Linda Raymond Real Estate Blog, Fairfield, Westport & More

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


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How’s the Spring Housing Market Doing this Year, 2018?

The 2018 spring real estate market has been hot so far!  I have been busy helping people sell properties, search properties, and make their moves.  I’m ready to help you and your friends too.   Let’s connect on social!

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I also invite you to click the graphic below to visit my website and learn more.

What have I been up to this spring?

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Now is the time to stay abreast of the housing market in your Connecticut towns of interest. You can do this by subscribing to the concise monthly housing newsletter pictured below as well as by setting up a property search or mortgage rate watch for yourself.  Click the image to view the selections, and opt-in!

Preview of Local Housing Newsletter

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As always, feel free to reach out with any real estate questions or comments you may have. Call/text me any time at 203.912.4440 or submit your note below.  Happy Spring!

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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 on trail in winterThere 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.  Splash in for a swim!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.

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? Click the next link to view a move-in ready home on the market right in the Lake Mohegan neighborhood at 229 Adley Road.  229 Adley Rd, Fairfield CTOr send an inquiry in the form below for more information about the lake, more Fairfield amenities or other homes for sale nearby!

 

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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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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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