Thursday, June 24, 2010

Monica Seles & Knowles Landing!

Sorry about the absence!  It's crunch time chez nous, and with a BIG LISTING comes a BIG WORKLOAD - especially when you're getting ready to go on vacation!  Preparing for and working on these 2 wonderful things in my life has left little time for blogging, or gardening, or cooking, or cleaning :)

What exactly have I been doing?  Falling in love - and not just with the Portuguese soccer team - with a dreamy property on the CT River that we call Knowles Landing (....sigh.)

Some of you may know how much I love historic homes.  This one is  historic with a twist - it has many of the features & characteristics I love in an antique home, but it has been renovated with modern conveniences.  I'm fine with that - I'm not a purist.  Just take one look at those gables, the upper deck and sunroom, the gorgeous wrap around's enough to make a girl swoon.  Then turn around and check out the view...

It's pretty spectacular, isn't it?  

This is where I'll be working this afternoon and again tomorrow when I'll be hosting the grandest Broker's Open House of my 10 years in real estate!  Guests will be greeted on the porch with a signature micro-cocktail we call "The Knowles" (thanks Carl for the name!) and will tour the 1886 Queen Ann Victorian.  These are 2 of my favorite spots in the house (it's hard to choose only 2) but these are both fabulous.

The Sunroom off of the 2nd Floor Sitting Room - what an inspiring view!

This is the 3rd Floor Master Suite, a quiet spot occupying the entire 3rd floor with a HUGE Master Bath, loads of closet space, views of the Connecticut River, and a private deck overlooking the water.  

Tearing ourselves away from the main house, we'll walk (or ride the golf cart) to the Guest House/Studio which is a converted 3 story barn with 3 decks...

That charming gazebo is original!  There are two fantastically old maples from where I'm standing here - they're just beautiful and gnarled.

After the studio we head back to the wrap around porch for some light seafood fare including sushi and saunter down past the Har-Tru tennis court to the river front lawn for a wine tasting (we're featuring an Argentinian label tomorrow) and desserts & coffee.  Agents are reminded to bring along their business cards to enter a drawing for their favorite of the wines sampled and the grand prize: 2 tickets to the US OPEN Tennis Championships!!!  Awesome, right?  Do you know what else is awesome?

Why yes, that is MONICA SELES, world famous tennis champion, posing with our very own Knowles Landing!!!  Since Knowles Landing has such a beautiful water front tennis court, we thought we'd market to the tennis crowd in NYC.  Did I mention I've been insanely busy the past 2 weeks?  This is part of the reason why :)  By the way, if Monica Seles wants to come try out the tennis court, the offer is out there!  Call me, Monica :)

I couldn't be doing all of this without my very gifted (and fun) partner on this real estate project, Carl Guild.  Don't let the fact that he drives around with his face on his car fool you - this guy's the real deal.  I'm thinking this picture of him would make a really cutting edge business card.  Very terminator-esque, no?   Want to meet him?  Come on down to the Broker's Open tomorrow!

Now how is it that we got this far without mentioning the 40' deep water dock with expansion rights?  This property has 350 ft of waterfront on the Connecticut River in Middle Haddam.  I was out there one night at 10 pm (again, I've been working some crazy hours!) and it was so peaceful and quiet.  I just wanted to sit and enjoy...


In just a few days we have an ad coming out in Connecticut Magazine, then in less than 2 weeks we're appearing as sponsors at the International Tennis Hall of Fame Campbell's Tennis Championship with an ad in their program and a sign at the Members Tent.  Such an exciting project to work on, and we're having a blast creating the buzz.  This is what I've been busy doing, and to borrow an old expression from Martha Stewart, "it's a good thing!"

The Jewel of the Connecticut River


Friday, June 11, 2010

Pick Up A Green Read!

Have you SEEN how many GREEN books are out there these days?  A quick search on came up with 1,480 and that was just from searching "green living."

I love books.  Addicted to them is probably what you'd say if you saw the collections of children's books in our house.  Our weekly trip to the library always leaves me bringing home GREEN books on top of my usual travel, garden, cooking or art selections.  I can't say I have time to read every page - I've become more of a skimmer (apparently this has transferred over to some of my email reading practices as I realized today - apologies to the Fine Homes Director at Prudential CT Realty I've been working with on my new listing!)

(Whoops - how did Retiring Abroad get in there? :)  )

So which books would I recommend for you to flip through as you're grilling up those veggies on the grill?  (Because I imagine that we all grill in flip-flops, with a book in one hand and a glass of vino in the other?)

This week I'm reading GREEN $ENSE FOR THE HOME - Rating the Real Payoff from 50 GREEN HOME PROJECTS by Eric Corey Freed & Kevin Daum.  It's so new at my library I was the first one to borrow it!  First of all, it's divided into 3 sections:  16 green home projects you can do today, 21 green projects you can do tomorrow, and 13 home projects you can do when building new.  I like this book already!  It has a ton of information, and lots of resources.  I especially like the rating system they use for each project, telling you the overall rating in dollar signs, level of difficulty, energy savings, global warming reducing, resource conservation, water saving, and health improving.  It makes it really easy to flip through and find the projects with the highest overall dollar sign ratings and the lower degrees of difficulty!  It also has helpful "Do the Math" sidebars - I love it when someone else does the math for me :)

I also read The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time by Elizabeth Rogers, although I didn't get as excited about it because it didn't bring me much new information. 

Other books I did find entertaining: Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life by Ed Begley (I wrote about him before - I think we'd be pals!)  Gorgeously Green 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life by Sophie Uliano, and her accompanying book Gorgeously Green Diet How to Live Lean & Green.  I liked her style of writing and her sense of humor, which is sometimes missing when it comes to this topic!

Love the organic & green cookbooks out there.  One of my faves is the Big Green Cookbook: Hundreds of Planet-Pleasing Recipes and Tips for a Luscious, Low-Carbon Lifestyle by Jackie Newgent.  This is where I found the amazing French Kissed Watercress Salad Recipe.  Did I mention it's amazing?  It's so good I'll post about it soon!

At the top of my TO READ list is Super Natural Home: Improve Your Health, Home & Planet -- One Room at a Time by Beth Greer.  A book about reducing toxins & possibly harmful chemicals in your home, the place that is supposed to be your safe haven, well, that's my kind of reading.  It might even make a nice house warming gift for my environmentally-minded new homeowners!

I hope you pick up a GREEN read over the summer, and let me know if you enjoyed it!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How GREEN is your Real Estate Listing?

When the real estate market becomes really challenging, as it's been in our market since late 2008, we as Realtors and Sellers need to look at listing properties from other perspectives.  It's not just about the "handsome wainscoting" anymore (although really, who doesn't LOVE beautiful woodwork?)  We've come into a time where we need to also discuss the features that will offer the buyers benefits such as lowering utility costs, greater comfort, and saving money.  Not all buyers are on board with the social responsibility of living greener, but I've yet to meet one who wasn't interested in the money-saving aspect of it.

Putting aside what I would consider "extreme GREEN" features for our marketplace (solar or wind power, geo-thermal) let's consider the more common (& less pricey) GREEN features we might already have that we can work to our advantage.

"Energy-efficient" tops my list for favorite GREEN real estate terms.  You always want to be able to substantiate that claim.  You can offer the buyer copies of your utility bills compared to those of similar-sized homes in the area, which I think you can get from CL&P or your utility company.  Some energy-efficient features you may have and need to highlight:

  • House is filled with natural light
  • Energy Star appliances
  • On demand hot water system
  • Multi-zone heat for better heat control
  • Programmable thermostats 
  • Newly insulated attic
  • Great cross-ventilation that helps with cooling
  • CFL bulbs  

"Healthy home" is another hot topic.  I just dealt with this with buyers who closed on a house last week.  Their concern was that the house did not contain toxins or allergens.  We also think about the problems associated with lead, mold, radon & pesticides.  While it's hard to avoid those altogether, there are some choices to be made that can be GREENER than others.

  • Hardwood floors or all natural low VOC carpet choices with no/low VOC adhesives
  • Smoke-free or pet-free environment
  • HEPA filter
  • Lead paint encapsulated or removed
  • Asbestos removed
  • Pesticide-free lawn 
GREEN features aside, one thing I ALWAYS stress to home sellers in any market is the need for their home to be super CLEAN.  Not just tidy, but CLEAN.  Wash those windows so that natural light can shine through.  If you have pets, keep the house dusted, vacuumed, and litter boxes clean.  Dust the ceiling fans, make your appliances shine, and please remove the clutter from the counters.  Trust me on this :)