A Will’s Not Enough

Feng Shui and End-of-Life Planning Helps Us Live our Best Lives

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

Feng Shui is about living our best lives. And believe it or not, end-of-life planning is also. Just as clutter can weigh us down and hold us back in life it can also trap us in a circle of grief when we lose a loved one. We are currently living in a time of uncertainty all centered around a pandemic that has changed the world. And, while there is hope ahead, many of us have been thinking about what if we must face the unthinkable.

“Death, taxes, and childbirth! There is never a convenient time for any of them!” These are the famous words of Margaret Mitchell of “Gone with the Wind” fame. Before Margaret there was Ben Franklin’s famous quote, “…in this world nothing can be certain but death and taxes.”

We Never Stop Learning
I pride myself on being a life-long learner. As a natural progression of my own work to help others approach life’s yin and yang or ups and downs with intention, I have added a new service. I am excited to announce that I am now a certified End-of-Life Doula . In a nutshell this means I am certified to help folks and their families navigate an end-of-life plan in a loving and positive way.

New Tool in the Toolbox
In my work and in my own life journey I continue to make connections that have led me to the conclusion that this new area of study will help me better serve my clients. My intent is to utilize this new area of study as a tool in my toolbox rather than make it an adjunct “profession”.

Much of the work I do in the realm of clutter-clearing or downsizing is with widows and widowers. And, from my work and my own life experience, I know the task of “the letting go of” or “the re-imagining of” sentimental things is a big deal.

What one of my clients said recently in a Goggle review might give you a window into this process, “I do not know how to write a review for a person who has done so much for me. I am a mid-50’s widower who was totally lost as to how to even start to downsize following my wife’s passing. Joan stuck with me through my most difficult days and always knew the best solution to challenges I was facing.”

I believe my new certification will help me offer better counsel to clients as I work with them to move forward after a loss.

Manage Life and End-of-Life with Intention
Clutter-clearing or downsizing utilizing Feng Shui principals is about managing our environments with intention. So is end-of-life planning. It is about creating an energy and environment around the process of death with intention. Knowing what and who you or a loved one would like around them as they transition, as well as how one’s possessions are to be retained and remembered can be a positive and meaningful exercise.

My son says with a smile, “hey mom, now you can Feng Shui people’s after lives too!” I’m sure that statement is raising a few eyebrows right now. But perhaps it is not too far off the mark. Creating positive intentions helps folks live a better life. Creating positive intentions for end-of-life allows this inevitable certainty to be compassionate and loving.

You might find this link to a wonderful interview about being an End-of Life Doula interesting: WTNH Interview: Ann Nyberg and Suzanne O’Brien

The non-profit organization, Aging with Dignity promotes “National Healthcare Decisions Day” each year. This year it is on April 16, 2021. This organization has created a “Five Wishes” form that is designed to help individuals and families begin a conversation about the important stuff. I will tell you; it will not be about the “things” you own. It will be about the people you love.

Email me your snail mail address and I will mail you the “Five Wishes” form to keep for yourself or to utilize for a loved one. If you find that you or your loved one needs assistance in filling out the “Five Wishes” document, I am most happy to help!

Be Well,

Rest and Rejuvenate – ‘aum’

The Art of Mediation- What is it actually?

By Sally Head

Have you ever wondered what mediation is actually? Have you heard of Mediation but never tried it? This week I sat down with Elizabeth Ziegler, meditation teacher and co- owner of the Jiiva Center, 2900 Main St, Stratford, to talk about the benefits of meditation and where to start if considering to give mediation a try.

According to Ms. Ziegler, “mediation is actually a ‘practice’ and it is referred to a practice for a reason. It can be very challenging because our minds are so busy. It is difficult to release your thoughts because our minds are busy at work.”

Basically, meditation is a way to relax the mind and calm the nervous system but in order to get there it takes practice. Ms. Ziegler also reminded me that even if your mind wanders, “which it does a lot,” she added, to just acknowledge the thoughts and walk yourself back to your practice. This is a lot easier said then done. So, I thought I would give mediation a try and to see what all the buzz was about.


Jiiva Center offers three meditation classes per week. You do not have to physically go to the center to take the class, they offer hybrid classes where you can either choose to do the class from your own home or take in person. Classes run either 1-hour or up to 75 minutes in length. All classes ask their participants to dress comfortably and if they are at home to turn off any distractions such as TV’s, radios, other conversations. I arrived to class early to gather any props I may need, but I brought my own blanket and blocks just in case. I was warmly greeted by the Elizabeth and her twin sister Margaret, who had me sign my waiver and to either use a chair or to get comfortable sitting on the floor.

“Sit in a comfortable place, either on the floor with feet touching the floor or in a chair,” Ms. Ziegler said in her soft, quiet voice. The center offers chairs to those who prefer a chair. The class will then work on breath work, called Pranayama, and then the instructor will lead them on a guided meditation.

At the end of the class the participants are asked to sit in silence anywhere from 5-45 minutes. Ms. Ziegler chimed that is this silent period that many people have their most struggles. She reminded me that she would never ask anyone who has never down mediation before to sit in silence for a very long time, but would recommend a shorter time frame. She also reminded me that it is ok to move around, fidget, make small adjustments but over time it gets easier. She added, “the goal is to remain in physical stillness, move if you have to move, return to your breath and do your best.” This part was actually very soothing and uplifting. In fact, I felt like I had more energy after I left the class.

In fact, she repeated “do your best” during the class. Knowing it can be challenging to stop the mind from wandering, prevent those sneaky thoughts from entering our brains, she told us to “always go back to the breath.” If you never have tried meditation before you are in for a nice treat. There is some effort, however, to work on the breath and controlling the mind, but over time it improves. I struggled with the second breathing exercise we did was called sama-vritti, which is Sanskrit for “equal breaths/fluctuations”.

According to Ms. Ziegler, “in the beginning there is such a strong effort and probably the most important effort you will ever make because it is so life changing.”

So by now I have hopefully piqued your brain about the benefits of meditation, now what? You don’t need anything fancy, or special equipment to practice mediation, in fact, according to Ms. Ziegler, “even if you practice 5-10 minutes every day you will see and feel the benefits. It is that powerful.” Not ready to head over to Jiiva just yet, then try meditation on your own in the privacy on your home. Here is a great way to simply start a gentle meditation:

1. Find a comfortable place to sit. Preferably something thing that can keep your back and spine nice and tall. Remember you do not want to fall asleep, so it is not recommended that you lie down on your backs. A chair or on the floor is recommended. You can use yoga blocks, pillows or blankets to keep your back supported.

2. While sitting tall, try to relax the belly

3. Close your eyes and count the breath. Do 10 rounds of breaths: inhale for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, exhale for the count of 4 and hold the breath for the count of 4. You can use your fingers for each time you do a round of breath. Keep your eyes closed, face relaxed and breathe both in and out through the nose.

4. “Try doing this for a few minutes each day, especially in the morning will really change your entire day,” Ms. Ziegler added.

Meditation is a simple yet powerful way to calm the body and the nervous system. It helps you to draw awareness deeper within. Take a class and learn how to calm your mind, settle your body and achieve the healing of the mind, body and spirit. Everyone can benefit from meditation and meditation is recommended to anyone and everyone, no matter your age or fitness level. Beginners to practicing meditators will benefit from a class.

If you would like to find out more about how to get started with mediation or would like to try a class, feel free to check out the Jiiva Center, located at 2900 Main Street, Stratford, by calling 203-345-7747 or by visiting www.jiivacenter.com.

Luck of the Irish: Feng Shui and the Four Leaf Clover

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

One of the underlying premises of Feng Shui is that our space is affected by an invisible energy that flows around and through us. If you are a Star Wars fan you might call that energy “The Force”. Feng Shui philosophy is built upon the idea that it is possible to influence the force around you.

The Right Stuff

You already know from my articles that clutter and too much stuff is a Feng Shui no-no. But the type of stuff you surround yourself with can impact your life in positive or negative ways.

As we approach St. Patrick’s Day we think of lucky charms. The Irish talk of four-leaf clovers, Leprechauns, and a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All cultures can draw upon favorite signs of luck. And, of course, the Ancient Chinese were no different. Items often used to create good luck or positive energy in Feng Shui are crystals, images (flat and three dimensional of animals, birds, fish, and flowers), light, water features, fire features, and plants.

Is it Good Luck or Science?

Utilizing good luck symbols in your life sounds simple enough. But honestly, there truly is a whole science behind the manipulation of the energy in Feng Shui. The principals of Feng Shui are based on a bit more than luck.

Feng Shui principles are built around the Five Elements: Water, Fire, Earth, Wood, and Metal. Too much or too little of an element in the wrong corner or room of your home or office can impact your life Chi in dramatic ways. Feng Shui also believes that we process our physical environment through our five senses.

When we determine your space can benefit from a Feng Shui cure, we spend a great deal of time on accessing the balance of all the elements and your intentions. For example, candles are symbolic of the fire element and can be used to balance an area of your home where a water feature may be too dominant or to stimulate fame and strength. Coins may be utilized to attract positive energy to financial ventures. Images of two birds can attract positive energy to the relationship sector of your life. Music and scents can be used to trigger pleasant memories and encourage positive well-being.

The Why Behind the FSJW/Ask Joan Hotline
The reliance on good luck charms vs. the science behind Feng Shui is one of the dominant reasons I established the FSJW/Ask Joan Hotline. Many of my clients pick up a few Feng Shui tips when working with me. And, heck, Feng Shui is fun! Folks like to engage with it once they open the door to its principals. I have found, once we are done working together, former clients still need help figuring out how best to use a cure.

I cannot tell you how many clients call me from HomeGoods to ask if this item or that item would help or hurt their space. The FSJW Hotline enables former clients to call anytime for my help – kind of a direct line to the Feng Shui Force.

Keep in mind, you don’t always need to introduce a new item into your mix. More often than not, folks have just what they need already. They simply need to know how best to use it for good Chi. Consider joining the FSJW Hotline for my help finding the right cure for your space.

And don’t forget to email me your snail mail address to get your FSJW GIFT from me! St. Patty’s Day is the last day you can register for your “Helping Hand” from Joan! May the FSJW force be with you!


Couch Potato No More: Fitness For All

Level Up Community Gym

By Malcolm Wilson

Level Up Community Gym is a registered nonprofit guiding its members to new levels with affordable small group and 1-on-1 personal training. Our purpose from the beginning was to transform lives but we now see the opportunity to transform communities. We’re raising funds to provide low-income members with the opportunity to live healthier.

Originally from New York, I have lived in the Stratford area for about 6 years. I am qualified to be a trainer: I have been in the health and fitness industry for a decade. I have certifications in National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), nutrition, and many others. I continue to obtain certifications relevant to this field every year to stay up to date with new information. All the staff in our gym are certified personal trainers and are thoroughly trained through the Level Up Community Gym system. Overall, the main qualification is our passion to help people become the best version of themselves.

Levels of Workouts:

We help people from beginner level to advanced. Our workouts are functional to target weight loss and build toning for the whole body. In addition, we help individuals build their strength and obtain skills of physical balance which in turn benefit their lives.

We offer fitness assessments for everybody that visits our gym and is interested in becoming a member. The fitness assessment is designed to collect data on an individuals’ current physical and health state. We analyze their endurance, strength, balance, flexibility, and goals. We consult with each individual and go over the data we collected to develop a plan so individuals can reach their goals.

We offer personal training 1:1 and small group personal training. Small group personal training consists of 3-5 people. The group is team oriented, so we base it off similar availability and goals.

Black Merchant Exposition:
My team and I organized a black business merchant exposition in July 2020. We had about 15 volunteers and gym staff participate in making this event a success.

This past year was tough for everyone, and this exposition gave us an opportunity to bring unity in our community by shining light to black owned businesses. Given the circumstances our black brothers and sisters have faced with racial discrimination, we wanted to provide support and empower black business owners in this exposition.

We had about 30 black business owners participate as vendors in our recent expositions and over 50 people from our community came by to shop, play games, participate in raffles and even be guest speakers or entertainers. We practiced social distancing and everyone at the event wore masks. The area was big enough to host this amount of people without having to be so close to one another. Every vendor had a mask on and hand sanitizer at their station. The news came to record the event and the word spread around. The next 2 events we had were just as great and we hope to have more expositions in the future.

Real Estate Staging with Feng Shui

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

What is Real Estate Staging? Basically real estate staging is prepping your home for sale. You or your Realtor may hire a professional to stage the home to create more interest. This process can be as simple as removing clutter or as dramatic as fully re-decorating your home to set the stage for a quick and lucrative sale.

A real estate staging with a Feng Shui twist takes a deeper look at the challenge. Sure, clearing clutter and a coat of paint may do the trick. But, more often than not, a seller or rooms in the house may be generating an energy that does not support the end goal of moving or change.

Sharon’s Story: “I had been thinking and talking about downsizing for some time. I was at a place in my life where I knew that I needed to move forward from some significant life transitions, but just did not know how to start.

I was afraid and overwhelmed with the prospect of taking such a big step on my own. Preparing a home for sale and the tremendous amount of mental and physical effort it takes is ever so stressful.

With the current housing market being so strong, I realized I should think about getting serious. I hired Feng Shui Joan’s Way to help. At the outset, my end goal really was not to sell immediately. I just wanted to be able to go when I was ready.

Joan took the time to understand my unique circumstance and literally held my hand through every step of my journey. She created an approach to the process that was thoughtful and supportive.

Hard choices need to be made when you are going through a lifetime of stuff. Figuring out what goes and what stays on your journey forward can be daunting. It is so much easier when you share this hard work with a friend. Joan becomes that friend.

Well I did put my house on the market, and it sold in three days and over the asking price. Even better, I am not weighted down anymore. I have my wings to fly! I love the stuff coming with me to my next home and I honestly do not miss the things I let go. I simply could not have gotten through this effort without Joan by my side.

Take a look at one of our before and after photos. They can be seen at www.fengshuijoansway.com. The photos show the physical transformation. But remember, this is more than a physical exercise.

Be happy. Be well!

Snow, Dogs, and the Super Bowl: It’s All Feng Shui to Me

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

What do snow, dogs, and the Super Bowl have to do with Yin and Yang and Feng Shui? You would be surprised!

It is Super Bowl Sunday morning, and I am watching the heavy snowflakes fall across my world. They are quite beautiful. The view is clean, quiet, and calming and I start to think of the balance of life – Yin and Yang.

Winter is considered a Yin season, a time of year to look inward and reflect before we go all Yang in the Spring and Summer. Yin might be likened to the dark side, while Yang would be the light and bright.

Embracing the darker characteristics of winter does not have to be a negative thing. The winter months allow us to focus on the quality of life inside our homes. This is actually a great time to get some of those organization and clutter clearing projects out of the way. A quick, virtual consultation with an expert can be the spark of light you need to get started on a project that will reduce the physical and mental weight that too much stuff creates.

Let the sun shine in!
Sometimes something as basic as opening up your curtains can change the feel and energy of a room. That’s what happened to a recent client and she fell in love with her space again.

Sounds simple. Surprising that somebody might not think to do that? This is why discussing and questioning the obvious during a Feng Shui consultation can lead to amazing transformations.

Opening and closing of your window treatments is also a habit that tells the body and mind that the new day has started or that it’s time for rest. Everyday rituals are especially important during Covid-19. So many of us are out of our normal routines and that alone can create great stress.

Much of what I write about is the negative energy that clutter creates in our lives. Fixing that negative energy is what I do. Feng Shui study is pretty clear about how too much baggage physical or mental does not promote healthy yin and yang or life energy.

I think most of you recognize how the weight of stuff impacts your life. But did you know that clutter is also bad for your pets?

So, pets are really good Feng Shui!!
As long as you take care of them, pets bring positive and circulating (Yang) energy into your environment. If that environment is cluttered and your own energy is depleted or compromised by stuff, your pet will reflect your stress.

Your pet gives you unconditional love and makes you happy – so make sure you remember they need you to think about how your environment effects their lives.

Keep your pet’s eating and sleeping places clean and odor free – that is good for both of you. Pets actually need to know their place in order for good people-pet energy to thrive. Letting your dogs or cats rule the roost can overwhelm other relationships in your household.

Remember sometimes people and pets need a break. That is why I love Wag Central in Stratford.

My two four legged family members also make me laugh. And, as we prep for the big game (Puppy Bowl and all), Otis and Murphy are on the sidelines waiting for family to gather and food to fly. And, Otis loves his spa days at Wag Central.

A reflective morning that leads to full on energy in the evening is indeed a very Yin Yang day!

PS   My team won!
Don’t forget, the services I provide can be life changing. Call or connect via email any time to discuss how I may be able to assist you with challenges you are facing.

Be happy. Be well!

How the CARES Act is giving you Time to get a Fresh Start

By: Max L. Rosenberg
Bankruptcy Attorney
Rosenberg, Whewell, and Hite, LLC

To many, the extension of the unemployment benefits associated with the CARES Act was a breath of fresh air. Additional funds can go a long way to putting food on the table, keeping the lights on, and putting your mind at ease.

During this devastating time of crisis in our country, we should take stock of our own situations and look f or ways to improve our mental health, physical health, and our financial health. Personally, I took up acrylic painting. My family has filled our walls with YouTube Artist tutorial inspired color and technique. It has been one of the greatest outlets for us to mentally unwind at the end of a stressful day filled with uncertainties. We have kept ourselves safe from COVID by disconnecting from the outside world and staying socially distant from friends and family. It has been challenging, lonely, and it feels like a real sacrifice.

Financial health is trickier. Like many, my family has had to evaluate our choices and shift accordingly. It’s not easy to admit or face that business is hard right now. Not only for us, but for many of you out there who own a business that depends on customers physically being in your store or providing a service for people in person.

Money is tight. Incomes have decreased. Many are facing the difficult task of choosing between spending funds on food, medicine, or electricity. While utility companies, like UI, Eversource, and Southern CT Gas, are not shutting homeowners down yet, that day will come.

Landlords are not evicting but back rent is building. The foreclosure moratoriums are extended, but the balance due is rising. These are cold hard facts of life. They are unpleasant to think about and they are hard to face. The stress of the pandemic, a work or school from home “new normal”, and the myriad of life restrictions is hard enough without facing a crushing ever growing mountain of debt.

Why am I pointing all of this out to you? My dear reader, it’s time to evaluate your situation.
Are you taking this time to pay down your debt by keeping up with interest payments or minimum
payments due? It’s important to see where that money is going and how it is serving you. The answer
to the latter is that it is not serving you at all, but it is paying the credit card companies their salaries.

Did you know that credit card companies make most of their money from interest and fees? That’s
right. Your CARES Act Stimulus payment or Unemployment payment you have been provided from
the federal government to help keep you afloat, that you used to pay the minimum balance or interest
only payment to your credit card minimum balance due of $35 just helped pay for the CEO’s cup of
coffee. Nice!

COVID Cares Act does NOT stop credit card companies and debt collectors from going after you for
debt owed to them. Most companies are now offering deferments or accommodations for paying
back the debt, but you have to be very careful about the fine print. They may still be charging
you interest during that time. While you were very careful to buy the clothes, groceries, or other
necessities on sale, your interest rate on your card you used may erase any savings you may have had.

Is that fair? Maybe, who’s to say what fair really is these days. It’s the truth of the matter, which is
what affects you and your financial health. Carrying credit card debt and other debts is a burden. This
is especially painful if you got into unmanageable debt through no fault of your own. Pandemic
restrictions and other life factors affect us all at inopportune times. As is usually the case in life, we
all have to find our own way out of this mess.

The debt you owe and may be on hold for now, during the national emergency, is not going away.
When the fog of the pandemic is lifted, and we start to open the doors to business as ‘usual’ again,
how will your finances look?

Can you see how you will get out of debt before that happens? If you have over $10,000 in credit
card debt, Medical debt, mortgage arrearage, and other financial obligations, and no foreseeable way
out, it’s time to listen up. There is a way out!

Debt relief is around the corner and waiting for you to knock on the door. Bankruptcy can be your
ticket. I know, I know I said the bad “B” word that makes some people feel like they have failed in
adulting life. Stop that! You have not failed. You have not ruined your future. Bankruptcy has saved
countless futures, helped countless families, and has made it possible for so many to start fresh and
open path to success.

Imagine now, if you are collecting unemployment or receiving other relief from the CARES Act, that
you no longer have to use any portion of that relief to pay your fees and interest only payments on
credit cards or medical bills and not face consequences debt collectors calling you.
Imagine that you can actually stop paying a mortgage that you cannot afford. Imagine your UI bill
that has been on hold for 10 months suddenly reset. Imagine the debt collectors stop calling you and
you don’t have to screen your calls anymore. Imagine waking up and not being on the hook for
crushing medical debt.

No more debt means you can make choices that will help you and your family. Stop struggling to
keep above water and sit on the boat of debt free life. Use the stimulus checks to help your family get
food on the table. Use your boosted unemployment to help you get the tools you need for a new and
better job. You have the power to take control of your financial situation. It’s just a phone call away.

Call an experienced bankruptcy attorney. I will help you find the freedom in your financial situation.
It is never too late to get your fresh start.

Back to my original title question, “How the CARES Act is giving you time to get a fresh start”, it
is giving you a foreclosure moratorium, no evictions, no shut down of utility services, a stimulus
payment, and unemployment boosts. These are all intended to give you timeto act, decide, and
adjust. Call today to take a step that will help your family for years to come. Become debt free and
take control of your financial life again.

Tea for Two (or more)

Open Door Tea

By Sally Head

Open Door Tea, located at 3552 Main Street, Stratford, is a quaint, little tea shop that serves tea, coffee, fresh juices and delightful delicacies- with gluten-free and vegan options.

Open Door Tea, literally opened its door in 2016 and has been serving tea and homemade food ever since. The owner, Kasia Lindeberg, who has her Masters in Human Nutrition, had a passion of merging her knowledge of the healthful benefits of herbs and teas to bringing the community together, so in September of 2016, her dream became reality.

According to Lindeberg, her passion in life is to drink from all over the world and to spread the good news and the health benefits of tea. Opening Open Door Tea was an expansion of her dream to serve good food, using only pure ingredients, to help people maintain their good health.

Currently Open Door Tea is only open for takeout. Customers can still enter the shop to place their orders, or they can call the shop directly at (203) 345-9659 for curbside pickup. You can also order from a take-out app, e.g. Uber Eats or GrubHub. You can also book a virtual Tea Tasting Party, a fun and educational way to learn more about teas: where they come from, how to serve them, and even how to bake with them (teas are versatile and not just for sipping).

These guided tea tasting can be for small or large group gathering. According to Lindenberg, “they are a great way to learn about teas and the areas they come from. Everyone enjoys the teas tasting and tea tours.”

All teas served are sourced from a variety of small farms from around the world, especially in the tea regions, China, and India, or they are carefully blended inhouse to create a unique tea experience. With over 100 tea varieties, you are sure you will find a tea you like.

Before Covid, you would be able to get a whiff of your tea to make sure you like it, now you can rely on the knowledge of the staff to answer any of your tea questions. There are also varying types of tea such as black, green, Rooibis, and white tea. If this is not your “cup of tea” they also have coffee or fresh juice.

Of course you cannot have a tea without a scrumptious treat or a light meal. At Open Door, they serve pastries, sandwiches, salads, soups, quiches and other small delicacies. Check out their menu by visiting: https://opendoortea.com/pages/menu.

Open Door is a great place to get a nice afternoon pick me up or even an early morning breakfast. The knowledgeable staff welcomes your questions and concerns, especially when it come to allergies, and food sensitivities. They cover them all as best as they can.

Lindeberg saw her tea room as a way to bring the community together to live, learn and love. Even the name of the tea shop came as an inspiration from the bible verse in Revelation 3:20. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.” As Ms. Lindeberg shares, “we are an open door to all to enter and I look forward to opening my doors again soon for everyone to come back and dine in.”

Open Door Tea is currently open Monday-Saturday 11-4 pm. Take out only. For more information visit http://opendoortea.com/.

Back to the Future

Time to Reflect and Move Forward

By Osi Rosenberg
Real Estate Correspondent
A to Z Realty, LLC

Welcome to 2021. Its time reflect on the past year, and look on to the new one. While the real estate market soared in Stratford throughout the pandemic and many people moved in and out of our small town, one thing remained constant, our sense of community and neighborly love. Regardless of how you feel about the events of 2020, I believe that we all shone through the darkest days with compassion and resilience, and for that, I am forever grateful to all of you.

The question we are all asking ourselves now is, “What does our future hold in the real estate market in Stratford?”. To figure this out, we start with a look back at the last few years. Almost 1,000 homes were purchased in Stratford in 2020. An increase of almost 100 homes sold from the 2019. This is significant as the global pandemic raged through the country, our town was flooded with home purchases.

I decided to investigate how Stratford stands up in relation to our neighboring towns of Trumbull, Bridgeport, and Shelton. These three towns are, as you well know, are part of Fairfield County, and each have their own attractive qualities to draw in potential buyers and new homeowners. I also remember that Bridgeport, being the largest city in the state, would be expected to have higher numbers of closed homes in any given year, just by the advantage of shear geographic size. It is that fact that makes this next revelation even more exciting.

Did you know that in at least the last 3 years, Stratford rivals Bridgeport in closed home sales, more so than any of our other neighboring towns. In 2020 Bridgeport closed 1,023 homes, Stratford a close second with 987 closings, and Shelton and Trumbull a distant 3rd and 4th with 669 and 610 closed homes, respectively. I also took a quick look at how Fairfield did as well, here are the numbers for that comparison:

As a whole, Fairfield County saw a total of 14,426 closed homes in 2020. Which is approximately 3,000 home increase from 2019. Purchasing a home is generally seen as a semi-permanent decision to stick around for at least several years. It is uplifting to see so many choose to flock to Stratford. It would be interesting to learn what prompted people’s decision to move into town. While the local government, schools, and civic organizations offer so much to the citizens of Stratford, discovering what the ultimate motivation of choosing Stratford over its neighboring towns would assist us as a community to see what we are doing right, so we can continue to push in that direction.

As we delve deeper into the single-family homes sold homes in Stratford in 2020, we can see that 314 units were sold in under 30 days. The average price of a 3 bedroom home was just shy of $300,000 and we had 2 homes sell in Stratford for Two Million Dollars or more. With interest rates staying at historic lows, we see that fixed conventional loans have been the fad of the year with approximately 331 Conventional Fixed loans used as financing. Other financing options used, included 159 FHA loans and even 75 homes being purchased with cash. Approximately 20 VA loans indicate that we have some new military families in town. I have always known Stratford to be a welcoming town to veterans and their families. We thank them for their service and their sacrifices.

What does all this mean for the future of real estate value in Stratford? Everyone hopes that the soaring home values of 2020 become the ‘new norm’, we should be cautious to take a realistic view on values moving forward. Are we in a bubble? Are there safeguards in place to prevent a foreclosure apocalypse like we saw in the 2010’s? Only time will tell. 2022 is a huge question mark of uncertainty.

There is a lot to look forward to in 2021. On a national level there is promise of ongoing foreclosure and eviction moratoriums, increase stimulus payments, and other financial assistance to those in need. We are all excited for the distribution of vaccines and programs to assist us to move forward towards a brighter tomorrow. Soon, very soon, our community will be able to gather again in celebration of each other. We will bring back the Bands on the Bluffs, Tuesday Concerts on the Green, Memorial Day Gatherings, Library Lectures, Main Street Festivals, Art Exhibits, Bingo Nights, Town Parades, and all the other town and civic organizational programs that we all crave. I certainly look forward to the Shakespeare Market which will be coming soon on the grounds of the Shakespeare Theatre. I hope you join me in welcoming these events and more back to our calendars. I urge my fellow Stratfordites to participate in conversations about moving this town into a bright and hopeful post-pandemic future that will not only make our lives better together, but also invite new residents, keep property values high, and build an even stronger quality of life for all of our residents. Happy New Year!

A to Z Realty, LLC is Stratford based Real Estate Brokerage. Our office offers flexibility, reliability, and a no-strings attached initial client meeting to discuss your real estate needs, either in person, telephonically or through video conferencing. We take the sale of your home personally. Call Osi at 203.738.5999 or email Osi@atozct.com. Learn more at www.AtoZRealtyCT.com

*Note that the figures in this article are taken from InfoSparks statistics with the restriction of Stratford, CT/All Price Ranges/All Property Types/All Bedrooms/All Bathrooms/All Sizes.

Feed Your Soul

Pies to Go!

The Center for Food Equity and Economic Development (FEED), a division of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, wants you to stay out of the kitchen this holiday season!  Enjoy time with your family and delicious desserts while supporting a great cause. All proceeds support the work of the FEED Center to bring healthy foods and economic opportunities to Bridgeport area residents.

Their plain cheesecake, apple crumb pie and pumpkin pie are $10 and strawberry cheesecake is $12.  Ordering is easy and all online!  Contactless, curbside pick-up is available on Wednesday, December 23rd.

Call in orders to Shanita Santiago at 203-331-6182 or order online at https://feedbpt.smartonlineorder.com/. FEED is focused on economic development based initiatives within the food industry that build assets and wealth within the Bridgeport community by providing culinary training to low-income residents for food industry employment and entrepreneurial ventures through their CREATE (CREATE CULINARY CAREERS TRAINING COURSE) program.

CREATE is a culinary training for food industry employment for the aspiring food entrepreneur. Their culinary boot camps are geared to prepare students for all aspects of the food industry, from basic knife skills, cooking techniques, recipe testing and scaling, and ServSafe to workshops in product development, business accounting, permits and licenses, farmers market retail, and entrepreneurship. Classes are intended for under-and unemployed area residents looking to start their own businesses or explore a new career in the food industry.

Applications are now being accepted for their winter course that will run from January 11th , 2021, through to March 5th .