There is a centuries-old real estate relationship between New York City and Greenwich.

Once a place for New York City’s wealthiest families to summer or to escape to grand estates, today Greenwich still enjoys a healthy influx of New York City residents seeking a more suburban, yet sophisticated, place to call home. With the pandemic challenges to populated cities, it’s no wonder that Greenwich saw an immediate increase in renters and buyers coming from the city.

“Starting in May, our single-family home transactions have taken off - going from 23 transactions per week at the beginning of May to, most recently, 64 transactions in the four-day week of July 4th,” Mark Pruner recalled. Pruner is a Realtor with Greenwich’s Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

“On the rental side, leases saw lots more activity, beginning with the lockdowns in mid-March,” he added. “Anything short-term went quickly, and anything with a pool went very quickly. … As we got further into the summer, that market slowed down a little, but it is still way busier than we had ever seen historically. Houses and townhouse-style condo rentals did well; whereas apartment-style rentals with elevators and shared hallways actually did not do as well as last year.”

Jennifer Leahy, a Realtor with Douglas Elliman Real Estate, said her brokerage saw a “huge uptick” in New York City dwellers who came to Greenwich for short-term rentals or for longer stays. “I haven’t stopped working,” Leahy said. “The market is strong, and I think it will get stronger.”

Recently, she listed 69 Porchuck Road, a Georgian colonial on 4.18 acres. The property has already inspired a dozen showings - “mostly New Yorkers,” she said.

Broker Carolyn Anderson of Anderson Associates has seen increased interest in listings from buyers coming from the city.

“The initial rush to Greenwich was to rent; now, the rush is to buy,” Anderson said, offering an anecdote. In the second week of July, Anderson listed 414 Riversville Road, a property she referred to as a “picturesque backcountry home.”

“In the initial showings, we discovered many of the potential buyers were originally from New York City,” Anderson said. “They have been renting in Greenwich, and now they want to stay in our town and buy a home. They were attracted to this four-bedroom home because it is in a quiet spot surrounded by woodlands, but only six minutes from Glenville shopping and only 11 minutes from downtown Greenwich. The nearby villages, such as Purchase and Armonk, are only nine minutes away. They have convenient access to public and private schools, as well as a multitude of outdoor activities nearby, such as golf, horseback riding, tennis and hiking in the Audubon’s many trails.”

Will renters continue to be converters buyers, and if so, what are they looking for in a home today?

Douglas Elliman’s Jennifer Leahy said that the buying trends for New Yorkers are similar to what’s been the case for the Greenwich market for some time - they want “new or done well,” she said. They’re also particularly interested in buying furnished, professionally designed homes.

Real Estate Listings

“I think we are going to see many of these renters turn into buyers as they start getting near the end of their leases,” Berkshire Hathaway’s Mark Pruner predicted. He is currently the listing agent for two properties that have drawn interest from New York City buyers planning a move to Greenwich.

“1076 Lake Ave. has gotten a lot of interest. It’s four acres in far backcountry and a beautiful house,” he noted. “505 East Putnam is a classic Victorian on 1.7 acres very close to town.”

“The buyers that I’m working with all want 1.5 acres or more,” Pruner noted. “As people may be locked down in their home, in-house activities are becoming much more important. The most in-demand feature is an in-ground pool, but things like gyms, gaming rooms, wet bars, fire pits and outdoor patios are in more demand. One of the more interesting amenities requested is a world-class hospital, and there, Greenwich Hospital really makes us shine. As the premier hospital in the area, and a Yale New Haven affiliate, it is encouraging people to move here.”