Archive for January, 2012

What Buyers, Sellers Want From Real Estate Agents

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

As Alex reported 1/28/2012 on Property Source Radio.  – Daily Real Estate News | Monday, Jan 23, 2012

A recent panel at a Real Estate Conference last week gave buyers and sellers the chance to share their first-hand insights into what they really think about working with real estate agents. Here were some of the tips the consumers had for agents, according to a recent article at Inman News:

Educate but watch your delivery: Home buyer Dora M. Abreau said at the conference that when something unexpected comes up in the buying process, she doesn’t like it when agents say: “’Oh, you didn’t know about that?’ … That’s why I’m coming to you — for professional expertise and advice on the process,” Abreau said.

Build trust: Home buyer Matthew Cavnar said that trust is the most important trait when choosing a real estate agent. He said one way agents can build trust is if they take time to carefully listen to the customer’s priorities. Cavnar says that he sometimes felt like agents had a set checklist of properties they wanted to take him too, regardless of his priorities.

Be accessible: Cavnar said that the agent he chose  “made himself very accessible and his communication by e-mail” was frequent.

Paperless transactions: Electronic signatures and e-documents would simplify the process and make it easier, Cavnar also noted.

Source: “Real Estate Consumers Tell it Like it Is,” Inman News (Jan. 20, 2012)

Qualifying for the Best Mortgage Rate

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

As Alex reported 1/21/2012 on Property Source Radio.  – Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012

Many borrowers are finding that the record-low mortgage rates advertised recently are out of reach. So how can borrowers snag these best rates — which for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage alone has been under 4 percent recently? Basically, they need to prove to lenders they are less risk: Lenders offer the best rates to those who they perceive as low-risk borrowers.

Here are ways for consumers to show lenders that they are low-risk borrowers, according to a recent article at The New York Times:

Credit score: According to one mortgage broker, ideal borrowers nowadays have a FICO score of 740 or higher to qualify for the best pricing.

Property types: Buyers of a duplex, four-unit building, or condo may have a rate premium added. Also, lenders will charge borrowers more if they plan to rent out the property rather than live there.

Down payment: Borrowers who put down at least 25 percent will most likely attract the best pricing, lenders say. “Lenders offer different breaks on rates if equity is higher, so you should ask what is available,” The New York Times article notes.

Also, borrowers who are able to get a low rate now may want to lock it in if they are heading to closing soon. “Lenders typically agree not to change an offered interest rate for 60 days, but borrowers confident of a quick closing may be willing to accept a 45-day rate guarantee, or even a 30-day lock, in exchange for a small discount, because the transaction’s speed helps the lender reduce its risk,” The New York Times article notes.

Source: “Mortgages: Shopping for the Best Rates,” The New York Times (Jan. 12, 2012)

More Cities Join ‘Improving’ Housing Market List

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

As Alex reported 1/14/2012 on Property Source Radio.  – Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012

The National Association of Home Builders’ list of improving housing markets nearly doubled this month, as more cities showed signs of a rebound with their real estate markets.

The list now contains 76 improving markets, up from 41 in December, according to NAHB’s and First American’s Improving Markets Index, a monthly gauge that measures a city’s improvements in housing permits, employment, and housing prices for at least six months.

“The fact that the list of improving housing markets nearly doubled this month shows that a significant, positive trend is developing, and is even more relevant when you consider the expanding geographic distribution of the list — which now includes 31 states and the District of Columbia,” NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen said in a statement.

These cities were added to the list in January:

  • Florence, Ala.
  • Tuscaloosa, Ala.
  • Fayetteville, Ark.
  • Denver, Col.
  • Greeley, Col.
  • Bridgeport, Conn.
  • New Haven, Conn.
  • Cape Coral, Fla.
  • Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Punta Gorda, Fla.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Ames, Iowa
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Dubuque, Iowa
  • Elkhart, Ind.
  • Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Lafayette, Ind.
  • Lake Charles, La.
  • Worcester, Mass.
  • Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Lansing, Mich.
  • Monroe, Mich.
  • Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Columbia, Mo.
  • Joplin, Mo.
  • Fargo, N.D.
  • Manchester, N.H.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Tulsa, Okla.
  • Corvallis, Ore.
  • Erie, Pa.
  • Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Clarksville, Tenn.
  • Nashville, Tenn.
  • College Station, Texas
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Victoria, Texas
  • Madison, Wisc.

View a complete list of all 76 metro areas on the Improving Markets Index list at

Source: National Association of Home Builders

Comfort Windows and Realty USA join us this week

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Join us this Saturday morning, January 14th as Paul Vogel from Comfort Windows talks about this unique hometown business that uses only local resources. He discusses the different “businesses” Comfort Windows has now branched out into such as insulation, basement finishing and more. He talks about the new Quadglass windows they now offer that block over 50% of noise. Check out

Then comes Reinhardt Brucker from Realty USA to talk about local housing. Learn more about Rein at

Don’t miss it!

How Long Will Low Mortgage Rates Last?

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

As Alex reported 1/7/2012 on Property Source Radio.  – Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012

For nine consecutive weeks, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been hovering at or below record lows of 4 percent, pushing housing affordability for home buyers even higher.

But will these low rates stick around much longer?

The Federal Reserve has vowed to keep rates low through 2013 so rates likely will hang around for a few more months, at least, but whether mortgage rates will stay at the current record-lows, many experts say it’s unlikely.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is expected to inch up to an average 4.5 percent for 2012 and increase to 5.4 percent in 2013, according to Freddie Mac economists’ forecasts.

While that forecast means rates are expected to move higher in the coming months, the rates will still be low by historical standards, economists told the Los Angeles Times. For comparison, 30-year rates averaged more than 16 percent in 1981 and 1982. What’s more, until 2000, rates typically were above 8 percent, Freddie Mac notes.

Despite the drop in rates, however, many home buyers have been unable to take advantage of the low rates. Lenders’ tightening of their underwriting standards for loans in the recent years following the housing crisis has shut some buyers who have poor credit, low down payments, or unsteady employment from securing a loan at today’s low rates. Freddie Mac had predicted home-purchase applications to comprise two-thirds of all mortgage applications by the end of 2011. But the Mortgage Bankers Associations says that instead about 80 percent of the mortgage applications came from home owners who wanted to refinance.

Source: “Low Mortgage Rates Likely to Continue Through 2012, Experts Say,” Los Angeles Times (Jan. 3, 2012)

Residential Humidifiers

Friday, January 6th, 2012

By Douglas Burgasser

Residential humidifiers have gained a great deal of popularity in recent years. They have become quite common in houses that are heated with forced air heating systems. Unfortunately, many homeowners do not understand how their humidifier works, how is gets adjusted, and how it should be maintained. Some homeowners might not even realize they have a central humidifier.


As you are probably aware, indoor air tends to be somewhat dry during the winter season in the Rochester area. This is because it is cold and dry outside. As a result, it is beneficial to introduce some moisture or humidity into the living space. This can be accomplished through the use of a standard air humidifier that is installed on a forced air heating system.

Older style humidifiers consisted of a sponge-like media material that was mounted on a drum or wheel. A small motor turned the wheel, allowing the media to become saturated as it passed through a small basin of water. Air from the heating system passed through the humidifier, introducing moisture to the air. This style humidifier tended to be problematic since it relied on the operation of a small motor and a small float valve. Also, there was constantly a basin of standing water, which eventually would become dirty and filled with mineral deposits.

The following photos show various old style humidifiers, the last of which is leaking:






Modern style humidifiers are simple devices. They consist of a water supply (controlled by an electric solenoid valve) which trickles water through a “water panel”.  As is the case with the older style humidifiers, moisture is introduced to the air as it passes through the humidifier. However, with these modern units, excess water is immediately drained out of the system. As a result, the maintenance on these systems is minimal. The water panel should be replaced annually.


Humidifiers operate automatically. They are controlled by humidistats. A homeowner simply needs to adjust the humidistat to their desired humidity level. Humidifiers are typically wired so that they will only operate during the heating cycle. The humidifier will then function if the humidity level of the air in the house is lower than the setting on the humidistat.

People often ask us how they should set their humidistat. A good starting point would be between 30% and 35 % humidity. If a homeowner finds that the inside of the house feels somewhat damp or that there tends to be condensation formation on the windows, they should decrease the setting on the humidistat. Care should be taken to not over-use a humidifier. Excessive amounts of moisture in a house can lead to problems from excess condensation. On the other hand, if the indoor air tends to be too dry (or if a person is being “shocked” as they walk around the house in their stocking feet) the humidistat should be turned up.


In general, as severely cold temperatures are reached outdoors (such as -20F), the humidifier setting should be changed from 35% to 25% or 15%, to prevent excessive condensation on windows, walls and other surfaces.

The water panel in the humidifier should be changed once each year as maintenance. Sometimes, when the winter is not too cold and dry, the panel can last two years before changing it. Excess minerals in the humidifier can be cleaned out with a solution of white vinegar and then water.




On most humidifiers or the connected ductwork there is a bypass damper. This damper should be opened during the winter to allow air through the humidifier. In the summer, if you have central air conditioning, the damper should be closed to save fan energy and to get the most out of your air conditioning system.



Humidifiers, when used properly, can make occupants more comfortable at slightly lower temperatures. This can reduce the thermostat setting and reduce heating costs.

We trust that this brief explanation will provide you with some valuable information regarding the use of a central humidifier in your home.

As is always the case, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can be of any assistance regarding this topic, or other topics related to your house.

Keep Your Home Protected While On Vacation

Friday, January 6th, 2012

By A. Christina Breen-Hale

You’ve packed up your suitcase and planned your itinerary, but before you leave for vacation, take the time to protect your home while you’re away. July and August are popular vacation months, and not surprisingly, they’re also the months when home burglaries peak. To fully enjoy your trip, plan appropriate home security and maintenance with this checklist.

Inside The House

Set timers on interior lights: This goes a long way in deterring burglars, who often look for crimes of opportunity. Don’t allow your house to appear as if no one is home.

Prevent power surges: You never know if a power surge can occur, so be prepared. Disconnect the computer, TV, stereo, and other electronics, or make sure they are plugged safely into a surge protector.

No status updates: Never broadcast your location on Facebook or Twitter. Even if you think that it’s only your friends or colleagues viewing your online profiles, it’s safest not to leave any sort of opening for a possible burglar.

Alert alarm company: If you have an automatic security system in place, call your representative, announcing you’ll be away from home for an extended period of time. Make sure the alarm is set properly when you leave.

Secure valuables: If you don’t already have your jewelry or other valuables in a safe deposit box, now might be the time to do so. Doing this also ensures that you don’t leave out anything valuable in plain sight that a burglar might be able to see from a window.

HVAC: Set a programmable thermostat to lower your heat or air conditioning usage.

Protect your pipes: Make sure pipes in vulnerable areas such as attics, basements, and crawlspaces are insulated. In unusually cold weather, set your thermostat at 55 degrees or above. Ask a neighbor or trusted friend to stop by and check on the house and periodically turn on the faucets to ensure the pipes don’t freeze.

Lock all doors and windows: It might seem obvious, but double-check just to be sure.

Outside The House

Arrange for lawn care: Have your landscaping tended to by a friendly neighbor or local service. Before you leave, trim tree branches that might allow access to a climbing burglar.

Newspaper and mail: Stop mail and newspaper deliveries, or have them regularly picked up by a neighbor. Again, you don’t want to easily clue in a burglar to your absence by the mounting newspapers on your doorstep.

Exterior lighting: Set these lights on timers as well, to deter burglars.

Don’t leave spare keys outdoors: Collect any hidden spare keys from around the exterior of your home. Remember, burglars know the most popular hiding places, like beneath mats and in potted plants.

Lock up garage: Even if there is no entrance to your house from the garage, there’s still a chance for numerous things to be stolen. Secure the door and any entrances to the garage.

Planning: Four Fatal Errors and Four Necessities

Friday, January 6th, 2012

By Rich Levin

Most people make resolutions.  Business people and those serious about achieving results make plans.  After working on business plans with entrepreneurs, executives, managers, salespeople, and small business owners for over twenty years there are characteristics of plans that work and plans that fail.

Goals and Measured Results: The fatal error is to fail to set goals. The next most damaging error is to set an annual goal and fail to break it down to monthly results goals and weekly benchmarks. The necessity is to create a system and habit of benchmarking. That is measuring results against goals on a weekly and monthly basis. What gets measured gets done. When a goal is set and not measured toward along the way it becomes nothing more than a wish and a hope. The popular movie and book, “The Secret” treats goals in this way. It is compelling, entertaining, interesting but often does not accomplish desired results. On the other hand measuring progress turns the magic of hope into the realization of the goal.

Skills: Every plan is made to create a result that does not yet exist, create something, achieve something or improve something to new level. To create a result that does not yet exist requires skill that does not yet exist. The fatal error is to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. The necessity is to determine the skills required to achieve a new and better result. Then build into the plan the education, and practice to achieve those new and better skills.

Habits: Every successful endeavor is built on good habits. That means doing something the same way over and over. Whether it is a McDonald’s hamburger, a fine steak, or a delicious dessert it is created by following the same recipe over and over. The same is true in sports, art, and business. The fatal error is to fail to build habits that replicate successful results. The necessity, of course, is to create the habits that ensure the results you desire. After the habit is created, to monitor the results of the habit. Tweak the process of the habit to continually improve results. While, at the same time, being extremely consistent with the habit.

Attitude: The fatal error here is treating attitude like something that happens to a person; believing that you are subject to your attitude versus in control of your attitude. So often, I find people waiting for motivation instead of understanding how to motivate themselves. The necessity is to learn and improve the ability to shift attitude in the moment. Then you know that you have the ability to control your attitude and that may be the most powerful knowledge and habit of all.

Think of winners you know or the things that you win at. Maybe you are overweight or out of shape but you are successful in your business or another endeavor. Perhaps you are struggling with your career or your finances but you are a great cook, parent, or in some other role in your life. Examine the place or places that you or people you know win. You will find the following.

They know what they want in that area and they know whether they are achieving it along the way. That is goals and measured results.

They are very skilled in that area.  They are interested in the strength of that skill. They are always thinking of ways to keep it strong and make it stronger. That is skills.

They have built habits around the area in which they win. They do things on the same days, at the same times, in the same places, and in the same ways. That is habits.

They control their attitude in that area.  Their focus, self talk, and physical demeanor make them feel good while they are at it. If something interferes with that feeling; they easily refocus, regain their physical composure and talk themselves back into the enjoyment or accomplishment. That is attitude.

As I begin to coach a Real Estate Agent, Broker, business owner, or entrepreneur I do a careful analysis of the person in these four areas. It is this analysis that establishes the format of our work together. As the relationship develops, the Client and I together identify the area that will make the most significant difference with the greatest ease. We use goals to determine needed skills. We identify, create, instill and refine habits that ensure consistent results. I am continuously monitoring attitude to discover if and when the Client’s beliefs may be limiting the Clients growth and success.

Life is very exciting when you know how to live it. These four fatal errors and necessities of successful planning are the same substance that lead to and create successful living.

Plan to live fully, happily, successfully.  Plan to make 2012 the best year of your career and your life.

Rich Levin is a results coach who works with Real Estate Professionals and business owners to achieve levels of success that previously seemed out of their reach. He speaks to audiences and coaches individuals across North America. You can experience a taste of his work on his daily webinar for Real Estate Professionals.  Register at  You can reach him at 585-244-2700 or

Design: What’s New For 2012

Friday, January 6th, 2012

By Lana Torre

It’s a new year. There is hope that the housing market will finally take a positive turn in the US. We are fortunate, though, that Rochester hasn’t been hit like other areas of the country. Interest rates for mortgages are at historic lows, so if a new home or remodeling project is in your plans, here is a memo of what is in and new for 2012.

Think green. Save water by selecting new sink and shower faucets that use about one gallon of water per minute. Gray water systems can be implemented to recycle bath and shower water into water for irrigation for your lawns and flushing your toilets. Solar roof panels are back, and redesigned to provide 75% of your home’s energy usage, and some provide so much energy, you can even move your meter backward. Anderson Windows has developed a window with high E4 performance and the frames are made of a fiber that is 700 times more efficient than aluminum windows.

Fabric. Looking to add a punch to your family room without adding a great expense? Use toss pillows everywhere. The new fabrics are earthy, like linens and burlap, full of natural texture and interest. The newest patterns this year botanicals, ferns, sprigs and buds. Busy florals are back but the colors are muted and soft. Look for spring flower patterns in shades of light green and butter yellow

Area rugs. Think pattern here. Even if you are searching for a neutral sisal, find one with a pattern, like herringbone. Look for stripes of blues and browns or patterns of sea shells or lively circles. The price of area rugs has come way down lately, and a new rug under your coffee table is an inexpensive design fix.

Lighting. When looking for table lamps, pendants and chandeliers search out clear glass. New pendants shown in stores can even be glass jars or wine bottles made into light fixtures.

Furniture. Classic sofa styles are always in. Look for softly rolled or squared arms. Smaller sizes are back, gone are the chair and one half large scaled pieces. Occasional chairs with exposed high legs and large patterns are being shown.  If you have a large room, fill it with furniture arranged into decidedly different areas, like conversation and reading. Add case pieces like hanging cubbies or shelves for books and picture frames, usually painted in black. Mirrored accent tables will be big in 2011, look for side tables and bachelor chests. They will add interest to your room while creating reflective light. Place candlesticks on top, or sleekly framed family photos. Generally speaking, the look is more transitional to contemporary, clean and simple lines.

Recycle. Always green idea. Look for old silver pitchers, trays and ice buckets. Don’t even bother to polish them, retain the old, tarnished patina. Found bottles in colored glass are popular again. Greens and browns, earthy colors can be arranged on your sideboard or fireplace mantle. Always group objects in odd numbers for interest.

Enjoy your new year. Clean out, de-clutter, look for muted colors and natural fabrics. Keep it soft, keep it simple and make it another great year in the comfort of your home.

Charlotte Appliance on Property Source Radio

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Join House and Coyne this Saturday, January 7th at 9:00 a.m. on ESPN 950 am radio as they welcome Marcus Alexander from Charlotte Appliance to the show. Learn what’s hot for appliances in the kitchen.

Stream the show online or listen every Saturday at 9:00 on Sports Radio 950 ESPN