Sunday, March 27, 2016

Greenwich Landmark Honorees Revealed

On April 17th at 4 p.m. at Greenwich Country Club, five new honorees will be invited to join the list of 289 homes and structures that have been awarded this designation by Greenwich Historical Society's Landmark Recognition Program.  What promises to be a delightful event as each home is presented to the public with the exquisite photography by renowned architectural photographer Michael Biondo, the afternoon will be punctuated with a talk by Frank J. Prial of Beyer, Blinder Belle Architects, lead architect for the restoration of Grand Central Station all speak about this project.

Why is preserving the past important?  Imagine any industry where you couldn't go backwards-- fashion, technology, automotive.. you name it.  Drawing upon the past to influence the future, or just acknowledging it to see what worked and didn't work, is invaluable.  Not to mention enriches our knowledge base, provides context and makes for a more interesting world.

In residential architecture, balancing history with functionality is an art and a lesson in patience.  But before you think about bringing in the wrecking ball, take a pause and a second look.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Perfect Movies During A Blizzard

The storm today may be setting a new record for Central Park but how does it square with Connecticut?  Above, is a photo from the blizzard of 1888, taken in Fairfield, CT.

Polling folks yesterday on their plans for this homebound weekend, "binge watching" was the number one response.   To make your viewing decisions easy, check out the 2016 Golden Globe winners and nominees.  This should be a pretty safe bet!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2016 Kitchen Trends and Greenwich CT

The Kitchen at 42 Mooreland Road, Greenwich CT (for sales information on this property, click here)

I designed my first kitchen in 1988 under the auspices of the then Greenwich kitchen and bath firm, Ceramic Design.  With Smallbone at the peak of its popularity, their influence in faux finishing kitchen cabinetry so that it looked less like a kitchen and more like furniture was all the rage.  From there we saw a move to rich wood kitchen cabinets, and, most recently, it's been all about white.  

Enter 2016.  What are the experts saying?

Comfort and Gathering:  Kitchen's remain the heart of the home.  Cabinets that look like furniture, concealed appliances, and ample, dedicated space for comfortable eating remain important.

White and Black:  Charlotte Barnes of Charlotte Barnes Design is loving black and white kitchens with nickel hardware.  Farrow & Ball's Wimborne White is a creamy white that Charlotte favors for kitchen cabinets.

Modern Vibe:  Sound Beach Partners, a high-end design/build firm has figured it out, as shown by their latest home that captured three offers in the first two weeks.  The kitchen hit all the high notes from the firm's signature gun metal custom dining table and banquette, to floor to ceiling cabinetry in a gloss finish, and unexpected details such as the window set in the cooktop backsplash, capturing a view of the outdoors.  

One of our favorite kitchens and breakfast rooms is at 42 Mooreland Drive, shown in this post.  Renowned architect Boris Baranovich got it right from scale to every last detail.  Currently on the market, listed by our team, The Stevens Kencel Group.

Need inspiration for your next kitchen remodeling?  Take a peak at these top kitchens from Houzz

Monday, January 18, 2016

Greenwich 2015 Real Estate Topline


Number of Condos Sold: 200
Number of Single Family Homes Sold: 600
Median Sale Price: $1.86 million
Average Sale Price: $2.42 million
Average Days on Market: 176
With a fierce and cold winter, 2015 sales started off slow, continuing the soft market of 2014.  A faster sales pace in the remaining quarters ended the year flat in terms of volume sales vs. 2014.  The lowest price Single Family house to sell was $360,000 and highest was $26,000,000.   By area, South of the Parkway led the way in total volume sales with an average sales price of $3.4 million.  Here's how sales sorted out:

Over 10% of these sales were over $6 million.  Old Greenwich and Riverside continued to be buyer favorites and together, accounted for 34% of all sales.  Of note, North of the Parkway is showing favorably and contributed 10% to 2015 volume sales.
Looking at 2015 sales by price levels, nearly 75% of all sales were in the $0-2.9 million price ranges. Within this spread, the fastest growing properties were in the $1-1.99 million grouping.  The $3-3.9 million price ranges was the next most popular price segment with 11% of all sales.  The over $8 million price segment continues to have a high inventory to sales relationship.

What did the median price, $1.86 million buy in Greenwich in 2015?  

  • In Old Greenwich, you could have bought an updated 1919 home, 5 bedroom, 3.5 baths, 3,374 square feet, on Grimes Road,
  • A 4,301 square feet, 1927 home that was renovated in the 90s, 5 bedroom, 4 bath on Oval Rd in Riverside, 
  • Or a condo in downtown Greenwich of 3,184 square feet that lasted on the market 7 days

As 2016 begins, the anticipation of rising mortgage rates, the lack of the winter storms that usually keep buyers indoors,  and strong inventory, are contributing to what promises to be a good start to the new year. More detailed information on 2015 sales next week!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Don't Be A Bad Faith Negotiator

It has been a hairy three weeks.  One of our listings that has not found it's place in the sun with a buyer, decided to offer their residence for rent.  An offer was received within the first seven days.   It was -27% off the list price, yup, that's 27.   That's a pretty deep haircut for something that has just come on the market.  Nevertheless, the owner, whose career has been in significant commercial real estate transactions, attempted to work with the offer.

Term length, who pays for what operating expenses, start date and, of course, monthly rent, were all factors up for negotiation and compromise.  But compromise wasn't part of the plan apparently, for this would-be tenant.  Rather than respond to my owner's counter offer, the tenant changed his offer no less than three times, accepting it once and then backtracking twice more.  

What happens when a seller and a buyer, a landlord and a tenant, have completely different negotiation styles and philosophies?  In this case, it all fell apart.  The owner couldn't get past the tenant's inability to honor an accepted deal or-- if he had a change of heart-- try and reach a compromise that could work for both parties.  The tenant wanted what he wanted and felt it was a-ok to start from scratch with his new needs.  In Greenwich right now, it's a renters market.  And the renter played that card.

Was there any hope of bringing this deal together?  If the owner truly wanted to rent the property, he might have put aside whether the multiple re-trades were in good form or not and just focus on the final offer.  And the tenant might have stepped back to understand the negotiating style of the owner and try to adjust a bit.

Compromise... it always seems to come down to that.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Should We Take Our House Off the Market for the Holidays?

Should we take our property off the market for the holidays? Is one of the most common questions my Sellers are asking right now. The short answer is: "It depends".  Here are the four questions your realtor should examine with you in determining the right strategy in the coming months.

1.  How is the level of sales activity during a holiday period, based on history?  If you live in Greenwich, CT., the answer is "Typically, low."  The Spring Market is our strongest selling season, followed by the Fall.   However, your local market may have a different pattern of seasonality in sales, be sure that you understand it.

2.  How are sales in your price segment?  If you live in Greenwich, CT, 72% of sales Year To Date have been below $3 Million.  This segment is strong.  So if your property is priced in this price range, you may not want to lose buyers that are actively in the market.

3.  How long has your property been in the market?  If it's well over the average days on market, taking it off for the holidays is a consideration.  Use the time to examine what can be done to improve any and all aspects of your marketing plan so that when you return it's not the "same old, same old" listing.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Meaning of Home

Besides your workspace, home is probably the place you spend most of your time.  When you hear the word, "home", what are the first six words that come to your mind?  Those are the words that you should have at the top of your mind when you go house shopping.

When folks come to one of my listings, it is interesting to see how they approach trying the house on for fit.  Some folks walk through with a mental checklist of the things they need for they family and daily life.   That's the practical approach and it is indeed, important.

There are others that have an immediate "love it" or "hate it" reaction.  A side story on this:  A seller last week couldn't get over the fact that the buyers who came to see his house left within five minutes.   The seller chalked this showing up to a poor job by the buyers' agent in qualifying them for his house.  I can't disagree with his point that with the 27 photos of his home on all the real estate websites and MLS listing, there shouldn't have been any big surprise  that would cause the buyers to turn around almost at the get go.

What a house has that causes you to fall in love with it, is highly personal and sometimes difficult to put into words.  In Greenwich, we have homes as old as the early 1700s and as new as having received their Certificate of Occupancy last week.  Only you will know the right home for you.

Buying a home that both fits your family's needs and makes your heart sing when you walk in the door is a double blessing.  Take your time and know what is and isn't important in the decision.