Winter photo updates...

Fresh snow and sunny skies bring the opportunity to update photos for our lineup of great properties.  Here are winter photos from some shoots around the region.

Home of the Week

UPDATE 6/28/2017:

Congratulations to the Sellers of this beautiful country home as they sold under multiple offers! 

Through daily work on the marketing of our listing inventory, the team becomes very familiar with each property.  Everyone has their favorites, so I thought I'd ask them to talk about their choices for "Home of the Week".  This week's pick is from Heather Etzel.  Heather is our Administrative & Marketing Manager and works closely with our clients to ensure no details are overlooked. 



"311 Hartman Road in Hudson Falls, NY  caught my attention when the pictures and video were still going through editing! The country kitchen captivated me the second I saw the potential of an updated kitchen incorporating rustic details of the past. While I’m comfortable with the modern range oven that is offered with this home, the old-fashioned cook stove fascinated me! As the homeowner put it, “There is an art to cooking with wood, and sadly it is a lost art.” I would consider it a welcome challenge to harness the ability to cook with such a unique tool while simultaneously heating my home with it.

 Being a mom of 3 young boys and having a rather large extended family, the in-ground pool with patio area would provide a backdrop to some treasured memories. There is a saying that goes, “Music is a piece of art that goes in the ears and straight to the heart”; the melody of children laughing, water splashing, and adults conversing would forever stake a claim in my heart.

 Something I recently have tried to break into is being a “farmer.” I already have chickens, but pigs, goats, horses, etc.--they require a lot more space and living quarters than I currently have. This property has 3 large exterior buildings that are ready to house such animals. One of the barns has pens already set up!

 Finding a quiet moment is difficult for some, but not here. This home has an awe-inspiring manicured yard complete with a fish pond and a gazebo overlooking raised garden beds. There is also a stream down in the back that could be further developed. What’s one of the of the best features to this peaceful country retreat?  It has “forever wild” as the neighboring lot! No one can ever build there!

The exterior aesthetic of this home is the first thing that caught my attention, but don’t be fooled; the interior renders harmony just as well. My favorite room in the house, second to the kitchen and butler’s pantry of course, is the sun soaked 4 season room! While every room has an open, airy atmosphere, this one overlooks the 12+ acres and is perfectly designed to welcome morning tea, mid-day books, or evening chess.

More than just a farmhouse, this home holds an estate-like appeal.  Its original wide plank hardwood floors perfectly compliment the color pallet throughout. 311 Hartman Road is the epitome of a country home and Country Living Magazine agrees! This home was chosen from all of NYS to be featured in their June 2017 issue.

As American writer and human rights advocate Margaret Fuller once put it, "A house is no home until it contains food and fire for the soul, as well as for the body." This exquisite property situated near Hudson Falls, NY provides "food and fire" for a lifetime."


Heather Etzel

Manager Administrative, Marketing Support

The Maria Barr Team


For Buyers, For Sellers, Maria Barr Team

The Time To Act is NOW: Why Historically Low Interest Rates Affect Your Home Buying Plans

With interest rates about to rise, prudent financial planning dictates getting the most value for your money -- and that means, at least in terms of buying a home, the cheapest financing you can get. With time running out on near-zero Federal Reserve rates, and mortgage rates certain to begin moving up very soon, the moment to act is now. Own it.

Contingencies Your Offer Should Include - The Mortgage Commitment Contingency

In this series,  I talk about the contingencies found in a typical real estate purchase and sale agreement.  Today, I’ll be discussing the MORTGAGE contingency.  It’s typically the third and usually final contingency date on the real estate sales contract time line. 

A typical time period for receiving mortgage commitment is 4-6 weeks.  This can vary depending on your loan type and assumes no complications.  The idea is that the buyer has this reasonable time period to obtain a commitment from a lender for financing of the property.

If the buyer is unable to get a commitment in that time period they may:

1.  Withdraw from the contract and get their deposit back.

2.  Ask for an extension of time if they believe they will get the loan.  The seller must agree.

Why wouldn't a buyer receive their mortgage commitment?  

Several things can happen.  They may not qualify due to some change in their situation.  I've heard horror stories of an uneducated borrower using financing to purchase a new vehicle or furniture during this time period and making themselves ineligible for a loan because their debt to income ratio changed.  Or, they may have lost a job, or some of their income is not able to be documented satisfactorily.

When you apply for a mortgage, you the borrower have to qualify in terms of credit rating, income to debt ratio and employment history.  The HOME also has to qualify in the sense that it must appraise for the purchase amount (depending on loan type - if you have a conventional loan with a large down payment, you may be able to absorb a low appraisal) and it must meet a minimum standard in terms of condition, again depending on loan type. 

Work with your loan representative to avoid common pitfalls, and it makes sense to check on even minor changes before making financial decisions before the closing.

Mortgage products can be very specific and each type has its own guidelines, so I suggest contacting a mortgage professional (let me know if you need a name) with additional questions.  Usually these folks can suggest a couple of options after hearing the details of your situation and they work very quickly (and many times over the phone!) to let you know what you can afford.  This makes your home shopping a lot more fun, I guarantee it!

Now that the buyer has received their mortgage commitment, what's next?  I'll be talking about the final countdown to closing in my next post.  If I can answer any questions, as always, please let me know.  Maria

Goal 2014 - Buy a house...

If you are up sizing, down sizing or buying your first home, use this simple checklist to stay on track for your 2014 Goal of buying a house...

I recently signed up for and thought it would be a great tool for managing your check list to a successful home purchase and sale.  I'm a big fan of checklists, they are a good reminder of what you need to do AND what you've already accomplished.  I'd love to hear from someone who is using this web site to track their progress on my home moving checklist.

Visit me at for facts and opinions about real estate, buying a home and selling a home :)

1)  Get pre-qualified for a mortgage - even if you're not moving for 3 months or more, have a lender pre-qualify you now.  Many people don't realize they have little dings (and/or inaccurate information) on their credit report.  Don't wait until you are writing an offer on your dream home to discover these items which could take a month or more to repair or remove.

2)  Plan your timeline.  If you want to be in the new house before school starts, for instance, put August 15th on your timeline as an ideal closing date and work backward from there.  In general, it takes 6-8 weeks for a closing so plan to select your home by the middle of June in order to comfortably close by your target date.

3)  If you are selling - START EARLY!!  I can tell you from *second hand experience, there is nothing more depressing than finding the perfect home for your family and then finding you are unable to execute because your house is unsold.

*I don't need to personally be incredibly upset and frustrated to know its not a good thing.

4)  Budget your purchase - based in part on the sale price of your home.  Another reason to start early, if you don't know how much you're getting, its hard to know how much you can give.  Avoid the frustration and disappointment of setting your heart on a move up home out of your price range by knowing ahead of time what you will net from the sale of your current home.  This step goes hand in hand with step 1 so work on them together.

5)  Pick an agent to represent you.  OK, I'm an agent, so this may seem somewhat biased BUT if you are serious about making this move and your time is valuable to you then work with an agent who understands what you want.  I've seen people skip this step because they had a difficult time finding the right person or didn't want to commit to someone but this is a mistake.  

Maria Barr blog buy a house.jpg

Its like planning your own, very large, wedding.  Imagine that working with a wedding planner isn't going to cost you anything and that expert on weddings had access to inside info and discounts on bands, venues, invitations, flowers, the dress etc.  They know what the going rate is and can let you know if you are being charged too much.  They have years of experience in timing the ordering, reservations and rehearsals and can advise you.  If something goes wrong, they can work with you to fix it quickly.

Why wouldn't you avail yourself of all that free expertise?

Question from a buyer - seller concessions

What are they?  Why would I want them?

I had a buyer today asking me about adding seller concessions into his purchase offer so I thought I'd run through an explanation of what they are.  

When you buy a house, you need "cash to close".  

Cash to close is a term that includes 1) the down payment on the house - this will be your equity in the house to start.  So if the house costs $200,000 and you have a 5% down payment = $10,000, this means you have $10,000 in equity and owe $190,000 on your mortgage.  

Cash to close also includes 2) additional costs - money that you pay the lender for the mortgage.  It includes fees (which banks are famous for), the appraisal, sometimes mortgage points, attorney fees for the bank, title insurance to cover the bank etc.  

The buyer who was asking me about seller concessions today had been quoted an additional $6,600 in closing costs he would have to come up with (above and beyond his down payment).  He doesn't have that much.  So now what do we do?

One solution is to finance the $6,600 closing costs by adding it to the mortgage.  This can be an inexpensive way to finance that money because, as we all know, interest rates are super low right now!

The way this works is like this:  We take the purchase price of the house, let's use the $200,000 example again.  Your contract looked something like this without seller concessions:

purchase price of house       $200,000   the amount the seller has agreed to sell the house for

down payment                       $  10,000    this is your 5% down payment (in this example)

due at closing                        $190,000    this is the amount the bank is loaning you for the house

but... you also need $6,600 in closing costs....


With seller concessions of $6,600, you are borrowing the money for closing costs.

Your contract will look a little more like this now:

purchase price of house        $206,600   the seller's $200,000 plus $6,600 closing costs

down payment                        $  10,000   your 5% down payment (in this example)

due at closing                         $196,600   the amount the bank is loaning you for the house AND your closing costs.  Of this $196,600, the seller gets $190,000 same as above, and you get $6,600 back - which is why a seller concession is also sometimes called a "seller give-back".

Of course, you then immediately turn around and use that $6,600 to pay the bank the fees you incurred for the mortgage so you don't get to enjoy it, but you DO get to enjoy your new home!!

Hope that makes understanding SELLER CONCESSIONS a little easier and as always, if you have any other questions I can answer, please let me know!!