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Avoid Surprise: Winterize PDF Print Email


By Priscilla Toomey, Julie B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty

Dec. 4, 2019:  Here are ten tips to winterize your home to stay cozy and avoid freeze-ups, leaks, and drafts:

*Clean gutters and downspouts to avoid ice/water back-ups and leaks and install leaf guards

*Drain and turn off any outdoor faucets, turn off your sprinkler system and disconnect and store garden hoses.

*Store outdoor furniture inside or cover it.

*Re-seal your deck to protect it.

*Be sure to have a snow shovel, canned food, and water for emergencies.

*Check for drafts from doors and windows and caulk where needed.

*Change the direction of ceiling fans to direct warm air down.

*Replace furnace and other filters; make sure your dryer vent isn’t clogged.

*Place draft guards where the door goes to the outside and close any vents that may have been opened during the warm weather.

*Slow drip all faucets from pipes along outside walls.

Following these tips will help you stay warm, conserve energy, and keep your fuel costs down.

Pictured:  Priscilla Toomey

Photo courtesy Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty


Editor's note:  As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, legislators, and candidates. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

Priscilla Toomey on Real Estate: The Visual Side of Real Estate PDF Print Email


Priscilla Toomey, Julie B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty

Oct. 30, 2019:  We have become a visual world, and in real estate, "you only have one chance to make the best impression" holds especially true. What can you do to accomplish that? Four steps will help you get there: 

De-cluttering:  Prospective buyers will see what's there.  You should not expect them to imagine what could be. They see what is. So you need to de-clutter. Get rid of as many highly personal items as possible because those only remind prospects that the place is yours, not theirs. When it looks "naked" to you, you've probably done what you need to do. What you want is for the place you're selling to look like they can imagine themselves living there with their things.

Staging:  Staging means arranging what you already have to show your place to its best advantage, not bringing in a lot of rented furniture and furnishings. The key point about staging is that a good stager will see your place through the eyes of a prospective buyer and re-arrange things accordingly to make your place most appealing. What you may have been comfortable with for the past several years may well not be what today's millennial buyers are hoping to see. The closer you can get to that, the better.

Professional Photos: The photos you take will go onto the Multiple Listing Service and will also migrate to many other websites such as Zillow, Trulia, and others.  You need someone who is a pro at taking real estate photos and has the equipment to do an excellent job for you. And remember that the camera picks up everything, even those keys you accidentally left on the kitchen table. A professional photographer will see them and get rid of them, but the point is that people leave all kinds of little things around, so be sure to clear out as many as you can. Very few people have a camera that can do the job of professional equipment.  We have seen more than enough photos of homes taken with someone's phone camera, and they look unprofessional and are unable to compete with home photos taken by a pro. And if you're planning to have any rooms virtually staged, do let the photographer know because the angles may need to be a little different.

Virtual Staging:  You need to de-clutter and stage because people will be walking in once your place is on the market.  If your place is vacant or your things look "tired," you can have rooms "virtually staged" so that prospects can see the possibilities of what your place could look like. Virtual staging takes an empty room or takes a photo of a room that's furnished and empties it and re-furnishes it in a style you choose to show it to its best advantage. There is typically a caption that says the room has been virtually staged. Staging enables prospects to see what could be if they buy your place.  Additionally, when they are looking at it online, it is likely to help draw them in for a visit.

To compete in today's market, following these steps will position it to its best advantage.

Pictured here:  Priscilla Toomey

Photo courtesy Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty 

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.


Renovating a Bronxville Tudor: Part 3 -- Updating the Upstairs Bathrooms PDF Print Email


Editor's note:  This is the third article in a three-part series about a home renovation in Bronxville.  The first article focused on the Open Concept.  The second article focused on Functional Living.  This article will focus on Updating the Upstairs Bathrooms

By Tisha Leung,

Oct. 9, 2019:  Sara and Mike moved to Westchester so their family of three (now four) could enjoy more space, indoor and out. They found a lovely Tudor home in Bronxville, but it needed a renovation.  

They started by creating an open plan, along with a pantry, mudroom, and powder room, on the first floor, which gave the home a modern refresh. Click on these links to read Part 1 and Part 2 of Sara and Mike’s renovation. They then moved on to the second-floor bathrooms.

The master bathroom received a facelift, including a large walk-in shower, high-end fixtures and tile, and a large niche for holding toiletries. They opted for a sliding barn door to allow room for a double sink, which has been a lifesaver for many a marriage.

The kids’ bathroom has a more rustic look, with oil-rubbed bronze hardware and a copper sink. A low wall between the tub and the toilet provided the perfect space for a built-in toilet paper shelf, while the crawl space behind the bathroom was made accessible for more storage.


Kids' bathroom before renovation


Kids' bathroom after renovation

Now that they’ve been through the process, Sara and Mike recommend that renovators focus on the long term. “It is so easy to get caught up in permits and deliveries being delayed, little problems here and there, budget inflations, or finding out your chimney has collapsed right as you were paying the final bills, but in the end, it all came together,” Sara says. “We are absolutely in love with our final space. We are so excited that we get to live here!” 

Updating older homes is an everyday occurrence in the U.S.-- 40% of the 137 million homes in the U.S. are 50 years or older, according to the National Association of Homebuilders. 

Below are tips when renovating an old house:

  1. Focus first on the larger aspects of the home, such as structural integrity. 
  2. Prioritize your budget and scope, keeping in mind what will elevate your everyday life and give you the best return on your remodeling spend.
  3. If your budget is tight, seal your roof or your unfinished attic. 
  4. Invest in a good electrical system to handle all modern appliances.

Sweeten is a free service that matches homeowners with vetted general contractors, monitoring the renovation until completion.

Photos courtesy

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.






Luxury Real Estate Sales Post Gains or Remain Level in Several Markets North of New York City PDF Print Email


Contributed by Dean Bender, Thompson & Bender for Houlihan Lawrence

Oct. 9, 2019:  Third quarter luxury sales posted gains or were level with last year in several markets north of NYC, including Westchester County (sales $2M and higher); Greenwich (sales $3M and higher); Darien (sales $2M and higher); and Putnam and Dutchess (sales $1M and higher). This encouraging news marks a reversal of declining homes sales the past several quarters in these areas. The third quarter results were announced today by Houlihan Lawrence.

Luxury sales increased because prices have fallen and buyers are transacting on compelling value propositions. Lower interest rates are not a causal factor but contribute to moving buyers off the sidelines and into the market.

In Westchester, the $3M to $4.99M price range accounted for most of the gains in third quarter sales. Nearly all closed properties in this price range were reduced from their original price – some had up to five reductions - and sold nearly 30% to 50% less than the original list price. Sales over $5M followed a similar pattern of coming on the market unrealistically high, and ultimately selling substantially below the original price.

Sellers have often (in hindsight) over-invested in their homes. If they purchased in the peak years or made costly improvements to their home - coupled with declining values in the recent past - they may take a loss when they sell. They have accepted that buyers’ assessment of value is not equal to their total investment. The financial loss is offset by the intangible gain of being able to move forward with future plans.

Darien is the strongest performer this quarter and the only market to show a gain in luxury sales year-to-date. The lower end of the market ($2 to $2.99M) is up by 25% year-to-date. As the market picks up in Darien, neighboring New Canaan is not recovering as quickly.

“Inventory levels remain high. When sales slowed down the past several quarters, new listings came to market at a steady pace and inventory accumulated. The imbalance of supply and demand continues to put pressure on pricing. Pending sales north of NYC are holding steady compared to the same period last year – a positive indicator that sellers are listening to the market and pricing realistically,” said Anthony Cutugno, Senior Vice President, Director of Private Brokerage.

Photo courtesy of Houlihan Lawrence

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

Priscilla Toomey on Real Estate: Housing Stability Act of 2019 Includes New Provisions For Renting Single Family Homes PDF Print Email


By Priscilla Toomey, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty

Sep. 4, 2019:  If their home is on the market but isn’t selling, people often think of renting it out as a viable option. Of course, no matter how careful they are in choosing a tenant, it’s partly luck whether the tenant turns out to be responsible and treats the property as if it were their own or turns out to be an unexpected nightmare who doesn’t pay rent on time and who treats the property poorly, no matter how good they looked on paper.

But on June 14 of this year a seismic shift occurred in favor of tenants – something all landlords and prospective landlords need to be aware of, including those renting out a single-family home.  It's called the Housing Stability Act of 2019 and among its provisions are:

1. Landlords cannot charge application fees and can only charge $20 or the actual cost, whichever is less,  for a credit or background check.

2. Landlord’s cannot charge more than a one-month security deposit and cannot charge a pet deposit. 

3. Once a tenant moves out, the landlord has 14 days to return the security deposit and must give an itemized list, with explanations, for every item deducted from that security deposit.

4. Late fees cannot exceed $50 or 5% of the monthly rent, whichever is less, and late fees cannot be charged if rent is paid 5 days or less after the due date.

5. The eviction process has become much longer and more difficult for landlords and can now easily take a year.

These are just some of the highlights of the new law. So, if you’re a landlord or considering renting out your home because it isn’t selling – or for any other reason – you should check with a lawyer who is proficient in landlord/tenant matters first to find out exactly what you can and cannot do under the new law and whether or not you are prepared to live with it.

Pictured here:  Priscilla Toomey, cell, 914-559-8084; email,  CLOAKING .

Photo courtesy Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff

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