As 2012 winds to a close it's a good time to reflect on some of the events which shaped our life and real estate in Greenwich this year.
The biggest event which affected almost all of us and which gave our real estate its biggest headache was "Superstorm Sandy." The town's evacuation order for 4,000 homes in low-lying areas, the four structures which caught fire, the loss of power for a week or more, destruction of property from flooding, wind damage and falling trees, and roadway closures throughout the town all wreaked havoc on our community. Thankfully, we came back and we're rebuilding the properties and landscapes that were destroyed.
Our shoreline weathered its second assault only fourteen months after Hurricane Irene. With the great response from Greenwich's Office of Emergency Management, our local chapter of the Red Cross, and first responders from police, fire, EMS and volunteers, we were able to keep the catastrophe within limits. They'll definitely be quite a few auxiliary generators installed in the coming months and Generac is reaping the benefits of having the right products at the right time.
As far as our real estate is concerned, as I've written in the last few columns, our market is recovering slowly in Greenwich. The number of real estate transactions is up over last year and the prior year but prices took a slight dip this year. I don't think that will continue due to the steady influx of buyers and the need for quality real estate in desirable markets like ours. We're still well below our 2006 high values but the word is out that prices are starting to increase. Fear of loss should spur buyers to move on real estate purchases.
Also helping our real estate was a very good report on our local schools. Since 2010 when our school district ranked 46th in the state standardized test results, we've improved markedly. In fact, five of our schools - Riverside, Eastern Middle, Old Greenwich, Dundee and North Street - were among the highest ranking in the recent state of Connecticut performance index reports.
In addition, Glenville and Julian Curtiss had the best improvement since last year's report. Greenwich High and Eastern Middle were in the highest performing sub-group on state tests.
For me personally, I realized a dream of owning the new Tesla Model S all-electric sedan. What I hadn't planned on, though, were the multitude of awards it won and the roll-out of Tesla Supercharger stations for free long-range trips at rest stops across the country. Both Road & Track and Automobile magazine gave it their 2013 car of the year award and Time magazine ranked it among the top 50 inventions of 2012. It's the first all-electric car to win these prestigious awards and would have won even if it were not electric, according to the editors.
Equally significant, perhaps, is Tesla's roll-out of what are called Supercharger stations. These solar-powered charging stations are being placed on interstate highways to allow long range and even cross country driving in the Model S. While California was first to be covered with six Tesla Superchargers allowing unlimited free travel within the state, I'm happy to say that Connecticut was second to receive these very advanced devices.
The I-95 rest stops between exits 40 and 41, both north and south bound, now have Superchargers. With a bit of irony, the gasoline pump canopies are covered with solar photovoltaic panels which charge stationary 500 kWh Tesla batteries and return any extra power to the grid. Now you can get juice inside and outside McDonalds, but the juice outside is free.
As soon as a Tesla Model S arrives and plugs into the charging port, direct current flows like water through a fire hose directly into the batteries in the vehicle at rates so high that up to 150 miles of driving range can be added to the vehicle in a half hour or 300 miles in one hour. Cost to the driver? Nothing. Free forever.
My car is shown in the photo charging at night on the way back from a round trip to New London, CT. Also shown is the charging display on a portion of the vehicle's monstrous 17-inch diagonal touch screen display. The display handles navigation, audio, vehicle controls, and even a live Internet browser using the car's free 3G network. It's a new world, baby.
"A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could."
-- Hilary Hinton (Zig) Ziglar, motivational speaker
Ken Edwards is the principal Broker for Edwards & Associates and has lived in town since 1974. All opinions expressed in this column are entirely his own and not those of this publisher. Comments, questions and suggestions may be sent to K_W_Edwards@Yahoo.com or call or text him at (203) 918-4444. Questions of general interest will be addressed in this column while others will receive individual responses.