Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Should I buy or sell first?

The question of whether one should first buy or sell is analogous to the question of which of two vials of poison one should consume. Okay, maybe not quite so dramatic… However, I would venture to guess that almost 95% of all of our clients come up with the same response. Buy first, sell later. Let me walk you through it…


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

Preparing Your Home for the Summer

Prepare Your Home for Summer Weather, Insects, & Fun!

The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and the weather is just perfect for outdoor barbeques or lazy days by the pool. Summer has arrived!

To get your home ready for the best summer ever and minimize potential hot-weather catastrophes, we’ve compiled a brief guide on some essential summer home repairs and preventative measures, from setting up your home for extreme summer heat to mowing the lawn and prepping the deck for outdoor entertainment.

Prepare Your Home for Weather Catastrophes

Although summer is well known for pleasant weather, it’s also the season of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, sweltering heat, wildfires, and more. For this reason, it’s important to keep your home up-to-date on repairs, maintenance, and insurance, or you might find yourself in a sticky situation.

Droughts & Wildfires: If you live in an area prone to wildfires, having an insurance policy to protect your home against fire damage is a must, but you can also protect your home by strategically landscaping and maintaining proper care of your property. Be sure to:

  • Remove dead or dying trees and shrubs.
  • Keep firewood and storage tanks at least 50 feet away from the house, and keep the immediate area around them (at least ten feet) clear of fire hazards.
  • Ensure no wood fencing is connected to your home.
  • Trim tree branches so they don’t touch the house, connect to the roof, or extend over the chimney.
  • If you’re particularly concerned, use landscaping materials that act as fuel breaks (spots of land that fire cannot burn and must go around in order to continue burning): pebbles or gravel in place of mulch; a concrete patio instead of a wood deck; and pavers or rock paths instead of grass paths.

Rampant Heat: Sweltering weather is great for a day at the beach, but not so great for a day indoors or for your cooling system. If it’s in your budget or you’re building a new home, install a light-colored cool roof. Traditionally dark-colored roofs can reach 190 degrees, while lighter-colored roofs tend to stay within 50 to 100 degrees. This is the same principle as with clothing: white (or other light colored) clothes reflect sunlight, thus deflecting heat, while black (or other dark colored) clothes take in sunlight, thus absorbing heat. So when you’re out in the desert, wear white!

Some other tips to combat extreme heat are:

  • Change the filters on your HVAC regularly and ensure all the ducts are sealed, in order to minimize cold-air leaks.
  • Check to be sure all the windows and doors are sealed properly, as well, to minimize leaks.
  • Change the direction of your ceiling fan (counter-clockwise direction so the fan moves faster and can get a breeze going; in the winter, fans should rotate clockwise to evenly distribute rising heat).
  • Program your thermostat to ensure that you aren’t overusing the A/C to cool the house when you’re not home to enjoy the refreshing coolness.

Hurricanes/Tornadoes: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, or from summer to fall. Hurricanes and tornadoes can cause a variety of damage with strong winds, heavy rains, and flooding. In preparation for the hurricane season, be sure to:

  • Have an emergency kit and supplies handy in case of injuries, power outages, and other disastrous situations.
  • Know where you should take shelter, such as a tornado shelter (basement, cellar, etc.), and how to get there quickly and safely.
  • Ensure all windows are secured with storm shutters if you live in a hurricane-prone area, and that flashlights are in easy reach.
  • If you know a storm is coming tomorrow, bring in all lawn furniture to prevent it from flying away.

Flood Season: Depending on where you live, your home may also be at risk of flooding from spring to fall. During spring and early summer, seasonal thunderstorms create heavy rains and can result in flooding, while in summer and early fall, coastal hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, and other tropical storms can cause flooding. If you live in an area prone to floods, be sure to have flood insurance on your home. Note that flood insurance is different from homeowners insurance. Howard Hanna Insurance Services offers flood insurance, among other insurance products.

Some other ways you can prepare for flood season include:

  • If you have the budget for it, retrofitting your home for flooding based on FEMA and National Flood Insurance Program guidelines. Some ways you can retrofit your home include:
    • Ensure the lowest floor of your home is at or above flood level by elevating your home.
    • Ensure your home can withstand flooding for at least 72 hours by dry floodproofing it, making the parts of your home that will be underwater watertight with special materials.
    • Minimize potential floodwater damage by wet floodproofing your home (this allows floodwater into specific parts of the home)
  • Inspect the lowest levels of your home (basement, first floor) for cracks and areas where water can leak in, including doors and windows. Seal up these leaks.
  • Arrange the landscaping directly outside of your home such that water is directed away from the home’s foundation (build up dirt or add sandbags, place grates where water tends to pool, etc.).
  • Get your gutters cleaned, and have a professional check to ensure they are all properly attached to the home and functional. When gutters aren’t at their finest, water the overflows or runs down the side of the home can get inside through windows and cause all sorts of water damage.
  • Similarly, have your roof inspected to ensure there aren’t any leaks that need to be fixed.

At Howard Hanna Insurance Services, we offer a comprehensive and customizable home insurance policy, along with flood insurance policies, umbrella policies, and more, to help give you peace of mind throughout all four seasons. To find out more, contact a Howard Hanna Insurance Agent.

Prepare Your Home for Insects & Other Pests

We have ants!” Outside of a cool ant farm, this is one thing nobody wants to say. Unfortunately, if your home hasn’t been bug-proofed, all sorts of unsightly critters awaken during the summer and take the opportunity to crawl inside.

Some ways to prepare for insects include:

  • Ensure your home is properly sealed. On top of preventing drafts, water leaks, and minimizing your cooling bill, checking that all windows, doors, moldings, corners, cracks, and crevices are properly sealed with caulking and weather strips will limit the number of entrances insects have to get inside your home.
  • Spray the outside perimeter of your home with a pesticide to deter insects from traveling that way.
    • If you have pets, be sure that the pesticide you use won’t harm them or that the pets can’t get into it. You can also make your own DIY natural repellant, just be sure to read up on all the ingredients you use.
  • As a preventative measure, also spray any areas you know are prone to insect or ant problems with a pesticide (the windowsill in the kitchen, the perimeter of your sinks, the bottom of your garage door, etc.).
  • Throw away any garbage, sweep the floors, clean the countertops, seal all the jars, and keep your sugar properly stored away. Keeping your house clean and food sealed will limit the chances of insects finding food to forage.

Prepare Your Home for Entertaining Guests

Summer isn’t all disastrous weather and unwanted pests: it’s also a great deal of outdoor entertainment and fun! Be sure your home and yard are ready to entertain guests, host barbeques, or simply provide a relaxing oasis with the following:

  • Prepare the deck: check for any rotting wood and have it replaced; sand any areas that have splinters; clean the deck of grime, dirt, fallen leaves, and twigs; seal the deck with outdoor wood stain, sealant, or paint to prevent additional damage; and provide other maintenance.
  • Tend to the lawn: re-seed any areas where grass has died off; mow the lawn; provide it with some fertilizer or weed-repellent; ensure it is up to your standards.
  • Weed the garden: if you have a garden, provide with it with some TLC as well; weed, add fertilizer and other nutrients; trim the shrubs and trees; add in any summer flowers and plants that you want for a bit of shine.
  • Fix-up the fence: repair any broken areas; ensure all hinges and latches are secure; for wood fences, give it a fresh coat of paint or wood stain if you want.
  • Add a tree swing or hammock! This one isn’t a must, but it’s always fun to have something to swing and lounge on outdoors. If tree swings or hammocks aren’t your thing, that’s perfectly okay. Add a special touch to your yard that you will enjoy instead!

Community Real Estate Group joins Nothnagle Realtors, a Howard Hanna Company

Victor, New York (June 1st, 2017) – The Community Real Estate Group in Victor, New York has merged with Nothnagle Realtors, a Howard Hanna Company. With the addition of this new office, the company now has more than 80 offices throughout New York.

Community Real Estate Group is one of the most respected residential real estate brokers in the Victor area. The team will continue to serve buyers and sellers from its office at 10 East Main Street, Suite 306 in Victor.

“We are very excited to welcome Kevin Esparza and the Community Real Estate Group to the amazing team at Nothnagle Realtors, a Howard Hanna Company,” said Armand D’Alfonso, President of Nothnagle Realtors. “Kevin has built a great team of agents in that office and I have no doubt that with his support and experience, the office will continue to grow. This partnership allows us to service the needs of buyers and sellers not only in the Victor area, but all over Western New York.”

Kevin Esparza is managing broker and owner of Community Real Estate Group and has been an active member of the Victor community for the past ten years. He has a strong background in business sales and commercial leasing, which he has used in his 17-year real estate career. Over the past four years, Community Real Estate Group averaged 85% referral business, a testament to the culture of building and maintaining relationships with each client.

Esparza looks forward to this next step for his company. “Aligning with Nothnagle and Howard Hanna was a simple decision to make,” he said. “My company has always strived to provide superior customer service to our clients and now with the Nothnagle and Howard Hanna tools available, we will deliver an overall real estate experience for our clients that is unsurpassed.”

Dan Cappa, manager of the Fairport office, and Jay Teresi were instrumental in the creation of the merger. Teresi is excited about what this change means for the market. “Kevin is a natural leader and has done a tremendous job building his company in the Victor market. We quickly realized that coming together will benefit our clients and agents immediately, while allowing Kevin to continue his commitment to the community we will serve in the Victor/Farmington areas,” he said.

This relationship with Nothnagle, a Howard Hanna company, will provide both buyers and sellers the advantage of programs that are not available from other brokers in the area, such as the 100% Money Back Guarantee, along with access to technology, training and cutting-edge marketing tools.

Howard Hanna Real Estate Services is the 3rd largest real estate company in America, the #1 privately owned broker in the nation, and the largest home seller in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York. The family-owned and operated real estate company specializes in residential and commercial brokerage service, mortgages, closing and title insurance, land development, appraisal services, insurance services, corporate relocation and property management. With 270 offices across PA, OH, NY, VA, MI, WV, NC and MD, our more than 9,000 sales associates and staff are guided by a spirit of integrity in all aspects of the real estate process.

To learn more please visit or

Media contact:
Elizabeth Grepp, 216-447-4477 x115,

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 ->