Buyers

Top Reasons to work with KMS Partners

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

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

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

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

• KMS has consistent production over 18 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Year's Resolutions

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

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

So what should your resolutions be?

    If you’re buying:

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


    If you’re selling:

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


    If you’re neither buying nor selling:

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

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

Your Realtor | Your Advisor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relax. We are proud to be your expert advisors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online and Off

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

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

And to help in many other ways.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take that, Zillow!

Contact KMS Partners 203-454-5411

Top 10 Reasons to Love Wilton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Estate Myths and Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All About Appraisals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Increasingly, banks are asking for photos of interiors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daly notes that appraisals are valid for only 90 days.

“It’s a snapshot in time,” she says.

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

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

Mortgage lending: Start early and be organized

Contributed By: Tim Martin The key to a smooth process is to identify a mortgage professional early in the home buyer process who will guide you. Gone are the days of only looking for the best rate when selecting a lender. While a Loan Officer will help you obtaining a competitive priced loan, he or she will also need to prepare your financial documents in an organized fashion and help you understand the types of products available.

It makes sense to use a local mortgage expert rather than going to a big bank or internet resource.

Clients are exposed to the best of both worlds: a local mortgage expert with intimate knowledge of the real estate market paired with the backing a national lending organization which brings competitively priced products. In almost every case, the #1 key to success: starting early. Securing a preapproval before a potential home is selected and solidifying the financing in place can prove invaluable when preparing documentation, negotiating on a property, or expediting processing.

Navigating today’s tighter mortgage guidelines and its “cross every T twice” compliance environment can be daunting for even the most qualified borrowers. Everyone’s financial situation is unique. Regardless of your down payment, credit score, net worth, or other financial areas of strength, borrowers should expect to document all sources of down payment, show reserves, and verify income for the past 2 years. Even the strongest loans will require an organized underwriting file be assembled.

While speaking directly to a local Loan Officer is key, here are some tips to make your next mortgage go smoothly:

• Don’t buy or lease an auto if you plan to purchase a home soon! Lenders look carefully at your debt-to-income ratio. A large payment such as a car lease or purchase can greatly impact those ratios and could prevent you from qualifying for a home loan.

• Don’t move assets unnecessarily from one bank account to another! These transfers show up as new deposits and complicate the application process. You must disclose and document the source of funds for each new account. The lender can verify each account as it currently exists. You can consolidate your accounts after your loan closes, if you need to.

• Don’t change jobs! A new job may involve a probation period, which must be satisfied before income from the new job can be considered for qualifying purposes.

• Don’t buy new furniture or major appliances for your “new home”! If the new purchases increase the amount of debt you are responsible for on a monthly basis, there is the possibility this may disqualify you from getting the loan, or cut down on the available funds you need to pay the closing costs.

• Don’t use Your Credit Cards Unnecessarily! Only use your credit cards for normal purchases as you have done in the past. A new credit report will be ordered just prior to closing. New debt or significant increases in balances could affect your approved loan if your debt ratios increase.

• Don’t allow your credit report to be run while processing your mortgage! This will show as an inquiry on your lender’s credit report. Inquiries must be explained in writing.

• Don’t pack or ship information needed for the loan application! Important paperwork such as W-2 forms, divorce decrees, and tax returns should not be packed with your household goods. Duplicate copies take weeks to obtain, and could stall the closing date on your transaction.

Top 10 Reasons to Love Fairfield

Fairfield is one of the area’s biggest small towns. Despite its size – in both square miles and population – it remains a friendly, down-to-earth place. Narrowing down our Top 10 was not easy, but KMS Partners does the impossible every day. Here’s our list:

10) At the Fairfield Museum and History Center, past and present meet in fascinating ways. The current exhibit – “Rising Tides” – examines the town’s long history of coastal resilience, through stunning photographs, artifacts and documents. You can also explore 375 years of Fairfield history, from the original Native Americans, through the Revolutionary War, into the trolley era and beyond.

9) Lake Mohegan offers 170 acres of hiking trails, a freshwater swimming lake and a very popular kids’ sprinkler park (think spouts, faucets and misters). There’s also a playground, snack bar and picnic shelter. Parking is free, but there’s a fee to enter the swimming area.

8) Lakes not your thing? Try Fairfield’s five miles of shoreline. You’ll find five beaches: Jennings, Penfield, South Pine Creek, Sasco and Southport. Each has its own personality. Penfield’s pavilion and Southport’s solitude are two of our favorites – but sample them all, and pick your own. For more information, click here.

7) Additional recreational opportunities abound. There’s golf at several wonderful private country clubs as well as two great public courses: Smith Richardson and Fairchild Wheeler, plus the fun par-3 Carl Dickman course at South Pine Creek. (South Pine Creek is one of several parks also offering all kinds of athletic and picnic facilities too.) For a full list, click here . Privately owned Sportsplex is your place for gymnastics, cheerleading, skating, rock climbing – and (of course) kids’ birthday parties and events of all kind.

6) Sure, and it’s the Irish Festival. Every June, Fairfield University hosts this fantastic cultural festival. There’s music, dancing, hurling, Gaelic football – and plenty of beer.

5) Of course, that’s not the only activity going on at Fairfield University. The Jesuit school offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs. The Quick Center pulses with a full slate of concerts, lectures, movies, shows, operas and more. Across town, Sacred Heart University is New England’s second-largest Catholic school, providing its own broad undergraduate and graduate courses. WSHU is an NPR outlet, with studios on campus.

4) Other suburban downtown have become outdoor shopping malls. Fairfield’s center has retained its special charm. Most stores are locally owned. It’s walkable, friendly and fun. The Sherman Green Gazebo in the heart of downtown is where everyone gathers for summertime concerts – rock, soul, pop, swing, Scottish, you name it. How Rockwell-esque is the gazebo? There’s great ice cream just a few steps away.

3) Fairfield Theater Company could be Fairfield County’s premier destination for live music – and much more. With two downtown venues – the 640-seat, state-of-the-art Warehouse and intimate, 225-seat StageOne – FTC offers world-renowned bands like Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (October 21), comedy, film, an Oktoberfest – and that’s all in the span of a couple of weeks. It’s run as a non-profit, so ticket prices are low. But the entertainment value is sky-high.

2) Fairfield residents are justly proud of their dozens of dining options. The rest of the county agrees. In the past few years, the town has become a mecca for foodies. Just about any cuisine is available, in every price range, from the Southport border all the way to Black Rock….

1) …And those are only two of the town’s many sections. At its heart, Fairfield is a community of neighborhoods. Each has its own flavor; together, they make up the town. We hate to single any one out – so we won’t talk about Southport’s picturesque harbor, Black Rock’s artistic vibe or Greenfield Hill’s breathtaking Dogwood Festival. So you’ll have to find out about each one on your own!

We’re happy to tell you even more about Fairfield. Just contact KMS Partners at 203.454.5411 or kmspartners@gmail.com.

Learn Our Language, FWIW*

Your friend mentions her house is “broker protected.” Your real estate agent casually mentions “CMA” and “MLS.” You drive by a sign for an “Open House” -- are you invited? Every industry and profession has its own language. But the world of “realtor-speak” can be particularly confusing, because it involves your most important, most tangible asset: your home. If you own a house -- or are looking for one -- you should know what everyone’s talking about, right? Realtors sometimes use “insider” jargon with homebuyers and sellers. We forget that not everyone is fluent in our language. So here are some terms and acronyms you may hear -- and here’s what they mean.

MLS: “Multiple Listing Service.” This is the database where properties and land are listed. It’s shared by all the real estate agents in a town or area.

CMA: “Comparative Market Analysis.” This term refers to a real estate agent’s analysis of the price of a property, relative to similar properties in a neighborhood or town. Short sale: Any sale of real estate that generates proceeds that are less than the amount owed on the property. This occurs when a lender and borrower decide that selling the property and absorbing a moderate loss is preferable to having the borrower default on the loan. It’s an alternative to foreclosure.

BOH: “Broker’s Open House.” Each town has a different day for brokers to tour homes on the market. Different parts of the country refer to this as a “caravan.” Some agents will allow client showings during this time.

“Brokers protected”: Someone is selling their own home (“FSBO” -- sorry, “For Sale By Owner”). The seller offers to pay a commission to the agent who brings the buyer.

Hubbard Clause: A seller accepts an offer, but the offer is contingent upon the buyer selling his or her own property. The seller’s house remains available for sale. If a second offer is presented to the seller, the first buyer has the opportunity to remove the Hubbard contingency and move forward to purchase the property (typically within 48 hours). If the buyer cannot move forward, the seller may move forward with the second offer. (NOTE: We know a lot about real estate. But we have no idea who “Hubbard” was!)

Pending: With signed contracts in place, all of the outstanding contingencies for the purchase of a property have been satisfied. The parties are now waiting to close the transaction. CTS: “Continue To Show.” There’s an accepted offer on a listing, but fully executed contracts may not be in place. Or there may be outstanding contingencies to be met.

Binder: An initial agreement to be superseded by a formal contract drawn by the seller’s attorney.

Good faith deposit: Typically a check for 1% of the offer.

Escrow: An item of value, money or documents deposited with a third party, to be delivered upon the fulfillment of a condition. For example, an earnest money deposit (funds that show a buyer is truly interested in a property) is put into escrow until the transaction closes, at which point it’s delivered to the seller.

KMS: Hey, that’s us! It stands for “KMS Partners” -- your Coldwell Banker team. With over 130 years’ collective experience, we’re proud to give you superior service and honest, insightful advice. You know what that means: Whatever questions or concerns you have, we’re here for you. Contact us at 203-454-5411 or kmspartners@gmail.com.

*BTW: FWIW means “For what it’s worth”!