Making A Splash In The Wall Street Journal

In case you missed it, a few weeks ago we were fortunate enough to be interviewed and featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal discussing real estate in Fairfield County. As the WSJ points out, for such a small area, Fairfield County provides an exceptional range of options. Homebuyers can have their pick of good-sized cities, mid-sized towns, quaint little villages or country life — all within a few minutes’ drive of each other.

In general, today’s market conditions favor the buyer. Prices seem to have compressed a bit from their high of 2015, and more product is available. New construction is limited, but many of Fairfield County’s older homes have been updated in the past decade or so — and others offer opportunities for the buyer who wants to invest some “sweat equity” to make the property truly theirs.

In terms of our contribution, we really wanted to talk about Ridgefield’s accessibility to New York City and our diversity. As reported, “Karla Murtaugh of Ridgefield-based Karla Murtaugh Homes at Neumann Real Estate says public transport is handy, just over the border in Westchester County, and the local schools are a huge draw.

“Our sales are up 2% on the transaction side, 4% on the value side, year to date,” she reports.

“The diversity of our housing market is what makes Ridgefield popular. You can find anything from an entry-level condo to magnificent estate properties.”

“We’re fortunate, this year in particular, to have some fantastic living options in Downtown Ridgefield and nearby — the best sprinkling of inventory we’ve had in a while…(and) Ridgefield also offers a shuttle from downtown to the Katonah, New York, train station, which gets commuters into New York City in just under an hour.”

We also paired the article with a fabulous advertisement of our luxury properties offering tri-state readers a glimpse into some of Ridgefield’s most luxuriant properties. Click here to read the full article and see the ad.

Pulling Back The Curtain – Tips To Get Your Home Ready To Sell

We were so happy to see our client’s at 196 Peaceable Ridge featured in this month’s Ridgefield Magazine. With the Real Estate market becoming ever more transparent, it’s important that your home look it’s best when listing it for sale.

As a contributor to the background of the article, we noted that telling a story, staging in a big or small way, and pricing are the key elements to get the right people into the home to look, to like, and to buy. Our listing 196 Peaceable Ridge Road exemplifies the process. The 7,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bathroom house, with its Nantucket-inspired architecture, elegant craftsmanship, and close proximity to town, fit perfectly into a popular niche in the real-estate market. It recently took a price reduction to $1,895,000 with way more than that invested over the years.

The owners had already done many renovations on their own, but we guided them to do a few more improvements to really set the house apart. It was a collaborative effort to enhance the open-concept flow and design to reflect up-to-date trends. The entire house was basically repainted and we made many recommendations for furniture placement and staging. There also is an exquisite attention to detail of the fixtures and finishes, creating a thoughtful flow from room to room.

To see more about this exquisite property, click here. Just a few minutes to the center of town and in a great commute location for catching the train from Katonah for an easy commute into NYC, you cannot beat the turn-key nature, high-end design and appliances and gorgeous New England aesthetic of this remarkable home. If you would like to schedule a showing, click here.

*The article “How to Sell a Home–A case study in a real-state listing” was originally published on the TownGuide website on 10/20/2019

The Secret Is Out…Meet The New Owners Of The West Lane Inn!

Karla Murtaugh Homes is pleased to be able to finally let the cat out of the bag – the West Lane Inn has new owners!  And we are proud to have to represented the buyers – Christine Carnicelli and Danille Petrie –  in their fabulous new purchase.

According to Hamlet Hub, the longtime owner of Ridgefield’s West Lane Inn, Debbie Prieger has handed over the reins of her historic boutique hotel to two Ridgefield residents who share a love for our town and are committed to preserving the Inn’s history and old-world charm.

“Our goal for The West Lane Inn is to become a destination of choice for those visiting Ridgefield.  We plan to be more than a great Inn.  We plan to take advantage of all that Ridgefield has to offer and promote its events, arts, restaurants, and historic downtown,” Carnicelli and Petrie explain.

Upon entering The West Lane Inn on Monday, the energy was contagious. Carnicelli and Petrie were answering phones, greeting guests, chatting with the staff of thirteen years. The two friendpreneurs thank Debbie Prieger for the seamless transition in ownership. “Debbie is assisting us over the next few months as we begin to understand the business. She has done this successfully for many years, so we are thrilled that she has agreed to help us out and show us the ropes,” says Carnicelli.

While motherhood brought Carnicelli and Petrie together (their boys are best buds) it was their shared passions, professional backgrounds, and a deep love for Ridgefield that paved the way to The West Lane Inn.

Petrie says she was in her early 20’s and working at a hotel when she fell in love with hospitality and yearned to someday open a B&B. “I started to do all of this research and I stayed a bunch of B&Bs,” she explains. The timing wasn’t right and Petrie took a job as a corporate event planner, a position that would span 19 years and ultimately prepare her for this, her dream job.

With a background as the head of human resources for two major corporations, Carnicelli’s management and people skills are essential to operating a small business. She left the corporate world in 2015 and, soon after, began searching for real estate conducive to operating a B&B.

Both eager to leave an indelible mark on Ridgefield and ready to reenter the workforce, Carnicelli and Petrie began to discuss starting a business together. “We had many common interests including interior design, real estate, and general love for this community.  We started talking about going into business together and had just started exploring potential properties that could be converted to a B&B/small boutique hotel when the Inn came on the market,” explains Carnicelli.

Timing is everything and for Carnicelli and Petrie, the stars were aligned.

Carnicelli recalls, “When news hit that the Inn was for sale, it felt like we had to have it.  We never doubted that we would do it together. We looked at one another and said Let’s do this!

Carnicelli and Petrie spent the summer tirelessly working through the process of purchasing the business with realtor Karla Murtaugh. Carnicelli says (truly bursting with joy) “We’ve kept this a secret all summer!”

While interior renovations are planned for the new year, Carnicelli and Petrie will begin enhancing the Inn’s digital presence and hope to unveil online reservation capability soon. In addition, they want to build brand awareness and local community partnerships. “We have a vision of what it will be and we want to take you on a journey with us,” says Petrie.

The main Inn has fourteen well-appointed rooms, some with working fireplaces, yet they haven’t been updated in quite some time. “They [the rooms] are generally very well sized, but need to be updated to reflect today’s traveler,” says Carnicelli.  Renovations will likely be cosmetic in nature and include new wallpaper, carpeting, and perhaps bathroom design and updates. “We don’t foresee major construction,” says Carnicelli.

The two new owners also envision building a staircase leading up to the front porch, a feature that was part of the original design of the historic building, circa 1849. “We want it to be more inviting,” they say.

Carnicelli and Petrie welcome community members to stop in and say hello. In addition, they are excited for their first Halloween and invite trick or treaters to the grand front porch for a celebratory candy bar!

“We bought a gem,” says Carnicelli. “We want to maintain the history of the house and the beautiful charm,” she adds.


*Article originally posted to Hamlet Hub on 10/23/19

Ridgefield High School Ranked #317 Nationally, #4 in Connecticut

The 2019 U.S News & World Report has released its 2019 Best High Schools Ranking Report and Ridgefield High School shines again!

Nationally, the school ranked 317th out of a total of 17,245 public, magnet and charter schools throughout the country.  It also sits in 4th position in Connecticut behind Darien High School (#1), Weston High School (#2) and Achievement First Hartford Academy Inc. (#3).

To create the STEM rankings, the top 1,000 ranked schools from the national rankings were evaluated for their AP test-taking students’ participation and success in AP science and math exams. Ridgefield High School ranks 176th nationally for STEM.

The Best High Schools rankings identify the country’s top-performing public high schools. The goal is to provide a clear, unbiased picture of how well public schools serve all of their students – from the highest to lowest achieving – in preparing them to demonstrate proficiency in basic skills as well as readiness for college-level work.

According to the U.S. News Best High Schools methodology, schools were rated on the following six measures, and the weights used for each indicator are in parentheses:

College readiness (30% of the ranking) : The percentage of 12th graders from the class of 2016-2017 who took at least one AP or IB exam during high school and the percentage of 12th graders who passed at least one AP or IB exam in high school. Passing is weighted three times more than taking.

College curriculum breadth (10%): The percentage of 12th graders from the class of 2016-2017 who took a wide variety of AP and IB courses across the multiple disciplines and the percentage of 12th graders who passed them. Passing is weighted three times more than taking.

Reading and math proficiency (20%): Measures how well students scored on state assessments that measure proficiency in reading and mathematics. Passing these assessments can be required for graduation. Examples of assessments include Smarter Balanced in California and STAAR in Texas.

Reading and math performance (20%): The difference between how students performed on state assessments and what U.S. News predicted based on a school’s student body. U.S. News’ modeling across all 50 states and the District of Columbia indicates that the proportions of students who receive subsidized school lunch, are black and are Hispanic are highly predictive of a school’s reading and math scores.

Underserved student performance (10%): How well the student population receiving subsidized school lunch, and black and Hispanic populations perform on state assessments relative to statewide performance among students not in those subgroups.

Graduation rate (10%): For the 2019 rankings, the graduation rate corresponds to the 2017 graduation cohort who would have entered ninth grade in the 2013-14 school year. The high school graduation rates were collected directly from each state along with the math and reading assessment data.

Ridgefield Real Estate Market Report Q3 2019

The third quarter of 2019 – reflecting activity during the summer months – was a little slower than anticipated. However, anecdotally it has been busy fall and we hope to finish the year strong posting sales that are similar, or even above those of last year.

In year-to-date figures, the number of properties that sold is reported at 257 compared to 262 last year. Overall, a total of $180,307,075 transacted by the end of Q3 2019 in contrast to $187,318,490 by this time in 2018. Total Sales Volume was down 2%, and Median Sales Price also showed a slight decrease from $640,630 in 2018, compared to $635,000 currently. However, in anticipation of Q4, there are already 28 homes with accepted offers and 17 under contract set to close. There are 247 properties actively for sale at this time, and with new homes launching on the market daily, we expect sales to continue to rise over the coming months.

In Q3 figures itself, the number of sales stayed similar at 108 in Q3 2019 compared to 113 in Q3 2018. The average days on market has taken a slight jump this year to 125, up from 99 last year. The average sales price decreased 7.5% this quarter compared to the same time last year and sits at $715,638. The median sales price dropped to $650,000 from $670,000. Homes are still selling at 96% of the listed value.

In mortgage news, 30-year fixed mortgage rates have remained at record lows, sitting at just under 4%, which bodes well for buyers entering the market. Our strongest sales so far this year have been in the under $800,000 range for single-family homes. Unfortunately, the luxury market is not as strong as in 2018 with only 5 properties sold over $1.5 million YTD as compared to 12 by this time last year.

As we move into the busy buying season prior to the Holidays setting in, I am optimistic by the amount of activity we have seen in the market in just the first few weeks of Q4. If you are interested in listing your home for sale before the end of the year – or picking up an end of year purchase – we would love to learn more about your needs. Contact us today.

To see a snapshot by price, click here.

To see how 2019 shapes up against 2018, click here.