Friday, August 19, 2005
NY Times: Westport Teardowns Spark “Fascination and Fury”
Sunday’s New York Times, in a story on a real estate company specializing solely in teardowns, reports the firm has opened an office in Westport where “teardowns are a source of fascination and fury” and WestportNow’s “teardown of the day” is a popular feature.
Under the headline “Teardowns Reshape Suburbs, And Selling Strategies,” the newspaper said Xchange Properties was founded in a Chicago suburb four years ago and last November expanded to Westport.
It said the company, which enables sellers to market their properties directly to builders without having to pay a full sales commission or go through the charade of house showings, has plans to open offices in other “teardown hotspots” in Virginia, Florida, California, and New Jersey.
“In Westport, Conn., the site of Xchange’s Fairfield County office, teardowns are a source of fascination and fury,” the Times said.
“A popular feature on the community’s online news site, www.westportnow.com, is the ‘teardown of the day,’ a photo of the latest town property scheduled for demolition. An interactive map of the town allows readers to navigate from one teardown location to another, viewing photos, addresses and details of each property.”
The newspaper quoted Gordon Joseloff, WestportNow’s editor and publisher as saying: ‘So many people are interested in real estate and property values, and teardowns are such a controversial issue in town. I’m not about to tell people what to do with their property, but nobody likes to see the loss of character and culture in town.’
The Times added, “Mr. Joseloff will have plenty of material for his Web site if the teardown trend continues apace. According to figures collected by Xchange, Westport issued 112 demolition permits last year. The only Fairfield County town that demolished more properties was Greenwich, which issued 153 permits.”
The report said Xchange is still establishing a presence in Connecticut—it has just 10 property listings, and has made two sales to date.
“For now, its main competition is traditional real estate companies,” the Times said.
It reported that the National Association of Realtors could provide no information about other companies specializing in teardowns, and that company founder Brian Hickey, a former securities trader, has yet to encounter any “real” competition.
“Just in case, he recently bought the company a little additional leverage: the Internet domain name “teardowns.com,” the Times said.
Comments: Comment Policy
I checked out teardowns.com. They are only charging a 2% commission. A Westporter, who is planning to sell a “cape on an acre”, would be crazy to go to a regular realtor with a 5 or 6% commission.
The approach and attitude used by the teardown company remind me of the blockbusting techniques used in other times and places. I wonder if the company’s motto is “There goes the neighborhood.”
Soon the only people who will be able to live in Westport are going to be the rich and famous. Your gas station attendants, hairdressers, mechanics, chefs, wait staff, babysitters and emergency personnel etc., will have to commute from elsewhere.
Tearing down a perfectly good house to put up another McMansion is ridiculous, makes no sense, and its conspicuous consumption. There ought to be a law, where’s your Historic District Commission when you need them.
What will happen when the McMansions aren’t big enough for the inflated egos of the R&F, What’s Next? Castles? Yes, put up castles! That’ll look great. You’ll be ridiculed! You’re America, you’re the sod shanty, the salt box, the little house on the prairie. Don’t let greed get the better of you, Mcmansion’s are not cool. They’re tacky! It would be different if you were building something of architectural significance, like Taliesen or Falling Water, but from what I’ve seen, they’re overblown examples of a regular house, so what’s the point.
Also, tearing down shelter, when so many have lost theirs, is in poor taste. Mr Herr is not included in this diatribe. Thanks.
Perhaps I was a bit harsh before, I apologize to the R & F of Westport. As for the others, the X-change people, and others of their ilk. What you seek is not real, I’ts only paper, or bytes/bits in computer memory, and you can’t take it with you when you go. Love, kindness, compassion, and goodwill are the only things you carry with you when you leave this plane. Once you lose them, they’re very difficult to regain.
We face a similar problem in London where house prices are prohibitively high (ridiculous in fact) - $704,737.36 being the average value of a London property (£377,855).
Commercial property is suffering as an industry too and I know a lot of agents who’s jobs are in danger because prices are so high.
There are always going to be companies that try to take advantage due to the economic climate. I really hope the worldwide economy comes good sooner rather than later.
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