2010-08-26 / News

Jamestown real estate enjoys a thriving market

By Sam Bari

While the country is suffering from one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression – and most major real estate markets have collapsed – the Jamestown real estate business is on the upswing.

Gloria Kurz, an attorney turned real estate broker and founder/principal of Mansions and Manors, said, “We are experiencing relatively robust levels of activity in most segments of the market.

“The number of sales of Jamestown homes in our office yearto date is about 75% above the same period last year. This is consistent with the overall market in Jamestown, which is up about 77% on a year-by-year basis.”

Although the volume of sales is up, the average price of homes has decreased, Kurz said, adding that the median price is up a little.

According to Kurz, the average selling price of a home in Jamestown through the MLS is $763,397, which is down about 15% from last year. The median price for MLS sales this year is $500,000, a 9% increase.

“We’ve had a lot of activity for properties under $1,000,000, and homes selling in the $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 range have also seen an increase in activity,” she said. “Presently, our office has two fully pending contracts on homes listed above $1,000,000. Although we have a fair amount of interest in the $2,000,000 to $4,000,000 range, we haven’t realized any sales in that price range this year.”

Kurz also said that activity in the condominium market, which is historically cyclical, is picking up – and that she is cautiously optimistic about seeing more sales in the condo market going forward.

“In the past few months, I’ve personally been involved in four multiple-offer negotiations, two as the listing broker and two representing a buyer,” she said. “The asking prices of the properties ranged from $395,000 to $1,095,000. Given the real estate market in other communities, this is a strong indication of Jamestown’s appeal as a community and its underlying value.”

Ginny Prichett, broker and coowner of Island Realty for more than two decades, said, “In 2008, Island Realty participated in the sale of 27 properties.”

The lowest property, she said, was a house on Capstan Street that was on the market for 16 days at $200,000 and sold for $199,900.

“The highest was on East Shore Road, a property with an original list price of $11 million. When the listing was reduced to $7,500,000, it sold for $6,900,000,” Prichett said.

The house was on the market for a total of 494 days, she added.

In 2009, Prichett said that sales increased by only one transaction. The lowest-priced house was $269,000, which eventually sold for $180,000 in 82 days.

The highest-priced property was on East Shore Road and it sold for $4,600,000. The home listed for $4,975,000 and was on the market for a number of years. Island Realty represented the buyer, Prichett said.

So far in 2010, Island Realty has participated in the sale of 21 properties to date. Many others are under contract, Prichett said.

The least expensive house listed for $255,000, and sold for $215,000. It was on the market for 55 days. The highest-priced property listed for $1,950,000 and sold for $1,834,000 in 33 days. Island Realty also represented the buyer in that transaction, Prichett said.

“The key to successfully selling any property, particularly when the market is soft, is to offer the right house at the right location at a realistic price,” Prichett said. “So many people think their property is worth much more than the appraised value. Those homes are often listed for many months and sometimes years.”

Bob Bailey of Lila Delman Realty has lived in Jamestown all his life and is arguably one of the most successful agents in the business. He said that the firm’s Jamestown office is enjoying a very robust and active market.

“There are many more homes to choose from this year,” he said. “Inventory levels have risen considerably. Since the beginning of the year, Lila Delman has taken 20 new listings. We currently have three homes with contracts pending, and we have closed on five single-family dwellings.

Lila Delman Realty has one new condominium listing and one sale, Bailey said.

“We also have three new vacant land listings and one pending sale in that category,” he said. “Our Jamestown agents have also been active in surrounding communities, with listings in towns such as Newport, Narragansett and Warwick.

Lila Delman has five offices throughout the southern R.I. coastal communities – Newport, Jamestown, Narragansett, Watch Hill and Block Island. Together, the firm offers nearly 300 listings, Bailey said.

David Martin, president of Stearns Farms Real Estate and Insurance, said his company is celebrating its 50th anniversary and total sales of more than 1,000 properties.

“I haven’t been personally involved in the real estate end of the business lately,” Martin said. “But I know that we’ve experienced fluctuations in the market during the past few years. However, it appears to be on the upswing. The market is cyclic. Ups and downs are to be expected. We are fortunate that the downturn in the overall market didn’t affect Jamestown that much.”

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