2005-09-15 / Front Page

Jamestown tops 2nd homes market

Island’s real estate “a relative bargain,” N.Y. Times story says
By Donna K. Drago

Island’s real estate “a relative bargain,” N.Y. Times story says

In the Sept. 9 edition of the New York Times, a story headlined “America’s Priciest Getaways” lists Jamestown as the 10th most expensive housing market for second home buyers in the country.

Among the top 10, all but two towns are either “on water or surrounded by it,” and the majority of towns are less than 15 square miles in size. The article says that all of the towns are “without exception” a short drive or “helicopter flight,” from a major city.

Kerry Park, spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Association of Realtors said that having Jamestown on the list “certainly can’t hurt things” for the housing market throughout the state. Having information in a publication like the New York Times “peaks people’s interest” and may have them looking at other similar towns, “like Bristol,” in Rhode Island, Park said.

Park cautioned that because Jamestown is so small and because there are relatively few sales per year, “the numbers are skewed” and would show a higher percentage of second home sales even though the actual number of sales is relatively small.

The article calls Jamestown real estate “a relative bargain” for Bostonians and New Yorkers “who have been priced out of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.” Nantucket is listed as the sixth hottest market for second home buyers.

The Times lists the median home price in Jamestown at $473,000, but notes that “these days, even close to $600,000 doesn’t guarantee a view of the water.”

Carol Hopkins, co-owner of Island Realty, said that she specifically targets second home buyers in her advertising, using Web sites like www.luxuryhomes. com, Soundings magazine, and newspapers in western Connecticut. She also uses the Wall Street Journal to advertise certain homes.

Unlike primary home buyers, who have certain basic needs, second or vacation home purchasers have two goals, Hopkins said. One is that they are looking for a good investment, and the other is “they are looking for a lifestyle.”

Of 32 properties that Island Realty has closed on this year, 11 are either second homes or investments, she said.

Gloria Kurz, owner of Mansions & Manors, said that the article “came as no surprise to those of us who know Jamestown.” She said that Jamestown has always had an appeal because of “natural resources, convenience to urban areas,” and also because “it’s still very affordable.”

Kurz said that the article provides no new information, but “refocuses the spotlight on Jamestown” that says, “we are here and available and affordable.”

“It’s good news for all homeowners,” Kurz noted.

Cynthia Moretti of Lila Delman Realty said that she is seeing many clients who are evaluating Jamestown as a place to retire. They are buying the houses now because the interest rates and prices are still relatively low, Moretti said, but using them for weekends and holidays or renting them out before they actually use them on a more permanent basis.

Moretti noted that she recently sold a home on Steamboat Street to a San Diego couple who is planning to retire to Jamestown at some point in the future.

Tina McIntyre of Conanicut Real Estate said that she has received quite a few calls from people who read the Sept. 9 article in the Times.

Even so, her business has been mostly in primary residences over the past year.

McIntyre said that she is not specifically targeting second home buyers in her advertising, “but they’re coming anyway.” This past Sunday, she said, two different out-of-town customers who were looking for second homes stopped by her office.

Linda Wallace of Remax Bay View said that a large percentage of her clients are second home buyers, and that the biggest difference between first and second home buyers is that the second home buyers “have more money.” According to Remax statistics, 90 percent of people are using the Internet to begin their real estate searches, “especially when coming from out of state,” Wallace said. She is including a lot of photos with her houses listed on the Web to give searchers more visuals when they are choosing properties, she noted.

The Times article says that places like Jamestown may fare well if the “housing bubble” bursts, and states that “the most expensive destinations . . . may see less impact, since the wealthiest home buyers often are not deterred by rising interest rates or an economic downturn.”

The top 10 communities are: Aspen, Colo., Palm Beach, Fla., Newport Beach, Calif., Water Mill, N.Y., Montoloking, N.J., Nantucket, Mass., Sullivan’s Island, S.C., Henderson, Nev., Princeville, Hawaii, Oxford, Md., Scottsdale, Ariz., and Jamestown.

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