Houlihan Lawrence – 1Q 2013 Market Report

Houlihan-Q1-2013The seeds of a housing recovery sown last year have blossomed this spring in both our region and across the United States. In Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, pending sales (commitments to purchase a home at a specified price and terms, typically closing within 60 to 90 days) are up sharply compared to the same period last year, while inventory is down to 2004 levels, near the lows of the last bull market.

Our current supply/demand ration in Westchester (three active listings for every pending home sale) is at the lowest levels since 2005, and we are increasingly seeing multiple bidders vying for new listings in many communities. With inventory being absorbed at a faster pace than new listings entering the market – both locally and nationwide – we can expect to see rising home prices in 2013, consistent with our prediction last year that home values had bottomed.

In face, median prices are beginning to edge up locally in Q1 compared to the same period last year: in Westchester the median price was up 2% to $515,000; Putnam County median price increased by 3%.

The national trend toward reduced inventories reflects a combination of psychological and economic factors. Some homeowners are unable to sell because they are under water on their mortgages, or have minimal equity available to purchase another home. Others may feel that time is on their side and are waiting for higher prices before listing. Whatever their reasons, homeowners across the country are staying put in greater numbers for the time being.

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And learn more about our Residential Real Estate Services.

Barbara Kerrigan – Real Estate Buyer/ Broker, Relocation Specialist
Barbara Kerrigan has been in residential real estate for 18 years and is an expert at seeing the potential in distressed properties. She can help you with any of your needs, not just in property that needs renovation but in all aspects of buying and selling residential properties.

Houlihan Lawrence – 4Q 2012 Market Report

Q4-ReportThe local real estate market finished 2012 with a bang marked by the record-breaking sale of Devonshire in Bedford Corners, the first brokered property sale in Westchester to exceed $21 million. Closing on December 24th, this historic transaction punctuated the most active quarter in our market since 2006. As home sales increased sharply across most of the region in Q4, median sale prices increased by 3.8%.

Westchester enjoyed strong gains in Q4 and the highest number of Q4 home sales since 2006: single-family home sales increased to 1,041 in Q4-2012, a 30% gain from Q4-2011, while condo and coop sales were up 44% and 16% respectively in Q4-2012 compared to Q4-2011.

Continuing a trend prevalent since 2008, Southern Westchester outperformed the northern suburbs in sales growth. Single-family home sales in the Sound Shore region were up 53% in Q4, Lower Westchester was up 48%, and Greater White Plains was up 50%. Northern Westchester saw home sales increase by 26%, while Northwest Weschester was up 16%.

Looking further north to Putnam County, Q4 single-family home sales increased by 4%, while median sale price dropped by 5%, when compared to Q4-2011. In Dutchess County, homes sold increased by 19% in Q4-2012 and median sale price was up by 6%, compared to Q4-2011.

Read the Full Report

And learn more about our Residential Real Estate Services.

Barbara Kerrigan – Real Estate Buyer/ Broker, Relocation Specialist
Barbara Kerrigan has been in residential real estate for 18 years and is an expert at seeing the potential in distressed properties. She can help you with any of your needs, not just in property that needs renovation but in all aspects of buying and selling residential properties.

Finished Backyard Project

The backyard project is complete and we are thrilled with the results. See how the boxy-rectangular shaped backyard has been transformed into an organic oasis, complete with a variety of areas for dining, entertaining, relaxing and even meditating.

Learn more about our Landscape Design & Implementation Services.

Diana Lapins – Owner, Hunt Woods Manor
Diana is an interior designer with over 28 years of experience in the interior design profession. She has been actively renovating residential homes since 1994, and is currently on her 6th home renovation project.

Products We Love: Vintage Scarf Pillows

I recently discovered these beautiful pillows made from vintage scarfs. So I reached out to the designer, Katie Lindsay Corr, to learn more about them.

“I hand make them from silk vintage scarves that I have collected from all parts of the country and abroad. At this point, I have hundreds of designs, with some by big name designers including YSL, Givenchy, Gernreich, Balmain, Lanvin, Patou, Ricci, Dior, and Vera just to name a few. By using vintage pieces that are at least 20 years old you can be assured that each pillow will be made from a rare scarf and that it will be one of a kind.

“Once I began to notice the interesting and beautiful designs in scarves, it seemed a shame that they were shut away in drawers. By making them into pillows, they are enjoyed again, in a new way. I use silk and silk blend scarves that are in excellent condition. First, they are examined for holes and then they are washed or cleaned. Then each scarf is lined with interfacing and muslin to give it strength and finished with a simple silk envelope back made usually made from taffeta or dupioni. The final result is a custom made smooth silky pillow.”

You can find these vintage scarf pillows by Lindsay Corr on “One Kings Lane” under the “Vintage and Market Finds” section. She also has a shop on Etsy and a pillow collection in Spruce Home and Garden in Bronxville. She is also always ready to make pillows to suit her customers needs.

Learn more about our Interior Decorating Services.

Diana Lapins – Owner, Hunt Woods Manor
Diana is an interior designer with over 28 years of experience in the interior design profession. She has been actively renovating residential homes since 1994, and is currently on her 6th home renovation project.

1910 Arts and Crafts Home

Making An Old Girl Seem Young Again

What do you do to a home which has had the same paint colors since the mid 1990’s? How do you bring an older home with charm and detail into the 2000’s and makes it look fresh and alive? Those were the questions the homeowner asked me when we started to look at re-painting their beloved Arts and Crafts home this summer.

Color Inspiration

First was a trip to a well-known home show to see firsthand industry trends and discuss colors schemes. We literally looked at everything from carpets and wall coverings to furniture for inspiration. We settled on a wallpaper whose pallet we agreed would make a wonderful start to our picking paint colors.

The house situated high on a bluff, looked heavy and worn out. The current color of dark grey with burgundy trim was a nice choice years ago, but both colors had faded and deepened. The house seemed dark and sad.

By painting the house a crème color and the windows an off white, the house seemed to stand up straight. We accented the windows and details with contrasting colors which brought out the details of the architecture. We added cool colors for a strong contrast to the warm tones. Painting the trim a smoky gray and the doors throughout the house a violet purple/blue, made a wonderful contrast to the brightness of the main body of the home.

By changing the floor from an aqua to a dark warm brown, the house now feels supported at the base. The transformation couldn’t be more apparent from the street; the house appears to have a bright sunny feeling even on a cloudy, rainy day.

The client couldn’t be happier. It’s added a whole new life to a grand old girl! See the before and after and let us know what you think!


Diana Lapins – Owner, Hunt Woods Manor
Diana is an interior designer with over 28 years of experience in the interior design profession. She has been actively renovating residential homes since 1994, and is currently on her 6th home renovation project.

Houlihan Lawrence – 3Q 2012 Market Report

With 2012 on pace to record the most regional home sales since 2007, the scorching Spring market settled to a steady simmer in Q3. All year long, we’ve pointed to the encouraging surge in pending sales – first noted in Q4-2011 – which now is beginning to translate into healthy increases in closed sales across most of the region. In Westchester, closed sales of single family homes increased 15% in Q3-2012 compared to the prior year. In Putnam County, closed single-family home sales increased by 28% year-over-year, while Dutchess County posted a small decline of 2.7%.

Since the largest gains in sales activity have been at entry-price levels across the region, median prices have declined year-to-date in 2012 by 5%, 10% and 13% in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties respectively. However, the lower median prices reflect primarily a shift in the mix of homes selling rather than a continuing decline in values for comparable homes. From the peak in 2007, price declines have ranged from 10-15% in Lower Westchester to 30-35% in parts of Northern Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties. For most of the markets we serve, values appear to have stabilized, and in the case of Lower Westchester, have actually begun to increase modestly.

Read the Full Report

And learn more about our Residential Real Estate Services.

Barbara Kerrigan – Real Estate Buyer/ Broker, Relocation Specialist
Barbara Kerrigan has been in residential real estate for 18 years and is an expert at seeing the potential in distressed properties. She can help you with any of your needs, not just in property that needs renovation but in all aspects of buying and selling residential properties.

Autumn Gardening Tips

“Just before the death of flowers,
And before they are buried in snow,
There comes a festival season
When nature is all aglow.”
-Author Unknown

A Garden Is An Ever Changing Tapestry Of Natural Beauty
If you haven’t started that garden journal, go out and buy one today. It helps assess your landscape by listing your ideas for changes and additions. It also helps to decide what you most want to do right now and in the seasons to come. While still in the garden mode, make notes for things to do or buy next spring. Write down the names of that wonderful annual combination you had this year or remind yourself what did not seem to work well in that one corner. Throw in some pictures too!

Roots Establish Better In Fall
Fall is a great planting time and gives you a jumpstart on next year’s garden! Just don’t forget to pay attention to the water needs of those new additions. Without adequate snow or rain you will need to occasionally water new plantings in the winter. A warm winter (such as last year) will intensify this need.

Plant. Transplant. Divide.
Early blooming perennials like irises and peonies can be transplanted. Be careful not to replant too deeply or they will not flower. Divide daylilies if they are in need of thinning – this can improve flowering for next year.

Dig Up & Store Your Bulbs
After the first frost, dig up your tender bulbs and tubers (gladiolas, dahlias, cannas, etc…) and put them in a dry and cool spot (around 40 degrees) for the winter in an open, airy, shallow box.

Clean Your Beds
Continue weeding, deadheading and cutting back perennials as needed. Remove diseased leaves and spent plant material from the beds which will reduce possibility of disease and harmful insects overwintering in this material. Add some compost to your beds as you clean them, before you mulch for the winter.

Snip & Pinch!
Notice which perennials need staking so that you can be pro-active with this chore next year, or opt to try spring “pinching” to shorten their ultimate height – many, but not all perennials respond well to this. This method also delays flowering a bit, which can be a plus in your garden. (ex: Shasta daisy, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Summer phlox, Bee balm). Try this method selectively, on the front row of flowers for a graduation of flowering heights. Add this info to your journal as a reminder for next spring!

Stop Your Clippers!
Pruning of your roses and subshrubs (such as lavender) should stop now. Pruning can encourage new growth that will be subject to frost. Wait until March to prune, before new growth begins (climbing/rambling roses are an exception).

Ready For A Treat? I Promise. No Tricks.
Give yourself a treat for next spring, buy some spring flowering bulbs now (but wait until the weather cools down in October before planting). If you plant them among your hostas or daylilies, the declining foliage of the daffodil or tulip will be hidden by the newly emerging perennial leaves next spring!

Garden Looking Tired? Add Some Color
Don’t forget to add some fall color to your yard (can replace any tired looking annuals). Mums, ornamental cabbage and grasses all do the trick quite nicely! (along with a few well-placed pumpkins of course!!) Pansies give you the added bonus of returning early next spring in full color!

Fertilize Your Garden
Fertilize shrubs and trees with the appropriate product, such as Hollytone for your acid-loving evergreens.
Grass seeding should be finished by now, but do continue to fertilize.

Move ‘Em On In
If you haven’t already done so, begin the transition of your houseplants to indoors by bringing them in at nighttime only at first. First clean and prune them and don’t forget to check for insects! Stop/reduce fertilizing of these plants until late winter.

A Quick “Snip” Tip
Cuttings from coleus will root easily and can be brought indoors for winter color in your home, and can then be returned to your garden next spring.

Learn more about our Landscape Design & Implementation Services.

Getting A New Lease On Your Furniture Life

Sometimes, it’s an antique and an heirloom or just a piece you love, but time has taken its toll. Should you replace it with something new? Or “recycle” and “refresh”? These are good questions, especially if you are on a budget, and find it hard to swallow the prices of new furniture, many times constructed of lesser quality materials.

Is it a matter of color with the piece in its present state? Or does the piece look worn out and tattered and in need of a face lift?

By changing the fabric and adding some details – repairing the structure – many times it actually looks better than new, and usually for about ½ the cost. An existing piece can add depth to your design intent.

Recently, I have been working with a client on his living room, and he wanted to keep his current sofa, yet it was worn out looking, faded and sad. It didn’t currently match our new color scheme and it looked dated.

I selected a fabric which enhanced the room (taupe velvet), and reflected the light, adding some sparkle. I also decided on a contrasting welt for the piece to tie some of the other colors in the room together.

It has turned out very well – and for about the ½ of the price of purchasing a new piece, this one really looks brand new. See for yourself, and let me know what you think.

Learn more about our Interior Decorating Services.

Diana Lapins – Owner, Hunt Woods Manor
Diana is an interior designer with over 28 years of experience in the interior design profession. She has been actively renovating residential homes since 1994, and is currently on her 6th home renovation project.

Backyard Project: Initial Steps

Welcome to the beginning of our project with Diana. I’m Deb Phillips from Nature’s Cradle Nursery and I’m the Landscape Designer that will be working closely with Diana to accomplish her goals in the back yard. Time is short so Raffi Ishkanian, our Design Team Lead, will join me to help quickly develop and implement a design that will fit her home, her budget, and her hopes for the backyard.

Backyard Plan

So lets get started. With every design project there are steps to follow and landscaping is no exception. Today, our first step was to create a list of Diana’s likes, dislikes, color preferences, intended use of the yard, and any special elements she may be looking for like a patio, lighting, water features, and others. The next was to note existing site elements like sunlight, shade, elevations, and existing large trees and other plant material. We also know that Diana wants to re-use as much of the existing plant material and stone as possible which is a great way to save on budget and reduce waste.

Just an hour later, armed with this information, Raffi and I sat down in Diana’s yard and traded ideas for different areas of the property while listening to the hum of saws and watching the amazing climbers prune Diana’s large oaks. We quickly sketched our ideas and raced back to the drawing board to produce a concept design for Diana’s approval.

Next steps, detail design and estimates.

Learn more about our Landscape Design & Implementation Services.

Deb Phillips – Landscape Architect
Deb is a certified Commercial Horticulture and Landscape Designer who loves to create beautiful landscapes. She currently works at Nature’s Cradle Nursery.

Finding Inspiration

Where do you find inspiration? I find it in the very woods that inspired my company’s name. Come along for a walk in Hunt Woods.

Diana Lapins – Owner, Hunt Woods Manor
Diana is an interior designer with over 28 years of experience in the interior design profession. She has been actively renovating residential homes since 1994, and is currently on her 6th home renovation project.