March Continues February Trend of Fat Middle – High End Showings Up

We have 83 sales of single family homes in Greenwich so far this year. Of those houses 24 of them have been in the first three weeks of March. Now the average sales for the whole month of March over the last 9 years has been 41 sales so we are likely to finish the month below this average. However, in March 2013 and 2014 we only had 35 and 31 sales. Last year was another harsh winter and our sales should be the 31 sales in March 2014.

The price distribution of the sales continues to follow the pattern that we saw in February with a fat middle and skinny ends. Under $1M we have only 4 sales while over $4M we also only have 4 sales none of which are over $6M. Our high end buyers seem to be enjoying their winter houses whether on the ski slopes or at the beach.

At the low end there are just fewer places to put the snow. Sellers are holding off on listing their houses until they get rid of these piles of snow. So far this month we have had 74 new listings and only 12 have been under $1M. Of those 12 new listings 4 are already under contract and one was a private sale that listed and closed the same day for a net gain of only 7 listings.

The middle price range in Greenwich continues to be where the action is. Sixteen of the 24 sales have been between $900K and $3.1M.

Contracts are looking good with 41 new contracts so far in March. Of those 41 contracts 33 are fully executed and waiting to close and 18 have contingencies. Amazingly inventory has actually shrunk from 468 houses at the beginning of the month to only 452 listings today.

I would expect a real explosions of listings in April as owners who have been waiting for better weather put their houses on the market. One worrisome trend that we are seeing nationwide is that move-up owners in this low inflation environment are taking more years to build up enough equity so that they can move up to a larger house as their families expand. Banks are addressing this issue by making more loans available where the move-up buyer can put down less than 20% thus requiring less equity appreciation.

On the plus side showings of high end homes are looking up, at least if my experience is any indicator. I’ve had three showings of my $8.7 million listing at 26 Wooddale and have a showing scheduled of my $5M lakefront listing in New Fairfield. Interestingly, none so far are from the financial community, but are from China, a dotcom and Westchester County.

I’m betting we will have more than the 700 sales that we had last year, but only time will tell how these countervailing trends will balance out.


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