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Karla Murtaugh Named Christie’s Master’s Circle Member For Third Year Running

What an honor to have been named a Christie’s International Real Estate Master’s Circle member every year since the program began in 2019. This award recognizes my love of – and commitment to – real estate. It also acknowledges the luxury market expertise I have developed over the years. It is very exciting and I welcome bringing our same Platinum Level of Service to every member of our community, no matter what price point

Specifically, the Christie’s International Real Estate Masters Circle includes an elite group of high-performing real estate specialists from across the Christie’s global network. Membership in the 2021 Masters Circle is reserved for the network’s top producers in sales volume, number of luxury transactions and listings, all of whom demonstrate a passion for real estate under the Christie’s International Real Estate brand. The agents in the class of 2021 represent more than 4,800 listings, with areas of market expertise ranging from waterfront, equestrian, mountain and ski to vineyards, development, urban, suburban, and private islands among others.

If you are thinking of selling your home and want to understand what sets us apart and why we were recognized with this award, contact me at 203-856-5534 or karla@karlamurtaugh.com for a meeting. We’d love to help you with your real estate needs and welcome you to the Karla Murtaugh Homes experience.

In Real Estate Timing is Everything!

Christie’s auction house broke another world record this week by auctioning off the world’s first purely digital artwork where bidding started just two weeks ago at $100, sold for a record $69M.

Not all of us can afford the world of alternative investments, but navigating the tides of the recent real estate market can be just as intimidating. With the exodus of buyers from NYC in 2020, Ridgefield and other Fairfield County towns have been experiencing an uptick in sales and demand not previously experienced. Recently however, NYC is starting to see interest return and Christie’s International Real Estate NYC Brokerage has been fielding questions from NYC die-hards with upsizing and downsizing questions, investors looking to buy up assets, and first-time homebuyers looking to get in while prices remain relatively low.

With this being said, the suburbs continue to be attractive to many urban buyers. As you have been reading, inventory is low and bidding wars are still occurring on properly priced homes. People are reflecting on their new work-life balance and what that means in terms of housing. Buyers – keep the faith! We are in constant contact with sellers getting their homes ready for spring market. With the vaccine providing a light at the end of the tunnel, the market is starting to open up.

Whether you’re looking for your dream home or wanting to list your current home for sale, our up to minute knowledge will help you navigate this new normal and set you up for success. Reach out at 203-856-5534 or karla@karlamurtaugh.com to see how we can help.

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 Receives Luxury Specialist Designation From Christie’s International Real Estate

After attending Christie’s International Real Estate’s Luxury Specialist conference specializing in insights about the global economy, evolving business strategies and luxury trends in art, collectibles and home design, Karla Murtaugh was awarded the exclusive “Luxury Specialist” designation for expertise in high-end client service. This is the sixth year that Karla Murtaugh has been granted the Luxury Specialist designation.

Welcoming over 700 brokers from 24 countries, including 26 U.S. states, this year’s event was held virtually, attracting the largest number of participants in the history of the forum. At the conclusion of the conference, attendees were designated as a “Christie’s International Real Estate Luxury Specialist” by Christie’s Education.

Dan Conn, CEO of Christie’s International Real Estate, said: “Our agents are experts in their local markets, the reason their companies were invited to join our exclusive network. This conference, offering continuing education in the luxury sector, allows them to build on their local reputations with an appreciation for the full scope of the interests of high-end clients.”

In addition to representation from across the United States, attendees joined from Europe, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin and South America, Asia and Australia.

Speakers included Elliot Eisenberg, internationally acclaimed economist renowned for making the science of global money policies clear and logical; and Michael S. Smith, the interior designer appointed by President Barack Obama to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House and responsible for the 2010 makeover of the Oval Office.

Participants also heard from Christie’s International Real Estate executives and their industry-leading peers who provided insights into managing their businesses in a volatile environment, digital approaches for buying and selling homes, managing client relations and leveraging PR and social media to build personal brands.

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.

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.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL RIDGEFIELD Q1 2020 MARKET REPORT

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

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT

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

Ridgefield’s Tower Cottage Featured In Christie’s ‘Luxury Defined’

In a blog and newsletter circulated to over 10,000 high net worth subscribers, Ridgefield’s own history-filled ‘Tower Cottage’ at 48 East Ridge Road took top honors representing beautiful Victorian Revival architecture.

Joining noteworthy properties from around the world, Tower Cottage is currently listed for sale by Karla Murtaugh at Neumann Real Estate for $2,395,000 and pays homage to a time gone by, while maintaining relevance to a modern world through exquisite renovations and updates.

Click here to see the full Christie’s International Real Estate article about Tower Cottage and it’s fellow Victorian Revivals. To learn more, or to see a video or peruse photographs of Tower Cottage itself, visit the feature page or call us at 203-856-5534 for an exclusive showing.

Luxury Defined is celebrating the eclectic Victorian Revival movement by featuring six homes inspired by the reign of Queen Victoria, sovereign of Great Britain, Empress of India from 1837 to 1876. Caught in the tension between the old and the new, the Victorian architect reworked classical antecedents with “contemporary” upgrades and a multiplicity of new styles emerged: the medieval and Roman elements of Gothic Revival and Richardson Romanesque; the mansard roofs of Second Empire; the turrets and gables of Queen Anne; and, the Craftsman precursors of Stick-Eastlake style. New engineering technology embraced structural steel as well as the luxury of indoor plumbing. The Victorians reveled in ornamentation, classical proportions, craftsmanship and materials, yet their designs anticipated modernism. Their 19th-century cottages, grand country estates, and elegant townhouses brought in a new age of light, air, warmth, and comfort for homes which are still vibrant, exciting living spaces for the 21st century.

Tower Cottage itself is beautifully sited on a ridge and sits just a stone’s throw to all Ridgefield has to offer. It includes an impressive wrap-around porch, exquisite new gourmet kitchen, fabulous mudroom, 6 bedrooms & 3 floors of turreted rooms – a library, master suite & office. A gunite pool joins beautiful gardens & sweeping lawns creating an exceptional retreat.

 

 

Karla Murtaugh Named To Christie’s ‘Masters Circle’

I was honored to be named to the inaugural Christie’s International Real Estate Masters Circle at last week’s 2019 Christie’s International Real Estate Luxury Agent Conference in Houston, Texas. The Masters Circle is a group of top-performing agents within the Christie’s International Real Estate global invitation-only network.

Masters Circle members are chosen based on their success and expertise at the high end of the market, as well as their specialization in different property types. The agent’s ability to deliver the highest level of service to sophisticated clients around the world sets them apart in the industry and makes them a perfect fit for the specialist universe that is unique to Christie’s. Together, the membership represents over 4,700 combined luxury home listings with areas of market expertise ranging from waterfront, equestrian, mountain, and ski, to vineyards, development, urban, suburban, and private islands among others.

“We are incredibly proud of Karla on her recognition as a Masters Circle member,” said Russ Neumann, broker/partner at Neumann Real Estate. “Karla exemplifies top-notch customer service, an incredible networking ability, and an unsurpassed knowledge of the local market. To have her be recognized internationally for these attributes is truly an honor she deserves. ”

Dan Conn, Christie’s International Real Estate Chief Operating Officer, said: “We are excited to have established this group of luxury real estate specialists operating at the top level in their respective regions. Members gain access to an invaluable network to discuss industry trends and establish leadership in their particular areas of specialty, and promote their listings to other Masters Circle luxury real estate specialists. This elite group will further enhance the ability for the Christie’s International Real Estate network to serve buyers and sellers of fine properties worldwide.”