Homebuyers Willing to Sacrifice ‘Must-Haves’ in Favor of Good School Districts

It should come as no surprise that buying a home in a good school district is important to homebuyers. According to a report from Realtor.com, 86% of 18-34 year-olds and 84% of those aged 35-54 indicated that their home search areas were defined by school district boundaries.

What is surprising, however, is that 78% of recent homebuyers sacrificed features from their “must-have” lists in order to find homes within their dream school districts.

The top feature sacrificed was a garage at 19%, followed closely by a large backyard, an updated kitchen, the desired number of bedrooms, and an outdoor living area. The full results are shown in the graph below.


Homebuyers Willing to Sacrifice ‘Must-Haves’ in Favor of Good School Districts | MyKCM

Buyers are attracted to schools with high test scores, accelerated academic programs, art and music programs, diversity, and before and after-school programs.

With a limited number of homes available to buy in today’s real estate market, competition is fierce for homes in good school districts. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for Realtor.com, explained further,

“Most buyers understand that they may not be able to find a home that covers every single item on their wish list, but our survey shows that school districts are an area where many buyers aren’t willing to compromise.

For many buyers and not just buyers with children, ‘location, location, location,’ means ‘schools, schools, schools.’” (emphasis added)

Bottom Line

For buyers across the country, the quality of their children’s (or future children’s) education ranks highest on their must-have lists. Before you start the search for your next home, let’s get together to discuss the market conditions in our area.

Posted on October 15, 2018 at 11:18 am
Diane Terry | Posted in Uncategorized |

11 Insider Secrets From Real Estate Agents

Answers to the questions you’ve been too afraid to ask.

Whether you’re casually browsing or currently trapped in the midst of a bidding war, no matter what stage of the home-buying or home-selling process you’re in, there will always be things you wished you had known beforehand. For any homeowner, the post-stress of buying or selling real estate comes down to the should haves, could haves, and would haves. Could I have put in a lower bid? Should I have considered other brokers? Wonder no more.

If you’ve ever wanted to get inside the mind of a real estate agent, now is your chance. From the do’s and don’ts of selling to how to negotiate like a pro, to what to know before you browse, we took some of your most pressing housing questions to the experts at Manhattan-based real estate firm Warburg Realty. Read on for everything they want you to know.

Stage Your Home, Just Do It

You love your stuff. And while we’re all for showing off your most precious possessions, that doesn’t mean the potential buyers coming to tour your space will feel the same. For sellers, staging your home can mean a lot of things, but it ultimately means creating a blank slate for future residents.

“It’s important to make the apartment look and feel as neutral as possible but give that sense that it feels like it can be lived in, even move-in ready if possible. Painting a fresh neutral color is a quick thing on the cheaper side that can always help,” Gannon Forrester, an agent at Warburg Realty, tells Domino.

Need help finding a suitable neutral paint? Here are our top 10 choices.

“While buyers may not decide to purchase a home within moments of entering, they most certainly decide not to buy it in those crucial first few minutes,” reveals Lisa Larson. “Staging to me means not just editing an overly cluttered apartment. It also means painting (which I consider the least expensive facelift you can give an apartment), removing and storing furniture, and bringing in new furniture and accessories.”

Greedy Sellers Come in Last

We get that you want the most bang for your buck, but don’t be unrealistic. Overpricing almost always discourages traffic and bids, and it’s one of the biggest reasons a beautiful home will sit on the market and go stale.

“For properties to sell in this market the price needs to be priced right from the beginning. After the initial burst of activity in the first two weeks or so, viewing request start to wane and at times there will be weeks without a call. If your home has not sold in the first few weeks, sellers should consider a meaningful price drop or risk the property languishing on the market for months,” suggests Larson.

The same sentiment rings true about getting a great offer right away. “The thing about sellers is if they get a great offer too soon, then they think it was underpriced. Before listing your property, calculate the net worth and make sure you are comfortable with the asking price,” explains listing agent Brandon Major.

Do Your Shopping in the Summer (or Over the Holidays!)

Some agents will tell you that there isn’t necessarily a golden month or season to buy a home. And while it all really depends on where you live, there are certain times of the year when competition is low and those selling are more motivated to negotiate.

“The thing about sellers is if they get a great offer too soon, then they think it was underpriced.”

“Sellers who list in the summer are generally serious sellers and thus willing to consider all deals,” notes Larson. “School is set to begin in August or September and so no major life changes to cause a family to move are on the horizon. Therefore, summer is also a terrific time to shop.”

Do Your Shopping in the Summer (or Over the Holidays!)

Some agents will tell you that there isn’t necessarily a golden month or season to buy a home. And while it all really depends on where you live, there are certain times of the year when competition is low and those selling are more motivated to negotiate.

“The thing about sellers is if they get a great offer too soon, then they think it was underpriced.”

“Sellers who list in the summer are generally serious sellers and thus willing to consider all deals,” notes Larson. “School is set to begin in August or September and so no major life changes to cause a family to move are on the horizon. Therefore, summer is also a terrific time to shop.”

cozy fireplace

Likewise, you might be more likely to snag your dream home for your dream price come the holidays. “I’ve done a lot of deals in December when everyone thinks it’s slow,” says Forrester. “Yes, there’s less inventory, but the apartments that are listed usually know what kind of market they are in and will be more willing to negotiate.”

“Sellers who list in the summer are generally serious sellers and thus willing to consider all deals.”

Always Bid an Odd Number

“By doing this, your bid likely won’t match the bid of another party,” says Warburg agent Susan Abrams of one strong money strategy. Her other bidding tip? Make things personal!


Good Negotiation Comes Down to Knowledge

If negotiating was as simple as calling up Drew Scott from the Property Brothersand having him handle all the haggling on your behalf, we’d all be doing it. Considering very few of us will ever have the chance to turn our HGTV dreams into a reality, we have to put in the extra elbow grease.

“Try to find out when the seller wants to close and accommodate their closing date. Writing a personal letter about your family and why you would be perfect for their home and your genuine appreciation of their home can sway a seller.”img

“Do your homework. Know the comparables for the property you are considering. Also, it’s important to understand the seller’s degree of motivation. Are they moving out of town for a new job or are they just testing the market? Assuming you’re dealing with a serious seller, make a bid that is not insulting, but based on real market data,” Larson tells Domino.


Don’t Put a Time Limit on an Offer

Really want to hurt your chances of negotiation? Putting an expiration date on an offer or counteroffer might seem like a solid strategy to get your seller to come down, but it often has the opposite effect.

“Buyers generally never walk away after the expiration date passes and sellers typically get annoyed by such a demand,” says Larson. “Sometimes just letting an offer sit says more than jumping in and demanding a response. A day or two of silence can work wonders.”

Case in point: Don’t play head games.

“Sometimes just letting an offer sit says more than jumping in and demanding a response. A day or two of silence can work wonders.”img


Give the Full Price With No Contingencies

There might come a day when you’ll find yourself stuck in the middle of a bidding war. Want to come out on top? If you’re really looking to go all in, you might want to consider waiving your mortgage contingency, suggests Major. “Sellers love non-contingent offers, so waive that and your offer is as good as all cash, essentially,” he says.

Let the seller know that you’re serious about wanting the property. To avoid getting trapped in a back-and-forth bidding war be early, explains Larson. “Being the first to make a solid offer can give you an edge. And be thorough: A well-prepared offering package can be a leg up for buyers.”

Always Have a Walkaway Price

If you’re the type of shopper who tends to go over budget no matter what you’re buying (shoes, groceries, a car, etc.), it’s important to give yourself parameters. “Ask yourself: What is the number I’m willing to go up to and be able to sleep at night knowing you would not have raised your bid even $10 higher?” says Larson.

new york city

City Dwellers Have to Come Prepared

Not to burst your bubble, but if you live in a city like New York, you’re going to have to put in a whole lot more effort to get your dream place. Before you even think about putting in an offer on a place, make sure you have all of your funding lined up, have an attorney, and get pre-approval for your mortgage.

“Being prepared also means having an understanding of the market. Many buyers will act on something based on the most recent article they read. A real estate market like NYC is a micro-market and many times people read about macro-trends. Nothing is worse than making a low ball offer based on old information and then losing out on the apartment you wanted,” shares Forrester.

Consider Taking the First Offer

Let’s get back to not being greedy. While it might feel tempting to decline an offer at full asking price that comes in right away, you can never be sure that another equally-great (or even better) offer is a guarantee.

“A client always wants an agent to sell the apartment as fast as possible, but when an offer comes in right away, this weird paradox occurs,” explains Forrester. “Instead of being happy many clients will start second-guessing things.  Clients think that if one buyer comes along that quick, there will be several others just as interested, maybe even more interested. Months go by and when it sells, it was for a lower price than that first offer.”


Interview 2-3 Brokers Before You Browse

Sure, you might only be casually looking now. But before you get serious about buying a home, you need to get serious about your broker.

“Meet for coffee and interview two to three buyer’s brokers and decide who you want to collaborate with on your home purchase,” suggests Abrams. “Properties featured online can be very deceptive and searching through all the online property options is time-consuming. A buyer’s broker can help you understand the options and make sure you don’t waste your time looking at the wrong homes for your needs.”


The View Should Be Higher on Your Must-Have List

While a stellar view might not be a priority for every home buyer, it should rank higher on your must-have list or nice-to-have list than it currently does. Location, location, location, has as much to do with how close you are to the office and to shops and restaurants as it does with noisy streets and poor views. Two red flags you need to pay attention to when touring a space? The curtains are drawn and there’s music playing.

“Make sure the views and light are acceptable and that the music isn’t masking neighborhood noise. In general, look past the furniture and study the bones of the house. Come prepared with your list of must-haves but allow yourself to be open to some flaws. No house will check every single box,” shares Larson.

Posted on October 10, 2018 at 9:45 am
Diane Terry | Posted in Uncategorized |

Five Expert Downsizing Tips

The real estate pros at Town & Shore on how to find (and fit your stuff into) the right place for your next chapter

All moves are overwhelming. But downsizing can be especially challenging, as it often accompanies a major life change. Whether you’re simplifying, retiring, facing a freshly emptied nest, or making a move that will help you age in place, these tips from the Town & Shore team can help facilitate the process.

Size up your space. Take an honest look at which rooms you currently live in, and calculate how much square footage that amounts to. After your kids move out, you may find there are rooms or entire wings in the house that go unused. Also consider how lifestyle changes may impact how much house you require. If you’re moving from the suburbs to a city, for example, you may spend more time enjoying restaurants, and less time entertaining at home, eliminating the need for a formal dining room. Similarly, if you plan to use car services or public transportation, you may be able to sell one of your vehicles and get by with a single parking space.

Assess amenities. Think about what kinds of services you want, and what maintenance responsibilities you want to shed. Some people find gardening and yard work therapeutic, and couldn’t imagine giving them up. But if these chores are starting to feel unmanageable, you may want to move to a property where landscaping is taken care of. Other options to consider: Do you want access to a pool, gym, golf course, or tennis court? Do you want a concierge for security and to handle things like deliveries? All of these factors should play into your decision-making process.


Keep an open mind. Many people dismiss condo and high-rise living for fear they’ll lose their privacy. But you might discover that sharing walls connects you with people with whom you share common ground and provides a built-in support network. And remember — downsizing doesn’t mean downgrading. You can still have hardwood floors and a Viking range in a compact space. Tighter quarters can also change family dynamics for the better, as you’ll have more opportunities for togetherness with loved ones.

Address your stuff. Often, people are surprised to find that their kids don’t want furniture and dishes that have been in the family for generations. The owners know they have to pare down, but may not be ready to part with their precious items. Your real estate agent can help evaluate what your needs are and, if necessary, refer you to organizations that can facilitate the winnowing process. A downsizing specialist, for example, can help you decide what to keep and what to toss, and handle the logistics of getting items to antique dealers, auction houses, ebay, and charitable organizations.


Get the timing right. Lots of people try to time their sale to coincide with a peak in the market. But given the unpredictable nature of today’s real estate landscape, you’re better off moving when it makes sense for you. Carefully weigh the pluses and minuses of downsizing versus staying put. Talk it over with your loved ones. Make your life what you need today. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring.

Posted on October 3, 2018 at 12:14 pm
Diane Terry | Posted in Uncategorized |

Mortgage Interest Rates are Still Going Up… Should You Wait to Buy?

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased by close to a quarter of a percent over the last several weeks. Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of Realtors are all calling for mortgage rates to rise another quarter of a percent by next year.

In addition to the predictions from the four major reporting agencies mentioned above, the Federal Open Market Committee recently voted “unanimously to approve a 1/4 percentage point increase in the primary credit rate to 2.75 percent.”Historically, an increase in the primary credit rate has translated to an overall jump in mortgage interest rates as well.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a rate below 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades:

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

Posted on October 2, 2018 at 9:17 am
Diane Terry | Posted in Uncategorized |

October Magazine!

October is here! Check out my latest issue of American Lifestyle at the link below:




Posted on October 1, 2018 at 10:55 am
Diane Terry | Posted in Uncategorized |

6 Solid Downsizing Tips from Tiny Home Dwellers

When going from a 2,200-square-foot traditional home to a 300-square-foot renovated RV, my family and I ended up getting rid of 80 percent of our belongings. Downsizing is an experience that I recommend to anyone—no matter the size of your home. While living in a tiny vehicle might not be for everyone, I believe that getting rid of all that overwhelming “stuff” can help you live simpler and sometimes even happier.

If you’re looking to do a major purge, you could get instruction from an advice column or ask a “helpful” family member who is offering unsolicited opinions on things they haven’t been through in 30 years… Or, you could listen to me and my community of tiny dwellers—all who have shed the majority of their belongings somewhat recently. These six tips for simplifying your “stuff” from me, a tiny house dweller of more than a year, and others will help you prep for a successful purge, whether you’re downsizing from a house to an apartment, an apartment to a tiny house, or just trying to live more minimally.

The “new in, old out” rule

My family has a rule that if we buy a new item—clothing, book, shoes, or toy for their kids—we must give an old item away. This prevents our downsized life from getting overcrowded.

50 items per family member, per season

We also limit our clothing items (under things excluded) to fifty items per family member, per season. We can also keep an off-season tote for things we find on sale for the next season or in the next size up for our kids without overloading their drawers or storage spaces.

The sticky note reminder

“The first tip that was very useful for me was from a book called ‘Little House on a Small Planet,'” says Laura LaVoie, who lives in a 120-square-foot tiny house. “It suggested to put Post-It notes on the door to every room in your house. For a month or two, write down the reason for entering every time you go into a room. By the end of that time, look to see how you’re using your spaces. I found there were rooms in our large house I almost never used. That’ll give you an idea of how you really use spaces.”

Use bins for measurement

When we downsized from our farmhouse with a playroom and individual rooms for each kid to our tiny home, we used square felt bins from a local department store to downsize toys. This gave our kids a visual and a better understanding that they had two bins each and if their stuff wouldn’t fit it couldn’t stay.

Just let it go

Sometimes you hold on to stuff because you think it has some larger meaning. “Books can make you feel smart if you have a lot of them on display, but books don’t make you smarter just by having them,” LaVoie says. “I started realizing that it was more productive to give away books I enjoyed to people who could also benefit from them.” If there is something you are sentimental about, that will serve a greater purpose in the hands of someone else, give it to another person to enjoy.

Don’t forget the S.O.A.P.

Carmen Shenk, known as “The Tiny House Foodie,” lives in a Skoolie conversion with her husband—their second tiny home. She recommends never forgetting the S.O.A.P:

Start small—but start. Even if it’s just going through that one shelf that’s been bothering you, a start to simplifying is still a start!

Only one right-sizing project at a time. Don’t jump into trying to downsize lots of things or many rooms at a time. This will likely cause you to become overwhelmed and unmotivated. Instead, start with one junk drawer, closet, or room at a time.

Appreciate the process and stay in the moment. Purging will teach you a lot about yourself, your needs, and your wants. Instead of being overwhelmed by future uses for an object or the meaning imbued in your things, ask yourself how it makes you feel right now. It may take you multiple passes at purging in order to actually make any headway in downsizing, but trust that each pass will bring you closer to that simple life of your dreams.

Practice gratitude. You might have a lot of things and that can be overwhelming. One way to get over what seems like an enormous task at hand? Focus on how lucky you are to have had a bounty, and how fortunate you are to be able to give things away.

Posted on October 1, 2018 at 10:32 am
Diane Terry | Posted in Uncategorized |

How to Have Difficult Conversations With Your Aging Parents

Posted on September 26, 2018 at 10:32 am
Diane Terry | Posted in Uncategorized |

1203 West Dravus Street Virtual Tour


Posted on September 24, 2018 at 3:24 pm
Diane Terry | Posted in Uncategorized |

4232 34th Avenue West Virtual Tour


Posted on September 24, 2018 at 3:19 pm
Diane Terry | Posted in Uncategorized |

3257 Conkling Place West- Realtor Review!

“I first met Diane Terry many years ago during an open house for our neighbor down the street. We immediately hit it off and I could tell that she was someone who was extremely knowledgeable, not just about real estate, but about life in general. When we were about to start construction on our new house and there was a crisis with my contractor, she was the first person I turned to for advice. We became friends and I saw how she successfully represented a number of my neighbors, friends, and family in their real estate transactions. Her reputation is outstanding. When it was finally time to sell our Queen Anne home, I obviously hired Diane as our agent and was not disappointed. She is the consummate professional. Diane is extremely organized and detail oriented. She gave us a timeline and told us exactly what needed to be done and when. She also referred us to the best stagers, estate sale people, photographers, potted plant people, service providers, etc. to help us prepare our house for sale. I knew that if I followed Diane’s advice and let her do her job, everything would go smoothly. I was impressed by her Instagram “teaser” ad campaign she launched to get people excited about our house even prior to listing. I couldn’t believe how incredible the staging, video with drone shots, and final listing looked. I am a physician and naturally a control freak, but I decided to let the real estate expert take the reins on the sale of our home. She made an extremely stressful time in our lives much more manageable. Thanks to Diane, we sold our house with multiple offers right away and above asking price. I could not recommend her more highly.”

-Diane Chiu, M.D.

Click here to view a video of this home

Posted on September 4, 2018 at 12:02 pm
Diane Terry | Posted in Uncategorized |