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State of Real Estate

Young Affluent Buyers and Other Pack Leaders of the Spring Market

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The sound of hammers were everywhere in Westport last year. In 2013, a total of 106 houses was demolished and 103 new houses went up in their place. The new reality is clear: If you don’t keep up that home, some builder is going come knocking on the door. “Last year we had the most housing starts in history,” says Lisa Passavant, manager of Coldwell Banker’s Riverside office.

The numbers tell the story. In 2013, the average sales price in Westport was $1,533,045, which is a whopping gain of $123,000 over 2012.

That number might have been fortified by some of the bigger transactions, topped by the $14.4 million sale of the Don Imus mansion on Beachside Avenue. “The market has gotten very strong,” says Julie Haroun of Westport Residential. “The market came back stronger than ever. The $1.9 million house is now the $2.9 million [house]. And there are a lot of buyers looking for new construction in the $3 million range. It’s unbelievable.”

She adds, “There’s definitely a discount for anything that’s not new. You have either a new home or a builder who wants it to knock down.”

Julie would know. Her husband Robert Haroun is one of these very busy builders. “We’re talking about those summer homes built in the ’50s and ’60s—the I Love Lucy era. These capes have lived out their existence and now it’s time to put up something with proper insulation and windows.”

All this construction has meant a gradual transformation of certain blocks and neighborhoods. The Reichert Circle-Dover Road area now has ten new houses. Rayfield Road is chock-full of new houses. Indeed, the Long Lots school district is, Julie thinks, getting pretty hot.

Having gauged this new reality, builders (many of whom had to sit out the years 2008–2010) are snatching up any available $1 million Cape and replacing it with $3 million worth of new. (Question: How will Westporters respond when the last Eisenhower-era split-level in Westport faces demolition?)