Showing Your House? 5 Impossibly Easy House Plants That Clear the Air

Many of my current listings showcase beautiful mature landscaping and carefully tended gardens that are breathtaking in the spring and summer. Here in Fairfield County, when we make that transition from summer to fall, we are fortunate to experience spectacular fall foliage. But once the trees are bare, there’s really no way to avoid the fact that everything green is ready for hibernation. So, if you’re selling your home, consider some easy greenery to clear the air and add beauty.

Houseplants help fill the “green void” of late/fall/winter/early spring and keep the air in your home clean, even helping those in your household with allergies. There’s so much you can do inside to still reap the benefits of plants even when the weather outside is, well, frightful. Plus, potential buyers that tour your home will notice that a home filled with well-tended plants doesn’t have that closed-in stale air “scent” that sometimes lingers when we can’t open the windows for months at a time.

These houseplants are easy to grow and can generally withstand erratic watering, uneven or bad light and fluctuating temperatures. They’ll thrive in kitchens, home offices and sometimes even dismal corners.

1.     Spider plants (Epipremnum pinnatum ‘aureum’)

2.     Snake plant and Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata and S. trifasciata laurentii)

3.     Golden pothos vine (Chlorophytum)

4.     Dracaena floor plant

5.     Succulents and cacti

Even the plant-killers among us can have success and reap the benefits of indoor plants. How many months till spring?

If you’d like to look at a few of my listings with beautiful yards…click here.

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Five Times in the Home Selling Process When You Won’t Like Me

The home seller/realtor relationship is a crucial element of my business. If we don’t trust each other, feel comfortable in each other’s presence—if you look at your phone and see that it’s me calling and you DON’T want to answer or if you look at your phone and wonder why I haven’t called to update you —I’m not doing my job well.

Good, consistent communication prevents issues before they start. So I start new home seller relationships with a promise—consistent communication, strong market analysis, and my honest assessment and advice.

It’s that last part – honest assessment and advice – that might lead you to disagree with my recommendations and maybe even get annoyed. I always treat my customers with respect, but it would be a disservice to tell them white lies that can delay or prevent the sale of their home—the outcome we both want.

So here are the five times during the house selling process that you might not like me:

  1. My price recommendation when the house is put on the market. I study the real estate market very carefully. I look forward to monthly real estate market reports the way other people look forward to Golf Digest. I understand the realities and trends of the market and work to offer my sellers the best possible price point.
  2. Clutter eats equity. Remove half of the stuff in your house to make it look open and inviting.
    Yes, it’s painful to figure out where to temporarily remove your collection of antique teapots or the stacks of bestseller balanced up against the study walls. It’s annoying to have to rent a storage unit to store your great-great-grandmother’s Victorian furniture (which is stacked in a guest room). The visual clutter has go. There is nothing potential buyers like more than the ability to picture themselves in the space they are going to buy with their own stuff.
  3. When I tell you your home is a unique property… expect it to take a longer than normal to sell. See above. I’m speaking from decades of experience. Certain properties take longer to sell. If your home includes a bowling alley, a medieval turret, a large workshop, pond or other unique feature, then you are searching for a buyer who is willing to pay for that element. So sometimes, it takes longer to find that person.
  4. Your bathroom, landscaping, flooring or paint needs an upgrade before you put it on the market. You want top dollar for your home. That’s what I want for you too. I’m going to be very realistic with you about what number will get your house sold in the timeframe you need. And, I’m also going to tell you what you need to do to your home we can go from listing to selling ASAP. An upgrade – not a complete renovation – can really make a huge difference. Yes, it costs money to replace counter tops and enhance landscaping – but you’ll sell your house faster and most probably get a higher price point.
  5. Hire a professional cleaner. I’m not insulting your home cleaning routine. People are busy. Selling a home is stressful. But you need to know that an immaculate home sells more quickly. Hire someone to give your home a deep clean. Plus, it’s relaxing to live in a really clean house, which will help with that stress.

Do you hate me already? Hope not! If you are the kind of home owner who likes honest assessment and clear communication, and you’re looking to sell your home in Greenwich or internationally, I very well may be the realtor for you. Learn more about me here.  And if you are on Facebook or Instagram, please follow me there.

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My Top Ten Tips for Buying a Home

I’ve helped hundreds of people over the years to buy their dream homes. Over and over again, I share these tips with my clients here in Greenwich CT and internationally. Some of these tips are common sense, others may be new to you.

So here we go, my top ten tips for buying a home!

  1. Location. Location. Location. It’s an oldie but a goodie. You’re not going to change where your house sits – so make sure it’s what you want and WHERE you want. Is it near the schools that your children go to? Is it close to friends and family (if you want to be close to friends and family ;>). Is it not too close to a busy road or nestled in the community you want to be in?
  2. The orientation of the house. I’ve written an entire article on this topic – it’s something I never get tired of stressing to home buyers. If light is important to you, you should buy a home that faces south or southwest. This is where all your light will come from.
  3. Flow. How you move between rooms in your home is important – and not easy to change barring major construction. Think about how the rooms relate to each other.
  4. Does the price make sense? Buying a home can be a very emotional process. And choose the right home can be overwhelming AND exciting. How do you judge if the price makes sense? You might feel that you really want the home, no matter the price. What I like to do with all my clients is a comparative market analysis to make sure what they’re asking – and what you’re offering – is on target. I help clients to navigate the impulse and emotion of home buying.
  5. Is the home peaceful? A home that is relaxing and serene is so important for most of us. Life is stressful and busy – our homes should be comforting and peaceful. And peaceful doesn’t mean you have to live in a silent vacuum. It means that it is comfortable and soothing for you and your family. For example, a train might go by in the evening. You might love the sound of a distant train. Others might not.
  6. Go for the best possible kitchen. Sure, you can buy and then remodel your kitchen: people do it all the time, either immediately or down the road. A kitchen remodel is a significant expense. So search for your dream kitchen in your ideal location and get it right right away.
  7. Dream master suite. When buying a home, make sure the master bedroom and bathroom meet your needs. Like the kitchen, a master suite renovation is an investment. And where does it sit? At the front of the house or at the back? Next to the kitchen or upstairs away from all the other rooms? You’re best off finding your dream home with the right master suite and kitchen (a la tip 6). NOTE: Sometimes location (tip 1) trumps many of the other criteria. Don’t worry, I’ll help you work through all this.
  8. Hire a good inspector. Yes, the seller has the home inspected – but that inspector is working for the home owner. Hire a good inspector who you know is representing your needs. I can recommend several good inspectors here in Greenwich.
  9. No home is perfect. No matter your budget, your dream home will have a quirk or two. Honestly: It’s okay not to be perfect. Don’t let those little imperfections deter you if the house is meeting all your other criteria.
  10. Make sure you have an outstanding real estate agent and a lawyer representing your needs. 

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. I’m always sharing gorgeous home in Greenwich and internationally and tips for buying and selling. And you can contact me here.

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Lovely Outdoor Spaces in Greenwich, CT

The days of summer are fleeting on the East Coast. We cherish them!

Greenwich is so beautiful in the summer. Whether you’re viewing the ocean or a lush backyard, the long days (noticeably shorter now, I know) are a joy for the soul.

If your home has an exceptional outdoor space, I know you treasure that outside time. And if you’re looking for a new property, several listings feature lovely outdoor spaces:

A large backyard with a huge deck ready for family and neighborhood parties while the kids play soccer and enjoy popsicles.

A river view – Set a table with candles, great food and wine and invited friends to dine al fresco.

A gorgeous co-op with astounding views of Greenwich Harbor – the perfect spot for your morning cup of coffee.

This Appleyard property with 4.6 level acres enclosed by bucolic stone walls and a perfect pool. This former home of Tommy Hilfiger is perfectly situated for many happy years, outside and in.

And if you want to get away to The Berkshires of Massachusetts, this charming arch leads you to beautiful grounds and views.

What’s your dream property? Rolling lawn? Treed and shaded spaces? Ocean views? Greenwich has them all – and I’d be happy to help you find the perfect yard and home for you and your family.

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Drones Help to Sell Your House Faster!

I’m going to write about drones here…now, don’t be afraid: drones are for good, not evil, when it comes to real estate. And one of the most intriguing developments in my business over the past few years has been the introduction of drone photography.

In August 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration loosened restrictions on the use of drones. Drone pilots don’t need an FAA pilot’s license, just a remote pilot certificate. So drones are now approved for limited commercial use.

Drone photography adds value. You’ve probably seen them used at live events or on websites that showcase a hotel or resort. Drone photographs and videos are a fantastic way to really see a property and the surrounding area.

Top Benefits of Using Drones to Sell Your Home:

1.    Prospective buyers can see the entire lot, the house next door, and even the entire neighborhood. (Drone photography is used well here – makes you want to move into this gorgeous Greenwich home, doesn’t it?)

2.    Drone footage is especially useful for large, unique properties that don’t photograph well from the ground.

3.    Since drone photography and videos are more engaging, people are more likely to spend longer looking at your property. (And, social media LOVES video.)

4.    Drone footage can span the beautiful landscape and convey the spectacular view from the deck—really giving the viewer a sense of a home’s personality.

5.    Show off Greenwich and Fairfield County, CT. Drone footage shows out-of-town potential buyers how unique and stunning our area truly is, which is a selling feature that can sometimes be difficult to articulate.

What are your thoughts?

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A Realtor’s Three Interesting Take-Aways from Airbnb

It’s hard to believe but Airbnb launched in 2008 (where DOES the time go?). This tech “start-up” allows home owners to rent out their houses, or even just a room, through a secure e-commerce platform that is currently valued at over $30 billion (about the same as Marriott International). It’s no trend – home sharing is here to stay.

While many home owners were initially leery of Airbnb (“What! Allow strangers to stay in my house? Sometimes when I’m still there?”) and some potential renters (“What! Stay in a stranger’s home and not a hotel?), there’s a long history that points to the likelihood of cultural acceptance for this seemingly radical idea. In fact, here in Greenwich CT there are plenty of homes listed on Airbnb.

As a realtor, I see some distinct benefits that Airbnb has to offer homeowners, especially when they are getting ready to buy or sell. Here’s what I see:

Airbnb is the commercial systemization of a long standing practice.
Does your family have a mountain retreat or a beach condo in Florida that you’ve lent or rented to a co-worker’s son and his family? Have you ever stayed with friends of friends when you unexpectedly had to travel to Chicago or Atlanta? If yes, then you’ve participated in the social contract that makes Airbnb possible and profitable. While the concept seems radical to many, there’s an attractive model here—with built-in safety protocols—that allow great hosts and travelers to enjoy a more personal experience.

Considering a drastic life change or move? Try it out first with Airbnb.
Are you intrigued by the idea of a second home, downsizing or maybe even checking out a tiny house? Have you thought about a move to the heart of the city? Or are you convinced that life would be better if you lived in Greenwich and worked from home or commuted into the city? Before you completely uproot your life and family, test your assumptions. It’s one of the least understood benefits of Airbnb—the ability to try on a different physical address to help you learn what you’re really looking for in your next house. Experiment by renting a home in Greenwich or a farmhouse in the Berkshires of Massachusetts for a few days and learn if the locale brightens your day.

Rent out your home on Airbnb and find out if it’s market-ready.

One of the features that creates trust within the Airbnb community is the reviews and member profiles. Going through the exercise of searching similar rentals in your area, writing a description of what your home offers and even welcoming guests can provide a treasure trove of information. From rave reviews to discovering potential pitfalls (maybe you really do need to update the kitchen before selling), you’ll gather information that has the potential to make selling your house if not a snap, then certainly easier. Of utmost importance when deciding to list your house on Airbnb: Check with your insurance company. Make sure your regular insurance covers this kind of income related activity.

Did you find these tips helpful? You can read all my articles about home buying and selling on my blog. If you want to look at the gorgeous homes that I represent in Greenwich and internationally, click here.

 

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Quick Overview of Greenwich CT 2017 Real Estate Action

2017 was certainly a year of surprises. The real estate market was certainly a welcome surprise – it was hot!

During 2017, over 90% of the luxury sales in Connecticut were in Fairfield County. That’s good news, indeed, for home sellers in Greenwich. Let’s see what else conspired in real estate over the course of 2017:

  • The median sale price for a single family home in Greenwich was $1,869,790 – that’s the highest median since 2008!
  • June was the busiest month with 80 homes sold. Slowest month? February and April were the slowest months with only 31 and 30 homes sold.
  • When we compare Greenwich home sales back to the darkest days of the recession, we can see how the economy has been (albeit slowly) recuperating. In 2009, only 333 homes sold; in 2017, 572 homes sold (static when compared to last year).

This Forbes article provides a 2018 outlook. What do you think? Are you a realtor hoping for another banner year?

If you like to dive into numbers, click here to view a compilation of 2017 statistics pulled from the Greenwich Multiple Listing Service.

And let me know if you’d like to go look at beautiful houses in Greenwich

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What Type of Mover is Best for You?

About 11% of Americans move every year; if you’re part of that statistic, don’t let panic set in. You can do this.

There’s a new start just ahead. Maybe it’s a job, or the completion of your dream home here in Greenwich or elsewhere. It’s exciting: it’s the dawn of new adventures and future memories for you and your family. But wait! Now you have to move, which may rank as the least enjoyable aspect of bounding joyfully into home ownership. Time to consider what type of mover is best for you.

When weighting options, consider:

Do it yourself. This is what the largest majority of people do – 45% of people use their own vehicles or borrow a friend’s truck; 33% rent a moving truck, pack & drive it. (Source: American Movers Association – AMA)

You pack. You load. Hire a driver. This isn’t as common, but a choice worth investigating.

Hire a full-service mover. Only 22% of people choose this option (Source: AMA).

Here’s the information on each option.

Do it yourself. If you’re comfortable with the idea of driving a big truck on busy roads and narrow streets, live in a fairly small home, and have willing helpers, moving yourself is possible, and economical. It also gives you the most control. Hidden costs:

  • Insurance for the rental truck (your auto policy probably doesn’t cover this, and neither will the credit card you rent the truck with);
  • Gas;
  • Rental or purchase of special equipment you’ll need, like dollies and quilted furniture covers.

You pack and load; they drive. Several nationwide and local companies offer “self-move service.” A trailer or a van appears at your house, and you (hopefully along with several strong friends) load it. A professional driver is provided, and you unload at your new home. Some self-move providers have limitations based on how far you move. Shorter moves can be more expensive if minimum charges apply. This option saves you the hassle of driving a truck, and it is less expensive than using a full-service mover.

Hire a full-service mover. If you’d rather go to the dentist than move, if you have little time to get into your new situation, if you are moving a long distance, or you have a lot of stuff, this is your best bet. Good professional movers have the experience and equipment to move you quickly while avoiding damage to your property. Expect professional movers to protect your property by putting down floor runners, covering railings and doors, and putting down floorboard when moving heavy appliances. Many movers will even pack everything for you ― a convenience that can be worth the additional cost, especially if you have limited time or ability.

Be sure to get references before hiring a moving company. Carefully check out any company you’re considering. Ask around for referrals and check references. Hop on your town’s forum – there’s probably one on Facebook – and ask your neighbors for input. Or go to Angie’s list. Several moving companies offer helpful online calculators to help you determine which service is best for you. Real Simple has a great moving checklist.

Did you find these tips helpful? You can read all my articles about home buying and selling here on LinkedIn. If you want to look at gorgeous properties in Greenwich, Connecticut, click here.

 

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Tech, Tubs and More: Four Design Trends to Watch in 2018

Every December, there’s a recap of what we loved in the past year and what’s expected to captivate us in the year ahead. In addition to the year’s best books, movies and podcasts, there’s something a little closer to home that we look at here at Charles Paternina Properties each year—the design trends that will quicken the heart rate of house hunters.

Embracing design trends can help distinguish your home from others on the market. It’s not just all about having the latest and greatest; some home trends decrease required maintenance, encourage energy conservation, and better accommodate our digital lives.

While it’s fun to check out the latest trends, the ultimate decision to make a major change should hinge on your needs and budget.

Freestanding tubs. Freestanding tubs may conjure images of Victorian-era opulence, but the newest models come in many shapes and sizes. These tubs complement other bathroom trends including open wall niches and water-saving commodes. (Check out the stand-alone tub in this fabulous Greenwich bathroom.)

Alexa! Prices have come down for technologies such as web-controlled security cameras and motion sensors for pets. Newer models are also easier to install and operate since many are powered by batteries, rather than requiring an electrician to rewire an entire house. Software allows multiple smart devices within the home to communicate with each other. And the biggest tech movement is the digital assistant—Alexa, Google Home, and more. And, yes, these technologies also present challenges, such as security issues. Nonetheless, the trend continues.

Charging stations. With the size of electronic devices shrinking and the proliferation of Wi-Fi, demand for large desks and separate home offices has waned. Home owners still need a dedicated space for charging and storing, and the most popular locations are a corner of a kitchen, entrance from the garage, and the mud room. Before long we’ll start to see even more creative integrations for our digital devices.

Specialized Storage. The new buzzword is specialized storage placed right where it’s needed. Homeowners want everything to have its place. More people are increasingly willing to pare the dimensions of a second or third bedroom in order to gain a larger walk-in closet in their master bedroom. In a kitchen, it may mean a “super pantry”—a super-sized butler’s pantry with prep space, open storage, secondary appliances, and even a room for wrapping gifts. More storage is all about minimizing clutter and as we all know… clutter eats equity.

Be sure to check back with us: we’ll update you on all of the new trends in real estate in Greenwich throughout 2018! And in the meantime, follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

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Let There be Light! Consider Orientation When Building or Buying Your Home

Of all the considerations of home building in Greenwich and the Northeast in general, there is one that may be overlooked, and once done is near impossible to correct. It’s not the number of bathrooms or the size of the kitchen—but the orientation of the home for light. Every homeowner, whether building or buying, should consider how a home is situated for sunlight and learn to assess how light will pass through the home during the day and the seasons.

Sunlight has a significant impact on your daily quality of life, especially here in the north, where our late fall and early winter days are so very short. Isn’t it easy to hunker down this time of year? In the early summer, do you find yourself celebrating each hour of a long June afternoon with a favorite outdoor activity? Sunlight plays a key role in our daily rhythms throughout the year. In some cases, sunlight, or the lack of sunlight, can cause us to strongly dislike a room we would otherwise find appealing. Light profoundly influences how a person perceives and enjoys the surroundings.

Although it’s not as easy to change as wallpaper or carpet, you can learn to take advantage of the available light offered by the orientation of your home.

When the back of a house faces north, light is limited. Ideally, that is where you want your front door and the garage. When the back of the house faces southwest, this is an ideal placement for maximum light in our hemisphere. North-facing rooms are the darkest in the home with neutral light most of the day.  South-facing rooms are the brightest in the house, with the dominant daylight from late morning to mid-afternoon. These spaces have consistent light all day. East-facing rooms are brightest in the morning and west-facing rooms have their strongest light in the late afternoon and early evening.

A south-facing home allows you to take advantage of the sun’s warmth as much as possible. During the winter, owners of south-facing homes can lower heating costs by opening curtains in the front rooms.

As you plan your dream home, prepare to install a home office or consider a land purchase, remember to look at the light! You’ll enjoy it for years to come. And please let me know if you are interested in looking at houses in Greenwich, CT or internationally. You can look at homes via my website: charlespaternina.com.

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