The power of this blog surprises even me

In Today’s  Greenwich Time, “Decline in Home Sales Continues”

Home sales in Greenwich were down nearly 70 percent in the first third of 2009 compared with a year earlier, though real estate agents hope that with recent and upcoming closings factored in, figures in the next few months will be stronger.

There were 56 single-family home sales in the first four months of the year, compared with 168 sales during the same period of 2008, according to information from Riverside-based Shore & Country Properties.

The average sale price also fell 23 percent, from $2.8 million to $2.2 million, an amount that Shore &  Country owner and partner Russell Pruner says is the largest drop since 1945, though that’s compared to full-year markets and not a four-month segment.

Realtor David Ogilvy said a four-month chunk doesn’t give a clear picture of the market, and he’s now extremely busy, selling everything from a no-frills house in Old Greenwich for $915,000 to a $23.9 million mansion that went in 10 days for close to the full asking price. [In fact, the latter, the beautifully restored Rockefeller mansion, was sold by Barabara Zaccagnini, of Coldwell Banker and Sally Maloney, of Greenwich Fine Properties, neither brokerage affiliated with David Ogilvy and Associates – Ed]

Pruner predicts that while the sales figures for May released next week won’t show much change, maybe reaching 60 percent to 65 percent of 2008, there could be a turnaround soon.

Buyers are seeing opportunity in the desirable Greenwich market that many once thought was unreachable.

Rob Pajer, one of Ward’s clients who closed a month ago on a three-bedroom home on Field Road in Riverside for $1.1 million, said he and his wife were pleasantly surprised by the number of houses that were available.

Pajer, his wife and two young children are moving from a house in Somerset County, N.J. they bought in 2002, and Pajer said he never thought they could afford living here.

“We were going to go for the gold standard, which is Greenwich,” said Pajer, 49. “We wanted to land somewhere we were going to stay.”

Pruner sees this attitude as the reason why the Greenwich market won’t be in free-fall for long.

“Greenwich is still Greenwich and people are still going to want to live here,” Pruner said. “When we are able to focus back on why people buy Greenwich, then I think you’ll see the transactions go up.”

Russ Pruner is right – there are contracts in the works (I have one of them) and sales are happening. And as Mr. Pajer from New Jersey demonstrates, there are still out-of-town buyers willing to support old -style prices. So that’s good; but I’d like to point out that I didn’t use the term “free fall” to describe our current market, Russ Pruner did. His mind must have been twiseted by this blog.

UPDATE:  Sales figures are a lagging indicator – contracts tell you what’s going on now. So I just checked activity through June 7th. We have 100 sales (sales that went to contract in 2009) and pending contracts this year. That compares to 199 in 2008, when the market had started the “Pruner Free Fall” and 329 in 2007, when we were all fat, happy and dumb. I don’t disagree with Russ that Greenwich is indeed a special place to live and will always attract people who want to live here, but I am more pessimistic than some of his colleagues about how soon the rebound will arrive. I continue to believe we are in the midst of a “re-set” mode and that, once we have completed that re-set, sales will resume. But not until then and when they do, they’ll occur at the new values, not 2007s.


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8 responses to “The power of this blog surprises even me

  1. Anonymous

    $23.9 million was LISTED by Leslie McElwreath of Sotheby’s. Barbara Zaggagnini was not involved in this transaction.

    • christopherfountain

      Sotheby’s had the listing Zaggagnini had the right to sell, which she did, to Sally Maloney’s client. Sotheby’s had as much to do with this sale as David Ogilvy.

  2. anon 1

    “Greenwich is still Greenwich and people are still going to want to live here…When we are able to focus back on why people buy Greenwich, then I think you’ll see the transactions go up.”

    This is so laughable. The United States is also still the United States, and a lot of people want to live here. The whole country just needs to focus on this I suppose! Yeah, buyers will realize that this is magical Greenwich, and why shouldn’t they just throw away a downpayment when their home plummets in value in the next twelve months. It’s GREENWICH everyone!!!!

    Transactions will go back up in Greenwich when prices drop a lot further. The areas of the country where volume has returned are the ones where prices are down 40-50% from peak.

    Rising mortgage rates also just descended on the market, knee-capping it again. The summer lull is almost here. And there will be desperation in the fall.

    Note that the out-of-town guy who’s buying in Greenwich because IT’S GREENWICH threw down the eye-popping sum of…ta da…$1.1 million!!! If everyone drops to $1.1 million asking price, I am sure the volume will indeed increase.

    • christopherfountain

      I agree, anon, but I will point out that for that particular house, $1.1 certainly popped my eyes out.

  3. anon 1

    Chris, you are so right. Hear that!?! It’s the sound of all the Greenwich realtors starting up their cars — they’re on their way to the Jersey Shore with bags of listing fliers and buttons that say “Greenwich rocks! Jersey, eh, not so much.”

  4. Karnack

    anon 1:
    How long you been in Greenwich? Probably a newbee or a very bitter once was. Find another Town in the Metro area that offers what Greenwich does. Not sure how long it will take the market to hit bottom in Greenwich but I would rather be in Greenwich then somewhere else. I am sure you are about to bail out of here because you see Greenwich prices going lower then the surrounding communities or maybe you already live in another community and hope prices get to a level that you can buy a studio here. I am sure you will find some great comeback for this because you have nothing better to do in your life than spend time commenting daily on this blog. Might be good to get out of your home that is losing value like no tomorrow, so says you, or tell us the truth that you really rent, probably in PC with a small piece of the property in Greenwich. What ever your living arrangements, get some sun – experience what Greenwich has to offer. In fact, take your computer with you so you can continue to enlighten us with your extensive knowledge about our lovely Town. You know what I think, with all the knowledge you have about the Town of Greenwich you should run for First Selectman, you know that is the Top Dog in Town, don’t you. I am sure the multitudes of friends you entertain here on this “ALL SEEING ALL KNOWING” blog would love to see you show them the compassion, leadership skills, and knowledge you possess about my Town. What would they put on those election signs – Vote for ANON1 or is there a real person behind that masked man. Inquiring minds want to know!

  5. anon 1

    Wow Karnack, I’m so flattered that you decided to write a little short story about me. Greenwich is quite a nice place, and I don’t think I’ve ever said anything to the contrary. I just find it silly when people make claims that it’s immune to the economic currents buffeting the nation and world. Very puzzling that you equate that to being bitter or a newbee. I think Fountain often says similar things — is he bitter or a newbee, too? Perhaps you are the bitter one with your declining home value. And when someone points that out, you feel the need to engage in hack psychoanalysis to comfort yourself.

    P.S. I don’t live in “PC”. I’m actually homeless you jerk, living on Greenwich Avenue. I just hook up to free WiFi signals where I can find them. I’d live at Tod’s Point, but there is no WiFi there — what the hell is with that? I don’t think it’s very funny that you mock my goal of owning a cool studio on the Ave. Do you know where I can find a cheapo one for $1 mil? I’ve only saved $800k at Greenwich Trust, and I only want to buy for cash. I have soooo many more cans to recycle. Uh oh, Starbucks is closing down now, so I’m going to lose my WiFi signal. TTFN.