The Importance of Using a Real Estate Agent

When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they obviously want the best possible price with the least amount of hassles. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is to actually get the home sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed the purchaser’s behavior during the home buying process. For the past two years, 92% of all buyers have used the internet in their home search according to the National Association of Realtors’ most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers.

However, the report also revealed that for the second year in a row 96% percent of buyers that used the internet when searching for a home purchased their home through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% purchased their home directly from a seller whom the buyer didn’t know.

Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the actual home they will buy (53%) or negotiate the terms of the sale & price (31%) or understand the process (63%).

Stephen Phillips, the Chief Operating Officer for HSF Affiliates LLC, put it best:

“Home buyers are more informed than ever with their Internet searches and ongoing research; however, there’s a critical need to transform that information into analysis and advice that helps consumers make the best home-buying and selling decisions.”

The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers that reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots”. This is obvious as the percentage of overall buyers who used an agent to buy their home has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your WNY home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.

Article submitted by KCM Crew

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2015 WNY Easter Events

Easter is the first sign of spring (plus it’s an excuse to eat chocolate). There are a ton of cheap (and free) Easter events happening in Buffalo and Western New York between now and Sunday, April 5, 2015. There’s even an adult Easter Egg Hunt at a winery.

Here’s a list of the egg-cellent, egg-stravagant and egg-citing activities:


Easter Bunny Arrival at Boulevard Mall
Welcome the Easter Bunny to Buffalo. Join the parade to center court. Bunnies, chicks, ducks and goats from Kelkenberg Farm + Face paintings and Balloon artists will be on site until 2 pm. Photos with the Bunny start at 11:30 am.
When: Saturday, March 14 at 11 am
Where: Near the TGIF entrance
Get Details:

Broadway Market Easter Festival Kick Off
The Easter season kicks off at the Broadway market.

When: March 20, 2015, 11 am.
Where: Broadway market, 999 Broadway, Buffalo, NY, Market Stage and throughout the Market

Glow Kids Evangel Easter Egg Hunt

Come to the largest Easter Egg hunt on this side of town! Registration is FREE at the door the day of the event for ages 2-10 years old. 16th Year!

This year we’re excited to feature a high energy Easter Show full of dancing & theater performances, Easter Egg hunting, giant prizes for those who find the golden eggs, and goodie bags for each child that comes! Save the date and bring your family and friends to the most talked about event of the season. All are welcome and we have more than enough candy and prizes for everyone.

When: Saturday, March 18, 10 am
Where: Address: Glow Kids Evangel 8180 Greiner Rd, Williamsville

 Tonawanda Easter Egg Hunt

It’s time for the 32nd annual Easter Egg Hunt sponsored by the Town of Tonawanda Youth, Parks and Recreation Department and Kenmore Rotary Club. Meet the Easter Bunny and have your picture taken.
Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 10:30 am
Where: Lincoln Arena

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at the Buffalo Zoo

Face painting, catered brunch, docents on hand with animals and the Easter Bunny!
When: March 28 and March 29 and April 4 at 9 am and 11 am
Where: The Buffalo Zoo Children’s Resource Center
Get Details:

Clearfield Community Center Easter Egg Hunt

When: Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 10 am and 11 am
Where: Clearfield Community Center, 730 Hopkins Road, Williamsville

Tifft Spring Eggstravaganza

Come out for an afternoon of fun crafts and games, live animals, natural egg dying, a hike, hands on activities and refreshments.
When: Friday, April 3, 10 am, 12 pm or 2 pm
Where: Tifft Nature Preserve, 1200 Fuhrmann Blvd, Buffalo, NY
Get More Details:

Easter Express

Medina Railroad Museum will be offering The Easter Express train ride. Join the Easter Bunny for a one-hour ride and Easter Egg Hunt.
When: April 4, 2015, 11am Easter Egg Hunt, Noon Train Departure or 12:15 pm Easter Egg Hunt, 1:15 pm Train Departure
Where: 530 West Avenue, Medina, NY
Get More Details:

Easter Egg Hunt at the Buffalo Botanical Gardens

Kids seven and under are invited to come out to the gardens and for the Easter Egg Hunt. Collect two eggs to exchange for a prize. The hunt is outside. Mr. Doodle Bug will join the Easter Bunny for the event. Children’s Center will offer family fun activities including face painting, spring-themed crafts and doodle giveaways. Inside kids can also enjoy a scavenger hunt, games and more.
When: April 4 at 11 am
Where: Buffalo Botanical Gardens
Easter Bunny: March 21, 22, 28, 29 and April 3, 4 from 11 am to 3 pm
Get Details:

Seaster Egg Hunt

The only underwater egg hunt in Western New York. Children search the exhibits for “SEAster” Eggs. Win prizes, say hi to the SEAster Bunny and Beaker, the aquarium mascot.
When: April 4
Where: Aquarium of Niagara, 701 Whirlpool St., Niagara Falls, NY
Get Details:

Easter Egg Hunt with Adventure Landing

Come out for the 31st annual Easter Egg Hunt on the Mini Golf Course. Two hunts will take place.
When: Saturday, April 4, 9 am and 11 am
Where: Adventure Landing, 2400 Sheridan Drive, Tonawanda, NY
Get Details:

21 Brix Winery Easter Egg Hunt

It’s the 3rd Annual ADULT ONLY Easter Egg Hunt with chocolate, wine and prizes.
When: Saturday, April 4 at 11 a.m.
Where: 21 Brix Winery, 6654 West Main Street, Portland, NY
Get Details:

Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum Egg-cellent Easter Celebration
When: April 4 at noon
Where: Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, 180 Thompson St., North Tonawanda, NY
Get Details:

Read More: 2015 Buffalo, WNY Easter Egg Hunts, Train Rides + More


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St Patrick’s Day Parade 2015

  2015 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

Sunday, March 15, 2015
Delaware Avenue  @ 2 PM
Grand Marshal – Denice Morrison

The United Irish American Association of Erie County (UIAA) is celebrating its 75th anniversary.  Denice Morrison of Darien Center, NY was elected the Grand Marshal of the 2015 Diamond Jubilee Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.  For this once in a lifetime honor Denice, has chosen her husband John Morrison, Chairman of the UIAA Executive Committee, her dear sister Shawn Baumgarden and her wonderful stepchildren, Aryn and Jason Morrison to be her deputy marshals.  Her brother Jason Lorka, his wife Julianna and daughter Ellee will be travelling to Buffalo from their home in Arizona to lead a large contingent of family and friends honoring Saint Patrick and supporting Denice in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.

Before being elected to serve on the Executive Committee of UIAA, she volunteered on the work of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade for many years. Denice currently continues to work as a division marshal and is directly involved in the fund raising efforts of the UIAA.  The UIAA has no paid employees, all are volunteers and raising money to fund the music in the Parade is a major effort.

Mrs. Morrison grew up in Hamburg, graduated from Frontier High School and attended Erie Community College.  She is the daughter of Kathleen (McDermott) and Thomas Lorka, her father is retired from Gibralter Steel. Denice is a member of Saint John Vianney parish.  Active in community activities, Denice enjoyed her years as a Buffalo Jill.  She and her husband John recently moved from Orchard Park to their new home in Darien Center.    Denice has been employed with M&T Bank for 20 years.  She is currently Vice President in the Customer Asset Management Department. Her husband John Morrison served as Grand Marshal for the 2007 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.  He is currently President and CEO of Financial Trust Federal Credit Union.

Click Here for complete details and information.










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9 vital home repairs to complete before negotiating a sale

Even a burned-out light bulb can get a surprising write-up by inspector

There’s something that I see generated in almost every transaction — a list of repair items found during due diligence inspections that buyers would like completed before closing. This can cause heartaches for sellers, who have negotiated their best deal and then feel “put upon” because they’re being asked to make repairs to close the sale.

The problems that arise, however, could be remedied upfront if a home inspection were done when the house was listed. Let’s face it: We live in our homes and don’t address or even see some of the issues that arise because they don’t affect our daily lives. We look at homes online with a more critical eye than we do our own homes. I have seen too many sellers caught by surprise regarding the same issues that seem to pop up frequently.

Have these items addressed prior to listing the house, not before your seller has negotiated the best possible sales price, and everyone will be happier on the day of closing!

Fogged windows

A seal has broken, and although the window is functional, it really is “windy.” If your new listing has one or 12 of these drafty portals around the house, encourage the seller to replace them prior to listing.

Jet tubs that leak

Some of my recent experiences indicate that this applies to all jet tubs. In the past month, whether I was acting as a buyer’s agent or listing agent, every single jet tub has leaked in the homes that I’ve seen. Many of us don’t use bathtubs as often as we used to, and I am convinced that most jet tubs go unused for, potentially, years. Checking your tub for leaks prior to listing will ensure that no leaks appear during a home inspection. No buyer likes leaks, after all.

Water damage to exterior trim

On any home that’s more than 8-10 years old, I frequently see rotten wood on exterior trim. If you can see splitting or rotten boards as you walk along the front or rear of your property, have them replaced, then caulk and paint. Nothing says “well maintained” like a coat of fresh paint on fascia and trim! Pay special attention to chimney areas on homes built before the late ’90s (and the advent of HardiePlank or cement board).

Roofing items

Are there split or missing roof shingles on your new listing? If so, the best thing a seller can do is pay a roofer to give the roof a once-over, replacing any missing or damaged shingles.

Last year, a buyer told me that he checked the stair handrails and deck rails in homes. If they were wobbly, he took that as a sign that the house wasn’t cared for overall. Whether that’s fair or not, this is a safety issue that seems to sneak its way onto inspection reports more times than I can remember.


Gutters that are not functional or do not properly channel water away from the foundation of the home are problems. Have them freed of debris and functional prior to listing.

Leaky showers

And, in fact, leaky faucets throughout the house. If it leaks, it shouldn’t. Have it fixed by a licensed plumber.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)

These issues can be a big concern due to the cost to replace HVAC units. If your unit has rust on it and appears to be inoperable, clean it and service the unit prior to closing. Change the air filter and make sure it is in good working order!

Light bulbs

Please change them! I cannot tell you how many times I have seen light bulbs missing or not working, and on every single occasion, the home inspector writes up “lights not working, have evaluated by a licensed electrician.” I asked one inspector if they tested whether the bulb was just burned out. He said, “No; if we did that, it would take us longer to complete the inspection.” Yikes! Licensed electricians cost money, and that inspector could give your seller the impression that there’s a major electrical issue with the home.

It is true that during the home inspection, the buyer will usually find something else beyond these fundamental fixes, but addressing these issues will decrease the risk of any deal-killers and hopefully avoid some major expenses for sellers.


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Six Home Hunting Tips for 1st Time Buyers

Whether you’re looking for a Western New York home right now or plan to be on the hunt some time this year, don’t just stumble into a house hunt unprepared. While the process is exciting, there might be a few things you want to make sure you have on hand during the search so you can hunt for the home of your dreams smarter.

1. A trusted friend

Even if you’re searching with an agent (like me), you might still want to enlist a friend (preferably someone who’s been through the home buying process before) to get sage advice from. And if they know you, your personality and your style, they might help you see clearly when you’re being blinded by price or other charming home elements.

2. Your list of priorities and a checklist to run down

That assembly of dream home elements that are floating around in your head? Write them down as a list instead, organized by priority of what you and your family need in a home. It’ll help you stay focused when you run into neat design elements in houses that while are great to look at, aren’t what you need or even necessarily want. Also consider taking a physical list with you of the things you should look for when looking at homes — like the roof, plumbing, neighborhood — in case you get excited and forget all about it when you see big windows and real wood flooring.

3. A notepad and pencil

You’ll want it with you to take notes and maybe even sketch floor plans. Don’t trust your memory after looking at lots of properties; you might mix them up. And it’ll be helpful to have when you do any second, third or more viewings.

4. A camera

Yes, these days real estate listings come with plenty of pretty photos to flip through, but bring your own camera (or use your phone)  to record the things that caught your eye — from beautiful design elements to flaws that you want to remember. It’ll be helpful to take notes alongside the images so you have references to go back through.

5. Comfortable, easy-to-slip off shoes

House hunting is physical work, and you’ll want comfortable shoes you can walk all over with. But since some open houses might require you to take your shoes off before viewing the home, maybe leave those lace-up, knee-high boots at home so you don’t get frustrated every time you want to see the inside of a property.

6. Furniture measurements and a tape measure

For those with large or unusual furniture pieces they know they’ll be moving with and those looking at particularly tiny homes for sale, you might consider bringing a few important furniture measurements to see how your style and furnishings might fit into the homes you’re looking to buy. This shouldn’t be the reason you pass on a great deal or location, but it could factor into the decision making process.

Happy House Hunting Home Buyers in Western New York!


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19 Indoor Activities with Kids

Winter has hit hard here in Western New York and the kids are probably saying “We are bored” Here are just some general ideas to keep you and the kids from going stir crazy this winter.

1. Camp out inside

Susan G. and her kids, from Stratford, CT, set up tents and sleeping bags in the living room. They make hot dogs, popcorn and s’mores and watch a movie or listen to their favorite music. “Instead of going upstairs for bed, the kids just camp out. The next morning, it’s pancakes for breakfast served tentside!”

2. Serve up a living-room BBQ

Relive the warm and lazy days of summer by cooking up a batch of favorite summer foods usually done on the grill. Try burgers, potato salad, lemonade/iced tea and more. Enjoy everything together while dining on a blanket spread out on the floor.

3. Snuggle up

Daphne R., from Portland, OR, explains how her family will “take advantage of the cozy factor and snuggle up with lap robes…reading good books in front of the fire.” Take the opportunity to read a book out loud with the kids taking turns too!

Andrea has five children and tells us they gather together and take turns reading chapters from their favorite books. They also play board games and sing songs. “Winter is a wonderful time for togetherness. I love it!!” she says.

4. Puzzle Time

Kim T., from Topeka, KS, has her family of six (ages six to fourteen) do a puzzle together, usually 500 to 1,000 pieces. “We don’t try to do it all in one night. We leave it up for several days and work on it little by little. It’s amazing how into the puzzle the kids will become, even over watching TV.”

5. Game Day

Turn off the TV and video games and get together for an old-fashioned game night. Let the kids take turns picking a game for the whole family to play, or resurrect half-forgotten (or never-learned!) card or board games.

6. Try a no-repeats weekend

Make a game of trying something new every weekend, with no repeats! Eat new foods, learn something new as a family or go places you’ve never been before.

7. Try a game of sock volleyball

Betsy M. and her boys, from Westmoreland, OH, clear off the family-room floor and blow up a couple of balloons for “sock volleyball.” They mark off the court and, wearing only their socks or playing in bare feet, “play volleyball using our feet instead of our arms….It keeps us laughing hysterically.”

Feel the rhythm.

Put on some great music and dance, dance, dance. You’ll have a great time introducing the kids to your favorite moves, and they’ll be able to show you what they’re into now. You could even take the opportunity to learn some partner dancing (waltz or mambo, anyone?) together!

8. Family Time

Cheryl has “Family Time” once a month. “We all gather at my house to have a quick meal and then we play games like bingo.” She also gets inexpensive prizes from the dollar store to add to the fun! It doesn’t really matter what you do just that you do it as a family.

9. Relive old memories

Break out the photo albums! Chrissy V., from Greensboro, NC, plays family videos and she and her family “are all entertained for hours!” They especially love “the older videos of when the kids were really small. They can’t get enough of seeing themselves.”

10. Host a film festival 

Introduce your kids to old movie greats. Or take turns choosing a genre (comedy, scary movies or adventure). You can extend the theme by cooking meals that fit the films. What could be more fun than eating spaghetti and meatballs as you watch Lady and the Tramp during your “Doggone Great Dog Movies” weekend?

11. Pamper and primp

Tamera finds that her two little girls, ages three and four, are easily bored when they’re stuck in the house. “We have a few things we do…but a fun one is Beauty Parlor Day! We style hair, paint nails, put on dress-up clothes, and have an indoor picnic on the floor.”

12. Let’s Get Cookin’

Jennifer E., from Oradell, NJ, bakes with her three children (ages ten, seven and two) whenever it’s cold or nasty outside. She gives each of them a job so everyone can help in his or her own way. “Cookies, cakes or brownies…we always have so much fun!”

13. Learn more about your family

Margaret Z., from Westland, MI, has “Scrapbook Weekends” in the winter months for grown-ups and kids. She says they learn a lot about their family history, especially from older family members, and the kids can tell stories using their latest vacation pictures. If you do this, consider videotaping it for a visual record of your family’s history.

14. Put on a play

Work together to make up a story, create costumes and design a set with things you have at hand. Then sit back on the sofa and get ready to applaud the entrances and exits that will be treasured memories for years to come. Videotape this too!

15. Craft it

Annie G., from Spencer, IA, taught her daughter how to crochet last year. “We now make afghans out of all the leftover yarn from other projects and donate them to the women’s shelter.”

16. Volunteer

Linda K., from Nyack, NY, says her family volunteers at a soup kitchen once a month and the kids serve meals. “It feels good to know you are helping someone who has no place to go and who really appreciates the hot meal on a cold day!”

17. Donate

Roseanne K., from Warminster, PA, sometimes gets her husband and kids to sort through their clothes and toys when the weather is bad. They then donate whatever they can to a local charity-run thrift shop.

Sometimes you’ve just gotta get outdoors—even when it’s cold. Here are a couple of fun ideas to help everyone focus on something besides the weather.

18. Make snow paintings

Brenda G., from Sheridan, IN, tells us her daughters are older now, but they used to play inventively outside on snow days. “I would save squeeze bottles and fill them with water colored with food coloring. We would take them outside and draw pictures on the snow.”

19. Go on a photo scavenger hunt

If it’s not too cold, hand out some disposable cameras, assign a topic and roam the neighborhood. For example, if the subject is lions, you may be surprised at the number of door knockers, statues or team mascots that fit the bill.

Hope you are staying warm and now you have some great ideas to bet those winter blues.


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Wild About You at Buffalo Zoo

You and your special someone are invited to celebrate Valentine’s Day (2/14/15) at the Buffalo Zoo. Enjoy a candlelit dinner catered by Frontier Catering and be serenaded by a string duet, while surrounded by our exotic animal collection. For $150 per couple, you will enjoy a three-course dinner for two, wine, entertainment, a special gift and personal visits from Zoo animals. Seating is limited. 

You must be 21 or older to attend.

Dinner Includes:

*Tossed house salad

*Hand sliced roasted tenderloin of beef, topped with a homemade bordelaise sauce


*Chicken supreme, topped with a roasted red pepper pesto cream sauce

*Fresh Yukon Gold mashed potatoes

*Honey Dijon baby carrots

*Fresh baked artisan breads

*Creamsicle cake

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets.

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Mortgage Rates Start 2015 at Long Term Lows

Mortgage rates improved significantly to kick off the new year.  The gains are a combination of actual improvement in bond markets and lenders lowering their guard from conservative holiday pricing strategies.  In other words, lenders had been holding back a bit during the holidays.  That’s normal and we’d discussed it as a factor.  And now, not only are those conservative strategies fading, but underlying bond markets (which drive mortgage rates) are improving to boot.

The positive double-whammy brings rates in line with–or lower than–anything else in the past 19 months.  The most prevalently-quoted conforming 30yr fixed rate for top tier borrowers is now easily 3.875% and an increasing number of lenders are at 3.75%.

All that having been said, it’s important to keep in mind that markets aren’t fully back up and running in terms of participation and volume.  While the holidays are behind us, many market participants won’t be back in the office until next week.  We’ll have to wait until then to see if today’s strength is the start of a new trend.
Loan Originator Perspective

“Happy New Year!!! Prior to the Christmas break, i advised readers to float through the volatility that year end brings and look to lock once 2015 is here. If you followed that advice, you will be happy when you speak to your loan officer today. Rate sheets this morning are about as good as i have seen in over a year. I rarely advise to lock on a Friday, but if you are within 15 days of closing, i would strongly consider locking. If you choose to lock today, i would wait until later in the day to allow lenders time to pass along the morning gains. As of noon eastern, a handful of lenders have already repriced for the better.” -Victor Burek, Open Mortgage

“The first day of 2015 has been kind to mortgage rates as we continue to incrementally improve on the best pricing we’ve seen in over a year and a half. Is this a sign of things to come in the 1st quarter of the year? Perhaps, but if I haven’t locked my rate yet and my closing is coming in the next few weeks I would be inclined to protect what’s in front of me now and lock. If my closing is much further out, floating may be safe but be wary of the market and the many landmines that have a tendency to surprise us from time to time and stay tuned in.” -Hugh W. Page, Mortgage Banker, Seacoast Bank

“Rates improved again, on the first trading day of 2015 as manufacturing data pointed to slowing US growth. We’re near our best pricing since May, 2013, and floating borrowers might want to lock up the gains. The long term trend still points downward, and those who missed the refi boat when rates rose quickly in 2013 may want to call their favorite originator to check pricing. Great time to be a borrower!” -Ted Rood, Senior Loan Originator, MB Financial Bank
Today’s Best-Execution Rates

30YR FIXED - 3.75 – 3.875

FHA/VA – 3.25

15 YEAR FIXED -  3.125

5 YEAR ARMS -  3.0 – 3.50% depending on the lender
Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations

The hallmark of 2014 was a narrow range in rates.  Too many market participants bet on rates going higher in 2014, and markets punished that imbalance with a paradoxical move lower.  This continues to serve as a reminder that prevailing beliefs about where rates will go won’t necessarily be correct simply because they’re the most prevalent.

European bond yields trended constantly lower in 2014, thus playing a prominent role in keeping US rates lower than they otherwise might be.  Many feel that Europe will continue to slide until their central bank engages in US-style quantitative easing.  Some see this happening in early 2015.  In any event, we’re looking for a turn in Europe, first and foremost, before worrying about the longer-term trend in bond markets being at serious risk of reversing.

Much of 2014 could be considered “sideways to slightly lower” in terms of mortgage rates.  All things considered, it actually has been a remarkably gentle drift lower.  Things became less gentle in mid October when rates briefly broke into the high 3′s.  They came back for a more gradual, determined push into the 3′s in December.  Some of the late-year strength was chalked up to an epic slump in oil prices.  This drags inflation expectations lower, which is a net-positive for interest rates, but it could be debated as to whether oil prices were a chicken or an egg in the global growth story.

As always, please keep in mind that the rates discussed generally refer to what we’ve termed ’best-execution’ (that is, the most frequently quoted, conforming, 30yr fixed rate for top tier borrowers, based not only on the outright price, but also ‘bang-for-the-buck.’  Generally speaking, our best-execution rate tends to connote no origination or discount points–though this can vary–and tends to predict Freddie Mac’s weekly survey with high accuracy.  It’s safe to assume that our best-ex rate is the more timely and accurate of the two due to Freddie’s once-a-week polling method).

Sourced from:


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Upcoming Williamsville Events

Mark your calendars.  The Village of Williamsville will host their Winterfest on Feb. 8 in Glen Park.



















The annual Mad Hatter gala is to raise funds for the Williamsville Public Library. The library is supported by local community fundraising. Click here for more information on how you can help keep this wonderful community asset open as part of our walkable Main Street!

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5 Simple Tips to Avoid Frozen Pipes

Burr!!! It’s Cold Outside. Here are some Tips to prevent frozen pipes in your Western New York Home.

• Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
• Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
• When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
• Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
• If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

Stay Warm Western New York!

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