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What to Consider When Upsizing or Downsizing

As we discussed in our recent Q3 Market Report, the market is still very busy although we are seeing the “panic” situation of late 2020 receding a little. Homes that are in good condition and priced correctly are still seeing lots of interest, but it is not as frenzied as in previous months.

Our days on market and months of inventory continue at record lows and are a matter of concern given the number of buyers still looking to make the move to the suburbs. With in- office work returning, high crime in many urban areas, and stubbornly low interest rates, it behooves sellers looking to move to jump into the market.

Taking all of this into consideration, many people are currently thinking about upsizing or downsizing. Many families’ needs have changed and their current homes no longer serve their lifestyle appropriately. But figuring out the perfect size home for your family can be difficult. Often, we don’t know exactly how we’ll use a space until we’re in it (and then it could be too late!).

If you’re considering either upsizing or downsizing, we recommend you contemplate the following:

  • Think about your current home. Are there rooms you never use? Are there rooms that are packed to bursting? Do you have enough storage space? Are you bumping into family members when trying to get out the door at night or make dinner at night?
  • Think about the future. Do you have young kids who will only occupy more space as they grow? Or do you have kids who are about to leave the nest and free up a certain amount of square footage?
  • Think about your lifestyle. Do you wish you had more space to entertain and have overnight guests? You might want to upsize. Are you spending more time away from home and don’t want the maintenance that goes along with a larger home? You might be ready to downsize.
  • Think about your budget. Is a smaller mortgage payment one reason you’d like to downsize? Or has your financial outlook improved enough to take on more of a mortgage in exchange for the lifestyle that will go along with it?

As we move into the traditionally slower holiday season, prices are still up but we hope for a more balanced market as we head into 2022. So, if you have been reevaluating your lifestyle and think that making a move would be good for you, now is the time! We offer a complimentary market analysis and would be happy to provide you with a concrete analysis of what your home is worth. For buyers, our expertise in negotiating in a strong seller’s market means you will get unparalleled representation in a competitive marketplace. Contact us today at 203-856-5534 or karla@karlamurtaugh.com.

Antique Homes Are Amazing, But Do Your Homework

There are some beautiful antique homes in our area, and these can be some of our favorites to help clients buy and sell. The unique charm of older homes can be just the character your family is looking for, and there is nothing cookie-cutter about these properties! They are often located in well-established neighborhoods with mature landscaping.

Older homes can have amazing character traits and historical features that most new homes simply do not have, like huge wood-burning fireplaces, beautiful wood trim and moldings, and ceilings with rustic wood beams that can be harder to find in newer, more modern homes.

There can be some challenges however, and we created this list to help prepare you if you’re thinking of purchasing an antique home. Be sure to consider the following:

  • Enlist the help of a top realtor like us who has decades of experience in this area. We know what red flags to look for, and how to negotiate on your behalf to get the best deal especially when it comes to replacement expenses.
  • Most older homes contain items that eventually need to be replaced. Some examples with considerable price tags may include roofing, furnace, water heater, decks, windows and fencing. It is important to find out the age of each of these items when you’re considering an older property. Structural issues, older plumbing and outdated electrical may also need to be addressed depending on the age of the home.
  • Antique homes in the northeast especially can require updated weatherstripping and insulation to ensure you’re not wasting money on an unnecessarily high energy bill. Speaking of bills, it can be more costly to insure an older home than a modern home so you may want to check with your homeowners insurance company.
  • Depending on the needs of your family, the floor plan in an older home might require some renovation and remodeling. Smaller rooms might need to be opened up to create a more open floor plan and additional bathrooms might be needed if you have a larger family or frequent houseguests.
  • You may want to find out if there are any historical societies or neighborhood restrictions on remodeling. Some older homes and neighborhoods have restrictions in terms of the type and style of remodeling that can be done.
  • Fortunately, our team loves antique homes and would be honored to help you find yours, even if it means resolving some of these issues! Reach out to us today.

    Our Clients In The Wall Street Journal!

    In a Wall Street Journal Special Section called Beyond NYC, we were fortunate enough to be asked to provide a commentary on the state of the market. In addition, two of our fabulous clients were featured in a two different articles about their experiences buying in the ‘suburbs’ like Ridgefield, and selling during Covid. To check out the full article, see the posts below.

    Ridgefield August Market Report – Low Inventory Remains Main Issue

    Year To Date Sales Remain Strong

    Year over year January through August single-family home sales remain strong with 351 homes sold to date in 2021 vs 298 in 2020 – an increase of 18%.  We see the same trend in overall sales volume, which saw a 43% increase year over year ending the year-to-date at $329,473,587 with rising prices and continued demand for properties responsible for the continuing uptick.

    Low Inventory Means Less Sales, Less Overall Volume In August 2021

    For the second month in a row the number of closed transactions is lower in a given month than what was seen in that same month in 2020. There were 58 sales in August this year, a decrease of 19% from the 69 sales in August 2020. There was also a 7.5% decrease in the overall sales volume with August 2021 coming in at $55,711,650 vs $60,211, 700. Given the buying cycle, homes closing in August were most likely to have been purchased in June – the key time observed for the large exodus of buyers from NYC in 2020. It’s also a sign that limited inventory is making it hard for buyers to find homes – the main limiting factor in real estate right now.

    Prices Remain High With No Sign Of Dropping

    Another result of the limited inventory is that the price of homes continues to remain at all time highs.  Mortgage rates are holding steady, and values are showing no signs of slipping. While the market is not as frenzied as previous, homes remain in high demand with buyers chomping at the bit to make to a move. In August alone the median price was up 13% year over year from August 2020 landing at $835,000 vs $740,000 a year ago.  Year-to-date, the median home price is 28% up year over year sitting at $825,000 vs $645,000.  The average price in August 2021 is up 10% at $960,546, while year over year it is up 22% at $938,671.

     

    Ridgefield July Market Report – Prices Remain High

    Sales Slowing, But Prices Remain High

    2020 was an unusually busy year for real estate across the entire nation with low inventory and high numbers of buyers. As we enter the second half of 2021, we are seeing a slight slowdown in the number of sales happening and a return to seasonality in the market. This is understandable given people are once again taking vacations. July saw the number of unit sales decrease from 72 in 2020 to 55 in 2021. Year-to-date sales stayed elevated however with 292 homes closing in 2021 compared to 229 last year (an increase of 28%).

    Overall Dollar Volume, Median & Average Prices Up

    Due to an overall increase in price sales volume has not suffered in July despite the slowdown, staying the same at over $50-million dollars. Year-to-date sales dollar volume also increased over 2020 by a margin of 61%, with a total of $272,974,437 sold vs. $169,811,694 by this time last year. The median price of a single-family home in Ridgefield was up 30% year over year standing at $825,000 currently, and was up 37% ($875,000) when comparing July sales only, The average sales price increased 26% to $934,844 year year-to-date.


    Looking Ahead

    Our biggest challenge moving into Q3 and Q4 2021 is the lack of inventory. Particularly at more competitive price points ($600,000-$900,000), the lack of new homes entering the market is cause for concern. There are still buyers looking for homes, although that seems to be slowing slightly as buyer fatigue sets in. For now, homes that in good condition and are priced accordingly are still selling at or above list price, and we are seeing some multiple offer situations. It will be interesting to see how the fall market rebounds as mortgage rates continue to remain at record lows, prices stabilize and the Delta variant of Covid-19 comes into play. It does seem to be moving towards a more balanced market for buyers and sellers.

    Click here to see a breakdown by price or click here to see quick summary.

    Top 5 Reasons To Move To Ridgefield

    Ridgefield, a beautiful, colonial town nestled in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, can easily be described as “the little town that time forgot.” Established in 1709, encompassing Branchville, Titicus, & Ridgebury, Ridgefield is the perfect blend of New England small town charm, combined with America’s modern day tastes.

    Year after year Connecticut Magazine ranks Ridgefield #1 when taking into consideration quality of life, schools, restaurants, low crime rate, cultural offerings and scope of services. All these reasons are important factors when looking for homes for sale in CT, and Ridgefield proudly offers them all (and so much more!).

    Here are our top five reasons to move to Ridgefield:

    1. The town’s school system is considered among the finest in a state known for fine schools. If you are looking for a family friendly community that’s tight knit and proud to support its heritage, Ridgefield is the place for you! The exceptional educational system is often a key driver for many families searching homes for sale in Ridgefield. Ridgefield’s award-winning public schools encompass Branchville, Barlow Mountain, Scotland, Farmingville, Veteran’s Park and Ridgebury Elementary schools, Scotts Ridge and East Ridge Middle schools, and Ridgefield High School. The high school features an incredible athletic campus supporting the many high school and community sports teams the area is known for. Ridgefield Academy offers a wonderful private option, while religious education is also available.

    2. Ridgefield has been designated the first Cultural District in the state of Connecticut. The Ridgefield Playhouse attracts high caliber entertainment from the music and arts world, and The Prospector movie theatre is recognized throughout the country as a blueprint for creating meaningful employment for adults with disabilities. Our new Cultural District designation recognizes that Ridgefield has an artistic and economic center of cultural activities that makes our community extraordinary. The multitude of both nonprofit and for-profit cultural facilities, activities and assets in the expansive downtown area make our Town unique and a phenomenal resource for both residents and visitors.

    3. The lakes and winding roads provide beautiful backdrops for hiking, biking and jogging and landmarks like the Woodcock Nature Center, New Pond Farm, The Hickories, One Hump Farm, Simpaug Farm, The Ridgefield Public Library, Weir Farm National Historical Park, Seth Low Pierrepont State Park and numerous ball fields, tennis courts and swimming pools, provide unique experiences.

    4. Easy commute to NYC! Ridgefield commuters have numerous options when commuting to New York City. Katonah train station, serviced via town shuttle, and Branchville train station are good options for commuting from southern Ridgefield, while north-end commuters may favor Goldens Bridge or Purdys.

    5. Ridgefield prides itself on community involvement. Everywhere you look there are opportunities to support small businesses, charities, causes and communities including charitable 5K runs, community theater programs, volunteer fundraisers and neighborhood tag sales. The Ridgefield Community Center, Boys and Girls Club and numerous sports teams allow for ample participation in athletic pursuits.

    Learn more about Ridgefield, including real estate market statistics, in our Town Profile:

    Top 5 Reasons To Move To Wilton

    Wilton is a rural residential town rich in New England history. Nestled in the Norwalk River Valley in southwestern Connecticut, Wilton is north of the City of Norwalk, west of the Town of Weston, and east of the Town of New Canaan. Winding roads, large lots and a generally rural feel lend Wilton a serene lifestyle. Bustling retail areas also abound with wonderful restaurants and all the modern amenities of an urban center.

    Here are our top five reasons to move to Wilton:

    1. The exceptional education system is often a key driver for many families searching for homes for sale in Wilton. Highly rated, Wilton’s Board of Education is responsible for the four public schools under their jurisdiction. Organized slightly differently than a traditional school progression, the Miller-Driscoll School serves pre-K to second grade, Cider Mill School grades 3-5, Middlebrook School grades 6-8, and Wilton High School grades 9 -12. For more information, use my comprehensive tool to research information about area schools. You can also look at the proximity of home listings to the school you’re exploring for your family.

    2. Wilton has a strong arts community represented by the Wilton Arts Council and enjoys many festivities and community events each year. The Wilton Trackside Teen Center offers a multitude of opportunities for teens to get involved, while Wilton Children’s Theater offers a unique theatrical experience to the town’s children.

    3. This beautiful town is home to beloved nature destinations like Woodcock Nature Center, situated on 179 acres of state-protected land with 3 miles of trails traversing a mixture of habitats, including woods with stands of maple, beech, oak and hickory trees, a pond and wetlands. A visit to the Weir Farm National Historic Site is always invigorating, a creative refuge for friends and fellow artists that still remains today. Hiking, biking and all manner of sports teams abound as does a rich shopping experience in many nearby neighborhoods.

    4. Some well-traveled routes, such as Ridgefield and Belden Hill roads, are known for handsome historic homes and stone walls. Wilton has preserved much of its architectural heritage in five town-designated historic districts.

    5. The commute to Stamford and New York City is totally do-able. If you’re looking for a home for sale conveniently located to New York City, I encourage you to consider Wilton, which is only 90 minutes from Grand Central Station from the Wilton, Cannondale or Branchville stations on the New Haven Line Danbury branch of Metro-North Railroad. Depending on where you live in Wilton, you can travel to GCT via the Branchville, Wilton or Cannondale stations on the Danbury Branch of the Metro-North New Haven line.

    Learn more about Wilton, including real estate market statistics, in our Town Profile:
    https://karlamurtaugh.com/wilton-ct-real-estate/ .

    Ridgefield’s May Market Report – All Indicators Point To Strong Market

    Positive Numbers Continue

    While the frenzied nature of purchases earlier this year seems to have slowed a little due to a slight increase in the number of homes coming on the market, single-family home sales are still breaking records in both number and value. All indicators – both year over year and for the month of May – were up compared to the same time in 2020. We anticipate this trend to continue as early summer sales ramp up and people finalize their plans for the upcoming school year including whether they will continue to work from home, or need to resume commuting to an office. The current months of inventory for May (the time it would take to sell all homes on the market) currently stands at 3 months compared to 7 last May, while the days on market has decreased from 73 in May 2020 to 44 in May 2021.

    Single Family Sales & Volume Up

    May 2021 saw a 19% increase in the number of sales of single family homes in Ridgefield with 38 properties changing hands compared to 32 in May 2020. There was also a 55% increase in the dollar volume transacted – $37,760,000 compared to $24,390,000 during the same period on 2020.  The same held true in the year-to-date numbers with 187 vs 157 homes sold (up 19%) and a 49% increase in the dollar volume from $177,945,238 in 2021 and $119,397,044 in 2020.

    Median & Average Sale Prices Up Too

    The median sale price of a single-family home increased from $635,000 to $722,500 – a jump of 14% in the May 2021 vs May 2020.  In year to date numbers, the increase was even more substantial at 31%, with the median price standing at $829,000 in 2021 compared to $635,000 in 2020.  The average price for a home in Ridgefield also increased 30% in May 2021 and sits at $993,703, while year to date in sits 25% higher than 2020 at $951,579.

     

     

     

    Ridgefield Becomes Connecticut’s First Cultural District

    Walk from Keeler Tavern to ACT, and the entire time you are within singing distance of a handful of other leading cultural institutions – the Aldrich Museum, Lounsbury House, the Ridgefield Library, Ballard Park, Ridgefield Playhouse, the Theater Barn, the Guild of Artists, and more. While we all knew the bounty in our midst, the state of Connecticut has given Ridgefield a standing ovation.

    You see, this section of Ridgefield has been designated by the State as a “Cultural District” – the first designation made anywhere in Connecticut!

    This Cultural District designation recognizes that Ridgefield has an artistic and economic center of cultural activities that makes our community extraordinary. The multitude of both nonprofit and for-profit cultural facilities, activities and assets in the expansive downtown area make our Town unique and a phenomenal resource for both residents and visitors.

    “The people of Ridgefield have long appreciated the abundance of arts and culture in town. We are thrilled that the state also recognizes all that Ridgefield has to offer, by giving us the first Cultural District designation,” stated Rudy Marconi, First Selectman of the Town of Ridgefield.

    The first-in-the-State Cultural District will help to promote tourism, encourage artists and creative businesses, strengthen the distinctive character of our Town, highlight the culture and history of our community, and contribute to the State’s cultural assets.

    With this new designation, Ridgefield’s Cultural District will be promoted and marketed by the CT Department of Economic Community Development (“DECD”), which includes the Office of the Arts and the Office of Tourism, along with Ridgefield’s Designated Regional Service Organization which is the Cultural Alliance of Western CT.

    In October 2019, a law originally proposed by then-State Representative John Frey became effective, allowing the State to designate a specific area of a city or town as a “Cultural District”. On behalf of the Town and the Ridgefield Economic & Community Development Commission (“ECDC”), ECDC Secretary Glori Norwitt began organizing materials to apply, although the process soon slowed down due to the Covid19 pandemic.

    Per the process requirements, an Advisory Council subcommittee was formed, comprised of a diverse mix of Town organizations and businesses, with representation from the Board of Selectmen (“BOS”), the Historic District Commission, the Ridgefield Arts Council, the Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center, the Ridgefield Playhouse, the Ridgefield Library, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Thrown Stone Theater Company, the Ridgefield Historical Society, the Ridgefield Guild of Artists, TownVibe Media, and the West Lane Inn.

    A Public Hearing was held in August 2020 during a BOS meeting, where the BOS voted unanimously to support the ECDC’s Application to the State. The CT Office of the Arts later had a “virtual visit” with the Advisory Council Subcommittee, First Selectman Marconi, and the ECDC, which included a virtual walking tour of the proposed Cultural District. The virtual tour can be viewed here.

    “Receiving the first Cultural District designation in the State not only spotlights how many exceptional cultural wonders we have in our town, but also highlights the teamwork of the arts & culture for-profit and nonprofit organizations that worked together to submit and promote the Town’s application for the designation to the State,” explained ECDC Commissioner Norwitt.

    “It’s like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,” says ECDC Chair Geoffrey Morris. “It’s a significant accomplishment for the town.” The ECDC plans to market this new Cultural District, and encourages all businesses and organizations within it to do the same. Signs will be placed on the north and south side of Main Street, marking when visitors enter the Cultural District.

    This new designation will be valuable for tourism both locally and in the region. The ECDC hopes that the State’s formal acknowledgment of the many activities and sights in Ridgefield will encourage visitors to stay for a weekend, instead of just one night. Theaters, museums, shops, galleries, superb restaurants, and countless outdoor activities including hiking and biking…there’s just too much to do!

    **Published in Ridgefield Hamlet Hub; written by Geoffrey Morris