Over the past three years, we have routinely chronicled the falling demand for opulent mansions in Greenwich, Conn., a town in Fairfield County which embodies wealth and privilege. In the spring of 2019, we reported that Greenwich’s “upscale” market (typically homes in the $10 million-plus range) had seen sales evaporate, leaving prices to tumble 25%. Many sellers pulled listings off the market, deciding to wait for a better market.
Just one year later, the coronavirus pandemic precipitated a dramatic change in fortunes. Demand soared for Greenwich mansions in the spring. And what many believed would be a “short-term” surge in demand has persisted.
On Thursday, Bloomberg reported on the latest batch of data released by local real estate brokerages.
According to a report from appraiser MIller Samuel, deals involving single-family homes jumped 70% during the third quarter from a year earlier. In total, 311 sales were counted – the largest number dating back to 2010 – and the median price on those deals surged 18% to $2.13 million.
Realtors have been particualrly impressed by sales in a part of town known to real estate agents as “Back Country”. North of the Merrit Parkway, Back Country is known for large estates with many acres and amenities.
“We couldn’t give Back Country away, it was too far away from downtown,” said Scott Durkin, president of Douglas Elliman. Now, its homes have become “the most-requested property.”
But during Q3, it was the best-selling part of town.
“With bigger homes, you’ve got the opportunity to have extended family with you, but also more amenities on-site,” said David Haffenreffer, manager of brokerage Houlihan Lawrence’s Greenwich office. “You can spread out and live that quarantine life in a more-liberated way.”
Discounts in Q3 averaged 4.4%, the smallest in a decade, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said. Properties spent an average of 139 days on the market, 25% less time than a year ago. There were 172 homes, under contract as of Sept. 30, the end of the quarter.
The turnaround in the Greenwich real estate market is just one more way wealthy Wall Street executives have benefited, or at least been shielded from, the worst affects of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, a new nonprofit newsroom called “The City” dedicated to covering NYC published a piece about the surging demand for food banks and social services in the Bronx.
The Bronx has always been poor, its author contends. But this time, it’s different. The official unemployment rate in the Bronx is now 21%, the worst in the city, and near the highs from the Great Depression era. Many of its residents are struggling, and depend on charities like BronxWorks for food. When the moratorium on evictions ends, many fear they will be kicked out by desperate landlords.