Linda Raymond Real Estate Blog, Fairfield, Westport & More

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Top 10 Reasons to Buy: 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 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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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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Didn’t Feel Like It, But I Went to Last Night’s Meeting Anyway

Okay truth be told, I really really didn’t feel like going to last night’s Fairfield Ludlowe High School PTA meeting that had been on my calendar since the date was emailed out to all of us.  I was tired, and it was freezing out, and dark, and we just finished dinner after a long day, and the meeting would be long…  In fact, I succeeded in talking myself out of going and finally resolved to skip it- literally the minute before I threw my coat on and pushed my butt out the door!

FLHS-PTA-LogoStar parent, right?  Unfortunately, the reality was that I did not stand alone in these sentiments.  When I got there, only about 10 others were present, including the PTA President, Jim Accomando, Past President, Christine Vitale, Headmaster, Greg Hatzis, VP of Programs, Laura Lawlor, two teachers and a few others!

The meeting was in the comfortable lecture room at the back of the Library, and Greg Hatzis was going to give an overview of the school’s 2016 Improvement Plan.  He had a PowerPoint presentation and handouts prepared for everyone.
joint library picture

As I listened, I was more and more impressed by the comprehensiveness of the plan and ambitious goals as well as the energy and passion expressed by the presenter.  There were so many focus areas to cover, but the determined Headmaster nailed the key points and even gave us a short Parent Beliefs survey to complete, all inside the span of one hour!

I thought the meeting and information were so valuable that the least I could do was share what I could about it.  So I’ve included the three handouts (via the linked text in bold below) and listed what I thought were the main takeaways.  Here are five points that I thought were key from the meeting,

  1. FLHS Improvement Plan 2015-2016 is completely aligned with the District Plan.  It focuses on four core strategy areas and includes a feedback loop of action, evaluation, and continuous improvement.
    1. Instructional Program
    2. Teams/School Improvement Plans
    3. Leadership Capacity
    4. Resources
  2. There are four important Academic Expectations including,
    1. Critical Thinking
    2. Creative Thinking
    3. Communicating
    4. Collaborating
  3. The Marzano FLHS Teacher Evaluation Model is used.  A valuable element of the model is that it focuses on a progression of teaching new knowledge, in-depth use and understanding of this knowledge and then advancing kids to use the knowledge and skills to generate original thinking such as developing one’s own hypothesis.
  4. The new Block Schedule with longer class times is working out great! Although it required teachers to start lesson planning from scratch, it has been instrumental to enabling more in-depth teaching and student understanding of the subjects.
  5. Teachers conduct Curriculum Focus Groups about twice per month. No longer do teachers work in isolation. Now they also learn from and inspire one another- just like doctors and surgeons have been doing for a long time.  Teacher feedback is that they find it exceptionally valuable.

All of this funnels down from the overarching mission of the Fairfield Public Schools:

The mission of the Fairfield Public Schools, in partnership with families and the community, is to ensure that every student acquires the knowledge and skills to be a lifelong learner, responsible citizen, and successful participant in an ever-changing global society through a comprehensive educational program.

In the end, I was so glad I made it to this meeting.  I gained valuable insights about my child’s education as well as the overall the quality of Fairfield’s education system and got to meet some very nice people. Having been so impressed, I’ve since hoped that more parents will come to future PTA meetings.

In the meantime, I’ve been convinced that our kids are in excellent hands! Go Falcons!

Go FLHS Falcons!

Fellowship
Acceptance
Learning
Commitment
Opportunity
Niche
Success

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Winter Open House Tips: Excite, Delight & Invite!

Many people believe that winter is the hardest time of year to try and sell their house. While it’s true that sellers can’t showcase their colorful warm-weather landscaping, there are plenty of other things you can highlight.

The good news about selling in the winter is that the people out looking are typically very serious buyers with a clear timeline in mind for purchasing a home.  Add to this the benefit of less competition to deal with as other sellers wait for the crowded spring market.

One key marketing activity is to hold an open house.  What can you do to make an endearing impression of your fabulous house that offsets any winter doldrums?

Make prospective buyers feel like welcome guests and present your house as though you are hosting a special gathering for family and friends. While your agent highlights all the selling points, the special effort you make will give an enchanting edge toward a special intangible attraction you want buyers to feel that I like to call chemistry!

Start by planning ahead as you would for a big party.

Excite with Winter Curb Appeal
Let buyers see from the street what a warm, charming, romantic and inviting place this will be when they come in.

Consider ideas like a planter or two with colorful evergreen plants and branches, window boxes or hanging baskets.

Winter window box

Image credit: Lea-Ann Vernig

Elegant winter planters

Image credit: settingforfour.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charming winter porch display

Image Credit: HGTV

A bench or trellis can add a nice focal point and polished look to an otherwise bare area.  A brightly colored chair and new welcome mat can go a long way toward creating a fresh look. Here are some photos of welcoming winter homes and a historic winter home for further inspiration.

Romantic winter home

Image credit: insidearciform.com

If there’s snow on the ground, a well-shoveled driveway and path are an absolute must. The last thing you want to do is make visitors feel like it’s a treacherous hardship to get to your house, or worse, let them risk injury.  If parking is tight, clearing some space along the street is also a good idea.

Of course, an adorable snowman fully adorned with your most innovative accessories, and maybe an open house sign can help to set the tone!  Consider leaving some outdoor lights on for an added welcoming glow on an overcast day.  On a practical note, you may want to have a basket of booties inside the front door to keep your house clean.

Make it Delightful and Warm Inside
Think about what makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you visit a friend’s house for a winter get together and aim to delight all the senses.

Light a fire in the fireplace or light candles (real or artificial) on a dining room table and in the bathrooms, simmer apple cider with cinnamon on the stove. play some nostalgic music.

Festive fireplace with candles

Image credit: HGTV

Implement some whimsical touches, such as displaying a card game, a recipe book for creative holiday drinks or hanging brightly colored winter scarves or hats on hooks in a mudroom.

If it’s the holiday season, display festive touches with glass, silver, and natural materials for an elegant, romantic look that will have the broadest appeal. Avoid commercial decorations and religious symbols that may distract, turn off or offend some people.

Use photos to showcase key features of the home that may be hidden during the winter such as colorful gardens, scenic views, a furnished deck or patio or beautiful pool.  Show pictures of the house across all seasons.  This can be done with an open photo album or by framing and hanging a few beautiful photos around the house.

Invite the Guests!
Last, but not least, with your preparations under way, your agent can feel confident about promoting your wonderful open house.  They can get the word out near and far with an ad in the paper, special door-hanger invites to the neighbors to come for the first hour, posts to all the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, a published Event on Facebook to which guests can be invited, the date published on all the real estate websites and the MLS, a bulletin in your town’s local Patch.com and on your agent’s blog, and of course, plenty of  signs leading the way!

If you wonder about the benefits of having an open house, take a look at the discussion of “Open House Pros and Cons” and feel free to leave a comment on the page.

If you have more ideas for hosting a magical open house, please share them below!

CT Post Open House Tips Article


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Happy Seller Heads South!

Not a big fan of freezing winters, Joe had a dream that he thought was simple:  sell his condo on Madison Avenue in Bridgeport and move to Florida where life is sunny and warm year-round.

Joe after his closing!

Joe after his closing!

It sounded reasonable enough until he put his condo on the market and didn’t get the quick sale he was hoping for.  After trying to sell with four different agents over the course of three years with one deal falling through at the last minute, Joe was feeling quite discouraged and wondered if his plan would ever come to fruition.

Finally, the following summer, he summoned his spirits again and had his son come up from Florida to help him de-clutter.  Then he called me to come and see his place, and I gave him a list of staging tips that he put into play.  We went on the market and received a good amount of activity but were plagued by low-ball offers by investors and a distressed unit that posted for sale at a rock bottom price by a bank.

As the holidays approached, Joe agreed to withdraw from the market long enough to re-do his kitchen.  I referred a great contractor to him that was skilled and well priced.  Joe shopped around for some good deals on appliances, and viola!
2011-09-30 01.52.54      Joe's Condo AFTER

 

 

 

 

 

With a refreshed look, new kitchen and the New Year, Joe closed on his condo within three months and was off to his dream home in Florida with the weather to match!  Here’s what Joe had to say about it, “I will always be happy to give you the highest recommendation for your excellent customer service and professionalism. I definitely couldn’t have sold my condo without you.  The recommendation to upgrade my kitchen was a big factor.  There were so many condos on the market in Bridgeport, I thought I would never get out of there. But you sold my condo in such a short time frame.  You are a Realtor who cares and gives the best possible customer service one could expect, especially if the seller listens to you and takes your suggestions.  I couldn’t be happier now that I am in Florida.”

Take a look at the video to see Joe’s kitchen transition in action.

Feel free to comment below or request help preparing your home for the market.