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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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Happy Holidays To All

During the Holiday Season, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our progress possible. It is in that spirit that we say thank you. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year from all of us at Karla Murtaugh Homes.

Are You A Bad Mom?

On Wednesday, November 2nd, 30 wonderful moms joined us at the Prospector Theatre for a client appreciation night. Featuring a fabulous Bad Moms Signature Cocktail, the Prospector Star Bar welcomed us with open arms and a wonderful night of camaraderie was had by all.

Having been a supporter of the Prospector since it’s inception – and the inspiring work of Sphere before that – I am always amazed by the drive and ingenuity of fearless leader Val Jensen. The opportunities the Propsector offers to adults with disabilities serves as a role model for what can be done regionally, nationally and internationally to improve the lives of so many people.

A seriously funny movie, we found ourselves relating to the “Bad Mom” in all of us as we laughed out loud and shared in the challenges of our busy lives.

Thanks, Bad Moms, for joining us and celebrating all we do!

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Newsweek Ranks Ridgefield High School No. 151 Nationally

The fourth best public high school in Connecticut and the 151st best public high school in the entire country.

Those were the honors Newsweek bestowed on Ridgefield High School Thursday morning when it released its annual America’s Top High Schools list for 2016.

The Tigers finished with a college readiness score of 80.6 and a graduation rate of 98.2%, with 90.1% of Ridgefield students heading to college after receiving their diplomas in June.

Some of the other information that Newsweek posted in its ranking for Ridgefield High School includes:

  • Student Retention: 99%
  • SAT/ACT Composite Score: 58.5
  • Avg. SAT Score: 1724
  • Avg. ACT Score: 26
  • AP/IB/Dual Enrollment Composite: 78.1
  • Avg. AP Score: 91.2
  • Dual Enrollment Participation: 4.5

RHS finished behind Weston High School (No. 39), Wilton High School (No. 56), and Avon High School (No. 116) in the state rankings.

Below the Tigers on the list of Connecticut schools were East Lyme High School (No. 224), Haddam-Killingworth High School (No. 277), and Farmington High School (No. 286).

The list included 500 national public high school scattered across America. A total of 16 Connecticut schools made the list.

Last year, Weston cracked Newsweek’s top 100 at No. 47 and Staples High School in Westport finished No. 63.

Fast forward to 2016, and Staples did not make it onto the top 500 list.

According to the Newsweek list, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia is the top public high school in the country.

Rounding out the top five are: the Academy for Math, Science and Engineering in New Jersey, Stuyvesant High School in New York, Union County Magnet High School in New Jersey, and The Early College at Guilford in North Carolina.

See the total list of the Best High Schools In America or read about how the ranking was determined in the full Newsweek Report.

Source: The Ridgefield Press

Ridgefield’s Very Wet Run Like A Mother 2016

I was so proud to once again host “Murtaugh’s Motivation Station’ at the Ridgefield 2016 Run Like A Mother event. Even though we braved the rain – it was fun to see all the mothers and their kids come out to run and celebrate!

According to the Ridgefield Daily Voice, 1,130 runners braved the chilly rain to finish the 5K race.Maria Lauretani of New York won the race in 19:36, followed by Ridgefield’s Kristen Lecompte and Jenna Mesgian.

Run Like A Mother was founded by Ridgefield resident Megan Searfoss. The event includes events in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Arizona and Minnesota. The mission of Run Like a Mother is to fuel a woman’s journey toward health and wellness, empower with education and training programs and inspire with communities, events and races. Races are held on Mother’s Day weekend each year as part of the series.

As a sponsor, I look forward to this event all year – let’s just hope that 2017 brings sunnier skies!