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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.

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.

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Ridgefield’s 2019 Year In Review Market Report

Ridgefield Market Snapshot
2019 was an interesting year in Ridgefield Real Estate as we didn’t see the typical buying cycle emerge as in previous years. Summer – which is usually fairly busy – slowed slightly, while the fall and winter months have seen increased activity. Across the board sales of Single Family Homes in Ridgefield have been flat with the number of Closed Sales remaining steady at 327 versus 329 in 2018, and the Overall Sales Volume ending the year only $3-million less than 2018 at $233,379,725.

Median Sales Price also remained relatively constant at $628,250 – a difference of 2 percent compared to $641,260 last year. Average Sales Price is down half a percentage point over 2018 to $713,699. As in previous years, homes continue to sell at approximately 96.5% of ask, while the Days On Market rose slightly to 167 from 142. Moving into 2020, there are already double the number of homes under contract as compared to the same time in 2019.

The Luxury Market
18 luxury homes sold this past year, compared to 9 in 2018. Six of these sales were over $2-million. Proper pricing is critical to achieve maximum results in a reasonable time period. Sellers are advised to make sure their home is move-in ready and incorporate the additional features buyers are looking for such as mudrooms, Smart Home connectivity, generators, and updated kitchens and baths.

Condo Sales
Ridgefield continues to offer a wide selection of price points and availability to those looking for an alternative to a single-family home. This year, sales ranged from a one bedroom, one bath condo in Fox Hill for $150,000 to a $1.4 million, three bedroom, three bath luxury townhome in The Elms on Main Street. Overall, condo sales slowed with 55 units selling as compared to 70 last year. The Median Sales Price remained steady at $227,500 but the Average Sales Price decreased ending the year at $298,907

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

Neighbors, Neighbors, Neighbors…

According to Realtor.com, neighbors matter. More than half—52%–of Americans say they’ve lived next door to what they consider a “nightmare neighbor.” And because of that, more than three-quarters say the potential neighbors would be a factor into their decision when choosing a new home to buy, according to a new survey from Ally Financial of more than 2,000 consumers.

Distance may be key to feeling the most neighborly. More than half—54%–say they prefer to live in neighborhoods where neighbors are far apart. Only one-quarter of respondents say they prefer close proximity to their neighbors, the survey shows.

The top qualities consumers say their favorite neighbors have are taking good care of their home (71%) and being willing to help other neighbors out (66%). Homeowners also say they value neighbors who take good care of the neighborhood (49%) and those who are friendly with other neighbors (47%).

Their least favorite qualities: those who are loud (46%) and those who partake in “questionable lifestyles,” such as running an illegal business out of their home or drug dealing (44%). Other bad neighborly traits included those who don’t keep up their house (34%) and nosy neighbors (32%).

Past neighbor experiences can haunt homeowners, the survey finds. Sixty-seven percent of respondents say that prior unhappy neighbor experiences make them realize the importance of good neighbors.

Younger generations say they’ve had more bad experiences with neighbors than older homeowners (63% for millennials versus 38% for baby boomers). Also, parents with kids report having more unpleasant experiences with their neighbors than those without kids. As such, parents with kids say they’re more likely to avoid their neighbors.

 

**First published on Realtor.com 12/04/19

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.

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.

Why Now Is A Good Time To Buy A Home

According to Keeping Current Matters, whether you are a first-time buyer or looking to move up to the home of your dreams, now is a great time to purchase a home. Here are three major reasons to buy today.

1. Affordability
Many people focus solely on price when talking about home affordability. Affordability is determined by three components:

  • Price
  • Wages
  • Mortgage Interest Rate

Nationally, prices and wages are up, and interest rates have recently dropped dramatically. As a result, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Affordability Index report revealed that homes are more affordable throughout the country today than they were a year ago.

2. Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates have dropped almost a full point after heading toward 5% last fall and early winter. Currently, they are below 4%.3 Powerful Reasons to Buy a Home Now | Keeping Current MattersAdditionally, Fannie Mae recently predicted the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will be 3.7% in the second half of 2019. That compares to a 4.4% average rate in the first quarter and 4% in the second quarter.

3. Increased Family Wealth
Homeownership has always been recognized as a way to build long-term family wealth. A new report by ATTOM Data Solutions reveals:

“U.S. homeowners who sold in the second quarter of 2019 realized an average home price gain since purchase of $67,500, up from an average gain of $57,706 in Q1 2019 and up from an average gain of $60,100 in Q2 2018. The average home seller gain of $67,500 in Q2 2019 represented an average 33.9 percent return as a percentage of original purchase price.”

The longer you delay purchasing a home, the longer you are waiting to put the power of home equity to work for you. While we haven’t seen short-term gains in some price points in the Ridgefield market, in the long run, real estate is generally a safe bet to build equity and wealth.

For more information about the Ridgefield Real Estate Market, check out our mid-year report available here.

 

 

*Originally posted on Keeping Current Matters

Ridgefield’s 2019 Mid-Year Market Report

Ridgefield Market Snapshot
Ridgefield single family home sales are on par when compared to the same time last year. 150 homes sold during the first six months of the year, as compared to 147 in 2018. The median sales price stayed exactly the same at $625,000, while the total sales volume made modest gains ending the mid-year 4.5% higher than 2018 at $104,368,182. Even going back to 2017, we have seen the number of sales and the median sales price remain essentially flat, while the overall sales volume has fluctuated from a high in 2017 of $125,473,815 to a low in 2018 of $99,906,250.

While the median sales price remained the same year over year, we saw gains in the average sales price, which bodes well for the market as it indicates a general increase in what buyers are willing to pay. Year-to-date the average sales price was $695,788 – a 3.8% increase over the 2018 price of $670,512. This may sound modest, but considering 2017 had a high of $704,797, it indicates we are trending in the right direction. The months of inventory was slightly lower fluctuating between 8 and 15 months, while the list to closed price ratio was up over previous years at 96.7%.

The Luxury Market
Luxury market sales in Ridgefield – defined as homes selling for $1.5 million and above – have seen a huge uptick since this time last year, and in fact, are the strongest we’ve seen since 2016. There have been seven sales to date, compared to only one in 2018, two in 2017, and nine in 2016, while other Fairfield County towns, generally known for their luxury market, have flattened and reported less than stellar results so far this year. Traditionally, demand for these properties is strongest towards the end of the year so we hope to see this segment of the market continue to do well. There are currently an additional three homes under deposit set to close in the next few months and we’ve noticed that in the higher price points it is the motivated seller who is seeing the best results in the least amount of time.

Fairfield County Snapshot
The results are truly mixed for Fairfield County as a whole in the first half of 2019. Overall, median sales price was down throughout the county, as was total sales volume, but the number of unit sales increased in many towns. Traditionally strong commuter towns such as Darien and Greenwich had opposite results with Darien showing an increase in unit sales but the greatest decrease in median sales price in the county, and Greenwich showing an in increase in price but a decrease in the number of sales. Westchester County has also seen a decrease overall in the number of unit sales with median and average sales values down across the board. Looking ahead, we hope to see a more balanced market with supply and demand bringing prices back into alignment.

Looking Ahead
The spring market never seemed to materialize but we are seeing an increase in activity in the early summer months. Buyers continue to be in the driver’s seat in 2019 and sellers would be wise to make sure that their home is show ready before listing it for sale. Now, more than ever, it is important that these properties check off as many of the buyers’ boxes as possible. We continue to see in-town properties and those sporting the latest design trends garner top dollar. Inventory for small to medium-sized homes that are in turn key condition continues to be a challenge as baby boomers looking to downsize, and millennials looking to buy their first home, often overlap in what they desire. We are cautiously optimistic that Ridgefield Real Estate will remain steady. We are seeing 63% of sales coming from the purchase of homes under $700,000 indicating middle-class earners continue to find Ridgefield a desirable place to live with its access to great schools, major urban centers and exposure to a vibrant arts and leisure community.

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