Berkshire luxury home market bucks the slump


Sales of single-family homes in Massachusetts fell in March, but that slump seemingly has no bearing on the Berkshires' luxury home market.

A $5 million home sold recently on West Road in Alford, the fourth residence to sell for more than $2 million in the Berkshires in 2014 and the 13th dwelling to go for more than $1 million this year, according to the Berkshire County Board of Realtors.

On the market:

Here are the Top 5 most expensive residential listings up for sale in Berkshire County as listed by the Berkshire County Board of Realtors. Properties have acreage and some have multiple dwellings on site:

1. $8,995,000: 37 Interlaken Road, Stockbridge.
2. $8,900,000: 633 Northwest Hill Road, Williamstown.
3. $6,900,000: 151 Walker St., Lenox.
4. $5,450,000: 28-34 Ox Bow Road, Egremont.
5. $4,900,000: 185 Beartown Mountain Road, Monterey.

The four $2 million-plus Berkshire sales have all been in South County towns, as have 10 of the 13 sales of more than $1 million this year. Two of the three other sales were in Richmond.

Seven of those 13 transactions were also cash sales, said Mark McIlquham, the president of the Berkshire County Board of Realtors.

"Consumer confidence, to me, is the No. 1 thing," said McIlquham, of Realty Street in Dalton. "People have money sitting out there in equity form or in portfolios. The stock market itself is gaining more confidence. What better asset to have than a home in the Berkshires?"

At this time last year, nine homes had been sold for over $1 million, and they were all located in South County, according to the Board of Realtors.

Total residential home sales in the Berkshires were up 6 percent during the first quarter of 2014 with double-digit increases in Southern and Central Berkshire County and a slight decline in North Berkshire, according to the Board of Realtors.

While the inventory of available $1 million homes in the Berkshires is seven less in 2014 than it was at this time last year, the total volume of this year's sales has almost doubled to $23.9 million. That increase is due primarily to the $5 million sale in Alford and a $3.5 million sale in Sandisfield in March.

"Having a $4 million and $5 million sale is an anomaly having them so close together," said Sandra Carroll, the CEO of the Berkshire County Board of Realtors. "That pushes the dollar volume up obviously."

Only one of the nine high-end homes that were sold in the first four months of 2013 went for more than $1 million, Carroll said.

Big deals ...

Some of the largest real estate deals in Berkshire County according to Berkshire Eagle archives:

1. Elm Court on Old Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, former property of Robert and Sonya Berle, sold for $9.8 million in July 2012.
2. Southmayd Farm on Glendale Middle Road, Stockbridge, former property of Charles and Carol Shulze, sold for $6.9 million in January 2007.
3. West Road, Alford, former property of Arthur, Julianne and Alessandra Bresciani, sold for $5 million in April 2014.
4. Baldwin Hill Road Egremont, former property of Jordan Tatleman, sold for $4.6 million in September 2013.
5. Boulder Farm on Ice Glen Road, Stockbridge, former property of Richard and Mica Hadar, sold for $4.5 million in December 2013 (also sold for $3.2 million in December 2006).
6. Mepal Manor on Route 57, New Marlborough, former property of Brad Wagstaff, sold for $4.1 million in September 2013.
7. Rock Ridge Estate on Tyringham Road, Monterey, former property of Robert and Virginia Duffy, sold for $4.05 million in April 2007.
8. Fernside, estate on Jerusalem Road, Tyringham, former property of Barbara Crosby and the late J. Player Crosby, sold for $3.9 milllion in November 2004.
9. West Sheffield Road, Great Barrington, former property of Robert and Jacqueline Spielman, sold for $3.66 million in November 2004.
10. Mirror Lake on Sears Road, Sandisfield, former property of Robert K. Green, sold for $3.5 million in March 2014; 28 Yale Hill, Stockbridge, former property of Tammis Day, sold for $3.5 million in February 2005.

Karen Climo, a Realtor with William Pitt Sotheby's Realty in Great Barrington, attributes the increase in Berkshire high-end home sales this year to the improving economy and the value people find in living here.

"I think people are feeling a little more comfortable with purchases," Climo said, "and they're a little less caught up in the recession."

The buyers of high-end Berkshire homes typically come from the New York City and Boston metro areas, but Climo said she has received inquiries this year from Maryland and Washington, D.C.

"People are starting to notice the Berkshires a little more," she said. "People comparing the Hamptons and Berkshire prices are seeing the value. There's been a lot of that going on."

Climo said people who have moved here from other areas have also begun recommending the Berkshires to their friends.

"A lot of referrals are going on," she said. "People are feeling a little more confident in the market. We had a slow 2010, 2011 and 2012, but last year we began to see the numbers pick up. The fall through the winter was a busy season [this year]. It's usually pretty quiet."

Nancy Kalodner, the broker-owner of Benchmark Real Estate in Otis, which represented the buyer of the $5 million Alford home, said those looking at luxury homes appreciate the privacy that the Berkshires has to offer.

"There is a sense that the Berkshires, unlike some of the other second-home meccas, is not a see-and-be-seen kind of place. It's a place for more quiet, private people. There are no paparazzi in the Berkshires," Kalodner said. "I think the folks in the higher economic echelon have come to appreciate that."

The $5 million home in Alford was purchased by Gwalchmei LLC, the sole member of which is Martin Chavez, according to documents on file at the Southern Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Great Barrington. Gwalchemi LLC has also obtained a $3.5 million, 30-year mortgage on the property, according to registry documents.

The property was listed by Heather Croner Realty of Millbrook, N.Y., and had been on the market for some two years. The former owners, Arthur, Julianne and Alessandra Bresciani, live in Atlanta, New York City and Mamaroneck, N.Y., respectively.

The property is included on four parcels consisting of 245 acres that straddle the Alford/West Stockbridge town line. Built in 1978, the two-story single family home has 10 rooms and contains 8,621 square feet, according to and, two online real estate websites.

The $5 million price tag makes the Alford property one of the largest residential real estate transactions in Berkshire County history, according to Eagle files. The largest transaction is believed to be the $9.8 million sale of the former Elm Court Estate in Stockbridge in 2012.

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