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

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.

Online and Off

You can find anything online: The perfect wedding dress. Your former college roommate. A house. But that doesn’t mean you should stay online forever.

Long before the ceremony, you need to touch, feel and see that dress. It’s a lot more satisfying to have drinks with your old roommate, than simply emailing. And even though you can see a house on your laptop, you still need a real, live, human real estate agent to seal the deal. (Hey, even Amazon is now building brick-and-mortar stores -- staffed with actual people!)

And to help in many other ways.

Buying a house is often the most important financial transaction you’ll make in your life. There are many reasons you should trust it to a person, not a pixel.

For example, we can help with pricing. Sure, you can find it online. But what does that price mean? Is it fair? What about comparables? Is there room for negotiation?

We’re there when you walk through the front door of a house. You might have done all your research on your screen. But you need to learn: Can you hear I-95 or Merritt traffic through that other screen (the porch)? What does the neighborhood look and feel like? And real estate agents can point out nuances you might not notice, like dead trees standing dangerously close to the bedrooms.

A real estate agent can assist with all the transaction details you may never think about (or find online): contingencies, including mortgage, appraisal and building inspections, and binders and deposits.

If you’re selling a home – sure, you can list it on an online site. But photographs are no substitute for a Realtor who can point out where a fresh coat of paint can add thousands of dollars to the price, or suggest a stager who will add even more.

And you sure can’t close a sale online. In Connecticut, the only way to secure title insurance is through an attorney.

At KMS Partners, we embrace technology. The internet has made our lives – and our work – easier, and more productive. Today we’d be lost without our laptops.

But technology is only a tool. It helps us – human beings – be better at what we do.

Which is providing personal service to our clients. Whether you are buying a home or selling one, we’re here to help.

And we’ll be there for you after the closing too – when the listing is long gone from the web.

After all, this is our town too. We moved here thanks in part to real estate agents who looked out for us, and sold us homes we loved for all the right reasons.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog. Now log off your computer, pick up your (cell)phone, and call KMS Partners. We’re excited to meet you, face to face. We’ll answer your questions. We’ll even buy you coffee.

Take that, Zillow!

Contact KMS Partners 203-454-5411

Highest and lowest sales — First three quarters of 2017

Westport:Highest: 279 North Avenue, $7,000,000 Lowest : 35 Bridge Street, #113 $215,564 Total sales: 366

Weston: Highest: 64 Old Redding road, $2,450,000 Lowest: 429 Newtown Turnpike, $65,000 Total sales: 126

Fairfield: Highest: 457 Harbor Road, $5,837,500 Lowest: 109 Katona Drive #26, $96,500 Total sales: 727

Wilton: Highest: 137 Olmstead Road, $2,850,000 Lowest: 84 Wilton Crest: $130,000 Total sales: 202

Easton: Highest: 130 Old Stonewall, $1,335,000 Lowest: 11 Knapp Street, $275,000 Total sales: 52

Norwalk: Highest: 14 Point Road, $5,490,000 Lowest: 32 Pine Street #6B, $6000 Total sales: 485

Get Ready for Spring

After a very warm September, fall has finally settled in. October is prime time for apple picking, leaf raking and sipping hot chocolate. And of course, preparing your house for the spring market.

That’s right. Just as you’re putting storm windows up, you can’t forget about your screens.

Or your flower beds, roof and chimney.

The more you prepare your home now, the better the end result will be. Getting ready to sell can feel overwhelming. But if you start early and take your time, the process can seem almost seamless.

First, consider a pre-inspection. Your buyer will inspect your house closely. You can learn ahead of time what they will find, then make repairs. It’s the right thing to do – and it may add value to your asking price. (KMS Partners can refer building inspectors to you. Just ask!)

Then, check out your mechanicals. When was your furnace last serviced? Is your hot water tank leaking? Does your humidifier work? Do you have smoke and CO2 detectors, and are they working? (Call us! We have vendors who can help.)

Have you looked at your chimney crown lately? Have you cleaned it? (Yes, we have people who can do that.)

How worn is your roof? What about your roof ridges? (Glad you asked – we’ve got roofer recommendations.)

Of course, you need to clean or flush your gutters. It’s essential to keep rainwater flowing before the ice arrives. (Ask us for names.)

Fall is a great time to paint. It dries easily -- and there’s no humidity or insects to interfere with the results. While you’re at it, you can also paint that red and green dining room a neutral color. (We know some very good painters!)

When were your windows last cleaned? Do it now. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy lovely fall views. (We know the best window washers around.)

For a bigger project, refinish your floors. You might want to take a quick vacation, to minimize the fuss. (KMS Partners knows great floor folks too.)

Do you have bats? (Not as Halloween decorations.) Mice? Are others rodents trying to get into your house, or already nesting? (Our list of professionals can help,)

Don’t forget to trim your trees. Sure, the leaves look pretty -- but tree work is essential. (KMS has a fantastic list of reliable tree workers.)

As you think about pitching, purging and packing, ask yourself: Do I want to pay someone to move this? Do I want to pay to store it? Do I really need this? Order a dumpster. You’ll be amazed how quickly it fills up with stuff you don’t need. (Where do you get a dumpster? Ask us!)

The days are getting shorter. How dark is your home? Do you need to replace light bulbs? (Sorry – that’s about the only thing KMS Partners don’t do.)

It’s clear: We’re happy to help this fall (and any time) as you prepare your house for the market. In the meantime: Happy Halloween!

Contact KMS Partners 203.454.5411.

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.

Top 10 Reasons to Love Wilton

10. The Wilton YMCA – officially a branch of the Riverbrook Regional YMCA – is one of the focal points of town. Centrally located on Route 7, directly across the street from Wilton High School, it’s a hub of activity from dawn until well past dusk. A particular point of pride is the Wilton Wahoos, a nationally recognized swim team.

9. A grocery story is a grocery store, right? Not if it’s the Village Market. This is exactly the kind of grab-a-cup-of-coffee, meet-your-neighbor, we’ll-take-your-bags-to-the-car kind of place that changes a shopping chore into a favorite experience.

8. Speaking of food in Wilton Center, there’s a large selection of restaurants. You’ll be surprised at the number of dining options in a town this size – and the wide variety of cuisines. Find your favorite; then discover more!

7. The Woodcock Nature Center is a private, non-profit source of environmental education. Combining public outreach, school field trips, on-site birthday parties and summer camps, the 149 acres of state-protected land includes a pond, wetlands and 3 miles of trails (with an Everglades-style boardwalk). The center is home to snakes, frogs, lizards and a remarkable variety of birds. It’s open sunrise to sunset, every day of the year.

6. For a lively suburban town, Wilton still honors its rural past. Town-owned, 200-year-old Ambler Farm offers organic gardens and meadows, animals, a seasonal farm stand, hands-on learning programs, sustainable agricultural practices and favorite events like maple syruping, cooking classes, a summer program for kids and “Ambler Farm Day.”

5. Speaking of farms: Weir Farm is a national historic site dedicated to the life and work of impressionist painter J. Alden Weir. It also commemorates other artists who stayed there, including John Singer Sargent. Weir Farm sponsors an artist-in-residence program, as well as “Take Part in Art,” where visitors create their own works on site.

4. And speaking of programs: Wilton Library provides everything from knitting classes and a Minecraft club to story hours for babies. There’s a drive-up window, so you can pick up books you order online. But make sure to go inside: There are rotating art exhibits, and the building is beautiful!

3. Wilton’s athletic and recreation facilities are second to none. Among the 209 acres: Merwin Meadows Park (swimming pond, athletic field, picnic facilities, playground, basketball court); Middlebrook (multi-purpose fields), Allen’s Meadows (6 fields); Gilbert and Bennett (fields, playground); Comstock Community Center (indoor facilities, 2 lighted basketball courts, athletic fields) – and fantastic lighted turf fields, tennis courts (and more!) at Wilton High School.

2. The Wilton Historical Society is best known for its toy, tool, train, redware and textile collections, its period rooms and an archive of paper works. They’ve also carefully preserved and maintained 18 buildings from the 18th and 19th century. History truly comes alive in this town that dates back to 1640.

1. The Norwalk River Trail is an ongoing project. When finished, 38 miles of multi-purpose trail will pass through Wilton, from Norwalk all the way north to Danbury. Already, it provides great recreation for walkers, hikers, cyclists, kids and pets – as well as a green transportation alternative for reaching the train station, schools, offices and businesses.

There’s lot more to love – and learn – about Wilton. Contact KMS Partners at 203.454.5411 or email us at kmspartners@gmail.com

Real Estate Myths and Reality

Everyone “knows” certain things about real estate. After all, we all live somewhere. And most of us, at some time, have bought or rented a home. Like so many urban -- okay, suburban -- myths though, much of what people hear is wrong.

At KMS Partners, we’ve heard it all. For example:

“Agents work for the seller -- not the buyer.” Not true! There are buyer agents and seller agents. Each one has a fiduciary responsibility to their client. We work for you -- and only you!

“My house is in great shape!” Really? Would an inspector agree? Have you looked at the crown of the chimney lately? Tested your well for arsenic and uranium? Are all your systems up to date on servicing? Have you tested for radon? Checked your attic for mice, mold or other deplorables? Whenever you’re selling, consider a pre-inspection to identify areas needing repair or service.

“I don’t need a stager. They don’t help sell a home.” We are sure your house IS in great shape. (Well, pretty sure.) But even the most magnificent home may need to be staged. Stagers know the little things -- removing personal photos, positioning that piano just right, adding a scent or two in the kitchen -- that can make a huge difference to buyers. (And just to repeat: Yes, you do have exquisite taste!)

“That property is worth x amount of dollars. I saw it on Zillow!” Sorry. Time and again, “zestimates” have been shown to be inaccurate to determine value. But don’t take our word for it. Click here

“Of course, we’ll need room to negotiate…” Not necessarily. If you price your house correctly, you shouldn’t have to waste time and energy negotiating. Odds are, your home will sell soon too.

“You underpriced my house!” A house cannot be underpriced. If it is, buyers will bid up the price to its value in the current market.

“We finished the basement ourselves, so we didn’t need a permit.” That’s a myth! Any improvements to your house need permits -- and must be closed out prior to selling. Finished lower levels, attic levels and enclosed sun rooms are just a few examples. Connecticut has a new law for permits and CO's that goes into effect on October 1st. Call KMS Partners for details.

“I don’t need to pay for a local real estate attorney. My daughter’s in law school. She’ll close for us.” Congratulations on your daughter. But sorry -- Connecticut requires actual attorney representation for property closing.

“We’re building our house. So we don’t need a Realtor.” That’s a doozy. People fall for this all the time. They’re lured into believing they’ll get a better deal without having representation. But building a home is complicated. Consumers can’t know if they’re getting a better deal on new construction without having a Realtor on their side.

“I’ve got time. If I keep looking, I’ll find the perfect house.” There is no such thing as the “perfect house.” Every home has some flaws. Every house has features we wish were different. If you’re looking for perfection, you’ll never stop searching.

“There’s no difference between Realtors.” Hey! There are 1,200 agents registered with the Mid-Fairfield County Association of Realtors. They can’t all be the same. In fact, they’re not. In fact, KMS Partners has been Coldwell Banker's Top Team in New England since 2008. They clearly stand out from the rest. Marketing acumen, professional experience, peer respect, access to Coldwell Banker’s Premier office, vendor contacts, website and social media presence, assistants and coaches -- and our long presence in our home communities -- all make KMS Partners stand out from the pack. (And remember: Even though you have access to our entire team, each KMS Partner is a unique individual too!)

What is Global Luxury?

What is Global Luxury? It’s Coldwell Banker’s bespoke marketing program that defines the world of luxury real estate. The Global Luxury program combines the strength of Coldwell Banker’s state of the art technology with marketing strategies across a robust international network. This network consists of approximately 88,000 independent sales associates in nearly 3,000 offices within 49 countries. For over 80 years, Coldwell Banker luxury specialists have represented some of the most significant properties in the world.

During 2016 Coldwell Banker affiliated sales agents represented:

  • $129.6 Million in sales/day
  • 24,790 sides in $1 Million+ transactions
  • $1.9 Million average sale price for transactions >$1 Million
  • SOLD $7.3 Billion in luxury real estate

What are the current trends noted by these luxury specialists?

  • Most buyers are in their mid 30s to 40s.
  • Buyers have also increased their decision-making time to find the perfect match.
  • People live & work anywhere in the world. They’re uprooting their young families and making lifestyle decisions.
  • Bringing the outdoors in and the indoors out. • Young buyers want large creative spaces.
  • High-end manmade products are mimicking natural materials. They look great, are very durable and have less maintenance.
  • Boomers are rightsizing, not downsizing. 50-70 year olds are surprisingly no longer downsizing to condos. Boomers want smaller homes on one level &/or desire a 1st floor master.
  • Continued interest in massive his and hers closets.
  • The need to have 2 home offices. Even people in their 60s & 70s are looking for dual offices.

Our KMS team members are all certified Global Luxury Property Specialists. Call or email us for further details at 203.454.5411 or kmspartners@gmail.com.

All About Appraisals

“And of course we’ll get an appraisal…” Realtors say it. Lenders say it. Homebuyers and homeowners nod; hey, it sounds like a normal part of a real estate transaction.

But what exactly is an appraisal? Who does it? And why does everyone need one?

In her 25-year career, Nicole Daly has done thousands of appraisals -- many for KMS Partners. The owner of Daly Appraisal Services, and a certified residential appraiser, she’s the perfect person to explain her profession.

“An appraisal is an estimate of the current market value of a property,” she begins.

“Most of my work is for mortgage financing. Banks want to make sure the buyer is not paying too much for a property.”

Connecticut requires appraisers to be licensed by the Department of Consumer Protection. Lenders go further: They demand certification. That means many hours of education and field training, followed by an exam.

However, “homeowner’s getting ready to sell will often hire me when they perceive a disconnect from a realtor pricing analysis and what they think their home is worth. It can be a reality check sometimes and helps to give them a true understanding of the value of their home from a licensed 3rd party perspective.”

Daly studied as an “apprentice” (provisional appraiser) for two years. She was certified in 1994, and formed her own firm in 2008.

When a lender asks her to appraise a property, Daly contacts the real estate agent (or, in the case of refinancing, the homeowner). She learns a bit about the property online. But to make an informed appraisal, she must actually visit it.

Increasingly, banks are asking for photos of interiors.

Daly works with the realtor and Multiple Listing System to find comparable properties. That usually includes sales within the past six months, and homes within one mile. Armed with that information, she arrives at an estimate of market value.

Though her work is “number-centric,” Daly says, she works with realtors to know “tweaks” -- extenuating circumstances, like the fact that a homeowner must sell quickly because of a divorce, or that a home looks great because of excellent staging.

Though the field originally attracted only men, Daly is seeing more female appraisers. She like the job because she is not an office all day, and can create her own schedule.

“This is a great area. It doesn’t get better than Fairfield County,” Daly says. She has appraised some of the most beautiful homes in the state (and been inside a few “celebrity homes” too).

Part of Daly’s work involves watching for red flags. For example, if she sees a deck -- but it’s not reflected on the town’s tax card -- that could mean trouble.

“If you’re a homeowner, be sure to get the appropriate permits and zoning variances for any improvements you make,” she warns. “You don’t want it to be an issue when it comes time to sell.”

Daly notes that appraisals are valid for only 90 days.

“It’s a snapshot in time,” she says.

Hopefully, now the real estate picture is a little bit clearer.

Got questions about appraisals -- or any other aspect of real estate? Contact KMS Partners: info@kmspartners.com or 203.454.5411

Highest and lowest sales — First half of 2017

Westport:Highest: 75 Beachside Avenue, $6,575,000 Lowest : 35 Bridge Street, #308 $226,581 Total sales: 224

Weston: Highest: 118 Good Hill Road, $2,012,000 Lowest: 429 Newtown Turnpike, $65,000 Total sales: 81

Fairfield: Highest: 457 Harbor Road, $5,837,500 Lowest: 109 Katona Drive #26, $96,500 Total sales: 426

Wilton: Highest: 137 Olmstead Road, $2,850,000 Lowest: 84 Wilton Crest: $130,000 Total sales: 123

Easton: Highest: 130 Old Stonewall, $1,335,000 Lowest: 11 Knapp Street, $275,000 Total sales: 52

Norwalk: Highest: 14 Point Road, $5,490,000 Lowest: 32 Pine Street #6B, $6000 Total sales: 485