Riverside, CT – A Popular Place to Live

22 Years of Riverside Real Estate History in Greenwich

In 1999, the average sales price for a single-family home in Riverside, Connecticut was $956,121. By 2021 the average sales price in Riverside CT was $2,614,485. An increase of $1.66 million or 116%. The Riverside price per square foot did even a little better going from $346 per square foot to $678 per square foot or 119%

Pre COVID, at the end of April 2019, you would have had a choice of 83 different houses in Riverside. As of this week you have your choice of 15 houses a drop of 82%.  Given that 30 houses have sold so far this year in Riverside you’re looking at the lowest months of supply of any neighborhood in Greenwich with only 1.9 months or supply. (OK, the North Mianus area does have 0.8 months of supply but this area only has one listing and is one of our smallest areas of town.)

YearSales Sales Volume Avg Sales Price Avg SP/SF Avg SP/Assmt
1999143 $      136,725,285 $         956,121 $      346          2.35
2000143 $      153,386,712 $      1,072,634 $      376          2.79
2001116 $      128,854,702 $      1,110,816 $      403          3.18
2002114 $      149,634,700 $      1,312,585 $      451          3.00
2003116 $      151,397,619 $      1,305,152 $      468          1.96
2004151 $      314,300,423 $      2,081,460 $      638          2.33
2005120 $      229,981,432 $      1,916,512 $      602          2.50
2006119 $      224,356,629 $      1,885,350 $      606          2.38
200788 $      199,725,000 $      2,269,602 $      631          1.60
200880 $      218,775,565 $      2,734,695 $      683          1.53
200954 $      110,690,161 $      2,049,818 $      574          1.28
201088 $      160,860,811 $      1,827,964 $      542          1.35
2011106 $      196,796,379 $      1,856,570 $      499          1.36
2012122 $      260,516,550 $      2,135,382 $      536          1.54
2013145 $      284,545,237 $      1,962,381 $      547          1.60
201496 $      192,088,300 $      2,000,920 $      599          1.73
2015114 $      259,442,482 $      2,275,811 $      635          1.82
201693 $      197,310,338 $      2,121,617 $      601          1.64
2018107 $      251,834,350 $      2,353,592 $      595          1.54
201986 $      167,284,962 $      1,945,174 $      543          1.56
2020135 $      349,360,029 $      2,587,852 $      619          1.50
2021163 $      426,161,125 $      2,614,485 $      678          1.77
2022 Anlzd93 $      191,949,094 $      2,063,762 $      760          1.96
Grand Total2530 $  4,828,005,424 $     1,908,303 $      555          1.98
New assessment are redone every five years and become effective on July 1 of the following year

Growing up here. I played in a lot of Old Greenwich Riverside Community Center leagues from football to baseball to soccer. If you would have asked me then where the border was between Old Greenwich and Riverside, I couldn’t have told you. I knew the west side was the Mianus River and south side was Long Island, but the other two sides were kind of murky and didn’t matter as the two areas seemed much the same.

As a Realtor, I know the northern border of Riverside is at Palmer Hill Road, with two minor exception/cul-de-sacs in Palmer Circle and Apple Tree Lane. So, Palmer Hill on the north side from west to east borders a little stretch of Cos Cob east of the Mianus River then the two cul-de-sacs of Riverside and Hillcrest Park in Old Greenwich

2022 YTD Riverside Homes Sold2022 Riverside Inventory

The east side of Riverside is a little more complicated. The east side runs up Riverside Ave through the circle at the foot of Summit Road and along the west side of Binney park. The dividing line then turns left and runs up Sound Beach Ave before crossing the Post Rd. You continue briefly on Sound Beach Avenue Ext, then you take right on Bonan Drive to Mary Lane, then right on Amherst Rd, left on MacArthur Drive, a right on Florence Road and then up to Palmer Hill. All in all, not a big area, but zoning wise it is very diverse.

Greenwich Planning & Zoning map of the Riverside section of Greenwich, CT

Riverside 5 zones starting with the R-12 zones in the north (12,000 s.f. or .275 acres), what is often called our quarter-acre zone. These R-12 lots with a floor area ratio of .315 means you can build up to 3,780 s.f. (12,000 s.f. x .315 = 3,780 s.f.). Of course, this FAR limitation doesn’t apply to the basement, if it isn’t a walkout basement, nor to the attic, so you could have over 6,000 s.f. for new construction on four levels.

Below the R-12 zone is an R-7 zone running along the north side of the Post Road. The R-7 zone really should be called the R-7.5 zone since the minimum lot size is 7,500 s.f. or .172 acres, our “sixth” of an acre zone. With a .35 FAR in R-7 zone, you get an allowed square footage of 2,625 s.f.

Continuing south and crossing the Post Road, you are back to an R-12 zone inside the vast loop of Riverside Ave. Outside of Riverside Avenue you have an R-20 zone of 20,000 s.f., 0.46 acres lots; our so called half acre zone.  The .225 FAR in this zone gets you a max house size of 4,500 s.f. (plus the basement and the attic).

Then you get to something that Old Greenwich doesn’t have, an RA-1 zone whose north boundary is about halfway between the Sound and the railroad tracks. The RA-1 zone properties are one acre lots of 43,560 s.f. which with .135 FAR allows houses up to 5,881 s.f. The Riverside one-acre zone has a series of private associations, some of which are gated and guarded, giving the southwest corner the name of Little Belle Haven to some folks. (It looks good in a listing description.) And, that’s it for Riverside zones and house sizes. Well almost, you have a tiny R-6 duplex zone that only has 2 properties, and several conservation and historic overlay zones.

All this gives you a lot of options in a small area. It also means a 10-fold difference in sales prices. In 2021 we had 157 sales in Riverside and the prices varied from our lowest Riverside sales price of $705,000 in the R-7 to a $7,800,000 sale in the RA-1 zone. Patty Ekvall and my sale in Harbor Point came in 6th. At least it does if you look at the sales reported on the GMLS. There was at least one much higher sale, which didn’t get reported (sorry Gideon).

Greenwich April 2022 Sales by Neighborhood. (Click images for larger version.)

With all these high-end sales, Riverside has one of our highest prices per square foot. The sales price per square foot so far in 2022 has been $763/s.f. up from $678/s.f. last year or a jump of 12.5% in only 5 months. A significant part of that is a change in the mix of what is selling. We only have 3 listings in Riverside under $1.6 million and we have the same number over $7 million, so these higher priced properties when they sell will pull the average up a lot.

Riverside and Old Greenwich also have an average sales price to original list price of over 99%, so most listing go very close to list, and many have multiple offers going for full list or over list.

If you look back over the last 22 years, the number of sales jumps all over the place. Last year, we had the highest number of sales in Riverside that we’ve ever had with 163 sales, this beat the other two peaks with 151 sales in 2004 and 145 sales in 2013. The nadir was in in the Recession year of 2009 with only 54 sales. Over the last two decades, we’ve averaged 113 sales per year in Riverside.

The Great Recession also interrupted what had been steady growth in Riverside prices going all the way back to 1976. We had a couple of down turns, for example in the 1987 recession, but Riverside property has been pretty consistent from 1976 to 2008. During this period, the surprises were mainly on the plus side with the average price jumping 54% in 2004 and 20% in both 2007 and 2008. These big jumps were the result of a couple of big sales and that latter two were bubble years that whose over-inflated popped with slump in the Great Recession. Prices dropped in 2009 with the average down to $1.83 million in 2010 but had recovered to $2.14 million by 2012. 

Then we had a slow increase in prices, but it was a bumpy ride. The SALT tax deduction limits made 2019 a bad year for Riverside and then came Covid. In 2021, our average sales price in Riverside was up to $2.61 million, still not up to the bubble year of 2008 with its $2.73 million average sales price but chasing bubbles should be left to kids.

Going forward, our low inventory will still be putting pressure on buyers. We have seen a little slowing in demand due to interest rate increases and the stock market falling, but it hasn’t affected prices yet. At the same time, there are still a couple of years right-sizing caused by the shift to work from home and inflation spurs sales for those with money as they have traditionally been  thought of as inflation hedges. I expect that we’ll see continuing interest in Riverside houses for the rest of the year.

Now, if we just had twice the inventory, we’d see some real jumps in sales, but sales are going stay below last year unless we get lots more houses to sell.

Stay tuned …

The Greenwich Real Estate Market by Neighborhood – April 2022

by Mark Pruner

In April 2019, things were not looking good for the Greenwich real estate market. We were in the sixth year of declining sales, and this was after we had recovered nicely from the Great Recession. The Great Recession caused an all-time sales low of 370 home sales in 2009. By 2013, we had recovered to 724 sales: an impressive recovery in only 4 years and well above our 10-year average of 650 homes. We then had a steady decline for five of the next six years.

We dropped from 724 sales in 2013 to 526 single family homes sales in 2019, a drop of 27%. With the exception of 2018, it was a steady, almost linear, drop. Greenwich, and in particular, north Greenwich had fallen out of favor.

The exception year was 2018, which perked up 4.4% due to the Trump tax bill that limited SALT deductions to $10,000. As a result, tax costs in Westchester County jumped by around 30% or whatever the taxpayer’s marginal tax rate was. At the same time, the $10,000 limitation on SALT deductions also encouraged Greenwich homeowners, like Westchesterites to relocate south, just not as many. We got a net 25 more Westchesterites moving into Greenwich than we had Greenwichites moving to Florida. By 2019, the decline had resumed with 67 fewer sales, than we had in 2018

The first quarter of 2020 had a slight uptick, and, then came Covid with all its knock-on effects. That year was a record year that only stood for one year. We had an all-time record in sales in 2021 and we would be having a stellar year this year, if we had more inventory.

                A quick look at the overall Greenwich real estate market in 2022

Our sales are down this year from last year, but up almost 100% from April 2019. Sales are down, because we are at all-time record low inventory. Both our months of supply, and our daily experiences as Realtors trying to find a home for multiple buyers, say that we have a highly competitive market all the way up $5 million (and if you add in contracts, it’s not till you get over $10 million, that you have a buyer’s market.)

April 2019 YTD – 108 SalesApril 2022 YTD – 204 Sales

By the end of April 2019, we had had 108 sales or only 53% of the 204 sales that we had in the first four months of 2022. These sales were also predominantly in the southern half of the town. This year we have had 204 sales and they are distributed throughout the town.

                2022 price appreciation

The thing that everyone wants to know is how much more is their house worth this year compared to last year. So, let’s take a look at price appreciation, the most misused numbers in real estate.

Average sales price, median sales price – the backcountry example

To illustrate why, price appreciation numbers can be misleading let’s take a look at what happened to backcountry prices between 2019 and today. What’s at first is surprising is that the average sales price in backcountry actually dropped from $4.55 million in 2019 to “only” $3.86 million so far this year. The average price of a house in backcountry didn’t go down 15% from 2019, it actually went up and probably around 24% or move over the last three years.

We’ve got three measures of price appreciation and they come in two flavors, median and mean. One way to calculate the average increase in the sales price from one year to another is to compare the average sales price from this year to last year’s average sales price.

It is the easiest to calculate and the most affected by the mix of what is selling especially if there are a few very high sales or a lack of them the following year. This is what happened in 2022. Our average dropped, but this was due to lots of sales under the average price as we had a surge of young families into backcountry. Our average backcountry price last year was also higher, because of a few very high-end sales.

The median price (half of sales above and below) is better, but it is also affected by the mix of what is selling and the law of small numbers, which causes calculated amounts to change significantly, with only one or two more sales.

                                Sales price/sf or sales price/assessment

Beside average and median sales prices, the other two price appreciation statistics are sales price/sf and the sales price to the assessment ratio. The latter is usually the better statistic, if you are trying to minimize the effect of a change in the mix of what is selling.

In 2019, our median sales price to assessment ratio was 1.285 or below the 1.428 ratio is there is no change is sales price. This 1.428 ratio comes about, because, the Town Assessor, by law, assesses property at 70% of FMV for tax calculation purposes. The reciprocal of 0.7 is 1.428, so the 2019 SP/Assmt ratio of 1.285 meant that backcountry sales price had actually dropped 10% from the last reassessment done on Oct. 1, 2015. Our present backcountry median SP/Assmt ratio is 1.82 which is 41% more than 2019 SP/Assmt ratio of 1.285.

That seems high and it is. We only had 24 sales in backcountry in the first four months of this year, so the law of small numbers kicks in. That law says only a couple of sales can make a dramatic difference and that is so here. If you drop to the next highest backcountry SP/Assmt ratio, it is 1.64, so you get an appreciation of 27% from 2019 to April of this year.

This looks more representative of what actually happed as it is similar to the increase in in the median backcountry price which went up 31% from 2019 to April 2022. The 1.82 and 41% appreciation are mathematically more accurate, but it is not more representative of what is actually happening in the market.

                Overall price appreciation in Greenwich

For the town overall, we saw

  • the average sales price goes up 18%,
  • the average sales price/sf go up 20%, and
  • the average SP/Assmt ratio go up 14.4%.

Bottom line, take any real estate appreciation figures in Greenwich with a grain of salt. Your house may have done better than “average” or maybe not as good, but the thing you can be pretty sure of is it did go up, by double digit percentages, regardless of which neighborhood you are in.

If you really want to know how much your house went up contact a Realtor (my numbers below 🙂 or an appraiser. Sellers and Realtors have done pretty well in estimating sales price. So far this year, the ratio of the sales price to the original list price is 97.6%. This is also an indicator of how strong the market is as this ratio was 88.1% in 2019.

                Backcountry & Mid-country

In 2019, we only had 11 sales in backcountry and only 9 sales in mid-country in the 2-acre zone just south of the Merritt Parkway. This year we have had 27 sales in backcountry and 39 mid-country sales in the 2-acre zone, which seems to be the Covid sweet spot, combing a good amount land, a larger house and better proximity to downtown Greenwich.

Greenwich 2022 YTD Sales as of 4/30/22 (Click for larger version)

The 27 sales in backcountry this year totaled $104 million dollars compared to only $54 million in sales in 2019. As of the end of April 2022, we only had 48 listings in backcountry compared to 109 listings in 2019.

Increased sales and decreased inventory led to a dramatic drop in months of supply. We’ve gone from 3.5 YEARS of supply in 2019 to 7 months of supply in 2022. Our contracts are also doing well with 11 backcountry contracts waiting to close.

Greenwich 2022 YTD Sales versus 20219 Sales as of 4/30/22 (Click for larger version. Green cells pro-seller, orage pro-buyer)

Now 2022 has not been a perfect year backcountry and northern Greenwich sellers. The one area that shows a balanced, and even a pro-buyer, market is the market over $5 million and backcountry has half of those listings.  

Townwide, we are looking at 7.2 months of supply from $5 – 10 million and 29 months of supply over $10 million. We saw the same thing last year, when we had the same 7.2 months of supply from $5 – 10 million and 28 months of supply over $10 million. Mostly, this is because high-end sales have shifted to later in the year, so the high-end is slower, but it looks to be more of seasonal issue.

Greenwich Inventory as of 5/11/22 – 177 Single Family Homes – Down 75% from April 2019

The 7.2 months of supply in backcountry, is an amazing drop, but it is the highest of any neighborhood in Greenwich. Much of this is due to the fact that the largest portion of high-end listings there.

                South of the Post Road

The next highest months of supply, with 4.0 months, is south of the Post Road where we also have a lot of high-end properties (think Belle Haven, Mead Point and Indian Harbor). South of the Post Road also includes Chickahominy and the east side of Elm St, two of our more affordable areas where sales are going fast.  Average three high-priced areas with two more affordable areas and add in all of the new construction around downtown and the numbers are a blend and not that indicative of any price range in this area.

The good thing is that, in general, the numbers for all price points in this area point to a tight market with high demand, whether they are waterfront properties in gated communities or older houses on 0.17 acres in walking distance to the Avenue. In April 2019, there were 69 houses in inventory, now there are only 20 houses for sale.

Like Byram and Pemberwick, the affordable areas have seen some of the most appreciation in the last three years.  So much so that we have no listings under $1 million and only 4 houses listed under $2 million. We actually have more houses listed over $15 million (5 houses) than we have under $2 million.

Not everything sells immediately. In fact, townwide, 60% of houses take more than one month to get to contract, some take much more time. Of 20 houses that are presently listed, 7 of them have been on the market for more a year and these slow sellers are not just at the high-end.

As to sales, we’ve had 34 sales this year compared to 14 sales in 2019. Of those sales, 2 were under $1 million and 8 more were under $2 million. We had 5 sales that had been on for over 300 days and 4 of those five long time sales were under $2 million.

                South of the Parkway

This is our largest area in town running from the Merritt Parkway to the Post Road. Inventory here shrunk from 240 listings in April 2019 to only 46 listings this year. At the same time, sales more than doubled going from 28 houses sold three years ago to 59 houses this year. This meant that months of supply went from almost three years of supply (34.3 months) to 3.1 months.

The average price also went from $2.81 million to $4.16 million an increase of 48%. Now much of this was Covid buyers wanting much larger houses than the average buyer bought in 2019. The result was that total sales volume soared from $78.6 million to $245.3 million. That certainly helped the town’s conveyance tax collections. (BTW: The increased Gold Coast conveyance tax for sales over $2.5 million gets rebated if you stay in Connecticut for three years.)

                Old Greenwich & Riverside

In Riverside, the public listings were about the same going from 83 to 14 listings with sales going from 11 sales in the first third of 2019 to 30 sales YTD in 2022. The days on market dropped from an average of 189 days to 99 days on market. The months of supply went from 303 months of supply to 1.8 months of supply. The lowest of any of our larger areas.

Sales volume actually fell in Old Greenwich from 2019 to 2022 from $58.1 million to $50.5 million. This is what happens when inventory drops from 86 listings to 14 listings. Sales numbers fell from 23 sales in the first four months of 2019 to 20 sales in the first four months of 2022. This “drop” is actually deceptive as the market was so hot in OG, that a bunch of listings never made it to market.

Of the 20 sales reported on the Greenwich MLS, 4 of them were for reporting purposes only, i.e., they were sold off market and were reported with zero days on market. Reporting off-market is voluntary and I know of other sales that were sold off market either by agents or by the owners directly and there isn’t a record on the GMLS of the sale.

As of May 1st, the Greenwich MLS rules have changed so private listings and listings that are not yet active are much more closely regulated. Private listings will have to stay private for at least 4 months unless the listing broker pays $1,000 to bring it live earlier. Listings that are being prepared to go live can be held in “delayed” or “coming soon” status, but showings aren’t allowed until the listing is put live.

                Cos Cob

House prices went up substantially in Cos Cob with the average price/s.f. going from $416/sf to $603/sf or an increase of 29.6%. The sales price to assessment ratio went from 1.56 to 2.35 the highest sales price to assessment ratio in town and a 24.3% appreciation. (North Mianus was actually higher at 2.58, but that was based on only 5 sales.)

The big quandary is inventory and how much the increase in interest rates and the drop in the stock and bond markets are going to affect market demand. Stay tuned …

High-Tech Real Estate Marketing in the 21st Century

The world of marketing home is becoming more complicated, but if you know what you are doing that is for the best. Realtors can now reach out to potential buyers that they were not able to reach before and do so quicker, but necessarily cheaper.

              Real Estate BCE

Not that long ago, realtors had the “book”, and you could get fined for losing it or giving it to a buyer. In the book was one small, grainy B/W picture of the front of each house listed and maybe a dozen items of info on the house. Now everyone with an internet connection has 10 times that amount of information. That information doesn’t just appear, it was crafted by realtors and other professionals to put the house in the best light without violating NAR regulations, Connecticut laws and the federal Fair Housing Act.

While Realtor.com, Trulia, Compass.com and hundreds of other websites have made lots of information available. Most of it is boring. What makes listing jump off the screen are photos, aerials, and video. A traditional photographer is great, but lots more gets done to the photo before it’s gets to your computer or cell phone screen.

              Graphics are not just photos

To begin with the Realtor needs to go over with the photographer the important things on the interior, the outside and the neighborhood that need to be emphasized and pick a time when weather, sun and tide are helping. Once captured, the photos have to be polished. Grass is greened up; skies are brightened, and photos are cropped to emphasize the property’s good features. What is not done, or shouldn’t be done, are removing telephone poles and lines to improve the view. Also, you can’t change the earth’s axis as one L.A. agent did by photoshopping in a sun setting on the southern horizon. Virtual staging of furniture in rooms and photos from prior listings that are no longer representative should be identified.

Drones have added some major impact to photos and are now de rigueur for high-end properties.

The other thing, which has become common are floorplans. If you don’t put them up, prospective buyers will call you up and ask for them. Floorplans cut both ways as some buyers who might otherwise come see the house, won’t come if the present floorplan doesn’t work for them. The Realtor never gets to explain how the floorplan can be improved. The question is for lots of these prospects is whether they might be persuaded to make an offer, i.e., were these buyers really buyers. Floorplans can save a lot of time for everyone.

              The rise of video

Videos are also becoming much more common. You have the automated slideshows, then what one videographer calls the Ken Burns videos and at the high-end you have the custom videos where the sky’s the limit in bells and whistles and cost. Ken Burns has done a masterful job of zooming in on photos and fading from one to another to give a static subject a sense of motion and presence. That’s what you get with the beter “virtual tours”. Both the Ken Burns videos and the computer generated slideshow video tours usually come with generic, non-copyrighted music. These generic tours are generated automatically but have a surprising amount of viewing time online.

Once you have the photos, a careful selection in a precise order is uploaded to the MLS along with lots of text information, surveys, maps, deeds and other documentation. This information is then encoded with special codes identifying each datum type and distributed using an IDX (Internet Data Exchange) formatted fee. This feed goes to each MLS broker and to a company called Listhub in Arizona. Listhub then sends the IDX to hundreds of sites, including their sister News Corp company, Realtor.com.

              Marketing Automation

In today’s real estate market that is just the ante to get in the game. Next the Realtor needs to put it up on their Facebook page, their Instagram and Twitter feeds and craft a postcard and research a mailing list. Postcards look simple, but behind the scenes there is lot of technology. At Compass, we have a drag and drop media production system, which means we can do in minutes what used to take hours and needed the help of graphic artist.  (Other brokers have this too, but ours is pretty slick. 🙂

What’s really changed is who those postcards go to. It used to be, and it is still common, that they go to the 100 nearest neighbors, whether they just moved in or are likely to live there for another 20 years. Now Big Data services can slice and dice 100’s of factors about someone to focus on those most likely to be interested in your particular listing.

              Online marketing ads and SEO and podcasts

Realtors also have paid online advertising to market each property. Prior to 2018, online companies like Facebook would give a realtor a hundred or more parameters to narrow the focus. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a set of regulations banning the use of any parameters that might be discriminatory, such as marital status, children, age, religious affiliation, etc. There are still lots of ways to slice and dice the data that makes it much more likely that the ad will reach a potential buyer.

Search engine optimization is also a great way to reach out to buyers. Russ and I both have blogs at GreenwichStreets.com and RussellPruner.com that rank highly in search engines often in the top ten depending on the search term. PR can also be highly effective, and we just started a radio show on WGCH at 10 am on Mondays Greenwich Streets. That show is distributed not only via the local airwaves, but also streaming live on WGCH.com and in on podcasts on Spotify, Amazon, Apple and Google that people can subscribe to. Our local agents have a wide range of websites, some of which are pretty famous.

              Make a plan and work the plan

Realtors have lots of tools that are only getting more features that let us market a house. However, without a carefully crafted campaign integrating all these options with a phased marketing approach, these tools lose a lot of their effectiveness. In a market as hot as this one, a properly price house will sell but will it be for the best price and on the other terms that the seller wants.

Russ and I recently had a listing that went for the most dollars over list of any listing so far this year. The marketing plan for that property ran three pages and took weeks of work before the listing went live. Once live, new parts of the plan kicked in every day. The ultimate buyer came from a hundred miles away and never saw the ads in the Greenwich Sentinel, nor the other local marketing, but several of the other bidders did.

We are not unique, every agent and brokerage firm bring their own way marketing plans and systems. There a wide variety of ways to create a marketing program that works as all these successful agents show, but each year the requirement to do a great marketing program get more complex.

But, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be fun.

April 2022 Real Estate Market Report – Record Low Inventory, Sales Up 22%

by Mark Pruner

In April 2022, our sales were up 22% over our ten-year average. We had 62 single family home sales versus our ten average of 51 sales. At the same time, our sales were down 30% from last year’s all-time record April where there were 89 sales.

The remarkable thing is that the 62 sales happened at the time when we were experiencing record low inventory. On one day in early April our inventory slipped to 136 listings. Pre-Covid, the lowest inventory we ever had was 299 listings. Look at another way, our sales in the one month of April was nearly half of the listings on that date. However, that’s not the way it really works. Of our 62 sales in April 2022, only 8 of those sales went to contract in April; 54 of the sales were signed in March or earlier months. (One April sale went all the way back to a contract signed in June 2021. It was a foreclosure that took 11 months to get through the bank process. It shows why foreclosures often aren’t the deal they seem to be.)

By the end of April our inventory was up significantly for the first time this. year, but still not nearly enough to meet present demand. In the first quarter, we had been averaging around 150 listings before drifting down in early April to a weekly close of 140 listings. In the last two weeks inventory is up 21% to 170 listings a jump of 21% in only 3 weeks. One argument to be made here is that the smart-money homeowners are expecting that with the increasing interest rates that the market will cool, and they want to get their houses on the market, before the cooling becomes apparent. Or it could be just good weather that brought out more listings.

The good thing is that inventory is going up for whatever reason. This is also resulting in sales going up, but when you look at the slope of the curve, it’s not as steep as last year. Through April we have 204 sales this year versus 288 last year or a drop of 29% in sales.

Our contracts are down from 266 contracts last year to 152 as of the end of April this year or a drop of 43%. Contracts usually take 2 – 8 weeks to mature into sales, so don’t expect us to reach last year’s record sales in the next two months. Even if we have a substantial increase inventory it will take awhile before we see sales catching up to last year.

All this is like expecting that when Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1927, that he was going to 73 home runs in 1928, since his 60 home runs in 1927 were 13 more than he hit the previous year. It’s just not going to happen. In 1928, he hit a still impressive 54 HR’s. Our 204 sales so far this year is almost twice the 109 sales we had in the first four months of 2019. If we can get the inventory, we’ll still have an impressive year, but it’s very unlikely, we’ll break the 1,000 sales mark like we did last year.

       The price range beating 2021

Every year there is some range or area of town that surprises you and this year it’s the $4 – 5 million price range. Sales there are up 67% from 15 sales last year to 25 sales this year. With 25 sales and only 19 listings in inventory you are looking at 3 months of supply. Add in the 14 contracts and months of supply drops to 2.7 months of supply. Annualize the 8 sales in April and you are down to 2.4 months of supply. When you see months of supply drop like this, it is a sign of an accelerating market, so if you have something to list in that price range, now is a good time to do that.

In fact, given that just about everything below $5 million has less than a 3-months supply, this is great time to list a house. It’s not till you get over $5 million that you see any sign of softness and that may not last. While we have about 8 months of supply from $5 – 10 million, if you throw in contracts, you are back down to a very pro-seller 4.5 months of supply. The one fly in the ointment is that April was a poor sales month for the $5 – 10 million sale bracket with a little over 8 months of supply when you annualize the six April sales against the 43 listings.

What this means is that we have way more sales (89 closings) than inventory (35 listings) up to $2 million. Above $5 million we have more listings (65) than we have sales (25). I wouldn’t however worry about this sector too much. Our high-end and ultra-high-end sales are now more oriented to 4th quarter sales as most of our financial folks no longer get one very big bonus in January or February which used to drive our first quarter high-end sales.

Another way to look at our market is that under our inventory under $1 million in only 5% of inventory and but represents 20% of sales. Our listings over $6.5 million account for 27% of inventory and 7% of sales, (but be patient with the high-end, it’s likely to look much better by December.

       What’s Going to Happen for the Rest of the Year?

It looks like we will finish this year with 549 sales down from our 10-year average of 621 sales. Inventory will recover throughout the year and climb back to around 400 listings by year end. Demand will continue strong but tapering throughout the year. We will see a pause in contracts in October as people await the election results followed by a rebound in November with a strong December. (NB: THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!). Anyone who says they know what is going to happen to the Greenwich real estate market this year, doesn’t know the market and if you do know the market, you can be sure you don’t know what is going to happen, but let’s look at some factors that will be shaping the market this year.

       Rising interest rates

With the Feds announcement this week of a 0.5% increase in the fed funds rate and more to more to come demand should soften, but will it drastically cut into sales? First most people in Greenwich don’t have a mortgage contingency in their purchase contracts. This doesn’t mean that some of these buyers aren’t getting a mortgage, just that they are comfortable without having a contingency. So, will increasing rates affect the Greenwich market, some, but I expect the demand will continue to be high.

One aspect of this we are just starting to see is that homeowners with low interest rate mortgages may be more reluctant to put their houses on the market as they would have to give up a low interest rate mortgage for a high-interest rate mortgage and a higher cost per s.f. for a new house. Once again, though, if you don’t have a mortgage, this is much less of a factor. Mortgage interest deductibility is now limited to the first $750,000, so they are now a lesser factor and becoming even less of a factor as houses appreciate even more.

       Shrinking stimulus here, expanding it there

What is likely to affect the market is the disappearance of the Covid stimulus money. You take a couple of trillion dollars of stimulus money out of the market and inflation is likely to go down. But we have another major stimulus in the trillion dollar plus infrastructure bill. This at a time when construction workers of all types are in short supply. The infrastructure spending is spread out over five years, so the feds aren’t pumping a trillion dollars plus into construction this year, but it is going where it is likely to be a factor in pushing up housing construction costs.

       International issues

Shortages of all types and bottlenecks are likely to get better, but foodstuff shortages will continue to increase as the Ukraine war cuts into exports from two of our largest exporters of grains and oil. These are ingredients in much of the food that we eat. China with it’s Covid zero policy is also likely to continue exacerbate shortages as factories continue to shut down, but don’t forget it’s an election year for President Xi also.

       Work from home

Even as Covid recedes or maybe better said, as the impact of Covid recedes, with vaccines, better medicines and better treatment, you are not going force people back to Paree offices full time, once they’ve seen life on the Greenwich homestead. I’m guessing we have a couple of years, before the new office/home work balance finally settled into some form of homeostasis. With less time spent commuting a Greenwich home looks more inviting and will for a couple of years.

       List now or later or stay put?

It’s been an interesting week as three Greenwich homeowners in the finance industry have called me up to pick my brain about what they are thinking of doing. I love these conversations, as I learn as much, or more, than they do. (So, if you are wondering what to do please feel free to give me a call. I’d love to hear your thoughts.)

There is a genuine concern about a recession, but we all agreed it’s probably less than 50%. The big issue seems to be just how long it takes for higher interest rates to really affect the economy. Most of the time when the Fed does serious tightening it leads to a recession. The Fed often continues to tighten too long leading to recession. Let’s hope they learned their lesson and the Internet, and the faster flow of information means they are more nimble this time.

The thought last year for many people who decided stay in their house was that their Greenwich house was only going to be more valuable, and it is. While this is likely to happen again this year, it’s not as certain as it was. You have the issue of a possible recession, and you also have high inflation, so the price may go up, but your real return is less.

TINA is also dying. For much of the last decade of ultra-low interest rates, investor said There Is No Alternative to the equity market. With interest rates were so low and houses not appreciating much, keeping your money in equities didn’t looks so bad. Now, interest rates are going up, bonds are falling and so is the stock market as money is moving to the improving and lower risk returns in the bond market. The 2022 question is are you going to get your best return in stocks, bonds or Greenwich real estate?

The one thing we do know is that right now, our inventory is way down and we have lots of demand at least up to $5 million. Properly priced, your house should sell quickly, but there all those other issues too.

Stay tuned it’s going to be an interesting year…

Mark Pruner in the News, New Radio Show on WGCH, Highest Sale Over List in Greenwich

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with new listings coming on in the spring market, 14 Osee going to contract and being involved in 4 multiple bid situations. We won two and got out bid in two, but considering their were a total of 18 bidders we were happy with the results. Now to find our other two buyers their perfect house.

WGCH: Russ and I now have a radio show, “Greenwich Streets” on WGCH – 1490 at 10 am. We talk about the market, how buyers and sellers can get an advantage in this market and interview local movers and shakers. Each broadcast gets made into a podcast on Apple, Spotify etc. You can also stream it live on WGCH.com or subscribe to the podcast and get it the next day.

Bloomberg:  Backcountry Greenwich, Compass, fellow agent Brian Milton and I were mentioned in a Bloomberg article todayGreenwich Mansion Buyers Revive Deals in Sleepy Back Country – Bloomberg(opens in a new tab)

 Greenwich Sentinel: I wrote a column about technology and real estate in my weekly article in the Greenwich Sentinel (check out p.15)

Greenwich Time/Hearst Media : With ‘churning constantly’ housing market, Greenwich sees renewed increases in tax revenue, building permits(opens in a new tab) was an article looking at just how much the town’s revenue was up from the surge in sales in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

 Michael Ferraro just put up one of his Leaders of Lifestyle interviews with me about the Greenwich market YTD.

Russ and I just sold 113 Woodside Drive, which went for $638,000 over list; the highest amount over list this year and it would have been the third highest out of 1,007 sales in 2021. The Compass marketing resources made getting this to market quickly a huge help. It let us create marketing material in a very compressed time scale.