Monday, July 30, 2007

SOLD - First Day on the Market!

I've not been able to say those sweet words in a while! Sold: First Day on the Market. It sounds so good. I could say it over and over, but won't.

The secret to my success? Don't tell anyone but it is great homeowners. The home was spotless clean, attractively decorated and they listed it at a fair price.

The sellers had one request. Try to avoid showings during nap time. So we signed all the papers, took photos and put it on the market. A few hours later, we get a phone call and guess what? They wanted to see it right in the middle of nap time. The sellers said OK, but please whisper, and the rest is history.

The Rochester, NY real estate market is slow compared to recent years. But if your home is clean, well maintained and priced right, it should sell rather quickly.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Market Report - Finger Lakes Water Front Property

For a 2008 market report, go to .

According to today's Democrat and Chronicle, the demand for waterfront property is bigger than ever and prices on the Finger Lakes are going up. (See article ) I was on a couple of the Finger Lakes yesterday, and there seemed to be more 'for sale' signs than ever. So I dabbled in the MLS for a while this morning, and here is what I found:

Keuka Lake: Just three years ago, if something popped on the market, there was a mad dash to be the first to show it. Otherwise, it might be sold. Today, there are 66 properties on the market, with prices that range from $137,900 (actually not lake front - 3 feet of lake access and the private remarks note: Path to lake is a joyous adventure, good shoes and agility required!) to $1,650,000. To peak at current property on the market, go to : Customer Full Report

Canandaigua Lake: Here is where the D&C article was right on. They reported this was the most expensive waterfront property in the area. Current listings range from $182,500 (again, not true lake front) to a whopping $3,500,000 asking price that earns you the right to pay $41,000 per year in property taxes. There are currently 37 properties for sale on Canandaigua with and average asking price of $721,029. But are they selling? A quick check of the MLS shows 9 pending on Canandaigua Lake, with an average asking price of $511,000. To see current listings, check here: Customer Full Report

Conesus and Honeoye are much smaller lakes and much smaller price tags. Conesus currently has 27 properties that can be viewed here: Customer Full Report and Honeoye has only 6. They are provided here: Customer Full Report.

For more specific information about any of the properties or Finger Lakes real estate, don't hesitate to give me a call at 585-756-7457 or e-mail me at ,

There is a Bunch of Weirdness Going On

I've done my part in the past ten days or so to make rich oil executives richer. My real estate business has taken me on numerous road trips that have included Bethany, several trips to LeRoy, Mt. Morris, a couple times around Conesus Lake and one trip to Honeoye Lake. I'm getting to know Avon very well, as well as Scottsville and Caledonia. I've been all over the city of Rochester and surrounding suburbs. It's been such a whirlwind there were a couple of times I could not remember where I was the day before. I shutter to think what my gasoline bill will be this month.

Anyway, there has also been a lot of wheeling and dealing going on and it has included a bunch of strange stuff. For example, I have buyers that put an offer in on a nice property that's been on the market all summer. They offered a purchase price that was 97% of asking, which was pretty fair since the property had been on the market about 80 days. They came back with a counter that was almost full price which was probably palatable BUT they also stipulated that if inspections found deficiencies to the septic and well the BUYER must pay for the first $2000 in repairs and if the home inspection found deficiencies the BUYER must pay for the first $2000 in repairs plus would not be released from the contract unless the repairs exceeded $2000! HOLY COW! What's wrong with the place? Nothing, claims the listing agent. The seller just doesn't want to be nickled and dimed for little stuff. We didn't walk from this deal, we ran.

And then I got an offer in on one of my listings. The offer asked for appliances. Usually, that is not a big deal except this house is vacant and there are no appliances in the house. When I pointed this out to the buyer's agent, he said they knew that and wanted us to go buy appliances! That is pure craziness! And I sure don't understand why someone would intentionally wrap appliances in a 30 year mortgage. How often does a stove or refrigerator last thirty years?

There were some pleasant surprises this week as well. I was driving around LeRoy, with my clients following closely behind and was just mesmerized by the beautiful fields, huge barns and babbling creeks. We are blessed to live in one of the more beautiful parts of this country. We were driving down Oatka Trail, which I don't think I've ever driven down before, and suddenly there was a very cool statue garden. It is on private property but you can observe most of it from the road. Fortunately, my clients were very tolerant of me jumping out of the car and snapping a few pictures. The photos don't do it justice. If you get chance, take the drive. (And when the rich oil exec's get richer, encourage the to call me for their next house :))

Sunday, July 15, 2007

This is For Lisa!

Lisa keeps encouraging me to keep taking photos, especially of flowers. This is my new favorite flower photo. (Say that a bunch of times real fast)

Your Insurance Is Canceled

In late May, my husband and I became the proud owners of a two bedroom home in the South Wedge in Rochester, NY. We never planned to become landlords but in an effort to help a family member that needed a place to live, we put an offer in on this small house the first day it came on the market. Eight weeks later, we handed over a very big check and then the family members decided Rochester, NY was not the place they wanted to call home. Oh well!

So we put out a for rent sign, got a ton of phone calls and choose some very nice tenants that are moving in this week. In the meantime, my husband has spent every waking hour that's not been on his job, painting and cleaning and hauling out stuff t0 make the place as nice as possible. Everything seemed to be coming together okay and then the mail was delivered yesterday.

"Thank you for allowing us to provide your Rental Dwelling Policy," the letter from State Farm Insurance started.

"You are welcome," I thought out loud.

"We are sorry that we cannot continue this insurance. Therefore, your policy is being canceled as of August 3, 2007," were the second and third sentences of the letter.

The letter went on to list the "deficiencies in the physical condition of the building." Actually, they didn't list the deficiencies. They gave a list of orders, such as, "Repair the broken, cracked, and raised areas of the front and side concrete walkway to reduce the trip and fall hazard."

The letter ended with some friendly advice. "For your protection, you are urged to obtain other insurance to prevent any lapse in coverage."

If I were to write down what went through my mind next, my blog might be censored. We agree with the list of deficiencies. In fact, we already have contractors scheduled for next week to give estimates on these and other deficiencies. What is so frustrating is they say they surveyed the property on June 8, 2007. This letter is dated June 29, 2007. It was not received until July 14, 2007 and it is canceling our insurance effective August 3, 2007. And nowhere in the letter does it give us the opportunity to make repairs and continue coverage. It is flat out, You are Canceled, Go find other Insurance."

Maddening! What makes me even more angry, this is a company and insurance agent that I've recommended numerous times in the past six months. Never again!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Instilling Confidence

Today, there are a ton of houses on the market. To be precise, there are 6,890 single family homes listed in the Rochester, NY metro area. And if you are trying to sell yours, you want to do something to stand out.

One of my sellers realized that the competition was fierce. When they decided to place their property on the market, they invested a little time in organizing all their owner’s manuals, warranties and repair receipts into a three ring binder. They placed a nice photo of the house on the front cover. The binder was left out for showings. The message: “Meticulous Homeowner.” The result, sold in 3 weeks, while many other listings were expiring in 3 months.

In addition, the owner’s binder made a nice little housewarming gift for the new owners. They included a personal letter with helpful information about the neighborhood, local shopping and lots of well wishes!

Property Tax Rebate Checks

When you weed through all your junk mail during the next few weeks, be on the lookout for a letter and application from the State of New York for a property tax rebate. Applications are scheduled to be mailed to western New York in mid to late July.

You might recall that last year, New York State property owners simply received a rebate check. This year, our state legislature, in its infinite wisdom, decided to have homeowners apply for the rebate. Reportedly, Governor Spitzer was in favor of treating the rebate as a tax reduction but lawmakers insisted that taxpayers be sent checks with politicians’ names prominently displayed. Also different from last year are income limits, with those who make less than $90,000 downstate getting the greatest benefits.

I guess I’m just not smart enough to be a lawmaker. For the life of me, I can’t understand why we don’t just reduce taxes instead of mailing an application that gets returned and processed so we can mail a rebate check. Heck, if we eliminate postage times two plus printing and processing, maybe we could even increase the savings for each taxpayer!

I have similar feelings about the NY State STAR (School Tax Relief) deduction. It is always a challenge for me to explain to families relocating to New York State that the property taxes for a home are X but if they fill out a form and submit it to their tax assessor’s office before March, they will automatically qualify for a significant reduction in the school tax bill of their primary residence, and no, they don’t need to apply every year.

Again, why not just reduce the tax? A realtor friend with many more years experience than me says, “That’s just not the New York way.”

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Great Time To Be a Landlord

I enjoy watching the ebb and flows of the market. It amazes me how everything is connected. For example, mortgage interest rates have inched up over the past couple of years from 4-point-something to now 6.5 or so. And sub-prime mortgages have dried up. In other words, you have to have pretty good credit to buy a house today.

Guess what? Not as many people are buying houses these days. Two years ago, as you drove through Rochester streets, there were for rent signs on most every block. Today, that is not the case. I recently listed one rental over in Rochester's 19th Ward. I've had 22 phone calls in the past week and the only advertising I've done is put a sign in the yard. I have five houses for sale currently listed and I've not received 10 calls total on the five properties. I'd say it is a very good time to be a landlord.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

When Children Die

It's been a horrific week in Rochester. For my out of town readers, five beautiful, energetic 2007 high school graduates died in a fiery crash on their way to a cottage on the Finger Lakes. Almost as traumatic, a car-load of classmates were following close behind and witnessed the entire accident.

There were no drugs or alcohol involved although I've heard rumor that the driver was talking on a cell phone. It appears to be a tragic senseless accident.

I didn't know any of the girls or their families. The press describes them all as smart, outgoing, upbeat and cheerful young ladies with promising futures ahead of them. Each and every one of them sound like the kind of girl you hope your son will bring home. And now, their beautiful smiling faces are littering this week's death notices.

What does this have to do with real estate? Not much, except a painful reminder to prioritize life. A time to step back and realize that as a real estate agent, I'm not as important as I like to think. A perfect house will not improve your relationship with your spouse. Nor will it guarantee a good education for your children. It won't cure cancer and it sure can't keep your children safe on their way to the cottage. After all, it is only real estate.

God bless those poor families. It hurts me to think about their pain and so I just can't imagine living it. There must have been a huge shortage of angels in Heaven for God to have taken so many so suddenly.