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September 2006


REAL ESTATE

Deeds & Don'ts
by Lily Oliver & Dakota Smith

INSIDE STORIES BEHIND AREA REAL ESTATE DEALS

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Welch Squelch
When it was reported earlier this season that Jack Welch had decided to auction off his other Southport property rather than unload it via more traditional means, we had hoped to report the results of the sale. Since much controversy has been stirred up about the pros and cons of auctioning real estate versus using a broker, we are especially interested in the results of this high-profile sale. The late-June auction date for the 9,100-square-foot, waterfront home came and went, with no news about its successful bidder. So we contacted über-P.R. flak Rubenstein Associates, whom Welch had commissioned to publicize the auction. So said their prepared response: "This was a private auction. Bids have been received. There will be no further comment on this." Ahem.

Market Forecast
"Continued cooling with a chance of flooding," would be the best way to characterize the start of Fairfield County's fall real estate market, with the flood in question referring to the increasing backlog of homes that simply aren't selling. As of July 1, the number of homes sold in Fairfield County was down 15 percent compared to July 1, 2005. In Darien, for instance, the number of homes on the market was up 72 percent over last summer's number. Another cloud: The median price of all homes sold increased just four percent to $549,000 in 2006, up from $528,000 in 2005. And while the word "increase" has a nice ring to it, the county has enjoyed an annual double-digit rise in prices during the past five years. Harder to quantify but just as pervasive is the change in buyers' behavior: They're pickier, slower to commit and when they do, they tend to pitch low-ball first offers, realtors report. Say bye, for now, to bidding wars and people looking to buy and flip.

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