Saturday, May 31, 2008

Advice For First Time Home Buyers

I got an e-mail today that was very similiar to many that I've received in the past. It read, "My husband, Peter, and I are thinking about buying a house in the near future as we are quickly outgrowing our apartment (we have 2 young children). We have so many questions, and have no idea where to start. Do you have any advice?"

I referred them to a blog that clients of mine did several years ago whereby they documented each step of their journey to buy their first home. It's very entertaining yet educational. Of course, because it is in blog format, the end of the story is on top. To follow their story, you must start at the end of the blog, which is their first post. To check it out, go to

In much less detail, the basic steps for buying a home follow:

1. Get pre-qualified for financing. I can recommend someone that will review your credit and income to advise what type of financing (FHA, Conventional and/or SONYMA) is best for you as well as how much you can/should spend for a home.
2. Meet with a realtor to go over the process, paperwork and to discuss what are priorities are for a home.
3. Look for property on the internet, do drive-bys and schedule appointments through your realtor.
4. Find the house of your dreams and submit a purchase offer.
5. Once the offer is accepted, you usually have a week or so to complete inspections and shop for a mortgage.
6. Closing is generally 45 to 60 days after the offer is accepted.
7. Live happy ever after.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

May your holiday be safe and enjoyable.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Butler Did It!

Whether you are staging your home for sale or just getting ready to entertain, a properly set table is impressive. And if you want to set your table properly, take it from the pros.....professional butlers. that is.

I found a cool web site....The International Guild of Professional Butlers with complete instructions on how to set a table plus at least a dozen ways to fold a napkin. So, if you want to impress homebuyers or guests, check out this site! For more information on staging your home for sale, call me!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Hedge Against the Economy

Several weeks back CNN Money Magazine predicted Rochester's housing prices to increase 2.7%, ranking it second in the country for fastest growing markets. And while that is very good news for the Rochester real estate market, there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, this is only a prediction. Second, this is a cool off of the 4 to 6% appreciation we've been seeing in recent years.

As I work with buyers, especially first time buyers, I urge them to consider shorter term financing, even if it means purchasing a less expensive property. In my opinion, that is the greatest hedge against today's uncertain economy.

Case in point, consider 137 Boardman St ( ) listed at $96,500 with property taxes of $2,285 per year. Let's suppose we come to terms with a purchase price of $93,000 and we plan to put 5% down ($4,650) which means we are financing $88,350. Let's say our interest rate is 6.125%.

For a 30 year mortgage, consider the following:

Monthly principle & interest is $536.82 (Of course, that does not include taxes of $190.42 which would make the payment $727.85) After five years, the balance of your loan will be approximately $81,500. That means, of the nearly $35,000 you send to the mortgage company over the period of 5 years, only $6,850 is used to pay down your loan.

Now, let's look at a 15 year mortgage. Sometimes you can get a better interest rate on a shorter term loan but for the sake of comparison, let's stick with the 6.125% Monthly principle & interest is $751.52 and at the end of five years, you will have paid down your loan to nearly $65,000. Instead of having $7000 in equity, you will have approximately $23,000!

Most banks also offer 20 and 10 year mortgages. Often buyers will not even inquire about a shorter term mortgage because they assume they can't afford it. In my opinion, they can't afford not to! When shopping for a mortgage, ask your lender to also provide a good faith estimate for a 20 year and 15 year mortgage and go with the shortest term mortgage you can possibly afford.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Open This Sunday

Tomorrow concludes the Liliac Festival for 2008 but the peonies are about to pop at Highland Park. If you are like me, you might prefer to wait until the crowds are done to go see the park and so I've encluded a list of open houses for your Sunday afternoon. The hottest listings in town these days are home priced for less than $125,000 and so that's what is on this week's list. Open House Report

4 Family Home on Rochester East Side

I recently listed a 4 Family Home located just two blocks from the new luxury condos ( on South Union. It's a great location, just a short walk to down town. The building includes two studio apartments and two one bedroom apartments but could easily be converted to a two or three family unit. It also features off-street parking on Canfield St, which is a dead-end road. Currently, this building is fully rented with $1830 a month gross income. Asking price for this property is $149,900. For details, go to . For an appointment to see this property, call 585-414-5513 with a minimum of 48 hours notice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Attack Duck!

Yes, my photos are usually in focus. But when I took this shot last night I was shaking with fear.

I was showing property in Avon, NY last night and this duck seemed very happy to see me. When I reached out to pet him, he bit me! It hurt and left a pretty good mark too.

Enjoy the rest of my photos from Avon, NY!

U of R Employees Offered $9000 Incentive to buy City Homes!

The University of Rochester and the City of Rochester each are offering $3000 in assistance to full and part time employees of the University of Rochester that buy a home in select neighborhoods in the City of Rochester. In addition, Advantage Federal Credit Union and Canandaigua National Bank & Trust will provide an additional $3000 in assistance.

The targeted areas for the incentive program are the 19th Ward, Plymouth-Exchange on the west in Sector 4; while to the east, they include Highland Park, the South Wedge and other nearby communities in Sector 6. They are the neighborhoods that are closest to the campus. A win-win situation, this program should provide a nice boost for the Rochester real estate market.

These neighborhoods provide a wide variety of homes in a broad price range. At the upper end of the range is a beautiful 2000 sq foot Arts & Craft style home listed at $186,900 ( ). The South Wedge Neighborhood is a popular neighborhood for young professionals and has several nice options. For example, a 5 bedroom home with lots of natural woodwork goes for $122,000 ( )

On the west side, there are approximately 100 current listings of single family homes, with prices between $20,000 (needs lots of work! to $145,000. A cute bungalow style home with three bedrooms and 1 and a half baths is listed at only $61,500 ( ) or a drop-dead gorgeous colonial with new kitchen and as well as recent new furnace, AC, roof for $119,500 (
In addition, NeighborWorks Rochester will be providing participants with home ownership counseling. For additional information about this program and an updated list of eligible properties, and other information about Rochester real estate drop me an e-mail or give me a call.
Mary Shelsby
office: 585-756-7457 cell: 585-414-5513

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Brainstorming about Rochester's Future

Last night I attended the Rochester Neighbors Building Neighborhoods Planning Meeting for Sector 6. I wasn't sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. (more info here:

We arrived, had a light supper and then were quickly broken into groups. As a group, we had six minutes to throw out our most creative ideas about improving Rochester on a given topic. We then changed topics and had six more minutes to brainstorm. Some of the topics covered included housing, public safety and our youth. The ideas were flying fast and furious so that our scribe had to work fast to keep up!

The next step was to prioritize to the ideas. Each participant was give five sticker dots and we were invited to view all the lists that all the groups put together and pick the five ideas that were most important to us. Wow! Tough job. The first thing I realized was that many of my neighbors are a lot smarter and more creative thinker than I.

Mayor Duffy dropped by to observe the process and gave us a few words of encouragement. It was nice to meet him in person and I was surprised to see how tall he is!

One of the most impressive aspects of the evening was the number of young people in attendance. There was a good mix of high school students, college students and young professionals. Even more impressive was how active they were in the process. The young people made a statement that they strongly desired a youth center in the neighborhood and then during the voting process, they actively lobbied us old folks to vote for a youth center. It was exciting to think that we were likely working with future leaders of our city.

Yesterday afternoon I was super tired and strongly considered not going to the brainstorm meeting. I left last night very energized and optimistic about our future.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Open houses on Mother's Day

I was very surprised to find more than 100 open houses today. After all, it is Mother's Day. With all the publicity this week that Rochester's real estate market ranks second in the country, it's no wonder. Here's the list: Open House Report

Me? I'm hanging out at the Lilac Festival!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Spring Market

No, I've not disappeared from the face of the Earth. It's spring time and more than the leaves have have the buyers. I've been working with five buyers for every listing which has kept me running all over a five county region. (Boy, the executives at oil companies must love me!) And when I'm not showing property, I've been sneaking over to Mendon Ponds Park for a little photography. It's simply beautiful there!
I'll be back soon with some stats on the spring market!