Blog :: 10-2015

It?s All About The Journey ? Making a Good 1st Impression

When we say “tis the season†people think of holiday festivities and celebrations around a roaring fire. Most people don’t think of the late fall and winter as the best season to sell a home, but if you have a “winter strategy†in place, it’s possible to sell your home at a price as good as you’d get in the warmer months.

People whose homes are on the market during the colder months are usually serious home sellers and likewise people out looking for homes during the winter are serious buyers. Also, if you are thinking of selling your home in the spring market, its’ important to understand “spring†in real estate time begins in mid-January through March.

Though the lack of color in the landscape at this time of year can be a challenge, there are tactics to create inviting curb appeal during the chilliest and snowiest of seasons. (Does anyone even want to remember last winter? That sends a chill down my spine!)

Here are some tips to make the outside of your home more appealing during the colder months that buyers will immediately appreciate!

mums fall planter

Keep your planters “in seasonâ€by the door. During the fall season consider pots of vibrant mums. As winter approaches, a touch of green goes a long way on a dreary winter day.

winter planter winter window box

cleaning gutters

Clean gutters, and make sure there are no places ice dams can develop. You want to demonstrate you are meticulous about maintenance and there will be no surprise repair issues during the spring thaw.

raking leaves

Keep leaves raked and piles away from walkways and driveways. A fall cleanup is always in order. Besides raking leaves this can include trimming bushes, seasonal plants and low lying tree limbs. Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you abandon your lawn care including patching brown spots in the grass.

camelia winter hazel blue holly

Keep a Fall Garden. As your summer plants start to fade, replace them with fabulous flowering winter plants like Camelia, Winter Hazel or Blue Holly. If you don’t want to plant, use structural elements in the garden for winter interest. Large urns and planters, benches, rock walls and other garden structures will help buyers see the potential even in the snow.

doors

Paint the front door. Splash your entry door with bold color to brighten the façade. This makes your home look fresh and clean. Pick a semi-gloss exterior paint and don’t apply below 40 degrees.

front landscape6.33 front landscape2.23

Take pictures on a nice day Skies can be cloudy or bright but when it’s time to take pictures, a beautiful sunny day with blue sky and clean white snow makes your home look more attractive.

winter front porch lighted entry trees lighted planters winter porch2

Stage it outside Tasteful winter decorations and can make your home seem welcoming. Pick items that will appeal to a wide variety of buyers. Blow up snow globes and giant Santa’s probably don’t fit into this category. Consider understated, tasteful holiday lighting which can help light up walkways and increase security. For protected front porches and screened-in porches, keep the area fully furnished, turn on outdoor lights, and drape thick throws over the outdoor furniture. Patios and decks are also good areas to stage, especially with bright furniture and outdoor fireplaces.

snow covered chairs winter outdoor fireplace

Clear all snow off the driveway and walk. Even though this seems obvious, don’t forget about pathways around the property, as well as those leading to the front door. Potential buyers will want to walk out on your deck and around the back & sides of your home. Make sure the path to the lockbox is clear. Prospective buyers and real estate agents don’t want to tromp through feet of snow before entering your home. (And you don’t want the clean-up either). If shoveling on your own is a health concern, hire a service and make sure there are no patches of ice. It’s important that prospective buyers can get to and around your home safely.

shoveled driveway shoveled walkway

Paint your Mailbox It may be a fresh coat of paint or a mailbox of many colors, but it’s a detail that shows you care about your property. Make sure not to paint over house numbers that could impede postal service delivery.

mailboxes

Following these fall and winter strategy tips, will assure your house won’t be left out in the cold in any season!

It's All About The Journey ... Fall Back and Get Ahead of Winter

end of daylight savings time

Now that daylight savings is coming to an end, it’s a great time to go through the following checklist to make sure your home is ready for winter. You can refer back to this guide for yearly fall maintenance.

 

Put Away Outside Furniture, Planters, Garden Hoses, Etc.

covered lawn furniture

If you haven’t done so already, clean your outdoor furniture and accessories and store them away for winter. It makes set up time in the spring go much faster!

 

Clean the Gutters

cleaning gutters

Gutters carry rainwater from your roof down the side of your home and away from the foundation. When gutters get filled with leaves and other debris, the water has nowhere to escape. If it backlogs, you could end up with water inside your home which can create mold, or worse. If it freezes and icicles form on the gutters or along the roofline, this is a sign you may have ice damming, a problem many Northeasterner’s experienced last winter. This creates a nightmare you really don’t want to deal with!

 

Rake or Blow Leaves From the Property

raking leaves

Be mindful to clear all drains around and in front of your house, so they are free of debris and drain properly.

Have the Furnace and Generator Serviced

furnacetools generator

Have your heating system inspected by a professional. It may not be too late to avoid the last-minute rush, consider scheduling this task soon, before the heating season is full swing. In addition, don’t forget to change your filters if you have a hot air system. Clogged filters make it harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and can seriously increase your utility bills. If you have a hot water system, you may want to bleed your radiators to get the highest efficiency.

If you have a gas run generator, check the tank and make sure you have fuel for the winter. You should also run the generator to make sure it's in good operating condition-you don't want this to fail when the power's out!

 

Winterize Your Sprinkler System and Outside Water Lines

water system winterization

Take steps to ensure that outside faucets (also called sill cocks) and in-ground irrigation systems don't freeze and burst by draining them of water before the first freeze.

Here’s how to drain faucets: Close any shut-off water valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to drain the line of any water in the system. (There may be a small cap on the faucet you can loosen to facilitate this draining.)

 

Check the Roof

roof inspection

Stop problems this fall before ice and winter winds turn them from annoyances into disasters. Check shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the entire roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. Look in your gutters for large accumulations of granules, a sign that your roof is losing its coating.

 

Replace Bulbs In Outside Lights

outside lights

It’s dark for 12 hours a day this time of year. Make sure your lights are up for the challenge!

 

Replace Batteries In Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Monitors

smoke detector batteries

Connecticut law requires a smoke detector in every bedroom and on each level of your home as well as a carbon monoxide monitor on every floor of your home. Make sure to test and replace the batteries to ensure everything is in working order.

 

Fix Broken Window Seals and Check For Drafts

drafty window caulk window weather stripping

A home with air leaks around windows and doors is like a coat left unbuttoned. Gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for a 10% of your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

 

Get the Chimney Cleaned

chimney sweep

Have a professional clean and examine your chimney for any cracks, creosote buildup or necessary repairs. This applies to fireplaces as well as furnaces.

 

Fire Extinguishers

fire extinguisher

Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher rated for all fire types (look for an A-B-C rating on the label).

 

Tree & Shrubs

tree trimming protected trees

Have your trees inspected and call the power company to inform them of any limbs that may interfere with power lines, (they will come & determine if they need to be cut - usually for no charge). Check for weak or dead limbs that can break from freezing temperatures or heavy snow and cause damage to household structures. Now is also a good time for fall landscape maintenance-make sure shrubs and plantings do not block walkways & driveways when the snow starts to accumulate. You want to have good access to your house & entryways. You can also cover delicate plantings to protect them from harsh winter weather.

There may be additional items specific to your home, but following this list will give you a good start and help protect your home from most common costly repairs that result from New England winter weather.

If your home is on the market or coming on during the season, check off these items and home buyers will keep you on their list.

It's All About The Journey ... Wonderful Westover!

Westover residents enjoy the best of both worlds – the beauty of the “country†with the neighborhood’s private, natural setting; and all the benefits of city living because of its close proximity to vibrant downtown, all forms of commuting, shopping, schools and entertainment. There are also two beautiful parks in this quiet corner of Stamford; one for history buffs that includes a “secret garden†and the other for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy the unspoiled beauty of nature.

fort stamford plaque

Let’s start with a little bit of history. Fort Stamford, located on Westover Road, held historical significance during the Revolutionary War. Stamford was lucky enough not to be invaded by the British army as many neighboring towns were, but the threat of invasion was something feared by many Stamford citizens. In the fall of 1781, a Fort was built by the State to protect the Stamford-Greenwich area from British Loyalists or “Tories, and was completed in December 1781. General David Waterbury oversaw the construction of the 135 foot by 165 foot Fort that was manned by three hundred men. Thankfully, the need for the Fort did not last very long. Less than 1 year after its construction, in November of 1782, the preliminary articles of the Treaty of Peace were signed and on September 3, 1783, the formal treaty was signed ending the Revolutionary War.

fort stamford1

Since 1783, the Fort Stamford land was owned by private residents. After the death of the last private owner, Augusta Goodbody, there was concern over the property's fate and in 1972 the Stamford Board of Representatives approved the purchase of the property. In 1975 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

fort stamford2 fort stamford garden

Today, Fort Stamford is a quiet, beautiful park with a secret garden named the “Goodbody Gardenâ€, maintained by the Stamford Garden Club. Over 30 gardeners spend approximately 280 volunteer hours from March through November every season. The garden is resplendent in annuals and perennials and a lovely spot for a picnic, quiet reflection or a stroll around the grounds and serves as a beautiful wedding backdrop.

The more well-known park in Westover is Mianus River Park,- 300+ acres of mature forest and dramatic landscape with acreage divided between the towns of Stamford and Greenwich. The Mianus River Park is enhanced by the beauty of the 20 mile long Mianus River. The River flows south-southeast from Bedford, New York over a dam in Cos Cob Harbor and eventually finds its way into the Long Island Sound. The river is a source of drinking water for up to 150,000 residents in lower Fairfield County and adjoining New York, making it particularly important to maintain a responsible compromise between recreation and preservation for users of the Park.

mianus river map

The Mianus River is also an extremely popular river for fishing. Each spring and fall, the Connecticut DEEP stocks the river with thousands of trout. There are fishing regulations in place from September 1st until the third Saturday in April allowing for catch and release only. From the third Saturday in April until August 31, anglers are allowed to keep a maximum of two trout per day. The park provides countless opportunities for other outdoor recreational pursuits, including: hiking, cross country skiing, mountain biking, and bird watching. Dog lovers are some of the park’s most avid visitors since your loyal companion is welcome to explore the trails, provided he/she is leashed at all times. You can enter Mianus River Park from the east entrance in Stamford off Merriebrook Lane.

mianus river park

The history of a portion of the Mianus River Park and the neo-Georgian mansion on the property begins with the scandal ridden and often tragic life of the flamboyant and internationally famous torch singer, Libby Holman. In 1931 Libby married tobacco heir Zachary Smith Reynolds. Less than a year after their marriage, Zachary was shot & killed a party held at the Reynolds family estate in North Carolina. Libby was rumored to be having an affair with her husband’s close friend Ab Walker, and subsequently both were indicted for murder. The Reynolds family was averse to scandal (unlike the Kardashians), and persuaded authorities to drop the charges and the death was ruled a suicide. The inheritance left Holman and her son Christopher enormously wealthy. It was during the 1930’s that Holman purchased 55 acres straddling the Stamford-Greenwich border on the Mianus River and the mansion was completed in 1938, creating the estate known as “Treetopsâ€. Holman purchased adjacent parcels as they became available, expanding the estate to 110 acres. Today Treetops is owned by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. Four Easements are held by the Stamford Land Conservation Trust, the Greenwich Land Trust and the municipalities of Stamford and Greenwich. My mother was Libby Holman’s social secretary for 2 years. She loved the high profile, artsy social gatherings, but her favorite thing about working at Treetops were the flowers – “ There were fields of daffodils every spring and the house was always full of fresh flowers which inspired me to always fill my home with flowersâ€.

treetops mansion treetops daffodils

Natural beauty, history, and a country feel with the convenience of city living make Westover one of the most desirable residential areas in Stamford. Westover is comprised of spacious single family homes, some on up to 2 acres of property. You will also find the exclusive private gated community of Westover Park, with homes dating from the 1930’s as well as Hycliff which offers residents access to an association pool, tennis court, and children’s playground, all of which are maintained through annual dues. The association also sponsors numerous social events throughout the year, including a Spring Egg Hunt, Summer BBQ, Halloween Parade, and a December Holiday Cocktail Party. Other home options vary from Antique Homes, Stone Carriage Houses, Colonials, Ranches, Contemporarys and newer construction.

So if you prefer a little bit of everything in a natural setting, come take a look at Westover …. it just might be the right fit for you!

It's All About the Journey ... Welcome to the West Side!

The West Side is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Stamford and as such has seen many transitions over the years. This neighborhood has a long history of being welcoming to many immigrant families wanting to establish roots in Stamford. Restaurants, food markets and establishments including local food trucks have found their niche in the eclectic demographics of the West Side. Many of us who grew up in Stamford (and are beyond the mid-century mark!) remember the West Side as “the†neighborhood for authentic Italian cuisine. I’m sure these names will conjure up memories of day’s past - Sabia’s Open Door, The Brass Rail, Bevivino’s - all familiar to long time Stamford residents. The last remaining (and still very popular) of these original family restaurants is the granddaddy of them all, Pellici’s. Pellici’s is a Stamford Landmark and has been at the same location on Stillwater Avenue since 1946. A loyal and expanding clientele continues to flock there for traditional Italian family fare - especially their baked chicken – a secret family recipe handed down for generations. It’s nice to see with all the changes coming to this neighborhood, a local favorite is still part of the fabric of our ever changing city.

pellicis

The health and wellness benefits to the community are substantial and many innovative ideas have already taken shape. In 2010, the one-mile district along the Stillwater Avenue commercial corridor was designated the “Vita Health & Wellness Districtâ€, with the goal of improving the health of the neighborhood. Vita is a priority focus for Stamford Hospital. Initially focused on residents of the West Side, Vita may become a model for the delivery of services throughout the city and beyond.

vita

Speaking of the Stamford Hospital, did you know that the exterior of the current hospital is used as the image for Pine Valley Hospital in the soap opera, "All My Children"?

all my children2

The new medical center is expected to open in late 2016 has been touted as a state-of-the-art facility. The redevelopment is expected to raise the profile of a hospital that is surrounded by world class medical facilities between New York and New Haven and is a branch of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System and a major teaching affiliate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

stamford hospital

For Stamford, and particularly the West Side, the new hospital is expected to deliver significant economic impact. The U.S. Department of Labor consistently recognizes the health care industry as a huge driver for job growth. With a roster of 2,400 employees, the hospital is among the top five employers in the City. Under the expansion, the hospital is expected to grow its staff, though it is still too early to know what the exact increase will be.

stamford hospital rendition

Fairgate Farm, located on 129 Stillwater Avenue, is an all-organic, volunteer-powered community farm and part of the Vita Health & Wellness District in Stamford, Conn. 2015 is their fourth growing season. Last year, more than 3.5 tons of organic fruits and vegetable were harvested. Volunteers take home much of what is grown and share it with their families and neighbors. Fresh-from-the-farm deliveries are also made to local agencies here in Stamford. Recipients include the Scofield Manor residential care facility, the New Covenant House soup kitchen, the Shelter for the Homeless, the women’s shelter at Inspirica and Community Health Centers.

fairgate farms fairgate farms kids

Without a doubt, this is an exciting time for the West Side. With the success of a revitalized South End, the West Side could be the next neighborhood ready to make the “leap into the future†and establish itself as the health and wellness hub of the city. Housing options are all inclusive and range from single family homes and condos to multi families and apartments. Charter Oak Communities, formerly the Stamford Housing Authority, has also developed new units and rejuvenated several streets providing attractive, affordable homes for many West Side residents.

So if you’re looking for an area in Stamford with growth potential, and a planned focus on health and wellness, come take a look at this neighborhood. Check out this wonderful townhouse – it could be just right for you!

21 Richmond Pl., #1

21 Richmond Pl., #1 - 2 Bedroom, 1.5 Bath Townhouse with 2 Car Attached Garage

It's All About The Journey ... Downtown!

stamford downtown-this is the place

The Stamford Downtown has it's own special district knows as the Downtown Special Services District (DSSD) which is a Business Improvement District established in 1993 with the mission to “manage, enhance and promote the Downtown experience.†And what a job they’ve done - there is so much going on in this Downtown that it has its own website!

bedford st restaurants 2 restaurants1 bedford st restaurant restaurants 2

With such a wide array of dining options, I’ll begin with a section for the foodies out there. You will be sure to find something to please your palate with over 80 restaurants offering everything from burgers and shakes to cuisines from around the globe including Morocco, India, Spain and of course, Italy. It’s common to see people meandering along Bedford Street or Columbus Place, meeting for cocktails at one restaurant and strolling to another for dinner then dessert. During the summer, restaurateurs open their outdoor patios and the street feels like a bustling, small European city with cafe tables dotting the sidewalks from one end to the other.

avon theatre

Feel like dinner and a movie? You can catch a first run film on one of the 15 screens at either the Bow Ties Cinema Landmark or Bow Ties Cinema Majestic. For those with a more independent streak, head over to the Avon Theatre. The Avon Theatre Film Center is non-profit and member-supported. Its’ members are dedicated to presenting compelling independent, foreign, documentary and classic films. The Avon, itself a 1939 historic landmark, also holds special events that include forums for in-person, community dialogue with directors, actors and others in a “Main Street America†setting.

strand

rich forum palace theatre

If you enjoy live entertainment, The Stamford Center for the Arts offers two venues. The Palace Theatre, and the Rich Forum. The Palace is a local landmark with a long history starting with Mary Vuono, who operated the Strand Theatre next door and was its’ visionary. After successfully remodeling and expanding the Strand Theatre, Mary decided to purchase the building next door in 1920. The Palace theatre was born 7 years later in 1927. Dubbed “Connecticut’s most magnificent†when it first opened, the Palace continues to offer the best of entertainment from well-known music and comedy acts to international dance companies and theatrical productions. The Stamford Symphony also calls the Palace its home and holds many concerts throughout the year with highly acclaimed guest musicians and evenings dedicated to compositions from classical masters including Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. The Rich Forum includes the smaller Truglia theatre and Leonhart Studio where you can be an audience member for tapings of televised shows including Crazy Talk, Maury Povich or Jerry Springer.

alive at five jazz up july

farmers market

Stamford Downtown holds many events scattered throughout the year. Some are yearly events, such as Repelling Santa and the Holiday Tree Lighting. Santa and guest repellers descend 22 stories from Stamford’s tallest building, Landmark Square, and then gather around Bedford Street for more holiday music and fun while waiting for the countdown to Stamford’s Holiday Tree lighting. A summer farmer’s market showcases the best of local produce, flowers, and baked goods and in the fall over 100 craftsmen and artisans pitch their tents to showcase items for sale at Arts and Crafts on Bedford. Of course how could I talk about Stamford Downtown events without mentioning the very successful summer concert series of Live at Five held every Thursdays for 8 weeks, and Jazz up July held every Wednesday evening in July where you can still bring a picnic dinner. Many well-known acts perform their stage shows to the enthusiastic crowds. These series have become so popular that many people travel statewide and from nearby New York to enjoy a balmy summer evening under the stars with food, drink and live music.

ubs parade

arts & craftsrepelling santa

 

Downtown Stamford also has the vibe of a college town with satellite campuses of the University of Connecticut and Sacred Heart University offering undergraduate and post graduate degrees in their respective Stamford locations. The UCONN Stamford campus was originally located on Scofield Town Road, the site of the current Scofield Magnet Middle School. In 1990 planning began for a UCONN campus located in the heart of downtown. The downtown campus opened in 1998 in a contemporary glass enclosed building at the former site of “Bloomingdalesâ€-a landmark of it’s own. The location allows students to gain valuable work experience with business leaders at many Fortune 500 corporations headquartered in the heart of downtown. Sacred Heart University came to downtown in May of 2013 where it launched graduate programs in Business, Arts & Science and Education. Classes are offered in the Landmark Square building.

uconn sacred heart

If all of this sounds great, you might wonder what the housing options are. A multitude of modern apartment complexes have been developed in recent years to accommodate the growing demand for housing. There are currently more than 30 apartment buildings from high rises to low rises providing a large variety of choices. Older, more established buildings will have fewer amenities but keep you in the thick of the action, while newer or luxury complexes can offer everything from media and billiard rooms to indoor/outdoor pools and rooftop terraces. Three of the many condominium complexes located downtown are The Biltmore, The Classic Condominiums and Trump Parc. These are all high rise buildings with varying price points and amenities that appeal to different buyers. There are also other high rise buildings and townhomes located within a few block radius.

So if you enjoy an urban lifestyle in a vibrant and bustling environment, come take a look at Stamford’s Downtown. It just might be the right fit for you!