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.