When I first met Kim and Matt Cozza and their teenage daughter Sydney, I knew I would enjoy helping them find a home because they said they would consider an historic one and, as a realtor, I had developed a specialty in historic homes, having studied early American architecture at The College of William & Mary in Virginia and having interned at Historic Deerfield, Massachusetts, with the intention of becoming a museum curator. But, somehow that profession and my more gregarious personality didn’t seem to match up, and I ended up in the more “out there” fields of public relations, then real estate, instead.
However, I have enjoyed owning and restoring two historic homes which has greatly enhanced my living experience, and I have been fortunate to be called upon to list and sell a good number of historic homes since I entered the field. Currently I have several such homes on the market, and the one purchased by the Cozzas more than two years ago offers a particularly exciting opportunity for some lucky buyer to visit the future while stepping back into the past because of the vision demonstrated by this couple in the home’s renovation.
While searching for the Cozzas’ home, I had to be on my toes because Kim had been a realtor upstate, working on the commercial side of the business, and Matt was the vice president for development and construction for a major supermarket chain. Kim would check everything new on the market each day before I got around to it, and I can’t count how many houses we looked at before we came to the wonderful 1726 colonial they decided to buy, coincidentally on the very same road on which my historic home is located in Yorktown Heights. Kim eyed it up and down and I could see her mind working in terms of the work it needed.
“When buying a house, I think about what it needs in terms of investment and what additional value it will bring to the house when we go to sell it,” she said recently when readying her house for re-sale, necessitated by Matt’s having taken a job in a new location. “We look at the roof, the heating system, the windows, the siding, water heater, the kitchen and bathrooms…the expensive things to deal with…everything else is relatively minor in bringing a house up to where it needs to be.”
In the case of their home in Yorktown Heights, “the exterior had already been done in top quality no- or low-maintenance materials like Azek trim, HardiPlank clapboard siding, and ‘lifetime’ roofing, but the heating system needed to be replaced, along with the kitchen and windows,” Kim said, “and because we intended to stay here for a long time, we decided it was worth it to make this major investment.”
Matt chimed in that, in the case of the heating system, he decided to go whole hog because, in this house, it was such a hodgepodge of steam, hot water and electric. “Home buyers are sometimes hesitant to invest in an old house because they fear such factors as the upkeep, the heating system and the lack of insulation…these are the biggest concerns … so we decided to put our money there,” he said. “We invested in a dual pump system that was expensive as an initial investment (in the case of the Cozzas’ home, it involved a $27,000 cost, to include air conditioning), but it pays for itself over the years of efficient energy use.” The Cozzas also invested in a new kitchen with top grade surfaces that cost close to $40,000, and all new windows that cost $8,000.
“It’s the dual pump heating system that really makes this a home of the future because we can achieve maximum energy efficiency by switching back and forth from electricity to propane, depending on which is cheaper to use during the course of the season,” Matt volunteered, “and should we get a gas line in, or choose to install solar panels, we could also switch to one of those energy sources if we choose.
“It’s expensive to install but if you’re going to be in the house for a while, it pays for itself, “ Matt concluded. As it happens, relocation for Matt required that the Cozzas place their house on the market long before they planned, but combining the charm of yesteryear with the efficiencies of the future captured the attention of the market. As this column goes to press, the house has been on the market only two days, but it has enjoyed multiple showings and has two offers on the table already.
Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com), specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. His real estate site is: www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com and his blog is: www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.