Searching for a Starter Home in Connecticut

A house they saw in Darien was charming, but it was on a busy thoroughfare, West Avenue, that was a bus route. And the asking price, Ms. Caruso advised them, was too high, at $899,000.

“Leslie said you have to consider not just the honeymoon phase when you move into the house, but whether you want to be on a main street for the next chunk of your life,” Mr. Farris said. The house later sold for $800,000.


DARIEN A charming house was on a bus route.

Susan Fisher Plotner for The New York Times

The couple loved a three-story house in the Shippan neighborhood of Stamford, not far from the Long Island Sound, listed at $795,000. But part of the driveway, which ran to the garage out back, encroached on a neighboring property. And while there was a handshake agreement that the situation would not change, the Farrises wanted a more formal arrangement, as assurances were good only as long as the current owners lived there. As Ms. Caruso put it, “It was a risk for market value tomorrow.”

The couple declined to pursue the house, which later sold for $755,000.

Some houses had yards they felt were too woodsy, or the opposite: One backed up to the Metro-North railroad tracks. In another case, the couple consulted a contractor and decided the house in question was overpriced given the work required. “We are the least handy people on the planet,” Ms. Farris said. “We can’t even wall-mount a TV.”

And they were in no rush to move. “Compared with what our friends pay in the city, we weren’t being bled dry,” Mr. Farris said. “If we were in the city, in a cramped apartment with a baby and looking to get out, maybe we would make a different decision, but we were able to take our time.”


STAMFORD Part of the driveway encroached on a neighboring property.

Susan Fisher Plotner for The New York Times

Then, a few months later, when Ms. Farris was at the Australian Open, she found an irresistible listing. Her mother was out of town as well, but arranged for Mr. Farris to check out the property with Mary Higgins, a Halstead colleague.

A house on a cul-de-sac in New Canaan, it had three bedrooms, a screened porch and a master bathroom, something the other homes had been lacking. The asking price was $859,000, with taxes of just under $10,000 a year.

Ms. Higgins thought it would sell quickly, and Mr. Farris texted Ms. Farris: “This is something you want to see.”

Upon her return, she fell for the house, too. An obvious downside was the Merritt Parkway, which abutted the backyard through a buffer of woods. There was an audible white-noise hum that got worse during rush hour. But trucks aren’t allowed on the Merritt, unlike the parallel interstate, I-95.

“If it were 95, I would have said forget it,” Ms. Caruso said.

The couple bought the house for $840,000, and closed in the spring.

Not long after, they experienced their first leak, caused by tiles in the shower that were badly sealed, a plumber told them. But each of the three family members was more focused on the upside of owning a house: For Mr. Farris, it was the built-in grill on the deck; for Ms. Farris, the two fireplaces, perfect for Christmas; and for Peyton, the great outdoors.

“The soft amenities, if you will, that we were striving but struggling to find, we were able to find in this house,” Ms. Farris said.

Correction: September 20, 2017

An earlier version of this article and a photo caption incorrectly described two properties in the Shippan neighborhood of Stamford. The driveway of a three-story house for sale encroached on a neighboring property, the neighboring property did not encroach on the driveway.

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