Greenwich Neighborhood Sales – Most Up, a Few Down

Greenwich Neighborhood Sales – Some Up, Some Down

Sales are up in Greenwich, but not in every neighborhood. Overall sales, as of the end of August, are up from 359 sales last year to 461 sales this year an increase of 102 sales or 28%. What’s up even more are contracts which are up from 83 contracts as of the end of August 2019 to 193 contracts this year or an increase of 133%. When you total up all of these sales, we went from a total sales volume of $877,661,399 last year to $1,180,418,928. This is $303 million increase in sales is 34.5%, which means that the town conveyance taxes are up nicely this year. At the same time, our inventory is down 14% and this week we actually dipped below 500 listings. So, it is a tight market overall.

As of 9/2/2020InventorySoldsSum of Sold PriceAverage of Cumulative DOM Average of Sold Price Average of List Price/SqFt Average of Sold Price/SqFtAverage of SP/ASMTAverage of SP/OLP
Banksville33235350062$784,500$333$3191.3096.0%
Byram75$6,295,000222$1,259,000$490$4631.9191.2%
Cos Cob4442$62,307,750225$1,483,518$470$4471.5091.2%
Glenville1820$19,195,075138$959,754$473$4551.5992.6%
North Mianus55$8,693,950166$1,738,790$479$4771.6297.4%
North Parkway9650$122,965,449351$2,459,309$441$4091.1883.7%
Old Greenwich3975$162,942,881153$2,172,572$640$6131.5893.3%
Pemberwick43$1,935,000192$645,000$444$4141.6792.0%
Riverside5180$198,785,375189$2,484,817$640$6061.5092.4%
So. of Post Road7234$142,944,500270$4,204,250$851$7591.6688.1%
South Parkway166143$450,800,448259$3,152,451$565$5321.4289.8%
Grand Total505461$1,180,418,928232$2,560,562$580$5461.4790.4%
                          

These are the headline numbers, but the market gets much more nuanced when you look neighborhood by neighborhood. We have four neighborhoods that are up and three neighborhoods that are down, but even there some stats are up and some stats are down. The Covid buyers are definitely looking for land and as you might expect backcountry and mid-country are the big beneficiaries of this desire for more space and larger houses.

                Backcountry

In backcountry sales are up 52 percent to 50 solds compared to only 33 last year. Our average sold price is actually down 22% from $3.13 million last year to $2.46 million this year. Now for my backcountry neighbors there is no need to worry about what some wag, somewhere, will call a collapse in prices. What we are seeing is just a major pickup in sales below $3 million. Anything that comes on the market in backcountry under $2 million gets snapped up quickly. Our average sales price/sf is down 4.3%, which also is due to the number of sales under the median of $2.46 million. While our inventory is down 14%, this is not a time to be asking for a premium price as discussed below. Priced correctly, houses in backcountry sell and under $3 million they sell pretty quickly.

                South of the Parkway

Our second biggest increase in sales is South of the Parkway, an area that covers central Greenwich from the Merritt Parkway to the Post Road. There sales are up 47.4% with total volume up 53% to $451 million. Inventory is down 16%, days on market are down 11% and the average sales price to original list price is up 3.9%. All are signs of a stronger market. Even here though, you can see how the pandemic has shaped the market. Our average sold price is up 3.8% and our average sold price/sf is actually down 4.3%.  

The average sales price is up, because we are seeing more high-end sales this year, which is bringing the neighborhood average up. The average sales price/sf and the sales price to assessment ratio are down, showing that we have some motivated sellers. Also, these averages cover the whole year and clearly lots of sellers were looking to sell in April and May at last year’s prices. We are seeing more recent sales prices at higher values and ratios, but not by a huge amount.

Aug 2020 vs. Aug 2019InventorySoldsSum of Sold PriceAverage of CDOM Average of Sold Price Average of List Price/SqFt Average of Sold Price/SqFtAverage of SP/ASMTAverage of SP/OLP
Banksville02$1,578,500-262$9,500-$72-$74-0.16-1.0%
Byram-1-6-$2,837,00077$428,818$46$32-0.01-0.5%
Cos Cob-412$21,778,75043$132,551$7$100.001.3%
Glenville-53-$1,942,925-75-$283,658$31$400.075.3%
North Mianus2-2-$231,05065$463,790-$20-$100.090.7%
North Parkway-1517$19,613,5995-$672,565-$109-$97-0.15-3.1%
Old Greenwich-1813$20,583,221-6-$123,552-$20-$15-0.032.0%
Pemberwick-2-2-$2,428,000-109-$227,600$41$31-0.08-1.4%
Riverside-1021$79,998,553-9$471,481$75$67-0.141.6%
South of Post Road6-3$9,362,2005$593,918$45$8-0.16-0.9%
South Parkway-3146$156,081,681-33$114,113-$31-$24-0.023.9%
          
Grand Total-80102$302,757,529-3$115,822-$10-$10-0.091.4%

                Cos Cob & Glenville

Cos Cob has had a good year, sales are up 40% over last year. Now part of that is because last year was not a good year for Cos Cob. In fact, Cos Cob had our biggest percentage drop in sales last year. This year Cos Cob is back; sales are up, the average sold price is up and the average sold price/sf is also up a little. Cos Cob has had 42 sales this year and has another 21 contracts waiting to close, so sales should continue to look good in September.

The past few years Cos Cob and Glenville have moved together, as alternatives to pricey Old Greenwich and Riverside. Like Cos Cob, Glenville also had a poor 2019 and this year it has recovered somewhat with 20 sales compared to last years 17 sales. One of the issues for doing statistics on Glenville is that people like the area so much they move in and stay and it’s a smaller area. So, a couple sales up or down can make a significant percentage change. Right now, we only have 18 listings in Glenville compared to 44 listings for Cos Cob,

                Riverside & Old Greenwich

Riverside has returned to being a very preferred neighborhood after not being so favored last year. Sales there are up 35.6% compared to only 21.0% in Old Greenwich. This difference is due to the poor sales last year in Riverside. Between the two neighborhoods we have total sales of 155 houses or a third of all of our sales. When you look at a map, you see a lot of sales and contracts in an area that is a small fraction of Greenwich’s total land area.

Also indicative of Riverside’s rebound this year is the average sales price is up by $471,481 this year in Riverside, while the average sales price in Old Greenwich is actually down despite increased sales. Once again much of this is an adjustment in what prices are selling, rather than an overall change in prices. If you really want to make Riverside look good, we can include the private $42 million sale on Indian Point Lane earlier this year. If we do that, the average sale in Riverside goes up by over $500,000. In fact, that one sale would have brought up the townwide average sale by $91,000.

                South of the Post Road, Byram and Pemberwick

Sales are down a little bit in the southwest part of town. Now while South of the Post Road includes Belle Haven, it also includes Chickahominy, which moves much more like Byram and Pemberwick. In these areas we have a lot of R-6 zones. The R-6 zone is a two family zone with a minimum lot size of 0.17 acres. In the Covid era, 2 families on a sixth of an acre is just a little too cozy for some.

The other issue for these neighborhoods where the median R-6 house sold for $655,000 is that they are seeing lots of competition from Westchester County, as well as Stamford, Norwalk and further up the line. The Covid buyer is hoping to only commute a couple of days a week so the longer commute from Norwalk, Wilton or Fairfield is less of a factor in 2020 than when employees had to be at there desks in the City every day.

                Summary

Covid has turned our market on its feet. I say this because, the Great Recession turned our market on its head and now Covid is putting us back on our feet. Buyers from NYC are looking for more land, more square footage and more in-home amenities, which says 2 and 4 acre zoning in mid-country and backcountry. The second office and the pool are becoming bigger wants. At the same time, mid-size zones in Cos Cob, Riverside, and Old Greenwich are doing better than last year.

Our two family, R-6 zone is not doing as well with buyers even at the lower price ranges. In the Covid era, buyers are willing to pay higher taxes in Westchester or are willing commute further into Fairfield County for more space. We also have a fair number of Greenwich residents who are looking to upsize. Many of these folks were waiting to move and now that the market is so much more competitive and interest rates are at record lows, they are pulling the trigger.

As to where we are going, we have lots of contracts so September and even October should be good months. I’ve also met several buyers who had rented here for the summer and are now going to buy something in the near future. If you have a house to sell, now is a very good time to do it as who knows what will happen next year.

 If you do put your house on the market, your Realtor needs to do a thorough analysis of the micro-market for your house. Some areas, styles, recent construction and amenities would support a higher price in this market, but you still need to be competitive. Every week, we see nice houses whose listings are expiring unsold.

On the buyer’s side, it’s also a good time to be in the market. Interest rates are down, and prices are not up significantly, however, we are seeing slightly higher prices in the sales starting in August. While the seller’s need to worry about recession/price drop, there is a better chance than we will see higher prices next year, so there is a good opportunity for buyers. Waiting may not be in your interest.

ERRATA: Last week’s article mentioned that this August was our best August ever with 108 sales reported on the GMLS. As my brother, and long-time Realtor, Russ Pruner pointed out we actually had 109 GMLS sales in August 2001. He is the keeper of stats that go back well into the last century and has a website with lots of good interactive stats in the “Market Data” section of his website at http://www.russellpruner.com. His data also shows that in the last 40 years we have had a couple of years where August was the highest sales month, just not this century. I apologize for slightly over-stating just how good August 2020. As Bum Phillips said about Herschel Walker, “He may not be in a class by himself, but it doesn’t take long to call roll in that class.” That’s what this August was like.

August 2020 Sales are Off the Chart in Greenwich

Sales Contracts are Up 133% at the beginning of September

August single family home sales were literally off the chart, at least my chart. We had 108 sales which meant I had to rescale my graph of monthly sales; it normally only goes to 100 sales. Post-recession, we have never had an August like this. We also have never had a post-recession year where the high point for sales was in August; it’s normally June or July. Covid has not only increased sales, but time shifted them, by two months or possibly more.

Starting in the 3rd week of June, we have seen weekly transaction, contracts and sales) in a trading range as the stockbrokers call it, that varies from 47 transactions to 68 transactions per week. The lower transactions weeks are primarily due to a 4-day holiday week or a tropical storm. Overall, we have been averaging about 60 transactions a week. In the most recent week we had 63 transactions. For the last 4 weeks, we have averaged 64.3 transactions per week.

September sales & contract

As a result September has a decent chance of beating August’s outstanding sales. We can be fairly sure that  September sales will be the highest for any September since September 1990, but they may not beat August 2020’s 108 sales. We have 193 contracts up from 83 last year, however, that number is down 15 contracts from the 208 contracts that we had the beginning of August. We do have a late school start this year, so we will continue to see families in September pressing to get in before the beginning of school.

                Inventory stays down, despite lots of new listings

On the inventory side we, only have 505 listings, down 14% from last year. So, with increased sales and lower inventory, we are seeing big drops in months of supply. For the market overall, we have 8.8 months of supply dramatically down from 13.0 months of supply at this time last year. The really dramatic number, however, is when you take August sales and annualize them, there you go from 9.3 months of supply for last August’s annualized sales to 4.7 months of supply August 2020. You just don’t see that kind of low number in a town, like Greenwich, where the median sales price is now $2,040,000. High-end houses take a while to sell and this results in higher months of supply, well at least did.

As of 9/1/2020 Inventory Contracts Last Mo. Solds Last Mo Solds+ Contracts  YTD Solds  YTD+ Contracts Mos Supply Mos w/ Contracts Last Mo. Annlzd
< $600K 1 4 1 5 10 14 0.8 0.7 1.0
$600-$800K 14 11 5 16 24 35 4.7 3.8 2.8
$800K-$1M 19 10 3 13 30 40 5.1 4.5 6.3
$1-$1.5M 56 29 17 46 86 115 5.2 4.6 3.3
$1.5-$2M 61 36 22 58 78 114 6.3 5.1 2.8
$2-$3M 105 40 28 68 109 149 7.7 6.7 3.8
$3-$4M 75 33 14 47 66 99 9.1 7.2 5.4
$4-$5M 44 6 9 15 24 30 14.7 13.9 4.9
$5-6.5M 48 10 3 13 16 26 24.0 17.5 16.0
$6.5-$10M 50 9 5 14 12 21 33.3 22.6 10.0
> $10M 32 5 1 6 6 11 42.7 27.6 32.0
 
TOTAL 505 193 108 301 461 654 8.8 7.3 4.7

Prices trending up

Our median sales price in 2019 was $1,866,666 as of the end of August our median sales number is the aforesaid, $2,040,000 or an increase of 9.3%. Now as usually happens, most of this apparent increase in appreciation is due to a major increase in sales above our $2 million median, not an overall increase in prices across the town. As more house sell above our old median price, the median gets pulled up. But we may finally be seeing real appreciation as more of these houses that went contract after multiple bids close.

When you look at the sales price price/sf, that number is up 4.5% from $503/sf last year to $526/sf this year. The other key indicator is the sales price to assessment ratio and that is up only .73% over last year, but even there we are looking at real appreciation. Another key indicator does show actual appreciation. When you look at the August sales price to the original list price ratio (SP/OLP) we see a lot more hot sales. Of the 108 sales in August 2020, 44% of them were for full list or over list price. This compares to August 2019 when only 8% out of 63 sales sold at list or over list.

Sales under $1 million

When you look at the price ranges our inventory under $1 million is supply constrained with only 34 listings compared to 47 last year. Sales are the same as last year. One reason may be that these houses  are on smaller lots, so these buyers may be buying large lots further upstate Connecticut and in Taxchester, New York.

Sales from $1 – 4 million

The standout part of the market is from $1 – 4 million where we have 339 of our 461 sales so far this year. This is up 121 sales from last year. We also have 138 of our 193 contracts between $1 and $4 million. This our family market.

The remarkable thing is that last one million price range from $3 – 4 million. This is traditionally an older buyer with high school or college kids or empty nesters looking for the large house that marks a lifetime of hard work and success. This year it includes successful families with toddlers and young children that might have otherwise stayed in the city.

Sales over $4 million

Even over $4 million we are seeing more young families. Patty Ekvall and I have had a bunch of showings at 22 Cherry Tree Lane in Harbor Point in the Little Belle Haven Section of Riverside. This house is on for $7.25 million and with one exception, the buyers have all been families with elementary school or younger children. Two of the buyers have had houses in the Hamptons who now want a high-end house that is a commutable distance from NYC.

If you are interested in percentage change rather than absolute number changes the high-end is the place to look. Our contracts from $6.5 – 10 million are up 350% from last year. Last year we had 2 contracts in that price range, this year we have 9 contracts. For the whole market over $5 million we are up 24 sales and contracts to 58 transactions this year.

The high-end market was slow to get started, but really started to heat up in the middle of June and has only continued to get busier. To see that just look at transactions over $5 million in the last three days from 8/31 to 9/2. We’ve had 4 sales over $5M including 75 Byram Shore Road at $12,000,000 after it had been on the market for 971 days.

The really remarkable deals are the 4 listings in contract in that 3-day period. The Helmsley place finally went to contract after 1,540 days on market. On the shorefront, 32 Indian Point Lane is under contract and is listed at $21,000,000. Over in Belle Haven, 66 Glenwood Drive listed for $13,750,000 has a contract after being on and off the market since April 2018.

Some Do’s and Don’t

Some sellers are seeing all this activity and are reaching for the golden ring on their listing price. Despite all  this activity, that is probably not your best strategy. Any busy broker can tell you of houses that are overpriced and just aren’t getting showings. The idea that in a hot market people will come see houses that they think are overpriced is just wrong.

In most price ranges you are not competing against other Greenwich houses, but potentially two counties worth of similar listing. Traditionally, a Greenwich buyer was a Greenwich buyer. A Covid buyer just wants out and the particular town is not as crucial. Even if the market is tight here, buyers that think your house is priced to high are often looking Scarsdale or Bedford or New Canaan or Westport.

For buyers, be prepared and be prepared to move fast. You can check out my article in the Greenwich Sentinel from a couple of weeks ago about how to be the winning bidder in a hot market. Set up a meeting with your mortgage banker and your attorney, either in person or virtually. They need to know who you are before you need them. Also get the contact info for an inspector or two in case the first one is busy. You want to be able to get to contract before your competition. Even being a day faster can mean you get the house.  I have had two buyers contact me after they lost a house, because they were day late and would not have been a dollar short, they had the money.

The Future

So, can this market just keep getting hotter? The short answer is yes. We still have lots of contacts waiting to close. We have a lot of inventory coming on the market now, something that normally is a trickle just before Labor Day. These last thre weeks were the hottest of the year when you count sales and contracts. We also have lots of folks looking.

For the glass half empty types, contracts are down a fraction and inventory from $5 – 10 million is up by 7 listings. We also need more inventory under $600K as we only have 1 listing. For me personally, the last two weeks have been the busiest of the year, but fall is coming, a time when the market slows down after a couple of weeks of post-Labor Day inventory increases. This year that slowdown may be much later.

 

 

July 2020 Real Estate Report – Greenwich Contracts Soar by 119% Y-o-Y

Northern School Districts See Lots More Deals

In July 2020, we had 85 sales of single-family home in Greenwich. This blew away last year when we had 72 sales and is above our 10-year average of 74 sales. The sales are impressive, but what is really astounding is that we have 208 contracts waiting to close. This is up 119% from last year when we had a fairly normal 95 contracts at the end of July 2019. Contracts are up in every price range with a big jump in contracts between $1 and 4 million. Even our contracts over $4 million are up 21 contracts from last year going from 13 contract to 34 contracts are a jump of 161%

Our 10-year average for sales in August is 67 houses, so if a third of the houses under contract close in August we will still exceed our August average. The odds are that we are going to see a lot more than that. Of those 208 contracts, 148 are between $1 and $4 million, which means in Greenwich that most of those 148 families have school age children who want to be in their house before the school year starts.

July 2020 is also the third year in a row with more sales in July than in June, our traditional high sales month. It looks like we have a real market change with sales getting more complicated and shifting later in the year. The result is that first half of the year is just not going to look as good, since sales are shifting from June to July. What is going to be interesting is that August actually has a good chance this year of exceeding our already high July sales.

When you look back over the year you can see the market went through four phases this year. We opened the year with a typical run up in transactions; i.e., sales and contract. Everything was looking pretty normal in this first phase with transactions steadily rising, until the second phase, Covid lockdown came. We went from a good 33 transactions in the second week of March to only 17 transaction in the third week. While we never stopped showing houses, lots of people put off looking and our transactions dropped to an average of 20 transactions per week through the first week in May.

Starting with the second week of May, transactions increased steadily going from 33 transactions the first week of the third phase all the way up to 64 transactions in the third week of June when we reached the fourth phase that we are now. What we are seeing is a persistent high plateau of transactions with about 60 transactions each week for the last 5 weeks now.

As of 8/1/2020 Inventory Contracts Last Mo. Solds Last Mo Solds+ Contracts  YTD Solds  YTD+ Contracts Mos Supply Mos w/ Contracts Last Mo. Annlzd
< $600K 4 4 3 7 9 13 3.1 2.6 1.3
$600-$800K 11 13 4 17 19 32 4.1 2.9 2.8
$800K-$1M 23 9 9 18 26 35 6.2 5.6 2.6
$1-$1.5M 68 26 10 36 67 93 7.1 6.2 6.8
$1.5-$2M 66 41 12 53 54 95 8.6 5.9 5.5
$2-$3M 116 47 20 67 79 126 10.3 7.8 5.8
$3-$4M 83 34 11 45 50 84 11.6 8.4 7.5
$4-$5M 42 12 3 15 15 27 19.6 13.2 14.0
$5-6.5M 52 11 2 13 13 24 28.0 18.4 26.0
$6.5-$10M 53 7 2 9 7 14 53.0 32.2 26.5
> $10M 37 4 1 5 5 9 51.8 34.9 37.0
 
TOTAL 555 208 77 285 344 552 11.3 8.5 7.2

 

As transactions increased, new listings followed, which is normally just the opposite in our market. In a normal year, inventory comes on in February, March and April, goes to contract in April and May and closes in June and July. In this year, our contracts started rising in in the first week of June and surged through the rest of the month and only then did we start seeing more inventory. Of course you might not notice the new inventory coming on if you only looked at the bottomline numbers. New contracts have been at such a rapid pace that they are actually pulling down our inventory at a time the owners are listing an unprecedented number of houses for July.

The increase in sales, as mentioned, is across the board from $600K to $10 million plus. The only category where sales are not up is under $600K where we have 9 sales YTD plus 4 contracts with an inventory of only 4 houses leading to only 2.6 months of supply, i.e. very hot. If we had more listings under $600K we had more sales. You can pick any price category and it’s much more pro-seller this year. Out total sales even with the Covid lockdown phase are still up 48 sales or 19% from last year.

If you are thinking about buying or selling a house you want to look at contracts not sales, since contracts tells you what the market demand is now.

  • Demand has increased the most over $1.5 million with an average increase in contracts of 189%.
  • The biggest jump in deals is from $3 – 4 million where we have 34 contracts compared to only 7 contracts in July 2019, an increase of 386%.
  • The market from $4 – 5 million has also changed a lot. We only have 6 more contracts, but 16 less listings. Months of supply in this price category have dropped by more than a year to 13.2 months of supply from 24.8 months of supply in July 2019.
  • We have seen a slight up-tick in inventory over $5 million with 142 listings compared to 132 listings in 2019 or 7.5%, but don’t worry too much as we also seen a big jump in contracts from 7 last year to 22 deals in 2020.

When you look at months of supply what jumps out is just how remarkable July is. If you take sales and contracts every category is getting tighter. If you look at just deals that close in July and analyze them, everything up to $4 million dollars is accelerating. The other thing is just the absolute numbers.

For most of the U.S. anything under 6 months supply is considered a seller’s market, but then median price for a home sale in the US is $329,000; i.e., half of the houses in the U.S. sell for less than $329K. The last time a house sold in Greenwich for less than that amount was in 2012. The idea of 6 months of supply being a seller’s market only works up to about $2 million. Above $3 million its more like one year of supply and above $5 million its probably 18 months of supply. Very high-end house just take longer to sell. Based on those criteria we have a seller’s market all the way up to $6.5 million.

When you look at where the contracts are they are concentrated between $1 million and $4 million where we have 148 contracts or 71% of all contracts. This price range covers successful young families at the lower end and folks looking for a weekend house at the upper end. Also, we continue to see an increase Greenwich buyers who realize that now is the time to buy before prices go up, since our median price is already up 5.6% this year. Curiously, that is not where to focus.

Lots of people and the press focus on what is happening to the average sales price of houses and that is not a good number to look at in Greenwich if what you are trying to do is to see where the overall market is going and the median price is only a little better. Most years, the change in the average price is not due to changes in overall market demand, but due more to the mix of what is selling. Given the broad increase in sales and contracts 2020 may be the exception to that rule as we are seeing an increase at most price ranges, but for the moment other price change indicators do not agree.

  2019 Jul-20 % Diff
Price Changes
Average Sales Price  $      2,376,978  $         2,480,642 4.4%
Median Sales Price  $      1,866,666  $          1,970,375 5.6%
Median Sales Price/ sf  $                503  $                   504 0.2%
SP/Assmt Ratio                   1.45                        1.43 -1.0%
Market Demand
SP/OLP 89.0% 92.0% 3.4%
DOM                       149                             140 -6.4%

So, what are sales prices doing. As I said, if you look just at the average you’d say that prices are up 4.4%, which isn’t bad for 7 months appreciation. If you look at just the median, then sales prices are up 5.6%. But, if you take a look at cost per square foot for  July 2020 compared to the median for 2019 then prices are only up 0.2% and if you look at the sales price to the tax assessors FMV assessment then we are actually down 1.0%. Throw in the sales price to the original list price which is up 3.4% and the median days on market, which is down 9 days or 6.4% you can get really confused, but it’s not that hard.

The median price is up, and the average price is up, but not as much. This is because, more higher-end houses are selling, but not compared to the very high-end so the median is up, but the average is up a little less. That’s the mix of what’s selling.

Overall prices in 2020 are flat based on price/sf and SP/Assmt ratio. This means we have some motivated buyers and many of the multiple offer deals that are rumored to be high have not closed as yet. At the same time the market is tightening as the sales price to original list price is up. Also the days on market is down so things are a bit tighter. Sellers are pricing their house better as indicated by the SP/OLP ratio and there is more demand as indicated by the sales price.

Another factor in why prices aren’t increasing yet is that many buyers are looking well beyond Greenwich, but not just in New Canaan and Darien, but also in Westchester County and even New Jersey. Our market looks tight inside our borders, but buyers are not coming to Greenwich per se, but fleeing the high density and lack of social distance in NYC. They are looking overall and hence have lots more choices, having said that there are lots more buyers for all the areas that have backyards and amenities. There, as always, Greenwich stacks up pretty well.

While we may not have seen a significant increase in sales price per square foot and sales price to assessment ratio as our 208 contracts close I expect that we will. There is just too much demand and I’m hearing of too many bidding wars for prices not to go up. When you look the 85 deals that closed in July, 25 of them went for the original list price or more. This percentage is up from 17% for all 2020 deal. Most of the deals that closed in July were signed in the Phase 3 ramp-up period. It will be interesting to see what percentage of deals signed in July go for over list.

Not only are some price ranges hotter than others, some areas of town are hotter. When you look at the market bey school district you can see that our areas with the largest acreage have become the most popular. Our two most northerly school districts are where the action is. North St and Parkway elementary school districts are in a tie for largest percentage of transactions with 96 sales and transactions each. As they used to say in elementary school, Parkway is the “most improved” in the Covid era with transaction up a third from 15.5% pre-Covid to 20.4% in the Covid era.

Elem. School Sold Pending Contngt Total Post Covid % Pre-Covid % Diff
North Street 58 24 14 96 20.4% 21.4% -0.9%
Parkway 46 36 14 96 20.4% 15.5% 4.9%
Riverside 45 11 13 69 14.7% 11.7% 3.0%
Glenville 25 11 5 41 8.7% 10.7% -2.0%
Old Greenwich 27 9 6 42 8.9% 9.7% -0.8%
North Mianus 28 5 8 41 8.7% 7.8% 1.0%
Julian Curtiss 12 6 13 31 6.6% 6.8% -0.2%
Cos Cob 10 7 7 24 5.1% 11.7% -6.5%
Dundee 7 4 3 14 3.0% 1.9% 1.0%
New Lebanon 1 4 5 10 2.1% 2.9% -0.8%
Hamilton Avenue 2 1 2 5 1.1% 0.0% 1.1%
Grand Total 262 118 90 470

School Districts in the Covid Era – Sales, Contract – 2020 Covid Era % vs Pre Covid %

Riverside Elementary School District has also seen a significant increase in transactions in the Covid part of this year, while Cos Cob has seen the biggest decrease. This doesn’t mean that Cos Cob School District sales are down compared to 2019, they are not only that there has been a shift in the post April 2020 sale percentage to Parkway and Riverside.

2020 Pre-Covid vs Covid-Era Sales and Contracts

When you combine to the two most northerly school districts with Riverside you have more than half the deals in town. Does this mean we are going to see more crowded schools; possibly. What isn’t clear is how many of these families have school age kids that will be going to public school. And, in some cases a family with school age kids may just be replacing a family with school age kids so there is no net increase in students. Also Parkway and North St have additional capacity, but Riverside which already has our largest elementary population and possibly Central Middle School may see some expanded enrollment.

After years of a shrinking, to flat population having a few more people in town will be a good thing, particularly if everyone has electricity. 🙂

 

 

New York Times, CT Post and Greenwich Time have articles about hot Greenwich/CT market (MP quoted)

New York Times logoHartford Courant

Greenwich Time Logo

 

With contracts up 100% over last year we are seeing lots of interest from the press about the increase in sales and the ways that the Coroanavirus have changed real estate in Greenwich and Connecticut. Here are three stories that I got quoted in about how the market is changing.

5 Ways the Coronavirus Has Changed Suburban Real Estate – NY Times

Agents: CT homes sales ‘are off the charts’ even if numbers don’t yet show it – CT Post/Hartford Courant/Hearst

New Yorkers continue to hunt for homes in Greenwich – Greenwich Time (features my listings at 1076 Lake Avenue and 505 E. Putnam)

 

Contracts Up 100% in the Hot Greenwich Real Estate Market – Mid-July 2020 Update

As of the middle of July, we have had 287 single family home sales in Greenwich. Of those sales, 44 or 15.3% went for list or over list price. Many of these, and others that sold for under list price were multiple bid situations. Many of these transactions were pre-Covid and you can expect that the percent of list and over list deals will go up. (I’m working on one now.)

Our contracts only really started to accelerate in the second week in May when we went a slow 23 transactions, sales and contracts, to 33 contracts in a week. Last week we had 58 transactions down slightly from 64 transaction the previous week when the Gold Coast conveyance tax increase kicked in on July 1st. The large percentage of those 58 transactions were contracts being signed.

Single Family Homes Sales and Contracts Each Week in 2020

The other interesting thing is where these list and over list contracts are. If you read my neighborhood report last week, you can predict where the competitive sales are. They are in the hot neighborhoods. Old Greenwich, Riverside and Glenville are seeing their fair share of over list activity. Mid-country and Cos Cob are seeing hot sales and the” backcountry is back” area is also seeing over list activity, while we’ve yet to see this in Byram and Pemberwick.

Closed sales for list or over list in Greenwich, CT as of 7/14/20

What’s really remarkable is the number of outstanding contracts we have. As of 7/14/20 we have 198 contracts which is an amazing number when you consider that last year that number was around 99 contracts. This is a 100% Covid driven increase. You can be sure that many of those 198 contracts went for list or over list. The market is hot and so far is only getting hotter with each passing week.

On the inventory side we are getting new inventory, but it is going off fast also. We presently have 566 listings; this is down from 640 listings as of the end of July 2019 or a drop of 12%. We had been done down about 20% in inventory, so only 12% down is an improvement, but some price ranges in some neighborhoods are very much combat buying.

I have spoken to several of our longest serving agents, in some cases their tenure goes back 40 years. They say they have never seen a market like this; not after 9/11, not in the go-go years of the 80s, nor in the bubble years of the digits decade. This really is an unprecedented time.

How to Be the Winning Buyer in the Hot Covid Real Estate Market

So how does a buyer get an advantage in a competitive bidding situation in a tight market? The short answer is to be better prepared than your competition and move faster than they do.

Build a Team Early

Everyone knows to get a good Realtor when they buy a house, but you will need other professionals too. If you are going to need financing, talk to a mortgage broker or banker early, even before you start looking. Meet with them and build a relationship. Very few financings are pro forma today and you’ll want a banker who will go to bat for you to move the process along.

Most buyers don’t think about a real estate attorney until after their offer has been accepted. Be prepared and find your attorney early. Let him or her know your level of experience and that you’ll probably need a quick turn around on the contract rider.

Building inspectors can also be a big help. Once again, speed can be crucial. In a competitive bidding situation, you may only have a day or two to inspect the property. The only thing worse than coming in second in a bidding war is winning war only to get a house with problems.

The top capital gains tax has increased and there is an additional 3.8% Medicare tax on gains. The rules are complex, but if you have a significant gain in your present house, you may face a bigger tax bite than you thought. If you are selling your own house and you need the funds from that house to close, consult a tax attorney or accountant now to see just how much the taxman taketh and ways to minimize that take.

Tactics

First relax you’ve got a team of advisors if things get difficult. You’re better prepared than most of your competition.

Second, have your mortgage broker or banker pull your credit and check for any problems. Get not only pre-qualified, but pre-approved and not just pre-approved, but under written pre-approved. What this means is that the bank has done everything necessary to approve your loan for a house except the appraisal on the house. A pre-approval letter and shorter mortgage contingency goes a long way when bidding against someone who only has a pre-qual letter. Also, the beginning of the process is the time to fix your credit score rather than when your entire loan hangs on getting your credit score a few points higher.

If there is some way you can do an all cash purchase great. An all cash offer in a competitive bid situation can move you to the top of the list and often reduce your purchase price by $10,000 to $20,000 for deals under $1,000,000 and by as much as $50,000 or more for deals under $2,000,000. Consult with your team before you do this.

You may want to make an all cash offer even if you are going to finance the house later, to free up cash after the purchase. Post-purchase refinancing can be tricky and may affect your taxes, so check with your accountant or tax attorney before you pursue this path. And, the time to do that is before you saddle up and go looking for your dream house.

Also, a high price is good, but if you want to be in your new house in two weeks and the sellers can’t find a new place and arrange a move for two months, your higher, all cash offer, may be DOA. You want to match your other terms to your seller’s needs.

Third, be available. If you are a couple and one of you can’t always take phone calls, what about email or texts? Whenever possible whoever is most available should be able to make decisions for both. Discuss various options in advance so you are both comfortable with this. Also putting in a bid and going on vacation or a trip is a not optimal. Often, an hour or two or even minutes can make the difference in whether you get the house. Making decisions and responding in minutes gives you a big advantage over the competition that can’t get back to the seller until tomorrow.

Fourth, be flexible and reasonable. Don’t let a minor deal point or an item worth a few hundred dollars become an ego issue. Work with your team to come up with other options, particularly when the other side is being unreasonable. Don’t yell and scream. The seller has lived in your house-to-be for years and knows all your new neighbors. You want to arrive in their good graces.

Fifth, be human. Let the seller know why you like their place and what it will mean to you and your family to live there. Also try to connect with each person you deal with; don’t become just another case number.

Lastly, have fun. How often will you get to do this? With a good team you’ve got people to talk with. Even if you lose out the first time around you will have gained valuable experience. You will get a house and often a better house at a better price.

A call for a welcoming Greenwich

I’ve been dealing with a lot of Covid refugees who are going through the ups and downs of buying a house in a tight market. Many of them are scared of moving to Greenwich. Often, they have lived in New York City for decades and really don’t know what to expect. What will it be like for their kids? Will they be able to go to a school here? Will people from Greenwich look down on them? Where do they shop for those specialty items they love? Will there be dangerous wildlife in their backyard? We are all in this together and if you see someone that looks a little unsure of themselves you might ask if you can help. If you get a new neighbor introduce yourself or just drop a welcoming note in their mailbox.

Also, it would be great if each neighborhood association would host a welcome function for our new arrivals. It’s a great way to get some new members and tell people about your community. Associations could do a zoom function or small, social distancing, get-togethers outdoors. Just as we are seeing with business practices, this year is going change Greenwich and accelerate trends already taking place. Let’s make it as pleasant as possible for everyone and having a little fun along the way would be nice too.

Greenwich First Half Neighborhood Report – June Just Keeps Getting Better

This week we start with a quick update on June sales and how June went out like a lion, which given that we are now in our Covid time-shifted spring market is a little to be expected. The rest of the article is look at how our neighborhoods did in the first half of the year.

 

June Sales Update

If you could take one day of the year and clone it for the rest of the year, that date would be June 30, 2020. On that date we sold 12 houses out of 76 sales for the whole month of June. Of those 12 sales, the average price was $5.93 million. A house at 49 Midwood Road sold for $10,750,000 after 435 days on the market and a house at 45 Field Point Circle sold for $12,800,000 after 220 days on the market. In addition, we had sales of $7,500,000, $4,995,000 and $4,200,000 all on June 30th. As I wrote last week, the July 1st increase of 1% in the state conveyance tax for sales over $2.5 million was the motivated factor to get all these high-end deals done before the new tax kicked in.

But let’s get back to those 76 total sales for the whole month, that number is well above the 60 sales we had in June 2019 and even 4 sales above what we had in June 2018 when we didn’t’ have a pandemic. We also have 171 contracts waiting to close which is up 68 houses from last year or a 66% jump from last year.  We are doing better in just about every neighborhood, but three neighborhoods are seeing some headwinds.

The last time the conveyance tax was raised in 2011 we saw our biggest sales month ever with 114 sales in June 2011, followed by our worst July with only 48 sales. We won’t see that this July as we have just too many contracts waiting to close.

THE 2020 FIRST HALF GREENWICH NEIGHBORHOODS REPORT

The tight neighborhoods

                                Glenville

When you look at months of supply the neighborhood that really stands out is Glenville and not so much for its 11 sales, but for its 11 contracts waiting to close for a total of 22 transactions. When you throw in only 17 listing with these 22 transactions you get a tight 5.8 months of supply with contracts which is the best in town. This is down 11.7 months of supply from last year. A lot of that drop is attributable to the number listings going from 28 house listings at the end of June last year to only 17 listings left this month. Tight markets don’t just happen, smart agents and sellers help. While we have a tight market the average list price in Glenville has dropped from $1.13M to $1.09 as sellers are more competitively pricing their listings.

Old Greenwich & Riverside

Last year I sold a house in Riverside to a developer and had another listing cancelled for lack of buyer interest. Riverside was a tough place to sell in 2019 which is unusual. This year Riverside is back and once again running neck and neck with Old Greenwich, a perennial favorite of buyers. Even in a time when people are looking for more space and larger houses, the village of Old Greenwich continues to attract buyers. One factor is the R-7 zone in both Riverside and Old Greenwich, which is mostly north of the Post Road, are smaller lots, but they look good to a family living in a small 2 bedroom apartment in NYC. Inventory is down for these two contiguous neighborhoods by a total of 49 listings to a total of only 118 listings. The average sale price is down in Old Greenwich, but took a big jump in Riverside up by $792K. Anytime you see a change like this, a large part is because of the mix of what is selling. Higher end houses with more space and more land are selling in Riverside, but we are also seeing higher sales price/sf a better indicator of an overall market move.

 

The Rapidly Changing Neighborhoods

                                Backcountry & Mid-Country

Last year we saw sales jump 30% in backcountry Greenwich and also go up in mid-country (which for GMLS data purposes goes all the way down to the Post Road). This year that trend is continuing. Mid-country is the new sweet spot in Greenwich with sales up 20 houses from last year and contracts up by 47 houses while inventory is down by 52 houses to only 187 listings. The average price, average price/sf and sales price to assessment ratio are all down, as motivated sellers are covering their bases just in case we do see a depression next year when their values might drop. While the stock market is at record levels and is not predicting a depression, it’s a good time for sellers to take some of their chips off the table.

In backcountry, sales are up 4 houses, but contracts are up 27 and listings are down 31. The result of all that is when you look at months of supply with contracts you only get 12.4 months of supply. Even if you just look at the actual sales months of supply, that is down 10.4 months from last year. People want land  and houses with amenities; backcountry is one of the best places to get that.

Cos Cob

Cos Cob has seen a strong rebound after being our neighborhood with the poorest results in 2019. Now 2019 results looked down in Cos Cob, because it had done so well in 2016-2018. In 2020, Cos Cob is back like those prior years.  Sales are up 10 houses and contracts are up 14 houses while inventory is down 10. This result in a competitive 9.3 months of supply. On the sales only side, months of supply is down 10.2 months of supply from last year to 11. 3 months of supply.

 

Higher density neighborhoods

Byram, Pemberwick and North Mianus have seen the greatest appreciation since the Tax Assessor last did a revaluation in 2015. Byram is actually up 33% from 2015 when you compare the sales price to the assessment ratio. Pemberwick is up 18% from 2015 when you look at the same assessment ratio. Lots of folks want to live in Greenwich and those are our most affordable areas. This year a combination of all this prior appreciation and a desire for more social distancing have made these three neighborhoods slower this year than last year.

In Byram, we have 14 listings and only 2 sales so far this year. In Pemberwick it is 8 listings and no sales. North Mianus was our hottest neighborhood last year, but this year months of supply are up 3 months from last years to 10 months of supply. If you throw in the 2 contracts pending and only 5 listings its drops to a very active 7.5 months of supply, it’s just not as hot as last year.

All three of these neighborhoods are small so a few sales would change things dramatically, but it is a little strange that these lower priced areas have not done as well so far this year, since the R-7 zones in Old Greenwich and Riverside are doing well.

                Summary

For the town overall, inventory is down 20% and this is true across most every neighborhood. Sales are up 18% and once again this is widespread with big jumps in Cos Cob, Riverside, and mid-country. The really dramatic change is in contracts which are up 66% as this market is just getting hotter. The areas that are hot right now based on contracts are backcountry, mid-country, Riverside and Old Greenwich. As I write this, I’m negotiating three deals, two in backcountry and one in mid-country. Trying to find good listings in those areas is tough and if you are looking to sell now is a good time to list.

 

 

 

 

 

Greenwich Homes Sales Surge in June 2020 – First Half 2020 Looking Good

High-End Sales have an Excellent Month

At the end of May we had 299 sales and contracts, then June came along and sales and contracts surged to 436 houses sold or under contract; an increase of 50% in one month. The story at the upper end is even more dramatic. Above $3 million we went from 68 sales and contracts at the end of May to 117 sales and contracts in June, an increase of 72%. By far our most dramatic jump was closed high-end sales over $5 million which are up 286% in just one month, but more about that later.

The growth in these sales and contracts continue to escalate. Back in the week beginning May 4th we only 23 transactions, then it was 33 and 43 in a week. We dropped back to 33 transaction for the 4-day week of Memorial Day. The next week we jumped to 53 transactions as made up for the 4 day prior week. Then 44, 48 and 52 transactions. This week, once again only a 4-day week, we had an amazing 62 transactions

This dramatic jump in sales is being driven by three factors. By far the largest is the continued flood of Covid buyers from New York City, who primarily fall into two categories. Most of these buyers are younger families who are looking in the $1 – 2.3 million range. These buyers have been cooped up in a New York City apartment, often with multiple children. More square footage, a yard, parks, and beaches look pretty attractive to them.

A second less obvious sub-group of Covid-motivated buyers from New York City are newlyweds and DINKs. Pre-Covid, couples that met in New York City would move in to whichever person had the nicer apartment and live there until the first or second child came along. I’ve showed houses to lots of couples where the wife is pregnant and wants to be settled in a new place before the baby is born. In the meantime, they would live in New York City enjoying all of the restaurants, cultural activities, and nightlife that NYC is so famous for. In the Covid era, all those activities are either gone or still dangerous to enjoy. As a result, many couples are skipping the NYC, Dual-Income-No-Kids period and moving directly to Greenwich. I’m working with three couples just like that.

As of 7/2/2020 Inventory Contracts Last Mo. Solds Last Mo Solds+ Contracts  YTD Solds  YTD+ Contracts Mos Supply Mos w/ Contracts Last Mo. Annlzd
< $600K 5 3 0 3 6 9 5.0 4.2 #DIV/0!
$600-$800K 16 12 1 13 15 27 6.4 4.4 16.0
$800K-$1M 30 9 4 13 17 26 10.6 8.7 7.5
$1-$1.5M 57 25 9 34 56 81 6.1 5.3 6.3
$1.5-$2M 77 30 14 44 42 72 11.0 8.0 5.5
$2-$3M 118 45 12 57 59 104 12.0 8.5 9.8
$3-$4M 91 24 16 40 38 62 14.4 11.0 5.7
$4-$5M 45 11 5 16 12 23 22.5 14.7 9.0
$5-6.5M 53 6 5 11 11 17 28.9 23.4 10.6
$6.5-$10M 50 4 5 9 5 9 60.0 41.7 10.0
> $10M 36 2 3 5 4 6 54.0 45.0 12.0
 
TOTAL 578 171 74 245 265 436 13.1 9.9 7.8

The second big group that is increasing sales in Greenwich are Greenwich homeowners and renters that are upsizing. Our Greenwich residents that have been waiting for the post-recession market to turn are seeing it and getting out ahead of ever-expanding market demand. Right now, most houses are priced at 2019 and pre-Covid 2020 prices. Greenwich buyers have another month or two to enjoy these prices. After that, we are going to see the closing prices of our 171 contracts. Many of these contracts, were signed after bidding wars involving multiple buyers and the contract prices are over the list price.

Indicative of this hot market is that in June, 32 of the new listings never made it to their one month anniversary. When we find out the sales price after closing, these prices are going to start the price resetting process. Another sign of a hot market is that our average days on market for sales and contracts jumped from 149 DOM last year to 183 DOM this year. Of the 171 contracts we have signed as the end of June, 7 were actually on the market for more than 1,000 days and 27 were on the market for a year. When the stale inventory is selling you know it’s time to get moving if you need a house.

The third thing that is driving high-end Greenwich market in June is the state’s new Gold Coast conveyance tax. Last year the Connecticut legislature increased the conveyance tax on sales over $2.5 million by 1% effective July 1, 2020. Of the 124 sales in CT over $2.5 million so far this year only 11 were outside of Fairfield County. Within Fairfield County near all the sales were in Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien and Westport.

The July 1st effective date of the $2.5M+ tax meant we saw a lot of deals that would have closed in July and August get pushed up to June. On a $10 million dollar sale, the seller would save $75,000 by closing on June 30th rather than July 1st. This was all the motivation many high-end buyers needed to closer sooner. As I mentioned above, sales above $5 million were up 286%. We went from 7 sales over $5 million at the end of May to 19 sales at the end of June. Of the 12 sales in June over $5 million, 7 of them over $7 million compared to only 1 sale over $7 million in the first 5 months or an increase of 600%.

We had 2 sales over $10 million occur on June 30th and 2 sales from $5 – 10 million on that date out of 11 sales. Unfortunately, this also means that July will likely be a poor month for high-end sales as the June accelerated deals aren’t there for a July closing. Right now, we have 12 contracts for houses listed over $5 million, all of whom will be helping to fund the Connecticut treasury by paying the higher conveyance tax.

One of the fun things to do is take these high-end June sales and annualize them. When you do that our months of supply over $10 million drops from 54 months of supply to 12 months of supply. From $6.5 – 10 million the drop in months of sales is from 60 months, or 5 years of supply, to 10 months of supply. Would that we could keep these June sales rate up all year round. Even with our present sales rate, things are still looking up for future sales over $3 million. When you include contracts over $3 million our months of supply is lower than when you only look at sales. This indicates an improving market though we may have to wait until August to see the number of sales increase.

 On the inventory side we are still down 21% from last year, but fortunately we are seeing lots more inventory come on the market, particularly in backcountry and mid-country where we need new listings. I just put on 14 Gray Oaks Lane for $3.65 million and it has been getting good interest as mid-country seems to be the new sweet spot in the Covid-era, not too far from town, but with good acreage for outdoor activities and social distancing.

14 Gray Oaks Lane, 5 BRs, 5 BAs, 2.28 Ac, $3.65M

Our 74 June house sales were better than June 2019, when we had 60 sales and a better month than June 2018 when we had 66 sales. We still have a ways to go to reach our 10 year average of 86 June sales, but the trend is definitely in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How the Coronavirus is Reshaping the Real Estate Market

Everything Old is New Again in Greenwich

How is the Covid virus reshaping the Greenwich real estate market? The short answer is in many ways. We are seeing significant rises in sales of houses on larger lots reversing the trend that we saw post-Great Recession. It looks like everything old is new again and larger houses with amenities on larger lots are back in fashion. Also, rentals may be returning to something more like the early 20th Century.

                Rentals & Condos

For condos, apartment style units with shared hallways and elevators whether for sale or rent are down while townhouse style condos sales and house rentals are up. I just had a condo get an accepted offer in five days.

Where we see the most dramatic change in Greenwich real estate is in high-end rentals. Last year at this time we had leased out 25 rentals over $15,000, this year we have 92 rentals or an increase of 268%. If you go even higher, last year we had 11 rentals for over $25,000/mo, this year we have 34 rentals.

  2020 Rentals Over $15,000/mo – 1/1 – 6/17/20

At the very top of the rental market, we had a summer rental for $38,000/mo last year. This year we had a summer rental go for $80,000/mo in 10 days and it rented for $5,000 over list price. We had 24 rentals this year for over $30,000/mo and all but 6 were rented in less than 30 days. Of those same 24 high-end rentals all but 4 went for list price or better. One house was put on for $32,000 per month on January 1st this year. It sat around for 73 days until the virus hit when all of a sudden it got multiple offers and rented for $50,000/mo, or 156% of the original list price.

 2019 Rentals Over $15,000/mo – 1/1 – 6/17/19

When you map the rentals, you can see that these high-end rentals are all over town. You have them in backcountry, the old golden triangle in mid-country around Clapboard Ridge, the post-recession golden triangle around lower Lake Ave and North Maple and what really stands out is the demand for waterfront rentals.

Now some people would have argued that the owners of these high-end home rentals being fairly well-to-do themselves would be unlikely to rent out their homes to strangers, but for at least 67 additional families in Greenwich the never-renters would be wrong. For these owners, the prospect of taking a long summer vacation, renting out their house, and coming back to $45,000 to $150,000 of additional money, is too enticing to pass up.

Summering in Greenwich?

It will be interesting to see what happens in 2021. In the early 20th Century Greenwich was a place where a lot of New Yorkers would summer. There used to be a trolley line down Sound Beach Ave in a village that was then called Sound Beach. They would bring people from the train out to a group inns in and around the intersection of Sound Beach Avenue and Shore Road in what is now Old Greenwich.

In the 60’s I used to deliver newspapers to the last of those two inns. Chris Franco did a wonderful job of renovating one of these inns into several beautiful condos through the use of a historic overlay. Another former inn is on the market just around the corner at 5 Holman Lane for $1,890,000. You can still see the reception area and the wide porches where rockers use to be set up for the guests. It will make a nice home someone.

House Sales

Sales of single family homes are also seeing the Covid effect. Last year as of 6/13 we had sold 41 houses on 2 acres or more, this year we have sold 53 houses or an increase of 29% over last year for larger lots. These large lot sales accelerated in May. We are also seeing more buyers coming into the market each week. Below is my Greenwich transaction index chart, which continues to go up in a jagged pattern, but the trend is clear. This sort of increase in a pandemic shows a lot of motivation by buyers.

Fortunately, for us, the number of infections and hospital admittances is going down, so I expect to see even more buyers going forward. The falling number of Covid cases also means that we are finally seeing more inventory come on the market as people are more willing to have their houses shown. We are up to 570 house listings, but last year at the end of June we had 729 single family home listings. We are still down quite a bit, but at least we are seeing net additions coming on faster than the sales are going off the market in our delayed 2020 “spring” market.

As to those going off the market, larger lots in backcountry are doing better this year than last year. The must have amenity for many is a nice, inground pool. (Check out my new seven bedroom listing at 1076 Lake Avenue that has everything including the heated pool.) The two-acre zone in mid-country, where buyers get a fair amount of space and are still relatively close to town is also very popular with folks fleeing the high-density of New York City. (I’ll have a listing in that area to talk about next week.)

While I’m continuing to get inquiries from Greenwich people looking to list their homes, I’m also getting inquiries from Greenwich residents that are looking to buy within Greenwich. Many our local residents that had been waiting to move up have decided that now is the time to do so when prices are still at pre-pandemic levels. This window won’t last much longer as lower inventory and higher demand from both Gothamites and Greenwich residents are only pointing in one direction.

The rest of this month promises to be a busy time in Greenwich real estate.

CONDOS & CO-OPS: A KEY PART OF THE 2020 GREENWICH REAL ESTATE MARKET

Condos have been quietly playing a bigger and bigger role in Greenwich. In 2012, condos were only 22% of our market, by 2017 they had soared to over 36% of our residential market. Since 2012, they have continued each year to be over 30% of sales compared to single family home sales. Condos this year have done about the same as last year. However, the mix of what is selling has changed. In this Covid era, we are seeing more sales of townhouses and fewer sales of apartment style condominiums.

As of 5/31/2020 Inventory Contracts Last Mo. Solds Last Mo Solds+ Contracts  YTD Solds  YTD+ Contracts Mos Supply Mos w/ Contracts Last Mo. Annlzd
< $600K 31 7 6 13 29 36 4.3 4.7 5.2
$600-$800K 25 8 4 12 12 20 8.3 6.9 6.3
$800K-$1M 14 1 1 2 7 8 8.0 9.6 14.0
$1-$1.5M 17 6 0 6 6 12 11.3 7.8
$1.5-$2M 14 0 0 0 1 1 56.0 77.0
$2-$3M 16 3 0 3 5 8 12.8 11.0
$3-$4M 10 7 0 7 2 9 20.0 6.1
$4-$5M 2 0 0 0 0 0
 
TOTAL 129 32 11 43 62 94 8.3 7.5 11.7

So far this year we have 62 sales of condominiums and co-ops. (All condo references and numbers in this report include co-ops as they trade almost like condos.) As is true of most years, these sales are concentrated under $600,000. For many people condominiums are an affordable way to get into the Greenwich housing market and for downsizers are a way to stay in the Greenwich that they love. The other thing we’ve seen in the last few years is the growth in new higher end condominiums, those priced above $2,000,000.

As of the end of May, we had 129 condominiums on the market. Our median list price was $985,000 while our medium sales price was $612,500. We had listings from $75,000 all the way up to $5 million. (OK the $75,000 listing was actually a boat slip but it’s legally a condo, though we don’t have the housing boats in Greenwich as you see in places like Sausalito, California. Our lowest real condo listing is priced at $199,750.) On the sales side our lowest sales price so far this year is $248,000 while our highest sale so far is $3.2 million.

Like houses we have a certain seasonality to condo purchases. Over the last 10 years, condo sales tend to peak in June, however they do not drop off as much in the fourth quarter. The first quarter also does  have rising condo sales, but it is not as steep as we see for single family homes. The result is that condo sales are spread throughout the year. Also, given the smaller number of sales the graph tends to jump around month to month much more in condo sales.

Condos as you would expect sale for a little less per square foot than houses , but not that much last. Our house dollar per square foot is around $500 per square foot whereas the median price for condos is $450 per square foot. This is even more remarkable when you consider that the price per square foot for a single-family home obviously includes the land cost too. The reason that we’re seeing such high prices is that condos are often sit on some of our most valuable land. They are located usually within a half a mile of the Post Rd where land prices or higher and are often in downtown areas where prices are even higher.

You see a concentration of condos as you would expect in downtown Greenwich, but we also have a fair number in Pemberwick and in Old Greenwich. What many people may miss is that Chickahominy just west of downtown Greenwich has a bunch of relatively new condos at the end of streets off of Hamilton Ave.

8 View St. #5, listed 6/11/20, $1,199,000

I’m listing one of these condos this week at 8 View Street , the street across from the Two Door restaurant and Bella Cucina. This is a 3300 square foot unit with a two-car garage and even its own  small yard which is unusual for a condominium. It has a large balcony with winter water views of Long Island Sound. This 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath condo is listed for $1,199,0000.

That condo is on the larger size for Greenwich. Condo sizes vary from studios at 585 square feet to large town houses at close to 5000 square feet. Our median condo size is around 1,500 s.f.  On average, our condos stay on the market for 141 days and we have about a 7.5 months of supply of condos. The lower the price, the lower the months of supply we have.

In 2011 we only sold 128 condos in Greenwich however by 2015 the market had recovered strongly, and we sold 210 condominiums. Since then we’ve been roughly around 200 condominium sales a year. Last year, in 2019, was a slower year for both houses and condominiums, as we only had 159 condo sales and only 526 house sales. Last year was the year that the Tax Cut and Job Act with its limitation on mortgage and property tax deductibility really cut into the Greenwich real estate market.

This year the condo market, like houses, started off the year doing well. The last two months things have slowed down with the Covid virus. We are seeing good interest from buyers looking to get out of New York City, particularly in those condo units that don’t share common elements, such as elevators and hallways, with the other units. Townhouse style condos are very popular.

When you look at months of supply, we have a competitive market all the way up to $1.5 million. We have a big jump in months of supply from $1.5 to 2 million as we have a bunch of new condos coming on in that price range. At the very high end, over $2 million for condos, we have a bunch of new condos whose prices are challenging previous highs particularly when you look at the price per square foot. These units are going to contract, many are waiting for C.O’s before closing.

Overall, our condo market is an important element in the diversity of Greenwich. Many of the smaller towns in Fairfield County have only a very small percentage of condominiums. One of the great things about having the number of condos that we have is that people who want to downsize to a more maintenance-free lifestyle don’t have to leave town to do so. We also see many of these downsizers become snowbirds and spend winters at houses in Florida and other places and come back for summers in Greenwich.

As we recover from the Covid virus, condo sales should rebound. We have 32 contracts waiting to close or more than half of the sales we have seen so far this year. We are also seeing a fair number of people from New York looking at condos in Greenwich. For many of these New Yorkers, the question may be a condo in Greenwich or a small house in Stamford or Norwalk.

Families tend to go for the smaller houses, though you actually see a surprising number of children at certain condo complexes, whose parents prefer the Greenwich schools. Couples tend to like the condos over houses and also like being closer to their jobs in New York City. As in the past few years, condo sales will likely be around a third of our market this year.

Condos are one of the things that make Greenwich Greenwich and maintain its vitality and they are an important part of our real estate market.