Linda Raymond Real Estate Blog, Fairfield, Westport & More

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

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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’s 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 “small plate”, Portobello Mushroom with arugula and goat cheese, served hot  Unbelievably delish!  Mark always gets the Chicken Piccata, also a small plate. He’s 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’s 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’s 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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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

 

Get a Realtor on Board!


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Home Buying Tips In A Tight Market – What can a buyer can do to combat tight inventory?

If you are a home buyer and don’t see many options during your initial search online, make sure you get a Realtor on board to help you.  Get a Realtor on Board!

Even though inventory may be low and declining, there are at least three key actions your agent can take for you.  Make sure your agent knows what you are looking for, the location you want and your ideal timing.

  1. Armed with this insight, the first thing your agent will do is set up a search for you in the MLS. This allows other agents to conduct a ‘reverse search’ for your wish list items that could match a new listing they plan to put on the market.  They can call your agent who will then be among the first to know about the new listing that could be perfect for you!
  2. The next action your Realtor can take is to send an email to fellow agents in the offices around the town where you are looking that asks if they have a possible match coming to the market.  This can encourage sellers to expedite their plans and make their property available sooner than they had originally planned.  It also gets you first dibs on these homes!

Sample letter to homeowners

3. Last, but not least, your agent can write a letter or design a postcard describing your dream home and mail it directly to the homeowners on your favorite street or in the area you are focused on.

 

Sample Postcard

 

 

 

If you are a seller dealing with buyers that are circling and taking no action or facing a complete lack of buyers altogether, there are key action steps you can take too.

So don’t give into a slowing market, surge ahead, get the market to work for you, and make your move!

For questions or help in this market, send me a note using the form below.

Wasted time costs you money


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Choosing A Real Estate Attorney

Many people come to their Realtor with an attorney already on board.  They figure the attorney is of no concern to their agent thinking that if they know the attorney or have dealt with them before, that lawyer is the best option.  They may think a recommendation from a friend covers all the bases.  Besides price, most people haven’t considered the critical factors below about the attorney they hire to successfully close their real estate transaction.

Here’s a Top 10 List of questions you should know the answer to before bringing your attorney on board-

  1. Does he play well with others?   There are real estate attorneys that give their egos priority over their fiduciary responsibility to their clients.  These lawyers may decide they don’t like the lawyer on the other side of the transaction and deliberately try to kill your purchase or sale as an assault on that attorney. Play well with others?Your Realtor may have worked patiently and tirelessly to successfully negotiate optimal terms for you thus far only to then work triple-time behind the scenes to keep your purchase or sale together because the attorneys are fighting. You may know nothing about this unless your sale falls through because of it. You want to work with a lawyer that relates professionally with all parties in the transaction at all times, or they are counter-productive and doing you (and everyone else involved) a disservice.
  2. Does she know the new TRID lending regulations?  There are new lending regulations that require a three-day period before closing for the buyer to review all the final numbers compiled by the attorneys. This requires attorneys to be well organized and proactive in compiling the credits, debits, and allocations of taxes, insurance, oil deliveries, etc. earlier than before. There are also new forms they need to be familiar with.  If your lawyer is not up to speed with the new regulations, your closing can be significantly delayed at the last minute as a result.
  3. Is he overly chatty or verbose, adding to your bill?  I have worked with attorneys that have kept me on the phone for almost half an hour every time they called and then complained about all the extra time they are spending on the case, stating that they will have to bill for it. I’m sure this is not what you want.Wasted time costs you money
  4. Does he communicate effectively with you, your agent, the lender and the other attorney? There are attorneys that act like it’s beyond their scope of work to communicate effectively with the other parties in the transaction.  Some barely respond to calls or emails at all! Communication is a critical component in your purchase and sale because the lender, the two Realtors, and the two attorneys have a huge amount of detail to coordinate in order to keep your sale on track. entrepreneur-1001611__180 If any of the players is “missing in action” it prevents the process from progressing efficiently, and critical information can fall through the cracks.
  5. Does she specialize in real estate?  If your attorney focuses more on criminal law, divorce or other areas besides real estate, you can end up with an attorney that is in court or unavailable when you need them at a critical time. Specialized in real estate
  6. Is he familiar with the local regulations and practices? You want to be sure your attorney is knowledgeable about the local area of the home you are buying or selling. The process and attorney responsibilities can vary from county to county.  There may also be issues that arise about boundaries, zoning regulations, permits or other things specific to your town that your attorney will need to know about.
  7. Does he have a paralegal?  Many attorneys diversify their workload to include more lucrative endeavors than real estate closings.  This is fine for you as long as they have a paralegal and/or partner in his practice to keep everything on track when he is focused elsewhere.  Otherwise, you and everyone else involved in the transaction can sit ‘dead on the vine’ waiting for a critical response or document.Paralegal or partner?
  8. Is he efficient? Some attorneys are content with creating delays and taking their time to get things done. Efficient?Ask any lender or real estate agent what’s important about an attorney, and they will tell you efficiency (second to good communication)!  The entire transaction is on the clock from the moment an offer is accepted.  The attorney must send and receive the contract in the allotted timeframe and then get it to the lender. They must complete a title search and address questions and concerns in a timely fashion, and they need to prepare all the closing documents on time, or your closing could be postponed.
  9. Is she versed in your areas of specific concern? If you know your transaction will involve added elements of complexity, you want to be sure your attorney can still handle it with ease. For example, if you are moving out of state, coordinating a purchase and sale or pursuing a short sale, run this past your agent and potential attorney up-front to assess their experience and comfort level.
  10. Has your agent recommended him? Last, but not least, the most thorough insight you can get on your would-be attorney is from your Realtor.  Thumbs upMany of the questions above are not ones you can easily get answers to by interviewing the attorney directly or even from a friend who’s used her. If your agent hasn’t worked with the lawyer directly, he or she can ask other agents how well that attorney served his client and worked as a team player for a successful transaction. Your agent’s only interest in the attorney you hire is to get a solid team member on board to help ensure a smooth move for you!

Is there an attorney you are considering that you would like feedback about?  Have you had a good or bad experience you would like to share?  Is there something you would add to the list above? Your questions and comments are welcome below.

 


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Renovation vs. New Construction – What to consider

Thinking about a home renovation or possibly building a new house?  Along with some key resources to help with this dilemma, here’s a story about a homeowner in the beach area of Fairfield Connecticut that changed their initial plans after weighing all their options.

Jen and Chris came to Fairfield in 2006 and settled into their new home, a cozy Cape in the beach area on Pratt Street.  From day-one, they loved the location and the street.   They figured down the road they would have a baby and then renovate, expand or even add another floor.

New Construction

Fairfield Beach Area New Construction

Fast forward to 2009 when their little boy wasn’t so small anymore, but their house still was, and it was time to expand.  However, when they went to town hall and reviewed the beach area Zoning Regulations, they ran into an unanticipated glitch.  They hadn’t realized that if the cost of their renovations exceeded fifty percent of the market value of their house structure, they would be required to fill in their basement, or stretch their project costs out over several years.

Their other major consideration was the cost of flood insurance in the beach area, especially for houses not compliant with Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA regulations, (FEMA FAQs).  After reviewing all the variables and costs, they changed course.  Instead of renovating, Chris and Jen determined that it would be more cost effective to tear down their house and rebuild.  This way their home would be FEMA-compliant and brand new with the added space they needed plus an attached garage.

If you are having a similar dilemma, there are some additional factors you may also want to consider as well as ways to finance renovations, key new home benefits, and tax incentives.

Beach Area New Construction

Jen and Chris’ New Home

Upon solidifying their decision and hiring a builder, Chris and Jen enlisted my help to find a nearby rental to live in during the construction.  They were not alone since many other families in the neighborhood were also raising their houses, renovating or rebuilding after superstorm Sandy.  We began looking and found some good prospects. Eventually, we secured a great place a few blocks away that was perfect for keeping a handle on construction oversight.

Home Sweet Home!

Jen and Chris in front of their new home!

The process of tearing down and rebuilding began.  And one year later, the new home stood welcoming its owners back to the beloved place where their old Cape once sat.

There’s nothing like home sweet home!

 

 

 

Send me a note if you would like to build new, renovate, and find a rental to help with the plan!

Consider a custom-built or new construction home in Fairfield or Westport.

6 Hillandale Lane, Greens Farms Westport CT

6 Hillandale Lane, Greens Farms Westport CT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Get to the First Beachfront Open Houses in 2016!

Well, the winter weather was balmy for awhile, but we’re off to a brisk start for the New Year.  It’s a perfect time to dream about summer, so mark your calendars for some great beachfront open house events you can look forward to!

Birdhouse by Russian Beach, Lordship

Birdhouse by Russian Beach, Lordship

Lordship Lifestyle at Russian Beach
OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, January 24,  1-3 PM

Visit this better-than-new colonial with a new price of $859,000 and water views from every room!  Enjoy an open flow, high ceilings, ample light and a private fenced yard for relaxing and entertaining.

See the Listing
Take a Quick Tour


Kensie Point on the Sound
OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, February 28,
 1-3 PM

Come to the beach in Fairfield to see this turnkey beachfront condo priced at $845,000 and enjoy the fabulous water views!

Sunset at Pine Creek Beach, Fairfield

Sunset at Pine Creek Beach, Fairfield

See the Listing
Take a Quick Tour


Come to the beach and make an offer that can change your life!

Contact us with any questions or to request more info-


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Moving is So Bittersweet

You might say the phenomenon is like a rollercoaster ride when a house changes hands. It goes from someone’s beloved home to being the commodity of ‘a house’ and then back to a dear home again when the new owners move in.

And during this process, the lives of those connected to the transfer undergo such a monumental, emotional and bittersweet transition.

Cathy & Sal

Cathy & Sal

Cathy and Sal passionately enjoyed two decades of raising a family on Charles Street in the Fairfield Beach area. They always celebrated holidays to the hilt. Their elaborate lawn displays each Halloween included their camouflaged kids as spirited spooks who actively taunted trick-or-treaters before handing out candy. And their Christmas displays included every conceivable festive (inflatable and not!) item they had in their attic during the off season! Top these 20 Halloweens and 20 Christmases with a beautiful wedding ceremony for their eldest daughter this past summer, and you have just a few exceptional memories in your chest.

But now that the last of two girls and a boy have grown up and found a place of their own, it was time to move on. They didn’t expect it all to happen so quickly, but they priced their house to sell , staged it to look great and had it under contract for above their asking price in just 23 days!

Cathy and Sal found another fantastic home near the shore in New York and will be much closer to their family. This was an exciting change and the start of a new chapter, yet I know Cathy was fighting back the tears as she waved goodbye to her old house and smiled for the picture before making the full transition to her new home.

Today Charles Street welcomes a new family with two little boys, and like Cathy and Sal, they’re ready for lots of new good times to be had!

For questions and about your own transition, just send me a note below, and I’m happy to help. -Linda