Lancaster county pending home sales rose

•February 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Lancaster county pending home sales rose 20% in January…


How to avoid common home buying mistakes

•February 1, 2012 • Leave a Comment

How to avoid common home buying mistakes in 2012:

Free fun for Active Military, EMS and Po

•January 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Free fun for Active Military, EMS and Police this coming Tuesday at Roundtop Mountain Resort! See my blog for details:

Trouble Selling Your Home? Consider These Factors

•December 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Elizabethtown PA Real EstateIn the current real estate climate, even in Lancaster County Pennsylvania real estate,  there are many factors as to why homes stay on the market as long as they do.  The easy thing for home sellers to do is blame the real estate agent they’re working with and switch to another.  While this may make sellers feel better in the short term, inevitably they run into the same problems they had with their previous agent.

The reason:  There are many factors beyond a real estate professional’s control that contribute directly to the length of time a home may stay on the market.

Knowing and understanding these factors will give you more realistic expectations of your home selling process.   Here is a short list to help you:

1) Banks Aren’t Lending

In this recession economy, banks just aren’t as willing to lend money as they were in years past.   Lending requirements for banks are much more strict and in general people just have less money to spend.   The end result is that larger down payments and higher credit scores are required of buyers to get a home loan.

2)  High Unemployment

Your home may be in an area with high unemployment.   The impact of business closures or down-sizing goes beyond job loss…home values in the area are negatively affected, as well.   It’s also tough to attract home buyers to an area with high unemployment because most people simply want to live in an area where there are more employment opportunities.

3)  Neighborhood

Let’s face it, some neighborhoods just aren’t what they once were, and the indicators of decline are there for you to see:

  • High number of  foreclosures and/or short sales in the area
  • Area schools in decline
  • Businesses closing down

Look realistically at your community if you’re looking to sell your home.  Even if your area is in decline, the right price will sell your home.  However, this may lead you directly to factor #5 below.    A good real estate agent can help you price the home right…even if it’s unfortunately not what you were hoping to get for it.

4)   New Construction

I include this on the list simply because there are things like home repairs, staging, landscaping and removal of as many personalized decorative pieces as possible that a good real estate professional should address with home sellers.   The problem is too many sellers don’t want to bother with these things and are convinced that they can sell their home “as is.”   The result?  A buyer would rather buy a new home (even at a higher price) than be bothered with things like repairs and landscaping before the ink is even dry at the closing table.  Like it or not, your home will be compared to new construction and it’s important to present it as close to pristine as possible.

5)   Unrealistic Home Value

Your home just may not be worth what you think it is or want it to be.   Sometimes neighborhood decline is the reason, though the housing bubble’s unnatural inflation of home values is the most common factor.   Even though this isn’t the news you want to hear, it’s the truth…but a good real estate agent is not going to price your Lancaster County PA home at bottom dollar just to get a sale.   This isn’t helpful to anyone involved.   Use the Internet…it’s easy to find out what homes in your area are selling for and get a realistic idea of what ballpark your home value will be in.  A good real estate pro will guide you through this process and help it all make sense.

For more tips and hands-on help with Lancaster County PA real estate , give me a call at (717) 413-2749.

4 Tips for Taking Care of Granite, Marble, Tile & Grout

•December 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Stone marble granite or tile countertopsThe beauty of stone countertops and ceramic tile has become more and more popular over the years.   These surfaces add a nice upscale touch to your home and actually add to the resale value.   Though stone and tile are loved for both the look and the durability, don’t take either for granted.   Like anything, stone and tile require proper care for the beauty to last and replacing or resurfacing can be quite costly.

Here are 4 tips to help keep your stone and tile surfaces looking their best while protecting your investment:

Beware of acid.  Vinegar, tomatoes, wine and other foods or liquids containing acids can eat away at the surface and create etches/rough spots that will require professional resurfacing.  Wipe up these spills immediately.

Use the right cleaners to keep your stone and tile surfaces clean.   Especially avoid cleaners that contain bleach, as it can compromise the sealants which protect the surface.   Warm, soapy water with a clean water rinse is your best option.

Bleach Pen?  Check.  Toothbrush?  Check.  A toothbrush is excellent for stains, and a regular laundry bleach pen is good for cleaning your tile grout.  Any chipped or broken areas can be easily cleaned out with a grout removal tool and it’s easy to fill in with fresh grout.

The 6-Month Seal Rule:  Every six months, reapply a surface sealant.   They’re very easy to use and will help prevent stains caused by food and spills being absorbed into the surface.   Choose professional-grade stone and tile cleaners and sealants, which you can find at your local hardware store.

Credit Check – Even FHA Guidelines Are Tougher

•December 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Lancaster County PA Real Estate FHA loansIf you’re one of the many whose credit score took a hit following the housing bust a few years ago, you’re no doubt in credit rebuilding mode.   Credit score drops went from 20 points to 100 points or more following the bust, and the result has been that mortgage approval guidelines have gotten more stringent.

Even new FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loans are averaging credit scores of 700 or above.   The FHA has long been the safe haven for first time home buyers, buyers with modest incomes and those with not-so-great credit histories, but now even they are tightening the proverbial belt.

So what does this mean for you, as a home buyer or home seller?

Sellers:  Patience is a virtue.  It’s also a plain reality that we have to deal with whether we like it or not.  The real estate process typically takes longer now with the tougher guidelines for mortgage approval, which makes an already competitive market even more competitive by reducing the number of actual qualified buyers.  Control what you can control…make sure your home’s appearance is as competitive as possible with a new home and that appliances and any necessary repairs are taken care of.  This will remove potential contingencies that could delay or otherwise hurt the sale.

Buyers:  If you’ve got good credit, get pre-approved.  Not pre-qualified, but pre-approved.  With average credit scores for approval – even FHA approval – trending higher, get your credit rating in order.  Paying bills on time consistently is crucial to improving your credit rating and maintaining a good credit rating.  Know your credit standing and commit to buying within your means.   Sometimes the house we really want may be beyond our current financial means, but the right Lancaster county real estate professional can help you find the best value for your money.

Homeowners In General:  Make sure you pay your mortgage on time.  Falling behind 30 days or more on your mortgage can cost you anywhere from 70 – 110 credit score points (i.e. 750 can become 640).   A loss like this can take up to 3 years to recover.  Make sure your credit is in the best shape it can be, especially if you see a potential move in your not-to-distant future.

For more tips and hands-on help with Lancaster County PA real estate , give me a call at (717) 413-2749.

Making the Most of Your Home Office Space

•December 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

More people are working from home now than ever before. More and more people are dedicating areas in their homes to be used as full-time home offices. Whatever the size, here are some tips for maximum efficiency in designing and equipping your home office:

1. Be organized. Make the most your home office space by using uniformly sized storage containers to store important papers and office supplies. The uniform size will be a better fit in your office space and eliminate most wasted space.

2. Ergonomic chairs and wrist pads help prevent carpel tunnel syndrome, as typing has become more common than writing in the computer age. Also, be sure your monitor is at a height where you’re not looking down at it.

3. Don’t worry about size. Walk-in closets and other unassuming spaces have been converted into completely functional offices. You may not need a large office for meeting people or holding meetings, but you do need to have room for the basics necessary for running your business and doing your work:)

4. Use technology to your advantage. Laptops are more powerful than ever (as powerful as any desktops nowadays) Today’s thin monitors and the power of modern wi-fi allows for both maximum functionality and efficiency. Tools like Vonage, MagicJack and Skype also allow for low-cost long distance communication through your computer.

For more tips and hands-on help with Lancaster County PA real estate , give me a call at (717) 413-2749.

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