Summer Fun

Whether you’re a longtime homeowner, a new arrival or a summer renter, you share one thought: Let’s make the most of these months!

 Summer fun is a big part of what got you here. There’s a lot going on between now and Labor Day. Here at KMS Partners, we’ll make sure you don’t miss any of it.

 The Levitt Pavilion is Westport’s free outdoor summer series. Six nights a week, the handsome stage with sloping lawn on the banks of the Saugatuck River hosts concerts (rock, jazz, folk, military bands, kids – you get the idea) and other entertainment. Bring a picnic, open the wine – and did we mention, it’s free?!

 Fairfield’s thriving music scene includes summer concerts at the Sherman Green Gazebo, smack in the center of town. Nearly every night at 6:30 p.m., a band plays. Kids romp, adults socialize, and of course there’s plenty of places to get ice cream nearby. It’s as Norman Rockwell-esque as Fairfield County gets.

 “Music at the Barn” is a special Weston Historical Society series. There’s a Steely Dan Cover band June 23; jazz sensation Chris Coogan July 14, and Otis and the Hurricanes August 18. An all-day “Westonstock” Woodstock-style event on September 14 is not to be missed.

 For a comprehensive list of concerts in surrounding towns, check out Fairfield After Dark

 About the only thing you can’t buy at a Sidewalk Sale is a sidewalk. Everything else – clothes, jewelry, sunglasses, shoes, furniture, antiques, sports equipment, stuff – is available in racks and on tables. Prices are often slashed.

Westport’s (downtown and Playhouse Square) is June 28-30.

Fairfield’s (downtown) includes a street fair, on July 20.

 For nearly 50 years, the Fine Arts Festival has cemented Westport’s reputation as an arts town. The nationally recognized, juried event features 175 painters, photographers, sculptors, printmakers, glassblowers, jewelers and more. This year’s event is July 20th  and 21st.. There’s lots more going on too around Main Streets, including Westport Library’s annual book sale (July 20-23, on Jesup Green) The sale includes just about every book printed, and CD and DVD ever made (it seems).

 The next week (July 27-31), Pequot Library hosts its own incredible book sale. Over 100,000 items (including music and movies) are featured, in the Southport institution’s handsome building.

 You may not think of a library as a place to spend your summer, but Westport Library’s newly transformed building is definitely worth a visit. BTW, the grand opening is Sunday, June 23 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

 What’s summer without 4th of July Fireworks?

Westport’s are July 3. Compo Beach hums all day with picnics, marching bands and other fun. A ticket is required to park at the beach. Fairfield’s are also July 3, at Jennings Beach. Music starts at 6 p.m.; the pyrotechnics begin at 9:15.

Weston sets off its fireworks on the actual 4th of July, at the middle school — a community-wide 4th of July Celebration. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Bands play, magicians perform, and the entire town comes out. Tickets required.

 If sunsets are your thing, one of the best spots around is Compo Beach. South Beach – with its barbecue grills, picnic tables and alcohol-is-fine policy (no glass though!) – is where the cognoscenti gather to gawk.

 Want a bit of action beyond sunset-watching? Westport’s Parks and Recreation Department sponsors a summer road race series, every Saturday at 8 a.m. The first one is 2.3 miles; each week is longer, building up to a 10-mile finale the Saturday before Labor Day. It’s competitive, with plenty of camaraderie. Those 12 and under can also compete in Westport’s Age Group Track Events on Thursday evenings.

 How about golf? With public courses in Westport and Fairfield you have options! Longshore Women’s Golf Association (Tuesdays); Longshore Ladies Nine Hole Association (Thursdays); Longshore Men’s Golf Association has a summer weekend calendar online. Fairfield has leagues (Men’s, Women’s and Senior’s) that play at H. Smith Richardson or the South Pine Creek Par 3 Course – details here.

 The Westport Weston Family YMCA’s Point-to-Point Swim is Sunday, July 28. Swimmers of all ages and abilities race from one jetty to the other, in this very popular Y fundraiser.

 No story about summer in these parts is complete without a mention of the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival. Thousands of visitors stream to Westport’s Levitt Pavilion and environs to enjoy world-class blues music and mouth-watering barbecue. There’s plenty of other food too, and lots for kids to do. This year’s event is September 1 and 2.

 That’s a lot! We know you can’t do everything. But there’s one more summer highlight we hope you’ll consider. On July 13 (5 to 9 p.m.), KMS Partners Compass presents “Pools, Patios, Pergolas.” You can admire the luxurious outdoor living spaces of three fabulous Westport homes, while sampling food and custom cocktails from three award-winning caterers. It’s a benefit for Food Rescue US - Fairfield County, a fantastic organization that works hard to ease hunger.

 We hope to see you there. And of course, at many of these other great events. Now that’s what summer here is all about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compass to the Rescue

KMS Partners is a true partnership. We all share resources, ideas and tips; we tap into each other’s skills and talents.

We are also proud to partner with community organizations. We believe firmly that a real estate company is more than a business. It is a vital part of its town. And it is imperative that we do as much as we can for all our partners in it.

One of this area’s most effective and efficient non-profits is Food Rescue US. Founded in Norwalk -- and now national, with 18 chapters -- its mission is simple: Take food from organizations that have too much, and distribute it to those with too little.

The mobile app is key. Volunteers pick up the food, then deliver it a couple of miles away to homeless shelters, food pantries, senior centers and other service agencies.

Over 140 rescuers are active in Fairfield County. Area donors include supermarkets like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Stew Leonard’s -- as well as Fairfield University, Norwalk Hospital, Bridgewater Associates and GE.

“People want to serve in a direct, impactful way,” says Nicole Straight, Food Rescue US’ local site director. “It’s so powerful to take food that would have been thrown out, and bring it directly to people who need it.”

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Beyond helping rescue food, KMS Partners’ partnership with this wonderful organization now includes an exciting fundraising event “Pools, Patios & Pergolas – A Luxury Tasting Event”. On July 13th, we’ll showcase several of our most intriguing properties to guests. Each location will feature a top caterer, offering a different cuisine plus fun music and signature cocktails. We will take advantage of the season highlighting magnificent outdoor spaces. In addition, we will announce a new and exciting residential project at the final location. Details forthcoming.

One ticket buys access to all venues, food and drinks. 100% of ticket proceeds will help Food Rescue improve its technology, and pay full-time employees.

Every Food Rescue US volunteer, donor and agency believes as we do, in the importance of community involvement. All are equal partners in this endeavor.

We could not be more proud to be partnering with this wonderful organization.

(To download the app, search for “Food Rescue US” in the Apple or Google Play store. For more information, go to www.FoodRescueUS.com and get tickets to the July 13th event here)

from The Wall Street Journal…

Seeking Pristine Condition with feature-rich Kitchen and Master Suite

For centuries, the tony suburbs of NewYork City have been a haven for the rich, who bought luxurious estates on sweeping acres. But many of today’s home buyers, no matter how wealthy, seek the opposite — smaller, smarter houses on compact lots that are ready to be moved into. Read more, including KMS thoughts by following this link — Gilded Age Luxury to Home Improvement Show Mentality

Price Point Differentials

The outlook for real estate sales in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and Westchester County, New York, is bifurcated. The market for homes priced at under $2 million is slowly improving in both counties. But sales of estates are down dramatically, with no change in sight. Read on Outlook: Cautious With a Touch of OPTIMISM

Community Gardens Grow in Fairfield County

One unexpected delight of home-buying here is discovering gorgeous backyard gardens. The Westport Historical Society even sponsors a special “Hidden Gardens” tour (June 9th this year – mark your calendars as they always sell out).

But another type of garden is hidden in plain sight. Community gardens -- town-owned, group-run and wildly popular -- have sprouted all over Fairfield County.

Westport’s Community Garden is one of the largest. Located on Hyde Lane next to Long Lots School, it boasts more than 100 plots on an acre of land. Any Westport resident or town employee can grow vegetables, herbs and flowers there. They all share tools, tips (and bounty).

It’s a community effort involving more than gardeners. The town offers guidance and manpower. Local firms and farms donate machinery, soil and a picnic table. Westport’s pioneering Green Village Initiative helps too. The garden has “grown” to over 100 members.

A few miles north, Lachat Farm provides plots to any Weston resident, employee or local organization. It’s all organic -- chemical pesticides and herbicides are prohibited. Volunteers maintain several plots for the Weston Food Bank; other gardeners help by placing excess produce in a cooler, where it’s delivered to the Food Bank twice a week. Weston Community Garden also hosts workshops throughout the season, and an end-of-harvest potluck dinner (complete with campfire).

Fairfield takes it to a new level.  A community garden in Drew Park has 46 raised beds for residents’ use, while four other gardens have been established solely to provide for those in need. 

·      Grace’s Garden at Our Savior Lutheran Church, managed by Eric Frisk, UCONN Master Gardener, supports the Operation Hope Food Pantry. Eric has partnered with Ability Beyond to provide opportunities for young people with disabilities to participate in gardening activities.

·      St. Timothy’s Garden on the Hill, also managed by Eric Frisk, provides a quiet respite for those looking to tend to the vegetables, most of which are donated to the CT Food Bank.

·      The School Giving Garden at St. Thomas Aquinas provides students with wonderful opportunities for service learning, with an array of programs that have benefited Bridgeport Rescue MissionOperation Hope, and local veterans.

·      Volunteers work the Operation Hope Garden, on the grounds of the First Church of Fairfield, solely to provide fresh produce for the onsite food pantry.

Since 1975, Allen’s Meadow has welcomed Wiltonites. Its 50 plots are lovingly tended by a diverse community: young parents, empty nesters, older couples, best friends, first-timers and experienced gardeners.

Norwalk’s Fodor Farm, the largest of all – offers 225 plots (8’ x 12’) to its residents for a mere $5.  As you can imagine, plots are snatched quickly by many apartment and condo dwellers who grow and share their harvests within their communities. The Norwalk Health Department also host a Growing Gardens, Growing Health Program at the farm, offering gardening instruction, nutrition education, and cooking demonstrations to Norwalk families.

So, this spring — grow for yourself or grow for others, either way get some vitamin D and mood boosting benefits along the way!

Westport: A True “Town Green”

Did you hear about Westport’s great osprey uproar?

Every March for years, the magnificent birds return to their nest from a winter in South America. But this is not just any nest; it’s perched on a platform high above a busy Post Road parking lot. Westporters love watching each pair construct a new nest, fetch food, lay eggs, then teach their chicks to fly.

This year, a parking lot renovation project threatened the ospreys. All weekend long, residents rallied together to make sure the nest was undisturbed. They made phone calls, offered to help build a new platform, and made the birds into instant celebrities.

It’s hardly the first time the town rallied around a great cause. In fact, Westporters pride themselves on making their voices heard. Over 50 years ago, a utility company wanted to buy Cockenoe Island -- to turn the beloved camping and fishing spot a mile off Compo Beach into a nuclear power plant!

Well! It took a while -- and $200,000 -- but Westport now owns Cockenoe Island. Wildlife flourishes, and every summer it is still a favorite destination for boaters.

Cockenoe Island was big. But in many smaller ways, Westport makes its eco-commitment known too. For example, 100 gardeners have plots at the Community Gardens. They grow an astounding variety of produce there. They also enjoy true “community.” They share tips, bounty and friendship. They come from all over town, and span all ages. Their thumbs are green -- and so are their hearts.

Westport is also home to a thriving Farmers’ Market. Begun more than a decade ago by Paul Newman -- yes, that Paul Newman -- it’s grown into much more than a place to shop for the best fresh, healthy and local seasonal food. (Including everything from fruits and vegetables to honey and homemade pies.)

Every Thursday from May to November, the Farmers’ Market rocks outdoors on Imperial Avenue. Musicians play. Chefs show off their favorite recipes. Everyone smiles.

When it gets too cold, the Farmers’ Market heads indoors, to Gilbertie’s Herbs and Garden Center. It’s a year-round institution -- and just one more way that Westport supports the environment.

The Westport Garden Club, Greens Farms Garden Club and several smaller, similar clubs are another. Planting and caring for an ever-changing array of flowers, shrubs and trees, they make Westport look beautiful.

No story on Westport’s commitment to the environment would be complete without Wakeman Town Farm. It’s many things to many people: a working farm (complete with llamas). A summer and vacation camp for kids. A place where teenagers volunteer, and learn to care for animals and the land. An educational center, with program for every age on topics from beekeeping to cooking.

It’s the perfect spot for meetings and parties too. WTF -- as it’s lovingly known -- is as integral to the town as its ospreys.

KMS Partners is a proud sponsor of Wakeman Town Farm. We support its many activities and fundraisers -- and not just with checks. We look forward to seeing you there!

And -- thanks to the foresight of Westporters five decades ago -- there’s not a nuclear power plant in sight.

(For more insights into Westport -- green and otherwise -- contact KMS Partners: 203.295.4375

Coming Soon on Compass.com

Marketing Your Home Through Compass


Drive interest & buzz by pre-marketing your home on Compass.com

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Build Up Interest & Demand

If you look beyond real estate, from Hollywood releasing trailers for movies to fashion brands debuting a forthcoming collection at a runway show, these industries have mastered the art of pre-marketing to create interest and demand. Compass Coming Soon will do that same thing for your home — create excitement and anticipation for your property.

Listing your property as a Compass Coming Soon Listing can build anticipation among potential buyers and brokers, drive up its value, and shorten the sales timeline.

Get More Exposure

By creating a Coming Soon listing on Compass, we can create two opportunities to launch your property, thereby getting twice the exposure. First when the listing appears on Compass.com, and second when the listing goes live on the MLS and aggregators.

Tap into our Compass.com Google search advertising to build momentum. We reach prospective buyers precisely when they’re searching to help increase traffic for your property.

Gain Valuable Feedback

Coming Soon on Compass.com allows agents and consumers alike to see your property before it goes on the market. During that period, we will be able to gain valuable feedback regarding the pricing, photos, and positioning of your property. When it’s time to go live to the whole market, your property will be perfectly priced and positioned to sell quickly

Ready to get started? Contact us at 203.295.4375 or info@kmspartners.com

What’s old is new (in) again

They’re older. They’re called “antiques.” They’re also some of the most unique homes around.

Here at KMS Partners, we’ve noticed an intriguing trend. Antiques are back in favor with buyers. Younger folks, European transplants, down-sizers – all have asked to see homes that were built long before they (or sometimes, their grandparents) were born.

As we’ve shown some outstanding antique properties in Westport and throughout Fairfield County (Location), we’ve noticed a few things.

They are often on what were once main thoroughfares. That made sense back in the day – and it still makes sense today. These homes are easily accessible. Residents enjoy the benefits of living on roads maintained by the town or state. (Location, location)

It means too that the more desirable antiques may be located near downtown, retail shopping or the train station. Many younger homebuyers are moving from urban areas. They want space to raise their kids – but they want to be able to walk to restaurants and stores, just as they did in the city. (Location, location, location)

And, they want something else: the authenticity and character that antique houses provide. These were structures built to last. Every room had a purpose; every beam and nail meant something. Babies were born, children were raised, parents and grandparents lived together here. These homes have an indefinable but very real spirit. History lives and breathes in every corner. They truly are “homes,” cared for and lived in and loved.

Houses that last this long are well taken care of. Their owners have updated them when necessary. (That electricity didn’t install itself.)

An antique house is not for everyone, of course. You’re moving into a place you’ll want to make your own. And this is 2019, after all. But there’s another new trend in real estate, which dovetails with this. The open floor plan concept – with its big spaces and uninterrupted views -- that’s been popular for quite a while is changing. People have begun yearning, once again, for walls.

Older homes sure have them. They come in many different sizes and shapes. Buyers looking to put a contemporary spin on those rooms get something both original and exciting.

It’s not only “old old” houses that are in demand. Those from “just” the 1920s and ‘30s have appeal too. They boast lots of architectural charm and detail – plus a bygone but very welcome sense of social flow on the ground floor. Homes of that vintage are delightful for entertaining, and family holidays.

So who is looking?

We see many clients from Brooklyn. They already know the character present in older homes. They love mantels with beautiful detail, high ceilings, old hardwood floors and exposed brick.

Many of these newcomers work from home. They love the idea of an outbuilding or barn that can be converted into a home office. Fortunately, many antique homes have those additional buildings on their property.

Europeans are looking at antique homes too. They appreciate the materials used – wide plank flooring, fieldstone and older (often smaller) bricks, exposed beams or rafters, plaster walls, higher ceilings, original glass and more. There’s a patina that is extremely hard to duplicate.

Antique homes have been valued by their owners for decades – sometimes centuries. And they provide great value to the right homeowner.

 To learn more – and see some recent listings that are attracting great interest – contact KMS Partners at 203.295.4375 or email us at info@kmspartners.com

 

Deer resistant but evergreen no longer...

When we read this article, it became all too clear what was happening in our own yards. Some of us admitted to trimming dead branches from our boxwood hedges this fall in the hope that things would look better come spring. Now with spring around the corner and the outlook rather grim, it appears we have another thing to add to our spring to-do list. For those of us that love to wander the fabulous nurseries in Fairfield County, this may be just the excuse we need!

Republished with permission from Redding Gardner, by Sean McNamara.

BYE BYE BOXWOODS

There had been warnings for years about the coming plague, but outside of a couple of isolated plants there had really never been signs of Boxwood Blight here in Fairfield County until this fall.  Then suddenly it was everywhere.  A combination of cool temperatures and wet weather allowed this disease to spread.  The prophecy was being fulfilled.

Concerned homeowners were calling and asking me to look at their boxwood hedge that wasn’t looking well. Looking at sick boxwoods was nothing new. Boxwood Leafminer and Psyllid had been attacking this species for years.  As I wrote in my 2013 blog post, Managing Boxwood Monocultures, for 30 years we have been planting too many boxwoods.  Boxwoods are one of the few deer resistant evergreens.  To stop the threat of deer damage we created the perfect habitat for insects and diseases that feed on this plant species.  The difference is there is no treatment for Boxwood Blight.  Worried homeowners looked to me to fix their sick plants and unfortunately the only remedy was to rip them out and start over.  Thousands of dollars in landscaping was suddenly infected beyond recovery.

The growers knew the damage this disease was capable of.  Stories of boxwood growers burning entire fields were told at trade shows and landscapers were warned to only purchase from reputable suppliers.  Boxwood Blight did not exist in our natural environment and could only enter our landscaping by riding on infected plants from a nursery or garden center.  Stopping the spread of this invisible pathogen proved impossible.

Now that it is here, it will inevitably spread.  The sticky spores will cling to our hands, clothes, pruning shears and lawn mowers.  When the weather conditions are correct, the spores will infect the leaves and stems causing black blotches and defoliation.  After the initial symptoms appear the plants may temporarily recover, only to have the disease emerge again sapping the plants of energy until it ultimately succumbs.

My business is curing plant problems, and usually there is a remedy for most pests and pathogens.  But with this disease the cost may not be worth the cure. Currently the only course of treatment is applications of chlorothalonil every 10 days when the weather is around 60 degrees.  Even then, if the weather conditions are favorable to the fungus you may still get an outbreak.  Spending hundreds or thousands of dollars annually with no guarantee of infection prevention is probably more than most would want to invest.  It explains why growers have resorted to burning thousands of plants in their fields.

For most people, the best advice is to rip out their Boxwoods once they see symptoms and plant something, anything other than boxwood.  And if you’re planning a new landscaping project look for alternative species.  Some varieties of boxwood are less susceptible to the Blight, but none are immune.  Best to use holly, azaleas, rhododendrons or anything other than boxwood.

So say “bye bye” to the boxwood.  They are still here for now, but won’t be for long.  And remember that variety is the spice of life.  When everyone else is planting boxwood, andromeda and spruce because the landscaper says the deer don’t eat them, remember you may trade one problem for a dozen worse ones.

There's No Business Like Show Business

Broadway producers, and Weston residents, Alan and Barbara Marks gave the Kiwanis Club of Weston a rare view into the production process of a Broadway show. The couple is known for their work on Dear Evan Hansen, a Tony Award Winner for Best Musical. Other productions include After Midnight, Master Class, Finian's Rainbow, and the team have a hand in Hamilton.

In talking about the business of show business, Weston Today reports:

“Mr. Marks said theater has no equivalent of Hollywood’s studio system. Every production is a company, an individual business enterprise, and the producer is CEO, responsible for all that happens on stage: hiring a director, a casting agent, actors, writers, choreographers, composers, lyricists, negotiating with a theater, and everything else.

Producers don’t own a show. Mr. Marks said they only “rent the right to present the work of other people for a certain period of time.” Everything is a collaboration. A producer “can’t change a word of the script, a note of a song, or a step in the choreography” without the consent of creators.

According to Ms. Marks, producers work in a small world. There are only 41 Broadway theaters. Many of them have established, long-running shows, which means new productions compete for a stage in only three or four available venues.

It is also a financially risky world. Mr. Marks said 80 percent of Broadway shows do not make money, and the costs are enormous. Ms. Marks estimates the average Broadway musical costs $15 million to launch, may take seven years or more to go from concept to opening night, and takes years just to break even.

The shows that do make money tend to make tons of it. Hits like “Hamilton” and “Chicago” generate hundreds of millions in profits. Mr. Marks quoted an adage: “You can’t make a living in the theater, but you can make a killing.”

And sometimes it just doesn’t work out at all. A few years ago, Mr. and Ms. Marks made a large investment to develop a musical called “The Last Goodbye,” a brilliant concept inspired by the music of the late Jeff Buckley, who in turn had been inspired by “Romeo and Juliet.” A tryout in San Diego was promising. But the show needed changes to go to the next level, and the producers and creative team couldn’t agree on what changes to make. So, in this case, the show didn’t go on.

Today, with a solid record of success, the couple has high hopes for a new production about Jean-Michel Basquiat, the one-time graffiti artist who, said Mr. Marks, “changed the landscape of contemporary art” in the gritty New York of the early 1980s. They are excited about the big-name Broadway figures who will be involved.” Follow the progress of this production by clicking Basquiat on Broadway. We can’t wait for what is sure to be a colorful production!

Are you moving into the Weston area or just interested in knowing more about the very active, philanthropic Kiwanis Club of Weston? Contact member and KMS Partner, David Weber at 203.451.7888, david.weber@compass.com or visit Weston Kiwanis.

 

 

Home Staging Starts with Tidying Up

Let's talk home staging. Love it or hate it, we still think it is a priority task to prep your home for a successful sale.

On New Year’s Day Netflix premiered the eight-episode series on the virtues of the “KonMari Method” of tidying. A resurgence of the method first outlined in Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has begun. The series sparks joy thanks to the transformation and the personality of Marie Kondo and those she helps.

Writing of the lessons learned from reading the book, One Kings Lane Editor, Cate La Farge Summers, summarizes the method:

“First, put your hands on everything you own, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and get rid of it.

Second, once only your most joy-giving belongings remain, put every item in a place where it’s visible, accessible, and easy to grab and then put back.”

Simple enough, right? In the full article (click here), Cate tells of 8 lessons learned from  the book. We think if you take her advice, you will make it through your clothes in no time. And we all know, uncluttered closets look BIGGER!

 Lesson #1: Tackle Categories, Not Rooms

I’d always tackled clutter by room—take on the office first, the bedroom next. Instead, Kondo’s first rule is to tidy by category—deal with every single one of your books at once, for example, otherwise they’ll continue to creep from room to room, and you’ll never rein in the clutter. She advises beginning with clothing, since it’s the least emotionally loaded of one’s things (books come next, old photographs are much later), so as soon as I found a free afternoon, that’s exactly what I did.

 Lesson #2: Respect Your Belongings

With my eyes now open, I realized my closets had hit rock bottom. Everything had succumbed to a mixed-up messiness. Kondo asks that you consider your clothing’s feelings: Are they happy being squashed in a corner shelf or crowded onto hangers? Are your hardworking socks really thrilled to be balled up? It had sounded out there when I read it, but suddenly my clothes looked totally miserable.

Lesson #3: Nostalgia Is Not Your Friend

As I started emptying the closets, I opened boxes filled with letters and old photographs. Serious mistake. Kondo knows what she’s talking about when she insists you put blinders on and focus only on the category of stuff at hand. Read one old letter, and suddenly you’re down a rabbit hole of nostalgia.

Lesson #4: Purging Feels SO Good

Once I got to work, it was so much easier and more fun than I’d thought. This question of joy gives you permission to let go of off-color shirts bought on sale, dresses past their prime, skirts that always clung uncomfortably….Six hours later, I’d filled 12 bags with non-joy-giving clothes. Instead of panic, I felt relief—12 times lighter. It also felt like good karma: The best stuff went to a consignment shop, and the decent stuff went to a charity thrift store, off to see a new, hopefully better life.

Lesson #5 and #6: Fold, Don’t Hang

Once you’ve sorted out the things to discard—and only then—you can decide where the remaining things should go. Rather than folded in a cubby or hanging in a closet, Kondo thinks a lot of our clothing would be better off (or as she’d say, happier) folded in a dresser.

Kondo’s vertical folding technique makes everything easy to spot and hard to mess up (you aren’t jostling a whole pile every time you take something out or put something back). Folded this way, clothing looks like fabric origami, ready to line your drawers in neat rows.

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To keep these little folded packages standing at attention in the dresser, try using shoeboxes as drawer dividers. A smaller box is perfect for square scarves, a deep one in the bottom drawer for sweaters.

Lesson #7 and #8: Fall in Love with Your Closet and Rediscover Your Style

You’ll be tackling the next category before you know it. Trust us, your home will photograph and show better…and you will love the way your home feels!

Want more ideas? We are happy to stop by - call us at 203.295.4375 or email info@kmspartners.com


 

Dancing with the Stars

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Would you believe that our very own Karen Scott is competing in Dancing with the Stars - A Gala Benefit for ElderHouse?  Modeled after the popular TV show, this exciting fundraising event has partnered Karen with an amazing, award-winning professional dancer, Manuel Trillo from Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Norwalk. Together, they will perform in a dance competition at the Gala being held on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at Rolling Hills Country Club in Wilton, CT.


ElderHouse, in Norwalk, is a worthwhile not-for-profit organization that provides adult day services to older adults with aging conditions like memory loss or physical impairment, offering dignified care in a social setting and extends much needed support to family caregivers. Every dollar pledged goes directly to support their program.  Please join us in supporting ElderHouse by making a donation or attending the Gala on March 23rd to cheer on Karen and Manuel. 💃🕺🏻

 

Sssshhhh…this is a LIBRARY

Homebuyers have many reasons to move to Westport and Weston: Schools. Long Island Sound. Culture. Proximity to the city. “Libraries” are not on the list. But once folks arrive, they quickly realize that their new towns boast two of the finest suburban libraries in the country.

 They are handsome. They provide a range of services and programs, for people of all ages. They even have books. Twenty-first century libraries have moved far away from the sssshhhh! model.

Today’s libraries are vibrant, active places, filled with creative people doing intriguing things. And you won’t find more variety and activity anywhere than here.

Right now, the Westport Library is in the final phase of an 18-month “Transformation Project.” When it’s completed in June, the already beloved library will be truly astounding.

A flexible “Forum” in the Great Hall is the centerpiece of the renovation. The tiered grandstand – think of the very cool structure in Times Square – can be reconfigured for any of the more than 1,700 programs presented each year. Art, movies, music, dance, food, authors – you name it, the Westport Library does it. Now, they’ll do it even better.

Westport was one of the first libraries anywhere with a MakerSpace. That hub of creativity will soon be even better. A nearby HackerSpace – filled with the latest technology – will have its own entrance, and be open 24/7. (You never know when inspiration will strike!)

Reimagined children’s and teens’ spaces, an expanded café with outdoor terrace, and many more meeting rooms are in the final stages.

The exterior is as compelling as what’s inside. The Westport Library has always featured stunning views. But the Transformation takes even greater advantage of its riverside location, with new entrances and areas luring users to relax and hang out.

Westport’s downtown is undergoing a major renaissance. The library – just steps away – is an important anchor. Check it out. You’ll add it to your list of reasons to love your new home.

The Weston Library, on Norfield Road near the town center, is smaller, but no less dynamic.

Boasting the latest technology, a crack staff and a welcoming vibe, it’s a true community resource. Compelling programs draw Westonites here seven days a week.

A recent $5 million gift from Dan Offutt will help his beloved Weston Library deliver even more services to its many dedicated users. A new, modern 2-story wing will enable expanded programs in arts, technology and exhibitions, along with 3D printers, robotics, a recording booth and exhibition area.

You may come to this area for education, water, golf or theater. But you’ll discover our libraries. They’ll draw you in – and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.

Learn more about Westport’s Transformation Project, Daniel Offutt’s gift: an Art & Innovation Center, the Westport Library and the Weston Library.

To learn more about how KMS Partners can help you buy a home in either town, call us at 203.2954375 or email us at info@kmspartners.com

Connecticut Rocks!

We’re not New York — but we’re close.

We’re not Boston — but we’ve sure got that New England vibe.

We’re not like any other place in the world. We’re Connecticut.

Our little state has a lot going for it. In a 24/7 Wall Street survey, Connecticut is the 3rd-best place to live in the country. Residents are among the best educated in the country (39% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree); our median household income of $77,385 a year puts us in the top 10%, and we’re one of only 10 states with a life expectancy over 80 years.

All of us at KMS Partners are pretty proud of our state. We’re particularly pleased to live and work in Fairfield County. We may be biased, but we think this is an amazing area.

But don’t take our word for it. Consider this:

  • New England has plenty of water, hills, beauty and history. You’ll find all of that right here — at your fingertips. Everywhere you turn, there’s something exciting and inspiring.

  • We’re a direct, comfortable train ride from New York City. And there’s no better place than the train to work, socialize or relax.

  • No one likes paying taxes. But there’s no comparison between taxes here, and those in neighboring Westchester County, New York City, Long Island and New Jersey (Well, there is a comparison. You’ll be amazed when you run the numbers.)

And as much as we tout Fairfield County overall, we love giving a shout-out to Westport and Weston in particular. For example:

  • Our schools rank among the best in the country — by every metric. The community feeling in our public schools is strong, deep and meaningful.

  • A community like Westport offers astonishing amenities. With a thriving arts center; newly renovated, 21st-century library; town-owned country club; beaches and parks galore, there is something for everyone. Westporters’ only complaint is that there’s not enough time to do everything.

  • Westport has a heritage as an arts community. For over 80 years, the Country Playhouse has been a leading regional theater. Working artists are showcased in galleries throughout town. Staples High School music concerts and theater productions rival professional ones — and the entire town turns out to see them.

  • Westporters care. There is a culture of philanthropy, and a longstanding tradition of inclusion.

  • From the bustling Farmers’ Market and innovative Wakeman Town Farm, to the airy, modern YMCA and many gyms and health clubs, to popular farm-to-table restaurants, Westporters embrace a healthy lifestyle.

  • Weston is an outdoors-oriented town. Devil’s Den is a spectacular property for hiking, swimming and nature-watching. Lachat Town Farm offers educational programs in agriculture, the environment, nutrition and the arts. And the Weston Historical Society — with its adjacent barn — has programs you won’t find anywhere else (1960s music and culture, anyone?)

There’s a very cool vibe throughout our towns. We can’t put it into words, but you’ll feel it when you drive (or walk, or bike) all around. We’re happy to show you some of our favorite spots. You can find us, KMS Partners, at Coldwell Banker | 472 Riverside Avenue | Westport, CT 06880 | 203-295-4375 | info@kmspartners.com


Holiday and Winter Fire Safety

As we add lights and decorations to make our homes festive for the holidays, we are sadly reminded of a tragedy that struck our area last December. Our home inspector friends at Pillar to Post recently outlined key steps to take to prevent your home and loved ones from fire. Please, take a moment to read and act as it is truly our hope that you all enjoy a safe and beautiful holiday season!

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Last December a fire left a 54 unit condominium complex in Norwalk uninhabitable weeks before the holidays. Although residential fires continue to take their toll every day in lost lives, injuries, and destroyed property, most conditions that cause house fires can be avoided or prevented by homeowners. The recent fire in Norwalk was caused by carelessly discarded smoking materials. Taking the time for some simple precautions, preventive inspections, and concrete planning can help prevent fire in the home - and can save property and lives should disaster strike.

  • Re-check your indoor and outdoor holiday lights for damaged wires and plugs. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines as to how many multiple strands can be joined together, as a fire hazard could result from overload. Enjoy indoor holiday lighting only while someone is home, and turn them off before going to bed at night.

  • Candles add a welcoming, festive feeling, and need to be placed in stable holders and located away from curtains, drafts, pets, and children. Never leave burning candles unattended, even for a short time.

  • Keep live Christmas trees in a water-filled stand and check daily for dehydration. Needles should not easily break off a freshly-cut tree. Brown needles or lots of fallen needles indicate a dangerously dried-out tree which should be discarded immediately. Always use nonflammable decorations in the home, and never use lights, even LED types, on a dried-out tree.

  • Never run electrical wires, including extension cords, under carpet or rugs even temporarily as this creates a fire hazard.

  • Fireplaces should be checked by a professional chimney sweep each year to prevent a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can cause a flash fire in the chimney.

  • When using space heaters, keep them away from beds, curtains, papers - anything flammable. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for use. Space heaters should not be left unattended or where a child or pet could knock them over.

  • Use smoke detectors with fresh batteries. Smoke detectors should be installed high on walls or on ceilings on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside every sleeping area. Statistics show that nearly 60% of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms.

  • Flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene, or propane should always be stored outside of and away from the house.

  • According to the U.S. National Fire Protection Association, 47% of reported home fires between 2011 and 2015 were kitchen fires. Grease spills, items left unattended on the stove or in the oven, and food left in toasters or toaster ovens can catch fire quickly. Don't wear loose fitting clothing, especially with long sleeves, around the stove. Handles of pots and pans should be turned away from the front of the stove to prevent accidental contact. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach. Extinguishers specifically formulated for grease and cooking fuel fires are widely available and can supplement an all-purpose extinguisher.

  • Have an escape plan. This is one of the most important measures to prevent death in a fire. Visitready.gov for detailed information on how to make a plan. Local fire departments can also provide recommendations on escape planning and preparedness. In addition, all family members should know how to dial 911 in case of a fire or other emergency.


SERVING HOME BUYERS, HOME SELLERS, HOMEOWNERS & 
REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS ACROSS FAIRFIELD COUNTY SINCE 1999

 The Dave Leopold Team

10 Morehouse Lane

Norwalk, CT 06850

david.leopold@pillartopost.com


Winter in Connecticut

In 1945, “Christmas in Connecticut” thrilled movie audiences all across America.

More than 70 years later, a true New England winter in Connecticut is still the most wonderful time of the year.

There’s so much to do here at holiday time. Each of us at KMS has our own favorite activities, events and traditions – and they are not limited to the actual holidays.  Here are a few, reminders for many and suggestions for those of you we’ve had the pleasure of helping make Connecticut home!

The Staples High School Candlelight Concert. For 78 years, high school musicians have awed audiences with a processional, production number, and stirring “Hallelujah Chorus.” You don’t need a kid in the concert to love this one, and it usually sells out! For tickets, click here.

Looking for that perfect tree? Try the H. Smith Richardson Tree Farm (run by the Connecticut Audubon Society) on Sasco Creek Road in Westport’s Greens Farms neighborhood. Or Jones Family Farm in Shelton. You can actually chop your own at Maple Row Tree Farm in Easton. And don’t miss the Wakeman Town Farm Holiday Tree Lighting on Friday December 7th for some traditional family fun!

The Westport Historical Society offers “Happy Holly-Days,” a month-long festival including tree decorating, candle making, Menorah decorating, a gingerbread contest, Solstice storytelling, and (of course) Santa for the kids. The centerpiece of the WHS month is a Holiday House Tour. You’ll be green (and red) with envy at these New England beauties. All information: www.WestportHistory.org.

Around the corner from the Westport Historical Society, on Main Street, Westport offers horse and carriage rides on weekends. And just up the Post Road, the Westport Country Playhouse is the enchanted setting for “The Nutcracker” (December 1 and 2).

Everyone loves personalized gifts. You can make your own at Hands on Pottery in Fairfield and Darien. Inexperienced? No worries. Their little elves can help.

Maybe some fresh air or time for yourself? Take a hike in Weston’s Devil’s Den. Or skate by the Sound at Longshore’s great outdoor PAL rink, then relax with hot chocolate (or cocktails) at Pearl at Longshore.

Longshore is also the site of an Uncorked Wine Tasting Gala. It’s a (very tasty) fundraiser for Westport’s Sunrise Rotary, on November 30.

Every town has its perfect sledding spots. In Westport, we love Birchwood Country Club and Winslow Park.

Winter is also a great time to visit Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan. Not far away – in the same town – is beautiful Grace Farms. New Canaan is also famous for its Holiday Stroll. This year it’s November 30 and December 1.

The Historical Christmas Barn in Wilton is like a trip down memory lane. Ornaments are hung from all over the world. For an amazing gift shop – true colonial America style – head to the Wilton Historical Society.

Not far from Fairfield County, there’s nothing like a hockey game at the “Yale Whale.” Okay – this may beat it: Dinner at the original Pepe’s Pizza on Wooster Street! New Haven is also filled with wonderful museums. We recommend the Yale University Art Gallery, the Yale Center for British Art, Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield.

Kids of all ages love the old steam train in Essex. It’s even better than a sleigh!

Have your own winter favorites that we missed? Please let us knowinfo@kmspartners.com

Fall is a time to have an attitude of gratitude!

What are you thankful for? There is so much to choose from! Fall is a time of year that we can especially pay attention to the simple gifts, the family time, the wonderful friends and blessings that have been brought into our lives. We may forget how lucky we are to have hot showers, reliable transportation, work to do, food to eat, and clothing to choose from.

Sometimes during the holidays, it can be easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season: the house cleaning, the big meals to cook, the gifts to buy, the stress of it all. By showing your thankfulness for the simple things, and accepting each day as a gift, you will not have to look far to find reasons to be grateful. Plus, your gratitude, will inspire others around you to do the same.

Challenge yourself this holiday season to make a list of the things and people that make you smile. Then put it on your fridge, on your bathroom mirror, or even in your car, so you can be reminded daily of your blessings. We at KMS Partners are certainly blessed with the camaraderie of our successful partnership, enjoying the benefits of the #1 Coldwell Banker office and living and working in our wonderful communities. We are especially grateful for the loyalty of our wonderful clients.

May you have a happy, healthy and fun-filled Thanksgiving!

Real Estate Market as of September 30, 2018

Westport Market

The Westport Real Estate market continues to show some strength at the lower price points. Although there appear to be a good number of buyers in the marketplace, homes at the higher price points continue to linger on the market. Some buyers report that they are waiting for the results of the elections. It is likely that rising interest rates might incentivize some buyers to buy sooner rather than later.

So far, this year closed sales of 333 are running just 1.2% behind last year's sales of 337. The average sales price for the first three quarters, however, was down 6.7% from $1,574,478 in September of 2017 to an average of $1,469,600 this year.  For sold properties, the average time on the market was 91 days, down from 122 last year. Please see market activity reports for more information.

We at KMS Partners remain optimistic in our outlook. The fabulous lifestyle and award-winning schools that Westport has to offer, in conjunction with lower property taxes, continue to be very attractive!

Weston Market

The market in Weston has been declining modestly over the past few years. So far, this year prices are down over 5%. However, weakness on the higher-end properties can account for some of this average price decline. The last quarter of 2017 was strong and with the possibility of increasing interest rates in the future, there may be a spike in sales before the end of 2018 as well. Weston's natural beauty, its award-winning school system and two-acre zoning are still attracting buyers — especially for the lower and mid-range homes.

So far, this year Weston has closed 129 sales as compared to 126 sales for the first three quarters of 2017. Average days on market are 96, down from 137 days in 2017. And as indicated above, prices are also down, with the average sale price dropping from $855,343 last year to $813,282 this year. Please see market activity reports for more information.

 Fairfield Market

We see the market strengthening in Fairfield particularly near the beach and near town. Fairfield is definitely on many buyers’ radar due to its strong schools, beaches, vibrant town and university vibe. Fairfield appeals to buyers across the board from first time buyers to downsizing empty nesters. There is something for everyone.

So far this year, 589 homes have closed in Fairfield compared to 780 for the entire year of 2017. The average days on market is down to 73 days compared to 97 days last year, while prices have risen. The average sales price this year is $790,459 compared to $743,596 last year. Please see market activity reports for more information.

Norwalk Market

Norwalk has had a steady, busy year thus far.  It is proving to be a great Connecticut “first stop” for home buyers and renters coming from more urban areas like New York.  There seems to renewed interest in the laid back, artsy quality of Silvermine and what it offers; Marvin Beach and other opportunities to own on the coastline remain extremely popular as well.

 From September 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018, 514 homes were sold resulting in a 0.8% increase over the same period last year (510).  The average sales price has climbed from $617,449 to $623,268.  Sales volume has increased, and home values have gone up by 0.9%.

More recently, just for the past month of September (54 home sales) the average sales price of $684,604 was at its highest level compared to 2016 and 2017.  For the same period, the average number of days on market has dropped to 62 from 102 a year ago.  That is also the lowest level since both 2016 and 2017.  Please see market activity reports for more information. 

Wilton Market

We are seeing well-prepared and well-priced homes selling in Wilton. It's all about value. The Wilton lifestyle with a vibrant downtown, close proximity to commuter routes and award-winning schools will continue to bring buyers into the market. The possibility of increased rates may bring a spike in sales for the last quarter.

Wilton has seen 165 sales so far in 2018, compared to 181 sold homes for the same period last year; a decrease in closed transactions of nearly 9%. The average days on market was 94 compared to last year's total of 143 days on market. The average sale price was up to $893,864 compared to 2017 average prices of $848,853 an increase of over 5%. A few high-end sales, including one for $8,000,000, accounts for most of the increase in average price. Please see market activity reports for more information.

Real Estate is a Market

Who creates the real estate market?

Let’s go back to basics and remember that real estate is not a product, it’s a commodity. It is the buyer who establishes value. Similar to a stock -- Apple, Amazon, IBM -- the buying public pushes the price of a home up or down every day just like in the financial markets. The buyer’s perception of value determines whether your home sells. Or not.

Going into the process, a seller may have an idea of the price someone will pay for their home and it may be based on what they paid, 2 or 10 or 25 years ago. It may be based on additional expenditures that have been spent on the home over the years, or how much the neighbor sold their house for. All of these things are irrelevant. Price is a moment in time! Educated real estate agents use current, relevant active and sold listings to guide you towards the correct price range for your home. These listings are what a buyer will use when it comes time to make an offer and also a bank appraiser, as the buyer goes through the mortgage process.

Some factors that can influence pricing…supply and demand. If demand for houses increases faster than supply, house prices go up. If there is a glut of inventory…prices tend to go down.

Interest rates and the economy are important influences. Are more jobs coming into the community? Is a major employer leaving? Don’t forget demographics. Baby boomers are downsizing. Millennials are deferring real estate purchases. Who knows what trend is next?

Some key points to remember about pricing your home:

  • Pricing your home to appeal to the largest number of buyers increases the chance of getting a buyer who will pay the most.

  • The market won’t let you under price your home. Value pricing will result in multiple offers, even in a “challenging” market. If you only get one offer, the price isn’t too low.

  • No showings, no repeat showings and no offers is the market rejecting the price.

Do you want to be in the market or on the market? Do you want to chase the market or face the market?

Do you want to SELL or STAY?

Historically, the longer your home is on the market, the less it will sell for. Price it right from the beginning and get your property sold.

Just remember...You, the seller, can set the asking price, but it’s the buyer that ultimately sets the sale price. 

Let KMS Partners help guide you through the selling process. We are in the trenches with sellers and buyers and have a keen knowledge of our local markets.

Highest and Lowest Sales for the First Three-Quarters of 2018

9 Owenoke Park, Westport

9 Owenoke Park, Westport

Westport

Highest: 9 Owenoke Park, $6,217,983

Lowest: 20 Oakview Circle, $278,000

Total sales: 333

 


38 Weston Road, Weston

38 Weston Road, Weston

Weston

Highest: 38 Weston Road, $2,550,000

Lowest: 32 Old Georgetown Road, $205,000

Total sales: 129

 


828 Sasco Hill Road, Fairfield

828 Sasco Hill Road, Fairfield

Fairfield

Highest: 828 Sasco Hill Road, $5,400,000

Lowest: 305 Old Stratfield Road, $118,000

Total sales: 589

 


Lot 2 Adirondack Trail, Easton

Lot 2 Adirondack Trail, Easton

Easton

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

Lowest:  11 Adams Road, $177,911

Total sales: 102


0 Tavern Island, Norwalk

0 Tavern Island, Norwalk

Norwalk

Highest: 0 Tavern Island,  $7,850,000

Lowest:  37.5 Osborne Ave, $185,000

Total sales: 515

 


144 Huckleberry Hill, Wilton

144 Huckleberry Hill, Wilton

Wilton

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

Lowest:  78 Portland Ave, $315,000

Total sales: 165