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34th Annual Northwest CT CROP Hunger Walk

Mary Taylor, Realtor, Litchfield County, CT

Sunday, September 24th is the 34th Annual Northwest CT CROP Hunger Walk. Registration and check-in begin at 1:00 pm in the parking lot of Housatonic Valley Regional High School (246 Warren Turnpike, Falls Village, CT). At 1:30 pm, walkers will begin their journey.

The Northwest Connecticut online team page can be found at crophungerwalk.org/fallsvillagect/. On that page, you can create your own team or join an existing one, register as an individual walker, sponsor a walker, and make a credit card donation.

CROP Hunger Walks support grassroots hunger-fighting efforts around the world. Up to 25% of the funds raised from the NW CT Walk is allocated to hunger-fighting programs in our own local community via the Northwest Connecticut Food Bank. The Food Bank provides food vouchers and gift certificates to area grocery stores for those in need.

In the past 30 years, participants have raised more than $732,000 with about $200,000 allocated to our local area.


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    Celebrating Salisbury's Own

    Patricia Best, Realtor, Litchfield County, CT

    The biannual benefit that supports our wonderful Salisbury Family Services (SFS) is coming up on September 23, 2017.   

    This year, SFS will honor extraordinary photographer Anne Day with an exhibit of her photos and cocktail party at the Tremaine Gallery at the Salisbury School. A post-exhibit dinner will be held at a private home. Information about both events and tickets are available at the SFS website: salisburyfamilyservices.org.    

    Salisbury Family Services is a not-for-profit, charitable organization that offers support for residents of Salisbury, Connecticut, who are struggling with financial or other difficulties, offering invaluable assistance at critical times.

    I am honored to chair this event this year. Please come out and support this great organization!


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      Conservation Easements

      Christine Bates, Realtor, Litchfield County, CT

      When considering the purchase of a house with acreage, buyers should ask whether there is a conservation easement on the property itself and also on surrounding land. Conservation easements are permanent, recorded on the deed, and restrictions may prohibit certain uses. Every easement is very specific and is monitored by a local land trust.  If there is an existing easement, the buyer needs to understand the limitations on building and future use. Where can you build? Could you subdivide?

      Having an easement on the land will not affect your ownership or necessarily decrease your property taxes, but may reduce future resale value. Being surrounded by other properties, which have been put into conservation, will protect your views and privacy.

      Any property owner may consider placing a conservation easement on their land to prevent future development, and also to benefit from what can be substantial federal income tax deductions.  The process can be complicated and expensive. Be sure to consult first with your tax attorney.


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        Savoring Summer

        Patricia Best, Realtor, Litchfield County, CT

        I know - Labor Day is the symbolic end of summer and the start of the school year, but there is plenty of summer left!  Summer doesn’t end until September 21st and I personally plan to savor every moment of it.

        It’s actually the best time for tennis, golf, and all of the outdoor sports here in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut. Take a hike up Mount Riga or a bicycle ride along the Harlem Valley Rail Trail. Visit one of our many farmers’ markets or visit a farm, pick your own apples, and enjoy all of the bountiful harvest crops.

        By the way, September and October are two of our most active real estate months so please give us a call if you’d like to see some listings!

        And as Joan Osofsky of Hammertown says “Love where you live!”


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          Life Without Air Conditioning

          Litchfield County Realtor Martha Mullins

          “Does the house have air conditioning?” A dreaded question and of-ten from a buyer or renter in a constantly controlled climate environment. I try to explain how lovely it can be with cool breezes coming off a lake or from the woods.

          When that fails, I plow ahead and outline some tips to cool off without AC. First, keep the sun out of the house during the day. Pull your shades. Put up outdoor awnings over windows and doors. Keep the windows open overnight – open them in the early eve and shut them the next morning when it starts to heat up.

          Fans are great – just make sure they’re pushing the air in the right direction. Ceiling fans need to push air down.  Window fans should pull cool air into the home. A long-term fix is a full house fan which involves installing roof venting.

          Another permanent fix is plantings. Plant deciduous trees on the side of your home where the sun is strongest. The leaves will provide shade in the winter and after dropping in the fall will allow the heat to return when you need it.


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            CT Real Estate Agent William McGinn

            Back for its second year as one of the most tantalizing evenings of the summer, GRILLSDALE proudly spotlights the bounty of Columbia County, Dutchess County, and the Berkshires—featuring some of the best grilled small plates from top restaurants, chefs, and purveyors from the area.

            Set against the hills at Roeliff Jansen Park in Hillsdale, NY, on Saturday, August 26, from 6:30-11:30 pm, watch the sunset while sampling your way through an all-inclusive food and drink menu.

            For live music, The Wayside Drifters from Ancram, K Sloan & The Melodics (from Detroit by way of NYC), and Sittin’ Plush from Ancramdale featuring chef Job Yacubian, all performing on the big Herrington’s truck-stage.

            If last year is to be any indication, GRILLSDALE will sell out fast, so get your tickets now! For more information or to purchase tickets online, click here.


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              Creative and Easier Shade

              Martha Mullins, Salisbury CT Realtor

              Beat back the sun and use your patio and deck all day by installing temporary shade.  Beyond planting trees and shrubs nearby or putting up an umbrella shade over your patio set, there are some fun ways to keep your outside space cooler by using creative shading.

              A climbing trellis can blunt slanted sunshine that tends to heat under awnings in the mornings and late afternoons.  Clematis is one of my favorites, but morning glory and bougainvillea are popular choices as well. Potted trees are also helpful but take a bit of extra care than trees in the yard.  If you don’t have a green thumb or you don’t have the time to use your green thumb, sail shades might work. They are triangular or square sections of strong nylon that come in a variety of colors.  A temporary change of décor to brighten up your summer and cool you down.

              Trellis, potted trees, or sail shades are sturdier and offer fun alternatives to the umbrella -- and you don’t have to keep putting it up and taking it down!


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                An Abundance of Farm Stands!

                Connecticut Realtor Mary Taylor

                We here in the Tri-State Corner are spoiled with fresh farm products.  All of our local towns have farms with farm stands—far too many to mention in one blog, so I’ll focus on those close to our home base in Salisbury. Each farm stand offers a variety of food.

                Whippoorwill Farm
                Weatogue Farm

                Pine Hill Farm  860-364-0416
                Q Farms
                Paley’s Farm Market

                West Cornwall:
                Hautboy Hill Farm
                Ridgway Farm

                Cornwall Bridge:
                Stone Wall Dairy Farm

                The Canaans – Falls Village:
                Lone Silo Farm
                Freund’s Farm Market
                Ford Farm
                Mountain View Farm

                Enjoy the freshest possible food while you support our local farmers!


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                  Thinking of Buying a Fixer-Upper?

                  Salisbury CT Realtor Pat Best

                  As an HGTV addict, I understand how appealing it can be to dream about transforming a dated or dilapidated house like the Property Brothers seem to do so effortlessly--and usually in 4-6 weeks! (Remember, it’s TV.) I have been a partner in several projects in Sharon and Salisbury and, while it can make sense depending on the purchase price, location, and the extent of the renovations, it’s not for amateurs.

                  In the Tri-State area, we have many homes for sale with dated kitchens and baths, and those renovations usually make sense.  However, beware of larger projects entailing systems, roofs, drainage, etc. Those items will suck up your budget and leave little for the fun stuff like a new kitchen and baths. National average bath remodels run $100-$200/sq. ft. and kitchens range from $30,000-$80,000, depending on material and appliance choices. It will probably take longer and cost more than you thought, so make sure you have a contingency. Look for a house that has been well maintained but needs cosmetics.

                  A good real estate agent can help you find a good buy--it can be cheaper to buy the more expensive house.  Call or email us if you need help!


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                    Black Bears in Our Backyards

                    CT Real Estate Agent Mary Kirby

                    The black bear sighting reports in and around Sharon and Salisbury seem to increase each season. A startling event is finding a bear on your patio or while out for a walk.

                    For the uninitiated about bears on one’s property, it’s important to be vigilant, especially at night. Their presence in our neighborhoods can be frightening, yet fascinating, to observe. Bears are seen more frequently when they are in search of food. It behooves everyone to remove bird feeders, pet dishes, trash/garbage cans, and barbecue fragments from outdoor locations when bears are not hibernating.  It’s an open invitation to bears and other animal scavengers when garbage containers are placed at curbside in the evening awaiting pick-up in the morning! Lessons to be learned are awareness of bears in the outdoors and even on the highways.

                    The CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection  (DEEP) has issued an information sheet called “Be Bear Aware: Black Bear Do’s and Don’ts” which can be found on their website and on local town hall bulletin boards.


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                      What's That Smell?

                      Connecticut Realtor William McGinn

                      The kiss of death for any real estate showing is the customer refrain “What’s that smell?” Whether it is mildew, fireplace, cat litter, or septic system, those odors have to be identified and eradicated.

                      A thorough cleaning of the house is always in order. Cleaning the cat litter box, cleaning the fireplaces, and emptying garbage pails are all part of routine maintenance which must be done continually while a house is on the market.

                      Some smells, like dampness, can be improved with products such as “Fresh Wave.”

                      A septic odor is not necessarily a sign that the septic system is not working.  Often when a house is not occupied for a period of time, or even if a shower is not used for a period of time, the water in the sink traps evaporates, and the septic gases can back up into the house.  Running the water in all tubs, showers, and sinks will block that smell.

                      When you are looking at how your house appears to prospective buyers, make sure to use your nose as well as your eyes!


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                        The Power of Paint

                        Pat Best, Salisbury CT Realtor

                        I recently read Hammertown’s article about the impact of paint colors on a home’s appeal and couldn’t agree more. As a realtor, I can’t overstate how important it is to paint your house, inside and out, in colors that are popular with most buyers. 

                        Exterior choices are often inspired by the architecture of your home. Barn style homes seem to look best in dramatic reds, dark greens and, popular right now, black. Take a look at the converted barn that is part of Best & Cavallaro’s listing at 245 Belgo Road in Lakeville.   

                        However, the 1845 Greek Revival next door (at 251 Belgo Road) just called out to be white.  Currently, the most popular interior colors are shades of gray, beiges and soft blues. I will always thank my friend who, knowing I wanted turquoise kitchen cabinets when I built my last home, convinced me to use gray and get turquoise accessories – which she provided as a housewarming gift! Pops of color are easier to change than cabinets – and tastes and styles do change. I encouraged clients to paint their house in Sharon CT, which was light blue with red shutters, a medium gray with black shutters and – guess what – it sold!


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                          What Should I Pay for Rent?

                          Connecticut real estate agent Martha Mullins

                          Figuring out how much rent to pay can be painful.  Making a mistake by assuming too high a monthly rent can significantly impact your lifestyle.  

                          In general, the basic rule is to spend no more than 30% of your after tax take home pay. To figure that out, take your annual salary and deduct taxes. Divide that figure by twelve. Subtract your monthly necessary expenses, such as car payment, car taxes, health insurance, loans, groceries, etc. Multiply that number by .3 and you’ll know what you can afford to pay. This isn’t what you should pay, though.  

                          If you like dining out, events, activities outside work and home, then spend less and direct the additional funds to your social life. If you prefer to stay home maybe spend up to that 30% mark. Remember to inquire about all expenses: utilities, lawn mowing, snow removal, association fees, etc. when asking about rent.  

                          Enjoy what you pay for!


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                            Bicycles Sharing the Road

                            Lori Belter, Western CT Realtor

                            Before you head out for a bike ride in our beautiful Northwest Corner of CT, it’s important to know the rules of the road, designed to help keep cyclists safe. 

                            If you are riding on the road, behave like a car. One reason there may be animosity between drivers and cyclists is that some cyclists take liberties with their bicycle, riding 2-3 wide, ignoring traffic lights, or switching between the road and crosswalks. Yes, cyclists have a right to the road, but most laws state they must follow the rules that apply to cars, including riding with the direction of traffic, stopping at stop signs and lights, and yielding to pedestrians. Be sure to stay as far to the right as safely possible, maintain as straight a line as possible, and avoid swerving around objects.  Be predictable so cars know what to expect.

                            Wearing a helmet and being highly visible are most important - wear bright/reflective clothing and be sure you have front and back lights and reflectors, especially if you are riding at dusk or dark.

                            A little caution will help you to stay safe while sharing the road.


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                              Spring for Sound 2017!

                              William McGinn, Connecticut Realtor

                              Spring For Sound is an all day, rain-or-shine music festival on June 10, 2017 in the village of Millerton, NY. All proceeds go towards the work of the North East Community Center, which provides healthy, caring, and responsive services to the residents of North East, Millerton, and its surrounds. 

                              Performances are scheduled from 10 am to midnight (roughly) on multiple stages at partner venues throughout the village. One ticket gets you a wristband and admission to all stages. Spring for Sound is suitable for all ages and children 12 and under accompanied by an adult are admitted free.

                              Tickets may be purchased in advance at a discount at springforsound.com or at the NECC office at 51 S. Center St. in Millerton,  52 Main, and The Black Rabbit in Lakeville, CT. 

                              Tickets/wristbands will also be for sale on the day of the show at full price and may be purchased at the Perch at Gilded Moon or NXNE Stage ticket booths. 

                              What a great way to start your summer, enjoy outstanding music, and support an important local resource!


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                                What To Do This Weekend?

                                CT Realtor Mary Taylor

                                It’s a weekend and we’ve promised the young and young at heart a day trip.  Where can we go, what can we do?  Here are a few places to explore:

                                Visit the Berkshire Museum, which offers an array of exhibitions and activities. 

                                Visit the Berkshire Scenic Rail Museum which is preserving the history of railroading.

                                Visit the Trevor Zoo at Millbrook School, a one-of-a-kind, AZA-accredited zoo with over 160 exotic and indigenous animals.

                                Enjoy trails, live animal exhibits, nature programs, and conservation-themed events  at the Audubon Society in Sharon. 

                                On a Saturday afternoon, go for a farm tour at Arethusa Dairy Farm in Litchfield, CT.

                                Experience a replicated Algonkian Village at the Institute of American Indian Studies in Washington, CT.

                                Visit a replica of a pioneer cabin at the Sloane-Stanley Museum & Kent Iron Furnace.

                                And be sure to visit the Best Bets page or our website for more ideas and upcoming special events!


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                                  Memorial Day in Salisbury, CT

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                                  Salisbury real estate expert Lori Belter

                                  Are you looking forward to summer? Picnics at the lake, walking the Appalachian Trail, picking up fresh produce at a farmer’s market, enjoying backyard barbecues, riding bikes around Twin Lakes or on the Rail Trail, or maybe putting in the canoe on Lakeville Lake?   

                                  Traditionally, Memorial Day is the kick-off of the summer season. In Salisbury, we have a wonderful parade that honors the men and women who have served our country, followed by an ice cream social on the lawn of the White Hart Inn, hosted by the Salisbury Visiting Nurse Association. 

                                  Many towns in our region have similar celebrations on Memorial Day – traditions that help make our part of the world so special. Check out the listings in your local paper to find out how your community honors all those who have served and continue to serve our country.


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                                    Summer Farmers' Markets are Back!

                                    Salisbury CT farmers market

                                    This weekend, on Saturday, May 20, we are excited to welcome a new Salisbury farmer’s market around the corner from our office on the Scoville Library lawn on Main Street in Salisbury, CT!

                                    There are also Farmer’s Markets in Millerton, Amenia, and Hillsdale, NY; Cornwall, Kent, Norfolk, and Winsted, CT - they all offer products ranging from locally-grown fruits and vegetables to organic meat and poultry to vegan food to fresh baked goods and crafts.

                                    Here are a few in our region:

                                    New York farmers markets

                                    Amenia - May-Oct, Fridays 3-7 pm, Town Hall parking lot, Rt. 22. ameniafarmersmarket.com

                                    Copake/Hillsdale - May 27-Oct. 28, Saturdays, 9 am - 1 pm,  9140 State Route 22, Hillsdale, NY.  copakehillsdalefarmersmarket.com

                                    Millerton - May-Oct, Saturdays, 9am-1pm, Millerton Methodist Church at Dutchess & Main. millertonfarmersmarket.org

                                    Connecticut farmers markets 

                                    Cornwall - May-Oct, Saturdays 9am-12:30pm, 413 Sharon Goshen Tpke./Rte 128, Wish House. cornwallfarmarket.org

                                    Kent - May-Oct, Fridays 3– 6pm, Saturdays 10–noon, Rt. 7, across from Fife ‘n Drum  FB: @KentCTFarmersMarket

                                    Norfolk - May-Oct, Saturdays 10am-1pm, 19 Maple Ave., live music.NorfolkFarmersMarket.org

                                    Salisbury - May-mid-Oct., Saturdays, 10am -1 pm, Scoville Library lawn

                                    Winsted - June-Oct, Fridays, 3-6 pm at East End Park. winstedfarmersmarket.org

                                    Stop by to enjoy the freshest food and to support your friends, neighbors, and local farmers!



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                                      Spring: A Time for Renewal

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                                      From my favorite window, I’m gazing out at the landscape, noting spring’s late arrival this year in our Northwest Corner.  

                                      Birds dart from tree to tree, grass is finally green, and a fine mist is making its presence felt with splatters on the windowpane. And yes, the roving threesome of deer have just come into view. A pretty pastoral scene.  

                                      Spring is a time of renewal for ourselves and our homes.  Winter always creates projects requiring our attention in the interior and exterior of our homes. Has paint peeled indoors or out, requiring touch-up? Fireplaces and woodstoves should be cleaned, and how about the chimneys?  

                                      A septic system needs to be pumped every two to three years and its condition checked. Remember to schedule the annual heating system tune-up.  Testing the fire alarms and other safety systems is a must. And lots to do outdoors.  Great exercise!



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                                        It's May - Time for Trade Secrets!

                                        Patricia Best, Sharon CT real estate expert

                                        Every May, an amazing event takes place at the beautiful LionRock Farm in Sharon, Ct.   Rising like the proverbial phoenix each year, an army of volunteers creates a magical village of tents for 60 vendors selling beautiful, rare, and unique plants, garden antiques, and decorative items. The setting is gorgeous and the shoppers are too, perfectly clad in Wellies and straw hats. You can even enjoy a delicious lunch under the tent.  

                                        On Saturday, May 13, for the Rare Plant and Garden Antiques Sale, there are “early bird” tickets, regular admission, and even “late bloomer” tickets for those who can only get there for the last couple of hours. Best of all, Trade Secrets is the largest fundraiser for Women’s Support Services of Sharon, Ct., a critical nonprofit organization helping victims of domestic violence in the Tri-State area.  

                                        Be sure to get your tickets at TradeSecretsCT.com! (Please note: If you have not yet purchased tickets for Sunday’s Garden Tour on May 14, this year’s Tour is already sold out!)


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