Greenwich Is the Worst U.S. Housing Market, Sternlicht Says

  • ‘You can’t give away a house,’ Starwood Capital CEO says
  • Sternlicht says he’s now taken up residence in Florida

Barry Sternlicht, chairman and chief executive officer of Greenwich, Connecticut-based Starwood Capital Group, said the town may be the worst housing market in the U.S., and that he now officially lives in Florida.

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

The town -- about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of midtown Manhattan and home to some of the country’s largest hedge funds -- is seeing a pile-up of houses on the market and prices that are faltering as properties linger. Home sales in the second quarter fell 18 percent from a year earlier to 169 deals, according to appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

At the same time, new listings surged 27 percent. The absorption period, or the time it would take to sell all the homes on the market at the current pace, was 12 months, compared with 7.7 months a year earlier, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said.

Sternlicht said that he’s been a resident of Florida since July 1, a move he made because taxes in Connecticut got too high -- and his kids didn’t want to visit.

Tax Rate

“Connecticut got too close to the Manhattan tax rates,” he said. “We used to have no taxes.”

Sternlicht said that high income taxes made all of Fairfield County, Connecticut, a “terrible” place to live, and that declining home prices are reflecting that.

In Greenwich, the median home price fell 7.5 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier to $1.76 million, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said. It remains among the costliest housing markets in the country.

In June 2008, Sternlicht tried to sell his 5.8-acre (2.3-hectare) Greenwich property, a gated estate with tennis and shuffleboard courts and a swimming pool. After multiple price cuts and one increase, the home was no longer listed for sale by early 2010.

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