For sale: nice house and yard, good neighborhood, convenient commute to city, $1.2 million.
That's no typo, according to results of a nationwide survey of 50 exclusive suburban communities released this week. It found $1.2 million is the average price of a single-family home in the most expensive U.S. suburbs.
That distinction is shared by the New York bedroom communities of Greenwich, Conn., in lower Fairfield County northeast of New York City, and Mill Neck, N.Y., a tiny town at the northern tip of Nassau County on New York's Long Island.
The survey also found that it takes at least $500,000 to purchase a home in any of the country's top 40 suburban neighborhoods. Montville, a tiny community in northern New Jersey, was at the bottom of the list, with an average home price of $440,000.
The only location in Washington, Maryland or Virginia on the list is the Virginia oceanfront area, where homes sell for $650,000, which tied for 16th on the list with Los Altos, Calif., and Tenafly, N.J.
The Relo Broker Network, a Chicago-based residential broker referral organization that serves more than 13,000 communities nationwide, conducted the survey. Relo said figures were based on summer sales prices in what it described as "active, upscale real estate markets" served by the organization's 1,100 members.
"We're dealing with the most affluent buyers in America, so price and interest rates often become secondary considerations," Benjamin A. Rowe, president of the group and chairman of Preferred Properties Inc. of Greenwich, said in a statement accompanying the survey.
"If a potential buyer falls in love with a house in this marketplace, he often pays whatever it takes to make a deal, and that's why prices for luxury homes are skyrocketing nationwide," Rowe said.
The report said New York led all states, with 18 suburbs in the top 50, followed by New Jersey with 12 and California with 10.
Connecticut's lower Fairfield County had three in the top 10, with Greenwich at $1.2 million, and New Canaan and Darien at $800,000 each. New Jersey's Bergen County had two $1 million suburbs -- Alpine at $1.18 million and Saddle River at $1.15 million.
The survey did not specify the average size of these homes. But Peter Helie, who runs William Pitt Inc., real estate brokerage in Fairfield County, said that in Greenwich, $1.2 million would buy "four beds, 2 1/2 baths, one to two acres, a two-car garage and maybe a solarium -- and that's on a resale." A similar new house would cost at least $600,000 more, he said.
No indication was given of the rate of home appreciation in the most expensive communities. But a similar Relo survey conducted last year, which listed the top 15 suburbs, ranked Greenwich seventh with an average home price of $467,500. That would suggest the appreciation in Greenwich is 157 percent.
Saddle River's appreciation rate jumped 58 percent compared with last year, when it ranked number one with an average home price of $727,000. Alpine's rate rose 79 percent compared with last year, when it ranked second at $658,000.
While the cost of exclusive suburban homes has soared, Relo said its most recent National Housing Report found the average price of a single-family home had risen only 6.4 percent during the past year to just over $117,000