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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.

Karla Murtaugh & Christine Carnicelli Honored By BGCR

The Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield is having their Great Futures Celebration Supporting our Kids, Our Families and Our Club Community on Saturday, November 6th and I am so proud to be honored as the 2020 Champion for Youth! Together with my friend Christine Carnicelli, who is being honored as the 2021 Champion for Youth, we will join a host of community members to celebrate our wonderful local club.

BGCR rose to the occasion, met each challenge, and stayed true to the mission of helping those that need them the most throughout the past years. They truly rallied to do ‘Whatever It Takes’ for the youth and families in our community. Join us and support the Great Futures Celebration at the Ethan Allen Hotel. It wouldn’t be a celebration without all of you!

In addition to Christine and myself, the club will also be presenting Jess Murphy Podrazky with the Boys & Girls Club of America’s National Service to Youth Award recognizing a decade of service to the Club.

Of course, the BGCR also hopes to raise some much-needed funds for our Club members’ Great Futures. Our promise to youth is to continue to be a pillar of support for them, no matter the obstacles they may be facing, and with your help at the Great Futures Celebration, we know we will be able to fulfill this promise.

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.

    How To Prep Your Home For Cooler Weather

    Fall is finally here, and whether you’ve just purchased your first home or are a veteran owner, you might be surprised at the quantity of odd jobs you should complete this time of year.

    1. Our recent experience with Hurricane Ida left some homeowners dealing with waterproofing issues. There are some basic steps to help prevent water penetration into your home such as cleaning out gutters so leaves don’t accumulate and the water is allowed to run freely. Checking that window wells are free of debris and the land slopes away from the house around the basement area also helps prevent penetration from melting snow. If persistent seepage of water occurs in the basement of the home, it is wise is to contact a specialist and see if the installation of a sump pump or water proofing would solve the issue.

    2. Landscaping is a huge job in the fall between leaf cleanup and prepping your plants for winter. Leaving leaves on the lawn can cause damage to the grass, so make sure to clear and/or mulch leaves. Moving them into a forested area also helps the native fauna overwinter. Some plants also benefit from being wrapped in burlap to protect from them frost. Hurricane Ida also made it clear how important it is to take down trees and large branches so they don’t fall during a storm. Contact an arborist to evaluate trees that require trimming, cableing or removal to keep your home safe.

    3. Now is a great time to paint the interior or exterior of your home thanks to mild temperatures and less humidity. This will reduce wear and tear on the clapboard or shingles. Take some time to caulk and seal around all exterior doors and window frames, including in your basement and garage. If you look for gaps where pipes or wiring enters your home and caulk those as well, you can cut down on the heat escaping from those openings. It may also prevent water, insects and maybe even mice from entering.

    4. It is wise to have your heating system, firebox and chimney professionally serviced sooner rather than later to ensure safe and reliable heat during the cooler months. With regular maintenance, you will also be extending the lives of these key appliances.

    We hope you enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage in our area this season and feel free to contact us if you need a place to start for vendors for these services!

    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.

     

    Welcome Back To School!

    Ridgefield Public Schools began their school year this week, and we wanted to take a moment to salute our incredible teachers, students, staff and administrators! Our schools are consistently ranked among the best in the nation year after year.

    We know our administrators are closely following the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic and complying with all local, state and federal guidelines. The district is not offering a remote or hybrid option this year, and masks are required for all individuals regardless of vaccination status. There is currently an indoor mask mandate in place for the entire town of Ridgefield.

    Superintendent Susie Da Silva told The Ridgefield Press that the district had a great start to the new school year. With more knowledge of the virus at their disposal, she explained, administrators were able to better prepare for the year ahead.

    School officials will keep a close eye on local COVID-19 cases to inform how to proceed with quarantines, continued instruction and enhancing that learning. The district is also preparing to screen students in grades K-6 on a weekly basis as soon as Sept. 13. The voluntary program is designed specifically for children who are ineligible to receive the vaccine and is intended to alleviate transmission in the event of a positive case.

    Additionally, in partnership with the Connecticut State Department of Education, Ridgefield Public Schools will continue to offer a free meal in all of our schools for the entire 2021-22 school year.

    Learn more about our many excellent district offerings here: https://www.ridgefield.org/Our_District

    We also have several private schools in the Ridgefield area, including Ridgefield Academy and St. Mary School. You can learn more here: https://www.privateschoolreview.com/connecticut/ridgefield

    Join us in wishing everyone in Ridgefield schools a safe and productive year!

    End of Summer Staycation Ideas to Enjoy Within Driving Distance of Ridgefield

    We still have almost a full month left of summer before school starts and there are so many incredible opportunities for family outings within driving distance of Ridgefield. If you’re looking for some summer fun this month, here are a few of our favorite activities!

    1. Pick your own peaches, nectarines and blueberries at Lyman Orchards! They also have an incredible maze of over 350,000 sunflowers to explore.

    2. Visit Ambler Farm for outdoor yoga, live music, tomato tastings, farm stand and much more!

    3. Registration is open for TriRidgefield on August 29, 2021! If you’re been working out all summer, this could be a great competition for you.

    4. Bring the kids to a museum! Until September 6, Connecticut children age 18 and under plus one accompanying Connecticut resident adult can visit participating museums free of charge through the Connecticut Summer at the Museum program.

    5. Hike Kent Falls State Park, and don’t forget to pack a picnic.

    6. Head to Greenwich Polo Club for public matches every Sunday afternoon.

    7. Join a group ride with the Ridgefield Bicycle Sport Club! They hold several each week, and Thirsty Thursdays might be our favorite because they always end someplace fun like Sarah’s Wine Bar.

    8. We all scream for ice cream! Ridgefield is home to several fantastic ice cream parlors. We’re partial to our neighbors at Deborah Ann’s Sweet Shop right down Main Street from our office, as well as Ferris Acres Creamery in nearby Newtown where you can see the cows from the pickup window. Click the link above for several more suggestions in our county – we dare you to try them all!

    If you need more ideas, check out the Summer Staycation Ideas list we posted at the beginning of the season. Wishing you all a very happy and healthy end of summer here in Ridgefield!

    Mother Always Said “Eat Your Vegetables”… But How About Growing Them Too?

    With so many of us taking advantage of extra time at home last summer, as well as this summer to upgrade our outdoor living spaces, it’s only natural that those of us with green thumbs may have turned to a more sustainable way of obtaining our veggies!

    If you are one of the industrious individuals who is trying out this kind of gardening, mother nature has certainly helped out with all the July showers of late. If you haven’t planted much yet this season, don’t fret. There’s still time to plant a variety of vegetables to harvest this fall, which will be here before we know it.

    To get a great fall harvest, mid to late summer is the time to start sowing your fall garden plants if you’re looking to bring the fresh veggies to your table by the time the cool weather arrives. Crops like broccoli, green beans, beets, and radishes can be sown in late summer for a fall harvest. Time to maturity will vary by crop, so check seed packs or tags in seedling containers and plan backward to come up with a planting date.

    If you have a small gardening space, start thinking about how to create space for your fall garden by figuring out which of your spring and summer crops will finish first; when summer crops are ready to take out, be prepared with fall crops to replace them.

    Check out HGTV.com for more suggestions.