Starpoint Athletic Teams Continue to Excel

Starpoint FootballOne of the great things about life in Western New York is people’s love for sports at all levels. Of course there are the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres to cheer for, but there are also plenty of local school teams, like Starpoint, who are worthy of admiration.

Take, for instance, the Starpoint hockey team. They recently managed to beat the Depew Wildcats 4-1 in order to take the state title. It was Starpoint’s first state title in 18 years and the biggest game in the school’s history. Of course the team had to overcome challenges along the way to winning the title, with good competition from larger schools like Orchard Park. Jordan Meisenburg, Josh Krupczyk and Patrick Miklinski scored plenty of goals to help make the Starpoint hockey team finish strong this past season.

Besides hockey, the Starpoint football team also had a banner year. Sophomore Justin Mott ran 62 yards for a touchdown in the big game against the McKinley Macks. Starpoint won 20-13 in that Section VI Class A semifinal game. And guess what? That put the team at 9-0 for the season. Not bad, huh? Starpoint’s football team advanced to the Class A championship game. Held at New Era Field, the home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, this was/is a big deal for Starpoint. Good luck, boys!

Western New Yorkers love football and hockey, that’s for sure. Starpoint is a school system in Pendleton. It also serves the nearby communities of Cambria, Lockport, Wheatfield and Royalton in Niagara County. Donna Littlefield can help you find a nice home in the Starpoint school district. If you have kids who are into sports, you should definitely consider living in the area due to Starpoint’s stellar sports’ programs.

To find homes for sale in the Starpoint school district in Western New York, call realtor Donna Littlefield at 716-578-1788 today.

Reasons to Live in Western New York

Suburban LifeAs a realtor in Western New York, Donna Littlefield helps people find homes in nice areas where there are good schools, closeby amenities, and lush, verdant yards that are the envy of people in the dry Southwest.

More and more people are discovering that Western New York has a lot of good stuff going for it, making it an attractive place to live.

First, Western New York has history and some grit. Western New York has a nice mix of old and new neighborhoods that seem “genuine.” Indeed, people remark that there’s a real “sense of place” in Western New York. It’s not all cookie-cutter. People in WNY have roots. They’re generally known to be “good neighbors,” especially when there’s a snowstorm and you need help digging your car out.

One of the reasons WNY gets a lot of snow is because of “Lake Effect.” When Lake Erie doesn’t freeze over, water from the lake gets picked up in the cold air and turned into snow. In general, the snowiest parts of Western New York are not in the Northtowns (like Wheatfield, Amherst, Pendleton), but, rather, in the Southtowns, south of Buffalo. That’s where the ski resorts are, so if you like to ski, they’re just an hour drive away from the metro area.

Speaking of Lake Erie, WNY is blessed with abundant fresh water, which is good for boating, fishing, swimming and more. Besides Lake Erie, there’s Lake Ontario, the Niagara River, the Erie Canal, and plenty of other lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. And unlike Florida, there are no alligators in them. Also, unlike the ocean, there are no sharks in them– bonus!

If you like attending live theater, Western New York has more theaters per capita than most places, so you can see plenty of shows. There are also over 65 art galleries in the region, including the renowned Albright Knox Art Gallery. Perhaps best of all is the abundance of free concerts and festivals in the summertime around Western New York.

Education is very important to Western New Yorkers, and there are plenty of great school systems, like Starpoint and Williamsville, educating young minds. There are also plenty of area colleges and universities, as well as libraries.

You can’t mention Buffalo without mentioning “The Bills.” The Buffalo Bills are like a religion around Western New York. Even if you’re not a fan, you kind of have to be a fan, since “The Bills” really do unite people each Fall and Winter. Plus, The Buffalo Sabres hockey team is beloved by Western New York fans.

Finally, one of the reasons Western New York is a great place to live is affordability. Compared to other places around the USA, the Buffalo area is a bargain. What might cost you $350,000 elsewhere could be $100,000 here.

Want to find a great place to live in Western New York? Give realtor Donna Littlefield a call today at 716-578-1788.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Community to Live In

Finding a Community to Live InIn real estate, it’s “location, location, location.” Why are some houses really expensive while others aren’t? Usually it depends on their location. There are other factors, but location matters most.

How do you decide what community to live in? You make a list of what you want around you, and then you have a real estate agent like Donna Littlefield help you find a neighborhood that meets those needs.

Most people want to live close to where they work. A commute that’s twenty minutes or less is ideal. Few people want to live somewhere that’s over an hour commute to their work, unless they’re willing to live far from a city simply because they value nature more than the convenience of having stores and lots of people nearby.

Consider a location’s amenities. People love living near parks– even if they don’t use them! There’s something nice about living near a park, which is a dedicated green space that helps “up” property values. Other neighborhood amenities to look for when deciding where to live include community pools for the summer, gyms for the winter, malls for shopping, and a nice variety of restaurants for when you don’t want to cook at home.

If you have kids or plan to have kids, then schools become a major factor in deciding where to settle. You can do some research to find out how certain schools rank in the region and discover the ideal ones.

Besides schools, parks, and amenities, the other major thing people care about is safety. How much crime does the area have? What kind of crimes happen there? Basically, no one wants to live in an area where their car will be broken into or they’ll be robbed on the street. They want to be in a well-lit place where neighbors look out for one another and they don’t have to fear for their life.

If you’re looking for a nice place to live in Western New York, contact Donna Littlefield at 716-578-1788 today. She can find you a great, safe location with quality schools, parks, and amenities nearby.

 

Starpoint Central School District Continues to Draw Rave Reviews

School DistrictsPeople typically move somewhere to be near good jobs and/or good schools. If you have kids, you most likely want them to attend reputable schools where they’ll get the best education possible, right?

When looking to move to a new place “for the schools,” you should consider places where children are used to/known for excelling. In other words, you want to put your kids into schools that have an expectation of success, where getting an “A” is encouraged and academics are taken seriously. Look for districts who care about art, music and sports, too, which help “round out” the educational experience.

The Starpoint Central School District, which covers the Towns of Pendleton, Cambria, Lockport, Wheatfield and Royalton, serves about 7,000 students. Dr. Sean M. Croft is the Superintendent, a role he recently stepped into after serving for nine years as the assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Assessment and Staff Development. Under his leadership, Starpoint continues its rich tradition of academic excellence and community support.

Indeed, Starpoint is a school district on the rise, ranked eighth highest performing school district in Western New York. For the record, it went from number 26 in 2011 to number 8 in 2015.

What makes Starpoint stand out from the competition? They place an emphasis on supporting students throughout their whole educational experience and family involvement is key. The schools are community hubs, and people are friendly toward one another. Of course, Starpoint owes a lot of its success to its teachers. There’s an attitude of continuous improvement in the district, with more STEM classes being offered in order to meet the needs of jobs young people will seek after they complete their studies.

Realtor Donna Littlefield can help you find the right house for your family with school-aged kids so they’ll attend Starpoint schools. With offerings in Wheatfield and Pendleton, call Littlefield today at 716-578-1788.

How to Reduce Your Stress Level When You’re in the Process of Moving

If you could just wave a magic wand and say, “I wish everything got moved from my old house to the new without any stress,” wouldn’t that be great? Unfortunately, moving is rarely easy like that. In fact, it can be among the most stressful times of a person’s life, because everything is in a state of upheaval. Normalcy and routine are out the window. Change may be good, but it does bring stress with it!

How can you reduce your stress level when you’re in the process of moving? For starters, figure out a way to have less stuff before the actual move. While it’s easy to accumulate stuff over time, it’s also fairly easy to get rid of stuff quickly. Have a yard sale or donate a bunch of stuff you never use to your local charity/thrift shop. Throw away junk and/or pay to have someone come and haul it away.

Next, clear your calendar so that you’ve set aside dedicated dates and times for all that the moving effort entails. It’s better to know exactly when you’ll give your focus to moving than it is to be stuck with a whole bunch of extraneous chores and obligations at the same time you’re supposed to be packing and moving. Planning ahead is a good thing; waiting until the last minute is bad.

Involve your friends and family with the move, because having help is essential. Otherwise you’ll easily get stressed out and overwhelmed. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to delegate.

If you know you’re going to be moving in a couple weeks, get into moving mode. Collect boxes and bags from area stores, as well as neighbors who no longer need them. Make lists of what you want to accomplish. Remember to pack a suitcase or two of essentials that can easily be found that first night you’re in your new place because chances are there’ll be plenty of unopened boxes in the rooms and you’ll have neither the time nor inclination to search for certain stuff like deodorant and medicines you take daily.

Finally, anytime you feel overwhelmed, take time to breathe, spell out the word r-e-l-a-x audibly, and do something like watch a half hour sitcom to get your mind off the stressful situation. Little breaks from the moving process go a long way in helping reduce a person’s overall stress levels.

Would You Consider Solar Panels on Your Property?

Solar PanelsA recent article in the Niagara-Wheatfield Tribune mentioned that the Wheatfield Town Board is taking time to figure out a town law to regulate the installation and location of ground-mounted solar panels. As solar panels become more commonplace, even in places like Western New York where it’s not always sunny, towns, villages and cities have to figure out what they’ll allow because some people like the looks of solar panels while others think they mess with aesthetic value.

Because solar panels are a relatively new development, governments need to determine what’s best for their local municipality. For instance, in Wheatfield, a family wanted to put a standalone solar unit in their backyard. While it might have been fine for them, what would the neighbors think? Would they want to stare out their window and notice this solar unit everyday?

Interestingly, at this point in time, the Town of Wheatfield would probably tell that family that putting the solar panel unit in their backyard is against the law, simply because there’s a brief mention in a town ordinance that says no to solar farms or ground-mounted solar systems. However, solar panels made specifically to be placed atop roofs are allowed. Indeed, you’re much more likely to see rooftop solar panels on homes around Western New York than to see personal, residential ground-mounted ones.

If you were thinking of “going solar” you’d want to approach your town’s building department and inquire what rules need to be followed. You might need a permit, too.

Solar panels use energy from the sun to create power. If someone has an issue with them, it’s usually about aesthetics and/or awkward glare coming from them. Some panels are like mirrors while others are very low glare.

Would you consider solar panels on your property? Do you think they’re the way of the future?

 

Reasons to Have a Garden on Your Property

Garden Have you seen the prices for fruits and vegetables go up, up, up over the years? Take a trip to Tops, Wegmans, or any other grocery store in Western New York, and you might get sticker shock when you see what they’re charging for basic foods we all should be eating more of…

Why not plant a garden on your property this year? First of all, think of the money you’ll save when you can harvest your own mini-crops of things like tomatoes and cucumbers and beans. Plus, you’ll be eating healthier than most people, with fresh foods literally from your garden to your kitchen table– no middleman.

Gardening can be a relaxing thing to do in order to get your mind off your day job. Forget the emails, reports and sales figures. Instead, concentrate on digging your hands in the dirt, tilling the soil, planting seeds, and nurturing plants as they grow. You can become a horticulturalist, and it’ll give you something to talk about with like-minded gardeners. After all, people who grow things love to share thoughts, tips and advice with one another.

Gardens make your property look more appealing. If fruits and vegetables aren’t your thing, consider planting a flower garden. Anytime you see a home with pretty flowers surrounding it, you know someone lives there who cares for them and tends to them so that they look nice for all who see them. It’s a matter of personal pride, and anything that can be done to beautify a neighborhood is a good thing.

Finally, in this world we live in where young and old alike seem glued to computer screens, starting and maintaining a garden is a way to get away from computers and handheld smart phones. There’s a satisfaction in gardening as you and yours get to see what you’ve created. Spending time outdoors in the fresh air– getting closer to nature than a computer screen allows– is an important aspect of life we shouldn’t avoid. Gardening can bring people together; it’s good for the soul!

 

Western New York is Home to Great Outdoor Music

Outdoor ConcertsWestern New Yorkers have so many concerts and events to choose from during the summer months. Two places where many people go– locals and tourists alike– are Artpark in Lewiston and Canalside in downtown Buffalo. Both are fun places that take advantage of their natural surroundings– Artpark is high above the Niagara River and Canalside is Buffalo’s premier waterfront place for people to gather and have a great time.

If you’re a music lover, Artpark’s 2016 concerts will not disappoint. Dolly Parton makes a rare Western New York appearance at Artpark on June 12, followed by Canadian favorites Barenaked Ladies (BNL) on June 14. If you’re a fan of 1980s music, OMD and Howard Jones are also on the ticket for the BNL show! Tuesday nights at Artpark include affordable concerts from Blue Rodeo (June 21), rock group Whitesnake (June 28), The Band Perry (July 5), Tears For Fears (July 19) and Styx (August 16), among others. Other big names coming to Artpark this summer include Bob Dylan, Boz Scaggs, Pat Benatar, Melissa Etheridge and Ben Folds. Go to http://www.artpark.net/ for complete information.

Canalside Buffalo is known for its Thursday night concert series during the summer. Besides hosting concerts, Canalside is a great place to relax in a colorful “Buffalo sunset” chair and do some people watching as locals and out-of-town visitors stroll around historically aligned canals and the Buffalo River boardwalk. At night, you’ll want to watch the magnificent Grain Elevator Light Display, which can be seen from Canalside, across the river, from sundown until 11 p.m. nightly. Take some time, too, to admire the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park and/or Harbor Center, with its indoor ice rinks featuring hockey practices and more. Canalside has all sorts of things to see and do during the summer; visit https://www.canalsidebuffalo.com/ to find out about daily activities there, as well as planned summer concerts.

Tips for Improving Your Credit Score

Credit Score Favorable mortgage rates typically go to people with credit scores indicating they pay their bills on time and in full. How can you improve your credit score before you apply for a mortgage?

First, consider where you currently stand by asking for a free credit report from TransUnion, Equifax or Experian. Next, notice your “FICO” score, which is one of the main things mortgage lenders take into account. The FICO score considers things like your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history and types of credit used. This is the score you’ll want to improve before securing a mortgage rate. Finally, look for any errors on your credit report and fix them as needed. For disputed accounts, you can contact both the credit bureau and the lender, bank or creditor that provided the information to the bureau. Both are responsible for correcting any inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.

After you know what your current credit score is, thanks to the credit report you looked at, it’s time to figure out what you can do to improve it within the next few months.

Now’s the time to cut out spending on frivolous things you don’t really want or need. Instead of wasteful spending, start paying down your credit card debt balances, which will improve your overall credit score. Then, since you’re not overspending because you’ve made a conscious effort to avoid buying things you don’t want or need, you’re also able to pay your current credit card bills on time. This shows mortgage companies you’re serious about keeping a positive payment history rather than always making late payments.

To maximize your FICO score, get in the habit of paying all your bills on time, every time. Do your best to keep balances on credit cards low, and only apply for credit when you absolutely need it. Ultimately, mortgage lenders want to have confidence in you, and by making some changes in how you handle your bills now, you can secure favorable rates when you decide to invest in a house and seek a mortgage to make that a reality.

 

Tips for Saving For Your First Home

Saving For a New Home A lot of people live in rented apartments with the intent to eventually save enough money to buy their first home. What are some practical tips for saving for your first home?

First up, write down a budget. You probably have income. You definitely have expenses. Now’s a good time to make a list of these numbers and take a critical look at where cuts could be made. Maybe you don’t really need a boat or that expensive watch you’ve been eyeing at the mall, right? If you have a lot of stuff, consider having a yard sale or selling some items on craigslist or via your local paper’s classified ads section. Do the math to understand how much money you currently have saved up as well as the amount you’d like to have saved up by a certain date. This way you have set yourself a goal and written down a budget in order to achieve that goal in a specific period of time.

Next, do whatever you can to eliminate debts in your life. You want to go into home ownership debt free, ideally. It’s important that you start to pay off credit card bills in full and on time, as well as pay back any creditors you currently owe money to. In order to get out of debt, you might have to make some lifestyle changes. Instead of cable TV, you could get TV channels over-the-air for free. Instead of owning two cars, you could try sharing one. Rather than eating out at restaurants often, try making simple meals at home because you can actually save quite a bit of money when you decide to be frugal.

As for the surprises that come your way in the form of bonus checks, cash gifts from friends or relatives, and/or tax refunds, put all those in a savings account that’s earmarked for your plan to own your own home. In other words, any money coming in that’s not part of your regular income should automatically get put in the bank, to be used toward buying a home. You’d be surprised at how these things add up!

Finally, call a reputable real estate agent, such Donna Littlefield, who will provide you with the guidance you need. You can contact her at 716-578-1788 to discuss your future home ownership goals. She’ll be happy to help you get on track to buying your first home in Wheatfield, Pendleton or Amherst.