OCTOBER 2020 – DRAMATIC SALES DIFFERENCES CONTINUE IN GREENWICH NEIGHBORHOODS


By: Mark Pruner

First some good news, Greenwich just passed 700 sales for the year to date. This is the first time we have done that since 2013 when we had 724 sales for the entire year. Prior to that, you have to go back to 2007 to see sales exceed 700 houses for the year. But the news gets even better, in those two earlier years, we didn’t have 171 contracts waiting to close. With most of the election uncertainty behind us, closings should pick up in November and are likely to exceed October 2020’s 92 sales. One thing you can be sure of is that we will exceed our 10-year average of 39 November house sales, since we are already at 31 sales with only a third of the month gone.

As of the end of October, we are up 109% on contracts over last year, while our sales are up “only” 49%, since we had to make up for a slow first half. In that slow first half, we were down 11% in sales compared to our ten-year average. Year over year, we were up 17% compared to our anemic 2019. The second half surge in sales and contract is however, not a townwide phenomenon

Total Sales, Contracts & Inventory by Neighborhood
(10/30/20 GMLS)
Section Inventory Solds Contracts
Banksville 2 3 2
Byram 12 13 2
Cos Cob 37 63 20
Glenville 18 27 8
North Mianus 4 7 4
North Parkway 85 78 24
Old Greenwich 34 104 24
Pemberwick 5 7 2
Riverside 49 108 22
South of Post Rd 70 62 25
South Parkway 144 198 49

Grand Total 460 671 182

Our new sweet spot in town is mid-country so let’s take a detailed look at this area, that is bigger than backcountry, but doesn’t get nearly the attention that backcountry does. For the GMLS there is no backcountry. It’s kind of like the rules of golf not mentioning the rough that you find on every golf course. The GMLS has a huge section of the town called South of the Parkway. This area goes all the way from the southside of the Merritt Parkway to the north side of the Post Road. It starts in the west at the New York border and continues all the way to the Stamford border in the east except where it bumps up against Cos Cob.
We also call much of this area mid-country, but the southern end of this area isn’t. Students in the South of the Parkway section go to four different elementary schools; Parkway, North Street, Glenville and Julian Curtis. The houses South of the Parkway are located in 5 different P&Z zones. The smallest is the R-7 zone with 7,500 s.f. minimum lot size lots located on lower Lake Avenue near the hospital. The largest zone is the RA-2 zone with 87,120 s.f. lots south of the Merritt Parkway.

The highest sales price South of the Parkway in 2020 is 13,412 s.f. in Deer Park that sold for $10,750,000. The square footage of this house is almost double the lot size in the R-7 zone. The least expensive house South of the Parkway was actually in the R-12 zone and sold for $850,000 near Central Middle School. To draw overall statistical conclusions from such a diverse set of prices and lot size is problematic, but it’s what we have.

When you look at the numbers for South of the Parkway, they are almost twice any other section of the town. Part of that is that as mentioned, it is by far the largest section of Greenwich, but it’s also has had the biggest gains in sales this year. Last year, South of the Parkway had 115 sales out of 449 sales or 25.6% of all sales. This year South of the Parkway, we have had 198 sales out of 671 sales or 29.5%. So, more sales and a bigger share of these increased sales as people are buying up the 1- and 2-acre zones in this section. Match the increase in sales with a drop of 31% in listings and you better bring you A-game and a good Realtor if you want the house.
Change in Inventory Sales and Contracts 10/2020 vs 10/2019

Section Inventory Solds Contracts
Banksville 1 0 2
Byram 3 1 0
Cos Cob -17 23 13
Glenville -11 9 0
North Mianus 2 -6 4
North Parkway -11 32 13
Old Greenwich -19 24 7
Pemberwick 0 -3 0
Riverside -16 40 12
South of Post Rd 7 18 17
South Parkway -64 83 27

Grand Total -127 222 95

The three other areas where we saw big jumps in the number of sales were Riverside, Cos Cob and Backcountry. For Riverside and Cos Cob, 2019 was not a good year, so when they came back this year, they got a bigger increase year over year. Backcountry actually started its recovery, pre-Covid as by 2019 prices there had gotten much cheaper than in Old Greenwich. In the Covid era, people want land and there are still good deals to be had in backcountry which resulted in 32 more sales this year. The question is for how much longer.
Backcountry sales are up 70% over last year and contracts are up 118%, while inventory is down 11%, which is less than other sections. This small drop in inventory probably indicates that there were a bunch of people in backcountry who had been waiting for better times to list. (I’ve been talking to several about listing now or later.)

Old Greenwich is not in recovery. It has been on a multi-year run without the ups and downs we have seen in other areas of town. In my old neighborhood, south of the village that used to be junior executives and their families, inventory is down 38% to only 34 listings. Sales are up 30% and contracts are up 41%, but both these increases are below our townwide average. It’s nice to start from a high base, but the percentage increases are not as great.

Cos Cob has seen major percentage increases as they have recovered from a poor 2019. Last year at this time, there were only 7 contracts on Cos Cob listings, this year we have 20 contracts for a 186% increase. Sales after a slow start for the year, are up 58%, better than townwide average of 49%.

South of the Post Road has done even better with a 213% increase going from 8 contracts last year to 25 contracts this year. On the other side of the ledger, sales in North Mianus are down 50% going from 13 sales last year to only 7 sales this year. A lot of this is Brownian motion as it works out to less than 1 sale a month.

What we are not seeing is a significant increase in sales prices in any neighborhood. This is because the above analysis is not for price increases. This year Greenwich is competing not only against Darien and New Canaan, but also Wilton and Bedford, and Ridgefield and Weston. Covid buyers who can’t find what they want in Greenwich are moving up the line. Most of them haven’t been in their office for months and if you are going into your office once a week, what’s an extra 30 minutes in your commute a few times a month.

Coming up a new president, new Covid vaccines, vaccine deniers, another multi-trillion dollar stimulus package and stuff no one has predicted. Stay tuned….