Real Estate Column: April Sales a Mixed Month


By Mark Pruner

April was one of those months where you could look at the glass as half full or empty. Our inventory was lagging behind last year but only by a little as of the beginning of the month we had 631 listings. Last year we had 643 single family home on the market, a small difference. So we were about where we were last year.

We also were only slightly down for sale in April as we had 29 sales this year compared to 35 sales last year. What 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. This doesn’t bode well for sales in the month of May. We are down 43 contracts from last year and 40 of those contracts are in the heart of our market from $800K to $3 million.

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. 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 as Greenwich. is one of the few places in the US where there is a significant inventory above $5 million. Contrast this with our adjacent city in lower Fairfield County , Stamford, where last year 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.

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.

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 seeingmarkets 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.

Mark Pruner was the #1 Connecticut agent for Douglas Elliman in 2015; mark.pruner@elliman.com, 203-969-7900.

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