Meet Mella & Stella Horne!

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Marissa and her fiance, Trevor, welcomed Carmella (Mella for short) six years ago when she was just a 5-pound ball of caramel colored fur. Due to the combination of Rottweiler, Labrador, and Husky breeds, Mella quickly grew into her 90-pound frame. From the very beginning, Mella was an incredibly smart, unbelievably behaved, and eerily human-like member of the family, having only ONE accident… ever. Several years later, however, Marissa and Trevor added Stella to the mix. As a Labrador-Pitbull-Boxer-Sharpei blend, Stella hasn't been quite so easy as her older sister. Instead, she's incredibly rambunctious, cuddly, and needy, with absolutely zero regards for personal space or boundaries. However, according to Marissa, she wouldn’t have it any other way!

Mella Likes

  • Quiet couch cuddles
  • Neck and belly rubs
  • American cheese slices
  • Swimming (seriously… she’s jumped in several of their friends’ pools and swam nearly halfway across Keuka Lake)

Stella Likes

  • Sleeping on the heads and necks of her humans
  • Chasing flies, accidentally killing them, and then pawing at them in the hopes that they’ll wake up and rejoin her game of “tag”
  • Nipping at Mella’s ankles
  • Eating futons, and carpets, and towels, and pillows, and any and all tags that she can find
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Mella Tolerates

  • Stella
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Stella Tolerates

  • Belly rubs… she’s probably the only dog that doesn’t prefer to be rubbed on her belly

Mella Dislikes

  • Postal carriers
  • Anyone that comes to the door that she doesn’t know
  • Dogs or animals on the TV screen (loves them in person!)

Stella Dislikes

  • Black olives. She’ll eat literally anything else.
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Get to Know the Team - Jennifer Wolfe

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What were you doing before you joined the Mark Siwiec team?

Before joining the team, I practiced as a social worker in both Rochester and Philadelphia. My roles at both UR Medicine and University of Pennsylvania focused on building relationships and serving others, making the transition into Client Relations for the Mark Siwiec Team a natural fit! 
 

Where can we find you when you're not at the office?

I am a true homebody! I love being at home with my husband Mike, my kids Emma (11) and Connor (8) and our furry kids Mr. Beefy (an English Bulldog), Miss Kitty and Deliliah. Reading is my true joy and I am usually found reading a good book after tucking the kids into bed. When the weather cooperates, I love gardening with Emma, if I can bribe her to get covered in dirt! Where you will NOT find me? The grocery store. Hate it. Thank goodness for Instacart!

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Describe your dream vacation.

My dream vacation would be with my husband. Sorry kids. Someplace on the beach with no clocks. I would be able to sleep in, then drink coffee and lounge in the shade (with a book of course). Nobody bothering us and no chores to do. I may even nap on the beach. At night, a great dinner out with music and my hubbie. After a few days of laziness, we would explore the town and enjoy the culture. Most recently, we went to San Juan and just wandered the town, enjoying the street vendors and soaking up the vibe. 
 

What does a typical Sunday look like for you?

Sundays are sleep in days, the one day we give ourselves permission to be lazy. We usually lay low with family, sometimes going out to breakfast, other days we spend the day swimming, watching movies or having Sunday dinner with my mom. We try not to over-schedule and spend the day enjoying each other before the work and school week starts.
 

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What has been the highlight of the past 12 months, and what are you looking forward to most in the next 12 months?

The highlight of my past year is, well, this may sound strange......the highlight was adding a new family member to our tribe, our English bulldog Mr. Beefy. My husband has dreamed of having a bulldog for years but the time never seemed quite right. I located a breeder locally and surprised him with Mr. Beefy one Sunday morning. It has been true love ever since. Mr. Beefy has added so much love to our house and some laughs too (he is literally like a bull in a china shop!). 

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August Newsletter

Market Overview

According to the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, The Great Recession ended in June 2009. Every year since the US economy has grown and strengthened. During this same period of time, my real estate sales have, more or less, flourished in pace with the national economic expansion. Nine years ago, my team and I sold approximately $37 million worth of residential real estate. Eight years later, we had sold $63 million- a remarkable 41% increase! Well, as Blood, Sweat, and Tears stated in their 1968 hit “Spinning Wheel”, “What goes up, must come down” and, suddenly, I find that my sales have, year to date, fallen a full 19%! Concomitantly, the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors has reported that sales throughout the region have decreased 18.8% through the end of May. While these statistics bring me some comfort in knowing that this market adjustment is playing out in the macro, not the personal, it still hurts!

Obviously, my colleagues and I aren’t particularly happy about the diminishing width of our wallets. Our sellers, on the other hand- particularly those who own homes worth less than $250,000- are ecstatic. They’ve enjoyed an impressive 11.2% increase in the value of their property in the past twelve months! The reason has to do with the most basic law of economics. There’s been plenty of demand, but the supply of homes available for sale this year has been challenging. This past winter, there were 60% fewer homes for sale than that which was available during the same period of time two years ago! Yep, that’s not a typo. Sixty percent! Inventory began to increase as the year moved forward, however, it was a slow, gradual slog. In April, levels were 30% below where they were two years ago. By May, the gap had closed and we were looking at a 20% shortfall. June numbers aren’t yet available but anecdotal evidence leads me to believe that there was further improvement.

The reasons for the shortage remain similar to those that I described back in February.

  • There’s still uncertainty surrounding the federally enacted tax bill.
  • Homeowners now remain in their residence upwards of eleven years on average as opposed to the seven-year average that prevailed a few years ago.
  • Finally, American consumers don’t make large financial moves as a result of uncertainty and I think that, regardless of one’s political orientation, we would all agree that we are living in uncertain times!

One of the newer phenomena that has been playing out in this year’s real estate market has to do with a level of competition and bidding wars unlike anything that I’ve seen in the twenty-eight years that I’ve been selling. Today’s determined buyers understand that, given current market conditions, they’re going to have to enter the local real estate Coliseum with brandished sword, engage in combat with other buyers and, if lucky, emerge victoriously. However, victory oftentimes comes at a price. The most desirable homes are often only secured as a result of engaging in a bidding war with other would-be-homeowners and paying top dollar. Tales of buyers paying $15,000 or $20,000 over asking price have been commonplace.

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Most buyers understood that this is simply the price that one needs to pay in today’s real estate market in order to fulfill the American dream of owning a home and enjoying a more secure future. However, there appears to be a narrow understanding of property valuation and one’s tolerance to “overpay”. It seems that many buyers are willing to fork over large sums of money for a property if a home has been vetted by other buyers and deemed worthy of a lofty price tag. These buyers are deriving validation in their analysis when others are placing value on a home by bidding on it and writing offers over asking price. They logically conclude that, as a result of other buyers engaging in a bidding war, a property must be worth a sum of money above and beyond a home’s list price. This behavior is contrary to the behavior exhibited by buyers stumbling upon a home that is listed for sale by an overly exuberant seller. These homes sit because buyers aren’t willing to blindly or stupidly pay any sum of money for a new home. They’re not interested in paying top dollar simply because a seller is attributing a heightened valuation to their property. In a buyer’s mind, homes need to be priced appropriately and, if market forces drive the price up, they at least take comfort in knowing that this is what the property, in this market, is worth.

You may have noticed that in the last paragraph, I placed the word “overpay” in quotes. I chose to do so because I don’t believe that, despite an 11% increase in property valuation in the past twelve months, buyers are overpaying in today’s market. I would contend that they are simply paying market value. With the exception of the 2 1/2 year period of time when we suffered through the recession, I’ve never seen local prices decrease. Rochester real estate traditionally increases 2%-4% annually. After a period of time, we wake up to realize that property values haven’t really kept up with national trends and there’s a sudden surge in value. We then revert back to our traditional slow, plodding upward trajectory. The advice that I would offer up to buyers who are currently abandoning their search because of a fear of paying too much is to rethink their strategy. The only thing that they will accomplish by setting aside their quest is the near absolute certainty that a larger portion of their monthly mortgage payment is going to cover the interest that is attributed to the inevitable increase in interest rates. If past performance is a good indicator of future behavior, Rochester will soon begin, once again, it’s slow, upward climb without having to endure any reduction in price as a result of a market correction.

Looking Ahead

I’ll conclude this edition of my newsletter by stating that a lot of that which I’ve just described may be changing more quickly than the amount of time it took Kanye to snatch that music award out of Taylor Swift’s hands. My team and I experienced fewer sales and diminished dollar volume every month of this year through the month of May. Thankfully, things began to change in June when we sold nearly $9 million worth of real estate- one of the best months I’ve experienced during my career. Team sales for the month of July are already double what they were last year. And, the calls and inquiries from prospective clients lead us to believe that the next few months are going to be strong. Only time will tell if the tide has turned. I’ll be sure to bring you up to speed sometime this fall.

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As always, thank you! We continue to be fulfilled by the kindness, the warmth and the loyalty of our clients. Thanks for helping us to get through such a rough patch and, as always, thank you for your referrals. If we can be of any help to you, your family or friends, don’t hesitate to call me at 461-6375. Thanks!

Meet Winston Churchill Lewis!

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Erin and her husband, Chris Lewis, are proud parents to two beautiful children – but let’s not forget their firstborn fur-baby, Winston Churchill Lewis! Winston (or Ninston, as their daughter Fiona says) is a five-year-old Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and has been with the Lewis’s through a marriage, the birth of two children, and a big move to the suburbs. Here are some fun facts about Ninston…

LIKES

o Popcorn
o Children’s play mats
o Jumping over 5-feet high
o Licking baby and toddler hands
o Under-the-jaw rubs
o Hose water

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TOLERATES

o Babies and toddlers
o The taste of crayon
o All of Erin’s picture-taking

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DISLIKES

o Being alone
o Pretzels
o Extreme heat
o Swimming pools

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FAILS TO NOTICE

o Rabbits
o Deer
o Squirrels
o Anything that could be considered a threat to the Lewis home…

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THINGS THAT HE CONSIDERS AN ACTUAL THREAT TO THE HOME

o Postal carriers
o Errant paper products
o Garbage trucks
o School buses
o Anyone attempting to leave the house

ROC Relocation

 
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One of the services that my team and I pride ourselves on providing is assistance throughout the entire moving process. It's not enough to simply aid our clients in buying and selling real estate. Whether it's helping to coordinate painters, introducing our clients to local groups or networks around town, helping trailing spouses find local employment or ensuring that they've settled into their new neighborhood within the first year, no task is too big for our team. 

That being said, the vast majority of real estate agents around town simply do not have the resources or network to conduct business in this way. While that's great for our team, affording us the opportunity to shine, this gap in services has left many individuals moving in from outside of the area, particularly those new to the Rochester area, at a tremendous disadvantage. A great friend of mine, Holly Nobles, has not only zoned in on this problem, but has recently built a business centered around the solution. 

ROC Relocation is a relocation consulting business that provides highly customized destination orientation and settling-in services to those who find themselves new to the Rochester area. Having a remarkably impressive resume of moving experience herself, Holly knows how disorienting it can be to find yourself plucked from your home and dropped into a new city. And although we love our city and the people who inhabit it, many corporate relocation professionals might not be so thrilled to have missed the opportunity to settle into, say, New York City or Los Angeles... 

Holly's initial role, in many cases, is to convince people that which we already know: Rochester is an amazing place to live! These pre-arrival services  include neighborhood and school tours, comprehensive research of amenities that match personal interests, short-term rentals/temporary housing/executive hotels and much more. Arrival services consist of accompanying clients to their new home, helping with any move-in day tasks, connecting them with local service providers, and familiarizing them with their new neighborhood. (Or, in other words, showing them where the nearest Wegmans is...) Finally, Holly's settling-in services will do what so many others fail at: following through. Instead of dropping her clients off at their new home and wishing them luck, Holly continues to assist them by connecting them with great doctors, babysitters, housekeepers, interior designers, etc. She can also advise on finding furniture, fitness centers or places of worship, depending on the client’s needs. Most importantly, she'll organize social gatherings as a means for her clientele to network and connect with other local members of the community. 

If you or someone you know might benefit from these types of services, check out Holly's website at www.rochester-relocation.com!

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