Offering a Higher Level of Expertise Enables Agents to Meet the Needs of Today’s Buyers and Sellers

By Nick Caruso

RISMEDIA, January 20, 2011—Today’s real estate customers and clients have access to much more information than they did in the past. As their access to information will continue to increase with the introduction of new technology, real estate professionals must stay ahead of the curve to offer a greater degree of value to meet the needs of today’s customers. Here, Bill Soffel, president and CEO, broker of ERA Team VP Real Estate in Chautauqua, New York discusses how he is giving his agents the tools they need to be the experts in today’s market, and well into the future.

 
Bill Soffel
President & CEO / Broker
ERA Team VP Real Estate
Chautauqua, New York & Ellicottville, New York

Regions served: Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties of New York
Years in real estate: 28
Number of agents: 50
Average listing price: $175,000
Average days on market: 151

Best advice for real estate rookies: From the very beginning, conduct your real estate practice as a business and spend considerable time on market research, budgeting, goal-setting and performance tracking.

Key to staying profitable: Formal business planning is the key to profitability, and never more so than during a challenging market like we find ourselves in right now. Profit must be budgeted and planned for. A solid business plan provides the foundation or template from which to make adjustments as market conditions change.

What is your biggest challenge in today’s market and how is your company taking it on?
Our greatest challenge is offering the right type of training and support to our agents so they can successfully navigate through this tough market. Many of the tools and strategies they used when the market was at its peak just aren’t working anymore. We need to help them adapt, and at the same time, help them refocus on the basics.

How are you keeping consumers educated about today’s buying opportunities?
We are certainly moving away from the traditional methods, like print advertising, and focusing more on new technology. Since over 90% of buyers start their property search on the Internet, we are pushing our listings to as many real estate websites as we can, constantly updating and refreshing our own website, and are jumping heavily into social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

What have been some of your most effective strategies for working in today’s market?
Inventory management has been a real focus and it has yielded results for us. We are updating our CMAs for our sellers more frequently, recommending price adjustments accordingly, and frankly, are more willing to decline listings that cannot be properly priced. When sellers have followed our advice on pricing their properties ahead of the market trend, we have seen a higher list-to-sale price ratio and a reduction in days on market.

How do you determine your marketing spend?
We break down our marketing budget into two components: one for the money we will spend as a company to build our image and brand recognition, and one for money we will make available to our agents for their self promotion and promotion of their properties. We require that our agents submit a business plan if they want to access these company-provided marketing dollars, and we determine the allocation amount for each agent based on past production and the strength of their plan for the upcoming year. This allows us to direct our resources to the agents who can provide the best return on our investment.

What do you tell sellers about this market?
Seek out the real estate agent and company with the most knowledge and expertise in your local market, and follow their advice on the best pricing strategy for current market conditions. Too often, sellers insist on setting an asking price based on old market conditions or based on factors unrelated to the market, and end up overpricing. Buyers have many resources available to them with today’s technology and are very educated on the market. They don’t respond well to overpriced listings.

What is essential to your company’s ongoing success?
We have to be successful in providing a greater degree of value in order to meet the needs of the new age of buyers and sellers. Our customers and clients are very knowledgeable by the time they connect with us; we have to offer a much higher level of expertise than they are able to obtain on their own. At the same time, we have to find better ways to attract young, tech-savvy agents into our profession.

Have you heard about RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN)? RREIN is an elite network of leading real estate companies dedicated to providing consumers and their agents with leading real estate information, and committed to the belief that Information Share Equals Market Share. Having only launched this past June 2010, the RREIN network is already comprised of 40 leading brokerages, which make up 575 offices, 30,000 agents, 167,000 closings and represents over $41 billion in transactions.

Copyright© 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

Winter Fun in Chautauqua County!

There are a lot of fun activities to choose from this weekend (February 4 – February 6) in Chautauqua County!  Take advantage of all of the snow that is still falling and do something to celebrate winter in our beautiful area.

Wine & Chocolate Weekend (February 4, 2011 – February 6, 2011)
Visit the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail for a wonderful weekend of wine paired with delicious chocolates.  According to the Lake Erie Wine Country website, “This Valentine’s treat is especially for you. Wineries will pair their own splendid chocolate creations with a delightful wine accompaniment. A perfect match!”  Even Hours are: Friday 12-5 PM and Saturday/Sunday 10 AM – 5 PM.  You may order tickets online!

Snowshoeing (February 5, 2011)
This Saturday explore the winter wilderness of Chautauqua County while snowshoeing with Evergreen Outfitters!  Guided tours will lead you through the beautiful winter woods.  Call Evergreen Outfitters (716) 763-2266 for reservations.

Chautauqua Winter Games (February 5, 2011 – February 6, 2011)
Come enjoy this FREE event at the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena!   Saturday 9 AM – 8 PM & Sunday 9 AM – 2 PM, this fun figure skating competition will include Freestyle Dance and Pairs Competitive events.  Call the Ice Arena (716) 664-6609 or visit their website for more information.

Snowflake Festival (February 5, 2011)
Held this Saturday at the Jamestown Audobon Center from 10 AM – 4:30 PM.  Lots of indoor and outdoor events will be fun for the whole family!  According to the Jamestown Audobon Center, “Outdoor events will feature eagle caregiver Linda O’Brien answering all those questions you’ve always wanted to ask about Liberty, our resident Bald Eagle; snowshoeing with Evergreen Outfitters; cross country skiing; sleigh (or hay, weather dependent) rides with Dennis Wright; and winter camping and cooking demonstrations by Fluvanna Boy Scout Troop #169. Andrea DiMaio will return with the ever so popular Tails of Tundra Siberian husky rescue, highlighted by scooter and kick sled races. New this year will be 3 Seas Recreation and Suri Alpacas.”  Admission is only $5 and children under 12 are FREE.  Sleigh rides are $5 for adults and $2 for school aged children.

If you’re interested in visiting Chautauqua County this winter, remember Team VP provides full service vacation rentals and real estate sales.  Visit our website to view all of our rental properties, and even book your reservation online!  Call (800) 789-2600 for any questions you may have about real estate, rental properties or our beautiful area!

ERA Team VP Real Estate Receives Award Nomination!

ERA Team VP Real Estate has been named 1 of 5 finalists for the 2010 Gene Francis Memorial Award.  This award, given by ERA Franchise Systems LLC, is named for the late ERA Real Estate co-founder and executive vice president Gene Francis.   The overall winner will be announced at the 2011 ERA International Business Conference this March in Las Vegas, NV.

As stated by ERA Franchise Systems, “This award recognizes the ERA company which best exemplifies excellence and integrity in our profession.  It is our system’s highest honor for companies, with its winner reflecting Gene’s standards of ethical conduct, strong business sense, consistent growth and a commitment to their community and the ERA brand.”

ERA also states the award requirements: “To be eligible for the Gene Francis Memorial Award, companies must be ERA system members for at least five years; other criteria include total performance and growth over past five years; participation in the ERA Select Services® programs; participation in ERA Mortgage; home warranty production through the ERA Home Protection Plan® and application of ERA system and tools. In addition, to emphasize the importance of community service to the ERA philosophy, MDA fundraising and/or community support is also a requirement for this award. One winner and four national finalists are chosen each year and honored at the International Business Conference, with the responsible broker also invited to join the influential ERA National Advisory Council.”

We are very proud of our entire team at ERA Team VP and all that we have accomplished together!  Many of our Realtors will be attending the 2011 ERA International Business Conference this March.  This will be a great opportunity for us to connect with ERA Realtors from all over the world, learn about great new innovative tools that ERA has to offer and learn from each other and other real estate experts so that we can apply it to our own market and help our company continue to help YOU!

You may have noticed that one of the requirements for this prestigious award is fundraising for MDA and community support.  Last year we held our first annual Agents of Hope Golf Tournament and were thrilled to raise over $15,000 for the ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) Division of MDA.  We are already planning for next year’s tournament, which will be held in August at the Chautauqua Golf Club.  Keep your eyes open – we’ll have more details coming soon! who is .

Share the Chautauqua Experience!

Friends & Family of Team VP: To celebrate the national premiere of the PBS documentary, “Chautauqua: An American Narrative,” Team VP is presenting a special Chautauqua Vacation Rental offer to our customers who refer new customers!

Here’s How it Works…

Guests*: Receive 10% (up to a maximum of $300) off the rental charge on your next reservation with us when you refer a new guest that books a reservation with Team VP!

Owners**: Refer a new guest to Team VP and if they book a reservation with us, you’ll receive a gift certificate equal to 10% (up to a maximum of $300) of their rental charges** to be used towards housekeeping and maintenance services provided by Team VP!

For additional information on this offer please call: (800) 344-2198 OR
(716) 789-9298 or email: rentals@vacationpro.com

 

*To qualify for promotion, guest must not have rented with Team VP – Vacation Properties in previous years. Discount will be computed based on rental charges of qualifying new guest excluding taxes, fees and insurance. Promotion cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. web hosting server . Offer excludes weeks 3, 4 and 6. Not valid on existing reservations. Offer ends 3/31/11.

**To qualify for promotion, guest must not have rented with Team VP – Vacation Properties in previous years. Gift certificate amount will be computed based on rental charges of qualifying guest excluding taxes, fees and insurance. Promotion cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. web hosting server . Offer excludes weeks 3, 4 and 6. Not valid on existing reservations. Offer ends 3/31/11.

What Is Chautauqua Institution?

For those of us living in the area of Chautauqua Institution, this may be a difficult question to answer when asked by someone who has never been here.  Chautauqua Institution is such a special and unique place, that it is almost impossible to explain everything it has to offer unless it can be shown in person.  How do you explain a community where people from all over the world gather to teach, learn, perform, relax, listen and enjoy arts, education, religion and recreation…?  This January all of us who love Chautauqua will have the opportunity to share the “Chautauqua Experience“.

Save the Date!  On January 31, 2011, at 10 pm, PBS will feature a documentary about Chautauqua Institution, called ‘Chautauqua: An American Narrative’.  You can view the trailer below (provided by Chautauqua Institution)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s14fhI3pdRU&feature=player_embedded]

According to the official website of Chautauqua Institution, “The documentary, which was filmed at Chautauqua during the 2009 Season, uses personal testaments from a series of individuals and emphasizes Chautauqua’s four pillars of the arts, education, religion, and recreation to capture the Chautauqua experience. Those interviewed include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, historian David McCullough, the Rev. Otis Moss III, and pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk, as well as Chautauqua’s own Tom Becker, former board chair William Clinger, and artistic directors, faculty and students.”

All of us at Team VP – Vacation Properties would like to encourage you to watch this documentary on PBS and share Chautauqua with all of your friends and family!  We’d also like to let you know that we are here to answer any of your questions about real estate in Chautauqua Institution and the surrounding areas, or the state of the real estate market in our area.  As Chautauqua’s leader in Real Estate since 1983 any one of our Realtors® is just a phone call away!  Here are a few words about Chautauqua from our Chautauqua Institution Real Estate Specialists:

We are very blessed to have Chautauqua Institution in our wonderful county. It truly is a ” Cultural Gem” and really represents a dynamic cross-section of our world with a desire to “Live, Love, and Enjoy” all that life has to offer through Education, Religion, and the Arts” – Dale Sandberg

I often hear customers and clients of mine expressing the fact that Chautauqua Institution is an experience as well as a vacation. I feel Chautauqua Institution has done an excellent job conveying that message” – Jane Grice

Don’t hesitate to call  (716) 789-2600  OR  (800) 789-2600 and ask to speak with one of our Chautauqua Institution specialists!

Team VP also has a full service vacation rental management department, so if you are interested in visiting Chautauqua we can help you find a place to stay!
(800) 344-2198

For more information about Chautauqua Institution and their programs for the 2011 season visit their official website.

Hit the Slopes during the Holidays!

We’ve already had 2 big snow storms here in the Southern Tier, and it’s not even technically winter yet!  Why not spend some time this holiday season with your family and friends and take advantage of all of this snow by going skiing or snowboarding!  Some of our biggest ski resorts are now open – Holiday Valley & HoliMont, both in Ellicottville, NY!  Did you know that Team VP offers awesome vacation rentals at each of these ski resorts?  Whether you live nearby or are planning to visit the area during the holidays, wouldn’t it be fun to stay in a slopeside chalet or a ski in/ski out condo or townhome?  Bring your whole family, a group of friends, or plan a romantic weekend getaway!

Imagine yourself crossing through this beautiful trail at HoliMont

HoliMont Ski Resort (in Ellicottville, NY) is open to non-members Monday – Friday.  They currently have 1 lift open (Exhibition), giving access to 7 trails, but according to their website (http://www.holimont.com/) “After a solid opening weekend and a favorable looking forecast for the coming week, it is our goal to open three more lifts this coming weekend [December 18-19].  On top of Exhibition we also plan on opening Cascade, Sunset and Chipmunk.  If all goes according to plan that will provide access to Wild Turkey, Cascade, Homerun, Top of Meadow, Condo Line, Lullaby Lane, ABC Gully, Exhibition, West Connection, The Ridge, Sunset, Chipmunk, High Road, Low Road, and Loch Lomond.”

HoliMont Ski Resort Rates: (weekdays)
Adult Full Day $47
Adult Half Day (after 1:00pm) $44
Junior (ages 6-11) Full Day $37
Junior Half Day (after 1:00pm) $34
Beginner Area $18
Group (15+) $35/each
Seniors (70+) $35

Here are some Where – To – Stay suggestions for HoliMont visitors:
– call Team VP @ 716-699-4800 for any rental questions/information
– book online and view available properties @ http://www.ellicottville.com/ (click Vacation Rentals)

1.  HoliMont 2 – walk to the slopes!


4 bedrooms
2.5 baths
– features a fireplace & outdoor hot tub!


2.  The Woods Unit 81 – walk to the chair lift!


3 bedrooms + loft!
2 baths
– wood burning fireplace & views of the Sunset Slope!


 

Holiday Valley Ski Resort (in Ellicottville, NY) reports on their website (http://www.holidayvalley.com/) that they have a 10-40″ base of snow and 10″ of snow have fallen in the last 48 hours!  They also say “we’ll be operating 7 lifts Friday [Dec. 17] and 8 lifts on Saturday [Dec. 18].

Holiday Valley Rates: (weekdays)
Adult 8 hour pass $48
Adult 4 hour pass $45
Junior or Senior 8 hour pass $38
Junior or Senior 4 hour pass $35

Holiday Valley Rates: (weekends & peak time)
– Holidays: December 26 – January 2, January 17, February 21 – 25
Adult All-Weekend pass (8:30 AM Sat – 4:30 PM Sun) $98
Junior All-Weekend pass $75
Adult 8 hour pass $57
Adult 4 hour pass (non-holiday Sundays) $53
Junior 8 hour pass $43
Junior 4 hour pass (non-holiday Sundays) $38

Here are some Where – To – Stay suggestions for Holiday Valley visitors:
– call Team VP @ 716-699-4800 for any rental questions/information
– book online and view available properties @ http://www.ellicottville.com/ (click Vacation Rentals)

1.  Mountain Watch – walk to the chairlift!

4 bedrooms
2 bath
– fireplaces in master bedroom & living room, outdoor hot tub, wireless internet, weekday ski lift discounts!

2.  Valley Village – short walk to the Chute chairlift!

3 bedrooms + loft!
2.5 baths
– 3 level townhouse, hot tub on the rear deck!

These are just a few of the many vacation rental options that we offer in Ellicottville!  Call Team VP (716) 699-4800 any time to find out more information, or visit our website. available domains domain tech info .

Holiday House Hunting?

The holidays are a busy time for everyone… visiting with family and friends, attending or hosting parties, buying gifts, decorating your home…  Believe it or not, it may also be the perfect season for buying a home!

Although many sellers take their homes off the market during the holiday and winter season, the sellers that continue to list their homes for sale are likely very motivated to sell their homes.

The thought of moving in the middle of winter may not seem appealing, but think about how you will feel when you are finished!  Once holiday festivities have ended, many people have more free time during the winter.  If you move now, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your new home in the spring and summer without having to worry about the stress of moving.  PLUS, if you buy or sell your house with ERA Team VP you can  use our moving van for FREE! domain name data cheap accommodation color scheme generator facebook down Bookkeeping .

Winter is Coming… Is Your Home Ready?

It is a beautiful fall day here in Western New York… hard to imagine that before we know it, we’ll be buried in snow!

Fall is coming to a close – this is the perfect time to prepare your home for the winter with preventative maintenance!  Whether you’ve just moved into a new home, you are a first time home-owner, or you’ve lived in your home for years, it is a smart idea to take care of some simple preparations in order to avoid the risk of expensive repairs down the road.  Here are 10 quick, inexpensive tips for preparing your home:

1.  Check and seal your windows and exterior doors.  Test for drafts on the inside of your windows.  (Hold a lit candle close to the window seems, if it flickers you may have to repair the exterior seal).  Check the caulk on the outside of the window frames (look for gaps & cracks).  If repairs need to be made it is easiest and most efficient to remove the old caulk with a caulk softener so that you may re-seal the window.  The new caulk will stick and seal best to a clean surface.  Check your local home supply store for materials.  How about Chautauqua Brick!

2.  Replace your window screens with storm windows.  Consider covering window wells in your basement with plastic shields.

3.  Have a HVAC professional inspect your furnace.  It is a good idea to clean the ducts and replace the filter to help it work more efficiently through the winter months.

4.  Consider installing a programmable thermostat.  This will allow you to automatically create a heating schedule for your home.  For example, I have programmed my thermostat to raise the temperature slightly around 6:00 AM when I wake up, decrease slightly at 8:00 AM when I leave for work, increase again at 5:00 PM when I return home from work and decrease again at 10:00 PM when I go to sleep at the end of the day.  This way, my thermostat is not being overused when I am not home or do not need the extra warmth.

5.  Have your chimney cleaned and inspected to avoid unwanted fires or fumes entering your home.  Chop and store firewood in a dry area.

6.  Inspect your downspouts and gutters.  Clean the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear out the debris.  This will allow melting snow and ice to melt and drain properly.

7.  Replace any worn, loose or missing shingles.  It’s better to fix them now and prevent the potential damage caused by the weight of the snow!

8.  Install smoke & carbon monoxide detectors and test them to make sure they are working properly.  Replace any fire extinguishers that are 10+ years old.

9.  Clean and store your porch/patio furniture.  It will be much easier to take care of this without battling the snow!

10.  Bring any of your weather sensitive potted plants indoors.  Clear plant debris away from your house to allow proper air circulation and avoid pooling of water against your house when the snow and ice start to melt.

I hope these tips will be useful to you!  Taking advantage of some of these ideas will help you maintain your home’s value!  Spend a little money in prevention and avoid spending much more $$$ in repairs if winter damage were to occur.

Did we miss anything?  What are your creative ways of preparing for the winter season?

Wine Weekends in Western New York

Are you looking for a fun fall activity?  Take advantage of our local wineries and breweries at these great events the next 2 weekends!  Want to turn your trip into a weekend getaway?  Call Team VP and we can help you find the perfect place to stay!

November 6th & 7th or 13th & 14thVisit the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail for their Harvest Wine Weekend!  Visit 21 wineries for $35/ticket: enjoy wonderful food & wine pairings, receive a commemorative wine glass, a gift and a $5 voucher.  Pre-purchase tickets online at www.chautauquawinetrail.org or call 877.326.6561

*Featured Properties for rent along the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail (all less than 5 min. from Mazza Chautauqua Cellars on the Wine Trail)

88 Stoessel, Chautauqua  sleeps 10

 

  • 5 bedrooms
  • 4.5 baths (2 with jacuzzi tubs)
  • 3 separate living areas
  • large deck w/ gas grill

Hunt Lea Condominiums  sleeps 8

  • brand new condominium!
  • 3 bedrooms
  • 2 baths
  • open living area & full kitchen

NorthShore Townhome  sleeps 8

  • 2 bedrooms + loft
  • 2.5 baths
  • living/dining area with gas fireplace

 

November 12th & 13th   3:30 – 7:30

The 7th Annual Beer and Wine Festival, hosted by Ellicottville Brewing Company and Southern Tier Brewing Company, will be held at Holiday Valley Ski Resort’s Yodeler Lodge in Ellicottville, NY.  Guests will be able to sample hand-crafted beers from over 30 of the best NY State and American craft breweries and wines from New York State, Southern Ontario and Ellicottville vintners.

Pre-sale tickets: $40  Purchase Online HERE
Ticekts at the door: $47

*Featured properties for rent near Holiday Valley Ski Resort

Winter Winds Chalet  sleeps 10  (Walk to the Yodeler Lodge!)

  • 4 bedrooms
  • 3 baths
  • woodburning fireplace
  • gorgeous views of the slopes and winter foliage!

Valley Village # 3  sleeps 8  (Walk to the Yodeler Lodge!)

  • 3 bedrooms + loft
  • 2.5 baths
  • 3-level townhouse
  • rear deck w/ Hot Tub & gas grill

Valley Village # 17  sleeps 11  (Walk to the Yodeler Lodge!)

  • 3 bedrooms + loft
  • 2 baths
  • beautiful hardwood floors & leather furniture
  • gas fireplace
  • beautiful slopeside location

 

Have you been to any of these festivals in the past?  What were your favorite wines and/or craft beers?  We’d love to hear from you!

We’re Still the Same Great Team!

ERA Team VP Real Estate & Vacation Rentals… (formerly ERA Vacation Properties) we have refreshed our name & our logo to reflect all that our team has to offer you!

ERATeamVPlogo

And guess what??  Our BRAND NEW website has officially launched!  Visit www.myteamvp.com to easily search all properties listed for sale in both Chautauqua & Cattaraugus Counties.  Looking for a house in Jamestown, Chautauqua, Bemus Point, Mayville, Lakewood, Ellicottville, Salamanca, Great Valley, etc, etc… our website will give you the ability to view property pictures, details, a map & directions, a satellite image, community info… see for yourself!

Looking for a Vacation Rental near the ski slopes in Ellicottville, on Chautauqua Lake, in Chautauqua Institution, or any of the surrounding areas?  View all properties available and easily book online!

We also provide full service property management, including: property association management, repair & maintenance and cleaning and housekeeping services!

Take a look at our website and let us know what you think!  We hope you’ll continue to use our site as your favorite place to search for properties, vacation rentals or area information! server ip domain expiring . webhosting info . compare hotel prices . domain analysis