Friday, August 26, 2016

Buying or Selling a Home on a Handshake

Our world continues to become exceedingly complicated.  There was a time when business transactions were sealed with a handshake, particularly when buying or selling a home.

Those days are far behind us and handshake purchases are a thing of the past.

Today, few would engage in such a financial venture without the advice and guidance of an experienced real estate agent.

The National Association of Realtors reports that if you are selling a home you will receive 19 percent more money if you use the services of a qualified real estate agent.

If you are a buyer, your personal real estate agent (whose fiduciary obligation is to you) will ensure you’re not overpaying for a property or lose the opportunity to purchase by offering too little.

For most people, the sale or purchase of a home is the largest investment they will make in their lifetime.

For the Seller

Once you are satisfied that you have found a qualified real estate agent, consult with them personally before making any decision. From experience, they will know how to prioritize improvements to your home that will increase its value and what changes that will render nothing. Your real estate agent’s main responsibility is to make certain your house is sold for a fair price by marketing it correctly.

The first question many sellers ask potential real estate agents when deciding who to represent them is, “What is your fee?”

Real estate is the only profession that does NOT require any payment unless your home is successfully sold. However, in order to accomplish that, many thousands of dollars are invested in marketing your property. Essentially, you are really engaging the services of a marketing firm to promote and ultimately sell it.

First, the real estate agent would develop a specific strategy for your property employing a number of marketing tactics. For example, a professional description with accompanying photos of both the interior and exterior will be created and posted on the agency’s website as well as other popular social outlets.

Experienced real estate agents also belong to several multiple listing services and databases to share information about properties with other real estate agents. These agents may represent potential buyers or wish to cooperate with another agent in finding a buyer of the property. Additionally, your real estate company will advertise in the many local and regional publications showcasing your property, which are avidly read by buyers, sellers and other real estate agents.

The next question sellers pose when seeking a real estate agent to represent them is, “ Do you have a buyer looking for a house like mine?”

Once you have made the decision to engage the services of a real estate agent, they will hit the ground running by first reaching out to their own customers to see if there is someone who may be seeking a home like yours. Additionally, real estate agents collaborate with their colleagues from other firms and will communicate their client’s needs to them as well as examine the existing inventory in the region.

For the Buyer

If you’re buying a home in an area with which you are unfamiliar, working with a personal real estate agent is crucial for success.

Make sure the agent you are considering listens carefully and understands your wants and needs. An experienced, knowledgeable real estate agent should know the area very well and be able to recommend professional vendors who are fair and responsive. These may include lawyers, inspectors, appraisers, insurance agents, tradesmen (carpenters, excavators, electricians, plumbers, landscapers, roofers), and lawn service and snow plowing companies.

Your real estate agent may be the only person you know in the area. Confirm that they are indeed experienced and well informed.

The Intangible Factor

Finally, before choosing a real estate agent determine whether you have a feeling of comfort, confidence and ease of communication with them. Can you confide in them and would you listen to their counsel? Are you convinced of their expertise and professionalism?

When you hire a real estate agent; you are now a team. Make sure you are on the same page; working toward the same goal.  

Call Stephanie Samuelsohn, Principal Broker of VantagePoint Realty at 518-392-8484 or e-mail at

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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Finally Coming Home: What a principal broker can do for you

There are milestones we all encounter as we journey through life — deciding upon a career we wish to pursue, choosing a mate, finding the place where we want to live and buying or renting a home there.
My name is Stephanie Samuelsohn and for nearly two decades, I have served as the principal broker at VantagePoint Realty, located at 605 Route 295 in Old Chatham.
Beginning next month, I will be penning a column — scheduled to appear on the last Thursday of the month in the Chatham Courier and the Register-Star — that will provide practical suggestions, expert advice and time and money saving tips to help with one of life’s greatest challenges — buying, selling or renting a home.
Dedicated to serving our customers who wish to find property in Columbia County and the Berkshires, VantagePoint Realty offers an array of services for residential, commercial, agricultural and rental clients. We market and list homes, represent buyers (buyer’s broker), provide information on comparable homes in the area and provide referrals to the best mortgage brokers, inspectors, appraisers and builders.
As an active member of the Columbia Greene Board of Realtors and a fully licensed real estate agent in New York and Massachusetts, I interact with dozens of real estate professionals on a daily basis gleaning current information ranging from properties that may be coming up for sale and not yet listed, to new home developments in the works, to national trends that may impact real estate locally.
It’s well-known that the real estate market can be viewed as a barometer for the overall state of the economy nationally — and differs from region to region. But customers all over the country are essentially the same: People struggling to find a home where they want in the price range they can afford.
In most cases the reason for their frustration is they have tried to do it on their own without the assistance of a professional real estate agent.
Most of us would never tackle projects such as installing a new roof, repairing a furnace or replacing rusty pipes for the kitchen sink. We would contact a reputable roofer, heating technician or plumber to do the job.
It’s the same if you are looking to buy, sell or rent property. Make the decision to enlist the expertise of a licensed real estate agent who can guide you through the process.
For example, the savvy real estate agent will recommend getting pre-approved or pre-qualified by a mortgage lender. This can boost your purchasing power when seeking a home.
Alternatively, when selling a home, even modest improvements can spur a buyer’s interest. Older homes, for example, may have small rooms that gives the impression of being closed in. By simply removing a wall or installing a large picture window, a new focal point and a relationship with the surrounding environs could produce big dividends for the seller.
Home sellers should be aware that many buyers would include contingencies in their offers, which often includes financing and the sale of their own homes. To avoid such maneuvers, sellers can take steps to protect their interests.
The seasoned real estate agent will advise that before accepting a financing contingency. Ask to see the buyer’s pre-approval letter from a well-established lender.
Likewise, it’s prudent to obtain financial disclosure information that outlines the buyer’s employment, income, assets and liabilities. Receipt of a meaningful, earnest, money deposit provides proof positive to underscore the buyer’s intentions.
Additionally, in the case of a home sale contingency — by countering with a proviso, should another more attractive offer be submitted — the seller will give the buyer 24 hours notice to remove the contingency or lose the house and get the deposit back.
To ensure your home is being publicized effectively, it’s the agent’s responsibility to “get the word out” in the realty publications and newspapers, conduct open houses, list the property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and spread information via social media outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.
Whether buying or selling make sure your real estate agent conducts a detailed market analysis, which compares the seller’s home to similar ones in the area that have sold recently. This comparison forms the basis of a listing price that both appeals to prospective buyers and ensures sellers of a proper return on their investment.
Stephanie Samuelsohn, principal broker at VantagePoint Realty, can be reached at 518-392-8482 or

Friday, June 03, 2016

Welcome To Shaker Ponds!

In the heart of Old Chatham, this is truly a Hunt Country retreat! First floor Master, just walk out to pool. 

7 total Bedrooms, and a Kitchen built for a gourmet chef. 4 Fireplaces, a screened porch and a Studio. 

Catskill Mountain views, Old Chatham Sheepherding Company sheep graze just across the road. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Prequalify or Pre-approve a Home Purchase

You can boost your purchasing power when seeking a home by making sure you are prequalified or pre-approved by a mortgage lender. VantagePoint Realty helps buyers pre-qualify for mortgages every day. 

Our office is conveniently located, where personalized, fuIl-service is not only the expectation - it's our guarantee! Whether you're looking for a vacation or second home, or primary residence in Berkshire or Columbia counties, or the Capital Region, contact us. 

We are fully licensed in Massachusetts and New York, and have the skills, dedication and expertise to help you. For further information on all of the services available to you, contact us today.

Visit our Website: Visit Our Website

E-mail at
Call - 518-392-8484

Saturday, April 23, 2016

I Want to Hold Your Hand for Your Next Real Estate Transaction

"I Want to Hold Your Hand"

It's a Beatles song, and it's what an effective Realtor does for a Buyer.  It's called Buyer Agency.  Under this system the Real Estate Broker represents and works for the Buyer in the purchasing of a house - as the agent for the Buyer and has a duty to represent the Buyer's best interests, including:

*         Negotiating the right price for the buyer
*           Structure the transaction to the Buyer's advantage

Here are three of the most important ways Buyer Agency works for you:

*         Meaningful Savings Are Possible.  We will help you negotiate to 
          obtain the right price, terms, and conditions.

*          You are Represented.  As the Buyer Agent, we will do a 
          comprehensive market analysis on the property you select. 
          This will help you establish    fair market value before an 
          offer to purchase is made.

*          You are Exposed to a Larger Market.  In addition to MLS listed
          properties, our Buyer Agency System allows us to show us a
          wider variety of available homes, including unlisted properties -
          for sale by owners, foreclosure sale, and homes not yet on the 
          market.  In other words, you will have access to the TOTAL

VantagePoint Realty has years of experience

representing Buyers successfully.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Raise in Interest Rates

Friends and clients,

I write you today about the recent Federal decision to raise interest rates.  Although it’s only a 0.25% rate hike, if you are thinking of selling your home, this affects you now…

Your home will sell for its maximum price in 2016.  The upcoming spring selling season is going to be hot.  Not many homes are for sale in our area and inventory is very tight.  Home buyers will also make motivated offers to get ahead of inevitable future interest rate hikes. 

All this generates more demand for your home now. 

As you know, home prices in many neighborhoods went up considerably in 2015 and there’s a strong chance your home is one of them.
I recommend you check the current market value of your home.

I pay to get access to all the local MLS data and you can get it for free by contacting us at VantagePoint Realty  518-392-8484.

Looking forward to hearing from you. 

Visit us at:   ColumbiaCountyHomes

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Tips to Add Value to Your Home

1) Clean, Organize, and Neutralize Your Space: Unclutter your house to make it look bigger and cleaner.  Buyers need to be able to envision their own belongings in the home, so avoid using bright colors and too many personal effects.

2) Keep your lawn green: Get your lawn in shape. A patchy lawn takes away from the home's overall appearance. Your local hardware store has supplies to re-seed those unhealthy areas.

3) Add insulation to save energy: The most inexpensive way to increase your home's energy is to add insulation which can reduce heating and cooling costs by more than 25%.

4) Update Kitchen Appliances: The kitchen is often the room that buyers gravitate towards first, and an updated kitchen can help sell your home. You don't have to remodel your kitchen to give it a new look. Updating your appliances to the current standard and replacing cabinet doors and hardware can make a big impact at a relatively low cost.

5) Update those bathroom fixtures: A little change can go a long way when it comes to the look of your bathroom. Updating simple fixtures such as your sink and faucet can give any outdated bathroom style. And, according to, minor bathroom remodels typically return over 100% of the initial investment.

6) Build a fence: If you're trying to sell a house, the appearance of a fence adds value to the home overall. Buyers with children or pets will appreciate the privacy and security of an enclosed backyard.

7) Repair the gutter: Ensuring that your gutter is clean is crucial in protecting your home against water damage.

8) Light up the outside: An easy and inexpensive way to increase your home's outdoor space is to add lighting. It makes it more appealing and safer.

9) Store and organize: Ample storage space is a plus, especially when it comes to garages and closets.  Efficient closet structures can help keep your clothes organized  and can save space.

10) Polish off the basement: Rather than adding an additional room, it is more cost-efficient to remodel your basement. This adds value and usable space.

Visit us at:  ColumbiaCountyHomes