The era of coronavirus has brought a new must-have asset to the wealthy suburb of Greenwich: a short-term home rental.

Manhattanites seeking an immediate escape from the outbreak’s epicenter are bidding up leases in the Connecticut town, which for years contended with flagging sales of mansions that few younger Wall Street executives wanted to buy. Now Greenwich is suddenly a competitive hot spot for those with the means to pay up for a temporary refuge.

“It kind of builds,” said Joanne Mancuso, an agent at Houlihan Lawrence. “You got a couple of calls, and then all of sudden, the flurry came in.”

One of her listings -- a furnished 9,261-square-foot house on North Street with a pool -- was priced at $32,000 a month when it was offered in January. By the end of March, it had a tenant who agreed to pay 56% more.

In March, 53 single-family homes in Greenwich were leased out, almost double the 27 from a year earlier, data compiled by Houlihan Lawrence show. Tenants agreed to pay above the asking rents in about a quarter of last month’s deals.

The trend is accelerating: The first half of April saw 32 lease agreements, compared with just 14 last year. The homes are being rented for a monthly average of $15,172, up from $8,817.

Five of the deals this month are for above the asking price. Included in those is a 3,200-square-foot ranch home on Cutler Road that had been listed since before Thanksgiving at $8,000. It found a tenant last week -- a family from Manhattan -- for $8,700.

The higher price was negotiated to compensate the owner for a shorter, six-month lease, said the broker, Blake Delany of Houlihan Lawrence.

Owners across town are sensing opportunity. One listing in Old Greenwich, which in January was seeking a tenant at $7,500, is now listed for $12,000, according to Zillow. A newly developed home on 2 acres with a private stone bridge is up for rent at $50,000 after attempting a sale, most recently for $6.299 million.

The surge in leasing might actually help sales later this year as it reduces what’s available to buy and promotes first-hand the experience of living in town, Delany said.

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