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Ridgefield’s February Market Sees An Uptick In Sales, But A Downturn In Inventory

Home sales continue to exceed all market expectations as 2021 moves towards a reopening of the economy in the late spring and beyond. While this seems to be excellent news, we are seeing a downturn in inventory with many well-qualified buyers still in need of homes.  With mortgage rates remaining at historic lows, the real estate market will definitely remain strong if we approach the spring selling season with people willing to list their homes.

Prices & Volume
To date, in 2021 Ridgefield single-family homes sales have totaled $58,947,250 with 64 closed transactions as compared to $31,252,400 in sales and 41 transactions by this time in 2020.  Most of these sales reflect homes that went under deposit towards the end of last year, but nevertheless have resulted in a record-breaking first two months. In February alone, we saw 29 homes close with a volume of $28,355,750. The median sales price rose from $561,700 in February, 2020 to $850,000 this year, and the average sales price also climbed from $644,133 to $945,192.  Homes are selling at 98.4% of their listed price in about 90 days.

Inventory
There are currently 44 homes with accepted offers set to close in Q2 2021 and a further 59 homes already in contract to close in the next two months. As mentioned previously, inventory remains dangerously low with only 3 months of available inventory on the market.  In 2020, there was 12 months of inventory available at this time of year. For a breakdown by price point of recent sales, see the chart below or DOWNLOAD it.

Karla Murtaugh Homes Leads The Way

We regularly review the entire Ridgefield market to assess how we are serving our clients, and were pleased to discover that our sales represent 26% of the total inventory sold year to date in more than double the number of transactions of any other Ridgefield agent. We also have 17 properties in contract and set to close in the next couple of months. Our forward-thinking approach to this ever-changing market, along with adaptive marketing and unparalleled client service at all price points is why we are Ridgefield’s number one agent. Our commitment to understanding the market cannot be overlooked, and we encourage you to check out our 2020 “Interpreting The Market” Ridgefield Market Report included with this month’s Ridgefield Magazine for further insights.

Looking Ahead
We are optimistic as we look towards a spring and summer with eased Covid restrictions and a return to a more normal life. Buyers are still excited to purchase their dream home. For seller’s, as working-from-home scenarios and in-person school arrangements become solidified, we may also find that their needs are once again up for examination and change. We expect that the must-haves and wants of privacy, multiple offices, home gyms, pools and separate spaces will remain. As some situations change, we also expect an increase in inventory as consumer confidence returns and people once again look to make moves to better their current lifestyle.

To find out what your home is worth or for a complimentary consultation, please reach out to us at karla@karlamurtaugh.com or call 203-856-5534. We’d love to discuss our outstanding marketing campaigns and platinum level of service with you, and advise on how to best sell your home in this unprecedented market.

Continued Good News In The Ridgefield Real Estate Market!

Coming off a stellar year in 2020, Ridgefield real estate sales continue to impress. With numbers far exceeding 2020’s incredible start to the year, 2021 promises to again post increasing prices and decreased sales times, as long as we can procure the inventory to keep the market moving. With a wealth of qualified buyers waiting in the wings for the perfect house, now is the time to jump into the market if you’ve been contemplating a move.

Prices & Volume
The number of sales in January 2021 exceeded 2020 by 48% with 34 homes sold as compared to 23 in January 2020. There was a rise in overall sales volume as well, with 2021 seeing $30,591,500 sold in the first month of the year compared to $19,658,000 in 2020. The median price this month was where the steepest overall gains were seen with a sales price of $856,000 vs $620,000 in 2020. The average sales price rose from $854,696 to $899,750 this year.

Inventory & Days On Market
In an unprecedented first, the available inventory has dropped to 3 months! In comparison, at this time last year there was 8 months of available inventory on the market. In addition, the days a house remained on the market before entering contract currently sits at 59 days as compared to 132 days in January 2020. For a breakdown by price point of recent sales, see the chart below or DOWNLOAD the chart.

Now Is The Time To Sell
With a continuing number of buyers looking for privacy, space and the suburbs, it’s certainly a good time for sellers. Buyer demand is at an all time high and there is very limited inventory. To find out what your home is worth or for a complimentary consultation, please reach out to us at karla@karlamurtaugh.com or call 203-856-5534. We’d love to discuss our outstanding marketing campaigns and platinum level of service.

Ridgefield 2020 Year In Review Real Estate Market Report

Ridgefield Market Snapshot

2020 started out strong, but the year came to a grinding halt in March as we all sheltered in place due to Covid-19. When real estate was allowed to resume towards the end of April, a torrent of buyers from NYC and other urban areas created unprecedented demand for homes in Westchester and Fairfield counties. The number of single-family home sales in Ridgefield increased by 70% year over year with 556 units selling this year as compared to 327 in 2019. In addition, the total sales volume increased 93.5% in 2020 with $451,684,839 in total sales compared to $233,379,725 last year.

Price gains were seen throughout the Ridgefield single family home market with the Median Sales Price increasing from $628,250 to $707,500, representing an overall increase of 12.6%. The Average Sales Price also increased by 14% from $713,699 to $812,383. The Days On Market decreased with homes spending 70 days on the market before selling, as compared to 167 in 2019. The List to Sales Price Ratio rose from 96.5% to 97.8% with many homes receiving offers above asking price or even multiple offers.

Demand for single-family homes increased at all price points, however, the greatest boost came in properties selling between $1-million and $1.5-million. Sluggish sales over the past few years were reversed with a 217% gain from 24 sales last year to 76 this year. The luxury market – defined as homes selling for more than $1.5-million – also saw appreciable gains with a 128% rise from 18 to 41 sales, and the under $1-million sales increased 54% from 285 to 439. In general, homes that had been updated were often selling at or above their listed price.

Trends In The Market

  • As people reevaluate their lifestyles in the wake of the pandemic, many are finding their home a sanctuary. People are moving out of cramped urban spaces to more residential neighborhoods in the suburbs.
  • While the market has transitioned to benefit the seller, buyers are still wary of creating a ‘bubble’ and will continue to be reasonable in their offer strategy.
  • A shortage of inventory will continue to place pressure on first-time and even ‘move-up’ buyers as continued demand outweighs supply.
  • It is increasingly important to understand how the market changes we are seeing breaks down by price and segment, as not all gains are the same across the board.

For more information, download the FULL REPORT.

Karla Murtaugh Brokers $5.2 Million Deal For Sugar Hill Estate

Sugar Hill is an extraordinary property, fully befitting its rare provenance. Located only an hour from Manhattan, the sale of the ivy-laced Georgian manse was brokered by Karla Murtaugh at Neumann Real Estate, an exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, and is the highest grossing sale since 2008. Murtaugh noted that there was multiple interest in the property resulting in the $5.2-million transaction.

Beautifully sited on 46.3 acres, Sugar Hill was constructed in 1939 by the esteemed firm of Noël and Miller (best known for the design of the Whitney Museum of American Art) and stands today as a symbol of a great American past meeting the hope and promise of a new generation. This classic, understated yet elegant seven-bedroom manor features an array of amenities including a grand indoor pool with full service changing rooms, an outdoor pool and cabana, a lighted tennis court, sprawling manicured lawns, and a greenhouse and potting shed for the garden enthusiast. A two-bedroom, two-bath guest house is the perfect complement to the classic manor along with a large detached garage for the car enthusiast, adding 6 additional heated garage spaces, for a total of 11 bays.

“Sugar Hill is an iconic property that exemplifies the ultimate country lifestyle” says Murtaugh. ”The exceptional Georgian architecture, perfect proportions, park-like, private setting and fabulous amenities it offers, make it the perfect full-time residence or weekend getaway from NYC.”

The home’s pedigree is beyond compare. The original owner, Wadsworth R. Lewis, was the son of Frederic E. Lewis a railroad tycoon and president of the Adams Express Company. The Lewis Fund continues to enrich the community through local Ridgefield charities such as the local library, the Boys and Girls Club, and Meals on Wheels.

From 1946-1966, the residence was home to Henry Luce an American magazine magnate and publisher of the Time, Inc. magazine empire, including titles such as Life, Sports Illustrated, and Fortune, and his wife, Clare Boothe Luce, Connecticut’s first elected Congresswoman and the first woman to be appointed to an ambassadorship by the then President Dwight David Eisenhower. Adding to her success, Clare, the playwright, proved a pioneer of the new feminist movement with her successful 1936’s smash satire, The Women.

The Sugar Hill estate was purchased in 1966 by Austrian-born Hans P. Kraus, the most celebrated book dealer & collector of this century. Among his vast collection at Sugar Hill was a Gutenberg Bible, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and a first printing of the U.S. Constitution. He was a major contributor to the U.S. Library of Congress including the historic Kraus Collection of Sir Francis Drake.

In 1993, Basha Szymanska, a successful Wilhelmina fashion model and clothing designer discovered Sugar Hill while traveling through Ridgefield with her then husband and investment banker Perry J. Lewis.  Basha started her fashion career in New York City where she was originally spotted by Oscar de la Renta at age 19. After 3o years in New York City, the transition to Sugar Hill was an easy one for Basha.  Having immigrated from Poland in 1950, Basha never lost her love of country living and discovered living in Ridgefield one of her greatest joys. Over the years, Basha acquired adjoining properties, eventually expanding the estate to over 63 acres and always working to preserve the historic legacy of this great manor.

Today, natural light floods this decades-old residence through a multitude of French doors accenting the grand 12-foot walls, moldings, and wide hardwood floors. The newly renovated professional kitchen blends the old with the new and boasts modern appliances and a large teakwood prep area for full-scale entertaining. The spacious dining room adjoins a lush conservatory that is the perfect setting for mid-season dining or overflow seating, and the grand living room, with spectacular views of the property, accommodates a grand piano with ample room for relaxing or entertaining guests. The great library, adjoins a small study with a fireplace for quiet evenings and conversation. There are 10 fireplaces throughout the estate, several located in the bedrooms including one in the master bedroom with its oversized deck and views of the western sunset.  Completing the second floor is a media room, and employee /staff wing with plenty of accommodation including a second laundry and a complete caretaker’s apartment.

Murtaugh also commented on the special nature of the town of Ridgefield with its cultural icons such as the Prospector Movie Theater, Ridgefield Playhouse and ACT of CT, impressive restaurants, boutique shopping and philanthropic activism. It also ranks the safest small town in America and is voted the number one town in Connecticut year after year by CT Magazine.

Ridgefield Posts Record Sales In Q3 2020

Q3 2020 Rises Beyond Expectations

After Covid-19 took the wind out of our sails in March and April, the Ridgefield real estate market has rebounded with enthusiasm posting record sales that far outweigh 2019. Year-to-date, a total of 358 homes have sold so far this year, outpacing 2019 by 39% and the total sales volume stands 55% higher than 2019 at $280,255,426 vs $180,307,075.

In Q3 specifically, we have seen 201 sales vs 108 in Q3 2019. Additionally, our total sales volume in Q3 2020 posted a 108% gain over the same timeframe in 2019 registering $160,858,383 in sales. Sales in Q3 reflect deposits taken from May to August in most cases.

Our days on market and months of inventory are also lower than in 2019, which is concerning given the number of buyers still looking to move to our area. There are currently only 117 homes on the market, which corresponds to 3 months of available inventory.

Luxury Sales Are Strong

Sales are up in all price points with strong gains in the over $1 million category.  In 2019, there were 37 homes that sold for over $1-million by this time, while there have been 79 year-to-date in 2020. The trend continues when looking at Luxury Homes sales in particular (over $1.5-million) where there have been 25 recorded sales as opposed to only 12 in 2019. There are also 13 additional luxury properties currently under agreement and set to close in Q4 2020.

Prices Are Up

The average sales price was up 12 percent year over year and in Q3 2020.  Year-to-date it sits at $782,836, and in Q3 it was $800,290.  The median sales price was up 11 percent in Q3 sitting at $720,000 compared to $650,000 and 6 percent in the year-to-date with 2019 registering a median value of $635,000 and 2020 $673,750. We have seen a good number of homes selling at or above their listed sale price in a short amount of time. Homes that are updated and priced properly are often in receipt of multiple bids.

Fairfield County Snapshot  

We are experiencing increases in sales and property values throughout Fairfield County with the number of sales increasing 17 percent, median sales price up 12 percent, and total dollar volume up a record 40 percent since 2019. Darien, Greenwich and Westport saw the largest gains in the number of sales and values.

Looking Ahead

We wish we had a crystal ball to have a clearer vision for the market going forward, but with the election, Covid-19 and job security all looming as issues in Q4 and beyond, we are somewhat uncertain what the future holds. Interest rates are holding at historic lows, and we are also seeing more cash transactions in the upper segment of $1-million purchases. One thing we can say is that inventory is low and there are many buyers looking to purchase. If we can continue to list homes, the market will continue to grow. 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

 

Ridgefield May Real Estate Market Report

As we began Phase 1 of our reopening here in CT, we were able to lift a number of restrictions, which had made it quite challenging to service Real Estate. We are now able to engage photographers and videographers, stagers and marketing specialists to reopen the market and increase inventory. We have changed the way we do things, and making sure everyone is safe is our top priority.

With that being said, the real estate market in Ridgefield is definitely beginning to open up. We are experiencing more foot traffic in terms of buyer tours. There have been some multiple offers qisutaions, but we have not yet seen an appreciable rise in prices We have seen a number of homes take deposits and there is strong interest from both local and out of state buyers. We can feel the momentum increasing as the “spring” market gets into full swing.

Personally, we want to thank all our buyers and sellers who weathered this storm with us, and rest assured we are doing all we can to ensure a safe and smooth transaction for you.

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 Realtor.com 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 Realtor.com 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