Realogy : ERA REAL ESTATE NAMES ERA TEAM VP REAL ESTATE WINNER OF GENE FRANCIS MEMORIAL AWARD FOR TOP ALL-AROUND COMPANY

Brokerage receives brand’s highest honor exemplifying excellence and integrity across the real estate network

MADISON, N.J. (March 21, 2022) – ERA® Real Estate, a global franchising leader within the Realogy family of brands, has named ERA Team VP Real Estate based in Chautauqua, N.Y., as the winner of its Gene Francis Memorial Award for Top All-Around Company.

The award, named after ERA Real Estate co-founder Gene Francis, is the highest honor given to an ERA® affiliated company and reflects the qualities most respected throughout the global ERA system and the real estate industry. Known for his forward-thinking business acumen and philanthropic spirit, Francis established a defining culture of service to which all ERA companies aspire. Factored into the award selection are high customer satisfaction ratings, strong brand engagement and use of the ERA brand resources and company growth.

Serving their clients and communities for over 25 years, ERA Team VP Real Estate specializes in residential and resort properties, vacation rentals, property management and real estate development. Headquartered in Chautauqua, N.Y, and home to 82 agents, the company has eight offices and covers Western New York’s South Tier, and Northwest, Penn.

William “Bill” Soffel started the company in 1990 and joined the ERA network in 2004. Under Bill’s leadership, ERA Team VP Real Estate has achieved Top Affiliate status over the years, which is given to the top 20 companies in units and volume. The company has also been a three-time finalist for the Gene Francis Memorial Award for Top All-Around Company. Additionally, the company has been a finalist for the Jim Jackson Memorial Award 1st in Service Agent and a two-time finalist for Office Coordinator of the Year.

ERA Team VP Real Estate finished 2021 in the Top 15 among the ERA network of brokerages of similar size, with more than $290 million in sales volume and 1,584 transactions, an increase of 49 percent and 21 percent, respectively, in the last year alone.

With a focus on providing each client a personalized service experience, the company successfully leverages ERA’s innovative technology and programs to help agents develop meaningful and long-lasting customer relationships. This philosophy has been a driving force behind the company’s high customer satisfaction ratings and agent productivity.

Bill and his team at ERA Team VP Real Estate also have a passion for being good corporate citizens and giving back to the communities they serve. For the last 12 years, the company has hosted the Annual Agents of Hope Golf Tournament, raising over $100,000 for the ALS Association, the ALS Division of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and local families affected by ALS. Additionally, the company has hosted the Bags & Brews event, which gives back to the local Roswell Cancer Institute, Back the Blue 5K Race in support of the local Bradford City Police Department and Habitat for Humanity in Chautauqua, N.Y. All these organizations and local community efforts are near and dear to hearts of the team members and agents that make up Team ERA VP Real Estate.

“ERA Team VP Real Estate is a shining example of ERA’s continued commitment to service, performance and growth,” said Sherry Chris, President and CEO of ERA Real Estate. “We are thankful to Bill for ensuring that the indomitable spirit of Gene Francis remains at the forefront of the way his company works with the communities it serves. The company’s leadership, agents and staff embody the ERA culture of collaboration and commitment to being the best at what they do and having fun while doing it. We are honored to stand alongside this incredible company as they continue to uphold the highest standards of performance.”

“We are honored by this astounding recognition and overjoyed to be able to continue the amazing legacy set by Gene Francis,” said Bill Soffel, broker/owner, ERA Team VP Real Estate. “At ERA Team VP Real Estate, we have a passion for building relationships and changing lives through the power of homeownership. Our team of affiliated agents demonstrates professionalism in all aspects of their businesses. We strive to create an environment driven by ERA’s collaborative culture and support systems designed to prioritize the success of our agents. The efforts of our agents, staff and leadership are paramount to company’s growth. We are thrilled to receive the ERA network’s highest achievement.”


About ERA Real Estate ERA ®Real Estate knows that real estate is as local as it gets. We believe that our core business values of collaboration, innovation, diversity and growth are needed more than ever. As a global leader in the residential real estate industry for nearly 50 years, ERA features a powerful network of like-minded entrepreneurs supported by the brand’s game-changing technology, products and powerful lead generation.

The ERA Real Estate network includes more than 39,000 affiliated brokers and independent sales associates and approximately 2,350 offices throughout the United States and 33 other countries and territories. ERA Franchise Systems LLC (www.ERA.com) which operates the ERA Real Estate system, is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global provider of real estate services. ERA Real Estate information is available at www.ExploreERA.com.

Media Contacts:

Marie VanAssendelft
973-407-2209
Marie.vanassendelft@teamera.com

Randi Rispoli
973-407-5241
Randi.rispoli@teamera.com

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Thinking About Buying or Selling on Your Own? Think Again.

You’ve heard it time and time again; the current real estate market is hot and its a great time for homeowners to consider to cashing in and selling their home if they haven’t already taken the leap. Buyers are also taking advantage of the record low interest rates despite the competitive conditions created by low inventory. This has created a fast moving market with many moving pieces to consider when partaking in the transaction process. Some home buyers and sellers make the choice to attempt to fly solo on their transaction to avoid paying a commission to a real estate agent, but many find out the hard way that now is not the time to go that route.

According to the National Association of Realtors, “FSBOs accounted for 8% of home sales in 2020. The typical FSBO home sold for $217,900 compared to $295,000 for agent-assisted home sales.” That’s nearly an $80,000 difference; much more than the owner would have paid their agent in commission had they listed and sold with an agent.

ERA Team VP Real Estate Agents also have some insight regarding the topic. According to Jerod Zahn, top producing Licensed Real Estate Agent with ERA Team VP, “Most sellers are purely thinking profit. They’re number one complaint is paying commission. They have a hard time grasping that when offering their property for sale to only their ‘private market’ they’re missing out on an opportunity to offer to the entire world. The small traffic they produce from minimal marketing will miss thousands of qualified home buyers.”

Denise Whipp, ERA Team VP’s Director of Agent Support and Associate R.E. Broker also notes, “Stories of how much people and making on their properties with multiple offers does make it sound easy but it’s actually even harder to navigate the process under these crazy market conditions. Pricing is harder, the handling of multiple offer, buyers having remorse, etc. makes things difficult. You shouldn’t go it alone! Agents are more valuable than ever!”

Deryle Pinney, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with ERA Team VP, adds, “Real Real Estate agents have access to the most up to date information & availability of properties & have a legal obligation to be fair & honest where many websites do not.

When discussing whether a home buyer or seller should use an agent or not, Tonya Studley, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with ERA Team VP simply asks if the buyer or seller has experience in all of these areas: inspections, negotiations, appraisals, closing details, warranty, disclosures, escrow, contract contingencies, mortgages, surveys, repairs, and much more. If not, then the answer is pretty easy!

In summary, here are the top reasons to use an agent in today’s market, whether you’re buying or selling:

If you’re interested in learning more about the real estate market in your area, or thinking about buying or selling a home, visit www.erateamvp.com.

A Look at the 2021 Real Estate Market So Far

Its no secret that the pandemic has taken a toll on many industries; some for the better and some for the worse. The real estate market has been no different, but the effects have been much different than what most expected at the start of the pandemic. Let’s take a look at some stats outlining figures for January-June 2020 in comparison to the same figures for January-June 2021 in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Wyoming, Warren, McKean, Allegany, and Erie counties.

Its interesting to see the average sale prices of homes significantly increased across most of the counties in the report. For example, there was an average YoY increase of 31.81% in the average sales price of single family homes across New York counties (Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Wyoming and Erie), with Cattaraugus County seeing the largest increase of 55.76%. Notably, the town of Ellicottville, which is one of Cattaraugus County’s largest vacation home markets, saw an astonishing 105.72% YoY increase in average sales prices of single family homes which was a major contribution to the county’s large increase.

The Pennsylvania counties also saw a spike in average sale prices. McKean County had a 31.90% YoY increase in the average sale price of single family homes, while Warren County had a 23.07% YoY increase.

When it came to the average number of days on the market, each county saw a decrease, meaning homes sold quicker than they did this time last year. The largest decrease took place in Allegany County, with the number of days on the market decreased by 32 days. Take a look at the stats for all of our New York counties:

The Pennsylvania counties saw an even more dramatic difference! In McKean County, the average days on the the market fell by 113 days in comparison to 2020, while in Warren County, the average was decreased by 63 days; proving once again that homes are selling much more quickly than this time last year.

Its very apparent that the overall trend in all markets shown is that homes are selling for more money in less amount of time, creating a great time for homeowners to consider listing their home for sale. Of course, this does create a much more competitive market for buyers, but with the help of a knowledgeable real estate agent and solid financing, buyers can still get into their dream home. For more information about the current real estate market, contact ERA Team VP today!

What Does it Mean to be in a ‘Seller’s Market’?

According to the National Association of Realtors the inventory of homes for sale in our nation is still very low, while the demand of buyers continues to climb. The current housing inventory is sitting at just a 2 month supply, while a typical, “neutral” threshold is a 6 month supply. What does this mean for you if you’re thinking about selling? It means that due to the astonishingly low inventory and increase in competition amongst those looking to purchase, buyers must step up their game when it comes to submitting offers, putting more money in the pockets of home sellers.

In addition to the already high demand of buyers, mortgage interest rates are at an all time low – making it even more affordable and attainable for them to make their purchase dreams come to life. This makes the pool of buyers seeking a home even larger, while market inventory has continued stay low.

Overall, this has lead homes to appreciate, allowing sellers to get top dollar for their property in today’s competitive market. With the increase in competition, its common to see multiple offers, bidding wars and cash deals when possible. Therefore, now more than ever, its crucial to team up with an experienced real estate agent to help navigate this process, whether you’re looking to buy or sell! For more information about ERA Team VP or to connect with an agent, head to www.erateamvp.com.

Overcome your home selling fears

Remember when you learned how to use the jungle gym rings in grade school? If you wanted to get anywhere, you had to build up enough courage, motion, and strength to let go… and trust you would be able to grab onto the next ring, getting you one move closer to your goal!  

Buying and selling a home can be a lot like learning how to get across the jungle gym. You might miss your next ring, but you won’t get better if you don’t try again. You might dangle for a bit, until you have the right help come along and give you a nudge in the right direction. You might, however, get it the first time and ‘nail the landing’!  

The Repair Dilemma:

Sellers have never been more fearful to try their luck at the real estate ‘jungle gym’, and here are three major reasons why: 

We understand that putting your homes best ‘foot forward’ is to ensure it is looking its absolute best when a potential buyers walk through! Also, people don’t want to put a lot of money into fixing up their home just to turn around and sell it again… Especially knowing what kind-of a market their walking into! Let’s review a couple of different approaches that could be taken. 

  • Sell as is: If you are at peace with selling your home as is, then do it! Fix the basic items (replace lightbulbs, repair screens that may be ripped, tighten hinges on cupboard doors, etc.) and make sure your home looks cared for. Potential buyers will still see the love you have given your home even though you might not want to splurge to have that big deck put on for someone else to enjoy. Also, if you’re looking for a few affordable and fun projects, check out 5 easy ways to upgrade your home.  
  • Pick your investment: While you might not be interested in fixing every little item, you might want to invest in the most important ones. If you have spoken with a real estate agent…, they know what to look for. They will be able to advise you on what will have the biggest impact on your home’s sale price. The greatest agents will have terrific advice that will not break the bank but will get your house ready for the market! 

The Market:

In the housing market, the seller and the buyer are, in many cases, the same person – the existing homeowner. To buy a new home, you must sell the home you already own, and then find a home you like better. With the market being as tight as it is in today’s housing market, the risk of selling, if others do not, prevents many existing homeowners from selling. The result? Prices are further bid up by competition for the increasingly short supply. 

Sellers also think their home might not be worth as much as what they need in order to buy a home in a market like this. This is the ‘nudge part’ of the jungle gym analogy. The hesitation is understandable, but that is why relying on a great support system, for example, the agents at ERA Team VP Real Estate will give you the nudge in the right direction. With a free CMA [Comparative Market Analysis], these professional and knowledgeable agents can help capture the value of your home, which in this market will likely sell for more than you would expect! For a free valuation of your home, contact one of these qualified agents in your area. 

The complexity of the process is overwhelming:

There is no doubt that this process is complex….and at times overwhelming! From the beginning of packing up your house, going through the emotions of excitement and sadness to the elatedness of finding your dream home and looking forward to moving in… it is a lot to process, a lot to do, and a lot to keep organized! The right Real Estate Agent is key to eliminating stress and complexity while providing peace of mind throughout the entire process. Finding an agent who recognizes the value of your home, who communicates well and genuinely cares for your needs is crucial in making an overwhelming process a walk in the park. 

7 Things to do this Fall in Western NY and Northwest PA

Fall is officially here and there’s no better place to spend it than right here in Western NY and Northwest PA! Here are a few of our favorite socially-distancing safe spots to visit this Fall.

  1. Visit Pumpkinville in Great Valley, NY.

With a little more added each year, Pumpkinville offers Fall entertainment for all ages at a reasonable price. Known for their famous pumpkin donuts and apple cider, there’s a variety of other yummy treats available as well. There’s also plenty of kids’ games, photo opportunities, , a petting zoo, corn maze, and of course… pumpkins! Pumpkinville is open 7 days a week, 9AM – 7 PM through October 31 and is located at 4844 Sugartown Rd. Great Valley, NY 14741.

2. Go apple picking at Whittier Apple Farm in Ashville, NY.

Located in Ashville, NY, Whittier Apple Farm offers over 12 varieties of apples for your family to pick this fall. Fresh pressed apple cider is available for purchase as well!

3. Take a chairlift ride at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, NY.

Although Ellicottville’s iconic Fall Festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19 this year, Holiday Valley is still offering weekend chairlift rides through the autumn touched woods this October. Rides are available on weekends only from 12-4PM for 10$ per rider (ages 6 and under are free).

4. Enjoy the Fall foliage at the Pfieffer Nature Center in Portville, NY.

Situated on over 600 acres of gorgeously landscaped lend, the Nature Center is a wonderful way to unwind and enjoy the foliage!

5. Pick out mums at Peaches & Cream in Randolph, NY

Located at 19 Main Street in Randolph, NY, Peaches & Cream offers a variety of fresh goods and locally made syrups, sauces, and jams throughout the summer, but they’re also well known for their beautiful selection of mums in the fall! They’re open 7 days a week through the Fall.

6. Stop by Pumpkintown in Busti, NY.

Offering a variety of fun fall themed games and activities, Pumpkintown is open weekends now through October 27, weather permitting. Fresh cider, a corn maze, and pony rides are a few of the items Pumpkintown is most known for!

7. Enjoy the views from the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk in Mt. Jewett, PA.

Beautiful is truly an understatement when it comes to the Skywalk, no matter the season, but our favorite time of year to visit is the Fall. Take the family and enjoy the phenomenal views and foliage from above and be sure to bring the camera!

ERA Team VP Welcomes 3 New Real Estate Agents

ERA Team VP is proud to announce the addition of three new real estate professionals to its team. Jesse Harmon, Lynn Case, and Patricia Collier all join the brokerage each with unique backgrounds.

Jesse Harmon joins the team with a background in nursing, yet has always had an interest in real estate. “My two kids and I enjoy spending time outside together. I also spend some of my free time volunteering for various organizations and giving back to the community.” Jesse says. She plans to serve Cattaraugus, Allegany, and Southern Erie Counties and is looking forward to helping friends, family and future clients with all of their home buying and selling needs. Jesse will be working out of ERA Team VP’s Allegany location. To reach Jesse directly, call 716-904-1456 or email jesseharmon02@icloud.com.

Lynn Case, who resides in Jamestown, NY, also joins ERA Team VP as a new agent, however, she has over 20 years of working with the public. Lynn is eager to dive into her real estate career and begin helping those looking to buy or sell a home. “I’m looking forward to serving clients in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and parts of Erie county. I have a passion for helping people and look forward to supporting my clients with one of the biggest steps in their lives!” Lynn will be working out of ERA Team VP’s Chautauqua office. To reach her directly, call 716-640-9393 or email lynn.case1@yahoo.com.

Patricia Collier is the third addition to the ERA Team VP Real Estate team. Patricia resides in the Olean area where she has worked as a real estate agent since 2016 and also owns a landscaping company with her husband. She says, “I grew up in a family that loved to buy and restore old homes, so I have a lot of experience in that. I have also worked a Community Outreach Coordinator and had some involvement in marketing while I resided in Maine.” Patricia says, “I intend to serve all over Cattaraugus and Allegany counties and truly enjoy working with military families. I am very familiar with VA loans.” In her free time, Patricia enjoys traveling, knitting, cooking, gardening and spending time with her husband, daughter, and dog, Loki. Patricia will be based in the Allegany, NY office but can be reached directly at 716-696-0259 or patricia.collier20@gmail.com.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Jesse, Lynn and Patricia to our team! Although each of these individuals have different backgrounds and experiences, I’m confident that they all bring a professional, motivated approach to our team,” says Bill Soffel, Broker/Owner of ERA Team VP. “We’re looking forward to providing each of these ladies with the tools and resources they need to succeed in the real estate industry!”

To learn more about ERA Team VP and the real estate or vacation rental market, visit www.erateamvp.com or www.myteamvp.com.

Backyard Diaries Edition 2 – Bradford & Warren, PA and Surrounding Areas

With summer right around the corner, and social distancing still a huge part of our lives, now is a great time to revel in the place you call home! Bradford and Warren, PA offer a phenomenal selection of social distancing safe activities and destinations right in their backyard and ERA Team VP Agents and staff have the inside scoop on the best destinations!

Kinzua Dam

Situated on 39 acres of land, ERA Team VP Agents, Jaime Nuhfer, Tonya Studley, and Dave Lunden all agree that Kinzua is a must-see destination in the Warren/Bradford areas. Located in Mt. Jewett, PA, just 30 minutes from Bradford and just over an hour from Warren, this historical landmark offers one of a kind views, hiking/biking trails, and incredible natural scenery. Kinzua is best known for its sky-walk – a 300+ feet high viaduct with glass bottomed deck offering breathtaking views of the tower structure beneath.

Rimrock Hiking Trail and Overlook

ERA Team VP associates Denise Whipp and Jaime Nuhfer both recommend Rimrock Hiking Trail and Overlook as well. The 1.3 mile long trail connects Kinzua Beach to Rimrock Overlook, with incredible views along the way. “It’s definitely a favorite go-to in my family!” says Denise.

Jake’s Rocks

Another ERA Team VP favorite destination is Jake’s Rock Overlook in Mead township, PA. Soak in the views of the Jackson Bay on the Allegheny Reservoir! “Jake’s Rocks Overlook is a family favorite for us,” Jaime Nuhfer of ERA Team VP explains, “We really enjoy exploring the trails and gigantic boulders along the way!” This unique day trip destination is just a 30 minute drive from Warren and about 40 minutes from Bradford.

Other “Musts” Nearby

Debbie Swanson, ERA Team VP admin in the Warren, PA office, recommends a few other destinations in the area:
– Hector Falls – Kane, PA
– Chapman Dam – Clarendon, PA
– Hearts Content – Warren, PA
– Hickory Creek Wilderness Trail – Tidioute, PA

5 Things NOT to do During the Closing Process

Congratulations! You’ve found the home of your dreams and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with a closing date just around the corner. Although this is an incredibly exciting time in your life, there are a few things you should keep in mind during the closing process.

We sat down with Emily McVay from Homestead Funding to further understand the home closing process and she provided several key “pitfalls” buyers often forget when waiting for closing day; often costing them their mortgage and ultimately their dream home.

  • Do not change jobs. According to Emily, “Change in job status will cause your file to be re-underwritten and reconsidered. This may cause a delay with your loan process or possible denial of your loan application.”
  • Do not use charge cards excessively or make late payments on any accounts. Often times, in order to save the cash reserves buyers have set aside for closing costs, they resort to “living” on their credit cards. “Excessive use of credit cards can have negative effects on your credit rating,” says Emily. “Also, late payments of any type can decrease your credit score, increase your home loan interest rate, delay loan closing, or cause loan denial.”
  • Do not spend money you have set aside for closing. “Most conventional loans require 2 months of reserve money to be verified in your available financial accounts. Once it has been verified for use at closing, spending these reserve funds may result in loan closing delays or loan denial,” according to Emily.
  • Do not originate any inquiries into your credit.
  • Do not make large deposits without checking with your loan originator first. Emily explains, “Abnormal deposits or large deposits…must have money sources verified by Underwriting. Making these deposits could result in loan processing delays or denials.”

For more information about real estate in your area, contact your local ERA Team VP Agent or visit www.erateamvp.com. For more insight about the home buying and financing process, contact Emily McVay at emcvay@homesteadfunding.com or 716-450-7773.

Emily McVay
Licensed Loan Originator (NMLS 1586340)
Homestead Funding Corp. (NMLS 3232)

COVID-19 Update from ERA Team VP

Dear Friends,

At ERA Team VP, there is nothing more important to us than the safety and well-being of our owners, guests, our dedicated staff and the community around us. Now, with the universal concerns regarding COVID-19, that is more important than ever.

The safety of our guests, owners and staff has always been one of our core values.  As we face the challenge presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19), we are taking precautionary steps to insure a healthy experience for all. Please be assured that safety is of utmost importance to us. We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation as it evolves. 

Here are some of the precautionary measures we are taking:

  • In-person check in/out is no longer required for arrivals within the next 30 days. Guests can still easily reach us by calling our office Chautauqua office at 716-413-0200 or our Ellicottville office at 716-699-4800.

  • We have always used cleaning products with disinfectant. In addition to normal cleaning procedures, our housekeeping staff will increase focus on “high touch” items like light switches, doorknobs, remotes, etc.

  • Back of the house areas are also being cleaned more frequently.

  • Proper hand hygiene is part of the messaging our team receives on a daily basis.

  • Our staff receives ongoing education on best practices put forth by public health agencies.

  • Team members who can work from home will be doing so.

  • We recommend that guests traveling to the area follow guidelines established by the CDC.

When you are ready to plan your next vacation, be sure to ask about travel insurance. You can book with confidence and give your family something to look forward to.

We are committed to providing you with a fun and safe getaway.

If you have any questions, you can call our office at 716-413-0200 or 716-699-4800.

For the most up-to-date information and current protocols on COVID-19, visit cdc.gov.

We wish all of you the very best for good health and hope to see you again soon.

With Gratitude,

ERA Team VP Vacation Rentals