Tag Archives: Family

Home Life in Greenwich, Connecticut

Have you been thinking more and more about moving outside the hustle and bustle of the big city? How does Greenwich, CT sound?

In our final week of talking all things real estate, we partnered up with Margaret Vorder Bruegge and Sharon Kinney, our experts of real estate in the Greenwich, CT area (don’t worry, Bell Family has sitters in Greenwich)! Read below for our Q&A, and then find yourself browsing their listings like I did.

Q: What are some common requests that families make when looking for a home?

A: When looking for a new home, families prioritize neighborhoods, school districts and extra curricular activities available to their children. Greenwich has an abundance of sports, social and education resources for all ages. Parents who work in the city ask about access to the train and highways, and about services that make their lives manageable – references for nannys, dogwalkers and doctors and dentists.

Q: When working with a family to find a new home do they come with a clear idea what they are looking for or do you steer them to a home best suited for family?

A: Today’s buyers are smart and have a list of features that they are looking for in their new home.  They know how many bedrooms and bathrooms they want, they have an idea of what size home and property they desire. When buyers don’t know the town well, we help them pinpoint which of the many areas of Greenwich – each with its own lifestyle – meets their desired location needs, which is information not available on the internet.

Q: What are some tips you give to families looking for a new home?

A: We have each lived in Greenwich for over 30 years and raised our own families here. We share resources about schools – public and private, extracurricular sports programs and the fabulous Greenwich public parks, which include a golf course, three local beaches, marinas, a town pool, paddle and tennis courts and hiking trails.

Q: Life with kiddo’s can get hectic and spare time can be limited.  What are some good ways to go about home searching if someone has little extra time in their day.

A: We make the homebuying experience very efficient by understanding our buyers wants and needs and price range. Together we develop a finely tuned profile of the “perfect” home. We then preview homes on the market on their behalf and call them to see the right one when it becomes available. We can add the most value when our clients trust us to be their eyes, ears and advocates.

Learn more about Margi Vorder Bruegge and Sharon Kinney, and be on your way to calling Greenwich, CT home.

Sharon and Margi (2)

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

 

Tips and Time Savers for Home Buyers

We continue with our real estate topic this week through a Q&A with Mary Kirby, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Learn great tips about home searching, buying, and how to make it a stress free process.

Q:  What are some important rooms for a growing household(s)? 

A:
1. Open concept den, kitchens with an island and stools
2. Bathtub
3. Bedrooms on the same floor
4. Quiet street
5. Close proximity to parks, library, eateries, school

Q: When working with a Buyer with children to find a new home, do they come to you with a clear idea on what they are looking for?

A: Generally they have an idea of specific criteria. We then pass along information to the buyer on finding the ideal town or neighborhood by asking questions such as: private school vs public school, public transportation or dependence on car, commute time to work, budget, forever home vs starter home.

Q: What are some tips you give to Buyers with children looking for a new home? 

A: Get to know the neighborhoods. Go out to lunch, stop in the stores, and visit playgrounds to get a feel of the different neighborhood vibes. A lot of times, prospective buyers end up in a completely different neighborhood than they had originally shown interest in.

Q: Life with kiddos can get hectic and spare time can be limited. What are some good ways to go about home searching if someone has little extra time in their day?

A: Finding and trusting a local market expert realtor is key. In such a fast paced market, we typically preview potential homes for our clients, face-time/take videos, send weekly updates on open houses, new listings etc. Once you have chosen your ideal neighborhoods, you should dedicate about two months towards searching for that perfect home. It is also important to be pre-approved by a mortgage lender prior to searching, so you are ready to submit an offer.

To work with Mary and the Douglas Team, click here for more information.

Mary Kirby

 

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Realtor Brings Home-Buying Tips to Families

We recently partnered with Joe Quiros, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Compass Real Estate and Co-Founder of The Joe + Kelly Team, to learn more about the home-buying process, and to share tips with families who are out hunting for their next home.

Q: What are some common special requests that family’s make when looking for a home?

A: The most common request is, and always will be, school district. The NYC school system is intricate and presents many challenges, and while some parents will choose to send their children to private school for middle and high school, a great public school for the K-5 years is always highly desirable. Our advice for parents with children is to really do their homework on what school districts they would be happy to live in, and then focusing on properties in those areas. Homes in great school districts can demand a premium, and we want to avoid situations where clients are comparing properties in lesser school districts, conceivably getting more value, but being disappointed in the options that they would actually be comfortable living in.

Q: When working with a family to find a new home, do they come to you with a clear idea on what they are looking for, or do you help steer them towards a home best fit for families? 

A: We always coach our clients that it’s a process of elimination, not a process of selection, and in order to go through that process, it’s best to keep your search as broad as possible in the beginning and then whittle it down as you see more homes. We’ve had clients who completely gut renovate and design their homes to the inch, and even then, there are things they wish they had done differently. So the idea of a ‘perfect home’ doesn’t really exist at any price point. With that, while every client should have their wish list, it’s important to figure out what items on that wish list are most important, and which can be compromised on a bit and the only way to figure that out is by going out and seeing properties. While we’re there to guide and advise against making a bad investment, to point things out that they may not have noticed, and to make sure they’re not missing anything on the market, ultimately the client is the only person who can figure out what’s most important to them and their family.

Q: What are some tips you give to families looking for a new home?

A: One of the things that we always remind our clients is that real estate mirrors life. Marriage and having children are two of the biggest changes in anyone’s life, and making sure that you have a home that you can grow into is vital. While no one can truly predict the market, typically, if you hold an asset for several years, it’s going to appreciate and end up being a great investment. So, one of the things we try to coach our clients on is making sure, to the best of their abilities, that the home will be a place they can grow into and that matches their life plans. That way, they can live there long enough to allow it to appreciate, while being happy and comfortable while they’re there. Aside from that, having a doorman can be great for older children who are traveling to and from school alone; A children’s playroom is a great opportunity to meet other parents of young children within your building; And having local parks makes it easy to get the kids outside and get some of that energy out!

Q: Life with kiddos can get hectic and spare time can be limited. What are some good ways to go about home searching if someone has little extra time in their day?

A: Being prepared as best as possible is one of, if not the most important things for any serious buyer. If they’re taking out a mortgage, the first step is always to get pre-approved by a bank. Pre-approvals are different that pre-qualifications, as a pre-approval takes more time and documentation, but holds more weight when understanding what your purchasing power is and when putting in an offer. Once that’s done, having an open and constant dialogue about what properties you like to see is vital for efficiency. One of the tools the Compass offers called ‘Collections’ allows us to communicate specific properties in real time and is almost like a Pinterest of Real Estate. It’s a great tool for keeping organized and staying focused on which properties you’ve seen, which properties you want to see, and which properties you’re not, or no longer interested in and is so much more efficient than the dozens of email threads that typically are the case when searching for a home. Using that spare time to go through the properties on Collections can take as little as five minutes and once you’ve accumulated an adequate list, it’s a matter of us scheduling as many of those properties within that block of time as possible.

To learn more about The Joe + Kelly Team, click here.

JoeKellyTeam

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Family Fun Grows in the Garden

Gardening is an activity that families can enjoy doing together. It serves as a good way to bond, exercise, and learn about different kinds of plants. Not only that, it’s increasingly important to get kids to experience as much of the outdoors as they can, and one fantastic way to do that is to get them interested in gardening. Introducing them to growing their own flowers, herbs, and vegetables can help instill curiosity, empathy, and a nurturing instinct that is essential for a person to have.

However, it is difficult to find the time or the space to garden in an urban environment. The common lack of a garden, for starters, poses a basic problem that can seem hard to get around for this particular outdoor activity. However, there are plenty of ways to still get children interested in growing plants!

A great place to start is a potted plant inside the apartment. This can be an herb or a small flowering plant, or even sprouts! A child’s wonder at seeing their plant grow isn’t affected by the size of the plant or the scale of their gardens, but by the mere fact that they made this plant grow and change. Herbs and sprouts make wonderful potted plants, because they tend to be fast-growing and easy to take care of.

The natural progression from this may seem to be hoarding a ton of potted plants, but it doesn’t have to be. Try finding a community garden in the area! These are becoming popular in urban spaces, and can be a great way to expand your “garden”. It could even be the beginning of your child’s very own vegetable patch!

Personal Creations has put together a detailed guide that features what you can (and should) plant, and what to avoid when gardening with children. It even includes a list of kids’ gardening tools, and how to go about maintaining your garden. So grab those gloves, get a watering can, and get started!

Peronsal-Creations-garden

Special thanks to Katie Santos and Personal Creations for writing and partnering with us for this post!

Exploring the City of Lights with Family

Bonjour, les amis!

Last month my sister and I travelled across the pond and landed ourselves in Paris. It marked the first time either of us has been to the City of Lights, and were we the excited bunch!

It all started when my sister e-mailed me about a deal on TravelZoo (if you don’t get their Top 20 Deals every week – sign up for it!). Their weekly deals only last a handful of days, so we needed to make the decision, fast. After a couple days of racking my brain, and all of those around me, I decided to take the leap. The next day we were booked, and our countdown began!

The months that followed involved me reading up anything and everything I could about Paris. After my extensive research and asking those around me for recommendations, I finally settled on an itinerary. My sister and I were only going for four nights, so squeezing everything Paris has to offer in four days was an extreme challenge!

I wanted to share some of the fantastic things we did, and what activities would be great to do if you find yourself in Paris with family like I did.

1. For the shoppers. Take a stroll through Le Marais. Here you’ll find endless boutique shops on small cobblestone streets. Zig-zag through, and you’re bound to take home some unique souvenirs.

2. For the adventurer. Buy yourself a ticket to the summit of the Eiffel Tower. You’ll take a ride up in a glass elevator, where at the top you’ll have a view for miles, and a champagne bar for hydration. The second and third levels are great, too!

3. For free views. Head up to Sacré-Cœur, which offers a beautiful basilica and a view high above the streets of Paris. Tip: walk to the back of the basilica and veer to the left. You’ll be taken to Montmartre – filled with souvenir shops, cafes,  and street artists!

4. For paid views. Did you know you can go up the towers at Notre-Dame or to the top of the Arc de Triomphe? You’ll find wonderful views of both the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées.

5. For foodies. I did not have a bad meal, croissant, cafe, or glass of wine in Paris. I’m convinced it doesn’t exist, or there’s a possibility I got swept away by the charm.

Happy travels families!

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Endless Possibilities with Concierge New York

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Elizabeth McBride Harless, who is the Business Development Director at Concierge New York. During our conversation, Elizabeth provided us with the inside scoop behind Concierge through a short Q&A.

Read along for our conversation, and learn how the possibilities are endless with the help of your Concierge team.

Q: Where did the inspiration of starting up Concierge come from?

A: Our founder started the company in London with the notion that anything is possible. She established Concierge with the mission of delivering exceptional service by going to ends of the earth to help our members.  At Concierge, no is not an option! No matter how large, small or atypical the request, Concierge will take care of every detail, seamlessly and with discretion.

Q: What sets Concierge apart, and would drive people to join if they are looking for a little extra help?

A: Concierge has offices in London and New York. We cap membership to 100 members worldwide to ensure an incredibly personalized, tailored service. We take pride in executing requests with great care, keeping our member’s best interests top of mind and delivering solutions that are best suited for their lifestyle and preferences.

Q: What service(s) do members find the most beneficial to have in their daily lives? Which do you think would be most beneficial for moms and dads?

A: Upon joining Concierge, each member is assigned a dedicated account management team. While we have standard office hours, we also offer weekend and evening support. An individual from the team can be available at any time needed to troubleshoot unexpected issues or emergencies. I think the security and comfort in knowing that with Concierge, you have a reliable, honest support system is simply invaluable.   Be it organizing a house move, planning a birthday party, or finding the best tutor or pediatrician, Concierge helps manage and simplify life, so that time is spent with family and friends, doing what you love.

Q: If someone is looking to join Concierge New York, how do they go about signing up? What does the process look like? 

A: Concierge New York is selectively taking on new members. Should you be interested in learning more about the service and how it could be of value to your family, please contact Elizabeth McBride Harless at elizabeth@conciergenewyork.com.

For more information about Concierge New York, visit their website.

Concierge-NYC

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Five Key Findings in Recruiting and Retaining Nannies

If you haven’t read it somewhere else before, then read it here first; hiring a nanny through an agency is the route you should always take.

In a recent article posted by GTM Payroll Services, they go on to support the fact that when a person hires a nanny through an agency, rather than an online job site, they’re going to get a better quality nanny. One they’ll keep for longer, and spend less time finding the right match.

Here are five key findings from the article:

1. Families and Nannies Both Want a Good Fit
Employers cited “demonstrated responsibility and trustworthiness” as the top quality they look for when hiring a nanny. Employers were asked to rank 14 qualities on a scale from one to 10 with one being not important and 10 being very important. Responsibility and trustworthiness scored ahead of personality fit, passion for childcare, references, and experience.

2. Good Communication Practices Will Help Retention
Forty-three percent of families hired more than one nanny in the past five years. That means retention can be an issue for families who like and want to keep their nanny. Some of the top reasons reported for why nannies leave the jobs are 1) the family no longer needs the nanny, 2) schedule/number of hours, and 3) bad pay.

3. Hiring through an Agency Can Shorten Hiring Process
Seventy-four percent of employers who hired through an agency cited “time savings/hassle-free process” and “quality of candidates” as the top reasons they chose to work with an agency. Fifty-nine percent of agency users spent less than 20 hours on the hiring process, compared to only 24% of online job site users.

4. Benefits Can Help Attract, Retain Top Candidates
Most nannies receive paid holidays (88%), paid vacations (89%), and paid sick days (76%). This is the starting point for families when offering household employee benefits to a potential hire. To separate themselves from other employers, families may want to consider offering annual bonuses and flexible hours. Only 47% of nannies have schedule flexibility and just 44% get a bonus. Of the nannies that receive an annual bonus, 55% receive at least $750.

5. Paying Legally Expands Number of Candidates
By not legally paying an employee, a family cuts in half the number of available candidates for their position. Forty-six percent of nannies say it’s not likely they would take a job that paid “off the books.”

Read more details about the survey findings from GTM Payroll here.

Holiday Memories in Your Own Photo Booth!

To continue Bell Family’s week of spreading holiday cheer, we rounded up a great activity for everyone in the family. A DIY photo booth!

The holidays are the perfect time to capture memories with your little ones, whether it’s gathering around the Christmas tree, or sitting down for a delicious meal. A DIY photo booth can be a fun way to not only snap some photos, but have some fun while doing it! Simply hang a backdrop or some festive decor, and set up a camera to snap the pics.

These photo booth props from Shutterfly are perfect for such an occasion. There are so many to choose from, from antler ears to hot cocoa. Pick your favorite, print them out, and get ready for hours of fun.

Children will love playing pretend with elf ears, top hats, and reindeer antlers! They can make believe they’re in a winter wonderland with festive hot cocoa or gingerbread houses. The pictures you’ll get of your little ones having a ball will be priceless!

Christmas-BeardsFlannel 1 goodies

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell, with guest partner Karli Jaenike at Siege Media.

Weekend with a Toddler

A couple weeks ago I journeyed to New York City to babysit my nephew for the weekend. Sadly, I don’t get to see my nephew all too often because we don’t live close by. It’s normally family outings with a dozen people around, and I’m forced to steal him away to spend some one on one time with him. Finally, I have him all to myself!

My sister put him down for his afternoon nap before they left, so I had a couple of hours until the shenanigans began. I made a gesture to my sister earlier on how the stroller could benefit from a wipe down, so that was my first target. The high chair and a few other items followed, and before I knew it, Brooks was up from his nap.

Bottle, snack, and play time consumed our afternoon. Inside play consisted of wheeling around a train, burying him in pillows and him popping out to scare me, and talking all things digger trucks. After that, we made our way to the roof top play area for some fresh air. This consisted of endless running laps and tossing a ball back and forth to support my mission of tiring him out.

We journeyed back inside for dinner and a little more play time. Lastly, it was off to the bath, to the rocking chair for reading, and then to bed.

We spent the morning together and then Mom and Dad returned. It was so great to bond with my nephew and see him play/interact with the things around him. The energy of a toddler is real, if you all haven’t heard already. I was surely tired at the day’s end, but the little rascal made it all worth it.

Brooks-me copy

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

What Are Your Kids up to While You’re Away?

Have you ever wanted to know what your kids are up to while you are away? Daily Nanny helps to give a comprehensive view of just that in their app!

We recently had the opportunity to team up with the creators of the Daily Nanny app, to learn more about how it works, and why parents everywhere should add this to their download list. Read below for our Q&A!

Q: How can a user download the app? Is there a fee associated with it?

Daily Nanny is a one time charge of $4.99 to get access to all app features. Visit the iOS app store or Google Play to download.

Q: What does a user do once the app is downloaded/opened?

For parents, when you first open the app you’ll sign up, enter some basic information, enter your kids information, and then invite your nanny. Then you are brought right into the app and you can start using it right away! Not only can nannies use Daily Nanny to keep parents informed, but parents can also use it to keep spouses informed, or just use it as a way to store meaningful information about your kids early years. Parents can keep track of naps, meals, medicine etc, and store photos as well.

For nannies, you sign up, and if you were invited by a parent, you’ll see the kids you care for right away. If not, you can enter the kids you care for and invite their parents to use the app. Nannies can keep track of hours and overtime as well, so parents and nannies are always on the same page.

Q: How do I navigate the app? What information and tools are available to me within the app?

The app is very simple to use. There are four tabs. For parents, the first tab gives you a timeline of everything that has happened today, including meals, naps, photos and more. The second tab is a photo gallery of all the photos you or your nanny has uploaded of your kids. You can comment on photos, save them to your device, and share them with friends. The third tab is a group messaging thread between you, your nanny, and anyone else added to receive notifications about your kids. And the fourth tab lists your kids, detailed information about them, and allows you to go back in time and see what was entered in the past!

For nannies, everything is the same except for the first tab. You can clock in for the day and track your hours, see how much money is owed for the week, as well as manage all your shifts in the past. You can mark shifts as paid and enter/edit shifts in the past.

For a  video walkthrough of the app and additional information, check out the Daily Nanny website!

Daily Nanny copy

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell