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Opening Doors for Agents & Clients

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Her door was open.

When I stepped into Beth’s office this morning, there were three items of importance that caught my eye.

I didn’t have to knock, and she put down what she was doing immediately, letting me know right away
that I had her attention and her time. She had been having a conversation through text, and I told her
to continue what she was doing.

I’m responding to an agent’s text,” she explained.

Do you exchange text messages with agents often?” I asked, curious.

Of courseat all hours of the day. I pride myself on being very responsive in answering questions,
giving feedback, and generally making agents understand that we are on the same team, and that
they have my support.

“Do you celebrate birthdays here?” I questioned.

Yes, of course,” she replied, “But these are just appreciation cards. I give these out to agents who have met
and surpassed the expected.

Support. Important, right?

So there they were, the three items of significance that had mattered to me since my entrance: an open door,
a friendly Beth, and a pile of greeting cards set to go out to some lucky agents.

Just from these few moments of involvement, I already had a sense of the value Beth placed on her relationship
with agents. But I still hadn’t heard about the importance of technology, of which I had real interest in, because in
interviews with other agents, it was something that had been raved about.

Dotloop

It’s an online server for preparing documents and filing paperwork, which allows you which allows you to prepare,
edit, send, electronically sign, and manage documents.

“I call it a seamless one-stop-shop for all paperwork.” Beth explained

So if it’s so great, wouldn’t this technology be available at every agency? Well, it turns out some comparable
technology is, but here’s the catch. Here, at CM Fox, the agents have access to it for free. Which seems like
the way it should be, to me, as an outsider to the business.

But other agencies don’t agree.

Most require agents to register and pay for the technology at their own expense, totaling $200 a month or more.
In combination with the free technological services, Beth and her team also print, fax and email urgent paperwork
for agents, and make themselves available for rapid legwork that needs to be completed in conjunction with
every transaction. This gives the agents time to do what they are experts in, rather than wasting their talents
with nuances.

In closing – I asked:

“Which holds more value at the company to current and future agents, technological support or face-to-face?”

Here’s the thing, the Broker is ultimately responsible for proper compliance and promoting
ethical behavior.
We do everything we can to make it understood by the agent that we are on their team, in that,

we are their confidants, an ear to bounce ideas off of, and a support for them through suggestions and feedback.
A buy or sell is the success of an agent, but their success reflects back on us, which makes our support crucial.

Support. Important, right?

How to Sell Your Home in a Seller’s Market

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Buying a House in a Seller's Market

When there’s more demand for homes from potential buyers than the current available housing supply, the condition known as a “seller’s market” exists. This can be a great time for sellers to market their homes, provided they strategize accordingly.

While it is certainly easier to sell a home in a seller’s market, there are still some important steps to take, especially when hoping to maximize proceeds from the sale and minimize disruptions to your own life and routine. Here are some surefire tips on making the seller’s market your ideal time to sell:

5 Tips for Selling Your Home in a Seller’s Marketing

  1. Set the stage.

Home staging is the process of prettying-up a home in preparation of a sale. This includes packing up and removing clutter, rearranging furniture, making necessary improvements, painting where needed, etc. This process can go a long way toward generating the “wow factor” you hope to achieve when potential buyers view your property. You may want to hire a professional to help.

  1. Is the price right?

Just because you might be looking at a seller’s market, doesn’t mean you can get away with asking any price you dream up. You’ll still need to set a realistic price in order to sell your home quickly, or risk months of sitting on the market. Realtors, appraisers and other real estate professionals often use the “comparison” or “comp” method to come up with home values; you can either enlist the help of a real estate agent to assist with the research, or you can apply this methodology yourself. You will need to find several recently sold homes that are similar to yours, analyze their sale prices, and see how your home compares.

When judging your home against your comps, consider factors like: Is your home older, or newer, than the comps? How do extras like the yard, pool, garage, basement, etc., compare to the comps? How do the streets where the homes are located compare to one another? What are the overall conditions of your home and its comps? Add or deduct from your target price as is appropriate.

  1. Haggle, if necessary.

Don’t think your asking price is etched in stone. If you’re not getting the response you’d hoped at your current asking price, lower it as needed until you see results that do make you happy. In some cases, the revenue you’ll lose from dropping the price is more than made up for by the increased buyer activity the reduction can generate. And the more possible buyers you have, the better your negotiating position will be.

  1. Shop for the best buyer.

Ideally, you want to have multiple offers on your home, which affords the luxury of choosing which offer is best for you. That may not always be the highest offer; there are other factors to consider, too. For example, some buyers may not have already obtained mortgage approval. Others may have a timetable for moving that does not coincide with your own. Make sure you’re accepting the offer that you want. It is a seller’s market, after all.

  1. Be nimble.

Selling your home in a seller’s market may also mean that you receive offers much quicker than anticipated. You’ll need to be prepared to move from your home nearly as quickly, should you choose to accept one of those offers. In some cases, that might mean a short-term rental, extended-stay hotel, etc., in the interim as you close the sale on your old home and move into your new one. Try to keep the big picture in mind during this time and not get too bogged down in the day-to-day inconveniences. A short-term disruption to your routine can be well worth it, considering the potential payoff.

Looking for Real Estate Agents in Guilderland, Latham or Albany?

CM Fox Real Estate specializes in Albany, Latham, Colonie and Guilderland NY real estate, with more than 50 real estate agents throughout the Capital Region. Looking for more personalized insight and advice? Call (518) 861-7030 to speak with one of our local real estate agents.

How to Stay Cool in the Capital Region

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Family in park wearing swim suits and dumping pails of water on each other

It’s summer time in the Albany area and the living is easy. Unless of course you’re living without central air, and then it tends to get a bit sticky up here in the Capital Region. We may be known for our blustery winters, but this summer has been a scorcher so far. If you’re looking for ways to stay cool, here are few of the top recommendations from our Guilderland NY real estate agents.

5 Ways to Beat the Heat in the Albany NY Area

Splash around in a Water Park

Less than an hour from Albany, you’ll find two family-friendly outdoor water parks. The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom in Queensbury features 10 water attractions, ranging from large pools and lazy rivers to multi-passenger rafting adventures, while Zoom Flume Water Park in the Catskills offers eight slides, five play areas and four restaurants.

Dive into a Public Pool

Albany has three public pools and nearly a dozen spray pads that are open from late June until September 3. The spray pads are open every day from 10am to 6pm, and admission is free. The pool hours vary and admission is also free with the exception of Arbor Hill Community Center Pool, which charges a $1.00.

Head to the Beach

Did you know that there are five beaches less than an hour from the Albany area? The closest is Brown’s Beach at the southern end of Saratoga Lake, followed by Grafton Lakes State Park, Cherry Plain State Park, Moreau Lake State Park and Million Dollar Beach on Lake George.

Take to the AC

Sometimes it’s even too hot for the pools and beaches, in which case, we recommend retreating to the area’s air conditioned movie theaters and museums. Take the kids to the Children’s Museum of Science & Technology in Troy NY or the Museum of Innovation & Science in Schenectady.

Cool Down the House

The best way to keep cool is to not let the heat into your home in the first place. Blackout curtains and adhesive window film, typically used in winter to keep out the cold, also block heat and help keep your home up to 30% cooler. You can also reduce heat by using LED light bulbs, turning off the TV and ensuring ceiling fans are spinning counter-clockwise. For a DIY air conditioning hack, try placing a large bowl of ice water in front of a stationary fan.

Stay Cool in a New Home

If this summer has got you dreaming about a home with central air, CM Fox Real Estate can help. We have a number of homes for sale in Guilderland, Albany, Latham and throughout the Capital Region with backyard pools, shade covered yards, and, of course, central air conditioning. Contact us or call (518) 861-7030 to speak directly with our Guilderland real estate agents.

5 Free Summer Concert Series in the Capital Region

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Rockin on the River - Free Music Concert in Troy NY

Whether you’re a full-time music lover or you’re just looking for something to do, these free outdoor concerts are a great way to spend a warm summer afternoon or evening. In fact, with 5 different concert series across the Capital Region, each with their own schedule of events, you could enjoy live music almost every night of the week! From country to rock, and blues and jazz, there’s something for everyone is this summer’s lineups.

Free Outdoor Concerts in the Albany Area

Alive at Five – Albany NY

Every Thursday evening through August 2, this free summer concert series features various national, regional and local artists, as well as food and drink vendors, at Jennings Landing in the Albany Corning Preserve. The popular weekly event is held rain or shine from 5:00 to 8:00pm with the rain location at the Corning Preserve Boat Launch. Learn more.

Rockin’ on the River – Troy NY

Troy’s 9-week free summer concert series is held every Wednesday night through August 7 from 5:00 to 8:30pm in Riverfront Park. Presented by the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District, the free outdoor concerts are held rain or shine and feature a fun music lineup of everything from blues to bluegrass. Learn more.

Freedom Park Summer Concert Series – Scotia NY

Music lovers from across the Capital Region can enjoy free concerts all summer long on the banks of the Mohawk River in Scotia’s Freedom Park amphitheater. Most performances start at 7:00pm and are held on various Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through August 29. Bring a blanket or chair and enjoy the show! Learn more.

Jazz on Jay – Schenectady NY

For a mid-day escape, head over to Jay Street (between State and Franklin) in Schenectady for free outdoor concerts on Thursdays from 12:00 to 1:30pm. Now through August 30, you can spend your lunch break with the best live jazz acts in the Albany area. Held rain or shine, this year’s rain location is the Robb Alley at Proctors Theater. Learn more.

Rock the Block – Cohoes NY

This brand new summer concert series is held on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30pm through August 9 in Canal Square at 72 Remsen Street in Cohoes. Bring your own chair, check out the food and drink vendors, and enjoy free live music from local favorites, including The Audiostars, The Refrigerators and Big Sky Country. Learn more.

There’s More to Explore in the Capital Region

If you like live music, world-class arts and entertainment, shopping and restaurants surrounded by beautiful scenery, the Capital Region is the place to be! With so much to do, not just in the summer, but year-round, it’s no wonder that the Albany area is a favorite among young professionals and families alike. If you’re thinking about making a move to the Capital Region, give CM Fox Real Estate a call at (518) 861-7030. We have more than 50 real estate agents in Guilderland, Latham, Colonie & Albany NY, and we are happy to share our knowledge of the area and help you find the right community for you.

Tips for Buying a Home in a Seller’s Market

Categories:
Buying a House in a Seller's Market

Planning to buy a home this year?  Then you’ve probably heard that 2018 is a seller’s market, but what exactly does that mean?

As the name implies, a seller’s market favors individuals looking to sell their homes. This usually happens when there are more home buyers in the market than there are homes for sale, and in terms of supply and demand, this is generally good news for home sellers and bad news for house hunters.

If you’re looking for a home in the Albany Capital Region, don’t be discouraged. As real estate agents for Guilderland, Latham, Colonie and beyond, we have some excellent tips to help you survive (and thrive) in a seller’s market.

A Seller’s Market: Tips for Home Buyers

Due to the increased competition in a seller’s market, buyers need to act fast, bid high and follow a few tips from the experts.

Get Pre-Approved

With competition high, sellers are only interested in serious offers, and the number one way to prove you are serious is to get prequalified with a mortgage lender. A pre-approval letter shows the seller that you are prepared and capable of backing up the offer you make. If your pre-approval letter is from an out-of-area lender, get a local prequalification, and ensure your letter matches the sales price and date of your offer.

Make Your Best Offer

While an all-cash offer will certainly get a seller’s attention, that’s not always feasible. Another more realistic option is to offer a larger earnest money deposit – typically 2-3 times more than the normal amount. In addition, we encourage our buyers to offer at least list price. Even then, buyers should be prepared for a potential bidding war and realize they may need to offer more than the amount the seller is asking. A good real estate agent can help you determine your best offer.

Don’t Ask for Favors

A seller’s market is not the time to ask the seller for help with closing costs or to request that they replace the front door. Likewise, buyers should avoid asking sellers to throw in personal property or extras, such as their appliances or patio furniture. While this is common practice when housing inventory is high, these requests will weaken your offer in a competitive seller’s market.

Be Flexible

Waiving contingencies and seller concessions go a long way in getting the attention of a seller sifting through numerous offers. One suggestion is to be flexible with your move-in date, allowing the seller more time to move out. Another consideration, although not recommended, is to waive the inspection. Most importantly, your offer should not be contingent on the sale of another property or financial factors.

Don’t Get in Over Your Head

Often, buyers get so caught up in a seller’s market that they forget their financial goals. Impatience, even a competitive nature, can lead buyers to overextend themselves before they realize what has happened. Keep in mind that your mortgage payment should be no more than 25% of your monthly net income on a 15-year fixed rate mortgage, and watch out for bidding wars that have the potential to put you over budget.

Work with an Experienced Agent

The number one mistake home buyers make in a seller’s market is working with an inexperienced real estate agent or someone who is not familiar with the local market. Not only do you need someone who can help you navigate negotiations and be honest with you, but you need a seasoned expert who can act fast and think outside-the-box.

For instance, one of our Guilderland real estate agents has made it common practice to contact the listing agent for tips. This helps us prepare the offer the way the listing agent likes it the first time, avoiding the need for counteroffers, and often ensuring the listing agent recommends our buyer’s offer over another.

Contact CM Fox Real Estate

If you’re house hunting in Guilderland, Latham, Colonie or anywhere in the Albany area, our real estate agents will help you find the right homes, at the right price, as soon as they hit the market, and we will work with you to write a competitive offer. Contact us today at (518) 861-7030.

Spring Things to Do in Guilderland

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While it still doesn’t feel like spring here in Guilderland NY, we are holding out hope that warm weather is on its way. As real estate agents, spring typically marks the start of our busy season, but there’s so much else that we love about this time of year. After another long, cold winter cooped up inside, here are a few of our favorite spring things to do in Guilderland and the surrounding Capital Region.

Get Some Fresh Air

Did you know that one of the few inland pine barrens in the world is located in Guilderland NY? Pine Bush Nature Preserve stretches over 3,000 acres of protected land with trails for hiking, jogging and mountain biking. There are also several parks with soccer and ball fields, basketball courts and playgrounds. One of our favorites, Tawasentha Park, features areas for fishing and boating as well as a pavilion, picnic areas, grills and swimming pools in the summer.

Support Local Girl Scouts

Another thing that’s synonymous with spring? Girl Scout cookies! And the best part is that you no longer need to know a Girl Scout to get your hands on a box of cookies. Each spring, Girl Scout cookies are sold at community booths located at various grocery stores and other retailers in the Guilderland area and Capital Region. Simply use the Girl Scout’s online Cookie Finder to search for your closest location by date or zip code.

Tiptoe through the Tulips

Nothing says spring like tulips! Albany celebrates its Dutch Heritage as the oldest Dutch settlement in America with the annual Tulip Festival. Each year, girls in authentic Dutch costumes kick-off the festival with the traditional scrubbing of State Street. The event showcases more than 150 different kinds of tulips, as well as fine art exhibits, children’s activities and live music and entertainment by nationally acclaimed artists. Take a tulip tour or attend the Tulip Queen Coronation.

Play a Round of Golf

Spring is when many of the Capital Region’s golf courses re-open for play, including Pinehaven Country Club in Guilderland NY. Located in the Pine Bush area, Pinehaven is one of the area’s most picturesque private courses. For public golf, check out Orchard Creek Golf Club in nearby Altamont or Stadium Golf Club in Schenectady. If mini-golf is more your speed, there’s the Glenville Sportsplex or the Funplex Fun Park in East Greenbush.

Looking for More Things to Do in Guilderland NY & The Capital Region?

As real estate agents who regularly work with people relocating to Guilderland, we are often asked if there are things to do here, particularly if they are moving from a larger metropolitan area. The resounding answer is YES!

In addition to an abundance of cultural activities, shopping, restaurants, and world-class arts and entertainment venues, the Capital Region offers ample job and academic opportunities. However, the area’s biggest draw may very well be its ability to offer residents a lively and energetic metropolitan setting side-by-side with outdoor recreational activities in beautiful and scenic surroundings.

If you’re thinking about making a move to the Capital Region, give us a call at (518) 861-7030. Our Guilderland real estate agents have helped dozens of individuals and families relocate here, and we are happy to share our knowledge of the area and help you find the right community for you.

Do I Need a Home Inspection?

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Home Inspector checking out the kitchen fawcet

Buyers frequently ask us if they really need a home inspection, and every single one of our Guilderland real estate agents will tell you the same thing, YES! Even if “the house is only a few years old” or you “know the sellers” or “the appraiser didn’t mention any problems”, we still highly recommend you hire a professional to perform a home inspection. Here are a few reasons why.

Benefits of a Home Inspection

Regardless of a home’s age, there could be unknown, costly problems lurking in your dream home. Problems that you, the seller, your real estate agent, even an appraiser may not see. The primary purpose of the home inspection is to ensure that you are making a sound decision. It’s like getting a second opinion before an important surgery. By having a professional home inspector take a look at your home’s structure, roofing, plumbing, heating and other systems, you’ll know with confidence that this is a smart and safe investment.

Detect Problems

A home inspection ensures you know exactly what you are getting into. If there are safety issues with radon, carbon monoxide or mold, wouldn’t you rather know that before you move your family into your new home? Likewise, a home inspection will reveal if there are illegal additions or installations that can affect your taxes, insurance and home value. Your home inspector will also look for structural issues, including cracked walls, ceilings and foundations.

Detecting problems is the most important reason for a home inspection. Because if you are not comfortable with the findings, this is usually your one last opportunity to back out of the offer to buy. When these deal-breakers are discovered it can be devastating for buyers who have their heart set on a home, but it also a huge relief to know a potential disaster was averted.

Save Money

With all the other closing costs and expenses that come with buying a home, we absolutely understand that the last thing you feel like doing is dropping another $200-$500 on a home inspection. However, our real estate agents frequently remind buyers to consider the alternative. The minimal cash outlay now could save you thousands down the road if bad plumbing or faulty wiring is discovered after the contracts are signed.

Plan for Future Costs

Not all home inspection findings are deal-breakers, but they are almost always enlightening. Your home inspector can estimate the life expectancy of things such as roofing, air conditioning and heating, appliances, windows and plumbing. This allows you to plan and budget for replacement or upgrade expenses in the future. Home inspectors are also a valuable resource for homeowners, often suggesting tips on how to maintain your specific home, which can also save you more money in the long-term.

Negotiate a Better Deal

The home inspection report can be a valuable bargaining tool for buyers. Armed with facts about the quality and condition of the home, you may be able to negotiate a lower price. Alternatively, buyers can include clauses in the contract requiring the seller to make the necessary repairs or provide a credit. This is especially helpful if the home you are interested in is at your maximum price range. Negotiations can be complicated, so it’s best to enlist the help of your real estate agent to understand what requests can and should be made to negotiate a better deal.

Looking for a Home Inspector in Guilderland, Latham or the Surrounding Albany Area?

Our Guilderland real estate agents frequently work with home inspectors in the area and can vouch for their professionalism. Check out our Preferred Vendors list for dozens of real estate professionals, including contact information for several reputable home inspectors.

If you’d like more information about the home inspection process, or house hunting and home buying, in general, call (518) 861-7030 to speak directly with one of our knowledgeable real estate agents.

How to Clear the Clutter Before You Sell or Move

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couple clearing cluttered garage

As real estate agents, we get a lot of questions, but one of the most frequently asked is, “How do I get rid of all the junk I’ve accumulated over the years?” Clutter is a common problem that can wreak havoc on the home buying and selling process. It discourages sellers from listing their homes and delays buyers who want to move.

So how do we recommend our clients get rid of unwanted items? Guilderland real estate agent Kathy Burbank suggests using social media. Since people will usually come pick up your items, you can skip the hassle of driving or arranging trucks. “But the most important thing to do is divide it up and don’t procrastinate,” insists Kathy. “And if you have to pay a few bucks to dispose of it, remember, it’ll be worth it in the end.”

Here are some additional recommendations from our Guilderland real estate agents to help you clear the clutter before you sell or move.

How to Donate Unwanted Furniture & Household Items

  • The Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Albany accepts new and used building materials, furniture, appliances, lighting fixtures and other home goods. You can drop-off your items or request a free pick-up.
  • The Goodwill Donation Centers in Colonie, Amsterdam and Troy accept donations of clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories, handbags, luggage, household goods, books, and other items.
  • The Homeless & Travelers Aid Society accepts donations of gently used furniture at their Capital Region Furniture Bank. Call 518-612-BANK or visit the warehouse on 5 Anderson Drive in Albany.
  • Scrapster offers no cost scrap metal removal and recycling in the Capital Region. Schedule a pick-up for all types of metals, appliances, lawn mowers, snowblowers, car parts, fencing, roofing, grills and more.
  • Craigslist “curb alert” allows you to simply take a pic, post it and put it out to the curb for pick-up. An easy solution for lumber, tires, tools, appliances and exercise equipment.
  • The Colonie Senior Service Center accepts donations of tools and hardware at the Tool Box in Colonie.

How to Donate Clothes

  • In addition to the Goodwill Donation Centers in Colonie, Amsterdam and Troy, most church parking lots and many retail stores have donation bins for gently used, clean clothing and shoes.
  • Northern Rivers has 75 clothing bins throughout the Capital Region, where you can donate your clothes to support the work they do for local communities.
  • The Dress for Success program accepts donations of nearly-new suits and professional attire for women at their location in Albany.

How to Dispose of Items that Cannot be Donated

  • For electronics, keep an eye out for a special recycling day in your neighborhood, or post it on social media. Someone may take it for the small parts.
  • Call your waste removal company and see what they will take, then plan on throwing out extra stuff in your trash bins each week.
  • While not free, if you’ve exhausted all other options, the Junk King in Colonie and 1-800-Got Junk will haul away your unwanted stuff, including mattresses, electronics, large appliances and more.

Looking for more real estate advice? Check out the CM Fox Blog. We have tips for homebuyers and sellers in the Capital Region, as well as more than 50 real estate agents in Guilderland, Latham, Colonie and Albany NY, who can help you through the home buying or selling process. Call (518) 861-7030, or contact us to speak with a local real estate agent.

Why Should Home Sellers Use a Realtor?

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person hand working on property value concept

With access to dozens of websites and online tools that will tell you how much your home is worth, homeowners often ask us if they really need a real estate agent to sell their house. After all, we book vacations online, do our taxes without a tax advisor, and can even file for an e-divorce, so why should home sellers use a Realtor? If you’ve been wondering the same thing, here are a few good reasons to consider working with a real estate agent in Guilderland NY.

Why Sellers Need a Realtor to Price Their Home

While websites and home value tools can calculate the value of your home, these sites are using an Automated Valuation Model, or AVM, which means they are only taking into account third party local market data to determine your home’s worth. Property value, however, is determined by much more than market data. For instance, an AVM tool does not know if you’ve made upgrades to your home or if your roof is too old. Other factors include where your property is located and whether it’s desirable for potential buyers.  Is the neighborhood safe? Are there good schools around the area? Is there shopping within walking distance or is it a long drive away?

Realtors, on the other hand, specialize in determining a home’s fair market value. In fact, they are trained to perform a Competitive Market Analysis, or CMA, which involves visiting your home and evaluating the structure, land and neighborhood. Our real estate agents will then find recently sold homes that are very similar to yours and make adjustments to the price based on improvements and additions, condition, quality and age, as well as lot size, lot orientation, tax-assessed value, and features of the lot, including its terrain, access and privacy. Unlike AVM, competitive market analysis is an art, not a science.

Why Sellers Need a Realtor for Contracts, Negotiating & More

The process of buying and selling a home is emotional for both buyers and sellers, which is why it’s best to leave the negotiating to the professionals. Top producing real estate agents negotiate well because they know how to keep a level head and represent their client’s case in the best possible light. In addition, our experienced real estate agents can help you navigate the contract – often 50+ pages of complex documents – and we know how to use the contract to protect you.

Realtors also regularly network with others professionals involved in the process of selling a home. From movers to home stagers and interior designers, our Guilderland area real estate agents are well connected, and can often provide you with references.

Choosing the Right Realtor

Every home is unique and must be valued accordingly. Get it wrong and you risk deterring buyers, or worse, not getting the money you deserve on the sale. It’s important to find a Realtor with a great marketing plan and deep local knowledge. If you’re looking for a real estate agent with knowledge of the Albany area, contact the experts at CM Fox Real Estate. We have over 50 real estate agents in Guilderland, Latham, Colonie and throughout the Albany NY area. Call (518) 861-7030 to talk with us about selling your home.

See also: Why Use a Real Estate Agent – For Buyers

What NOT to Do at an Open House

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Open House Sign

While most home buyers know that they should be on time, dress appropriately and use common courtesy when attending an open house or home tour, what about all the stuff that no one talks about? Questions like, “Can I take photos?” “Is it ok to use the bathroom?” and “Should I look in the closets?”

With an influx of new and first-time home buyers expected this spring, we asked our Guilderland real estate agents for a list of unfrequently asked questions to help everyone avoid an awkward faux pas. Here’s what they had to say about the do’s and don’ts of house hunting.

Housing Hunting Etiquette Q&A

Can I bring a cup of coffee?

We don’t recommend it. While house hunting without your Starbuck’s might seem like cruel and unusual punishment, we bet you’ll feel a lot worse if you accidentally leave a cappuccino stain on the homeowner’s cream-colored couch. Leave the coffee in your car’s cup holder, or at home. The same goes for all other food and drink. Crumbs, spills and talking with your mouth full do not make a good impression.

Should I bring my kids/pets?

While children should be involved in the home buying process, it’s best to wait until you’ve narrowed down your search before bringing them along. Not only can kids and pets get into things that they shouldn’t (or cause stains of their own!), they can actually distract you from the task at hand. Your undivided attention should be on scoping out the house and asking questions, not supervising children and making sure your dog doesn’t lift his leg.

Am I required to take off my shoes?

Signs that sock feet are expected include a pile of shoes or shoe rack located directly outside or inside the front door. When in doubt, ask the seller or real estate agent. Most sellers won’t ask you to remove your shoes, but some cultures require it. Either way, always be prepared to do so. First impressions matter, so removing your shoes automatically shows the seller that you respect their home. Something they may remember when considering offers.

Is it ok to use the bathroom?

Only if it is an emergency and, even then, ask the seller or real estate agent for permission. In addition to just being the polite thing to do, you’ll want to make sure that the water hasn’t been turned off! While bathroom-use is discouraged, it is perfectly acceptable to test the plumbing. Provided the water is on and you’ve gotten the ok, feel free to check the water pressure, flush the toilet and listen for sounds in the pipes that might indicate a problem.

Should I look in the closets?

Absolutely! Storage and closet space are an important part of your home buying decision. It’s acceptable to take a peek inside kitchen cabinets and open the dishwasher, refrigerator, washer & dryer, too – as long as they’re staying with the house. Basements, attics and garages are also fair game, provided the seller has not issued explicit instructions to stay out. On the other hand, dressers, nightstands, medicine cabinets and hampers are completely off limits.

Can I sit on the furniture?

Unless the home is being sold with furnishings, you should not take the furniture for a test drive. Show respect for the homeowner’s belongings and avoid sitting on sofas, recliners and beds. What’s more, the home might be staged, with air beds and cardboard boxes masquerading as real furniture. Likewise, if the kids are in tow, make sure they do not pick up personal items, or play with any toys.

Is it rude to take photos?

Only if you fail to ask first. When you’re looking at lots of homes, it helps to have photos or videos to remember the details of each, but it could be a privacy concern for the seller. So make sure to ask for permission. It’s also not good etiquette to share the images online, whether on social media or in a blog. While that hideous wall-paper would make an awesome selfie, remember that this is someone else’s home.

Put Your House Hunting Skills to the Test!

Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of house hunting, let’s get out there and find some homes to tour! Check out open houses in Guilderland, Latham & the Albany NY area, or call CM Fox Real Estate at 518-861-7030 to get connected with a local expert. We’re happy to answer your questions, offer advice and set up private showings.