Linda Raymond Real Estate Blog, Fairfield, Westport & More

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Financial Stress: 6 Strategies Seniors Can Use to Find Relief

Thank you to our guest writer, Jim Vogel from eldersinaction.org for this article!

Photo by Unsplash

Financial stress is a never-ending problem that can lead to physical and mental health challenges for older adults. While research shows seniors aren’t the group most stressed by finances, they often have unique challenges when it comes to money. Mainly, they have fewer options for finding relief.

If you or a senior loved one is experiencing financial stress, there are some big and small ways to manage the situation. 

1. Get better healthcare and insurance rates.

Now is the time to shop around for your insurance options. You may be paying more than you should or for services you don’t need. Healthcare is a complicated system and can be challenging to navigate alone. You may find ways to save money by talking to an agent. 

We also recommend looking at the costs of other kinds of insurance, like life and homeowners insurance, to see if there are more affordable options out there.

2. Downsize.

The costs of maintaining a larger home can add up. If you’ve got sky-high utility bills and more space than you need, it may be time to consider downsizing. By selling your current home, you may be able to purchase a new home outright and use the remaining money to help fund your retirement. Before putting your home on the market, research how much you can expect to earn from a sale, and make sure you consult an experienced realtor in your area. 

3. Explore alternative transportation.

If you are a senior who is driving less and less, you might be able to save money by changing your transportation methods. If driving isn’t necessary, consider selling your car. This will not only give you quick cash on hand but also save you monthly car insurance payments, as well as routine car maintenance and upkeep. 

Senior support website Daily Caring notes that seniors have many transportation options — some can get everywhere they need to by bus or through a family member, while others take advantage of rideshares or senior-specific public transportation options.

4. Shop at secondhand stores.

Seniors can save a great deal of money by purchasing gently-used items at secondhand stores. There are many upper-end consignment stores that allow seniors to purchase high-quality clothes, furniture, appliances, kitchenware, and other household goods at even greater discounts. Be sure to look and see if there is a certain day or time of day where seniors can take advantage of additional discounts. There are even online secondhand options like Thred-Up and Poshmark. 

5. Take advantage of senior deals and discounts.

Many businesses offer seniors special deals and discounts to help make their goods and services more accessible and affordable. People over 65 can get anything from meals to groceries, entertainment to investments, at special rates and discounts. The Senior List provides one of the most comprehensive lists of senior deals and discounts. These deals can help you enjoy a quality of life that is fun and exciting without worrying excessively about costs.

6. Share meals with neighbors and friends.

Senior isolation can be a serious health condition for people over 65, especially those concerned with finances. They may go out less for fear of spending too much money. However, sharing meals with neighbors and friends can relieve both burdens. You’ll share the financial cost of cooking, while also spending quality, social time with loved ones. Even cooking together can be a social occasion. Seniors who share meals two or three times a week often report a social and financial benefit.

Any health issue can be exacerbated by financial stress and strain, which makes seniors particularly at risk. That’s why exploring these free or low-cost activities can help both the mind and body cope with financial hardships. 

If I can be of assistance to you, please feel free to reach out.


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At What Price Would You Consider Selling Your House?

My buyer waits for completion in six months.

Buyers are waiting. Home sale prices are up. Interest rates are outrageously low. Is there a price at which you would consider selling your house? If there is a price that motivates you, are there other barriers?

It sure appears to be the perfect storm for owners to want to sell their homes, right? Sure, except for two major roadblocks- As a potential home seller, where do you move with the limited choice in the market? And if you could work through these details, do you really feel ready?

If you are one of these homeowners, here are three things you can do to manage the logistical challenge.

  1. You can list your home with a published contingency to find suitable housing. This relieves the pressure of not having your destination pre-determined by letting potential buyers know up-front that you reserve the right to take the time to find a new home. It also gives you an ‘out’ if you cannot find a suitable solution. You can reach out to me and also select a real estate attorney to learn more.
  2. Alternatively you can put your home on the market and negotiate a long closing period, such as a few months, when you receive an offer- or multiple offers. Many buyers are flexible with timing, especially if they are buying a second home. This will give you time to look around.
  3. A temporary housing plan is another key option. Are you aware that you may even be able to sell your home and rent it back from the buyers for a period of time! This can be an excellent solution for bridging the gap until you find your new home. Even if this is not doable, there are other options. If it is feasible to stay with family, go to a second home or vacation home, or get a short term rental, and put things in storage for a while, this is a great way to take the timing pressure off. It may not be convenient, but it may still be worth it in order to capitalize on the opportunities of this market and move to the home that truly satisfies your current needs and desires.

What if the above solutions are all well and good, but you still feel hesitant? It is even more important than strategizing the logistics to be sure your heart is really in it. You must be sure you are ready to sell before going on the market. Here’s the journey one home seller went through to get ready to ultimately make her dream come true.

Buyers are waiting for homes to enter the market because there is so little to choose from. Take a look at the housing inventory in Fairfield in this graph from William Raveis Local Housing Data. There are only 227 homes on the market as of last December compared to 387 at the same time in 2019, and 411 in 2018. Compare this to the peak month in May of 2019 when there were 627 homes on the market! A buyer right now only has about one third of that to choose from.

Imagine if all you. homeowners who would love to sell but have been sitting on the sidelines decide to go for it using some of the safeguards above? The market would be rich with choice for everyone searching. (yourselves included!), and many more home buyers and sellers would be on the move toward making their dreams a reality!

You can browse around and set up some searches for yourself here if you would like to get a feel for the markets as you think about your plans. Feel free to reach out to me anytime by phone, 203.912.4440, my website or by sending me a note below. I look forward to talking with you!


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She Finally Decided to Sell Her Home, and It Was a Dream Come True!

The seed was planted years ago that maybe someday they would leave their comfortable bubble in Westport, Connecticut, and follow one of their dreams. They knew they would love to go abroad for a while, pursue the adventure of a live-aboard, or follow their passion for waterfront living.

He was excited to go for it, but she, not so much. Selling their home would allow them to be untethered for a while but the emotional consequences of leaving their home and hometown of 17 years with deep connections to friends, the community, and their love of Westport, was not lost on them. 

For starters, the limited choice of homes on the market made homelessness seem a clear outcome. The process of having to show the house day after day during a pandemic and having to deal with the whole listing, selling, and the moving process felt daunting. How could she argue with her grown daughters who rightly said they should keep the beautiful home they had made perfect over the years by putting their hearts and soles into it?

But, wasn’t this the perfect time? Wasn’t now the time to sell your home, especially in Westport with properties flying off the shelf at record speed for top dollar?

As it turned out, the low inventory and logistical barriers were really not the problems.

Becoming emotionally ready for adventure and following the dream was what she needed to take the leap out of her comfort zone. Only once she was at peace with letting go, moving on, and embracing the adventure, had all the pieces, one at a time, fallen into place.

I had come to see their home and discuss their hopes, dreams, plans, and concerns. Following that, we met via Zoom due to the pandemic. I explained the market, the recommended listing price, options for giving them flexibility for their timing, and shared my custom comprehensive marketing plan which included an added detailed walk-through video for buyers to watch before requesting a showing.

Still, for weeks she struggled with the decision. But as they explored their ideas for their next chapter, she shared their dreams with their daughters who became very supportive of their vision. The response from several friends was also positive and supportive of their decision to sell, and in fact many even said they too had been considering making changes of their own and following their dreams.

So they gave me the green light and I put the house on the market while they went to Boston for the weekend to visit family. During that weekend, I managed 25 showings and multiple offers. They chose a buyer who paid more than their asking price and who was agreeable to a long closing period to give them time to find a new home.

They researched their options and visited potential new homes in various areas. Sure enough, they came upon a fabulous waterfront home further north with breathtaking views that they absolutely loved!

So you may want to ask yourself- Does your home truly satisfy your current needs, wants, and, desires? Can you brace yourself to stretch your comfort zone for some adventure? If so, then now is the time to trust the process, and make it happen!

There are numerous logistical options for making your dream a reality. And there happens to be a jackpot of opportunity presenting itself to sellers right now, with buyers from the New York City area searching in droves, low inventory to compete with, and low interest rates to help you and your buyer with your purchase.

A great way to inspire your journey is to explore our Raveis Escapes website with destination locations featured by local Realtors and browse those areas. Set up searches for yourself in any areas that intrigue you get a feel what’s available there. If you are thinking of moving cross-country or overseas, I can refer you to the perfect agent through my elite brokerage network and oversee your satisfaction with them.

Give me a call or send a note below, and let me lead the way!

Linda
203.912.4440


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Summer 2020: 5 Things You Should Know About the Real Estate Market Right Now!

It’s a very dynamic time right now in real estate and a great time for anyone interested to jump into the action.  Here are five things you should know.

  1. Inventory Is Low! – There are fewer homes for sale resulting in a limited choice for buyers right now which creates competition for the homes on the market and can push up the selling price. May Inventory is Down!Look at the difference in the number of homes for sale in Fairfield and Westport in May compared to May of 2019! The marketplace is in need of more homes for sale. This creates a huge opportunity for sellers!
  2. Interest Rates are at an All Time Low!Mortgage Rates At an All Time Low!Although there has been daily fluctuation in interest rates, they have remained extremely attractive.  In fact, this week the rate for a conforming loan up to $510,400 has dipped to 2.85% for purchasers with high credit scores and a twenty percent downpayment. So there’s an excellent opportunity for buyers to finance a purchase at an amazingly low rate. This is great news for sellers as well because these low rates make their homes more affordable! Click the image from your phone and download the mortgage app!
  3. Summer is the New Spring! Summer is the New Spring!The real estate marketplace is very busy right now for a few key reasons. Realtors and everyone else in the industry have adapted to working in safe mode, there is pent up demand from the initial pandemic slowdown, and it’s a great time to buy and sell! If you are thinking of buying a home and want to take advantage of the low interest rates and increased home affordability, reach out to me so I can help you get that perfect new home.  Sellers, take note of the sample prep list above and the new Raveis Refresh program that’s here to help you with it. Reach out to me, and I will help you to make the process seamless!
  4. Raveis Refresh Is Here for You!

    Linda Raymond Explains Raveis Refresh

    Quick Video explaining Raveis Refresh

    If you have thought about selling but feel overwhelmed by what needs to happen to get your house ready, fear not! Raveis Refresh is a new service that is here to provide you with nearly anything you need, from help packing, to staging, painting, kitchen or bathroom renovations, and repairs, small to large.  The cost is completely deferred until closing, so no worries about that either.

  5. Real Estate is Expected to Drive Economic Recovery! Did you know that a recent study by the National association of Realtors indicates that the sale of just one home in the US results in an economic boost of $88,416?  Because of this, many experts are predicting real estate to lead to the country’s economic recovery.

Economic Impact of One Home Sale - NAR

So there are exciting opportunities for everyone right now, and you can even boost the economy when you make a move to help yourself.  Reach out to me anytime so I can help you with your next steps.

 

 

 


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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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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 – The 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 –  This special romantic setting extends its bonus to the indoors, offering stunning views of natural beauty from every room!
  6. Design – The 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 –  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 – Perfect 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 – If 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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Can Someone Recommend a Professional Moving Company?

There are plenty of tough decisions to make when buying and selling a home, and choosing good movers is one of them.  I often hear people ask for professional moving company recommendations.  This post may provide some helpful information!DecisionsTo provide some insight on the options, I’m sharing ratings from some recent Connecticut area moves as well as a national moving company comparison.  The Connecticut input comes from a few people who completed an informal survey about four movers that handled local moves in the Fairfield County area. You can search for more reviews and pricing information at mymovingreviews.com.

I asked a handful of people who recently moved for feedback about the moving companies they chose.   A 10-question survey asked respondents to rate their moving company on a scale of 1 to 5, with one being terrible and five being excellent. They were asked to score based on their opinions of the quote process, price, range of services, scheduling process, efficiency and timeliness of the move, and care in handling their belongings.  I received four responses, each rating a different mover. Keep in mind that every move is different with unique circumstances, but here is some feedback about one move with each company.

Braun
The customer moved from a condo in Stamford to another condo in Southport for the price of $3,500. The company received a low overall rating of 2.2.  Aside from satisfaction with the process of obtaining the quote (score of 4),  the available services (score of 3), the customer was not pleased with the movers, giving the company a 2 for the scheduling process and timeliness and 1s for price and handling of belongings. Their comment was, “The movers just wanted to get it done quickly and they did damage to some of my furniture. They also did not pack the items as they had indicated they would in their estimate.”

Lippincott Van Lines
This move was from a house in Seymour to another house in Fairfield. The cost was $2,000.  The overall score was 3.7 with ratings of 4 on price, quote process, their range of services, and timeliness/efficiency, and 3 for the scheduling process and handling of belongings.  They said they would recommend this mover, and their comment was, “Actual movers were good, sales staff could be more responsive”.

Lippincot Van Lines

All My Sons
This company was used for a move within Connecticut from a condo to a house for $750.  The customer gave them an overall rating of 3.7 with ratings of 4 on all aspects except for price and care in handling belongings for which they gave a 3.  They did not share a comment.

Junkluggers
The highest rating of the four went to Junkluggers with an overall score of 4.5.  They handled a move from one house to another within Fairfield for $800. Although they received a 3 for their range of services and a 4 on their quote process, they received 5’s in all other categories.  The customer said, “Junkluggers only does close moves, but they also will haul your junk away and give you a receipt for things that they bring to Goodwill. We used them for our move – you pay by the amount of things you have (how much space it takes in the truck). They were super quick and handled everything great!”

And now for the comprehensive report comparing national movers- Here is the scoop on national movers from Reviews.com with a shout out to Atlas Van Lines and Bekins Moving and Storage.

I hope this article provides some insight for readers getting ready to attempt a big move!

For questions and info regarding your future moving plans, send me a note on the form below.  I’m here to help!