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Construction Boom Hits Westfield Housing Market

Jill D'Ambrosio

Thursday, August 28, 2014 • 7:48pm

WESTFIELD, NJ – Upon walking into the newly constructed center hall Colonial for sale on Irving Avenue, one can smell the lingering scent of new materials and fresh paint. The hardwood floors shine, and the kitchen gleams just beyond the grand entranceway.

This is just one of numerous new homes coming on the market during a flurry of construction activity in Westfield as older, smaller houses continue to be torn down to make way for larger, more modern dwellings.

At its Aug. 12 meeting, Westfield's town council approved demolition of nine single-family homes where new houses will be built. These included properties on Tamaques Way, Woodbrook Circle, Lenape Trail, Lamberts Mill Road, Boulevard, Willow Grove Road, Surrey Lane, Harding Street and Saint Georges Place.

Local real estate insiders say that buyers’ appetites for new homes remains strong, despite original list prices typically starting around a million dollars.

“I feel there is great demand for new because it is trouble-free, energy-efficient and move-in ready,” said Don Villane, a sales associate at Weichert, Realtors, and a partner at D. Villane Construction, LLC, which built the new house on Irving Street.

“Like buying a new car, if there is a problem, it has a warranty. Most of our clients are very busy and do not want to hassle with older homes and worry about what unexpected repairs will be next,” he added.

The five-bedroom house on Irving was originally listed on June 16 and is being offered at $1,075,000.

Villane noted that most of the houses his firm has built recently are going under contract before completion or within three months of completion.

New homes priced between $1,100,000 to $1,200,000 are “doing well and are moving,” said Jodi Luminiello, a sales associate at the Coldwell Banker West office, while those priced between $1,400,000 and $1,500,000 are selling more slowly.

Like Villane Construction, Gialluisi Custom Homes is experiencing a building boom. The company has three new homes under construction in Westfield, according a release from Coldwell Banker New Homes division. Prices start from $929,000.

Gialluisi Custom Homes, which is headed by builder Peter Gialluisi, a Westfield resident, has planned three more home construction projects in Westfield and Mountainside for the fall, as well.

Luminiello noted that the south side of Westfield is experiencing more new construction because the lots tend to be larger. Developers are able purchase older homes here, tear them down and build a larger houses while still meeting guidelines on how far a house must be from the street and surrounding neighbors, all while turning a profit.

“The most important thing is the lot size,” she said.

Another notable trend around town has been the development of new duplexes, which may appeal to younger buyers who want to be closer to downtown and mass transportation. A new duplex was built on Cowperthwaite Place this spring, preceded by one on Walnut Street.

“There has been pent up demand for several years and people are comfortable to buy again. Many people have been renting and waiting for things to change,” Villane said.

Modern Amenities

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Weichert sales representative James McLoughlin was manning an open house at the Irving property. He showed a visitor a few features that appeal to buyers of new homes in Westfield.

“It’s always the kitchen,” he said, pointing out the granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and glass tile backsplash.

Other desirable amenities include a family room flowing into the kitchen, bright rooms with tall windows, a master bathroom suite with a separate tub and shower and, increasingly, a second-floor laundry room.

“A lot of people like that because all your sheets and towels and clothes are upstairs and it saves you the carrying,” said McLoughlin.

In the new-construction homes, people are looking less for the formal living room and instead opting for a spacious family room or great room, Luminiello added.

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