Monday, November 03, 2014

Heating Season

Yay!  November is here and the bickering can cease.  Eleven months of the year, I have a wonderful, strong marriage but my husband and I just don't seem to get along in October.  You see, he believes you should control the thermostat by the calendar and I think that the thermometer is a better gauge.  He believes in not turning the heat on till the first of November.   And when the house is 58 degrees, I go to local restaurants to use the bathroom.  In fact, I spend as much time away from home as possible.

The past year, I've run into more then my fair share of bad furnace situations, and so this seems to be a great time to chat about furnace safety and care.

During my real estate transactions during the past year, I've run into at least three furnaces with both cracked heat-exchangers and totally clogged furnace filters.  That's not a coincidence.  When you fail to change your furnace filters and they become clogged, a forced-air furnace must work much harder to force that warm air through your home.  That stress can cause a premature crack in the heat-exchanger.  In one case this year, the furnace was only five years old but so was the furnace filter.  It had never been changed.  So, please, please, please determine how often your filer needs to be changed and do so.

A cracked heat-exchanger can produce carbon monoxide, especially in newer high-efficient furnaces.  So can water heaters, gas stoves, gas fireplaces, automobiles and other appliances that burn gas.  That is why New York state law requires all homes to have a working carbon monoxide detector.  Since carbon monoxide is a completely odorless gas, it's not a bad idea to have a detector on each level of your home.  And a carbon monoxide detector lasts about 5 to 7 years and so it's not a bad plan to purchase a new one every 2 to 3 years and rotate them out of service.  Don't forget to change out those batteries when you do your smoke detectors.

Whenever, I list a property I strongly encourage the seller to have the heating system serviced and inspected before the property goes on the market.  That is because if there are issues, we want to know about them before a buyer does.  To learn that there is a bad furnace after an offer has been accepted, means only one thing and it is not good for the seller.  It constantly amazes me how many families do not have their heating system regularly maintained by a professional.   If you need a referral for someone that is reliable and reasonable, don't hesitate to let me know.

Carbon monoxide safety is a personal issue for me.   I lost a brother to carbon monoxide poison more than 30 years ago.  If you switch a button and it suddenly gets warm in your home, it's easy to get complacent about furnace safety but I hope this will serve as a wake up call.

Stay warm!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Don't Advertise Your Kids' Names With Your Home!!

The weather in Rochester has not warmed up but the local real estate market has.  I've been out photographing numerous houses from Greece, to Brighton to Fairport that will be coming to market over the next few weeks.

The homes are all nicely staged and gorgeous but the kid's bedrooms are especially fun to photograph.  Of course, they leave me feeling deprived as I think back to sharing a bedroom with my two sisters without matching furniture nor color-coordinated drapes and bed coverings.  But that's another story.

I love the trend to decorate a child's room with his or her name until it is time to put the house on the market.  As you stage your home and child's bedroom, keep in
mind that these photographs will be all over the internet right there with your address.  While most kids are taught about stranger-danger, it can be confusing to them when a stranger knows their name.  So, just as a precaution, remove all the name art before the photo shoot.

It's also not a bad idea to put away anything that is extremely valuable so as not to temp burglars.   Of course, valuables can be replaced  but our precious loved ones can not.  

Please don't hesitate to give me a call if I can assist with your Rochester-area real estate needs.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Match Day 2014. Welcoming New Residents to Rochester, NY

Match Day is the annual event where medical students around the country learn where they will spend the next four to seven years of their lives completing residencies.  And so this morning, dozens of new, young doctors learned that they will call Rochester, NY home for the short term and the University of Rochester Medical Center will be their place of both employment and learning.

These young doctors and their families will need to find a new home and there are many excellent choices in a wide variety of price brackets, all close to the U of R Medical Center.  Here is a breakdown of a few options, but every hour it seems something new is listed and something else goes pending.  Feel free to register with my website to receive e-mail alerts:

If you are looking for an excellent school district plus a carefree lifestyle (i.e., someone else cuts the grass and plows the snow) maybe a townhouse is a good choice for you.  200 Lac Kine Drive is offered at $164,000 and it is in excellent condition with a stunning interior.  The home has 2 bedrooms plus a loft, and an attached 2 car garage.  All kitchen appliances are included.  For photos and details, chick here:

If you prefer to be in quick walking distance to the medical center, 950 Mt. Hope Avenue offers 3 bedrooms, one bath plus a one car garage. This home is located directly across from the historic Mt. Hope Cemetery.  More information can be found at .

There are more economical options for medical students willing to travel across the Genesee River.  Rochester's 19th Ward is located less than a half mile from the medical center and features beautiful yet remarkably affordable homes.  As an example, 118 Virginia Ave, a 3 bedroom colonial with one bath, fenced back yard with a deck and garage, is being offered for less than $70,000.  Complete details at

To schedule an appointment at any of these or other properties near the University of Rochester, don't hesitate to give me a call at 585-414-5513 or visit my site at

Mary Shelsby
Licensed Real Estate Sales Person
ReMax Realty Group

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Less Real Estate Drama With Home Inspections Before Listing

In a typical real estate transaction in the Rochester area, the buyers find a house, write an offer, comes to term with the seller,both sides celebrate, and then the home inspection happens.  Often there are surprises, both for the buyer and the seller and that's when the real drama can begin.  Buyers get frighten and sellers get angry.  It's no fun for anyone.

Last year I sold a few homes in which the property was inspected before the house went on the market.  Sellers have the opportunity to make repairs before the house is listed. And buyers receive the report before writing an offer with a pretty clear understanding of what's been repaired and what they will need to address as the future owners.  Buyers can make a fairer offer when they have all the facts and there is no re-negotiating the contract after the inspection.

Inspecting a home before it goes on the market is not cheap.  Expect to pay between $300 and $400 for a home inspection.  Plan on another $100 or so to make sure the furnace or boiler and in top working order and if there is a fireplace, you will also want to do a chimney safety check for approximately $75 to $100.  These fees add up but rarely is a buyer's request for a repair credit less than $1000.

Last year alone, I was involved in 3 transactions in which buyers made an offer based on there being an old furnace.  During the course of the inspections, cracked heat exchangers were discovered and guess what, each buyer ended up with a band new furnace.  Happy buyers for sure, but very angry sellers.

I'm all for less drama in real estate and believe that less surprises equals less drama.  I'd love to see all Rochester area sellers have there home inspected before going on the market, or at a minimum, have the furnace serviced.  If you'd like more information, don't hesitate to give me a call or send me an e-mail.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fourth Quarter Numbers are in

ROCHESTER, NY - January 17, 2014 - Fourth Quarter 2013 statistics were released today by the Genesee Region Real Estate Information Services (GENRIS), the information subsidiary of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® (GRAR).

The momentum from the three earlier quarters offset a sluggish fourth, ending 2013 with solid gains overall.  The Greater Rochester Multiple Listing Service (MLS) saw a 4.7% increase in the number of homes, condos and townhouses sold to 11,267 units as compared to 10,765 the previous year.  Pending sales also grew by 4.1% year-over-year to 11,350, up from 10,904 in 2012.

Area homes steadily continued to gain value, indicated by a modest 1.8% climb to $127,200 overall.  Median home prices in the City of Rochester specifically posted a 5.3% gain to $78,900.  Neighboring counties generally followed suit, with Wyoming and Steuben outpacing the norm, reporting sales increases of 21.1% and 16.7% respectively.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Buyers Want a Clean Slate and Fresh Start

One of the most important steps in preparing your house for market is de-cluttering and staging.  While common sense would tell you that all the clutter leaves with the seller, most buyers just can't see past it.  Maybe they have a clutter problem in their current home and a new home represents a fresh start.  They just can't picture that start in a cluttered house.

Sometimes we also need to give our walls a clean slate and fresh start.  There is an awesome colonial in Fairport that just hasn't gotten its fair share of attention and so the seller spent much of the holiday season stripping wallpaper.  Take a look that the before and after shots of their sons' bedroom.  The transformation is remarkable.

For more shots and details of this home, go to 81 W Church

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

New Loan Requirements for Getting a Mortgage

It seems that many people would rather visit a dentist than talk to a loan officer to qualify for a mortgage.   And while there is more physical pain from the dentist chair, there is something extremely uncomfortable about having your entire financial history scrutinized and analyzed while your future hangs in the balance.  I get it.  My credit score is in excess of 800 and I still feel weak in the knees when I need to get pre-approved.

Effective January 10, 2014 there are new lending rules that make it essential for potential home buyers to get qualified for a home purchase as soon as possible.  It is not that the criteria to qualify has changed drastically, it that there is now no fudge room.  There is a strict maximum debt-to-income ratio if the lender wants to sell the loan through one of the agencies, such as FNMA, GNMA, VA, etc.  and many banks just are not interested in giving loans that don't qualify to be sold. 

Getting approved for financing is not just about credit scores.  It's about verifying income and assets.  Employment is also verified, which is not as simple as it seems, since today many more people are contract employees or independent contractors.   In addition, all debts and liabilities are looked at, including child support and alimony.  And then there is the credit history.  Mortgage qualifying is also about determining a monthly payment that includes taxes and insurance that works for the buyer as well as determining how much cash will be required at closing. 

There is a lot that can go wrong in this complex formula of mortgage qualification and the sooner that the borrower knows, the sooner it can be corrected.  Whether it is saving more money for the down payment, paying down debts or improving a credit score, time and sound financial advice from a seasoned mortgage professional are key to success.  A loan officer can advise on what bills to pay off first for the most rapid improvement in score and whether or not it makes sense to close accounts or consolidate debts. 

I don't send my clients to a loan officer to torture them.  I do it because I want them to succeed in their goal of purchasing a new home.  And I want them to succeed as painlessly as possible.   There is a lot of information on the internet about mortgage qualification and some of it is good, some of it is totally wrong and all of it is very general.   It does not replace the specific advice that you will get from a loan officer. 

So go ahead and make the call.  Hopefully all your news will be good news.  And save all your fretting for the dentist chair.  Just don't forget to brush twice a day and be sure to floss.  :-)

Friday, January 03, 2014

A Look Back at the Past Year

My year ended with a bang and I'm not talking about fireworks.  Around 11:30 am on December 31st, a healthy Jonah Jensen was born, making me a grandma for the 4th time.  Ending the year on such a high note, sure made the rest of the year a blur.

I've said it over and over, but the best part of real estate is really getting to know some wonderful people and this year was no exception.  This year I worked with a number of young families and one provided an experience I will never forget.  Thanks to the latest technology, they signed a purchase offer on their dream property within an hour of giving birth to a beautiful baby girl.  And then upon being released from the hospital, they proceeded to prepare and place their home on the market.  Wow!  I don't recommend other families follow suit.

And just a few weeks later, I arrived at a listing appointment as one of the owners was taken to hospice care.  Bob had lived at the same place for 41 years and always said he wanted to leave feet first.  Well, he did and past away about 12 hours later.

So I've seen more than my fair share of life this year and hopefully I'm wiser for it.    I appreciate the trust people have put in me when they decide to buy or sell real estate and look forward to new relationships in the new year.

Happy new year everyone!