Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Westport Connecticut Real Estate Update*

January through November 2011, 324 single family homes sold in Westport Connecticut versus 325 units sold during the same time in 2010. More proof that the real estate market in Westport is stabilizing! Consumer confidence is up, interest rates are down, and homes are being priced right; all factors contributing to market stabilization. Unit sales year-to-date are up by 41% over 2009 and down by 15% from 2007.

The median sales price continues to lag slightly behind last year. From January to November 2011 the median sales price of single family homes in Westport was $1,101,500 versus a median sales price of $1,125,000 during this same time frame in 2010. Although the median sales price in Westport has been falling since 2008, the rate of decrease has slowed down dramatically year over year. Homes sold between January and November of 2009 had a median sales price 12.8% lower than homes sold in the same time frame in 2008. From 2009 to 2010 they were down only 4.5% and so far this year, prices are down only 2% from the same time frame last year.

We will continue to keep a close eye on the real estate market in all of Fairfield County and report select town statistics each month in our monthly newsletter. Visit to sign up to receive these stats via email. If you have an interest in a specific town or neighborhood, contact us for details that meet your needs.

*Source: Greater Fairfield County Consolidated Multiple Listing Service

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Fairfield County Market Update

There is a healthy, active inventory of 7,973 single family homes on the Greater Fairfield County Consolidated Multiple Listing Service. To date, we have 4,051 sales representing a unit sales decrease of 11% vs. the first seven months of 2010. The result is a 14 month supply of homes currently on the market. The median selling price county-wide is $400,000 which is only a 1.5% decrease versus this same time frame last year. This update provides more evidence that prices during the first 7 months of the year did level off. This is not the case in every town and can be broken down for each specific property so it is important for our listeners to talk to their REALTOR® about the advantages of buying or selling in a specific town and price range at this time.

There are 1,055 properties with fully executed contracts waiting to close. The median list price of those homes is $335,000, 16.3% lower than the median sales price of closed homes so far this year. Indications are that the last 5 months of this year will produce a lower number of sales and lower selling prices. In various towns, we have seen the top end of the market slow dramatically as activity in the lower tier continued.

There are 485 properties with accepted offers. The median list price of those homes with accepted offers is $364,900, 8.7% lower than the median selling price of the properties that have closed so far this year.

Overall, county-wide sales in the upper tier remain just behind the rate of sales last year with 177 closed single family sales, over $2MM this year, which is .6% less than the number of sales in that price range last year. 72 single family homes over $3MM have sold so far this year representing a unit sales decrease of 4%. Sales in the upper tier started out strong but seem to have slowed during the second half.

Sellers should talk to their REALTORS® about ways to make their homes stand out above their competition and if they really want to sell they must price realistically! It is interesting to note that 15% of sales in one Fairfield County town closed at or above list price during the first 5 months of the year. Buyers recognize a fair deal and will compete with other buyers when they see a fairly priced property.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

7 Tips for Decorating on a Budget

In today's economy, homeowners are watching their money more closely and going out of their way to give their home a fresh look by working with what they already have.As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I have access to many great home improvement resources. Home decorator Lee Evanwood offers the following advice for homeowners who are looking to decorate while staying in budget:

Rub down and stain or repaint old wooden furniture. Take advantage of that old furniture you have sitting in your basement. Simply add new drawer or door handles to achieve a new look.

Choose rugs. If the floor is already in good shape, you can get it refinished or try area rugs instead of carpeting. Not only are they chic and stylish, but they cost less, too.

Paint with a plan in mind. Try a neutral color on three walls, with a splash of color on the fourth. That splash of color can give you a starting point for further decorating.

Go with soft goods. A few new pillows or cushions that pick up the color on your accent wall can transform the look of a room. Add some inexpensive curtains, draperies or valances to help tie it all together.

Add some accents. Give a room a homey look by using baskets, vases and other small accessories to hold books and magazines, fresh flowers or craft projects.

Finish with artwork or mirrors. A pretty, framed print or two can help finish a room. Keep in mind that a mirror of any size on one wall can add depth and make the room appear larger.

These are just some of the many ways you can transform your home while staying in budget. Feel free to contact me for more ideas and please forward this on to anyone who can use a few inexpensive ways to create a new look in their home.

Friday, April 01, 2011

How to Qualify for a Mortgage in Today's Credit Crunch

There may have never been a better time to buy a home than right now. Earlier this month, interest rates dropped again -- the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.79% from 4.93%, according to and there is still plenty of inventory, keeping home prices relatively low in our area.
Those positive factors, however, are often offset by tighter lending standards, causing many to shy away from applying for a mortgage. As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, however, I have learned that it really boils down to four main factors that will impact a lender's decision:

Your ability to make a down payment - usually between 3% and 20% of the purchase price -- of course, the larger the down payment, the better your odds of securing the mortgage.

Two years of steady employment - at the same job or in the same field.

Good (but not necessarily perfect) credit score - these days, around 660 may do it. Monthly income between two and three times the estimated monthly mortgage payment.

I have had many clients, however, who have qualified for a mortgage without completely meeting the above criteria ... so don't rule yourself out too soon. There are several other steps you can take to secure a mortgage, such as these ideas from BusinessWeek:

Meet with a lender anyway. You may find out that you qualify after all, and if not, the lender can tell you exactly which areas to focus on in order to qualify in the near future.

Ask your real estate agent if they work with a particular lender or mortgage broker. An experienced agent works with many lenders and may even offer in-house mortgage services.

Get a co-signer. This isn't easy, because if you default on a loan, the co-signer will be responsible for paying it. But if you know someone with good credit who has great faith in your ability to pay, a co-signer could be a workable option.

Plan for the future. If it turns out you cannot qualify for a home loan right now, have your real estate agent help you map out a plan for improving your credit qualifications over the coming months. If you make homeownership a serious goal, you should be able to qualify in the not-too-distant future.

For more information about applying for a mortgage, please feel free to contact me. And be sure to share this email with family and friends who might also be considering a home purchase -- this market is just too good to miss out on!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

5 Tips to Better Navigate the Short Sale Process

Unfortunately, with the economy’s slow recovery and still-high unemployment rates, many homeowners continue to confront difficulties in making their mortgage payments. If you’re one of these homeowners, know that you’re not alone and know that there are several options to explore prior to foreclosure, such as a short sale. A short sale occurs when the outstanding loan(s) against a property are greater than what the property can be sold for.As you’ve probably heard, however, short sales can be a drawn out and complicated process.
Here are five tips to help you create a successful short sale:

1. Get comparable sale prices and an estimate of expected closing costs to help verify the current market value of your home.

2. Determine the amount of all loans against the property. Subtract the total amount you owe on the property from the estimated proceeds of the sale.

3. Contact your lender or lenders. Insist on speaking with someone in authority about a short sale. Remember that you are asking the lender to accept less than the total amount you owe, so be firm but cooperative.

4. Be prepared to submit the necessary documentation, including a letter of authorization giving the lender permission to talk with specific interested parties about your loan. Include your name, address, the loan number, and your agent’s contact information.

5. Include a hardship letter describing how you got into a financial bind, and provide proof of your assets and income. You also may wish to include recent bank statements, with an explanation of any unusual deposits or withdrawals, and your broker’s competitive market analysis.

The short sale process requires patience—even after you find a buyer. But for many homeowners, it was well worth it. Be sure to work with a real estate agent who has experience in short sales. As a Certified Distressed Property Expert, I have had extensive training in the area of short sales. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

New IRS 1099 Requirements for Landlords

Starting in 2011, there is a new tax requirements for landlords. All landlords who receive $600 or more in rent for the year must send a 1099 to all service providers that the landlord paid $600 or more during the year, such as plumbers, carpenters, yard services, and repair people.
The new requirement applies to owners of both residential and commercial property. Prior to 2011, this requirement had only applied to those involved in full-time property management, but now the requirement covers all types of landlords. Landlords will need to gather federal tax ID numbers from service providers in order to file the 1099s. Failure to file the 1099s with the IRS can result in fines of $50 per 1099 not filed with the IRS. In 2012, these requirements will expand to cover providers of good to landlords.

Please call or email me if you have any questions regarding this new landlord requirement.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

REALTOR Cheryl Scott-Daniels Recognized on The National Level

Cheryl Scott-Daniels recently returned from the National Association of REALTORS Annual Conference in New Orleans where she was recognized and honored at the National level as the 2010 Connecticut State REALTOR of the Year!

Here is Cheryl Scott-Daniels representing the
state of Connecticut at the national conference.
Congratulations Cheryl!