Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Least and Most Expensive Properties Sold in Greenwich, Ct During the Government Shut Down

Consumer confidence levels slid to their lowest levels since April, WalMart sales tanked, tourists were kept from visiting national parks and monuments... it felt a little like a snow day in Greenwich, keep your head down, jammies on, and hope that at least the plows were working so you could go get some vital vittles if needed.

So what has sold in Greenwich since the shutdown?

Of the 28 single family homes that sold during the shutdown, the least expensive house to sell between October 1-15, was a home that was on the market for 164 days.  A 4 bedroom bedroom, 2 bath cape cod house on Pilgrim Drive. (Pemberwick section of Glenville) that is 1,441 sq ft and on .23 acres.  Just darling and sold for $520,000.

On the high end, a home that had a starting price of over $17.5 million sold for $14 million after 467 days on the market.  Over 14,900 sq ft and set on 4.52 acres, it had something for everyone including indoor and outdoor pools, a tennis court and more. Nice photos of 135 Taconic Rd.

So, how was the sales activity this year during the shutdown vs a year ago when the government was doing its usual thing?  Funny enough, 28 properties sold during the same time period a year ago.  Go figure.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween Decorating Taken To A Whole New Level

I know-- Big headline that's got you thinking "over promise."  But I kid you not.  I have been waiting for four years to share these holiday decorations.

Saratoga Springs is someplace special, known for horses (Saratoga Racetrack is there of course) and health/wellness (it was once a destination spot to take treatments in its springs), and home to Skidmore College, a liberal arts college.

Palazzo Riggi, named after the owners who built the 20,495 sq ft home about 10 years ago, takes the Halloween holiday seriously.  There are literally mounds of pumpkins and goards artfully heaped on squares of hay.  Cornstalks flank the front gates.  There are no blow up pumpkins or witches, no tiny jack o lanterns hanging off tree branches and no headless ghouls floating in your face.

 The decorations didn't stop curbside. The fall theme was carried right out to the street with street lamps wrapped and cabbage roses and mums at the base. The home is located on Broadway, a main street in Saratoga and on a corner.  Both sides of the house that face streets are decorated, the photo below is the side of the house that faces Greenfield Ave.

Nor are they in the front only.  The property is a corner lot and the side street facade has as much attention given to the fall decorations as the front view.  

The stone walls aren't safe from decoration either.  

And what would a property be without a horse on it, after all, this is Saratoga.  The horse, along with the owners' 30 dogs, will be just fine when winter arrives.  The lawn is heated so that no animals get cold paws when they are out romping around.

Monday, October 21, 2013

5 Night Views of Greenwich CT that You've Never Seen Before

How many times have you driven around Greenwich seeing it but not seeing it.  Same old, same old, right?  Maybe not.  Take a look at what photographer Julien Jarry came up with when I challenged him to shoot Greenwich landmarks at night.

See if you can identify them (the answers are at the end of this post)

Here's a hint on the above.  It makes you ask the question, where does Greenwich really end?  And who has the air rights above your house?  Now, the shot below is of something that is in progress.  It's a building that was constructed in the 1920-30s time period and I would bet that 60% of all Greenwich residents have been in it at one time or another.  Another hint:  It is on the National Registry of Historic Places and sold in 2011 for $15 million Building Sells    Give up?  It's the old post office on Greenwich Avenue, soon to be rented to the retail giant Restoration Hardware.

 The next photo is perfect timing for Halloween... it's spooky!!!!  

And this next photo is somewhere that your kids might often claim they are at--- but not! 

This guy is just taking a quick break from using his brain...must be trying to decide if he should renovate or buy a new house.....

And this is the place you want to know your way around, any time that you are doing work on your house.

All photographs by Julien Jarry, julienajarry@gmail.com

Answers to Above:
1.  The Bowman Observatory, on the grounds of Julian Curtiss School, built in 1940 by Greenwich High School teacher Alden W. Smith,
2.  The Greenwich Avenue post office building, currently undergoing renovation and will be rented by Restoration Hardware,
3.  The Graveyard at Christ Church, Greenwich, CT,
4.  The front steps of Greenwich Library,  Post Rd., 
5.  The statue in the courtyard at Greenwich Library
6.  The town hall of Greenwich, Ct.  This was Greenwich High School until the 1960s.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Selling A House? Don't be Dim About the Importance of Lighting

This week, I was asked to preview a 1950s one story wood and glass house in a woodland setting that is going to be put on the market.  The home is in its original condition, right down to the lighting fixtures.  As we discussed how far to take the updating and how each improvement would impact a potential sales price, the question of replacing lights came up.  This is always a sticky wicket but one that has to be addressed for one reason.  Lighting sets a tone... both in terms of its functional impact as well as its aesthetic value.   Great lighting can be very expensive.  Good lighting can be still be more than you think it ought to cost.  But if I told you the number of times that potential buyers notice and comment on the lighting, you would think again about not assessing it, if you are a seller.  

So, if you are thinking about selling your home, here's exercise number 1.  Walk through your house with a critical eye, and determine if the ceiling and hanging lights are appropriate for the potential price tag of your home, and if they set a mood/tone.... or are they a distraction.  Ask the same of any sconces.  If you don't trust your own taste parameters, ask a friend who does or someone in the decorating business.  

Here's a quick test to see if you "get" the lighting thing. Which of the homes below have lighting that is complementary to the house?

If you said "Neither" , you are correct.  The top photo would be better off having no ceiling lights as the ceilings appear to be low.  High hats (recessed lights) would be the right answer.  And by the way, it would be best to have the furniture taken out of the top room if possible as it is really dating the place.

The lower photo lighting just makes me feel sad.  The lights aren't bad in and of themselves but they aren't made to hang on a wall with cords hanging down (which also make me feel like they are a safety hazard.  A young child could easily get caught in it).  This room would be better off having one center ceiling light or have recessed lights.

Once you take stock of what lights need to be changed out completely because of their outdated style or condition, the best approach is to chose fixtures that are unobtrusive and innocuous, blending in with the walls and ceilings.  Unless you have a modern home or are speaking about a bathroom or kitchen, think about fixtures that have brass trim.  The rule of thumb I use is to take the lead from the hardware, knobs and general colors of a room.  Cool colors such as greys and blues usually call for nickel or chrome finish fixtures; warm colors are most likely going to favor brass trims.

One company that I like alot for moderate priced, classic fixtures is Visual Comfort.
A nice looking ceiling fixture, great for a hallway or small entry
  Many of their fixtures are copies of more expensive brands.  Local vendors that carry Visual Comfort are Greenwich Metal Refinishing in Stamford (who are also fabulous for restoring, polishing, and fixing older fixtures) and The Accessory Store in Stamford.  Greenwich Lighting on the Post Rd in Greenwich also carries a nice selection of lighting fixtures.  If you want to go up a notch, take a look at Restoration Hardware's line (Greenwich Avenue)
Classic kitchen island light from Restoration Hardware
or Waterworks, specifically for bathroom fixtures (also on the Post Rd. in Greenwich).
One of my favorite Waterwork's sconces, especially for a small bathroom
 One of the stores with the largest on site selection is Klaffs in Norwalk; be sure to go up to the bathroom department to say hello to "Press", I am convinced he was a standup comedian in another life.

For lighting fixtures that you are not replacing, be sure that they are cleaned, in good condition, work and are not missing any bulbs.  Lights that have multiple bulbs need to have all bulbs of the same wattage and type in the fixture.  There is nothing worse than fixtures with burned out bulbs, missing bulbs, mismatched bulbs or that are dusty and dirty.

One last note: Why wait until you are thinking about listing your house to take stock of your lighting?  Doing a bulb check and light review annually is good home maintenance.