep the sales numbers chugging along.

When you look at the Westchester towns, Scarsdale and the Sound Shore Communities of Rye, Rye Neck, Mamaroneck and Larchmont all had double digit increases in their 2021 sales numbers and single digit increases in their 2021 median price. They also had; well, you really couldn’t call it good, but certainly better days of supply than in other towns. Scarsdale and the Sound Shore Communities have 60 and 54 days of supply.

Northeast Westchester, which includes the towns of Rye Brook, Harrison, Armonk and Chappaqua, our nearest Westchester neighbors, saw a big jump up in median price, which was directly related to a small increase in the number of sales caused by very limited inventory. What’s curious is that the two area in each county that are the furthest from New York City, Northeast Westchester in NY and Westport in CT, are the ones that saw the least growth in sales.

It looks like Northeast Westchester, Darien and Westport all saw major saw major increases in 2020 which wiped out much of the shadow inventory. Also, the work from home movement meant that these towns were less inconvenient, i.e, they had shorter weekly commuting times as people no longer commuting every day. As a result, these areas were more attractive to more buyers.

          List, Over-List and Multiple Offers

Throughout all the towns, we saw houses going for full list or over list from 41% in Greenwich to 58% in Westport and 57% in the Sound Shore Communities of Westchester. Demand is not easily is not easily quantifiable, but these numbers show that the demand is out there. Every agent I’ve talked to, has stories of new houses coming on the market and getting anywhere from 25 to 70 appointments in the first couple of days. You hear stories of having so many offers that the only way to keep track of them is with a spreadsheet.

Clearly, there is lots of demand and at the lower price levels under $1,000,000 or even $1,500,000 is where competition is the fiercest. In Greenwich, we only have 14 listings under $1.0M, and only 6 more, if you go up to $1.5M. From $1.5M to $2.0M, there are eleven more listings for a total of 31 listings under $2,000,000. We see similar shortages of affordable houses throughout the area.

          Inventory vs. New Listings in a Hot Market

Today’s hot housing market is driven by new listings. Looking solely at inventory can be a little deceptive for two reasons. First many new never get counted as active inventory in monthly report and certainly not in the quarterly report. You don’t get to 1006 sales in Greenwich or 866 sales in Northeast Westchester without a significant number of new listings coming on and going off.

Greenwich, with its 152 listings, stands out among all of the towns. Greenwich is more like a small city with multiple neighborhoods, multiple price ranges, a population of over 63,000 people and 22,000 plus housing units. Even with these 152 listings at the present pace of sales seen last year, we only have 54 days of supply which is similar to most of Westchester. East of Greenwich, the days of supply drop. Westport has 42 days of supply; New Canaan has 39 days and Darien only has 10 days of supply.

Now, this days of supply does not mean that we are going to run out of houses to sell. New listings will come on to replace sales and even in this market houses that are priced above market rate and particularly, if they need work, can still be tough sales.

Over $5 million, even newer houses can stay on the market for a while. Our median year built for all sales in 2021 was 1961. The median year built for houses that are active on the market over $5 million is 2004 and the median days on market 240 days or 8 months. Our market at the high end, and particularly those high-end houses in back country and midcountry are doing much better than in 2019, but over $10,000,000 we are still looking at 13.7 months of supply. This is the same price category that only a couple of years ago we were looking at months of supply measured in years.

What’s the new year going to bring?

The short answer is I don’t know, and I tend to be concerned about anybody who says that they do know. If we assume that interest rates are going to go up, we should have a short burst of sales. Presently we have 29 sales in the middle of January and our ten-year average for January is 35 so despite this incredibly low inventory we will very likely be above our 10-year average for sales by the end of the month. If interest rates increase significantly, they may well cut into sales as our lower inventory is doing now. Increasing interest rates will also likely switch some money from stocks to bonds, potentially resulting in lower demand for stock and hence lower stock prices. Higher interest rates will also push down bond prices lessening the wealth effect.

With stock prices down, bond prices down and interest rates up, you would expect that demand will drop, however interest rates are likely to below particularly compared to inflation. Even some softening in buyer demand is unlikely to result in a major correction given the lifestyle shift caused by work from home which looks to persist even after the pandemic.

On the flip side, after two torrid years of sales, lots of folks who had been thinking about downsizing or upsizing may have already done so. Downsizers often move out of the area or switch from houses to condos, while upsizers are more of a zero-sum game. Their purchase of a larger houses reduces inventory, but their sale of their older house adds a listing back to inventory.

Also, a thank you to my fellow Compass agents, Heather Harrison in Scarsdale, Peggy Jackson in the Sound Shore Communities, Kori Sassower in NE Westchester, John Bainton in Darien, Christine Saxe in New Canaan, Laurie Morris in Westport and Michael Ferraro online for their statistics and insights in their markets. I, however, am responsible for any misstatements, mischaracterizations or just bad conclusions. Lastly, we can never discount, the black swan events and the emotions of the market.

Stay tuned it’s going to be a fascinating market.

Greenwich Real Estate 101 – Introduction

Greenwich, CT has a lot of neighborhoods and nuances. Here is an introduction to Greenwich neighborhoods and Greenwich real estate statistics. Click on the

The Town of Greenwich

People
63,500 people
60% married
33% with children under 18
Median age is 43
23% Foreign Born
Real Estate
$30B Grand List
22,271 total housing units
66% single family houses
Taxes $8,400/$1M
Zoning from 0.17 Ac. to 4 Ac  
2021 Sales (GMLS)
1,007 House Sales
272 Condos & Co-ops
777 Rentals
39 Land Sales
1,000 agents
Click the link below for the basic of Greenwich real estate statistics and Greenwich neighborhoods.

Mark Pruner, Compass, Greenwich, 203-817-2871, mark.pruner@compass.com

Every Neighborhood in Greenwich Does Even Better than in 2020

Well Almost All

For just about every neighborhood, and every statistic in every neighborhood, 2021 was an amazing year. We had total sales of over $3 billion and this was up 31% over what was at the time a record setting 2020. Our sales were up $718,204,338 over 2020, in increase in dollar sales that is more than most towns total sales.

What’s really remarkable about that 31% increase in sales volume is that our number of sales were up only 17%. We had 863 sales in 2020 and were up 143 sales in 2021 to 1,006 sales this year.

Townwide, 2020 was a good time to be a seller as we were up in every category, except for those categories where being down is pro-seller. Our average sales price was up 12% and our median sales price was up 11%, while our days on market were down 40% from 205 DOM in 2020 to 124 DOM in 2021, i.e., on average houses were on for almost 3 months less last year over the year before.

Scattered around the table comparing neighborhoods this year to last year there are a few stats that moved in the buyers’ direction, but nearly everyone is just statistical noise in neighborhoods with small numbers of sales. If you take out North Mianus (11 sales), Pemberwick (16 sales) and Banksville (5 sales) just about every statistic was up. The only significant exception was number of sales in backcountry, but more about that later.

When you draw a line through the sales for each neighborhood by year, it’s looks like a Ralph Cramden quote, “Too the moon, Alice.” Cos Cob, backcountry, Old Greenwich and South of the Parkway were all neighborhoods where total sales volume were up by a lot. In mid-country sales volume was up by almost a quarter billion dollars.

We are getting these big jumps in sales volume for two reasons. Our total number of sales are up, and the average price is also up. Combine those two things and get these big jumps.

When you look at the number of sales in each neighborhood, you only have one factor pushing the numbers up. In just about every neighborhood, our sales were up: by 15% in mid-country (aka South of the Parkway) and up 26% in Cos Cob our biggest gain for our larger neighborhood. Also, all our smaller neighborhoods, who have lower average prices, saw dramatic jumps in sales. Pemberwick’s sales were up 78% going from 9 sales in 2020 to 16 sales in 2021.

As mentioned above the one area that saw a drop in sales, (besides North Mianus where sales went from 13 sales to 11 sales) was backcountry. There sales fell from 102 sales in 2020 to 92 sales in 2021 or a drop of 10%. As noted above a 22% jump in average sales price per s.f. more than made up for this small drop with total sales dollars up in backcountry.

The natural thing is to think that high-end sales are dropping in backcountry, but townwide sales from $5 – 10M were up over 100%, so it’s going to take more slicing and dicing to figure out the details of what is up and down in backcountry. One thing that is definitely down is inventory dropping from 49 listings at the end of 2020 to only 37 listing at the beginning of this year.

Going forward inventory is going to determine how we do this. To be more precise, it’s not inventory, but the number of new listings. We were at record low inventory almost every week last year, but we still set a record for sales. You are looking for a new neighbor, now might be a good time to encourage your neighbor to list their house. They’ll get a good price, and you’ll get a new neighbor. 😉

Greenwich Breaks 1,000 Sales in 2021 for a New All-Time Record

Record Sales – Record Low Inventory

 1,000+ Sales

We broke 1,000 sales in 2021, a goal that most people thought we would never see, and we did it on the last business day of 2021. Pre-Covid, our 2019 sales were only 528 sales, so we are looking at sales up 90% in just two years and we were up 16.8% this year over 2020; a year when many towns outside of Greenwich saw lower sales this year.

For example, both Darien and Fairfield saw single family home sales decline in 2021, not because of any drop in demand, but due to lack of inventory. In Darien sales dropped 3.4% and in Fairfield sales dropped an amazing 14%.

Greenwich was not immune from such drops. Under $600,000 our sales were down 53% as many of the houses in our lowest price range appreciated over $600K, but that still didn’t raise sales from $600,000 to $800,000. In that price range, our sales were down 17% from 54 sales in 2020 to 45 sales in 2021. We also saw sales drop from $1.5 to $2.0 million, from 154 sales in 2020 down to 139 sales in 2021 and this is in the heart of our market in Greenwich.

Sales were down in some price ranges, but overall sales were up 16.8%, that means that we had to see big jumps in other price ranges and we did. Our biggest gainer by numbers of sales was from $2 – 3 million, where we had 59 mores sales this year leading to 251 total sales. This was an increase of 31%.

Part of what led to this big increase was that many Greenwichites who owned homes in the $2 – 3 million price range upsized their houses to get more offices, amenities, homework areas and just space in general. What that meant was that their homes were available for sale both to people coming from New York City and coming from smaller houses and rentals in Greenwich. These homeowners then listed their homes otherwise we would never have had enough listings to make it to 1,005 sales in 2021.  

Our biggest percentage increase was from $6.5 million to $10 million where we saw sales jump 120% from 25 sales in 2020 to 55 sales last year. Some of this sales increase were those Greenwich people who were selling their $3 million house and moving to a $6.5 million, but we also had a lot of New Yorkers concerned about their safety in New York City as well as Covid. Hopefully, the new ayor, Eric Adams, with his police background will bring the crime rate down. Problems in New York City bode ill for Greenwich in the long run, even if they lead to a temporary influx of new residents.

Overall, our high-end has been the strongest part of our market with sales from $5 – 10 million up 216% since 2019 and up 82% just from 2020, which was itself a record setting year. Interestingly, another price range where we saw a slight sales drop was over $10 million where we went from 15 sales in 2020 to 14 sales in 2021. I’d take that “drop” with a grain of salt. I know of a bunch of private high-end sales, such as the $19.3 million sale on Lower Cross Road that were never listed. I’d love to know how our private sales did both years. I’m betting that like the rest of the market, our private sales were up last year.

 Very Little New Inventory

 All this is happening while our inventory, which was never close to normal levels this year, dropped precipitously in the last part of the year. We started this year at 152 listings, when we should have around 400 listings. Pre-Covid you have to go back 21 years to Dec. 2000 for the prior record low number listings and that prior low was almost double what we have now. In 2000 we hit a low of 291 listings and this week we have 152 listings.

In some areas of town, our inventory is almost comical. In Byram we have 3 houses for sale. In Glenville, 5 houses, in Cos Cob we are up to 6 houses and we have 8 and 9 houses in Riverside and Old Greenwich. These incredibly low numbers mean that we have zero inventory in some price ranges in these neighborhoods.

For example, in Cos Cob we have 6 listings, but nothing between $1.8 million and $3.2 million, i.e., if you are looking for a house anywhere around $2.5 million you won’t find anything to see in Cos Cob. This is after we sold 28 Cos Cob houses in that price range in 2021. This $2.4 million wide price range was mostly emptied last month, December 2021. In that month, we had 8 Cos Cob houses go to contract creating that big empty space where we would normally have a couple of dozen listings.

Our inventory peaked at 342 listings in June and dropped for most of the rest of the year. In a normal year we peak at around 650 listings. As we had less to sell, contracts dropped in the second half of the year, then surprisingly flattened out in the last 3 months of the year as buyers rushed to buy, before interest rates and prices went up. At year-end, our contracts dropped, as our mini-yearend buyers’ frenzy started to see even a dearth of house priced reasonably.

 Strong Buyer Demand in Greenwich –   While our new listings have slowed, demand has not slowed as winter is here. Buyers are snapping stuff up as quickly as it comes on the market.  Of our 152 listings, only 30 have been listed for 60 days or less. In Old Greenwich, our hottest market, buyers have a choice of 9 houses with only 3 houses under $1.5M. Of those 9 houses, only one has been on the market for less than two months.

You can see that we have strong buyer demand from Westchester County, if you look at the map of 2021 sales in Greenwich. Our border looks like a Seurat pointillism painting with a series of sales right along our western and northern borders with New York State. These folks are in a new state, but in some cases their old friends are just across the street or only one exit away.

Price Ranges – Sales, Inventory and Months of Supply

We have low inventory across the board. In some price ranges, our contracts waiting to close exceed the inventory. From $1 – 1.5 million we have 13 contracts waiting to close, but only 10 listings. The ten listings in this price range are nicely distributed. You have one listing in Old Greenwich, Riverside, Cos Cob and mid-country. You have two listings in backcountry, Glenville and central Greenwich. At least the buyers in one of our most popular price ranges have a choice of neighborhoods. Another price range with more contracts than inventory is from $600,000 to $800,000, where we have 7 contracts and only 4 listings.

To see just how tight the market is check out our months of supply. The traditional dividing line between a buyer’s and a seller’s market is 6 months of supply, i.e., all listings would sell out in 6 months at the present rate of sales, if no more inventory came on the market. We have less than 6 months of supply all the way up to $10M and less than 3 months of supply under $5M.

Our total months of supply is an astounding 1.8 months, but is it really that tight? Looked at some ways, our market really isn’t that bad as the stats make it out. In part, this is because these stats are designed for a normal market not the hot market we have.

One of things that the traditional stats don’t show well are listings that go on and off the market in less than a month. In a typical market, this isn’t a big factor, but last year, 351 of our 1,005 sales were on the market for less than a month. Many of these listing probably never appeared as “inventory” as they weren’t an active listing when stats were run at the end of the month or quarter.

Of those 351 shooting star listings, 73 were on for zero days on market meaning they were private sales that were “listed” on the MLS “For Reporting Purposes Only”. And, there were a lot more of these private sales that weren’t reported on the MLS.

Real Estate in 2022

Regardless of how much inventory we get on in the next two months we are going to have a tight market for a while and possibly the entire year. For the time being, the smart money is out there buying their houses before prices go up even more than the 10.6%, they did this year. Also, for the majority of our buyers that need mortgages, they are rushing to buy, before the Fed raises rates.

The greatest imponderable is how many people are left to sell their homes after 1,869 house sales in the last two years. In 2021, we had a stellar first half and a good 3rd quarter. We should have had a much slower fourth quarter and thats the way it looked to be at the end of October, but some of the Frenzy that we saw in second quarter came back in the last two months and sales went up even as we had less and less inventory to buy.  

The one thing that we do know is that this year is going be different, than the prior two years. Covid will go away or at least no longer be at pandemic levels. During the year most people will have a much better idea of just when they will have to be in the office. People who are waiting out this uncertainty in rentals are likely to buy and we will get some more upsizers listing their “smaller” houses which will look big to those people in rentals.

Interest rates will go up, meaning some money may move from stocks to bonds, potentially flattening the stock market. But, a lot of Wall Street people are going to get some nice bonuses for last year’s market. Also, a major economist says that stimulus money takes about a year to have its full effect, so alot of the $2.2 trillion of stimulus money is still sloshing and will be looking for a home well in to 2022 (preferably a nice home here in Greenwich.)

If you have a home, January 2022 is a great time to list it. If you are buyer, it’s not as bad as the headlines look, but there is probably no more important time to have a good Realtor, banker, home inspector and attorney and if you need a mortgage pay the fee and get underwritten pre-approved. You are going to be going up against a lot of buyers that are bringing all cash to the table and no mortgage contingency.

Stay tuned, it’s going to be a really interesting first quarter…

By Mark Pruner, 203-969-7900 – mark.pruner@compass.com

The Real Estate Records in a Record-Breaking Year

by Mark Pruner

  1. Total Sales

This year has been a remarkable year. On October 23, 2021, we passed last year’s all-time sales record of 861. So, every sale thereafter, sets a new record. As of the middle of December, we are at 971 sales within striking distance of a 1,000 single family home sales year. To break 1,000 sales, we only need 29 more sales this month. So far in December, we have had 42 sales and the last two weeks of December are usually the busiest.

2021 Single Family Home Sales in Greenwich, CT

Greenwich real estate attorneys dread the last week of the year. At a time when many employees here in the U.S. take off and many European countries and Canada practically, shutdown, our real estate attorneys are doing back-to-back closings. At the end of October, we looked like we weren’t going to make it, but then sales jumped 30% in November as we got a small spurt of new listings. We need 29 sales to reach 1,000 sales in the next two weeks; it’s looking like we may make it.

2. Highest Sales Price

A. Greenwich

i. Listed on Greenwich MLS

Our highest sale for the year is 100 Field Point Circle which sold for $50,000,000 on December 1st after being on the market for 201 days. It started out at $55,000,000 and hence sold for 90.9% of original list price. It is a special property with 2.46 acres of land with direct waterfront views of the sunrise every morning.

We also had the sale of Tommy Hilfiger’s house for $45 million in backcountry. It sold in only 61 days on the market for 94.7% of its original list price. Next on the list is 23 Smith Road, which sold for $27,750,000 after 627 days on the market. Bill Andruss also here at Compass had a $15,088,000 sale in Belle Haven. This was the second highest sale ever in Belle Haven and the fifth highest out of 971 sales so far.

ii. Private Sales

Non-public sales are notoriously hard to track, but my fellow Compass agent, Shelley Tretter, sold a Conyers Farm property on Lower Cross Road for $19,250,000 which comes in as the fourth highest sale of the year. (If anyone has a higher private sale, please let me know.)

B. The Gold Coast and the Rest of Connecticut

Greenwich is part of the Gold Coast of Connecticut, which is traditionally Darien, New Canaan, and Westport and sometimes Fairfield. This year Fairfield made a bid for permanent inclusion in the CT Gold Coast with the highest non-Greenwich sale in Fairfield County and the whole state. Set on only 1 acre, 1093 Pequot Ave sold for $10,900,000. In Greenwich it would have been our 12th highest sale price.

After the Town of Fairfield, the Gold Coast high sales by town were a $10 million sale in Westport, an $8.2 million sale in Darien and a $7.85 million sale in New Canaan. Stamford was not far behind with a $7.5 million sales.

2021 Connecticut Sales over $7 million (Source: SmartMLS)

The highest sale in Connecticut outside of Fairfield County was in the only town with a mill rate lower than Greenwich’s mill rate, Salisbury, Connecticut, where a 239-acre property sold for $7.4 million. This would place them in 43rd place in Greenwich, of course 239 acres would be a large part of backcountry.

Even within the Gold Coast, Greenwich stands outs for high-end sales.

Highest Sales by Town Outside of Greenwich

3. Lowest House Sale Price in Greenwich

We only had one house sell for less than $500,000 in Greenwich; 15 Highland Place in Pemberwick, which sold for $450,000. The next lowest price was 11.1% higher at an even $500,000 at 196 Byram Road.

Both Byram and Pemberwick are two of our fastest appreciating areas in town. If you are looking to invest and past is prologue, it’s not a bad place to invest. Anybody who bought in pre-Covid is doing well in these areas.

4. Largest and Smallest House Size

In extreme northeast backcountry, 4 Cherry Blossom Lane was listed at 16,802 s.f. and sold for $7,500,000 or $446/s.f. It was followed closely in size by 857 Lake Avenue at 16,775 s.f. This house sold for $9,710,000 or $578/s.f.

Our smallest house sale this year was at 66 Pemberwick Rd, where this 2 bedroom, 1 bath house with 760 s.f. sold for $870,000. It was listed for $800,000 so it went for 109% of list and $1,145 for each of those 760 s.f.  Coming in second was 196 Byram Road, a 960 s.f. house also with 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, that sold for $500,000.

5. Land

After graduation, Russ and I worked in a family business selling oil and gas investments in the deep Anadarko in Oklahoma and the tight sands of the Appalachian basin back in the early ‘80s. Together we bought the smallest lot in Old Greenwich, a 0.09 acre property at 1 Tait Road around the corner from where we grew up at 46 Tomac. This year’s winner for smallest residential lot has 1 Tait Rd beat by 33%. Both 2 Bolling Place in downtown Greenwich and 18 W. William St in Byram came in at 0.06 acres. They sold for $1,094,300 and $750,000 respectively. On a per acre basis, 2 Bolling Place sold for $18.2 million per acre. Trying to build affordable housing near the central Greenwich train station is not a good idea unless you have big government subsidies.

Our largest land sale was up in northwest backcountry at 39 Pierson, where 36.4 acres were sold to a neighbor to be held for open space. It cost them $9,000,000 or just over $247,000/acre. Bill Andruss had the second highest sale land sale also, for $8.875 million in the very private Indian Harbor Association. Those 3.05 acres went for $2.9 million/acre. People really like Long Island Sound waterfront.

6. Shortest Days on Market

Of our 971 house sales so far this year, 71 houses or 7.3% sold in zero days on market, which is deceptive. These 71 sales were private sales that got reported on the Greenwich Multiple Listing Service as “NON-MLS” sales. Having these Non-MLS sales reported is very helpful, when trying to figure out where the market is going. What’s interesting about off-market sales is that there is a concentration at the low end where people are being as frugal as possible and also at the high-end where privacy is a major factor.

Going beyond off market sales, we had 13 listings that were on the market for less than 5 days. This means that a couple of lawyers were working very fast as listings go from “active” to “contingent” or “pending” only occur when a contract is signed, not when the offer is accepted. As you might expect all 13 of these listings went right to pending skipping any mortgage contingency and at that pace, many buyers likely also skipped an inspection.

7. Longest Days on Market

One of the things that you see in a hot market is that houses that have been on for a while, and I mean a long while, find a buyer. Our 2021 record for listing longevity is 9 Conyers Farm Drive which was on for 2,125 days or 5.82 years. It sold for $8.8 million.

You don’t have to be a very high-end house to be on the market for a while. In second place for days on market is 280 Riversville Road which was on for 1,082 days or just short of 3 years on the market. All in all, we had 11 houses sell in 2021 that had been on the market for more than 2 years and 48 houses that had been on the market for more than a year.

Also, those days on market are LADOM, not CDOM. LADOM is “listing agent days on market” and means that one agent listed the property for all that time without any breaks of more than 90 days off market. CDOM, “cumulative days on market”, counts how long the property was on the market whether with different agents or firms without a 90-day break.

For CDOM, the “winner” is 549 North St. which was on for 6.5 years with various agents. On a cumulative days on market basis, we had 57 listings or 5.9% of our sales that took more than a year to sell.

8. Sales Price to Original List Ratio – Best and Worst

Thirty-eight percent, that’s how much the buyer paid over list for a 2,800 s.f., 1931 house in Riverside to set the 2021 record for highest percent sale over list price. As you might expect it went to contract in 8 days.

2021 SFH Sales at full list or over list price

We have had 234 sales out of a total of 971 listings that went for over list price this year, two of which were my listings. We also had another 159 that went for full list price. In total, 40.4% of our listings sold at full list or over.  

At the other end, we had 25 listings that went for less than 75% of their original list price. Of those 25 listings, the median LADOM was 292 days. After 6 months, and in this market, after 3 months, if you don’t reduce to market price quickly, you risk getting caught in a death spiral.

2021 SFH sales at less than 75% of original list price

Today, we only have 194 listings, when we should have twice that number. Of those 194 listings, 41 have been on for more than 292 days and 139 or 72% have been on for more 3 months.

It’s been an amazing year, stay tuned, the one thing you can be sure of is that 2022 will have it’s share of records too.

What Will 2022 Bring for Real Estate?

A third record year, a slump or déjà vu?

by Mark Pruner

               

Where are we now?  

Sales and Listings

To know where Greenwich real estate is going, it helps to know where Greenwich real estate is now. As of the first week of December 2021, we have had 950 single family home sales. The question isn’t however, whether we will break 1000 sales, we have already easily exceeded that number. The reason is that that 20 to 25% of our sales are usually off market and this year we are at the upper end of the range. I, and every other agent with a motivated buyer, are constantly asking other agents whether they have or will be getting a new listing. This year, lots of buyers, have been thanking their agents for “finding them the house, that no one else could find.”

As to public listings sold, we are right now looking at year-end total of 990 sales made on the GMLS, if we have a normal 57 house sales this December. We may, however, break the 1,000 sales mark; It will be close. The demand is there, but what may prevent it is our falling under 200 listings. Right now, we are at 199 house listings on the GMLS and December is a time for sales and not new listings.

950 YTD house sales in Greenwich 11/20 (Note, concentration of sales along the western and northern border with NYS)

                                Contracts

On the contract side, we presently have 109 contracts which is a significant drop from the 121 contracts that we had at the beginning of the month. In total, we have 1071 single family homes sold or under contract so far this year.

                Where are we going in 2022?

The big problem with black Swan events, like Covid, is not only do you not expect them to happen, but when they start to die out it’s equally uncertain what will follow. We don’t know even know whether the increasing positivity rate that we’re seeing primarily from the delta variant will continue to get worse as the cold weather drives people indoors. If you look at the map of where COVID has gotten worse, it corresponds to where we are seeing our coldest weather. Our positivity rate bounces around, but it is going up, not down, as we see more cold weather in Connecticut.

Clearly, 2022 is not going to be a repeat of 2021 and certainly not a repeat of 2020. The pharmaceutical industry is rolling out new vaccines, new treatments and if you haven’t picked up a home testing kit, they are becoming regularly in stock at our local pharmacies. Personally, I think easy, early and ubiquitous testing will cut into the spread Covid significantly as people will know much earlier whether they are contagious or not.

The bottom line is, COVID is going to be COVID and there’s not that much we can do about predicting its effect on the housing market. What is quite clear, however, is that The US economy can do very well with large numbers of people working from home and that large numbers of those people working from home will quit if they are required to go back to 9 to 5, five days a week. Given our labor shortages, companies are going to have to bow to workers desires to spend more time at home.

                WOOFH

As a result, we will continue to see the average house size increase as people need offices and homework areas, so they are not in their bedrooms 14 hours a day. Working occasionally or often from home (“WOOFH”) will mean that where people want to live will change and clearly Greenwich is one of those places that looks better in a post-Covid, WOOFH demanding world. With eight and a half million people in New York City and 22 million people in the metro area, we’re going to see a continuing demand for the larger homes, bigger yards with on-site amenities that Greenwich provides. This bodes very well for the Greenwich real estate market in 2022.

                Whither Inventory?

The biggest impediment to 2022 being another record year in Greenwich is our lack of inventory. This is not a Greenwich problem, but a nationwide problem as people want more single-family homes with yards in the suburbs around major metropolitan areas.

(N.B. We are seeing announcements of a major uptick in sales and rentals in many major cities however, these jumps in transactions are often because they are being compared to the dearth of transactions in 2020, when nothing was going on. When you compare 2021 numbers to 2019 these big jumps in sales and rentals often goes away.)

                                Can our inventory go to zero?

One thing that won’t happen in 2022 is our inventory going to zero. I work with my brother, Russ, here at Compass and he has statistics going back 37 years. The lowest inventory he ever recorded pre-Covid was 290 listings in the last week of 2000. The end of the year is usually when we see our lowest inventory and it’s normally just under 400 listings not the 199 listings that we have now.

The good thing is that real estate always has new listings being generated by lifecycle changes. People have kids, get married, get divorced, downsize, and pass away. This year in Greenwich much of our inventory has come from people who are upsizing driven by COVID and WOOFH. For each one of those families that bought a bigger house, most also sold their old house or their landlord re-rented their place to one of the many first-time homebuyers. Not many people keep two homes in Greenwich.

                                What about zero listings at the low end?

Unlike the overall inventory, It is possible, for our listings for single family homes under $600,000 to go to zero. With our price appreciation, we just don’t see many homes listed under that amount in Greenwich. In 2020, we sold 17 houses under $600K, so far in 2021 we have only sold 8 and only have 2 houses on the market. I expect that next year we will have no houses listed under $600K for many months of the year.

                                Do we have enough high-end inventory?

The greatest surge in sales this year compared to last year is in our $5 to 10 million price bracket. In that price range our sales are up 110% over last year and our inventory is down 35%. Given our very limited availability of waterfront lots, I expect to see a resurgence of new construction in mid-country and backcountry as the demand is there from high-end buyers.

Unfortunately, one of the things that’s driving sales at the high end in addition to COVID and WOOFH is the increase in crime in New York City. Personal safety is something we all will pay to insure but at the higher price levels being free from personal danger is something that people will spend millions of dollars on. You can expect Mayor Eric Adams to move strongly to lower NYC crime rates in 2022.

                Will there be enough money to buy Greenwich houses in 2022?

People talk about the cost of goods going up however an economic professor of mine used to say it is equally valid to talk about the value of money going down. With 6% inflation, the $1 that used to buy 100 cents of goods, now only buys 94 cents worth of goods. Traditionally, one of the hedges against inflation has been to shift money from cash, a depreciating asset, into an appreciating asset such as real estate. In 2022, we are going to hear more pundits talk about inflation driving sales, particularly, at the high end.

We also have lots of people sitting on appreciated company stock and on unspent discretionary savings. Both of these are likely to push Greenwich home sales higher.

                Will rising interest rates kill our market?

The Fed is expected to let interest rates rise in the first half of 2022. This is way overdue. The Fed has been inflating the economy at a time when they don’t need to do so and it’s pushing up the cost of goods for everyone including the cost of Greenwich houses. Once the stimulus payments are no longer occurring and the Fed is not artificially keeping mortgage rates low you can expect some softening in demand.

However, the National Association of Realtors did a study and they found that periods of rising interest rates were also generally periods of rising inflation encouraging people to buy hard assets. An increase in interest rates may slow the increase in demand but it’s unlikely to stop it. In fact, one thing driving our low inventory is our smart money buying houses with very low mortgage rates, before interest rates go up.

A related factor that will push home sales up is that many more people now have enough for a downpayment, since they been staying home saving money. (When was the last time you paid $400 for a ticket to a hot Broadway show?) Also, we are in the midst of the greatest wealth transfer ever from the baby boomers and greatest generation to the millennials and Gen Xers.

For more than a century, Greenwich has attracted well to do people, whose sources of wealth have varied greatly. We’ve also seen wealthy people come from all over the world to buy in Greenwich. Whether motivated by new found riches, such as we saw with the OPEC countries in the 1980’s or problems at home was we have seen with various South American countries, people from around the world come to Greenwich.

                2022

Are we likely to have another 1,000 single family home sales in 2022? Personally, I think that’s unlikely. Are we likely to have a year with sales well above the 600 sales, our dividing line between a good year and a poor year? That I think is likely.

Stay tuned it’s going to be an interesting year, and hopefully not as traumatic as this year.

November 2021 Greenwich Sales Up 30% M-o-M

by Mark Pruner

203-969-7900 – mark.pruner@compass.com

Our market is like a car running on a quarter tank of gas and we are not sure where the next filling station is. Our gas tank/inventory continues to remain very low and in November it gained some net listings at the beginning of the month only to drop a little more by end of the month. Luckily, we seem to have a Herbie, the Love Bug type of market. It doesn’t need a lot of gas to move really fast. Even though our inventory was way down to another record low by the end of November, our sales were up in November 30% compared to the prior month and some of the sales were spectacular.

We had a $50 million sale and a $14.5 million sale both on Field Point Circle. We also had four sales between $5 and $7 million in Riverside in one month. Overall, we had 56 sales, which meant that a quarter of all our inventory at the beginning of the month was sold by the end of the month. (It’s a little more complicated than that, but without regular inventory refills we would be out of inventory in a couple of months.)

Inventory as of 12/1/21InventoryContractsLast Mo. SoldsLast Month Solds+ Contracts YTD Solds YTD+ ContractsMonths of SupplyMoS w/ ContractsLast Mo. MoS Annlzd
< $600K2000882.83.1#DIV/0!
$600-$800K952737422.72.74.5
$800K-$1M71151656671.41.31.4
$1-$1.5M18187251471651.31.42.6
$1.5-$2M21157221271421.81.83.0
$2-$3M302813412312591.41.42.3
$3-$4M29196251361552.32.34.8
$4-$5M21961564733.63.63.5
$5-6.5M2545961654.54.85.0
$6.5-$10M27831154625.55.49.0
> $10M19426121617.414.89.5
          
TOTAL2081215617793310542.52.53.7

For the year, out inventory peaked at 342 single-family-home listings in June. In a normal year, we should have peaked around 700 listings in May. After our June peak, which was really like more like a low hillock, our listings dropped for the next 4 months, down to 229 listings by the last week of October.

November 2021 vs. November 2020

Fortunately, the slide stopped in early November and inventory rose slightly to 243 listings in the first part of November. Increasing inventory meant that for the first time in 4 months, listings were coming on faster than properties were going to contract. By the end of November, the spurt in contracts and sales in November meant that we started the first day of December with only 208 listings.

For the year, the number of outstanding contracts followed the same pattern as inventory. Contracts rose steadily from the beginning of the year and by June we peaked at 263 contracts. After that, the number of outstanding contracts dropped steadily until there were only 101 contracts by the end of September.  This is a fairly typical seasonal pattern, just shifted a month forward. Part of this shifting was the result of the Covid vaccines kicking in March which meant more buyer activity just delayed a month. As a result, contracts peaked in June rather than May as in most years.

 Last month’s uptick in listings led to an immediate increase in sales. In November 2021, we had the aforementioned 56 sales compared to our 10-year average of 43 sales. What’s remarkable is that we are doing this with very low, and often stale, inventory. This late in the year 77% of the inventory has been on the market for more than two months and 20% has been on for more than 9 months. We only have 26 “fresh” listings that have been on for less than a month, which is only 13% of the market. Any properties, under $10 million priced to market, that are in good shape will have a contract in the first two months and probably the first two weeks.

Part of the low inventory is that my brother Russ and I, and I’m sure other brokers, were pausing new listings until after the Thanksgiving holidays. I expect a bunch of new listings this week. If listings stay up, our sales will continue to grow as older listings are generating buyers’ interest. I’ve got a backcountry contemporary that has been on for 6 months and needs updating. The seller has come down in price and we’ve had 5 showings in the past week with one and possibly two offers coming in next week when folks get back from extended Thanksgiving vacations. We still have lots of buyers and if we had more inventory, we’d have lots more sales. Our median sales price is now $2.3M compared to $1.87 million at the end of 2019 or an increase of 23% in two years.

Some folks have argued that people are abandoning the New York metro area. Clearly, folks from Greenwich and NY Metro area are moving to Florida and other warmer climes, but we’ve always had that. Post-recession, the movement from Greenwich to the South slowed as people waited for house prices to recover after the Great Recession. All the owners of this “shadow inventory” have now sold with many moving south, though, not necessarily full time. The downtown condo market, a classic location for Greenwich downsizers and snowbirds is very tight as our Geenwich sellers want a foot in their hometown and their warmer clime.  

I also think a bunch of people have accelerated their retirement and relocation plans because of Covid and listed their houses earlier than they might have without the pandemic. This has been great for our market, as we needed a record amounts of new listings to get a record number of sales. Our 863 sales of single-family homes in 2020 was an all-time annual sales record. That record was eclipsed by October 23rd of this year. Each subsequent sale this year sets a new record. As of December 1 of this year, we are up to 933 sales.

  We had a bunch of high-end sales in November, but we are not done. We have 4 properties under contract that are listed over $10M and 16 contracts for listings over $5M waiting to close.  For successful young families and downsizers looking in the $1 – 4M price range they are finding a fierce market.  Our inventory in that price range is down 105 listings from what was an already low inventory last year. The result is that our sales for November 2021 are down 34 sales from November 2020.

For the year, we are still up in sales for every price range from $800,000 to $10 million, with the glaring exception of $1.5 – 2.0 million. In that price range, our sales have dropped 10 sales from 137 sales in the first 11 months of last year to 127 sales through November this year. Our months of supply for that price range dropped from 2.2 months of supply to only 1.8 months of supply this year. Of course, buyers in that price ranges should be glad that they are not trying to buy a house from $800K – $1M. In that price range you have 7 listings and 1.3 months of supply.

Overall, it’s an interesting time to be in the market. It is one of the few Decembers where we are telling folks that it is a good time to list a house.

Negotiating Contingent Contracts in a Tight Greenwich Real Estate Market

Plus, the Mid-November Greenwich Market Update

                Greenwich R.E. Market Update

If we did not sell another house this year, 2021 would still be our best year for sales ever. As of mid-week, we have sold 905 single family homes. Add in the 111 contracts that are waiting to close and you have 1,016 transactions so far this year. We need another 95 sales this year to reach 1,000 sales in Greenwich and there are some weekly indicators that we may make it.

                                Inventory

Our real estate engine has been running on less than half of tank of gas all year. Our highest inventory  level all year was only 342 listings in the first week of June. We then slid steadily down to only 229 listings in the last week of October. The fear was that this five month’s slide would continue, and our market would essentially die.

The good news is that our inventory has ticked up by 6 listings at the end of last week to 235 listings and as of the middle of this week we added 3 more houses to the listing. Now 9 listings may not seem like a lot, but what it does is take a declining line and actually turn it up a tiny bit. Our inventory normally drops as we approach the year-end holidays, but the normal year’s low was this year’s high.

                Contracts & Transactions

We have also seen contracts recently turn up from a low of 101 contracts at the end of September to 111 contracts in the first week of November. Our contracts rose throughout October as our fall market inventory, what there was of it, made a bunch of new houses available for sale. In this market, if we have new inventory, we have new sales.

As a result, we saw a spurt in weekly transactions, the total of contracts and sales that week. To me transactions is the best indicator of how active our market is. However, transactions aren’t quite as straight forward a number as the phrase, weekly contracts plus sales might seem. Contracts come in two types according to FlexMLS, the software service for the Greenwich MLS. You have contingent contracts and pending contracts.

Most contingent contracts become pending contracts once the bank makes a mortgage commitment. As a results contingent contracts are counted twice in the transaction numbers, however, getting contingencies removed another sign of market momentum. In a slow market more buyers exercise their contingency and cancel the purchase contract. A rise in pending contracts indicates not only more people doing all cash deals, but also more people moving forward or what were contingent contract.

                Negotiating the Contingent Contract Offer

Contingent contracts mean that that buyer has an out. (NB: Most of the time a contingent contract is contingent on bank making a mortgage commitment, but there are a wide variety of other types of contingencies, such as a land use approval contingencies; neighborhood association approval contingency, a Hubbard clause where the buyer has to sell their present house before closing on their new house,  and many other types of contingencies.)

If the buyer can’t get a mortgage, they have the right to exercise the mortgage contingency and terminate the contract. The seller’s attorney then returns the buyer’s 10% deposit. Of the 876 single-family home sales in Greenwich through the end of October 2021, 499 or 57% of the contracts had contingencies, the large majority of which were mortgage contingencies.

Sometimes a contract will have more than one contingency. Back in the 80’s when I worked as a real estate attorney, it was common practice for their to be two contingencies. The first contingency was an inspection contingency for a week to ten days, followed by a mortgage contingency of 30 to 60 days. This meant that once the contract was signed, the buyer was in control of the deal. If there was something they didn’t like in the inspection, they could call the deal off. More commonly, the buyer would ask the seller to reduce the price or to make repairs.

Sellers weren’t big on losing control of the deal for their house, so unlike many other places, the Greenwich standard is that the buyer has to do the inspection before the seller’s attorney even starts to draft the contract. If the seller gets a better offer while the inspection is being done or the contract negotiated, they are free to accept it. This gives either party the ability to back out of the “deal”.

Some sellers are of the old school and a deal is a deal and they won’t accept the higher offer. Even so the higher backup offer puts tremendous pressure on the first buyer to accept the house ‘as is” regardless of what the inspection turns up. On the flip side, the seller who accepts a second higher offer runs the risk of losing both deals.

If the second buyer does an inspection and decides there are problem, they can back out. If the second buyer backs out, the seller has to go back to first buyer hat in hand and ask them to go through with their original offer. Often the first buyer has found another place, or they tell the seller to take a flying leap out of pure pique.

One thing, the seller can do to lessen the first buyer’s irritation at being gazumped, as the British call it, is for the seller to offer to pay the buyer’s inspection cost and any other reasonable expenses that they incurred. If the seller does that, it’s reasonable for the seller to ask for a copy of the inspection, since they are paying for it, which often comes in very handy. Be aware that many inspectors consider the inspection to be only for that particular buyer.

Once the contract is signed, the prevailing buyer needs to work closely with their mortgage broker or banker to make sure that every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed. In this market you don’t want to be asking for an extension on the contingency.

                Contingent and Pending Contracts

This year contingent contracts have remained fairly steady throughout the year, while pending contracts took a jump up in the middle of April and really took off in May, June and even into July. This period, that I call the “Frenzy” had lots of contracts being signed at all price levels, leading to an all-time record sales month with 143 single-family home sales in July 2021.

This was also the period where $5 million dollar houses were flying off the market just like $1 million listings. If you annualized June sales from $5- 6.5 million we had 2.5 “instantaneous” months of supply, while from $1.5 – 2.0 million we had 3.2 months of supply based on annualized sales. The more expensive the house, the more likely, there will not be a mortgage contingency.

Greenwich October YTD Sales Exceed all of 2020, but Way Down from Prior Months as Inventory Shrinks

by Mark Pruner

On October 23rd, 2021, we matched our sales for the full year 2020, even as single-family home sales in Greenwich dropped 46% compared to September. So far this year we have had 875 sales which makes for a new all-time record, already exceeding last year’s 861 total sales with two months to go in this year.

The Holy Grail in Greenwich real estate is breaking 1,000 sales in a year. We have already done that for the last twelve consecutive months from November 2020 to October 2021. For those 12 months we have had 1,058 sales compared to our 10-year average calendar year sales of 620 home. The question is can we do what Novak Djokovic couldn’t do in tennis and have a calendar year Grand Slam with over 1,000 sales in one calendar year.

The answer is that it is going to be close.  As of the end of October we have 122 contracts waiting to close. If you add that to our 875 sales, you get 997 sales and contracts for 2021. Not all of those 122 contracts will close in the next two months, but a bunch of selling homeowners that are not yet under contract want to close before yearend. (I have two clients, that have told me to do just that.)

The problem with getting to this Holy Grail is that our monthly sales have dropped from July’s all-time record of 143 sales to only 43 sales in October. Our October 2021 sales, for the first time since June of 2020 were a smidge below our 10-year, pre-Covid, average of 46 sales in October. You don’t have to look far to see why this is so.

              Demand remains high

Our drop in sales is not due to a lack of demand. Of our 43 sales in October 63% had been on for less than 2 months or more than 6 months. Most people wouldn’t think of sales that have been on for more than 6 months as a sign of a hot market, but it often is. What’s happening is that houses that have been passed over for half year or more finally sale, because seller overlook the objections that prior buyers had shown previously. Of course, a price reduction, or two, often helps this sale along.

              Little to Sell Leads to Dropping Sales

What is causing sales to drop is lack of new inventory. Our inventory, as of the end of October, set another new record low with only 229 single family homes listed for the entire town. In Old Greenwich, arguably our hottest market, we have only 10 listings on the market. Of these 10 listings, only 1 is under $1 million. Of the other 9 listings only 1 came on the market in October. Six of the ten OG listings, 6 had been on the market for than 5 months with 2 of them on the market for a year or more. The majority of what is available in OG are hard sales.

For the month of October, we had a total of 57 listings with 15 of those 57 October listings already under contract and 3 new October listings are already sold. To be honest, those 3 October listings marked as sold never appeared on the Greenwich MLS. They were off market sales.

Many of these off-market sales are at the upper end of our market. Of the three off-market sales that were reported, I represented the buyers in a sale at $4.9 million and another sale, in OG, closed at $7.4 million. Most off-market sales, are not reported, so were you to add in these sales, we would be well over 1,000 sales for the year.

When you look at a table of inventory, you’ll see that none of our price ranges have over 40 listings. Two years ago, every price range from $1 million to $10 million had 40 or more listings. (OK, from $5 – 6.5 million we had 38 listings, but absolute statements always look more dramatic and 38 is very close to 40.)

In 2019, we had 120 listings from $2 – 3 million, now we have only 37 listings. Lower inventory and higher sales bring months of supply way down. From $2 – 3 million we only have 1.7 months of supply, while only two years ago, this price range had 11.9 months of supply. Said another way, we went from almost a year of supply to less than 2 months of supply in the last two years.

              Buyers Want Larger Houses

All of this is part of the Great Upsizing. Our median house size sold was 3,669 s.f. in 2019. In 2021 our median house size sold is 4,000 s.f. That is an increase of 331 square feet or 9%. This might not seem like that much, but the square root of 331 is just over 18 so you are looking at people adding a nice size bedroom or two offices. As an example, the master bedroom at 15 Laub Pond Road, a 7,400 s.f. house, is 18’7” x 18’4” (open house this Sunday ;).

As people are spending more time at home due to Covid and the rise of WOOFH, Working Occasionally or Often From Home, people need more space. Our median sales price is up from $1.87 million in 2019 to $2.3 million in 2021 or an increase of 23.2%. Greenwich homes are appreciating nicely, but we are also seeing an increase in the size of houses that people want. When you look at just the increase in price per s.f., which factors out the increase in house size, we are up 17.6%

              Will Housing Inventory, and sales, continue to fall?

Connecticut has done an excellent job with 71% of our residents vaccinated. This bodes well for not seeing a repeat of last winter’s jump in infections and will certainly result in fewer deaths this winter. So, the Covid pressure to move is shrinking.

                            WOOFH is here to stay

The majority of the working populace really like WOOFH. The Jamie Dimon CEO’s that want everyone back in the office on 9 – 5, five days a week are seeing major pushback and employees voting with their feet. WOOFH means that people are spending less time commuting so buyers that used to want a 30-minute commute are looking at towns with 45 minutes to an hour commute. Also, technology for telecommuting is now ubiquitous and free or low cost. (Zoom really deserves a medal for providing connectivity for billions of free video conferences.)

What’s going to happen next year? Have most people who have wanted to move already moved. Will we reach the Holy Grail of 1,000 sales? The big factor pushing us there is the Great Upsizing’s surge in intra-Greenwich moves. For an intra-Greenwich move our sales increase by two, while our inventory remains unchanged as the buyer of the bigger house also sells their smaller house.  

                            Will our inventory fall to zero?

Is our inventory down, because most of the people that have wanted to move have moved? Realize that even with 1,000 sales, we are only looking at around 5% of our housing stock. The other 95% of homeowners are still in the same house. We will always get life cycle inventory as families get bigger, couples divorce, kids leave home, people retire, and homeowners pass away. Inventory will never go to zero.

The result of all this is that unlike any other year, November is a great time to list your house.

Stay tuned, this quarter is going to be like nothing we have ever seen before.

Mark Pruner is a sales executive with Compass at 200 Greenwich Ave. He can be reached at mark.pruner@compass.com or 203-969-7900. He would also like to thank everyone who voted for him and his fellow candidates on the Board of Assessment Appeals.

All Greenwich Neighborhoods do Well, Some Very Well in First 3 Quarters of 2021

Contracts Down, but Recently Rising

by Mark Pruner

Greenwich had an amazing first nine months with sales up 44% and sales volume up 66%. These big increases are even more amazing, because they were increases over our record setting 2020 home sales. Last year was a great year, but so far 2021 has been an even better year and that is true for every neighborhood. So, let’s give out the awards for most amazing performance by a neighborhood on a year over year basis.

              Biggest Percentage Increases from 2022

                            Award: Our smaller neighborhoods

When you look at neighborhoods by percentage increase in sales, one neighborhood jumps out, Pemberwick, with sales up 250% on a year over year basis. Pemberwick’s sales increased from 4 sales in the first 9 months of 2020 to 14 sales this year. An increase of 10 sales may not seem like much, but it’s the first time in a while since we’ve seen Pemberwick home sales break into double digits. It’s a small neighborhood and the people there love it. They tend to buy and stay, meaning even fewer houses come on for sale.

It’s not just Pemberwick, Byram saw sales increase from 13 to 19 and North Mianus went from 5 sale to 10 sales. Banksville also saw its sales jump 67% from 3 sales to 5 sales. These are small numerical increases, but together they total an increase of 23 sales and tell us something about the market. There is a tremendous demand for houses in our most affordable neighborhoods.

Lots of people who live in apartments in the NYC metro area would love to have a house in Greenwich and the most affordable houses in Greenwich are often their first choice. While, we can’t know whether there are thousands, of even tens of thousands of people, that fall in that category, we can say that at least 23 homeowners found new homes in these neighborhoods worth buying, even with price increases up to 25% in one year.

              Our Hottest Neighborhood

                            Award: Riverside, close runner-up Old Greenwich

In Riverside, we had 134 sales in the first nine months of 2021, this is up 41% from the first nine months of 2020. This a lot of sales in a small geographical area, but it’s a highly desirable area of Greenwich. Driving around with a real estate app you felt like every third house had sold, is under contract or is about to be. In Riverside, the median days on market was only 44 days and prices appreciated by 17.8% based on the year-over-year increase in the sales price to assessment ratio.

Not everything went to contract quickly. One waterfront house took 429 days to sell, and I co-listed another waterfront home that took 299 days to get to contract. Now both were well over $6 million and high-end negotiations often get tricky, but long sales times aren’t de rigueur for high-end Riverside houses. The highest sale in Riverside went for $7.8M, in 23 days. The listings that stay on the market for months make the Riverside average of 85 days on market very understandable and impressive.

Some people, (mostly those who live in Old Greenwich), would argue that Old Greenwich was the hotter market. Yes, Old Greenwich “only” had 126 sales to Riversides 134 sales, but it’s median days on market was a highly competitive 26 days to contract. Also, if you look at Old Greenwich’s price appreciation on sales price/s.f. it’s at 21.3% compared to Riverside’s 11.7%, but that’s more an issue of a few outliers for Old Greenwich. Often, this is due to a new construction replacing a teardown, but the square footage of the old house is still on the tax record, which leads to a very high sales price/sf.

To decide the hottest market of these two, let’s go to the tiebreaker, the most houses sold over list price. Old Greenwich had 41 houses that sold for over the house’s original list price, while Riverside had 48 houses that sold for over OLP. Riverside is the winner for our hottest market for the first nine months of the year. Let’s see how it plays out for the full year.

The High-End Award

              Backcountry vs. Mid-Country vs. the Waterfront Associations

One of the things that make Greenwich so attractive is that we have a variety of communities and at the high-end Greenwich gives you a lot of choices. Over $5 million, you have your choice of Backcountry with 4 acres and excellent privacy; mid-country with one and two acre lots and closer to downtown; and the waterfront associations; Belle Haven (including Field Point Circle), Indian Harbor and Mead Point.

So far, our highest reported sale is for $45 million in backcountry. I say reported sale, because the market over $5 million and particularly over $10 million is very private with many sales going unreported. (This award is only based on the publicly reported listings on the Greenwich MLS.) Even though this sales price is almost twice the sales price reported in the Belle Haven area, it’s only a single sale and one of only two sales over $10 million in backcountry.

South of the Post Road, in Belle Haven, we have 6 sales over $10 million and an additional 10 sales over $5 million. All the sales are part, of the great reshuffling in Belle Haven as we have a good number of listings in one of our nicest areas and good demand for these listings. Below the Post Road you can throw in an additional 4 sales for a total of 20 sales over $5 million south of the Post Road. This compares to 19 sales in backcountry a much larger area.

If you want to talk about larger areas, South of the Parkway runs from the Merritt Parkway to the north side of the Post Road and has the by far the largest number of properties of any Greenwich neighborhood. For the first nine months of 2021, we have had 58 mid-country sales over $5 million and 3 of these were over $10 million. Compare that to the first nine months of 2020, when we had less than half that number with 28 sales over $5 million. Townwide our sales over $5 million are up 265% from 2019 our last pre-Covid year.

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Sept 2019 YTDSept 2021 YTD Sept 2021 YTD

Sales in Greenwich, CT over $5 million for the first nine months of each year

The biggest percentage increase in sales over $5 million and highest sales YTD goes to backcountry. Greatest increase in number of sales goes to mid-country and greatest increase in sales in a single association easily goes to Belle Haven.

              What about the Fourth Quarter

                            Update

At the end of the third quarter, things were looking bleak for Q4 2021. Our contracts had reached a low for the year with only 102 contracts and inventory was at record lows. Our contracts were 41% below last year and the number of contracts had been dropping for 4 months. Last year was an excellent year all the way through year-end, so being below last year in contracts is not that bad. To see a really terrible slow down go back to September 2019 when we had only 69 contracts at the end of September.

Overall, our contracts, in just about every part of town, had been dropping for 4 straight months. Luckily that stopped in October. We are now up to 118 contracts as our fall market sales kick in. The uptick is even more heartening when you consider that our inventory is at an all-time low with just 246 listings. Of those 246 listing, I bet 10 – 20% already have an accepted offer and are just waiting for contracts to be signed. In addition, a quarter of the listings are more than 6 months old, so our “active” active listings are something like 130 to 150 listings, which means buyers often have only a handful of options in a particular price range in a particular neighborhood. (Our otal listings between $1 and 1.5 million in Riverside comes to only one listing.)

The concern is not low inventory, we’ve had that all year. The concern is dropping inventory. This is like watching the gas gauge on your car dropping to “E”. We can go a long way on a quarter of tank of gas, if we keep putting in a little gas here and there, but without continuous replenishment of our low tank, our market is going to sputter, and contracts are likely to resume their fall.

It is the second half of October, but arguably this is the best time to list your house with good demand and very limited inventory.

 Stay tuned, the 4th quarter promises to be particularly interesting….

Mark Pruner is a sales executive with Compass real estate in Greenwich. He can be reached at 203-969-7900 or mark.pruner@compass.com.