April 2017, a Mixed Month for Greenwich Real Estate Sales

by Mark Pruner

mark@greenwichstreets.com

203-969-7900

April was one of those months where you could look at the glass as half full or empty. Our inventory was slightly down compared to last year with 631 listings down 12 listings from last year making for more of a seller’s market.

Inventory Contracts Last Mo. Solds Tot. Solds+ Contracts YTD Solds YTD+ Contracts Mos Supply Mos w/ Contracts Last Mo. Annlzd
< $600K 7 1 1 2 6 7 4.7 5.5 7.0
$600-$800K 15 8 6 14 14 22 4.3 3.8 2.5
$800K-$1M 24 6 4 10 11 17 8.7 7.8 6.0
$1-$1.5M 52 19 3 22 35 54 5.9 5.3 17.3
$1.5-$2M 78 14 4 18 21 35 14.9 12.3 19.5
$2-$3M 136 18 4 22 32 50 17.0 15.0 34.0
$3-$4M 94 14 4 18 16 30 23.5 17.2 23.5
$4-$5M 61 7 0 7 5 12 48.8 28.0
$5-6.5M 64 3 3 6 11 14 23.3 25.1 21.3
$6.5-$10M 61 2 0 2 2 4 122.0 83.9
> $10M 39 0 0 0 2 2 78.0 107.3
TOTAL 631 92 29 121 155 247 16.3 14.1 21.8

We also were down for sales in April as we had 29 sales this year compared to 35 sales last year making more of a buyer’s market. For year we were still up in sales with 155 sales YTD compared 133 sales or an increase of 17% over last year.

Greenwich House Sales 2015 - Apr. 2017What was clearly different however, is that last year at the beginning of May we had 135 contracts pending and this year we only have 92 sales pending. So contracts are down about a third from where they were last year. This doesn’t bode well for sales in the month of May as we have fewer contracts ready to mature into April sales. Of the decline of 43 contracts from last year and 40 of those contracts are in the heart of our market from $800K to $3 million.

’17 vs ’16 Inventory Contracts Mo. Solds Tot. Solds+ Contracts YTD Solds YTD+ Contracts Mos Supply Mos w/ Contracts Mo. Annlzd
< $600K 3 -3 1 -2 2 -1 0.67 2.75
$600-$800K -3 5 1 6 -2 3 -0.21 -1.46 -1.10
$800K-$1M -1 -9 4 -5 0 -9 -0.36 2.48
$1-$1.5M -7 -1 -4 -5 9 8 -3.13 -1.76 8.90
$1.5-$2M 1 -17 0 -17 0 -17 0.19 4.11 0.25
$2-$3M 22 -13 -8 -21 8 -5 -2.00 3.56 24.50
$3-$4M -9 2 -1 1 0 2 -2.25 -3.00 2.90
$4-$5M 0 1 -1 0 0 1 0.00 -2.54
$5-6.5M -11 -5 3 -2 7 2 -51.73 -9.23
$6.5-$10M -3 0 -1 -1 -2 -2 58.00 25.21
> $10M -4 -3 0 -3 0 -3 -8.00 59.95
TOTAL -12 -43 -6 -49 22 -21 -3.05 0.85 3.39

On the flip side, the good news is that our market from $5 to 6.5 million is doing well as inventory is down by 11 houses while sales are up by 7 houses for the. As a result the months of supply is down dramatically by over 4 years of supply to less than two years of supply. This is really good news for that one price range. Unfortunately, above that price range sales are not doing well. Above $6.5 million we only have four sales with two contracts pending in a market where we have 100 listings.

The high-end market gets a lot of attention, because Greenwich is one of the few places in the US where there is a significant inventory above $5 million. At present, we have 164 listings over $5 million. Contrast this with our adjacent city in lower Fairfield County, Stamford, where in 2016 only eight houses were sold above $2 million. In the Town of Greenwich in the first four months of this year we have sold 68 houses over $2 million.

Now generally, I cut the months of supply chart off at 4 years of supply, because anything over 4 years is just a lot of excess supply compared to market demand. This scaling, however, doesn’t show just how good the $5 – 6.5 million market is doing which is right at 2 year supply.

The next category up, $6.5 – 10 million, has over 10 years of supply. Now that is a dramatic difference, but it is partly due to the fact that we have only sold 2 houses in that price range so far this year. When you add in the 2 pending contracts months of supply from $6.5 – 10 drops by over three years to “only” 7 years of supply. So a few sales or contracts in such a thin market causes big jumps in months of supply.

Buyer’s concern about the interest-rates has led to a whip saw effect as in February people rushed to sign contracts that closed in March. This led to a very good March. Then when interest rates didn’t continue to rise. Buyers backed off as there was no need to close immediately. The result has been a significant seesaw effect as January was good followed by a bad February and then March was excellent and April was below average. Our marketplace is driven by how the financial industry is doing, how the stock market is doing and the perception of rising interest rates.

The stock market did well and then has leveled. Interest rates went up and then went back down and really took the urgency out of the market. With the increased inventory that is normal for this time of year the anxiety about rising interest rates has ameliorated.

Overall though we are up 22 sales over last year and inventory is down 12 listings. Our months of supply is down 3 months, so if you get rid of the chatter we are seeing from month-to-month 2017 is doing better than 2016.

The future as has happened in the last three years is unpredictable. There was hope among some that with the election of President Trump that there would be a strong positive economic trend, however, so far this year we’re seeing markets driven by interest-rate’s and the perception of interest rates going up or declining. At the moment, the sentiment seem to be that interest-rate won’t be changing significantly and so people are waiting for just the right house, which means if interest rates do head back up then some folks are going to feel left out.

 

 

 

 

How Self-Driving Cars Will Change Greenwich?

Greenwich Sentinel

My weekly column in the Greenwich Sentinel this week was a little different. I took a look at what Greenwich might look like when self-driving cars are common in Greenwich. Will garages disappear?

Next week I’ll have the market report for April real estate sales in Greenwich. It looks like it is going to be another interesting month. My listing at 2 Bote Court listed at $1,449,000 got 4 calls on Friday and Saturday as the $1 – 1.5 million price range continues to be hot. (If you’d like to see it, the tenants will be out on Tuesday and it will be ready to show on Thursday after the Realtors open house. It’s just been painted white and looks very cool.)


Self-driving cars will change life in Greenwich as much or more than the change from horse drawn carriages to cars did.  In the next couple of years true self-driving cars will arrive in Greenwich and we are likely to be a leader in this new technology.

I say we are likely to be a leader in self-driving cars, because of a conversation I had with David Peabody of Peabody’s Automobiles before he died in 2015. David’s family’s business on Church Street has been around since Model-T’s were new. He used to man the pump there in front of Peabody’s Automobiles and was a very interesting fellow to talk to. He would tell stories about how Greenwich residents were pioneers in buying and driving some of the first cars.

Just as then, you can expect Greenwich residents to be the early adopters of many of these high-tech, and at least initially, high-cost cars. The Tesla’s we see so much of in Greenwich have a lot of the capabilities needed for full autonomous driving.

So, what changes will self-driving cars bring to Greenwich? More …

100 Greenwich, CT Open Houses on Sunday, April 23, 2017

If you want to see some beautiful trees in bloom, this is your weekend to go see some open houses in Greenwich, CT. We have an amazing 100 open houses on Sunday. The good thing is that we are getting some good new inventory on the market. Right now we have 617 single family homes on the market as recently as the beginning of March we only had 400 listing. With the increased listings we are also seeing increased sales. You can see my March report here.

So get out and enjoy the spring beauty and the many listings that are holding their first open house.

As always if you have any questions feel free to call me at 203-969-7900.

Greenwich, CT Open Houses

You can see the interactive map here.

Address Town Price Saturday
14 Coventry Lane Riverside $15,000 Sun 1-3 PM
636 Riversville Road Greenwich $40,000 Sun 1-3 PM
2 Homestead Lane  #112 Greenwich $379,000 Sun 1-3 PM
169 Putnam Park Greenwich $399,000 Sun 1-3 PM
53 Putnam Park  #53 Greenwich $415,000 Sun 1-3 PM
193 Putnam Park Greenwich $452,500 Sun 1-3 PM
188 Putnam Park Greenwich $465,500 Sun 1-3 PM
40 W Elm Street 5 C Greenwich $499,000 Sun 1-3 PM
47 Nicholas Avenue Greenwich $529,000 Sun 2-4 PM
31 Cary Road Riverside $549,000 Sun 1-3 PM
245 Byram Road Greenwich $549,500 Sun 2-4 PM
47 Nicholas Avenue Greenwich $599,000 Sun 2-4 PM
31 Windy Knolls Greenwich $699,000 Sun 1-3 PM
71 Richland Road  #A Greenwich $699,000 Sun 1-4 PM
45 Francis Lane Greenwich $749,000 Sun 1-3 PM
112 Pemberwick Road Greenwich $779,000 Sun 1-4 PM
1015 North Street Greenwich $819,000 Sun 2-4 PM
82 Silo Circle  #82 Greenwich $839,000 Sun 1-3 PM
25 Valley Road Unit  #25 Cos Cob $849,000 Sun 1-3 PM
49 Grey Rock Drive Greenwich $929,000 Sun 11-1 PM
21 Hoover Road Riverside $935,000 Sun 2-4 PM
40 Cassidy Street Greenwich $945,000 Sun 1-3 PM
25 Indian Harbor Drive  #9 Greenwich $950,000 Sun 1-3 PM
89 Loughlin Avenue Cos Cob $950,000 Sun 1-3 PM
48 Spring Street  #5 Greenwich $985,000 Sun 2-4 PM
12 Georgetowne North  #12 Greenwich $1,184,000 Sun 1-3 PM
44 Valley Road B Cos Cob $1,295,000 Sun 2-4 PM
28 Powell Street Greenwich $1,299,000 Sun 1-3 PM
85 Bowman Drive Greenwich $1,325,000 Sun 1-4 PM
150 Pemberwick Road Greenwich $1,349,000 Sun 1-3 PM
219 Glenville Road Greenwich $1,349,000 Sun 1-4 PM
15 Heusted Drive Old Greenwich $1,349,000 sun 3-5 PM
7 Cherry Valley Road Greenwich $1,395,000 Sun 1-3 PM
61 Hunt Terrace Greenwich $1,475,000 Sun 2-4 PM
66 Valleywood Road Cos Cob $1,495,000 Sun 1-3 PM
16 Idar Court  #A Greenwich $1,499,999 Sun 1-3 PM
20 Sunshine Avenue Riverside $1,549,000 Sun 1-3 PM
12 Laddins Rock Road Old Greenwich $1,549,000 Sun 12-3 PM
3 Nutmeg Drive Greenwich $1,549,500 Sun 12-3 PM
14 Tyler Lane Riverside $1,549,900 Sun 1-3 PM
636 Steamboat Road  #2b Greenwich $1,550,000 Sun 12-4 PM
16 Idar Court  #B Greenwich $1,599,999 Sun 1-3 PM
13 Linwood Avenue Riverside $1,649,000 Sun 1-3 PM
17 Tory Road Riverside $1,749,000 sun 12-2 PM
311 Cognewaugh Road Cos Cob $1,785,000 sun 3-5 PM
112 Patterson Avenue Greenwich $1,795,000 Sun 1-3 PM
1 Finney Knoll Lane Riverside $1,795,000 Sun 1-3 PM
315 Field Point Road Greenwich $1,795,000 Sun 1-4 PM
35 Turner Drive Greenwich $1,795,000 Sun 1-4 PM
17 Oval Avenue Riverside $1,795,000 Sun 2-4 PM
56 Londonderry Drive Greenwich $1,799,000 Sun 1-3 PM
73 Pemberwick Road Greenwich $1,800,000 Sun 2-4 PM
58a Orchard Cos Cob $1,845,000 Sun 12-2:30 PM
570 North Street Greenwich $1,900,000 Sun 1-3 PM
16 Wyngate Road Greenwich $1,995,000 Sun 1-3 PM
116 Pecksland Road Greenwich $2,100,000 Sun 1-4 PM
19 Saint Claire Avenue Old Greenwich $2,199,000 Sun 2-4 PM
38 Jones Park Drive Riverside $2,250,000 Sun 2-4 PM
38 Jones Park Drive Riverside $2,250,000 Sun 2-4 PM
323 Sound Beach Avenue Old Greenwich $2,370,000 Sun 1-3 PM
25 Copper Beech Road Greenwich $2,388,000 Sun 2-4 PM
6 Interlaken Road Greenwich $2,495,000 sun 12-2 PM
15 Hycliff Road Greenwich $2,650,000 Sun 1-4 PM
151 Milbank Avenue  #3 Greenwich $2,650,000 Sun 2-4 PM
31 Chapel Lane Riverside $2,695,000 Sun 1-3 PM
10 Shady Brook Lane Old Greenwich $2,695,000 Sun 2-4 PM
696 Lake Avenue Greenwich $2,695,000 Sun 2-4 PM
20 Dewart Road Greenwich $2,750,000 Sun 1-4 PM
11 Grimes Road Old Greenwich $2,750,000 Sun 11-1 PM
137 Clapboard Ridge Road Greenwich $2,750,000 Sun 12-4 PM
151 Milbank Avenue  #2 Greenwich $2,795,000 Sun 2-4 PM
7 Ricki Beth Lane Old Greenwich $2,850,000 Sun 1-4 PM
151 Milbank Avenue  #4 Greenwich $2,875,000 Sun 2-4 PM
151 Milbank Avenue  #1 Greenwich $2,975,000 Sun 2-4 PM
45 Burying Hill Road Greenwich $2,995,000 Sun 1-3 PM
323 Cognewaugh Road Cos Cob $2,995,000 Sun 2-4 PM
34 Hendrie Avenue Riverside $3,095,000 Sun 2-4 PM
50 Hillcrest Park Road Old Greenwich $3,100,000 Sun 11-1 PM
9 Game Cock Road Greenwich $3,199,000 Sun 2-4 PM
43 Grahampton Lane Greenwich $3,250,000 Sun 1-4 PM
14 Sherwood Farm Lane Greenwich $3,395,000 Sun 1-4 PM
99 Hunting Ridge Road Greenwich $3,395,000 Sun 10-1:30 PM
106 Lockwood Road Riverside $3,795,000 Sun 1-4 PM
9 Roberta Lane Greenwich $3,895,000 sun 12-2 PM
54 Mallard Drive Greenwich $3,925,000 Sun 1-4 PM
14 Coventry Lane Riverside $3,995,000 Sun 1-3 PM
82 Cat Rock Road Cos Cob $3,995,000 Sun 1-4 PM
20 Alpine Road Greenwich $3,995,000 Sun 2-4 PM
61 Winding Lane Greenwich $4,200,000 Sun 1-3 PM
4 Jones Park Drive Riverside $4,295,000 Sun 1-3 PM
79 Pecksland Road Greenwich $4,497,500 Sun 1-3 PM
636 Riversville Road Greenwich $4,595,000 Sun 1-3 PM
5 Indian Head Road Riverside $5,350,000 sun 12-2 PM
34 Club Road Riverside $5,495,000 Sun 1-3 PM
35 West Way  Old Greenwich $5,495,000 Sun 1-4 PM
38 Dairy Road Greenwich $5,495,000 Sun 12:30-3:30 PM
33 Vineyard Lane Greenwich $7,395,000 sun 2:30-4:30 PM
11 Cove Road Old Greenwich $7,995,000 Sun 1-3 PM

The Anti-Greenwich Tax Bill

A bill has been introduced in the Connecticut legislature which, if it is passed, will do great damage to the Greenwich housing market in a wide variety of price ranges. HB No. 7313 proposes to put a 19% surcharge on “income derived from investment management services”. This bill proposes to raise the Connecticut income tax to make up for the so-called carried interest revenue difference. Many investment management funds are set up so that the managers’ payments are taxed as capital gains.  The capital gains tax rate is 20% at the federal level and the maximum federal income tax rate is 39.6%. The idea behind the Connecticut tax is to tax investment managers for nearly the full difference between these two federal tax rates and have all the taxes go to Connecticut.

The authors of this bill realize that such a tax could encourage Connecticut investment managers to relocate to New York. So, the tax bill has a curious provision which provides that the 19% surcharge shall only be applicable in tax years where New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts have enacted substantially similar laws. The thinking seems to be that if the whole region is taxing investment managers at this rate then there won’t be an incentive to move between the states within the region. It’s not clear how this will prevent a move to Florida.

Now given this curious multi-state provision, some may see the proposed bill as a tempest in teapot. The problem with this bill is that it is only the worst of many efforts that have been made in the last few years to tax our wealthiest residents to make up for significant budget shortfalls.

Year Total Sales Total $ Difference
2003 45 $315,003,775
2004 73 $594,889,596 $279,885,821
2005 84 $674,754,878 $79,865,282
2006 85 $642,652,350 -$32,102,528
2007 113 $904,030,500 $261,378,150
2008 53 $467,504,500 -$436,526,000
2009 43 $383,193,112 -$84,311,388
2010 43 $417,500,875 $34,307,763
2011 52 $434,116,771 $16,615,896
2012 70 $542,890,550 $108,773,779
2013 53 $422,155,000 -$120,735,550
2014 72 $666,770,298 $244,615,298
2015 60 $465,171,045 -$201,599,253
2016 35 $267,660,990 -$197,510,055
Grand Total 881 $7,198,294,240

 

The idea of many legislators is that the wealthy residents can afford it and that ratcheting up the high-end tax rate percentage will result in the same percentage increase in tax revenues. While that is true up to a point it appears that point was passed sometime around 2014 when high net worth taxpayers starting to vote with their feet.

Over $5 million dollars sales in Greenwich 2003 - 2016

Over $5 million dollars sales in Greenwich 2003 – 2016

In 2014, we had 72 sales over $5 million, which was the largest number of sales since the pre-recession boom year of 2007. In that year, those 72 home sales generated $666,770,298 in sales revenue. The following year, however, sales dropped to 60 houses and $465,171,045. In 2016, we had only 35 sales over $5 million which totaled $267,660,990. The total revenue drop in those two years was just shy of $400,000,000.

The direct consequence of the reduced sales is a significant loss of property conveyance tax for both the Town of Greenwich and the State of Connecticut. However, these are minor taxes compared to the huge amount of lost personal income tax that the reduced sales to high income individuals represents. You also have lost sales tax and fewer local charitable contributions.

Several of our wealthiest homeowners are no longer Connecticut citizens. Most of the people in these income levels who can afford high-end homes in Connecticut have more than one home and often two or three. For these folks who spend more than six months in another state, Florida is popular given that it has no income tax, to eliminate their Connecticut tax burden.

It’s not quite that simple as it is a multi-factor test as to what state gets to tax you as a resident. At one point the DRS was looking at whether investment managers were still making contributions to local charities as a factor to determine if the manager was still a Connecticut resident. As a result, people were encouraged by their accountants to stop giving to local Connecticut charities. Luckily, the Connecticut legislature got the DRS to reverse their position (see DRS PS 2106-3).

And, while the focus is on the very highest earners, there are hundreds of mid-level managers and traders who make good salaries who are not headline worthy. If firms continue to move out of state, we lose many of these folks. All of the suppliers of these companies, the people doing renovations and even the local grocer get a lot of business from these companies and their employees.

You would think that the state would be trying to grow the pie rather than taking a bigger piece of a shrinking pie. It’s an industry of highly educated, high earning people who don’t overly tax the state’s infrastructure and don’t cause pollution problems. The problem is that Connecticut is two very different states. In Greenwich, our median home price is around $1.6 million, while for the state as a whole, the median home price is around $240,000 or 15% of prices here and that is the median price, meaning half of the homes sell for less than that amount.

Connecticut has a lot of citizens with real needs, but raising taxes has become a negative sum game. If you’d like to do something, write to Greenwich’s Senator Frantz or Representatives Floren, Camillo and Bocchino. They understand these issues well, but they need real life experiences and clear opposition to this method of solving the state’s budget problems.

We need to turn Connecticut back into a state that attracts the top investment managers and companies as it has done for the last three decades. It is a good solution for everyone.

March 2017 Greenwich Real Estate Report

  • Sales take big jump in March up 60% over last March
  • $1 – 1.5M and $2 -3M are busiest segments
  • Contracts down slightly as many sales close in March

March 2017 was a good month for sales with sales up 58% over last year. We had 52 single family home sales in March which was up by 23 sales over March 2017. Sales were concentrated from $1 – 3 million with 30 of the 52 sales falling in that range.  Our contracts were down slightly from 93 at this time last year to 83 this year, but this is to be expected when you have so many sales.

March Sales, Inventory, Contracts & Months of Supply

04/01/17 Inventory Contracts Last Mo. Solds Tot. Solds+ Contracts  YTD Solds  YTD+ Contracts Mos Supply Mos w/ Contracts Last Mo. Annlzd
< $600K 4 3 2 5 4 7 3.0 2.6 2.0
$600-$800K 11 12 6 18 8 20 4.1 2.5 1.8
$800K-$1M 18 6 2 8 7 13 7.7 6.2 9.0
$1-$1.5M 50 12 12 24 32 44 4.7 5.1 4.2
$1.5-$2M 72 10 7 17 17 27 12.7 12.0 10.3
$2-$3M 111 17 11 28 28 45 11.9 11.1 10.1
$3-$4M 83 15 3 18 12 27 20.8 13.8 27.7
$4-$5M 61 2 2 4 5 7 36.6 39.2 30.5
$5-6.5M 61 4 4 8 8 12 22.9 22.9 15.3
$6.5-$10M 59 2 2 4 2 4 88.5 66.4 29.5
> $10M 37 0 1 1 2 2 55.5 83.3 37.0
                   
TOTAL 567 83 52 135 125 208 13.6 12.3 10.9

Our inventory was also down slightly from last year with 567 house listing, but this was a very nice rise from February when we only had 475 listing. We have 33 listings under $1 million with most of these on the west side of town, which makes for very tight supply. Under $800,000 we only have 15 listings and when you annualize the sales we had in March we have less than a 2 month supply of inventory.

Sales.SFH.2015-Mar2017.040517

March 2017 vs. March 2016

17 vs ’16 Inventory Contracts Mo. Solds Tot. Solds+ Contracts  YTD Solds  YTD+ Contracts Mos Supply Mos w/ Contracts Mo. Annlzd
< $600K 1 1 2 3 0 1 0.75 0.32  –
$600-$800K -4 6 4 10 -3 3 0.03 -1.50 -5.67
$800K-$1M -2 0 -1 -1 -4 -4 2.26 0.94 2.33
$1-$1.5M -3 -2 5 3 13 11 -3.68 -2.11 -3.40
$1.5-$2M -2 -6 1 -5 0 -6 -0.35 1.91 -2.05
$2-$3M 14 -7 8 1 16 9 -12.36 -1.03 -22.24
$3-$4M -11 3 -1 2 1 4 -4.89 -4.56 4.17
$4-$5M 9 -3 0 -3 1 -2 -2.40 13.21 4.50
$5-6.5M -8 -1 4 3 4 3 -28.88 -11.63  –
$6.5-$10M 5 1 1 2 -1 0 34.50 5.63 -24.50
> $10M -9 -2 0 -2 0 -2 -13.50 31.50 -9.00
 
TOTAL -10 -10 23 13 27 17 -4.06 -1.33 -8.99
Pro-Seller Pro-Buyer

Overall March was good news for sellers with sales up, inventory down a little and months of supply down significantly from last March. When you look at the individual price ranges and neighborhoods there is a much more nuanced story to tell.  For example, from $4 – 5 million our inventory was up 9 listings, contracts were down 3 and sales were flat. Sales are also not evenly distributed throughout the town.

The dramatic jump in March sales follows just average sales in February and is more in line with our traditional average with low sales in February bracketed by a good January and March, which was not the case in 2015 and 2016. January often has good sales as people want to move their capital gains into the next year to put off paying taxes to the following year.

March also traditionally has had a rebound as the financial community spends their year-end bonuses. As more bonuses are given in stock and deferred compensation this spring bump up has been smaller and we see the same thing this year. We did have four March sales between $5 and 6.5 million, but we didn’t see a similar jump over $6.5 million where we have 96 houses in inventory and only four sales YTD.

The sales from $1 – 1.5 million really stand out with 32 sales so far this year. We have 28 sales from $2 – 3 million which is good, but we have more than double the inventory with 111 houses on the market compared to 50 houses from $1 – 1.5 million. Now the good news is that we have 32 contracts between $2 and $4 million so this segment will continue to do well.

Mar2017.Sales.Inv.Cur.Ks.040217

When you look at months of supply our under $800K market is remarkably tight and when you look at contracts it is only likely to get tighter unless we have a big influx of inventory which is unlikely. Inventory coming on lead sales at this time of year so you can expect that months of supply will stay up for price ranges above $3 million.

Mar2017.MoS.040217

The good sales from $5 – 6.5 million make that price category a stand-out in the high-end market. We have had 8 sales and with 4 contracts this price range has kept pace with the inventory coming on the market. This is the only high-end price range with less than 2 years of supply.

When you look at the market in segments our market under $1 million is 6% of our inventory, but 14% of our sales and would be higher if we had more inventory. Houses in this price range that don’t go to contract in less than 60 days usually have some issue or another that is slowing their sale.

Mar2017.4Pie.040517

In our mid-market from $1 – 3 million our inventory is 41% of our market and our sales are 62% of sales. Above $4 million we have 53% our inventory, but only 24% of our sales. One promising area is the contracts from $3 – 4 million where we have 15 contract waiting to close so we should see a good April for this price range.

So, over all the first quarter is looking good. Sales YTD are up 13 sales from 2016 to 135 sales. We have a good number of contracts and we are finally getting the fresh inventory we need.

High-End Open Houses: Buyers are busy, but then so are sellers. Last weekend we had over 100 open houses or almost one out of every five listings on the market were open to the public. One reason we had so many open houses is that we are seeing open houses at the high-end. Of the hundred plus open houses last weekend, sixteen were over $4 million dollars.

Owners often fear that a bunch of unqualified, house voyeurs will show up to gawk, but this very rarely happens. What’s interesting is how self-selecting the people who come to these open houses are. To the extent an agent can ever know, these open house attendees look and sound qualified. High-end open houses get only a handful of open house attendees, but they are often worth doing and they do not open the flood gates to hordes of people. As a result, open houses are becoming a useful tool to market these homes.

Getting your house ready for showing – Repairs & Renovations

There are a surprising number of people in Greenwich that are embarrassed about their upstairs bathroom. I’ve had clients who don’t want to list their house until the bathroom has been fully renovated and is at least as nice as the powder room for guests on the first floor. They just don’t want other people, and particularly the neighbors, seeing how bad that bathroom is.

Now a truly disgusting bathroom, what I call a bad memory point, really needs to be fixed before listing. Often though the bathroom is just old and worn. The issue then becomes what to do. What you don’t want to do is to do the cheapest job that you can.  The result is a bathroom where the material and the workmanship don’t match up with the rest of the house. The buyer will usually look at the bathroom as a complete renovation just as they did before the owner paid for the work, since the buyer will rip out all of the work that was just done. They will then then replaces it with the style and quality of material that they want and that fits in with the rest of the house.

So what should you do? Well the first thing to do is to get rid of as much clutter as possible. Have a yard sale or even two sales, give away a lot of stuff to the kids, throw away everything you are not going to move, and box up the rest and put it in neat order in the attic, basement or garage.

Once you’ve gotten rid of as much stuff as you, can hire a professional to clean the whole house. One area that is vital, but often overlooked are cleaning the windows inside and out. Nothing will brighten up a house and show off the yard like crystal-clear windows. Also if you have any pet, cooking or smoking odors get a specialist to eliminate these odors.

Repair or replace anything that is broken or missing; such as missing bathroom tiles, bricks without mortar, cracks in walls and potholes in driveways. Two things that you can do that can make your house standout from the competition is to paint the walls and refinish the floors, particular those rooms near the front door.  (I’ll leave staging, which I recommend, to another article.)

As to determining what renovations you should do before putting your house on the market, the short answer is it varies greatly from house to house. Curiously, renovations are most helpful for houses at the high-end and low-end of the market and can be the deciding factor as to whether a buyer makes an offer or not.

At the high-end we have lots of beautiful houses, so anything that looks old and worn is going to be at a major competitive disadvantage. Certainly, repair anything that is broken, but you might want to consider a new kitchen or new master bath if they are badly out of date. If you are planning on staying in the house should it not sale, there’s no reason not to do these renovations since you can enjoy them yourself and they may just be what gets you an offer.

Under $800,000 renovations can also be offer determinative, because these are costs that a first time buyer or downsizer won’t have to pay. So once again the renovation may be outcome determinative. Between $2 million and $4 million the question of renovation is more complicated as most of the buyers will be able able to pay for or finance the renovations that they want to do. Buyers at these price points are also more particular about style so a significant renovation might actually make the pool of buyers smaller as the renovations are not be to the taste of a particular buyer.

I often work with an architect or a contractor in discussing what work might make for the quickest and highest sale. If your house isn’t selling, taking the team approach as to what renovations would make it more saleable can be very useful. Recently, a house in Cos Cob that hadn’t sold and was rented came back on with a newly finished basement. It was a big plus.

Getting multiple ideas from a couple contractors can be a big help in selling your home for the best price.

The 2017 Condo Market in Greenwich, CT

From a real estate view Greenwich is really more like a small city than a town. We have a variety of different types of housing from large single-family homes that everybody reads about in the national press to studio apartments for rent. As a result, we have something for just about everybody.

The Condo Market: One area that doesn’t always get a lot of attention is our condominium market. Right now, we have 89 condos and 17 co-ops listed for sale in Greenwich. This compares to 540 single family homes. These condos vary in price from $349,000 to $4.9 million. Our median price condo (including the co-ops) listing is $1.25 million. Most of our condominiums are located within a half mile of the Post Road with a major concentration in central Greenwich.

On the sales side we have sold 35 condos so far this year and we have 30 condos under contract. Under $1 million we have 48 condos for sale and 33 sales so far this year. It is a hot market. We only have 3.7 months of supply under $1 million. This means that if no more inventory work to come on the market at the present sales rate we would be out of condominiums by the middle of July.

Above $1 million we have a different market. We have 58 condominiums for sale and so far this year we’ve sold 10. This works out to about one year of supply. The same resistance is seen in the single family home market except instead of at $1 million as it is with the condominium market it is at the $1.5 million level.

Over $4 million months of supply for single-family homes take another jump up to over 2 years supply, but we don’t see this in the condominium market because there is practically no supply of condominiums above $3 million.

Condos come in a lot of different flavors. You have apartment style condominiums like 40 W. Elm St. in downtown Greenwich and you also have townhouse condominiums like at the Commons on the Post Road in Old Greenwich. You even have free standing houses like those at Lyon Farm, which are also condominiums due to the way the land is owned.

When buying a condominium, you need to be more careful to find out just what it is that you are buying into. Many condominium deeds only transfer the interior spaces to the buyer sometimes described as ownership from wallpaper to wallpaper. The structure itself as well as the driveways, roads and other common elements are jointly owned by all association members. Also the items that the buyers is getting may not be in the unit. Things such as parking spaces and storage units may be a good distance from the unit.

One thing that sellers may not know is that under the Connecticut Common Interest Ownership Act the buyer has a five day right of rescission until they are given the condominium resale certificate which includes rules, regulations and a balance sheet. So anyone selling a condominium should put in a phone call to the person who prepares the resale certificate and let them know that the request may be coming in soon. For this right of rescission to apply the association needs 13 or more lots, so buyers in associations with a small number of units don’t have this right though you still should take a look at the documents.

If you are a buyer you want to read over the documents to make sure there are adequate reserves and also to see what rules apply. Pet policies in particular may be a surprise to some prospective buyers who may or may not want pets.

Co-ops: While the structures themselves may look very similar to a condo, co-ops are an older and very different ownership model. When you buy a co-op you’re not buying a fee simple in land or more appropriately air space, you’re buying shares of stock in a corporation. Each set of shares is assigned to a particular unit and gives you the right to occupy that unit.

In a co-op, the individual shareholders don’t pay taxes. The corporation itself pays taxes since it’s the owner of all of the land and buildings. One of the issues with that is that you can’t go down to the tax assessors office and pull the field card for a particular unit, since there is only one field card for the entire property. As such, things that might normally be easy to find out such as the square footage of a particular unit or prior owners can be more difficult to ascertain.

Another unique thing about co-ops is their boards can decide whether or not a co-op owner/buyer can do the transaction. While we don’t have the epic struggles to get into a co-op as you hear about in New York City, the boards often meet with the prospective buyer and some co-ops want to see your balance sheet and references before they will let you in. Co-op financing in Connecticut may also be difficult since they’re only a couple of banks that will make loans on co-ops in Connecticut. For all these reasons condos are more populus here in Greenwich.

Overall condos and co-ops provide the right type of housing for a variety of people and different life stages. Our market is busy, so if you don’t see what you like now, it may get listed next month.