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Main Line Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find my real estate blog to be a wealth of information, covering real estate Market Trends and real estate news, financial articles, numerous guidance articles on buying a home, selling a home, financing a home purchase, home loans, home maintenance, decorating, and design, among many others. The articles are valuable to both first-time home buyers and sellers, as well as to experienced home buyers and sellers. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. The articles in this blog contain a wealth of valuable insights and information. Enjoy! I love helping my clients find their dream home and preparing their home for sale. I'd love to talk with you!


Janis Peterson, Realtor®, GRI, ABR, SRES, CSP

May 1, 2021

5 Major Benefits of Hiring a Buyer's Agent When Purchasing a Home

Buyers Agent Philadelphia Main Lines Montgomery Delaware Chester County PA Pennsylvania

If you're planning to shop for a new home soon, consider hiring a buyer's real estate agent to guide you through the process. Unlike a seller's agent, who works for the home seller, a buyer's agent works for a home buyer. Keep reading to discover five major benefits of hiring a buyer's agent when purchasing a new home.

(1) They Work for You

A buyer's agent works specifically for you as a home buyer and has your best interest in mind. They can help you not only locate a house that suits your needs, budget, and wants, but also assist you through the entire home-buying process. Hiring a buyer's agent provides you with a sense of security in knowing that you have a licensed realtor to work on your behalf.

(2) No Additional Expense

One of the great perks of hiring a buyer's real estate agent is that it probably won't cost you a penny for their services. This is because the commission for a buyer's agent and a seller's agent is typically paid for by the home seller and is split evenly between the two parties. For example, on the sale of a $300,000 home with a 6 percent commission, the buyer's agent would receive 3 percent, or $9000, and the seller's agent would receive the same amount.

(3) Assist with Negotiations

Because a buyer's agent is a licensed, professional realtor, they are extremely familiar with real estate negotiations. Their bargaining expertise can be invaluable to you as a buyer. For instance, a buyer's agent can assist and guide you with negotiations involving home inspection repair requests and the selling price of a home. They can also help you negotiate additional items to remain in a home, such as existing furniture or major appliances.

(4) Communication Liaison with Seller's Agent

When you have a buyer's agent working for you, it relieves you of the responsibility of communicating directly to the seller's agent. They work for you as a liaison between you and the seller's realtor. A buyer's agent communicates with a seller's realtor about items such as, houses that you would like to tour, home negotiations that you initiate, updates on your home loan status, and other relevant information in your home purchasing process.

(5) Resource of Valuable Information

Hiring a buyer's agent to work on your behalf automatically provides you with access to a professional resource of valuable home-related information. For example, they can serve as a resource for names of local home inspectors, mortgage lending institutions, and moving companies. A buyer's agent can also provide you with information about specific neighborhoods and homeowner's associations, the current market value of recently sold homes, and current real estate trends.

It makes a lot of sense to hire a buyer's agent to represent you and work for your best interest when purchasing a home. Not only can they help you search for a new home, but they can also assist you with home-buying legalities, negotiations, questions, and communications with a seller's agent. Also, as you just read, the commission for a buyer's agent is typically paid by the home seller. It's good to know that a licensed real estate expert is working on your behalf when you hire a buyer's agent.  

Janis Peterson, Realtor®, GRI, ABR, SRES, CSP, is an  Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR); she specializes in homes and real estate in Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester County, PA, Pennsylvania, and has been offering exceptional service helping Main Line Buyers and Sellers since 1994.

Janis Peterson, REALTOR®, GRI, ABR, SRES, CSP 
Long and Foster Real Estate, Inc. 
355 Lancaster Ave. Suite 100 
Haverford, PA 19041 
Direct: 610-642-3744 
Fax: 610-658-0267

Posted in Buying A Home
April 15, 2021

3 Big Buying Mistakes to Avoid in a Home Bidding War

3 Big Buying Mistakes to Avoid in a Home Bidding War Philadelphia Main Line Homes Montgomery Delaware Chester County PA Pennsylvania


In real estate markets where homebuyer demand exceeds the supply of homes available for sale, it's common for houses on the market to receive multiple purchase offers. And when home sellers have offers from more than one buyer, a bidding war often ensues.

It's not as violent as it sounds. The "war" simply consists of counteroffers made by the competing buyers. It can go back-and-forth, with each buyer trying to out-do the other until someone entices the seller with the winning offer.

Such a scenario is great for the seller, who usually gets a price above what they were asking, but it can be expensive for homebuyers. Sometimes, submitting the "winning" bid doesn't make total financial sense. Here are three big buying mistakes to avoid in a home bidding war.

Not making your best offer first

You might think it's gamesmanship or a strategy to save money, but in a multiple-bid situation, it almost always makes sense to make your best offer early on. Even though "bidding war" makes it sound as though you're fighting other buyers, you're really just trying to make the right impression on one seller.

Especially in a hot market, an initial offer below the asking price could offend the seller. A lowball offer can change the way the seller sees you, which could hurt you later even if you make a higher offer.

If you really love a home, why risk losing out on it when you're willing to pay more from the beginning?

Extending yourself too far

Most buyers begin their home search armed with a pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender. This gives them an idea of just how big a home loan they can afford. But what the bank says you can afford and what you truly can afford might be two different things.

If you make an offer at the very top of your budget, you must know that you truly can swing the monthly payment. Your lender is determining that top-end by using a mathematical formula, not by truly examining your spending habits. If your housing expense is going to increase by, say, $1,000 each month, only you can honestly answer whether you can afford it without stressing about it every month.

Keep in mind, too, that if you spend your entire life savings on a down payment, it could leave you house-poor. You might not have cash left to furnish or improve the home the way you'd like, and you might find yourself without any sort of rainy-day fund, which protects you against other large unexpected expenses.

Waiving the wrong contingencies

If you find yourself in a bidding war, you might be tempted to make your offer more attractive by waiving one or more of the typical contingencies in a home sale contract. Keep in mind, though, that those contingencies are meant to protect buyers.

If you're making an all-cash offer, it's reasonable to waive the financing and appraisal contingencies. But if you're taking out a loan, waiving those contingencies can be costly. You could wind up on the legal hook for a home you can't get financing for, or you might have to bring more cash to the table because the property doesn't appraise high enough for the lender.

You also might be tempted to waive the home inspection contingency, which could wind up being a huge mistake. Unless the seller provides inspection results ahead of time, passing up on an inspection could mean taking on a house that needs a new roof, has damage to the foundation or has a pest infestation. Those are all major problems.

The bottom line

Multiple-offer situations are common in many real estate markets. If you find yourself in one as a homebuyer, avoiding a few key mistakes might help you avoid expenses - and regret - down the road.

In many parts of the country, homes are currently selling quickly and above asking prices; you will need an experienced Realtor® who can guide and help you make a competitive offer. Janis Peterson, Realtor®, GRI, ABR, SRES, CSP specializes in Philadelphia Main Line real estate and homes for sale, including Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Chester County, PA, Pennsylvania, and has been helping Philadelphia Main Line Buyers and Sellers since 1994.

Janis Peterson, REALTOR®, GRI, ABR, SRES, CSP 
Long and Foster Real Estate, Inc. 
355 Lancaster Ave. Suite 100 
Haverford, PA 19041 
Direct: 610-642-3744 
Fax: 610-658-0267

Posted in Buying A Home
April 1, 2021

Tips to Get the House You Want in A Market Where Homes are Selling Quickly

Tips to Get the Home You Want In a Market Where Houses Are Selling Quickly Philadelphia Main Line Homes for Sale.png

In a many parts of the country, homes are currently selling quickly, often at or above the asking price. Part of this has to do with the very low home loan interest rates that have been available, low inventory of homes for sale, and more buyers than sellers, resulting in a “seller’s” market. As a result, you might find that you put in an offer on a home just to find out that the seller already accepted someone else's offer. If you've been having difficulties landing the homes that you've wanted, learn more about some ways that you can get a better shot at the houses you want to buy.

Put in An Offer Right Away

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make in a market where houses are selling quickly is to wait a day or two to think about it. Sure, you want to make sure that you're not rushing into something that's actually a bad deal, but you need to process your decision-making much more quickly. In many areas of the country, houses are being snatched up within a couple of days of being listed, so if you wait to think it through on a house that's in the mid-price range and is likely to be attractive to a lot of homebuyers, you're likely to miss out.

Have Your Finances In Order

In a market where houses are moving more slowly, a seller might be willing to wait for you to apply for the loan, but in a market where houses are moving quickly and they already have a couple of other offers, you're going to need to have a letter stating that you already have a pre-approved loan amount. This will also enable you to determine how much you can afford to spend on purchasing a property.

Get a Good Real Estate Agent

When you're trying to buy in a seller's market, make sure that you do your research on real estate agents before you settle on whom to work with. The best real estate agents will give you a competitive edge because they'll tell you about the newest homes that you might be interested in the quickest, so that you can get your offer in quickly. They'll also be able to give you advice about the price of your offer and all of the details so that your offer is attractive to the seller.

Give Your Best Offer

If houses are selling quickly in your market area, you're not going to be able to cut money off their asking price unless their asking price is genuinely overpriced. So if you see a house that you love, make sure that you give your best offer.

Be Flexible

When the seller has the upper hand, you might have to be more flexible about certain things. For instance, you might decide to be more relaxed about how much you have the home seller fix before you're willing to buy. You certainly shouldn't be nitpicking repairs that will cost a few hundred dollars or less to fix.

If you've been missing out on the houses that you've been putting in offers on, you should use these tips to increase your chances of actually getting the next house that you put in an offer on.

In a tight real estate market, where homes are selling quickly, you need an experienced Realtor® who can guide and help you make your best offer. Janis Peterson, Realtor®, GRI, ABR, SRES, CSP specializes in real estate in Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Chester County, PA, Pennsylvania, and has been helping Main Line Buyers and Sellers since 1994.

Janis Peterson, REALTOR®, GRI, ABR, SRES, CSP 
Long and Foster Real Estate, Inc. 
355 Lancaster Ave. Suite 100 
Haverford, PA 19041 
Direct: 610-642-3744

Posted in Buying A Home
March 5, 2021

March Home Maintenance Tasks

March home maintenance tasks philadelphia main line

It’s hard to believe, but it has now been one year since the Covid-19 pandemic began and changed our world. Yet, March is now here, and with the rising temperatures and longer days, we will soon begin to see the first signs of Spring.

Before the arrival of April showers, it is a good time to get started on some Spring maintenance items, both to shed the winter layers, and to give your home a fresh new start.

·        Groom your lawn. Get ready to mow by picking up debris that may have accumulated on your lawn over the winter, and fill bare spots with grass seed and fertilizer.

·        Clear gutters and downspouts. Prevent damage from Spring rains by clearing out debris. Make sure that water is diverted away from the home, to protect its foundation.

·        Re-seal exterior woodwork. Stain or reseal outdoor structures such as fences, pergolas, railings, and wood decks to keep them in good condition.

·        Schedule air-conditioning service. Make sure your HVAC unit is working and is in good condition, before summer arrives. Schedule service, if needed, and don’t forget to regularly change the filters.

·        Clean carpets and soft furnishings. Have floor carpets cleaned, and send out area rugs for professional cleaning. Launder furniture slipcovers and pillow covers, and clean or install new shower curtains.

·        Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Change batteries at least once a year, and replace each unit every 7 to 10 years.

Despite the pandemic of the past year, the real estate market has remained strong, with home values growing at a fast pace. After this year of hefty appreciation, if you’d like to find out what your home is worth, contact me for a complimentary comparative market analysis (CMA).

Whether you are looking to buy, sell, or invest in real estate in 2021, I can help you with all of your Philadelphia Main Line real estate needs. Specializing in Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Chester County, PA Pennsylvania real estate, including Lower Merion TownshipNarberth Borough, Haverford TownshipRadnor TownshipNewtown TownshipEasttown TownshipTredyffrin TownshipWillistown TownshipMarple TownshipMalvern Borough, and all of the Philadelphia Main Line communities in between and beyond!

Thank you.

Janis Peterson, REALTOR®, GRI, ABR, SRES, CSP

Long and Foster Real Estate, Inc.
355 Lancaster Ave. Suite 100
Haverford, PA 19041
Direct: 610-642-3744 blog #realestate #buyingahome #firsttimehomebuyers #homebuying #marchhometasks #home maintenance #pandemic

Feb. 2, 2021

Housing-Related 2020 Taxes Considerations

It has now been nearly a year since the Covid-19 pandemic began and changed the ways we live, work, and play. Although tax filing deadlines were extended last year due to the pandemic, this year, the deadline will be back to its usual April 15 date. As you prepare your 2020 taxes, here are a few housing-related items to keep in mind.

Home interest deductions

·        Mortgages that closed before Dec. 14, 2017
A married couple filing jointly and single filers can deduct mortgage interest on a combined debt limit of $1 million.

·        Mortgages that closed after Dec. 14, 2017
For both primary residences and second home loans, mortgage interest can be deducted on a combined debt limit of $750,000.

Property tax deductions

Taxpayers who itemize can only deduct up to $10,000 on a combination of state and local property, income and sales taxes. This applies to property taxes on your primary residence, a vacation home and undeveloped land.

Capital gains tax exclusions

Married-joint filers can exclude up to $500,000, and single filers can exclude up to $250,000, when selling their primary home, provided they’ve lived there two of the past five years.

Those are just a few of the housing-related tax laws. You should consult your tax advisor for more information on how these and other tax deductions may apply to you individually.

If you have any real estate-related questions, please feel free to contact me. Whether you are looking to buy, sell, or invest in real estate in 2021, I can help you and  look forward to helping you with your future Philadelphia Main Line real estate needs. Looking to buy a home? Call me – I can help you find your dream home.

*The information contained in this posting is not intended to be and does not constitute financial or investment advice.

Posted in real estate topics
Jan. 12, 2021

Home Remodel Trends in 2021

Happy New Year! This past year was unlike any other in the past 100 years, as the Covid-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives immeasurably. The time that so many of us spend at home has also inspired change in just as many ways, especially in how we now live in our homes. Not surprisingly, home remodel spending spiked in 2020 among people who worked from home, and many homeowners also made smaller modifications to their homes in order to increase their comfort and to beautify their surroundings.

While features like open floor plans and indoor/outdoor living spaces will likely remain popular for years to come, new interior design trends are expected to come to the forefront in 2021. Not every trend will be appropriate or fit every home, but consider these options for inspiration when updating your current home (or shopping for a new home) this year. 

Warm colors. Paint colors are trending away from cool gray and white to a warmer palette of earthier tones that encourage rest and relaxation. 

Indoor and outdoor plants. Whether bringing plants inside to add life to a home office or designing an elaborate garden, caring for plants provides physical and mental benefits. 

Curated office space. Artwork and collections, as well as interesting colors and textures, will add intrigue to spaces that are visible on camera—your “Zoom” room, as some may call it.

Multipurpose furniture. Durability and flexibility are important, and designers therefore expect to see increased use of fabrics that withstand daily use, as well as being comfortable. 

Shiplap, shifted. Create a more distinctive and fresh style with vertically (instead of the traditional horizontally) installed shiplap. Instead of a barn door, try frosted glass doors or pocket doors, to add interest. 

Colorful tiles. Whether you want to go big or just add a splash of color to your flooring, colorful patterned tiles are increasing in popularity. 

Bold wallpaper. Now available in peel-and-stick format, wallpaper can transform and brighten bland rooms and define small spaces. 

As always, I am here for you, should you have any questions on the real estate market. If you’re interested in buying or selling, now is a great time. Whether you are looking to buy, sell or invest in real estate in 2021, I can help you with all of your Philadelphia Main Line suburbs real estate needs, specializing in MontgomeryDelaware, and Chester County, PA, Pennsylvania real estate.

Posted in Miscellaneous
Dec. 3, 2020

2021 Real Estate Market Predictions

Although 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year, housing turned out to be a bright spot. Despite the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, home ownership rates rose to 67.4% in the third quarter, up from 64.8% in the same period in 2019.  

Importantly, the fundamentals are in place for a continued strong housing market in 2021, particularly since it is expected that mortgage rates will remain around 3%. Here are a few more of predictions for real estate in the coming 2021 year.

Home prices will rise. With demand exceeding supply, the law of supply and demand will drive home prices higher, with 5% to 6% increases predicted on average.

Affordability will remain mostly positive. Low mortgage rates will offset rising home prices, thereby increasing the number of households which can afford to buy a home.

Inventory challenges will continue. While builders are expected to construct homes at a faster pace in 2021, there will still be a gap between demand and supply for new and existing homes.

Increased teleworking will influence housing. People will continue to work from home, which will affect where they will be shopping for homes, and what they will be looking for in those properties.

Vacation home markets will stay hot. In 2020, homeowners with rising equity and investors with high stock market profits drove a spike in demand for homes in coastal vacation markets, which will continue in 2021.

Technology remains critical. Virtual tours, remote closings, and video conferencing kept real estate active in 2020, and virtual buying and selling will continue in 2021.

Whether you are looking to buy, sell or invest in real estate in 2021, I can help you with all of your Philadelphia Main Line suburbs real estate needs, specializing in Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester County, PA, Pennsylvania real estate.

Happy Holidays!

Nov. 7, 2020

Real Estate is Leading the Economic Recovery

Real Estate is Leading the Economic Recovery

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has affected many industries this year, real estate has bounced back surprisingly well. After a minor pause in April and May, the real estate market surged upward through the summer and is anticipated to perform strongly in the Fall and winter.

Why the Real Estate Market is So Strong Right Now

Low interest rates. Current interest rates have been under 3% for over 12 weeks, making buying a home a very attractive option. These historically low rates are motivating people to advance their buying plans, while interest rates remain low, enabling them to purchase homes that might not be possible at higher interest rates, which has revitalized the market. With rates expected to remain low throughout the next year, home buyers should take advantage of these low interest rates.

Flight from density. As people continue working remotely, many individuals no longer need to live near their workplace, and many companies are now allowing, even encouraging, their workers to work remotely. This has led city-dwellers to move to the suburbs or exurbs to get away from crowds and be more socially distant. This has caused the market along the coast and around the suburbs to experience a rise in home sales and home prices.

Housing affordability. The current housing affordability index is 158.9, meaning the median household income has 58.9% more money than needed to afford a home. The index takes into account interest rates, median income and median home prices. With the current environment, consumers have strong buying power, allowing them to purchase homes they otherwise couldn’t afford at higher interest rates. Thus, if an individual is considering purchasing a home, now is a good time to advance the plans to do so.

In today’s competitive real estate market, Long & Foster’s integrated network of services make it easier to navigate the market. I am here for you and available to meet (virtually) and answer any questions you might have about buying or selling in today’s market.

At Main Line Homes, we have been helping Buyers and Sellers since 1994. We leverage the latest industry technologies to enable up-to-date tracking of market listings, empowering you to access newly listed homes as soon as they hit the market. We can help you find homes for sale across the entire Main Line, including lively Ardmore, vibrant Bryn Mawr, stately Gladwyne, heavenly Haverford, fabulous Villanova, wonderful Wynnewood, and all that the Philadelphia Main Line suburbs have to offer. Get in touch today, and let us help you with all of your real estate needs.

Sept. 2, 2020

Pennsylvania Living Costs: What You Need to Know

What is the Cost of Living in Pennsylvania?

Thinking of moving to Pennsylvania? You are not alone. In 2018 Pennsylvania, which is a sort of middle point between the Northeastern states, the Southern states, the Atlantic seaboard, and the Midwest, was ranked the 10th most popular destination for people moving from another state. 

 According to StorageCafé, costs of moving to the Keystone State were on average cheaper than moving to other states by up to $1,200. And this is just the beginning! The cost of living index scores the average cost of living in Pennsylvania favorably at 97 out of a national average of 100.  

Home Costs

Housing is one of the biggest costs that people incur. However, in this category, the PA cost of living does not disappoint. The median home value in Pennsylvania is $194,000 which puts the state in the mid to lower range of the country. In comparison, West Virginia is the cheapest state with a median home value of $108,236. Alternatively, Hawaii is the most expensive state with a median home value of $636,451. Business Insider approximates that at that home value, one could buy a 5-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in Bristol, or a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in Glenolden. As you can see, when evaluating the cost of living in Pennsylvania homes are very affordable compared to other areas. 


This is another area where the cost of living in PA lives up to its reputation. Not only does the state have nationally-ranked hospitals that provide world-class quality and care, but in terms of health care costs, access and outcomes Pennsylvania was ranked 18th in the country and made the top 10 when it came to healthcare access. Even better, PA is well known for its scenic landscapes. These include mountain trails, vast lakes and stunning forests that have created a healthy and vibrant outdoor culture which all-round contributes to PA’s high quality of life. All of this means the average cost of living in PA includes topnotch healthcare--which you can’t put a number on! 


Of course, when discussing the cost of living PA school districts are an important factor. Fortunately, Pennsylvania offers an exceptional educational system, with two school districts ranked in the top 10. And this trend of superior education quality runs through to higher level education as well. The state’s higher education system is composed of 260 colleges and universities. In this regard, the Pennsylvania living cost is above the country average due to the fact that state has the Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pennsylvania which are ranked highly not just in the USA but frequently appear in top-of lists worldwide for their programs in law, medical research, engineering, nursing and business. 

Day to Day Cost of living in Pennsylvania

PA offers an extremely reasonable cost of living compared to several other states. In fact, it ranks 32nd in the United States for cost of living. When it comes to groceries, utilities and transportation, Pennsylvania costs a little higher than the national average but not by much. And, this is somewhat offset by the decent wages made by workers in the state which average $22 per hour. This is considerably higher than the minimum average of $12 - $15 and much nearer the national average of $23 - $27. For a more accurate picture on the Pennsylvania cost of living comparison, the average spend in Philadelphia for utilities is below the national average but this is balanced against higher food cost price and transportation per month. 


Another thing to consider when discussing the Pennsylvania cost of living is employment opportunities. Pennsylvania hosts about 20 of the Fortune 500 companies which has boosted the state’s economy and job market. Healthcare practitioners and technical workers in professions such as law, architecture, and engineering had the highest salaries with the healthcare and manufacturing sectors hiring the most people. These sectors are followed by education and training. Overall, PA has unemployment rates lower than 5% in most major towns. This is almost a full percentage point less than the national average. Coupled with average job growth rates of 1.3% in the main sectors and relatively high hourly salary rates means that PA offers decent employment prospects for many Americans. As a result, it’s a very appealing place to relocate.


This is the one area where the cost of living in Pennsylvania performs poorly with childcare costs almost being almost as high as rent prices for good quality care. Estimates indicate that infant care for one child would take up 15.8% of a typical family's income in PA which for lower income workers could be as high as 70% of their income. In response to this, the state is progressively implementing measures and subsidies to mitigate the exorbitant childcare costs. Once done, this will drastically improve the PA cost of living into an even more manageable range.

Based on the above, it is clear that the cost of living in Pennsylvania is both decent and on the whole quite manageable. To learn more as you research your possible move to Pennsylvania, don’t hesitate to contact Mainline Homes who’s on-the-ground expertise will help you make the most informed choices about your move. We offer homes for sale in some of the most popular Main Line neighborhoods including Bryn Mawr and Gladwyne. Get started on your home search today!

Posted in Buying A Home
Sept. 2, 2020

How to Buy A House in PA

Buying A House in PA: Everything You Need to Know

Pennsylvania, PA is a state filled with history and character, making it a great place to live and work. 


Referred to as the “Keystone State”, buying a home in Pennsylvania comes with a lot of advantages. But while you’re bound to be excited, don’t get so caught up in the thrill of home ownership that you forget to do your groundwork before you put your signature on the dotted line. 

The housing market in Pennsylvania is considered somewhat competitive. That said, everything from the local economy to your financials will impact what home you buy and how much it costs. 


In this guide, we cover how to buy a house in PA, including why we consider it a good idea.  

Why Consider Buying A House in PA

For one, Pennsylvania boasts a low cost of living and income tax when compared with states like its neighboring New York City. In fact, rent (or monthly mortgage payments) is about 50% less and real estate about 70% lower overall, which is great for anyone who is considering buying a house in Pennsylvania


On top of having a relatively low cost of living, many entrepreneurs thrive in this state due to the current collaborative business culture. For families, the great schooling system is a big plus, too. Pennsylvania has a great public school system, with an array of award-winning schools across many school districts. 

How to Buy a House in PA

1. Evaluate Your Financials

You don’t want to find your dream home, only to realize later on that you can’t afford it. Understanding your finances means considering: 

  • Looking at your credit score: To access a mortgage most lenders require you to have a credit score of 620 or higher. 
  • Your debt-to-income ratio: A ratio of less than 36% of your income going towards debt is recommended. This includes your future mortgage payments. 
  • The down payment: Even though you plan to take a mortgage, keep in mind that an out-of-pocket down payment of at least 20% on the house is typically required upfront. 
  • Home ownership costs: Buying a house is not the end of home ownership. There are maintenance costs, insurance fees, and other miscellaneous payments to consider. 

2. Find A Real Estate Agent

Finding a good real estate agent to help you with buying a home in PA is extremely beneficial. A good real estate agent is one who knows the community and market well, can compare house prices and find you the best house within your budget and needs. 

They should also be willing to connect you to home inspectors and mortgage brokers, draft your offer and handle all necessary paperwork after helping with the negotiations. 

One way to decide on a good agent is to ask around for good references and reviews from past clients. You should also choose one you have a good rapport with.

3. Choose An Area

Where you live in Pennsylvania should be determined by your priorities. What do you require of your area? Setting out your criteria before you begin your search will not only make things easier, it will ensure you don’t compromise on what’s important only to end up regretting your decision later. Do you have children and are looking for a good school district? Do you need to be close to the city? Already decided on Philly and need to find the best suburbs nearby? These questions are important to ask yourself before you share what you want with your realtor. 


4. Get A Mortgage Pre-Approval

Getting pre-approved for your mortgage should be done before you look for houses. Now that you have an understanding of your finances, you can approach your lender with your budget, credit score, and other documentation such as your income and assets. Pre-approval happens when your lender verifies this information.  


5. Make An Offer

After looking around and finding the house you think could be your next home, it’s time to make an offer to the seller. Discuss the Seller’s Disclosure with your agent first to make sure you have not missed any hidden costs. In Pennsylvania, homes sell the fastest around May, so be cognizant of demand in this stage when buying a house in PA. Submit the offer to the listing agent and negotiate it with the help of your agent. Signatures from everyone means you have an executed contract. 


6. Do A Home Inspection

Due diligence is important in making sure the home you’re buying is what you signed up for. After you identify a house you like and agree on an offer, hire a licensed inspector to do a thorough check on the condition of the property. Bigger issues such as foundations or termites can mean you can withdraw your offer, while issues that can be repaired easily allow you to go back to the negotiating table. 


7. Closing Costs

When you’re looking to buy a house in Pennsylvania, it’s important to keep closing costs top of mind. Typically, they include actions such as title searches, document recording, appraisals, insurance applications, and so on. Expect a Pennsylvania state deed transfer tax, and the state of Pennsylvania charges 1% of the sales price. They can run up to 5% of the mortgage amount, so buyers should remember to leave room for them in their budget. 

If you are thinking of buying a home in Pennsylvania, Main Line Homes is here to help. Call us at (610) 642-3744, and we’ll make sure you find the best home for your needs.

Posted in Buying A Home