Scaling Back, With Style

Scaling Back With StyleScaling Back, With Style

One of the hottest areas in real estate is the luxury town house, which allows its owner to live       comfortably in a stylish new home, complete with first-class amenities, without the hassles of maintaining it.  Instead of over extending in a financially uncertain future, “rightsizing” into value-priced, amenity-laden town homes or condominiums makes good economic sense for many risk – adverse, cost-conscious buyers.


Scaling Back, With Style


“People are looking for more Affordable luxury, and part of that equation is defined by price,” explained Bob Gilbane, president and chief executive of Gilbane Development Company. “People are abandoning the ‘McMansions’ and looking for ‘Goldilocks’ houses – not too big, not too small, but just right.”

While the footprint may be smaller, town house and condo living makes up for it with both top-of-the-line finishes and appliances, and amenities such as well-equipped fitness centers and club houses with entertaining space for members.  Gilbane’s Coastal Collection at Surfside Narragansett, located in Narragansett, Rhode Island, directly across from Narragansett Beach, caters to buyers from Manhattan, Boston and Providence looking for carefully designed new-construction condos on the beach.  An open floor plan allows Surfside’s condo owners to entertain in their professional chef’s kitchen equipped with Wolfe and Sub Zero appliances while overlooking their great room, expansive deck and ocean beyond.  Granite and marble countertops, oak flooring, a separate laundry area and an attached three-car garage offer the luxury and convenience that are becoming standard elements of a new home.  A resort-style day at Surfside can begin with yoga on the beach or a workout in their executive fitness center – and end with dinner at the onsite Trio Restaurant.

Hudson Harbor, a new high-end 30-acre development on the Hudson River in Tarrytown, is using the same water-view approach for its 220-unit development along Hudson River-Walk Park.  Phase one, with 56 town houses and condo units, is now complete, “We are trying to create a New York City – style town house, with real brick and real limestone outside, and 10-foot ceilings, mahogany wood floors, Sub Zero and Viking appliances inside,” said Joe Cotter, president of  Hudson Harbor. “The most dominant feature is that all of the town houses have direct water views of the river.  That is what drives the project through this difficult market.  Plus, we are 100 yards from the train station.  Like New York City, you don’t need a car – you can walk to everything – and walkability is another real plus here.”

The buyers, said Cotter, are primarily empty nesters and downsizers from the area who have sold larger homes.  The development is also attracting New Yorkers who moved up to Yonkers and now commute back to the city.  Sales prices range from $590,000 to $2.5 million for the units nearest the water.

Prices have been coming down considerably.  Not far from Hudson Harbor is Winchester Village, a gated community comprising 250 residences and located one mile north of Tuckahoe Road in Yonkers.  9 Club Way is a 3,400 square-foot semi-attached town home with an asking price of $779,000 – down from an original asking price of $850,000.  With a bedroom on the first floor and a full basement with its own bedroom, fireplace and plenty of storage, the layout is ideal for older buyers, many of whom have other residences in warmer climate.

“A neighbor right next door sold the same model unit two years ago for $1 million – that gives you an idea of the market these days,” said Alicia Dean Hall, sales agent for ERA Insite in White Plains.  “This is back to where the market was in 2005, and at this new discounted price, it’s and extraordinary value for true country club-style living.”

Connecticut has several new construction developments that resonate with these new value-driven buyers.  William Raveis Real Estate’s new homes division is currently marketing 30 subdivisions in Connecticut and Massachusetts.  “The buyers are starting to feel like the time is right, but the mindset is much more frugal,” noted John Tarducci, senior vice president of William Raveis Real Estate’s new homes division.  “In the past 30 years, we haven’t had this combination of very low mortgage rates, reasonable pricing and very high affordability for a large segment of the buying public – who are finally able to get into the market because of lower housing prices and lower interest rates.  The good news is that with 15-year mortgages in the low 4-percent range and 30 year mortgages at 5-percent or lower, affordability is much higher than it was the last time we saw those rates 30 years ago.  That means that more and more of the population can afford to buy.”

The Renaissance, a 17-story collection of 42 condominiums in Shelton, Connecticut, came online in September 2008 during the height of the economic upheaval.  Home prices there today start at $575,000, a remarkable value with the discount reflecting today’s market built in.  “Because of the level of sophistication of the finishes and the amenities – valet parking, 24/7 concierge service, a rooftop for owners and occupants, a lap pool and massage room, a world-class fitness center and community rooms, and decks where you can gather your friends and have a summer cookout – the Renaissance is over the top with elegance and sophistication,” added Tarducci.  “It is our country version of Manhattan living.”

Crescent Village, also in Shelton, offers two unit styles with first-floor master bedrooms to address the needs of the “sandwich generation” – baby boomers taking care of both younger and older family members.  “The idea here was to offer value with sophisticated finishes – so people coming out of a single-family home would feel very comfortable in this environment,” said Tarducci.  “We have several mid-age professionals that have an older parent living with them,  The first-floor master bedroom also works well for a couple or family with college kids who are away, or with one of the parents living them.”