The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

April 20, 2009

My Turn: Local real estate sound investment

This week's "My turn" column is by Becky Thomas and Betsy Shultis, owners/brokers of Benson Agency Real Estate.

How is the local real estate market? This is a question that we as Realtors are often asked.

First, it is important to remember real estate is local in nature and typically what is happening nationally isn't appreciably affecting our real estate market.

The greater Oneonta real estate market is strong. We are privileged to be more than slightly "insulated" from the extreme up-and-down cyclical curves seen in the overall national market. Our area offers stable employment opportunities with several local colleges and hospitals, a robust mix of small-to-medium-size companies and a thriving tourism industry.

The current national market conditions have brought interest rates to an all-time low, and with the current first-time homebuyer tax credit, home buying is more affordable than ever. For more information on the federal tax credit, visit

Whether you are a first-time buyer or making a move to a larger home, this is the time to buy with inventory of saleable homes up in all price ranges.

Your Realtor will advise you on the steps of the home-buying process.

One of the first things you'll need to do is to talk with your local bank or mortgage professional. They will, through a pre-qualification process, be able to advise you on the home price range that will fit your budget and comfort level.

At that point you can start your search with a price range in mind. When you find the perfect home, your Realtor will guide you through the process from contract to closing.

As a home owner, you will be building equity, gaining tax savings and realizing pride of ownership.

As a seller in today's market, it is important to work with a Realtor to guide you through the selling process. Pricing and condition of the home are two key factors you'll need to consider.

Your Realtor will complete a market analysis to help you determine the price, what the current market will bear and will advise you on what you should do to get your home market ready.

Here are a few of our tried-and-true tips to guide you through the process.

An inviting exterior ensures inspection of the interior. Do your spring cleaning now. Bright and cheery windows and unmarred walls will show your home to its best advantage.

Make sure everything is functioning correctly, fix loose doorknobs, sticking drawers, warped cabinet doors and leaking faucets.

The attic and basement are important features. Remove all unnecessary items that have accumulated. Display the full value of your storage and utility spaces. Avoid cluttered appearances in all areas.

Don't forget the closets; clothes properly hung, shoes and other articles neatly placed will make your closets appear larger.

The kitchen is the heart of the home and should be inviting, well-organized and offer clutter-free work space.

Check and double-check your bathroom; bright and clean bathrooms sell homes. Illumination is a welcome sign. For after-dark showings, turn on your lights, from the porch on through the home.

These tips may seem trivial, but remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Not only are home prices in our region under the national average, but our quality of life is excellent! We are fortunate to live in an area that is easy to fall in love with.

Industry, an active arts community, national halls of fame, Division I and pro sports venues, year-round recreational opportunities and excellent health facilities are just some of the reasons why this is a great place to live, work, go to school and retire!

So remember when you are looking to buy or sell, real estate in the foothills of the Catskills remains a sound investment!

To write for "My Turn," contact Daily Star Publisher Tanya Shalor at or 432-1000, ext. 214.