(Bloomberg) -- Almost no one buying a home in Greenwich is paying the sticker price.
Ninety percent of all single-family deals in the fourth quarter were for less than what the seller was seeking -- the biggest share in data going back to mid-2017, according to a report Thursday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The average discount from the last asking price was 9.6%.
The price cuts didn’t improve sales -- those fell by 12% from a year earlier to 117. But they did contribute to the biggest reduction in the Connecticut town’s listings since the first quarter of 2017, as owners who refused to discount pulled their properties from the market.
“Reality is officially here,” said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel. “We’re getting to a point where they have to decide: Do they want to ever sell, or do they want to withdraw?”
Greenwich homeowners are adjusting to a climate in which even the wealthiest buyers are sensitive to price. The Wall Street jobs and bonuses that support the town’s lofty property values are on the decline, and shoppers are showing little interest in oversized estates far from the train station and retail center. New federal limits on deductions for local taxes have also damped sales in Greenwich as well as other pricey areas, like Westchester and Manhattan.
Deals haven’t increased in any of the past five quarters. But buyers, inspired by low mortgage rates, are still out shopping and will act quickly when they sniff out value.
“At the right price there’s always an audience,” said David Haffenreffer, manager of the Greenwich office of Houlihan Lawrence, which also released a report on the Greenwich market.
In the section of town north of the Merritt Parkway, featuring sprawling estates set back from winding, two-lane roads, deals jumped 54% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, Houlihan Lawrence said. It was the largest increase for any neighborhood, and buyers there also got the heftiest discounts.
The biggest sale in the quarter happened there, too, after the owners agreed to a price that was 45% less than what they paid in 2010. The 75-acre estate, which once belonged to actor Mel Gibson, sold last month for $13.25 million after seven years on the market. The property features a 15,800-square-foot mansion, a tennis court, greenhouse and landscaping that includes a maze made of hedges.
In all of Greenwich, contracts picked up at the end of the year, suggesting a stronger quarter of sales to come. As of Dec. 31, there were 74 pending transactions, up 54% from the same time in 2018 and the largest annual jump since 2015, Houlihan Lawrence said.
The biggest increase in contracts was for homes priced from $1 million to $1.99 million, according to the brokerage.
“People are recognizing there are deals to be had,” Haffenreffer said.
(Updates with contract price data in penultimate paragraph)
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