Sunday, February 23, 2014

Property Owned By Former Yankees Pitcher David Cone Sells for $11.9 Million

A home with magical details sold this week.  Situated in Conyers Farm on 10 acres at 16 Hurlingham Drive, the house has an indoor pool that sticks in my mind, despite the fact that I haven't seen it in four years.  With a looming rock formation, the pool is nestled at the end of the lower level, very private.
 

The house is 11,980 square feet and sold for $11,980,000.  It was owned by David Cone, two owners ago.

It was a quiet sales week:  Two other single home sales, the lowest being $670,000 at 561 River Rd. in Cos Cob.  A 5 bedroom,  2 full bath house renovated in 2000.  After 1164 days, 29 Cliffdale (4.3 acres and over 11,000 sq. ft.) sold for $4,725,000.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What's That Pair of Pantyhose Doing On Your Roof?

Sharing a recent dinner with very good friends who are house aficionados, the conversation turned to pantyhose.  The wife said they spent an afternoon brushing snow off the roof of their house, concerned that the weight of it after these one-too-many snowstorms would cause havoc.  She then shared a tip that would make Heloise proud.  

How do you prevent gutters from damming up?  This is a real concern.  When snow starts to melt it runs down gutters.  That is, until the temperature drops and the water turns to ice, filling up the gutters.  The trapped water/ice may begin to thaw and has no where to go.. except creeping in under the roof and eventually your ceiling.

Enter stage left: Pantyhose.  Fill the pantyhose with snowmelt or salt and line the gutters with it.  This may seem a little overkill to you.  I mentioned it to my husband after dinner and he declined my invitation for a rooftop gutter lining date.

Fast forward to the weekend.  I came home from work to find a large cooking pot teetering on the sofa, catching water from the ceiling.  Where are my tights when I need them?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Is A Tennis Ball Dangerous in the House?


Question:  Seems impossible?  How can a tennis ball possibly cause a fire?

Answer:  When a dog rolls the ball into your roaring fire and your back is turned.  Unfortunately, since the desk faces out the window and it was a very long paperwork day, I didn't notice that Riggs rolled his toy tennis ball into the flames until the smell of rubber caught my attention….

Lesson learned and to be shared.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Any Sweet Deals in Greenwich Real Estate This Valentine Week?

It was a quiet week for property closings in Greenwich, perhaps a reflection of two snow days interrupting the work week.  Three single family homes and two townhome/condos sold.

On the single family front, 46 Chapel St. in Riverside was the lowest price property trading at $560,000.  A very sweet 3 bedroom/2 bath home in nice condition, it wasn't on the market long (under 3 months) from list date to sale date.

The highest price home selling was 150 Clapboard Ridge, a 1996 french style home that was renovated/updated in 2012.  With 6,595 sq. ft. on the first three floors, and additional 3,400 sq ft in the lower level, the house sits on 2.5 acres.  It sold for $4,023,000 and started out at $5.1 million.  It was on the market 144 days.

Monday, February 10, 2014

What Drives Up Home Prices?

When it comes time to sell your home, you know most of the factors that determine Greenwich home prices. The location within Greenwich (waterfront, Riverside and Old Greenwich are all selling above the average price per square foot right now), number of bedrooms, updating (or not) of the kitchen and bathrooms, style of home, quality of construction, age and condition of the home, acreage and quality of land: these are some of the key factors that influence final home prices in Greenwich.
But what are some of the lesser-known factors that can drive up Greenwich home prices?
Some of them are truly surprising—
The words “Place”, “Way” or “Avenue” sound somewhat more prestigious than the humble “Street” or “Road” ,so you may not be totally surprised to learn that home sales for properties with these address suffixes are higher. According to a massive (10,000 sales) Trulia study, houses located on a “Place” were 30% higher than a “Street” and “Way” was 24% higher. It’s enough to make someone want to go out and paint over the corner street sign…
Politicians have made smoking an ever-more-expensive habit. Now we can add on its effect on home prices. A Canadian survey conducted by Event One found that homes with at least one regular smoker may result in a predictably lower price. Forty-four percent of the agents surveyed thought that there was at least some effect on home prices, with two-thirds of them placing the amount between 10%-30. A “whopping” 88% said it’s more difficult to sell homes with resident smokers. Cigarette smoke is not the only odoriferous culprit: I would have to agree that dampness, pet and cooking smells can all have an effect on Greenwich home sales.
Homes within easy walking distance of schools, shopping, parks and other amenities will draw higher prices. A recent survey “Walking the walk: How walkability raises housing values in US cities” looked at 94,000 real estate transactions in 15 different markets. Homes were rated on a walkability scale of 0 to 100. A score of 70 meant you could get by without needing a car. It was found that (at least in metropolitan areas) a single point increase in the score correlated with a rise in home prices of $500-$3,000.
If you are about to sell your Greenwich home, you won’t be able change the address suffix or make it more walkable (odor control is another matter). That said, I have been spending more and more time using my interior design background to do the kind of quick hit updates, furniture rearranging, and readying of homes to make sure each property is presented in the best way possible.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Week Where Pricing Right Pays Off

The picture perfect kitchen at 26 Beechcroft
This past week saw four single family home sales in Greenwich, two being in Riverside (the area that showed greatest gains in all of Greenwich in 2013).  The theme for the week is (once again) the importance of pricing:  There is nothing to be gained by pricing your property out of sync with what the market is currently supporting.

Take the two properties that sold in record time and the two that sat much too long on the market and their final trade prices:

PRICED PERFECTLY
6 Lita Drive: Sold in just 30 days with a list price of $1.395 million and traded at $1.271 million.  This 1957 ranch home sits on .31 and was owned by a wonderful woman, Eddie Beck, who was the first female doctor in Greenwich, having received her medical degree from Yale in 1948.  I was lucky enough to have known Eddie, who was a familiar face and active at First Presbyterian Church.

18 Shoal Point Lane, Riverside: Priced at $5,195 million and selling 73 days later at $5 million, this 5,702 square foot waterfront home with dock is on .58 acres. 

SOLD BUT TOOK SOME TIME
100 Club Rd, Riverside:  2 waterfront acres on the road that Riverside Yacht Club is on, this land started out at $6,995 million and sat for quite a while--515 days to be exact.  It wasn't until the property was reduced to under $4 million that the market took notice and sold at $4,250 million against its final list price of $3,995 million. 

26 Beechcroft: Designed by New Haven architect Sam Mitchell, this home was something special in design and construction quality.  It started out 865 days earlier at $7.95 million and traded -23% off it's list price at $6,123,800.   I am pretty sure that it took every bit of the original list price to design and build such a special home but the market is the market.     

Friday, February 7, 2014

Do Online Home Search Sites Serve Buyers Well?

I listed for rent a mid century modern three bedroom home in mid country Greenwich yesterday.  I know the word "organic" is so overused these days but this time it fits.  Raised on feet so it's arching over Putnam Lake, this Frank Lloyd Wright-esque house features walls of windows and sleek architecture.  So I wasn't surprised that a young urban and her fiancĂ© called today to come view it.

What did surprise me was what she was looking at online when she called me to view it.  She found the listing on her own, using one of the top real estate websites (Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com).  On the listing that she saw were OLD PHOTOS from when the property was listed prior to my owner's purchasing it.  

Somehow, the website had taken our new listing and paired it with what they had "in the can" from last year.  With 88% of buyers starting their home searches on line, we realtors hear, "But (take your pick here: Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com) said…" .  And while online sites can be a very easy way to do a broad search, they are not a realtor nor do they have all of the tools available to realtors.  

So the wrong photos was yesterday morning's scramble to the online site.  Today, I went on their site and discover NO photos of my listing.  Back to the customer service help line at 9 a.m.

One last note if you are a buyer coming unrepresented, having seen a listing on your own online:  Realtors are all about making your experience as positive as it can be and we will do everything we can to be helpful.  We are not representing you so we cannot give you our opinion of value, thoughts on the property vs. other options available, etc. unless you authorize us to represent you as well (this is called dual agency)   When a buyer or renter comes without a realtor, he/she is not always doing  himself the best service.  A good realtor can bring a lot to the table: experience, market knowledge, negotiating strength.   

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Vacation Home: Indulgence or Shrewd Move?


For many Greenwich homeowners, it sounds more like a pipe dream than a carefully thought-out investment: getting your own vacation home—a refuge where you can put your feet up, relax, and tune out the stress of daily life.
True, if you look only at the expense of a second home, it sounds like a pretty costly indulgence. But in many cases, stepping back to take in the bigger financial picture, it could wind up being one of the shrewdest financial decisions you can make!
Consider:
1.    Vacation savings. Using your vacation home more than once or twice a year can easily result in annual six-figure savings. The resort hotels and eateries’ loss is your gain when you and relatives and friends are able to enjoy your vacation getaway. 
2.    Extra income. One of the motivating factors for many vacation home owners is the possibility to create a new source of some extra income. When you consider renting out your vacation home when you’re not using it, your occasional renters can cover some of the property’s mortgage and operating expenses. Also, renting your vacation house increases the proportion of time that it’s in use, reducing the kinds of maintenance issues that can develop when minor problems go undetected—especially during winter months.
3.    Tax advantages. A vacation home can become significantly more attractive when you take advantage of the considerable tax advantages. Consult your licensed financial advisor to confirm the details: in general, if you rent your second home for 14 days or less, it qualifies for the mortgage interest tax write-offs you get for your primary residence. And if you rent it out for more than 14 days in a year, a proportional amount of upkeep expenses can be deductible, as well.
4.    Retirement prep. If your  vacation home winds up becoming your home base for retirement, having acquired it early on as a vacation home now can be a terrifically wise move in the long run. By retirement, you will have built the kind of equity that reduces your mortgage debt, freeing up your retirement income stream for more pleasurable expenditures, like gambling, sumo wrestling, or even taking one of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket rides to an asteroid.

Two final creative vacation “home” ideas: I have seen several Greenwich families who have swapped homes, allowing a family to stay in their home and going to that family’s home during the same time period.  I have also seen families who go on vacation for an extended time and rent their Greenwich home to others, finding renters through word of mouth often.  

Interested in offering your home for summer rent?  If you’d like a valuation on what your property might rent for please contact me at rkencel@houlihanlawrence.com


Monday, February 3, 2014

Why Greenwich Smart Homes Aren't Such A Dumb Idea


With cars, TVs—even watches—getting connected through WiFi and wireless telephones, it’s small wonder that “Smart Homes” in Greenwich are gaining popularity. According to Forbes, companies offering smart homes technology will be a $35.6 billion industry within just three years. They already offer Greenwich homeowners an array of connected appliances, security systems and even HVAC systems.
From what I’ve seen, their marketing has highlighted the convenience factor—but if that seems to be more sizzle than steak, here are some surprisingly substantial reasons why you might consider upgrading your own place into a smart home:
Your current security system gives you peace of mind whenever you’re out of town. But have you ever wondered whether you remembered to lock the back door? Smart homes let you click a function on your phone that commands the home to lock itself! The same app can also send you a live video feed of the interior and exterior of your home.
In addition to securing the premises, smart homes can help prevent home accidents. Smart appliances can be controlled via mobile apps which allow you to turn off ovens, stovetops, microwaves and even washing machines from anywhere you establish a WiFi connection. This minimizes the risk of the kind of home fires that can be caused by unattended appliances. (If you’re thinking that homeowner insurance premium discounts may soon be offered for connected homes: the Wall Street Journal reports that they already are!)
Major manufacturers GE, LG and Samsung have introduced complete lines of connected appliances controlled via mobile phone, eliminating the need to physically get up to adjust settings. Think how, especially for the elderly and handicapped, this would meaningfully enhance their quality of life—maybe even extending their ability to live at home without assistance. For all age brackets, being able to effortlessly control lighting, heating and air conditioning at the touch of a device screen will inevitably result in practical energy savings; and that raises perhaps the most important selling point for smart homes technology—

Increasing the value of  homes when they come up for sale. The practicality of smart homes is already especially appealing to the growing number of tech-savvy buyers.  My experience and work in interior design, listening to what Greenwich homeowners are seeing as important, as well as hearing what tech features are most valued by today’s buyers, is information that can be helpful if you are contemplating putting your house on the market.  Contact information: Rkencel@houlihanlawrence.com

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Best Walk Through and House Closing Ever

It was the kind of experience that every buyer and seller hope for.  The listing realtor said it best when she sent me this note after the closing, "Thank you for sending us such nice buyers."  In this market, reaching a price that is agreeable to all and getting through the building inspection feels like a monumental feat in and of itself.  Buyers and sellers can get downright cranky as the line becomes blurred between real issues and nit picking on both sides.

Not lost on the attorneys or realtors for both sides was the fact that the building inspection, discussion on what was included in the sale and what wasn't (funny how sometimes buyers confuse buying a house with buying the furniture that is inside the house), and the resolution of a few important issues were accomplished with reasonableness on the part of the buyer and seller.

So when it came to the final walk through we expected it would go well.  What we didn't anticipate is how the seller would think of EVERYTHING to make the buyer's move to their new home go smoothly.  In the kitchen pantry were cleaning products as well as a case of Gatorade for the buyers' movers.  Throw rugs were at the front and back doors, anticipating winter weather and movers' shoes making for a messy entrance.

Fresh wrapped bars of soap were in each bathroom soap dish.

Logs were stacked in each fireplace.

Then there was the nuts and bolts of home care.  A binder of appliance manuals were at the ready as was a typed list of service providers.

On the kitchen counter was a "Welcome Home" note from the sellers and a book with a shared interest of buyer and seller.  Now that's the way to leave a house for the next owner.