Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Construction with With Great Water Views

Exceptional opportunity awaits the discerning buyer seeking an ultimate luxury home in a coveted Saugatuck Shores w/views of the shimmering Long Island Sound. Custom builder Garrett Wilson, known for incredible quality in both design details and construction & this distinguished new home take the master builder's work to a new level. The architect-designed 4 BR, 3.5 bath home is finished on 3 levels with captivating views from the top floor. Wood roof and two fireplaces. (including one outside) Interior features incl:modern grooveboard, Wolf and Bosch appliances,artisan millwork & abundance of windows. Enjoy a vacation lifestyle with private beach/beach assoc. & easy access to yacht clubs, & close to the Metro North station and I-95.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

New To the Market: 7 Birch Hill Road, Weston

Offered at  $949,000

Tastefully updated & carefully maintained 5 BR Colonial set on 2 serene acres of level land in one of the most convenient locations, surrounded by multi-million dollar homes. You will feel welcome from the moment you enter through the covered portico into the inviting two-story foyer. Beautiful front-to-back LR, elegant DR. Newer kitchen w/ custom cabinetry, stainless steel appliances& honed granite counters opens to the generously-sized breakfast room & stunning family rm. Luxurious main level master suite w/ lrg bath and spacious closets. 4 additional charming BRs on 2nd floor.. Finished LL playroom. Deck spans rear of home, overlooking usable lawns & mature gardens. New central air, heating, hot water htr,200 amp electrical. Wired for generator.  Natural gas in street. Close to schools.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

7 Riverfield Drive, Westport

Classic Center hall colonial located in a quiet Coleytown neighborhood.  Its four bedrooms and three and a half baths and finished lower level lend itself to a family on the go. Master bedroom with updated bathroom. Cook’s kitchen with center island opens to large family room with masonry fireplace. French doors beckon to an expansive  wooden deck overlooking magnificent flat  two acre property with stone walls, perennial gardens and storage shed/playhouse. Ample living room adds an additional masonry fireplace, and another point of access to the deck.  

Offered at $1,299,000
Call 203-952-6117 for Showings

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Sunday, February 08, 2015

Signs of an Early Spring Market

Activity in the first month of 2015 may be a precursor to a busy spring market.  The pattern that seems to be emerging in all Mid-Fairfield towns is one of increased activity.  All four towns that we cover saw a significant increase in the number of homes accepting offers. 

In Westport 31 homes accepted offers compared to 16 in January 2014, representing a 93.8 % increase.  At the same time the number of new properties was 17.8% lower as compared to January
2014.  The median price decreased slightly to $1,300,000 a reflection of activity in the lower end of the market towards the end of 2014.  Early activity also seems to indicate a strengthening of the market below $1,100,000, though new inventory at these levels has been relatively low.  Homes that have come on in good condition have accepted offers in less than two weeks, and in a few cases with
multiple offers.  The number of closed sales (activity from the 4th quarter of 2014) was exactly the
same as 2014 levels. 

In Weston, the median price for January was $900,000, higher than overall 2014 figures by almost 10%, though below January 2014 levels.  Though the median price is an important figure to follow,
the year end figures are what we focus on.  More important in the short run is the activity comparison year over year.  In this case the same jump in activity seen in Westport occurred at even a greater rate, with a jump of more than double the number of properties accepting offers compared to January
of 2014.  Closed sales were unchanged.

Wilton, which has seen a slight fall off in activity in the final months of the year also saw a nice upswing of 46+% of homes accepting offers, with 19 versus 13 in January of 2014.  The median sales price of $905,000 was above 2014 yearly levels.

Fairfield completed the pattern of increased accepted offers, with 66 homes accepting offers compared to 32 in January of 2014, a 106% increase!  New properties coming to the market decreased slightly to 103 compared to 114 in January 2014.  Closed sales were also up 62%, and the median price increased slightly to $569,000.  It will be interesting to see if the median price increases in Fairfield.  The more affordable end of the market has kept volumes higher in Fairfield, while higher end listings have languished. 

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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Buyers should Pay attention to the New drop in Mortgage rates

I have an admission to make.  I just refinanced my house in December at 4.125%.  I thought
that I was getting a very good rate, especially since many economists were predicting that the Fed
would raise rates at some point this year. 

Then OIL rates dropped!  That has now been followed by interest rates for 30 year mortgages
going down to 3.5%.  This is over a 10% decrease!  I'm not a mortgage broker, but it seems logical to think that if the rates go down 10%, a buyer should be able to afford homes that are 10% more expensive. 

The signs seem to be trending in that direction.  Despite the cold and the snow homes in the lower price ranges are being shown at a healthy rate, and homes in the $million range are getting offers
within a week if they are in excellent locations or in excellent condition. 

The Superbowl is often the start of our spring season when the weather cooperates.  This year,
we seem to be going in that direction despite the snow.

I don't think that I'll be refinancing, but tell your friends who are looking for a home that they should take advantage of these rates before we start seeing price increases-a likely result if these rates stay
so low.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

The New York Connection

After reading how the number of homes sold in the Hamptons grew by 48% in 2014 according to Douglas Eliman statistics, I am somewhat surprised that we have not seen more of a boost of home sales to New Yorkers looking to take advantage of our area for its proximity
to the city by train or car,  as a weekend getaway and/or summer home.

The exact numbers are difficult to calculate without going through the entire tax roll. I contacted
both the Westport Town Clerk and the Town Tax Collector to see if they would have an idea of what these numbers are, and neither of these departments were able to help me.  My own guess, and it is only a guess based on personal experience, both as a Realtor and a town resident, is that the numbers  are somewhere in the 10-15% range in Westport, and lower in surrounding towns.

On a personal level, relatives of mine purchased a home in the beach area over 50 years ago that they
have used in exactly this fashion-spending summer months walking to the beach, taking sailing lessons at The Longshore Sailing School (One of the oldest in the country), playing an occasional round of golf or tennis, or signing up for summer events organized by Parks & Rec.

The largest share of our real estate taxes go to pay for schools, but we have so much more to offer a town resident.  In addition to the aforementioned amenities, there are the town marinas, Mahackeno summer camp, Compo Beach camp, Earthplace, Westport Playhouse, local hiking areas such as Devil's Den and Trout Brook, not to mention the simple pleasure entertaining friends with a backyard bar-b-que, or during this time of year, ice skating at Longshore or sledding at Winslow park.

There isn't much happening in the Hamptons in the winter months, which is why most of the restaurants and many of the stores are closed until the summer season.

Perhaps it's better that more people haven't realized what our area offers.  The highways are already
pretty busy, and it's nice to have a slowdown on the weekends. 

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Watch out for Ice Dams in Winter Weather conditions

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining. As water backs up behind the dam, it can leak through the roof and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas. 

How do ice dams form? 

Ice dams are formed by an interaction between snow cover, outside temperatures, and heat lost through the roof. Specifically, there must be snow on the roof, warm portions of the upper roof (warmer than 32° F), and cold portions of the lower roof (at freezing or below). Melted snow from the warmer areas will refreeze when it flows down to the colder portions, forming an ice dam. 
Although the primary contributor to snow melting is heat loss from the building’s
interior, solar radiation can also pro-vide sufficient heat to melt snow on a roof.   Gutters do not cause ice dams to form, contrary to popular belief. Gutters do, however, help concentrate ice from the dam in a vulnerable area, where parts of the house can peel away under the weight of the ice and come crashing to the ground.

Problems Associated with Ice Dams 

Ice dams are problematic because they force water to leak from the roof into the building envelope. This may lead to: 
 Rotted roof decking, exterior and interior walls, and framing; 
 Respiratory illnesses (allergies, asthma, etc.) caused by mold growth;   Reduced effectiveness of insulation. 
 Wet insulation doesn’t work well, and chronically wet insulation will not decompress even when it dries. Without working insulation, even more heat will escape to the roof where more snow will melt, causing more ice dams which, in turn, will lead to leaks; and peeling paint. Water from the leak will infiltrate wall cavities and cause paint to peel and blister. This may happen long after the ice dam has melted and thus not appear directly related to the ice dam. 

 Keep the entire roof cold. This can be accomplished by implementing the following 
 Install a metal roof. Ice formations may occur on metal roofs, but the design of the roof will not allow the melting water to penetrate the roof’s surface. Also, snow and ice are more likely to slide off of a smooth, metal surface than asphalt shingles. 
 Seal all air leaks in the attic floor, such as those surrounding wire and plumbing penetrations, attic hatches, and ceiling light fixtures leading to the attic from the living space below. 
 Increase the thickness of insulation on the attic floor, ductwork, and chimneys that pass through the attic. 
 Move or elevate exhaust systems that terminate just above the roof, where they are likely to melt snow. 
 A minimum of 3” air space is recommended between the top of insulation and roof sheathing in sloped ceilings. Remove snow from the roof. This can be accomplished safely using a roof rake from the ground. Be careful not to harm roofing materials or to dislodge dangerous icicles. 
 Create channels in the ice by hosing it with warm water. Because this process intentionally adds water to the roof, this should be done only in emergencies where a great deal of water is already flowing through the roof, and when temperatures are warm enough that the hose water can drain before it freezes. 
Prevention and Removal Methods to Avoid 
 Electric heat cables. These rarely work, they require effort to install, they use electricity, and they can make shingles brittle. Manual removal of the ice dam using shovels, hammers, ice picks, rakes, or whatever destructive items can be found in the shed. The roof can be easily damaged by these efforts, as can the homeowner, when they slip off of the icy roof. 

 In summary, ice dams are caused by inadequate attic insulation, but homeowners can take certain preventative measures to ensure that they are rare.

Thanks to BIS Home Reporter for this report.

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