Friday, January 13, 2017

Three Steps to Find More Listings This Winter

By Mark Mathis, General Manager, Agent and Broker Sales,

You may be busy preparing your home, family or even wardrobe for winter, but don’t forget that you should be preparing your business, as well. As the market slows down during the colder months, it may be more difficult to generate new listings. Because of this, now is an opportune time to look for FSBO and expired listings to work with.
Statistics show that nearly 92 percent of sellers who try to market a home on their own fail and many expired listings eventually go back on the market, which presents a lot of opportunity for you to find new listings. It’s up to you to show the value you offer in a selling situation. Here are three steps to help you prepare to meet with this kind of seller.

Plan Your Approach
When a listing expires, it’s often because the property wasn’t marketed or priced properly. This is an optimal opportunity to show sellers how you’re different (and better) than their previous agent.
 Create a marketing plan and present it to the seller, showing them how you would market their home. Include points about establishing a strong web presence, your use of social media, sample advertising ideas, etc. Your marketing plan should show how you can connect with potential buyers and create opportunities to sell.

Similarly, the No. 1 reason someone chooses the FSBO route rather than hiring an agent is because they don’t want to pay commission fees. However, these sellers rarely understand the time and effort agents put into a transaction. Sure, those FSBOs may be saying they don’t want an agent now, but that mindset may change once they start to see how much work it takes to sell their home. Just like sellers with expired listings, approach FSBOs with a marketing plan that shows how much work you’ll put into selling their home.

Develop a Script
Before making contact with the seller of a FSBO or expired listing, prepare exactly what you’re going to say. Remember, rather than focusing on the logical reasons these people want to sell their properties, try to find the emotional reasons, and use that information to turn them into a client.
For example, if you’re working with an expired listing, plan to ask the sellers about their previous experience. If they worked with an agent, ask questions about what that person did to try to sell their home: did they take high quality photos of the interior and exterior, use social media to promote the listing, advertise appropriately and recommend staging options? If it’s a FSBO property, ask the sellers why they didn’t work with an agent the first time: was it a financial issue, did that have a bad experience previously or are there any other factors influencing their decision?

Contact the Sellers
When you’re prepared, it’s time to contact your prospective clients and let them know you’re here to help. Start by sending the sellers an email highlighting your qualifications. For FSBO properties, explain how you can take away the stress of home-selling, sell their home more quickly, and likely get a better price than they could on their own.
When you’re able to speak with these sellers in person or over the phone, put your script into play. Build trust and discover why they’re looking to sell, then go for what Chris Smith, author of The Conversion Code, calls the “trial close” with a “here’s what happens next” question to keep the process moving forward. For example, you could ask “Does Wednesday or Thursday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. work better for my photographer to come by and start taking pictures for marketing materials?” This will help the seller understand what you are going to be doing for them and make them feel more secure in the final steps of the process to list their home.
If sellers aren’t prepared for the trial close or insist that they want to work alone, wish them the best and give them some advice that could help. As time goes on, if they aren’t able to sell, they’re likely to remember you as someone who offered encouragement and call you for help.

If you’re looking for ways to connect with transaction-ready sellers in your local market, check out Local Connect. Local Connect positions you in front of active sellers in your target markets with branding that showcases your photo or logo, phone number and endorsements. Call us at 888-651-8956 or send an email to to learn more!
For more information, please visit
For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Must-Have Home Features? It’s Your Call

Wanted to share this post from - Hope it will be helpful.

Must-Have Home Features? 

It’s Your Call

Posted on Nov 30 2016 - 11:58am by Maria Patterson

An outdoor kitchen. Double sinks in the master bath. A wrap-around porch.  Solar panels. There are just so many things we want our new home to have.
However, when shopping for our dream home, it’s essential to steer the dream a little bit more toward reality. No home will have every single feature you desire, so before you set out on the search, sit down and think hard.
Also think long-term. While certain features may not matter to you, they may weigh heavily in determining your home’s resale value. According to a recent report by Kiplinger, there are seven features that will help sell a home faster: a laundry room; exterior lighting; energy efficient appliances and windows; a patio; hardwood floors; garage storage space; and an eat-in kitchen.
For most of us, our must-haves are rooted in practicality – a classic case of needs vs. wants. Which would explain why some of the most unwanted features in a home, according to a National Association of Home Builders study, include a pet-washing station, an elevator and a wine cellar. Some important musts, therefore, often involve:
  • The number of bedrooms and/or potential to turn a room into an additional bedroom – are you planning on children? Need space for an in-law to move in?
  • The master bedroom – is it big enough for your king bed and does it include a master bath?
  • The number and condition of other bathrooms
  • The yard - how much space and privacy do you need to be happy?
  • The kitchen – do you need a new kitchen with high-tech appliances or are you willing to update down the road?
  • Closet space – is there adequate storage for your current belongings with room to expand?
  • The school district – an obvious factor if you have or are planning to have children, but also important if you don’t as it will affect your home’s resale value
  • Proximity to work – are you willing to commute or is a walkable community a high priority?
  • New construction – are you looking for a maintenance-free environment or the charm of an older home with DIY options?
Of course, your musts are very unique to you and, therefore, may vary from the above. The key factor in determining a must-have from a nice-to-have is whether it is something that can be cost-effectively and efficiently accomplished down the road, such as crown molding or a fire pit. Musts should be those features that are difficult and costly, if not impossible, to handle on your own, such as a bigger garage or a new roof.
Remember that above all, your “dream” home will be the one that grabs you for some intangible reason or for a combination of unexpected features you never knew you wanted until you saw them. So try to keep your must-list to a minimum and your open mind to a maximum—and most of all, enjoy the process.

Friday, October 07, 2016

A Make or Break Decision – The Right Price

Part 2

The second toughest decision in the process is next – deciding upon a price.

Often home sellers base their property’s sale price on emotion and sentiment. A home represents a lot of special memories to the seller and they respond accordingly by overpricing.

This is where your real estate agent’s cool head and vast experience comes into play.

First, a real estate agent will visit your home or property making careful notes on its pros and cons that will contribute to a selling price. Next, the agent will carefully study prices realized from comparable homes in your area and determine its current value. Once sharing that with you, your real estate agent will develop a strategic marketing plan, customized to sell your home.

Depending on the condition of your home, your real estate agent may recommend some upgrades or modest cosmetic changes that enhance the attractiveness of your home. Trust in their suggestions because having worked with a variety of clients whose homes or properties range in size, style, age, and value – they know what sells. 

Call Stephanie Samuelsohn at 518-392-8484 to learn more.

Also check out our website: Columbia County Homes

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The Great Backfire – Trying to Sell It Yourself

Part 1

Many people are tempted to try and sell their homes themselves, thinking they’ll save time and the fee they’d normally pay to a real estate agent. Often, they’ll waste six months without a nibble – and end up calling an agent anyway.

If this has happened to you, now you are poised to choose a real estate agent – so be tough about it. One of the best ways to find an agent is through personnel referral. Talk to family, neighbors, and colleagues who have sold a home and were happy with their agent’s performance and professionalism.

Confirm that the agent’s agency has a professional looking website that is easy to navigate and features attractive photos of properties which are accompanied by compelling descriptions of the home or property for sale. Look for customer reviews of the agency and their agents on their website. 

After compiling a list of potential agencies, call them and interview them by asking pointed questions. For example, inquire if they are seasoned marketing professionals and conduct competitive market analysis on homes and properties currently on sale. Do they belong to multiple listing services (MLS) and employ a number of marketing techniques such as advertising and posting on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter?  

Likewise, ensure that the real estate agent networks with other successful agents and has a proven track record for quick sales and strong prices.

And finally, once satisfied that your questions have been answered to your satisfaction, choose the top three agencies and schedule an appointment for a face-to-face meeting with them. Make sure that the agent gives you confidence as demonstrated by their ability and knowledge to sell your home or property. In working with a real estate agent, chemistry with that person is key. Check that you speak the same language and your share the same goals for a successful outcome.
A few years ago, I had a customer who was in her late 80’s and wanted to sell her big farmhouse, where she had raised five children, and downsize to a smaller home, which we had found for her. Next we found a buyer who was perfect - a young couple eager to start a family who fell in love with the property.

Two weeks before the closing, I received a frantic phone call from the woman who said she couldn’t sell her house. I suggested we talk about what was happening in person and said I’d be right over.

When I arrived she showed me the molding in the doorway of a bedroom where all the heights of her children and grandchildren were carefully recorded.  “This is why I can’ sell it,” she said.  “I just can’t leave it behind.”

I thought a moment and asked, “ If you could bring it with you could you sell it?”  “Yes,” she said, “I could let it go then.”

I called the buyer and they were fine with removing the molding.

Buyer and seller were happy and all it took was some careful listening and creative problem solving.

Stephanie W. Samuelsohn

Check out our Website at:  ColumbiaCountyHomes

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

Check out our Website:

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.