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!

Welcome Back to Chautauqua!

A Look at Week One and What’s Ahead for Week Two

Its been a year like no other but along with the rest of the world, we’re thrilled to see some sort of normalcy this summer, especially in one of our favorite places: Chautauqua!

Its hard to believe we are already have half of Week One behind us and although it looked a little different than most years in Chautauqua’s history, it was delightful to see smiling (and some masked) faces around the grounds. Our Vacation Rental Team welcomed over 40 families to Chautauqua and surrounding areas this week, some of which included Team VP owners that hadn’t been to their property in over a year!

Chautauquans have been enjoying some great events and activities this week including Sailing Lessons, Yoga, several concerts, and much more. This week’s theme is China and the World: Collaboration, Competition, Confrontation?

Next week, we look forward to Chautauqua Theatre Company’s Blood at the Root, Chautauqua Cinema Under the Stars: Monsters Inc., and Jumbo Games in Bestor Plaza to name a few. The theme for next week is New Frontiers: Exploring Today’s Unknowns.

When reflecting on the 2021 Chautauqua Season, Rachael Wiley-Steffen of ERA Team VP commented, “We are thrilled to be back on the grounds! Thrilled for the programming! And, thrilled for the interaction!”

Our Vacation Rental Department has limited availability this season, so if you’re looking to visit Chautauqua, contact them sooner than later! Call 716.413.0201 or visit www.myteamvp.com.

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. 

‘Travitude’ is a mood

Isn’t it finally time to get away? Your local oasis awaits!

We can all agree that it has been a tough year! We have been distanced from our loved ones, our routine lives, and we have lost opportunities to travel to our favorite vacation spots.

Have you ever heard of the term Travitude? No, well we have…, and we’d love to share what it means with you…

Travitude is ‘when you get grumpy and sassy due to of a lack of traveling’. (Don’t check that with Mr. Webster, he may not agree with us). This year, we feel pretty confident that many are suffering from a little bit of Travitude, if you will (insert wink here)!  So, if you are “chomping at the bit” to get out and about and make some travel plans, be sure to add the sweet hometown of Ellicottville, NY to your destination calendar! And, book your home away from home today!

  • Do you love hiking, biking, and all things outdoors? ✔️
  • Are you hoping for a much-needed get-away for you and your significant other? ✔️
  • Are you looking to decompress, window shop, and unplug from the everyday? ✔️
  • Are you hoping to create the most amazing memories that will make you want to come back year after year? ✔️💯

If yes, then read on, friends!

Elkdale Country Club

Nestled in the rolling hills of New York’s Southern Tier, Elkdale Country Club offers a challenging 18-hole golf course, beautiful scenery and complete restaurant and lounge facility. The front nine at Elkdale was built in 1927 and is cut through varied terrain and mature trees. The back nine was added in mid-1960’s and is a bit longer with larger greens. The 6132-yard par 70 layout is designed to provide an interesting challenge for players of all skill levels. Our modern tee-to-green watering system insures maximum playability through-out the season. The course includes a challenging 555-yard par 5 followed by a 215-yard par 3. The course men’s rating is 70.2 and the slope rating is 122.[1]

Holiday Valley

Fill your days at the Sky High Adventure Park: 13 courses (largest in NYS and 3rd largest in US), 142 platforms, 170 elements, 43 ziplines, tallest platform is 68 feet & the longest zip line is 350 feet![2] If that doesn’t get your heart racing, I’m not sure what will! If that seems a little too extreme, check out the biking options and journey on one of the several trails via mountain bike or rent an e-bike for the afternoon! Finish your day with a challenging game of golf. The course is a pleasing blend of a mountain and flat terrain.

Rock City Park

A piece of history and a local hidden gem, Rock City Park is the perfect opportunity to take the family for a day of hiking through giant rock formations and trails that descend into crevices. There are spectacular views of the area to enjoy, and events planned all throughout the summer!

Griffis Sculpture Park

450 acres located eight miles outside of Ellicottville, Griffis Sculpture Park is not only a tremendous regional attraction, but holds the distinction of being one of America’s largest and oldest sculpture parks. The park features over 250 large scale sculptures dispersed through miles of hiking trails. Each sculpture was placed with the natural setting in mind, creating a truly unique experience between art and nature.[3]

Holimont

Now if you have heard anything about Holimont, you might think if there is no snow, there is nothing happening there. Let’s talk about biking and trails in this gorgeous area! Access to a fun and flowy, 1 mile trail from the top of our Greer slope to the main chalet area. Recently added is a trail that connects the top of Sunset to the top of Greer. This trail can be found by climbing up the HoliMont multi-purpose trail or from the 30+ miles of single track in the McCarthy Forest. HoliMont has direct access to some of the best trails in Western New York. Whether you like to hike or bike, the single-track trails in McCarthy State Forest has something for everyone. There are over 40 miles of IMBA Epic trails to ride in EVL and surrounding area.


After exploring the area, you are going to be ready to pamper yourself with a fun night out. Vacation calories do not count, right? So, while you are here, make sure you visit one of the 23 eateries or pubs in town. Just to mention a few favorites:

  1. Dina’s Restaurant, rated #1 by TripAdvisor and a fan favorite in I LOVE NY’s Restaurant Challenge. For a more refined palate, check out their extensive wine list and pair it to their filet mignon or their lobster ravioli.
  2. Ellicottville Brewing Company, ranked one of the best bars and brew pubs in NY State. They also serve a mean menu; tasty dishes range from ‘loaded brewer tots’ to Persia Salmon and NY Strip Steak.
  3. The Gin Mill, a house favorite of Bills running back #34, Thurman Thomas. He and his wife say they have, “the best fries around”[4].
  4. Katy’s Café, lighter fare and a morning option for early risers. Come enjoy the local artwork while sipping on a made to order espresso, grab a breakfast bagel or sit and enjoy some homemade French toast. If you get a hankering for something sweet after perusing the town all day, head back here for ice cream or a milkshake.
  5. Villagios, another favorite of Thurman Thomas, Bills running back #34!  Fine, Italian cuisine working with local growers, farmers, and businesses. Winner of 2016’s Taste of Buffalo: Pat Sardina Memorial Award for Best Comfort Food — Meatball.

Enjoy your adventure, you deserve it!


[1] Elkdale Country Club | Salamanca, NY – The Course (elkdalecc.com)

[2] Holiday Valley: New York Canopy Ziplines Aerial Adventure Park

[3] Griffis Sculpture Park » Griffis Sculpture Park (griffispark.org)

[4] Bills Legend Thurman Thomas’s Guide to Buffalo and Greater Niagara (iloveny.com)

5 Easy Upgrades!

The amount of time a home spends on the market before going under contract is an indicator of how competitive the housing market is. Currently, homes are spending an average of 32 days on the market. The longer homes spend on the market, the more control homebuyers have in this ‘game of roulette’.  

Here are five easy ways to keep your house out of the seller’s limbo by adding perceived value (and actual value) to your home.  

  1. Upgrade your Mailbox 

It may seem like a silly thing, or something you might not even notice anymore when you drive into your driveway. But a weathered or outdated mailbox can be an eyesore for the potential homebuyer, especially when wanting to make a great first impression. It is also one of the easiest home improvements you can do! 

  1. Paint your Home Inside and Out 

Remember the time your kids insisted on bright purple or orange when painting their room? While that’s fitting for your family, a potential homebuyer might not have the same appreciation for those energetic colors, and it could distract them from seeing the true potential a room has to offer. Help buyers envision themselves in your home by painting rooms a neutral color. 

In a similar vein, if your house has always been known as the “pink” house on the street even though it was originally red, painting the exterior will also help with potential buyers. Painting the exterior of your home can be pricey, when done by professionals, the process has a very quick turnaround time, and the result will be sure to leave a lasting impression on potential buyers. 

  1. Clean, Declutter and Stage your Home 

People touring your home like to look not just at the larger rooms, but also poke around in closets or nooks and crannies to make sure their stuff will fit. If your closets are overflowing with the winter jackets, or you have too many pieces of furniture in a room-your home may not be ready to show off the qualities that make it truly unique. Nothing turns potential buyers off more than an unkept and cluttered home.  

  1. Fence in your backyard 

Sixty-seven percent of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet, according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA).  Over half of potential buyers coming to tour your home find a fence necessary, and the other 33% find it to be an extra perk, so it is a win-win!  

  1. Reinvent Interior Doors 

During all these other updates you’re working on, don’t forget to give those creaky, non-lockable doors a little TLC too. You know, the ones that are warped and stick to their frame from temperature changes. It’s amazing what a difference installing new doors in your home can make, and it’s even more amazing when you choose a beautiful doorknob style to complete the look!  

Happy Homesteading! 

ERA Team VP Welcomes New Agent, Mollie Stutzman

ERA Team VP Real Estate is excited to announce the addition of its newest real estate professional, Mollie Stutzman. Stutzman will be working out of the Chautauqua, NY office and looks forward to serving all of Chautauqua and parts of Cattaraugus counties.

“Mollie’s strive for success is apparent,” says Bill Soffel, ERA Team VP Broker/Owner. “She has an eye for detail and I’m confident that will contribute to her positive client relationships.”

Mollie is a wife and mother of two and resides in Chautauqua county, so is no stranger to the community. “I really look forward to serving clients and helping them find buy and sell homes, Mollie says. “Real estate is a smart investment and I’m proud to be able to assist people in their investment journey!”

To reach Mollie directly, you can call her at 716-640-9452 or email her at criscraft79@gmail.com.

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!

Backyard Diaries Edition 3- Allegany, NY & Surrounding Areas

Although we’ve recently entered Phase 3 of Re-Opening in WNY, many of us are still looking forward to social distancing safe activities in our area. Allegany, NY is the home of St. Bonaventure University and is known for the beautiful Allegheny River that runs through the town. In addition, there are many other hidden gems in the Allegany area that are worth a visit!

Pfieffer Nature Center – Portville, NY

ERA Team VP agent, Amy Henzel, recommends the Pfieffer Nature Center in Portville, just 20 minutes away from Allegany. “My family and I find the Pfieffer Nature Center a perfect way to get active and enjoy all that nature has to offer!” The nature center offers free admission, loads of hiking/biking trails, and a calendar full of unique outdoor programs and activities.

Rock City Park – Olean, NY

Rock City Park in Olean is recommended by ERA Team VP agent, Janna Davis. Rock City Park is filled with hiking trails and one of the largest natural displays of quartz conglomerate in the world. Janna says “If you’re looking for a good hike and beautiful views, you’ll want to check out this hidden gem!”

Allegany State Park – Salamanca, NY

Many ERA Team VP affiliates also suggest Allegany State Park- a 65,000 acre NYS park with over 5 miles of paved bike trails. Allegany State Park offers two developed beach areas, cabin rentals, pavilion areas, several playgrounds, a full service restaurant, and so much more. Wendy O’Neil of ERA Team VP shares, “The State Park has been a community landmark for years. My family and I have so many memories at the Park and we’re so excited to make more this summer!” Jane Grice, Licensed R.E. Salesperson with ERA Team VP, also adds “My family really enjoys packing a picnic and our bikes and heading to the State Park for the day. Simple, fun, and easy to access no matter where you live in WNY or NW PA!”

Other “Musts” in the Area

Our team also recommend the following day trips right in our backyard!
Canticle Farm – Allegany, NY
Blueberry Meadows – Portville, NY