Monday, February 20, 2017

How Does the White House Compare to the Average U.S. House?

President's Day.  The day we remember the indispensable contributions of Washington and Lincoln and other Presidential patriots. When you compare today’s typical Greenwich house with the one-room log cabin of Lincoln’s birthplace, the reality of where we have been, where we have gone and what makes for a home, is striking.

Last week, as the nation prepared for this year’s President’s Day, the NAR put out a novel kind of civic-minded observation. “In the spirit of President’s Day,” they had a stab at chronicling today’s Chief Executives’ official digs with our own—their fellow citizens’ residences.

“How Does the White House Compare to the Average Home?” didn’t deliver a warm and fuzzy “we’re all in this together” kind of takeaway—but the average reader probably didn’t expect that it would. The high points were presented in an infographic with colorful boxes and circles loaded with small print facts about the White House and the “Typical House.”
In fact, the White House has virtually nothing in common with the Typical House, which was represented by a picture of a nicely-painted row house. Most typical Greenwich houses aren’t row houses, but if we ignore that for the moment, there were some interesting tidbits:

The Typical House was built in 1991, so it’s newer than the White House which was built in 1792. (Not mentioned: the alterations made by the British when they torched it in the War of 1812).
The Typical U.S. detached single-family house as purchased is approximately 1,950 square feet.  The most common size home sold in Greenwich in 2016 was somewhere between 2,000-3,000 square feet.  Whether you live in Greenwich or other parts of the country, we're betting your home is a good deal smaller than the White House, although the square footage isn’t listed anywhere(maybe it’s classified?). What is detailed is the White House’s 132 rooms. They include a jogging track, swimming pool, movie theater, billiard room and bowling alley-- all amenities that can be found in some Greenwich homes.
The Typical House in the U.S. has a median of 3 bedrooms and the average number of bedrooms in a Greenwich home that sold in 2016 was 4. The White House has 35 bedrooms. 
Nationwide, the Typical House’s tenure with the typical owner is 12 years, whereas the White House’s inhabitants will have to call the moving vans after just 4 or 8 years.
  So it turns out that the White House isn’t really a lot like most normal houses. And let's not forget that besides square footage, number of bedrooms and amenities there are those six flights of stairs that you need to carry laundry up and down.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Positive Sentiment Boasts Greenwich Real Estate

Owning your own home is, for most of us, a goal that’s been with us so long we don’t even question it. In addition to the economic advantages that come with Greenwich real estate ownership, there are a host of corresponding emotional benefits—the sense of security and “belonging” within the community are just two.

So it should be no surprise that the real estate industry is bound to be at least somewhat affected by changes in the public’s emotional outlook. After all, when people start feeling good about the country and their own circumstances, they’ll be more likely to see the future in a positive light. More businesses will be started; more couples will decide it’s time to grow the family—and in Greenwich real estate terms, more homes will be bought and sold.

Last week, Greenwich real estate observers didn’t have to look hard to find a number of optimism-signaling items in the media. If local sentiment is in line with what was being reported nationally, it has to boost confidence in the commercial outlook for both Connecticut and Greenwich. For real estate matters in particular, optimism ruled.
The first wave arrived on Tuesday when Fannie Mae published its prognosis on “housing attitudes.” The quasi-governmental entity reported an abrupt turnaround in their Home Purchase Sentiment Index. This is the comprehensive sampling that measure various consumer sentiment on six components related to residential real estate. Most notable (actually, sort of astonishing!) was the component that measures consumers’ optimism regarding their own personal financial prospects and the economy. It registered the highest level in the history of the Index.

The percentage of those who say they feel now is a good time to sell a home rose, as did those who reported higher income in their own households. And the number of those who also believe home prices will rise in the coming year grew by 7%—which could explain why potential buyers might be increasingly eager to buy sooner rather than later.

The following day, RealtorMag® quoted a 1,000-consumer survey which confirmed that conclusion. It tracked those who “consider homeownership as a priority” and are considering buying a home in 2017. Undaunted by rising real estate prices, consumers are saying that they are more willing to sacrifice other priorities to save for a down payment. USA Today listed some of those “other priorities” as saving for emergencies or retirement—clearly signaling an increase in positive outlooks.

And then, just yesterday, the lead story in the real estate section of the Greenwich Times interviewed several realtors who concurred that the market is "on fire."

Some people grumble that roses have thorns; others are delighted that thorns have roses. When public sentiment begins to see more roses than thorns, Greenwich real estate is bound to be among the biggest beneficiaries. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

How To Make Your Kitchen Appear As Large As Possible When Selling Your Home

One of my kitchen renovations, featuring antique flooring, Italian marble countertops, custom hood and Le Canche cooking center
When I see a feature with a title like 25 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Feel Bigger, I’m all in. Making any Greenwich kitchen feel bigger would be a definite plus for any home sale. On the scale of ideals, it would be right there next to cleanliness.

Increasingly, today’s Greenwich homebuyers think of the kitchen as a center of family entertaining—the center of gravity where everyone hangs out more than anywhere else. If another room features a giant TV entertainment center that might be serious competition for the family’s attention, but otherwise, it's the kitchen. It's in the kitchen where family members spend the most time and which gets the most scrutiny when it comes to a home sale.

There’s no question that a claustrophobic kitchen can slow an otherwise appealing home’s sale. Hiring an architect, contractor, pulling permits, etc. to physically expand a kitchen is a major undertaking that runs the risk of costing more than it returns. So finding ways to make your kitchen feel bigger without blowing out walls and tearing up the property for months on end, well—that’s definitely worth looking into.

To cut to the chase, most of the Feel Bigger Ways aren’t magical: they turn out to be design ideas that maximize storage efficiency. To achieve positive Greenwich home sale results, the idea is to systematically substitute suffocating kitchen clutter with eye-pleasing open space. Here's some easy ways to accomplish that:

1. Make the Most of Your Kitchen Island-The space beneath is ideal for “smart” storage solutions. Google "smart storage" for how to best do this.

2.  Get rid of Overhead Cabinets-- Abandon one of Greenwich most popular design ideas of bygone eras: the overhead cupboard. In most layouts, those utilitarian storage solutions assail kitchen occupants’ sightlines exactly where it will do the most harm. When you remove those overheads, a whole lot of claustrophobia goes with them. Unfortunately, a good deal of storage space goes with them.  That brings up two other tried-and-true alternatives. First, placing shelving on unused wall space can solve some of the storage dilemma—most pleasingly, when it’s some variety of open shelving. Kitchen design publications are filled with examples of appealing open and glass-windowed shelving.
Second is what could be the most useful, least expensive, and easily adopted insight for making your Greenwich kitchen fell bigger: just get rid of excess kitchen stuff! It’s simple but true. Removing unused utensils, pots & pans and kitchenware can work miracles. For the gourmet-pleasing cooks who can’t get by without a lot of exotic cookery aids, the solution is an off-site storage solution in the garage or dedicated closet. The minor inconvenience will be worth it if a quicker home sale results.

I have a background in kitchen and bath design which can be helpful as you prepare your kitchen and home to put it on the market.  Feel free to reach out.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Moving Do's And Don'ts

Just Sold on 10 Barnstable-- A Picture Perfect Moving Program

Sold your house and in that 30-90 day window between accepted offer and closing when everything has to be packed and moving organized?  First things first.  Take a deep breath, close your eyes and recall the best, most positive moments from past moves. 
Okay, if there aren’t any of those, take a page out of the 14 moves that I have put my family through in our 31 years of marriage:  Two bad weeks and then it's behind you.  With all these moves and watching the approach to moving of many clients, I've learned a thing or two on preparation.  Here's the Do's and Don'ts:

Don’t procrastinate. The best movers can be booked up months in advance, especially if you think you’ll be moving near the end of the month. Research movers, within Greenwich and beyond.  Get on-site written estimates.
Don’t buy just one black marker. You WILL set it down somewhere and lose it as soon as the packing gets ferocious (which is when you most need to mark the cartons with where they’re going). 
…and my favorite:
Don’t move boxes you haven’t opened since your last move. If you haven't used it, give it away and take a tax deduction or sell it.  

Do start collecting cardboard boxes early. All sizes come in handy. There can’t be too many of the small boxes for fragile items: well bubble-wrapped, they’ll fit inside the larger ones.
Do use colored sticky notes: one color for items being moved, another for items being sold, another for items that will be given away, and another for items being thrown away,
Do take your time when it comes to unpacking. It is not a race!  And you may need the help of professionals-- either organizational specialists or decorators who know just where the furniture will look best.

Some people put off hunting for a new home because of the dreaded packing and moving that goes along with a change of digs. But if your family’s lifestyle has outgrown your current residence in Greenwich-- or anywhere for that matter, most of the trauma of moving can be avoided by a little pre-move organization. 

Yesterday, clients of mine closed on their property in the Burning Tree section of Greenwich.  It wasn't an easy pack up-- three buildings on the property and 21 years of residency.  Their moving process started the day after the contingencies were lifted.  We worked closely, sharing resources and planning out the process from A to Z.  And it paid off.  The closing went off without a hitch; the home was left in beautiful condition.

My background in renovations and interior decorating has yielded many trials, errors and learning in the most efficient and effective way to tackle moving-- a key part of the selling and moving process.  It's a part that I am very familiar with-- my family would say TOO familiar.  I'd be happy share what I've learned that has worked, and hasn't.