The Benefits of Living in a Buffalo Suburb

Why do people move from the city to the suburbs? Usually, it’s because the lots are wider so they’re not so close to their neighbors, there’s plenty of room in the front, side and back yard for kids to run around and play, and the schools are above average. The Buffalo suburbs are popular precisely for these reasons.

Lots of married couples with little kids want the suburban experience. The suburbs aren’t lacking nearby amenities like rural areas often do, and they’re also considered safer than urban areas where people are living close together and there’s often concentrated poverty. Indeed, the suburbs of any city, including Buffalo, are generally safe, affluent, and loaded with quality shops and restaurants and schools.

As a realtor, Donna Littlefield specializes in Wheatfield, Pendleton and Amherst. These Buffalo suburbs are the epitome of what a foreigner would consider the typical, idyllic American suburb. People use cars to get to-and-fro, there are plenty of recreational activities available in nice parks and such, and things are generally kept-up, modern, and clean.

Amherst is home to the University at Buffalo, which brings a smart, diverse group of people to the area. The campus offers sporting events, concerts, art shows and more. Indeed, the university’s presence enhances the overall region with its brainy professors, creative students and many good-paying jobs for all sorts of people.

Wheatfield and Pendleton are a little more “sleepy,” in a good way. They’re the kind of suburbs people like to go home to in order to get away from the crowded, noisier urban areas. They offer nice, affordable homes. Being in between Niagara Falls and Buffalo, it’s a quick car ride to either for various entertainment options, from casinos to concerts.

Where would, for instance, soccer moms choose to live if they were moving to the Buffalo area? Wheatfield, Pendleton and Amherst are all great choices. Donna Littlefield is the realtor to connect buyers with homes for sale in these quality Buffalo suburbs. Call her today at 716-578-1788.

 

What is an Escrow Account Used For?

EscrowAn escrow account is a bank account typically utilized by your mortgage lender to pay certain property-related expenses on your behalf. These expenses can include property taxes and homeowner’s insurance.

If you buy a house and obtain a mortgage, you’ll typically make home loan payments on a monthly basis as well as put extra money into an escrow account. So, money is added to the escrow account every time a mortgage payment is made. That money goes toward covering real estate-related expenses as needed on a timely basis.

An escrow account usually deals with a person’s specific property. The escrow holder safeguards funds, handles those funds according to the instructions they’re given, pays bills as authorized, and can close the account when all provisions of the escrow have been complied with, complete with a “Closing or Settlement Statement.”

Escrow comes from the French word “escroue,” which means a scrap of paper. The term originally referred to the deed a third party held until a transaction was completed.

While the process of escrow is primarily connected to real estate transactions, escrow accounts can also be used to provide a reliable third-party means of completing a sale. It’s not unusual to escrow vehicles, websites, intellectual property, or commodities.

Now that the world is connected online via the Internet, escrow services have gone somewhat digital, though they’re still available through face-to-face, in-person dealings. It’s quite common for home buyers to obtain and use an escrow account.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home or land in Western New York, real estate agent Donna Littlefield can guide you along in the process, and help you figure out whether or not you need/want an escrow account.

Which Home Improvement Projects Add Value to Your Home?

Home ImprovementIf you’re thinking about selling your home, what are some home improvement projects that can be done to add value to it so you’ll get a higher price for the property when it sells?

First, consider the exterior of the home. How does it look? People judge a home by the way it looks. Even before stepping inside or seeing pictures of the interior, a person can get a good idea whether or not they want to even consider a home based on its outward appearance. Therefore, exterior work like new siding or replacing windows can add value to a home. If the exterior needs repairs and/or a paint job, do whatever it takes so it looks its best when presented to potential buyers.

Next, consider some home improvements inside that will impress buyers. There are two rooms to seriously consider remodeling: the kitchen and the bathroom(s). These rooms matter the most. It may be time to update and replace all the fixtures, cabinetry and flooring so they look up-to-date.

Also, if you have the time and money to add on to your home, having more square footage and/or more bedrooms can easily increase the home’s value. Consider converting an attic space into a bedroom. Finished basements can also help sell a house.

Finally, something as simple and relatively affordable as replacing your garage door can help increase the value of a home. Over time, doors become old, with dents, discolorations, dirt build-up and other stuff that make them look worn. A brand new garage door is better than a beat-up old one.

If you’re considering selling a home in Wheatfield, Pendleton or Amherst, contact Donna Littlefield at 716-578-1788. She’s more than willing to look over your home and give you advice on what needs updating or changing in order to maximize your value.

Why Western New York is a Great Place to Raise a Family

Western New YorkMost people like the idea of the American Dream, where parents and kids can live in a nice home on a nice street with a nice yard where they’re safe, comfortable, and there are lots of amenities nearby. The American Dream is alive and well in Buffalo and Western New York. And it’s remarkably affordable.

Why call the suburban areas of Wheatfield, Pendleton, or Amherst home? These are ideal places to raise families. You’ll enjoy lots of free concerts and festivals in the summertime. You’ll learn how to ski or skate in the winter. The smell of fallen leaves and bonfires and apples in the fall will become something you cherish, even if you’re not willing to admit it. And spring’s flowers, especially the tulips, add a nice touch each May. If you’re looking for a place that combines big city amenities with a small town feel, Western New York is that kind of place. Everything’s “20 minutes” away (or less) it seems and it’s the kind of place where if your car breaks down, someone’s liable to stop and ask if you need help.

Crime is low, schools are good, and the people are friendly and genuine. You’re likely to meet a lot of people who have deep roots in Western New York, and they’re likely to invite you over for a barbeque or pool party. Your kids and their kids will play together. People aren’t pretentious in Western New York. They’re, instead, comfy in jeans and sweatshirts, sharing the common love for the Bills and Sabres, even when they don’t make the playoffs, and there’s a real sense of “home.”

If you like that American Dream feeling associated with “Normal Rockwell” paintings, then Western New York is the kind of place you should consider moving to! Call Donna Littlefield at 716- 578-1788 to find a home you’ll love in a place you’ll appreciate.

The Importance of Voting

While this year may not feature a presidential election – despite all the hype and coverage of candidates from both side of the aisle on the national news outlets – every election is an important opportunity to let your voice be heard when it comes to the politicians who have the most meaningful impact on your life – local, county and state elections. Let’s take a look at how these elections – scheduled this year for Nov. 3 – are important and how they can affect you.

State ElectionsState Elections

Since last year was the biannual election for Assembly and Senate members, as well as the gubernatorial election, there are no races being decided for state offices in 2015. Five vacant seats currently exist outside of Western New York, with special elections planned in those areas to fill the vacancies. However, it’s worth noting that these elections are incredibly important for each of us. Our representatives in Albany decide measures like property tax breaks (or tax caps, as have been in effect for the past few years), rebates and other measures that can mean money in your pocket. These politicians have sway on a state level, so supporting your candidate helps influence decisions that affect not only you and your neighbors, but the overall climate of taxation across New York.

County Elections

While there are few state elections this year, there are several elections of importance on the county level. In Erie County, there are races for voters to decide on for the county executive and all county legislators, as well as the county judges and family court judge. Niagara County also will vote for their legislators, as well as the county district attorney and county clerk. These elections, too, are important on the broader county level as the decisions made in each county’s legislature can impact property taxes, sales tax and other expenditures. Counties are subject to the state tax cap legislation the same as cities and towns, and electing representatives who will work on your behalf to keep spending and taxes in line will help to keep your expenses down, too.

Local Elections

Local elections have the most direct control on you. Town, village and city representatives control the municipality’s purse strings, and as a result make the decisions about spending and tax levies that affect your property most directly. In many cities and towns in both Erie and Niagara counties, councilor and aldermanic elections are being held to determine who will be voting on budgets, spending proposals and tax increases that can impact your property taxes. Residents in Amherst, North Tonawanda, Lockport, Wheatfield, Pendleton, Tonawanda and many other areas will be electing their representatives this year, and turning out at the polls to weigh in on Nov. 3 is the best way that you can have a say in how your municipality levies funds or spends tax revenues.

As the saying goes, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. Be proactive this year, and get out and vote for the candidates who you feel will best represent you in these governing bodies. For more information, polling location details and sample ballots, visit the Erie County Board of Elections or Niagara County Board of Elections websites.

Community Highlight: Pendleton

Just north of Erie County, and centrally located between Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Lockport sits the beautiful community of Pendleton. Offering residents all the benefits of country life with ready access to city convenience, Pendleton is a booming community, with many new Forbes homes and other custom constructions popping up throughout the town. Here’s a look at a few of the features that make Pendleton so great!

Schools

Starpoint School District serves the Pendleton community, with four buildings separated into primary, intermediate, middle and high schools. The district is a consistent high performer, and ranked as eighth – the top district in Niagara County – in Buffalo Business First’s ranking of Western New York schools.

Parks

The community also hosts several parks for families to enjoy, including the 22-acre Pendleton Town Park that offers baseball diamonds and cages, tennis courts and playground areas for children, along with barbecue and pavilion space. Depeau and Nine Mile Island parks are also part of the town, and available for community members to rent or visit. In addition, the county’s West Canal Marina is within the town limits, and offers playground and pavilion space as well as a boat launch area to access the Erie Canal.

Commute

Residents in Pendleton also enjoy a fairly reasonable commute to anywhere in the region. Located roughly 30 minutes from the downtown areas of both Niagara Falls and Buffalo, and only 15 minutes from Lockport, denizens can quickly commute to jobs in any of these areas or easy get to nightlife, Sabres games, groceries or anything else they need. Truly Pendleton offers the best of both worlds – casual, spacious life in the open country with city access and amenities to compare with an urban or suburban lifestyle.

Check out these leading properties I currently have listed in Pendleton, or contact me today for more information on showings or open houses scheduled in the area!

4097 Saunders Settlement Road, Cambria

4097 Saunders Settlement Road, Cambria

Beds: 3
Baths: 1.5
Square Feet: 1,356
This picture-perfect ranch includes more than an acre of land and has been completely redone. It also offers plenty of parking for cars, RVs and more. – $179,900

4627 Kriston Lane, Pendleton

4627 Kriston Lane, Pendleton

Beds: 5
Baths: 3.5
Square Feet: 3,621
This gorgeous two-story colonial is newly sided and features large rooms and an in-law apartment. With woods to explore and a large yard, this is a great family home. – $320,000

4598 Killian Road, Pendleton

4598 Killian Road, Pendleton

Beds: 3
Baths: 2.5
Square Feet: 1,608
This property is a custom-built Barden home, situated atop a hill in the rural countryside. With an attached garage, a new roof installed in 2014 – with transferrable warranty – and much more, this is a dream property! – $220,000

Defending Property Owners and Sellers

As a longtime member and chairperson of the Buffalo-Niagara Association of Realtors’ Government Affairs Committee, I have been actively involved in defending the interests of both my peers and my clients in local, county and state politics, working diligently behind the scenes to advance legislation that benefits homeowners and rally against proposals that negatively impact buyers and sellers.

Donna LittlefieldIn my recent speech to the New York State Association of Realtors, I noted some of the major actions that the committee and the national Realtors Political Action Committee has worked on during the last year. For example, the state Fire Prevention and Building Council voted earlier this summer to not implement a proposal to require fire sprinkler installation in all homes – an action widely rallied against by homeowners, rental property managers and Realtors alike. Our committee also has worked at all levels of government, including at the state level where we continue to support efforts to extend the state property tax cap, an initiative that has helped to keep tax increases moderated and hold municipalities more responsible for governing within their means.

On local issues, the RPAC and Government Affairs Committee has also worked to oppose legislation that affects all property owners, like a recent West Seneca proposal that would have required home sellers to install a new discharge line at their own expense, as well as legislation that would require hard-wired carbon monoxide detectors be installed. Our committee is also continuing to work on the behalf of our clients and neighbors, most recently investigating a proposed natural gas compression facility in a residential area of Pendelton.

The words I used to close out my speech still ring true: “If you are not at the table, you are probably on the menu.” As a real estate agent, active member of the community and homeowner myself, I continue to work diligently on all of our behalves to keep us off the menu – and to make sure that menu keeps only palatable and lean options on the table.

Visit the Buffalo-Niagara Association of Realtors’ website to learn more about the BNAR and our ongoing efforts around the region.