Linda Raymond Real Estate Blog, Fairfield, Westport & More

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


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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

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

What have I been up to this spring?

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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 actionIt’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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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.


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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 – 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 “go” 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 “for real”.  Last, but not least, busy or far-away consumers can benefit from a live virtual tour via Skype.

  1. Social Media Exuberance – Okay you might have guessed this one, but it shouldn’t 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 – Everyone’s 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 – 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’ve 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 – 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.