Why aren’t buyers writing an offer on our home?

During the height of the season, I find myself having to address this question anywhere from three to four times a week. Many sellers, especially those who have had their homes listed for an extended period of time, are confounded by the resistance of buyers to write offers. “Just have them present an offer… something that we can look at.” So, why are buyers sometimes reluctant to write an offer on a property that they might love…


This post was provided courtesy of the Mark Siwiec Team.  Please click here to read the rest of the article on Mark’s blog.

Controlling Your Clutter

Everyone has that one drawer, one countertop, one closet, or even one room that is full of clutter. From year-old bills to 10-year-old Halloween costumes, clutter can take up unnecessary space. Taking control of your clutter can seem daunting and overwhelming, but we are here to help turn your space from a cluttered catastrophe into an organized oasis (or something similar).

Take the first step by setting goals. Figure out what you want to be accomplished and when you want to happen. Go even further by creating a schedule. Plan a time with all family members to go through clutter together. Involving the family will help keep everyone on track.

Many organizing experts recommend the four-box approach: have a box for trash, a box for donations, a box for items to keep, and a box for items to relocate. Carefully consider each item before placing it in a box to make sure you are confident about which box to use. Leave no item unboxed. Once all items are placed in a specific box, follow through. Donate items that should be donated, throw away unwanted items, put back the items you are keeping, and relocate the others to their new home. Completing this immediately will help you feel accomplished sooner!

Sometimes your clutter can be due to poor organization or neglect. Invest in storage options or organizers for important things. Bills beginning to pile up? Grab a mail organizer and label each slot as due soon, paid, and unpaid, or whatever works for you. Important documents lying about? Purchase a fireproof lockbox to keep all important docs secure and safe. Organizing the simplest of things can have a huge impact on your space.

Having trouble noticing clutter? Sometimes we become blind to our mess and need a new perspective to help us notice things we’ve ignored! Inviting over friends or family will cause you to start thinking of your spaces as a visitor would. This new perspective can open you up to see your space differently. Take a photo of the space. If your eye is immediately drawn to a messy area, declutter it! Ask others what they see and use their perspective, too.

Tackling clutter can be taxing, so don’t overdo it. Trying to do everything all at once will likely cause frustration and make you upset, which then results in being less efficient and losing progress. Take it a step at a time and take breaks when needed. Doing spurts of decluttering will result in a better finished product rather than rushing through just to “accomplish” the job.

Taking control of your clutter will give you peace of mind and give your spaces an instant facelift!

Bidding War Offers

What should we offer in a bidding war? How do we know the right amount?

There is no science to winning out in a bidding war. However, there is a great deal of art involved. Overwhelmingly, our buyers tend to win out in bidding wars – and not necessarily as a result of paying the most amount for the property. Instead, the terms that we are negotiating in the purchase offer, as well as pre-existing relationships with other brokers, helps to give us the edge. Here are a couple of our most effective strategies…


This post was provided courtesy of the Mark Siwiec Team.  Please click here to read the rest of the article on Mark’s blog.

Open House Event!!


Get ready Western New York! Our biggest Open House Event of the year is THIS WEEKEND! April 29 & 30. Stop in to any Nothnagle REALTORS or RealtyUSA Open House and register for a chance to win a $500 AMEX Gift Card!


(Official Rules are found here -> http://www.nothnagle.com/Unlimited)


Which Updates Should You Make?

What updates should I make before putting my home on the market? How do I decide what updates will yield a profit?

About 28 years ago, the world was introduced to the Internet for the first time. From that day forward, buyers have become increasingly busy. As a result, unless you’re the Property Brothers or Joanna and Chip Gaines, most buyers simply have no interest in taking on someone else’s project. Buyers, instead, are looking to move into a house that is aesthetically pleasing and neutral in tone. This allows them to set down their purple sofa and mauve love seat until they get around to personalizing the residence – usually during the first January after they’ve purchased…

This post was provided courtesy of the Mark Siwiec Team.  Please click here to read the rest of the article on Mark’s blog.

Add Value to Your Home with Spring Cleaning

It may be surprising, but a clean and decluttered home can have a huge impact on a potential buyer’s impression of the home and help them envision it as their own. In addition, a clean home improves your mood and helps you feel more productive.

Clean Up the Yard

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression, so make the most of your home’s first impression by cleaning up the yard.

  1. Clear away fall and winter debris such as fallen branches and leaves; pick up and put away toys and other items that are not lawn ornaments.
  2. Be sure that all walkways are clear and easy to navigate along.
    • If you have broken or misaligned steps, consider hiring a professional to fix them.
  3. Clean the gutters, or hire a professional the clean them; when gutters are clogged, they can overflow and cause water damage to the exterior of your home. If they overflow into a window, the water damage can extend into the interior, as well.
  4. Treat your lawn to a spa day: feed it, weed it, give it moss treatment, and mow it on a dry day. When you know it’s going to rain, or shortly after rain, apply fertilizers for best results.

Clean Up the Exterior Walls of the House

Over the course of a year, a lot of dirt, muck, and grit can collect on the exterior walls of a home—not to mention moss, mold, and mildew growth along brick walls.

  1. On a warm, dry day, wash away the dirt on the exterior walls of your home. Take care not to damage any surfaces, let water get underneath the siding, or dislodge any bricks.
  2. If it looks like there is water damage on the outside of your home, call a professional.
  3. Take the chance to clean the outside of your windows as well, and check for any damage to them. Cracked panes should be replaced and peeling windowsills should be tended to, as well.
    • Peeling windowsills are a great opportunity (after removing the old paint) to repaint them with a refreshing new color. Not sure what color to pick? Our Painting Joy Into Your Home: How Colors Influence Your Mood blog post can give you an idea on what might be the best color, depending on what effect you want to achieve.
    • Once you’re back inside, wipe the inside of the windows down and clear away any cobwebs.

Clean Up the Garden

If you have a garden with clearly defined borders, be sure to freshen those borders up. In addition, give your garden some attention and care:

  1. Fork the soil around plants to introduce fresh air and reveal any pests or weeds
  2. Remove weeds and other unwanted plants
  3. Add mulch to control additional weeds or refresh existing mulch
  4. Check to see if any bricks or stones have become misaligned and realign them
  5. To help your plants grow and add nutrients to the soil, add compost or other organic matter

If you don’t have a garden but would like to increase the curb appeal of your home by adding some plants, try adding flower pots or hanging plants outside!

  1. Check that the flowers and plants won’t be at risk of dying from a last frost before adding the pots or hanging plants outdoors.
  2. If you want to grow the plants from seeds, consider starting them indoors to avoid losing them to hungry birds or animals before they’ve had the chance to sprout. Otherwise, pick potted flowers and plants you like from your local garden center.
  3. Arrange the potted flowers and hanging plants how you like: on your front porch, flanking your front door, along your walkway, or even in your back garden. The options are endless!

Last but not least, if you have a fence, inspect it for any damage.

  1. Ensure that all gates are properly attached and that locks function smoothly.
  2. Fill in any holes animals may have dug underneath the fence. If you have a dog that keeps digging a hole to escape, bury a toy, or pursuing some other destructive behavior, you may want to check with your local dog academy to see whether training can correct the behavior.
  3. Check for loose boards, rusted wires, damaged bricks or stones, etc. and repair the fence accordingly. If you don’t know how to maintain your fence and find that a section has decayed, call a professional.
  4. If you want to give your yard a fresh look, consider painting your fence a new color, adding flowers along the boundaries, or adding climbing plants to transform your fence into a garden wonderland. Check with your local garden center first on which climbing plants would be best.
    • Beware: climbing plants require a certain amount of maintenance and care to keep them from becoming unruly and overtaking your yard. If they attach to a tree, they can cause serious damage.

Relax! April is Stress Awareness Month

Believe it or not, the average stress level of Americans has dropped since 2007, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). But, we here at Howard Hanna Insurance Services understand if you don’t exactly feel that way. It’s a good thing, then, that Stress Awareness Month is here.

Reducing your stress is well worth your while. If you don’t know where to start, tese tips from the Mayo Clinic and WebMD will get you headed in the right direction:

Make stress management a goal. Simply saying, “I want to reduce stress” isn’t enough. You’ve got to learn to identify problems and implement solutions, which takes work.

Identify your triggers. What situations cause you to experience stress? Work? Relationships? Money? Don’t overlook everyday tasks, such as commuting, or even positive events, such as starting a new job.

Consider strategies to deal with those specific triggers. For example, creating a budget plan or talking to a financial adviser could help ease your worries about finances. Changing your hours at work could potentially improve your commute.

Practice relaxation techniques and live a healthy lifestyle. Here are just a few tools that people use to help alleviate stress:

Deep breathing, yoga or tai chi
Meditation and guided imagery — imagining yourself in a place of relaxation
Writing or talking to someone about your feelings
Exercise (even simple stretching or housework) and outdoor recreation

Art and other creative projects
Ask for help. Many people you know have probably experienced similar stresses to your own. Find out how they have solved problems and relieved stress. And, if they are still having trouble, you can work on managing issues together.

April is a great time to try to reduce stress and live a healthier life. So, what are you waiting for? Remember, when you make stress management a bigger part of your life, you leave less room for the stress itself.