Blog :: 04-2009

An Evening With Tim McCarver

Washington Montessori School is hosting An Evening with Tim McCarver on Tuesday May 5th at 6:30pm. Tim is one of the great baseball legends, a current baseball announcer and host of his own TV show, The Tim McCarver Show. Tim will present, take questions and sign books and baseballs. Seating is limited, to reserve a seat call 860-868-0551. Adults $25, Students $10, Champagne and Dessert Reception $50.

Washington Montessori School is located at 240Litchfield Turnpike New Preston, CT.

Open House in Sherman

I will be doing an open house at 2 Atchison Cove Rd in Sherman this Sunday from 1-4pm. Take rte. 37 to Hubbell Mountain to the first right onto Atchison Cove Rd. Then its the first house on the Right. Offered at $1,590,000, this home sits on a double lot (4 acres) with beach rights and a dock slip. For more info find the property under its price on the properties page of my website. www.staceymatthews.com Hope to see you there!

New Geo Thermal Tax Credits and Retrofitting Older Houses

Check out this website for info about new tax credits for alternative energy solutions for your home, as well as info on retro-fitting an old house with Geo-Thermal heat (its easier than you think!)Pamela Beck is a representative of Oil Free Energy Solutions LLC, an International Code Council Member, US Green Building Council Member, BPI, IGSHPA certified and accredited company, soon to be LEEDS and ResNet certified as well, with offices in Woodbury, Ct. and Poughkeepsie N.Y.They supply and install alternative and oil free systems including:

-Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems: Price includes an energy audit by certified building/envelope energy analysts prior to installation which provides clients with the most cost effective and site specific system possible.

-Solar/hot water

-Solar pool heating

-Photovoltaic panels

-Wind Power

-Energy reduction systems for commercial cooling/freezing equipment i.e. walk in freezers

-Advanced Weatherization/Insulation

All of our energy related services are completely turnkey (i.e. geothermal from wells to grills). Theirwebsite at www.oilfreenow.com has a huge amount of info in the drop down menu for anyone interested in substantially reducing their energy expenses while making an eco- friendly investment towards the value of their homes and businesses.

Please see my past post titled:Easy Green Ideasfor YourHomefor more ideas.

Departures Article

Some excerpts from the Departures article of March/April 2009:

"We are going there to hide." The email response-from a NY art world heavyweight about his decision to buy a home in Litchfield County-was decidedly curt. And yet a theme emerged. Samantha Gregory, vice president of global communications for Tory Burch and an infinitely more forthcoming Litchfield County habitue describes a typical weekend at her home in the town of New Preston: We [her husband is weeds executive producer Roberto Benabib] leave Manhattan about 5:30 pm on Friday. We stop at GW Tavern in Washington Depot, where the owners always save us a booth. Saturday we get breakfast at Marty's coffee shop. Then we'll walk around lake Waramaug, stop by The Pantry for take out, go back home and read by the fire. Every Saturday at 7:30 we go to Oliva restaurant and I order the gorgonzola and caramelized onion pizza. Sunday morning we are back at Marty's, the maybe the Hickory Stick Bookshop, or the Smithy market for organic vegetables and a pie, then home again.

The county of Litchfield includes 26 towns and occupies the Northwest corner of CT. The landscape is storybook New England, with rolling hill, endless woodlands, green fields and streams. The most recent US census marks the area as the least densely populated in CT. The Litchfield list of names tells a different story. The County is undeniably packed with was used to be known as men and women of substance: Diane von Furstenberg, Philip Roth, Graydon Carter, Jasper Johns, Henry Kissinger, Anne Bass, Agnes Gund, Oscar de la Renta, Danny Meyer, Joan Rivers, Meryl Streep.

So just how did this 920 square mile stretch of CT with such a high powered citizenship and close proximity to Manhattan become the red-hot center of the simple life?

This is a place where George Malkemus, the president of Manolo Blahnik, breeds prize wining cattle at his Arethusa Farm in Litchfield. New York investor Terry Fitzgerald and his wife Libby, raise all-natural Black Angus beef at their Greyledge Farm in Bridgewater. The 96-year old Goshen Fair - tractor pull at 10 AM! Rabbit judging at 12! Woodcutting demonstrations at 5! -- is a mainstay of the summer calendar.

The novelist Dani Shapiro moved to Litchfield County full time 6 years ago, drawn partly because of its status as an artistic haven. "There's such a rich history," she says. "Alexander Calder lived here. Arthur Miller. William Styron. We have Frank McCourt, Larry Kramer, Francine du Plessix Gray, Milos Forman. Its a place where people who need to be connected to New York can be, while still feeling like they live in a small town."

Mennin and Shapiro are part of Litchfield's growing "expat" community, a group of young bankers, writers, artists, and architects who left New York or who grew up weekending in Litchfield County before deciding they wanted to be there full time. "It's not just about antiquing on the weekend anymore; people live real lives here," says Shapiro.

Former magazine photo editor Kathryn McCarver Root visited her in-laws in Litchfield County for years. She and her family now live in Roxbury, and she runs a photography gallery in Washington Depot called KMR Arts. The average age is around 40 something. They're ex-Hamptonites who now have two kids and want out of that scene. Others are lured by the size of the properties and the privacy that comes with it.

As much as locals insist that there is no regular social circuit, there are certain events that are well attended and regular haunts (the bar at the Mayflower Inn, GW Tavern, West St Grill) that are always packed. "Its social and sophisticated just not urban or flashy".

If there is a cause celebre, it is the mission of the land trusts. And almost every town has its own.It seems there has always been a strong local instinct towards historic preservation," says Schnitzer, "and it has extended into land conservation. Ultimately, its all about preserving a way of life and a beautiful corner of the world."

Market Statistics 3/31/09

Well, here you go. This is info for the three towns of Washington, Roxbury and Bridgewater which is indicative for the area. If you would like this info for your town please email me. This is what has happened in the last 3 months compared to years past:

Number of Sales Average Price

Jan - March 200628$806,554

Jan - March 200725 $1,129,200

Jan - March 2008 22 $1,279,223

Jan - March 2009 7 $875,200

The pricing action here is not as meaningful to me as the sales number which of course fell dramatically. The pricing for a 3 month time period with as few sales as we have overall is always questionable 1or 2 sales effects the number dramatically. The number of sales always falls before pricing does and always rising before pricing will rise. So what we really need is for people to come up and start getting their deals. Everyone wants to know exactly how much the market is down in this area. The numbers above will not tell you that. Here are3 recent examples.

A house offered at $4mil is dropped to $3.2mil and sells quickly at $2.6 million cash. Is that a declineof 35%. Well I guess so, if you ever thought the house should have been offered at $4mil in the first place (that was way to high). I think $3.2 would have been a realistic starting offering price, so thats more like 19%.

Another house just sold in Roxbury. It started at $1,850,000 and was reduced to $1,495,000 and then sold for $1.3mil. Thats 30% off the original price (too high?) and only 13 percent off a very realistic lowered price.

Another house sold to the first buyer who saw it. The offering price was $2,250,000 and it sold for $1,950,000, again 13% off a realistic price.

There just is never going to be an answer to that question up here. The answer is: "it depends".

Inventory is still high and very diverse with some houses having no price reductions (maybe the sellers live in a cave in the basement?)and other very realistic sellers with great houses at great deals. You need a professional to help you sort through and find the gems.

Where are the Buyers?

Ok, so the stock market has rallied, the snowhas melted, and I'm literally watching the grass get greener by the hour on my lawn. So where are the buyers? I'm working with at least 20 buyers who are all waffling, all waiting to get the best houses in the area at a 60% off foreclosure auction (where they will be the only bidder),all thinking that the market will go down forever, all convinced that they will pick the absolute bottom and be the heroes of the day with bragging rights that may go onfor generations. (We've all heard the stories about someone'suncle who bought a Park Ave apt for $50,000 in the 70s).

I do think that there may be a interested triple bottom forming here in the stock market. (I can't help continuing to utilize my former training as a technical analyst.) Triple bottoms are an important measure of finding a bottom in almost every market cycle. Also, since I haverecently confessed to my addiction to cable news, I also see a real switch in the nature of the stories about the real estate market. After nothing but negative press for over 2 years (which I'm convinced exacerbated this cycle) thetide seems to be turning a bit. Seems like I'm seeing more stories about real estate markets picking up, bottoming, statistics looking better, etc. Are you guys noticing that?

So anyway, I'm wondering when all my fence sitters will decide that the fence is chaffing and perhaps a lounge chair by the pool in their new country house might be more comfortable? Will they continue to stall, or will they all jump in and start chasing each other in a panic not to miss their favorite house (the one that they have had their eye on for overa year which they want to be kept up on every price reduction). My guess is that it will be somewhere in the middle. i anticipate the number of sales will go up this quarter but pricing will not. Many will step up this Spring and get good deals, and many will play the more conservative approach and prefer to wait until things have really really for absolutely sure bottomed. My approach is that when people are ready to make a commitment, I'm here to help them find the best deals. Call activity and inquiries are definitely picking up though.....