Rochester Area Real Estate Blog


Dec. 28, 2020

Minimum Credit Score for Homebuyers

Craig Schneider from NORCHAR Real Estate here!
Today we're going to talk about first time home buyers, our most exciting thing. And our first call is actually from Sally, from Greece. Her question is, is what is the minimum credit score you need to qualify for a new home? It does change a little bit based on actually the bank you're using. So that does have an effect on things, but there's also a bunch of compensating factors that play into it too. So we have seen people get qualified as low as 550, but the average person or average consumer is going to need to have at least a 620 to 640 credit score. So your goal is to be around 640 or up, but if you're under that, come and talk to us, talk to our mortgage professionals and they might be able to get you into an awesome home still. And with a lower credit score, we also work with some professionals that can help you get your credit score boosted up, which is always going to help in your interest rate. And you're going to be paying that over the life of the loan. So come and talk to us and we'll help you out with the rest of the steps. 

Posted in Home Buyers
Dec. 28, 2020

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a House?

Craig Schneider from NORCHAR real estate:
Hey, guys. We're on our second question, and this one is actually from Allie in Irondequoit. Her question is, is right now a good time to buy a house? Well, that's going to be completely driven on your particular situation. But I will tell you, what normally is a reason to buy a house is most people are taking a mortgage out. So there's never been a better time, because we are once, again, historically low interest rates.

They're very, very low, and that affects your buying power, giving you more opportunity to buy more homes. We live in what's called the payment of the house. We don't live in the cost of the home, meaning your monthly payment is going to affect your buying power, and right now you have more buying power than you've ever had. If you have more questions about what that means, please reach out to one of our agents. We can definitely answer that question in more detail. But right now is a tremendously great time to purchase a home.


Posted in Home Buyers
Nov. 19, 2020

NORCHAR talks VA Loans

Hey guys, today we're going to talk about topic number five. Topic number five is my two favorite things. Number one, Real Estate, which you guys know I love. Number two is the military, which we also love at NORCHAR, and mainly because I am a veteran myself. I was in the military for 10 years, and we believe in giving back and pushing back on our veterans. Today's topic comes from Bruce in Ontario, NY. His question is, “explain veteran programs to me” (what programs are available to Veterans looking to purchase a home in Rochester, NY). Well, there is one major veteran program that everybody knows about, it's called a VA loan. 

And we know enormous amounts of information about that. Because number one, I've personally taken out VA loans in the past, they're a great mortgage to take advantage of, they call them a zero money down mortgage, but there are some fees that you have to pay. So, they're not always the best scenario for every single veteran. We have a lot of knowledge and great relationships with a few mortgage providers in Rochester, NY that can answer all of your questions about that. 

So, what is a VA Mortgage? Well, anybody that's served and has received an honorable discharge from the military is able to get a VA mortgage, and they have to bring zero money down for the deposit. Now, there still are some additional funds that are required to close, you’ll have a funding fee, and some closing costs, the big closing costs would be the taxes on the home. So, in certain areas of Rochester, the taxes are going to be higher than other areas. 

Let’s take an example of homes in Greece, NY, your tax rate is 4 to 4.2%. And if we take an area like homes for sale in Henrietta, NY, for instance, the taxes can be as low as 2.6%. This changes the amount of money that you'll need to bring it to the table and also changes your monthly payment. All of this information, we can obviously answer for you and sit down and go through in a very granular process. A couple of things to consider. Number one, there is a max amount of money that you can loan with a VA home loan in Rochester, NY. The max on a VA loan right now is about $510,000 in Monroe County, New York. 

The other thing you need to remember is we can throw some of those closing costs into the loan and ask for what's called seller's concession. So, we can roll those into the cost of the home you buy in Rochester, NY. There are certain fees that you do still have to pay. What I find is that number is usually around $3,000, that’s what you will need to still buy the home. We can go over that line item by line item and give you an exact number of what it will cost to purchase a home in Chili, NY or a home in Irondequoit, NY. So, I hope you found this helpful. Once again, if you are a veteran or you know a veteran, we would love to help you and serve you in the purchase of a Greater Rochester, NY Home Search this time and go through the whole process. Have a great day.

March 22, 2019

What is the #1 Reason to Buy a Home?

What is the number one reason to buy a House?

  1. Tax Incentives
  2. Building equity is the fastest way to wealth
  3. Stop renting and paying someone else's mortgage

Now reasons 1-3 are great reasons and some think the only reason to buy...but what about our fur babies?  

That's right, pet ownership is becoming a top contender for the reason to own a home!

According to a survey from TD Ameritrade, seven in ten millennials own a pet.  More than half (56%) are dog parents and over a third (36%) are cat parents.  Men are more likely to be pet owners than women.

Being a homeowner gives you the freedom to be a dog or cat owner because when you rent, you are subject to the rules of the landlord or perhaps live in fear because your beloved pet may or may not be a casualty of rental policy or restriction.

So go ahead, buy that house.  Start investing in your future and your own yard for your fur baby to roam freely!

Looking to adopt a pet?  Try looking for your furever friends at Lollypop Farm or Verona Street Animal'll be glad you did!

Posted in Home Buyers
Feb. 13, 2019

Monroe County's Real Estate Market Report - January 2019

Thanks to the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors for compiling this information!

Oct. 18, 2018

What Design Elements are Important when Considering Multi-Generational Living?

Special attention to the following design elements should be kept in mind when considering multi-generational living.

1.    Doorways / Openings – Modern homes are typically built with 30” or 32” doors, consider providing easier accessibility throughout the first floor by enlarging the doors to 34” or 36” doors. Door swings should also be given attention (especially when increasing the size of the door) some designs can be enhanced by replacing swing doors with a pocket door or barn door.  Focus also on hallways and openings within the home, many builders and architects reduce the width and length of hallways to keep the build cost / square footage down. Wider hallways provide an attractive aesthetic that also includes simple accessibility with a walker or wheelchair. Hallways can also be multipurpose if considered early in the design process. A fantastic example of this would be an alcove within a hallway with a built-in desk that could be used as a pocket office. Don’t forget the Overhead Garage Door. Enlarging the garage door to 18 feet wide will provide easier access into the garage, it will also provide more free space between the vehicles enhancing the accessibility for passengers exiting the vehicles.

2.    Thresholds / Steps – Reduce steps and thresholds at the entrances to the home by replacing front lead walks steps with ramped front lead walks. This can easily be done by the landscaper / hardscape installer by bringing in some additional fill material to raise the grade. The goal is to ramp the lead walk so that it is flush with the front door stoop. The front door stoop can also be raised by the builder. This should be considered before the home starts construction because the foundation needs to be raised at the front door area and special framing needs to be designed into the plan to meet the building code. The threshold from the garage floor into the home can also be reduced or ramped if considered early in the design process. Roll-in showers are also becoming very popular for multi-generational homes. A roll-in shower has no threshold to step or trip over while entering or exiting the shower stall. This needs to be considered in the planning stage because the shower pan is actually built down into the floor joist system (typically 3” to 4” below the bathrooms finished floor level).

3.    First-Floor Bedroom Suite – A master bedroom should be designed directly into the original build. If the family does not have an immediate need for a first-floor bedroom, this space can be repurposed as a family room, game room, music room, study or playroom.

4.    Hard Surface Flooring – Type of flooring should be carefully considered especially on the first floor of a multi-generational homes.  Carpets reduce mobility when using a walker or wheel chair. When carpet is used, consider a low pile or commercial style product.

5.    Small Details – Consider the small details when building a multi-generational home. Replacing items like doorknobs with lever handles and standard light switches with decorator push switches can make life much easier and comfortable for family members with arthritis or loss of strength or muscle control. Consideration should be made to have the homebuilder install solid blocking for grab bars and future railings.




If someone wanted to find a house with an in-law suite is it easier to add on to an existing home or build new?


When considering the addition of an in-law suite the first question that is often considered is should I add to my existing home or build a new home. You must first define what the term in-law means as it pertains to your needs. Everyone has their own definition of the term in-law, from the very basic first floor bedroom and bathroom all the way to an additional small home on the same homesite. When defining your needs, you should consider the following items, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, do you need a kitchen or kitchenette, living room, dining room, separate entrance, foyer, laundry room, garage space, access to the basement, separate utility meters and appliances. 

You can save money by sharing some common areas like laundry rooms, sharing a basement stair from a shared mudroom, and sharing garage space. Another way to save a lot of money is to build an in-law in the basement level of the home. Considering this space is already in place, it lends itself to be the most affordable method of adding an in-law.

Another item that must be considered when building or adding an in-law is zoning and the building envelope of the homesite.  Most homes in neighborhoods are zoned R-1 (Residential - 1 Unit) what this means is you can only have one residential unit per lot. Once you add an in-law with a kitchen, bedroom, and bath you have turned the home a multi-family home. Some towns are stricter than others on how they define the code and zoning. Some towns will approve a variance to add an in-law while other towns will not. A building envelope is the space on the lot that is approved to build structure.  When a developer submits community site plans to the town zoning board for approvals, they outline the front, side and rear setbacks of each building lot. These setbacks create what becomes the building envelope, the entire structure of the home must fit within this space.

Last and not least is the risk of over improvement. Adding an addition to a home in certain neighborhoods can be a very poor investment. All of the equity that you invest in the project might be lost if the neighborhood is unable to support your investment. It is advised to consult with a local real estate professional on how the plans for an addition might affect their resale value.



If a parent wants to purchase a home for an adult child what type of home should they look for?

When advising my clients on the purchase of a home for an adult child we typically focus our search on new homes or homes that have been properly updated. Low maintenance is the goal here, the most difficult factor of homeownership is keeping up with the maintenance. With a new home or a home that was extensively updated, a homeowner can enjoy (20-25) years of carefree living. When available in the clients target market, townhomes or condominiums can afford the leisure of low maintenance living though the Home Owners Association (HOA). The HOA collects a monthly fee that is used to pay a property management company to provide grounds and exterior building maintenance in most townhouse and condominium communities.

At what stage of the buying process should you engage a Realtor such as yourself?

The sooner you are able to bring a local real estate expert into the process the better. This will enable them to help you create the proper timeline and explain the process in more detail. A true professional will also be able to provide priceless resources and help you avoid costly pitfalls.

When you see a client “downsize” are they actually lowering expenses?

In my experience, many of the clients I work with do not experience the savings they expect when downsizing. The first reason is that many do not end up downsizing their new home. Here is an example…the clients have lived in a 2,300 square foot 4-bedroom 2-story home and now are empty nesters.  They decide to downsize and look for the luxury of 1 story living after exploring what they need in their new home they end up buying a 2,300 square foot ranch.

The second reason is that many “downsize” buyers see this home as their last home purchase and they want it built with all luxury items like granite countertops, high end cabinets, stainless steel appliances, and hardwood floors throughout. 

Last reason is that in many cases the cost of building a new home or finding a smaller home that is well maintained has increased at a higher rate than an existing larger home. An example; a 4,300 SQFT estate home built in 1993 for $415,000 sells on today’s market for $505,000. The price of a new 2,200 SQFT ranch in the same town now sells for $512,000. The client experiences zero savings for nearly reducing the size of their home by half and to add insult to injury also experiences a higher tax burden because the taxes for the new ranch are assessed at the purchase price of $512,000 as where their existing home was assessed at $452,000.


Is it possible to make a home more accessible while adding property value?

The majority of home improvements that provide better accessibility to a home will not carry over to adding monitory value to the home, these upgrades however do provide additional marketability to a home and might help get the home sold quicker. Remember that you are installing these upgrades to provide a better quality of life for the person using them and you can never put a price on that. 



Oct. 15, 2018

5 Awesome Reasons to Sell during Fall in Rochester, NY

Well, we're finally experiencing Fall in Rochester, NY. We were getting some super hot weather there at the end of the summer that made me think we're getting Florida weather!  But regardless, we all made it and now we have shorter days and cooler nights to look forward to...until the snow flies!

So now if you've been weighing whether now is a good time to sell your house, we've got 5 solid reasons why Fall is a great time to put your house on the market.

1. Less Competition - Typically, listing your home in the Spring means more competition because more people list their homes in the Spring, hence the term "Spring Market".  You've heard of it, right?  Well, listing your home in the Spring means you're going to be up against the largest numbers of comparable listings.  By putting your home up for sale in the Fall, you'll have less competition.  

2. More Serious Buyer Pool - Yes, that Spring Market brings out more buyers, but with the aforementioned competition, they can afford to be more picky AKA extend their search for months.  Come Fall, more serious buyers will be feeling the pressure to be in a new home before the holidays or bad weather hits.


3. Different Buyer Demographics - While families are more likely to make their move in the spring, millennials and empty-nesters typically find great real estate later in the fall and that's not all.  To avoid a crazy real estate market, employers who need to relocate employees often wait for the fall, when the market cools down.  These out-of-towners will probably need to work through the process quickly, which could mean a quick closing.

4. Awesome Curb Appeal - Besides cleaning your gutters and raking the leaves out of your yard, there isn't a whole lot of maintenance or upkeep required of your home during the fall months.  Combine with the comfortable temperatures and the many holidays at this time of the year, and you have the recipe for lots of curb appeal for your home.  Add some seasonal decorations, a few touch-ups here and there, and your house will sell itself!  No driving yourself nutty trying to get the greenest lawn in the neighborhood or shoveling tons of snow before showings start.

5. Home for the Holidays - Buy or sell early in the fall and you could be living in your new home for the holidays and before the harsh weather starts.  Another thought, moving during the "calmer" months also means you may have better access to movers and other necessary resources than during the busier spring and summer months.



Posted in Home Sellers
Sept. 18, 2018

Park Ave Pop Up Walking Tour


We are very excited to share that our building will be part of the Park Ave Pop-Up Walking Tour with the Landmark Society of WNY this Wednesday evening.

Hurry, because tickets are going fast!  Your $25 ticket also gets you apps and drink specials at The Hideaway after the tour.  All proceeds support neighborhood efforts to create a historic district.

March 19, 2018

2018 Rochester Polar Plunge

On February 11, 2018, NORCHAR Real Estate, participated in our 4th Polar Plunge.  We love supporting local events and we strongly believe raising funds to support and send athletes to participate in the Special Olympics is very worthwhile and gratifying!  


Rochester Polar Plunge took place at Ontario Beach Park in Rochester, NY.  We plunged at 12pm.  It was an incredible time.  We loved spending time together and also making new friends!


We are very proud to have raised close to $3000 for this wonderful event!




Nov. 1, 2017


1st Friday Art Show Rochester NY

Opening night was a complete hit. Don't miss your chance to meet & mingle with these talented local artists this Friday 11/3/2017 from 6PM to 9PM. At NORCHAR Real Estate 389 Park Ave.

Let's hang out, eat some snacks, drink some mulled wine, and admire the beauty. Good times Guaranteed!