Westport's Farming History — Wakeman Town Farm

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When we talk to potential homebuyers about Westport’s history, we mention our agricultural past. As we show you possible homes, we point out repurposed barns highlighting that farming heritage is an important part of this town’s charm.

But whenever one of our KMS Partners talks about Wakeman Town Farm, Westport’s past truly comes alive. WTF (as it’s fondly and funnily known) is a working farm, complete with produce for sale, animals to care for, and year-round activity.

It’s also much more. Wakeman Town Farm -- one of the oldest family farm properties in town -- is an educational center, with classes on cooking and baking, healthy food production, composting, even solar technology.

It’s the site of a summer camp, and a year-round magnet for students of all ages. There’s a CSA, offering a delicious range of fruits, vegetables and more.

WTF is also a gathering place for holiday parties, family fun days, “Green Days” and beer gardens. Anyone can rent the property -- including the newly renovated, gorgeous and very functional kitchen -- for special events, like birthdays and graduation celebrations.

All this is overseen by Corey Thomas, the young and energetic “steward” who farms, cares for goats and rabbits and alpacas (!), organizes classes, and draws in hundreds of volunteers who -- in true “it takes a village” spirit -- make Wakeman Town Farm hum.

KMS Partners loves this little town gem. (Well, not so little. It’s a dozen or so acres off Cross Highway, adjacent to Bedford Middle School and Staples High. Easy accessibility is one more draw for the many students who make WTF their second home.)

We love its mission: a place where anyone, without any previous knowledge of agriculture or animals, can learn about the land, expand their horizons, and feel part of a community of like-minded Westporters young and old.

To us, Wakeman Town Farm is Westport at its best. This is a town that honors its rich and varied history. A place that embraces environmentalism. A community that knows our future depends on working together to conserve our resources -- and that wants to learn, together, how to do it.

We hope you’re as excited about Wakeman Town Farm as we are. We’d love to show you around, and introduce you to some of its most ardent volunteers. WTF is one more reason we really “dig” Westport.

(For more information about Wakeman Town Farm -- or any other part of Westport life -- contact us)

As a new school year begins, get involved!

New to the area, looking for a way to meet people and put your talents to work? Get involved in school!

Lived here a long time, but eager to try something different and give back to the community? Get involved in school!

You don’t even need school-age children. Whatever your passion, get involved in school!

If you think volunteer efforts are limited to baking brownies for PTA fundraisers, think again.

Schools rely on volunteers to power many activities. Libraries are hotbeds of activity all day long — and not all of them involve books. Librarians need help planning programs, organizing events and teaching technology. You’ll be amazed at the varied role libraries play in today’s schools.

In culture-rich Fairfield County, moms and dads are a crucial resource. You can bring dancers, musicians, actors and authors into classrooms and auditoriums. In Westport you could join the Schools’ Permanent Arts Committee, which oversees more than 1,500 pieces of original paintings, sculptures and cartoons.

High schools and middle schools in the area have robust theater programs. But the directors can’t do it all. They need set designers, costume experts, lighting specialists and much more to help put on spectacular shows.

Other after-school programs rely on outside expertise too. Westport’s nationally recognized robotics teams are organized and coached by parents. So are chess programs in other towns. Many such activities begin with volunteers. Feel free to offer up your own special skills.

Speaking of coaching: varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams need you. KMS Partners’ own Kim Harizman is an assistant high school girls’ tennis coach -- and she does not even have a daughter!

Mothers and fathers can be tremendous advocates for important causes. Each town has organizations for parents of children with learning differences or special needs, and for intellectually gifted youngsters. There are state and national associations too.

If you’re politically involved, consider education issues. From budgets to standardized testing, you can make your voice heard. If you’re particularly intrepid, you can run for your local Board of Education!

Public schools, private schools, preschools -- all benefit from parental involvement. And that yields rewards far beyond the joy of giving back, and the satisfaction of using your talents for a good cause. You’ll meet new people, be exposed to new ideas, and learn new skills.

And if baking brownies for fundraisers is your thing: You’ll make tons of quick friends.

The Weston Historical Society Presents Westonstock:

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Six Hours of Music, Peace and Love on the Coley Farm Homestead

Sixties Music, Cars, Food and Family Fun

on Saturday, September 15th

The Weston Historical Society transports you back to a time when young people of the ‘counterculture’ generation gathered for an historic happening of music, peace and love. Presenting Westonstock – a six-hour music festival and fun day on Saturday, September 15th from 2 P.M. to 8 P.M. on the Coley Homestead at 104 Weston Road, Weston CT. Westonstock is part of the society’s Life in the Sixties exhibit and a great way to feel that sixties ‘’vibe” in a beautiful rustic setting.

Westonstock will feature Old School Revue with the Saugatuck Horns, a six-piece band decked out in vintage 60s attire. They will be joined by three top vocalists and a dozen other artists throughout the day, treating the audience to musical favorites spanning genres from Beatles/British Invasion, Memphis Blues, Motown, Rock, R&B, Psychodelic, Soul and Jazz. It all happens from the stage of the big, red Coley Barn on The Weston Historical Society campus.

Westonstock is a family event with games, and arts & crafts activities for the kids. Music, TV and movie trivia contests will occur throughout the day, as well as dance demonstrations and contests. Burger & Dog Food Truck will be on premises, along with other food and beverage suppliers.

To round out the 60s experience, vintage cars will be parked around the property — guaranteed to take you back to the golden age of the American automobile. Dragone Classic Motors will be lending many of the cars, including an “Air Cooled” section of VW Beetles and Vans. There will also be local vendors on premises displaying and selling various arts and crafts.

“The Historical Society hopes to transport visitors back to the 60s with this exciting community event. Come and spend an hour or the entire day on our three and a half acres of open field and museum space,” said Pam Kersey, President of The Weston Historical Society. “The proceeds will support our renovation projects of both the historic Coley Barn and Coley Farm House.”

The complete roster of musical artists are: Old School Revue with The Saugatuck Horns, The Bar Car Band, Chris Coogan, Crispin Cioe, Susan Didrichesen, Billy Foster, Joe Meo, Frank Barrese, Charlie Karp, Joe Kos, Bob Cooper, Tyger MacNeal, Jeff Southworth, David Weber, Cinnamon Girls and Rob Carlson. “This might not be Yasgur’s Farm – but it will be a day of nothing but peace, love and music… just what we all need!” said Roger Kaufman, of Old School Productions, music co-ordinator of the event.

Tickets are available on-line at www.westonhistoricalsociety.org. Advance tickets are available now through September 1st : Members $15, Non-Members $20, Kids $5. After September 1st : Members $25, Non-Members $30, Kids $5. Tickets will also be available at the door the day of the event.

The Weston Historical Society would like to thank our annual sponsors: Fairfield County Bank, Cohen and Wolf P.C., KMS Partners at Coldwell banker and our Life in the Sixties sponsors Teed and Brown, Aspetuck Valley Country Club, and Jet Blue for making Westonstock possible.

For more information: www.westonhistoricalsociety.org or 203 226-1804.

Every KMS partner has a story.

We love matching buyers with the right house, and helping owners through the process of selling their beloved homes.

We also have lives outside of the office (and our cars!). Each of us has passions we joyfully follow.

But only one of us is a rock star.

That's David Weber.

His drumming roots reach back from Boston to the San Francisco Bay Area. He started the band Copperhead in Marin County with the former leader of the famed Quicksilver Messenger Service, John Cipollina. When bass player Pete Sears left to tour with Rod Stewart, he was replaced by Bonnie Raitt’s bassist and David's oldest friend, Hutch Hutchinson.

Copperhead shared the stage with many great bands and musicians: Santana. Journey. B.B. King. Yes. Jefferson Airplane. Peter Frampton. Van Morrison. The Grateful Dead.

Hot Tuna. Frank Zappa. Steely Dan.

They played a New Year’s concert at Diamond Head crater for 250,000 people with Santana and Journey. I've got “lots of stories,” David says from his days hanging with the Grateful Dead and The Airplane.

Clive Davis signed Copperhead to a huge Columbia contract. “You’ll be America’s answer to the Rolling Stones,” the noted executive said. They recorded one album. Davis got fired in a payola scandal not long after signing them. The new regime dumped them. They’d sold 50,000 records already, but that was the beginning of the band’s end.

Then came Raven, with legendary piano player Nicky Hopkins (Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Jefferson Airplane).

David’s next group, SFO, was backed by the Nederlander Brothers. The band opened the initial tour for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. But “ego clashes doomed us,” David says.

He then spent two years as guitar legend Link Wray’s drummer. Link’s album was the first record David ever bought – in junior high school!

After years of touring, he decided to do something different. David built a recording studio in Hollywood where he wrote songs and produced acts. Bonnie Raitt’s musicians were his house band. Greg Allman, Sly Stone, Melissa Etheridge, Etta James, Little Feat, the Nevilles, Dennis Quaid, Little Richard, Freebo, Southside Johnny, Joe Walsh – all came through David’s studio.

Unfortunately (for him), someone invented the PC! Suddenly, musicians could record at home. The studio went kaput.

So, David went to Hawaii for a few years and became … a diving instructor. It was a lifelong dream, and he loved it.

But in 1994, he got an offer to build and manage a recording studio clear across the country — near Weston, Connecticut. The life-long musician couldn’t say no.

The job did not work out. But life did. He met his wife Deni, and her 6-year-old son Matt. Fast forward to today: Matt is about to become principal bassist with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

Funny how things work out. David got his real estate license that next year – 1995 – and has been an all-star real estate agent ever since.

Yet he still finds time for his musical side. He’s been a driving force behind the Weston Historical Society’s current exhibit, “Life in the Sixties.”  The exhibit is a fascinating look into the music scene that David loved and lived – with plenty of great concerts and panel discussions too.

So, what does David think of all this?

He quotes a line from one of the most famous bands he’s worked with: “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

(To learn more about David’s Weston Historical Society exhibit, click here.)

To contact him, or any other KMS Partner, click here)

“To everything there is a season…” The Bible says it (and the Byrds sang it).

But for the past few years, the seasonality of the real estate market we’ve all grown so accustomed to has disappeared.

Longer sales cycles are the new normal.

Here’s one example. For decades, listings for the “spring market” began the moment the Super Bowl ended.

Now -- because of lackluster Wall Street bonuses, harsh weather and other factors -- buyers don’t feel the same urgency. Sellers, meanwhile, spend more time prepping for sale.

With new inventory hitting the market for months after the big game, prospective homeowners take a wait-and-see attitude. For everyone -- including realtors -- the seasonal rhythm has changed.

Back in the day, buyers felt pressure to be settled by Memorial Day -- before summer begins. That’s no longer the case. Some even choose to rent for a summer. That enables them to see which neighborhoods they prefer. And, of course, they continue to monitor the market.

But summers — once a dead period — are coming alive. Buyers who still analyze in the spring now tend to buy during the summer. Or even fall.

Which brings us to right now: the back-to-school rush. We usually count on a flurry of sales just before the start of school. Yet again, buyers who won’t settle on a purchase may rent for a while. They keep looking for the right home — during a new sales cycle.

The “in for the holidays” idea still exists. But if the perfect property can’t be found, buyers are content to wait for the new spring market. Which, as we noted earlier, may begin at any time.

So, what’s a KMS Partners client to do?

If you’re selling: Prep your house. Create a “shiny penny.” Price your home according to market comps. Then list it -- whenever you are ready.

If you’re buying: When you find the house you love, submit an offer. You may be surprised what a wonderful deal you get on a dream house!

Want to know more about the “changing seasons” of the real estate market? Give KMS Partners a call: 203-454-5411. We’re happy to chat, any time of the year!

PS: We’re experience another “new normal” with land sales. The timeline that builders like to follow has changed. With land demand lower than in years past -- and new construction supply growing -- builders are not looking to secure land and build in time for traditional seasonal trends. They’re waiting for custom builds, and have buyers secure the land or buy when there is perceived value.

 

 

 

Highest and Lowest Sales for the First Half of 2018

 73 Old Hill Road, Westport

73 Old Hill Road, Westport

Westport

Highest: 73 Old Hill, $6,000,000

Lowest: 35 Bridge Street, Unit #1  $254,330

Total sales: 214

 


 10 Hemlock Ridge, Weston

10 Hemlock Ridge, Weston

Weston

Highest: 10 Hemlock Ridge, $1,775,000

Lowest: 32 Old Georgetown Road, $205,000

Total sales: 66

 


 945 Sasco Hill Road, Fairfield

945 Sasco Hill Road, Fairfield

Fairfield

Highest: 945 Sasco Hill Road, $4,650,000

Lowest: 64 Raymonds Drive #64,  $150,000

Total sales: 411

 


 Lot 2 Adirondack Trail, Easton

Lot 2 Adirondack Trail, Easton

Easton

Highest: Lot 2 Adirondack Trail, $1,180,000

Lowest:  85 Norton Road, $269,000

Total sales: 69


 0 Tavern Island, Norwalk

0 Tavern Island, Norwalk

Norwalk

Highest: 0 Tavern Island,  $7,850,000

Lowest:  135 Flax Hill Road #16,  $76,000

Total sales: 468

 


 144 Huckleberry Hill, Wilton

144 Huckleberry Hill, Wilton

Wilton

Highest:  144 Huckleberry Hill, $8,000,000

Lowest:  102 Wilton Crest #102, $152,000

Total sales: 107

 


Real Estate Market for the first half of 2018

WESTPORT

  • 214 homes were sold in Westport during the first half of 2018. This is down 5.7% compared to the 228 sales in the first half of 2017.

  • Inventory remains slightly lower than last year with 409 homes on the market vs. 459 at the end of June 2017.

  • The average sales price is down -12.8% from $1,469,046 in June of 2017 to $$1,280,446 in June of 2018.

A closer look at the numbers tells the story.

Price Range               YTD Sales                 Current Inventory

Under $1 M                 78 sales (36.4%)       6.7 months

$1M - $1.5M                 64 sales (29.9%)      6.2 months 

$1.5M-$2M                   32 sales (15.0%)       12.7 months

$2M - $2.8M                25 sales (11.7%)        16.1 months

$2.8M-$4M                  10 sales (4.6%)        21.6 months

Above $4 M                 5 sales (2.3%)           32 months

The good news is that we have a robust market below the $1.5 million mark. Good homes in this price range are moving quickly and we continue to have first-time home buyers moving to town. Our luxury market is less active. However, the well-priced luxury homes are also moving, more quickly than in the past. One of the most encouraging statistics is that the number of “days on market” is at its lowest level in the past 3 years at 73 days.

We remain optimistic in our outlook. Who wouldn’t want to live in Westport? We are seeing many NY buyers, both city and Westchester, who are fed up with high property taxes and moving north. We welcome them with open arms!

WESTON

The first half of the year has resulted in 67 closed transactions for the Weston real estate market. 44 of the transactions (two-thirds of all the sales) sold under $800,000, with nearly half of all the closed homes selling for less than $600,000.  The most active price range was between $500,000 and $600,000 with 16 reported closings. Ten homes sold between $809,000 and $983,000. The remaining 13 sales in Weston were over $1,000,000 with the highest priced sale being $1,775,000 on Hemlock Ridge.

By comparison, there were 84 Weston sales in the first half of 2017, so we see a decline of about 20%. The bottom line cannot be ignored: we have comparatively fewer sales so far this year than in 2017 and nothing has sold over $1,800,000 yet. However, there is some room for optimism with 43 houses under agreement or contract, including one waterfront home on Crystal Lake listed for over $2,500,000 that is under contract.

There are currently 165 homes for sale in Weston. This number represents a full year’s worth of inventory. The last quarter of 2017 was surprisingly active with 47 closed transactions in Weston. Hopefully, we will see a repeat of that level of activity in the last half of 2018 as buyers see the value in the Weston market and the Weston lifestyle.

FAIRFIELD

  • 107 homes sold in Fairfield during the month of June. This is down 16.4% compared to the 128 sales in June of 2017. However, June YTD sales of 358 are running only 8.0% behind last year’s YTD sales of 389. 

  • The Total Inventory of Properties available for sale as of June was 542, up 6.5% from 509 last month and down -12.9% from 622 in June of last year. June 2018 Inventory was at the lowest level compared to June of 2017 and 2016.

  • The Average Sales Price in June was $799,848, up 8.2% from $739,229 in June of 2017 and up 12.0% from $713,870 last month. June 2018 ASP was at highest level compared to June of 2017 and 2016.

A closer look at the numbers tells the story.

Price Range               YTD Sales                  Current Inventory

Under $500K             124 sales (34%)          3.9 months

$501K - $749K           107 sales (30%)          4.7 months

$750K –$999K           56 sales (16%)            6.2 months

$1,000K – $1,499K    46 sales (13%)            9.6 months

$1,500 - $1,999K        10 sales (3%)              18.4 months

$2,000K+                   15 sales (4%)              24 months     

A healthy market is noted as having about 6 months of inventory – less becomes a seller’s market and more becomes a buyer’s market. The under $1M market is considered a seller’s market and the over $1M is considered a buyer’s market.  Fairfield still continues to see the majority of its sales coming under $1M.

Neighborhood sales were as follows…. Beach 14%, Center/Sasco/Southport/Sturges 15%, University 20%, Greenfield Hill 13%, Brooklawn/Stratfield 18% with the remaining sales scattered across various other neighborhoods.

NORWALK

  • 307 homes sold in Norwalk in the 6 months ending June 2018. This is down 5% compared to the 323 homes sold during the same time frame of 2017.

  • Inventory remains higher (+8.5%) than last month with 498 homes on the market vs. 459 at the end of May 2018. However, June 2018 inventory was at the lowest levels compared to June 2017 (down 18.6%) & June 2016 (down 31.2%).

  • The average sales price is down slightly, 0.9% to $603,040 in June of 2018 from $608,804 in June 2017.

A closer look at the numbers tells the story.

Price Range               YTD Sales                  Current Inventory

Under $500K             157 sales (49.7%)       2 months

$500K-$749K             109 sales (34.5%)       4.3 months

$750K-$999K             27 sales (8.5%)           7.7 months

$1,000K-$1,499K       11 sales (3.5 %)           11.1 months

$1.5M-$1,999K           6 sales (1.9%)             16.5 months

Above $2,000K          6 sales (1.9%)             16.8 months

There appears to be a healthy and motivated buyer pool for Norwalk, especially under the median price point of $460K, which is evident by multiple bids on homes in this price range.  We are also seeing demand from couples downsizing as they’re looking for smaller, more manageable homes from the surrounding towns. With supply at lower levels in 2018 vs 2017, prices have remained relatively stable at the lower price points.  The higher end of the Norwalk market (above $750K or 15% of total 2018 sales) requires a much longer time to sell, at least 7 months ($750K-$999K) and up to 16 months on average for the Norwalk luxury market. 

WILTON

The first half of the year has resulted in 108 closed transactions for Wilton. The lowest price sale was $152,000 and the highest was $8,000,000. The latter was a bank owned property that consisted of a 1920’s Tudor style home on more than 152 acres. June year-to-date sales are running -14.3% behind last year’s same period of time. The median price sale in Wilton in June was $710,000 down 2.1% from $725,000 in June of 2017. The average price in June was $775,000 up 7.3% from 2017.

There are currently 235 homes on the market. This represents the lowest level of active listings for the past two years compared to June of ’16 and’17. The highest priced home on the market is priced at $7,500,000. It is located on slightly under 5 acres. There are 48 homes with accepted offers. The highest priced home under contract had an asking price of $1,279,000.

Prices continue to be soft and that is the case in all of the surrounding towns as well. Homes continue to sell if they are perceived as having great value. There are many first-time buyers coming in to Wilton. They are drawn by the schools and the vibrant town center. Wilton is a great town!

 

It's All About the Music

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Home buyers come to Fairfield County for many reasons: The beaches. The schools. The lifestyle.

At KMS Partners, we answer all your questions about your new hometown. And we do it with a fantastic soundtrack in the background.

Music fills the air here. And there’s no better time to enjoy it than summer. Outdoors with a picnic or indoors at a cool venue, the music scene here is hot!

KMS is particularly proud to sponsor the Weston Historical Society’s Music at the Barn Outdoor Concert Series. Mark your calendars for PJ Pacifico (July 22) and the Stone Band (August 26), both at 5:30 p.m. Bring a lawn chair, blanket and food, for great entertainment. Then come back on September 15 for “Westonstock,” a day-long music festival with games, crafts and food trucks too. Come early to any show, and check out the great “Life in the Sixties” exhibit. For more information, click here: http://www.westonhistoricalsociety.org/music-at-the-barn-2018/

Neighboring Westport offers 55 nights of free entertainment at the Levitt Pavilion. Rock, country, jazz, big band, Motown -- whatever your taste, you’ll find it at this beautiful amphitheater on the banks of the Saugatuck River. There’s one fundraiser each year: On August 25, it’s Melissa Etheridge. For a calendar and more info, click here: http://www.levittpavilion.com/

On Labor Day weekend, the Levitt hosts Blues, Views & BBQ. Some of the best blues musicians in the world entertain -- and the barbecue can’t be beat. Bounce houses and other family-friendly attractions fill the nearby Westport Library parking lot. Click here for details: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/blues-views-bbq-festival-tickets-45933935638

There’s lots more live music in Westport too, at events like the Downtown Arts Festival (July 14-15), Farmers’ Market (Imperial Avenue parking lot, every Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), Tuesdays at the Train (July 17, August 7, 5:30 p.m. Luciano Park) and Slice of Saugatuck (September, date TBD).

Neighboring Fairfield has its own rockin’ scene too. There’s always something going on at FTC, a downtown venue that attracts top-name bands and musicians. The programming is diverse, and there are plenty of nearby restaurants for pre- and post-concert meals. For more information, click here: https://fairfieldtheatre.org.

Around the corner, there’s a full (and free) summer music schedule at Fairfield’s Sherman Green Gazebo. It’s a scene straight out of Norman Rockwell, but the musical genres span the globe. Click here for the full schedule: http://www.fairfieldct.org/summerconcerts

Back in Weston, Lachat Farmers Market (last Friday of each month) features music along with fresh fruits, vegetables and anything else that grows. Here’s the website: http://www.lachattownfarm.org/farmers-market.php

Further north, both Danbury (http://citycenterdanbury.com/events/category/concerts-on-the-green/) and Ridgefield (https://chirpct.org/) have free summer concert series. The Ridgefield Playhouse books concerts by entertainers like Little Feat, Ronnie Milsap and Don McLean (https://ridgefieldplayhouse.org/live-events-2/).

There’s much more, of course. Just put your top down, drive around and listen for the sounds. Wherever you are, there’s music in the air.

(To learn more about the local entertainment scene all year long, contact KMS Partners: info@kmspartners.com)

Hummock Island Oyster Farm Tour ~ Westport, CT

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I recently spent a wonderful Friday evening, watching the sunset from the iconic little grey house on Hummock Island in Westport.  Where’s that you might ask?  It’s the little grey house, with the white porch in the middle of Sherwood Mill Pond.  It’s also command central for the Hummock Island Oyster Farm, right here in Westport.  The Northrup Family owns the 82 acres of the Mill Pond, and has since 1857! In fact, they’re the largest land holder in Westport. It all began 1741 when the pond was awarded as a grant from the British King and a hundred or so years later a house was erected on the tiny island which would serve as a residence for the “oyster guard” who kept watch over the surrounding waters.

The tour begins with a short boat ride out to the house. You'll learn all about farming these bivalves from the Northrups & how they’re taking this ancient craft of harvesting oysters into the 21st century.  They’ll even teach you how to shuck an oyster — which is as hard as it looks! If you enjoy slurping fresh briny oysters right out of the water, while the sun sets in front of you, this is an event you won’t want to miss.  Tickets can be purchased through their web site, http://www.hummockisland.com/. They’re even on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/hummockisland/

* 2 thoughts: Wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet & don’t forget to pack your own libations.     

Cheers! ~ Mary Ellen Gallagher

 

Meet Michael Mombello

Now we are eight.

KMS Partners recently welcomed Michael Mombello to our team. Like all our partners, he brings a unique perspective to the office. His diverse background and varied interests complement our own, and strengthen the services we offer our clients. In one way, though, he’s just like the rest of us. Michael is fun! 

His roots in the area run deep. A graduate of Amity High School and Connecticut College, Michael imagined himself in advertising or public relations. But Macy’s offered him a great opportunity, and he spent the next 30 years in fashion retail. He helped grow Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors and many other iconic American brands.

He and his wife Julie bought their first house in Westport: a 1926 farmhouse. Since then they’ve lived in four homes, in three distinct neighborhoods. “We fell in love with the town,” he recalls. “The people, the schools, the energy, the beach, Longshore, the Westport Country Playhouse, the Levitt Pavilion, the Memorial Day parade – it was perfect.”

He commuted to New York. Julie taught at Greens Farms Academy. Their kids went there first, then transferred to Staples High School where they starred on the swim team. Julie was very involved in school and church activities. Michael was an active Westport Y Water Rat coach, and now serves on the Westport Historical Society advisory board. History is a theme in his life: The Mombellos’ current home (the Jonathan Burr House) was built in 1799.

After three decades in fashion, Michael was ready for a career change. Real estate seemed a natural fit. He knew Karen Scott and Susan Seath, through their children. He loved KMS’ team approach, ensuring clients access to a wide range of knowledge. Coldwell Banker’s national presence was important to Michael too.

He brings a “skill for looking at a space, and imagining what it could be” to KMS. He did a lot of design work in retail, and traveled around the world. He understands quality, design and value. Given the current staging trend, Michael’s ability to repurpose, and look at things through a different lens, offers a distinct advantage to his clients. In addition, Michael says, “I understand business. And I’m good at listening to what people are looking for. I can help them be flexible, and think outside their boxes.”

At KMS, he is excited about selling Fairfield County – especially Westport. He wants homebuyers to see the “excellent schools, diversity of people, the great culture and the energy of the community.” However, he notes, “I’m not a bull in a china shop. I’m not overly aggressive. I’m more
like a trusted brother or close friend, who gives sound, honest advice.”

Teamwork - Michael Mombello and David Weber_KMS_1111.jpg

So what it is like to be the second male in an office with six women?

Michael laughs. “David Weber has been great. Everyone’s been helpful, with excellent advice. What I love about KMS Partners is that all of us can bring different people in. We’re different ages, with different interests. We know all the area towns. But we’re all on the same team.”

Welcome to ours, Michael!
(To talk to Michael Mombello, or any KMS Partner, click here)

NEW LOOK - for #TeamKMS.

When you’re selling your home, KMS Partners advise you to freshen up. New paint, a different rug, some plantings – it’s all about maximizing “curb appeal.”

Not long ago, we took our own advice. We’re not going anywhere – but we decided it was time for a fresh online presence.

Who better to ask than Hardylon? The nationally known branding firm is based locally in Westport. They’re creative and energetic. And – like KMS Partners – they’re fun!

We wanted a new, optimized, high-functionality site that works on all devices. Curb appeal is as important online as it is in real estate. They promised to help.

Buyers today have many options for information. We wanted to provide all that – in easy-to-search ways. But we also wanted a personal touch. It’s important that users get to know the towns, the markets, and the power of #TeamKMS.

(Like that hashtag? It’s part of our new social media presence too!)

One of the key elements was a branding photo shoot. Our own Kim Harizman found a great listing to use for this shoot – modern, open, and very expressive of who we are and what we do. Photographer Pam Einarsen took over from there. Check it out!

Real estate is a people business. It’s important that each agent’s unique personality shines through.

Our routine bios have been replaced with fun Q-and-As. Each of us said some cool things about our years of experience – and our lives. Check ‘em out!

Of course, the revamped KMS listing pages are robust. They provide lots of information, in easily digestible form.

The Town pages help buyers understand the communities we work in. You can even calculate taxes and mortgages.

Most importantly, our story now weaves across all our digital platforms. On Instagram @kmspartners and on Facebook - like our page KMS Partners at Coldwell Banker, Fairfield County CT Realtors —

We love our new, fresh curb appeal.

But don’t take our word for it. Click here to check us out for yourself!

 

Reduce Your Living Expenses

Ah, spring! Time to clean the house. Plant the garden. Pay the IRS.

Every year, that April 15 ritual means we look closely at our finances. Every year, we say we’ll cut down on some of our expenses. And every next April 15, we say the same thing again. (Of course, this year we have until April 17th.)

That’s usually because we lack a specific spending – er, non-spending – plan. If you’d like the coming year to be different (and who doesn’t?), here are a few KMS tips.

Start by tracking one or two months of spending. Record everything – everything. Where does your money actually go? How much do you pay for gas? Netflix? Grande iced sugar-free vanilla lattes (with soy milk)?

We recommend spending no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income on housing and related costs (like property taxes, sewer assessments, etc.).

In addition, no more than 15 percent of your gross monthly payment should go to debt repayment. And no more than 5 percent to entertainment.

You might start thinking about a more affordable home. That could mean downsizing, or moving to a different neighborhood or nearby community.

Refinancing could make a big difference in monthly payments too.

Examine your phone plan. Do you still need a landline? Are you paying for data you never use? Maybe you still cover your out-of-the-house-and-finally-on-their-own kids?

Check your cable bill. Do you watch all the premium content you’re paying for? Consider streaming content. It’s often less expensive – and just as up-to-date.

Look at your gym membership. Is it really part of your routine? Would another place give you more bang for your big bucks? Could you walk outdoors with friends, instead of on the treadmill?

Pore over your credit card bills. Are there recurring charges for services you don’t really use? (Or those you don’t even recognize?) Canceling them can take a bit of time. But a few dollars here and there add up – especially when you multiply them by a year.

Speaking of credit cards: Pay down your debt. It’s tempting to put it off. But the more you do, the more you pay for interest – not actual goods or services.

Whether you’re a single professional, an empty nester or part of a growing family, changing your spending habits requires a bit of planning and discipline.

Soon though, those new spending habits become routine. Then you’ll have to plan something new: what to do with all that money you’ve saved.

Got a tip or two to add? Contact KMS Partners: 203.454.5411

Highest and lowest sales — First quarter of 2018

Westport:
Highest: 3 Charmers Landing, $5,362,500
Lowest : 20 Oakview circle, $278,000
Total sales: 84

Weston:
Highest: 67 Good Hill Road, $1,400,000
Lowest: 32 Old Georgetown Road, $205,000
Total sales: 22

Fairfield:
Highest: 945 Sasco Hill Road, $4,650,000
Lowest: 25 Beacon View Drive, $175,000
Total sales: 127

Wilton:
Highest: 21 School Road, $2,850,000
Lowest: 199 Deer Ron Road, $368,000
Total sales: 34

Easton: 
Highest: 15 Abbey Road, $1,000,000
Lowest: 20 Meadow Ridge Drive, $300,000
Total sales: 22

Norwalk: 
Highest: 34 Nearwater Road, $2,800,000
Lowest: 1 Tilton Drive, $222,500
Total sales: 104

Top Reasons to work with KMS Partners

• With KMS Partners you'll get the benefit of 130 years of collective experience in the real estate industry: More ideas, more perspectives, collective marketing ideas, more resources and more negotiation experience.

• KMS Partners can call on the individual strengths of each of the team members for specialized roles and tasks.

• KMS Partners has multiple spheres of influence to spread the word about their listings.

• KMS Partners name recognition brings confidence to customers and agents. We have a good relationship with our peers.

• KMS has consistent production over 18 years.

• KMS has a widespread network group throughout the Tri State Area and especially New York City.

• KMS utilizes social media and email marketing for our clients.

• KMS Partners has a first class website with top notch videos and photographs to market our listings.

• Market knowledge: KMS knows the real estate inventory so we can give solid advice to our clients.

• Personal attention: Each client has a lead agent with the support of the entire KMS team. There is always a team member available to cover if the lead agent is not available. Customer service is our priority.

• KMS is active in community service. We know how important it is to give back. Our Flagship Coldwell Banker office in Westport gives KMS partners and our clients all the support needed to get our listings sold and our buyers to the closing table.

So You're Showing Your House

We all know the expression “caveat emptor”: It’s Latin for “let the buyer beware.”

But the seller needs to be aware too. And that’s never more important than when you’re selling your house.

Listing it is only the first step. Once that’s done, it’s time for your real estate agent to show it. That moment – when strangers first walk through your door – is when the reality of real estate sales first hits.

Because buyers may have very different ideas about your house than you do.

Here’s what you can expect from showings:

  • Your first showing is online. At KMS Partners, we strive to strike a balance between dazzling potential home buyers online, and encouraging a property visit. Our job is to keep potential buyers intrigued, and wanting to come back for more.
  • Clients may not always arrive on time. We try to give you ample notice of a visit, but we’ll often request a time range. Being flexible helps everyone – and is a lot less stressful too.
  • Buyers may cancel at the last moment. Maybe they’re tired. Maybe they’ve just found their dream house. Maybe they’re running late for their plane, or they have to pick up their kid from Grandma’s. Don’t take it personally. It’s no reflection on you!
  • Once they arrive, buyers may not get out of their car. They might not like another house on the street, or they didn’t realize it’s not a cul-de-sac. Again, don’t take this personally. It’s just the way people are.
  • When they visit, it’s human nature for buyers to look for faults. We’re not sure why, but it seems easier to eliminate options (“I could never live with that kitchen”) than to think about possibilities (“Wow, we can really expand and make a great dining nook there!”). It’s our job as realtors – not yours, as the seller – to help them envision how they could love your home as much as you do.
  • Some buyers eliminate a house within two minutes, based on a “feeling.” They don’t even want to see your fabulous full basement, or take in the view from your beautiful deck. Once again: You can’t take it personally. Again: Namaste!
  • Most buyers are respectful about removing shoes, or wearing shoe protectors when entering a home. Having a chair by the front door to slip off shoes, or put on booties, is helpful and thoughtful.
  • Buyers will open closets, cabinets, drawers, appliances and anything else that can be pulled or tugged on. If there’s something you don’t want anyone to find or see – stash it in a very safe place!
  • You should also store any precious items and medications. Enough said!
  • Buyers may ask to use your bathroom. Put yourself in their shoes!
  • The more organized your closets, cabinets and storage spaces are, the better an impression your house will make. Buyers like to see that they can fit all their “stuff” in their new home.

KMS Partners is here to guide you every step of the way. We’ll make this daunting process as manageable as possible. Contact us 203.454.5411 or kmspartners@gmail.com with any selling — or buying — questions!

February

Let us be the last to say it: Happy New Year!

Okay, we know. It’s already February. But the year is still young. We’re still thinking “new.” And that has us thinking about the latest trends and ideas in real estate.

Here’s what’s happening in our KMS world — and the rest of the Fairfield County real estate market.

The internet has been a game-changer. It’s not really new — but it is more of a factor than ever. One of our KMS Partners just gave a “virtual tour” to clients in Europe. She walked through the house, opening every closet and drawer, while they watched and chatted via FaceTime. Distance doesn’t have to be the only reason for a virtual tour. Sick kids, bad weather, you name it, clients can stay home and agents can give them a video tour from their phone or iPad.

New tax laws change the game too. They may affect deductions. But they’ll also enable many buyers to borrow more. Of course, real estate property taxes are still relatively low compared to surrounding states. The fact remains that it is still more tax beneficial to live in CT than in the rest of the tri-state region.

Buyers don’t always want big homes. Not long ago, large houses were all the rage. That’s no longer true. Smaller homes are very attractive — on smaller lots, too. Builders are adapting quickly.

Informality is in. Open kitchens and great rooms are hot. Kitchens are no longer separate from the living space; they are the living space. Mudrooms have come a long way too. They now feature tiled floors, cubbies, closets, bathrooms and separate entrances.

Smart homes are a reality. The future is now. Homeowners can control the thermostat, raise or lower blinds, play music, even park their car, with the push of a button or a simple voice command. Home buyers want to know how smart their home can be — and how much energy it saves them.

Staging is the new normal. Just a few years ago, only a few homes were staged. Now nearly every house is. Painting and redecorating are normal preparations for sellers. And accessorizing has been replaced by de-cluttering and minimizing.

Buy local. We’re seeing more local buyers. They’re trading up, or downsizing. They’re moving from one town to a neighboring one, or from one part of town to another. They already live here, so they know the ins and outs of the area.

Technology is changing commuting patterns. As more people than ever work from home — at least partially — fewer buyers make “easy commute” their #1 priority.

The role of the agent is more important than ever. National data says that Trust and Honesty are some of the most important traits when selecting a realtor. Buying or selling a house can be overwhelming. KMS Partners can help you navigate this ever-changing process, every step of the way.

Everyone is interested in real estate. It doesn’t matter if they’re buying or selling. Real estate is a huge topic of conversation. That means there’s plenty of misinformation and rumors too. KMS Partners help separate fact from fiction.

2017 Sale Summaries

Westport:Westport posted strong sales numbers in 2017. With a total of 464 sales transactions, as compared with 370 in 2016. Westport continues to be a strong player in the Fairfield County real estate market. The average sales price increased slightly from $1,527,565 in 2016 to $1,532,778 in 2017, while the median sales price rose from $1.282,000 to $1,315,000 year over year. These statistics are evidence that our market is showing some strength. The lower end of the market continued to thrive with 177 transactions below $1M (37%), 197 transactions between $1M-$2M (42%), 63 sales between $2M-$3M (13%) and only 27 sales above $3M (5.8%). Inventory levels are at their lowest in recent history with only 252 active listings as of 1/9/18.

Westport does have its fair share of concerns, including economic woes and uncertainty at the state level, and the impact from the recent tax code changes. We, at KMS Partners, continue to be optimistic about our Westport market and to keep well informed so we can give the highest level of service to our clients. We would welcome the opportunity to sit down and give you a price opinion of the value of your home. We hope 2018 is a healthy and prosperous year for all!

Weston: The good news for Weston is that real estate sales in 2017 finished with a total 174 transactions. That number was slightly higher than the 166 sales of 2016 in Weston. However the average sale price dropped from $904,129 in 2016 to $857,640 in 2017. The Median numbers were changed slightly from $795,000 in 2016 to $789,500 in 2017. The bottom line is that prices softened slightly in 2017 especially on the high end. Most of the towns near Weston show the same trend with more homes sold but at lower prices.

Weston is one of Connecticut's safest towns and it has a lot to offer residents who want a lifestyle that offers a quiet atmosphere, strong family values with a sense of community, open space and especially our award winning school system.

Fairfield: Fairfield had a strong 2017. It is the only town among those that we cover that was up in transactions and average sale price with a fairly significant percentage. There were 780 single family homes sold in 2017 vs. 724 in 2016. That is a 7% increase. The average sale price went from $705,408 to $744,118 for a 5% increase. The strongest sales continue to be in the Beach/Center/Sasco/Southport market area with 27% of the sales, University had 20%, Brooklawn/Fairfield Woods/Stratfield with 18% and Greenfield Hill/Sturges made up 15% of the sales, the remaining 20% were in the Lake Hills/Rock Ridge/Tunxis Hill market areas.

Overall, this was a very good year for Fairfield which is not a surprise, as the town has so much to offer with it’s bustling downtown area, 2 train stations, 5 beaches, several marinas, excellent town facilities, a public golf course and an amazing choice of restaurants and shopping.

Norwalk: Norwalk is the only local town that has “bucked” the current trends in our immediate market area. The number of single family homes sold in FY 2017 declined by 5.6% to 659 homes vs. FY 2016 from 697 homes. However, another reverse in the local trend is that both the average and median sales prices have risen at FY 2017 vs. FY 2016. The average sale price rose 4.9% to $618K in FY 2017 up from $590K in 2016. The average median sale price was also higher in 2017 vs. 2016, up 8% to $475K from $440K.

Total inventory of single family homes available for sale at 12/31/17 was at the lowest level compared to both FYE Dec ’16 and ’15. We’re seeing this as a trend in all the local towns. The number of listings on the market at FYE Dec 2017 was down 31.8% to 208 vs. 305 homes at FYE Dec 2016.

There appears to be a healthy and motivated buyer pool for Norwalk, especially under the median price point of $460K, which is evident by multiple bids on homes in this price range. We are also seeing demand from couples downsizing as they’re looking for smaller, more manageable homes from the surrounding towns. With supply at significantly lower levels, prices have appreciated as supply has not kept up with demand in FY 2017.

Wilton: 2017 was another interesting year in Wilton. There were more home sales in ’17 than in ’16 but prices were lower. 229 homes sold in 2017 versus 223 in 2016. The average sale this past year was $825,000 versus $987,894 the year before. One needs, however to remember that that average price in 2016 was skewed by the sale on Millstone for $5,900,000. It is interesting and important to note that all of our neighboring towns are reporting the same trend: more units sold, but for less money than the previous year. The only town that bucked that trend was Norwalk where they sold fewer units but for a higher average price than the year before.

We are being told by Industry experts that Millenials will make up 40% of our buyers for this new year. Millenials are between 19 and 36 years of age. Wilton will be a strong attraction to the older millennials due to the strong school system and great sense of community. Most first time buyers that we are seeing are preapproved to spend roughly what was Wilton’s average priced sale in 2017.

One of the strengths of the Wilton housing market is its diversity. From rentals at Avalon to multi acred estates there is something for everyone. People can downsize in Wilton and stay in town. Not all towns offer that benefit.

Wilton is a great town to call home. It will continue to thrive in good times and in not so good times.

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! Is it spring yet? Nope. Still January. Which means there is still time to make a few New Year’s resolutions.

Here at KMS Partners, we resolve to build on what we’ve always done: help clients deal with the sometimes daunting, always changing world of real estate with knowledge, insight and passion. We resolve to continue being by your side, every step of the way.

So what should your resolutions be?

    If you’re buying:

  • Financing? Get your lender picked out. Prepare your paperwork for pre-approval. And check your credit report -- for free -- at www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • Think about what really matters most to you: Location? Condition? Style? Property? Price?
  • Do not pay attention to Zestimates. KMS Partners are a much better, more accurate and realistic source of information.
  • Start early. Seeing lots of houses will prepare you to make an offer with confidence when the right house appears. (It will help you know that house, too.)
  • Call KMS to get you on Listingbook. It is more accurate than the other real estate websites, as it feeds directly from our MLS.


    If you’re selling:

  • Talk to your accountant about the new tax laws. He or she will help you get the most bang for your selling buck.
  • Order the dumpster months ahead of listing your house. You’d be surprised at the wait list!
  • De-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter. You should begin this process months ahead too. You can never make too many trips to Goodwill, or the charity of your choice.
  • List early. Get a jump on the market. Don’t wait until May.
  • Start packing.
  • Have a pre-list inspection done with one of KMS’ recommended inspectors. It’s amazing what you’ll learn -- and you could avoid any major inspection negotiating issues.
  • Test your well water for add-ons: arsenic and radon.
  • Have your septic system pumped.
  • Check that all permits and COs are up to date.
  • Buyers may not love your wallpaper. Let KMS help you determine what is current (and what is not).


    If you’re neither buying nor selling:

  • Go to the gym more. (Just kidding.) (Sort of.)

  • (Want to know more? Contact KMS Partners: 203.454.5411. We resolve to get back to you as soon as we can.)

Celebrate the Holidays 2017!

It doesn’t get better than Christmas in New England. Unless it’s celebrating the holidays right here in southern Connecticut.There are literally dozens of events (besides all those parties). This is a great time of year for kids and families. Here are some of KMS Partners’ favorites.

Saturday and Sunday, December 17-18: Polar Express Pajama Parties. The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk offers treats, visits from Santa -- and a giant Imax ride to the North Pole! No reindeer, though (at least, we don’t think so). Tickets and information

Saturday, December 10: Holly Jolly Saturday (11 a.m.). Santa visits the Wilton Historical Society. Also on tap: holiday trains, a gingerbread cookie workshop, and gift.

Saturday, December 10: Mary Ann Hall’s Holiday Concert (3 p.m.). The popular young person’s musician presents her 11th annual event -- with Christmas and Chanukkah songs on guitar, harp, keyboard and flute, for “children and beyond” at the Westport Historical Society.

Sunday, December 11: Wilton Singers Holiday (3:30 p.m.). A choral concert not to be missed. A portion of the ticket sales ($10 adult, $5 children, $20 family) supports the Wilton Library, where the event is held.

Sunday, December 11: Greenfield Hill Congregational Church Holiday Concert (4 p.m.). Beautiful solos, duets and trios are enhanced by the spectacular setting of this church, in the heart of a New England neighborhood.

Sunday, December 11: 14th Annual Christmas Lessons and Carols (5 p.m.). Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church -- a beautiful building in downtown Westport -- is the setting for these timeless lessons and seasonal music. Guests are asked to bring a non-perishable food donation.

Friday, December 16: Holiday Carol and Open House (5 p.m.). Enjoy a bonfire, kids’ crafts, and a sleigh ride through Southport, at the beloved Pequot Library. Guests are asked to bring a new, unwrapped children’s book, for Bridgeport students.

Friday and Saturday, December 16-17: Staples High School’s 76th Annual Candlelight Concert. Free tickets are already all gone for this community-wide celebration. But we’ve included it so you can remember to get tickets next year. It’s one event that is not to be missed.

Saturday, December 17: The Klezmatics in concert (8 p.m.). The popular group offers holiday and non-holiday Jewish tunes, in the comfortable setting of the Westport Country Playhouse. Tickets are $35.

Sunday, December 18: A Very Electric Christmas (1 p.m. and 4 p.m.). Audiences of all ages will treasure this captivating tale of family, friendship and hope, set to timeless holiday hits by Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey, Tchaikovksy and more.

Sunday, December 18: Chris Coogan’s Christmas Concert (7 p.m.). The popular keyboardist adds something different to the usual holiday fare: original music. If you know Chris, you know how creative and clever that will be.

Monday, December 26: Community Menorah Lighting (4:45 p.m., Weston Town Center; 6 p.m., Wilton Town Green) and Tuesday, December 27 (6 p.m., Compo Acres Shopping Center, Westport). Celebrate Hanukkah -- all three times, if you want! -- with live music, chocolate gelt, and dreidels. A perfect family holiday event, for all ages.

Tuesday, December 27: Stew Leonard’s Menorah Lighting (5 p.m.). It’s not just “the world’s largest dairy store”! Fairfield County’s popular food shop has all the traditional Hanukkah trappings -- including (of course) potato latkes.

If all that isn’t enough, mark your calendars (and buy your buttons) for Saturday, December 31: First Night Westport Weston. For 22 years, families have rung in the new year with music, ice sculptures, model trains, comedians, and a frosty fireworks display on the banks of the Saugatuck River. It’s alcohol free -- but not to be missed.

Your Realtor | Your Advisor

You know that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? When we become adults, we need a small city just to help us navigate the world. We’ve got doctors to keep us healthy, financial advisors to grow our money, and lawyers because, well, you know.

We hire experts to decorate our interiors, clean our closets, navigate our kids’ college process, and teach us how to golf and play tennis.

When we need therapy -- physical or emotional -- we call other professionals. Plumbers, electricians and remodelers keep our homes looking great.

We hire these “trusted advisors” carefully. We don’t randomly select names from a hat, the Yellow Pages or even an internet search.

We seek men and women who are the top in the field. We want them to be knowledgeable, current on the latest trends, and always learning. They should be accessible, able to communicate well, and have impeccable references. Many of you are someone else’s expert advisors. You may be a doctor, lawyer, financial advisor, decorator, golf pro or therapist.

We know some people have a love/hate relationship with Realtors. You may call us to help buy, sell or consider a move at a stressful time. Even in the calmest time, you may be embarking on the biggest financial transaction of your life.

Relax. We are proud to be your expert advisors.

We do a lot more than unlock doors, point out features and make you sign countless papers.

At KMS Partners, we are advisors in every sense of the word. We are coaches, counselors and therapists.

We are there for you when you’re selling and buying -- but even when you’re not ready for a transaction.

Want to know if you’ll get your money back after redoing a bathroom? Considering putting a fire pit in the back yard, and uncertain if that will be attractive or not to a buyer? Unsure if you need a permit to finish the basement? Thinking about selling in a few years, and wondering what to do now to help yourself later? Want to know if your house will be a teardown? Just interested in the latest market statistics?

Call us. We want to be your number one, go-to people for all things real estate.

We cherish the relationships we develop with the men and women who start out as clients, and end up as friends.

We’re here to help -- before, during and after a sale.

And if you need a referral to a good doctor, lawyer, tennis pro, physical therapist, plumber or electrician: Just ask.

For more information from an expert advisor, call KMS Partners at 203.454.5411.