In May 2009, 16 homes were sold in the town of Darien. This May, that number increased by more than 50 percent, climbing to 25 homes in that same month.
"It's a sign that we had a much stronger spring market this year," said Jill Brannigan a sales specialist with Al Filippone Associates, a real estate agency in town. The final tally of sales this May is just one less than in May 2008, when 26 Darien homes were sold, she said.
According to data provided by the real estate firm, it's part of a larger trend within town. In April 2010, 16 homes were sold, which is more than double the seven homes sold in April 2009, and two more than were sold in April 2008.
"The other thing that's really nice is the average sale price is significantly higher," Brannigan said. In fact, the sale price of Darien homes in May 2010 was up 30.6 percent over last May. While May 2009 sales averaged at just below $1.5 million, the average hovered near $1.9 million this May.
"This year in May, the average list price was over $2 million, and that shows we had quite a few trades above $4 million," she said. "And when you have higher trades in the market, that's an indicator that there's strength in the market."
One such house, at 8 North Road, came onto the market just a few weeks ago, with a price tag of $13.2 million.
The 9,000-square-foot house was built in 2006, and sits on an acre of land on Buler's Island, where Five Mile River meets the Long Island Sound. The home is positioned in a way that it looks out over the Sound instead of across the river, to give the illusion of wide open sea.
"[The owners] wanted to feel like they were part of the environment, part of the coastline," said Becky Munro, the agent representing the home for Halstead Property as she stood near the outdoor pool, looking out over the bay.
The home features dozens of windows and several balconies, which allow those inside to soak in the view of the sand. But despite all the windows, there's a lot of privacy in the home, which is situated on a quiet road in town, just past the Tokeneke Club.
"With this home, because it's so different, it has a character that no other property does," Munro said.
It boasts walk-in closets, providing plenty of room for dancing shoes, which the owners utilize in the lower level, where they have a dance floor set up near the exercise room and wine cellar. And while there's plenty of room to play in the five-bedroom home, there's also a lot of workspace, with a full office on the main floor, a family computer lounge on the top floor, and another office near the kitchen, which Munro and the owner jokingly refer to as the "Mominator" -- the room where all the domestic organization is handled.
There's a wrapping room in the upstairs laundry room, and separate laundry facilities in the mudroom, just inside the door from the pool.
"People who are buying this house are buying a lifestyle," Munro said.
It's a lifestyle carefully crafted by the home's owners, who modeled the decoration after the various hotel suites they have stayed in throughout the world. Each of the six full bathrooms were inspired by a stay in a foreign land, including the two full baths in both the owners' son and daughter's rooms, which were modeled after bathrooms in Parisian hotels.
It's a house full of little luxuries like that, Munro said.
"The market above $3 million has been much more active than last year," she said. "Coming out of 2009, the market has been up substantially. I think people are feeling a bit more comfortable now."
Three waterfront homes have sold in Darien so far this calendar year, she said -- two on Long Neck Point and one on Contentment Island.
"We've seen more waterfront activity so far this year than all last year," she said. "In general, I think people are breathing a sigh of relief."
It's a trend Munro and Brannigan both predict will continue throughout the summer months.
"We're going to continue to see this positive market activity," Brannigan said.