Real Estate Entrepreneurs Seminar- May 24

I’m a member of HYPE, the Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs group, which is an initiative of the MetroHartford Alliance. Throughout the year they host a variety of forums and seminars geared towards financial planning, investing, and home buying. On May 24 they are hosting a Real Estate Entrepreneurs seminar. It will be a panel of successful real estate investors participating in a moderated discussion and answering questions from the audience. This will be a great opportunity to learn tips and techniques from some of the best investors in the area.

More details are to follow. If you join HYPE here (it’s free), you will then receive further information on this seminar and other activities that might be of interest. I’d encourage you to join. It’s a great way to network with young professionals in the area and attend informative discussions throughout the year.

Shrinking Cities

New England’s “Rising Star” has several initiatives underway to promote economic growth and increase home ownership. I’ll be writing about some of these projects and programs in future posts. In the meantime, I came across an interesting article on the Wall Street Journal Online that talks about a very different strategy, purposely planning to shrink a city.

According to the article, Youngstown, Ohio has seen its population decline by 60% over the last fifty years. Heavily focused on the steel industry, Youngstown saw most of its steel mills close during the industry downturn in the 1980s. Tens of thousands of jobs left with the mill closures. Since then, Youngstown has been plagued with blight and abandonment. Over a thousand homes, businesses, schools, and other structures have simply been abandoned. In order for Youngstown to survive, the city planner and other city officials came up with a unique and controversial plan to shrink the tax base by razing empty structures in order to create more green space, reducing infrastructure and services accordingly.

I found this article refreshing. So many times we see cities trying to fight economic cycles with a short term view and rose colored glasses. It is impossible for every US city to grow at the same rate, yet we see declining cities continue to push for growth when it may not be the financially responsible thing to do. Just like a business, a city must reevaluate its strategic plan when faced with new economic challenges. Continuing to do the same thing and expect different results is foolish and naive. Transforming from a struggling larger city to a thriving smaller town should be viewed as a responsible way of using taxpayer dollars and safe guarding for future generations.

Slimy Realtors

Hopefully you’ve never encountered a Realtor like this…

It’s hysterical, but not offensive. Make sure your sound is turned on. Thanks to the Virginia Association of Realtors for this gem.

Newington Ridge Town Homes

Yesterday a client and I visited the Newington Ridge town homes, a new Toll Brothers community of 72 town homes off of Routes 5 and 15 in Newington. Sales of the first phase are moving quickly and they will be deciding in the next few days if they will continue construction to build out the entire 72 units.

Newington Ridge offers five different floor plans, with 2 and 3 bedrooms, an option of the master bedroom on the first or second floor, and a standard 2.5 baths. While floor plans are somewhat fixed, I was impressed with the flexible options available to meet buyer’s needs. For example, if a buyer wants a master bath with a tub and shower, some plans were flexible enough to accommodate this.

Floor plans are open and airy. The square footage ranges from 1520 to 2298 square feet, depending on the model. Base pricing for the homes we saw ranged from $282,975 to $350,975. The features in the base models are well appointed, with additional trim packages and extras available that move towards the extravagant. It seems that any buyer’s needs could be met.

Finally, I would like to mention the helpful staff at the community. We were escorted through various models, both finished and under construction, so my client could see all of the options available. Our guide mentioned how they were able to alter various units to meet specific buyer needs. It’s always refreshing to see that the cookie cutter approach is not taken and client’s needs and wants are heard and can be realized.

I would recommend visiting this town home community if you are looking for newer construction in the Hartford area.

Brimfield Antiques and Flea Market Show

Spring is here and with it comes one of my favorite events, the week-long Brimfield Antiques Show, located in Brimfield Massachusetts. For those of you that have never been to Brimfield, it’s quite an experience. Thousands of antique dealers come from across the country to peddle their wares from Tuesday through Sunday. There are numerous fields along a mile-long stretch on Route 20 that host the event. Certain fields are open all week, and others are only open for a day or two. The May show (May 8-13 this year) is actually the first of 3 shows for the year. There will be two others, one in July (July 10-15) and one in September (September 4-9).

If you are a new homeowner, Brimfield is a great way to begin furnishing your home. You can find quality older pieces that often cost less than new furniture at a local furniture store. There is an eclectic mix of time periods. My husband and I love furniture from the 1930s and 1940s. Our friend likes the Danish modern style of the 1970s. Brimfield carries it all. And it isn’t just about furniture. If you are a collector, you can find just about anything; records, dishware, old prints, vintage fabrics, gardening items, etc. It is truly an overwhelming experience the first time you attend. Plan to spend the good part of the day browsing, as there is so much to see.

Here are a few tips that I’ve learned over my many visits:

1. Dress comfortably and in layers. You are going to be walking A LOT and most likely you’ll be hot by the afternoon.

2. Bring a backpack with water and an easy snack. You can also use this to carry your small treasures. Brimfield also has an outdoor eating area so you can get a more substantial lunch or snack if you choose.

3. If you plan on buying furniture, bring or borrow a truck or SUV. Furniture can be shipped to your house, but it will be expensive.

4. If you go on a Saturday and the weather is going to be nice, get there early because parking will fill up. “Early” is before 10:00am. The fields are typically open from 8:00am-6:00pm.

5. Be prepared to negotiate! This is half the fun. You should always be able to negotiate the price down on an item. Bring cash, checks, and credit cards. Some vendors don’t take credit cards, so you need to be prepared with other forms of dough.

6. If you can, make a list of what you’re looking for before you go. There is so much to see that it is easy to get distracted and you’ll never get through most of the fields.

7. If you have an older home, Brimfield is a great place to find replacement items like glass door knobs, antique lighting fixtures, stained glass windows, etc. My husband and I were lucky enough to find a vintage oak door that we needed for a bathroom addition. Total cost was $25! Try getting that at Home Depot!