Rhiannon Navin – Author “The Only Child” – New Rochelle Resident –

Imagine my surprise when I popped into the  New Rochelle library, and I saw in the express book section, a new book written by a former client and friend, Rhiannon Navin entitled “The Only Child” !  I contacted Rhiannon immediately as I wanted to interview her for my blog site (of course!), and to also learn about the process as I know firsthand how busy she is with her family and pets.

The story centers around a 6 year old boy, Zach, who survives a school shooting where 15 students and 4 adults are killed, and it is written from the young Boy, Zach’s perspective, and describes how he copes with the day to day emotions, and how his parents react to losing their older son who was one of the students murdered.

We met for  lunch at  Patrias where we dined on some some tapas and wine (always good -and a great restaurant), caught up on our gossip and  then Rhiannon shared with me how the book took her a year to write, how that once she started writing, it just evolved,  and flowed, and she found herself working into the wee hours each night trying to capture her thoughts whilst anew.  Rhiannon has young children, and if she felt unsure of how to phrase a word or an emotion, she always had her children to help her out.  They were her focus group.   She also found it very important to obtain a writing coach. Rhiannon used to work in advertising, was always used to hard work ,  but she had children – how could she write and be a mom!  Her coach who described herself as being ‘an unkind coach’ was the kindest coach Rhiannon could have hoped to have met,  told her to  dedicate time  each day, and  to write and write.  She did just that, and found  herself writing at night , during the day, and having the coach was a wonderful sounding board and critic.  The perfect support system.  Even though her coach was living in Dubai, it all worked out perfectly. Rhiannon researched agents, and was very fortunate to be signed by the very first agent she approached, and her book is  published by Knopf.  I guess that goes a long way to describe the book’s substance.

I had read the first two chapters prior to meeting Rhiannon, and I found myself tearing up – who wouldn’t when reading about such sensitive subject matter?  To read how a teacher and children were hiding in a closet whilst hearing gun shots.  Who would want any child to experience that.  So, I had a sense of the story line , but I also wanted to read the book. I must confess, I was mopping away the tears as I finished reading the book at 5 am one morning.

It is written intelligently and well, and there is also a sub narrative taking place too where you catch a glimpse of what the parents are feeling, how they are reacting to the situation, and each other,  coping and not coping and how it affects Zach.   Would  you blame the parents of the young man who committed the crime or do you come together as a community and help each other through this unimaginable horror? These are the topics touched upon in this book.

How did the story evolve? Rhiannon  has twins, and after a lock down drill at school, she came into a room to find one of her twins under the dining room table,  hiding from the ‘bad guys’.  It made her wonder what emotions her children were going through having to learn the necessity in today’s world of a lock down drill. The book took format in her mind, and she felt compelled to write it through the  eyes of a child. It seemed like the most natural approach.

The book was published just before the Parkland tragedy, and so she felt it only right to take a step back before conducting any tours or interviews.  That is Rhiannon.  The book has been well received by all, and it is now published around the world.

You can still meet Rhiannon as she tours with other authors and here is a link to those upcoming events.  

Rhiannon is now working on her second novel, and I cant wait to read it!

New Rochelle is a great place in which to reside,  and be creative!

New Rochelle is GREAT!




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2018 College Choices for Top 33 New Rochelle Students

Each year, the Principal usually announces the top 25 students college choices at the award ceremony. This year, since there were 33 students with GPA’s of over 100, Mr. Richardson announced the top 33 students  college choices! While I am just listing the colleges,  please know that each student was so qualified in every respect. 

  1.  Princeton – Studying Math and or Philosophy
  2.  Harvard – Engineering
  3.  Yale University – Political Science
  4.  Dartmouth College – Environmental or Biological Engineering
  5.  John’s Hopkins – Bio-Medical Program & Computer Science   Dual Program
  6.  Georgia Institute of Technology – Aerospace Engineering
  7.  University of Michigan – Psychology or Political Science
  8.  Amherst – Playing Soccer! Studying Neuroscience & Psychology
  9.  Purdue University – Engineering
  10.  University of California at Los Angeles – Political Science
  11.  Washington University in St. Louis – Psychiatrist
  12.   Middlebury College – Political Science
  13.   Yale University – Law School for Foreign Relations
  14.   New York University – Student scored a PERFECT score in the SAT’s in Math
  15.   Villanova University
  16.   Cornell University
  17.   Belmont University – Academic Scholarship majoring in Music
  18.   University of Michigan – Ross School of Biusiness
  19.   Cornell University – Neurologist
  20.   Brown University –  Her goal?  United States Senator!
  21.   SUNY Binghamton  – Business & Math
  22.   University of Michigan – Public Health Field of Medicine –  Pediatrician
  23.   University of Texas at Austin – Mechanical Engineering
  24.   Binghamton University – Computer Science
  25.   Cornell University – Business
  26.   University of Oregon – Clark Honors Program
  27.   Providence College – Biology  Engineering
  28.   University of Maryland – Psychology & Early Childhood Development
  29.   University of Pittsburgh Honors Program – Mechanical Engineer
  30.   Florida State University – High School Teacher & Writer
  31.   Tufts – Medicine & Computer Science
  32.   Cornell University – Business
  33.   New York University –  Finance


New Rochelle is GREAT!



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Living on Argyll Avenue New Rochelle 10804

When Lori and Michael first purchased their home  at 22 Argyll Avenue back in 2004,  Lori was seven months pregnant, and they did not know anyone in the area. They were excited to have purchased their first home, and were absolutely thrilled when the sellers of that home offered them furniture they didn’t require. They felt welcomed. Even more so when all of the neighbors brought over baby gifts when Lori’s son was born.  They always knew that New Rochelle was the city in which they wanted to raise their children, attend the award winning schools, but they had no idea that they would be welcomed into a ‘community’. 

The neighbors were great, and told them both that if they ever needed any help, any help at all – to just call! Well, wouldn’t you know that in October of that year, Michael had just boarded a plane, cell phones about to be turned off, and Lori called  – worried for the baby saying ‘we have no heat!’ The only thing Michael could think to say was – call the neighbors, and that is what Lori did.  One of the neighbors came over, stayed over 2 hours waiting for the repairman, taking notes when he did so he could later tell Michael how the heating system worked,  and once again, Lori and Michael knew that this was a special street, not only a special home.

Over the years, the neighbors have become great friends, looking out for everyone, helping each other, and Lori and Michael even witnessed the signing of their neighbor’s will !

The neighbors are all now sorry to hear that Lori and Michael are selling their home at 22 Argyll Avenue, and it is with mixed emotions that Lori and Michael are leaving. They love their home, their street, their friends, but it is time to leave.  This past week, Lori was one of this year’s Honorees at the Guidance Center of Westchester Annual Gala.  They were thrilled when 6 of their neighbors attended the Gala in her honor.

Lori and Michael  love the proximity to the high school which is perfect for those after school activities, for sports programs, no bus ride necessary (and so a later departure time from home!),  and also offers the only Planetarium in Westchester,  The Museum of Arts and Culture   (which is the only Regents-chartered museum in a school in the State of New York),  and the PAVE Program (Performing and Visual Arts Education).

Since New Rochelle is a city,  the high school offers many college based programs, and  each year the graduating students attend the best colleges and universities in the country.

As CBS News just reported on May 1st,  New Rochelle has at least one student headed to each Ivy League College. No surprise to me or other New Rochelle residents. New Rochelle is great! Just ask Lori and Michael and/or their neighbors.

Come and visit. You will be welcomed, and you will love it!

New Rochelle is GREAT!

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A quick Tour of Downtown Mamaroneck !

It was sunny and glorious day…  I felt compelled to take a few photos  whilst walking in downtown Mamaroneck. Please join me!

A portion of the 6.7-square-mile village is located within the Town of Mamaroneck along with Larchmont, and its east side lies within the town of Rye.

The village is geographically blessed with a landscape that hugs Long Island Sound. Named after the Indian word meaning “where the fresh water meets the salt,” the village of Mamaroneck grew around its inland harbor, which is the second largest natural small boat harbor on the East Coast. The fact that 52 percent of Mamaroneck village’s total area comprises water means that it offers not only a wealth of sandy beaches and scenic shoreline, but also countless recreational opportunities like sailing and fishing. Large expanses of parkland boast miles of trails for walking, hiking or picnicking.

The village was once a magnet for wealthy families from New York City seeking a summer home just outside the hustle and bustle of the big city, and among its famous residents was Norman Rockwell. Today, many individuals working in Manhattan are drawn to the community because of its convenient commute, as the city is only a half hour away. Mamaroneck enjoys a vibrant retail, restaurant and entertainment scene. Only a handful of New York City suburbs can hope to offer as much to residents and visitors as this lovely southern Westchester community.

Mamaroneck is GREAT!

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Public Open House today at 22 Argyll Avenue, New Rochelle from 1-3 p.m.

Please join me today from 1-3 p.m. at this truly unique and charming home in New Rochelle.

Welcome home to this 2710 square foot 5 bedroom, 4 bath Tudor home with its exquisite architectural detailing. The vaulted ceiling in the living room compliments the stone fireplace, and beautiful large picture window. There is a distinctive wrought iron entrance way to an office adjacent to the living room, and you will love the formal dining room which overlooks the living room – so perfect for entertaining! The large modern kitchen features a new walk-in pantry that is sublime as is the newly paved patio which is easily accessed via the kitchen. The patio is the perfect setting for all entertaining. The two first floor bedrooms both have en suite bathrooms which is both unusual and great. One is currently being used as a den, the other an office – your choice! The spacious master bedroom has a new en suite bathroom, great closet space, and there are 2 additional bedrooms and a renovated hall bath. Gas heat, NEW roof, windows replaced, upgraded electrical and all just 35 minutes to NYC.

This delightful home is being offered at $769,000.



New Rochelle is GREAT!

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116 Pelham Street Public Open House Sunday April 29th -1-3 p.m.

Please join Carola E. Schönander Gigante and Tina DiNota at 116 Pelham Street today in Mamaroneck for an open house at this charming home from 1-3 p.m..

Close to Mamaroneck Harbor with its beach, pool and indoor hockey rink, and even closer to to the trains, fine dining and the soon to be new cinema, this 3 bedroom, 2 bath 1586 square foot home with its low taxes is a great alternative to a condo or townhouse in this vibrant town. The entrance foyer leads to a sunny living room with a fireplace, spacious kitchen, dining room, full bath and laundry room which accesses the truly charming and romantic rooftop patio. Enjoy your morning coffee or tea, or evening aperitif while you appreciate the lush flowers. The second floor master bedroom features a walk in closet with great built-ins, 2 additional bedrooms and a beautiful new spa like bathroom. While not included in the square footage, the walk out lower level is great space in addition to housing the utilities. There is a one car garage, a side yard, and don’t forget you are just 40 minutes to NYC! The heating system is newer, the washer dryer are new, come and visit. You will love it!  The home is being offered at $635,000.

Carola Schonander has had extensive training in Real Estate. Her eagerness, professionalism and enthusiasm has already led to many closed transactions. Her previous career in journalism and marketing took her from her native Venezuela to London, New York, Lima and Mexico City. She moved to Larchmont in 2001 with her Swedish-born husband and their three children. As well as speaking Spanish and Italian, Carola has strong international connections, a valuable asset in this diverse community. She has developed deep roots in the local community, and understands the needs of newcomers, having relocated on many occasions.

She belongs to the Church of St. John and St. Paul and is a member of the Orienta Beach Club, New Rochelle Racquet Club and New York Road Runners. Join she and Tina (who we welcome to our office)  today!

Larchmont is GREAT!

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The 2018 Colonial Fair Held on the Thomas Paine Cottage & Museum Lawn!

The weather was sublime, the attendance  lovely, and all who DID attend had a wonderful time thanks to the many volunteers to make it so.  Held on April 14th, 2018,  the Annual Colonial Fair was a great success! there was candle making, singing by  Thomas Hooker Hanford ,  there was a blacksmith,   story teller,  Colonial Soldiers and more!     Senator George Latimer even popped by to say hello!

The entrance fee was nominal – just $5 for adults, and $3 for children! The Cottage and Museum is located on Paine Avenue, and  the contact information is as follows:

     phone number is (914)633-1776.
You may reach the Historic Society members by email at 

New Rochelle is GREAT!

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Comedy Night in Mamaroneck!

It is always nice to participate at a fundraiser when you know you will be with associates, friends and have a great time! Such was the case on April 12th, when Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s sponsored the Larchmont- Mamaroneck  Center for Continuing Education.

Ron Nobles -who is a Hommock’s Middle School teacher was the evening’s MC, and he did an outstanding job!  He has appeared at the Comic Strip in New York City, and brought along  some friends and comedians from the club – , Dan Altano, Josh Hyman, Robyn Schall and Charles McBee  to perform.

The Center for Continuing Education is a non-profit group,  separate from  the school district,  and has endeavored to offer wonderful programs throughout the nearly 100 years to help cover the costs.

The classes offered are quite varied from art classes, line dancing, college prep and even Tai Chi!  Mamaroneck is GREAT!

Michele Fox and Patti Anderson of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s

Carolyn Fugere, our dauntless leader and Brad Fischer, a great associate at Julia B Fee. Sotheby’s

Brad and Gay (me!)

Josh Hyman

Josh Hyman

Dan Altano

Charles McBee

Robyn Schall

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Public Open House Sunday April 15th 1-3 p.m. 1 Pelham Road Unit #3 New Rochelle

Please join me at a Public Open house scheduled for  Sunday, April 15th from 1-3 p.m. A simply wonderful 2133 sq. ft. 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath Condo Townhouse with views of the Long Island Sound, the Marina, and is both close to the beach and trains. This sunny townhouse has been freshly painted throughout, brand new carpeting that will captivate, and newly refinished hardwood floors.

This unusual town house has not one but two separate garages, a private rooftop terrace that offers water views, and is perfect for entertaining. The first floor entrance foyer leads to the living room, dining room, modern kitchen and the master bedroom and bath. The second floor offers an additional 2 bedrooms and hall bath. The lower level has a large family room, bedroom, bath and laundry area. With its skylight, this light filled home has so much to offer. Just 35 minutes to New York City! Perfect!  This town home is being offered at $550,000.


New Rochelle is GREAT!

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Selling and buying a Coop in Westchester

Before renovation..

I recently met with sellers who were selling their  2 bedroom coop, and didn’t know whether to renovate the kitchen to try and obtain a higher sales price. We..ell YES! Definitely!   The new kitchen with appliances cost $15,000 BUT that evolved into a $25000 profit. I received over 9 bids in the first week and it became obvious that new kitchens sell!

After renovation!

Accordingly, I had the honor and privilege of listing 2 coops this year, and both had new kitchens. Once again, the response was immediate. Today’s buyers do not like to renovate themselves, like it ‘already done’  and the appointments were fast and furious.  The key though is to make sure that any accepted offer (unless all cash) will also appraise.. As an agent, we must look at recent similarly sold coops in the area, and as a rule, appraisers like 3 similarly priced sold homes for comparison.  They will take into consideration an upward market trend, but there are no guarantees. I always tell my clients that it is best to try and under price a tad as opposed to listing really high, and see  the response thereafter. All cash is king, but those applicants must still pass the board so there are still no guarantees.

If a coop allows pooches then those buildings also make the listing more attractive. Elevators, pools, low maintenance  all attractive points too.

Whenever I take a coop listing, I will check with the management  on maintenance costs, whether there are any assessments in place or will be in place,  down payment requirements ( can be 10% or 20% or higher in some areas) , tax portion amount (usually 50%), if there is parking (the fees for same), which utilities are included, etc.  I always get the buyer’s application and financials at that time also, so I am ready to give to the buyer’s agent.

The sellers need to also look for their offering plan!

“An Offering Plan also called a Prospectus, is a printed statement/document disclosing all material aspects of the real estate project. You should have received a complete copy of the Offering Plan (including attachments and amendments) from the person who sold you your shares in the co-op.”

If the sellers can’t find the offering plan which rather looks like a telephone book (big and bulky) then they should order one. They can range in cost from $150 – $200, and the buyer’s attorney will review this compendium prior to the buyers signing the contract.

Sometimes buyers do not realize the length of time it might take to close on a coop.  Of course the first step is obtaining the accepted offer, and then it is their choice whether to have an inspection or not. I am seeing more people having an inspection but remember it is only relevant to what is inside the unit, meaning the building itself takes care of the structure of the building, the heating, the roof, etc.  and the shareholder (coop owner ) takes care of plumbing, electrical, anything inside their coop.  If there is  a leak behind the walls, then the building will take care of that. However, if a leak starts within your coop unit then you are responsible. I recently had an inspection at a coop, and the inspector found some electrical issues which we had resolved so that was quite worthwhile.

Once the contract is fully executed (signed by both buyers and sellers), then a copy of the contract is given to the mortgage broker who can then initiate the mortgage process. As an aside, it is also important to ensure that your mortgage broker can offer a mortgage in that particular building. Some banks will not offer mortgages if the building allows rentals, and the rental to ownership ratio is very high.  Good credit is required!!! Paying bills on time is important! Being able to afford the maintenance and the mortgage  (debt to income) ratio is important!  It might take up to 45 days in which to secure the mortgage commitment, and I always tell my buyers to complete the coop application alongside the mortgage application, as the same material required for one is also required for the other ( W 2’s, tax returns, pay stubs, etc.).  Invariably the coop application will require some reference letters so that might take a few weeks also. It is nice to get everything ready for when that commitment comes through, so the coop application can be submitted to the management company straightaway.  They basically have 30 days to review it, to obtain an additional credit report and to submit to the Coop Board for their review. As a buyer’s agent, I like to find out whether the Board meets ‘on demand’ or whether they have set meeting days each month. This can be important when submitting an application to the board for if you miss  their monthly deadline, you might have to wait another month for that interview.

The Board is allowed to ask any questions they deem suitable at the interview so just be prepared and always cordial!  I once had a very well qualified doctor buying a coop, and her sister lived in the building.  Knowing the Board President’s phone number, the doctor called and demanded when was she going to be interviewed. Needless to say, that phone call angered the Board President, and she never made it to the interview – she was declined! They figured that if she was going to be  a pain before she moved in, what would she be liked afterwards?

Hopefully, the client will be approved, and a n acceptance phone call will follow together with a formal acceptance letter , thus allowing the attorneys to schedule the closing. Since  the coop purchase only owns shares in a coop, those shares are transferred to the new owner at the closing table. In truth, just a copy of the shares are given, as the bank retains the original as they are financing the mortgage.  Since banks sell and resell their mortgages, sometimes that share certificate gets mislaid which is annoying, and causes additional work for the attorney tracking it down ..

SO, bottom line, make sure you keep all of your closing documents, offering plan in a safe, secure place and congratulations on the sale or purchase!

Westchester is GREAT!

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