Are Home Warranties worth it?
Home warranties are designed to provide buyers with peace of mind, but there are often a lot of questions surrounding how they work. In a nutshell, home warranties provide coverage for appliances and system in your new home by either repairing or replacing them. Typically, home warranty coverage is purchased in one-year increments, and there are a variety of coverage levels.
It can be a good negotiating tool for after a home inspection, especially if a home inspector finds that some appliances are toward the end of their life. In a competitive market, sellers may offer these home warranties to prospective buyers as an added incentive.
If you’re in the market to buy a house and would like a home warranty, be sure to talk to your EveryHome agent. He or she can ensure that you will be provided with a comprehensive home warranty from a reputable company.
2014 High Schools Rankings
|U.S. News and World Report released their 2014 rankings for best high schools across the nation…and the Greater Philadelphia area schools performed wonderfully! The ratings are based off of proficiency tests (in Pennsylvania’s case, the “PSSA”), college readiness (through AP courses offered, taken, and passed), and student-teacher ratio. Analysts also factor in the percentage of minority and economically disadvantaged students to determine which schools are performing at the highest levels, despite any statistical disadvantages.
|Out of 690 Pennsylvania high schools evaluated, Philadelphia School District’s Julia R. Masterman Laboratory & Demonstration School came in first. The Masterman School is a magnet school—that is, it attracts only the best and the brightest from the Philadelphia District.
|In the ‘burbs, New-Hope Solebury ranked #3 in the state and Conestoga High School (of the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District) ranked #5. Unionville High School (of Unionville-Chaddsford) came in at #7, Radnor High School ranked 8th, Wissahickon came in at 9th and Great Valley rounded out the top ten.
|Lower Merion High School, and Central High School of Philadelphia both made the top 15.Check out the full rankings here!
Steps on how to winterize your home!
Oh, the joys of living in the Northeast! If we’re not being pummeled by snow and ice, we’re surely suffering from frigid temperatures a few months out of the year. And we aren’t the only ones who struggle in this weather — our homes need a little extra TLC, too! It’s time to winterize your home!
This cute pup is enjoying his draft snake! Image via 17apart.com
1. Chilly drafts can let in a surprising amount of cold air. Dodge that draft by using a “draft snake” (you know, one of those plush things that sits at the base of your garage door?). Purchase one at any home goods store, DIY one, or simply roll up an old bath towel and enjoy the savings on your heating bill! This is a simple and efficient way to winterize your home for the upcoming months.
2. Change your furnace filters! We’re guilty of forgetting about this one, too. Ideally, they should replaced every month during the winter months and they are inexpensive at Home Depot or Lowe’s.
3. Consider turning down your hot water heater to a reasonable 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, they are set to 140 degrees — which can result in an unnecessary expense, let alone burns!
4. Storm doors and windows! Okay, this one might not be quite so painless. They’re not terribly cheap, nor are they a peach to install….but the savings can be incredible! Look for an Energy-Star certified model at a home improvement store. Not feeling an entirely new installation? Try a window insulation kit. For just a few dollars, you can increase the insulation in your windows and the plastic clings are nearly invisible.
5. Get your heating system tuned up. It’s worth it! In order to keep your system functioning properly (which will keep your monthly bill low), it’s imperative to have a yearly tune-up. This service may be free depending on the company, too.
Image via popularmechanics.com
6. Insulate your pipes with pre-slit pipe foam from a hardware store, and you’ll save on your hot water bill and have a lower chance of pipes freezing. Cheap and easy!
Inspiration to Get Organized This Spring
Whether you’re planning to sell or you’ve just moved in, it’s always worth taking some time to get organized. Check out these resources to effortlessly get your home looking its best:
Image via iheartorganizing.BlogSpot.com
Thinking about selling your home? It’s all about the curb appeal! Be sure to let buyers know that you’ve kept your home wonderfully maintained from the second that they drive up to your place. Keep your home looking even better outside: Hang a pretty flag, swap out your old welcome mat, and add a fresh coat of paint to your front door for even more inexpensive, nearly-effortless curb appeal.
Image via iheartorganizing.blogspot.com
Just moved in? We understand that the process of making a “house” a “home” can be long and arduous, but the good news is it can at least be fun! Use spring cleaning as an excuse to unpack, get yourself organized, and personalize your home. For inspiration, head to our favorite home and living blogs: www.iheartorganizing.blogspot.com and www.lovepomegranatehouse.com. And don’t forget to reward yourself after with a glass of wine. Or two. (Psst…Don’t feel bad if you have been living in your home for two or three years and still have unpacked boxes. We do, too.)
We love the DIY projects at lovepomegranatehouse.com
Sick of those dreaded papers, files, and receipts? HeartWork Organizing’s popular classes offers real, practical solutions for people who need help getting all aspects of their home in order. Head to www.heartworkorg.com for more information today. And while you’re there, check out Darla’s Before & After pictures for some real inspiration!
Mortgage Rates Hit 20 Month Low
Should we be expecting another refinance boom? Some experts think so! At just 3.6%, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage has hit a 20 month low, and industry leaders believe this could lure even more homeowners to refinance this spring.
Plus, we look forward to a greater number of first-time buyers this spring with the increasing affordability of homeownership.
“Conditions are very favorable for first-time homebuyers to start getting back into the market. Mortgage rates are falling, FHA insurance premiums are coming down, home prices are cooling and employment is steady,” Sean Nelson, the director of global rating agency Fitch, explains.
Tax Deductions for Homeowners!
Significant savings are coming your way if you’re a homeowner! Many clients, and especially our first time homebuyers, are unaware of some of the great tax deductions and credits that may be available for them.
Typically, the largest savings is found in the interest paid on a mortgage. The amount you pay in interest is tax-deductible. Check out your savings on Bankrate’s calculator here!
Another major deduction is in your property taxes. As weird as it sounds to have tax deductions, you may deduct the amount paid on property taxes from your income tax. You may also get a break if you paid points to get a better rate on your home loan, too!
As always, we recommend that clients speak to their tax adviser regarding their specific situation.
Home Affordability Calculator
If you’re just starting to browse for homes online, CNN Money’s Home Affordability Calculator is a helpful way to estimate the type of home that you may be able to purchase.
Click HERE to calculate your affordable amount!
Mark Mawby of Aurora Financial helps Chelsea & Kevin sign paperwork at settlement
Of course, we have an important disclosure to make: There are a LOT of variables that affect a person’s ability to obtain a mortgage. One important variable that is not taken into account in this calculator is credit score.
If you’d like to speak with a qualified, local lender in our preferred network, be sure to let us know. We’d love to introduce you!
You Should Buy A Short Sale This Spring
Did you know that short sales accounted for 32% of all home sales in 2012 according to RealtyTrac?
A short sale is a popular alternative to a foreclosure, they’re often priced a bit under market. They can be a really great deal, but there are a couple of important things to consider.
Image via thewhitcanackgroup.com
First of all, short sales aren’t short! Unfortunately, you can expect to wait longer for settlement than you would when buying a traditional home, thanks to the time it takes for bank approval. This can be up to 6 or 9 months sometimes! If you’re interested in a short sale, your agent can contact the bank’s representative to get a better sense of the timeline.
Short sale homes are often sold as-is. This means they’re not likely to make any improvements to the property before settlement. However, this does not mean you should skip getting a home inspection!
EveryHome agents are experienced with a short sale and we would be happy to assist you with any further questions you may have. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! And for more information, check out Katie’s helpful video here!
Philly is Number Three on NY Times Places to Go in 2015!
We’ll cheers to that! The New York Times recently released its popular “52 Places to Go in 2015” and the City of Brotherly Love took the third spot. The iconic publication dubbed Philadelphia a “hive of outdoor urban activity,” featuring public art installations, open-air beer gardens, and the new bike share program.
So, which two places to go beat out Philadelphia? Milan took the top spot and Cuba ranked number two. We won’t try to compete with the romantic fashion haven and the exotic island… we’re just glad to have made the list!
Our favorite (affordable!) Philadelphia listing: 7026 Mower Street!
Check out the full article here!
The One Thing Your Home Needs in Order to Sell
Selling your home this spring? There is one thing your home will need in order to sell! It’s no secret that quality, professional photography will enhance buyer interest in your home and result in more showings. In fact, there have been countless studies proving just that! Since the vast majority of buyers start their home search online, beautiful photos have become an even more important marketing asset to sellers.
36 E Temple Ave, Sellersville PA
When interviewing a prospective listing agent about his or her plan to market your home, you’ll want to ensure that they have resources for taking great photos and a strong track record of marketing homes to their fullest potential. Be sure to ask for a sampling of their past listings…don’t beshy!
1140 Berkley Ave, Quakertown PA
Easy ways to help your agent out include keeping the clutter at bay, making the beds, removing magnets and papers from the fridge, and sprucing up the front of your home (perhaps washing the windows, adding a seasonal flag, or repainting the shutters).
If you’d like to list for 4.5% with EveryHome, you’ll be sure to love the way we showcase your home with quality photography and a professional video tour. Just shoot us an email for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org!
4 Reasons To Sell Your Home This Spring
1. You probably know that spring time is typically considered the very best time of year to sell your home—and it’s true, this is the time of year when buyers come out of the woodworks and start bidding on homes! Not only do well-priced homes sell quickly in the springtime, many experts also believe that you’re more likely to fetch a higher price.
2. We expect to see a busy real estate season this year for a number of reasons: the interest rates are still extremely low, consumer confidence is on the rise, unemployment has decreased, and the Federal Housing Administration (or FHA) has made home buying a bit more affordable. The cost of private mortgage insurance has just decreased significantly, plus buyers are now only required to put 3% down on a home.
3. We can help you keep more when you sell your home! EveryHome’s commission is just 4.5%, and we bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you compare this rate to our competition! The reason we’re able to keep prices so low? We’re a family-owned business with our roots in Greater Philadelphia, and we love passing our savings along to our clients.
4. Home prices continue to rise in our region! According to the National Association of Realtors, the median home value for an existing single-family home increased by 10.4%…not too shabby!
Of course, it’s important to start planning now if you’re thinking of selling this year! Two of the very first things to do, which may take a bit of time, are cleaning (mostly decluttering) and consulting with local real estate agents. While your home doesn’t have to be in perfect shape when you invite agents over to see it, it’s a good idea to have the bulk of your decluttering and “fixing up” completed so that the agent can get the best idea of your home and help you with pricing accordingly. Be sure to check out our Facebook page in the upcoming weeks for organization tips, and your EveryHome agent will be happy to assist you!
FHA Lowers the Cost of Mortgage Insurance
Good news for buyers! If you’re purchasing a home this year with a Federal Housing Administration loan, you’ll enjoy significant savings on mortgage insurance. Designed to protect the agency in case a borrower defaults on a loan, mortgage insurance has historically been quite pricey and a barrier to many folks wanting to buy a home.
In an effort to make purchasing a home more affordable, the FHA will be reducing the cost from 1.35% of a loan’s value to 0.85%. This equates to roughly $900 per year for the average borrower. Already own a home? If you’re refinancing this year with an FHA loan, you’ll also find similar savings.
FHA also recently announced that they’ll be reducing the minimum down payment from 3.5% to 3%. Kudos, FHA, for helping to make housing more affordable for many deserving borrowers!
EveryHome is Down the Shore
We are excited for the opportunity to offer friendly, local, hometown EveryHome agents are down the shore, Jersey shore to be exact! and pssst–now is the best time of year to buy!
While vacation home prices have increased this past year, they are still considered historically low…but there are a few things to consider. Experts recommend buying a vacation home for recreational reasons and NOT investment. While you can make a nice rental income, it won’t always pay for the cost of the home. Instead, think of yourself as the number one renter!
Additionally, maintenance & insurance can be a bit higher than your primary home in the suburbs (sometimes this can be offset by lower taxes-ask your agent for specifics).
Some of the most popular vacation areas? Three local beach spots make Marketwatch’s top ten: Ocean City, Maryland at #4, North Wildwood at #2, and Ocean City, New Jersey at #1. That’s right, OCNJ claimed the national number one spot! But with a median home price of $525,000, OCNJ isn’t always the most affordable. That award goes to its neighbor in North Wildwood-you can find a nice home near the beach for $200k!
If you’re interested in a vacation home, give us a call at 215-699-5555. We’d love to introduce you to an agent who lives, works, and plays in the neighborhood that interests you!
Americans Are Falling Back in Love with Urban Living
After decades of steady urban growth (measured by increase in population, home prices, and job growth), the tides are turning and America’s biggest cities are regaining popularity. Experts expect this trend to continue.
Image via realtor.com
Urban areas across the nation are enjoying a resurgence of job growth and housing demand, likely driven by job recruiters finding talent in the urban core. Industry insiders explain that businesses have found the best and smartest college graduates in the heart of America’s favorite cites, with walkable neighborhoods and an abundance of restaurants and nightlife.
It’s important to note, however, that the suburbs are far from dying — in fact, more Americans live in the suburbs than urban areas. Cities have just been growing at a more rapid pace than the suburbs or rural areas. This will surely affect housing prices in upcoming years!
What Can Be Expected for The Real Estate Market in 2015?
Industry experts are predicting housing happiness in 2015, with the prospect of a stronger job market, continued low interest rates, and low fuel prices. This is a winning combination that will lead consumers to achieve affordable homeownership.
Industry leaders believe that home prices will continue to increase in 2015, albeit at a more appropriate and steady pace than we saw in 2013 and 2014.
2015 will hopefully be a good year for first time buyers, as well. For the first time in years, first time buyers are expected to make up over 40% of all sales. This is expected to make the greatest impact in small and medium-sized cities and their immediate suburbs.
Additionally, Baby Boomers are expected to make an impact in 2015 due to their sheer number. This is especially true in regions where boomers plan to purchase retirement homes – most notably the warmer southern states. As a result, we could see increased inventory of homes for sale as baby boomers decide to sell.
Mortgage rates are expected to head higher in 2015 – although admittedly we’ve predicted this for the past two years and it hasn’t happened! Although at this point, it’s almost inevitable. Experts believe that rates will hit 5% by the end of the year.