Masonic Temple Site in West Hartford

2014-07-31 Former Masonic Temple

The new owners of the Masonic Temple in West Hartford Center have knocked the building down. This is what the site looked like from the top of the Town Center Garage at the end of July – demolition appeared complete.

Their vision for the site includes a new building with 21 one bedroom apartments over ground level retail. There will also be a 21 space secure parking garage under the building for residential tenants. Construction is estimated to take about a year, so by next summer it should be ready for new tenants to move in.

Here are the draft minutes from the June 10, 2014 public hearing on the project.

18 Thomson Road, West Hartford

This move-in condition Colonial is in a great West Hartford Center location, a quick walk from all of the shops and restaurants in the Center and Blue Back Square.

18 Thomson Road, West Hartford

The formal living room is a nice size and has a wood burning fireplace and bay window. It opens to a sunroom in the rear overlooking the level yard. The dining room features wainscoting and connects to a kitchen with eat-in
space. There is an updated half bathroom on the first floor and finished space in the basement.

Upstairs you’ll find a large master bedroom, two additional bedrooms, an updated full bathroom, and walk-up attic space. Outside there is a 16×21 deck that flows right into an open yard that offers plenty of space to play, relax or garden. Park your car in the 1-car garage. The home features central air, and newer furnace, roof, windows, driveway, chimney, and electrical.

18 Thomson Road is offered at $329,000. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing or call me at 860-655-2922 to schedule a visit. More details are available.

Celebrate West Hartford 2011

Gather ’round everyone, it’s once again time to “Celebrate! West Hartford.

Ride the Gravitron at Celebrate West Hartford 2011

This year’s festival marks the 25th anniversary of the event and will be held on June 11th and 12th, 2011 on the Town Hall property in the Center. It will have all the usual attractions, including craft booths, rides, food carts, petting zoo, booths for local businesses/organizations, and a trolley. Saturday’s musical entertainment looks to be high school jazz bands, while Sunday has a slate of 3 bands each playing a 2 hour set. Check out the complete schedule of events for more details.

If you can break away from the fun, we’ll be hosting two open houses on Sunday afternoon where we promise to NOT have live music. 83 Kenyon Street in Hartford, and 97 Lancaster Road in Glastonbury will both be open from 1:00 to 3:00.

Boomers Boomerang Back into Town

This Sunday’s Hartford Courant had an interesting piece by Tom Condon titled “Subdivisions On Way Out?” It is definitely worth a read if you were focused on other things yesterday, like spending time with your mother or enjoying the beautiful weather.

10 Walbridge Road, West HartfordThe basic thesis is that a confluence of trends will lead to more large houses for sale in the suburbs than buyers who will be interested in purchasing them. Supply will come from the Baby Boomer generation downsizing to smaller, lower-maintenance housing options.

However, demand for their properties may not materialize. Household size is increasing as multiple generations of a family are more frequently living together. Financially marginal buyers struggle to get a mortgage in the current environment, preventing them from being homeowners. Factors like smaller home sizes, walkable neighborhoods, mixed-use environments, and shorter commutes are creeping up to the top of buyer wish lists.

Many interesting questions could be asked using this thesis as the set-up. The first one that jumps to my mind is this, which areas of Greater Hartford will benefit most from these trends?

Some of the winners are obvious. West Hartford Center offers exactly the mix of features that Mr. Condon describes. It is an established mixed-use community with smaller homes, in a walkable setting, that is convenient to just about everything in the region. Slam dunk. The Center is currently one of the hottest real estate markets in the area with basically no inventory available. If you want to buy there, then you need to have your act together.

Other areas seem like logical winners, but there is still considerable work to be done. I see Downtown Hartford as a long-term winner. Right now there is a core group of residents excited about Downtown as a neighborhood. Seven recent apartment developments (The Hollander, The Metropolitan, The Lofts at Temple & Main, 915 Main, Bushnell on the Park, 55 on the Park, and Hartford 21) are generally considered successes. Active planning is underway to rehab another building, the former hotel on Constitution Plaza. There are many additional opportunities to add residents in smaller, apartment-style, homes that are in a mixed-use community with major established businesses and legitimate public transit.

Really, the whole Farmington Avenue corridor from Downtown Hartford through West Hartford Center seems like it has a chance to win big in the coming decades. Asylum Hill and the West End have a lot to offer on the Hartford side of the line. Residential density continues on the West Hartford side of Prospect Avenue with numerous apartment buildings and commercial areas transitioning to single-family housing just off the main road.

In the real estate market, we are already seeing buyers from the Farmington Valley come over the mountain to look at our listings in the Elizabeth Park neighborhood of West Hartford and in Hartford’s West End. If Mr. Condon is right, then this could be the beginning of a trend that will play out for years to come.

Buyers: Get Your Act Together

This past weekend I held an open house at 55 Grennan, in the heart of West Hartford Center. For those that don’t know, the West Hartford Center market is very active, and right now strongly favors sellers. Homes that are priced properly tend to sell very quickly because there are many buyers and agents on the lookout for opportunities.

Our listing went under contract shortly before the open house. Since it’s virtually impossible to cancel an open house once all of the advertising gets out there, our sellers asked us to hold it anyway so that they wouldn’t have to answer the door all afternoon to explain the situation to confused buyers. Open houses on properties already under contract are not ideal, but that’s the situation we were in. (Though believe me, there are definitely worse situations to be in.)

Over the two hours that I was talking with prospective buyers, it became clear that many did not have a solid plan for how they were going to find their home in this competitive sub-market. Here were the three main misconceptions that I heard again and again.

1. I can find listings online. Maybe, maybe not … it all depends on what websites you’re using and how regularly they refresh their data. Many of my open house visitors had found out about the house after it was already under contract. We’ve been most impressed with Realtor.com, if you insist on searching on your own. A far better strategy is to reach out to your favorite real estate agent and have them plug you into the MLS directly. New properties, and any change in the status of an existing listing, can be sent to you instantly.

2. I can figure out my financing once I find the house. Serious buyers get their financing in order before they start looking for homes. Do they actually qualify for a mortgage? If so, how much can they spend? Buyers need to prove their ability to purchase when they make their bids, so every day they waste working with a mortgage person after they find their dream home is a day that someone else could come in and buy it out from under them.

3. It’s a buyer’s market. Um, no. At least not in West Hartford Center. Inventory is very thin and demand is quite high. Buyers don’t seem willing to go crazy bidding prices up (overpriced houses still sit on the market for months), but houses sell quickly when priced correctly. Buyers who think they’re in charge are probably not going to find a home in West Hartford Center this spring. Every neighborhood is different, so you need to understand the specific dynamic in your town or area.

These three factors are some of the biggest reasons that buyers have a hard time actually purchasing the home they like. They don’t learn about properties in a timely fashion, they think sellers will wait for them as they work to get their financing, and they think they can play hardball on price. In some markets they may be right. But not in West Hartford Center.

A far better strategy is to get all your ducks in row before you start looking. That way you know exactly what needs to happen before you tour your first property. We’ve had multiple buyers get the house they wanted this spring because they had their act together. They were educated about the market, they understood their financing situation, and they were comfortable bidding as soon as they saw something they liked. And if all continues to go smoothly, they’ll be moving into their new homes very soon.

That could be you … and we’d love to help you get there.