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!

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


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.


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, or visit Weston Kiwanis.



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

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 |

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:

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

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.

“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: 203-295-4375. 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.




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
  • 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 203-295-4375

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 203-295-4375 or email us at

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: 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 203-295-4375 or

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 203-295-4375 or

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