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Is Backcountry Greenwich Back? After Storm, 25 Open Houses on Feb. 10

Backcountry Greenwich Lags Rest of Town ** Sales Under $2MM Active in Backcountry ^^ How to Sell a Backcountry Property

 

This week we have 25 open houses mostly in the southern part of town. If you are traveling a long distance, I’d check with the brokerage firm to make sure that it is still on. Here in Greenwich it was a nice snowfall, but nothing really record breaking. Friday was a great day to sit by the fire and watch the snow fall. The snow is beautiful and makes for a nice setting for many houses. A warm coat and shoes that are easy to take off so you don’t track salt into the house are the order of the day.

 

MARKET REPORT – IS BACKCOUNTRY GREENWICH BACK?

I’ve lived in Greenwich for 38 years and in the backcountry for half that time. It’s a great area. Lots of space and privacy. An active community centered around the several churches and Parkway and Whitby schools.

The Round Hill Association gets some great speakers and just put up their new website at http://www.roundhillassn.org which has lots of info on the area. (OK I was the webmaster and think it turned out well, but I may be biased).  Once you’ve been around for a while you can get a house account at the Round Hill service station and just sign for your gas. While there stop in the Round Hill Store, the oldest business in town established in 1801. The burgers are one of the best kept secrets in town and the freezer in front in the source for my cookie dough for fresh-baked cookies at my open houses.

So it’s a nice area, but since the Great Recession it’s been a tough place to sell houses. While the rest of Greenwich has seen a good recovery with appreciation in double digits for Riverside and Old Greenwich, the backcountry has lagged. 

As you can see in the graph the average price (blue line) rose from 1999 to 2009. In 1999 the average price in the backcountry was $2.2 million and the median (red line) was $1.55 million. Prices rose steadily peeking in 2009 at $6,040,185 and the median was $4,500,000 that year. Since that time prices have declined each year to their current $3.67 milllion average and $2 million median.  During this same period actual  backcountry sales decreased from a high of 90 in 2000 to only 27 in 2009 before recovering to the “new normal” of around 46 sales the last three years. The nice thing is that that rate decline is flattening and also much of the decline in average and median prices is due a change in the mix of what is selling as discussed below.

With more lower priced houses being sold and fewer houses selling for over $10 million, the average and the median prices have to come down. The above chart is a mess, since it’s hard to display 10 price ranges over 14 years.  To get a feel of what has happened take a look at the size and position of the red band which represents sales from $2 – 3 million. Back in 1999 this bracket was wide and near the top of the bar as the average price was much lower and sales were up. As prices increased and sales dropped the band for this price range became narrower and was lower in the bar with 2009 being the most extreme example. By 2010 the band widened again and moved back to the top as sales expanded and prices continued to drop.

Most people think of the backcountry as the home of the four-acre zone and the high-end house and it is as you can see in the last column showing February 2013 inventory. What is surprising is the number of houses under $1.5 million that have sold in the backcountry since 2009. Thirty-one out of the 137 houses that have sold in the last three years have been under $1.5 million (and this doesn’t include Banksville which the GMLS has in its own category). Take a look at the yellow band of sales from $1 – 1.5 million to see how this price category almost disappeared only to come back strong in the last few years.

This move to lower priced houses is also represented by a preference for smaller houses. From 1999 to 2005, backcountry Greenwich houses averaged around 5,500 square feet, before climbing to over 8,000 square feet in 2009. Since then the average square footage has dropped and has averaged around 6,400 square feet the last three years.

The biggest problem for backcountry sales is lower demand for the location and for the size of house available. If you look at inventory, the last bar in the multi-colored graph and compare the supply of available houses to the number of houses that sold in 2012 in each price range you can see that up to $2 million supply and demand are in relative sync. Over that price the height of the inventory bar segments start to get much higher than their corresponding color in the 2012 sales bar.

Under $2 million we had 20 properties sold in 2012 and we only have an inventory of 22 houses. In this price range backcountry is much like the rest of Greenwich. Above $2 million, we have 21 properties sold in Greenwich, but we have an inventory of 85 homes or a four-year supply of houses.

 

SELLING A HOUSE IN BACKCOUNTRY GREENWICH

So what does it take to sell a house in backcountry Greenwich? More so than anywhere else in town it has to be priced to today’s market. As people want to live closer to town the number of backcountry high-end buyers has dropped. Under $2 million, if you price the house right figure around 6 months to sell a house.

For larger houses, those over 6,000 square feet  and/or above $3 million, you need a good house, a nice appearance and patience. For motivated sellers, however, there is less competition  than it at first might seem. Many of the “sellers” of these high-end homes are not under great economic pressure to sell and their houses are listed at well above today’s market price. So a well-priced house stands out. Half of the back country houses that sold in 2012 for more than $3 million did so in less than 180 days.

Also if you are selling a $3 million-plus house, now is the time to have it on the market as the bonus earners are actively looking. Many of the buyers of these houses are looking to invest their bonus from not only this year, but their deferred bonuses from 2011 and 2010. Despite the stories of this year's bonuses being down for many people, their total bonus compensation available to them in 2013 is actually up.

While you can never tell the absolute level of activities in this price range (these houses don’t have keyboxes), the feeling around the office is that this segment is busier.  Regardless, these houses need to be actively marketed to the right target audience to stand out from the crowd. 

It’s still a buyer’s market, but it is getting better.

 

GREENWICH, CT OPEN HOUSE LIST FOR SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2013

The open house list and the interactive map are courtesy of Rob Pulitano and the hot links are courtesy of Jared Randall. Check out both their websites for useful market stats.  

 

Address

Town

List Price

Time

Broker

2 Homestead Lane #406

Greenwich

$441K

1-4 PM

Raveis

4 Lafayette Court #1C

Greenwich

$445.5K

1-4 PM

Coldwell Bnkr

2 Cary Road

Riverside

$449K

2-4 PM

Coldwell Bnkr

72 Putnam Park

Greenwich

$598K

1-3 PM

Weichert

14 Sound Beach Avenue

Old Greenwich

$599K

1-4 PM

Raveis

98 Putnam Park

Greenwich

$695K

1-3 PM

Raveis

15 River Road #211

Cos Cob

$719K

2-4 PM

Grnwich Fine Prop

2 Gerry Street

Greenwich

$749K

2-4 PM

Raveis

69 Riverdale Avenue

Greenwich

$769K

2-4 PM

Coldwell Bnkr

115 River Road #10

Cos Cob

$775K

1-4 PM

Prudential

11 Maple Street

Cos Cob

$829K

2-4 PM

Raveis

282 Bruce Park Avenue #1

Greenwich

$1.039M

2-4 PM

Coldwell Bnkr

122 Riverside Avenue

Riverside

$1.075M

1-4 PM

Prudential

86 Lower Cross Road

Greenwich

$1.249M

1-3 PM

Weichert

5 Station Drive

Greenwich

$1.637M

1-4 PM

Prudential

65 Lockwood Lane

Riverside

$1.695M

1-4 PM

Prudential

318 Valley Road

Cos Cob

$1.795M

2-4 PM

Coldwell Bnkr

320 Valley Road

Cos Cob

$1.795M

2-4 PM

Coldwell Bnkr

16 Manor Road

Old Greenwich

$1.799M

1-4 PM

Prudential

525 River Road

Cos Cob

$1.84M

1-3 PM

Coldwell Bnkr

43 Stag Lane

Greenwich

$1.85M

2-4 PM

Sothebys

6 Stanwich Lane

Greenwich

$1.895M

2-4 PM

Coldwell Bnkr

29 Hunting Ridge Road

Greenwich

$1.95M

2-4 PM

Grnwich Fine Prop

25 Midwood Drive

Greenwich

$1.995M

1-4 PM

Edward's & Assoc.

55 Will Merry Lane

Greenwich

$2.995M

2-4 PM

Coldwell Bnkr

56 Frontier Road

Cos Cob

$3.195M

1-4 PM

Coldwell Bnkr

27 Chieftans Road

Greenwich

$3.595M

2-4 PM

Grnwich Fine Prop

4 Cove Ridge Ln/Hendrie Dr Ext

Old Greenwich

$3.995M

1-3 PM

Coldwell Bnkr

487 North Street

Greenwich

$5.495M

2-4 PM

Coldwell Bnkr

36 West Way

Old Greenwich

$5.995M

2-4 PM

Grnwich Fine Prop

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