Photographs by Kyle Norton
When a co-president of William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance (with 128 offices in nine states and more than 4,000 agents) and the managing director of the William Raveis Charitable Fund metaphorically knock on your door and say they want to buy your house, you might be torn between feeling that you’re at a complete disadvantage and that you couldn’t be more flattered. Suddenly, you might wonder, Do we own the best house in town? After all, Ryan and Meghan Raveis have the inside track on local real estate…and they chose your house. The son of Chairman and CEO William Raveis, Ryan has real estate in his blood. It’s also in Meghan’s. Raising three young children, the couple says they found the home they wanted and renovated it to suit their interests and style and to grow with them through the years. There’s also something to that saying, “Location, location, location!” Fairfield was at the top of their must-have list.
HOW WAS THE BUYING PROCESS? GIVEN YOUR LAST NAME, IT COULDN’T HAVE BEEN TYPICAL.
Ryan: “House hunting began once [our twin] boys moved out of their cribs. Our goal was to find something around 5,000 square feet with four or more bedrooms, an open-floor plan and some space for the children to play.
We looked throughout Fairfield but focused our efforts on Greenfield Hill and Southport. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much inventory for what we were looking for. We were hoping to stay under $2 million, but, for fun, we went to look at a house that was above our desired price range—it had just dropped a bit. It had the space but didn’t have an open plan or the style that we were looking for. We left and didn’t think twice. Then, a couple of months later, they had dropped the price again—and inventory was still thin—so we made an offer knowing that we would want to do some updates. Ideally, we would have liked to keep our identity hidden while submitting an offer, but I knew the listing agent.
We eventually settled on a number that was in the middle of our initial offer and their recent price drop—still above my desired range. We needed to move quickly on my existing home. While most sellers depend on their agent to help them price a home, I was so familiar with the market by this time, and armed with an enormous amount of housing statistics from raveis.com, that I was certain where the house needed to be priced. While marketing the home, I also did something that wasn’t common in 2013—I made a video tour, and the tour guide was my three-year-old daughter. It was, and still is, a perfect home for a family, and we wanted to develop that emotional connection with prospective buyers. The house sold within one day of hitting the market.
WHAT DID YOU CONSIDER WHEN BUYING THIS HOUSE?
Ryan: “As a young family we wanted a home where we could put down roots and grow. We wanted a certain location and a flat lot with land. While the home wasn’t exactly what we wanted when we bought it, we knew that it had potential, and we’ve been fortunate to make the changes that made it feel like our own.
This is something we help our Raveis clients envision—a home’s potential. Although many people these days want a turnkey move-in, it’s often worthwhile, both financially and personally, to ignore the color of the walls, the way it’s decorated or the physical layout. Colors can be changed and walls can be moved more easily and inexpensively than many people think. When you are looking to buy for the long term, focus on the things you cannot change: location, schools and land, as well as the current potential of the structure.”
WHAT DID YOU CHANGE?
Meghan: “With the help of Shayna K. Moore Design and Renovations, we designed a new floor plan that removed and moved walls to create a larger kitchen and great room, bringing more light to what would be our most highly trafficked space. We also created a larger pantry, two first-floor bathrooms, and rebalance of the rooms by moving entryways. We also wanted to add details like coffered ceilings and paneling. We also redid the master bathroom, created an office and music room on the third floor and added a patio off the kitchen.”
ADVICE FOR HOUSE HUNTERS LOOKING TO BUY IN FAIRFIELD?
Ryan: “I may be biased, having grown up in Fairfield, playing in the recreation programs, attending Dwight Elementary, but there’s no better place in the U.S. to raise our family. A relatively large town with a diverse group of families, excellent local resources, beaches, easy access to large cities, mountains in the winter… it doesn’t get better.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF LIVING IN FAIRFIELD?
Meghan: “I’m not originally from this area, but I feel very lucky to be living in this town and for this to be the community where we raise our family. Years before Ryan and I were married, I always knew that Fairfield was going to be the town that we would end up in, but I didn’t fully realize how fortunate we are to be in this town until we had children.”
1. FAVORITE ROOM
The family spends time together in the open kitchen/family room. “It can accommodate so many daily activities that might be going on in our lives at once,” says Meghan, “whether it is me in the kitchen, the kids doing their homework, different eating areas, watching a movie or such.”
2. MORE LIGHT
After buying the house, the couple designed a new floor plan that removed and moved walls to create a larger kitchen and great room with more natural light. Now, this seating area adjacent to the kitchen is a bright and cheerful place to gather.
“After trying to find a piece of art to fill a large wall, I decided to paint it myself. It was a really fun and creative process,” says Meghan. “Now, there are several pieces of mine throughout the house that make it that much more special to us.”
4. A SPACE OF HIS OWN
“I’ve played the guitar since childhood, anything from rock ‘n’ roll to jazz improvisation,” says Ryan. “Our kids love music, too, and have my old guitars and keyboard. They have fun banging on the instruments with me on the weekends.”