From the Founders

Real Estate Review



Bob Capazzo

The Health of Home Sales

If home sales headed down across the country last year, you wouldn’t know it in Greenwich, or in most Fairfield County towns for that matter. The dollar volume of residential sales in Greenwich was up 19 percent over last year and at $2.2 million, the median sales price for single-family homes was up 9 percent. For all of Fairfield County, from Greenwich to the town of Fairfield, excluding Danbury and Bridgeport, sales volume was up 10 percent. Besides Greenwich, the strong markets were New Canaan, Darien, Weston and Fairfield. Not surprisingly, dollar volumes for both Norwalk and Stamford were down, reflecting mortgage credit problems in the lower end of the market.

Greenwich real estate has a record of being the last to enter an economic downturn, but also the first to come out and the most resistant to declining sales and prices. But lest we become too complacent, it should be noted that there have been some warning signs since the fall, according to market watchers, in the form of longer days on the market and softer prices.

Eric Bjork of Prudential Connecticut finds a healthy sign in sales in the one- to two-million- dollar range that had been lagging last year. With interest rates as low as they are, he is cautiously optimistic about the market, and with asking prices more realistic, he feels the time is good for buyers while interest rates remain low.

Ed Mortimer of Sotheby’s International notes that the market was definitely off in January and February. He sees people “hanging on the sidelines, waiting to see what’s happening next.” Yet, with a relatively low inventory, he predicts a 5 to 7 percent rise in prices during the year.

Tom Gorin of Cleveland, Duble & Arnold also sees prices rising during the year — 4 to 5 percent. Like Eric Bjork, he is encouraged by renewed activity in the high one-million to low two-million-dollar range.

Jay Cooke of Preferred Properties says we have perception versus reality: “The perception through the media is that it’s a national disaster in real estate,” and “we [brokers] have to teach them that, like politics, real estate is local. The reality is that Greenwich has been driven for years by Wall Street. Somebody’s always making money, and Greenwich is always going to be one of those options they want to explore.”

Confronting the Threat
of Demolition


In March, the RTM addressed an item of increasing public concern: how to put brakes on the demolition of some of our fine historic properties. The proposed ordinance called for an extension of the stay of execution period from ninety days in the present ordinance to 180 days, and an increase in the demolition appeals period within the stay of execution from twenty to forty-five days.

To obtain a demolition permit an applicant must provide the building department with an affidavit that (a) written notice has been given to adjacent property owners, the Historical Society, the Historic District Commission and any neighborhood associations; (b) a notice has been published in the newspaper; (c) a sign has been placed on the property.

The current time periods have not proven effective in preventing the loss of properties to the bulldozer, therefore it would seem an extension of the time periods was justified. However, there is no assurance that a six-month stay would be any more effective than the present three months. At a meeting of the RTM’s Land Use Committee, Paul Hopper, vice chairman of the Historic District Commission which sponsored the proposed regulations, could not cite the experience of any other community with such an ordinance and whether the extended time period reduced the rate of demolition.

There is no question that we should develop the means to halt the indiscriminate destruction of our architectural heritage. The question is how. Paul Pugliese is an architect, realtor, member of the Architectural Review Board and a preservationist. He opposed the 180-day stay of execution on the grounds that it was “an unfair burden on property owners depriving them of the use of their property for [effectively] up to seven and a half months.”

Placing property in limbo for such a long period can create a financial hardship for the owner. During the appeal time, any disgruntled or troublesome neighbor can file an objection and initiate a stay. And a property need not be a true historical gem. Any home sixty years old or more falls into the historical category, which may include at least a third of the houses in Greenwich. While it is up to the Historic District Commission to determine the historical significance of a house, experience to date would indicate that increasing the stay period will simply postpone the inevitable. Meanwhile, the owner is faced with uncertainty that inhibits his ability to sell at a normal asking price or to develop his property.

The Land Use Committee had voted eight to four in favor of the proposed extension. However, the collective wisdom of the RTM prevailed. After a protracted debate this body voted 96–81–5 in favor of an amendment retaining the ninety-day stay, but increasing the period for filing an objection to forty-five days, giving objectors more time to react. Incentives, rather than penalties, were proposed to encourage preservation. Also, the Historic District Commission should create a definition of what constitutes a historic property and build an inventory of historic homes. — Jack Moffly

 

Greenwich Agenda

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    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • GREENWICH FASHION ON THE AVENUE

    2014.09.05
     @ Greenwich Avenue

      GREENWICH FASHION ON THE AVENUE TO BE HELD SEPTEMBER 5 FEATURING LIVE RUNWAY SHOW, CAR AND BOAT SHOW Greenwich Avenue will...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • Exclusive Tour of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Yale University Art Gallery

    2014.09.09
     @ Yale University Art Gallery

    Join JCC Greenwich for an exclusive tour with museum curator Elizabeth Manekin. The collection is noteworthy for exemplary works from the...

  • Junior League of Greenwich's New Member Open House

    2014.09.09
     @ Junior League of Greenwich

    Please join us for cocktails and casual conversation to learn more about the Junior League of Greenwich and how you can become a member. ...

  • Understanding the Gaza War: Strategic & Political Implications

    2014.09.09
     @ Greenwich Library, Cole Auditorium

    Dr. Efraim Inbar is a Professor in Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and Director of its renowned Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic...

  • Bruce Museum: Look and See - Into the Deep

    2014.09.10
     @ Bruce Museum

    A program especially designed for children ages 3-5 years and their adult caregivers, who will explore the Museum’s exhibition through...

  • College Admissions Boot Camp | Greenwich, CT

    2014.09.13

    College Prep 360 will be offering two college admissions “boot camps” in their Greenwich office over the summer. The first workshop...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Greenwich Area Newcomers Annual Lobster Fest

    2014.09.14
     @ Tod's Point Clambake Area

    This is our kickoff event each year-held at Tod's Point Clambake area. The event is scheduled for Sunday September 14th starting...

  • Information Fair

    2014.09.16
     @ YMCA

    Our Annual Information Fair - This event showcases non profits , community businesses, schools and  services in the Greenwich...

  • Laurel House Family Seminar Series

    2014.09.18
     @ Laurel House

    Thursday evenings, September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 6:30-8:00 pm Join us Thursday evenings for this four part Family Seminar Series as...

  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

    2014.09.20
     @ Bedford Street

    Shop at over 100 craft and artisan boutiques on Bedford Street, which will be closed to traffic for the weekend. Dine in our extended sidewalk...


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