A Picture is worth a 1,000 words

Google “bad real estate photos” and you will come up with 10+ pages with examples of hilariously terrible pictures that made it onto Multiple Listing Services across the country. Everyone pretty much knows a bad real estate photo when they see it, but what does a good picture look like and are they really that important? Let’s tackle the second question first...

To replace or not replace?

Windows are an important feature in every home. Walking through houses with buyers, I always point out the windows. Are they original or replacement? More importantly, are they in good shape? If they are in poor shape, should they be replaced or repaired?

What makes a community project successful?

This past spring, my friends Paul and Caroline came to me with an idea. They had seen the Philadelphia mural arts project and wanted to talk about ways we could bring public art to Bethlehem. It seemed like such a fun idea that I immediately said I’d love to be involved. The ART (Art on the Rail Trail) committee formed this past spring and in short order we selected the first site, started a public awareness campaign and kicked off our fundraising. We set an aggressive goal to have the first mural installed along the Albany County Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail this fall and last weekend we celebrated with an unveiling ceremony and reception. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s at 90 Adams St in Delmar and it’s pretty terrific. We are hoping this is the first of many art installations up and down the trail so keep your eye out for more!

A quick primer on heating systems

Around here, most homes have either a boiler or a furnace. It’s a bit surprising how often people will mix up the terms; they really are not interchangeable. While we don’t expect you to have an exhaustive knowledge, we do hope that after reading this you will be able to tell the difference between the two.

Tips for negotiating the 2017 spring market

Everyone knows that spring is the time when the real estate market heats up right? Traditionally, it’s a time when lots of new listings come on the market and buyers who have been waiting patiently for more selections get to really explore all their options. That’s not how spring 2017 is shaping up. So far, inventory has remained tight and the homes that are well priced and nicely updated are going under contract quickly and often with multiple offers. This is great news for sellers who have a realistic notion of their home’s value and who have kept up with design trends. It’s not necessarily bad for buyers, especially those who know what they want, have a clear idea of their budget and have some flexibility in when they purchase a house. But it certainly is stressful for both parties.

Here are some tips for successfully selling and buying a house in this current market:

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about …. siding

If the roof is the hair-do of a house, the siding is the outfit. Pragmatically, siding protects the outer walls of a house from extreme weather, creating a barrier against wind, moisture, and uncomfortable temperatures. But like all outfits, it’s prized not only for its function but also for its form. From shingles to clapboard to metal sheeting, the type of siding chosen for a particular house has as much to do with logistical factors, like budget and climate, as it does with the owner’s aesthetic style or preference. Whether you’re in the market for a new (or new-to-you) home, or whether you’re considering an exterior renovation, here are some of the pros and cons of popular siding types.

Everything you ever wanted to know about… Roofs

Mansard.jpgWhen poring over the MLS listings and looking for your starter home, your dream house, or your empty nest, you can sometimes get a little lost in all of the terminology: What is a gambrel roof? How are double-hung windows different from other windows? Why do I care if the siding is cement board? What’s the difference between radiant heat and forced air anyway? In this new series of posts, we’re going to explore the house from top to bottom to learn about all of those “house things” you always wanted to know. Today, it’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the roof. Okay, well, maybe not everything — I’m not going to tell you how to raise it — but you will know more about roof styles by the time we’re done. 

House style- New Constuction

New Home, courtesy of Pixabay (www.pixabay.com)


With single-family homes sprinkled generously across the American landscape, it can be easy to forget that this housing type was once a radical new concept, reflecting the independent and self-reliant spirit of the early settlers. Prior to the 17th century, European communities often centered around manor houses which required large staffs of servants, skilled workers, and groundskeepers to keep them running. Those not living or working within the confines of the main house, often lived in multi-generational cottages, where one would be born and reared until married, at which time a new wife would leave her family to join the household of her husband. 

House Style- Mid Century Modern

By the end of World War II, America was primed for change. Soldiers were returning home to a country that was eager to put the past behind it and move boldly into a newly imagined future. This optimism created both a baby boom and a housing boom, as expanding families migrated into new “sub-urban” settlements. Emerging technologies created opportunities for innovation in building.

House Style -The Colonial Revival

The nation’s centennial celebration in 1876 had many American’s clambering for the past and a return to America’s historic roots. The following year, this spark of interest in early colonial settlers was further fueled by a collection of noted architects, among them McKim, Mead, and White. Upon completing a tour of the original homes of New England, the group took up the battle-cry to preserve these “important colonial houses,” which at this point had begun to age into states of disrepair, and to create new connections to the country’s treasured past with the design and construction of new homes that would further this homage. 

House Styles - The Victorian

You’re in the market for a new house. Maybe it’s your first time buying. Maybe you’re a seasoned homeowner ready to make a change. Whatever your experience, there are many factors for you to consider as you wade through the myriad of home listings in your chosen area. One such factor is style.

In today’s market, there are many different styles of houses available to buyers: Victorian, Bungalow, Mid-Century Modern, Contemporary and Center Hall Colonial for example. Each of these housing styles has its fan base, those who would live in no other—who laud the qualities and benefits of their chosen style. And truthfully, each have fine qualities to consider. So, how do you choose which style is best for you? Well first, you want to understand the differences between them, and specifically, what these differences mean for you and your family.

Should you refer your family and friends to McSharry and Associates?

We work primarily by referral, getting new business from repeat clients or via recommendations from past clients, friends, and business associates. We love working by referral because it allows us to spend our advertising dollars promoting our listings rather than promoting ourselves. And that just feels better to us. We aren’t the type to be comfortable with our faces on a billboard or a shopping cart. We find it much more interesting to think of new ways to market our listings than to worry about marketing our business and we are grateful that we get to focus our energies in the way we want. Referrals have made us successful and referrals are what keep our children clothed and fed.

How’s the market doing?

“How’s the market doing?” and its close cousin, “What do you think the market is going to do?” are questions we are regularly asked – by clients as they plan their next real estate move, and by friends and acquaintances at social gatherings, waiting in line at the grocery store, or in the stands at children’s’ sporting events. Many of us own real estate, and for the vast majority of us, our homes are our largest financial asset so we are naturally interested in the ebbs and flows of the market.

The power of the Internet

94% of home buyers start their search online. That’s an impressive number and I think it’s probably an underestimation. Neither of us can remember the last time we came across a buyer who didn’t use the Internet in their home buying search. It’s an efficient and effective way to browse through the listing inventory. A good online listing entices buyers to schedule an appointment, so it makes sense that Realtors should make sure their listings look great, right?

The process, and perils, of pricing

One of the services we provide our seller clients is an in-depth analysis of what their house is worth. Every home is different and it is critical to both understand general market trends, as well as have a handle on how a property’s specific strengths and weaknesses will impact value. We typically have our first conversation about price with potential sellers at a pre-listing appointment. Sometimes, these meetings are with past clients or referrals who intend to list with us; other times they are competitive situations with the potential client interviewing more than one agent.


Selling houses is a bit like match making (cue the music “match maker, match maker make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch…”). Just like every person has a “most likely” mate, every house has a “most likely” buyer and our job is to find that buyer.

Career day at the middle school

When I told Fiona I wanted to speak at career day, her response was, “That’s fine, as long as you introduce yourself as Julie Sasso and don’t tell anyone you are my mother.” I agreed, and largely kept my promise, though I did start the presentation by saying I worked at a company my husband and I owned, named McSharry and Associates Realty, so I am pretty sure that most of her classmates figured out I was her mom. I tried hard to keep the presentation innocuous and refrained from the behaviors (singing out loud, dancing, telling jokes) she finds most offensive.

Keeping the place up

You know the story – you buy a new house and before you move in you have a long list of projects (both big and small) that you will tackle right after the closing. Some projects are cosmetic (is sponge paint still in vogue?) and others may be items your home inspector flagged (rotting decking on the front porch is something we need to address at our new place). You are committed to getting right to the list after you unpack and settle in. But before you know it life gets in the way, maybe you lose the list, and years go by. No biggie right? Well unfortunately that’s not always the case. Sometimes deferring maintenance and home improvements can turn into a really big deal. Maybe you find yourself unexpectedly having to sell your home and it is not even close to show ready or perhaps several “emergency” repairs are required simultaneously and your budget can’t accommodate the expense.

Aging in place?

My standard response when people ask me how I like our new three story Victorian home, is “I love it! They will have to bury me in the backyard because I am never leaving.” And while I mean that now (well maybe not the part about burying me in the backyard), I wonder how I will feel as I get older. As the baby boom generation is aging, we have seen the development of universal design principles and “aging in place” is a desire for many people as they get older. I am nowhere near an expert on either topic, but I do see firsthand how aging affects our clients and their real estate needs.

Politics and real estate

How running for office made me a better Realtor

Those of you who don’t live in Bethlehem probably don’t know that I recently ran for (and won!) a seat on the town board. My four year term begins January 1st and I am very excited for the opportunity to serve our wonderful town. But this post isn’t about that. It’s about what I learned knocking on doors and talking to people across Bethlehem and how I can use that information to be a better Realtor.