Hottest Part of RI’s Economy — East Side of Providence’s Real Estate

Saturday, July 14, 2018


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Asking price $5.5M, sale pending

The Rhode Island economy has hit a number of milestones --a record number of Rhode Islanders working is one of the trumpeted stats, but no part of the Rhode Island economy is hotter than real estate in one Providence neighborhood.

It is where Governor Gina Raimondo, Congressman David Cicilline, and mega-developer Joe Paolino all live.

The Rhode Island real estate market is a seller’s market.

On the East Side of Providence, in particular, home values are skyrocketing, with houses that only a few years ago were worth $400,000 or $500,000 are now selling for a million dollars or more.

Houses go on the market and within a week there are more than a dozen offers meeting or exceeding the asking price — often by cash buyers.

Sally Lapides, President and CEO of Residential Properties, Ltd., says the combination of older people looking to downsize and Providence’s appeal as a city are fueling the boom. Buyers are more and more New York transplants or Boston commuters.

And, Lapides’ firm dominates the East Side.

In the first half of 2018 alone, 87 single family homes were sold in the East Side for an average cost of just under $650,000. The highest price came in at $1.5 million.

These houses averaged 2,400 square feet of living space, with four bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. But some are massive -- one on Arlington Avenue, the Samuel T. Brown House is now on the market for $1.56 million.

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On the market for $15.6M

Most Expensive

The most expensive house on the market is the mansion at 66 Williams Street which the asking price is an impressive $5.5 million. A sale is pending, but the final price has not been disclosed. The Williams Street House was designed by John Holden Greene,  was built in 1810 and consists of nearly 12,000 square feet of living space. The taxes — just $67,116 per year.

The remaining 79 homes are the hottest on the market, with 44 selling at or above their listing prices of $1 million or more. With 4,100 square feet of living space on average, these houses usually offer five bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.

Across the state, the median price of single-family homes sold in Rhode Island reached $275,000 in May, a ten percent increase over May of 2017. Rhode Island has not reached a higher monthly median sales price since August 2007, according to the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

Where are Homeowners Going?

According to Lapides, most homeowners who are selling on the East Side aren’t looking to leave the area, just downsize to a home that better fits their needs. As they grow older, most people don’t need as many bedrooms or space, or they’re looking for better amenities, such as first-floor bedrooms.

Selling their larger East Side homes allows them the freedom to move to a smaller or more affordable home Lapides said. These homeowners will generally stay in the city, relocating to condos, carriage houses, or apartments.

“There are never enough carriage houses on the market,” Lapides said. “Those are really popular right now.”

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Courtyard on Williams Street

Popular locations include Kettle Point Apartments in East Providence, the 903 Residences at Providence Place, Waterplace condos, or any of the numerous mill buildings that have been converted into stylish lofts. Most are looking to buy homes instead of rent, unless they already own another summer property or winter home in a warmer climate.

Estate sales make up a large portion of other home sales in the area, with relatives looking to sell uninhabited homes after the owner has died.

Lapides stressed that every house and sale is unique.

“Each individual house has a different story,” she said.

Who is Moving In?

Lapides says the buyers moving into the East side are very similar to the current homeowners themselves when they bought their homes: families with school-aged children, close commutes to work, and enough space for growing families.

Out of state buyers are drawn to Providence’s array of private schools, while those coming from within the state are more likely to be seeking a more urban lifestyle. Providence public schools are poor performing compared to the rest of the state and RI schools as a whole greatly underperform Massachusetts schools.

Aside from the natural age progression of current homeowners, Providence has its own ever-increasing appeal. As a medium-sized city, Providence is able to offer the best parts of city living—culture, walkability to work, unique restaurants, and more—without the bumper-to-bumper traffic that chokes larger cities. In addition, the close proximity to Boston allows a reasonable commute into the larger city for work.


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