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

If you are moving into the area and are looking for some special neighborhood amenities, ask your agent to alert you to homes for sale with deeded membership to this association.

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 the beginner level. 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 a map of the beach locations and more info.  

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 some owners and required for other parcel owners, and the membership fee runs about $400 per year at the time this article was written.  Another Fairfield gem nearby that is open to all town residents also deserves a mention here, the park at Lake Mohegan.

One home I sold with deeded Lake Hills Beach access is the totally reimagined home at 2654 Black Rock Tpk which sits just across the street from Beach 6!  Visit my website to see more area homes on the market or to 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!

 

 

Another nearby home I recently sold nearby is 345 Steiner Street. ¬†It’s not part of the Lake Hills association but is just a few blocks from the fabulous park at Lake Mohegan and just a short drive to all of Fairfield’s five beaches on Long Island Sound.¬†

345 Steiner St, Fairfield CT

Cul-de-Sac Charmer Near Lake Mohegan

 

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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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Fire! Are You Guilty of Leaving Your Home at Risk?

Raise your hand if the last time you had your dryer vent cleaned was… never! ¬†I would be raising my hand if it weren’t for the call I¬†finally made last week.

Does your dryer take too long to get a load of towels dry, or even require more than one cycle?  Is there more lint around the lint filter compartment than there used to be?  If you go outside and look at the vent while the dryer is on, are the flaps barely open?  Any of these signs can mean that your dryer vent is long past due for a cleaning!

Firesaft Chimney Service

After seeing excessive loose lint around the lint filter, I began to worry that more lint must be collecting somewhere else behind the scenes. I started thinking this was a fire waiting to happen. Our dryer is upstairs near the bedrooms which made me especially concerned about fire risk. So I called Firesafe Chimney Service to ask if they clean dryer vents, and sure enough, this is one of their standard services. So they came out the next day to take a look.

Tom Butkier, the business owner and licensed servicer for the company was on the job. ¬†Firesafe Chimney ServiceFirst, he checked the hose attachment behind the dryer, and then cleaned the lint from the dryer hose to the wall. He removed a good amount of lint there. Next, he turned the dryer onto the air-fluff setting to send air circulating outward and went to check the vent outside. ¬†He Tom Butkier of Firesafe Chimney Serviceclimbed up with a ladder and took the vent cover off to look inside. To my disbelief, not only was the vent jam-packed with a trash-bag full of lint, there was also an entire old bird’s nest in there! ¬†Clogged Dryer VentIt’s amazing that any air was venting through the system at all!

According to the U.S. Fire Administration,

  • 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss.
  • Failure to clean the dryer (34 percent) is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires.
  • More home clothes dryer fires occur in the fall and winter months, peaking in January.

It is recommended by the USFA and FEMA to clean your lint filter after every dryer use and to have your dryer vent ductwork cleaned every year.  Lint Alert Pro

Tom also told me about an excellent wifi-enabled product now available that can alert you via an app on your phone and also send an alert to Firesafe Chimney when your dryer venting is showing signs of being clogged. It can also send alerts for dangers from your washing machine.  This is a key tool for added safety and peace of mind, especially for anyone with rental properties or vacation homes. Simply contact Firesafe Chimney to find out more, then just order it, plug it in, and download the app!

And now that ‘after shot’ I’m sure you’ve been waiting for- Here it is, a spic-and-span dryer duct!Clean Dryer Vent

So, if it’s been more than a year… (or 10!) since you’ve had your dryer ductwork cleaned, and assuming you do laundry, I suggest you wait no longer. Free your dryer ducts from the debris accumulation that’s sure to be stuck in there, and eliminate this fire risk from your home.

Give Tom at Firesafe Chimney a call to clean your dryer vents and your chimney as well,¬†(203) 270-9400 and tell him Linda sent you. You’ll be happy you did! ūüôā

Tom Butkier of Firesafe Chimney

For questions about this article, properties, or any real estate needs, feel free to send me a note using the form below, and I will get right back to you. 

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Reasons You Want This House: 6 Hillandale Lane, Greens Farms Westport CT

If you’re in the market for a new home in Westport Connecticut but aren’t sure which one’s right for you, here are the top 10 reasons this may just be the best new construction in town!

6 Hillandale Lane, Westport CT

6 Hillandale Lane, Westport CT

  1. Location, location, location! ¬†(Okay, that’s three, but we’ll only count it as one!). ¬†Situated just around the corner from the Post Road and right off prestigious Turkey Hill South near Martha Stewart’s previous residence, 6 Hillandale Lane is a prime location. ¬†A protected wooded space buffers the property from any sites or sounds from the Post Road, yet the convenience to all the local amenities is there. ¬†The home is also just four minutes from Greens Farms Station and 10 minutes from Saugatuck Station. ¬†It is minutes from renowned Greens Farms Academy, Burying Hill Beach and the vibrant downtowns of both Westport and Fairfield.

    Greens Farms Station

    Greens Farms Station

  2. Neighborhood РThe homes on Hillandale Lane each have a unique character and style.  Each is sited differently on its lot with attractive complimentary landscaping.  The neighborhood is lovely with residents of all ages and includes numerous multi-million dollar homes.
  3. Schools – People relocate to Westport from many places for the sought-after top-notch schools.
  4. Setting – Hillandale House is truly the centerpiece of the cul-de-sac on Hillandale Lane. ¬†It has a commanding yet gracious presence from both Hillandale Road and Hillandale Lane. ¬†At the same time, the home is tucked into the scenic private property and graced by a blend of skillfully designed and nature’s best landscaping that delivers the feel of¬†country¬†living.¬†6 Hillandale Lane Romantic Setting
  5. Views Р This special romantic setting extends its bonus to the indoors, offering stunning views of natural beauty from every room!
  6. Design РThe home exhibits transitional style maintaining a timeless traditional silhouette while adding an upscale modern edge.  Windows are positioned to invite maximum natural light and scenic views.  Materials are top of the line and state of the art, such as Caesarstone countertops that are virtually indestructible, and epoxy flooring in the garage that resists dust, protects the slab, and looks super cool!
  7. Construction Team Р Coastal Construction has been building homes in Westport since 2003 and has built more than 80 luxury homes in Fairfield County. They have fine-tuned the art of quality home construction by providing careful attention to site design, layout, architecture, craftsmanship and the right location.
  8. Use of space – ¬†The design team knows how people like to live. ¬†So they incorporated the perfect blend of open-flow, separate private areas, and spaces for convenience. That’s why the Kitchen with large island with seating is open to the Great Room and the Breakfast Area. 6 Hillandale Ln Kitchen¬†The Breakfast area is spacious enough to fit a dining room sized table and looks out to the backyard and patio. ¬†This open-flow area offers many options for casual dining and entertaining. ¬†The Formal Living and Dining Rooms offer a more intimate ambiance. The Mudroom features a¬†walk-in pantry, walk-in closet and Powder Room for additional utility. ¬†Four bedrooms reside on the second floor, and an additional bedroom with full bath is situated on both the third floor and walk-out lower level. ¬†This provides privacy for various sleeping quarter arrangements. ¬†6 Hillandale Ln Terrace from PatioThe walk-out lower level also includes a private zen-like Garden Terrace offering another separate sanctuary. ¬†If a pool is added, this terrace also serves as access to the full bathroom downstairs. The well-thought-out design offers something for everyone and every occasion.
  9. Garage РPerfect for organizing your extra toys, furniture, bonus fridge, etc. this garage offers an extra half-bay for all your stuff.  With a door into the Mudroom off the Kitchen and a door straight to the backyard, this is the ideal hub to keep the fun times coming.  Did I mention the super cool epoxy floor?6 Hillandale Ln Garage
  10. Great backyard РIf you crave a property that has both utility and undisturbed beauty, this is your place.  The backyard is wide, level, dry and fabulously scenic with a lovely wooded barrier, unlike the contrived, rigidly rectangular yards that snugly abutt their neighbors.  The pool can go just outside the walkout lower level with full bath.  The patio is the platform for enjoying a meal or watching the backyard happenings.  Whether you invite your friends or keep it to yourself, this is the perfect backyard for playtime and relaxation time alike. 6 Hillandale Ln Back Yard

If you would like more information about this property, please submit an inquiry below.  

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What Makes Your House a Home?

From the time you awake, until the time you call it a day, you carry out a pattern of activities that make up your lifestyle.

Elegant Breakfast Nook

Your house is your place of coming and going, of greetings and goodbyes, of good mornings and good nights.

Your routine may be rushed and hectic at times. At other times you may have periods of intense focus or moments of calm, harmony, and serenity.

You settle into your surroundings and set your house up to be comfortable for yourself, your family, and your friends. You decorate your house to reflect your style, tastes, interests, and passions.

Dining Room with Center Piece

You work hard and play hard. Your house is your base for productivity, security, privacy, and recharging.

Zen-like Home Office

Serene Master Bedroom

Comfy Family Room

Your house is the place you cherish, where you feel safe and sound, sometimes happy, other times sad; where you celebrate, gather together, share, work, create, cook, decorate; where you can love and be loved; where you live, grow, rest, dream, and at times sort through the chaos that life often throws at you!

 

Mudroom with Elegant Bench Cushions

Your house becomes an extension of all that you are.  And you become an extension of your house, making it complete. Without you, your house is merely a shell awaiting your energy, chemistry, creativity, excitement, and passion.

Stunning Designer Kitchen

What makes your house a home? You do!

This stunning house at 6 Hillandale Lane is awaiting completeness from you. Come home to 6 Hillandale Lane. There’s no place like home!

6 Hillandale Lane, Greens Farms, Westport CT

Please use the form below for questions, comments and showing requests!

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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 ‚Äėreverse search‚Äô 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.


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Nothing Like a Great Back Yard on a Holiday Weekend!

My own backyard in the Fairfield beach area is one commonly referred to as a ‘postage stamp’, though it still manages to accommodate our trampoline and numerous get-togethers. ¬†However, some good friends of mine in Westport have a much more spacious backyard with abundant space for fun, games and big-time bashes. ¬†We’ve been to quite a few, with the latest one being Memorial Day weekend 2016!

Hillandale Back Yard and Patio

It turns out, these friends have just moved their social agenda to another gorgeous yard (and home) nearby.

New Home, New Back Yard!

The good news for all of you readers out there is that the wonderful backyard my friends have left now has a brand new house on it that will be ready to support a new source of festivities!

Tucked away just off Turkey Hill South, a new home sits on a quiet country lane cul-de-sac. Carefully designed and finished on four levels, this home will feature elegant transitional style with open flow and ethereal light. Romantic landscaping and plantings surround the level property making it super for entertaining, fun in the sun, and peaceful relaxation.  It is the Hillandale House.

6 Hillandale Lane, Westport CT

6 Hillandale Lane, Westport CT

The builder, Coastal Construction Group, has fine-tuned the art of quality home construction by providing careful attention to site design, layout, architecture, craftsmanship and the right property location. As we all know, a home is more than just the place we live, it’s the foundation for everyday living. ¬†Added bonus? ¬†This home is located four minutes from Green’s Farms station and under an hour from Manhattan!

Take a look at the sneak peek video, and visit the listing online and check out a snapshot of the progress!  Perhaps you know someone who has been weighing the options of renovation versus new construction and this may be a consideration?  If you or a friend may be interested, reach out to me at 203-912-4440 or send a note below.

In the meantime, whether it’s Memorial Day, Father’s Day, a graduation party, or just plain summer fun, here’s to a great backyard barbecue!

 

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Save Money, Have Fun, Do a 1031!

If you own an investment property and are thinking of selling it to buy a different one (or two), you can do a 1031 Exchange and enjoy great benefits! ¬†What’s so great about it, and how do you do it?

 

Here’s how it works-

  1. With IRS code 1031, owners can defer paying all capital gains on investment smart ladyproperty. This means that if you own property used for business or investment, you can sell it and use the proceeds from the sale to reinvest in another investment property of greater or equal value to avoid paying taxes.
  2. You have to declare that you are doing a 1031 Exchange before you close on the sale.
  3. You have to meet the 180-day rule: Investors have 180 calendar days to complete the exchange and close on all intended purchases.
  4. You have to meet the 45-day rule: ¬†Identify up to three possible replacement properties within the first 45 days of the 180 day period. You can also sell multiple properties and buy one big property. ¬† If you identify more than three properties, the total cost of the identified properties can’t be more than twice the value of what you are selling.¬† If you identify more than three properties and they end up totaling more than 200 percent of what you are selling, then you have to buy 95 percent- worth of the properties you identified in order to complete the exchange. Your replacement property must cost more than the net sale price of your existing investment property.¬†Identify 3 Properties
  5. You Must use a Qualified Intermediary (QI) to facilitate the 1031 exchange. ¬†The¬†QI takes care of everything for you including preparing the exchange agreement, handling escrow, and coordinating with the closing agents. ¬†The QI must be a third party to the transaction. ¬†He or she can’t just an attorney or Realtor in the transaction that puts the sale proceeds and funds in an escrow account, nor can the QI be a relative. These are IRS regulations.

And here are six amazing benefits of doing 1031 Exchanges-

  1. You enjoy huge savings on taxes.
  2. You can shelter your earnings in real estate, legally!
  3. You can diversify or consolidate your investment property.
  4. You can gain buying power by reinvesting.
  5. You can create more income to build your wealth.
  6. There’s no limit to the frequency or quantity of 1031 exchanges you can do.

Consider an “equity build strategy” suggested by the Midland company (referenced below) that looks like this:

  • Defer paying up to 25 percent in taxes on your gains.
  • Sell a moderately producing property to buy a higher income-producing property¬†and increase your monthly income.
  • Pay no federal, state, capital gain, or income taxes on the sale of the property.
  • Do 1031 exchanges over and over for a lifetime, and the tax liability will never be passed on to your heirs.
  • Base your strategy on cash flow, and you will have success in any market. The key is to get the highest percentage income on your purchase.¬† Even if the dollar amount is small, it will grow over time. ¬†For example, if you can sell a property making seven percent cash-on-cash and buy a property that makes 23 percent cash-on-cash, you are well on your way to implementing an excellent equity build strategy! ¬†Equity bulid strategy

It’s a good idea to use a QI that is local or that works in many states and is familiar with the varying regulations and taxes in different states. You want a QI that has experience and is bonded and insured. You also want to look for one that is a member of the National Federation of Exchange Accommodators and that is a Certified Exchange Specialist (CEC).

Here are some resources to get you started:

1031 Exchange Made Simple

Midland Self-Directed IRAs & 1031s

For help selling and locating properties, please reach out to yours truly!

 


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What are the Hot Technology Trends in Real Estate?

Six Hot Trends that are Super Cool for Consumers!

Real Estate Technology Trends

Consumer-Friendly Tech Trends in Real Estate

  1. Virtual Experiences¬†‚Äď The trend is to showcase properties while delivering consumers

Raveis 3Dan engaging experience that also saves them time. In addition to creative videos, this includes 3D touring, virtual reality, drone photography, virtual staging and even hologram projection of furniture into rooms.¬† 3D tours enable viewers to virtually walk through a property while using their computer mouse to ‚Äúgo‚ÄĚ anywhere in the home.¬† The tool also creates a virtual doll house that lets buyers float through the floors and get an overall feel for the layout, orientation, and flow. Inman News recently talked about virtual reality tours that use special goggles to create an experience close to being there in person as well as gear that projects holograms of furniture into a space to visualize it ‚Äúfor real‚ÄĚ. ¬†Last, but not least, busy or far-away consumers can benefit from a live virtual tour via Skype.

  1. Social Media Exuberance ‚Äď Okay you might have guessed this one, but it shouldn‚Äôt be underestimated. Social media can provide a much richer perspective and bring added value beyond what a typical website can offer when evaluating a potential Realtor.¬† Does the agent share useful information and resources? Do they have a strong presence on multiple platforms including a blog? Do they leverage this presence to promote client listings for maximum internet exposure? Are they creative, resourceful, knowledgeable, personable? ¬†Do they share insights from past customers?¬† What do they do in their spare time? Many consumers are looking into these types of questions with a simple online search or searches within social media platforms.
  1. Mobile Optimization¬†‚Äď Everyone‚Äôs on the go! The trend is for people to consume web content on their mobile devices. ¬†Statista.com predicts a 57% increase in global mobile web traffic per year through 2019. ¬†The most recent click reports I received from my e-newsletter show that readers opening the email on a mobile device versus a computer range between 50-70%. Mobile Optimization¬†So more and more real estate websites and blogs are becoming mobile friendly and optimizing for the best mobile experience. Mobile apps are also on the rise.¬† William Raveis provides a comprehensive Real Estate App. The company has also released a Mortgage App¬†that enables home buyers to start their pre-approval process right from their phone! And hot off the press is the Raveis Open House App that lets guests type in their name, phone, and email and then request a complimentary home value report, mortgage pre-approval and Local Housing e-Newsletter for the town of their choice!
  1. Mortgage Magic ‚Äď Instead of misery. The complex process is now streamlined with new technology that gives consumers the efficiency and transparency they need and deserve. William Raveis Mortgage addresses the first critical step by providing buyers with a certified loan pre-approval followed by electronic milestone tracking of their loan process that also keeps all the players on track. Borrowers view a bold graphic showing a clear progression of the steps and status across their screen. ¬†The icing on the cake? Sign documents electronically from wherever you are!Real Estate Value Forecasting
  1. Accurate Value Estimates¬†– We‚Äôve all heard of the Zestimate, and most of us are well aware of the frustrations with inconsistent results, incorrect data and inability to correct errors. ¬†“What is my home worth?” is the question people are always asking. Savvy consumers want a quality tool to help them estimate the market value of their property.¬† William Raveis recently launched the RAVestimate. The interactive technology lets consumers ¬†input specific home improvements and then work with comparable sales data that they select.¬† The company tested the tool and documented extraordinary accuracy.
  1. Predictive Marketing ‚Äď Advanced intelligence and predictive modeling to help buyers before they ask are up and coming. Consumer data and predictive analytics will be used to anticipate home buying goals, preferences, and timing. ¬†So in the not-too-distant future, Realtors, lenders, and perhaps the perfect home may be finding the buyer before they even know they are going to buy!
    Real Estate Technology, Predictive Analytics

 

Which trends to you think have the most promise?  What other trends are you seeing that are consumer driven?  From a consumer perspective, what new technology services would you like to see?

CT Post - Real Estate Tech Trends Dec 2015

For more information or questions about your moving plans, contact me using the form below.


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Happy Seller Heads South!

Not a big fan of freezing winters, Joe had a dream that he thought was simple:  sell his condo on Madison Avenue in Bridgeport and move to Florida where life is sunny and warm year-round.

Joe after his closing!

Joe after his closing!

It sounded reasonable enough until he put his condo on the market and didn’t get the quick sale he was hoping for.¬† After trying to sell with four different agents over the course of three years with one deal falling through at the last minute, Joe was feeling quite discouraged and wondered if his plan would ever come to fruition.

Finally, the following summer, he summoned his spirits again and had his son come up from Florida to help him de-clutter.  Then he called me to come and see his place, and I gave him a list of staging tips that he put into play.  We went on the market and received a good amount of activity but were plagued by low-ball offers by investors and a distressed unit that posted for sale at a rock bottom price by a bank.

As the holidays approached, Joe agreed to withdraw from the market long enough to re-do his kitchen.  I referred a great contractor to him that was skilled and well priced.  Joe shopped around for some good deals on appliances, and viola!
2011-09-30 01.52.54      Joe's Condo AFTER

 

 

 

 

 

With a refreshed look, new kitchen and the New Year, Joe closed on his condo within three months and was off to his dream home in Florida with the weather to match! ¬†Here’s what Joe had to say about it, “I will always be happy to give you the highest recommendation for your excellent customer service and professionalism. I definitely couldn’t have sold my condo without you. ¬†The recommendation to upgrade my kitchen was a big factor. ¬†There were so many condos¬†on the market in Bridgeport, I thought I would never get out of there. But you sold my condo in such a short time frame. ¬†You are a Realtor who cares and gives the best possible customer service one could expect, especially if the seller listens to you and takes your suggestions. ¬†I couldn’t be happier now that I am in Florida.”

Take a look at the video to see Joe’s kitchen transition in action.

Feel free to comment below or request help preparing your home for the market.