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

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

 

Nov. 1, 2018

How To Prepare A Home for The Winter Season

The leaves are starting to fall from the trees, it’s getting darker earlier and many people—myself included—have broken out their winter coats. While it may not officially be here, winter is certainly coming.

To help you prepare for cooler weather, I’ve put together this list of five helpful home maintenance tips. Completing these simple tasks will help ensure your home is in tip-top shape for the cold that’s sure to come in the next few months.

Schedule your HVAC check-up. Nothing is worse than discovering your furnace is out-of-order on that first chilly night. Turn it on now to make sure it’s working and consider having it professionally cleaned. You’ll also want to change any air filters in your home and prepare your humidifier for winter’s dry air.

Prepare your pipes. Exposed pipes can be a nightmare come winter time. Nobody wants to lose water due to a burst pipe. To avoid this, wrap all exposed pipes in foam insulation. You’ll also want to shut off the outside water supply from inside your home and drain all the water from outdoor spigots. 

Clean your fireplace. Make sure your fireplace is ready for use by scheduling a professional cleaning. Birds’ nests and debris can accumulate in your chimney over the spring and summer, causing either a clog or a fire hazard. A clean flue will help you stay safe and warm this winter.

Clear your gutters. After autumn leaves have fallen, you might find a fair amount of debris lodged in your gutters, so make sure to give them a good clean now. Clogged gutters can lead to ice dams and prevent melting snow from draining, which, in turn, can damage your roof and siding.

Keep an eye on your trees. Do you have beautiful trees surrounding your house? Be careful - these could cause problems in ice and snowstorms. Branches can get weighed down and snap, damaging your home. When you have a winter storm, help out your trees by knocking off excess snow and relieving some of the weight. A roof rake is a great tool to get those hard-to-reach branches.

By spending a fall weekend (or two) now, you can prepare your home for winter weather and keep it running in good condition all season long.

As always, feel free to reach out to me with any real estate and home related questions. As your local Realtor, I’m available to help with all your home ownership needs.

Thanks!

Janis

Janis Peterson, Realtor®, GRI, ABR, SRES, CSP
e-mail: Janis@mainlinehomes.com
www.mainlinehomes.com

Posted in Winter Topics
Oct. 15, 2018

5 Tips Every Military Home Seller Should Know

Whether you’re retiring from the military and planning a move, or you’ve just received PCS orders to relocate, we’ve got your back. As a military homeowner, it’s always smart to have a game plan ready for selling your home on a timeline.

Here are five tips to help get you there!

Make a List of Things to Fix

Man applying plaster to a wall in his home.Before listing your home, go through each room and note any repairs or improvements that need to happen. Make sure you’re taking care of any damaged or malfunctioning appliances. Things like leaky faucets, broken appliances, and carpet damage are a huge turnoff to buyers.

You should also see what aesthetic improvements you can make! This includes things like repainting the walls, replacing tarnished door knobs, and switching out old faucets.

Use Listing Photos from Last Spring (If Possible)

Now that it’s getting colder outside and your grass, trees, and plants might not look so fresh, you may want to consider using exterior photos of your home from spring or summer when listing it. You want your home (and yard) to look as lush and verdant as possible.

Regardless of the time of year, high-quality listing photos pay for themselves. Professional photos will make your home look much more appealing than ones taken on your cell phone, and will invite potential buyers to come see it in person.

Research the Market

Woman smiling at a laptop as she researches the real estate market.The market has probably changed a lot since the last time you bought or sold a home. Before you list your home, take some time to thoroughly research your local real estate market.

Familiarize yourself with things like the current listing prices in your neighborhood, average turnaround times, and the type of housing for sale around where you live. Need a jumping off point for your research? We’ve got your back! We’d love to share some complimentary market reports and research tools with you.

Create a Cozy Atmosphere with Staging!

Now that it’s officially fall, take advantage of cozy fall staging to really welcome buyers into your home. As it gets colder outside, potential buyers will be feeling the cooler temperatures; imagine their relief when they step into your warm and cozy home after being outside in the cold.

Play up the cozy aspects of your home by lighting lightly-scented candles (like cinnamon or cloves, nothing too crazy!) or putting a pot of cider on the stove. Place throw blankets on furniture, highlight your fireplace or wood stove, and make sure to keep all your shades or blinds open to let in the natural light.

Get a Property Valuation

Two parents in military fatigues smiling as they hug their child.The most important step to selling your home within your timeframe is pricing it correctly! It may seem easier, but you really can’t rely on on online home value estimators. These automated systems use algorithms to price homes, and often rely on outdated or even incorrect information. Too often, we see sellers lose out on their hard-earned equity by using one of these tools—sometimes even missing out on thousands of dollars!

Instead, work with a Realtor with extensive experience buying and selling homes in your area. If you’d like a free property valuation, one that takes into account the specific qualities of your home and the surrounding neighborhood in real time, please reach out to us!

Ready for a Successful Home Sale?

As an active duty or retired military member, you deserve a real estate experience that’s custom-tailored to fit your unique needs. When you choose to partner with us, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

Give us a call today to get started!

Posted in Real Estate News
Oct. 1, 2018

How to Sell Your Home (While Buying a New Home)

It’s a common real estate predicament: selling the home you currently live in while trying to buy a new one. So… what’s the most efficient way to go about it?

All in all, it depends on your situation. Are you willing to buy a second home without having sold your first one? Or are you relying on the payoff from your current home for the down payment on your new one? Are you relocating? Upgrading? Downsizing? Your reasons for selling will most likely dictate how you’ll go about the process.

So, here are four things to keep in mind when you’re buying and selling a home at the same time.

It’s All About Timing

Group of people consulting a calendar.What works best for you? If you’re selling your home because you’re relocating to a new area, it might more more sense to sell your current home first before buying a new home in a new market.

However, if you have enough money saved up for a down payment, it may be easier to buy your new home first, then sell your old home once you’ve moved to the new one.

So Do Your Research

A great place to start is by researching the market. If there are a lot of buyers and not a lot of homes, this is called a “buyer’s market”, meaning the conditions are ideal for buyers. Oppositely, if there are a lot of buyers and not a lot of homes, the conditions favor sellers (a “seller’s market”). If you’re buying and selling in two different markets, you’ll have to research both.

If you opt to buy before selling, make an offer on the new home with a sale and settlement contingency. You can then request an extended closing.

And Consider Your Money, Money, Money

A pile of money next to a checkbook with a pen.Look closely at your bank account; what is it telling you?

The answer to your current question (Should I buy or should I sell first?) most likely lies within. Begin by meeting with your financial advisor or mortgage lender. You’ll want to look at three main financial factors: a) The amount of money you have in liquid cash, b) The equity in your current home, and c) The amount of the new loan you qualify for.

A big part of this is knowing the resale value of your current home. It’s also a good idea to have a pre-inspection completed on your home, so you can take care of any maintenance issues that might deter potential buyers down the road… and maybe even bump up your home value a bit.

Your Equity is Also Crucial

To find the equity on your home, take its current market value and subtract what’s left on your mortgage.

Need to know the current market value of your home? Use our home evaluation tool! Please reach out to us to learn more.

Work With the Right Realtor

Even if you’re not buying and selling a home at the same time, the right Realtor can transform your real estate experience. A great local agent has the expertise and resources you need for a streamlined, stress-free, and successful real estate transaction.

If you’re in search of an expert agent in the area, we have the experience, resources, and area knowledge to assist you in your upcoming home sale and/or purchase. Give us a call today to learn more.

Posted in Real Estate News
Sept. 26, 2018

Autumn is a Great Time to Buy or Sell a Home

Fall isn’t traditionally thought of as the busiest time in real estate, but there are big advantages to buying or selling a home during autumn. People are always moving into our area, and your home will undoubtedly stand out if there are few others like it for sale. Additionally, buyers who are out looking in the fall tend to be more serious, so you could have fewer showings, but a greater chance of one of them garnering an offer.

As you can imagine, it takes time and effort to sell a home in any season. A professional real estate agent like me will handle all of the details and promote your best interests. I help sellers get their homes staged and ready, advise them on pricing, market the home, coordinate showings and work my contacts to find the right buyer. Once the right buyer is found, I aggressively negotiate on your behalf and help you navigate a relatively complex process to ensure you close with the best price and the least amount of stress. If you are interested, I would be happy to provide a free competitive market analysis which will give you an accurate idea of your home’s potential market value.

The National Association of Realtors has also found this season is the best time of the year to purchase a home because of potentially lower home prices, less competition and the possibility of getting a deal on a property that has been on the market since summer. Sometimes homes are available in the fall because the sellers are motivated to move quickly due to unexpected circumstances like a job change.

The perfect time to buy is as soon as you are ready. In today’s market, with appreciating home prices, low inventory, strong demand and rising interest rates, the longer you wait, the more expensive your ideal home will become in the future. History has shown that a home can be a great investment in any season, if you are buying for the long term. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any of your homeownership needs.

All my best,
Janis

Posted in Real Estate News
Sept. 1, 2018

Home Buying Terminology: A Cheat Sheet

Buying a home shouldn’t be rocket science. You find the perfect home, make an offer to the seller, pay a couple of fees, and bam! You just bought a home.

However, buying a home actually has a lot of moving parts which include a number of funny real estate terms you’ve probably never heard before. Are Realtors and real estate agents even speaking English anymore?

To help you out, we’ve come up with a cheat sheet so you’ll know exactly what we are talking about when we explain the home-buying process.

Pre-Approval

Two adults meeting over a stack of paper.If you meet with an agent before you begin looking for homes, they’ll likely recommend you get pre-approved for a mortgage. Mortgage pre-approval is the best first step to buying a home, because it essentially sets your budget for you.

Pre-approval involves sitting down with a lender to discuss your financial portfolio. This includes your credit score, borrowing history, outstanding debts, annual income, and any assets you have. After reviewing all of this, the lender gives you an exact number: that’s how much the bank is willing to lend you.

Not only is your budget set, home sellers will take you more seriously because they know you can qualify for enough loan to support your offer.

Earnest Money

Two parents sitting with a child who is opening a piggy bank full of coins.Defined loosely, earnest money is the money you pay to confirm a contract. When you’re buying a home, this is essentially a good faith deposit. It lets the seller know that you’re serious—serious enough to go ahead and put money down.

This money sits in a joint account (called an “escrow” account) held by both the buyer and seller. When the home purchase is finalized, the earnest money goes toward the buyer’s down payment.

Due Diligence

A few bills next to a checklist that has home-buying items on it.Due diligence refers to the period of time after the seller has accepted a buyer’s offer. This is the time when you as the buyer can schedule inspections, confirm financing, and make sure that buying this home is in your best interest.

Now’s the time to do some research! Have the home inspected by a professional to ensure nothing is wrong with it, consult public records to learn more about its past homeownership, as well as any environmental issues in the neighborhood, and work with your lender to make sure this is a good financial decision.

So…. Are Realtors and Agents the Same Thing?

Yes and no. The primary difference between REALTOR®s and real estate agents is the National Association of Realtors, also known as the NAR. The NAR is a professional organization of real estate brokers that abides by a specific Code of Ethics that all REALTOR®s are required to follow.

A real estate agent works under a brokerage, but is not necessarily a licensed NAR member.

Let’s Find Your Dream Home Together

Young couple being handed the keys to their new home.We’ll never hide behind big words when it comes to helping you find the home that’s right for you.

Give us a call today to begin your home-buying journey.

Posted in Real Estate News
Aug. 15, 2018

How to Sell Your Home During Back-to-School Season: A Complete Guide

As summer draws to a close, so dawns every parent’s favorite season: the beginning of another school year. This time of year can be hectic for every parent, but it may become especially overwhelming if you’re also trying to sell your home.

Don’t worry, though! We’re here to help. We’ve come up with a bonafide game plan to help you sell your home, handle back-to-school season, and maintain your sanity. Ready to learn more?

Here’s what you need to do:

Prepare a Fresh Start with Staging

Bright kitchen interior.The first step to staging a home is to create a blank canvas. After all, you want potential buyers to be able to picture their lives in your home. To do that, you’ll need to take down any personal artwork, decorations, or mementos—school accomplishments, artwork your kiddos may have made for you, personal school pictures, and anything else.

While this may seem like a bummer, it is essential to selling your home.

Get Some Extra Storage

Another essential part of staging your home is removing any and all clutter. This may seem impossible with all the new school supplies, clothing, and toys strewn about, but it’s doable—and necessary!

Consider investing in a storage unit to house excess furniture, summer toys, and old clothing, or even replace a bench, ottoman, or coffee table with one that doubles as a storage chest to house excess items.

Plan for Showings (but make it fun!)

Young girl swinging in the park.Guess what time is perfect for back-to-school shopping? House-showing time!

To get kids out of the house during showings, come up with a list of kid-friendly outings or activities you can take.

Consider going to the library, a movie theater, an outdoor park or nature center, or the mall to kill some time as your Realtor shows off your home.

Make a Showing-Prep Checklist

As your Realtor schedules your home for showings, try to request at least a one to two hour buffer for each one. Then, create a checklist for what you need to accomplish to get your home showroom-ready before each tour.

Have bags pre-packed for when you need to be out of the house for an extended period of time. Depending on your kiddos, you may want to have have extra diapers, toys, books, games, snacks, and anything else you may need (and keep your list of outings handy!).

Create a Cozy Atmosphere Before You Head Out

Cute living room with cacti on the table.Before grabbing the kids and making yourself scarce, be sure to create an inviting and warm atmosphere for your buyers. Here are some general tips for last-minute staging:

  • Open all the windows — pull back the curtains, raise the blinds, and let in the light!
  • Light a soft-scented candle (nothing too crazy) or put out a bowl of potpourri to cover up any odors.
  • Set some calm, instrumental music to play in the background.
  • Put out a bowl of treats for potential buyers to munch on as they tour your home.

Want to Sell Your Home Fast (and stress-free)?

Then you need to partner with a real estate agent who knows their stuff. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you sell your home for top dollar—without all the extra stress during this busy season.

Posted in Real Estate News
Aug. 1, 2018

Home Buying 101: The Service Providers You Need for Your Home Purchase

When it comes to buying a home, there are more things to consider than you may realize. After all, it’s a lot more complicated than walking into the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk!

Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases the average person makes. As such, you can expect there to be a lot of preparation, negotiation, and paperwork involved. In addition to obtaining a mortgage and signing the paperwork, there are a number of other tasks that need to be completed before you can open the doors to your new home.

Here’s a quick crash course in Home Buying 101: what service providers you need to hire while purchasing your new home.

Mortgage Lender

Man and a woman speaking with a bank lender holding pens.Ideally, you should start talking to lenders before you even begin looking for homes—and get pre-qualified for a mortgage as soon as possible.

Pre-qualification involves reviewing all of your finances, including income, expenses, and savings, with a lender.

Then, the lender will do some math and let you know exactly how much the bank is willing to loan you.

Home Inspector

Before you purchase the home, you absolutely must schedule a home inspection! This usually happens after you negotiate a price and sign the initial Purchase and Sale Agreement with the seller.

The home inspector will carefully go through every room of your new home (including basement, attic, and roof) to ensure everything is in proper working order. If the inspector finds any major issues, you can negotiate with the seller to get them fixed.

The average home inspection costs around $315, but it may end up being higher depending on the size of your home as well as any other add ons. For a larger home greater than 2,000 square feet, it may cost upwards of $400 or $500.

Appraiser

Woman at a computer explaining a home appraisal.After the home inspection comes the appraisal. Your lender requires an appraisal because they want to protect their investment by making sure the home is worth at least as much as they’re lending you.

The appraiser will take a close look at key features in the home and compare them to the features in other homes (and what those homes have sold for). If the appraiser values the home at less than the sales price, the bank will lower the amount of your mortgage to match it. If this happens, you have several options.

Depending on the contract you signed with the seller, you may be able to get your deposit back and walk away. You can also dispute the appraisal by talking with your Realtor about property values. Another option is to negotiate the price with the seller.

Title Company

Title insurance promises peace of mind when buying a home. Basically, when you purchase title insurance, a title company will come in and ensure the seller actually owns the home and the title is valid. This protects you down the line, in case any issues come up regarding past taxes, contracts, or prior mortgages with the home’s title.

It’s also a good idea to purchase owner’s and lender’s title insurance to protect yourself and your lender from any issues with claims to the title of your property.

The cost of title insurance depends on the size of your mortgage and your location.

Have any Questions? We’re Here for You

For even more information on how to navigate the purchase of your home, including all the fees, paperwork, and legal jargon, give us a call today. We’re always here to help.

Posted in Real Estate News
July 15, 2018

3 Over-the-Top Home Improvement Projects that Just Aren’t Worth It

If you’re planning on selling your home within the next year or so, you’ve probably already started thinking about the best ways to increase its value. But if you’re not an experienced home flipper or contractor, it can be tricky to know which projects are worth it and which simply aren’t.

To save you time and money (and a lot of hassle), here are some home improvement projects that just aren’t worth it (and what you can do instead).

Replacing Old Cabinets

Beautiful completely upgraded kitchen with new cabinets.Depending on what kind of cabinet material you choose, you could be looking at an estimate anywhere between $1,000 to over $9,000 to completely replace your kitchen cabinets. Materials like laminate are certainly less expensive, but prices on real wood can quickly skyrocket.

As an alternative to completely re-doing your cabinets, you might consider sanding them down and re-staining them yourself (or painting, if they’re laminate) to give them an upgraded appearance.

Extensive Master Bathroom Remodel

Sure, there are plenty of homeowners dreaming of a spa-like master bathroom, but with a bathroom remodel averaging anywhere from $5,000 to over $14,000, it’s probably not worth it.

Instead of dropping thousands of dollars into a complete overhaul, consider some smaller upgrades that can still significantly boost your value. You can give your bathroom a much-needed uplift simply by replacing old sink fixtures, re-caulking the tub and shower, or adding in a stylish backsplash.

Adding on a Room

Man using a power-saw to cut through a floor.The national average for building an additional room on to your home is $42,000. And even with the added square footage, there’s no guarantee it will add much (or any!) resale value to your home. How badly do you need that extra room?

A more worthwhile alternative might be removing or adding a wall to create more space (or another room) without increasing the square footage. Another option is to add a deck, which typically costs only around $6,000 and adds desirable outdoor entertaining space (which has been shown to positively affect home values).

Get More Money From Your Home Sale

With so many home improvement options, it can be tough to decide which ones are best for adding resale value to your property. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced Realtor to sell your home.

If you’re interested in selling your home, or simply want to chat about your real estate plans, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We would love to assist you in making your real estate goals a reality.

Posted in Real Estate News
July 6, 2018

5 Easy-To-Make Homemade Bathroom Cleaners

Cleaning the bathroom can be a nasty job, and other than the kitchen, it can take the most amount of work and time because of all the different kinds of surfaces you have to tackle.
While you can find somewhat inexpensive commercial cleaners that are strong enough to tackle any job, making a homemade bathroom cleaner is better for the environment and safer for your family.
Using simple ingredients that are readily available, you can create several different homemade bathroom cleaners to tackle the dirt and grime in your bathroom, from homemade grout cleaners to homemade toilet bowl cleaners, there’s a recipe for it all.
Details of recipes for the best homemade cleaners for every surface in your bathroom can be viewed at homemade bathroom cleaners.

 

Posted in Real Estate News
July 1, 2018

So, What Does a Realtor Actually Do for Home Buyers?

If you’re actively looking for a new home to buy, it may be tempting to try and do it yourself, without a Realtor. After all, the agent isn’t really working for you, right?

Two-story suburban home made of brick and stucco.There’s a common misconception that real estate agents are only working for sellers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!

When you’re buying a home, a real estate agent can help you make the right financial decision while maintaining your sanity.

Real estate agents live and breathe real estate, so they know how to navigate the market unlike anyone else.

The Right Buyers Agent Will Make All the Difference

An experienced Buyer’s Agent will keep you on top of the market, show you hard-to-find homes for sale, negotiate your buying terms, handle the bulk of your paperwork, and more. And it won’t cost you a penny!

In fact, here are the 4 things real estate agents do to eliminate stress from your home-buying process.

Help You Find the Right Home

Nice kitchen interior with bar seating and a chrome fridge.You don’t have to spend hours on Zillow wading through thousands of home listings in your area. Need a home with 2,000 square feet, at least two-and-a-half bathrooms, and a large backyard? Tell your Realtor!

Using your guidelines, they’ll provide you with a list of homes that meet your needs. Realtors have access to many homes that are not actively advertised on public sites like Zillow or Trulia.

Negotiate the Terms of Your Contract

In general, Realtors handle the bulk of the paperwork details so you don’t have to!

Contract negotiations are just one example of where it really pays off to have an experienced agent on your side. An experienced agent knows the rules and regulations of buying a home, so they’ll be able to negotiate a contract with the seller to ensure the best terms for you.

Prioritize Your Financial Wellbeing

When you enter into an agreement with a real estate agent, their job is to help you build your new investment in a smart way that ultimately protects your money and your interests.

Their obligation is to helping you decide whether a potential home will be a good, and affordable, financial investment for you.

In short, their primary responsibility is to protect you and your finances.

Answer All Your Questions

Let’s be real, buying a home is one of the biggest financial investments you’ll ever make! Naturally, you’re bound to have a couple of questions — both before and after the close.

Your Realtor will be there to clear things up, every step of the way.

Ready to Find Your Dream Home?

So are we. If you’d like help finding the perfect home, please give us a call.

We’re here to make your life, and your home purchase, as easy and stress-free as possible. Feel free to reach out to us so we can get started!

Posted in Real Estate News