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Patricia Best

Thinking of Buying a Fixer-Upper?

Salisbury CT Realtor Pat Best

As an HGTV addict, I understand how appealing it can be to dream about transforming a dated or dilapidated house like the Property Brothers seem to do so effortlessly--and usually in 4-6 weeks! (Remember, it’s TV.) I have been a partner in several projects in Sharon and Salisbury and, while it can make sense depending on the purchase price, location, and the extent of the renovations, it’s not for amateurs.

In the Tri-State area, we have many homes for sale with dated kitchens and baths, and those renovations usually make sense.  However, beware of larger projects entailing systems, roofs, drainage, etc. Those items will suck up your budget and leave little for the fun stuff like a new kitchen and baths. National average bath remodels run $100-$200/sq. ft. and kitchens range from $30,000-$80,000, depending on material and appliance choices. It will probably take longer and cost more than you thought, so make sure you have a contingency. Look for a house that has been well maintained but needs cosmetics.

A good real estate agent can help you find a good buy--it can be cheaper to buy the more expensive house.  Call or email us if you need help!

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    The Power of Paint

    Pat Best, Salisbury CT Realtor

    I recently read Hammertown’s article about the impact of paint colors on a home’s appeal and couldn’t agree more. As a realtor, I can’t overstate how important it is to paint your house, inside and out, in colors that are popular with most buyers. 

    Exterior choices are often inspired by the architecture of your home. Barn style homes seem to look best in dramatic reds, dark greens and, popular right now, black. Take a look at the converted barn that is part of Best & Cavallaro’s listing at 245 Belgo Road in Lakeville.   

    However, the 1845 Greek Revival next door (at 251 Belgo Road) just called out to be white.  Currently, the most popular interior colors are shades of gray, beiges and soft blues. I will always thank my friend who, knowing I wanted turquoise kitchen cabinets when I built my last home, convinced me to use gray and get turquoise accessories – which she provided as a housewarming gift! Pops of color are easier to change than cabinets – and tastes and styles do change. I encouraged clients to paint their house in Sharon CT, which was light blue with red shutters, a medium gray with black shutters and – guess what – it sold!

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      It's May - Time for Trade Secrets!

      Patricia Best, Sharon CT real estate expert

      Every May, an amazing event takes place at the beautiful LionRock Farm in Sharon, Ct.   Rising like the proverbial phoenix each year, an army of volunteers creates a magical village of tents for 60 vendors selling beautiful, rare, and unique plants, garden antiques, and decorative items. The setting is gorgeous and the shoppers are too, perfectly clad in Wellies and straw hats. You can even enjoy a delicious lunch under the tent.  

      On Saturday, May 13, for the Rare Plant and Garden Antiques Sale, there are “early bird” tickets, regular admission, and even “late bloomer” tickets for those who can only get there for the last couple of hours. Best of all, Trade Secrets is the largest fundraiser for Women’s Support Services of Sharon, Ct., a critical nonprofit organization helping victims of domestic violence in the Tri-State area.  

      Be sure to get your tickets at TradeSecretsCT.com! (Please note: If you have not yet purchased tickets for Sunday’s Garden Tour on May 14, this year’s Tour is already sold out!)

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        Meet George Jetson!

        Patricia Best

        When I was a kid, I watched the Jetsons and wondered if the real world would ever resemble their high-tech fantasy world.   

        While we haven’t mastered the flying cars quite yet, we are close to having a driverless car and we now have some AMAZING gadgets that make our houses safer and more energy efficient. The Nest thermostat can be controlled from your mobile phone and also learns your habits after you use it for a few weeks.              

        The Chamberlain garage door opener can open and close your door from anywhere using your phone. The Vivinte doorbell camera lets you see and speak to anyone at your front door from anywhere. Samsung makes a refrigerator that takes pictures of the contents and sends them to your phone so you will know what you need at the grocery store.

        Now if only Rosie the Robot would clean my house!

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          Slip Slidin' Away

          Patricia Best

          What a crazy weather pattern we’ve been experiencing this past month in the Tri-State area. It was over 50 degrees one week; then an ice storm; then a meltdown. 

          Our hard-working road crews and landscapers have struggled to keep up.  When a few inches of icy mix cover the now-softened gravel driveways prevalent in the country, a decision must be made: TO PLOW OR NOT TO PLOW…that is the question.  

          I decided not to plow so a visitor accidentally drove onto the softened field abutting my driveway and promptly got stuck in the ice and mud. Oh, the joys of winter!      

          So take a trip to Lindell’s or Herrington’s and stock up with lots of Ice Melt, sand, and salt...and remember we only have two more months of winter.

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            Rising Mortgage Rates - What Should You Do?

            Well, we knew it couldn’t last forever. Over the past few years, we have enjoyed long-term interest rates between 3% and 4%, combined with relatively low post-recession housing prices. This has created a great opportunity for homebuyers to enter the housing market. 

            But it seems like the writing is on the wall. This week mortgage rates rose above 4% due to the uncertainty caused by Donald Trump’s unexpected victory and the expectation that the Fed will finally raise the Fed rate after so many false alarms.

            If you have been on the fence about buying a home, it’s time to JUMP OFF THE FENCE.

            Give us a call at Best & Cavallaro (860.435.2888) and we would be happy to help you find your home or real estate investment.

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              It's Fall Festival 2016!

              Salisbury, CT will once again hold its annual Fall Festival on Columbus Day Weekend, October 7, 8 & 9. Run by the local churches, this event is a picture perfect celebration of Fall, including fun shopping at the Sidewalk Sales, great “street food” (where I will have my annual grilled hot dog – or maybe even two), hayrides for the kids, face painting, crafts, and the annual Scarecrow Contest. Enjoy the Salisbury Band on the Scoville Library lawn from noon – 1:30. 

              As we have for the past 8 years, Best & Cavallaro Real Estate will be sponsoring the Joint Chiefs to bring their beautiful harmonies and guitars to entertain the crowds from 1:30 to 3 pm on Saturday in front of our office at 5 Academy Street in Salisbury.    

              Wrap up the weekend on Sunday at the pancake breakfast at the Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance garage, browse the pottery and other gems made by our local artisans, and end the day at the Brew Ski Fest, located near the Ski Jumps and sponsored by SWSA (Salisbury Winter Sports Association).  

              See you at spin class on Monday!!

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                Something New at The White Hart Inn!

                Kudos to the creative new owners of the White Hart Inn. It’s been almost two years since I sold this Salisbury, CT landmark to the current innkeepers and they have been experimenting with various menu changes, great speaker programs, and remodeling ever since.    

                I think they have hit a real home run with their brilliant new café/general store, Provisions, with a separate entrance on the Undermountain Road side of the Inn, which opened this past week. I was treated to a delicious preview last week, including a yummy Asian noodle salad with chicken and cucumbers and a quinoa salad with the perfect amount of spicy kick. I still miss good bagels and lox from my NYC days but Provisions will fill that gap which you can enjoy while you work on your laptop or read the New York Times. They also offer a variety of old-fashioned games, penny candy, and unique gifts along with gourmet healthy take out options.     

                Welcome, PROVISIONS

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                  Using Drones to Sell Real Estate

                  The use of drones to capture incredible still photos and videos of properties for sale has been a game changer in the real estate industry.  

                  However, until recently, FAA regulations made it difficult to make use of this technology.  Recently, the FAA loosened their regulations with respect to drones weighing under 55 pounds. A drone pilot must be a least 16 years old and pass an aeronautical test at an FAA testing center. 

                  The pilot must retain visual contact with the drone at all times. There are also new regulations under study with respect to “micro drones” under 5 pounds.   

                  Best & Cavallaro has started to make use of this amazing technology, especially when selling properties on large land parcels or where it’s hard to capture the setting through ordinary photographs. It’s quite a sight to virtually fly over Twin Lakes -- check out this land listing on Twin Lakes in Salisbury, Ct. to get a “bird’s eye view.”

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                    Free Summer Concerts at The Hotchkiss School

                    Once again, The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Ct., is offering a season of summer concerts, featuring world class artists, faculty, and student performances. And the best part — the concerts are free and open to the public!  

                    Now in its 13th season, the Hotchkiss Summer Portals Concerts are performed in the Katherine M. Elfers Hall, Esther Eastman Music Center. If you have not yet been to the Hall, this stunning venue is worth a visit for the view alone, overlooking Lake Wononscopomuc and the Berkshires. The Hall is air-conditioned and handicapped accessible, and the school grounds are open for picnics before the concerts.

                    Guest artists scheduled to perform from July 10-23 are: Boris Berman, Luiz De Moura Castro, Joseph Kalichstein,  Oxana Yablonskaya, The Amernet String Quartet with Fabio and Gisele Witkowski, and Priya Mayadas.

                    For details, visit the Hotchkiss website or call the concert hotline: (860) 435-3775.

                     Don’t miss this free, unique, local  experience!

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                      Celebrating 10 Years!

                      This year, Best & Cavallaro  marks our 10th year of operating as an independent real estate brokerage firm. We want to thank all of our clients and friends for your support over the years.  

                      Mardee Cavallaro and I feel blessed to work with such  an incredible and professional group of agents in such a beautiful area of the country.  We founded our firm with the belief that a team working together would best serve our clients and we are gratified that this unique approach for a real estate agency has proven successful.

                      We value our community and all of us volunteer for and financially support our local non-profits. Best & Cavallaro is pleased to have been able to donate more than $100,000 to our local charities and non-profits since our inception – thanks to your business.     

                      We appreciate the trust you have placed in us and hope you will continue to call upon us for your real estate needs.  

                       

                       

                       

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                        Zestimates - Forget About It!

                        The CEO of Zillow sold his Seattle, WA home in February, 2016 for $1,050,000 which was 40% less than the “Zestimate” of $1,750,000 shown on Zillow the next day.

                        Once again, this proves my belief that “Zestimates” are totally unreliable unless you happen to live in a suburb where houses are almost exactly alike. The higher end the property is, the more likely that Zillow will be way off base. This is because their automated valuation model has no ability to judge the nuances of a property such as an amazing view, a unique location or special interior finishes.

                        This is particularly true here in Litchfield and Dutchess Counties where no two properties are alike. If you would really like to know what your property is worth, call us at Best & Cavallaro Real Estate (860-435-2888) and we would be happy to give you a free opinion of value.

                         

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                          Curb Appeal Matters

                          If you are thinking about putting your house on the market this spring, aside from calling us at Best & Cavallaro to list it, you should also be thinking about maximizing your curb appeal. Studies show that curb appeal can boost a home’s value by as much as 17%. 

                          The most effective improvements?

                          1) Upgrade your garage doors if they are visible and dated. A nice carriage house style door can do wonders for the look of your home.

                          2) Paint your front door a contrasting fresh color and perhaps get a nice new doorknob.

                          3) Trim your bushes and trees; weed, edge and mulch your gardens, and make sure your grass is well maintained.

                          4) Set the stage. Welcome buyers with rockers on the front porch or some outdoor furniture and pots of flowers on the patio.

                          Here in our beautiful towns of Salisbury, Lakeville, Sharon, Falls Village, Cornwall, and all the surrounding areas of the Tri-State area, we are blessed with stunning natural landscapes. Make your home fit into this beautiful setting.

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                            What Will I Owe the IRS When I Sell My Home?

                            If you sold a home in 2015 (or plan to sell in 2016), you should be aware of the tax consequences. Start by calculating your “basis” which is your original cost plus any improvements over the years.

                            To determine your taxable profit, you will deduct this basis amount from your sales price. You will also deduct most closing costs such as real estate commissions, legal fees and conveyance taxes. If you are selling a PRIMARY RESIDENCE that you have owned for more than 2 years, you can then deduct $250,000 per individual or $500,000 per couple from the sales price. If you still have a profit after these deductions, that profit will be taxed at the capital gains rate - which, for most Americans is 15%, depending on your income level. I actually know people who move every 2 years to take advantage of this exclusion - but that requires a very liquid market and a lot of energy!

                            For most of us, our home is our sanctuary and not just an investment, especially here in our beautiful Salisbury / Sharon area. Still, when the time comes to sell, call your tax consultant and make sure you know the consequences.

                             

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                              The Biggest Bang for Your Home Improvement Buck

                              There are plenty of national statistics showing which home improvements are likely to add the most to the value of your house. Remodeling Magazine’s recent study indicates that the list would include, in this order: insulation, a new front door, new garage doors, new siding and new windows.

                              However, in my opinion, this list varies greatly from region to region. Here in Litchfield and Dutchess Counties, we have a large percentage of part-time residents, many of whom don’t have the time or interest in doing renovations after purchasing a home in the Tri-State area. For our market, newly-renovated top-quality kitchens and baths would be at the top of the list to bring the maximum sales price. All of the other items mentioned above are also huge benefits to producing a sale, but if the kitchen and baths are dated or unattractive, you will probably be leaving money on the table.

                              If you are considering some major home improvements, whether to enjoy or with the thought of eventually selling, we at Best & Cavallaro would be happy to meet with you and offer some advice.

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                                Nothing Like a Roaring Fire

                                One of the great joys of winter in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut is to relax in front of a crackling fire with family and friends (maybe with a little binge-watching of Homeland involved).

                                To make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience here are a few important tips:

                                1) Have your chimney cleaned - most experts recommend every time you burn through two cords of wood (for most people, that’s every 1-2 seasons.

                                2) Get well-seasoned dry wood delivered if you aren’t chopping your own.

                                3) Make sure your flu is open (you’d be surprised) and start the draft by holding a lighted roll of newspaper inside the flu to warm it up.

                                4) Start with some good kindling (you can buy it at LaBonne’s in Salisbury, the Sharon Farm Market or forage outside), crisscross the logs over the kindling, light a few pieces of paper under that and WHOOSH.....pour the brandy and enjoy!

                                 

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                                  Gratitude is the Attitude

                                  Thanksgiving is here again and with it the pressure to have or attend a picture perfect Norman Rockwell feast.

                                  Truth is, there are many ways to celebrate and express your gratitude that don’t match our childhood visions. Some of my friends work at a food pantry, others host a dinner for all of their single friends or those who can't be with family.

                                  Perhaps take the “holiday” to renew yourself at a spa. Whatever you do, remember that it’s about being grateful for the the things you have - not about regretting what you don’t, and not about who made the best stuffing.

                                  Happy Thanksgiving!

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                                    Going On a Trip? House Check!

                                    You have your passport, your luggage organized, your plug adapters, your tickets. You have notified your credit card companies, your bank and your cell phone provider that you will be travelling. What about your house?

                                    One very IMPORTANT and simple thing to do is to turn off your water, especially in winter. Turning off the water behind the washer/dryer is wise to do any time you leave the house for a few days or more. One of my clients had an old washer hose give out when they were gone and do serious water damage to their home. 

                                    If you have an alarm, set it. If not, at least some lights on timers are a good idea. Stop mail delivery if you will be gone a long time. For watering houseplants, I saw a great idea recently. Fill an empty wine bottle with water (drink the wine first – it will make this more fun), put a cork in it and make a hole in the cork using a nail. Then turn it upside down in the plant and it will keep your plant moist for a week!

                                    Now go have a great worry-free trip!

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                                      Yay! It's Twin Lakes Day Again!

                                      I am often amazed to find that some people who have lived in the Salisbury area for a long time, have never been to Twin Lakes or the beautiful peninsula known as Isola Bella on the larger of the lakes.

                                      Here's your chance to feel like a kid again (or watch your kids enjoy being kids) and have some old-fashioned fun. On Saturday, August 8, 2015, the Twin Lakes Association will host its annual "Twin Lakes Day," open to the public, starting at 12:15 pm.

                                      There will be swimming races for all age groups, a balloon toss, races geared towards kids of all ages including bottle filling and ball toss, canoe races, kayak races and the fight to the finish war canoes for those over 16. The cardboard boat race is great fun if you are feeling creative with cardboard and duct tape.

                                      All of this will culminate in an awards ceremony at 6:30 pm followed by a SQUARE DANCE...yes, you heard me. It's the most fun and best exercise you can ever have for a nominal $10 fee. (Kids are free and love to square dance.) Grills will be available for all to use and charcoal is provided.

                                      For more information or to volunteer to help, contact Justin Meyer at jmgiants227@aol.com.

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                                        The Sounds of Summer

                                        Our Tri-State area offers an abundance of opportunities to hear great music during the summer.

                                        In Salisbury, CT, at the St. John’s Church, the Northwest Music Association celebrates its 10th season of offering free concerts of Baroque Era chamber music. We at Best & Cavallaro are proud to be sponsors of this unique organization. This summer, they will present four concerts at 5 pm on July 22 & 29 and on August 5 & 12. Don’t miss this increasingly popular event!

                                        Also, in nearby Falls Village, CT, Music Mountain offers a varied musical program from classical to Broadway, including a swingtime big band coming up on July 25.

                                        In Norfolk, Infinity Hall continues to impress with its artists and great Bistro. The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival offers an opportunity to be swept away by beautiful music in a magical setting.

                                        Graham Nash will be performing at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington on August 23 and, of course, Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, is a venue that also draws international stars. 

                                        Enjoy!

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