Archive for March, 2012

What are the benefits of using a Buyers Agent?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Dear JMan, I am a first time homebuyer and am  looking  to buy a home in the coming months. I have been going to some open houses here and there and have had agents ask me if I am working with an agent? I am wondering what the benefits might be to working with an exclusive buyers agent? I can find the properties myself on the internet or even using some of my m smartphone apps as I drive around. What are your thoughts?

I get this questions at least once a week. It use to be years ago that Realtors had the information and the control of all of the properties that were for sale. You had to go to them to find out what was for sale. Today, a buyer may know about a property hours after it is listed. They can even drive around in the cars and use GPS based home search apps. It is truly amazing what is possible today. That being said, You still need to use a buyers agent. Finding the property for you  is only one small part of what an agent does and now a days it is more then likely that you will find the house first. Here are some of the top reason you should use a buyer agent.

1.) IT’S FREE: You don’t have to pay them directly. The buyers agents fee for service is paid by the seller and the sellers agent. It is one of the only industry’s where you can effectively hire an expert for free. So, Why wouldn’t you?

2.) It’s convenient: Let the expert handle the details, A  buyers agent knows the neighborhood, the agents and the different showing methods. Trying to schedule a handful of showings even if they are in the same town can be a challenge. You can tell your agent when your available and what houses and he can handle the rest.

3.) Market knowledge: This is where the real expertise comes in. You don’t gain market knowledge over night. It takes time and experience. Many agents live and grew up in the neighborhoods they currently specialize in and can tell you what you need to know to establish what values might be in one area to another. Positive or negative, you need to know.

4.) Professional negotiation: The art of negotiation is truly a specialized skill that your agent does everyday. Price and terms are only the first part of what you negotiate as there is usually an inspection right after that also has to be negotiated. There is a delicate balance of being fair and reasonable and a take or leave it attitude. Your agent knows that push/pull so that he looks out for your best interests and still gets you the home of your dreams.

5.) Professional connections: Your buyers agent has invaluable industry connections that he can recommend you to. He can give you names of mortgage professionals, inspectors, insurance agents, attorneys and even home repair professionals. These are people that he knows and trusts. It is much better then doing a blind search on the internet or the phone book.

6.) Insider knowledge: Agents network with one another within the office and even with other companies. There may be time when they hear about a property that is coming on the market and can let you know about it ahead of time.

7.) Access to sales info: A buyers agent does have access to recent sales which is absolutely necessary to establish what is an accurate market value. You can’t just say,” that house isn’t worth x amount.” just because that is your opinion. Your agent will give you a number based on acts and statistics.

8.) Knowledge of industry standards & contracts: a buyer agent is familiar with what is standard in a transaction as what to ask for or what disclosures should be provided. They also know how to write the contract and contingencies to put in there to protect you from a potential lawsuit down the road or buying a property that could have some issues.

Buying a home will be one of the single most important and largest purchases of your lifetime. Don’t try to go it alone. A buyer agent is on your side and is exclusively looking out for your best interests. Let a buyers agent guide your through the process. You will be glad you did!

4th Quarter & Year-End Residential Stats

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Home sales for the Greater Rochester and Finger Lakes region were up 5 percent in the Fourth Quarter compared to the same time last year, and down 22 percent compared to the Third Quarter sales total, according to statistics released by the Genesee Region Real Estate Information Services (GENRIS), the information subsidiary of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® (GRAR).

“It is encouraging, overall, to see this type of activity at this time of the year,” said Steve Babbitt, president of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors. “The positive activity of the Fourth Quarter 2011 are the result of two factors: 1) an unseasonably warm start to our Rochester winter, and 2) continued signs of recovery from the ‘Great Recession’ within the local housing market in the 11-county region.”

Area REALTORS® sold 2,243 existing single-family homes in the Fourth Quarter, an increase of 5 percent from the 2010 Fourth Quarter total of 2,134. The median sale price for the Fourth Quarter of $124,000 reflected a 4 percent increase compared to last year at this time

“The Fourth Quarter was the second straight quarter with increased sales,” said Babbitt. “These trends are indicators of a return to a more traditional housing market and one absent of the outside influence of a Homebuyer Tax Credit. In addition, this past quarter there was a 93 percent increase in the pending sales, a forward-looking indicator of future activity, which leaves us anticipating a positive start to 2012.

GRAR Officials also noted that 2011 overall reflected a stable ‘leveling off’ and return to a more ‘normal’ market from one affected by the Federal Homebuyer Tax Credit for the better half of 2010. Overall, sales for 2011 decreased 10 percent, however homes listed for sale were also down 10 percent in comparison to 2010. Median sale price remained stable with a small increase in 2011 to $120,000 from $119,900 in 2010.

Looking at the annual history of the median sales price locally, not many markets can say they went through the national housing bust that began in 2007 and four years later have realized an average 2 percent gain on the investment in their home,” said Babbitt. “This goes to show that owning a home in our market is a wise investment and with historically low interest rates there’s no better time to buy than now.” Other good news included Livingston and Ontario counties overall realized both Fourth Quarter and Annual increases in median sale prices. Interesting note for Monroe County in 2011, the Eastside towns of Brighton, Penfield and Pittsford all realized small gains in the number of sales yet experienced minor declines in median sales prices. Conversely, the Westside towns of Clarkson, Ogden and Wheatland experienced declines in number of sales however realized increases in median sales prices.

Thinking of Making an Offer on a Short Sale? What You Need to Know!!

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Dear JMan, I am looking to buy a house and have heard from friends that there are a lot of good deals out there. I have been searching on the internet and found some properties that say they are a short sale and they seemed to be priced below market. What is a short sale?

It really is a great time to buy and It may be a great time to get a great bargain but it pays to know a little about the seller’s situation and a short sale before you make an offer. Sometimes a good “deal” can just be a home that meets your needs at a price you comfortable with.Ultimately, 10 years from now you won’t remember what you paid for the house but you wil know that you and your family are happy. Here is probably more information then you probably hoped for in regards to short sales.

If a home is being sold for below what the current seller owes on the property—and the seller does not have other funds to make up the difference at closing—the sale is considered a short sale. Many more home owners are finding themselves in this situation due to a number of factors, including job losses, aggressive borrowing against their home in the days of easy credit, and declining home values in a slower real estate market.

A short sale is different from a foreclosure, which is when the seller’s lender has taken title of the home and is selling it directly. Homeowners often try to accomplish a short sale in order to avoid foreclosure. But a short sale holds many potential pitfalls for buyers. Know the risks before you pursue a short-sale purchase.

You’re a good candidate for a short-sale purchase if: You’re very patient. Even after you come to agreement with the seller to buy a short-sale property, the seller’s lender (or lenders, if there is more than one mortgage) has to approve the sale before you can close. When there is only one mortgage, short-sale experts say lender approval typically takes about two months or more. If there is more than one mortgage with different lenders, it can take four months or longer for the lenders to approve the sale.

Your financing is in order. Lenders like cash offers. But even if you can’t pay all cash for a short-sale property, it’s important to show you are well qualified and your financing is set. If you’re preapproved, have a large down payment, and can close at any time, your offer will be viewed more favorably than that of a buyer whose financing is less secure.

You don’t have any contingencies. If you have a home to sell before you can close on the purchase of the short-sale property—or you need to be in your new home by a certain time—a short sale may not be for you. Lenders like no-contingency offers and flexible closing terms.

If you’re serious about purchasing a short-sale property, it’s important for you to have expert assistance. Here are some people you want to work with:

Experienced real estate attorney. Only about two out of five short sales are approved by lenders. But a good real estate attorney who’s knowledgeable about the short-sale process will increase your chances getting an approved contract. Also, if you want any provisions or very specialized language written into the purchase contract, a real estate attorney is essential throughout the negotiation.

A qualified real estate professional.* You may have a close friend or relative in real estate, but if that person doesn’t know anything about short sales, working with him or her may hurt your chances of a successful closing. Interview a few practitioners and ask them how many buyers they’ve represented in a short sale and, of those, how many have successfully closed. A qualified real estate professional will be able to show you short-sale homes, help negotiate the purchase when you find the property you want to buy, and smooth communications with the lender. (All MLSs permit, and some now require, special notations to indicate that a listing is a short sale. There also are certain phrases you can watch for, such as “lender approval required.”)

Title company. It’s a good idea to have a title company do an initial title search on a short-sale property to see all the liens attached to the property. If there are multiple lien holders (e.g., second or third mortgage or lines of credit, real estate tax lien, mechanic’s lien, homeowners association lien, etc.), it’s much tougher to get that short sale contract to the closing table. Any of the lien holders could put a kink in the process even after you’ve waited for months for lender approval. If you don’t know a title company, your real estate attorney or real estate professional should be able to recommend a few. Some attorneys here locally have in house title companies and simplify the process further.

Some of the other risks faced by buyers of short-sale properties include:

Potential for rejection. Lenders want to minimize their losses as much as possible. If you make an offer tremendously lower than the fair market value of the home, chances are that your offer will be rejected and you’ll have wasted months. Or the lender could make a counteroffer, which will lengthen the process.

Bad terms. Even when a lender approves a short sale, it could require that the sellers sign a promissory note to repay the deficient amount of the loan, which may not be acceptable to some financially desperate sellers. In that case, the sellers may refuse to go through with the short sale. Lenders also can change any of the terms of the contract that you’ve already negotiated, which may not be agreeable to you.

No repairs or repair credits. You will most likely be asked to take the property “as is.” Lenders are already taking a loss on the property and may not agree to requests for repair credits.

The risks of a short sale are considerable. But if you have the time, patience, and iron will to see it through, a short sale can be a win-win for you and the sellers.

* Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®. A REALTOR® is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and is bound by NAR’s strict code of ethics.

Note: This article provides general information only. Information is not provided as advice for a specific matter. Laws vary from state to state. For advice on a specific matter, consult your attorney or CPA.


Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
By Kristen Noble
I have owned a professional home staging company since 2007. In the Rochester NY area, for an unknown reason, many home sellers are not utilizing professional stagers. Watching occasional HGTV does not qualify a home owner to say they staged their home.
I know you’ll be shocked to hear me be direct. In the middle of my fourth year of being a real estate agent, and selling 26 homes last year, many recent homes I’ve shown have been completely disappointing to my clients. Why? Homes are not prepared to sell using simple common sense. Dirty, stinky, and cluttered homes don’t sell. Sellers need to take preparing their homes for all showings and listing in general seriously. It is inexcusable not to paint wild colored rooms a neutral color. Many buyers don’t want to be inconvenienced with a fixer upper. I have had buyers walk away from great homes because they can’t look past room colors. Get rid of your wallpaper. It’s never a selling point. People want to see a spacious feeling home no matter what its square footage is. If you need to rent a storage area, do it.  Moving is stressful enough. Every house can be presented in move in condition.  Homes that do look better than their competition in the same price range sell. There is no bad time to sell a home. Mary Chau recently wrote on that very subject in The Democrat and Chronicle. Interest rates are fantastic.
Home staging is imperative. The basic steps of home staging are to repair, de-clutter, stage, and moderately decorate a home. Stagers use a large majority of decorative items and furnishing within houses. Their process accentuates focal points, showcases the size of a room, and balances furniture placement, color and space in each room, but it’s not enough. The more I continued to “stage” listings, I realized that I was not truly staging.   After much analyzing, I was using the basic concepts of staging, but taking it three steps further. My steps are staging, fully decorating using my inventory, hiring a professional real estate photographer for both pictures and virtual tours, and utilizing the power of national social media marketing. This process is “Stagorating.”
Sellers don’t need to invest in items to modernize a room to appeal beautiful to buyers. It’s too expensive. They need to save for their future home. Painting and de-cluttering is not expensive. The Realtor is responsible to guide sellers how to prepare homes to sell the quickest for the most money. The most common and relatively inexpensive suggestions should be painting, tearing away wallpaper, and renting a storage unit.
Buyer’s want to walk into room that looks beautiful knowing their furniture will fit in it. They are drawn to request showings through on line photographs. Fuzzy distorted photos without virtual tours frequently get overlooked. Houses not shown don’t necessarily mean they’re priced too high. They are priced too high if they stink are filthy, have hot pink paint, unmade beds loaded with cat hair. I showed houses priced over $195,000 with these issues within the past 2 months.
The 2011 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers states that 88 % of buyers are using the internet to find their homes. Additional facts include 55% find homes through drive by yard signs, 45% through open houses, and only 30% through newspaper ads. The same study states that 63% of buyers walked through a home they found on line.
Recently I sold a home to my brother and sister-in-law. When my 15 year old nephew, Billy, and 12 year old niece, Anne, stated the house they purchased bought created a warm mood. They were right. The house was neutral, clean, tastefully decorated, and arranged spaciously. Honestly, if teenagers recognize that feeling, why isn’t it common sense to sellers?
Sellers don’t want to sink their money into accessories, new bedding, glassware, curtains, and furnishings. Stagerating is taking home staging one step further. Each room not only needs to be staged, but fully decorated. Stagerated rooms show neutral, but tastefully and highly decorated. The only way this can be done is to hire a Stagerater that owns a large inventory of all home decorating items.
After a home has been Stagerated, professional photography is a necessity. According to the 2011 National Association of Realtors, 88% of home buyers find their homes on the internet. If the pictures of a listing don’t look pristine, it won’t sell quickly for top dollar. Since again according to the NAR, the top places where Realtors place their listings are, their broker’s website and Trulia.
When hiring a Realtor it is imperative to ask how they utilize social media marketing. It is also very important while listing a home to have an immediate open house. Buyers need to ask the agent to confirm what is on social media sites. An inexperienced agent does not update their listings on sites that they don’t even realize their listings are put on. An informed buyer takes what they learn on the internet and confirms those facts with a licensed Realtor. A Realtor that only dabbles in social media may not even realize that they have to update their listings on many websites.
Your agent has the ability through online sources to tell you how many times hour house has been viewed and even marked as a favorite through many online sources available to them. If your house is being looked at frequently on line and not getting showings, that is a problem. If a home is prepared properly, has a varied and vast national marketing plan, and is getting showings, it will sell.
I am not saying that every house needs to be Stagerated. Some do not. The fact of the matter is that it is far less expensive to hire a Stagerater than it is to drop the price of your home by $5000.

Homes with jaw-dropping backyards

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

As Alex reported 3/10/2012 on Property Source Radio.
By Marcelle Sussman Fischler,  – February 28, 2012
published on Yahoo Real Estate
News Sponsored by

Once upon a time, a backyard with a giant swimming pool and fancy patio furniture were more than enough to while away a steamy afternoon in first-class comfort. Not anymore. These days the backyards of the rich and famous serve as personal oasis with outdoor kitchens, water parks, sculpture gardens, putting greens and even ice rinks.

“What’s outside the house is as important as what’s inside the house,” says Gary DePersia, an associate broker with the Corcoran Group and real estate liaison to business moguls and Hollywood celebrities. Among DePersia’s ritziest listings is Sandcastle, the $43.5 million home of Joe Farrell, owner of a Hamptons building company. His 12-acre spread is outfitted with an outdoor kitchen and covered lounge areas plus a fire pit, 60-foot swimming pool with underwater stereo, spa, sunken tennis court with viewing pergola and a recreation pavilion. Then there’s the guest house, pool house and to score a home run—a manicured baseball field for weekly softball games.

In Pictures: Homes with jaw-dropping backyards

In Pictures: Homes with jaw-dropping backyards

To some, a dream backyard has a sandy beach, sweeping mountain vistas, or a rooftop garden with jaw-dropping city skylines. In Napa Valley, vineyards do the trick. The standout 57-acre grounds at Villa Mille Rose are a spectacular garden showcase with 500 rose bushes, nearly 40 acres of grape-growing vines, an organic fruit orchard and two acres of 100-year-old olive trees. Wisteria-covered pergola, majestic cypresses and 360-degree mountain views add extra flourish to the grand landscape.

“You feel like you are stepping back into Florence,” says Ginger Martin, the Sotheby’s agent representing the stylish $37.8 million Tuscan-style property. No surprise considering the estate is owned by entrepreneur and philanthropist Maria Manetti Farrow, known for bringing Gucci franchises from Italy to the United States.

“Backyards are personal spaces,” requiring both “flair and functionality,” says Stephen Eich, landscape architect with Edmund Hollander Landscape Architect Designs.

A Frank Lloyd Wright-style abode that recently sold for $4.6 million in North Scottsdale, Arizona, is certainly utilitarian—if you’re a kid. The desert crash pad’s backyard sports a 300-foot zip line and a chugging train custom built to resemble the Santa Fe railway. Guests can also swing Tarzan-style into the five-star resort-style infinity edge pool, complete with waterfalls, grotto, slide and a spa for 10, according to Patrick Kirby, senior marketing consultant at Grand Estates Auction Company. And for the adults? The Sonoran Desert sunset and its accompanying mountain view backdrop should more than hit the spot.

Here are five inspired backyards:

Sonoran Desert Home
Scottsdale, Arizona

Among the backyard’s diversions is a mock Santa Fe railway train.
Photo: Grand Estates Auction Company

The Sonoran desert and its accompanying mountain views are merely the backdrop for entertaining at a Frank Lloyd Wright-style home on more than 16 walled acres in North Scottsdale, Arizona. The backyard perks include a 300-foot zip line and a chugging train custom built to resemble the Santa Fe railway for kids. Guests can also swing Tarzan-style from a rope tied to a tree into the million-dollar resort-style infinity pool, with waterfalls, grotto, slide and a spa for 10. Patrick Kirby, a senior marketing consultant at Grand Estates Auction Company, recently sold the home at auction for $4.6 million.

Tiger Woods’ Home
Jupiter Island, Florida

Tiger Woods can sharpen his golf game from the comforts of home.
Photo: Jeff Lichtenstein Realty

Golf phenom Tiger Woods owns a swanky piece of real estate on Jupiter Island, Florida. The property stretches from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean, but don’t expect the top golfer to hang out on the beach. Woods is more likely to be practicing his two-iron stinger on his personal four-green golf course. Woods’ backyard also sports a putting green, 100-foot lap pool, a 60-foot diving pool, a spa and a tennis/basketball sports court.

Tudor Home
Westbury, New York

A bridge spans a pond on the Tudor home’s nine-hole golf course.
Photo: Hollander Designs

Hollander Designs recently used a classic and elegant approach in designing the 115 acres surrounding a new 22,000-square-foot brick Tudor in Old Westbury, New York. With smaller “outdoor rooms,” some covered under Tudor or round arches, the home features gardens closer to the castle. A bridge spans a pond on the backyard’s nine-hole golf course and “tens of thousands” of trees, shrubs and flowers flesh out the backyard expanse.

Villa Mille Rose
Sonoma, California
Price: $37.75 million

The Napa Valley home includes 37 acres of grape-growing vines.
Photo: Sotheby’s International Realty

To some, a dream backyard has a sandy beach, sweeping mountain vistas, or a rooftop garden with jaw-dropping city views. In Napa Valley, vineyards do the trick. The standout 57-acre grounds at Villa Mille Rose are a spectacular garden showcase with 500 rose bushes, 37 acres of grape-growing vines, an organic fruit orchard and two acres of 100-year-old olive trees. Add to that wisteria-covered pergola, majestic cypresses and 360-degree mountain views. “You feel like you are stepping back into Florence,” said Ginger Martin, the Sotheby’s agent representing the stylish $37.8 million Tuscan-style property. It is owned by entrepreneur and philanthropist Maria Manetti Farrow, known for bringing Gucci franchises from Italy to the United States.

Normandy-Style Home
Sands Point, New York

The Sands Point home’s backyard is full of eclectic touches.
Photo: The Laurel Group

A sense of whimsy fills the eclectic backyard at this Normandy-style estate in Sands Point, New York, which ranges — in distinct pockets –from bits of Italy to the jungle and a beach garden. The owner, an avid gardener, added a magical touch to the outside decor with stone archways, whimsical iron gates and cherubs. In one nook, sea shells are embedded into the stucco walls around the infinity edge pool, overlooking the Long Island Sound. Closer to the mansion, an English knot garden showcases boxwoods growing out of giant cast-bronze fish. A stone path leads to an Alpine garden featuring a gazebo with a curlicue wrought-iron dome. Hummingbirds are drawn to the bird sanctuary’s trellis with trumpet vines and multiple birdbaths.

Click here to see more photos of homes with jaw-dropping backyards

Study: Home Owners Spend More on Housing Costs

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

As Alex reported 3/3/2012 on Property Source Radio.  – Daily Real Estate News | Tues, Feb 28, 2012
News Sponsored by

Nearly one in four working families spend more than half their income on housing costs, which includes utility costs, according to a new study by the Center for Housing Policy.

The organization found that about 23.6 percent of working households devoted more than half of their income to housing costs in 2010, which was an increase of 1.8 percentage points compared to 2008 data. Researchers define “working households” as those that earn less than 120 percent of a region’s median income.

Housing experts generally advise home owners to not devote any more than 30 percent of their pretax income toward housing costs.

“The data show that home owners have been hit hard by the housing crisis in more ways than just lost equity,” Jeffrey Lubell, executive director at the Center for Housing Policy, said in a statement. “Many working home owners have been laid off or had their hours cut.”

The states with the highest number of households spending more than half their incomes on housing were:

  • California: 34 percent
  • Florida: 33 percent
  • New Jersey: 32 percent
  • Hawaii: 30 percent
  • Nevada: 29 percent

Source: “1 in 4 Spend More Than Half of Income on Housing, Study Says,” AOL Real Estate (Feb. 27, 2012)

Pace & Nothnagle on PSR – 3/3/12

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Join House and Coyne this Saturday as they welcome Steve Abramson from Pace Windows and Doors and Frank Barker from Nothnagle Realtors.

Stve Abramson talks about Home Energy and Home Performance with their new building they re-built from the studs in Greece (Directly in front of Kodak Park). For more information on Pace and all the services they have to offer, please visit their website.

Frank Barker of Nothnagle talks about Investment properties and some unique ways of financing to get started! For more information please visit his website.

Property Source Radio is every Saturday morning from 9-10am on Sportsradio 950AM ESPN. You can listen on the radio or stream the show from our website.