Top Ways to Finding the Right One – Hudson Valley Real Estate

October 23rd, 2016

Take the time to research and interview a real estate agent before choosing the one who’s right for you. Consider the real estate process: there’s time spent researching neighborhoods, searching for homes that match your budget (andRight Agent your lifestyle), negotiations on price and repairs, the commitment level of making one of the biggest purchases of your life. Does going it alone sound scarier than entering a haunted house at midnight?

Fear not: home-buying doesn’t have to be. A great real estate agent can help you navigate every step, with advice and connections to make getting to the closing table that much easier. And especially in hot real estate markets experienced agents can help you beat out the competition to buy or sell a home, and even save you money in the process. The trickiest part is finding that trustworthy agent. Here are a few ways to find the perfect match:

Consider chemistry

Most importantly, buyers and sellers need to be able to trust their real estate agent. If you feel a personal connection with your agent, you’ve probably found your match. BJ Ray, an agent with The BJ Ray Team at Unlimited Sotheby’s International Realty in Boston, MA, believes agents should see their clients as team members. “No transaction is without bumps, hurdles, and obstacles,” says Ray. “It’s important to remember that your own client is part of your team and, when a challenges arises, may also have a much-needed outsider’s perspective.”

Analyze their answers

Your agent will (thankfully!) take the lead and guide you through the process once you’ve signed on, but the initial interview with an agent is your time to take the lead. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions — it’ll help you get a sense of how they’ll handle tough situations down the road, and your agent will most likely appreciate your thorough approach. A real estate agent with Halstead Property, suggests using this time to check in on an agent’s dedication. She recommends asking how long an agent has worked in your location, plus: “Is this their full-time occupation, or are they a yoga teacher or struggling actor who sells real estate for a few hours a week? This is a big decision, and the agent should be a full-time, dedicated, and extremely experienced professional.”

Ask how they handle high-stress situations

Fact: The way an agent handles themselves during negotiations can make or break a deal. If you feel that your agent is confident enough to turn down a deal that they believe isn’t in your best interest, that’s a great sign. “A good agent knows how to understand the parties’ needs and how to bring a deal together without getting in the way,” says Amanda Jones, real estate agent with Compass in San Francisco, CA. “I also think that a good agent will help a buyer to walk away when it gets too heated. Sometimes silence is a great negotiation tactic.” More tips HERE

Now in October… A Great Time to Move UP!-Orange County Real Estate

October 16th, 2016

For those looking to sell a home and trade up, is now a good time for these buyers to start their search? YES!  Moving Up

The good news is that a significant number — 18.5 million homeowners, or 40% of all folks with a mortgage — now have at least 20% equity, according to real estate data firm RealtyTrac.

That’s because prices in the first seven months of this year increased faster than in any year since 2004, when the New York- Orange County real estate market…..More info HERE

Top Mistakes Sellers Can Make This Fall – Hudson Valley Real Estate

October 9th, 2016

Many people believe they’ll save money by listing their home as “for sale by owner” (FSBO), and sometimes they do. But selling a home is a mortgage-rateslot more complicated than selling practically anything else, including a car — which is certainly no walk in the park.

Think about it: This isn’t an agent’s first rodeo, but it might be yours. A good real estate agent knows how to price your home!

Here are just a few costly mistakes sellers tend to make.

1. They price it wrong

If you consistently beat everyone when playing along to The Price Is Right, you’re either a natural, or you study retail prices … a lot. Unless you devote time and usually money (hiring an appraiser) to figuring out the best price to list your home, chances are, you’ll get it wrong.

It’s common to think your house is worth more than it really is, especially if you’ve “improved it.” But not everyone appreciates a garage converted to a functional living space. They might prefer a garage to be a garage. And a pool doesn’t necessarily increase the value of your house either.

“On the other hand, some for-sale-by-owners shortchange themselves by underpricing their homes because they do not understand the current market.

2. They can’t (or won’t) make the time commitment

When people want to buy a home, they expect someone to respond to their inquiries and show the home when they want to see it. But many FSBO sellers show the home only when it’s convenient for them.

“Buyers want instant gratification and expect info when they want it,” says Korman. If you can’t communicate with buyers or show your home in a timely manner, expect the buyers to move on.

3. They’re emotionally involved

When selling a home, it’s a good idea to bring out your inner Spock by using logic instead of emotion. Otherwise, you might not take a strong first (and possibly best) offer from fear of making a bad deal.

Your connection with the home can also get in the way. “Sellers think of their property as their home, not just another house on the market. They have an emotional attachment to it, and when they try to sell, the facts get lost in the emotion. More sellers tips HERE

October 2016 Home Project Checklist – Hudson Valley Real Estate

October 2nd, 2016

Make the most of these beautiful, brisk October days by getting your home and garden ready for the coming winter—and tackling a few fun weekend projects while you’re at it. October is a month filled with simple pleasures: cooler temperatures, yard sales, leaf-peeping, apple-picking, and every kid’s favorite holiday, Halloween. But it’s also the time to tackle some fall home maintenance to make sure you—and your home—are prepared for the months ahead.


While the October weather is still pleasant, check the foundation for cracks, and caulk around the areas where masonry meets siding, where pipes or wires enter the house, and around the windows and door frames to prevent heat from escaping (and humidity and moisture from entering). Next, take a look at the roof. Check for any loose, curled, or missing shingles, because ice, rain, snow, and wind, as well as rapidly changing temperatures and humidity, will only make problems worse. And while you’re checking your roof, be sure to clean out the gutters and downspouts. Flush them with water, inspect joints, and tighten brackets if necessary. Remember: Clogged gutters are one of the major causes of ice dams. Lastly, check for any signs of peeling, missing, or blistering paint. Left uncorrected, peeling paint will cause the siding itself to deteriorate, leading to expensive repairs come spring.

Related: 10 Fall Home Maintenance Musts

Inside, it’s important to do everything you can to make certain that your home is weathertight and that your furnace is operating at peak performance, particularly because the cost of heating accounts for nearly 50 percent of your home’s energy costs. Sealing drafts around windows and doors, and installing sufficient insulation—particularly in the attic—are two economical ways to keep your indoor temperatures and energy costs in line. Having your heating system checked by a licensed contractor is a smart fall habit, too. Heating systems, no matter the fuel, will work more efficiently, last longer, and have fewer problems if properly serviced. At the very least, make certain to clean or replace filters.

This is also a good time, while in October to seal your driveway, give your outdoor deck and patio some TLC, and prepare your yard equipment for winter storage. Click here for a complete Fall Home Maintenance Checklist.

Although summer blooms have faded, there’s no reason not to have color throughout the month of October or fall. If you’re looking to plant something now, there are several options, from pansies and mums to kale and ornamental grasses. Check with your local garden center or nursery to see which varieties are best for your region. If you have a cool-season grass, an application of slow-release organic fertilizer now will provide your lawn with the strength it needs to make it through winter. Yes, the weather has cooled and your grass is no longer suffering in the same way it did over the summer, but it still needs a good drink weekly to keep it moist. Keep mowing as well, but lower the mowing height a bit—to about 2 inches—so you are cutting the blades a little shorter than usual. Do so until you’ve noticed growth has stopped and the lawn has reached dormancy.

Although some projects require a certain level of skill and expertise, there are many that do not. If you have basic skills, some tool know-how, and the ability to follow instructions, there are plenty of things you can do to improve both the look and comfort of your home this weekend. Whether it’s easy ways to boost your home’s curb appeal, or simple ways to transform a piece of furniture, build a bookcase, enhance a hall or entryway, or create clever kid’s room storage—you’ll find it all at Weekend DIY Projects. Be sure to check back every Friday, when new projects are published. More October tips HERE.

Related: Pumpkin Carving 101

Top Benefits to Fall Home Buying – Hudson Valley Real Estate

September 25th, 2016

Although the spring months are notoriously the best time to buy real estate (as well as have a wedding), fall may be the new ideal season to buy a home. Hear us out: One obvious reason is that it’s easier to get from open house to fall-frontporchopen house without questioning if you’ll need an AC repair ASAP upon moving into that home for sale in Phoenix, AZ. Also, families on a mission to move into a new home before school starts are out of the picture. Besides these two more obvious reasons, here are seven expert insights on why you should consider a fall real estate purchase.

1. There’s less competition.

Competition for houses drops off in the fall, a time many people consider to be off-season in real estate. But there are still homes for sale — and in some cases, there’s just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer. “[Fall] means new inventory and repositioned old inventory that did not sell in the prime season,” says Wesley Stanton, a New York, NY, agent with The Stanton Hoch Team.

This puts you in a great position to negotiate. “Fall homebuyers should consider [making] lowball offers, followed by more aggressive negotiation,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and director of education at Spark Rental. Davis points out that many sellers are very motivated to sell before the holidays. If possible, buyers should let these sellers know that they can close before Thanksgiving or before the school winter break.

2. Sellers are worn-out.

Some sellers who put their homes on the market during the prime selling times of spring and summer might have been a tad overconfident by listing their homes for more than buyers were willing to spend. After months of no action, these sellers are often ready to make a deal. “Sellers who were unrealistic earlier in the year about price will now be more willing to reduce the price come fall,” says Thomas Miller, a Washington, DC, real estate agent. “Because there [are fewer buyers] and because the sellers are now eager to sell, they are more inclined to take the low offer than wait another six months for spring to come around.” More tips can be found HERE

How to Make the Perfect Offer – Hudson Valley Real Estate

September 18th, 2016

The challenge is crafting a purchase offer that entices sellers, protects your interests, and maximizes your budget. Finding your dream home is the fun part!

Veterans and military buyers should lean on their real estate agent for help to strike the right balance. A seasoned agent is your best advocate and expert, whether you’re preparing to purchase at your new duty station or searching for your retirement home. Here’s a look at a few key considerations when it comes to making an offer on a home:


Come to the table prepared

Pre-qualification is a good first step, but it’s also a basic one. You’ll want to go a step further and get pre-approved for your home loan before you start your home search. It’ll give you a realistic idea of what you can afford, and you’ll be ready to make an offer if you see a home that you love.

For veterans and service members using their VA home loan benefits, the good news is you won’t need any money down in most cases. Yet the seller should know that you’re a highly qualified buyer, because you’ve gone through a rigorous screening process.

Some real estate agents won’t accept an offer on a home without a copy of the buyer’s pre-approval letter.

Look for something Uncle Sam would love

If you’re using FHA or VA financing, the home you select will generally need to be in move-in-ready shape. The appraisal process for government-backed loans includes a broad assessment of the property’s condition.

“Buyers can get really impressed with a house, but it’s my job to make sure that the price is going to line up in terms of the VA appraisal,” saysDuan Rockette, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties and a retired Marine Corps First Sergeant.

That appraisal doesn’t just look at whether the home is worth the price you offer for it, but also whether it meets the VA’s minimum property requirements.

“I try to be open and upfront with the seller, even before writing the offer, asking them if they’re willing to address any repairs that may be an issue from the point of view of VA guidelines,” says Elisha Gutloff, a broker at Keller Williams in Raleigh, NC, who has worked with many veteran buyers.

The goal is to make sure buyers don’t purchase a home that’s unsafe or that could be difficult to sell down the road. You probably want to steer clear of fixer-uppers—and you might even get some concessions from the seller.

“With one home, the inspector came back and determined the carpet wasn’t sanitary, so the buyer got new carpet in the stairway and the first floor,” Gutloff says.

Have a backup—actually, have several

As any active-duty military family knows, sometimes you need to find a home, double quick. That means that if your first choice falls through, as often happens, you need to have a second choice lined up. And a third. And a fourth.

“I set the expectations with the buyer that it’s not a deal until you have that contract accepted,” says Rockette.

Protect yourself

Talk with your agent about what kind of contract contingencies you might need. Many would-be buyers insist on a home inspection contingency. These allow you to get an in-depth look at the property and reopen the contract to negotiation based on the results.

You’ll also want to safeguard your earnest money deposit in case the deal falls through because of a low appraised value or another issue beyond your control. More details HERE

Signs You May NOT be ready to Buy – Hudson Valley Real Estate

September 11th, 2016

Hordes of renters, innocently perusing their social media accounts, are noticing a theme. It’s not that everyone is getting married or obsessing over spiralized vegetables — they’re posting pictures of newly purchased homes. It’s happening all across America right now! But like your mother always said, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean you should — or should you? There areHome-Value certainly pros and cons of becoming a homeowner, and stumbling across just one dreamy listing of a home for sale in Anaheim, CA, with the perfect open-concept kitchen and fenced-in backyard can leave you thinking about little else. But then you realize you’d rather save your money for a travel adventure, and said dreamy house doesn’t come with the amenities you love at your apartment, like an on-site gym, pool, and doggie day care.

Don’t jump the gun and assume you need to buy a house. Here’s some truth talk: You might not be ready to buy. Pay attention to these seven signs that reveal that even if you think you’re ready to buy a house, you might not be.

1. You don’t make enough money

You might think you make enough money to buy a home, but crunch the numbers first and see what your costs would actually be — a mortgage calculator can come in handy here. You need both upfront and ongoing money, says Roger Ma, a New York, NY agent. “Upfront money includes having enough for the down payment and closing costs and enough left over for an emergency fund,” says Ma. “On an ongoing basis, a buyer’s salary will need to be enough to pay for mortgage interest and principal,HOA fees, homeowners insurance, and taxes.” These costs, according to many financial planners, should be less than 28% of your gross income.

2. You have too much debt

Let’s say you do make enough money to afford to buy a house and make your monthly mortgage payments. You also need to factor in any debt you might have. Hint: If all your credit cards are maxed out, you may want to get those bills under control before entering homeownership. Lenders typically want your total debt load (which includes your potential mortgage payment) to be less than 36% of your gross income. “Take a hard look at your spending habits and change them to improve your chances of being able to support a mortgage,” says Casey Fleming, author of The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.

3. You don’t have enough savings

If you’ve saved enough for the down payment, you’ve made it over one big hurdle. But you need more than just that. What if your home needs an emergency repair? Would you have the money to pay for it, or would a surprise expense put you in debt? “Expect the unexpected,” says Josh Moffitt, president of Silverton Mortgage Specialists in Atlanta, GA. “Your air conditioner may die on a sweltering holiday weekend, or a sewage pipe could burst in the basement.”

And then there are those costs that aren’t necessarily unexpected but that you might not have considered. “Not only does a prospective buyer need money for closing costs and the first few months’ mortgage payments, they also need money for moving costs,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and director of education at Spark Rental. “They need money for furnishings and decorating the new house. They need money to pay the property taxes upfront at settlement.” As you can see, you don’t want to drain your savings on just the down payment.

4. You haven’t been on the job long enough

Most mortgage lenders like to see that you’ve been working the same job for at least two years. In fact, they calculate your average income based on your job history for the last 24 months. Being on the job that long shows a certain stability, and changing jobs or having an income gap signals insecurity. “A major job change, such as moving from salary to commission-based pay, may cause your income to fluctuate and can add to uncertainty about your readiness to buy a home,” says Moffitt. “Even if you qualify based on expected income, what if you don’t make that money in your new position?”

5. You have poor (or no) credit

A bad credit score indicates some sort of financial problem, such as skipping out on paying a bill or two, filing for bankruptcy, or carrying too much debt. “Take a close look at your credit report before making a decision to buy,” says Moffitt. “A mortgage lender may have questions about payments, loans, or other debts and may make suggestions that could require time to resolve. If it takes six months to fix, you might not be ready to buy just yet.”

Having little or no credit history can also be problematic. David Hosterman, branch manager with Castle & Cooke Mortgage in Colorado, offers a tip: “We take into account ‘alternative credit trade lines.’ These types of credit are anything from rental history, car insurance, utilities, monthly subscription services, and cellphones. We are looking for a pattern of good credit with those companies for 12 months or longer.” More tips HERE


The Basics on Real Estate Investing – Hudson Valley Real Estate

September 11th, 2016

Staying ahead of the competition in real estate investment means doing your homework. If you are new to the business, it can be daunting, but in this article we’ll teach you five tricks that the old knowledge-sharingpros use to get ahead of the trends instead of chasing them. Those who consistently make money in real estate know the market. They know the location and the history. They know what new developments are planned. They know the transportation and the schools. They know everything about the area where they invest. They have to know the basics. See the basics list below:

Study Local Pricing

The first things to study are the current price trends in the area. For example, a potential investor should look to see if the price of homes is accelerating faster in one area than in others. Next, check to see if the average home price is more than in other neighboring towns. This will provide an idea of where the biggest demand is. Another reason to study these trends is that, over time, you will start to develop a sense for which prices are “fair” for certain properties and which are overpriced. For individuals looking to buy properties at the lowest cost possible, this knowledge can be invaluable.

Realtors and real estate agents are a terrific source for this information given their access to the Multiple Listing Service (or MLS). The local newspaper, the internet and the town hall may have a record of recent sale prices as well.

Look for a Catalyst

One sign that an area is up-and-coming and that it will be desirable in the future is the development of new infrastructure. When you see new roads and schools being built, it’s a sign that the community is set for a growth spurt. Investing in a growing community can be very profitable. In addition, certain types of development, like new shopping centers, may be extremely attractive to homebuyers, and may also help keep the tax base low.

Spotting new developments can be as easy as looking out your car window as you drive by. Telltale signs of land clearing, surveying or the beginnings of construction in and around major roadways are pretty big tip-offs. Also, look for widening of traffic lanes, the installation of turnaround lanes and the erection of new traffic lights. All suggest the possibility of increased traffic flow.

Next, visit town hall at the municipality or the county level, and speak with the road and the building departments. They should be aware of any major projects slated to begin in the area, and they may even be able to provide you with a connection at the state level so you can find out if any state-owned roads or properties are slated for development as well. Real estate agents also have general idea of what new projects are about to be undertaken. (For added insight, see Profit With Real Estate Land Speculation.)

Check the School Rankings

Nearly every state ranks its schools by how well students in each district fare on tests in math and English. Sharp-eyed investors should look for schools that are moving up or are atop the list. These areas are often desirable to parents. Access to quality education is a big selling point to new home buyers.

There are several ways to find this information. Check our your state’s board of education website. Also, has public school rankings for most states in its free section. Visiting the schools yourself is also a good idea. Schools that rank the highest are usually quite eager to provide information. More details found HERE


Home Maintenance Tips for September – Hudson Valley Real Estate

September 4th, 2016

September creates an excellent opportunity to see what can be improved, replaced, or repaired while the weather is still nice enough for outdoor projects. This is is also the perfect month to begin your fall home maiSeptember Home Projects - Ornamental Kalentenance checklist, add seasonal color to your garden, and bring organization to your home—and your life.

While you were having fun in the sun this summer, it was no vacation for your house. A fall checklist will tip you off to little problems before they become nasty mid-winter surprises. The easiest way to do it is to check from top to bottom. Start with the roof—are your shingles worn? Check for leaks around skylights, vents, and chimneys (and have that chimney cleaned). Clear out your gutters and check for leaks there, too.

If you live where pipes can freeze, drain your outside hose spigots. Switch your screens for storms and seal any drafty windows or doors. Same goes for paint and siding: Make sure you caulk or repair any gaps, cracks, or holes and re-point any brick surfaces that need it. Paint over your repairs while the weather’s still warm enough to do it, so you’re not looking at them all winter. In the basement, check for dampness, change filters, and have your heating system serviced. Also, check for cracks in the foundation.

Do the top-to-bottom check this fall and you’ll avoid expensive surprises this winter! For more tips on fall home maintenance and a printable checklist, click here.

As sad as it is to move indoors after enjoying your outdoor furniture all summer, taking a little extra time to care for your patio set now will keep everything pristine for spring’s return. While most patio and lawn products are manufactured to remain outside for the winter, some precautions may still be required for harsher weather conditions.

Plastic, vinyl, and synthetic wicker can all be easily maintained with some soapy water and a garden hose. But metal, wood, and natural wicker will have more specific maintenance requirements. You can find out how best to care for your outdoor furnishings here.

With summer blooms fading, this is the perfect time to boost your garden’s color sense. Mums are a popular choice, and for good reason—they are abundant, easy to care for, and colorful. But consider some other “stars” of the fall landscape, among them Black Eyed Susans, Leedplant, Ornamental Kale and 15 other colorful options.

If your garage has become a catch-all for miscellaneous storage, leaving little to no room for the family car, then now is the time to restore order. Purge items you no longer need and create a plan that will allow you to store more things you do need in a logical way that allows for easy access later on. Look for smart solutions that take advantage of the walls and ceilings and free up valuable floor space. Also, take the guesswork out of locating stored items and be sure to label everything.  More home tips HERE

End of Summer Purge – Hudson Valley Real Estate

August 28th, 2016

As summer winds down, take a few hours to pare down all the things you definitely won’t miss. Decluttering falls somewhere between backing up your hard drive and filing taxes on the excitement goodbye-summer-sand-script-beach-081616-HEROscale. But even though it’s not the sexiest of chores, it’s necessary — and so much easier if you set aside a little time to chip away at it periodically throughout the year.

The end of summer is no exception. Now is a great time to take stock of your needs and ditch all those ill-fitting swimsuits and untapped barbecue condiments. In other words, don’t hold off for a big spring clean, says Maria Gracia, founder of Get Organized Now! “It’s tough to get rid of certain things before summer, because you tell yourself you may ‘need’ them,” Gracia says. “Instead, take the end of the season as the perfect time to close up shop.” Get a head start on your end-of-summer purge with this list of items you can donate, recycle, or toss without a second thought.

1. Old binders and folders

If you’re planning to replace supplies like binders and folders for the new school season (who doesn’t use back-to-school season as an excuse to buy new office supplies?), let go of last year’s leftovers. Julie Naylon, a Los Angeles, CA, professional organizer who’s an advocate of reusing or recycling wherever possible, recommends Office Depot’s binder recycling program.

2. Worn beach towels

Got beach towels that have seen better days? Don’t let them take up shelf space in the linen closet. Most animal shelters accept old towels as donations — which come in handy for lining cages, cleaning up messes, and bathing pups.

3. Summer clothes

If you have a bathing suit that doesn’t fit well enough for you to wear it regularly, donate it. Likewise, toss sandals and flip-flops that are worn out from a season or two of pounding the pavement. And peruse your closet: If you have spring or summer clothes that you didn’t wear this year, chances are, you won’t touch them down the line. Donate, donate, donate and “free up your closet for items you’ll use and love once the warm weather rolls around again,” says Gracia.

4. Unused condiments and spices

Gourmet chipotle barbecue sauce, blackening spices and pickled vegetables often look great at the store — and then don’t necessarily cut it when you try them out. Pare down your collection so they don’t get pushed to the back of the fridge or pantry and sit unused. Bonus: You’ll free up space for the new spices you’ll need for all that fall and winter baking (or just making your place smell amazing)! More tips HERE