Winter Break Staycation Guide

Winter Break is right around the corner! If you’re opting for a staycation this year, there’s plenty to do in our area.

The Prospector Theater always has family-friendly movies playing, and we love their snacks and drinks! Such a great place to visit all year round, especially considering their mission is to provide competitive and integrated employment to people with disabilities through the operation of a premium, first-run movie theater.

Sometimes we take for granted that our area is home to plenty of parks, museums and playgrounds that you can check out year-round. Here are a few of our favorites:

On Saturday, February 18, from 11 am to 12 pm, the Wilton Historical Society will hold its very own Maple Sugaring Workshop. Museum Educator Catherine Lipper will talk about the maple sugaring process while participants help to prepare their very own tasty snack of maple tarts. Don’t miss out on this sweet mid-winter treat! For details, click here.

A lovely Gift for your family on the weekend after Valentine’s Day: check out the Live Concert by America’s Tenor, Daniel Rodriguez; soprano, Angela Sbano; and bari-tenor, Frank Rendo. Concert begins at 1:00pm at St. Edward the Confessor Church in New Fairfield. For details, click here.

Drop in to St. Luke’s School in New Canaan and enjoy a facilitated series designed by artists, curators, and educators that invites families to think, play, create, and spend time together experimenting with sensory-rich materials and different modes of art making. For details, click here.

If you’re a chocolate-lover, you might want to check out the Westport Museum for History and Culture’s exhibit opening of “Bittersweet: Chocolate in the American Colonies” on Friday, February 24. For details, click here.

Grace Farms will host a free wintertime concert on Saturday, February 25! This family-friendly musical afternoon is curated by Music Director Marcus G. Miller and promises to bring warmth to a chilly February day. For details, click here.

Woodcock Nature Center in Wilton offers terrific hiking trails and camps. Have you ever heard of the Great Backyard Bird Count? This annual event on Saturday, February 18 encourages folks to come together over their love of birds and report sightings that help scientists better understand global bird populations. Woodcock educator Tommy McCarthy will be leading a guided walk for adults and kids to participate in the count and learn more about the event. For details, click here.

Ballard Park’s playground is fabulous no matter the weather and the gazebo looks beautiful even covered in snow (if we get any!).

Stepping Stones Children’s Museum and The Maritime Aquarium are both located in Norwalk with plenty of programs for kids of all ages.

A few of our other favorite things to fill a staycation:

Ridgefield Library will have a variety of activities including Story Times and STEAM Corner for Kids. For details, click here.

Deborah Ann’s Sweet Shoppe on Main Street will be open and is always an easy, fun outing way to get out of the house no matter how old your kiddos are! If you don’t feel like cooking, some of our favorite family-friendly restaurants are Gallo, 850 Degrees Wood Fired Pizza, Wooster Hollow Café, Dmitri’s Diner, Prime Burger, and BareBurger.

Several ski areas are close enough for a day trip, including Butternut in Massachusetts, Mount Southington in Plantsville, CT and Thunder Ridge in New York. For winter activities right here in town, check out daily open ice times at Winter Garden Ice Arena.

Check out the Ridgefield Hamlet Hub calendar for many more events happening on our area this week:

Wishing everyone a fun and restful vacation no matter how you choose to spend it!

Where/What Are Millenials Buying?

Millenials are a massive group of people – about 72 million – who have entered the home-buying age as their careers take off, and they start to form families….and start accumulating savings. They will continue to grow their wealth over the next few years and many will be beneficiaries of gifts from parents and grandparents ……and inheritance, as the greatest wealth transfer in history – $68 TRILLION – happens simultaneously.

Every single day I’m seeing younger buyers being assisted by parents and relatives, at different levels of course, to assist them getting their foot in the door of a home in this high priced environment. The two common themes that I hear most regularly are:
1. If you get my money, use it on education or a home.
2. Don’t waste money on rent.

A recent report by Lending Tree listed the top metros in the US where Millennials are buying. They are: San Jose, Denver, Boston, Seattle, Austin, San Francisco, New York, San Diego, Los Angeles and Washington DC. Surprisingly, the sunny climes of Las Vegas, Birmingham, and Phoenix, meanwhile, make up the smallest share.

What do Millennials want in a home (NAR study)?
1. They love cities, but often buy in suburbs for the schools/more space.
2. They are often happy in smaller homes.
3. They want to spend less on a fixer-upper to spend it on redesigning. Many are semi-frustrated-HGTV-obsessed…..
4. Outdoor space and back yards matter lots.
5. Open floor spaces that connect kitchen, dining and living….to outdoor space are preferable to most. They love outdoor living spaces.
6. They love a sense of community, walkable neighborhoods and a short commute to work. Low crime and good schools matter. Gyms close by.
7. They love customization and personalization. Often a mix of traditional and modern. Home-based amenities like a gym or media room appeal.
8. 80% want a laundry room, hardwood floors and storage. An impressive kitchen with an island is at the top of the list.
9. They love home technology and want more energy efficient homes that are healthy and eco-conscious.
10. They want low maintenance.

While the vast majority of Millennials search online prior to buying, they seek the guidance of a professional agent to navigate editing, negotiations, get better insights and access, and understand all the subtle nuances no do-it-yourself internet Google search can deliver. If you have questions, let’s connect!

#COMPASScontent original article

The Murtaugh Minute in Hamlet Hub 02/08/2023

Read on as Karla answers the questions everyone is talking about!

Q: What is one of the misconceptions you’re hearing a lot?

A: A lot of people think interest rates are prohibitively high. But we’ve seen a slight reduction
and they aren’t where they were a year ago. Not only that, a lot of lenders are coming out with
very good programs to help buyers optimize during the mortgage process. They’re really
thinking outside the box, which is terrific for buyers. If you refer to national statistics, those are
showing that things are going in a positive direction. As Compass CEO Robert Reffkin, discussed recently on CNBC, there was a 25% increase in weekly mortgage applications three weeks ago, and an
additional 7% increase last week. Mortgage rates continue to move down to 4-month lows.

Q: Will we see a traditional spring market this year?

A: This will be the closest we’ve had to a traditional spring market since 2019. We certainly
didn’t have that in 2021 or 2022. An old wives tale in our business says it starts right after Super
Bowl but that’s not necessarily true. It usually begins late February or early March when you’ll
see more homes come up for sale, which should stay consistent until the summer. So if you’re
thinking of listing, there’s definitely still time. What’s in our favor is the mild winter. It’s easier
to navigate the town and show properties without snow on the ground! It’s also easier for
people to get here from other towns too if they’re considering a move into our area.

Q: Some people want to take advantage of the spring market and sell their home now, but how
do they do that if they haven’t found a place to buy yet?

A: Compass has an extraordinary network with agents throughout the country who can help
facilitate and give you insight into other areas of the country you may be considering. More
importantly, there are a lot of things we can do to support you through the process. The time is
now to get your home on the market. There are many ways to structure your sale that will
allow you to get the exposure you need for your home but also give you breathing room to find
what’s next. We love working with families and completely understand the need to work
around school calendars if you want your kids to be able to finish out the school year in their
current community. We can be very flexible and find a solution that works for your family.

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin on CNBC Closing Bell

“For the first time in 10 months, all the statistics I look at are trending positively.” – Compass CEO Robert Reffkin, CNBC.

Last week, Robert Reffkin was on CNBC’s Closing Bell to share his outlook on the real estate market and the initial positive signs we are seeing in 2023 (click here to watch the full segment). For the first time in 10 months, all of the statistics he looked at were trending positively.

  • There was a 25% increase in weekly mortgage applications two weeks ago, and an additional 7% increase this past week.
  • Mortgage rates continue to move down to 4-month lows.
  • There’s an increase in buyer interest, open house traffic, and offers.
  • In the last quarter of 2022, 42% of sellers were giving concessions to buyers at the closing table, a 10-year high.
  • Home builder sentiment improved for the first time in 1 year.
  • Pending closings were down 30+% at points in the fall, but over the last few weeks we have seen pending listings in most of our markets nearly flat year over year.

Surviving the “Arctic Blast”!

The Northeast is preparing for an Arctic Blast this weekend.  Here are a few tips to help you make it through unscathed:

#1: Leave cabinet doors in bathrooms and kitchen open to allow pipes underneath the sinks to receive warm air. This is particularly important when the sink/plumbing is on the inside of an outside wall.

#2: Drip water from faucets – letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent pipes from bursting. A small steady drip of water helps to prevent freezing.

#3: Know where your main water switch is. If water stops working due to a freeze or burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve and contact a licensed plumbing professional.

#4 Check your windows. This might seem obvious, but checking ALL the windows in your home to make sure they are closed and locked will reduce heat loss.

#5 If you have an attached garage, keep its doors shut. Sometimes plumbing is routed through this unheated space, which leaves it vulnerable to extreme cold.

#6: Be prepared for a power outage. Power outages are fairly common during cold periods. This can be due to an increased demand on the power grid, ice on power lines, animals trying to find warmth by snuggling up to power transformers. Stock up on candles, matches, flashlights, extra batteries and blankets.

Stay safe and stay warm!