Every month, Warwick leads the state in the total number of single-family home sales, a number that consistently tops 100.
But when it comes to the sale of million dollar homes, it’s Newport, Barrington and Watch Hill that make the headlines.
That’s not always the case. Four Warwick homes sold for more than $1 million last year. That’s two more than in 2015.
One of them was on Warwick Neck that has the greatest concentration of single-family homes assessed by the city at more than $1 million. In fact, Briarcliff Avenue at the end of the neck offering spectacular views of Narragansett and Greenwich Bays has 14 homes with an assessed valuation of $1 million or more, according to city Tax Assessor Christopher Celeste. Nearby Beacon Avenue has four in the million-dollar club, while Channel View has six.
Overall, the city has 65 homes valued at $1 million or more. Most of the 65 are waterfront homes and, with 39 miles of shoreline, Warwick has a lot of waterfront property.
Ron Phipps of Phipps Realty refers to the “two rules” of real estate as “location, location, location” and “the law of substitution.” He said Warwick and East Providence waterfront properties are the least expensive between the Carolinas and Maine. Some of those properties are attracting out-of-state buyers interested in primary or secondary homes, but that’s not always the case.
Phipps represented the buyer in the recent sale of the home at 339 Promenade Ave. in Old Buttonwoods for $1,875,000 sold by Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Realty. He said the same house on a similar location in Block Island or on the Cape would have sold for $8 million to $9 million.
The single sale on Warwick Neck topping $1 million in 2016 was on Channel View. The property sold for $1,625,000, said Phipps.
“More important,” he said, “prices are recovering.” The Channel View home sold for $1.7 million in 2003.
The other two million dollar-plus sales were 15 Bayside Avenue in Pawtuxet on Oct. 28 for $1.1 million and 1180 Ives Rd. in Potowomut that sold for $2 million. Meredyth Church of Residential Properties Ltd. Providence office represented both parties in the sale of the Pawtuxet waterfront. The home was one of the first buildings constructed in the Bayview Avenue area circa 1895 and was originally built as a summer home for George E. Boyden, treasurer of the Vesta Knitting Mills. The home was later owned between 1903-1911 by Alfred B. Pritkin, president of A.B. Pritkin Machinery Co. and was subsequently sold to Gottlieb W. Wildprett, a partner in Wildprett & Saacke, jewelry manufacturers.
The Ives Road property is also an older house. Heidi Farmer Piccerelli, of Mott & Chace Sotheby’s, sold the 9,5000-square-foot home on nearly five acres of thickly wooded land near Goddard Park.
Philip Slocum of Slocum Real Estate in Warwick hasn’t been involved in any sales of more than one million in 2016, “unfortunately,” as he puts it. He sees some out-of-state interest in Warwick waterfront for second homes but for the most part says they are primary residences. Overall, he feels an increased confidence in the economy and improved attitudes have helped the market.
“Warwick is a gem with exceptional waterfront opportunities,” he said. In addition, he said the city’s central location and “stable tax base” make it attractive.
“Warwick should not be overlooked in that $1 million level,” he said.
Amy I. Doorley of Mott & Chace Sotheby’s is of the same opinion. She said there are a number of higher end homes “tucked away off Love Lane in Cowesett.”
“You’re right on the East Greenwich line, you can walk to town, there’s such convenience and there’s a nice established feel to it.”
As for Warwick Neck, Doorley said there was a time when people complained it is “so far removed” from everything. She said that has changed with the convenience of new developments, proximity of Stop & Shop, restaurants and Warwick Country Club.
“Everything is just down the street.”
For similar properties to those on Warwick Neck in Narragansett and Newport, “you wouldn’t be able to touch it.”
It’s not all as positive as realtors, or for that matter residents, would like. Doorley admits that airport noise is a factor, especially for homes directly in the flight path. Yet, she said, the airport is a selling point, as homeowners in most sections of Warwick can get there in a matter of minutes.
“That’s a selling point for me,” she said.
Unfortunately, Warwick schools aren’t the selling point they once were, said Doorley. There was a time when classified real estate ads touted, for example, “in the Toll Gate district.”
Taxes and flood insurance are also drawbacks, said Phipps. He said a Warwick homeowner with a property valued at $1 million can expect to pay about $21,000 in property taxes or close to twice what a property owner on the Cape pays for a similarly valued house. Property tax rates in Jamestown, Tiverton and Westerly are “so much more competitive,” he said, that some buyers are willing to pass up good value in Warwick for lower taxes elsewhere. He has seen flood insurance premiums as high as $30,000 for less than $300,000 in coverage. That may not be a factor for those who enter the market with cash and can afford to self-insure, but it cuts out a major portion of the market when it comes to some waterfront homes.
But overall, Phipps whose family moved here from California, loves Rhode Island and said he can’t find a comparable quality of life elsewhere in his travels around the world.
Referring to his own home, he asks, “Where else can you be 300 feet from one of the most beautiful bays in the world. The community is special.”
Phipps reasons most Rhode Islanders have no basis to make comparisons.
“Rhode Islanders tend to be nearsighted by how spectacular Rhode Island is,” he said.