Greenwich Real Estate Report: April 24-May 1, 2020

As we follow the news reports and try to determine where things are headed, we are most certainly in uncharted territory, as NY state Governor Andrew Cuomo likes to remind us in daily briefings. Governor Cuomo does his best to relay the facts in a way that keeps the residents of New York City calm, yet prepared for the future.

Despite this, many have fled to the suburbs and some have run for the hills. I know of many NYC residents who are sheltering in place in the Catskills, the Poconos and towns like Rhinebeck, NY.

I have received well over 300 inquiries from NYC residents who are looking for short term rentals in Greenwich, CT and surrounding towns. Once the majority of short term rentals were gone, and it was apparent that life will not be back to normal anytime soon, many started asking about long term rentals. Most say they plan to purchase a home here within one year. The majority who plan to buy soon, admit that they had intended on moving out of NYC eventually but they did not plan on doing so for another 1-3 years.

I was curious about those young families who decided to stay in NYC, even though life as they knew it in the city has changed, perhaps for quite a long while and perhaps forever. I asked three different NYC moms three questions. Below are their responses:

1. Why did you decide to stay put in NYC?

2. How old are your kids?

3. Do you think you’ll reconsider moving out of the city at a later time?

A: “I decided to stay put at first because I am an essential employee that had to keep working. Plus, in NYC, you don’t have to leave your apartment for anything. Food, medications, even dog walkers are all available to come to you. I live on Roosevelt Island where there is green space everywhere. It’s nice to be outside and see other people even if it’s from six feet away. I can say hi to friends from our balconies. Also, where was I going? I don’t have a second home. I am going to rent an Airbnb in the Catskills for a week though. Just for a little break from the monotony. My daughter is 8 years old. I’m definitely not leaving the city. I did the suburban thing once, it’s not for me. I will however never live in an apartment without a balcony ever again. As for those who did leave the city, they will be back or they would have left eventually anyway.”

A: “I feel so overwhelmed by the idea of making a permanent move out of the city. It’s not like the virus isn’t elsewhere. I’m wondering if we would feel more isolated outside of the city, just with more space. I’ve decided to stay just for the time being. Given the uncertainty of current times, I felt it was best to keep my apartment in NYC.  I felt like after I crunched the numbers, my monthly expenses would double and I would be adding over an hour each way to commute. I wasn’t comfortable making such a huge transition in a time of crisis. I want to leave all emotions out of my decision. My kids are in ages 8, 10 and 17. I will probably reconsider moving out of the city next summer.”

A: “We are currently staying in our home second home in Westport, CT. We won’t go back to NYC until schools reopen. My husband’s job (he’s a tutor) went mandatory work from home in early March and we have two young boys, ages 4 and 7. We are sheltering with my parents and one of my sisters. The only real reason to go back would be for school.

My husband works 100+ hrs per week and he has a 7 block commute to work in the city. We LOVE both of our kid’s schools. But we are lucky that we have a second house to escape to. I don’t know what we would have done if not.

We love NYC. We have spent 20 years building our lives there. We love the parks, the noise and the personalities on the street. All of it. There is no place like New York. The only reasons we would reconsider the city is if my youngest didn’t get into his brother’s school or if my husband were to lose his job.

I can’t imagine leaving, even if the city is different after this. We’ve weathered 9/11, the blackout and hurricanes. Being part of the revitalization of the city feels sort of like a civic duty to us. But again, we’re lucky that we have a second house to shelter in right now. That is a privilege. Anyone bunkering down with children in a small apartment, that is true dedication. That is an amazing story.

I miss the city so much. My kids ask when we can go home almost every day. I can’t wait to bring them home.”

The bottom line is there will always be die hard New Yorkers who will never leave NYC. There have always been those who thought they might stay but realized that city life can become a bit more challenging once kids arrive. For the most part, we are now seeing those who had always planned to move out of the city once their children reached a certain age and their time table has just been bumped up a bit.

Why is Greenwich paying close attention to NYC? Because the NYC real estate market directly impacts the Greenwich real estate market. If homeowners can’t sell their NYC apartments, many may not be able to buy in Greenwich. If they can sell in NYC, but take a big loss, they can’t afford to spend as much here and that can drive prices down. This is what we were seeing in the last few years but things were turning the corner. We were off to a strong start in Greenwich in 2020 and I believe that we will end 2020 strong as well.

Home sales in Greenwich have not slowed, as matter of fact, the number of new listings and closed listings have increased from last week. This may be in part because Realtors are still able to work in CT as they are considered essential workers whereas they are unable to work in NY.

Most Westchester homeowners are not listing their homes for sale but more homeowners are doing so in CT. Serious buyers are out looking. Potential buyers, renters and Realtors, must all wear a face mask and gloves before entering a home for a showing. Many showings are being done virtually using photos, floor plans, 3D tours, video tours and live Facetime showings. Some are using these methods to narrow down their search while others are renting site unseen.

The way we do business has changed drastically over the past few weeks and some of these new approaches to home sales will likely be around for a while if not permanently. All homes listed for sale or rent should have professional and realistic photos, floor plans, 3D tours and/or video tours to help people narrow down their search while sitting in front of their computers. All buyers should be pre-approved or pre-qualified by a mortgage lender before touring homes. Renters should know their credit cores and share them with their agents before viewing homes. This would save everyone valuable time, limit exposure and reduce the number of people walking through homes unnecessarily.

I am excited to see what the next few months will bring to the Greenwich real estate market and to the real estate industry in general.

This week’s highlights in Greenwich real estate:

  • 41 new to market listings
  • 21 sold properties
  • 20 price reductions
  • 11 accepted offers
  • 17 signed contracts

Stefanie Lacoff is a licensed real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services New England Properties in Greenwich, CT. Text/call: 203-536-9403 email: [email protected]