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Ridgefield Featured in Hallmark Channel’s “Coming Home For Christmas”

Not only is Ridgefield ranked one of the safest town’s in the USA, but it also boasts one of the most picturesque Main Streets.  And now it seems Hollywood is recognizing that too!

Just in time of the Holiday Season, the movie – Coming Home for Christmas – premiered on Saturday, November 18 and aired again on Wednesday, November 22. Main Street Ridgefield is featured at the very beginning the movie, setting the scene for the town where the main character, Lizzie, manages a wealthy estate before it sells.  She has the challenging task of bringing the estranged Marley family together for their last Christmas in the home in which they were raised, and the usual feel-good, tear-jerking Hallmark shenanigans transpire from there.

It’s a pity the location scouts didn’t set the movie in one of our fantastic Main Street properties themselves, such as Ashland Cottage at 321 Main Street.

Here is the link if you’d like to watch the movie: http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/coming-home-for-christmas. And if you want to see some of the wonderful Ridgefield Estate Homes that are for sale, contact me.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and welcome to the Holidays!

Do You Want To Live Like A Hollywood Producer?

Picture the glitz and glamor of old Hollywood, pair it with every modern convenience and move it all to bucolic Ridgefield.  Welcome to 23 Pin Pack Road.  Home to a noted Hollywood producer, the spectacular residence was recently featured in the Danbury News-Times as its cover story and it doesn’t disappoint.

The sophisticated & enchanting 3/4 bedroom, 1920s mini-estate is situated close to town and reflects exceptional Stone & Tudor architecture. Completely rebuilt in 2011 by an award-winning builder, it features a stunning saltwater pool & spa with beautiful high-end resort like appointments and an exercise area open to expansive outdoor patios.  The exceptional mix of wood & stone, soaring ceilings, multiple fireplaces and amazing millwork are hallmarks, while an incredible gourmet chef’s kitchen and breakfast area connect to a fabulous great room featuring a coffered ceiling & stone fireplace. The master retreat includes a sitting room/office, and His & Her separate baths & dressing rooms. Three additional bedroom options with beautifully appointed baths plus sensational outdoor living areas including stone patios with pergolas and open air stone decking, make this a great entertaining home. An additional charming studio on the property is great as an office or additional workspace. Like no other!

To make an appointment to view the home, please contact me.

‘Fairhaven’ Is A True Fair Haven According To HOME Monthly Magazine

We were thrilled when HOME Monthly asked to feature our beautiful listing on 209 West Lane in Ridgefield for their November issue.  From the minute we walked into the home, we knew it was something special and it seems, so did HOME.

Fairhaven – as it is known – is a wonderful mix of vintage and transitional design that encompasses the best in workmanship, flow and elegant features. Tucked away behind mature trees & setback from the road, it is a spectacularly renovated gem that radiates warmth & sophistication at every turn. Once the home of film star Geraldine Farrar, the floor plan gently meanders from one room to another, seamlessly blending the indoor & outdoor living areas to create a perfect entertaining space. The stunning breezeway, with amazing views of the private yard, connects the lower level pool house to the main rooms including a fabulous updated kitchen, formal living & dining rooms, a study, music room, covered porches & more. The gunite pool & multiple terraces, plus lovely open porches are surrounded by mature trees and fabulous perennial gardens.  The home borders Silver Spring Country Club and you can be in NYC in just over 1 hour to. It’s truly exceptional!

Read more about what makes this home so special in this month’s HOME Monthly. If you are interested in purchasing the home or setting up a time to view it, please contact me.

5 Tips To Help Lower Your Heating Bills

You wouldn’t know it given the 75-80 degree weather we’ve been experiencing over the last week, but winter is just around the corner! while heating your home is a cost we all expect, there may be ways to reduce how much you pay. Here are some tips from Fixr.com, which provides “Cost Guides” of estimates to common household remodeling projects, highlights five projects to help increase a home’s energy efficiency and keep utility bills lower.

1. Find unorthodox heat sources. More efficient sources of heat are available, particularly if the home is in a milder climate or if the home can be broken into zones.

A heat pump can help lower your electric bills by 50 percent if you currently use electricity to heat your home. Heat pumps cost about $7,500, but will pay for themselves with reduced energy costs. Switching to a geothermal heat pump will save you even more. According to Money Crashers, geothermal heat pumps qualify for a tax credit equal to 30 percent of equipment and installation costs, with no upper limit. Pumps are also frequently paired with things like radiant heat flooring in specific areas of the home, as they are more effective at using energy than either baseboards or radiators and can help supplement the heat in smaller spaces.

Radiant heat costs between $6,000 and $14,000 if covering your whole home, but you can often install it in a single room for around $700. Paired with a heat pump, this will keep your home warm while significantly lowering your energy bills.

2. Add extra insulation. The amount of insulation that your home needs is directly tied to the type of heat source you have. Many homes are actually underinsulated for their climate and their heat source, resulting in their furnaces or radiators having to work harder than they need to and causing a spike in energy bills.

Insulating even a single room in your home can dramatically increase comfort and help you lower your thermostat, resulting in smaller bills. Adding insulation to your attic can also help you prevent costly and damaging ice dams as well, saving you even more. The cost to insulate a single room in your home is around $1,200 to $1,800, and will recoup about 107 percent of the cost at time of resale, making this one of the best improvements you can do for your home.

3. Take care of your furnace. Furnaces are one of the most commonly used ways to heat large homes. Unfortunately, they often have a wide range of efficiency that could be costing you more in monthly bills than they need to.

If your furnace is less than 10 years old, make sure to schedule regular maintenance to keep it running at peak efficiency. This involves changing the filter and making repairs as necessary. The most common furnace repair involves replacing the heat exchange, for around $1,000 to $1,700.

If your furnace is older than 10 years, replacing it can dramatically increase its efficiency. Older furnaces only run at around 50 percent efficiency, while newer models can reach rates of 90 percent, making them a much better choice for keeping monthly bills down. A new furnace costs around $3,000 to $5,000, but will pay for itself in lowered bills over time.

4. Make the switch to gas. If you’re currently heating your home with electricity or oil, you’re likely spending more each month than you would if you switched to natural gas. Gas furnaces are much more efficient than oil or electric heaters, which can save as much as 30 percent on energy bills each month.

The cost to install a new gas system in your home is around $6,000 to $8,000, assuming you have ducts already in place. This upgrade makes the most sense if your current heating system is over 10 years old, as you’ll see the largest gains. The typical ROI of a new gas furnace system is around 15 percent, which means that it will pay for itself in just 6 years.

5. Complete an energy audit. Your home may be losing a great deal of the energy you use to heat it, without you even realizing it. An energy audit—or a comprehensive look at how your home uses and loses energy—will help you find ways to make your home more efficient overall.

An energy audit costs about $150, and many times this cost will be rolled into any upgrades you may choose to make, allowing you to save more. Conducting an energy audit before you have any other work or upgrades done on your home can help you make better informed decisions about the space, maximizing your potential efficiency and savings.

Ridgefield Schools Named Among State’s Best

Niche.com has released it’s 2018 Best Public Schools ranking and it comes as no surprise that Ridgefield schools once again fared very well. The district as a whole was ranked number 17 out of 118 school districts in Connecticut with good showings at all three levels of education. Our teachers were ranked number 8 in the state.  Nationally, Ridgefield School District ranks number 709 out of 10,574 and comes in at number 389 in terms of our teachers.

District rankings were determined by a thorough examination and analysis of key statistics and millions of reviews from students and parents using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Ranking factors include state test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores, teacher quality, public school district ratings, and more.

Ridgefield High School

Ridgefield High School placed #11 out of 196 Connecticut public schools, while our teachers ranked #9 and we came in at #7 in terms of collage prep. Nationally, Ridgefield High School places number 685 out of 17, 867 schools. Overall, Fairfield County counted many top 10 finishers with the ranking based on factors including state test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores, teacher quality, and high school ratings.  For a full ranking of the State’s Best High Schools, click here.

Ridgefield Middle Schools

Ridgefield middle schools also finished strong with East Ridge Middle School ranking #19 out of  287 schools and Scott’s Ridge Middle School in the #25 position. Reached ranking were #4 and #12 respectively. Middle school ranking involved a similar process to the high school ranking and included factors such as state test scores, student-teacher ratio, student diversity, teacher quality, middle school ratings, and the overall quality of the school district. You can see more about how Ridgefield Middle Schools ranked overall here.

Ridgefield Elementary Schools

Overall, Ridgefield elementary schools placed in the top 100 schools when compared to a total of 577 public elementary schools throughout the state.  Branchville Elementary School ranked the highest at #37, with Ridgebury at #50, Barlow Mountain #58, Scotland #60, Farmingville #63, and Veteran’s Park #97. For a full list, see the rankings here.

New Trend – Living Rooms Are Heading Upstairs

After years of hearing the buzzwords “open concept”, homes are starting to see a bit more compartmentalization with additional cozy places to retire becoming more common.

As such, upper-level living rooms are becoming a sought-after space among homeowners, The Wall Street Journal reports. Homeowners are finding these second-floor lounges can be more informal spaces than living areas on the first floor—and can offer more privacy, too.

The idea behind these spaces are nothing new. Historic homes often have included an upstairs “retiring room” for mothers nursing children or for resting midday, says T. Jeffrey Clarke, an architect in Philadelphia, and Karla Murtaugh Homes has a few homes on the market right now that embody these qualities.  You can check out 321 Main Street, 22 Oak Knoll Road, 285 West Lane and 258 Black Rock Turnpike, just to name a few.

Upper-level living rooms—sometimes labeled “pajama lounges”—are usually located right off bedrooms. They may include comfy sofas, a kitchenette, a television, and even a nook to work from. Architects are removing long hallway spaces upstairs to make room for these central living spaces upstairs.

The lounge area is intended for “the bedrooms [to] spill out, and the family can have a space to assemble,” says Kobi Karp, an architect in Miami who recently designed an upper-level living room in one of his projects. “It’s where you go on a Sunday morning and wait for the rest of the house to wake up.”

Upper-level living rooms tend to be more casual than their lower counterparts. They also tend to have recessed lighting instead of chandeliers and favor cozier seating areas over larger sectionals.

As families create new functions for classic spaces, it’s nice to see a trend recognizing the value that an antique home’s architecture and design brings to a modern world.

Source: “The Living Room Moves Upstairs,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 23, 2017)

Ridgefield’s 2017 Mid-Year Market Report

The first half of 2017 had sellers chomping at the bit to get their homes on the market early and take advantage of the relatively mild weather. Buyers were also out in full force looking to move when the school year ended and take advantage of the increased inventory. A very wet spring curtailed some of the action but unit sales have still surpassed 2016 by 17%, which is encouraging for steady growth. While home values have not risen, we have seen a competitive marketplace with multiple offers and homes selling for more than the asking price on numerous occasions. Also interesting is the segmentation that seems to be occurring in the market with the greatest gains seen in the $500,000-$600,000 and the $800,000-$900,000 categories. This is encouraging for middle-class families who are looking to upsize, downsize or move to the area for our wonderful schools, low crime, superb cultural offerings, family-friendly lifestyle, and proximity to major commerce centers.

Ridgefield Market Snapshot
Overall, the first half of 2017 has been a success for the Ridgefield Real Estate market. Unit sales increased 17.1% from January to June 2017 with 178 parcels selling compared to 152 in the first half of 2016. Total sales volume was also up 6.1% from $118,218,854 last year to $125,453,815 in 2017. The majority of home sales were priced under $1 million. If the market continues at its current pace, we are on track to match or exceed last year’s results.

Sellers Or Buyers Market
Inventory hit a record low in June 2017 with only six months worth of housing available for purchase. While this would suggest a sellers market, it does not yet seem to be playing out that way. The mid-year Sales-to-List Price Ratio held steady at 96.8%, slightly up from 2016’s 96.2%. However, pricing and the condition of the home still seem to be the key to selling with buyers using technology to assess for themselves what they think a property is worth. Sellers are also becoming increasingly savvy by staging and upgrading their homes for a quicker, more profitable sale.

Prices Holding Steady
The Median Sales Price for a single-family home in Ridgefield decreased by 5.0% from $660,000 in the first half of 2016 to $627,000 during the same time period in 2017. The average sales price also decreased from $772,672 to $704,797. Most of the growth in the first half of 2017 was seen in the $500,000 to $900,000 sector with 101 homes sold as compared to only 71 last year.

The Luxury Market
The luxury market – generally defined as homes selling for $1.5 million and above – saw a marked decrease in activity over the first half of 2017. Only two homes sold in this price range – one for $2.9 million and one for $3.1 million. There were no home sales between $1.5 and $2 million, which is unusual. Currently, as of July 1st there are four additional homes in this price range that are either under deposit or under contract to close by Labor Day, and anecdotally activity has picked up with more showings occurring in this price point. Sales were strong in the $1 million to $1.5 million category mimicking 2016 with 21 sales as compared to 22 last year.

Where Are People Buying?
Using Town Hall as the center of the Village, 37% of all sales occurred within a 2 mile radius in what would be considered “in-town” properties. Additionally, these in-town properties commanded a Median Sales Price of $739,000 and an Average Sales Price of $807,288, which is well above the town as a whole. The results support a continuing trend towards more walkable residences. We expect to see in-town properties remain desirable as both younger families escape the city and empty-nesters downsize. Upper end condominiums were also in high demand with five sold that were priced over $700,000, including one priced at $1,860,000.

Sales Up Across The Board
All Fairfield County towns experienced significant growth in the number of homes sold during the first half of 2017, reiterating the fact that individuals and families still consider Fairfield County a great place to live. However, it was a mixed message when it came to median home values with some towns showing double-digit increases, while others saw prices remain relatively flat or somewhat decreased. Traditionally more affordable towns like Stamford and Norwalk saw gains in pricing, while Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding saw values slip. Surprisingly, Westport experienced an almost 10% increase in median home value after seeing decreases during the past two years. Overall, slow but steady growth seems to be what we can expect throughout the county in the upcoming year.

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Fairfield County High Schools Among Best In Connecticut in 2017

The annual Niche.com ranking has been released and Fairfield County public high schools have done well.
Niche, a website for researching schools, used a variety of factors, including SAT/ACT scores, student-teacher ratio, the quality of colleges students consider and reviews from students and parents for its ranking.

In the number 1 position was New Canaan High School, followed by Staples High School in Westport, Greenwich High School and Weston High School. Wilton High School ranked number 7, Joel Barlow in Redding at 8, Darien High School at 9, and Ridgefield High School number 12.

The ranking also took into account how parents and students responded to surveys about their school, cultural diversity on campus, school absenteeism, teachers salary, state test scores, facilities, and the availability of clubs and activities, to name a few.

To see the full ranking list and to read more about the methodology, see the Full Report.

Ridgefield’s 2016 Year End Market Report

What a year! The Ridgefield Real Estate market rallied resulting in the best year since 2013’s banner season. Overall sales volume was up at $259,407,724 as compared to $241,208,027 in 2015. Unit sales increased 8.1% with 348 homes selling in 2016 compared to 322 the year before. With the uncertainty of an election year behind us, as well as steady increases seen in financial markets and slowly rising interest rates, there is reason to believe that this trend towards slow and steady growth in the Ridgefield Real Estate market will continue.

A Buyer’s Market
Buyers were out in force in 2016, and they had a lot to choose from. Armed with a plethora of information at their fingertips, historically low interest rates and a 12.5% increase in Ridgefield home inventory over 2015, they were able to make better, more informed decisions than ever before. The fourth quarter of 2016 was unusually busy and set up a strong pipeline into the first quarter of 2017. This is reminiscent of what happened at the end of 2012 and into 2013. Predictors suggest continued growth and improving sales throughout 2017.

No Bump In Price
The median sales price for a Ridgefield home remained relatively the same in 2016, decreasing
by only 1.9% to $640,000 from last year’s 2015 $652,500. The average sales price was $745,424
compared to $749,093 in 2015, while the sale to list price ratio was 96.4%. The rise of the “HGTV -phenomenon” placed a burden on sellers with buyers expecting homes to have kitchen and
bathroom upgrades, as well as more current design elements. We see this trend continuing.

Looking Ahead
While there has been no appreciable increase in home values, the market indicators continue to point to a stable real estate market. With inventory increasing, and interest rates slowly climbing, buyers will continue to look to invest in homes they feel offer real value. As always, location plays a key role in purchasing decisions with homes residing in-town or in good commute locations creating the greatest demand. As baby boomers become empty nesters, all indicators point to a demand for more functional homes that can be easily maintained. At the same time, we have seen upward movement in the market from Ridgefield residents moving their families into more spacious homes, as well as from buyers moving into Ridgefield to take advantage of our highly-ranked schools and great community.

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