Greenwich's Hidden Real Estate Market: Unveiling the Secrets

Greenwich's Hidden Real Estate Market: Unveiling the Secrets
As of the end of August, Greenwich has witnessed 433 property sales, yet 58 of these transactions remain more or less shrouded in secrecy. Surprisingly, 12 of these secretive sales can be unearthed online with some careful sleuthing by those in the know. For a Greenwich real estate agent, tracking down 375 of these 433 sales is a straightforward task, as they are neatly cataloged on the Greenwich Multiple Listing Service (MLS), and that number includes many of the private sales. So, why do these 13.4% of sales remain hidden, and why aren't there more of them?

Let's delve into these covert sales, ranging from the somewhat public to the most confidential. Firstly, among the 58 secretive sales, 12 were actually public listings, but most Greenwich agents missed them because they never showed up on the Greenwich MLS, where most of our agents look. 

The primary reason that a listing for a Greenwich property would not appear on the Greenwich MLS is that the listing agent is not a member of the Greenwich MLS. Staying active as a Greenwich MLS agent is an investment, and for those from out of town who rarely handle Greenwich properties, they may opt to exclusively list their properties on the statewide Smart MLS. 

The Smart MLS has listings from every town and city in Connecticut including Greenwich. Currently, there are 70 Greenwich listings also on the Smart MLS. The majority of these dual listings are from Greenwich agents who are also members of the Smart MLS. These 70 Greenwich house listings on Smart MLS are 52% of the 134 house listings presently on the Greenwich MLS. This means that 48% of the listings on the GMLS are exclusively on the Greenwich MLS. 

The Greenwich MLS also has 38 out of town listings. Most of these listings are high-end listings that are put on the GMLS to reach high-end buyers. The median price of these out-of-town listings is $4.45 million.

Dual-listing on both the Greenwich MLS and the Smart MLS has its advantages and disadvantages. As you can see, the Greenwich real estate community is evenly split on the idea of dual-listing. Even within the same Greenwich brokerage firms, some agents choose to dual-list, while others do not. Personally, I prefer listing primarily on the Greenwich MLS, as dual-listings can complicate matters and do not necessarily expand your property's exposure to more websites. 

So, what about the 11 Greenwich listings that were solely on the Smart MLS and not on the Greenwich MLS. Interestingly, 9 out of these 11 Greenwich listings fall below our median price of $2.5 million. In some cases, the listing agent has a familial or other close connection with the property owner, such as being college roommates. 

Additionally, we frequently see short sales and foreclosures in Greenwich only on the SMLS. This is because national banks, which administer the mortgages, often lack awareness that counties in Connecticut have no legal existence. Consequently, these large banks frequently hire a single agent in say Danbury or Fairfield to handle all of Fairfield County. For Greenwich agent, this system often results in automated and less personal interactions with the bank’s listing agent, who may not possess intimate knowledge of the property, though are well-versed in the online bidding process.

If you look back at the first paragraph, you’ll see that I had 12 public listings not on the Greenwich MLS, but there were only 11 on the Smart MLS. The 12th listing was only on the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors (HGAR). Listing a Greenwich listing on Westchester County’s HGAR MLS becomes more understandable when you consider that the Greenwich property exclusive HGAR was on the state line. In fact, the state line runs right through the property, with the house's side yard located in Rye Brook, NY. 

But, what about the remaining 46 properties? These sales truly occurred off-market, never appearing on any MLS. The only way to discover these properties is to meticulously examine every deed at the Greenwich Town Clerk's office, filtering out the sales reported on the Greenwich MLS. Alternatively, Compass agents can consult our comprehensive database of every sale, public or private and on any MLS. 

Among these off-market sales, the three most popular neighborhoods are Old Greenwich, Central Greenwich, and Cos Cob. Old Greenwich boasts 8 private sales and 54 reported sales. However, when we scrutinize the 54 “public” sales reported on the GMLS, we find that 4 of them are tagged as "Reporting Purposes Only." These are private sales voluntarily disclosed by GMLS agents and thus do not distort the market. Nevertheless, the number of private, unreported Cos Cob sales is more than twice the number of reported ones.

These private, unreported sales mean that 15% of the sales in Old Greenwich remain undisclosed unless you have a Compass agent with access to all the popular and private databases. In Old Greenwich, 4 of these off-market sales surpass the median price of $2.5 million, while 4 fall below it. Consequently, they may not significantly impact the data. However, if you are seeking sell your home for around $4 million in Old Greenwich  knowledge of the private sales is crucial. In OG between $4 million and $4.5 million there is only 1 public sale and 2 private sales.

Economics also play a role in the decision between private and public listings. The highest number of private sales, many of which are FSBOs (pronounced fizz bows and an abbreviation for For Sale By Owner)  are sales under $1 million. This is our hottest market with only 1.5 months of supply, so we have very good demand and very limited supply, so FSBO’s can sell their own houses.  The issue is whether they are getting the highest price for the house with limited exposure. The National Association of Realtors did a study and found that seller netted more money using a broker even after paying the commission, since the agent’s marketing got them a higher price. 

At the higher price ranges, privacy becomes a paramount concern, with 11 private sales observed over $5 million compared to 71 public sales. Our highest off-market sale this year was for $13.5 million in Belle Haven.

In summary, private sales play a notable role in the Greenwich real estate market, though they constitute only about an eighth of total sales. Due to data fragmentation across various sources, knowing where to look is crucial to gaining a comprehensive understanding of the market and Compass agents have the info. Off-market sales can and should influence your pricing decisions for your home. 

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