Do Open Houses Work?

After over thirty years of doing business in the local Real Estate market, my answer is No. Why is that? There are a number of reasons. First, homebuyers buying habits have changed. The internet basically allows potential buyers to shop from the connivence of their home. After searching online they can not only visually see both the entire interior and exterior, they can also search through sites like google earth and even examine the immediate area of the homes. If they prefer, they could actually do a drive- by since the addresses are also visible. Next, smart homebuyers have already hired their own agents, so if they are interested they can see any house on their own schedule. What I have found is that most often it’s curious neighbors who want to see how the open house compares to their home. Unfortunately, I have found that frustrated sellers will pressure their agents to hold open houses to try to increase the exposure to their homes, when in reality revisiting their position in the market place is most often far more effective in getting the house sold.

HEY ANN-MY TAXES KEEP GOING UP AND I AM THINKING ABOUT GRIEVING THEM.  GOOD IDEA?

HEY ANN – Every year it seems I am paying more and more taxes and no new services to justify them.  I have heard about grieving your taxes with the town.  Is it worth the effort?

Taxes are the bane of our existence and like the old expression says, there is nothing guaranteed except death and taxes.  The big problem in our communities is that there is very little commercial or industrial property generating tax revenue.  The burden falls on the shoulders of home owners.  Each year, these small municipalities have increases in expenses, most mandated by the government and we are the ones who have to pay.

Grievance Day, the one day a year when we can go before the Town Boards with documents showing the value of our property is lower than the new assessment, is usually disappointing.  I have found hiring an attorney to represent the home owner is usually very effective.  The attorney appears at grievance day and, as a rule, has no better luck.  Then part two of the process kicks in where the attorney can represent you before an independent arbitrator to plead your case.  That is where the best result is obtained. If the assessment is excessive, the adjustment can be made then. There is a third step if you are not satisfied and that is for your attorney to appeal to the NYState Supreme Court.  The municipalities do not want to hire attorneys for that appearance so they are usually reasonable in accepting the arbitrated number.

There is a downside to grieving taxes.  If you continually reduce the assessment to reduce your taxes and, at some time put your house on the market for what you and your agent feel is a correct price, you may find a disconnect.  If there is a wide difference between your assessment and your listing price, buyers will feel the house is overpriced and you will limit the inquiries.  I have a listing in mind right now where the homeowner had, over a period of years, reduced the assessment and it is now almost $300,000 below the listing price for the house.  No wonder they have had only 2 showings in a year.  You can guess what advice I have given them.  So, be careful of the double edged sword.

Please feel free to ask me about your property.  There is no obligation and a free market evaluation is always a good way to start your planning whether for now,  for the future or for estate planning.  It will be my pleasure to be a resource for you.

For More Information about Ann Levitt CLICK HERE

DOES IT PAY TO INVEST MORE $ IN MY HOUSE?

HEY ANN-We love the house you found for us 10 years ago and we are now spending more and more time here.  We would like to make some major changes including making the attic into a guest suite, adding bathrooms, putting in new insulation (the 1857 insulation doesn’t cut it.)  Major investment and we just want to know if it will increase in value to cover the cost.

One of my favorite lines is “There are no crystal balls in real estate.”  Over the years, people have purchased in a high market and found themselves selling in a low market.  Taking a loss. And, of course, those buying at the bottom of the market, like in 2008, have seen significant increases in value.  Everything you do to improve your house should be to increase your enjoyment of living there.  That should be your primary consideration in considering major changes because, obviously, the improvements are going to enhance your life style.  Whether you get the money back at some future date is less important than having the extra bathrooms, an updated and convenient kitchen, more bedrooms for the growing family and friends who join you on weekends, ending high heating bills with an energy efficient house.

This couple has done all the improvements we discussed standing in the parking lot of the Price Chopper Supermarket.  And they were able to have their kid’s wedding there because it worked out so well.

And if your question about investing in improvements to your home is because you are planning to put it on the market, the investment should be done with guidance and advice from a real estate professional.  Sometimes simple enhancements make more of a difference than a major costly change.  Understand that buyers, for the most part, will want to redo the kitchen and bathrooms to their taste and it doesn’t pay for you to do more than freshening up with a little paint or wallpaper, decluttering and let them use their imagination.  There is a lot more psychology involved in helping buyers see potential in the property than you might imagine.

Please feel free to ask me about your property.  There is no obligation and a free market evaluation is always a good way to start your planning whether for now or for the future.  It will be my pleasure to be a resource for you.

For More Information about Ann Levitt CLICK HERE

HEY ANN- How’s the Real Estate Market?

HEY ANN- How’s the real estate market?  HEY Ann-When is the best time to list my house?  HEY ANN-I’m thinking of selling my house next year.  Can you come over and tell me what I have to do to perk it up?  It seems like wherever I go, out to dinner, shopping in the supermarket, at intermission at the local theaters, people recognize me as a local real estate agent and have questions. With all the articles and news reports about real estate lately, the value of perhaps the largest investment in your life, has you concerned.

How is the market?  Well, right now there are not enough good homes for sale here and we are finding that homes that have been on the market a while are being snapped up.  So it is a good time to list your house.  Believe it or not, there is no “best time” to list a property.  Homes sell year round if they are priced well and marketed well.  Winter attracts people interested in winter sports and shoppers who think prices will be lower in Winter (not so.)  Summer has so many attractions in this area that people fall in love with the lakes, the River, Hudson, Tanglewood, beautiful scenery, the arts world.  And they want to be part of it.  Spring is the time families house hunt in order to move before the beginning of the school year.  When a home owner is ready, that’s the time to list. 

It is always a good idea to get a professional opinion on what a house needs to bring out its best features. And, it is not spending a fortune on staging like you see on the real estate programs on tv.  Often it is just a matter of “decluttering” or “pre-packing” and allowing buyers to see the home and not being distracted by furnishings.  Again, it helps both the home owner and the real estate agent to get the best price for the home.

Please feel free to ask me about your property.  There is no obligation and a free market evaluation is always a good way to start your planning whether for now, or for the future and for estate planning.  It will be my pleasure to be a resource for you.

For More Information about Ann Levitt CLICK HERE

Choosing The Wrong Realtor Can Be Costly

For most of us, deciding to buy or sell Real Estate is generally one of the most important financial decisions we will make in our lives. Even knowing the stakes, often times people will pick a friend or an acquaintance to take on this huge responsibility. To begin, you should interview at least three local agents who have been successful in your local market. I would recommend someone who is in the business full time and has a track record of representing buyers and sellers in the community where you live or where you want to live. They should also provide a list of recent clients that you can call for a reference. If your selling, you should get to see a written Comparable Market Analyses (CMA), as well last their marketing plan for your home. If your a buyer, you should ask to speak to the last three clients they represented as a buyers agent. You need a Real Estate Expert, not just a Real Estate agent.

Spring 2019

What will our local market look like this spring?  The spring housing market will typically see a sharp increase in our housing inventories. However, due to an increase in our median price point, less buyers are going to being able to enter the market. I believe it will be slower than many expect. The continued threat of rising interest rates will also adversely impact our market. New construction or housing starts in our area continue to be slow, due to the higher cost of materials and high costs associated with site preparation and infrastructure. Looking forward, I see a modest real estate market in the days ahead with increased inventories on the higher end of our market, where the reality of the new tax laws limitations have become an issue. These high end home owners are seeing their tax deductions reduced to just 10,000. If your starting your search for a home this spring, get an early start in order to not be competing with other buyers, often being forced into a bidding war which results in paying more then necessary.

Shifting Market

Recently there have been signs indicating that the Real Estate Market is beginning to shift in the direction of buyers. There are a number of factors that may be contributing to this. First, mortgage interest rates have begun to rise and this is always a cause for concern as it keeps some potential buyers on the sidelines. Median prices here in Columbia County have begun to drop from $275,000 a year ago, to $245,000 currently. Residential inventory has also seen an increase, partly because the new tax laws now limit the deduction for state and local taxes to just $10,000 which encourages more sellers to put their houses on the market. For buyers who may be waiting until spring to start shopping, maybe you should take advantage of this time of year when there is less competition and sellers tend to be more motivated. 

Now It’s The Sellers Turn

It had to happen, all markets operate in cycles ours is no different. The housing stats are showing very positive signs at this time for our local residential market. The first five months 250 residential properties sold, that’s over a 14% increase in closed transactions compared to the same period last year. There’s more, the median price has gone up again & is now at $252,500, a number that makes it very difficult for our many first-time homebuyers. For Sellers the news is even better as home prices have gone up 3% since last year, the average days on  market has dropped to just 146. So, if you have been thinking of selling, don’t wait, as markets are always fickle, and some are predicting a slow down may come in the not to distant future.

Social Media & Real Estate

Facebook was originally a means to stay in touch with family and friends, and now has evolved into a very effective means to advertise and market Real Estate. What makes this type of marketing most effective is the ability to get your message directly in front of your target audience. We can now create a custom audience by using demographics that match the profile of the type of buyers who would most likely be interested in a particular home or property. Things like education, employment, earnings, hobbies and zip codes can all be factored into your selected audience. Gone are the days where Realtors would put an ad in a paper or magazine, and hope that the right person would get to see it. Today, the most successful sales agents and their companies are utilizing social media as one of the most powerful marketing tool that has come along in many years.

Why Hasn’t My House Sold Yet?

A question I’m often asked. First thing to know is the state of your local market. You can get that education online, what have other similar homes sold for in your neighborhood recently. Don’t let your emotions get in the way, also get the advice of a local Real Estate expert, they do this every day and already know the market. If you want to sell your house make sure your house will show well, fix any obvious problems, declutter, clean up, both inside and out. It needs to look, feel and smell clean. Staging is another very important element of selling your home, this can create an atmosphere to a potential buyer that helps make your house a home they can envision themselves moving into. You may be able to do it yourself or ask for the help of an experienced Realtor. Remember, you only get one chance to make a good first impression.