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 | 203-454-5411 | 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

 


Weekend Homeowners

One of the best parts of being a KMS realtor is that we never know who will walk through the door.

Take for example two longtime Bronxville, New York residents. Every summer they bought an out-of-town pass for Compo. They spent as much time as they could at their favorite Connecticut beach.

At last, they decided to buy a weekend home in Westport. They looked for a l-o-n-g time. Finally, they found a house and land they loved in the Old Hill section. They moved in in June.

One of the couple commutes to New York each day. However, they marvel at their new life. Some weekends they entertain friends; others they spend quietly together.

Both say that the wait for a place they love makes their new home even sweeter.

They’re part of what we call “weekend homeowners.” Some are testing the waters before they commit to living here full-time. Others just enjoy having a getaway. All share a desire for a slice of something different from their weekday existence, on highly valued weekends.

Westport has always attracted a creative, artsy, spirited crowd. Some come from New York, or other cities. Others live in smaller towns, but want access to the water.

Shopping, restaurants, music and theater are prized attractions too. Then there’s that hard-to-describe Westport vibe that many suburban places lack.

KMS worked recently with a Brooklyn family with two girls. The parents had gone to college in New England. Every summer, they rented a beach house.

This year -- after several subpar experiences on Long Island -- some friends mentioned Westport. The family tried Beachside Avenue.

They fell in love with the town and its vibe. They could not believe how much there was to do. (The views from the patio were not too shabby either!)

Now, they’re looking for a home to buy. If they can’t find the right place, they’ll rent the same house again -- and keep looking.

Weekend homeowners come in all sizes and varieties. Some are young families. Others are empty nesters, or people entering a new phase of life.

Whoever they are, and wherever they come from, KMS Partners is ready to show them a weekend place.

And, once they love it, we’re happy to help them move here for good!

 

Westport's Farming History — Wakeman Town Farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a new school year begins, get involved!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Weston Historical Society Presents Westonstock:

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

Sixties Music, Cars, Food and Family Fun

on Saturday, September 15th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every KMS partner has a story.

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

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

But only one of us is a rock star.

That's David Weber.

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

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

Hot Tuna. Frank Zappa. Steely Dan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what does David think of all this?

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

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

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

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

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

Longer sales cycles are the new normal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Highest and Lowest Sales for the First Half of 2018

 73 Old Hill Road, Westport

73 Old Hill Road, Westport

Westport

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

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

Total sales: 214

 


 10 Hemlock Ridge, Weston

10 Hemlock Ridge, Weston

Weston

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

Lowest: 32 Old Georgetown Road, $205,000

Total sales: 66

 


 945 Sasco Hill Road, Fairfield

945 Sasco Hill Road, Fairfield

Fairfield

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

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

Total sales: 411

 


 Lot 2 Adirondack Trail, Easton

Lot 2 Adirondack Trail, Easton

Easton

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

Lowest:  85 Norton Road, $269,000

Total sales: 69


 0 Tavern Island, Norwalk

0 Tavern Island, Norwalk

Norwalk

Highest: 0 Tavern Island,  $7,850,000

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

Total sales: 468

 


 144 Huckleberry Hill, Wilton

144 Huckleberry Hill, Wilton

Wilton

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

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

Total sales: 107

 


Real Estate Market for the first half of 2018

WESTPORT

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

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

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

A closer look at the numbers tells the story.

Price Range               YTD Sales                 Current Inventory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WESTON

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

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

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

FAIRFIELD

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

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

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

A closer look at the numbers tells the story.

Price Range               YTD Sales                  Current Inventory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NORWALK

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

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

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

A closer look at the numbers tells the story.

Price Range               YTD Sales                  Current Inventory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WILTON

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

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

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

 

It's All About the Music

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hummock Island Oyster Farm Tour ~ Westport, CT

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

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

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

Cheers! ~ Mary Ellen Gallagher

 

Meet Michael Mombello

Now we are eight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teamwork - Michael Mombello and David Weber_KMS_1111.jpg

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

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

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

NEW LOOK - for #TeamKMS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We love our new, fresh curb appeal.

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

 

Reduce Your Living Expenses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refinancing could make a big difference in monthly payments too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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