In contrast with the nearly unanimous optimistic forecasts coming from the financial and economic think tanks in the past few weeks, Greenwich news consumers continue to be exposed to a single worrisome detail. The cloud on the horizon is the “coronavirus.” Like the 21st century’s first pandemic—SARS—early reports from its point of origin were covered up by Chinese authorities. The World Health Organization has sent a team to China to learn more.
So far, Greenwich has escaped direct manifestations of the new strain—and it’s been reassuring that American health services have been quick to take stringent precautionary measures to slow down its spread from Asia. But there’s little doubt that we won’t be able to contain it completely. It’s widely thought that its spread in the U.S. will most likely follow the earlier SARS pattern. That virus was effectively stifled here through similar containment efforts.
At least where Greenwich real estate commerce is concerned, it seems unlikely that this is a cloud on the horizon that will wind up affecting this spring’s home buyers and sellers greatly, if at all. Locally, expect more disinfectant wipes to be offered in Greenwich stores and offices (and possibly at this spring’s open houses, too). To date, medical investigators have yet to determine if the coronavirus strain is any more virulent than the influenza strains that annually hit the U.S.
Nonetheless, it’s odd but true that thus far, the only apparent effect on local may have been to boost activity. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications and refinances jumped on fears that the coronavirus was spreading overseas. “That may seem far-fetched,” according to Money magazine, “but it highlights the amazing interconnectedness of the global economy.” That’s certainly true—as is the reality of home loan interest rates which are even lower than last year’s.