Archive for April, 2010

REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Announces Grant Awards

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

The REALTORS® Charitable Foundation (RCF), the philanthropic arm of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® (GRAR), recently announced its First Quarter grant awards totaling $37,000, to local non-profit organizations. The foundation supports charitable organizations that help to increase affordable home ownership opportunities, build healthy neighborhoods, or mitigate critical housing needs.

NeighborWorks® Rochester was granted $30,000 to continue its Healthy Blocks partnership in the Main/Atlantic neighborhood, known as “The Pocket.” The Healthy Blocks initiative targets transitional neighborhoods and offers support to train community leadership, improve housing stock through neighborhood clean ups and provide low interest rate loans for home improvements. GRAR members have volunteered hundreds of hours to conduct community surveys, plant gardens, and build community leaders. Healthy Block efforts made in other Rochester area neighborhoods, most notably in the Swillburg neighborhood, have resulted in higher levels of owner occupancy and appreciated home values.

The Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (RAIHN) received $5,000 for its Homeless Family Emergency Housing Fund. RAIHN is a largely a volunteer organization whose goal is to increase the quality of life for homeless families in Rochester by enabling them to become self-sufficient and independent. Since 2004, 90% of the families that RAIHN placed in housing remained for at least a year.

The Providence Housing Development Corporation “Financial Literacy Program” was awarded $2,000 to support its Financial Literacy Program, which teaches tenants better management of day-to-day expenses and helps them prepare for long-term goals, including home ownership.

“These are good examples of how REALTORS® are giving back,” said Cindy B-Rosato, an area REALTOR® and chair of the RCF Board of Directors. “As real estate professionals, we recognize that a vital aspect of doing business is taking responsibility for helping to preserve and enhance the quality of life in our community,” she continued. “It’s a role that we take very seriously.”

Since its inception in 2001, the RCF has awarded over $430,000 in grants to 35 local non-profit agencies. The organization receives its support from area REALTORS®, the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS®, proceeds received from the annual RCF Golf Classic held in July, and various other fundraisers.

To learn more about the REALTORS® Charitable Foundation and how you can support its efforts, visit

First Quarter Home Sales Stats

Monday, April 26th, 2010

First Quarter statistics released by the Genesee Region Real Estate Information Services (GENRIS), the information subsidiary of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® (GRAR) reveal an overall increase in sales within the regional housing market, as compared to First Quarter 2009.

Transactions for the First Quarter 2010 showed that there was a 9.3% increase over the First Quarter of 2009, with 1,802 homes sold. The overall median sale price of $113,000 reflected a 7.6% percent increase compared to last year at this time, which could be as a result of individuals taking advantage of the $6,500 Tax Credit for existing home owners. Pending sales for First Quarter 2010 reflected a 14.6% decrease compared to last year at this time. When compared to Fourth Quarter 2009, however, there was a 10.6% jump.

“This is good news for our local market,” remarked Carolyn Stiffler, board president of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS®. “We should be on track for a very strong Second Quarter.”

Stiffler noted that the extension and expansion of the tax credit in December was a critical factor in maintaining the momentum of the market.

“What we saw was an influx of first-time home buyers and existing homeowners taking advantage of the tax incentive,” continued Stiffler. “It truly was a “shot in the arm” for the real estate industry and the economy. For many individuals, it was the answer to their dream of homeownership.”

GRAR officials remarked that the 41.5% decrease between First Quarter 2010 and Fourth Quarter 2009 was a result of people wanting to take advantage of the initial tax credit before it expired in November of 2009. When the First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit took effect in early 2009, there was a lot of activity among first-time buyers, especially during the fourth quarter. People thought that they only had until November 30 to take advantage of credit, which is why we saw a large drop in homes sales between First Quarter 2010 compared to Fourth Quarter 2009.

In December 2009, new federal legislation not only extended the $8,000 Tax Credit for First-time Home Buyers but also included a $6,500 tax credit for eligible existing homeowners for the purchase of another principal residence. Both must have a written binding contract to purchase by April 30, 2010, which is when the tax credit expires. The purchaser will have until July 1, 2010 to close.

There were strong sales gains in several towns within Monroe County over First Quarter 2009. The most significant increases occurred in Parma at 86.7%, Brighton at 68.8%, Penfield at 37.8%, and Greece at 21.3%. Median sales prices also increased significantly in each of these areas, especially in Brighton, which could be a result of existing homes owners moving up.

GRAR will continue to support the local residential real estate industry through its TIME2BUY marketing campaign, which focuses on the benefits of owning a home and using the services of a REALTOR® when buying and selling a home.

REALTORS® Serve As Leading Advocates For Fair Housing

Monday, April 19th, 2010

As outspoken supporters for fair housing issues and homeownership, REALTORS® have joined the nation in recognizing “Fair Housing Month” this April.

Signed into law in 1968, the Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status and national origin. REALTORS® work tirelessly to support this law, as well as ensure the benefits of homeownership are available to everyone.

Through the years, the National Association of REALTORS® has developed education on diversity and fair housing laws for its members. These programs and resources have educated REALTORS® on the importance of inclusive housing practices and the promotion of minority homeownership.

The Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® emphasizes the critical importance of having an in-depth understanding and on-going awareness of both Federal and state fair housing laws. As licensed real estate professionals, members are required to take at least three hours of fair housing and anti-discrimination coursework. Beyond the legal mandate, REALTORS® realize it is their responsibility and obligation to affirm and validate their commitment to fair housing.

The Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® represents more than 3,000 real estate professionals in the Greater Rochester and Finger Lakes region.

Local Real Estate Fair Offers Networking And Educational Opportunities

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

More than 300 real estate professionals gathered at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Rochester on March 25, to participate in a day-long career development and networking conference. The event, now in its 26th year, is hosted each year by the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® (GRAR).

Panel discussions, educational classes, and information sessions centered on a variety of topics including short sales and foreclosures, FHA changes, and other housing and real estate related issues. The event was designed exclusively to enhance and enrich the careers of REALTORS®, and also provide a venue where they can share ideas and gain insight and knowledge about the industry. More than 50 vendors and exhibitors were present, including property inspectors, real estate attorneys, home builders, and lenders. The event was not open to the general public.

“As an organization representing more than 3,000 local real estate professionals, our mission is to provide members with opportunities that promote and nurture their professional and personal growth and success,” said Ryan Tucholoski, CEO for GRAR. “This is an industry that requires a substantial amount of knowledge, business aptitude, and social and networking skills. Ultimately, real estate professionals are in the business of helping people achieve their dreams of homeownership. As such, they realize the importance of obtaining the necessary tools to do the job on behalf of the people they serve,” said Tucholski.

Keys to Search Engine Optimization

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Whether you understand the complex algorithms of Search Engine organic placement or you don’t even know what Search Engine Optimization is, there are simple things you can do to improve your ranking on Internet Search Engines.  For the purpose of this article we are going to concentrate on the use of keywords.

I recently had a Client who was frustrated that they were not getting the traffic they wanted from their website.  The first thing I did was search for “Real Estate Orlando” (not actual city for anonymity).  Keep in mind he owns one of the largest Real Estate companies in his city.  Yet the company failed to rank within the first two pages of results in the search.  So we went on to evaluate his website.


The first thing that jumped out at me was that the company’s Home Page had very little wording in fact “Real Estate” was only written once on the sidebar and “Orlando” and the markets he served were not anywhere on the page except. This means that the search engine spiders looking at this site are not going to consider his geographic location very relevant to the search terms.  When someone puts any variation of “Homes for Sale Orlando,”  “Orlando Property” etc, his site will not show up.

Spiders will start “viewing” your Home Page and work their way in through your site. If the Home Page does not have a strong relevance to the keywords people are searching then it will drastically hurt your ranking.

The point here, the advice to you is to be sure you are using the keywords on the home page of your website and every page where it is reasonable to do so; the keywords that are most likely to be searched by your audience, home buyers and sellers.  Those include the areas you serve, Real Estate, Homes, Townhomes, Condos, Commercial, the list is endless.  It includes all your specialties.  Do a search of Real Estate Tulsa Oklahoma or Homes for Sale and use your location and state.  Click on the top three organic sites that come up and notice the keywords they use.

Notice how often they are used and the prominence they have on the page; their use as headlines, in bold, etc.


Another thing I noticed was that Home Page of his company’s website was consumed by a Property Search function that was being framed from another source. Framing is basically fitting another website within the look of your site.

The problem is that framing carries no importance for Search Engine ranking.  So all that space used for this was doing literally nothing to help his Search Engine Optimization.

Simple Solutions

We spent several sessions discussing the steps to increase optimizing his placement.  We compiled relevant keywords and found places all over every page throughout the site to where they could be inserted.  We moved the framed property search to within the website.

Within three weeks he was ranking fairly high in the search engine when “Real Estate for Sale Orlando” was entered into the search engine. It didn’t cost him anything but his Admin’s time.

Fresh Eyes

Take a look at your website.

Truly look at it with fresh eyes.

Does your site immediately explain to visitors what you do and the benefit to them?  Are you using keywords throughout your site to explain each product or service?  Are those keywords prominently placed in headlines and bold print?  Are you limiting graphics, framing and pictures that don’t help your SEO especially on your Home Page?  Are you thinking like your prospective clients to use keywords that THEY would use and not just writing casually and carelessly?

Remember that Search Engines give more importance to words that are placed higher on the page or are a larger font or bolded.  Repeat important keywords as often as possible without sounding silly or redundant. Re-phrase features and benefits so that you both reinforce them and you repeat keywords in ways that read naturally.

Create section titles using keywords. Be sure to have the title of your company, product, service or name in text not just a logo or image. Be sure to have the city and state in text somewhere on your home page.  Most of these changes can be done with little research, little time and no expense.

Rich Levin is a coach and speaker whose focus is teaching Agents to understand and control their business.  And through that understanding achieve exceptional happiness and wealth in their life.  Rich is President of Rich Levin’s Success Corps Inc.  Contact Rich at 585-244-2700.