Saturday, June 30, 2007

Scary Numbers

In the Rochester, NY real estate market, 50 per cent of the houses that are listed in the MLS do not sell within 90 days. Just last year, only a third of the home on the market wouldn't sell within 90 days. I guess it is safe to say that Rochester has joined the rest of the country with a slowdown in the housing market.

Another way to look at it, however, is 50% do sell, and many of them sell very quickly. There are two factors that sellers need to pay close attention to when trying to sell their home.

The first is price. You've got to price your home competitively from the very beginning, keep a close eye on the competition, and be fast to cut the price to keep interest high. Because of the Internet, the buying public is keenly aware of what is on the market and so it doesn't take long for a listing to get stale.

The other thing sellers have great control over is condition. In order for a home to sell quickly and for top price, it must be well maintained and sparkling clean! Getting rid of clutter is one of the most important things a seller can do. Sometimes simply rearranging furniture will help.

Above and below are a few before and after photos of a current listing. It is amazing what boxing up books, new slip covers and rearranging the furniture can do.

In fact, this is so important in today's competitive market that I have decided to provide a free two hour consultation with a home stagger for my new listings. For details, give me a call at 756-7457.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

The press called me! City Newspaper! It really wasn't me they were interested in but one of my listings. (for on-line story, go to

City Newspaper does a weekly column called Home Work in which they feature an interesting city home that is on the market. My listing at 75 Huntington Park qualified. So they sent out a reporter and photographer.

That poor photographer! He had no idea that I have the photo bug real bad, so I was snapping photos of him photographing the house. Then the homeowner got into the action by snapping photos of me snapping photos of the pro taking serious shots. It was comical.

Anyway, 75 Huntington Park is a wonderful house located just off St Paul Street. Huntington Park is a nice street....kind of an oasis in the middle of the city. It has huge mansions that were built in the early 1900's for some of Rochester's more affluent businessmen. The house has wonderful charm, with 9 foot ceilings, leaded glass french doors, and my favorite feature, rounded bay windows in both the living room and dining room. It's an extraordinary house for an extraordinary price, only $69,000. Check out this week's City's free and call me for a tour of this home.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Closing Today!

Time and time again, I say the thing I like most about real estate is that no two days are never alike. Today was no exception.

This morning I had a final walk through with some of my favorite clients, Beth and Richard. They will be closing Monday morning on a darling little waterfront cottage on Conesus Lake. Just as we were concluding our walk through, some nosy neighbors stopped by to introduce themselves.

Now, these were not typical nosy neighbors. They were a small herd of cows and one goat! Fortunately, they were very friendly and simply tasted a neighbors hosta plant and wandered on up the road. Silly me, I forgot to ask if they were interested in "MOOOOOOving".

Congratulations Richard and Beth! I hope the rest of the neighborhood is so friendly!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Play Fair!

I've been working with a very nice young couple who are looking to buy their first home. They have done things right. They have excellent credit, good jobs and money in the bank for a down payment. For a realtor, this couple is a dream come true. And to top it all off, they are truly fun to be with.

We start looking at houses and very quickly we find their dream house. But we don't know for sure that it is their dream house, so we spend the next day or so looking at anything remotely interesting. As we sit down to write an offer on our dream house, the listing agent calls to say another offer has come in. We write for more than list price, and long story short, don't get the house.

A few weeks go by. We continue to look at houses. They continue to be fun to work with. We get a call from the listing agent of the Dream House and guess what? Her deal is falling apart. Her buyers can't get financing. She said the deal isn't dead yet but wanted to know if our buyers were still interested.

A couple more weeks go by and we finally get the call saying the deal is dead. So we scurry around, write the offer again, still over the asking price, and submit it that evening. The next day, the listing agent calls to say that she read the offer to the clients and everything is fine but they needed a couple of extra hours because the husband doesn't get home from work till 8 pm. "I'll call you as soon as it is signed off on," were the agent's parting words.

At 9:30 that night, the agent calls to say the sellers accepted the other offer!

What other offer? This doesn't seem fair. Shouldn't we have been told we were competing? I'm still in a state of shock. This was by far, the most difficult real estate call I've ever made and sincerely was choking back tears when I called my clients. And according to my broker, the lack of notification of multiple offers may be unprofessional but not unethical. Pardon my French, but DAMN!

As you can tell from my recent posts, real estate is not being kind to me right now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Agh! I Hate Internet Mortgages!

I'm selling approximately 40 houses a year and I've yet to have an "Internet Mortgage" close. Most of the time I can convince my clients to do some comparative shopping and they always find a better rate and/or less junk fees by working with local bank or brokers. Every once in a while, a client becomes defensive when I suggest they shop around for a mortgage and I let them find out the hard way. Unfortunately, more than just the buyer can get burnt when a deal doesn't close. Today I had to put a house back on the market because the "Internet Bank" didn't do its job in qualifying a borrower.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends that you "Shop, Compare and Negotiate" when looking for the best mortgage. (See their brochure: This brochure has a worksheet for comparing mortgage programs but I like the one I designed better. It's an Excel Spreadsheet and it is formatted the same as the traditional 'Good Faith Estimate' that is issued by lenders to illustrate all the details of their mortgage offering. To obtain a copy of my spreadsheet, drop me an e-mail at .

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Stinkin' Radon

Of course radon is an odorless gas, but when you are trying to sell a house and the inspector finds radon, well, that stinks! And that is what happened today. The house is in Livingston County and after studying the Radon Maps of New York ( published by New York State Department of Health, I guess I should not have been shocked. In recent tests, 41% of the basements tested in Livingston County had unsafe levels of radon. In certain towns, like Caledonia, 83% of the basements were deemed unsafe!

Radon is a gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It occurs naturally in the earth, but can become a problem when it builds up indoors. It is a cancer-causing natural radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America and claims more than 20,000 lives annually. For a whole lot more information, go to .

Fortunately, there are solutions to to radon problem. The EPA has put together a great publication called "Consumer's Guide To Radon Reduction" and it's a click away: . According to the EPA, the average cost of a mitigation system is $1200, but repairs can go as high as $3000.

Today, we contracted with a local company to install a system. They have an excellent reputation in the Rochester area and a web site that has a lot of good links and details on radon. I spent a good 30 minutes on the phone this morning with Nick of Mitigation Tech who answered lots of my questions and helped prepare me for discussing options with my clients. More information on Mitigation Tech is here: Check back in a few weeks to hear how we made out.