Tips for Hosting the Holidays in a Small Space

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Family Gathered at Holiday Dinner Table

As real estate agents, we frequently hear the lament, “We need a bigger house!” And that’s especially true around the holidays. While we’re happy to help you find homes for sale in Guilderland, Latham and Colonie NY with more square footage, we also thought it might be helpful to provide you with some tricks and tips for hosting the holidays in a small space.

Tips for Entertaining in a Small Space

  1. Clear Away Clutter

Consider putting your decorating pride aside in favor of more space, and storing all non-essential décor in closets, under the bed, or even at a friend’s or neighbor’s house. This includes any items on flat surfaces, such as coffee tables, end tables and consoles. Decorative pillows and throws can take up much needed seating, while unnecessary appliances should be stored away to allow for more counter space.

  1. Re-Arrange Your Furniture

Don’t be afraid to move furniture around to maximize floor space, and tuck unnecessary pieces into a bedroom. If a big meal is the focus of your gathering, and your living room is larger than your dining room, why not try swapping the furniture to make room for a longer table and chairs? If you’re serving a buffet-style meal, make sure flat surfaces are clear of clutter for plates and drinks and provide enough seating for everyone, even if it means using an ottoman or your bedroom vanity stool.

  1. Pare Down the Menu

Do as much prep as you can ahead of time, especially if your kitchen is small. Better yet, ask guests to bring a dish, even if it’s just the dessert. Another trick is to serve a salad or cold appetizer to stall guests while you are waiting for other items to cook in the oven. Keep the beverage options to a minimum, as well. If you’re doing the cooking, ask guests to bring their own drink of choice, or create a specialty cocktail (and a virgin alternative) that can be served from a punch bowl or pitcher, to avoid the need for a fully-stocked bar.

  1. Improvise

Entertaining in a small space requires some creativity, so think outside the box, literally. If you live in an apartment, consider placing a coat rack in the hallway to free up space inside. Homeowners have outdoor options, too. Especially in Guilderland, Latham and other parts of the Capital Region, it’s usually cold enough outside at the holidays to keep refrigerated items or beverages on a porch when you run out of space inside the fridge.

House Still Not Big Enough?

The fact is, sometimes bigger really is better. If you’re ready to make the move from apartment living to home ownership, or you’ve found that your current home just isn’t big enough, the real estate agents at CM Fox are here to help. We take the time to get to know our clients and their needs, and will work with you to find a home that’s the right size for the right price. Check out our homes for sale in Guilderland, Latham, Colonie and Albany NY, or call (518) 861-7030 to speak directly with a real estate agent near you.

#CMFoxFamily Supporting Local Families

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CM Fox Real Estate in Guilderland NY is a Toys for Tots Donation Site

As the holiday season quickly approaches, CM Fox Real Estate in Guilderland NY is proud to be working with the Toys for Tots Foundation to help spread joy to those who need it most. From now through December 15, 2017, we will be collecting new, unopened, unwrapped toys to be distributed to local children. By delivering a new toy to less fortunate youngsters at Christmas, the goal of Toys for Tots is to also deliver a message of hope that will assist these children in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.

CM Fox will match each toy donated at our Guilderland NY real estate office, located at 2390 Western Avenue. Toys can be dropped off Monday-Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.

5 Common Home Buying Questions

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Home Buying Questions

Buying a home can be a daunting task, and it’s not unusual for the home buyers we work with to have a lot of questions about the process. To help buyers feel more educated and informed, we asked our real estate agents in Guilderland, Latham, Colonie & Albany NY to help us compile a list of the 5 most common home buying questions and answers. Here’s what they had to say!

How much house can I afford?

Most lenders recommend that your mortgage payment, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance be less than 28% of your gross monthly income, but mortgage affordability really depends on how much you’re comfortable paying and what your financial plans are. You can use realtor.com’s home affordability calculator for a ballpark figure, but it’s also a good idea to obtain a lender’s pre-approval before attending your first open house. This will help you determine what you can afford, and make you more appealing to sellers.

Can I sell my house and buy another at the same time?

This is one of the trickier home buying questions to answer, and while our Guilderland & Latham real estate agents said that it’s possible, they agreed that it can be stressful. Obviously, if you buy before you sell, you’re stuck paying two mortgages simultaneously, and if you sell before you buy, you may have to move items into storage and rent temporarily. The most common solution is to instate a “sale contingency” in your contract, which means you only agree to buy if you can sell your current home. However, it’s important to note that sellers are sometimes reluctant to agree to these terms.

Can I buy a house if I have bad credit?

That depends, how bad is bad? A minimum credit score of 620 is required by all mortgage loans delivered to Fannie Mae, but you might be surprised to learn that some loan programs, including those insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), allow borrowers with a credit score as low as 580 to purchase a home with only a 3.5% down payment. If your credit score falls below the minimums, there are ways to improve your score for a future purchase, or you may still be able to acquire a loan if you have a family member or friend who is willing to co-sign.

How many homes should I see before making an offer?

This is truly an individual decision. For instance, a real estate agent in Colonie might have a client that finds a home within hours, while an agent in Albany might help a family shop for months. Most homebuyers look at hundreds of homes online nowadays, but our real estate agents typically recommend looking at an average of 10 homes in-person before making an offer. To help streamline the process, narrow your search to a particular neighborhood or community and expand to surrounding areas only if needed.

Do I really need a home inspection?

That’s a unanimous, “Yes!” from our real estate agents. Home inspectors are experts at seeing potential problems with a home that buyers and real estate agents may miss. They are professionally trained to inspect the septic, electric and heating systems, roof and other areas of your potential new home for problems. It’s better to know the condition of your home before you sign the paperwork, and are saddled with unexpected repair costs in the future. A home inspection will ensure that you are making an informed decision, and, if problems are discovered, you can negotiate with the seller to get have the repairs made prior to signing.

Do you have more home buying questions?

We have answers! With more than 50 real estate agents in Guilderland, Colonie, Latham & Albany NY, no one has more experience with local real estate than CM Fox. We’re happy to answer your questions, offer advice and help you find the right house for the right price. Contact us online or call 518-861-7030 to speak with a real estate agent directly.

FALL Into Lawn Care Now and SPRING into Selling Next Year!

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Thinking about selling your home next spring? Well, if you want to improve your curb appeal, you should be treating your lawn now to make sure it’s show ready! Here are 4 basic tips to help you spruce up that front yard from the Guilderland NY real estate experts.

Aeration

Aeration provides room for new grass to spread without competition from spring weeds. The tools pull up plugs of grass and soil and breaks up compacted turf. Once this occurs, water, oxygen and nutrients are able to get to the roots, which give seeds the ability to sprout. Depending on how often your lawn is used, you should plan to aerate 1-2 times per year (twice if used often).

Seeding

When the soil temperature is about 55 degrees, it’s time to seed your lawn. This is because turf roots grow enthusiastically in fall and winter. Keep in mind, the type of seed matters. For the best results, it’s smart not to buy the cheapest brand of seed. Once the seed is planted, water your lawn 10 to 20 days in a row until it germinates.

Fertilizing

If you are able, it is best to fertilize your lawn as late into the fall as possible, before the first frost. By doing this, you help your grass survive the winter and encourages growth come spring. Choose something high (10% to 15%) in phosphorous as it aids in the growth of the root.

Mulching

Forget the rake and run over the leaves a couple of times with your mower to grind them into mulch. The shredded leaves protect grass from winter wind.

More Tips for Selling Your Home

For more advice on selling your home, check out our Tips for Sellers, or call us at 518-861-7030. We have real estate agents in Guilderland, Latham, Colonie and throughout the Albany area with the local knowledge and experience needed to sell your home fast and for the best price. Wondering how much your home is worth? Use our Guilderland NY Real Estate Home Valuation Tool.

 

Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/make-break-season-lawn-care

Find Your Passion

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Find your passion-

Yes, it is #7 on Martha Stewarts “10 Golden Rules for Successful Living”.

Doesn’t matter whether it is silly or funny, boring or tedious to others.  It could be creating something, helping others, fundraising,  It matters that is is uplifting to you.

It’s all about finding what makes you happy and engaged in something other than what  you normally do.  You might be lucky enough to be passionate about your career, but for many of us, our livelihood may not be our passion.

For me, it’s painting, usually pastels but I like to work in different mediums.

What a great way to let loose, express your feelings in a realistic or abstract way.

Often it is in the form of a landscape or still life, but more and more, abstraction really allows me to express anger or joy and hopefully the viewer can feel that from my painting.

I often hear others say I wish I knew how to paint or craft or be better at something.

Well, it isn’t going to happen on its own.  Take a class or watch a You Tube how to video.  You’ll never know ’til you try and you may find your passion this way.

It is very easy to remain in the same rut and do what you always have done.

I have a friend who always wanted to be a writer.  Raising a family and supporting them “got in the way”.  She  decided to take a writing class through a high school continuing education course.   She’s not in Grisham’s league yet, but she is thoroughly enjoying finding differing means of expressing herself and telling a story.

Another friend decided when she retired she was going to move North to where she grew up.  Everyone decried her action but it was what she wanted. No Florida retirement home for her.  Instead, she rediscovered her love of winter sports – skiing and snow shoeing, as well as hiking and kayaking in the summer months. You don’t have to do what many others in the state have done. Follow your instincts and find your passion.

Every step towards finding your passion is a path to having a more enjoyable and satisfying life.  Start now – EVERY DAY is precious!

 

Written by: Denise Crisafulli — Licensed Real Estate Sales Person at CM Fox Real Estate

 

 

 

 

Historic Albany- An inside look

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Architectural Parts Warehouse
CM Fox Licensed Salesperson Elise VanAllen had the House of the Week in the Times Union this past weekend. So we asked her a few questions about Center Squrae. Below is a beautiful and informative post regarding Historic Albany.
“I live in Center Square -one of the many historic neighborhoods in downtown Albany.  I live downtown and work downtown. My husband and I owner-occupy  an 1871 four-family brownstone – purchased in 2002. We consider ourselves ‘stewards’ of this 144 year old home, and wish to keep it in good stead so that future generations can also enjoy it!
 

We chose downtown Albany because of its affordable historic character – and the fact that it’s a walkable urban neighborhood. We can walk to restaurants, enjoy Washington Park, visit museums, see popular touring musicians hosted by The Egg (performing arts venue) or at The Palace Theater, and enjoy the numerous events hosted at the Empire State Plaza.

222 Jay St. is located in the historic Center Square neighborhood of Albany.

222 Jay St. is located in the historic Center Square neighborhood of Albany.

 
When we want to stretch our legs on our bikes, we ride to the Mohawk-Hudson trail along the Hudson River – and ride for miles and miles.
 
The downtown historic neighborhoods are quite welcoming – it’s easy to meet your neighbors just by being in the neighborhood, and especially so when new neighbors attend the neighborhood association meetings or social gatherings. Spring clean-up – a day when we all come out and clean up our block after a long winter – is another way to meet people.
 
I refer to the downtown historic neighborhoods as an urban Mayberry – where you can be as engaged or as anonymous as you wish.
 
Living in an historic home is quite amazing – the quality of the workmanship, the materials, the architectural detail can’t easily be replicated. Many of the skills that were possessed by the numerous immigrants that came to America for a new life and opportunity are no longer available – the skills have been lost with the passage of time.  And, some of the materials – like the burled walnut that lines our staircase – are no longer available due to scarcity or are a considerable expense as a result of scarcity.
 
What I love about our historic neighborhoods is the diversity in architecture, design and materials used – no two houses are exactly alike.
 
I so enjoy living and working downtown – it gives me great pleasure to introduce potential buyers to our neighborhood, and to be a resource to them when they have renovation and repair questions. That was one of our biggest hurdles when we moved here – having come from living in newer construction houses all of our lives. Now I can share all that I’ve learned with others.”
–Elise VanAllen, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

New Season—- New Home

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We’ve been busy over here at CM Fox. The Spring season in upstate New York is a busy one. Spring represents growth, rebirth and opportunity. We’re coming out of a long winter season. A long, cold, snowy winter season. There may still be snow on the ground in many places, but if you look around—you’ll start to see the re-birth I’m talking about. A new season means a new home for many buyers and sellers in the Capital Region.

The local news ran a quick segment on all of the ice cream stores that have either just opened or that will be opening in the next week or so. Right down the road from our office is Gade Farms, which opened again for the season on Friday, March 20th. (Remember that day? It was cold and snowy—that’s beside the point). Garden shops and ice cream stores are opening, flowers are popping up through the soil and new houses are coming on the market.

We have over 20 new listings this month alone! You read that right—20 new listings this month. People are inspired by the sun and the warm weather. Our sellers are working hard to clean up their yards, declutter their homes, put a fresh coat of paint on the walls and get that sign in the front yard. Here at CM Fox, we’re ready for you!

As you may have noticed, we’re starting to get hooked on Pinterest. We can’t heSpring--LOLlp it. The ideas and tips are amazing. Sometimes they’re a little overwhelming—but if you can sift through the craziness, you’ll be able to find some really cool ideas. Check out some of our latest finds for sprucing up your home.

http://www.listotic.com/55-must-read-cleaning-tips-tricks/34/

http://premeditatedleftovers.com/naturally-frugal-living/spring-cleaning-checklists-room-by-room-cleaning-tips/#_a5y_p=3425708

When it comes to organizing and cleaning your home—remember that you still have to live in the home while you are trying to sell it. That’s okay! We also know that’s not always easy to do. I recently met with people who are considering selling their home in the next year. Their question was: Do we put it on the market for a few months in the Fall and then take it off the market for the Winter and it doesn’t sell and then try to put it back on in the Spring? P.S. These people have twin 2-year old daughters.

Before our meeting they spent a week going through personal items trying to decide what they would need to keep out vs. what they could pack away. This is no easy task for anyone—let alone people with twin toddlers who will be in a completely different phase of their life in September than they will be in March. Anyway, during out meeting we took a look at their needs, wants and desires. Within about 30 minutes we had an awesome plan in hand and everyone took a deep breath—both a breath of relief and excitement.

Selling your home is a process that starts even before you meet with a Realtor. Think of selling and/or buying a home as starting the next season of your life. It’s a time for growth and rebirth. Going through old items, cleaning them up and looking toward a bright and sunny future is all part of the growing process. Your future home is one filled with love and excitement.  As you get ready to enter this season of growth remember to take a step back—breath… smile… enjoy the season. When you’re ready- give us a call. We’re help to help you out along the way.

Bethlehem School District

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Bethlehem School District

One of most common questions a real estate agent hears is: What school district is the home in? It’s a good question—even if you do not have kids. School districts have a high impact on both the value of the home and often your taxes. You have to be careful too. School district lines are funny. One side of the street or may be in a different district than the other. Zip codes don’t necessarily mean anything here either. You can have the same zip code as your neighbor a mile away and be in a different school district.Bethlehem Central High School

The Bethlehem School District is among the top districts in the Capital District and across the state. Encompassing most of the Town of Bethlehem and part of the Town of New Scotland, Bethlehem Central is a Suburban Council school district that serves about 4,700 students in kindergarten through grade 12. There are five neighborhood elementary schools, serving students in grades 1 through 5; a 6-8 middle school; and a 9-12 high school.

http://www.bethlehemschools.org/

According to the Capital Region Multiple Listing Service just over 300 houses were sold in the Bethlehem School District last year. Bethlehem, Glenmont, Delmar and surrounding areas are filled with things to do. Each area is a unique combination of friendly neighborhoods and rural beauty.

“According to MONEY Magazine, our area is in the top 25 great American towns. MONEY Magazine and CNN / Money spent months looking for areas “where you would want to raise your children and celebrate life’s milestones.” Thanks to its low crime rate, high scores in education, low commute time, access to arts and leisure, and more, we ranked 22nd in the country as a great American town.” – Town Website

http://www.townofbethlehem.org/432/Community-Profile

http://www.townofbethlehem.org/452/Parks-Recreation

elm ave park          Do you live in Bethlehem? Tell us why you love it.
Elm Ave Park. pool complex.

 

Money Saving Tips

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  1. Losing weight

  2. Get organized

  3. Spend less, save more

52weekmoneychallenge

Mix up the weeks to make it easier

Any idea what this is a list of? It’s the top 3 New Year’s resolutions of 2014. Any idea of the percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution? 8%. That’s right, a measly 8%. Why is it so hard for people to keep their resolutions? What stops us from not doing the things we want to do. Well, the reasons for failure are plentiful, but the reasons for success can be just as abundant.

Let’s concentrate on # 3 for right now and figure out how we can save some cash without changing the way we live.

Idea #1:

Have you checked out Pinterest lately? There are hundreds, if not thousands of boards, related to saving money. The picture to the right is called the 52 week money challenge. I’m sure it’s called other things too. Google it and you’ll find a million pictures. Anyway, you basically save one dollar for every year of the week we enter. So, the first week of the year you simple have to save $1. However, it can start to get tricky as we get to the last quarter of the year. It might be tough to put away $202.00 next December. Our suggestion is to switch up the weeks. Put in the larger dollar amounts when you have it. Maybe you get a bonus? Tax return? Maybe a certain time of the year is quieter than another. This way, when you are more strapped for cash, you can only put in a dollar or three and still stay on track. Great way to put aside $1378 with just a little bit of effort.

Idea #2:

Pay yourself first. We all have monthly bills. We all pay our monthly bills, right? Well, have you ever considered your savings account as a monthly bill? If you answered no—you should! Your savings account is something that should be growing—not staying the same or decreasing.  Every time you sit down to make a payment—whether it be online or writing a check—you should put some money in your savings account. Even if it is only $10 or $20. It all matters. It all adds up. By the end of the year, you will be shocked at how much you can save without even thinking about it.

Idea #3:

Are trying to save for a larger purchase? Maybe you are dreaming of a new car of house in the near future. In that case, you might have to make a little more of an effort to put money aside. One of the best ways financial advisors will encourage you to save money is to put it away before you even see it. Many employers and/or banks offer services that allow you to automatically deposit your paycheck into different accounts without you ever having to transfer funds. Credit unions and banks often allow you to open a few separate savings accounts and title them whatever you want. New home fund, vacation savings, renovation savings, new car, etc. etc. The options are endless. In this case, the world of automation can be our friend.

There are thousands of money saving tips available on the internet. If you’re new to the working world or just new to the savings world; start small. Give yourself a chance to get used to the idea of saving money. Set up a separate account and have money deposited directly into it. Put a jar in your closet and randomly put a few dollars in every few days or every week. At the end of the year count how much you saved, give yourself a pat on the back and treat yourself to an ice cream… You deserve it!

What do you think of these ideas? Do you have any tips and tricks that have helped you save money? Let us know by commenting below.

Offices for Lease

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2015 is right around the corner– literally. A new year will be here before the weekend! We like to think of it as our chance to improve upon last year. Think about all of the things you said you wanted to do last year. Maybe you were successful in achieving all of your goals. Maybe you had a great start, but faded out sometime in early Spring. There are lots of reasons for our successes and declines. What’s important is to recognize what we went wrong, but also what we did right.

We, at CM Fox, practice this by having a goals meeting at the start of every year. Each person writes down what they accomplished last year, what they want to accomplish this coming year and the steps they need to follow in order to be successful. We have quite a few agents who refer to this list throughout the year to make sure they arSuite 111 leasee staying on track and being the best agent he/she can. It’s important to hold ourselves accountable. We hold ourselves to a high regard and take our name and profession very seriously.
There are a thousand reasons we should set goals. Goals propel us forward and motivate us through the good times and the tough times. As entrepreneurs, we are always evolving. Always looking for ways to improve both ourselves AND our business. Many professionals suggest it starts with your own personal space.
Our office builSuite 105 leaseding at 2390 Western Ave, Guilderland is a unique space that is home to many entrepreneurs. It’s an inspiring place to work. Everyday we are surrounded by people who have taken the next step in their careers.  Residential Specialists, Adirondack Funds, Design on 20, Lottery Rewards, an architect and private investigator– just to name a few– all call 2390 Western Ave. home.
Some businesses have small offices while other have combined 2 or 3 together to make the space work for them. When the owner of the building is in house– the options are endless. So are the amenities! Phone, internet, receptionist, copiers printers, kitchen spaces, etc. etc. A professional work environment with the break into your field while networking and keeping costs to a minimum, It is a win-win situation for everyone.
Still not convinced renting an office space is the right decision for you? Check out this blog post by Curt Mercadante titled “Why entrepreneurs should get an office space and quit working from home”.  He makes some great points about separating work from home and schedule of productivity.
Call us at 518-861-7030 for your personal tour and a chance to see what could be yours. We look forward to hearing from you!
Here are just a few examples of the MANY areas we have available!
Suite 110 leaseSuite 107 lease