7 Tips to Sell Your WNY Home at the Holidays

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, the hustle and bustle of shopping, parties and events has everyone in a festive spirit! Yet, there are those of you who may have your attention divided during the holidays if your WNY home is currently on the market.  Selling your home this time of year may seem impossible, but there are buyers out there who like to take advantage of not having as much competition!

In fact, selling your home during the holidays can have an advantage!  Buyers get to see your home in the best light with appealing holiday decorations, cozy atmosphere and the joy of the season as a backdrop.  These elements can help buyers envision themselves hosting their own holidays in your home!

As a WNY Real Estate agent, sellers ask me all the time what they can do to help their home sell.  Below you’ll find seven easy tips that will boost your WNY homes’ appeal this festive time of year!

1. Highlight the Highlights- Draw attention to a beautiful fireplace mantle with a few tasteful ornaments or enhance an arched doorway with hanging mistletoe.

2. Add Holiday Adornments- Again, you don’t want to go overboard, but a simple evergreen wreath, a poinsettia center piece or light holiday decorations can create a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. Of course it’s best to avoid overly religious flourishes as this can be off-putting to some.

3. Complement Your Décor- You’ll want to make sure that your Christmas decoration palette matches or complements your current décor. If the colors clash or seem to be fighting for attention, this can be very distracting to buyers and can take away from the great features of your home you’re trying to highlight.

4. Give Warmth- Just before a showing, be sure to turn up your thermostat a few degrees to make it extra toasty inside. Put a fire in the fireplace to add an extra sense of warmth and highlight the cozy atmosphere that this feature of your home can bring.

5. Go Light on the Lights- An abundance of outdoor lights can leave WNY buyers wondering what the front of your home looks like. And, while you may love your giant inflatable lawn ornaments; it may be best to leave those in storage this year. Everyone has different tastes and you don’t want buyers to be met at your home with a sense of “tacky.”

6. Mind the Tree- While a tall Christmas tree can showcase a two story living room, be sure to be careful of the tree’s width. The last thing you want is to have your home appear smaller than it really is. Also, you’ll want to stick with a cohesive theme for your ornaments. The family homemade ornaments can be meaningful to you, but can quickly make your tree look gaudy to outsiders. Keep it simple this year and remember, there’s always next year when you can display those keepsakes in your new home!

7. Offer Tasty Treats- While you don’t want to come across as trying to bribe buyers, everyone loves holiday treats and having a plate full of cookies and candy can make the home showing a little sweeter. Hot chocolate and apple cider are always welcome and buyers will feel that you have their best interest in mind.

Buyers will be drawn to your WNY home if you follow these tips for showcasing your home at its’ best!  Of course, I’m always available to answer your questions about selling your home, and would be happy to help you throughout the entire home selling process!

I look forward to hearing from you!

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Breakfast with Santa at The Buffalo Zoo

Celebrate the holiday spirit with Santa and the Zoo animals at the Buffalo Zoo! There are two weekends for this event: December 13 and 14 and 20 and 21. There will be two seatings each day at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Santa’s elves will be hard at work treating everyone to a breakfast buffet provided by CJ’s Catering, activities for the children, admission to the Zoo and, of course, a chance to visit with Santa himself!

Pre-paid, nonrefundable tickets are required due to limited seating. Ticket prices for non-members are $15 for adults and $12 for children. Members will receive a $3 discount per ticket. Tickets for children under the age of 24 months are free. (High chairs are not available.)

The Buffalo Zoo is located at 300 Parkside Ave, Buffalo NY 14214.

Tickets are on sale now by CLICKING HERE or calling 1-800-838-3006.

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Holiday in the Village of Williamsville

Saturday, December 6 from 10am – 6 pm along Main Street in the Village of Williamsville.

Enjoy free Horse and Wagon Rides from the Water Mill, free Santa photos in the Water Mill, bring your own camera, free Trolley rides along Main Street and stroll with the high school carolers singing holiday songs along Main Street.

Win a $250 Shopping Spree in the Village. Shop and dine at members businesses and sign up to win all month long.

Plus at 6pm the Village of Williamsville will host their annual Tree Lighting in front of Village Hall with a caroling event to follow in front of the Water Mill.

Download the full day of events here: http://www.willvill.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/HolidayVillage14_eventguide_WEB%C6%92.pdf

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12 Hacks to Make Your For-Sale Home Look and Smell Pet-Free

Do you refer to your pet as one of your children, without irony? Me, too. This unconditional love is not a sentiment all who visit my home share, particularly if they stand up from my couch and discover their once-black pants are now covered in beautiful (and trendy!) tan-and-brown ombre doggie fur.

If you’re putting your WNY home on the market, owning a dog or cat could deter buyers or reduce offer amounts. There’s no amount of money that could persuade me to banish my mutt while I entertain guests this holiday season — or put my home on the market and show it — so I’m happy to use these easy tricks and tips to help take care of pet odors, messes and damage.

“I know you weren’t just planning on vacuuming during my nap.” (Image via Sabrina Rojas Weiss)

It’s Not Called Furrrrniture

1. Rubber Glove Treatment: Rub a damp rubber glove over furniture, and static electricity will help remove fur quite easily. (Tip via Real Simple)

2. Duct Tape Solves Everything: I could use about 15 lint rollers to pick up fur from my couch or car seats, or I could go heavy duty and wrap duct tape, sticky side up, on a paint roller for a stronger version of the same concept. (Tip via Family Handyman)

3. Squeegee Power: Sometimes vacuuming is no match for the fur buried deep down in the living room rug. Amazingly, a window squeegee can do the trick instead. (Tip via Lifehacker)

Prevention Is the Best Medicine … Or Something Like That

4. Better Bitter: To stop dogs and cats from chewing on furniture or — zzzzt! — power cords, you can purchase Bitter Apple spray, or make your own by mixing white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar.

5. Stick ‘Em Up: This special double-stick tape will annoy cats enough to make them avoid using your furniture as a scratch pad. (We imagine regular double stick tape would do the trick, too.)

6. Leave the Mud Outside: I’ve always kept Wet Wipes in my entryway, to wipe the dog’s paws when we come in from a muddy day. This Paw Plunger looks even more effective (and kinda fun to use).

Eau de Kennel

7. Smell Check: Before you sell your home or have special guests over, you might want to invite over a close, exceptionally honest friend who can tell you if your home smells like wet dog or a very well-decorated litter box. You need the friend, because it won’t smell bad to you at all anymore.

8. Clean Those Rugs, And Clean Them Again: Like your mom always told you, baking soda does wonders for odors. Sprinkle it on any urine stains on rugs. You can also use a black light to find old stains you never knew about or thought you’d taken care of. (Tip via Care2 and Petslady)

9. Litter on the Bar-B: Add a sprinkle of activated charcoal to the litter box to absorb smells. (Tip via ehow)

10. Clean Ears = Happy Noses: If your dog is prone to stinky ears, clean them regularly with a solution of vinegar and alcohol. This will do wonders for the smell of the whole house, too. (Tip via ehow)

Pets? What Pets?

11. Trunk No-Show: The internet is flooded with instructions on how to customize old trunks, new Ikea storage units, and built-in cabinets into excellent litter box and dog crate camouflage.

12. Play Date: When in doubt of your pets’ behavior or your visitors/buyers preferences, consider asking a friend or neighbor to have them over to play for a little while. If you’re selling your home, make sure you also put away pet toys and pet photos. You shouldn’t lie to potential buyers about furry creatures living there, but you don’t want any unnecessary reminders around either. (Tip via About.com)


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Amherst South Rotary Health Fair

The Rotary Club of Amherst South will host its fifth annual health fair from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 15, at Windermere Boulevard Elementary School, 291 Windermere Blvd., Amherst.

The event provides an opportunity for people to receive checkups and vaccinations as well as receive information about ways to stay healthy.

The club’s immediate past president, Guy Marlette, who is also a member of the organization’s public relations committee, said the fair is continuing to grow and expand its services, which are provided for free during the event. He said the mission of the event is to change lives and enhance the community.

“It’s part of what Rotary believes in enhancing the quality of life. Our club likes to do things that have great value and benefit to the community,” Marlette said.

He said another goal of the event is to promote good health and to show the community that it involves many areas of a person’s life, including nutrition, hygiene and exercise.

Marlette added that the club has held the health fair at Windermere for the past five years.

“We choose to do it there because of the school’s commitment to the [youths] and the area,” he said. “They are all keenly aware that a well-rounded community has an active participation in many different areas.”

Services provided at the health fair will include:

• Cholesterol and glucose blood tests.

• Blood pressure and oxygen checks.

• Diabetes education.

• Flu shots and vision checks.

• Nutritional information and onsite physicians to answer questions.

Confidential settings are provided for patients seeking medical advice and assistance.

Marlette said upon registering at the health fair, patrons will be eligible to win prizes, including a pair of Buffalo Sabres tickets.

“The event and the prizes are our way of saying thanks for our support,” he said.

Sponsors of the event include the Amherst Central School District, Dr. Andrew Cappuccino and WNY Imaging.

Marlette added that any health care providers who wish to participate in the event may contact the club.

Preregistration for the vision check is highly recommended. For registration or more information, visit the club’s website, http://amherstsouthrotary.org.


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Prices Are Rising on These 5 Things

Brace yourself for sticker shock this fall! Here are five common expenses that are on the rise, and tips for minimizing the monetary bite.

1. Grocery staples

You’ve likely seen the headlines: expect hikes this this fall on everything from oranges, bacon and milk to cheese, butter, chocolate and more.

What to do: Start by clipping coupons — studies show that the average family can save up to $1,000 per year. Also give generic brands and private labels a try. A family that spends $100 per week on groceries could save up to $1,500 annually with this strategy, according to Consumer Reports. Finally, buy alternatives such as turkey bacon instead of bacon, and margarine instead of butter.

2. Airfares

Did you know that the average cost of a domestic round-trip ticket reached about $510 in the first half of 2014? And that doesn’t include extra fees such as checked luggage, fast-track security lines, early boarding, additional legroom and other perks that can add from $9 to $299 to the cost of a flight.

What to do: While some “gotcha” charges are unavoidable, airline-affiliated credit cards that offer benefits such as discounts on in-flight entertainment, meals and more can translate into big savings. You should also buy your ticket about six weeks in advance for the biggest savings.

3. Clothing

As the economy recovers, apparel demand is rising, yet supplies are tight. Plus, we’ve been up against some of the worst weather patterns since the 1930s, and cotton crops have been totally destroyed. Given that nearly three-quarters of all garments sold in the United States contain cotton, prices have risen — up about 5-8 percent this year — and are expected to continue increasing.

What to do: Shop consignment, and dig deep into your own closets — and even your friends’ closets. Clothing swaps are big right now. They’re a great way to declutter your closet and update your wardrobe, all while hanging out with your favorite people.

4. Homes

Not only are prices on the rise, but so are mortgage rates. Zillow’s chief economist, Stan Humphries, predicts rates will rise from their current level of just below 4 percent to 5 percent by the end of 2015.

What to do: If you’re on the fence about buying a WNY home, think about entering the market sooner rather than later. After all, waiting can be costly. Even a small, 1-percent increase in rates reduces your purchasing power by a whopping 11 percent.

To put this into further perspective: if you could afford a loan of $400,000 at a rate of 4 percent, an increase to 5 percent would mean you could afford a loan of just $356,000.

5. Electricity rates

While electricity rates vary widely from one state to the next, the reality is that due to more stringent regulation and other factors, they’ve been rising just about everywhere over the past decade, jumping by the double digits in many states, even after accounting for inflation.

And there’s no end in sight. In fact, National Grid recently warned its customers that they should expect their electricity bills to be as much as 37 percent higher than last year – starting in November.

What to do: Your home’s biggest electricity guzzler is air conditioning and heating, accounting for as much as half of your energy bill. Make sure your systems are running at their highest efficiency by having annual professional cleanings and checkups. Schedule a service call now.

In the meantime, become as energy efficient as possible. Steps such as installing programmable thermostats, lowering the temperature when you go to bed, or using a high-efficiency furnace or boiler can reduce your bill by 10-30 percent. Source: http://www.zillow.com/blog/fall-sticker-shock-ahead-161074/



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10 Halloween Websites

Halloween is Friday. You might be going to parties this weekend and there will definitely be trick or treating around WNY. Maybe you just want to get in the spooky spirit. Below are links from everything to costumes ideas, food and recipe ideas, decorations, pumpkins, safety, costumes for pets and more. We hope everyone in WNY has a safe and Happy Halloween.

1. http://spoonful.com/halloween

2. http://www.hgtv.com/topics/halloween/index.html?layout=desktop

3. http://www.pinterest.com/search/?q=halloween

4. http://www.allyou.com/food/celebrations/halloween-affordable-00400000055264/

5. http://www.101halloweenideas.com/

6. http://www.foodnetwork.com/halloween/package/index.html

7.  http://www.halloween-safety.com/

8. http://www.digsdigs.com/90-cool-outdoor-halloween-decorating-ideas/

9. http://www.partycity.com/

10. http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/holidays-and-entertaining/main.aspx?cm_mmc=srch-_-google-_-Cons_Special_Occasions-_-Halloween_halloween_ideas_exact





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Halloween Parade and Party

Halloween Parade & Party
Saturday, October 25th
Williamsville Fire Hall

With refreshments and children’s activities. Come in costume!

The Williamsville Business Association, Inc. is a group of business, professional and civic leaders whose purpose is to promote the growth of the business environment and to enhance the quality of life within our community. Over the past 29 years, our Association has represented the merchants and professionals in many ways to make our village a bustling center of commerce. We welcome you to discover why Williamsville, New York remains a great place to live and do business.

BOO-levard of Fun!

Boulevard Mall Food Court
Saturday, October 25

Featuring, haunted bounce house, crafts, face-painting, balloon artistry, Halloween fun and safety shows with Charlie and Checkers.

Pumpkin Carving
Saturday, October 25
Glen Park, Amherst
Noon to 3 p.m.
FREE – Come join the fun at the Noll Nature Center! Carve some pumpkins, and have some family fun! 



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3 Ways to Spruce up Your WNY Garage

Garages are an often overlooked part of the home, despite the fact that home owners spend a frequent amount of time there. In fact, for most home owners, the garage door is the main access point for entry and exit. It’s also a place for hobbies and storage.

The garage needs to be functional and attractive. Here are three ways to do it:

1.Organization: Having an organized garage can help provide a home owner peace of mind while even possibly adding value to the space. As the garage often serves as a family’s storage center for everything from footballs to lawn mowers, shelves and cabinets can help make better use of the space. Sites like Pinterest can assist in photographic inspiration and provide ideas that will work for each unique space. At a minimum, set aside time to clear the clutter, categorize objects into groups (frequently used, rarely used, and hazardous materials), and then contain and store those objects to reflect the categories. Both mounted racks and standing cabinets are options that can be purchased a big-box hardware store.

2. Check your garage door: As a garage door is the heaviest moving object in the home, it’s important to ensure the home owner’s garage door and door openers are up to date with the latest safety features. Don’t know if it is? A 90-second 3-step safety check (available here) will determine if the door has the safety features a home inspector will look for a flag for a potential buyer.

3. Install the latest garage technology: New smart technologies may also be an added selling point to a home owner’s garage. Atop the list are technologies to connect to and control your garage door opener or home lights to any Android or iOS compatible device, allowing home owners to check their garage door, and open or close it from anywhere in the world. Another technology to explore is a battery backup system, a feature that will keep a garage door running for weeks in the event of a blackout, as well as a motion detector light inside the garage so home owners don’t have to always remember to switch off the lights.

Source: http://styledstagedsold.blogs.realtor.org/2014/09/22/3-ways-to-spruce-up-the-garage/#sf4966340

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Your Prequalification Letter

If you’re serious about purchasing a WNY home, obtain a prequalification letter before you begin shopping. If you don’t, you may have a hard time getting the attention of home sellers or real estate agents. Prequalification involves choosing a mortgage lender and a loan program and providing some information.

Some lenders’ prequalification process is pretty basic –they’ll ask you about your income, debts and assets, and they’ll calculate a maximum loan amount and purchase price based on that information. Loan officers may not verify your information or check your credit rating. Other lenders will be much more thorough – there is no industry standard for prequalification.

Basic Prequalification Letter

Once the lender has completed its prequalification process (extensive or basic), it can issue you a prequalification letter. This is what you’ll give your real estate agent (if you have one) or the seller’s agent (if you’re shopping on your own). The basic prequalification letter says something like this:

To whom it may concern:

Ron and Cecilia Jones have been pre-qualified for a residential mortgage of up to $300,000 at an interest rate of up to 5.5 percent. This pre-qualification letter does not constitute loan approval or commitment to rate, fees, or term. Any misrepresentation in the loan application or adverse change in the applicants’ financial position may void this pre-qualification letter, as would a poor credit history by accepted standards.

A completed loan file with an acceptable appraisal must be provided for underwriting review before a loan decision can be made.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, you can reach us by phone at 888-888-8888 or via email at info@abcmortgage.com

Notice that there is nothing in this letter to indicate that the would-be buyers are capable of being approved for a mortgage. It does, however, indicate that they’re not just looking on impulse; they have at least approached a mortgage lender about financing.

Detailed Prequalification Letter

The more detailed prequalification letter is almost a preapproval. The lender may have some actual proof of income and assets from you, and it may have checked your credit. In that case, your letter will look more like this one:

XYZ Mortgage Company

Ronand Cecilia Jones is pre-qualified for a residential loan in the amount of $300,000 to purchase property to be determined. This qualification is based on a 30 year conventional mortgage at 6.5% interest with total property taxes not to exceed $6,500.

Based upon information received at application, along with credit and income verification received and reviewed by XYZ Mortgage Company, the applicants meet the requirements for a conventional loan at the above-listed terms.

We have also reviewed cash assets and reserves of the applicants, and determined that they have sufficient funds to complete the transaction. This pre-qualification letter does not constitute loan approval or commitment to rate, fees, or term. Any misrepresentation in the loan application or adverse change in the applicants’ financial position may void this pre-qualification letter, as would a poor credit history by accepted standards.

This pre-qualification letter is not intended to confer any rights or privileges upon third parties including, but not limited to, seller of real property. A completed loan file with an acceptable appraisal must be provided for underwriting review before a loan decision can be made.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, you can reach us by phone at 888-888-8888 or via email at info@xyzmortgage.com

You can see that in this case, the lender has checked credit and reviewed supporting documentation. A letter like this would inspire more confidence in both buyers and sellers.

Important Stuff!

Note: when you’re negotiating to purchase a house, you might not want the seller to know how much you’re prequalified to borrow. If, for example, you’re offering $275,000 with a $240,000 mortgage for a house listed at $300,000, you probably don’t want the sellers to see a letter prequalifying you for a $325,000 purchase with a $300,000 mortgage. Ask your lender to give you several letters with different amounts, or simply request a letter that conforms to the offer you plan to make.

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