Your Building Blog for the Rochester Area

What to Look For as a First-time Rochester Homebuyer

Posted by John Graziose on Fri, Apr 6, 2018 @ 06:04 AM

What to Look For as a First time Rochester HomebuyerWe’re used to hearing that “One size doesn’t fit all” when making personal choices—whether we’re talking about shoes, cars, or even houses. I’ve talked before about how what you want out of a new home can vary depending on your age and your specific needs.  But there is some interesting information that came out of the recent National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Show in Orlando. There’s evidence that what you look for in a home also depends on whether it’s your first home or not. So let’s take a look at what to look for as a first-time Rochester Homebuyer.

According to the NAHB Economics & Housing Policy Group, here’s a list of the top 10 features first-time homebuyers are looking for.

  1. Living room (61%)
  2. Laundry room
  3. Dining room
  4. Walk-in closet in master bedroom
  5. Both shower stall/tub in master bath
  6. Front porch
  7. Great room
  8. 2-car garage
  9. Kitchen double sink (40%)

It's interesting to compare this list with a list of what people who've already purchased at least one home are looking for. Here's the list NAHB shared that shows the top 14 essentials seasoned homeowners are looking for. Apparently, people become even more demanding once they have one purchase under their belts—so their list is longer!

  1. Laundry room (72%)
  2. Living room
  3. Walk-in closet in master bedroom
  4. 2-car garage
  5. Garage storage
  6. Kitchen double sink
  7. Dining room
  8. Patio
  9. Table space for eating in the kitchen
  10. Both shower/tub in master bath
  11. Hardwood flooring
  12. Energy-Star appliances
  13. Great room
  14. Granite countertops (40%)

So what does that mean for you if you’re a first-time buyer in the Rochester area? For one thing, it’s interesting how many of the same features both first-time and repeat-homebuyers consider essential. If you ever decide to sell your home down the road, you’ll probably have an easier time selling it if it includes these features. Even if some of the features don’t make your “Top Ten” list, it may be wise to include them for resale value.

Here’s another thing to keep in mind. Some of the features on the second list show up there because they are things people who had already owned a house wanted (and perhaps didn’t have in their original home). Things such as table space for eating in the kitchen; hardwood floors; Energy-Star appliances; and granite countertops could be considered “upgrades.”  And while we firmly believe that you should set a realistic budget and stay within that budget, there are times when spending a little bit more can be a smart move. The upgrades mentioned here aren’t necessarily “luxury” upgrades (with the possible exception of the granite countertops). They are simply things that make living in your home more enjoyable.

The truth of the matter is that making these upgrades will never be less expensive than when you’re building. Renovating, or adding on later will cost you more. If you can afford it—including some of those items can really make sense. Not only will you derive more enjoyment from your home, but you’ll also make it more attractive to a wider group of potential buyers if you ever decide to sell.


Topics: Buying a Home in Rochester NY, First-Time Home Buyer

2018 Housing Trends: Bigger Isn’t Better—Better Is Better!

Posted by John Graziose on Mon, Apr 2, 2018 @ 13:04 PM

2018 Housing Trends Bigger Isn’t Better Better Is BetterSmart home shoppers in the Rochester area know that it makes sense to keep an eye on trends in housing. They don’t want to find themselves living in a house with an outdated design or sense of style. They also have a sense that it makes sense to look for classic, enduring design rather than to blindly pursue the latest “hot” styles. It does, however, make sense to be aware of broad trends in the housing industry. I’m not talking about “This Year’s Bold New Colors,” or “Are Stainless Steel Appliances Dead?” Instead, I’d like to talk a bit about a couple of 2018 housing trends that the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has been tracking.

Bigger Isn’t (Necessarily) Better

The first piece of information (as documented by the NAHB Economics & Housing Policy Group) is that in general, new houses are a little bit smaller than they have been. They’re not talking about the “Tiny House” movement that tends to get a lot of press. They’re talking about the average/median size of homes across the country.

2018 Housing Trends Bigger Isn’t Better Better Is BetterAs you can see from this chart (from the 2018 NAHB show) the size of homes has steadily increased over the years. There was a dip around 2008 and then the overall size of homes flattened out in 2013. We’re not talking about a huge shift here, but it is a break from past trends. One way to interpret this trend is to say that homeowners may find the overall size of their homes less important than their home’s overall quality. They’re after floor plans that deliver more efficient and comfortable use of space than simply more space. It’s also probably safe to say that homeowners are aware of the costs to maintain (especially heat and cool) larger spaces.

I would like to offer a caveat. While bigger isn't necessarily better, there are times when there is simply no substitute for additional square footage. Here’s an article that looks at those cases when sometimes bigger is better!

Better is Better

2018 Housing Trends Bigger Isn’t Better Better Is BetterSo if size is perhaps less important, what is it that will make a home better? This chart from NAHB highlights the features that industry research indicates will be the most likely features to appear in new homes for 2018. Those include (in order of popularity):

  • Walk-in closets in master bedroom
  • Great room (Kitchen/Family/Living)
  • Laundry room
  • Low-e windows
  • 9' first floor ceiling height
  • Granite kitchen countertop
  • Programmable thermostat
  • Energy-Star appliances
  • Central Kitchen Island
  • Energy-Star windows
  • Exterior lighting
  • 2-car garage
  • Front porch
  • Bathroom linen closet
  • Private toilet compartment in master bath

The NAHB research shows that these are what most people will be looking for—and expecting to find in any new home they consider. Your specific list might be a little different. There may be things that aren’t on this chart that you’d definitely want. There also may be things on here that you hadn’t thought about—but recognize as being things you would value.

Obviously, your personal needs and sense of style are the most important things to consider. But these are at least some of the features you'll want to think about to make yourself comfortable in your home for a good long time. And if you keep an eye on resale value, these are things that future buyers will be looking for if and when you should decide to sell your home.

Let’s be clear: There is no “magic” number for determining exactly how big your new home should be. And there’s no specific set of features that will fit the needs and desires of every homeowner. It really comes down to finding the floor plan that really fits your family. And when it comes to choosing the right floor plan, Gerber can help!

So keep your eye on general trends in the homebuilding industry. And make sure you choose what will make you happy—and hold its value.

Adapted from the original published Jun 18, 2014 @ 07:06 AM



Topics: Buying a Home in Rochester NY

Build, Buy, or Remodel? What’s the Right Choice for Your Rochester Home?

Posted by John Graziose on Sat, Feb 24, 2018 @ 21:02 PM

Build-Buy-or-Remodel-What’s-the-Right-Choice-for-Your-Rochester-Home.jpgWe Americans love our choices and options. If you don’t believe me, take a walk down the cereal aisle in one of the Rochester-area supermarkets and look at all the different options you’ve got for breakfast cereal!  The same thing is true when it comes to your housing needs. You have options for meeting your family’s needs. But should you build, buy or remodel? What’s the right choice for your Rochester home?

The answer, of course, will depend on what you’re looking for in a home. Your budget and the timing of your move will also be factors. Your specific needs will be different from those of others, so there’s no “one-size-fits-all” answer to whether you should build, buy or remodel.

That's why it may be more helpful for you to compare some of the advantages and disadvantages of your various options. Here's a quick overview of some of the pluses and minuses of building a new home, buying an existing home, or remodeling your current Rochester home.

Building a New Custom Home


  • Your home will be built to your exact specifications. You’ll be involved in the process from the ground up to ensure you get exactly what you want.
  • You’ll start with a clean slate. That means you won’t have to work around existing structural constraints or styles in order to get what you really want.
  • You get to put more of yourself into the way the home is built. Your home can reflect more of your personality.
  • With a new custom built home, you'll have lower initial maintenance costs (because it's new) and down the road because of the quality of materials and craftsmanship.
  • Custom built homes are more likely to use green building materials and technologies—resulting in lower utility bills and a decreased impact on the environment
  • With a custom home, you can build in features such as higher ceilings and bring in more natural light.
  • New custom homes offer the advantage of a basement that's dry from the beginning and remains dry because of the quality of construction.


  • There is a cost differential. Custom homes tend to cost a bit more than tract homes (but bear in mind that you’re getting more as well, so you have to take overall value into consideration).
  • You may face some delays before you can move in. If immediate occupancy is important this can be an issue and you may have to stay where you are longer—or find a temporary solution.
  • Custom building is a lot more “hands-on.” You’ll face a lot more decisions about the design and finish of your home. That can consume a lot of time and mental energy.

Buying a New or Existing Home


  • Buying an existing home gives you the ability to move in more quickly. There’s no waiting for construction to be completed—your home is “move-in ready” right now.
  • Existing homes generally have landscaping already done—and it’s often more mature. In addition to looking nicer, it can save you money later on.
  • Buying an existing home requires fewer decisions. If the thought of deciding on finishes and features and the like leaves you cold, you avoid all that. 

By the way, at Gerber, we frequently have existing models for sale that allow you to see a finished home that nobody has ever lived in—and move in quickly. Click here to check out our current inventory.


  • An existing home sits on an existing lot and you have to take what you get. You don’t have the option of choosing the lot you like best.
  • You’ll be somewhat limited with regard to how much you can customize your home. If you like the way the home is designed and finished, that’s great, but if you want to make changes it will take time, effort, and money.
  • If you’re buying a home that someone else has lived in you don’t get to “break in” your new home. Some people really like the idea of being the first ones in their new home. Also, your fixtures and appliances won’t be brand new (unless you’re buying a model).

Remodeling Your Existing Home


  • If you live in a neighborhood you love that is convenient to work, schools, and other activities, you don’t have to pull up roots and start anew.
  • You can avoid the stress and extra expense of a major move. There will be some disruption—but it’s not the same as moving. 
  • Good remodeling isn’t cheap but it’s probably going to be less expensive than building from scratch. 


If you really don’t like the overall style of your current home (i.e. You really want a rancher and you’re in a two-story) your remodel may not be able to address that issue.

It’s good to have options. And while you may have additional questions that you need to address before you decide what’s best for you and your family, evaluating the advantages and disadvantages above will give you a good start on your decision-making process.


Topics: building a new home, Rochester NY Home Builders, Moving to Rochester, Rochester Remodeling, Buying a Home in Rochester NY

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