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Spotlight On: Central Bucks School District

One of the most popular school districts in the region, Central Bucks is a large, award-winning district serving nearly 20,000 students!  Central Bucks routinely scores in the top ten districts in the state for achievement-based test scores, and it’s powerhouse athletic program has even produced a number of professional athletes.

Central Bucks South High School
Central Bucks South High School

The district serves the Doylestown area and operates fifteen elementary schools, five middle schools, and three high schools (Central Bucks West, East, and South).

bucks sd

Most of the homes in Central Bucks School District are priced at or above the Bucks County average.  The majority of single homes are priced between $500,000 and $800,000, although it’s not uncommon to find luxury estates valued over $2 million!  If you’re interested in living in a more affordable home in the district, you’ll be sure to find plenty of townhomes under $250,000, especially in the towns of Warrington, Warwick, and Chalfont.

doylestown home

 

How Long Will it Take to Sell Your Home?

If you’re planning on selling your home in 2017, you might be wondering how long the process is expected to take. Currently, the average home across the nation is on the market for approximately 65 days before going under contract with a buyer, although this length of time can vary greatly!  In general, homes sell quickly in the spring and slower in the colder months.

In Greater Philadelphia, the average number of days on the market tends to be pretty similar to the national average, but with significant variation between neighborhoods.  If your home is located in a closer suburb and an award-winning school district (think Abington, Ardmore, or Media), it’s likely to sell quite a bit faster — especially if it’s moderately priced.  Homes located in more rural areas (including Barto, Plumsteadville, or Coatesville) tend to take a little bit longer.

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Additionally, homes that are particularly unique or expensive — especially over $800,000 — tend to take longer to sell.  In fact, homes valued over $2 million tend to take three or four months longer to find a buyer than the average property.

Of course, it takes more than finding a buyer and agreeing on a price.  Once your home is under contract, it takes approximately 45 days until it closes.  Buyers who are paying cash for the home tend to settle more quickly (often in just a couple weeks) whereas some buyers prefer not to settle for three months.  Either way, the buyer and seller must come to a mutual agreement when signing the Agreement of Sale.   And the good news? You’ll typically receive your proceeds on settlement day!

Mortgage Rates Tick Slightly Higher

Lenders across the nation reported a slight increase in mortgage rates on Monday, January 17th.  The average 30-year fixed rate loan jumped 4 basis points this week to 4.04%, while the average 15-year fixed rate loan climbed to 3.19%.  Following November’s election, mortgage rates surged nearly half of a percent higher, but appear to have stabilized in the last three weeks.

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Each week, Bankrate.com surveys loan officers across the country to determine whether they believe rates will rise, fall, or remain unchanged in the following week.  The majority of experts (54%) weighing in believed that rates will remain relatively stable in the upcoming week, whereas 18% believe they will increase and 27% expect for them to decrease.  The Rate Trend Index is a popular resource for borrowers to determine when to “lock in” their mortgage rate.

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Interested in learning more about loan options?  We’d love to introduce you to local, helpful, and knowledgeable lenders.  Just give us a call at (215) 699-5555 or email us at theoffice@everyhome.com.


 

Is Your Home or Neighborhood a “Seasonal Sale”?

Some homes have a good chance of selling any time of the year, whereas other homes sell more easily during the spring and summer months.  As EveryHome agent and home-flipping guru Jen Kuznits explains, “If you buy a 4-bedroom home in a good school district, with higher taxes, you will typically have a much harder time selling it if school has just started.”  These types of homes are sometimes referred to as a “seasonal sale” because they tend to be most appealing to families who would prefer to move their children in the summer rather than the middle of the school year.seasonal saleJen shares her story of how she learned about the value of seasonal sale: “One time, we finished a large home at the end of September. We couldn’t sell it. We finally got a much lower than anticipated offer at the end of December.  We were willing to take it, but the buyers didn’t want to settle until spring. We decided that if we waited for a spring settlement, we may as well wait until spring to sell. We took it off the market for a couple of months and re-listed it at the beginning of March.  It sold for $30,000 more than what we would have settled for had we taken that winter offer!”

seasonal sale


 

The Pros and Cons of New Construction Homes

Do you prefer the customizable, shiny “newness” of a brand new house?  Or would you rather move into a character-filled and quaint pre-existing home?  According to a survey by Trulia, approximately 41% of homebuyers prefer new construction if the costs were the same, whereas only 21% prefer an existing home, and 38% reported no preference.

New Construction

Of course, buying a brand new home typically comes with a higher price tag – and far fewer homebuyers are willing to pay for it.  While it’s difficult to assess the exact premium placed on new construction (since they tend to be larger, and with nicer features than existing homes), the price tends to be about 20% higher when adjusted for the features and location.  When these additional costs are taken into account, less than half of people who prefer a new home would actually pay this additional 20% fee.

New Construction

And according to the survey, new construction appeals most to younger buyers, but is most feasible for older folks with higher disposable incomes. If you’re interested in learning about new communities in the Greater Philadelphia area (including affordable new homes!) , be sure to reach out to EveryHome to meet an experienced and helpful agent.


 

Mortgage Insurance Premiums Just Got Cheaper

Good news for buyers using an Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan and making a down payment of less than twenty percent!  Annual mortgage insurance premiums just dropped significantly in price, from 0.85% to 0.6% of the loan balance.  The recent change, announced January 9th, is expected to save the average homeowner approximately $500 per year.

Mortgage Insurance Premiums

The surprising move was welcomed by most real estate professionals, as rising interest rates threatened to squeeze first-time buyers out of the competitive real estate market.  As the President of the National Association of Realtors, William Brown, explains, “It follows that dropping mortgage insurance premiums today will mean a whole lot more responsible borrowers are suddenly eligible to purchase a home through FHA. That puts more money in the fund to protect taxpayers, and it puts more families in homes so they can live out the American dream.”

Mortgage Insurance Premiums


 

Mortgage Rates Finally Fall, Ending 9-Week Streak

Breaking a 9-week streak of increasing mortgage rates, the average 30-year fixed loan tumbled this week to 4.20%.  Last week, the average rate stood at 4.32%.  Government mortgage agency Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates have fallen for the first time since the presidential election, and that the 15-year fixed rate loan and 5/1 Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM) have decreased as well.

freddie-mac

Lenders remain undecided on where mortgage rates are headed.  Bankrate.com’s weekly mortgage trend index found that experts are mixed on whether rates will continue to fall, remain steady, or rise once again.  As the chief financial analyst of Bankrate, Greg McBride, explains, “The run-up in bond yields and mortgage rates the last two months of 2016 was too much, too soon, and not based on anything concrete.”

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The weeks surrounding the holidays tend to be a fairly slow time for mortgage applications to begin with, but local lenders are reporting they’re slower than usual – especially in regards to homeowners refinancing.  While mortgage rates appear to be stabilizing, they are still 23 basis points higher than this time last year and, as a result, even fewer homeowners are choosing to refinance their properties.


 

Winter Home Inspections

Whenever you purchase a home, we always recommend having a home inspection performed on the home prior to settlement.  In the harsh winter weather, however, there are some unique challenges and even some benefits, when it comes to winter home inspections.

Winter Home Inspections

Certified home inspectors are trained to complete thorough inspections, even in the wintertime.  Sometimes, though, certain parts of the inspection just have to wait until the ice and snow melts, including the roof, porch or even the home’s foundation if snow is piled up against it.  As a homeowner, you can help this process go more smoothly by shoveling the porch or deck, and allowing room for the inspector to check beneath the porch. It’s also helpful to pile any snow away from the side of the home.

Winter Home Inspections

Another thing that inspectors carefully consider is frozen pipes.  If the pipes are frozen, it can conceal any potential leaks.  As a homeowner, it’s especially important to keep your heat on, even if the home is vacant, to prevent any frozen pipes or windows. It’s also a good idea to consider wrapping your hot water pipes in insulation this time of year – it’s a cheap and easy project and you can pick up supplies at your local home improvement store.

Winter Home Inspections

And while your home inspector will get a good look at the home’s heating system in the wintertime, unfortunately they won’t be able to get a good read of the home’s air conditioning system – in fact, they could damage the unit if it’s turned on when the weather is below 60.  In the summertime, buyers have the opposite problem – they can check out the AC, but not inspect the heating system as easily. Similarly, another benefit of winter home inspections are checking the drafts and insulation.  Your inspector will be able to spot where any cold air is entering the home.

Winter Home Inspections

If the home has a swimming pool or hot tub, a trained pool inspector can visually assess for any damages or needed repairs – even if the pool is winterized.  Unfortunately though, it’s not as helpful as an inspection during the warmer weather when the pool is open.  If you own a pool and plan on selling your home during the cooler months, it’s helpful to get your pool pre-inspected by a reputable company prior to closing it for the summer.

If you have any specific questions about home inspections or maintenance during the wintertime, we’d love to help you out.  Just give us a call at (215) 699-5555 and we’ll introduce you to an expert in your area.


 

Underwater and Need to Sell? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you’re “underwater” or “upside-down” on your home, you owe more than it’s worth.  For example, if you still owe $220,000 on your mortgage, and your home’s approximate value (as estimated by a licensed real estate agent or appraiser) is $210,000, then you’re about $10,000 underwater.  For homeowners in this situation, it’s not a big deal if you’re not planning on selling for a while.  The market will likely continue to improve over the next couple of years and you’re likely to regain equity in your home.

underwater

However, some people need to sell for a variety of reasons, including a pending divorce, a job (and location) change, or maybe the monthly mortgage payment is simply too high.  Whatever the reason may be, there are a few options:

The first, and most idyllic, option is to simply pay the balance at the settlement table. Using the above example, you would likely owe approximately $10,000 (plus any commission fees and transfer tax) on the day of the closing.  If you absolutely must sell your home and this option works for you financially, it may make the most sense in the long run; it won’t hurt your credit score, and you’ll be able to purchase another home right away.

Of course, stroking such a large check understandably isn’t an option for many sellers. Some homeowners choose to rent out their current home while buying (or renting!) a new one.  While this is a great choice for some clients, others may struggle to qualify for a new home with the mortgage on their existing property.

If you’re struggling to pay your monthly mortgage payment and can no longer afford your home, you may be eligible for a short sale.  A short sale occurs when all lien holders (the mortgage company) agrees to sell your home for less than you currently owe.  It’s important to note, though, that this option can significantly affect your credit score and you’ll be ineligible to obtain a new loan for three or four years.

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If you’re considering a short sale on your current home, we would love the opportunity to meet with you.  In addition to having experienced short sale agents, we are pleased to work with a team of experienced real estate attorneys who may be able to assist you.

Three Affordable New Communities

New construction is booming in Greater Philadelphia, but the majority of new homes for sale are over $400,000.  If you’re in the market for something a little more affordable, be sure to check out some of our favorite new communities:

new communities

new communities

Northgate is a unique, new community by THP located in peaceful Pennsburg.  Enjoy the best of both worlds at Northgate, as you’re just minutes to award-winning restaurants, shops, and fitness studios, but surrounded by acres of open land, biking trails, and playgrounds.  A 2-bedroom condo starts at $149,000 and single homes start around $280,000.

new communities

new communities

Nestled in pretty Chester County, Washington Square is a new community offering both single homes, and townhomes with garages!  These stunning Ryan Homes are located in Spring City, just minutes from Malvern and Phoenixville.  Townhomes start around $220,000 and single homes start around $290,000.

new communities

new communities

Perkasie Woods is one of Bucks County’s newest communities, and its conveniently located in walking distance to Perkasie’s great shops and restaurants (including one of our favorite eateries in the region, Maize!).  The luxury townhomes offer high-end kitchens and bathrooms, but at an affordable price tag – they start at just $250,000!


 

Mortgage Rates Hit Two-Year High

The nation’s most popular home loan, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, rose 2 basis points (or 0.02 percent) this past week to 4.32%.  Mortgage rates haven’t been this high since April 2014.  The 15-year fixed rate loan jumped 3 basis points to 3.55%, and the 5-year adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) actually decreased slightly to 3.30%.

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This is the ninth consecutive week of mortgage rate growth since November’s election, and industry experts speculate that rates could hit 5% by mid-2017.  Lenders are quick to point out that rates remain historically low, however.  To put it into perspective, the average 30-year fixed rate fluctuated between 6 and 7 percent in 2007 and 2008, and they jumped above 8.3% in June 2000.

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Cozy and Local Contemporary Homes for Sale

Contemporary homes come in all shapes and sizes, but typically feature clean lines, asymmetrical shapes, expansive windows, and a modern design.  If you’re interested in buying an efficient, unique home in 2017, look no further than the following three options:
contemporary

contemporary

contemporary

An affordable and spacious artist’s retreat, this gorgeous mid-century home features an open floor plan and a Silo entryway.  Plus, this creative and contemporary space is walkable to the village of Hatfield, and across the street from a park!  2419 E Vine Street – Asking $254,900

 

contemporary

contemporary

contemporary

Nestled in the beautiful hills of Bucks County, this 4,000+ square foot contemporary home is truly one-of-a-kind with expansive windows, a wraparound deck, and a fresh koi pond.  1948 Brooke Drive – Asking $695,000

 

contemporary

contemporary

contemporary

Valley Forge Mountain is known for its unique homes and contemporary architecture, and this 6,400 square foot estate is no exception!  The home features original wood beams, a stone wine cellar with space for hundreds of bottles and a tasting area, and over $400,000 in landscape architecture!  116 Oakwood Lane – Asking $1.29m


 

Easy New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners

Owning your home comes with lots of privileges….and responsibilities.  In 2017, we resolve to make our homes safer, cleaner, and more affordable – and here’s how we plan to do it:

Homeowners

1. We bet you’ve been saying you’ve wanted a home alarm system forever, right?  We know this because we’ve been saying it, too – and 2017 is finally the year we’re going to make it happen.  Whether you splurge for a fancy installed system, or pick up a budget-friendly DIY kit from Home Depot, the peace of mind will far outweigh any costs or aggravation.  Other good ideas: test your smoke detectors, install a monoxide detector, and even get your radon levels assessed (plus, it’ll likely save you on your homeowners’ insurance!)

Homeowners

2. Do a little research to save big on your monthly mortgage payment.  There are a number of ways that you can save money each month, but many of them require a phone call or two.  This year, resolve to lower your monthly payment by looking into ways to save on homeowners’ insurance, consider fighting your property tax assessment, or even explore your refinancing options.  And to save in the long run, consider making extra payments – it could save you thousands in interest!

Homeowners

3. Declutter, declutter, declutter.  Need that bejeweled blazer in the back of your closet? What about the dusty vase you bought at Boscov’s in 1996?  Or the three broken lamps on your garage floor?  Nope, nope, nope.  In 2017, we resolve to gradually declutter our homes, room by room – starting with the dreaded basement and closets.  Really, though, you’ll appreciate it when you sell – and you might even be able to sell some items for big money online!


 

Buying Your First Home in 2017? Read This First

If your New Year’s Resolution is to buy your first home, you’re not alone!  In fact, real estate agents anticipate that first-time buyers and Millennials will make up the largest share of home shoppers in 2017.

2017

While predicting the real estate market is notoriously difficult, industry experts warn that 2017 might be even more unpredictable than usual.  There are a few things that we can reasonably expect, though – including rising mortgage rates.  Following the election, mortgage rates climbed 50 basis points (or half of a percentage point) in just a couple of weeks.  While these higher rates will certainly affect homeowners wishing to refinance, its unlikely to pose any significant difficulties among homebuyers.  Generally speaking, when mortgage rates rise, home price growth slows, so the overall price of buying a home isn’t expected to rise considerably.

2017

The spring real estate market is likely to be very busy in 2017. As demand for homes continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale, we anticipate a competitive market with bidding wars common among buyers.  As a result, it’s likely to remain a seller’s market in much of Greater Philadelphia, particularly among the closer suburbs to the city,.  The best advice we can give to buyers is to have all of your financial ducks in a row before seriously shopping for homes.  This means having a preapproval letter in hand from a lender, because you’ll need it when submitting an offer.

2017

If you plan on looking for a home in the earlier part of the year, be sure to file your taxes early because your lender will want to see the latest information regarding your finances.   And if you’re lucky to receive a tax return, it’ll be a great jumpstart on your down payment!


 

How Much Equity Do You Have in Your Home?

Whether you’re interested in selling, refinancing, or taking out a home equity line of credit (HELOC), you’ll need to know the amount of equity that you have in your home.

home-equity

The first step is to take a look at your monthly mortgage statement to get a sense of your outstanding balance.  If you’re like most Americans, you might not even think to check the big number on your statement more than once per year (and after all, it’s a number that we tend to avoid looking at for too long).  For the sake of this example, let’s say you still owe $200,000 on your home loan.  If you have a second mortgage or any liens on your home, add those totals to this number as well.

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The next step is to consider the current market value of your home – and this is where it can get tricky. If you’re refinancing, you’ll be required to get a professional appraisal of your property.  They can typically be scheduled within a week or two and cost a few hundred dollars. If you’re just curious about your home’s value, however, a real estate agent can assist you by providing you with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) which will provide you with an estimated value based on similar properties that recently sold nearby.  For this example, let’s say your real estate agent estimated that your home is worth approximately $250,000.

Realtor Showing Hispanic Couple Around New Home

To calculate your equity, you simply deduct the total of any mortgages and/or liens from your home’s current market value.  In this case, the homeowner has approximately $50,000 in the home.  To calculate the loan-to-value ratio, you divide the total of the mortgages and/or liens by the current market value — in this case, the LTV ratio is 80%.

 

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EveryHome Realty is licensed by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission (license RB066839) and the New Jersey Real Estate Commission (license 0901599)