Linda Raymond Real Estate Blog, Fairfield, Westport & More

Fairfield & Westport living- homes, fun stuff & more!


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Neighborhood Secrets: Lake Hills, Fairfield CT!

Most Fairfield locals have heard of the Lake Hills Association, but many don’t know much about it, as it remains one of those best-kept neighborhood secrets! ¬†-Until now. ūüôā

Beach 2 on Samp Mortar Drive

The Association encompasses five private beaches for members along the Samp Mortar Reservoir, each labeled with a sign.

Beach 1 – Tahmore Dr.
Beach 2 – Samp Mortar Dr.
Beach 3 – Mountain Laurel Rd.
Beach 4 – Winnepoge Dr.
Beach 6 – Sasapequan Rd. (not sure why this isn’t labeled “5” on the association’s website!)

In addition to fun member activities like live music and movies, five levels of swimming lessons are offered, starting with beginner. Swimming lessons are available for a separate fee for both members and non-members. Class sizes are limited to 10 participants and swim lesson sign-up day is June 9 at Beach 4 from 10 am to noon, so hurry up!  Visit the association website at LakeHillsFairfield.com for more info.  

Lake Hills Association Beaches

Eligibility to join the Association is part of the homeownership deed of nearby homes within the designated area in the association bylaws. Joining is optional for owners of most of these parcels, and the membership fee runs about $400 per year.  Another Fairfield gem nearby that is open to all town residents also deserves a mention here, the park at Lake Mohegan.

If you or a friend are considering a move to the neighborhood, the totally renovated home at 2654 Black Rock Tpk is currently on the market and sits just across the street from Beach 6!  Click the image below for a video tour.  Visit my website to see more area homes on the market or set up a search. As always, feel free to contact me with comments or questions using the at the bottom of this post, and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.

2654 Black Rock Tpk

Re-Imagined Ranch in Lake Hills

Here are some additional topics you might like,

Choosing a Real Estate Attorney

Dryer Vent Cleaning

Open House Safety-Neighborhood Watch!

 

 

 

 

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How’s the Spring Housing Market Doing this Year, 2018?

The 2018 spring real estate market has been hot so far! ¬†I have been busy helping people sell properties, search properties, and make their moves. ¬†I’m ready to help you and your friends too. ¬† Let’s connect on social!

Facebook.com/LindaRaymondRealEstate

LinkedIn

Instagram

I also invite you to click the graphic below to visit my website and learn more.

What have I been up to this spring?

Click Image to Visit My Website and Learn More

Now is the time to stay abreast of the housing market in your Connecticut towns of interest. You can do this by subscribing to the concise monthly housing newsletter pictured below as well as by setting up a property search or mortgage rate watch for yourself.  Click the image to view the selections, and opt-in!

Preview of Local Housing Newsletter

Click Image for Free Newsletter and Home Search Options

As always, feel free to reach out with any real estate questions or comments you may have. Call/text me any time at 203.912.4440 or submit your note below.  Happy Spring!


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Hiking Trails, Water Park, Lake Mohegan- Take Tours!

One of the many super amenities in the town of Fairfield is Lake Mohegan and all the great stuff right around it.  Take tours around the park with our friendly Portuguese Water Dog, Splash.  He will preview some of the fun for you, and then you should come and see for yourself!

The park is open for year-round enjoyment.

Splash in for a swim!There are short and long hiking trails offering gorgeous natural scenery and great exercise for both you and your dogs. The long trail goes all around the lake and takes about an hour to complete.  There are many dramatic views along the way including a deep stream where dogs can jump in from the rocks above.
Splash jumps from a rockThe terrain varies from level to steep and smooth to rocky with exposed tree roots, so don’t go in your flip-flops!

People watching Splash Jump

The short trail doesn’t go as far into the woods and more or less follows the edge of the lake. ¬†It leads to a wonderfully entertaining swimming beach for dogs.
Whether you come with a dog or not, just standing there and watching the action will ensure you witness an upbeat social dynamic among our four-legged friends!

During the summer, the official public swimming beach is open, complete with lifeguard, sandy beach, and marked off swimming areas with ropes at different depths. ¬†Lake Mohegan SummerThere are picnic tables, swings, a snack bar, and restrooms. For the little ones, there is also a water park area to supplement the beach. ¬†It’s an exciting fountain playground with multiple intermittent water-sprays that are sure to delight and surprise its guests.

Splash on trail in winter

The lake and surrounding area comprise¬†170.4 acres managed by Fairfield’s Conservation Commission and the Parks and Recreation department. Lake access and the parking entrance are at 960 Morehouse Highway. ¬†The park is easily accessed from exit 44 off the Merritt Parkway. Parking is free, and there is a small entry fee for the swimming beach in the summer.

 

Looking to move into this area? Check out another nearby Neighborhood Secret, the Lake Hills Association! Click the next link to view a lovely home on the market just around the corner from the Lake Mohegan neighborhood at 345 Steiner Street.  Or send an inquiry in the form below for more information about the lake, more Fairfield amenities or other homes for sale nearby!

345 Steiner Street, Fairfield

Cul-de-Sac Charmer! Click image for video

 

Splash Photos Courtesy of Karen Kallins

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Neighborhood Safety Tips for Open Houses

We all love open houses.  Open house events have many virtues, but what you may not know is that they also come with some risk.

Open houses offer the perfect chance for buyers to start looking for a new home and getting a feel for what’s available. ¬†Open houses help¬†sellers gain exposure for their property in the marketplace. ¬†And they are an opportunity for buyers and sellers to meet Realtors they may want to work with for their next move.

But there is a risk.  While promoting the property and the open house event, Realtors are also promoting the fact that they will be alone in a house at a specific address, date and time.  This leaves an opportunity for people who may have ulterior motives.  Some people visit open houses with the intent of theft of valuables or prescription medications. Others may have assault in mind.

Open House Safety

There are educational programs for Realtors to help them prevent potential dangers and know what to do if the unthinkable were to happen.  The photo shows the Fairfield police captain and an officer delivering a training session to agents at the William Raveis Real Estate office in Southport.  Some of the information pertains only to the person hosting the event, but there are important open house safety tips that guests and neighborhood residents should be aware of.

Most of us would agree that it’s important for everyone to contribute to a safe neighborhood. ¬†Open houses are an integral part of neighborhood activities. ¬†So we all need to take watch, especially during these community¬†events. ¬†Please keep the following safety tips from the police in mind.

 

  1. First and foremost is to be aware of your surroundings.   As a neighbor, you may see open house signs quite often. Try to be aware of the activity during the open house near you.  Does it seem typical?
  2. Does anything seem “not normal”?¬†¬†If something stands out to you as out of the ordinary, take notice. ¬†Are there too many people in that car? ¬†Did the car park much further away from the open house than needed? ¬†Does something seem odd? Not normal?
  3. Trust your gut. ¬†Whether you are participating in an open house event or are a neighbor observing from across the street, if something just doesn’t feel right, it most likely is not. ¬†If you assume wrong and err on the side of cautiousness, no harm is¬†done, right?
  4. Take action.¬†It’s best to park on the street when you attend an open house if possible¬†so that you won’t be blocked in. If you are in an open house and don’t feel safe, try to exit right away. ¬†Go outside, call 911 and immediately provide the address. ¬†If you are a neighbor and notice that something is not right, call 911, or if you feel it is not urgent, call the police and ask them to drive by. ¬†And last, but not least, if you see a frightened Realtor heading toward your house, please let them in!

Open House, Welcome!

We can all work together to keep our neighborhoods and our open houses safe and enjoyable.  For more information on this topic or to discuss your moving plans, please send a note using the form below.

 

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Martel


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Fairfield’s Super Seven for Supper

Hands down, one of the most fabulous features of Fairfield is all the chic eateries downtown. So, I thought I would share with you seven of my favorite picks for dining and ambiance.
Cafe Madeline
A Friday night ritual for me and my husband, Mark is to pop over to Cafe Madeline on the Post Road, a tiny, personal place, where Madeline is not just the proprietor but also the regular hostess. (You can see her in a white blouse in the photo talking with patrons.) The atmosphere is nothing short of charming and, shall we say, adorable. ¬†Madeline‚Äôs taste is somewhat eclectic as evidenced by the pink floral sconces, mini white party lights surrounding the glass case with handmade beaded jewelry for sale, and the flat screen that displays musical performances or nature scenes to fit the mood. ¬†There are probably no more than 10 tables inside, and if the weather is mild, maybe another 5¬†out on the front patio. ¬†The food is always absolutely delicious. ¬†We cannot resist ordering the butternut squash soup, which is rich and flavorful and always comes as a very generous serving. I typically follow that with the ‚Äúsmall plate‚ÄĚ, Portobello Mushroom with arugula and goat cheese, served hot ¬†Unbelievably delish! ¬†Mark always gets the Chicken Piccata, also a small plate. He‚Äôs not a fan of the spinach that normally comes on top, so he substitutes it for chopped broccoli, which the staff always remembers and does automatically. Intimate, romantic and wonderful!
TotoAnother favorite where you’re made to feel like family when you are a regular is Toto.  The Mediterranean-style eatery comes with the gregarious people and food with a flare. The owner, manager, and team always great you with a warm welcome and seem genuinely thrilled that you have arrived. The decor’ has a stylish and sophisticated, yet casual European elegance, and the covered, heated patio is in service for most of the year.  An absolute MUST starter (if you like cheese), is the Spicy Feta, served in a mini deep dish. You simply spoon it out and enjoy with some rustic bread. It’s truly a burst of flavor!  The Crispy Calamari Salad is the best I’ve had anywhere. Mark cannot resist the Lemon Risotto, the ultimate in decadence with just the right touch of citrus.
 
The Chelsea is a funky and somewhat rustic place to have a drink and enjoy a meal.  Rough wood accent walls and ornate wrought iron design elements are contrasted with neon green metal chairs.  The stunning and fragrant, oversized bouquet of fresh flowers that is always a centerpiece on the bar pulls it all together!  The ChelseaHere, our favorite starter is the Beet Salad with pistachio nuts, a little arugula, and mini-mozzarella balls. The dish has a perfect blend of delicate flavors. Mark says that no one else in town can beat the Chelsea Burger.  I personally cannot live without their Octopus Salad, which is really more of an entree than a salad.  It doesn’t look huge when it arrives, but there is so much protein in it, you are sure to be full when you finish.  The flavors are spectacular!  Large tentacles come with potatoes, greens, onions, and a pickled vegetable that adds a perfect punch!  It’s a must-have in my book, with all the goodness and none of the guilt!
Old Post Tavern
For your classic tavern feel, visit the Old Post Tavern right on the corner of the Post Road and Unquowa.  They have been known to have a lively band during their happy hours, and the patio is lovely.  If you are a fan of French Onion Soup, go no further.  Something about their blend of cheeses as well as some magic ingredients in the broth makes theirs completely unbeatable!
BodegaIf it’s authentic, gourmet, Mexican food in a festive atmosphere you’re after, Bodega is the place to go. ¬†Since it’s another tiny place, you may have to sample their margaritas or other drink specials while you wait for your table or seat at the bar. ¬†One of Bodega‚Äôs delectables is the Ceviche, a deceivingly filling dish posing as an appetizer. The fish, in a specialty cocktail sauce, has a fantastic flavor and comes with some toasted plantains, that in my opinion, make a complete meal. ¬†If you prefer something hot, their Chicken Soup is hearty and delicious. ¬†You can have it mild or spicy depending on whether you opt to dump in the hot peppers served on the giant turquoise spoon. ¬†Burrito Tinga is Mark‚Äôs tasty favorite, and my daughter loves the Gombos Tacos. Bodega's Festive Atmosphere
Martel is on the Post Road in Southport and is a cozy place with a bit of a steak house feel. The ceilings are high, yet ornate, and there is always an art gallery Marteladorning the walls. Always bustling, it’s a warm, upbeat atmosphere.  Although there are many excellent dishes here, my husband and I have gravitated toward sharing the Fondue for Two followed by Martel’s House Salad. The salad features marinated tomatoes and an aged Danish Blue Cheese that are fabulously delicious together!
Last, but not least, we love the Grey Goose, also in Southport, where we once stood elbow to elbow with John Mayer before being seated. The atmosphere can be described as rustic elegance with an eclectic crowd. Some folks go to hang out, others go for dinner. There’s always a flat screen at the bar featuring a sporting event as well as a crackling fireplace on the opposite wall. Penne ala Vodka, Grey Goose Style is Mark’s staple, while I go back and forth between the Grey GooseLobster Macaroni and the Steak Tips small plate.  The Lobster Macaroni is the absolute best here, with the secret ingredient of truffle oil to compliment the generous chunks of lobster and the crispy cheese topping. The Steak Tips are equally fantastic. Cooked to perfection, they come with a corn salsa and chipotle mayo dip that together, absolutely melt in your mouth!
All this talk is making me hungry!  Be sure to come and try out Fairfield’s fabulous eateries, and should you want to ensure you live right nearby, take a look at the homes for sale below and send a note through the form with any questions!
Click the images to take a video tour!
2073 Fairfield Beach Rd, Fairfield

2073 Fairfield Beach Road, Fairfield CT

254 Penfield Road, Fairfield CT

254 Penfield Road, Fairfield CT

6 Hillandale Lane, Westport

6 Hillandale Lane, Westport CT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Design Your Own Perfect, Custom, Home!

Have you ever dreamt of living in a home perfectly suited to your every taste and need? Did you quickly push the dream aside feeling overwhelmed by the daunting process and decisions you would have to make? You are not alone. But many people have jumped on the opportunity and now relish the sanctuary of their ultimate dream home!

Building custom homes is the current focus of many area builders. Read on to see how one Fairfield County Connecticut builder has evolved as an expert in catering to this special homebuyer. linda-raymond-at-milton-1

I met with Milton Development, a luxury builder in Fairfield County Connecticut, to discuss why they cater to this niche and what’s special about how they do it. ¬†I sat down for a Q and A with the company owner, Ashley Shapiro, to find out why Milton is now a custom home builder, what makes this approach a win-win for everyone, and how they tackle barriers that often make people hesitate to pursue a custom-built home. Here’s¬†what I learned-

Linda: What made you decide to become a custom-home builder? 

Ashley: After building only spec homes for about 12 years and working with buyers¬†to customize the finishes, we discovered that we were really good at working with people to give them what they want. ¬†We realized that we truly want to create the home that is perfectly suited our customers. We learned how to gain a clear understanding of how our clients live and what they love for their home design. ¬†miltonhouseOur motto now is, “We build a lifestyle”. ¬† Almost anyone can build a house, but we are now¬†experts at creating a home that fits one’s lifestyle like a glove. ¬†Not only do we love building the perfect home for our customers, but¬†when we custom-build for people, we are better able to manage our business by avoiding the uncertainties of putting a speculation house on market, and we can pass the savings on to our clients.

Linda: Have you seen an increased demand for people wanting custom homes?

Ashley: It’s more a function of creating a niche. ¬†After years of building homes that people loved, we began to get asked if we could build a home for them. ¬†Word spread, and more people asked. ¬†miltonsink

We currently have 10 custom home projects in the works and have been doing custom-built homes for about a year and a half now. We build in Westport, Fairfield, Norwalk and Greenwich.

Linda: Is there a typical buyer profile you see?

Ashley: It varies, but many come from big cities, often working in the financial sector, and they are coming out here for the schools.  What they all have in common is that they are looking for something different.

Linda: What are the common barriers, questions, and concerns you see from your customers?

Ashley: Number one is timing- how long will the whole thing take? How long to get the land, to do the design process, to complete the construction?  We walk through the timeframe for each phase with them. The land is found by their agent or by us, and we are always involved in that phase to help give our clients a vision. We also explain that some of the phases can overlap. For example, while waiting to close on the land purchase, we can get well into the design phase.  We are very skilled at managing the timing and utilize an online program with the timeline and deadlines for everyone involved, including decisions to be made by the buyer.  Everyone has the same real-time view of the schedule, responsibilities, and progress. So our clients know the timeline and understand that they have as much a role in the timing as we do.miltonkitchen

Many are concerned with all the decisions they have to make in a limited period of time.  We have an in-house designer who is very skilled at helping our clients make decisions based on our understanding of their tastes, desires, and budget.  We also have four renowned designers from outside our firm that we work with.

The next big question is about cost and cost per square foot.  Of course, there are many variables that can impact cost per square foot, which could range from $270 up to $500.  But the beauty of our model is that it is completely transparent.  Our customer buys the land, they pay our direct discounted cost to build, which is all determined in advance, and they pay a fixed fee for our work.  So they know up front what their cost is, and we know how much we will make on every project as well.  Most people think we are more expensive than we are because of our high-end image. We do exceptionally high-quality work and market our services and products accordingly. Our print ads look like Vogue photo shoots, but the reality is that we have a lower cost to build than most builders, so we are less expensive!

miltonlr

Linda. So how would you summarize your differentiators?

Ashley: Our image is very high-end and expensive, but our costs are less than our competitors. Our formula is to alway be completely transparent with the cost to build. We take the time to completely understand how our clients live and what they want, which enables us to create the ultimate home just for them.  We are extremely organized and skilled at guiding our clients so they know what to expect and are helped with decision-making.  We make the whole process as easy as it can be for them. Our background comes from branding and the fashion industry.  We use a select talented group of European designers, and we create homes that are truly unique. Our difference is in the details. We build a lifestyle, and this is a win-win for us and our clientele.

linda-raymond-at-milton-4

To learn more about the process and the builders that do custom-home building, start looking for land for your new home, or to get a personal introduction to Ashley at Milton Development, please send a note below, or give me a call at 203-912-4440. -Linda


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My Most Cherished Walking Trail in Fairfield CT!

tidal-marsh-with-creek

Everyone who walks this trail, especially¬†my dogs, agrees that this is one of the most wonderful places to go to decompress and gain inspiration in Fairfield Connecticut’s beach area. ¬† You may find yourself¬†alone with the wildlife (and your dogs), or you may see other people dog-walking, jogging or bicycling.¬†marsh-trail

There is convenient access from several beach area neighborhoods.  One entrance is on Old Dam Road.  You can jump on the trail from the Meadows condo complex off South Pine Creek Road, or you can enter at Mona Terrace by the soccer field and senior center. The latter is my favorite because there is a cut-through from an additional neighborhood near me at the Veres Park cul-de-sac.  A parking lot is also available at the senior center, next to the soccer field.

marsh-trail6

When entering from Mona Terrace, I like the fact that you have options. You can choose to go for a short and sweet stroll along the marsh-side path that leads out to Oldfield Road.  Or for a bigger commitment, you can jump onto the wide trail and go through the woods, across the bridge, and past the Meadows condos and Old Dam Road to the end of the trail and back. marsh-trail3

The woods are always peaceful and pretty, but in my view, the vistas along the tidal marsh are where I find my “Zen”. ¬†When it’s high tide, the water winds through the tall grasses, and when the sun hits the water just right, it sparkles through the reeds and tree branches like diamonds! In the summer, the seaside greenery boasts flowers of vivid colors, and a vast variety of birds are busy doing what they do!

marsh-trail5

Last, but not least, if you take the full route to the end, you will get the prize. ¬†What makes this my favorite trail is that it narrows along a little strip of raised land, where you start to wonder where you will end up. ¬†But it leads you to the sweetest of¬†surprises. ¬†The tail takes you to a final destination,¬†where (spoiler alert) you¬†are surrounded on three sides by the water of a tranquil¬†lagoon. ¬†Beyond the edge of the lagoon, to the right, you can see two more waterways. ¬†Old Dam Road flanks the lagoon with Pine Creek behind it. ¬†And behind that, you see Fairfield Beach Road and the Long Island Sound. ¬†Three different waterway views all at once, what a rare treat! ¬† Your dogs can go for a swim, you can take some photos as I’ve done here, and then, you can head back to reality feeling renewed.

tidal-marsh-trail-end

 

For more information about the rich local amenities or any real estate questions, send me a note below or give me a call.

-Linda
203.912.4440