Column: Sales up 26% in 3Q
By Mark Pruner
With the end of September comes the end of the third quarter and it turns out to be good news for Greenwich. Our 183 third quarter sales represent a 26% increase over the 3rd quarter of 2017. If you go back another year in history, that 26% increase in third quarter sales can look a little deceptive, in 2016 we had 207 third quarter sales. Go back ten years, however, and the third quarter average is 185 sales.
Now that 10-year average of 185 third quarter sales is actually really good news. Our 2018 third quarter with 183 sales was an average third quarter, when the pundits were sure our sales would be down because of the federal tax law changes.
That latest numbers from New York City give some credence to that idea. Depending on which agency is doing the reporting 3rd quarter sales in Manhattan were down from 11% to 14%. (One of the problems of not having a multiple listing service.) Regardless, the difference is pretty dramatic, NYC down 13%, Greenwich up 26%.
What we have is a decent, though not a robust market, but as always, the devil is in the details. Various pockets look good. Our over $10 million market has twice the sales of last year with 8 sales versus 4 sales and we have an additional contract waiting to close. Drop down to the $6.5 – 10 million range and things don’t look so promising. We have only 8 sales so far this year compared to 16 sales last year or twice the sales last year. The problem with slow sales is likely to continue as we only have 2 contracts compared to 4 contracts at this time in 2017.
Overall sales and contracts are up from $800,000 to $4 million with the notable exception of $1.0 – $1.5 which has had slower sales for most of the year. The tax law and the increase in interest rates has not helped this segment. Hopefully, this is turning around since we finally saw sales in this price range exceed the sales in September 2017.
Part of our 26% increase in third quarter sales was due to good September 2018 sales compared to September 2017 sales. All in all, September was good, average month. Good, because we did significantly better than September 2017 in total sales, 46 sales this year compared to 34 sales in September 2017, but average, because these sales were right at our 10-year average, but this year average is good.
Overall, our inventory is up by 29 listings or 5% from this time last year. Curiously, this increase is mostly attributable to only two price ranges. The price range from $800K – 1M is up 20 listings to 36 or more than double last year’s 16 listings. This is normally a pro-seller buyer range, for example last year we only had 4.2 months of supply. This year with much more inventory, we are looking at 6.8 months of supply even though sales are up 40% from last year. The increased inventory is leading to increased sales, but the inventory increased even faster.
The other price range with a big jump in inventory is the $3 – 4 million price range where inventory is up 12 listings or 14%. The nice thing for folks with houses in that price range is that sales are up 13% leaving months of supply essentially unchanged at 16.6 months. Not a great number for months of supply but moving.
A third price range where we see inventory up is the $6.5 – 10 million price range where have 5 more listings or an 11% increase. As mentioned above sales are down in this price range and with inventory up, the months of supply are measured in years, in this case 4.7 years of supply.
The Micro & L.E.O. Views
So, what does this all mean when you go micro and look just at Greenwich. Sales YTD are up from last year. The high-end started out well, but has returned to the slowerness of last year. Our ultra-high end is doing better than we have seen in a while. The heart of our market from $600,000 to $4 million is doing better than last year and seems to be strengthening.
If you pull back and look at the Greenwich market from the low earth orbit of the Space Shuttle, Greenwich is looking pretty good. It’s a bright spot in a region with few of those. It’s a nice time to live in Greenwich, but it is most of the time.
Mark Pruner is an award-winning Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England in their Greenwich office. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-969-7900.