The Zillow Agent


It’s hard to believe that Zillow was only founded in the year 2006. Since its inception, it’s transformed how it is that Americans think about, search for, and purchase real estate. Some of the tools that Zillow has made available- its powerful and intuitive search function, for instance- have become helpful (some would say invaluable) instruments for those searching for their next home. So, too, the readily available list of previous sales and transactions associated with a given property.

However, not all of the tools, customs, or traditions associated with Zillow are helpful. Zestimates, for instance. Sure, everyone loves logging onto Zillow several times a day to determine if the value of their house has increased. And, everyone loves telling their realtor that their home is worth $20,000 more than the market analysis that they’ve just been presented. After all, their Zestimate has told them that it was so! Thankfully, an increasing number of consumers have come to realize that this estimate is notoriously inaccurate.

Recently, my team and I have had to contend with a new problem associated with the Seattle-based real estate behemoth. Increasingly, we're struggling to keep certain deals from falling apart. Unfortunately, a growing number of these transactions are dying swift, painful, and unnecessary deaths. One commonality has to do with younger buyers meeting agents who have spent marketing dollars on ads to promote themselves on Zillow. (Don't misunderstand me. There are plenty of great agents who market themselves electronically and have had great success. However, a disproportionate number of new or inexperienced agents are relying on these ads as they try to jumpstart their career.) Twenty minutes after hooking up online, buyer and agent are meeting at a house and writing an offer that is then consummated with a seller. Sounds idyllic, right? Who doesn't want technological disrupters streamlining an antiquated process and making the whole transaction more efficient? Unfortunately, at the first sign of anxiety or uncertainty, these buyers are panicking and walking away from contracts.


The whole process of buying and selling real estate is an emotional and stressful minefield. A successful agent will spend a lot of time educating their clients about property values and process, the minutia associated with purchase offers, and local real estate culture. An agent who has spent several months working with a buyer or one who has built a long-standing personal relationship can help the nervous purchaser navigate their concerns and preserve the deal. Agents who have just met their clients simply haven’t spent enough time developing the trust that is needed for these purchase offers to successfully close.

Real estate market conditions and trends constantly change. As a result, successful agents need to alter the manner in which they’re conducting business in order to best represent their clients. Because of recent trends, when some agents are presenting an offer, we’ve felt compelled to ask how long they’ve known their buyer and how it is that they first met. Just last week, Erin Duffy Kruss, a member of our team, explained this phenomenon to one of her sellers as they were deciding which of two purchase offers to accept. Ultimately, after weighing the pros and cons, the seller chose to move forward with a purchase offer that was $1,000 less than the highest bid. Why? The highest offer was presented by an agent who had just recently met his buyer through Zillow. Similar to the consideration that is given to other terms within a contract- closing date, price, and inspections- the relationship that exists between buyer and realtor is becoming increasingly important for sellers to consider.


Market disrupters and technology can be great tools for both principals and agents. However, there’s usually a messy period of time that exists until the kinks associated with new business practices are ironed out. We’ll continue to remain vigilant until we've created a few new strategies and solutions. Inevitably, once we do, the speed with which change is taking place will necessitate that we immediately find answers to newly emerging problems! And, we will. We always do. We have to. As Eckhart Tolle said, “Evolve or die."

5 Things to Consider When Choosing Your New Neighborhood

Guest blog contributed by Elise Morgan

House hunting? Remember, you are not only looking only for a home, but also a community you will be part of@

Finding your dream home may be an easy undertaking, but factoring in other aspects such as proximity, budget, and necessities, can make it more difficult to narrow down. Buying a house means also you're investing in a neighborhood.

Here are 5 things to consider when choosing a neighborhood:

1. Safety/Crime

Getting a home with a beautiful yard will do you no good if it keeps on getting vandalized. As much as your real estate agent may provide resources on the safety of the neighborhood, they are prohibited by the Federal Fair Housing Laws from commenting on such matters.

That's why you need to conduct sufficient research before making up your mind. You can always learn about neighborhood safety from sites like and just to mention a few.

You can also narrow down your search by typing the name of the city on a search engine and looking for crime statistics by neighborhood.

Always remember, it's better to be safe than sorry!

2. Diversity Matters

For a community to thrive, diversity is of the paramount essence.

diversified community goes beyond race, gender, and sexual orientation. This may seem like a basic notion but imagine a situation where 50 percent of a population doesn't want to join a community because they don't feel comfortable or think they are not welcomed.

This scenario cuts out a pool of 50 percent of the population who are probably filled with talent. Of course, this will derail the community's development.

3. Great Schools

If you have kids or planning to have some in the future, this aspect should be on top of your bucket list when choosing a neighborhood. Remember, even you don't have kids, being close to a good school system will have a significant impact on your property's resale value and attractiveness in the future.

You might be wondering how do you obtain this information? With the age of the internet, you can find almost everything online. Importantly, as much as the Federal Fair Housing Laws prohibit real estate agents on commenting on such matters, you can always ask them to recommend online resources that will shed light on school system on the neighborhood in question.

4. Rising Home prices

Buying a home is tantamount to an investment. Increasing home value is the linchpin of a great neighborhood.

Remember, home prices are on the increase every day in the US. So the question you should be asking yourself is how significant is the growth rate?

5. Convenience

Do you enjoy walking to and from your daily chores? Do you love to work out? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself.

A good neighborhood should be proximal to all of your basic and secondary needs. You don't want to be stuck in a neighborhood that you will have to incur extra expenses to access these amenities.


Overall, finding a perfect home means finding a perfect neighborhood. A place where you can sleep better at night. After all, you live only once!


Before & After - Nicole and Andy Martyniuk

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Almost one year ago to date, our fearless leader, Nicole, chose to take a leap and move her family out of the city and back to the ‘burbs! As most of you know, whether through your own personal experience or through articles such as our own, the real estate market has been tough for homebuyers. And Nicole’s experience was, unfortunately, no exception… After looking at many houses, losing out in multiple bid wars, and starting to feel pretty hopeless, Nicole and her husband, Andy, finally stumbled across a home in West Irondequoit that piqued their interest.

Now, to the naked eye, the house needed some love. But if you know Nicole, then you know that she’s up for any task thrown her way! After purchasing the property, she and Andy spent the next 2-3 months ripping up carpets, installing brand new ash hardwoods, tearing down and putting up walls, painting the entire interior, updating cabinetry, and renovating the kitchen. All while simultaneously taking care of dreadfully unexpected plumbing and electrical work…

Did I also mention that Nicole and Andy did a lot of this work themselves? The before and after photos speak for themselves. They still have a list of updates that they’d like to continue working through over time (bathrooms, landscaping, etc.), but don’t we all? The most important part is that Nicole, Andy, and their daughter, Esme, finally feel like they’ve made this house a home!











A Senior Guide to House Hunting in Rochester

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House hunting for your dream home for retirement doesn’t need to be stressful and overwhelming. When you have the right tools, resources and strategy - the process can actually be quite enjoyable and smooth. Here are a few tips to optimize your house hunting journey in Rochester:

1. Plan Your Retirement Housing Budget

Drafting your retirement budget is the first and most important thing you need to do to ensure your house hunting journey is smooth. You don’t want to get invested in a house that you ultimately can’t afford or that will cause you undue stress down the road. Buying and owning a home comes with ongoing costs and expenses - namely a mortgage, property taxes and maintenance.  

You’ll need to take a dive into your finances to map out exactly what you can expect to spend comfortably. Here are some steps you can take to get a clearer picture of your long term finances:

  • Evaluating your eligibility for Medicare or Medicaid for your present or future health expenses

  • Checking in on your 401k or other retirement plans to calculate your expected monthly income after you’ve stopped working

  • Review the property tax situation and other cost of living nuances applicable to Rochester.

According to consumer financial services company SmartAssett, the state of New York is a tax-friendly destination for retirees - especially those who plan to live on a fixed income. Social Security Income is not taxed, while income from public or private pensions is only partially taxed. Additionally, Rochester offers a homestead exemption for eligible older adults. This can produce extra savings. Your real estate agent can help you determine your eligibility for this exemption.

2. Think About “Aging in Place” When Checking Out Homes

Your next home should be one that will make sense for you in the years to come, and to make sure this is possible, you and your real estate agent will need to keep your future needs and potential limitations in mind. For example, your realtor can help filter your choices to only include one-story homes in case the time comes when climbing stairs every night to go to bed is too much for you physically.  Additional amenities like wide hallways, no-step entryways, and shower grab bars can also help ensure your home will remain appropriate for you in the long haul.

3. Consider Other Senior Living Options in Rochester

Living the lifestyle you want in a city you love should be a top priority for retirement, but sometimes, buying and owning a home outright during your Golden Years isn’t the best option. Your needs will undoubtedly change, and you may ultimately require different living arrangements to accommodate these changes.

The idea of managing an entire home could be overwhelming for some retirees. If you feel you fit into this category, you should ask your real estate agent about an active adult living community. These “55-plus” communities offer many amenities - including fitness centers, organized social activities and transportation options. Living in one of these communities typically requires payment of extra fees, so be sure to consider these prior to deciding on any given community.

If, at some point, your health and mobility needs change to the point where you cannot live fully on your own, you can consider moving into an assisted living facility. There are many highly-rated communities in the Rochester area - each offering amenities for or seniors who need help with activities of daily living - which can include bathing, dressing, managing medications and keeping up with general housework.

4. Work with a Reliable Realtor

Perhaps the most important key to a successful house hunting experience is having a trustworthy and experienced realtor. Read our blog here on how to go about choosing the right real estate agent!