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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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! 🙂

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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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’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, 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 “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 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’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 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

 

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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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!