2011 continued the recovery of the Greenwich real estate market from its low point in January 2009 when only five homes were sold.
Sales up for the year
For the whole year it looks like sales of single-family homes in Greenwich will be up about 5 percent from 2010. Last year we had 538 sales and this year, sales should be around 565 to 570. So far we have 561 sale this year and the last few days of the year are often busy as some people try to shift income into this year; (e.g. I have a closing on Dec. 29.)
Snow kills February sales
While 2011 in aggregate looks to be quite similar to 2010, the totals mask this year's roller coaster ride. What we had this year was near constant monthly shifts in sales volume from month to month. With the snowiest winter on record, February 2011's 19 home sales was one of the worst Februarys in the last six years. The only exception was the recession month of February 2009 with 10 sales. By April, sales had recovered and the 59 sales that month was nearly identical to the boom year of April 2007 with its 60 sales.
Conveyance tax increase has big market effect
Then came June 2011, a month that blew away previous June sales by more than 20 sales. We had 114 home sales in June, followed by a horrible July with only 48 sales. July is normally our second best month for sales, but this year the increase the Connecticut conveyance tax shifted sales into June. If you average sales in both months then summer 2011 was a little better than 2010.
Volatiity continues in second half
Just as we were getting over the roller coaster ride into the trough of July sales we flew back up again in September 2011 with 50 home sales. That number was even better than September sales in the boom years of 2006 and 2007, with 45 and 47 sales, respectively.
Of course 2011 being 2011 we had to follow a great month in September with another horrible month. October this year only had 21 sales as the people held their breath as some congressmen actually talked about the U.S. defaulting on its debt and the market swooned. Once we got over that, November recovered nicely back to the new normal with 30 home sales.
To round out 2011 at this point December looks to be disappointing month. Over the last six years we have averaged 34 sales in December and we have 23 sales reported to the Greenwich MLS as of Dec. 27.
Overall a good recovery year
For the year sales were better, prices were stable and inventory in most price categories are well balanced between buyers and sellers. Only with homes above the $5 million mark, do sales continue to be slow. There were 7 sales in that price range this year, most notably, the on Field Point Circle in Belle Haven for $39.5 million in June; a 14.5 acre estate on Meadow Lane for $32.5 million in July, and another Field Point Circle property for $25 million in February.
What to expect in 2012?
Clearly, we saw more volatility in the market in 2011 than 2010, a year when sales matched the 6 year average pretty closely. 2012 is an election year and Congress with passage of the two-month employment tax patch at least is working together a little better so things should improve somewhat on that front. Much of Europe is looking for a place to put its money and despite the month-to-month volatility Greenwich is a good place to park some funds.
We also have lots of young families that have delayed buying a house and lots of downsizers that have done the same for the last several years. The demand is out there and just waiting for a clear signal that things are going in the right direction.