Backcountry Greenwich is recovering, though its recovery has been slower than southern Greenwich. In the recession year of 2009, we had only 27 sales down from the 84 sales five years previously in 2004. In 2009, we also saw the highest backcountry average sales price; $6,040,185 and a median price of $4,500,000.
From 2004 to 2009 sales and price diverged with sales falling nearly every year while the average price also went up every year. Falling sales and rising prices are the classic signs of bubble, but then hind sight is always 20:20.
So, what’s been happening since the depths of the Great Recession. From 2009 to 2015 we saw a jagged increase of sales to a peak of 61 sales in 2015. In 2016, sales dropped back to 49 sales and through August of 2017 we have seen 25 sales in backcountry Greenwich.
Now only 25 sales might make you think that 2017 will be another down year for sales, but high-end sales are now skewed to later in the year, so it’s not over till it’s over and the last house sale gets counted early next year. This high-end shift to later in the year is epitomized by the three properties listed for over $20 million that have either sold or gone to contract in the last 30 days including one in backcountry.
|As of 9/2/17||Inventory||Contracts||Last Mo. Solds||Tot. Solds+ Contracts||YTD Solds||YTD+ Contracts||Mos Supply||Mos w/ Contracts|
What we have seen in 2016 and 2017 is an increase in the average size of backcountry houses that have sold. In 2015, we had the smallest average size or 4,861 s.f., which would be a large house in most of the U.S. So far in 2015 the average size house had increased to 6,020 s.f. This is a nice house, but in the peak year of 2009, the average size of a house in Greenwich hit an all-time high of 8,289 s.f. Those days of big, for big sakes, mansions are not likely to return anytime soon.
You do have to be careful when dealing with averages in a changing market. Much of what drives these changes in the average house size is not that houses are getting smaller. (We haven’t seen people lopping wings off their 8,000 s.f. houses to make them more saleable.) What we are seeing is that the mix of the houses that are selling were tending to smaller houses and that mix has started to get bigger as town-wide the high-end is having its best post-recession year.
Also, as you would expect if the average size of houses being sold is increasing then so is the price of those houses and that is what we are seeing. In 2015, the median price of a house sold in the backcountry was down to $2,043,000 while the average was $800,000 more or $2,834,464 as the high-end sales pulled up the average. The high-end didn’t pull up the average as much as it could have in 2015 as that was our first year since 1990’s without a single, backcountry sale over $10,000,000.
The median sales price in the backcountry was up to $2,200,000 in 2016 and is at $2,495,000 so far this year or an increase of 22% in just two years. Now this doesn’t mean that your house is up 22% if you live in backcountry, but it does mean that we are seeing more high-end sales that are pulling up both the average and the median.
Backcountry is also sharing in some of the 2017/best year for sales over $5 million since the Great Recession ended, e.g. the over $20 million September contract mentioned before. However, we still have some seller expectations to be reset to the 2017 reality. Many of our younger, family buyers want to live closer to town. Peter. What used to be highly desirable in a property; more acreage and privacy is not as highly desired by many in this group. Having said that you don’t need a lot of buyer to change backcountry sales, an increase of 20 sales would easily do it.
In addition, for sales from $1 – 4 million demand for backcountry homes is about the same as in other parts of town. We are not seeing the same demand for the price range from $5 – 6.5 million. In the rest of town, we around 20 months of supply in backcountry we have yet to have sale out of 12 listings.
On the good news side, we are seeing more interest in the backcountry as a place for weekenders who used to roughly account for about a third of backcountry sales. Some weekenders are getting tired of the long schlep out to the Hamptons. A resurgent Armonk has also helped backcountry sales. What used to be a quiet little time with little nightlife has seen a resurgence of good restaurants; such as Fortina, Zero Otto Nove, Mariachi Mexico, Koku, Nick’s Pizza, while DeCiccio’s Market has become a Saturday destination for my wife.
Once we get the budget settled in Hartford and the fear of uncertainty goes away, 2017 might turn out to be a nice year for backcountry.
Mark Pruner is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 203-969-7900.