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Year-End Real Estate Roundup

A look at the 2016 Norfolk real estate market


By Lindsey Pizzica Rotolo

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the Norfolk real estate market in 2016 is the wide array of listings. For the first time since the 1990’s, there is literally something for everyone.

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) currently includes 44 Norfolk homes (down from an all-time high of 56 homes last year). While this doesn’t paint a complete picture of the Norfolk market since a few sellers in town keep their listings private, it does provide some interesting data.

The MLS currently includes 12 Norfolk homes for sale in the $1 million and up range—from Knolly Brook, which is currently listed at $1 million, to Yale Farm, which is offered for $10.85 million. There are 11 homes for sale in the $500,000 to $1 million range, 12 homes for sale between $250,000 and $500,000 and nine homes for $250,000 and under.

“This is unique,” says Betsy Little, who sold 12 Norfolk homes in 2016. “It’s so nice to be able to show people a wide variety of homes in every price range, but more so to have something for every kind of buyer. It’s an ideal market right now.”

Another interesting aspect of the 2016 market is the availability of homes on Doolittle Lake. Usually those homes are offered privately to the Doolittle community and never make it onto the open market, but there are currently four Doolittle homes listed on the MLS, ranging from the meticulously restored and renovated Alfredo Taylor camp listed at $2.25 million to a three-room cabin on Doolittle Drive for $750,000.

Little had seven closings in October and November alone. “August was crazy,” she reports. “It seemed everyone who looked bought something.” Most of those sales were between $350,000 and $600,000. “The fact that things are moving in the mid-market is a really good sign,” says Little. That said, the high end of the market is quite stagnant. “To get over $600,000 this year was hard, but in the previous two years it was difficult to get over $350,000, so the comfort level is much higher than it’s been in quite a while.”

Tom McGowan, the other top-selling Norfolk realtor, had a good year, too. He sold 10 homes in Norfolk (and seven others outside of town) and represented the seller and the buyer in half of those sales. “I’m very happy with the Norfolk market right now,” says McGowan. “There are a high number of listings, but it’s down from where we were in the previous two years, and the volume of buyers is moving up.”

McGowan also credits the local banks for the rise in home sales in 2016. “Salisbury Bank and National Iron are just wonderful to work with. They are considerate to new homeowners and work with people in a timely fashion. That’s a huge plus for this market.” As the lending market loosens up and banks are lightening up on credit requirements, owning a home is much easier today that it was in the years following the great recession.

McGowan predicts that prices will rise from here. “The perception of Norfolk is still, and will always be, this picturesque, quintessential New England town, relatively untouched by time. That will always attract people, but perhaps more so in the next couple years, as a lot of properties are well positioned marketing-wise for the New York market and beyond. We’ll continue to be busy.”

Of all his Norfolk sales in 2016, McGowan is happiest about the Mountain View Inn finally having a buyer after being on the market for a few years. “The Mountain View being under contract is just huge for everyone. It’s great to have such an important Norfolk landmark off the market.”

Little was happy to report that the clear majority of her sales were for close to the asking price, but was quick to point out that those homes were priced realistically. “I could be wrong, but that 2005 to 2007 bubble is not going to come back anytime soon. Norfolk sellers’ goal can’t be some windfall of profit. The value of owning a home in Norfolk is getting to live in this incredible area, enjoying the outdoors, making memories with your family and the unique, independent-minded people who live here—that’s where you get your value.”

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