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March 2010


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REAL ESTATE

Deeds & Don'ts
By Lily Oliver and Aime Dunstan

INSIDE STORIES BEHIND AREA
REAL ESTATE DEALS

Received wisdom has it that whatever the weather, the spring market begins on the Sunday after the Super Bowl. And the first sign of spring—or of the spring market anyway—is a spate of open houses, a tradition that homeowners insist upon but many brokers secretly loathe. "It's sort of like throwing a not-very-fun party with completely random guests who feel free to poke and pry and ask personal questions about why the sellers are selling," groused one agent. "We get a lot of: Are they getting divorced? Did he lose his job?"

That said—and even though market-start Sunday happened to fall on Valentine's Day—the roads were aflutter with signs promoting open houses. Inside them, brokers set out chocolates for the "random" suitors they complain about—and seemed optimistic that the spring selling season would get off to a sweeter start than it did in 2009, when housing prices continued to fall and when nobody in the industry was feeling much love. Indeed, a few days after Groundhog Day, The New York Times reported the emergence of a creature whose very shadow can fuel the market: investment bankers, showing up at open houses with their pockets stuffed with bonus money and fostering the fear—real or imagined, it doesn't really matter if it spurs sales—that the home you love may be snapped up with an all-cash offer.


CONNECTICUT

[Image]
THE REAL DEAL (click photo for larger view)

WEST ROAD ESTATE
$6,975,000
NEW CANAAN

WESTPORT
This listing offers the best of all possible worlds: it's an exquisitely designed spec home that was built as if it will ultimately be scooped up by an extremely demanding client. And thanks to a recent reduction, it's on the market for a price that's considerably less than it would cost you to build it from scratch. And while we didn't see anyone who looked like an investment banker at its open house, the listing represents a real deal for their ilk—or anyone else who wants the instant gratification of a 17-room, move-right-in estate (and has $7 million to spend on it). Broker Mary Higgins calls it a "forever house," and we couldn't agree more. The Kaali-Nagy Company infused all 10,435 square feet of it with the fixtures and finishes their custom-home clients require. The kitchen, for instance, has the requisite Holy Trilogy of appliances (Sub-Zero fridge, Wolf gas range, ASKO dishwasher), honed white-marble countertops and custom millwork including an oversized teak island with a Kohler farm sink. The cooking area flows into a beautiful family/gathering room, complete with a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace (one of seven), and on into to a formal dining room and butler's pantry. More custom touches, seldom seen in spec homes: an elevator, a paneled library with antique chestnut floors, a master suite with fireplace that consumes an entire wing and an additional six bedrooms and six bathrooms (plus two half bathrooms). And while the four-acre property was cleared of its circa-1700s farmhouse, the builders left standing a charming antique red barn. Call listing broker Mary Higgins of Halstead Property Country Living for a tour, (203) 966-7800.

WILLIAM PITT
SOTHEBY'S EXPANDS

William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty has been continuing its reach into the Connecticut and Westchester markets. In November, the firm finalized the addition of Juner Properties, a premier real estate boutique in Stamford. WPS also acquired offices in Westchester County—now operating as Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty in Rye, Larchmont, Scarsdale and Chappaqua—along with offices in Litchfield County, now known as Litchfield Hills Sotheby's International Realty in Washington Depot, Kent and Lakeville. Just one example, from the Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty office in Rye: a new green-construction Rye home listed for $7,995,000 with Alix Sara Prince, (914) 967-4600.

AWARD-WINNING MANOR
$4,395,000
RIDGEFIELD

When Ridgefield was a summer-home playground for the Vanderbilts, the Doubledays and the rest of their crowd, Nod Hill was among the most sought-after of addresses. At 104 Nod Hill sits a nearly 12,000-square-foot Shingle-style estate that so comfortably holds its own you'd never guess it's new to the neighborhood. Built in 2008 by Classic Connecticut Homes, it won a 2009 Connecticut Home Builders award—and it's easy to see why, even without stepping foot inside. The gracious, many-gabled exteriors feature a cedar-shingle roof, tall chimneys with dovecote tops and lilac bluestone walkways. Inside, there's a gorgeous mahogany staircase, quarter-sawn white-oak floors throughout, a walnut-paneled library and a master suite with a marble shower and jetted soaking tub. In all, there are five bedrooms and six bathrooms (plus two half bathrooms), along with five fireplaces. Carol McMorris of the Higgins Group in Wilton has the listing, (203) 762-2020.

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