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Monday, January 16, 2012

Charlestown Real Estate Update

No rentals, very little affordable housing, prices still depressed
Prosser Trail, outside
By Will Collette

The new numbers for Charlestown real estate show a minuscule increase from last month’s numbers. The Zillow average for homes in Charlestown is now $305,800, up from $305,000.

Real estate prices for Charlestown bottomed at $299,000 in May 2009, rebounded a bit to peak at $332,000 in March 2010, but have since fallen back.

There are NO rental units available, according to, at any price.Though local real estate agents may have listings that Zillow missed, this is the second cycle in a row where Zillow reported no rentals at all in town.

Prosser Trail, inside
There are, however, lots of homes for sale in Charlestown, 143 homes on alone. Unfortunately, most of those homes are priced well above the $216,000 price deemed “affordable.”

Zillow lists 44 properties at less than $216,000, but nearly all of them are condos either in Castle Rock or in the old motel at 34 Prosser Trail. The Prosser Trail condos are essentially reconfigured motel rooms. See photo, right. lists 12 bank-owned properties in Charlestown, 10 of which are priced at under $216,000. Like Zillow, the 11 “market-rate” homes at below $216,000 are almost all condos or converted motel rooms.
One of the Castle Rock condos

Town Clerk Amy Weinreich reported that there were 16 foreclosures in Charlestown by the end of October, making it very likely that 2011 broke the previous record for foreclosures (17 in 2008) easily. 

The debate over the struggles of Charlestown households in this economy is far from over. CCA’s Town Council President Tom Gentz may think that the only affordable housing problem we have is one of definition – and his solution is to classify every Charlestown dwelling assessed at less than $216,000 as affordable.

Council Prez Gentz rebuilding a vintage
Porsche 911
CCA’s Town Council Vice-President Dan Slattery said flat out in the January 9, 2012 Town Council meeting that Charlestown has practically no poverty, that Charlestown is one of Rhode Island’s wealthiest communities, and that he saw no need to give struggling homeowners the Homestead Tax Credit proposed by Charlestown Democrats.

Perhaps Gentz, Slattery and the other Charlestown Citizens Alliance leaders do not see poverty and do not see Charlestown homeowners struggling to get by – but that does not mean those households do not exist. The proof is there to see – visit RI-CAN at 805 Alton Carolina Road (364-9412); they need support and donations to help all those people whose existence is denied by Councilors Slattery and Gentz. 

The world looks different to people who live in million-dollar homes and drive around in vintage Porsches. But that doesn't make it real.