Fireplace Mantels To Warm Any Space

Nothing warms a home quite like a fireplace, and of course we mean that in every possible respect. Working flame features into an interior can be an art form unto itself, and a unique one in that it’s the frame, not the contents, that make the masterpiece. Our properties north of New York City are a diverse bunch representing just about every epoch, style, shape and color, giving our inventory an endless diversity of that covers everything from Colonial-era hearths and cast iron stoves to gas-plumbed modernist walls of fire. We went on the hunt for the most standout mantels snuggling up by the fireplaces of our current listings:

LARCHMONT 9 Locust Avenue | $2,795,000

Larchmont Manor is best known for its stock of Queen Annes, Colonials and Shingle Styles with wraparound porches and few-blocks walk to the beach, making this Spanish-style manor all the more exceptional. A towering carved limestone mantelpiece and overmantel anchors a dreamy sunken living room, soared over by coffered ceilings with hand-painted insets and accented with wrought iron railings, columns and Mission arches.

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SOMERS 413 Route 202 | $2,495,000

Built at a time when country homes effused simple elegance, the stone mansion of circus entrepreneur Gerard Crane captured uniquely urban sensibilities, with grand proportions more akin to Brooklyn Heights brownstone. The Cranes’ cosmopolitan tastes are fully apparent in the ornamentation found throughout the lower level. In the library and formal living room, a duo of hand-carved Italian marble mantelpieces complement plaster moldings, pilasters, friezes and cartouches, playing to a shared theme of talons and the heads of great literary figures.

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CHAPPAQUA 48 Haights Cross | $17,900,000

Kitchen fireplaces aren’t incredibly out of the ordinary, but Chappaqua’s Rosewood estate, composed of 86+ prime acres in northern Westchester, possesses exceptional mastery. A brick arch and millwork mantelpiece sits flanked by booth seating on both sides. We’re pretty sure the aroma of fireplace coupled with whatever is cooking off the designer appliances throughout this lavish cucina is bonafide olfactory nirvana.

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WAPPINGER’S FALLS 8 Turner Mews | $1,499,000

A Colonial-era tavern walked into a house. That’s not a one liner that isn’t; it’s our most accurate description for the heart of this 1743 Hudson Valley farmhouse, authentically restored by the family of none other than fireside music legend Bing Crosby. The original stone farmhouse portion of the structure (which predates amazing fireplace peer The Beekman Arms) was expanded into a center hall Colonial in the the 1770s. The spacious great room, bolstered by hand-hewn posts and beams, is complete with a robust hearth framed by a solid hardwood mantelpiece, set just a few steps past the bar.

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RYE 15 Hilltop Place | $7,500,000

Hand-carved marble mantelpieces occur twice in this Mediterranean-inspired estate on Rye’s exclusive Apawamis Club golf course, designed by renowned architect Grosvenor Atterbury.  The elegant manse is walking distance to downtown Rye and Metro North, making it a truly unique offering.

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SCARSDALE 35 Birchall Drive | $6,950,000

This circa 1950 stone residence in Scarsdale boasts elegance well beyond its years, and the elaborate wood-paneled study, accented by a fireplace with illustrative etched mantelpiece, is truly a sight.

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WACCABUC 19 Schoolhouse Road | $2,150,000

Behold, the hot seat you want to be in. The facade of this oversized block fireplace at this Tudor in Waccabuc plays two roles: bench seating and curio display.



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5 Surprising Home Buyer Incentives

In up markets and down, there are always motivated sellers — those who want a quick or painless close, or just want to move the home. Incentives are common in buyers’ markets to make a seller’s home more desirable than their competition, but sellers also have to get creative in slower times of the year or in parts of town where homes don’t move quickly.

If you have a home to sell, and you think it might be a tough sale, consider offering buyers something to sweeten the pie. Here are a few ideas you might not have considered. You can either offer these out of the gate and advertise them as incentives, or keep them in your back pocket to use as a negotiation tool.

Buy down their interest rate

Most home buyers today need a mortgage to make a purchase. Banks typically offer buyers an interest rate based on the market at the time they apply. If they want to lock in an even lower rate, buyers can always pay an upfront fee, called a point. Paying upfront is called “buying down the rate,” and sellers can do it for the buyer.

If a bank offers a buyer three percent today on a 30-year fixed mortgage, the buyer (or seller) can pay one percent of the loan amount to get something like 2.75 percent. For buyers, this means lower monthly payments locked in for many years, which is more valuable than a small reduction in the purchase price.

And the savings from, say, a five-percent price reduction built into a loan and amortized over 30 years won’t come close to matching the monthly savings that buying down the rate will accomplish.

Include furniture or window coverings

Buying furniture and some finishes post-closing can be a huge hidden or soft cost to real estate. Owners who have renovated their home often chose furniture that matches the home’s new look. Some homes show so well, buyers might want to purchase the house and all the furniture in it.

If you have a home with custom furniture that might not fit so well in your new home, you might consider offering the furniture with the sale. In addition to helping sell the home, it might alleviate the future headache of trying to get rid of the furniture.

Credit for non-recurring closing costs

Buyers often come back to the seller after inspections and request repairs to the home. The wish list can include anything from patching roofing to replacing windows and repairing dry rot.

Most sellers don’t want the hassle of repairing these items. If not done right or to the buyers’ specifications, the repairs can hold up the closing — or even haunt everyone post-closing.

One way to incentivize buyers to continue with the purchase is simply to offer them a credit for non-recurring closing costs. This credit goes to the buyer as cash in their pockets at the closing.

Many buyers ask for credits and may not do the repairs for months. It’s better to give them cash and let them do as they see fit with it.

Offer buyers’ brokers higher commission

Listing agents often market their properties to other agents who have buyers. While a good buyers’ agent should advocate for all homes for their buyer, no matter the commission, sometimes a bonus brings some necessary awareness to a stale property.

It’s not uncommon for a seller to offer a half-percent or even one-percent bonus commission to the buyers’ agent for a property that won’t move. Agents make these offerings by interoffice communication and word of mouth in the community. (Don’t forget, a good agent is well connected and keeps tabs on what’s happening in the market.)

Credit for “Close By” date

A motivated seller might have a variety of reasons for wanting a quick closing, such as tax purposes or a deadline for a job transfer. Sometimes the consequences of the sale date justify offering a small bonus or credit to a potential buyer for meeting a closing date.

For example, a seller may have claimed residence in another state, and faces a giant tax bill if they don’t sell by a certain deadline. The tax liability may have larger consequences outside the real estate transaction.

If a seller wants a quick closing, they should offer a credit to the buyer — and maybe even a bonus commission to the buyers’ agent. For a buyer who rents and can be flexible, a quick closing is simple. Offering an incentive to do so would only be icing on the cake.

Sellers can offer incentives and promote them in a number of ways — some more strategic than others. Putting incentives out there as part of your marketing will surely get buyers in the door. So if you’re having a hard time selling or know up front that your home will be a tough sell, advertise the incentives implicitly. If you have a buyer, and you’ve come close to negotiating but are stuck, these incentives, pulled out at the eleventh hour, can help move the deal over the finish line.

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5 Ways To Enhance Curb Appeal Through The Holidays

You don’t have to pretend the holidays don’t exist if your home is on the market this time of year. 

Selling a home during the holidays can be tricky. Decorations could turn off potential buyers, who may have been interested in buying that home for sale in Sioux Falls, SD — if they hadn’t been distracted by the huge collection of inflatable decor in the front yard.

Curb appeal is an important element of real estate at any time of the year,” says professional home stager Krisztina M. Bell of Virtually Staging Properties Inc. in Atlanta. During the holiday season, curb appeal often takes on a new meaning as people decorate their homes and landscapes to reflect the joy [of the season]. There is a fine line between attractive outdoor decorating and pushing the limits, especially when staging a home during the holidays.”

The good news is that you don’t have to completely avoid holiday decor. In fact, says Justin Udy, a real estate agent with Century 21 Everest Realty Group in Midvale, UT, “homes can actually show better during the holidays.”

Here are five ways to enhance your home’s curb appeal during the holidays.

Light it up

“A well-lit entryway provides a charming invitation for guests or potential homebuyers,” says Bell. “Use LED candles or lanterns with globes to light entryway steps and walkways. If there is a wreath or arrangement on the door, place a spotlight on that area to highlight the festive accessory and create a warm, welcoming glow.”

If you must decorate with string lights, white lights are best, adds Bell. “White outdoor lights on the outside of a home are recommended, and are inspiring and beautiful,” Bell says.

Skip the kitsch

While you may adore that waving Santa inflatable in your yard or shrubs covered in colored lights, rethink bold statement decorations when your house is on the market. “Avoid the blowup snowman, reindeer, and the like strewn about on the front lawn, as you don’t want to distract and take away from the features of the home,” says Bell. “Less is best.”

Keep it minimal

Similar to when you’re getting your home ready to sell when it’s not the holiday season, the concept of less is more also holds true this time of year. (So keep the tchotchkes to a minimum.)

“It is key to maintain a very clean and crisp appearance,” says Josh Myler, a real estate agent with The Agency in Los Angeles. “Buyers want to feel comfortable but also have the room to envision their own belongings and decorations in what might just be their new home. Clutter is never a good thing, and the holidays have a tendency to bring out more of it.”

Create vignettes

Focus on simple yet eye-pleasing holiday vignettes throughout your home. “Create a vignette in a wheelbarrow, or use a small section of patio,” suggests Bell. “Use simple holiday decorations, plants, and other items to create an attractive scene to spruce up outdoor spaces.”

Fashion a welcoming entry

If you decide to rid your home of all holiday decor except for a few key items, make it a wreath on your door. “One of the great things about wreaths is that they can easily be customized to match the personality of the home,” says Bell. “A simple live wreath on the front door is classy. Add a big bow for major impact.”


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5 Ways to Jump-Start a Whole-House Decluttering Effort

It’s a common problem. You know you have way too much stuff for your available space, but you become paralyzed at the thought of decluttering. One solution is to start with something that takes minimal effort but makes a big impact in your home right away. From carving out a bit of breathing room in your closet to making a dent in the junk drawer, these five ways to begin the decluttering process are relatively painless. You can do this!

Where Not to Begin

Don’t plan to start with a major weekend-long purge. Plan to start being the key phrase. A big decluttering weekend can be a great way to make progress, but carving out such a large chunk of time may not be easy to arrange — and if you keep putting off getting started because you’re waiting for a big space to open up on your calendar, you could be waiting a very long time.

Don’t start with other people’s stuff. Oh, it is so tempting, I know! But although you may be dying to bag up your least favorite items from your spouse/significant other/kid/housemate’s space, resist the urge — it’s not likely to go over well. Even if you have way less clutter than the other members of your household, it’s important to take responsibility for your own part. If you’re lucky, the clutter-clearing bug will be catching!

Don’t start at the front door. In theory, the entryway is a wonderful place to begin decluttering. But guess what tends to accumulate around the front door? Stuff you actually use a lot. That means that while there could be a few things to get rid of in this area, it’s more likely that the stuff just needs to be put away. But if everywhere else in the house is packed, there’s nowhere for the entryway clutter to go.

Where to Begin

1. Discard a few clothes. Removing some of the clothes and shoes you don’t wear from your closet and drawers is a good first step. By clearing out a bit of space in your bedroom closet, you can then tuck away some of the extra items (jackets, scarves, shoes) cluttering up your entryway, in effect clearing two areas of your home at once. If you’re following the Marie Kondo method of tidying, this is also where she recommends beginning.

How to: Try not to get hung up on winnowing down your entire closet right now; just grab a few no-brainer items that obviously need to go (socks without mates, worn out sneakers, ill-fitting pants), toss them in a bag, and get them out of there.

Next step: If there is now enough room to do so, take the extra coats and shoes from the entryway and put them away neatly in your closet, lightening up the entry. If space is still too tight to add anything, make another pass at your clothes and shoes, and fill a bag with items to sell or give away.

2. Sort a pile of papers. For as much talk as there is about offices going paperless, I find that somehow an awful lot of paper makes its way into the house. Seeing piles of unsorted paperwork while you’re trying to relax or enjoy a meal can create a low but persistent level of stress in the house, so this is a helpful place to begin. 

How to: Grab a pile and sort it; if you don’t currently have a filing system set up, just label a few files as you go, keeping the categories broad. When you’re done sorting the first pile, designate one spot to put all incoming paperwork. Place a paper recycling bin beside it and call it a day.

Next step: Collect all the unsorted paperwork from around the house and place it in the designated paper spot. Grab a stack and sort it. Repeat.

3. Organize the junk drawer.An overflowing junk drawer is a drag to look at and can really slow you down when you can’t find what you’re looking for. Junk drawers tend to get overstuffed thanks to a) stuff you really should have thrown away in the first place and b) too many extras of things. For now, focus on a) — the stuff that doesn’t belong at all.

How to: Toss out the instruction manuals, broken rubber bands, pens that don’t write and freebies you never really wanted. If you have a ton of extras (pens, batteries, etc.) that you know you’ll use eventually, just neaten them up and try to make a mental note to not buy any more of those for a long time. 

Next step: Separate the useful little items (tape, stamps, flashlight) into a separate drawer or wall organizer so they’re easier to reach and leave the extras (boxes of batteries, stapler refills, lightbulbs) in the drawer. If you need organizers for your neatened-up drawer, jam jars and tupperware are quick (and free!) stand-ins.

4. Shed a piece of furniture. Perhaps you have furniture in the house that isn’t really needed but you put it there simply because you have it. Getting rid of just one piece can free up a lot of space. Also, furniture tends to attract piles of clutter, so one less piece also means one less place for clutter to congregate. If your space feels too tightly packed with furniture, see if you can choose a least-favorite piece to sell or donate to charity. 

How to: Take a walk around your home, peeking into every closet and outbuilding, making note of the furniture. Find one piece that’s not being used or isn’t really needed and make a plan to get rid of it. If you plan to give it away, try to drive it to a donation center today. If you want to sell it, place an ad or bring it to a consignment shop today. Don’t wait!

Next step: Follow up with your plan to get rid of the piece of furniture. If you’re having trouble selling it, lower the price or try a different method (Craigslist, eBay, garage sale, consignment shop). Set a reminder on your calendar to take the item to a donation center by a certain date if it doesn’t sell.

5. Give away one thing right now. This is about the power of beginnings: When you have a mountainous task ahead of you, even a relatively small suggestion (like tackling a single drawer or decluttering for five minutes) can feel overwhelming. Instead, go right now and grab one thing you can give away. One thing is not so hard to remove. And even if you removed just one thing each day, after a year that’s 365 things — not too shabby!

How to: Look around the room you’re in and grab the first thing you see that you could give away. It could be a DVD, a book, a candleholder you don’t really like — it doesn’t matter, just grab something quickly! If you don’t see anything, peek in a cupboard or drawer and grab something there. Once you have your one thing, don’t just put it by the door — actually remove it from the house. If you absolutely can’t take it away right now, at least put it outside, or in the car.

Next step: Find one more thing to get rid of and put it in a bag or box to take to a donation center. Each day, add one more item to the container; when it’s full, drop it off. Repeat.

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Money-Saving Tax Benefits for New & Long-Term Homeowners

Buying and owning a home is not only an important step in life, it’s an area rich with benefits when it comes to filing an annual tax return. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service reminds tax filers not to forget or overlook the many tax credits and deductions that relate to home ownership.


“From the special tax credit for first-time home buyers, to the numerous tax incentives for making energy-efficient changes to a home, there are multiple reasons for taxpayers to speak with a tax preparer and ensure they take advantage of all home ownership-related credits and deductions for which they are eligible,” said Mark Steber, chief tax officer, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc.

Steber reminds homeowners to keep the following tax benefits top-of-mind as they gather their tax-related documents to have their tax return prepared:


First Time Home Buyers:

The IRS allows first-time home buyers to withdraw up to $10,000 from their traditional IRA (and even Roth IRAs) penalty-free to help with the purchase of the home. You can also borrow half of your 401(k) balance up to $50,000 for the purchase of a home. But, the interest you pay on that 401(k) loan, unlike a mortgage loan, isn’t tax-deductible.

New Home Energy Credits:

Taxpayers can receive a credit for making their homes more energy efficient by caulking doors and windows, adding new insulation to attics, buying an energy-efficient hot water heater or air conditioner and more. The credit amount is a total of 30% of the cost of qualifying improvements, up to $1,500. 

Tax Deductions and Buying a Home:

Most of the expenses incurred when buying a home are not deductible. Yet there are certain closing costs (such as brokers’ commissions, attorney’s fees, recording fees, abstract fees, surveys, title searches, owner’s title insurance policy and transfer taxes) that are added to the basis of your residence that are important to keep track of. When you sell, the basis is needed to calculate any gain or loss.

Real Estate Taxes:

You may deduct real estate taxes in the year paid. They are generally reported on Form 1098 (Mortgage Interest Statement) or on your county real estate tax assessment statement. You should also deduct any prorated taxes collected from you at closing. These amounts are usually included on Form 1098, but you can get the total paid at your local tax assessor’s office if they are not reported on your Form 1098.

Local Real Property Taxes and Assessments:

Local taxes are deductible if they are charged uniformly against all property in the jurisdiction and if they are based on the assessed value of your home. Many states and counties also impose local benefit taxes for improvements to property, such as assessments for streets, sidewalks, and sewer lines. These taxes cannot be deducted but you can increase the cost basis of your property by the amount of the assessment.

Mortgage Interest:

The amount of mortgage interest you paid on your principal residence (or second home) is deductible if you itemize deductions. This amount is generally shown on Form 1098 (Mortgage Interest Statement). You can also deduct the points paid to purchase your residence, even though some may have been paid by the seller. Mortgage insurance premium payments that are related to the purchase of your home are deductible annually.

In addition, Steber notes that taxpayers should keep records of the cost of improvements made that add value to the home, such as landscaping, patios, swimming pools, decks, room additions and roof replacements, as these items can be added to the cost basis. Repairs such as fixing leaks, repairing roofs and painting are not deductible and are not basis additions. The cost of your own labor is not deductible.

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6 Ways to Finance a Renovation

If you’re planning to take on a home improvement project, you’re in good company. A recent report by the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University predicts that the home improvement industry is expected to post record-level spending this year. As you prepare for your renovation, it’s important to review your financing options based on the size of the project, your intended repayment plan and whether you plan to use a contractor or do it yourself. Some financing options to consider:

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A HELOC can provide ongoing access to funds using the equity in your home, which typically results in lower interest rates than unsecured credit. This type of credit may also provide you potential tax benefits. Consult your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of interest.

Mortgages with Built-In Renovation Financing

These loans help homeowners complete renovations with a loan amount that is based on an appraiser’s estimate of what the property value will be with completed improvements. This is also an option for aspiring homeowners who purchase properties that need repair. Whether a home purchase or a refinance, this option finances the renovations and mortgage in one loan.

Cash-Out Refinance Mortgages

A cash-out refinance replaces your current mortgage with a new and larger mortgage that pays off your current balance and allows you to use the equity in your home to provide additional funds for other purposes.

Credit Card

Credit cards can be used for large or small purchases and may earn rewards, which can add up to significant benefits when you’re making big home improvement purchases. However, credit cards often have higher interest rates than other loan or credit options, which should be taken into consideration.

Personal Loans and Lines of Credit

These personal credit options typically offer quick credit decisions and access to funds in a day. Lines of credit provide ongoing access to funds.


If you have a do-it-yourself project or a small renovation, accessing your savings might be an option. By paying cash, there is faster access to funds and nothing to repay.

Your bank may not be the best source for what color to paint your room or which walls to move, but it can help you identify your financial options. Each option has its associated benefits and considerations, and your bank can provide valuable information to help you make informed decisions about which options are right for you.

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House Hunting Season Highs and Lows

If you’re serious about buying a home, fall might be the perfect time of year to make it happen. But it has a particular set of challenges too.

There’s a reason people love the fall. After months of oppressive summer heat and humidity, autumn is the welcome relief: cool, crisp air and those colorful oft-changing landscapes. Anything pumpkin-flavored is a bonus too.

But it’s not just the cool weather and football season that you should be excited about. “House hunting in the fall can be very successful,” says Patty Brockman, a licensed real estate broker at Windermere Stellar Real Estate in Portland, OR.

Whether you’re looking at homes for sale in Santa Fe, NM, or New York, NY, autumn can prove to be a great time to buy. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its challenges, though. Here are the ways in which buying a home this season can reward you with big dividends or prove to be somewhat difficult.

Pro: Sellers are serious

As in, serious about selling their homes this time of year. “Even though there typically is less inventory, the people that put their homes on the market this time of year are more serious about selling — otherwise they would wait until spring,” explains Brockman. “Motivated sellers equals more flexibility during negotiations. There is often less competition from other buyers because families don’t like to move in the middle of a school year, people’s lives are caught up in sports and holidays, and generally, there is a cocooning effect that takes place as the days grow colder and shorter.” All of that means buyers are at a huge advantage when house hunting in the fall.

Pro: Inventory is low

So while sellers are likely to be more motivated to sell, when it comes to the amount of homes on the market, it’s slim pickin’s this time of year. However, the upside to low inventory is this: “Since the supply of listings shrinks this time of year, it’s easier to narrow down the list of your top properties,” says Justin Udy, a real estate agent with Century 21 Everest Realty Group in Midvale, UT.

Con: Foul weather

The same way snow and sleet and freezing rain can wreak havoc on your flight to the Caribbean for New Year’s, it can also seriously impede your desire to get out of the car — let alone get out of your sweatpants to go house hunting in the first place. “Who really wants to slosh around in the rain all day, looking at houses?” asks Brockman.

Con: Daylight waning

That whole “fall back” premise can be a little speed bump in the house-hunting process. “Buyers are faced with having to get out early from work to see properties or only look on weekends in order to fully ‘see’ a property,” says Brockman. “If it’s dark out, how can you get a thorough look at the exterior of the property? The neighborhood? Before making the decision to write an offer, you will have to see it in the daylight, so this can mean multiple trips to the same properties. In a competitive market, you could lose your window of opportunity.”

Pro: There’s less competition

While the bulk of buyers rushed to get into their homes before the first day of school, you’re in luck as a small minority of buyers looking to purchase a home in the fall. “This means you have more time to look and the time necessary to properly negotiate a great deal in terms of price and terms that fit your needs,” explains Udy. “This also means you’re not up against as many multiple-offer situations.”

Con: There’s more competition

While locales such as New England and the Midwest see a dip in real estate activity come fall, other parts of the country such as Florida and Arizona where “snowbirds” flock during the cold winter months see an increase in potential buyers.

“Differences in activity levels between seasons are very area-specific,” says Alin Zdroba, president and managing broker of Propertio Real Estate in Hollywood, FL. “I can attest that in south Florida, such differences do not exist. While families go into a frenzy during the summer months, when schools are out and preparing for a new school year, October through April is our high season. Out-of-towners, or what we fondly call ‘snowbirds,’ pack our roads, restaurants, shops, and keep us, the ones in the real estate brokerage business, extremely busy during these months.”

Pro: Move-in dates are (likely) flexible

You probably won’t want to move on the eve of a holiday — or the day after. Which means that instead of having to negotiate a 30-day close, sellers are more likely to work with you on a doable time frame, says Udy. “It makes it easier to negotiate delayed closings or extended occupancy dates. Most people do not want to move during the winter and the holidays and are more flexible with dates and deadlines.”

Pro: Negotiating is easier

When a seller is motivated to sell, they’re more likely to negotiate a bit more with a buyer. “A homeowner listing their home during the fall and winter months is more than likely a very motivated seller on a timeline,” says Ross Anthony, a real estate agent with Willis Allen Real Estate in San Diego. “Listing a home and complying with showing times, open houses, and everything else that comes along with it can be stressful year-round but is even more amplified during the holidays. Buyers can capitalize on this urgency and use it to their advantage during negotiations.”

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What To Do (Armonk, Bedford, and Chappaqua) Events October 2015


October 26-November 1:

Making a Difference Benefit Dinner for Pace Women’s Justice Center: Join event co-chairs Robin Schlaff and Audrey Stone at this year’s event that will honor the Honorable Janet DiFiore, Asst. Chief Anne FitzSimmons and Lawrence McElroen, Esq. The Pace Women’s Justice Center offers legal assistance and free legal clinics for victims of domestic violence and for seniors who are victims of abuse and financial exploitation. Wed, 10/28: 6pm. (Abigail Kirsch at Tappan Hill, 81 Highland Ave., Tarrytown;

Local! The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days:Featured in the Garden Conservancy’s new book,Outstanding American Gardens, Iroki, the home and garden of Judy and Michael Steinhardt in Mt. Kisco will be open to the public on Saturday, October 31 from 9am-5pm. This fifty-eight-acre rolling estate is offers extensive collections of Japanese maples, conifers, cypripediums, camellias, dahlias, alpines, ferns, and rare woodland plants, all artfully composed within various gardens throughout the property. There are several unique bridges (including a rope and a moss bridge), a “stick house” and secret paths. There is a Japanese Maple Garden, a yellow garden, orchards, a perennial garden, a vegetable garden, an ornamental grass garden, and an experimental garden. Trees and plants are labeled throughout the garden. Please note that due to rough terrain and unpaved paths, this garden is not handicapped accessible. For directions to this garden call the Garden Conservancy during busy hours at 1-888-842-2442.

Theatre, Dance & Comedy: My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish and I’m In Therapy concludes its run at WPPAC this week. Show Boat continues at The Westchester Broadway Theatre. Read more.

Another big week in Music: Features Dave Davies of the Kinks and the Anderson Ponty Band at the Ridgefield Playhouse, The Who at the Garden, Mavis Staples & Joan Osborne and The Mavericks are at The Tarrytown Music Hall and Caramoor’s Evning Rising Stars perform chamber music at The Rosen House. Two big events for Dead Heads this week: Phil Lesh & Friends are at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester and Dead & Company featuring John Mayer, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman play at The Garden. Read more.

A Taste of Westchester: Westchester Community College’s A Taste of Westchester cooking classes and tasting dinners comes to 121 Restaurant in North Salem and The Horse and Hound inn in South Salem this week. Read more.

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Ardsley, N.Y., Stretching the Housing Budget



Steve Dumas, 35, and his wife, Suzanne, 36, were renting an apartment in Tarrytown last year and looking for a house with “enough space so we didn’t have to move in a few years,” said Mr. Dumas, who is the senior director of strategy for a startup in Midtown Manhattan. They also had a bit of a deadline: Ms. Dumas, a social worker for Montefiore Medical Center, was pregnant with their first child.

A former colleague of Mr. Dumas’s lived in Ardsley, N.Y., and recommended the village to them. Mr. Dumas, who grew up in Rockland County, had also heard good things about the school system.

The couple closed last spring on a three-bedroom three-bath ranch near the elementary school, paying $650,000, and moved into it in June. It’s just a short walk to get coffee or get onto a hiking trail, they said, and they already have a future friend in mind for their son, Quinn, who was born in August — Mr. Dumas’s former colleague gave birth to a baby boy in May.

“We picked a good time to come,” Mr. Dumas said.

The village of one square mile, part of the town of Greenburgh, has managed to retain its small-town appeal over the years despite the slicing in half of its business district by the construction of the Gov. Thomas E. Dewey Thruway in the 1950s. It is a community where residents “care a lot for each other,” said Lauren Allan, the superintendent of the Ardsley school district, who moved to the village with her family when she was 12.

Although not on the Hudson River — and not to be confused with Ardsley-on-Hudson, which is a section of Irvington — the village, with hills, winding roads and green spaces, is grouped by real estate agents with the river towns, where houses have been selling briskly lately.

A house in Ardsley, if priced correctly, “goes in a 30-day period,” said Michael Criscuolo, an associate broker with Houlihan Lawrence in Ardsley.

Francie Malina, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dobbs Ferry, said a majority of her clients are young families from Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island City, Queens, looking for a “low-key lifestyle” who may not have the budget for Scarsdale or Bronxville. “You can get a lot of house for the price in Ardsley,” she said.

An easy commute to Midtown Manhattan is a big draw, agents and buyers say, but traffic can be a problem. To help with that, traffic lanes are being added and widened in the business district, and there are plans to replace the Ashford Avenue Bridge linking the village to Dobbs Ferry, said Meredith S. Robson, the Ardsley village manager.

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Schedule Your FREE Retirement Review With Edelman Financial


Don’t wait any longer to find out if you have all you need to retire. Edelman Financial has helped thousands of people just like you, providing comprehensive financial planning services, education and advice to help put retirement within reach.

Schedule Your FREE Retirement Review Today

You deserve a financially comfortable retirement, free of worry about money. But do you own the right investments to get you the retirement you deserve?

No question, the quality of your retirement depends on the actions you take right now. Here's the good news: You don't have to tackle this alone.

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Suite 1215
White Plains, New York 10607

Over the past 27 years, we've helped tens of thousands of people just like you prepare for retirement with our financial planning and investment services. Today, we serve more than 28,000 individuals and families1 - and now's your chance to get our help, too!


Contact us and get our free retirement review, with no obligation.


During our conversation, an experienced advisor will address your most pressing financial questions and review your overall financial situation, including your investments.

You'll find out if you're on the right track to enjoy a comfortable retirement. You'll get the
advice you need to help make sure your money is working hard for you.

Edelman Financial Will Give It to You Straight, No Matter Where You Stand

We provide holistic financial planning, based on you, to help manage your risk and help you reach your retirement goals.

And unlike many in the financial industry, we serve as a fiduciary, which means we always act in your best interests. Edelman Financial truly cares about what’s best for you, that’s why we’ve been putting clients first since 1986.


You Deserve Our Free Retirement Review

During our conversation, an experienced advisor will address your most pressing financial questions and review your overall financial situation, including your investments. We’ll tell you where you stand, with no obligation. Whether you’re on the right track, or need a new plan of action, you’ll walk away with straightforward advice to help you reach your retirement goals.




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4 Tips to Remember When Purchasing a Home

4 Tips to Remember when Purchasing a Home

Purchasing a home is the largest purchase you will most likely make during your lifetime. If you've saved money along the way and are now ready to take the plunge, here are 4 things you should know before purchasing a home.

  • Credit goes a long way

Correct any issues or mistakes on your credit report and make sure that all credit items are paid on-time and in the full amount. You can pull your credit report at any of the three credit reporting agencies: ExperianEquifax andTransUnion. You may discover that something is on your report that was not purchased or opened by you. Typically, it takes a few months to get mistakes taken off and for your credit report to go up in score. The cleaner your credit report history is, the easier it will be on you to purchase your home.

  • Get pre-approved
    Before even beginning your home search, talk with your mortgage loan officer to get pre-approved. You may think you can afford a much larger and more expensive home than what is approved on paper or vice versa. Then, you can make a better judgment of the homes in your price range and make a serious offer on the house you want. Plus, during this time, you can speak with your loan officer about rates and what you may qualify for when the time comes to putting your loan package together.


  • According to CNN Money, the rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. Make sure you're not getting in too deep though, because if you like to travel, shop or spend extra money on entertainment, you may want to spend less on your home to free-up the extra income. The point of purchasing a home is to not feel trapped or "house poor," but to enjoy your home and social life outside of the home.  You can use this calculator for a general idea.


  • Hire a home inspector
    When purchasing your home, hire a home inspector to make sure there aren't any problems with the home. A home inspector can tell you if you will have any major or minor repairs in the future and how much they could cost. For example, if you're thinking about putting a bid on a home and the foundation needs to be repaired, you could spend thousands of dollars on that alone. It may sway you to keep looking rather than purchasing the first home you've put a bid on.

All in all, if you're thinking about purchasing a home, there are many things to think about such as school districts, how far your drive will be from work and even yard maintenance. But, the most important piece to the home purchase puzzle is doing your research before going to the table to start the loan process.


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Simple and Easy Fall Front Doors

Lorri Dyner shares her favorite fall door décor.

I love it when my neighbors decorate their front doors for fall. When I run (okay, more like walk) through the ‘hood every morning, all the wreaths and pumpkins make me feel grateful that a new, beautiful fall season is here.

But I also know how intimidating it can be to decorate your front door for fall. Who has time, right? And where do you get all that stuff, anyway?

I totally get it. But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. There’s a simple formula for getting your front door fall-ready in a snap: All you need to do is choose from three elements.

1) Pumpkins and Mums

Let’s start with the easiest idea. (I’m lumping these guys together because they go hand-in-hand.)  Here are places where you can find pumpkins and mums: Your local grocery store, Trader Joe’s (for the best prices), Costco, and Home Depot.

Here are the instructions. Bring pumpkins and mums home. Pile them along the sides of your front door. Done! Seriously, does it get easier than that? And look how pretty it is.

Via Designs of Home

2) The Wreath

If you want to take it slightly up a notch, I suggest adding in element number two, the wreath.

In the photo below, what really makes the scene say “fall” is the wreath (okay, and the pumpkins). But doesn’t that wreath really make the scene?

Via Anika Mari

Of course, online shopping makes all of this easier. Here’s a great one – reasonably priced – that has that fall look:

And it's actually on sale right now

3) Corn Stalks

This is one of my go-to fall decorating tricks! Buy some dried out corn stalks, prop them up, and call it a day. Here’s a beautiful example:

Via The Yellow Cape Cod

I did it on my own front door a few years ago and got a great response from passers-by:

I found my corn stalks at the Home Depot! They are so inexpensive!  You can also try a local nursery.

So there you have it:

1. Pumpkins and Mums
2. A Wreath
3. Corn Stalks

Pick one or two from this list and you are in business. I’ll make sure to post a photo of my own front door this year when I finally get my act together.  Expect to see some corn stalks! Happy fall decorating, everyone!

Lorri Dyner is an interior designer and blogger who believes in the power of "decorating for the rest of us." Using clever, accessible, and affordable ideas, she brings us insider tips and tricks that make our living spaces feel pulled together. Lorri resides in Westchester with her husband and two small children. Visit her at


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Real Estate Seen As Best Investment Again!

We are almost back to ‘pre-housing crash’ home values. The inventories of distressed properties (foreclosures & short sales) are shrinking dramatically. The economy is improving. The job numbers are headed in the right direction.

The big question that still remains: Have Americans regained their confidence in real estate as a worthy investment?

According to a survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, Americans have put real estate back into first place as the best of all investments.

Bottom Line

Homeownership never lost its place as a key component of the American Dream for a host of financial and non-financial reasons. It is good to see that it has regained the top spot as best overall investment


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New Shopping Center Rises in Dobbs Ferry

New tenants announced for Rivertowns Square, along Saw Mill River Parkway in Dobbs Ferry.

If your commute or list of weekend errands includes a drive along the Saw Mill River Parkway through Dobbs Ferry, surely you've noticed the huge new construction site developing at Lawrence Street/Exit 16.

Demolition of the 200,000-square-foot research building and laboratory has been completed, and now the $150 million mixed-use development known as Rivertowns Square is officially up and running — and already creating traffic headaches for commuters and residents of the river towns and Yonkers.

When it opens sometime next year, the new 17-acre shopping center will feature a hotel, luxury movie theater, restaurants, boutiques and a new 5-story apartment building with 202 units. Ten percent of the apartments will be affordable, under Westchester County guidelines.

Rivertowns Square is 80 percent pre-leased, according to the developer, and confirmed tenants include Mrs. Green’s Natural Market, Chipotle, Chop’t Salad, Buddha Asian Bistro, The Learning Experience (children's daycare) and Dobbs Ferry Gym (children only). Leasing is being handled exclusively by Greenstone Realty of Manhattan.


Rivertowns will wrap around Chauncey Square, the building that's already there, with tenants that include GNC, New York Sports Club and Starbucks.

The large structure now going up behind Chauncey Square will eventually have five stories. The first floor will have retail stores, with parking and the hotel lobby on the second floor and the 138-room hotel on the top three floors. The new shopping center will have 700-plus parking spaces.

Rivertowns, which will have 116,000 square feet of retail space, is being developed by Saber Real Estate Advisors LLC in partnership with Dobbs Ferry Capital Partners LLC under the name Saber Dobbs Ferry Associates LLC. Marty Berger is a principal at both Saber Real Estate Advisors and Saber Dobbs Ferry LLC.

The developer hopes to announce deals associated with the new hotel and movie theater in coming weeks.

Because of the length of time it took for the project to get the necessary town and village approvals and resolve an appeal, some previous deals with movie and hotel companies have fallen through.

The big project was in review with various town and village boards for four years, with an enormous amount of community opposition in Dobbs Ferry as well as in nearby Ardsley. (Rivertowns is in the Ardsley school district.)

Opponents have cited increased traffic and environmental and scenic concerns, while supporters, including Dobbs Ferry Mayor Hartley Connett, have pointed to more tax revenue, the creation of about 650 temporary and permanent jobs, and shopping and cultural enhancements.

Confirmed tenants at Rivertowns Square

• Mrs. Green’s Natural Food Market

• The Learning Experience – Children’s daycare

• Dobbs Ferry Gym – Children’s only Gym

• Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance

• Chipotle Mexican Grill

• Chop’t Salad

• Buddha Asian Bistro 

Save the Date

Along the Hudson 

Please join us for a day of exploration just 40 minutes north of the city. In partnership with Houlihan Lawrence and the EILEEN FISHER Leadership Institute, we invite you to explore the river towns. After taking the train up the Hudson, we'll greet you trackside with a curated map to send you on a self-guided tour through the beautiful village of Irvington. Later, we'll reconvene with a toast overlooking the Hudson after your day of adventures. 

-Event Details-

Spend the day sampling local producers from Irvington's farmer's market, visiting some of our favorite shops, and walks along the aqueduct to Washington Irving's historic estate. You may also sign up with Houlihan Lawrence to tour properties nearby. 

At 3pm, we will gather at the EILEEN FISHER Learning LAb in the historic Cosmopolitan Building designed by Standford White. As we share stories from the day, we will indulge in local liberations and small bites on the terrace overlooking the Hudson River. 

Follow us on Instagram in the weeks leading up to the event as we highlight some of the spots we will visit on the 31st. We look forward to spending the day with you! 

DATE: Sunday, May 31st, 2015

TIME: 11am-5 pm

LOCATION: Irvington, New York

Start: 11 am, Brrzaar, 7 N. Astor Street

Gather: 3pm, EILEEN FISHER Learning Lab, 50 S. Buckhout Street 

The Walk-In Closet Is the New Outdoor Kitchen: The Features You Find in New Homes Today

If you’ve been dreaming about that brand-new house with the outdoor kitchen, the two-story foyer, and the luxurious master bathroom, complete with a whirlpool tub—well, good luck finding one.

In prerecession times, developers had wrested such sexy amenities from the realm of luxury building into the everyman’s (and woman’s) home. But today? Homebuilders across the nation have decided to skip the sexy, cutting out those kinds of features in favor of efficient, organized, and pragmatic ones.

“Ten years ago we were talking about outdoor kitchens with a fancy wine rack,” says Stephen Melman, director of economic services at the National Association of Home Builders. “Now we’re talking about a closet. It’s not sexy, but that’s what people want.”

The NAHB surveyed nearly 400 builders earlier this year about the features they were most and least likely to include in homes and communities in 2015. In addition to outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces, sunrooms, main-level carpeting, and media rooms are on the decline. On the rise: walk-in closets, laundry rooms, energy-efficient windows and appliances, and programmable thermostats—yes, there is a green theme. It’s all about efficiency, both of time and resources.

“If a working couple is trying to get out of the house in the morning, they need a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, they need a laundry room that’s well-lit and well-organized,” Melman says. “That’s how they improve the efficiency of the household, find clothes, get organized, and hide the clutter. Do they need a whirlpool or do they need a walk-in closet with a skylight?”

Melman says that even as the economy (at least in some sectors) continues to improve, buyers are fixated on comfort and affordability. It’s part of a postrecession cultural shift toward pragmatism. We’re not settling; we’ve merely changed our expectations for new homes, and homebuilders have adjusted their creations accordingly, appealing to a segment that’s willing to forgo a two-story foyer or family room to get a better price.

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According to a Pew Research survey (released in 2010, at the tail end of the recession), more than 62% of Americans said they had cut back on spending since the recession began, and 31% said they’d continue to hold down their spending even after the economy improved.

This is especially true among first-time home buyers, many of whom are millennials.

“As first-time buyers, they are unlikely to opt for elaborate outdoor features when they are scraping to come up with a down payment,” Melman says.

Their list of most and least likely features does offer a few surprises; it’s not all about the decline of luxury. Once a high-end item, granite countertops are now more popular than laminate. Builders are swapping the two-story family room for a great room. Specialty spots such as media rooms or sunrooms are being replaced by spaces that are more flexible, Melman says, especially additional bedrooms. And communities with jogging and walking trails, previously coveted, are now less popular than a two-car garage. The cost of the land, Melman says, is just too high.

Yet just because these features are less common doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on a house that includes them. All you have to do is spend more money. In places with weaker markets, you might see such features built into homes priced above $500,000. In places such as San Francisco or New York, you might get an apartment barely larger than a walk-in closet for that amount.

Features such as outdoor kitchens have slipped back into the province of the luxury buyer; you’ll still see them in high-end homes, but your average home buyers will have to be content with their Weber grill.

Below you’ll find ranked lists of most and least likely features to be included in a new home, plus those that remain perennial. The builders graded each feature on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means “not at all likely to include” and 5 means “definitely will include.”

Features least likely to be found in new homes and communities

1. Outdoor kitchen
2. Laminate countertop
3. Outdoor fireplace
4. Sunroom
5. Two-story family room
6. Media room
7. Two-story foyer
8. Walking/jogging trails
9. Whirlpool tub in master bath
10. Carpeting on main level

Features most likely to be found in new homes

1. Walk-in closet
2. Laundry room
3. Low-emissivity windows
4. Great room
5. Energy Star appliances
6. Energy Star windows
7. Ceiling 1st floor 9’
8. 2-car garage
9. Programmable thermostat
10. Granite countertop


Features most likely to last

  • Solar panels: “With their increasing availability and affordability, solar panels are going to be the next big thing,” Melman says.
  • Garages: “People love their garages for storage space even if they don’t put cars in them,” he says. “I think at least the two-bay garage is here to stay.”
  • Additional bedrooms: “We have boomerang children, we have aging parents, we have caregivers who live with us, so we need the extra space.”
  • Decorative aging-in-place features: They include decorative handrails in bathrooms, higher toilets, and step-free showers, Melman says.

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Attaining the American Dream: The 5 Financial Reasons to Buy

We have reported many times that the American Dream of homeownership is alive and well. The personal reasons to own differ for each buyer, with many basic similarities.

Eric Belsky, the Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University expanded on the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership in his paper -The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America.

Here are the five reasons, each followed by an excerpt from the study:

1.) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available.

“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”

2.) You're paying for housing whether you own or rent.

“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.”

3.) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”.

“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”

4.) There are substantial tax benefits to owning.

“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income...On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”

5.) Owning is a hedge against inflation.

“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition.”

Bottom Line

We realize that homeownership makes sense for many Americans for an assortment of social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially. If you are considering a purchase this year, contact a local professional who can help evaluate your ability to do so.


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In Home Decor, Less Is More

Refreshing your living space is all about subtraction,, not addition. 

When you live in a small space, especially if you are a renter, it’s often difficult to keep your home streamlined. Clean lines and simple design aren’t achieved easily. The key is to avoid overcrowding so your space can sing.

Editing a space is a trade secret of quality interior decorating. Here are some tricks for redecorating using items you already have. You’ll be amazed how a quick rearrangement can change your perspective.

Color-matching vibe

End tables often become a magnet for magazines, keys, office supplies and more.

Get rid of the debris, then discourage it from accumulating again by grabbing a few favorite titles with color-matching bindings and stacking them to create a sweet, concise arrangement. Add interest by introducing an item with personal significance, like a camera or vase.

You’ve already got the materials for this easy update, and even a small edit can have big impact. Your space will instantly look bigger and cleaner.

Clear out the clutter

The dining room table and office spaces can quickly become cramped or overcrowded.

Clear off your pop-up office and unopened mail, and replace the mess with one seasonal arrangement on the table.

Large palm fronds in a tall glass vase make for an eye-catching centerpiece. Putting natural wood near metal accents creates a contrast in textures. This large custom wood table next to the radiator screams brownstone charm.

Streamlining is an amazing way to draw the eye to your home’s accents. The age-old Coco Chanel saying to take one accessory off applies to your surfaces as well as your outfits.

Paint it white

The trend a few decades ago was to surprise with loud bursts of colors and accent walls. While bold colors have their place in the design world, the trend of the moment is simple white.

But don’t think going with white limits your options. It’s not your mother’s eggshell anymore, and you can really express yourself with this powerful neutral. For example, Sherwin-Williams offers tons of shades, like Ice CubeOpera Glass, and Medici Ivory.

A white backdrop brings the spotlight back to your amazing home. Whether you highlight its delightfully worn hardwood floors or boldly accented side pieces, your space can act as a canvas to show off all the furniture and personal touches you’ve added through the years.

Make a sale

If you’ve got old books, records or dishware taking up valuable space, there are tons of ways to make sure these unwanted items find a good home.

Use websites like to sell or trade your unwanted home furnishings. Even an old-fashioned yard (or, in this case, stoop) sale can keep your discarded belongings out of the landfill.

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Come see 6 Club Lane in Elmsford, NY 10523. 

May 16, 2015 from 1-3 PM

May 17, 2015 from 1-3 PM

This Tudor style colonial is on an acre of private property in the Knollwood Country Club grounds. Completely renovated with new flooring, crown molding, new bathrooms, and a master bedroom with a Jacuzzi and stand up shower. New driveway with extensive landscaping, outdoor lighting, and an in ground pool.