Linda Raymond Real Estate Blog, Fairfield, Westport & More

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


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New Kid on the Block, Aurora’s (Cafe)!

Aurora'sMaybe you noticed the subtle change in downtown Fairfield restaurants? If not, you should know that the former Cafe Madeline is now Aurora’s. How did this happen? The story is as delightful as the food!

Lauren was working as a waitress at the neighboring restaurant, Quattro Pazzi when she spotted a cute guy named Byron in the kitchen.  One night they decided to go out for a drink, and this launched the start of their long-term romance.

Lauran and Byron

They were still together when Lauren changed jobs and went next door to work with Madeline at Cafe Madeline. Byron stayed put and soon became the manager of Quattro Pazzi. Before you knew it, Lauren and Byron were married and had a daughter.

Fast forward three years and Madeline decided to sell her business to focus more on world travel which she has always loved to do. Lauren and Byron jumped on the opportunity to buy the restaurant and named the new cafe Aurora’s, after their little girl!

What can you expect when you go? You will enjoy the same cozy and festive atmosphere but with more than a new name.  The menu is new, and while it has held on to some of the favorites from before, like the to-die-for butternut squash soup, there are many new and exciting choices.

IMG_5662

One of them is the Scallops Small Plate. It offers an outrageously delicious blend of flavors that take your taste buds on vacation to paradise!  They are also very personable and accommodating. My husband, Mark likes to stick to his favorite chicken piccata with broccoli-instead-of-spinach, which he had historically ordered every time went to the cafe. Even though it’s no longer on the menu, Aurora’s still makes it for him!  The wines are delicious too. Mark likes the Robert Mondavi Merlot and I enjoy HobNob Pinot Noir.

 

The other cool thing? They actually take reservations! And we recommend making one before you go because we have tried a number of times without, and the place has been booked solid. So definitely call, go, and enjoy!Auroras

Aurora’s
1603 Post Rd Fairfield, CT 06824
203.259.5800
Be sure to Like Aurora’s on Facebook!

If you have any real estate questions or comments about this blog, please send me a note below.

 


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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. 🙂

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 more info.  

Lake Hills Association Beaches

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.  Another Fairfield gem nearby that is open to all town residents also deserves a mention here, the park at Lake Mohegan.

If you or a friend are considering a move to the neighborhood, the totally renovated home at 2654 Black Rock Tpk is currently on the market and sits just across the street from Beach 6!  Click the image below for a video tour.  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 for sale 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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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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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 as 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. The national review comes from a comprehensive report by Reviews.com and provides the results of their in-depth comparison.

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!

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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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.