Both the number of sales and the median price of single-family homes in Warwick increased for the second quarter, indicative of what some realtors say makes Warwick “the sweet spot” when it comes to the housing market.
Warwick’s central location and its access to interstate highways is a factor, but hardly the only one, says Greg Dantas, broker and owner of Rhode Island Real Estate Services. Warwick has a large inventory of homes for sale, especially in the $100,000 to $300,000 range, and compared to the rest of the state the median price is among the lowest – although it increased by nearly 9 percent for the quarter.
“Most of the volume,” Dantas said of single-family homes across the state, “is under $500,000. It’s $100,000 to $300,000, that’s where it is.”
Generally, he said, homes priced at under $300,000 sell in 30 days or less. He feels this is reflective of what jobs are paying and the condition of the state’s economy. He placed the pay of buyers of lower-priced houses at $30,000 to $60,000. Those looking at houses costing more than $300,000 have jobs paying $80,000 to $90,000.
Home sales for the first two quarters of the year totaled 301 in Warwick – the highest of any municipality and more than double those in Providence and Pawtucket, which were tied at 114, according to State-Wide Multiple Listing Service. That is 26 more homes, or a 9.5 percent increase from the same period last year. The median price in Warwick went from $162,000 to $176,000, while the statewide average went from $209,000 to $220,000.
“There are great values and a strong market,” Peter Izzi of DeFelice Realtors said regarding Warwick. He feels the demand for lower-priced homes is helping drive the secondary market, or people looking to move up from their first home.
Izzi is “cautiously optimistic” that the strong second quarter is reflective of an improving economy, although neither he nor Dantas are seeing numbers of people moving into the state, which would come with the creation of jobs.
Dantas said Kent Hospital, the hospital community, Brown University and other institutions of higher learning play roles in the market with job turnover.
There’s more to the Warwick story.
Dantas finds buyers shifting from the two- and three-acre properties where you “don’t see your neighbors” and a return to the villages. He said sales in Greenwood Proper, Pawtuxet, Potowomut, Governor Francis and Gaspee Plateau are strong. He said buyers are looking for city water, sewers and natural gas.
Buyers are also want to be close to village centers with restaurants, services and smaller retail stores. He put part of the attraction of Cowesett to its proximity to East Greenwich.
The number of distressed sales – those sold through foreclosure and short sale – continues to be a negative, although there is a decline. For the first two quarters, there were 387 distressed home sales statewide, as compared to 486 in 2013; a decline of 20.4 percent. In Warwick, there were 70 distressed sales, a drop of one. The number is more than 20 percent of the single-family homes sold in the city for the period.
Offering a statewide view, Robert Martin, president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, said in a statement: “It’s a good market for buyers and sellers alike. Sellers don’t have to give their properties away and buyers can take advantage of interest rates that still remain remarkably low.”
He cited that the state’s unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 2008, saying it “bodes well for housing sales and, though we may see some moderation in sales in the months ahead, Realtors are feeling pretty optimistic about the market.”