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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Snowmobile Registrations Up 16 % This Winter

By Patrick Fanelli,
POSTED: February 23, 2009
MAYVILLE - County officials say they were successful in accommodating snowmobile riders in the face of more stringent regulations passed down from the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
For much of the winter, the DMV office in Mayville was kept open on Saturdays since business owners are no longer allowed to issue temporary registrations to riders. There was widespread concern that snowmobile riders would be driven out of the county because they would have to go out of their way and travel all the way to Mayville to get their sleds registered for the first time.
According to Sandy Sopak, Chautauqua County clerk, registrations didn't drop; in fact, there was an increase in November, December and January over the same period last winter.
''There was a lot of discussion, fear and anger over the new procedures handed down by the state DMV, and we did make some local changes to try to accommodate as many snowmobilers as possible, but in the end, we processed more registrations and brought more riders through our trails and businesses than we did last year,'' Mrs. Sopak said. ''Our decision to open the Mayville DMV office on Saturdays during the season seemed to help ease the burden of the new procedures.''
According to figures released this week by the county, nearly 4,300 sleds were registered in Chautauqua County the first three months of the season, representing an increase of 600, or 16 percent, over the same period last winter.
Steve Smith, Chautauqua County Federation of Snowmobile Clubs president, credits the surge with the phenomenal snowmobile weather this season that has blanketed the region in much more snow than the last few years, which have been somewhat disappointing for the sport.
''I feel they were busier,'' Smith said, referring to the county's 600 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. ''I think it was the early snowfall, and just the great conditions we offer riders in Chautauqua County.''
Smith does feel, though, the number of registrations could have been a little higher if riders could have registered at businesses along the trails like they could in previous years. That practice was banned this season by the state DMV.
County Executive Greg Edwards said he was concerned the new DMV regulations would hurt the region's snowmobile industry, which infuses county businesses with much-needed money in the winter months.
''Our businesses depend on the tourism dollars brought in by out-of-state snowmobilers during the winter, and most have invested their own money in promoting this sport,'' Edwards said. ''I was concerned the new policy would keep riders away from the hundreds of miles of scenic trails that wind throughout our county, and reduce the revenue their riders deliver to our county.''
Figures comparing this year's registrations to other seasons with a comparable amount of snowfall were not immediately available.
According to Edwards, he and other county officials are fighting to make Chautauqua County as friendly as it can be for business owners, consumers and visitors.
''We don't want to discourage people from coming here from other states. Unfortunately, sometimes state requirements make us less attractive to consumers,'' Edwards said. ''In this case, our County Clerk Sandy Sopak was able to respond to the challenge and find a way to accommodate our visitors so they could enjoy all Chautauqua County has to offer.''

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Holiday Valley Hits March With Deals

A group of friends at Holiday Valley. A group of friends at Holiday Valley.

Here are some of the deals that Holiday Valley in Ellicotville, N.Y., is offering:
Kids 5 and younger ski free anytime. Pick up a free lift ticket at any ticket window. Child must be present.
Kids ski and stay free when their parents purchase a midweek ski package with lodging at the Inn at Holiday Valley or a Holiday Valley Rental Management Property. Up to two kids age 17 and under, based on minimum occupancy requirements.
4 for Free. Any 4th grader may purchase a New York State passport book for $19 and ski or snowboard free three times at any participating New York State area.
College Nights. Present your valid college ID at the main ticket window for a $25 night lift ticket Sunday through Thursday. Ticket valid 4 to 10 p.m.
Senior Skiers. Skiers age 70+ may purchase weekday, non-holiday lift tickets for the junior rate.
Upstate Farms Intense Milk 2 for 1. Pick up a bottle of Intense Milk at your favorite store, and bring in the cap for two lift tickets for the price of one valid on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday nights from 4 to 10 p.m. You can get specially marked Intense Milk bottles at Wegmans, Wilson Farms, Kinny Drug, Hess Gas Stations and other independent convenience stores.
Upstate Farms Tubing offer too: Two for the price of 1 Holiday Valley Tubing Company three-hour passes, valid on Thursdays and Sundays from 4 to 9 p.m. You can get specially marked Intense Milk bottles at Wegmans, Wilson Farms, Kinny Drug, Hess gas stations, and other independent convenience stores.
McDonald's 2 for 1. Visit a participating McDonalds Restaurant and purchase a specialty coffee to receive a coupon for 2 for 1 lift tickets valid on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday nights from 4 to 10 p.m. Participating stores are: Olean, Salamanca, Bradford, Cuba, Wellsville, Gowanda, Lakewood, Jamestown, Warren, Fredonia, Titusville, Arcade, Westfield and Springville.
McDonald's Tubing offer too! Purchase a specialty coffee and get a 2 for 1 coupon for Holiday Valley Tubing Company 3-hour passes, valid on Thursdays and Sundays from 4 to 10 p.m. Participating stores: Olean, Salamanca, Bradford PA, Cuba, Wellsville, Gowanda, Lakewood, Jamestown, Warren, Fredonia, Titusville PA, Arcade, Westfield, Springville.
Special Promotional Dates
Cabin Fever Fest Day March 17, 2009. Special rates for our friends from north of the border, eh? Purchase a voucher for $23.99 Canadian or U.S. at participating locations.
New York State Ski and Stay Promotion: book a two-day weekend stay at a Holiday Valley rental condominium March 7-8, 2009 and get a third night's lodging and a third day lift ticket free.
Spring rates an lodging packages start March 23, 2009. Save up to 10 percent.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

House Prices Will Rise Greatly over the Next Few Years, Buy Now

Commentary by Mike Parker


RISMEDIA, February 20, 2009-"Those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it." So spoke Sir John Buchan, the First Baron of Tweedsmuir, back in the mists of time often referred to as "the good old days."
Well, I may not be as old as the Baron, but I did live through President James Earl Carter, 21% prime interest rates, 20% inflation, Paul Volker and his attempt to strangle inflation by strangling the money supply, and that famous "WIN (Whip Inflation NOW!)" button the White House handed out. The period I am referring to was in the 1970s and early 1980s, and it effectively reduced the purchasing power and the true value of the dollar forever.
It wasn't that long ago that we lived in a different economy altogether
Americans often affectionately remember the 50s, when Ike was president, America was the benefactor of the world, and life was so simple. Then, a man making $10,000 annually was quite successful. Then, a home might cost $13,000. A nice Ford or Chevy might cost $2,300; New and gleaming and using 22 cent-a-gallon gasoline.
But it was only in 1971 that I bought my first home for $33,690 in Chelmsford, MA; the same year I purchased a new 454 Corvette Roadster for $5,100 out the door. Then, $50,000 a year was the equal of my dad's $10,000 in earning power.
I remember how excited I was when I finally had $100,000 in savings-I was wealthy, I thought, and my future seemed assured. When the pardon of Richard Nixon jolted America into changing administrations, the Peanut Farmer, James Earl Carter of Plains, Georgia, was elected to the Presidency of the United States. The wreckage his administration presided over made it possible for "The Great Communicator" to be elected in 1981; and by the time that happened, houses were $300,000 and cars cost about $30,000.
Personally, I wasn't noticing the effects of inflation, yet-after all, we sold that original home and moved into a beautiful new home that cost $86,000 just as President Carter took office. Although I sold that home for north of $200,000 a mere five years later, it never occurred to me that our currency was being debased; no, I thought I was a brilliant investor!
Whatever happens, the stage is set for inflation to come back with a vengeance.
Discounts abound, but prices of durable goods are increasing.
In the 1970s those gurus of the Federal Reserve told us that "M1 (an arcane measurement referring to the 'money supply'-the total number of dollars in circulation), was the most key statistic to watch, for if the money supply grew too quickly, inflation would persist and continue." We then became a nation of M1 watchers, and the Fed attempted to control the most complex economy in the world by watching that one statistic and throttling the economy with interest rate surges that brought about disintermediation, the death of the savings bank industry and that set the stage for the rise of Merrill Lynch and Wall Street to replace banks and savings and loans as purveyors of the American mortgage.
Interest rates were so high banks couldn't keep deposits because they were subject to interest rate restrictions. "Let them compete-take the shackles off the banking industry" Washington thundered, and so the Garn-St. Germaine banking act was passed, allowing the community bank 'to compete' with Merrill Lynch.
Predictably, Merrill Lynch won. King Pyrrhus couldn't have put it better: "One more such 'victory' and I am undone." We are all paying for that 'victory' today.
The savings and loan industry abandoned 50 years of thrift and sound banking practices and put insured deposits into junk bonds sold by that ever-smiling Michael Milliken and his henchmen instead of local mortgages. When the dust cleared, there was no mortgage expertise left, no savings and loan industry recognizable to anyone left, and Wall Street had achieved their goal of displacing the community bank and becoming the "one stop shop" for all things financial (See; Sanford Weil, Citigroup, et al).
In any case there can be no debate that the trillions of dollars about to be pumped into the economy-while they will save us-will also bring inflation back; unless-of course-all that stuff about M1 and the money supply, and all those pronouncements by Paul Volcker, then-Chairman of the Fed, were mistaken . Since Mr. Volcker has now returned in a quasi-official capacity to advise the President's team, I'd guess we're in for inflation, now, and part of his mission is to try to minimize it.
Good luck Tim Geithner.
Our new secretary of treasury is reportedly a brilliant man– perhaps a little forgetful about taxes, but nonetheless, brilliant, by all accounts. Together with the rest of the Obama team, he will need every bit of that intelligence and brilliance to help this great country of ours avert total meltdown, but I believe that the team will indeed accomplish that and we will make a recovery, led in part by housing. It's never smart to bet against the United States of America.
But when the money supply is increased by an amount equivalent to 20 or 30% of Gross Domestic Product or more-naturally or unnaturally, inflation must result. That means that prices of all fixed assets rise to keep pace with the devaluation of the currency. We won't be taking the wheelbarrow to the market full of dollar bills to buy a loaf of bread, as happened in Germany after WWI, but we will be going on a pretty thrilling ride for a while.
Now, what is going to happen to home prices over the next few years?
I am not as formally schooled in such matters as our current leaders are. I'm just a guy who has seen this movie, too. It is my belief that a side effect to saving America's economy will be a robust increase in inflation. I believe that Inflation will regain all the "value" we lost in housing over the past two years, and that it will regain it in five years or less. Simply put, to put the brakes on inflation, government must inhibit the recovery. The people in power aren't going to do that. Inflation is a necessary evil compared to a full scale depression and an acceptable trade off for most of us. (And oil won't stay at about $40 a barrel too long, either!)
So, tell your clients the truth: Interest rates will never be this low again in their lifetimes. Home prices won't be this low again in their lifetimes. This is the perfect storm economically, but it also the perfect time to buy a home; provided that you buy it as a home and not a piggy bank. It's just a nice side benefit that five years from now, the home you bought today will have appreciated so much that you'll be thinking (just like I did in 1979): "What a smart investor I am!"
This just happens to be the perfect confluence of opportunity and necessity: we must fix the economy and we're going to, whatever it takes. Inflation is an unavoidable side effect. Buy that house this year!
About the Author: Mike Parker specializes in online marketing services for Realtors® and real estate professionals. Obtain a free copy of his booklet "SEO Secrets for Realtors" by writing to It will be sent to you free and no one will call you. To request a free review of your website to determine if it can be found by internet buyers and if it is search engine friendly, click here and it will be evaluated free.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Snowmobile Ride-In Set For Sunday

Event Will Once Again Feature 'Taste Of Chautauqua Trails'

By Nicholas L. Dean

STOCKTON - The ride-in scheduled for Sunday by the snowmobile clubs of Chautauqua County is just a way of saying thanks, according to Ray Head, ride-in chairman.
An annual event, the ride-in will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Chautauqua County Fireman's Grounds in Stockton - at junction CH108 of trails C4 and C4B.
''This is not a fundraiser, so we don't collect any money,'' Head said of the open event. ''This is just a way to say 'thanks' to the people who support our clubs and come in here to Chautauqua County to ride. It's just an event to come in and enjoy some camaraderie, that's all there is to it.''
As in past years, the event will feature free hot dogs, hamburgers, hot chocolate, coffee and other items. For the second year now, the ride-in will also include ''A Taste of Chautauqua Trails'' - a food offering which features dishes from restaurants along the county's trails. According to Head, restaurants everywhere from Pine Junction in Findley Lake to The Trillium Lodge in Cherry Creek will be participating in ''A Taste of Chautauqua Trails.''
''With a winter like we're having right now, the economic impact from snowmobilers is pretty astronomical,'' Head said of the winter sport's effect on area businesses. ''The event is open to the clubs themselves and anybody who is riding in our area. A lot of the attendance is by people from Ohio and Pennsylvania who belong to our clubs now.''
As a ride-in, Head said the annual event understandably only happens in years when the weather cooperates. However, in its history, Head said the event has only ever been totally canceled once. Though last year's ride-in was canceled on the day of the event, it was re-scheduled and held later in the season. In addition to those who choose to ride their snowmobiles to the event, the Chautauqua County Fireman's Grounds can will also be open to vehicle traffic. Signs will be placed on both the trail and the roadways to direct individuals to the site.
According to Head, trail groomers will be on hand to give individuals an up-close look at how the county's trails are maintained.
''We expect quite a turnout for it if the weather is decent,'' Head said. ''Senator Cathy Young will be there and so will County Executive Greg Edwards, who is riding in.''
The annual ride-in is sponsored by the snowmobile clubs of Chautauqua County, which includes: the Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Club, the Cherry Creek Snow-Goers, the Ellery Sno-Cruisers, the Lake Effect Trail Breakers and the Sunset Drifters.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Housing Market Not So Bad

By Patrick Fanelli,
''The nice thing is we never had a bubble, so we never had a burst.''
Almost 200 fewer homes were sold last year in Chautauqua County compared to 2007, according to the Chautauqua County Board of Realtors.
That represents an 18 percent decline in a one-year period, a symptom of the housing crisis and recession that is strangling the nation.
That may sound bad, but it was worse all across New York state and the nation, says Jan Murray, Board of Realtors executive director.
''New York went down 22.9 percent overall, and we are doing better than the rest of the country,'' she said. ''Chautauqua County just remains pretty stable. ... We just don't have the booms, so we don't have the drops.''
A total of 1,046 homes were sold in Chautauqua County in 2007 compared to 862 in 2008. Though fewer homes were sold, the median home price continues to climb, having risen 2.3 percent last year, according to the Board of Realtors. That's something that can't be said for so many areas throughout the country experiencing significant declines.
The 18 percent drop in sales only applies to single-family dwellings. Factor in commercial real estate, farm land, multi-family homes and other properties, and it only decreased 9 percent during 2009.
''The nice thing is we never had a bubble, so we never had a burst,'' said Richard McMahon, Board of Realtors president.
According to McMahon, the housing market slowed in November and December - a usual occurrence when winter weather and the holidays arrive.
''Overall, it's been okay. We had the traditional slowdown in November and December, but we always do, even in the best of times,'' McMahon said. ''Now it has picked up a little bit. ... Who knows what this year will bring.''
Though McMahon believes the winter weather this season - which is some of the worst the region has seen in years - isn't helping the housing market, it could end up helping the market along Chautauqua Lake.
Especially in Burtis Bay, aquatic weeds - a nuisance for lakefront property owners - weren't much of a problem last summer, a phenomenon many attribute at least in part to the last year's weather.
According to McMahon, the Burtis Bay housing market picked up steam last summer, not only in the numbers but in the sale prices as well. If the thick ice cover and lack of sunshine keeps the weeds at bay again this year, McMahon thinks Burtis Bay could be booming a few years down the road like so many other areas around the lake.
''That's been a big plus,'' he said.
Low mortgage rates and falling prices have made this a good time to buy a home. Federal lawmakers also established a $7,500 tax credit for first-time homebuyers through July 1 that acts as an interest-free loan from the federal government that must be paid back over a 15-year period.
According to McMahon and Murray, a jump start in the local housing market is expected in the weeks and months to come as spring approaches.
''(Realtors) say it's picking up,'' Ms. Murray said. ''It's usually about March and April that we see people listing homes and houses being looked at.''

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