Blog :: 2019

Village Houses are Hot: Why You Want to be Close to Town

Village houses in the tri-corners area are commanding higher prices, with sales records being set for walkable centers like Millerton, Salisbury, Great Barrington and Millbrook.

The demand is fueled by weekenders and older couples who value being able to walk to the coffee shop, post office, bank, library or the movies over the privacy of more rural country properties. These buyers also are interested in becoming an active part of the community, and in having friendly neighbors who help watch over their homes and maybe water plants while they’re away. No security systems are required. There are other pluses, like municipal water and sewer systems, streetlights and sidewalks.

Village homes situated on small lots are often less expensive to buy, with lower tax assessments than rural properties. Village houses can be easier to maintain, with less snow plowing and grass mowing, but there's still room for a vegetable garden and even a swimming pool. Older village homes with charm also are valued by many buyers even if renovation may be required.

Check out one of our favorite recently sold village listings in Millerton (photo above)

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    Recipe: Arugula Avocado Salad + Classic Vinaigrette

    Warm weather, sunshine, and fabulous salads are a few of our favorite things. 

    This is one of my favorite recipes to celebrate the abundance that is all around us this time of year. This truly awesome arugula avocado salad that doesn’t feel anything like deprivation. 

    Arugula is full of phytochemicals that can help prevent cancer, along with Vitamins A, C, and K. Avocados are full of healthy fats and fiber to keep you full and feeling good. This recipe also contains strawberries to help boost immunity, pine nuts (which are actually seeds) for added energy, and olive oil to help stabilize blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It’s great as a side dish or topped with grilled salmon or chicken for a super healthy meal.

    Serves 2

    INGREDIENTS

    Salad Ingredients:

    2 cups baby arugula
    1 avocado, seed and skin removed, sliced
    6 strawberries, chopped
    1/4 cup pine nuts
    1/4 lemon
    1/4 cub shaved parmesan (optional)

    Dressing Ingredients:

    1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
    1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 tsp. dijon mustard
    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    Salt + pepper to taste

     

    DIRECTIONS

    1. Make the dressing by combining all ingredients in a mason jar (or something like it) and give it a good shake. Set aside (extra dressing can also be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks).
    2. Toast your pine nuts: heat oven to 350 and place nuts on a baking sheet. Roast for approx. three to five minutes. Watch them very carefully, you don’t want them to burn! Set aside.
    3. In a large bowl, combine arugula, strawberries, avocado, toasted pine nuts, and parmesan. Squeeze lemon on top.
    4. Add your dressing a little bit at a time until you reach a satisfactory salad/dressing ratio.
    5. Sprinkle a little sea salt and pepper on top, and enjoy!

    Originally posted on Healthybestwellness.com

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      6 Steps to Getting Your Home Ready for Summer

      After what seemed like the snowiest and coldest, longest winter in many years, summer is finally starting to show signs of appearing.

      We know your mind and body are ready for some warmer temps and summer sun, and today we're offering a few tips for getting your house ready as well. 

      1. Tune up air conditioners – experts recommend having the refrigerant checked yearly and changing filters for units monthly while in use.
      2. Gutter clean up – this is that time of year to make sure that all your gutters are free of leaves and debris. A twice-yearly clean out will help ensure that your gutters will work properly.
      3. Ceiling fans – make sure that you switch the direction of your fans so that the air is now pushed down towards you. (In the winter, it’s best to reverse the flow.)
      4. Dryer vent – be sure to check and clean out your dryer vent to avoid a source of potential fires.
      5. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – if you have not changed the batteries or checked your detectors in awhile, now is the time.
      6. Pour a tall glass of iced tea, wine, or crack open a beer, sit back, and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us this time of year here in the Northwest Corner!

      Click here to check out some great local events to put a little more spring in your step

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        Salisbury Artisans Group Market 2019

        Mark your calendars for the first ever Spring Artisans Group Market, May 18 - 19!

        It's going to be a busy weekend with Trade Secrets and all of the excitement that surrounds it, but our community is also going to be buzzing with action over at the White Hart Inn for the first ever Spring Artisans Market, too! The Artisans Group is a collective of artists  and crafts people from the Tri-State Area.  This is a gathering to show and market their work in the Northwest corner of Connecticut.

        Event Details:

        Saturday, May 18 - Sunday, May 19 | 10pm - 4pm

        Website

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          10 Affordable Home Improvement Tips

          First impressions are everything, and your home's curb appeal matters, not just for potential buyers.

          Did you know that taking care of your belongings (including your home and car) can contribute to the same sense of well-being that taking care of your health by exercising and eating well can? If you are preparing to sell your home, use spring cleaning as an opportunity to go a bit further to improve the appearance of your home. Here are some cheap fixes that go a long way.

          10 Easy Ways to Spruce things Up

          1. Fertilize your lawn for a fresh, healthy look. All you need is fertilizer, spreader, and a hose.
          2. Stain the deck and touch up peeling paint around your entranceways.
          3. Sweep under overhangs to clear cobwebs.
          4. Fix or upgrade your fence. If it’s in really poor condition, remove it.
          5. Replace the errant rock that fell off the wall last year.
          6. Trim your trees and bushes.
          7. Clean leaves and debris from your yard, and from gutters.
          8. Clean windows inside and out.
          9. Maybe invest in a new mailbox and doormats.
          10. Consider planting a bush or small tree if you have the space.

          A neatly-kept outward appearance goes a long way in setting the tone of your home to a potential buyer. The added bonus is feeling great when you return home every day. Go ahead and enjoy that glass of wine in your beautiful living room! 

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            Rip Van Winkle: The Musical at HVRHS on March 14-16, 2019!

            Rip Van Winkle: The Musical marks the 16th annual musical for the Housatonic Musical Theatre Society at Housatonic Valley Regional High School.

            With 90% of the funding for the musical provided through ticket sales, sponsorships, and fundraising events, this year’s show features 40 students onstage, including students from Region One elementary schools, accompanied by a live orchestra, all helping to bring this new musical to life for four performances only, March 14-16 2019.

            Created by Michael Berkeley and Ray Roderick with music and lyrics by Michael Berkeley, family, home, and what’s best about life -- tailor-made for the whole family in the great tradition of The Music ManRip Van Winkle brings new life to the Washington Irving tale through heartfelt, tuneful music, comedy, rousing dance, and a little gnomish mischief.

            Tickets ($15 for adults, $10 for seniors/students/children) may be purchased at the door, online at HMTS.org, and at the Salisbury, Sharon, and Kent pharmacies.

            Best & Cavallaro has been a proud sponsor of the Housatonic Musical Theatre Society since its inception sixteen years ago.

             

             

             

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              Trade Secrets 2019

              Mark your calendars for May 18 - 19 for this year's Trade Secrets!

              This may be our very favorite event of the year, and it's been a community staple for as long as we can remember. Bonus: this event is a fundraiser for Women's Support Services, so you can be sure you are having a good time for a good cause. 

              Event details

              Rare Plant + Garden Antiques Sale | Saturday, May 18: Don't miss the Rare Plant and Garden Antiques Sale, held at LionRock Farm in Sharon, CT. Up to 60 vendors will bring their rare and unusual plants and garden antiques for you to take home with you. The sale starts at 8am and ends at 3pm.

              Garden Tours | Sunday, May 19: Spend the day taking a self-guided tour of four of the most beautiful and picturesque private gardens, located in Falls Village, CT and nearby Ashley Falls, MA. The Garden Tour starts at 10am and ends at 4pm. (Be sure to buy your tickets early, for there are limited Garden Tour tickets for sale in advance. No tickets will be sold the day of the tour). 

              Click here for more information 

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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.  A study in Remodeling Magazine 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, Dutchess, and Berkshire 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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                  Salmon with Wild Blueberries

                  This recipe may sound a bit strange at first, but trust us, it’s melt in your mouth delicious, and totally perfect for any season. We suggest serving it alongside some golden roasted potatoes. 


                  Ingredients: 

                  Serves 6

                  6 (8-ounce) fillets wild king salmon
                   Sea salt, as needed
                   Vegetable oil for baking sheet
                  2 shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced
                  1 and a half cups white wine
                  2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
                  4 sprigs fresh thyme
                  2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
                  1 and a third cups blueberries
                  4 tablespoons unsalted butter
                  2 tablespoons honey
                   Black pepper

                  Directions: 

                  1. Run your fingers over the salmon flesh and pull out any pinbones. Season fish generously with salt and let rest at room temperature while you prepare the sauce.

                  2. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a large baking sheet.

                  3. In a medium saucepan over low heat, simmer together shallots, wine, vinegar, thyme, cinnamon and a pinch of salt until most of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes.
                   
                  4. Toss in blueberries, butter and honey; cook until berries soften and turn the sauce pink, 2 to 4 minutes.

                  5. Place salmon on baking sheet. Spoon berry mixture over salmon and season with pepper. Bake until salmon is cooked to desired doneness, 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare. Enjoy!

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                    It's Cold Outside!

                    Winter can be tough on everyone, including pets. Spring may be around the corner, but here are some tips offered by the ASPCA:

                    -- Wipe paws, legs, and stomach when your dog comes in to protect him from ingesting salt, antifreeze and other chemicals. Pads may bleed from snow or encrusted ice; vaseline works well to soothe and protect.

                    --Animals are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia. Noses, ears, and pads can quickly freeze, causing damage.

                    --Never leave a pet alone in a locked vehicle. A car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold, just as it acts as an oven in summer.

                    --Be wary of frozen bodies of water especially in March when there may be a partial thaw.

                    -- Cats sometimes look for warmth under hoods of parked cars. Bang loudly on the hood before starting your engine to alert an unsuspecting feline.

                    Animals get cabin fever, too, and maybe a little more quality time with your pet inside will make you both happier!

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                      Curb Appeal Matters

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                      In selling your home, an attractive exterior – the house entry exterior, yard, driveway and walkway – matter. As agents, we have all had potential buyers who wouldn’t venture from the car because they found a property so lacking in curb appeal. Make the most of your home and property:

                      • Clean up the front and back yards. Remove toys, rake leaves and do away with any dead shrubs and trees. Change a rusty mailbox or broken garden ornament.

                      • Touch up the exterior. A fresh coat of paint or a power wash make an enormous difference in how a potential buyer views your home.

                      • Fix fencing. A shabby fence gives the impression that the house has been neglected.

                      • Landscape the front yard. Make sure leaves are raked, the grass is mowed, and gardens weeded. When the weather improves, plant flowers; adding a container garden to the front stoop or steps is a great way to greet potential owners.  A well-kept and pretty garden can be a real selling feature.

                      • Replace burnt-out bulbs. Check outside lights to make sure that they work. And, while you’re replacing the bulbs, clean the lighting fixtures as well.

                      • Wash the windows. Clean windows make for an inviting home (don’t forget windows in the garage or shed).

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                        Bear Respect

                        This story was told to me. Whether or not it’s true, it is certainly plausible. It’s about a bear that was roaming Salisbury village last summer.

                        Some people heard the bear had been seen around the rear of LaBonne’s Market. They slowly drove their vehicle around the building—a man, a woman in the front, with a child and a dog in the rear. All windows were open.

                        Bears are wild—synonym: unpredictable. They’re also fast and agile. They can outrun and out-climb any human easily. Their sense of smell is 100 times better than most dogs. From 20 feet away, the bear can be reaching inside your vehicle before you get one window rolled up. If the bear took a growling dog as a threat or smelled food, the consequences could’ve been grave. Fortunately, in this case,  nothing happened.

                        But this serves as a good reminder to please observe wild animals from a distance.  They deserve our respect. One split-second encounter may mean severe harm to you and death for the animal.  It’s about protection—yours and theirs.

                         

                          

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                          Salisbury CT Ski Jumps This Weekend!

                          Sartre Hill in Salisbury, CT is home to the oldest ski jumping program in the U.S.A.  This weekend, Feb. 8-10, 2019, literally in our own backyard, you can enjoy jumping under the lights, target jumps, human dogsled races, a chili cook-off, meter jumps, the Salisbury Invitational Championships, the annual Snow Ball, and the United States Eastern Ski Jumping Championships.

                          There are bonfires burning all three days, and food and beverages are available.

                          The 93rd Annual  Salisbury Ski Jumps are a beloved Salisbury tradition. Jumpfest is hosted by SWSA (Salisbury Winter Sports Association), an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that has fostered the sport of ski jumping among all ages and generations.

                          For more information and schedule details, please visit jumpfest.org.

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                            Buying With an Eye Towards Resale

                            When you are purchasing a home for your personal use, you should obviously look for a home that you love and one that has a layout and location that works for you and your family.   

                            However, always keep in mind that you might want to sell it at some point in the future. Maybe you love old homes with charm and quirky character, but does the market prefer a more modern open floor plan? Or maybe you love an edgy contemporary, but Colonials are what most people want in your town.  For example, we have noticed that barn style homes with high ceilings sell well in the Salisbury, CT area and surrounding towns

                            Talk to your realtor about what is popular in your area.  Are you buying in a price range that is easy to re-sell? Building something that is too specific for your personal needs —say a huge house that only has two bedrooms—can make it difficult for future resale. Call us at Best & Cavallaro Real Estate if you would like to explore this topic more thoroughly.

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                              Is It Time for a Septic Inspection?

                              If you haven’t had your septic inspected in the past three years, give your local sanitation company a call and they’ll be happy to come out and check on it.

                              Regular maintenance can save you thousands of dollars in repairs if an issue arises. Typically, an inspector will check the sludge levels to determine if the tank needs to be pumped, as well as the components that prevent wastewater and scum to be released in the drainage fields. These components protect the absorptive quality of the soil and prolong the life of the septic system.

                              Sanitation professionals will also give you maintenance tips on how to care for your septic. One easy tip to follow is to avoid as much water waste as possible. Efficient water use improves the operation of a septic system and reduces the risk of failure.

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                                Little Tips for Saving in the New Year

                                As many articles explain at the start of the new year, this is a good time to look at your budget and consider some instant gratification with immediate savings. Here are a few easy money-saving tips:

                                First, make sure to shop your electric rate. The website

                                www.energizect.com allows you to choose your supplier based on rates and also provide helpful energy saving tips. As of the start of the year, Eversource was charging 10.14 cents compared to other suppliers with rates as low as 7.99.  Cut your cable bill by subscribing to streaming services such as Sling TV, Hulu Live TV, Netflix, and HBO. If you subscribed to all of those services, the bill would be around $88. Cable starts at around $100. Remember that cutting cable doesn’t mean you lose basic TV; you’ll still receive your local channels.

                                Finally, check with your insurance agent about installing security cameras and smoke detectors; they could save you more than the cost of the equipment and installation.

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                                  Radon Testing - Why Wait?

                                  Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas found in the earth that causes an estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths every year in the United States according to the American Cancer Society—only smoking causes more. 

                                  Much of the Northeast is in a radon “hot zone.” It is estimated that 28% of tested homes in Berkshire and Litchfield County, 37% in Columbia County, and 39% in Dutchess County, have over the recommended maximum level of 4.0pCi/L that is considered dangerous to health. 

                                  Radon can affect one house and not the one next door, and there are no warning symptoms of radon poisoning. The American Cancer Society suggests that ALL homes be tested for radon levels. If the reading is over 4.0pCi/L, contact a contractor who can fix the problem; the EPA website lists some. 

                                  When you decide to sell your house, you’ll find out from the buyer’s inspection the amount of radon in your house and whether or not your family has been exposed over the years, so why wait?

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                                    Winter Roof Tips

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                                    The key to preventing ice dams is simply to keep your attic and roof cold.  While frozen, they’re no more trouble than the icicles that hang down. But during the warmer parts of a winter day, water melting off the roof pools behind the ice then seeps back up under the shingles.

                                    To keep your roof cold, follow these steps:

                                    1. Close up attic bypasses. In the average home, about 1/3 of heat loss is through the ceiling into the attic, mostly from air leaks caused by unblocked walls, gaps in drywall, and cracks around light fixtures, pipes, and chimneys. A professional will pull back insulation and plug the leaks using foam, caulk and other methods.

                                    2. Measure your attic insulation level. Check the depth of your attic insulation. Building codes require about 12-14”. Add more if you have less than 8”. Blown-in cellulose and fiberglass are best because they fill more tightly leaving fewer gaps. It’s usually worth hiring a professional for this job.

                                    By stopping air leakage to mitigate ice dams, you’ll save energy and reduce both your heating and your air conditioning bills.

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