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Discussion Topic: Wilton’s Real Estate Market

The first installment of this column will consider the future of Wilton's real estate market: is it getting better, or worse? Why?

It’s time for buying and selling real estate. So what might Wilton’s real estate future look like?

 In April, I wrote an article and the relators I spoke to were optimistic for 2011:

“'The Wilton real estate market is going through a gradual stabilization,’ said Peg Koellmer, the owner of  in Wilton. '[The number of] units sold have come up slightly, prices are starting to stabilize… We’ve seen a bit of a revival,’ she said.”

 In comparison, one Wilton.patch commenter, “CR,” recently:

“My home has been on the market for 7 months. It is priced painfully low, yet prices continue to drop due to short sales, high taxes for services provided, poor commute to NYC. We have lost at least 3 sales for sure because out of town buyers went to a neighboring town with lower taxes. The fact that Wilton is a wonderful community with quality people is difficult to measure. I feel fortunate to be able to raise my children in Wilton.”

However, Halstead’s quarter one market report stated that Wilton real estate was starting to show a come back.

 “The number of sales rose 45 percent over the past year in Wilton, the largest increase in activity for any area in this report.  The number of transactions of at least $1 million doubled from a year ago, helping to bring the average price 20% higher to $933,928.  At $767,500, the median price for Wilton was just 2 percent higher than a year ago.” Source

There’s also the national picture to consider.

 Using Census Data, the New York Times reported that the new home ownership trend was down to 1998 levels at 66.4 percent. In comparison, just a few years before the economic downturn happened, the same data shows home ownership peaking just above 69 percent.

 That doesn’t seem like much until you consider that home ownership levels are slow to grow: in 1965, home ownership in America was at 63 percent.

 And today, Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index released data which indicates that the housing markets in 20 major cities throughout the country have fallen to a new low point since the recession began.

 Another factor to consider: the younger generation isn’t gung-ho about getting their own homes. They’re getting married later and leave the familial nest later, too. Already, school enrollment is and other neighboring towns such as , and .

So, since this is the first installment of this column, here’s the idea: you sound off on the topic of what’s presented.  The point of this column is to select a comment (or two) on wilton.patch, expand upon its central idea, and then open up various other areas of debate within that statement.  All readers are encouraged to participate.

What do you think of the current state of Wilton’s real estate? Have you or anyone you know have had success or trouble buying or selling a home in Wilton? Will Wilton continue to rebound, or will property sold begin to fall in line with the Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller report? Sound off in the comments. 

jacquelyn bayne June 01, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Its important to understand how we are doing compared to other neighboring towns to understand if we are truly doing well or not. My understanding is that we are not keeping up with Westport and largely due to the value perceived from our property taxes (or lack thereof). We need a long-term vision for our community to track our progress going forward. What services can we expect for our taxes and how does Wilton's basket of goods compare to our neighbors? Would you move here or choose another Fairfield County local? It starts with the economy, but the devil is in the details and we must examine and address these details to flourish in years to come.
Geoffrey Day June 01, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Beyond the lifestyle issues to be weighed - Compo (Beach), culture, commerce, commute - I wonder if the question is perceived value from taxes paid, so much as their amount.
Eustace Tilley June 02, 2011 at 01:47 AM
Location, location, location. NC, Darien, Westport win that one if NYC is the rail commute. Value for the money (school, reputation, taxes) comes next. Wilton is a great choice for the Stamford/Bridgeport car commuter seeking a better value/purchase price. That is at risk if taxes are overdone. School is a risk if its improperly managed and fails to focus on the classroom. NC and Westport have better shopping and can draw on residents from neighboring towns. Out retail base is tougher to support with our population and its simply not a diner's nor shopper's destination -- except for several 'anchor' shops. Attract high-end office firms to Norwalk, Stamford & Wilton and their employees will come.
Christopher Herbert June 02, 2011 at 11:50 AM
If we could improve the Danbury line of Metro North, the commute to nyc would be much easier. Trains run slow on the danbury branch and there aren't enough of them. even a savings of 10 minutes each way would be a huge improvement, and help attract buyers with incomes that can support good valuations. Another improvement would be to fix up the Wilton Y. I'm not suggesting that tax dollars do this, but if they could run a campaign to do a makeover of the gym and locker rooms, it would help change the perceptions of Wilton. I do wonder whether the route 7 highway project would have been a net positive for real estate in Wilton. If it allowed easier access from Wilton to job centers like Danbury, Stamford, Norwalk, etc, it could help attract buyers. On the other hand, it changes the character of the town and would not be good for those residents who live near the highway route (including me). In any case, the river valley trail will definitely be a positive.
Mike75 June 02, 2011 at 01:13 PM
Some good points here. When we moved to Wilton, the factors that drew us here were the home values relative to surrounding towns, the schools, the beauty and the general "vibe" of Wilton. The property tax issue is one that needs to be watched - especially if school enrollment is dropping. Less students should equal less costs, and in turn less taxes. Also, encouraging commercial development along Rt. 7 to grow the tax base is a good idea too. Look at Shelton - no property tax increase in 10 years and they have actively developed the area around Bridgeport Avenue to increase the commercial tax base. This is something Wilton should expolre. Danbury line improvements are being made as we speak - they are installing a new signal system to allow more trains to run. More trains means more choices and hopefully more riders.
jacquelyn bayne June 02, 2011 at 02:04 PM
Christopher--you are so right! Better train access, more trains, and faster commutes would make a world of difference as well as access to things near the train station--walkable distance--e.g. gym for those who like to work out before/after work, restaurants, dry cleaners and things just to make life and commuting more attractive. I love our Y, but we could use a facelift and a parking lot that doesn't flood--do you think thats possible? I would love to see Cannondale developed like a functional village such as this. I would love to live there so I can walk to everything but still feel like a small town . What great ideas. I also love the fact we are getting a bike trail through the town (not sure where) and I hope it effectively links everything together making our town feel more cohesive too. I hope they expedite that project as I believe the funds are available. We can make Wilton more desirable but a long term vision has to be developed with this in mind. I would love for a survey to go to all tax payers to see what services and improvements they feel are valuable and would be willing to pay for to achieve long-term desirability/payoff.
William sherman June 02, 2011 at 07:39 PM
There are good points here. Yes, they are trying to improve the Danbury line. Unfortunatly it is at least twice as long as the New Canaan line, so it has much less service with limited timetables, hence limited connections to Stamford and NYC. A RT 7 expresway, that is an issue that has been around for 50 years. Most of the group who campaigned to stop it are either dead or have left town. If it had been built we probably would have had more business, and been an easier destination to reach. RT 95 through other towns has not made them less desirable. I am all for encouraging development along RT 7, but if the traffic on either side of the of our 4 lane section, and the feeder roads, continues as it does during peak hours we will not be a choice for business. Merritt 7 has it's problems, but it is near the Merrit Parkway, and also the 7 extension. The tax situation is another big issue. We do pay more for less. We do have limited resources. Yes we do have open space, but do you see a lot of people using it? We have historical areas , but what some residents don't realize is that many of those areas consist of buildings that were moved there, and really how many residents moved here for history. Our schools are wonderful,but so are the schools in neighboring towns. We moved here because we got more house for the money, but we soon realized we also had more taxes than a similiar house in a neighboring town, with more to offer. Wilton has a long way to go. It is unfortunate!
Mose Hazo June 28, 2011 at 12:09 PM
Wilton has come a long way from when we moved here thirty-three years ago. Then it was a quaint, everyone knows everyone else type of place with a fine school system and beautiful scenery. There were some large corporate entities which covered a portion of the tax requirements (Richardson Vicks, Emory Air, PhotoShop, and others all of which are no longer here). Did I mention no fast food places, no car wahses, and no alcohol sold in the town limits? Restaurants were limited so people tended to go to New Canaan or Westport for best dining. Wilton now is a far more affluent town with more business development and some very good physical improvements in the nature of the Town Center. The official town car is now a fight between large Audis and Mercedes plus a few Lexus's. The physical plant of the school is larger, artificial sports fields, and renovated buildings plus newer construction in the Village Center. Liquor stores now exist and even Subway found a spot in the Center. Of course, everyone's property taxes have escalated and that is not pleasant for anyone particularly those elderly or affected by the economic downturn of 2007 which has set our country on a tailspin. Is there a choice? Those who have children in the schools fight determinedly to maintain or increase the school allotment of the tax dollars while the older people moan under the weight of the problem. The schools make Wilton attractive but we need more businesses to help our tax base.

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