Whirlpool State Park

This is a little known Western New York gem. You get here by taking Route 104 North from Niagara Falls. There are a few different trails with difficulty ranging from easy to extreme. The easy trail skirts the gorge for several miles and is a very pleasant, gently undulating slope. The extreme trails start with a set of stairs, pretty much straight down and then a winding trail that is a mixture of worn paths and climbing over rocks. YOU NEED TO LOOK FOR AND FOLLOW THE PAINTED TRAIL MARKERS. Go here with a healthy respect for Mother Nature and you will leave energized. There are beautiful vistas all along the way, but the pay off is at the end of the trail where you can sit next to roaring whirlpool. This is where the water is cascading through the gorge right after it hits the bottom of the falls. You can be hypnotized by the near sensory overload of sound, smell, view and touch. It’s a beautiful sight.

Appointments to Show My Home – How does this work when I list by home for sale?

Appointments to Show Your Home

Your property will be shown by realtors from a variety of companies.  The buyers they bring are pre-approved, registered individuals.  Access to your property is arranged with you by an agent, secretarial staff or a  third party showing service.

 

Access

You can be there for showings if you like, however, the optimum method we would like to recommend is to utilize a lockbox (see my next post on Lockboxes) and allow the realtor and buyer to come through when no one is there.  True, you don’t get to see who is coming through your house; however, you are also not waiting around on a sunny afternoon when you would rather be doing something else.  The other advantage that is even more important is that the prospective buyer is more likely to buy if they can get comfortable in the property.

 

Prearranged times

Showings do not occur unless we obtain your approval ahead of time unless the situation exists where you would just like us to leave you a message when someone would like to show the property.  The showing service or secretary will call and say, “Ms. Smith, Joe Realtor from GoGettum Realty would like to show your home next Friday between 10 and 11 AM, will that be okay?”  If the time works, tell them so.  Also, we would encourage you to say “No” if you have plans with people who are coming over for a meeting or some other get together.  We know you want to make the house accessible.  In the same way, we encourage you, however, to have healthy boundaries throughout this process.

It must be said here that we’ve also had many situations where it was actually more convenient for the seller to just leave a message for them and go ahead and show the house.  We’ll adapt to whatever fits your comfort level the most.

 

How much notice do I get?

In most situations, we go with a “day ahead” notice requirement to make this easier for our homeowners.  This means you will get a call the night before.  If you don’t need that kind of notice, let us know and we will make it less restrictive.  We also set it up with the showing service that they should call one of the team members in the event of a short notice request and we will personally call you to see if the agent and their buyer can be accommodated.

How do I know they were here?

The agents that show your home are asked to leave a card so that you know that they were there.

 

Feedback from showings

Agents at a full service broker should be making every effort to get feedback to you within 48 to 72 hours after a showing.  Within an hour of the showing, the realtor who showed the property receives an email from us where we request an opinion regarding their showing of the property – was there any interest? Is there anything we could do to make it more appealing? What do you think of the price?  If there is no response, we send another email about 24 hours after the showing, repeating the same questions in a different way.  If there is still no response, we call the agent by phone and ask these questions.  If all we get is voice mail and no response after another phone call, we note the file that there is no interest.  As soon as we obtain feedback, you will hear from us via email or phone as to what the agent had to say.

Showing reports

Periodically your agent should be supplying you with a comprehensive activity report that will show all showings, dates of the showings, what the agents had to say, etc.  

Closing – What You Need to Know

Adjustments at Closing

This is referred to in the contract of sale as “adjustments at closing”. When the closing date is firmly established, the seller’s attorney will calculate the specific taxes and water/sewer taxes for the current period and divide by the total number of days in the period, and then multiply by the number of days remaining in the period that have already been paid for by the seller. This amount will appear as a debit for the buyer on the closing statement.

 Closing Statement

The universally agreed upon document to describe and record a credits and debits at closing is called the HUD-1. Prior to closing, this will be reviewed by attorneys representing the buyer, the seller and the bank to make sure that everyone is in agreement regarding costs and proceeds for all parties involved.

Closing Date

The contract date is not set in stone.  It is an approximate target date.  The contract says that the closing will occur on the target date or “at such other time and place as Seller and Purchaser mutually agree”.  We recommend getting the property to close as soon as possible.  A Buyer needs to follow through with all requests from the mortgage company in a timely manner to achieve this.  A Seller needs to comply with requirements in the contract with respect to establishing clear title as well as any requirements created by local laws. 

Possession and Moving

The date the keys are handed over to the new Owner is the closing date unless other agreements have been made.  The contract says, “Purchaser shall have possession of all the property and Seller shall be out of the property”.  At that time all keys and security codes need to be provided to the Purchaser.

Utility Transfer

The contract requires the Seller to maintain “all applicable utilities in service until the time of closing”.  It is imperative to call the utility companies – electric, gas, water, oil, propane, etc… only after a firm date is received for the closing of the property.  The Realtors will help facilitate this transfer so that service continues uninterrupted.  The normal date for the transfer is the actual closing date.  With the consent of both parties this could be a day or two earlier or later.  If you turn the utilities off early and you are the Seller, you will have a problem when the Buyer performs their final inspection of the property.  If the Buyer is unable to test the furnace, the lights or the hot water, they will probably not close unless they can hold back sufficient funds to cover the replacement of the mechanical systems that cannot be tested.

Housing Benefits for Seniors – Who Can Help Me?

Much attention is being given to the notion of helping seniors to stay in the community, safely and independently for as long as possible. As the percentage of our population over the age of 65 continues to grow, this objective for us as a society will continue to increase in importance due to the sheer numbers and the strain that will be imposed on the current service delivery system. Recently I met with Jamie Acoff, Outreach Coordinator at the Cheektowaga Senior Center and she explained the array of programs available for both senior owners and renters as well as the vital role Outreach Coordinators and Case Managers can play in helping seniors to remain as independent as possible.

She pointed out that many seniors qualify for weatherization assistance and low cost phone service through Erie County HEAP office although many of them do not know it or are too proud to ask for help. Appliance and lighting replacements are also available through EmPowerNY which is funded by New York State and the Public Service Commission.

Individual  towns also offer 0-1.5% interest loans for home owners for roof, window and other big ticket replacements. This is paid for by Federal money channeled through local government.  The senior citizen homeowner is able to make and enjoy these repairs and there is no obligation to pay the money back until the individual actually sells the property. Acoff points out that there are long waiting lists for this program and it makes sense for people to be proactive and apply for assistance at least a couple of years before the improvements are actually necessary.

Senior Outreach Coordinators also known as Case Managers are available for any senior who needs help with understanding insurance reimbursement, wrestling with pharmaceutical companies or finding out if you are eligible for low to no cost home repairs. There are no cost or financial eligibility criteria in order to obtain help. The correct person for you can be found by calling your individual town government office or you can go directly to Erie County Senior Services at 716-858-8526.

NRTC – Not Represented To Code?

Fireplace – NRTC?

What does this “not represented to code” or NRTC mean?

This is often in the listing information describing a property. In the mid-‘90’s, a home buyer successfully sued the seller and the realtors involved in the transaction after closing because although the fireplace had been used safely for many years, the firebox was about 2 inches smaller in depth than the current code requirement. Not long after, the Board of Realtors adopted a policy that all fireplaces will be sold “as is” whether they are 1 year old or 100 years old.

The most critical thing to do if a home you are considering has a fireplace is to actually bring in a chimney sweep or other similar professional who can give a recommendation regarding safety and your ability to use it after purchase. In most cases, you will not be able to rely on your home inspector for this because they will usually mark on their report that they are unable to examine and they will recommend calling a chimney sweep or similar professional.