Thursday, March 26, 2009

Already Sold!

The only reason I have time to update my blog this week is that more than half of the houses that I've called on to schedule a showing have already been sold.  In fact, one house had an accepted offer at 6 pm on the very day it was put on the market.  I think it is safe to say that the $8000 first time home buyer tax credit is doing it's job to stimulate the real estate market.

I did a quick check of houses that went pending today in the MLS system.  At 4 pm, we had 37 new pendings, with an average sale price of $133,900 and average days on market is 62. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Seach for the Ugly House

Some of my clients think I'm a little crazy when I advocate for buying ugly houses. Now I'm not talking butt-ugly. I'm talking about the type of ugly that a coat of paint or perhaps new carpet will fix. And I advocate for that type of house because that is where the best deals are.

Houses with "Pottery Barn Decor" are fun to look at but you will "ohh and ahh" all the way to the bank if you purchase this type of house. Sparkling clean and tastefully decorated houses command top dollar but keep in mind that the furniture and art work will be gone when you move in.

Everybody wants to buy a beautiful house. It's just not as exciting to tell all your friends, "Well, it has green and orange shag carpeting from the '70's BUT the roof is new and the furnace is only a couple of years old!"

Here are a few tips for ugly house shopping.

1. Do your homework so you can budget for remodeling jobs. Kitchens, for example, and be remodeled for a few thousand dollars or tens of thousands, depending on your standards. Even wall-to-wall carpeting comes in a wide variety of designs and quality and so no real estate agent can honestly give you a ball-park figure for these projects.

2. Have a checklist so that you are certain to check all the mechanicals, such as electric, hotwater heater, roof. It would be down-right depressing to have an ugly house that also leaks every time it rains. This is not to say you won't have the house inspected, but you should check for obvious problems before you put in an offer.
3. Analyze the layout. This is especially important in kitchens. You may be able to improve its looks but it also needs to function well.
4. Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you'd don't know how to decorate, hire an interior designer. Generally, they charge a few hundred dollars for an initial consultation which is a bargain if you saved thousands on the purchase.
Want to go ugly house shopping? Give me a call. I don't mind showing you beautiful houses as well.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lobbyist For a Day

I spent the day in Albany yesterday with approximately 50 other Realtors from both Rochester and Buffalo to meet with several of our state legislators to discuss upcoming legislation that affects local homeowners and the real estate market.

The most important item on our agenda was the need for property tax relief. New Yorkers pay an exorbitant amount of property taxes and Western New Yorkers pay more in taxes relative to their property value than the rest of the state. For example, the New York State Comptroller's Office reports that approximate property taxes on a home in Rochester valued at $100,000 are just under $4,000. In comparison, taxes on a $100,000 home in Yonkers are less than half of that ($1,773) and in Southampton, they are almost a tenth of that ($456).

As real estate agents, we were able to give real life experiences about how homebuyers and homeowners struggle to purchase or keep their homes due to high taxes. I had a fun conversation with Assemblyman Bob Oaks (Cayuga, Oswego and Wayne Counties) telling him about trying to explain NY state property taxes with STAR deductions and STAR rebates to individuals moving here from another state. Property tax relief needs to be a top legislative priority for lawmakers!

Some of the other items we discussed was to request support of a bill that would simplify the language on the state's property condition disclosure and to vote against a bill that would restrict the availability of real property information for consumers as well as licensed real estate practitioners. If you'd like information on these bills or others that we discussed with legislators, don't hesitate to give me a call at 585-414-5513.

One of the best things about the trip yesterday was the feeling that our elected officials do want to hear from their constituents. If you'd like to contact your elected state officials, the state has put together an excellent web site that allows you to type in your address and receive a complete list of who represents you. From there, you can make a few clicks to get everything from a biography to sponsored legislation to contact information for your officials. It's pretty painless to become informed and involved through this site.

With this trip behind me, I hope to get back on the blogging bandwagon and do a much better job of keeping this source of information up to date.