Linda Raymond Real Estate Blog, Fairfield, Westport & More

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

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Fairfield’s Super Seven for Supper

Hands down, one of the most fabulous features of Fairfield is all the chic eateries downtown. So, I thought I would share with you seven of my favorite picks for dining and ambiance.
Cafe Madeline
A Friday night ritual for me and my husband, Mark is to pop over to Cafe Madeline on the Post Road, a tiny, personal place, where Madeline is not just the proprietor but also the regular hostess. (You can see her in a white blouse in the photo talking with patrons.) The atmosphere is nothing short of charming and, shall we say, adorable.  Madeline’s taste is somewhat eclectic as evidenced by the pink floral sconces, mini white party lights surrounding the glass case with handmade beaded jewelry for sale, and the flat screen that displays musical performances or nature scenes to fit the mood.  There are probably no more than 10 tables inside, and if the weather is mild, maybe another 5 out on the front patio.  The food is always absolutely delicious.  We cannot resist ordering the butternut squash soup, which is rich and flavorful and always comes as a very generous serving. I typically follow that with the “small plate”, Portobello Mushroom with arugula and goat cheese, served hot  Unbelievably delish!  Mark always gets the Chicken Piccata, also a small plate. He’s not a fan of the spinach that normally comes on top, so he substitutes it for chopped broccoli, which the staff always remembers and does automatically. Intimate, romantic and wonderful!
TotoAnother favorite where you’re made to feel like family when you are a regular is Toto.  The Mediterranean-style eatery comes with the gregarious people and food with a flare. The owner, manager, and team always great you with a warm welcome and seem genuinely thrilled that you have arrived. The decor’ has a stylish and sophisticated, yet casual European elegance, and the covered, heated patio is in service for most of the year.  An absolute MUST starter (if you like cheese), is the Spicy Feta, served in a mini deep dish. You simply spoon it out and enjoy with some rustic bread. It’s truly a burst of flavor!  The Crispy Calamari Salad is the best I’ve had anywhere. Mark cannot resist the Lemon Risotto, the ultimate in decadence with just the right touch of citrus.
 
The Chelsea is a funky and somewhat rustic place to have a drink and enjoy a meal.  Rough wood accent walls and ornate wrought iron design elements are contrasted with neon green metal chairs.  The stunning and fragrant, oversized bouquet of fresh flowers that is always a centerpiece on the bar pulls it all together!  The ChelseaHere, our favorite starter is the Beet Salad with pistachio nuts, a little arugula, and mini-mozzarella balls. The dish has a perfect blend of delicate flavors. Mark says that no one else in town can beat the Chelsea Burger.  I personally cannot live without their Octopus Salad, which is really more of an entree than a salad.  It doesn’t look huge when it arrives, but there is so much protein in it, you are sure to be full when you finish.  The flavors are spectacular!  Large tentacles come with potatoes, greens, onions, and a pickled vegetable that adds a perfect punch!  It’s a must-have in my book, with all the goodness and none of the guilt!
Old Post Tavern
For your classic tavern feel, visit the Old Post Tavern right on the corner of the Post Road and Unquowa.  They have been known to have a lively band during their happy hours, and the patio is lovely.  If you are a fan of French Onion Soup, go no further.  Something about their blend of cheeses as well as some magic ingredients in the broth makes theirs completely unbeatable!
BodegaIf it’s authentic, gourmet, Mexican food in a festive atmosphere you’re after, Bodega is the place to go.  Since it’s another tiny place, you may have to sample their margaritas or other drink specials while you wait for your table or seat at the bar.  One of Bodega’s delectables is the Ceviche, a deceivingly filling dish posing as an appetizer. The fish, in a specialty cocktail sauce, has a fantastic flavor and comes with some toasted plantains, that in my opinion, make a complete meal.  If you prefer something hot, their Chicken Soup is hearty and delicious.  You can have it mild or spicy depending on whether you opt to dump in the hot peppers served on the giant turquoise spoon.  Burrito Tinga is Mark’s tasty favorite, and my daughter loves the Gombos Tacos. Bodega's Festive Atmosphere
Martel is on the Post Road in Southport and is a cozy place with a bit of a steak house feel. The ceilings are high, yet ornate, and there is always an art gallery Marteladorning the walls. Always bustling, it’s a warm, upbeat atmosphere.  Although there are many excellent dishes here, my husband and I have gravitated toward sharing the Fondue for Two followed by Martel’s House Salad. The salad features marinated tomatoes and an aged Danish Blue Cheese that are fabulously delicious together!
Last, but not least, we love the Grey Goose, also in Southport, where we once stood elbow to elbow with John Mayer before being seated. The atmosphere can be described as rustic elegance with an eclectic crowd. Some folks go to hang out, others go for dinner. There’s always a flat screen at the bar featuring a sporting event as well as a crackling fireplace on the opposite wall. Penne ala Vodka, Grey Goose Style is Mark’s staple, while I go back and forth between the Grey GooseLobster Macaroni and the Steak Tips small plate.  The Lobster Macaroni is the absolute best here, with the secret ingredient of truffle oil to compliment the generous chunks of lobster and the crispy cheese topping. The Steak Tips are equally fantastic. Cooked to perfection, they come with a corn salsa and chipotle mayo dip that together, absolutely melt in your mouth!
All this talk is making me hungry!  Be sure to come and try out Fairfield’s fabulous eateries, and should you want to ensure you live right nearby, take a look at the homes for sale below and send a note through the form with any questions!
Click the images to take a video tour!
2073 Fairfield Beach Rd, Fairfield

2073 Fairfield Beach Road, Fairfield CT

254 Penfield Road, Fairfield CT

254 Penfield Road, Fairfield CT

6 Hillandale Lane, Westport

6 Hillandale Lane, Westport CT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nothing Like a Great Back Yard on a Holiday Weekend!

My own back yard in the Fairfield beach area is one commonly referred to as a ‘postage stamp’, though it still manages to accommodate our trampoline and numerous modest get-togethers.  However, some good friends of mine in Westport have a much more spacious back yard 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!

Awesome back yard at Hillandale House

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 back yard 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.

Hillandale House

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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Renovation vs. New Construction – What to consider

Thinking about a home renovation or possibly building a new house?  Along with some key resources to help with this dilemma, here’s a story about a homeowner in the beach area of Fairfield Connecticut that changed their initial plans after weighing all their options.

Jen and Chris came to Fairfield in 2006 and settled into their new home, a cozy Cape in the beach area on Pratt Street.  From day-one, they loved the location and the street.   They figured down the road they would have a baby and then renovate, expand or even add another floor.

New Construction

Fairfield Beach Area New Construction

Fast forward to 2009 when their little boy wasn’t so small anymore, but their house still was, and it was time to expand.  However, when they went to town hall and reviewed the beach area Zoning Regulations, they ran into an unanticipated glitch.  They hadn’t realized that if the cost of their renovations exceeded fifty percent of the market value of their house structure, they would be required to fill in their basement, or stretch their project costs out over several years.

Their other major consideration was the cost of flood insurance in the beach area, especially for houses not compliant with Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA regulations, (FEMA FAQs).  After reviewing all the variables and costs, they changed course.  Instead of renovating, Chris and Jen determined that it would be more cost effective to tear down their house and rebuild.  This way their home would be FEMA-compliant and brand new with the added space they needed plus an attached garage.

If you are having a similar dilemma, there are some additional factors you may also want to consider as well as ways to finance renovations, key new home benefits, and tax incentives.

Beach Area New Construction

Jen and Chris’ New Home

Upon solidifying their decision and hiring a builder, Chris and Jen enlisted my help to find a nearby rental to live in during the construction.  They were not alone since many other families in the neighborhood were also raising their houses, renovating or rebuilding after superstorm Sandy.  We began looking and found some good prospects. Eventually, we secured a great place a few blocks away that was perfect for keeping a handle on construction oversight.

Home Sweet Home!

Jen and Chris in front of their new home!

The process of tearing down and rebuilding began.  And one year later, the new home stood welcoming its owners back to the beloved place where their old Cape once sat.

There’s nothing like home sweet home!

 

 

 

Send me a note if you would like to build new, renovate, and find a rental to help with the plan!

Consider a custom-built or new construction home in Fairfield or Westport.

6 Hillandale Lane, Greens Farms Westport CT

6 Hillandale Lane, Greens Farms Westport CT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know about Lordship, CT!

Here are five cool facts about Lordship Connecticut, that you probably didn’t know before. Read on and enjoy!

ONE – Two movies were filmed in Lordship: “Butterfield Eight” with Elizabeth Taylor in 1960, and “Hell Island” between 1981 and 1983.

Lordship

TWO –  The gigantic German dirigible, The Hindenberg was seen by residents flying about 1,000 feet over Lordship on Thursday May 7, 1937 at about 2:30pm during the flight that would be her last.

THREE – The Dixie Doodle Diner was one of the first of Lordship’s drive-in eateries in the 1940s.

FOUR – In the 1890s, the Lordship Casino was both the commercial and cultural center in addition to housing the first fire house on its first floor and the first school on its second floor.

FIVE – The home with the most vintage charm, significant updates, and pond views, that’s steps to the Sound is actively on the market in the spring of 2017 and can easily be visited by video tour by clicking here!

Please send me a note below if you have any real estate questions or plans that I can help you with!


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Realtor Helps with All New “CKC” Salon in Fairfield: Cut. Keratin. Color!

Remember the fun and adorable couple, Michael and Ella from HGTV?  If you missed the original airing of their eposide, it’s airing again September 19th at 9:00 AM on HGTV’s House Hunters Renovation, “An Old House Gets a New Master Plan”.  Click here for a description and show times.

Michael on HGTV's House Hunter's Renovations

Michael on HGTV’s House Hunter’s Renovations

Well Michael and Ella have been back in action with a new endeavor!  About a month ago, Michael called me and said they wanted a new space for Ella’s hair salon.  They wanted to create an all new CKC salon in Fairfield where their clientele could better enjoy a cut, keratin and colour.  Their current CKC was outgrowing its space, and business was booming!

So I ran a search, and the perfect opportunity surfaced.  The owner of a struggling salon business wanted to call it quits and move to Florida making her space available for lease!  It was an ideal property- in a nice busy plaza on the Post Road in Fairfield with plenty of visibility and parking.  The space was a step up in size and amenties but not too big.  It had all the necessary mechanicals and just needed a face lift.

CKC salon & Keratin bar

CKC salon & Keratin bar

We set to work on negotiations, and within a couple of weeks CKC salon & Keratin bar opened its doors in a glamorous new home!

First where they live, then where they work, Michael and Ella have done complete make-overs in their new spaces. For their new salon, they opened-up walls, infused a fresh chic style and brought in all new furnishings!

Now clients enjoy a bright, airy and elegant atomosphere where they are treated like honored guests.  When they come, they can get a specialized Brazilian Keratin treatment for an unbelievable smooth shiny finish as well a precision cut and colour.

I’m lucky enough to have been one of the first customers at the NEW CKC salon, and they were lining up behind me!  Be sure to visit online and in person for your appointment.

CKC salon & Keratin bar
254 Post Road

Fairfield, Connecticut  06824
ckcsalon.com
ckcsalon@gmail.com
(203) 292-5835

CKC salon & Keratin bar

CKC salon & Keratin bar

Photo Aug 13, 3 49 05 PM

CKC salon & Keratin bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always, contact me any time for your real estate needs, or even if you just want to hear more about CKC salon & Keratin bar!


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Homeowner Use of Social Media: Lifeline or Liability?

Most of us use social media networks like Facebook as a convenient go-to tool for fun, entertainment, communication, sharing, advice and recommendations.  And it’s a great way to get some instant gratification for all of these things.    Buyers Browse Facebook

But most of us also know there can be a dark side to these perks. We’ve all heard about the folks who’ve shared embarassing moments and pictures online that they’ve since regretted.  Once it’s out there on the web, it’s likely to always be out there on the web… somewhere.

Well, if you are a homeowner seeking advice or recommendations for repairs to your home, remember the point above.  If you illustrate a leak in your dining room ceiling in a photograph on the world wide web, remember that it will still be out there when you ultimately decide to sell your home.  Not that there is any harm done here.  However, if you present an important issue with your house online such as a leak, or a mold problem, etc., be sure to disclose it when you sell.   In Connecticut the Department of Consumer Protection requires sellers to complete a residential property disclosure report for potential buyers or pay a penalty of $500 at closing.

Buyers are excited, curious, nervous and saavy people… as well as frequent users of the internet. They might just be browsing your social networks.  If your leaky ceiling issue is disclosed on Facebook, but not on the required property disclosure when you sell, you could heading for trouble.  If you try to conceal an existing issue with your house, there is risk for liability.

So think about what you post online when it comes to your home repairs, and remember what you posted when it’s time to sell your house.  If the problem has been repaired, that’s great, your buyers will be happy to know about it!

Feel free to contact me any time with questions about buying or selling a home!   -Linda