Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Things are Heating Up

I wish I was talking about the weather heating up. It was cold today, never getting out of the teens. But it was pretty! The overnight snow really stuck to the tree and so I drove through Highland Park and grabbed a few shots.

Real estate does seem to be heating up. Two weeks ago I lost a deal to multiple offers. There were three offers, including ours. That hasn't happened in a while. I talked to an agent from my office yesterday. He wrote and offer for a client and had competition. Lucky for them, the seller decided to work with them.

Tomorrow I'm going out with a buyer. It's been tough getting appointments. One property that we were very anxious to see has only been on the market 3 days but it has two offers. There were a couple of others that we requested appointments for but they were already sold.

Is the pendulum switching back to a buyer's market? Or am I just having crummy luck right now?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Good Picture's Worth Thousands of Dollars

Yesterday, I wrote about some very bad photos in the Rochester MLS. Today, I'd like to provide a few tips to get your home ready to be photographed to put on the market.

Looks are everything in today's real estate market. The current public watches tons of HG-TV and their expectations are often unrealistic. A colleague recently described the current Rochester market as a beauty contest. And just as a fashion model spends hours primping before a photo shoot, plan to invest plenty of time and effort preparing your home to look its best.

The first step is to do some serious cleaning, starting with windows. The more natural light that comes in your house, the better it will photograph. Yes, dust will show up in photos. It's also important that appliances and plumbing fixtures sparkle. Take extra time in making beds and hanging towels. Little details need big attention when prepping for photos.

The next step in preparing your home is to eliminate clutter. Clear kitchen counters of everything smaller than a football and even pack up the cute refrigerator magnet collection. Old newspapers and magazines should be banished. Organize bookshelves and nick-knacks and collectibles should be packed away. If necessary, remove excess furniture to make rooms look bigger. If you need some pointers, look at pictures in furniture catalogs or ads in home-improvement magazines.
Finally, give some thought to curb-appeal. The front view of the house is often the key photo to get a buyer's attention! Depending on the season, make sure the lawn is cut, the bushes pruned or the sidewalk is shoveled on picture day. If needed, paint the front door or replace the storm door. Keep entrance decorations minimal and tasteful. Hide trashcans, kid's toys and other outside clutter. Close the garage door and remove all cars from the driveway before pressing the shutter button.
It's estimated that 80 percent of home buyers start their home search on the Internet and so you want to make sure your home looks its very best in front of the camera. If that's not something you are good at, I can recommend several Rochester area staggers with experience and expertise to help prepare your home so that it will likely sell for a higher price in less time.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

A client I'm currently working with suggested that I put together a course to teach fellow Realtors how to photograph houses. The first thing that went through my mind was that he felt I need to supplement my income. After all, things are pretty slow. But this afternoon I took a hard look at some of the stuff that's in the MLS and they are just to funny not to share.

This first gem is from a really expensive house. Really expensive. Like well over $500,000. Can't you tell from the light fixture?

The next photo was taken by an agent that works lots and lots of hours. That must be why he (or she) had to take it after dark.

I'm sure a lot of thought went into this photo. Let's see. How can we illustrate how convenient this home is to the road?

I'm pretty sure the next house comes with a couch. That must be why they featured this photo.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Every once in a while some one will ask me the web address for my real estate blog. I'd blush, say, "it's something like www .Rochester real spot or something or" and then make a joke about being very blond. Well, no more!

No, I didn't dye my hair. I finally bought a domain name. It's easy to remember.! It's easy to tell your friends. and it's easy to come back to day after day.

Ready to Write An Offer - 8 Big Questions To Answer

I've been working with a first-time home buyer for a couple of weeks now. We've been out 3 or 4 times to look at property and yesterday we went back to look at one a second time. He's really thinking that this might be the one.

Choosing which property to purchase is a big decision. BUT, it is only ONE of many important decisions that come with buying a property. That is why I like to begin the home buying process with a review of a purchase contract before we begin to look at homes. That way, buyers can have some time to think through the decisions before their emotions are tied up into a particular property.

In general, these are the questions that need to be answered as we sit down to structure your purchase offer:

  • What price are you thinking of offering?
  • Will you be getting a mortgage? And if so, how much do you plan to put down?
  • Will your offer be contingent on inspections (engineer, radon, chimney, pest, other)?
  • Do you have a house to sell? Will your offer be contingent on selling that house?
  • What personal property do you plan to ask for (appliances, window treatments other)?
  • When would you like to close on the property? Are there any special possession requirements (early possession, rent back to seller, etc)?
  • How much of a good faith deposit do you plan to put into escrow? (Generally due in 48 hours)
  • What attorney would you like to represent you at closing?

If you are thinking about buying a house in the near future, invest an hour or so to become familiar with the process and paperwork before you start your search. No, it's not as much fun as looking at houses, but it will go a long way to make the process smoother when you find 'the one'.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why Start With Pre-Qualifying!

When I start working with new buyers I always encourage them to start the home search by calling the bank and get prequalified. The usual response is grumbling about how they know they have good credit. For some reason, most people just hate to start their search with a call to the bank.

Today, I had my credit pulled to do a refinance of our home and boy did I have a big surprise. The loan officer asked me about my American Express bill. Well, I don't have an American Express Card. But according to my credit report, I have an outstanding balance of $57,025 along with a perfect history of making my payments on time. Thus started one of the most frustrating hours of my life.

I called American Express and when I gave them the account number on the credit report, they said they needed the number on my credit card. Well, I don't have a credit card. Finally, by giving them my social security number, they could find the account but for privacy reasons, I had to give them the name of the primary card holder. Good question. After a few guessing games, we finally figured out it was my ex-husband. She promptly removed my name from the account, and while she was not authorized to give me anything in writing to document me coming off the account, she encouraged me to call the American Express Credit Department to have this removed from my credit report.

Here is where the story gets interesting. The credit department could find no record of me ever being on the account much less being removed. They refused to verify whose name was on the account or the balance. And until I insisted that they search for me by my social security number did they even take my call serious. It seems that this account is in my ex-husbands name but my social security number and the only way they will do anything about it is if I bring formal fraud charges against him. And since this account has been open since 1981, I'm willing to bet that it's an American Express clerical error and not a case of fraud. Hopefully, together, we can get this resolved.

The moral of the story is that when I suggest you start your search for a new home with a call to a mortgage loan officer, it has nothing to do with whether or not I think you pay your bills on time. It has to do with the current mortgage lending policies and wanting to avoid the heartbreak of finding the perfect home and then learning there is a horible mistake on your credit report.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sticky Situation

My husband is such a sweetheart, even when it's not Valentine's Week. Last night I was hard at work up in my office and he brought me up a mug of steaming hot chocolate. Isn't that sweet? Except as he was sitting it down and I was reaching for it, it somehow got bumped and, well, not a drop remained in the mug. Which means everything on my desk got covered in thick, gooey hot chocolate.

So there is now a ton of paperwork that is now in the trash can, which is probably a good thing. I save the stupidest things, such as the Democrat and Chronicle annual "Living Here" section from two years ago. And I believe my wireless keyboard will ssssurrriveee, although occasionally the keys do stick. I don't think my smartphone is going to make it however, and the most disturbing part of that is Joe, my all-time favorite phone techie, was transferred to North Carolina by Sprint. So if I'm a little slow returning your phone calls this week, please be patient.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Most Expensive Offering in City of Rochester

The snow is blowing and the wind-chill is below zero tonight and so it's a good time to dream of living somewhere else. That is, until you look at the price of housing.

One of Rochester's most magnificent homes, the Charlotte Whitney Allen Home on Oliver Street is currently on the market. The 6000 sq foot museum-quality mansion complete with gardens designed by renowned landscape designer Fletcher Steele are being offered for a mere $879,900. photo tour and home details at:

By comparison, a similar mansion is being offered in San Francisco. It's a little larger, approximately 7,400 sq feet but is located on a lot less than half the size of the Rochester home. The Californian home does boast 7 full baths, compared to our local offering of 4 full and 2 half. The price tag? Well, are you sitting down? $14,950,000. But at this price, light fixtures and window treatments are excluded.

Of course, the New York home does come with property taxes in excess of $20,000 per year. And after 500 years or so, you would be better off if you purchased the west coast mansion.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Houses Can Sell Quickly in Rochester, NY!

Much of the country is crying the real estate blues, but that is not really the case in Rochester, NY. If a house is sparkling clean, tastefully decorated and priced fairly, it will sell. Case in point, 32 Justinshire Drive, in Henrietta, NY.

I listed this house early Thursday morning, had the first showing Friday morning and by suppertime that evening had a nice offer in hand. My sellers are now busy packing!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

New on the Market

Just listed a very nice raised ranch in Henrietta! With 1700 sq feet, it has 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bath modern kitchen, newer windows, attached garage and spectacular yard all for $129,900. Enjoy the photo tour or give me a call at 756-7457 to schedule a look!

Make a PhotoShow Full Size

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Market Glimpse

I was pleased to note that in the MLS today, there were more listings that went pending then expired. That wasn't the case many days in the later part of 2007. Today, 47 single family homes went pending. Average time on the market was 54 days, although I think that is high because of at least three listings on the market more than 200 days.

Average list price was $106,048, with a range of $10,400 (No! I didn't forget any zeros!) to $549,500. Here is an interesting statistic! For the four properties listed for more than $250,000, the average days on market was 22 days. Who says upscale property isn't selling in Rochester?

How Does Christie Brinkley Do It?

I have a whole new appreciation for super models like Christie Brinkley after this morning! You see, I spent this morning in a sleet and freezing rain storm with a light jacket on trying to look poised, happy and successful while a photographer from the Rochester Business Journal snapped away! I was recently interview by Mary Stone, their real estate reporter about the impact of the subprime mortgage situation on Rochester's real estate market. They needed a photo to go with the story and I agreed.

How'd I do? I don't think Christie has anything to worry about. Check out the Friday, February 8th edition to see for yourself.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Who Would You Vote For?

It's my birthday and so I'm taking the day off from real estate. And like much of the U.S., I'll spend my evening watching football!

I know this is a real estate blog, but every once in a while I run across something so cool that has nothing to do with real estate that I want to share. And since I'm taking the day off, it seems like this is a good time to do just that.

I don't know about the rest of the world, but American politics is more and more like a personality contest with a wee bit of a fashion show thrown in. We get so caught up in who was nice and who was snobby and sometimes we seem to lose track of the issues and candidate's position on those issues.

I found a web site today that strips all the personality out of the issues. You simply answer 14 questions to find out which candidates are most aligned with your views and opinions. I was shocked. Although I'm registered Republican but don't always vote the party line, my result is a dead tie between Hillary and Obama! What about you? Were you surprised with your results? Here's a link to check it out:

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Shadow! What Shadow?

According to media reports, the groundhog saw his shadow this morning and so we are in for six more weeks of winter. Impossible! It's so grey and gloomy out that my GPS system can't find a satellite signal and they're saying a groundhog found his shadow. It must be a conspiracy to slow down the local real estate market.

Enjoy the perma-gray! It didn't slow down these ice fisherman on Conesus Lake.