Linda Raymond Real Estate Blog, Fairfield, Westport & More

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


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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. ūüôā

Beach 2 on Samp Mortar Drive

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 beginner. 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 owners of most of these parcels, 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 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!

 

 

 

 

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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!

Facebook.com/LindaRaymondRealEstate

LinkedIn

Instagram

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

What have I been up to this spring?

Click Image to Visit My Website and Learn More

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

Click Image for Free Newsletter and Home Search Options

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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Fire! Are You Guilty of Leaving Your Home at Risk?

Raise your hand if the last time you had your dryer vent cleaned was… never! ¬†I would be raising my hand if it weren’t for the call I¬†finally made last week.

Does your dryer take too long to get a load of towels dry, or even require more than one cycle?  Is there more lint around the lint filter compartment than there used to be?  If you go outside and look at the vent while the dryer is on, are the flaps barely open?  Any of these signs can mean that your dryer vent is long past due for a cleaning!

Firesaft Chimney Service

After seeing excessive loose lint around the lint filter, I began to worry that more lint must be collecting somewhere else behind the scenes. I started thinking this was a fire waiting to happen. Our dryer is upstairs near the bedrooms which made me especially concerned about fire risk. So I called Firesafe Chimney Service to ask if they clean dryer vents, and sure enough, this is one of their standard services. So they came out the next day to take a look.

Tom Butkier, the business owner and licensed servicer for the company was on the job. ¬†Firesafe Chimney ServiceFirst, he checked the hose attachment behind the dryer, and then cleaned the lint from the dryer hose to the wall. He removed a good amount of lint there. Next, he turned the dryer onto the air-fluff setting to send air circulating outward and went to check the vent outside. ¬†He Tom Butkier of Firesafe Chimney Serviceclimbed up with a ladder and took the vent cover off to look inside. To my disbelief, not only was the vent jam-packed with a trash-bag full of lint, there was also an entire old bird’s nest in there! ¬†Clogged Dryer VentIt’s amazing that any air was venting through the system at all!

According to the U.S. Fire Administration,

  • 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss.
  • Failure to clean the dryer (34 percent) is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires.
  • More home clothes dryer fires occur in the fall and winter months, peaking in January.

It is recommended by the USFA and FEMA to clean your lint filter after every dryer use and to have your dryer vent ductwork cleaned every year.  Lint Alert Pro

Tom also told me about an excellent wifi-enabled product now available that can alert you via an app on your phone and also send an alert to Firesafe Chimney when your dryer venting is showing signs of being clogged. It can also send alerts for dangers from your washing machine.  This is a key tool for added safety and peace of mind, especially for anyone with rental properties or vacation homes. Simply contact Firesafe Chimney to find out more, then just order it, plug it in, and download the app!

And now that ‘after shot’ I’m sure you’ve been waiting for- Here it is, a spic-and-span dryer duct!Clean Dryer Vent

So, if it’s been more than a year… (or 10!) since you’ve had your dryer ductwork cleaned, and assuming you do laundry, I suggest you wait no longer. Free your dryer ducts from the debris accumulation that’s sure to be stuck in there, and eliminate this fire risk from your home.

Give Tom at Firesafe Chimney a call to clean your dryer vents and your chimney as well,¬†(203) 270-9400 and tell him Linda sent you. You’ll be happy you did! ūüôā

Tom Butkier of Firesafe Chimney

For questions about this article, properties, or any real estate needs, feel free to send me a note using the form below, and I will get right back to you. 

 

 

 

 

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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 action.¬†It’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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Martel


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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 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 guests.) The atmosphere is nothing short of charming and, shall we say, adorable. ¬†Madeline‚Äôs 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, when it’s warm and pleasant outside, maybe another six or so 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 ‚Äúsmall plate‚ÄĚ, Portobello Mushroom with arugula and goat cheese, served hot ¬†Unbelievably delish! ¬†Mark always gets the Chicken Piccata, also a small plate. He‚Äôs 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 regulars are made to feel like family is Toto.  The Mediterranean-style eatery offers 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 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 as part of a larger appetizer 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 Four Cheese Fettucini, the ultimate decadence!
 
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 nearly 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 appetizer, a dish they tend to vary from time to time.  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 in my favorite version 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.  Their Cobb Salad is fantastic too.
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 fun 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 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 specialty drinks while you wait for your table or seat at the bar. ¬†One of Bodega‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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 steakhouse 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 fabulous together. If the fondue is off-menu for the summer, an equally rich and yummy alternative is the side order of creamed spinach!  I have it as a meal, with wine, of course.
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 and cozy 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 enhance 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 featured home for sale below and send a note through the form with any questions!
P.S. New kid on the block, The Sinclair Kitchen and Bar has recently opened downtown in the Brick Walk. I haven’t made it there yet but have heard great things. ¬†Anyone care to weigh in?

254 Penfield Rd, Fairfield
Walk to town and train.
COMING SOON!

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My Most Cherished Walking Trail in Fairfield CT!

tidal-marsh-with-creek

Everyone who walks this trail, especially¬†my dogs, agrees that this is one of the most wonderful places to go to decompress and gain inspiration in Fairfield Connecticut’s beach area. ¬† You may find yourself¬†alone with the wildlife (and your dogs), or you may see other people dog-walking, jogging or bicycling.¬†marsh-trail

There is convenient access from several beach area neighborhoods.  One entrance is on Old Dam Road.  You can jump on the trail from the Meadows condo complex off South Pine Creek Road, or you can enter at Mona Terrace by the soccer field and senior center. The latter is my favorite because there is a cut-through from an additional neighborhood near me at the Veres Park cul-de-sac.  A parking lot is also available at the senior center, next to the soccer field.

marsh-trail6

When entering from Mona Terrace, I like the fact that you have options. You can choose to go for a short and sweet stroll along the marsh-side path that leads out to Oldfield Road.  Or for a bigger commitment, you can jump onto the wide trail and go through the woods, across the bridge, and past the Meadows condos and Old Dam Road to the end of the trail and back. marsh-trail3

The woods are always peaceful and pretty, but in my view, the vistas along the tidal marsh are where I find my “Zen”. ¬†When it’s high tide, the water winds through the tall grasses, and when the sun hits the water just right, it sparkles through the reeds and tree branches like diamonds! In the summer, the seaside greenery boasts flowers of vivid colors, and a vast variety of birds are busy doing what they do!

marsh-trail5

Last, but not least, if you take the full route to the end, you will get the prize. ¬†What makes this my favorite trail is that it narrows along a little strip of raised land, where you start to wonder where you will end up. ¬†But it leads you to the sweetest of¬†surprises. ¬†The tail takes you to a final destination,¬†where (spoiler alert) you¬†are surrounded on three sides by the water of a tranquil¬†lagoon. ¬†Beyond the edge of the lagoon, to the right, you can see two more waterways. ¬†Old Dam Road flanks the lagoon with Pine Creek behind it. ¬†And behind that, you see Fairfield Beach Road and the Long Island Sound. ¬†Three different waterway views all at once, what a rare treat! ¬† Your dogs can go for a swim, you can take some photos as I’ve done here, and then, you can head back to reality feeling renewed.

tidal-marsh-trail-end

 

For more information about the rich local amenities or any real estate questions, send me a note below or give me a call.

-Linda
203.912.4440

 

Wasted time costs you money


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Are You Choosing the Right Real Estate Attorney?

Many people come to their Realtor with an attorney already on board. ¬†They figure the attorney is of no concern to their agent thinking that if they know the attorney or have dealt with them before, that lawyer is the best option. ¬†They may think a recommendation from a friend covers all the bases. ¬†Besides price, most people haven’t considered the¬†critical factors below about the attorney they hire to successfully close their real estate transaction.

Here’s a Top 10 List of questions you should know the answer to before bringing your attorney on board-

  1. Does he play well with others?¬† ¬†There are real estate attorneys that give their egos priority over their fiduciary responsibility to their clients. ¬†These lawyers¬†may decide they don’t like the lawyer on the other side of the transaction and deliberately try to kill your purchase or sale as an assault on that attorney. Play well with others?Your Realtor may have worked patiently and tirelessly to successfully negotiate optimal terms for you thus far only to then work triple-time behind the scenes to keep your purchase or sale together¬†because the attorneys are fighting. You may know nothing about this unless your sale falls through because of it. You want to work with a lawyer that relates professionally with all parties in the transaction at all times, or they are being counter-productive and doing you (and everyone else involved) a disservice.
  2. Does she know the TRID lending regulations?  There are lending regulations that require a three-day period before closing for the buyer to review all the final numbers compiled by the attorneys. This requires attorneys to be well organized and proactive in compiling the credits, debits, and allocations of taxes, insurance, oil deliveries, etc. earlier than before. There are also new forms they need to be familiar with.  If your lawyer is not up to speed with the new regulations, your closing can be significantly delayed at the last minute as a result.
  3. Is he overly chatty or verbose, adding to your bill? ¬†I have worked with attorneys that have kept me on the phone for almost half an hour every time they called and then complained about all the extra time they are spending on the case, stating that they will have to bill for it. I’m sure this is not what you want.Wasted time costs you money
  4. Does he communicate effectively with you, your agent, the lender and the other attorney?¬†There are attorneys that act like it’s beyond their scope of work to communicate effectively with the other parties in the transaction. ¬†Some barely respond to calls or emails at all! Communication is a critical component in your purchase and sale because the lender, the two Realtors, and the two attorneys have a huge amount of detail to coordinate in order to keep your sale on track. entrepreneur-1001611__180¬†If any of the players is “missing in action” it prevents the process from progressing efficiently, and critical information can fall through the cracks.
  5. Does she specialize in real estate?  If your attorney focuses more on criminal law, divorce or other areas besides real estate, you can end up with an attorney that is in court or unavailable when you need them at a critical time. Specialized in real estate
  6. Is she familiar with the local regulations and practices? You want to be sure your attorney is knowledgeable about the local area of the home you are buying or selling. The process and attorney responsibilities can vary from county to county.  There may also be issues that arise about boundaries, zoning regulations, permits or other things specific to your town that your attorney will need to know about.
  7. Does she have a paralegal?¬† Many attorneys diversify their workload to include more lucrative endeavors than real estate closings. ¬†This is fine for you as long as they have a paralegal and/or partner in his practice¬†to keep everything on track when he is focused elsewhere. ¬†Otherwise, you and everyone else involved in the transaction can sit ‘dead on the vine’ waiting for a critical response or document.Paralegal or partner?
  8. Is he efficient?¬†Some attorneys are content with creating delays and taking their time to get things done. Efficient?Ask any lender or real estate agent what’s¬†important¬†about an attorney, and they will tell you efficiency (second to good communication)! ¬†The entire transaction is on the clock from the moment an offer is accepted. ¬†The attorney must send and receive the contract in the allotted timeframe and then get it to the lender. They must complete a title search and address questions and concerns in a timely fashion, and they need to prepare all the closing documents on time, or your closing could be postponed.
  9. Is she versed in your areas of specific concern? If you know your transaction will involve added elements of complexity, you want to be sure your attorney can still handle it with ease. For example, if you are moving out of state, coordinating a purchase and sale or pursuing a short sale, run this past your agent and potential attorney up-front to assess their experience and comfort level.
  10. Has your agent recommended him or her? Last, but not least, the most thorough insight you can get¬†on your would-be attorney is from your Realtor. ¬†Thumbs upMany of the questions above are not ones you can easily get answers to by interviewing the attorney directly or even from a friend who’s used her. If your agent hasn’t worked with the lawyer directly, he or she can ask other agents how well that attorney served his client and worked as a team player for a successful transaction. Your agent’s only interest in the attorney you hire is to get a solid team member on board to help ensure a smooth move for you!

Is there an attorney you are considering that you would like feedback about?  Have you had a good or bad experience you would like to share?  Is there something you would add to the list above? Your questions and comments are welcome below.

 

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