Connecticut Realtors Launch Home Safe Home Campaign

Covid-19 has definitely created a pause for all of us and made us take a hard look at ourselves and how we live. Living rooms and kitchen islands are now classrooms, dining rooms are offices and bedrooms are a place to get away for a little bit of solace and quiet at the end of unusually hectic days. Now more than ever, many are realizing the importance of having a home that truly meets their needs. And for some, real estate plans cannot be put on hold, even in these trying times.

As such, Connecticut Realtors®, WTNH News 8, and iHeartMedia are teaming up for the Home Safe Home campaign – a reminder that Connecticut Realtors are still here, working for the residents of our state, with your safety in mind. ​Karla Murtaugh Homes is no exception.

Utilizing all the technology available to us we are here to help people achieve their housing dreams. For buyers, video, floorplans, limited in-person showings or tours via FaceTime or Zoom are available to give you a better idea of what homes are currently on the market. For sellers, all documentation can be done remotely via electronic transaction management and document collection from public sources, to listing creation and putting the property live where potential buyers are looking on social media, consumer search platforms such as Zillow and and more. From listing to closing, most of the Real Estate process can be done virtually to give our clients a safe and secure experience. ​

We like to think of ourselves as more than just Realtors. We’re your neighbors and your friends, and we’re on the frontlines working to give everyone the security of having a place to call Home Safe Home. Check out the campaign video below and contact Karla Murtaugh Homes if you need help relocating, selling or want know how the market is doing.

How Real Estate Is Changing During COVID-19

While deemed an ‘essential service’ in some states and not others, the reality is that Real Estate has had to find a way to adapt during this unprecedented time. The need for housing doesn’t stop just because a virus says it should and many people are finding themselves in a predicament where they have to enlist the help of Realtors, attorneys, mortgage brokers, home inspectors and others in order to buy or sell a house during this time. With a little creativity, Realtors and others have found ways to practice social distancing and limit the spread of Coronavirus, even while servicing their clients.

Communicating With An Agent
When it comes to buying a home, pairing up with the right agent is always key to finding your perfect property. But today, you need one who is tech-savvy and comfortable conducting meetings and business online. We are using Zoom for group consultations, online interviews, meetings and CMAs that would normally handled in person. FaceTime, text and good old-fashioned phone calls are also part of our daily communication. And although we’ve been using e-signature apps to send and receive documents digitally through email for a while now, it’s never been more important than in today’s world.

Virtual Home Tours & Online Sites
Crowded open houses with a plate of cookies for everyone to grab are a thing of the past — at least for now. Instead, everything is going online and there are several ways to virtually tour a home. Along with photos, many listings were already starting to incorporate videos or providing “hot spot” tours so you can tour the home, room by room, without physically stepping onto the property. In addition, many agents have posted floorplans, improvements and significantly more photos online to give buyers a better feel for the home. If in-person showings are allowed – as they are in Connecticut – the rules are stringent and agents, home sellers, and buyers must all be willing to make them happen. Given the risk, and if its absolutely necessary, it’s important a buyer have a good idea of what the property offers before even attempting to schedule an in-person showing.

Remote Mortgage Pre-Approval
Some lenders had already made the entire mortgage process digital long before social distancing was needed. And now, many more have jumped on board out of necessity. The first step is to get a recommendation, or interview a few loan officers over the phone or by video chat. Since mortgage interest rates are all over the map these days, it’s extremely important to shop around and compare what they’re offering — and make sure they’re comfortable conducting all steps of the transaction online. In order to get pre-approved for a loan, the lender will need to review your income, debt, credit history, and other factors, and you’ll need to submit paperwork verifying all of the above. Luckily, most of this paperwork should be available online.

Remote Home Inspections
We recently did a deal where the inspector offered the client a remote inspection. He inspected the house alone and reviewed the findings with them via a videoconference. At a remote home inspection, inspectors take a lot more pictures than they might have in the past so clients can get a good idea of where the issues are. Once the report is completed, the client participates in a video call to review every part of the report – just like an inspector would normally do in person.

Virtual Home Appraisals
Although we haven’t encountered this yet, home appraisals required by a lender are getting a virtual makeover. Appraisers are viewing the home via video or are participating in ‘desktop appraising,’ where they review available public and private data in order to value the home, including comparable property data, and produce a report. While these methods may not be to the penny in terms of value, they are relatively accurate and allow lenders to continue operating.

Remote Home Closings
In-person home closings — where all parties come together to sign contracts, swap keys, and shake hands—are, for the most part, not happening right now. However, most closings require some face-to-face interaction, since people have to sign documents and notaries need to stamp them in person. If the situation continues to develop, instead of buyers and sellers being in separate rooms and practicing social distancing with their attorneys as they do now, you may find “drive-through” closings happen or even secure video-conference closings depending on governmental regulations and oversight.

Adapted from a article Is It Safe To House Hunt During The Coronavirus Crisis? written by Margaret Heindenry

Navigating During The Corona Virus

These are unchartered and challenging times for a lot of people, and here at Karla Murtaugh Homes we take the health and well-being of our clients seriously. Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest decisions you will make and we understand that sometimes plans cannot be put on hold, even during trying times such as these.

You have made the decision to entrust the sale or potential purchase of your home to us and here’s how we will continue to offer you best-in-class service, while putting our collective health first during the pandemic.

Open Houses
At this time, Karla Murtaugh Homes’ broker and public open houses are being put on hold. Individual showings are still possible, but will happen on a case-by-case scenario with a seller’s permission. Some sellers may not want showings in this current environment, so it’s very important that we be respectful when asking to show homes. If you would like to schedule a showing of a particular property, contact us directly. If you or your family are experiencing cough or cold symptoms, do not request an in-person showing.

Diligent Pre-Screening
We regularly ask qualifying questions of buyers or other realtors who want to view homes in order to get a sense of timeline and qualifications. During this trying time we feel it is important to only do essential showings, thereby reducing the chance of transmission of the virus. If you are just starting to look at homes or do not have an urgent need to purchase, it might be wise to hold off for a little while. You can view detailed property information on our listings or search all listings in Fairfield County on our website. 

In Person Showings
If a showing is scheduled, be respectful and limit contact with surfaces. Ensure you don’t enter the house if you have cold or flu symptoms. Many agents will insist buyers remove their shoes and will limit their client’s opening and closing of doors, closets etc. Use hand sanitizer between viewing homes as a safety precaution to slow the spread of the virus and keep yourself healthy. As a seller, we recommend that you wipe down surfaces, faucets and door handles with a Clorox wipe or equivalent after a showing. You can view more information about the State of Connecticut’s recommendations for safety during Coronavirus on their website.

Online Showings, Social Media and Support
There are so many resources available to you as a buyer that preclude the need to tour a home if you are not immediately in need of a purchase. Most websites include very detailed information about homes, as well as aerial photos, location maps, digital walk-throughs, floor plans, videos, and many other tools to help you gain a full picture of a home, even if now is not the best time for you to view it. Log the homes you like and contact us to learn more. Then when things calm down, you will have a list of the homes you want to see and can hit the ground running! Take virtual tours on our Featured Listings or search all listings in Fairfield County from the comfort of your home.

Stay Optimistic – Together We Can Weather The Storm
America is resilient. We are optimistic our real estate market will come back better and stronger after this brief interruption. Karla Murtaugh Homes is doing everything we can to support you, keep you informed and keep you healthy, while providing essential Real Estate services to those requiring it. We are also happy to sign you up for our “Search Like An Agent” tool, which will give you market updates in real time. Contact us to get started. 

Keep washing those hands and stay well,

Karla, Sally, Jana, Jen & Jay

Ridgefield Tops List Of Connecticut’s Safest Cities Again

Ridgefield was crowned the safest town in Connecticut for the second consecutive year reporting 65 total crimes and just one violent crime – a robbery – according to SafeWise, a digital company specializing in home security and safety. Ridgefield was followed by Newtown, Greenwich, Simsbury and Shelton rounding out the top 5.

The 2020 Top 20 Safest Cities in Connecticut is based on the Uniform Crime Report (UCI) from the FBI, and Safewise also notes that Connecticut in general, is below the national average for both violent crime rates (2.1, compared to 3.7 nationwide), and property crime rates (16.8, which is well below the national rate of 22.0). Both rates decreased year over year.

Some other key findings included:

  • Connecticut’s attitudes about safety and security reflect national averages, but its top violent crime concern—mass shootings—is outside the norm. The scars from the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012 still loom large.
  • In general, Connecticut is more concerned about property crime than the national average. Someone breaking in while the occupants are home is the biggest property crime concern, beating national levels of concern by eight percentage points.
  • 40% of respondents in Connecticut named theft of digital property as the most likely property crime—four percentage points above the national average.
  • 55% of Connecticut cities improved their rank this year, with Danbury making the biggest leap from 33 in 2019 to 19 this year.

Community goes a long way towards safe living and Ridgefielder’s tend to look out for one another. Karla Murtaugh Homes is proud to live and work in this amazing town.  If you’re contemplating moving here, reach out to us to for more information.

Inspiration From Run Like A Mother

One of the reasons I love being a lead sponsor of Run Like A Mother each year is its creator, Megan Searfoss. An inspirational leader, she constantly finds a way to make lemonade out of lemons, and is tireless in her support of women and their importance to their families and communities. In these strange days, Megan has once again placed community above all and created a new way to enjoy this year’s Run Like A Mother event. She envisions a Virtual Race – keeping all mothers together on their special day.

In her note to her running community, she stresses the importance of slowing down and reconnecting with family and getting to move outside. The virtual Run Like A Mother race will replace the physical race and is only $19.99, which includes a Run Like a Mother Tech Tee, Eco-Friendly Tote and 2020 Signature Finisher’s Medal.

To register for the Virtual Race go to Run Like A Mother. If you are already registered, you will be receiving information from Megan in the coming week on your registration options, including how to convert to the Virtual Race.

Please join me this Mother’s Day as we celebrate women. Never has there been a better time to show our strength of mind, body and soul.

Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield “Virtual” Awards Night Is Huge Success

It was a fun evening yesterday participating in the virtual awards ceremony for the Boys and Girls Club of Ridgefield. I was honored to be recognized with the Champion of Youth award for my longtime support of the club, which provides such a key service in our community.

The big story of the evening, however, was our Youth Of The Year award, which went to Ridgefield High School senior, Annie Cozens. Annie says her favorite thing about the club is getting to be a positive role model for the younger Club members. Annie also wants to go on to a career in neuroscience. She exemplifies the award by adhering to academic excellence, leading a healthy lifestyle, and embracing the values of leadership and service.

Personally, and through my business, I enjoy supporting a plethora of local nonprofits in Ridgefield. For the Boys and Girls Club of Ridgefield I serve as a member of the Board of Directors and as a Gala committee member, as well as sponsoring the annual Turkey Trot. It is such a privilege to be able to give back to such an important and worthy organization.


Some Good News! Ridgefield’s Q1 2020 Market News

I hope everyone in your world is safe and healthy. Now, more than ever, we are reminded of the most important things in life. Health has become the new wealth.

John Krasinski of The Office fame recently launched a YouTube Channel called SGN, which stands for Some Good News – and Ridgefield’s Q1 Market Report should definitely be featured! With 46% gains in both dollar volume and number of sales, 97% list to sales price ratio, and both the average and median price increasing over Q1 2019, this year’s real estate market was strong. All indications pointed to a healthy spring market as well, until our industry – and many others – were derailed in the short-term by COVID-19. Health and safety are definitely top-of-mind in our lives right now, but I feel it is important to keep you abreast of the Ridgefield real estate market during this downtime. We encourage you to read the full report.

A question I have been asked many times recently is how is COVID-19 affecting the local real estate market? Up until a week or so ago, we were seeing increased traffic in Ridgefield and upper Westchester from NYC individuals looking for short-term, furnished rentals.  With those almost dried up, we are still seeing some activity as people search for homes outside of the city. Personally, our team closed 12 property sales in the first quarter. We have 6 additional properties currently under deposit to close between now and June, and have accepted offers on several properties seen before the shelter-in-place order was enacted. I continue to check in with top Realtors throughout Fairfield and Westchester counties in an effort to keep a pulse on the surrounding markets as well. The takeaway is that there are still people in the market in need of housing.

We are cautiously optimistic that the housing market will come back vigorously, but in the meantime stay home, stay healthy and stay positive.

Contact Us to explore how we can partner with you to meet and exceed your Real Estate goals.