Interested in buying a house? Do this first…


You probably don’t overthink things if you see a house for sale that you’d like to go in and see.

If there’s an open house, there’s a good chance you’d just pop on in.

If you see a for sale sign on the lawn of a house you like, maybe you’d just call the listing agent and end up having him or her show you the house.

Or, if you’re cruising the Internet and come across something you’d like to go see, you may just set something up with the agent attached to the online listing.

What’s the big deal, right?

Before I got into real estate, I’d have thought the same thing. But, here’s what I’ve learned…

You shouldn’t do any of those things.

Of course finding the perfect house is ultimately what a homebuyer is focused on, and concerned about. But the agent who represents your interests is as important of a decision.

And when you do any of the above things, you’re essentially “choosing” an agent to work with and represent your interests.

People often complain about having lousy relationships or experiences with real estate agents. From what I’m gathering here in the field, that happens because most people stumble into their relationship with a real estate agent. They put house first, and the agent they work with comes along with it.

Buyers don’t always buy the first house they call on, or stop into. But it can happen. You can walk in and fall in love with a place, and the next thing you know you’re making an offer and going through the process with whatever agent you came across.

Sure, the process, experience, and agent may be great. But, often it’s not the case.

I’ve already heard people say, “I wish I’d called you before I made an offer.”

Unfortunately, at that point it might have even been too late.

Once an agent shows you a house, they can claim “procuring cause”. (It’s a bit much to get into here, but basically put, you can get stuck working with that agent, even if they’re not a great agent, or doing a good job.)

So, please do call. Call one of us before you even go see a house.

Even if you aren’t super serious and feel like you “don’t want to waste my time”. It’s never a waste of my time. Because you never know what house you will see will end up being “the one”.

If you see a house you’re interested in…

  • Skip the open house. Let’s go see it privately and without the crowds or prying eyes and ears of the listing agent.
  • If you see a for sale sign of a house you are interested in seeing…don’t just call the listing agent. Call one me. They already represent the seller. Have someone truly representing you and your interests separately.
  • If you see something online you want to see, just forward me the listing and we can arrange a time to go see it.

…always call me before you just go “check it out”.

It’s a huge decision and transaction, and you should have someone who truly represents your best interests.

Hope that was some good insight for you.

Until next time,

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Hart and Homes Real Estate Team

Hello 2018, I’d like to introduce you to the Hart and Homes Real Estate Team at RE/MAX In Motion! 

Photo © 2017 Dave Burbank Photography



© 2017 Dave Burbank


Hi, I’m Lindsay Hart, Real Estate Associate Broker at RE/MAX In Motion in Ithaca and team leader of the Hart and Homes Real Estate Team.

I have been affiliated with RE/MAX since I began in real estate  12 years ago. I am a Seller’s Representative Specialist, a Certified Buyer’s Representative & Resort and Second Home Property Specialist.

I have a penchant for properties in Trumansburg, where I live with my husband and sons, but I have listed and sold properties all over Ithaca and Tompkins, Cayuga, Tioga, Chemung, Seneca, and Schuyler Counties.

With over a decade of experience & knowledge of the local real estate market and the industry, I can diplomatically and skillfully negotiate and advocate for you and guide you through all aspects of the process and paperwork.; working together to make your home ownership dreams or home sale goals come true. See what my past clients have to say at

I am a 2002 graduate of Ithaca College’s Park School of Communications, I have served as 2011-2013 local director, the 2014 Secretary/Treasurer, the 2015 President-Elect, the 2016 President and the 2017 Past- President of the Ithaca Board of REALTORS. I was also NY State Association of REALTORS Southern Tier Region’s RPAC trustee and volunteered on numerous  local and state association committees.  I was involved with and sat on a panel of experts for the Tompkins County housing summit.  I am also a member of the Trumansburg Area Chamber of Commerce and have served  on its board of directors for the last five years and now as 2018 Vice President.  In addition, I am a member of the Ithaca Downtown Business Women group.

I have received the Ithaca Journal’s Reader’s Choice Award for one of the best real estate agents two years in a row,  the Ithaca Board of REALTORS President’s award, the   RE/MAX’s 100% club and am a 2017 RE/MAX Hall of Fame Inductee. Most recently I was awarded the Ithaca REALTOR of the Year for 2017. 

My career is my passion; it’s not a ‘job’ when you love what you do.  But when not cultivating my career, I’m homeschooling my two boys,  reading, working on jigsaw puzzles, attending Journey Fitness, golfing,  cheering on my Steelers, and patronizing all the amazing restaurants, breweries and wineries the Finger Lakes has to offer.

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Photo © 2017 Dave Burbank Photography

Erin Gray, REALTOR

Hello! I’m Erin Gray, a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with the Hart and Homes Real Estate Team at RE/MAX In Motion. I specialize in buying and selling residential properties in the Ithaca, NY area and beyond.

I was born in Ithaca’s own Cayuga Medical Center and grew up in Trumansburg – just a few quick miles up the lake from Ithaca. After heading to college to acquire my Bachelor’s degree and subsequently moving to New York City for five years afterwards, I decided to move back home. It was only then that I realized how much I took for granted all those adolescent years and what a fantastic (and gorges) place the Fingerlakes Region truly is. Being born and raised here and now calling it my home for good, I have extensive knowledge of the area. So whether you’re looking to buy or sell, you can feel confident in your decision to have me help you through the process in whichever neighborhood you decide to call home.

My mission is to provide you with a stress-free and personalized experience while meeting your goals as fast and professionally as possible.

I offer a fresh approach to working with a REALTOR and pride myself in being able to offer you a down to earth experience in a world filled with negotiating, contracts, and real estate jargon. My passion lies in giving my clients an ease of mind in the knowledge that I’ll be there to guide them through all of these complexities, while they make one of the biggest decisions of their life.

When I’m not immersed in helping my clients buy or sell a home, you’ll find me spending time with my family, playing with our lion of a Golden Retriever, cheering on the Yankees and NY Giants, hitting up one of our many local wineries/breweries, hosting friends for brunch, binging on a new Netflix series, or actively searching for my own forever home.

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Photo © 2017 Dave Burbank Photography

Karen Potter, REALTOR

Karen Potter brings years of experience in customer service, sales, and negotiations to The Hart and Homes Real Estate Team at RE/MAX in Motion in Ithaca, NY.  During her better than 20 years in a variety of sales and customer service roles, Karen has always placed the needs of her clients first and provided them with the highest level of service by being proactive and detail orientated.  As your REALTOR, Karen will be your advocate and work tirelessly for your best interests.  She will ensure that you are provided with the best market data and information so you can be a well informed buyer or seller.

Karen works with a team of tenured and respected REALTORS within a support network designed to ensure timely communication and client accessibility during all phases of the buying or selling process.  

Karen is married to her husband of over thirty years, Jeff, and they have lived in the area for over two decades.  She enjoys cooking, entertaining, reading and spending time with her 3 grown sons.

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Photo © 2017 Dave Burbank Photography

Tiffany Bechtold, REALTOR

Born with the heart of an adventurer, Tiffany did what many have thought to do but few have had the courage to execute:  She chose a brand new home, literally, off a map.  As recent college graduates living in Virginia, Tiffany and her husband decided to move to upstate New York and they fell in love with the Ithaca area.  Ten years, three kids, two houses, and multiple pets later, they have become “locals” in the hometown they never knew they always wanted.  Tiffany’s love for Real Estate began as a supplement to her full-time job – motherhood.

She was quickly reminded that being able to help people was in her blood, something she had first learned in her decade-long tenure with the American Cancer Society.  This passion to help has been rekindled in a desire to assist people with their most personal possession – their home.  Through personal experience, Tiffany has learned that having an agent who is truly on your side can make all the difference in the buying or selling process.  Tiffany is committed to collaborating with you no matter what your real estate wants or needs may be. 

During her free time Tiffany enjoys life! She loves being a mom and a wife, she teaches fitness classes and has found a new passion for gardening and chickens! She is often found doing anything outdoors in this beautiful area she now calls home.

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{Home} Selling Tip Saturday: Home Improvements for selling…

When you do any home improvement, you probably figure it’s also going to improve the value of your home. And it probably will improve the value… but, probably not as much as it cost you.

In other words, if you spend $1,000 (for example), it probably won’t improve the value by $1,000 or more. Statistically speaking, it will probably only improve the value by a fraction of that amount.

So, the question becomes…

Is it even worth doing any home improvements!?

Not to sound wishy-washy, but the answer is…

Yes and no. It depends on a lot of factors. We’ll touch on that more at the end of the article.

But for now, let’s just take a look at the top 7 home improvements, according to the 2017 cost versus value report to start making some sense of it all.

1. Insulation


According to the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, adding fiberglass insulation to the attic costs on average $1,343, but you’ll recoup $1,446.

Doesn’t sound all that exciting. When you think home improvements, you probably think of remodeled kitchens and baths being the biggest and best improvements to make (and they might be for you). But nope, according to the report, your best bet is to add insulation.

Pretty interesting, considering no buyer has ever walked into a house, gasped, and said, “Honey, look at this! They added insulation!” Yet, according to the report, it’s what’ll be the best money you could spend to add actual value to your home, and your bank account.

2. New entry door


Replacing your entryway door with one made of steel may set you back an average of $1,413, but you’ll get back $1,282, according to the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report.

So, at face value, it looks like you actually lose a few bucks…

So, why would you do it?

If your new door is more energy efficient, it’ll probably also save you some money on heating and cooling. It’s just tough to say how much exactly.

But the big X factor is how much your improved “curb appeal” will add to the sales price, when you sell your home. Again, that depends on a lot of other factors.

3. Manufactured stone veneer


On average, adding manufactured stone veneer will cost $7,851, but you can expect to recoup $7,019, or 89.4 percent, of that.

Obviously, this is another one that loses you money, at face value.

So, why would you do this home improvement?

How about, because you simply like the way it looks. Obviously, if you don’t like the way it looks, don’t do it. But, if you do, you’ll enjoy the home improvement. It isn’t all about making money on the money you spent. Sometimes it is about getting back a nice chunk of what you spent, on something that you wanted and enjoyed during the years before you sell your house.

4. Minor kitchen remodel


If you have a functional but outdated kitchen, you may harbor fantasies about beginning a total renovation. However, you don’t need to break the bank to make some valuable upgrades that’ll pay off in the long run. Consider swapping out old appliances for energy efficient ones. You can leave cabinet boxes in tact but replace doors or hardware.

The average minor remodel costs $20,830. As much as you’ll love the look and convenience of modern amenities, you’ll also enjoy knowing you can regain an average of $16,699.

This surprises a lot of people outside the real estate industry (and even some in the industry!).

Almost everyone thinks kitchens are the best thing to renovate, and will increase the value of a home. Again, it will add value, but just not as much as it costs.

So, this is another one where there’s plenty of reason to do it, simply because you will enjoy the benefits of the improvement during your ownership.

Just don’t tack on every penny you spent on the remodel onto your asking price when you sell. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

5. New garage door


On average, a new garage door costs $1,749, but homeowners recoup $1,345, representing an almost 77 percent return on investment.

Chalk this one up to the X factor of added curb appeal as well, when it comes to justifying spending the money.

But it also just boils down to your sanity. When you have a garage door that doesn’t open or close right, or when you want it to, it can drive you nuts. That’s gotta be worth the 33% you don’t get back when you sell.

6. Siding installation


The elements wreak havoc on your home’s exterior. If your place is looking a little worse for wear, it could be time to consider siding, which provides a fabulous facelift.

But, more than simply a cosmetic upgrade, siding can protect your home from heavy rains and damaging snowstorms, making it an investment with a multi-pronged pay-off.

The average cost of installing siding is $14,518 of which you should get back $11,093 at resale, according to the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report.

Starting to see the trend? There are benefits to doing any home improvement, but you just can’t expect to get every dime you spend back.

7. Adding a wooden deck


Decks are ideal for outdoor entertaining. Depending on the size, you may feel as if you’ve just added significantly to your living space — especially if you live in a climate where you can use it for much of the year.

The average wooden deck will set you back $10,707, but you’ll get back $7,652, or 71.5%, when you sell.

OK, with all of that said…

These reports are based upon National and regional statistics. The thing is, real estate is extremely local. Like, down to the very street you live on local… And there are so many factors that will affect how much return you’ll get on any given project, in any given area, on any given house.

It may make sense for you to do a particular home improvement. It may not. It depends on your local market. It depends on the local supply and demand of homes. And it depends a lot upon what your personal situation is, and what your short and long term plans are.

So, the best thing to do when you’re considering any home improvement, is to reach out to your local real estate agent, and ask him or her for input. Considering they probably won’t charge you a dime for their time and insight, that’s going to be the best cost versus value you will find when it comes to home improvements.

Trumansburg Tuesday – Year End

Happy Trumansburg Tuesday and Happy Holidays!  As the year winds down, let’s see how Trumansburg’s real estate market did compared to years past. 

First, a look at the residential real estate inside the Village.   There have been more sales this year than any year in the past 10 years.  And the average sold price has increased from last year.    There is currently 1 residential property under contract/sale pending.  If it closes before the new year, it can be included, bringing the total to 33 units sold.  The closest to that was in 2010 with the first time home buyer tax credit propping up the market.

Tburg Village Residential SOLD YTD 2007-2017


Now let’s look at the entire area that serves the Trumansburg School District.  Again, more residential, non lake front units have sold this year than any of the previous 7 years. And the average selling price is higher than any of the previous 7 years.   There are 4 properties under contract/sale pending (including the one in the village).  If these close before the end of the calendar year, they can be included in the statistics, bringing the possible total for the year to 81.

Tburg Sold 10-17


The fact that both inside and outside the village residential sales along with property values continue to steadily rise tells me that the demand to live in Trumansburg continues to be strong.

*stats courtesy of the Ithaca Board of REALTORS mls, compiled by Lindsay Hart, REALTOR.


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