Saturday, May 29, 2004
To Westporters savvy about housing prices, it’s nothing new, but Sunday’s New York Times cites Westport as among southern Connecticut communities where $1 million often buys a teardown.
Two of the three pictures illustrating the newspaper’s Connecticut section cover story show Westport homes, one for sale for $1.1 million and other for $2.3 million.
Ten years ago, $1 million bought a “pretty high-end home, but $1 million now is pretty much entry level,” said Mary Palmieri Gai, a broker at William Raveis of Westport.
“A million buys a tired house on half an acre or less that is waiting to be knocked down,” she said.
According to the Times, in Westport and Darien the average price of single family homes hit the $1 million mark in 2002.
The newspaper said in Westport, the proportion of homes selling for $1 million or more between Jan. 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004, was 46 percent of sales, No. 3 behind New Canaan (66 percent) and Greenwich (60 percent).
Many real estate agents in southern Connecticut said even $1 million is not really a standard by which a home becomes truly impressive.
Homes that induce a mild “wow,” Gai told the Times, sell for at least $2.5 million, but even then, “brokers have become so jaded that it’s the land that makes them say ‘wow’ and not the house.”
Posted 05/29/04 at 04:51 PM Permalink
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A million sure does buy a teardown on a half acre. Even better when the new house built dwarfs the neighbors house. Just fits right in.
Why? Greed! By brokers and builders. Sellers often get close to what the land and current dwelling are worth. But once the B and B get wind of a potential sale, their eyes light up. Is it any wonder that longtime residents no longer care about what happens to Westport.
Aren’t there any long-time Westporters (or newcomers with a heart and an artistic eye) who are savvy enough to figure out how to fight this blight? It doesn’t matter that our neighbors in McMansions are such nice people—the point is that the wonderful character of our town is changing, totally, but it may not be too late. Other towns have figured out ways to stop the overwhelming, almost-no-style-of-architecture structures. What can concerned Westporters do before it’s too late? There are still lovely old houses (or newer ones with great character or prize-winning modern homes) on all streets in Westport. Will we wait until every single one is torn down? Remember the House on Gorham Island? It’s now a gold box. We all talk about it, but are we really so powerless? Hopefully, Linda & Ken Smith
This son of Westport (Staples Class of 1975, now living in moderately priced Indianapolis) offers this advice: as well as getting mad, get even—and help people who need help, too.
Work with the town, with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (http://www.chfa.org), and with not-for-profit or for-profit developers to finace privately developed affordable rental housing to let people enter the Westport market and be close to jobs. I spent five years working with CHFA’s counterpart in Indiana, and there are wonderful programs available that will bring more quality—and *affordable*—housing into Westport. Indeed, I think some CHFA-funded developments already exist, like at the old Saugatuck Elementary School and (another school rehad/re-use example) at the Marvin School apartments on Gregory Avenue in East Norwalk.
This NYTimes articles cites facts that point to a wasteful and distorted real estate market. Use the market’s distortions against itself by advocating for affordable housing. People desparate to live near jobs in Westport will thank you.
And what is wrong with greed. In some manner or other we all have a greedy streak. Is it not as greedy to not want the town to change as it is to want more $$$$‘s for our homes. Just different sides of the same coin.