INSIDE STORIES BEHIND AREA
REAL ESTATE DEALS
The New Year opened with a piece of good news, the first in a very long time. The number of Connecticut homes sold in November 2009 increased 74 percent over the previous November. And with the tally at more than 2,700 homes sold, November 2009 also proved to be the best month for sales since the market's most recent peak in November 2005, per a report released by The Warren Group, which tracks the residential real estate market in New England. According to the report, the surge in sales is due in part to the federal tax credit offered to first-time buyers in 2009. At the end of the year, Congress voted to extend the credit to all buyers—including homeowners—who close before June 30, 2010. Better still, economists pointed to a boost in consumer confidence—a signal, perhaps, that the market has finally bottomed out and is on the rise again.
With the good news came a caveat: At year's end, the median-priced home in Connecticut was down as compared to last year. In New Canaan, for instance, lower prices resulted in a $95 million decrease in the total-homes-sold figure in 2009, as compared to 2008 (which, itself, was nobody's idea of a stellar year). But brokers are cheering anyway. That some of our state's long-suffering sellers can finally retire their for-sale signs is a good thing. So is the drop in inventory across the state. And while the market is still pretty quiet—as is always the case in the dead of winter—there are a handful of fabulous new listings. Here, a look inside a few of our favorites—and a peek into what's on the block in coastal Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as well.
OLD HILL COLONIAL
Old Hill is one of Westport's most sought-after neighborhoods, located just a few minutes' drive from town and 10 minutes from the train station. This 13,000-square-foot home, built in 2004 by J.P. Franzen Architects in Southport, was designed to blend in with—and minimize its impact on—the classic residences lining the street. It was also designed with great flow for entertaining. The kitchen, for instance, features a mahogany-and-granite island that seats 12, a six-foot La Corneau stove and access through French doors to a gorgeous Bluestone patio and outdoor kitchen with a rotisserie, fireplace and pizza oven. Luxe private spaces include a black-walnut-paneled library that's used as a home office, a master suite with a fireplace and his-and-hers closets, bathrooms, vanities and dressing rooms. In all, there are six bedrooms and six bathrooms (plus three half bathrooms). Even the basement impresses, a 3,300-square-foot space that houses a shuffleboard court, game room with a pool table, pottery room, home gym and media room. And if this tour has made you thirsty, fear not: You're invited to visit the truly cavernous wine cellar and take in its antique chestnut floors—along with a fortifying glass or two. It's listed with Evi Coghlan of Coldwell Banker in Westport, (203) 247-6691.
THE MATHER FAMILY HOMESTEAD
The Mather family built their farmhouse in 1778 on acreage sprawling across the New Canaan and Darien town line. When the historic homestead sold, it was divided into parcels for just three estates, and this brand-new stone-and-shingle home at 74 Mather Farm Road is one of them. At nearly 11,000 square feet, the Mather Family Homestead is a large home, but thanks to gracious details, finishes and features, the rooms look lovely, not looming. There are 70,000 linear feet of interior trimwork, for instance. There is furniture-quality cabinetry and other woodwork, some of it built by Amish craftsman. There are transoms with leaded glass, tray ceilings, ornate mantelpieces and loads of French doors opening onto terraces with views of the open meadows. And there are the features that the best, architect-designed homes have these days: a large master suite with his-and-hers bathrooms; a second main-floor suite that could be used as a master suite for inlaws or guests; and upstairs and downstairs laundry facilities. In all, the Mather Family Homestead offers six bedrooms and seven bathrooms (plus three half bathrooms) on more than three acres. Inger Stringfellow of William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty in New Canaan has the listing, (203) 321-9361.