Matrix Blog

Fairfield County, CT

Do We Hope This Listing Goes Viral?…No We Don’t.

April 7, 2020 | 2:08 pm | | Favorites |

I am reading a lot more about everything right now, including real estate. Yesterday’s Bloomberg article caught my eye: Greenwich Homeowner Bets on Virus Getaway Pitch to Win a Sale. Desperation to sell can take many forms. Please read on.

The article featured a listing in Greenwich, CT that came on 68 days ago that wasn’t moving (I assume this based on what was done later). Here is the text for the original listing displayed at the bottom the screenshot:

Like new light-filled house with a modern design by Donald Breismeister including 9 ft ceilings on the first floor. High-tech amenities throughout with e-thermostat, lighting and security cameras all hardwifred CAT-5 wiring throughout. Bathrooms are beautiful and modern with separate steamshower and large whirlpool tub. Nice front yard and backyard has large entertainment deck. All these amenities are just two blocks from the Post Road on a quiet road within walking distance to GreenwichHS, Greenwich Country Day and Central MS.


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With the sales market slowing down despite entering peak selling season, many homeowners are reluctant to add their homes to the rental market. The owner in the article said:

“I rented property in the past. It’s too much hassle. My trust level is pretty low with renters.”

About ten days ago the listing was modified by raising the price to $100,000 and throwing in a 2011 Subaru, linens, televisions, etc. and rebranding the sales effort as a Coronavirus Special (bold emphasis mine).

CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL – Some houses are move-in ready. This house is live-in ready. It comes with all furniture, kitchen appliances, washer & dryer, dishes, silverware, TVs, pool table, beds, linens, lawn equipment and even a car. Everything you need to enjoy living in your own house in Greenwich. The house was designed by an award winning architect with lots of custom features. The first floor has high ceilings and two fireplaces. You have a Costco closet just off the 2-car garages and 5 BRs upstairs.You have town water, gas and sewer and are close to both public and private schools. Tomney is a quiet side street, but near downtown, the train and I-95.If you don’t want the time and hassle of arranging movers and buying lots of new items, this house is ready for you now.

While I very much appreciate how hard it is right now to market a home for sale during a global pandemic, the marketing of a home as a CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL is a bit tone-deaf especially when raising the price to include a bunch of the seller’s personal stuff. “Throwing in” used furniture, appliances, linens and an old car by raising the listing price by $100,000 is not, by definition, “throwing it in.”

When I first saw the listing in the Bloomberg piece I thought about all the snarky headlines during other pandemics/tragedies and using brutal sarcasm I found myself chuckling from the absurdity of all of it. Now, as I was writing this post a day later, the initial LMAO title ideas felt icky and were not worth repeating.

Q: Can you imagine associating the word “SPECIAL” with these?

  • AIDS
  • SARS
  • H1N1
  • 9/11

A: I didn’t think so.

Times like this call for creative marketing and perhaps the Bloomberg story and even this blog post may bring new eyeballs to the listing to help it sell. I suspect that won’t happen because the appearance of the home and what comes with it for the price isn’t the problem. The agent is definitely not the problem. The seller is definitely not the problem. The problem is the sudden change in the world we live in and the understanding that it will take time to adapt. Our initial impulses to take action, such as this situation, are often wrong.

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Elliman Magazine: 8 Regional Housing Market Charts

April 2, 2020 | 12:01 am | | Articles |

I whipped up eight charts using data from our expanding Douglas Elliman Market Report Series to touch base on a wide array of U.S. housing markets. These charts appeared on pages 280-282 in the 2020 Spring/Summer edition of Elliman Magazine. Click on each graphic to expand.

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CNBC TV 4-25-19 Coverage of Elliman Reports on Greenwich and Fairfield County, CT

April 27, 2019 | 7:08 pm | | TV, Videos |

Diana Olick at CNBC reached out to me this week to talk about the Q1-2019 Elliman Report on the Greenwich, CT housing market (as well as Q1-2019 Fairfield County, CT) and the impact of the federal tax law on high-end suburban markets in NYC metro.

We spoke on Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich at 8:30 am and had to keep doing segments over because of the random roars of delivery and garbage trucks. The irony was not lost on me – a busy downtown with not a lot of empty parking spaces so early in the morning – combined with a slow housing market. Anecdotal but this is what we are seeing at the macro level – a robust regional economy with soft housing conditions.

We were set up in front of a Vineyard Vines store while I was wearing a bright Ted Baker tie (Hey, I can be a social media style influencer too). The irony in this product placement “ties” this story altogether (in my own mind). I received more feedback about my tie than I did on my content. Oh well. And for the record, Diana made very clear to me that she commented on my tie first.


Here’s the segment that also includes my friend Jennifer Leahy of Douglas Elliman, their number one agent in Connecticut who just sold the massively oversized home of 50 Cent.

New tax laws take a toll on home sales in Connecticut from CNBC.


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Elliman Magazine Winter 2019 – Market Update

December 14, 2018 | 3:18 pm | | Charts |

The Winter 2019 Issue of Elliman Magazine was just released. I provided a two-page spread showing various market tidbits on random U.S. markets where Douglas Elliman has a footprint. The magazine is well done and a good aspirational read.



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Here’s the full online version of the magazine:

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Fall 2018 Elliman Magazine – Market Update

September 7, 2018 | 10:00 am | Infographics |

The Fall 2018 Issue of Elliman Magazine was just released and as usual, I provided a two-page spread showing interesting (my definition, lol) of what is going on in some of the markets under their national footprint. The magazine is well done and a fun aspirational read.


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Here’s the full online version of the magazine:


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Real Estate ChartArt in Elliman Magazine’s Fall 2017 Issue

September 18, 2017 | 3:12 pm | | Charts |

Douglas Elliman Real Estate just published their fall issue. I created the content for pages 208-209 and I think it looks pretty snazzy (and interesting).

Click on image below to expand.

EllimanMag

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Market Optics Over Facts: “Greenwich, CT is Vibrant and Active”

November 19, 2016 | 8:21 am | Favorites |

I was reading the newspaper 2 weeks ago and saw that a well regarded area real estate brokerage firm had provided a listing photo magazine insert. I noticed what appeared to be a marketing inconsistency that referred to the Greenwich, CT housing market broker panic of a few months ago.

Below is the “We’re #1 in this market” type headline which is common in these photo magazines.

hldarien

But it gets more interesting…

For the uninitiated, the Greenwich housing market received the ire of master of the universe Barry Sternlicht, CEO of Starwood which is based in Greenwich. According to area brokers, he was unable to sell his Greenwich home. Apparently it was frustrating so he spoke about it at a large business conference. Bloomberg news captured the slight in “Greenwich Is the Worst U.S. Housing Market, Sternlicht Says

“You can’t give away a house in Greenwich,” Sternlicht said Tuesday at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha Conference in New York.

The brokerage community in Greenwich was appalled and many took the insult personally, at the risk of propping up sellers to unrealistic expectations they have maintained since 2007. Some agents wanted to write responses in the local papers and have celebrities speak out on how amazing Greenwich was as a residential community. Sadly that type of response completely missed the point. Greenwich is awesome. I have relatives who live there. It is beautiful, close to the commuter trains into the city and has a terrific school system. But that isn’t what Sternlicht was criticizing.

A real estate agent’s job is to help their clients navigate a housing market, not lead their clients to believe agents can prop it up artificially (aside from the “glass is half full” orientation) because agents are not bigger than the market. The effectiveness of spinning market conditions to hide actual conditions is a myth. I believe this way of broker thinking actually damages the market by keeping the gap between buyers and sellers artificially wide.

Greenwich, which relies on Wall Street for the high end home buyer market, did not see the boom of the past five years that NYC saw. Bonuses being paid out to Wall Street are forecast to be lower this year for the third year in a row. I wrote about this agent-market disconnect in my Housing Note when the Sternlicht article came out. In addition, areas furthest away from the town center have been the hardest hit as more and more new buyers are reflecting the new urbanism call for walkability.

It appears this brokerage firm was attempting to counter Sternlicht’s insult and placate their own agents, by inserting the following awkward headline: GREENWICH REAL ESTATE IS VIBRANT AND ACTIVE in this listing photo magazine insert below.

I understand that the results of their market report were almost identical to ours – sales slipped year over year – but less than the size of the prior quarter slip. Incidentally they no longer prominently post their market reports on their web site. I assume they have been removed for a similar reason. Current market conditions are weaker than a few years ago in the areas they service so there is no need to illustrate it. Anyway, that’s only my assumption.

The following photo ad even says (you can see the top of the “5%” on the lower right of the photo that says their sales are up 5%. But that factoid does not speak to the market, rather it really speaks about the sales volume of their company. This is misdirection since it contradicts overall market direction.

hlgreenwich

I have long admired this firm and still do so I sent my thoughts about this to a senior executive I know but received no response. I can only assume that this was thought to be a good recruiting tool to attract those agents appalled by the attack on the Greenwich market by Sternlicht. Unfortunately this doesn’t do any market participant any good since real estate brokers are supposed to be trusted advisors.

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The Relationship Between Commute Time and Housing Prices

October 28, 2016 | 3:48 pm | | Infographics |

Back in the mid 1990s after my wife and I moved to Fairfield County, Connecticut from Manhattan, I noticed the decline in housing prices further from the first express stop in Stamford, CT.

I worked on an updated version of the concept for this weekend’s New York Times Real Estate section: What’s Your Commute Time Worth? They did an amazing job on the graphic.

nytimesmetro-northcommute3q16

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[Speaking] The Fairfield/Westchester Chapter of REFA 10-25-16

October 11, 2016 | 10:49 am |

I’m moderating a great panel in Stamford, CT for the Fairfield/Westchester Chapter of the Real Estate Finance Association (REFA) on October 25, 2016 titled:

For Sale and for Rent, Trouble at the Top?

refabrocure10-25-16

Residential Real Estate has been one of the bright spots in the local economy in recent years. The single family market continues to post record sales volumes and the growth of the multi-family market in Fairfield County has been dramatic. However, there is mount- ing concern about perceived over-building at the top end of the luxury single family and multi-family markets. Where is the demand coming from? Will it continue? What prod- uct do people want? Where are we headed? We look forward to a lively and informative program.

The response so far has been heavy – click here for more information or to sign up.

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Greenwich CT Pre-Lehman “Reno, Then Flip” Mentality Is Long Gone

February 26, 2016 | 9:41 am | | Charts |

Fairfield County, CT is one of the more recent editions to our Elliman Report series. Greenwich, CT as a submarket has proven to be a market still strongly linked to the heady days before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and the beginning of the financial crisis. There remain many owners of high end homes purchased a decade ago that remain value-anchored to those days of yore.

I took a look at the last 15 years of residential sales, measuring the amount of time that passed from a home’s prior renovation to sale. From the late 1990s to Lehman, there was a compression of time from renovation to eventual sale, reflective of the speculative conditions leading up to Lehman. Reno a home, then sell it. During those days, business cards passed out by doctors and lawyers at Greenwich cocktail parties were either “hedge fund manager” or “developer.” Not so much anymore.

Subsequent to Lehman, the late 1990s pattern that preceded the U.S. housing bubble returned by 2010 and has remained remarkably stable since.

4Q15GR-sincelastreno

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Podcast: My Port Authority of NY & NJ Interview on Regional Housing Market

September 24, 2015 | 12:16 pm | Podcasts |

panynj-header

A few days ago I was interviewed by Christopher Eshleman at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. He works for Alexander Heil who is the chief economist and publishes a lot of great regional economic insights. Although this is a new effort, this was their first podcast conducted outside of the institution so I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to share my views.

Christopher is a sharp guy and kept the conversation interesting (I even inserted a Jerry Seinfeld joke). It’s about a half an hour.

Check it out.

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[Housing Matrix] Fairfield County, Connecticut

July 27, 2009 | 12:00 am |

Although I don’t currently report on the Fairfield County, CT market myself, here is an excellent recap of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 (through June) housing market presented by William Raveis Real Estate, who does a great job with their online presentation of MLS stats. I selected Greenwich, Connecticut as the town to be analyzed (I have to select one) given its heavy linkage to Wall Street. County and state trends were also shown.

Trends are nearly identical to the NYC, Long Island and The Hamptons/North Fork markets: Marketing time has expanded, median sales price, sales have fallen sharply and rising inventory. The similarity is consistent with many other metro areas based on the credit contraction throughout the country.



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