Monthly Archives: March 2009

Off the beaten track, Hyde Park, PA

Hyde Park, PA is a quaint town near Leechburg, PA. It has maybe a few hundred homes. The big thing in the town in its beginning was the mill that sits down by the river and the railroad tracks. Most of the homes are older but well taken care of. There are a few newer homes built randomly in the community and on the outskirts. There are only two roads into the town. The locals call them the lower road and the upper road. While traveling the upper road you pass an estimated 179 acre farm with a historic farm house that has amazing Victorian detail and charm (pictured below). The   lower road is a wooded road that winds and twists until it comes out at the bottom of town. One the way down the lower road there is a quaint gift shop with adorable country items. I cannot remember the name.   Another photo below is one of my favorite homes – the brick colonial. The local post office is in a cute red brick house like building. The town municipal building took over an old church building and also houses a museum about the community.

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Several Reasons Now is the Time to Buy

From all the things I have been hearing and reading, the housing market is looking better and better everyday. My activity has been busier than ever and so have all the activity coming into our office.

First you can beat this time in history, first time home buyer tax credit. Remember there is a deadline. So if you are going to buy force yourself to get moving so you can reap up to $8000 in tax relief – in your pocket.

Everyone has to live somewhere. I have read that there are about 800,000 new household formed every year in the US alone. So this is a good indication that things will tighten up, because the demand is still out there.

There are many ways to look at investments. What if you put $10,000 in to stocks and earn ten percent. Then you have $1,000. If you take that same $10,000 and use it for a down payment on a home (of say $100,000) and the home increases by as little as 10% then you end up making $10,000. Not too shabby.

Another thing to note too when the housing market does turn around and it could be sooner than you think, you will have equity instantly. How can you beat it? Whether it turns around fast or slow, you will get that equity as things come turn around in the market.

If you get a fix rate mortgage, you monthly payment stays the same over the years as everything else will gradually increase. As mentioned in my last post, rates are historically low.

Best of all you own your home. You can make it your own, paint, add landscaping, and other upgrades, and you will see a return on your investment over time. Some of the homes in our area are selling for low enough prices that you can own for the same or less than monthly rent. So take advantage. It is so exciting!

Exciting News: 30 Year Mortage Rates Hit another Low!

More exciting news from about yesterdays mortgage rates. Don’t miss this one. It is one of the best times in history to buy a house. Take advantage! 🙂

“The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 4.85 percent, the lowest on record, on a government plan to increase purchases of mortgage-backed bonds and buy as much as $300 billion of Treasuries.

The average rate is the lowest in the Freddie Mac weekly survey dating to 1971. The rate fell from 4.98 percent a week earlier.

The Federal Reserve said it will purchase up to an additional $750 billion of mortgage-backed securities from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae to support home lending.”

Quoted from the Boston Globe. Read More.

Victorian Charm in Apollo, PA

Some days are just nuts and today was almost one of them. Every minute of the day is taken up with something. That is when you have to multi-task and do several things at one time. Something that you kind of are forced to do as a real estate agent. While I was running around with my business errands I came across and neat victorian home in a local town of Apollo, PA. My office is located maybe four or five miles from this site. I love looking at homes and unfortunately this home is not for sale but someone did a great job on the restoration. I could not resist getting out the camera to shoot a few photos. It is hidden away up on the hill.

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Buyers Say Price is Number One Reason to Buy

Buyers are big on the price when buying a home. Who would not be? Everyone wants a bargain. I have a few specific buyers that I am working with now that keep telling me to make sure I send them details about the really good deals. Now these buyers are not necessarily looking for a foreclosure or some type of property that needs a major overhaul, but they just want a great house for the money. There was a house close to our office that was a four bedroom 2 1/2 bath home (about 2400 sq ft) on almost half an acre that was a great deal. It was only a few years old, in very new condition. A bank wanted to moved it fast. So they priced it about $25,000 less than what it sold for a few years ago. Boom it was gone in a week. Awesome deal.

The key thing is to keep your eye out everywhere and be consistent with your search if you are serious. Believe me the deals go fast. You need to get yourself on a special internet search where the properties come right to your email. The search I use for my customers is free and can be canceled or changed at any time. You really don’t want to use one right from certain broker sites because some of them take up to 48 hours to put out the listings once they are on the market. The one that I use for my clients can send you an email notification as soon as an hour of it being listed. You can’t get much faster than that unless you have inside information.

Here is some great info on what Households are saying about buying a home in the current market

“Survey: Households Say Now is Good Time to Buy
More than three-quarters (78 percent) of potential first-time home buyers say that now is a good time to buy a home . . . . Out of the 1,000 prospective U.S. first-time home buyers surveyed in early March for the CENTURY 21 First-Time Home Buyer Survey, 68 percent think now is a better time to buy than six months ago.

Prices are the driving motivation for potential first-time home buyers with more than eight of ten first-time home buyers (85 percent) saying they consider current home prices affordable and 73 percent citing that taking advantage of current prices is a major factor in their decision to buy. . . . . .

* Bargains in the marketplace are providing additional options for buyers to consider. 56 percent of potential first-time home buyers are considering purchasing a foreclosed or short sale home, and 63 percent are open to purchasing either a “fixer-upper” or “as-is” home.

* When asked to rate the features that they look for when choosing a home, price is the primary consideration with 87 percent saying this feature is “very important,” followed closely by neighborhood safety (80 percent) and the condition of the home (71 percent).”

Read the full article

Great News: Pennsylvania Has Best Rates – Again

I was excited to hear again today that Pennsylvania came as having one of the best mortgage rates in the Nation. Buyers are out there taking advantage of the first-time home buyer tax credit, the inventory, and the great rates. Don’t miss this great time of opportunity.

Check out this recent report from the Pittsburgh Business Times.

“The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage continued to drop last week, with Pennsylvania among the lowest rates in the country, according to Web site Zillow.com.

For the week ended March 22, the national average 30-year rate was 5.06 percent, down from 5.21 percent the week prior. In Pennsylvania, the 30-year rate was 5.02 percent for the week ended March 22, down more than 3 percent from the previous week’s rate of 5.19 percent, according to Zillow.”

Read more

February Stats: Home Sales on the Rise

Spring has truly spring and early that is for the real estate market. Buyers are out. Our office is very busy with showings. I was excited to hear that some recent statistics are supporting the activity.

Here is what I heard from Realtor.org:

“Home Buyer Tax Credit Increases Activity

NAR President Charles McMillan says home shopping activity has picked up with housing affordability at a record high.

The number of buyers looking for homes rose 5 percent in February, and also was 5 percent above a year ago,” he says. “It appears most of the increase in buyer traffic occurred in the latter part of the month after the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit was put in place. At the same time, mortgage purchase applications have risen, so we expect to see sales picking up around late spring.

McMillan notes that more potential buyers are learning about the tax credit, just as the traditional spring home-buying season begins.

Single-family home sales: rose 4.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.23 million in February from a level of 4.05 million in January . . .

Existing-home sales— including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops—rose 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million units in February from a pace of 4.49 million units in January. ”

Spring Lawn tip: Don’t forget to get your crab grass preventer down on your lawn if you are doing it yourself. You need to stop the crab grass before it gets growing and there is not much time left. You can usually find this on sale at your local garden center. I usually buy a four step plan (to cover 15,000 sq feet) for about $100 after the rebate. If I paid for professional lawn care for the season, it would cost me almost $500 for the plan. So households doing it themselves can save a good bit.

Still Time to Buy – Rates Hit Another Low

Rates are lower this week. You should be excited about getting that new home or upgrading. This is one of the best opportunities for buyers. Remember you have until November 30th to take advantage of the First-Time home buyer tax credit. There are a lot of cute houses out there. Feel free to contact me to get on a special free search that give you a comprehensive listing of the areas you are interested in. Things have definitely picked up and the spring Real Estate marketing is moving fast.

“Mortgage Rates Drop Below 5%
Freddie Mac reports a drop in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to 4.98 percent during the week ended March 19 from 5.03 percent the prior year, marking the lowest rate since 4.96 percent in mid-January. ”

Source: Tulsa World (Okla.) (03/20/09)

Rates may fall even more according to financial experts. This is because of the Federal Reserves announcement that it will pump in $1.2 trillion into the economy to help the credit markets.

What Items a Buyer Needs When Getting Ready to Apply for a Mortgage

First time home buyers often need to absorb a lot of information quickly when they first start their home search. One thing you will need to have ready, as I have mentioned before, is a pre-approval for a mortgage loan. This will help you be ready quickly if you are ready to make an offer. Once you have an executed sales agreement with the seller, you will have so many days to apply for a mortgage. Below is a helpful checklist of things that the mortgage company or bank will ask you for to be able to approve your loan.

” * W-2 forms — or business tax return forms if you’re self-employed — for the last two or three years for every person signing the loan.
* Copies of at least one pay stub for each person signing the loan.
* Account numbers of all your credit cards and the amounts for any outstanding balances.
* Copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements for both checking and savings
accounts.
* Lender, loan number, and amount owed on other installment loans, such as student loans and
car loans.
* Addresses where you’ve lived for the last five to seven years, with names of landlords if
appropriate.
* Copies of brokerage account statements for two to four months, as well as a list of any other major assets of
value, such as a boat, RV, or stocks or bonds not held in a brokerage account.
* Copies of your most recent 401(k) or other retirement account statement.
* Documentation to verify additional income, such as child support or a pension.
* Copies of personal tax forms for the last two to three years.”

from REALTOR Magazine

Great Ideas for Making a Home More Inviting

Did you know that buyers are motivated buy a home based on emotion? So the important thing for a seller to do is to do their best in making it feel that way. I have heard in the past from contractors that bathrooms and kitchens are key points that make people want to buy a specific home. The kitchen in my home was a big deciding point on why I bought mine. I even sacrificed some other features because it was such great room and was great for having friends over. It is connected to my family room and is very open. Below are some great ideas from a design firm that specializes in furnishing new homes.

“Model homes are important tools for builders because they help buyers fall in love with a home.

Phyllis Ryan, president of the model-home division of Interior Concepts, a Maryland design firm that specializes in furnishing new homes, has some tips that might benefit anyone who is selling a home.

* A stylish kitchen appeals to many buyers. If a sellers has upgraded cabinets and granite countertops, that’s good. If they don’t, it may help to display some stylish touches like an espresso machine, a retro toaster or just some luscious fruit.

* Lots of light makes spaces feel larger. Turn on all the lights even during the day and add a few extra lights if necessary.

* The master bedroom should seduce a buyer. Play soft jazz, pile the bed high with a cushy comforter and pillows. Stack plush towels in the bathroom.

* Add drama to a bottleneck or a dead end space. Prop an oversize mirror against the wall. It visually ops a space and adds drama.”

Quoted from REALTOR Magazine online