Tag Archives: teardowns

“Suddenly, A Teardown Doesn’t Sound So Bad”

When it comes to real estate agents, the glass is never half, or even completely, full. It’s always overflowing.

A walk-in closet becomes a “unique home office.” The train tracks in your backyard are transformed into “walk to the station!” I actually saw an Old Hill Road property that touted “beach access.” Sure — buy your sticker, like everyone else.

But a recent mailing from KMS Partners caught my eye. The principals — experienced professionals all, and longtime Westport residents — did what realtors seldom do: They addressed a continuing land-use debate head on.

Impressed by their willingness to confront the issue of teardowns, I asked if I could reprint their message on “06880.” I warned them that our commenters can be a frothy bunch, and there might be some criticism.

Go ahead, KMS said. We welcome the discussion. So read what they had to say — and feel free to add comments at the end. Real names, please!

In any town in Fairfield County, the topic of new construction homes creates a lively discussion. At KMS Partners, we have found you either love it or hate it. But no matter what your opinion is, new construction is the hottest market niche in the majority of towns across Fairfield County.

Many buyers want new homes, like this one.

Many buyers want new homes, like this one.

What makes new construction so popular? Buyers’ behaviors, plain and simple. Today’s buyer wants ease of transition: the latest trends in amenities, the most efficient systems, design teams to help select decor and finishes, top-of-the-line appliances, builders’ warranties, smart home technology, low maintenance, fresh paint and gleaming finished floors — for starters.

What happened to the “fixer-upper buyers”? They are the minority these days.

With all this demand for new homes, across various price points, builders naturally search out properties to meet the demands of their clients. The result is increased competition for land. That drives up land values, to the point where land is sometimes more valuable than the house the land sits on.

A charming 50-year-old colonial, lovingly lived in yet in need of updates,will not attract an end-user buyer as much as a builder (assuming the land is suitable for a new construction home). Yep, your house could be worth more as a teardown.

Some houses -- like this at the beach -- are worth more as a teardown.

Some houses — like this at the beach — are worth more as a teardown.

While these are broad statements, it is best to consult an experienced agent to ascertain the full potential of your property.

For those who loathe another “teardown of the day,” consider this scenario. An agent or builder approaches a homeowner with a legitimate offer to purchase the property. Cash, “as is” or with minimal contingencies, closing at your convenience and an attractive purchase price for the property.

The house is tired, in need of repairs and not appealing to buyers today. This is your nest egg. You are ready to move on to the next chapter of your life. It’s an easy sale. Suddenly a “teardown” doesn’t sound so bad.

But what about the character of our towns? And who will be able to afford to live here? There must be some balance to this phenomenon.

The oldest home in Westport -- located on Long Lots Road -- took years to restore. (Photo by Larry Untermeyer)

The oldest home in Westport — located on Long Lots Road — took years to restore. (Photo by Larry Untermeyer)

We agree. We work with clients who have strong opinions on all these points. For our sellers, we honestly advise how they can maximize the potential of their property. Not every “resale house” is a teardown. To the surprise of many of our resale clients, their homes are attractive to today’s buyers.

For our buyer clients who do want new construction, we are always in search of land and will navigate them through this process. When builders ask our opinions, we are not shy to express them.

We love our towns and the characteristics unique to them. We encourage builders to strike the balance of new and New England when creating their projects. We also encourage our new construction buyers to do the same. We would love to hear your opinion on this topic.

Tear Down These Walls! (Updated Info)

On Thursday, an alert “06880” reader was golfing at Longshore.

I say alert because — while concentrating at the 2nd green — he noticed a house directly adjacent being torn down.

14 Manitou Road

The reason he was so intrigued — and snapped a photo — is because he believes the house is less than 1000 days old. He says the recently demolished house replaced an older home, which itself was a teardown.

Turns out he’s wrong. The house was built in 1965. Last year the owner removed all the trees from the back of the property toward the golf course — so some people thought it was a new house. In fact, it had been there 50 years.

At any rate, here’s a Google Maps view of the most recent house, before the wrecking ball:

14 Manitou - Google

Meanwhile, not far away — in the Compo Beach neighborhood — a smaller, older home will soon be torn down too.

Beach demolition

But despite the large “Demolition” sign on the outside wall, the owners seem to be enjoying themselves. Between the hammock, easy chair and twin lion statues with Uncle Sam hats, all’s right with the world.

This Is A Teardown

We see impending teardowns often, on “06880” and WestportNow.

We see the end results — first in the form of vacant lots; later, as much larger structures.

But we seldom see a teardown in progress.

This afternoon, I was driving down Turkey Hill North. Here’s what I saw:

Enjoying a steak dinner is far different from watching a cow get killed. Just as watching a house demolition is not at all like seeing a McMansion rise quickly on empty land.


From The Heart Of Texas

The other day, an alert “06880” reader wrote:

I grew up in Westport.  I lived there from the time I was born until I graduated from Staples.

I’ve been in Texas the past 35 years, but deep down inside I felt some day I would move back home.

I just found out the other day that my childhood home was torn down, so I started looking at houses in Westport that were for sale.

Maybe you can tell me why Westport has become such an expensive place to live.  For the price of what homes go for in Westport, I could get one here for half the price.

I really miss Westport, but it just doesn’t seem like the same town anymore. When did it become so high class?  Thank you for your time.

Wow — there’s a lot there.

Tear-downs.  Housing prices.  “High class” — whatever that means, and which may or may not be tied in with the first 2.

This is one for crowd-sourcing — the collective (and probably contradictory) wisdom of “06880” readers.  Let’s hear what you have to say.

Click “comments” to respond — and please stay on topic!  Our Texas ex-pat depends on you.

This Beachside Avenue home goes for $24,950,000. A fair price, or overvalued?

These Are Not Westport Teardowns Of The Day. But They Should Be.

For years, I’ve wondered about the house that sits at the corner of Wilton Road and Red Coat Road.

Who owns it?  How has it existed in such decrepitude for so long?  What must people think as they come off the nearby Merritt Parkway, and see it as one of their first glimpses of Westport?

But it’s not the only area house in such disrepair.

Half a mile away, on Partrick Road, is this:

There was a bad fire there, a year or two ago.  But why haven’t the owners done anything?  Is there a problem with insurance, building permits, or something else?  Isn’t it dangerous for a burned-out house to sit like that?

And — remarkably — just a few hundred yards up that same beautiful Partrick Road is this:

The word on the street about this one is very interesting.  Apparently there was a bad divorce 20 or so years ago.  The husband didn’t want his wife to have the home — but he didn’t want to live there himself.  So he pays taxes faithfully every year — and does nothing else.

It’s looked like this — abandoned and forlorn — longer than most residents have lived nearby.

How oddly comforting to know that in a town with such a tear-it-down, build-it-back-bigger mentality, at least 3 traditional homes remain standing.

Sort of.