The Greenwich Real Estate Market – 2014 Year End Report

FINAL NUMBERS FOR 2014 GREENWICH REAL ESTATE SALES

Well we made it; 700 real estate sales for 2014 according to the numbers from the Greenwich Town Clerk’s office via SearchGreenwich.net. This compares to 607 single family home sales reported through the Greenwich MLS. The 700 sales is a good year for Greenwich real estate and when you look at the sales volume the year was even better.

Year Count Total Sales $ As. Factor Average Median
2014 700 $    1,846,507,939               1.64  $        2,637,868  $     1,768,750
2013 724 $    1,600,328,821               1.56  $        2,210,399  $     1,650,000
Change -24 $       246,179,118 .08 $           427,469  $        118,750
%Change -3.3% 15.4% 5.1% 19.3% 7.2%

Our unit sales may be down 3%, but our sales volume is up 15.4% to an amazing $1.8 billion which is a lot of house sales in a town of 61,000. Now some people would point out that the averages are skewed by the sale of one house, Cooper Beech Farm, for $120,000,000, but even if you take out that house we still had a sales volume increase of $126,179,118 or 7.9% without it.

Average Price is Up

When sales are down and volume is up you expect the average price to jump and it did just that with the average sales increasing $427,469 or 19.3%. Even if you take out the Copper Beach Farm sale the average sales price in Greenwich for a single family home is still up 11.3% or $260,000. Now as you’ll see below in the price range analysis this double digit percentage increase was due to a shift to higher-end home sales.

The median and the assessment factor change give a better indicator of overall market improvement. The median was up 7.2% to $1,768,750. This is an increase of $118,750 over 2013. The median is still influenced by the shift to higher end sales, so the assessment factor change is probably the better way to look at a general market price rise. The assessment factor is the ratio of the sales price to the town’s most recent assessment on October 1, 2010. When you compare the average assessment factor to 2013 to 2014 you get an increase in the average price in Greenwich of 5.1% over 2013.

When you look at the full 2014 numbers things look smoother than they actually were. Some neighborhoods did better than other neighborhoods. Our assessment factors varied from a low of 1.50 to a high of 1.84 meaning some neighborhoods have seen an increase of only 6% from 2010 while other neighborhoods have seen almost 30% over the same period. You see the same thing when you look at the sales by price range.

Over $3 Million Market Did Well – Under $2 Million Needed Inventory

Sales over $3 million had a stellar year up 46 units and a total sales volume increase of $342 million. Sales under $3 million had a poor year down 70 units and $96 million dollars. The issue under $3 million dollar doesn’t seem to be so much weak demand as it does a shortage of well-priced inventory. I took a look at the under $1 million market where sales were down 22 units over 2013. At the same time the days on market was also down and the average list price to sales price was unchanged both showing good demand on the buyer’s side.

Greenwich House Sales - 2012- 2014 final

Not only was the market variable by price range and by neighborhood, but also by month. January was a good month followed by a bad February and March, then an OK April and May. June, July and August were all good months but they led to a disastrous September. Sales recovered in October and November and ended with an excellent December.

2015 Prospects

So where is the market headed. At the present time we have 405 units on the market a tight supply, but when you look at the days on market only 70 of these listings have been on for less than 90 days. Most of what we have is older inventory that could use a price adjustment. At the same time it looks like a good year for Wall Street bonuses and with concerns of raising interest rates later in the year so prospects for a good first quarter are looking up.

Above $3 million dollars we have good inventory so folks with good bonuses have a bunch of good houses to choose from. Under $3 million and particularly under $1 million sales will be tied to the number of new listings at fair prices.

The one constant in all these ups and downs is that buyers are looking for value. They don’t have to have a bargain, but they won’t even show up to see the house if they think it is overpriced.

Overall, energy prices are way down, interest rates continue to be very low and unemployment is almost back to normal so 2015 should be one of our best years, but only time will tell.

INVENTORY, 2014 SALES, DEC. 2014 SALES & CONTRACTS

The SearchGreenwich.net data above includes all of the sales in Greenwich including private sales, but to do a market analysis you need to look at the Greenwich MLS data which shows houses being actively market. The GMLS data for 2014 is below.

 

GMLS Aa of 1/4/15 Inventory Contracts Last Mo. Solds Tot. Solds+ Contracts YTD Solds YTD+ Contracts Mos Supply Mos w/ Contracts Last Mo. Annlzd
< $600K 9 2 6 8 30 32 3.6 3.8 1.5
$600-$800K 7 4 3 7 54 58 1.6 1.6 2.3
$800K-$1M 11 4 8 12 56 60 2.4 2.5 1.4
$1-$1.5M 42 17 15 32 106 123 4.8 4.6 2.8
$1.5-$2M 33 15 4 19 81 96 4.9 4.6 8.3
$2-$3M 58 14 10 24 119 133 5.8 5.9 5.8
$3-$4M 54 6 5 11 69 75 9.4 9.7 10.8
$4-$5M 42 2 4 6 34 36 14.8 15.8 10.5
$5-7.5M 73 5 1 6 32 37 27.4 26.6 73.0
$7.5-$10M 20 1 2 3 10 11 24.0 24.5 10.0
> $10M 49 0 0 0 15 15 39.2 44.1
TOTAL 398 70 58 128 606 676 7.9 7.9 6.9

 

Our inventory as is typical of the beginning of the year is way down with only 398 homes listed on the GMLS. The problem is that sales have been up strongly the last two months and with Wall Street setting record highs we really need more houses on the market now (as of 1/23/15 we were up to 418 homes.)

The one area where we are good is over $4 million dollars where we have 184 beautiful homes and only 91 sales reported on the GMLS in 2014. In the upper price ranges buyers want what they want and have the money to pay for it. The result is that 184 listings can quickly narrow down to a handful of listings when they are filtered by neighborhood, price, style and age.

Dec.2014.Sales.Inv.Cur.Ks.010415

Sales have been good all the way up to $3M. Above $3M sales are up over 2013 so even though we have the inventory, the buyers are buying in the high end.

YEAR END MONTHS OF SUPPLY STATISTICS FOR GREENWICH

A combination of good sales, very little new inventory, and owners taking their house off of the market forhe winter has drastically dropped our months of supply. We have less than 6 months supply all the way up to $3 million dollars.

Dec2014.MosSupply.010414

This is not a good situation, particularly if we have a mild winter. With the economy turning up due to lower energy prices, the stock market up and the Fed cutting back on quantitative easing the smart buyers will be looking early before prices and interest rates go up further.

Take a look at the white bars which is months of supply based on annualized December sales. In most price ranges sales were actually pretty good. The two exceptions are over $10 million which did well for the year, just not in December, and $5 – 7.5M which has appeared slow all year, but in 2014 one out of every five sales in this price range was private.

THE UNDER $1 MILLION MARKET

Unit sales of houses in Greenwich is down this year primarily because our under $1 million market has been “ailing”. In fact since peaking in 2012 with 159 sales of house under $1 million have dropped the last two years (orange line) to only 131 houses. The question is why sales are down.

Under1MM.Sales.Inv.sales.mp.010515

When you look at the supply the answer is clear. New listings of Greenwich houses peaked in 2010 at 237 listings and have dropped to only 174 listings in 2014 on the GMLS. When you look at the ratio of sales price to original list price you can see that this percentage has climbed from 86% in 2009 during the recession to 93% the last two years.

Prices of homes under $1 million are up 27% in the last four years at a steady clip of about 6% a year. Now you would think that that would encourage more listings, but the price appreciation also pushes houses out of the under $1 million dollar category. A house worth $800,000 in 2011 is no longer under $1 million so when listed it not going to be in the stats.

When you look at just the average price of sales under $1 million (orange line) the story is not quite as clear as the mix of houses changes from year to year. The average price jumped up in 2010 after falling for two year. The price per square foot tends to be less volatile but still isn’t quite as clear as ratio of sales price to the tax assessor’s assessment.

Just how hot the market is can be seen from the cumulative days on market. In 2014 a house under $1 million was only on the market an average of 116 days. In the boom year of 2007 houses under $1 million were on for 121 days.

So we have good buyer demand, but homeowners aren’t putting their houses on the market at the same rate that they did in 2010 when they put on 237 listings compared to 2014 174 listings. Now one factor as mentioned is that the potential universe of houses available has actually shrunk as houses have appreciated above $1 million, but another factor is the slowing in equity growth for many homeowners in this price range. The appreciation cuts both ways so that for homeowners that want to move up they need more down payment and our appreciation while good in a low inflation environment has not been anything like the double digit increases that we saw in many years before the recession.

Under1MM.Sales2013.010414

The result is that homeowners can be locked into their first home, waiting to get enough appreciation to move up to a larger home. With banks being strict about lending requirements, moving up can be even more difficult. The result is people staying in their homes. The government and banks are starting to look at easing some of the overly-strict lending requirement so this problem may ameliorate in 2015.

2015

This year should be a good year, but it is also likely to be another of a skittish market with good months and not so good months. It’s the type of year where a good Realtor makes a big difference.

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