I just returned from a family vacation in Seattle, WA and Los Angeles, CA. We had an absolutely wonderful time. We went hiking on Mt. Rainer. I'm not a huge fan of hiking, but this was spectacular, with huge glacier fields and wildflowers growing everywhere at the lower altitudes. Take a look:
We also went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum in Seattle. It was unbelievable. I would highly recommended seeing it if you are ever in the area. I've attached a few beautiful pictures below as well. Last, we spent time in the Pasadena area and stayed at the Langham hotel in San Marino, which was wonderful. The homes in the area are just beautiful, with all sorts of architecture. Every house was more beautiful than the next. The landscaping was exquisite. Many of the homes, or should I say mansions, are decades old. Some of them reminded me of Newport, Rhode Island. I fell in love with the area. There were quite a few homes for sale and the prices were somewhat comparable to Westport, CT. Speaking of Westport, I'm attaching the link to my site for the latest update for the month of July for Single Family Properties. Please feel free to take a look by clicking here.
I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I was up in Boston visiting one of my daughters. It's a wonderful town. We spent a great deal of time touring around. The North end, with the scores of Italian restaurants, was buzzing. Mike's Pastry's had a line a half block long. We went to a neighboring pastry shop that only required a 5 minute wait instead of an hour wait. Every restaurant was packed with lines of people waiting outside. We found a great place called La Galleria 33 on Salem Street. It was amazing. Our server, Lina, was gracious. It's unusually rare to find someone like her who was always smiling and helpful. She was so apologetic that our entree's took a long time, but we had no issue since we simply enjoying the time to catch up with our daughter. I never understand it when we get a waiter or waitress who isn't overly attentive and smiling. It takes so little to make your customers feel like they're special, and they'll certainly show their appreciation at the end of the meal. My attitude in life is always "service with a smile." I've done well by this philosophy. A smile makes all of the difference when interacting with people. We need more smiles!
We spent the day on Newbury Street yesterday. We tried to buy a 47 Brands B Strong cap, but we were laughed at and told that these hats have been sold out for ages and that they sell on eBay for hundreds of dollars. One store told us that when they had them in stock for a short while, they were stolen immediately. Unbelievable.
The homes in the area are all beautiful, especially on Boylston Street. Newbury Street was packed there as well. You would have thought that Stephanie's on Newbury was giving away free food, but no. There were dozens of people waiting to get a table there. It was no surprise that there was a Boston Red Sox game. They've been incredibly hot recently and the Boston Strong fans were surely happy this weekend. I've always thought that NY had the strongest fans in the Yankees, but I am having second thoughts after being in Boston yesterday. It was amazing. There were very few heads to be seen without the Red Sox caps on them. Almost every hotel in the area was sold out. We had to stay in Waltham because we couldn't get a hotel any closer to town. It just goes to show you how popular a city Boston is during the summer, especially when the Red Sox are playing at hime.
So last night, after a long drive back to Westport, I finally had a chance to go through the first six month Westport Homes Sales numbers. I was not surprised at all by the figures. Sales fell almost 20% to 169 units. The median price was up, but if you remember your elementary school math, the figure is less relevant than the "average" number. From that perspective, the number (the average sales price) was down almost six percent. Don't get me wrong. The Westport Real Estate market is still very strong, but there has been less people looking at homes in the past few months. The economy certainly seems to be on the mend, but slowly, and that's probably a good thing in the long run. We don't want things getting out of hand like it did a few years ago.
So many agents have called me recently and asked me if I've noticed the lack of buyers. I always tell them that if you correctly price a home for sale, you'll get people looking at it, even if there aren't hoards of people looking at the moment. It's no different now than it has always been. If a house is priced too high, it won't get the attention it needs in order to sell.
I wouldn't say it's a "buyer's market" right now, but I wouldn't say it's a "seller's market" either. It's neither. Basically, it's a good market where buyers and sellers can consummate a deal if they're both willing to be reasonable based on market conditions. Today's buyer isn't going to get a "steal" and today's seller isn't going to "lucky." Home seller's shouldn't be worried about recent stats. Mortgage rates are still incredibly low relative to historical standards, even if they have popped up from a year ago.
If sellers price their home relative to the market rates and comps, the home will sell. The one great thing about owning a home in Westport is that there are always prospective buyers that are looking to move in, in almost any price range. They just don't want to be overpaying. Have a great day!
My beautiful and talented daughter Tori just released her first single. All of the vocals in the song are Tori’s voice. It was produced by a good friend of hers named Colton Toy, who is a very talented young producer.
Tori has been singing for many years. She first started singing at Bedford Middle School where she appeared in school plays...and has never stopped singing since. She was in a number of shows at Staple High School in Westport and now attends college in CA and is a music major focusing on Vocal Jazz and Music Industry.
You can listen to the single here (on Soundcloud) and you can also download it there as well, for your iTunes library - and best of all, for free for a limited time.
I hope you have a chance to listen to it. Let me know what you think. You can email me at faith@raveisRE.com
Have a wonderful day!
I woke up early this morning on this incredibly beautiful Memorial Day to watch the Westport Memorial Day Parade and to honor the heroes who have served and sacrificed. There aren't many things better than a local hometown parade, especially one to honor those who have given us liberty. I love my country and I am proud of the men and women in uniform doing what they can so that every person in the USA can live freely. We are truly the greatest country on earth.
The parade was wonderful. It looked like thousands of people showed up to watch the hundreds of participants in the parade. There were marching bands, local service providers including men and women in uniform, town representatives, dozens of veterans, floats honoring the American Flag (which was this year's theme) and much, much more.
The parade started at Saugatuck Elementary School, along Riverside Avenue (and past the William Raveis Real Estate office!) and then marched up to the Post Road and then turned left on to Myrtle Avenue and ended at Town Hall, where across the street on the Green is a WWII memorial. A memorial day service is held there after the parade. My daughter actually sang the national anthem at the service a few years ago, although the service was held in the Town Hall since it was raining that day.
There were free donuts (yum) and coffee (I need it every morning) at the starting point, which was provided by the local Westport Kiwanis Club (thank you!) The parade appeared the biggest I can recall and went on for about an hour (if sitting in one spot, which I didn't) and it seemed more crowded than ever as well.
It was great running into old and new friends and briefly catching up with what’s going on in everyone’s life. I haven’t seen some of these faces in a while, since life seems to get more and more hectic every day. I thought things were supposed to get simpler as the kids grow up and leave the house? Maybe that is wishful thinking on my part? As my girls would say, “Whatever.”
I particularly loved watching the parade as they marched over the Post Road Bridge, which is now lined with American Flags along the railings of the bridge on each side. I always love when they first put these up each year. For me, these flags turn Westport into a true New England town. Of course, Westport already is a true New England town, but living here year round, one can get used to the typical sights every day and needs to be reminded how lucky we all are.
The grand marshal this year was Robert Satter, a WWII vet, who volunteerd for active duty in 1942. He was part of the bomber group led by actor Jimmy Stewart. His squadron was awarded a presidential unit citation. Thank you Mr. Satter for your service. God bless you and God Bless America.
P.S. I hope the red and blue fonts on the white background above didn't confuse you. I thought it was appropriate for today. Please take a look below at the pictures (and a couple of videos at the bottom) from the parade today.
Buy vs. Rent?
Good morning. Since it’s Memorial Day weekend, I’m going to keep this short.
A couple of days ago, The NY Times posted an interactive calculator to help you determine whether you should buy or rent a home. This is the first tool I have ever seen that incorporates almost every possible variable you can think of when trying to determine the right move to make – should you buy your home or should you rent a home?
Buy vs. Rent is an age-old question and one that every family thinks about, at least once during their lifetime – but typically a few times. It’s a big decision – and not just financially. There are so many other qualitative factors to consider as well. And the latter factors are typically the deciding factors in the end, sometimes regardless of what the numbers tell you. I’m not saying this is the way it should be, since everyone has different reasons for doing what they do. All I’m saying is that most people, if they can in fact afford to buy a home, will do so even if the “math” says to rent a home instead of buying one.
Take a look at the tool. It’s fantastic. Regardless of your ultimate decision, if you are looking at buying a home, or listing your home and then making the obvious next move of buy or rent, you really need to see this.
Even though I’d prefer to have a client buy a house vs. rent a house, in the end, I want to provide the right tools to my clients so that they are happy clients. I really believe it will benefit me much more if I provide all of the information necessary for my clients to make the right decisions for their own personal needs and financial situations. I believe in total transparency…and I think my past clients have been very happy with their respective decisions based on my guidance.
You can take a look at the Buy vs. Rent tool by clicking here. Enjoy your day.
The weather has been less than perfect the past couple of days, but starting tomorrow, it is forecasted that the rest of the Memorial Day weekend will be a lovely one. The unofficial start of summer is upon us now. Westport residents who have swimming pools were probably inundating the pool companies with appointments and phone calls all week in order to get their pools read for the weekend and the summer.
Speaking of pools, the house I am going to tell you about today has plenty of room for one in their expansive backyard. This home is truly an entertainers dream home. The home is located at 24 Burr Farms Road, in Westport. It is approximately a one-mile drive to Staples High School, in the heart of Westport. Many of the homes have been taken down and rebuilt on this street, so there are many new homes along Burr Farms Road. This beautiful home is a large 7,628 square foot Classic Colonial, with a fabulous layout, five bedrooms, five full baths and one ½ bath, on a little over 1.25 acres. It is heated by natural gas and offers central air-conditioning. The home was built in 2005 and has three (attached) garages, a wonderful backyard. All of the bedrooms have hardwood floors and all main and upper floors have nine-foot ceilings. The home is listed at $2,699,000. The MLS # is 99057027. Property taxes are $24,181.
If you have young kids, this house has plenty of room for your kids to spread out and grow into. This Westport house is in terrific condition and has been meticulously maintained. No details were overlooked in this centrally located neighborhood on a cul de sac. The first floor offers a formal living room, formal dining room, a wood paneled library with a fireplace, an absolutely fabulous kitchen with limestone counters, an island, sub-zero fridge, a Bosch dishwasher and more. There is a butler’s pantry equipped with a 78 bottle wine fridge and an additional 2 sub-zero refrigerator drawers. There are many other great additions including ceiling fans, sprinkler systems, outdoor grill, and more. And to top it off, there is a finished lower level with plenty of storage room.
This home also offers city water and sewer, which is not typical in Westport! The schools for this home are Long Lots Elementary, Bedford Middle and, of course, Staples High School.
If you’d like to see this home, please give me a call at 203-858-9876. You can move right in. I can’t wait to show it to you. Happy Memorial Day and have a wonderful weekend.
TGIF…and a happy one to you! Although it was dark and dreary yesterday in Westport, CT, I found a reason to get out in the rain and attend an unveiling of the new Porsche Macan. On my way there, the sun broke out for a few minutes and a glorious rainbow appeared in the sky covering the entire town of Westport. It was spectacular. I’ve attached a few pictures.
The Porsche event was being hosted by Fairfield County Porsche at the Artisan Restaurant within the Delamar Hotel in Southport, CT. My daughter and husband love the Artisan. It is a fine restaurant in a beautifully romantic setting. We have eaten there a few times. Across the street from the Delamar is the Gray Goose Café in Southport. My family and I rate the place as one of the top restaurants in the Fairfield County area. We have eaten at The Gray Goose dozens of times since it has opened, and believe it or not, we all get the same dish. We order the Miso Glaze Grilled Salmon with Bok Choy and Jasmine Rice. It is always delicious and it is the only place I will order salmon now. The place is very reasonably priced for Fairfield County restaurants. The bar is always packed and although there are a dozen or so tables inside near the bar, you’re best off asking for a table outside if you want to have a conversation with your friends or family.
So, back to the Porsche event. The Macan is Porsche’s latest introduction to its’ product line. It is a slightly smaller sibling to the Porsche Cayenne. For those of you who don’t know, Porsche almost had to deal with a mutiny when it first introduced the Cayenne about a decade ago. The loyal Porsche customer base back then thought it was heresy to introduce an SUV – a family car – into the world of Porsche sports cars. Many Porsche buyers threw in the towel and swore to never buy a Porsche again. Whether you believe Porsche made the right decision or not back then, you should know that the Cayenne has since become the top producing car for the company – driving (pun intended) revenues and profits ever higher. Thus, Porsche is extending their SUV strategy, similar to Range Rover introducing their smaller size SUV - the Evoque - which has become a significant success.
Why is a Westport, CT real estate agent talking about cars in her blog and not discussing the newest homes for sale? Well, first of all, I am a car enthusiast. Second, all of my clients are always asking me which car dealers I would recommend to them…along with all sorts of other local product and service providers. Last, even though I currently drive a Volvo which I purchased from Ken Chan at Westport Volvo (Ken is a great guy), I am currently in the market for a new car and am considering my options. Being a real estate agent, I of course need to purchase an SUV to drive my clients around Westport, Weston, Southport and Fairfield. I think I know what I will be buying next, but I am keeping my options open until I make the final decision. If you think I only provide advice on homes for sale, or listing your home for sale, think again. I am here to provide my clients with any answers, before, during and after their home transaction. If I don’t know the answer, or if I can’t refer a qualified service provider – one who I have the utmost confidence in - I will tell you so.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Please make sure you remember all the men and women who died for their country serving in the US Armed Forces. We are only free, living the lives we live, because of those individuals who sacrificed their lives for us. Don’t ever take your freedom for granted…and always thank a member of the military or a veteran whenever you have the chance to do so.
I will start to report this information each month. Outside of today, I will typically provide it as soon as it is available following the previous month. So, consider this a little late, but still relevant. (Since I just started to blog a couple of weeks ago, I am trying to get into a pattern as to what information I should be reporting when.)
Regarding homes for sale for the month of April, there were 27 transactions in Westport, CT. This was down slightly from 29 homes sold in April of 2013. The average sale price was $1,572,515 versus $1,849,866 the previous April, but the median sale price was $1,435,000 versus $1,250,000 last year. As you know, the “average” or “median” doesn’t mean much considering both figures are totally dependent on the actual homes (and corresponding prices) being listed and sold. Thus, we’re not necessarily comparing apples to apples. Case in point, the average list price last month was $2,321,085 and the average list price April of 2013 was $2,048,445. The numbers, as you can tell, are all over the place.
A few other details worth pointing out: There were 10.3 months of supply last month, which was exactly the same as April, last year. Market time of homes on the market was 99 days last month versus 109 days last year, so homes are moving a little faster than last year. A more important and accurate gauge of pricing was the price per square foot, which was $434 this past April and was $427 last year, thus only slightly up.
What does this all tell us? Not much in my opinion. These numbers are simply a few of many, many variables you should consider when buying or selling a home. You should also read my blog from yesterday which will give you a feel for the current Fairfield County real estate market relative to other parts of the country.
The most important thing for a prospective homebuyer to do, again, in my humble opinion, (besides looking at all of the market statistics) is to look at a large number of homes for sale in order to get a feel for current market pricing. There are many home sellers that list their home way too high. You’ll know it’s high if it has been sitting on the market for many months. And there are also some owners that price their home for sale lower than they should. Typically, the seller who does this will get multiple offers and significant interest very quickly after listing their home on the CT MLS. You should look at market comps for recently sold homes. Even if you didn’t get a chance to see those particular homes prior to them being sold, you can still get a feel for the going market rate. However, if you were fortunate enough to see some of those homes that sold, and knowing what those homes sold for, you will then get your best indication for true market rates. Do your homework. Be diligent. If you do so, you will end up paying close to the true current market worth of the home.
Other than the above, as I always say, the most important thing is that you and your family love the home you are buying. If you truly love your home, your neighborhood and the location of your home, you’ll be very happy for a long time to come.
You’ve probably heard all sorts of mumblings and rumors in the past few weeks or months that the economy is in both a stock bubble and a real estate bubble. Well, I don’t know much about stocks, so I won’t comment on that except for knowing that if you buy great Blue Chip companies at a reasonable price with competitive barriers to entry, you should do fine in the long run. As for real estate, which is more up my alley, I can state what I have been seeing - that things have generally been progressing very calmly here in Westport, CT and in Fairfield County. Prices haven’t been increasing like they did a decade ago when it was not unusual to see a bidding war every other day. As a matter of fact, at the height of the real estate bubble 6 years ago or so, all homes in all markets were overvalued based on a number of factors.
Jed Kolko, the head economist at a top internet real estate data firm, recently did a study looking at home prices relative to their fundamental value. What does “fundamental value” mean? He looked at incomes, rent fees, historical prices and much more data, in order to gauge whether prices appeared to be in bubble territory. His conclusion? Nationally, he believes the country is not in a real estate bubble. He actually thinks that the country is 5% undervalued from where prices should be nationally. That said, he did say that there are pockets of bubble prices in some parts of the country (mainly parts of California like Orange County, L.A., S.F., Venture County and San Jose, along with a few other areas in Texas, FL and Hawaii.)
So should you be concerned? Well, according to Kolko’s analysis, you should be happy if you are looking for a home to buy in Fairfield County and a bit less happy if you are trying to sell your home right now. This is because his report states that Fairfield County, along with New Haven and Hartford, offer home prices that are about 16% lower than what the fundamentals tell him they should be. Other areas around the U.S. that he states are undervalued (and therefore not near bubble territory) are Lake County/Kenosha County, in IL and WI, Cleveland and Toledo OH, Palm Bay, Melbourne and Titusville FL, Chicago and the hometown of the “King of Rock and Roll”, Memphis, TN (although Elvis was actually born in Tupelo and moved to Memphis when he was 13 years old.)
So what does this all mean? Well, if you are looking to buy a home in Fairfield County, you can be slightly re-assured that the area isn’t in a real estate bubble. Of course, there’s no way of knowing what tomorrow brings. Will Russia invade more of Ukraine? Will interest rates spike up sooner than the Federal Reserve is claiming they will? Will Iran develop a Nuclear weapon before we can stop them? If any of these things, or more, happen, it will probably be a reason for short-term concern and thus, volatility in the marketplace. However, it’s still nice to know that it seems, according to the report mentioned, that prices are not in a bubble. You should, of course, do your own homework and assessment of the marketplace to reach your own conclusions.
In the long run, we live in a great county. The economy will ultimately improve. Things will continue to get better, even if there are short-term blips. If you are looking for a home that you plan on living in for a number of years, then you should be most concerned about finding a place that you love and that your family will love. This is what’s most important when buying a home.
Good (Tuesday) morning . It’s a beautiful day in Westport - a truly perfect one. To start the week, I figured I would tell you about my newest listing. I currently have a few listings on the market and I will tell you more about the others later in the week.
My latest listing is at 32 Roseville Road, in Westport. Drive past the gate off of Roseville Road and enter past the landscaped walkway to a beautiful home. The home for sale is a 3,600 square foot Classic Colonial, with a fabulous floor plan, four bedrooms, three full baths and one ½ bath. The home was built in 1981 and has two garages, a wonderful backyard and a fantastic, large screened-in porch/sunroom with vaulted ceilings where the current homeowners have spent much of their time living and entertaining over the past few years. All of the bedrooms have hardwood floors. The MLS # is 99064613. Property taxes are $12,632.
This Westport house is in wonderful condition. The kitchen is updated with stainless steel appliances, Calacatta white marble countertops and has a large pantry and a skylight. There is also a breakfast nook. The full bathrooms are all marvelous with Waterworks baths. The interior includes 3 fireplaces, a security system and laundry on the first floor. There is a finished lower level with plenty of storage room. The exterior is freshly painted inside and out, and includes French doors and Gazebo gutters, with a private fenced-in yard and is professionally landscaped.
The elementary school is Long Lots, the middle school is Bedford and, of course, Staples High School is the final destination for your kids before you send them off to college.
If you’d like to see this home, please give me a call at 203-858-9876. You can move right in to this home. I can’t wait to show it to you.