Linda Raymond Real Estate Blog, Fairfield, Westport & More

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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!

 

SaveSave

SaveSave


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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.


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Annie and Andrew’s Story

A seasoned recruiter for a financial firm on Merritt 7 in Norwalk Connecticut, Annie knew a good candidate when she saw one.   The perfect asset for the current position was one she had already recruited once before, and that would be her husband!  Given their relationship, Annie’s boss had to step in and seal the deal, but Andrew was on board in no time.

The next step was to move from their home in Avon to a town closer to Norwalk that was affordable and had good schools.  Annie’s boss lived in Fairfield and was a strong advocate.  She convinced Annie and Andrew that this town would fit the bill.

Annie & Andrew

So Annie and Andrew’s agent in Avon called me to help them find a new home in Fairfield.  We spoke on the phone, and I set up their online search.   Immediately Annie saw something she liked and came to see it the next day.  Andrew couldn’t get free until the weekend, and by then the house was gone.  Three more times, the timing was too late or multiple bids got in the way, and three more homes were lost. Homes in their price range in the Fairfield university area were in extremely high demand and flying off the shelf!

Although Andrew liked the homes he had seen, he was still having a little trouble understanding the value for the prices in Fairfield compared to Avon.  Annie and I gushed about the treasured amenities in Fairfield such as the gorgeous beaches, convenient train stations, chic eateries, vicinity to Manhattan and the fantastic vibrant community. I wish I had this video tour of Fairfield at the time! Still, Andrew just shrugged his shoulders and went with the flow, primarily motivated by a quick commute.  New Home in Fairfield

Finally, a lovely pricier home had a price reduction.  We immediately went to see it and this time lucked out.  Annie and Andrew landed a beautiful expanded Cape on a pretty university area street.  They lost no time starting to make memories with their little son George, their new neighbors and all the block parties scheduled for the year.

A short time later, Annie sent me a note that said, “Hi Linda, we love the house, and we have fallen in love with Fairfield.  We have only been in the house a little over a month, but it truly feels like home, and I would say George agrees!  We cannot thank you enough for all of your help. You were terrific to work with, patient and helped us every step of the way. Relocating to a new area is overwhelming, and you really made us feel at ease throughout the whole process.  Thanks again for everything.  We hope to see you around town!”

So we welcome Annie and Andrew to Fairfield and the university area along with some of our other recent new neighbors, Ping and Danian and Rich and Chris.  Annie and Andrew’s story is all about taking that leap toward the next chapter of exciting new beginnings- A new love. A new job. A new town. A new home.  Follow your dreams, and the rest is history in the making!

For questions about your next move, contact me any time!


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How’s the Summer Real Estate Market 2015 in Fairfield and Westport CT

So how’s the summer real estate market in Fairfield and Westport Connecticut? Are sellers listing their homes?  Are buyers making offers?  Here’s the summer 2015 scoop in Fairfield and Westport with a spotlight on the Fairfield beach and Greens Farms areas.

As of last week, there were a lot of single family homes on the market in Fairfield, 633 to be exact, compared to 542 at the end of July last year!  Fourteen percent (14%) of these houses had accepted offers. This is great compared to only 9% with binders last July.

The beach area market was not quite as strong as the town-wide market, with 12% of listings securing offers.  However, this ratio was more positive than last summer when the beach area’s home sellers accepting offers matched the town-wide tally of 9%. Of the 15 beach area homes with offers, seven were priced over $1 million, four were between $600,000 and $1 million and four were under $600,000. So there was a good range of prices.

Re-incarnation in the Fairfield Beach Area

Click Image for Flipogram!

845 Fairfield Beach Rd

Click Image for Full Listing!

Beach area new construction was exceeding the town’s ratio, with five accepted offers out of 30 listings, or 17%.  Click the image above for a representative view of the construction going on all over the beach area right now.  Direct waterfront in the beach area demonstrated more sluggish activity than the rest of the beach area and town with a 10% ratio of offers to active listings, that’s 4 out of 39.

Westport inventory was also high with 402 houses for sale compared to about 350 in July last year.  This season’s market was slightly more positive than in July 2014 with 7% of listings taking offers compared to 6%.

Greens Farms was a hot subset of the Westport market, with 12% of the 49 listings securing acceptable offers.  Half of the six offers were listed above $1 million and half below.

2 Hedley Farms Rd

New construction listings in Greens Farms weren’t moving as fast as the rest of the neighborhood with one binder out of 12 listings, or 8%.

So yes, sellers are listing their homes, and buyers are bidding on them.  The ratio of accepted offers to active listings is a leading indicator of what’s to come, and this summer it’s shown variablility based on town, neighborhood, and property type.
As always, pricing your home competitively and staging it for maximum appeal will attract buyers to your listing.  There’s still time before August vacations to get your price right if you’re selling and get your bid in if you’re buying.  Be sure to check out the featured homes for sale below!

Buy one this summer!

Buy one this summer!

New Construction on the Beach, Fairfield – $2,545,000 New price!
Summer Beach Cottage, Fairfield – $1,245,000 New price!
Carefree Beachfront Condo, Fairfield – $915,000 See Quick-Film!
Like-New Home at the Beach, Lordship – $879,000 New Price!
Bright Beach Area Colonial, Fairfield – $625,000 Off the market, sale pending!
Charming Cape, Convenient Location, Fairfield –  Off the market to be rented starting October 1st.

Feel free to contact me any time with questions, showing requests or for a complimentary market analysis of your home.


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Pricing Your Home Right

Here are a few true stories that occurred in May of 2015.  Three comparable university area homes for sale in Fairfield Connecticut accepted offers.  The properties and prices were similar in scope, but the paths the sellers took to get an offer were quite different.   I’ll assign each house a color instead of using the address to protect privacy.  I am privy to the information because my buyers bid on all three of these homes.

White House

A White house with 2,293 square feet, four bedrooms and two and a half baths on .31 acres came on the market for $675,000 the previous November.  The listing canceled and put back on the market as a new listing for the same price in January 2015.  Over the next 130 days the price was reduced to $669,000 and then 649,000.  It was newly listed again in May for $625,000.  The sellers accepted an offer of $610,000 which was 97% of their final asking price but 90% of their original price from more six months prior.

green house

A Green house was listed in March for $650,000.  It had 2,352 square feet, two and a half baths on .49 acres.  The price was reduced to $619,000 and then to $610,000 and was ultimately re-listed with a new price of $600,000. Less than two weeks later, the sellers received multiple full price offers for $600,000.  The sellers got 100% of their final asking price, but 92% of their original list price.

On May 12, homeowners listed a Red house for sale with 2,164 square feet, three bedrooms and two baths on .22 acres for $619,000 and accepted an offer the next day!

Since the two homes above sold for 97-100% of their final asking price, and the average sale-list ratio in Fairfield from January to mid-May was 97%, my guess is that the sellers got very close to their asking price, and in one day, not bad!REd House

So what are the take-aways?

Price: You won’t get more by pricing your house much higher than market value.  Remember you have to sell your house three times- to the buyer’s agent, to the buyer, and to the appraiser. Buyers may be attracted to your house based on emotion, but their final decision is based on the market data that their Realtor provides to them.

Time: The higher above market value you price your house, the longer it will take to sell, and remember, time is (taxes, utilities, insurance, repairs, maintenance, personal time and energy…) money!  The stories above show that in this price range, a list price of 8-10% above the market value is too high to attract an offer.

Since the market is what determines your property’s value, not your personal finances (or Zillow!), price your house within 5% of, or right at market value.  This way you can enjoy a fast sale at a fair market price, and get to where you want to go sooner rather than later!

Feel free to contact me for a pricing recomendation and custom marketing plan or any questions you may have about the buying and selling process.   I’m here to help!