Monthly Archives: August 2008

Foreclosures in Pittsburgh Area Fall 29 percent

Yes, the housing market is having a national crisis but the Pittsburgh area has remained stable. While yes there are foreclosures, they have fallen in numbers for the five-county area (Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland) by 29.1 percent comparing to July 2007. These statistics were reported from RealSTATs, a real estate information company.

Amazingly, Allegheny County was down to 138 foreclosures from 231 in July 2007. According to RealSTATs Allegheny County’s peak foreclosure year was 2006.

Tanger Factory Outlet Comes to Pittsburgh Area

The Tanger factory outlet mall opens Friday outside of Pittsburgh in Washington county – only 25 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. Tanger is a real estate investment trust based in Greensboro, NC and owns approximately 30 outlets in 21 states.   This $90 million mall has a style all its own and is also some competition for Grove City.

If anyone visits, please let me know. Photos are welcome.

Vandergrift, PA – From Steel Town to Green Town

Today I read about a new project from the Discovery Channel News that is taking this small steel town of Vandergrift, PA (North East of Pittsburgh) to a whole new level. The town has the opportunity to experiment with a new project using the nearby Kiski River. The plan is to use a special grid submerged in the river to generate electricity for the town. The project may be able to supply up to 40% of the town’s electricity. This type of project has less impact on the environment ecologically than a traditional water damn.

“Vandergrift is trying to be the model green town,” said Lisa Weiland, a scientist at the University of Pittsburgh who is involved in the project. – quoted from Discovery Channel News Article

Read more Here at GoodCleanTech

Home Buyer Tax Credit

Were you aware that there is a home buyer tax credit for buying a first home. It is part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 that was signed into Law this past July. Individual’s earning less than $75,000 and couples up to $150,000 can qualify for the full $7,500. Buyers with income of $95,000 to $170,000 may be eligible for partial credit.

If you have not owned a home in the past three years, you can take a tax credit worth 10% of the home’s sale price up to the amount of $75,000 (whatever is the lower amount). What is this program really is is a no interest loan. If you would owe $8,000 for a tax bill then after this credit of $7500, you would only owe $500 but in future years this amount would be paid back on your taxes over a period of years.

This program does not give you cash up front and is not free money but may be of assistance to many new homeowners.

See the following article for more details.

Competing with Other Sellers in Today’s Housing Market

The Pittsburgh area is a stable housing market, but there are a large number of homes on the market. This then can translate into higher days on market for a home and be great for buyers. But as a seller how do you deal with this? There is stiff competition and you need to make your home more attractive than the others in your category.

With the days on market being generally on the long side, quite often the first offer is often the best offer. If you get an offer, you should try to work with it instead of turning it down flat. You never know when you may get another in this buyers market.

When selling you need to be realistic about the price. If you start at a higher price than the house is estimated to sell at and don’t come down, your listing can get stale and become less attractive and it can sometimes be too late to get some of those buyer’s attention. Sometimes people will see your listing over and over and wonder why it has been on the market so long and what might be wrong with it. Have your agent give you a realistic price to start with. The number one thing that sells a house is the price.

If your agent gives you suggestions that appeal to buyers, listen carefully, these agents are working with buyers and hear first hand what they want and do not want.

Put yourself in the buyers shoes. Many buyers are trying to get deals these days. They also want to be sure that they are not going to loose value in a new home purchase or get stuck somewhere that is hard to resell. Give your buyers reason to buy. At minimum, make sure things are squeaky clean.

Many buyers today to not want to renovate anything. Most buyers are busy and just want to move in. No hassles. There are some do-it-yourselfers but you need to be ready for the average buyer – ready to move in condition.

Use your homes strengths – Some homes may be a near a busy highway. A perfect idea is to use curb appeal with the landscaping. Be creative and think outside the box and have an agent that does the same. Not everyone is doing that.

Today’s market in the area is tough but things are selling.

Photo on Billboard

I awoke this morning with another note from same mom who spotted her daughter in a soccer ad recently. The photo she saw is one of my popular photos from one my stock portfolios online – as I am a photographer in my spare time.  I was certainly quite surprised. They have now seen their daughter on a billboard. I thought the first story was amazing – but now two in a row.

Here is the Mom’s note;


This must be a pretty popular picture! We just got back from vacation in Atlantic Beach NC. On our way down (on I-95), I was just looking at the billboards. I noticed one that said Play Ball and it had a soccer player on it. So as it got closer I looked closer at it. I couldn’t believe it! It was that same picture of “Megan”. Of course I got pretty excited and started yelling ‘There’s Megan”. We kept looking for another billboard with the same ad, but didn’t see one, so we noted where we saw it so I could get a picture of it on the way home.

On the way home we did get a picture of it and I let my parents know about it. Being the proud grandparents that they are, they looked up the website, contacted the company and they sent them a copy of the ad. I have attached it for you to see.

Also, Eric did contact the headband company and they sent her six headbands.

I’m just wondering where she will pop up next. I’ll let you know if we spot this or any of your other pictures anywhere.


Dead Tractor

My husband ask my kids to cut the grass late last week. So in order for me to help them complete this task, I had to get some fuel for the tractor because we were out. I usually keep tabs on the supply and make sure I usually have some on hand but got behind because of life’s circumstances. So I went and out and got fuel. Well, I got back to find the tractor was dead. So it was up to me to get this going. My husband insisted I should get this going on my own. I was a bit intimidated and fought waiting until he got home to do it. I was afraid of blowing something up. My teenage son assisted me and my daughter. It was challenging to get the jumper cables off the tractor and get the seat down before the tractor shut off because of the safety. It was a sight to see. Then my daughter got on and I told her she could not stop the mower for several minutes to keep the tractor charged or we were going to have to do this all over again. So out she goes to cut the grass and 10 minutes later it starts pouring rain.  So what do you think happened? Well not enough charge and we were going to have to start over. We waited until the rain was done. The grass then got completed and we are all now a an experienced team to charge tractors. You know such simple tasks can snow ball into a big ordeal. We made it through and are now better for it.

Online Networking

I was exploring the option of online networking. I had not really spent that much time on it and have much to learn. I started with a popular site called facebook. I was amazed to find out how many people I do know from all periods of my life. There are friends from elementary school, Jr. High, High School, College, family, Neighbors, Colleagues, Church friends from different states, other Real Estate agents and more. In a matter of a few short days, I was hooked up with them. We were sharing memories and photos and more.

I then found my brother-in-law ( a college professor ) in Oregon. His students and colleagues strongly encouraged him to join and in two days he over 100 friends. I had not realized many of my contacts had recently joined as well. It must be time to get on the bandwagon.

I have actually hooked up with people that I would have never probably communicated again with in my life. Technology is amazing.

Pennsylvania Median Home Price Holding

There is so much negative news about the housing market. I have recently caught up on some stats that tell Pennsylvania home prices are remaining stable. How encouraging.

This is a partial quote from a recent news release from the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors:

HARRISBURG, PA (May 28, 2008) – Pennsylvania homeowners can rest easy as recent housing statistics report that median home sale prices remain stable at $188,000 for the first quarter of 2008.

“It’s a ‘back-to-basics’ market,” says PAR consulting economist Austin Jaffe, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Insurance and Real Estate at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University. “The era of easy money and exotic mortgages never took hold among homebuyers in the Commonwealth, so prices in Pennsylvania never increased as much or as quickly in other markets. There’s no reason to expect that prices will fall as much or as rapidly here.”

RealtyTrac ranks Pennsylvania 34th among the 50 states in numbers of foreclosures, well below the national average.

– from the site