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Discount Brokerage (And Why EveryHome Isn’t One)

Discount real estate agencies have been popping up in the area for the last decade or so. They offer limited real estate services for a much lower commission, or a low flat-rate fee. Generally speaking, a discount brokerage will provide some marketing materials and post your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database, but generally are not involved in organizing showings, open houses, negotiations, home inspections, and settlements.

EveryHome agent Mark Gatta enjoyed selling the Gold family's beautiful home! Discount Brokerage

EveryHome agent Mark Gatta enjoyed selling the Gold family’s beautiful home!

It’s not uncommon for our competition to think that we’re a discount brokerage, and this is typically because they’re aware that we charge a significantly lower commission. However, what they don’t realize is that we offer full-service listing services — in fact, we offer even more than other full-service agencies! In addition to representing our clients throughout the entire process (we’ll even attend settlement on your behalf), we also offer an advanced marketing plan with professional photography and videography.

Discount Brokerage

Interested in learning more about selling with EveryHome? Visit our webpage here!


 

Adding Value With An In-Law Suite

With an increasing number of baby boomers caring for elderly parents, it’s no wonder that in-law suites are rising in popularity! Homes with private quarters for aging parents or extended family members have become a hot commodity in our region. Here are the most important factors for creating an in-law suite with a great resale value:

 In-Law Suite. Shannon's newest listing at 147 Billingsley Dr in Chalfont offers beautiful private quarters with a kitchenette!

Shannon’s newest listing at 147 Billingsley Dr in Chalfont offers beautiful private quarters with a kitchenette!

1. Privacy! Ideally, the in-law suite should have a separate entrance to ensure comfort for both generations. In fact, the most coveted in-law quarters are located in a detached building with close proximity to the main home, such as a cottage or converted barn. For added privacy, consider adding two layers of drywall or a specialized corrugated rubber behind drywall can better soundproof the home.

2. Consider adding an in-law suite with easy access. Generally speaking, lower level/finished basement in-law suites can prove difficult for an elderly parent with decreased mobility. Instead, try a first-floor addition if possible (some clients have found it easiest to convert the garage).

3. While some shared amenities are a great idea, it’s typically a good idea to ensure that the in-law suite offers its own full bathroom and kitchenette. If space is available, consider adding a private living area for the in-law quarters, too.

in-law suite. Stanton Homes provides plenty of unique and functional in-law suite designs

Stanton Homes provides plenty of unique and functional in-law suite designs

4. If you’re in the beginning design and construction phases of an in-law suite, be sure to keep future use in mind. Larger doorways, bathroom amenities for aging parents with disabilities, and extra lights may be the most cost-effective to include in the beginning. When hiring a contractor, be sure that he or she has experience with designing and building in-law suites.


 

Pending Home Sales Dip in June

The Pending Home Sales Index refers to the number of homes that are under contract, but haven’t yet made it to the settlement table. They’re a great predictor of how many sales we can expect to see in the upcoming 90 days.

Pending Home Sales nar

Pending home sales dipped 1.8% from May (when they were at their highest level in nine years) to June. The experts at the National Association of Realtors are attributing some of the decrease to stiff competition among buyers due to the low inventory of homes for sale. Plus, increasing home prices squeezed some first time buyers out of the market.

Pending Home Sales

While pending home sales decreased in June, it’s important to note that they’ve increased year-over-year for ten consecutive months. This index remains 8.2% above June 2014.


Once-in-A-Lifetime Event at Phila Museum of Art

Wondering what Paris, London and Philadelphia all have in common? These three cities are exclusively offering the chance for visitors to view Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting, a celebrated exhibition showcasing the works of famed artists including Monet, Renoir, and Manet.

Renoir. Image via phillymag.com.

Renoir. Image via phillymag.com.

The event, which will showcase more than 80 works, is being organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Gallery in London, and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais.

Tickets are on sale $25 for adults and $12 for children, and they’re going fast! For more information and to reserve tickets, be sure to visit the official website here.


Why Buyers Love The 15-year Fixed Rate Mortgage

15-year Fixed Rate Mortgage

The fixed rate mortgage is the most popular choice for most home buyers. After all, the payment plan allows for lower monthly payments, and the fixed rate provides predictability; your monthly payment will always remain the same!

fixed rate mortgage

So why are more and more buyers turning to a 15-year fixed rate over the more standard 30-year option? While this loan offers the predictability and stability of a fixed-rate, it features even lower interest rates and allows homeowners to pay off their home in half the time. Interest rates tend to be approximately 0.5-0.8% less than the average 30-year fixed rate loan. Currently, Bankrate is quoting the national average at an extremely low 3.3%.

Is a 15-year loan right for you? Monthly payments on a 15-year loan are significantly higher than on a longer payment plan. For obvious reasons, they’re not always the best choice for many buyers on a budget. However, if you’re monthly budget allows for a 15-year loan, it is an option worth considering; you’ll save significantly over the life of the loan! To calculate affordability and monthly payments, be sure to use EveryHome’s Closing Costs Calculator and calculate 15 years vs 30 years in the left hand side.


Keeping Your Home Safe While On Vacation

Who wants to worry about their home’s security while on vacation? Consider these five tips to ensure that you’re keeping your home safe while on vacation.

1. Be careful what you post! Did you know that Facebook and other social media websites are one of the top ways for thieves to learn of an empty house? It’s true! Be sure to check your privacy settings, and post with caution.

Keeping Your Home Safe While On Vacation

2. Keep your home looking occupied. Whether you turn on exterior lights on a timer, leave a radio on, or keep a car in the driveway, be sure to keep your home looking “lived in.”

3. Consider asking a close friend or relative to stop by and check on things. You’ll probably need someone to stop by and water your plants, pick up your newspapers, or feed the fish, and they can let you know if anything seems awry. If you don’t need someone to otherwise stop by, consider telling a trusted neighbor that you’ll be away, so they can keep an eye out for anything suspicious.

4. Request that your post office hold all of your mail. Submit your request online, or visit your local post office to take advantage of this free service.

Keeping Your Home Safe While On Vacation

This 2-pack of alarms is just $15 at Home Depot

5. Last but not least, be sure that everything is locked! While it may sound obvious, many folks forget to check that their windows are securely locked before taking a trip. For added security, consider picking up a few inexpensive door and window alarms for under $20 from your local hardware store.


Help! My Home Has No Storage Space

What happens when you have too much stuff and not enough space to put it all? While we’re tempted to suggest donating and trashing half of your things, we know that’s not always realistic. (We can’t bear to part with our grandmother’s Russian doll collection, either!)

Plus, it’s true that some homes are severely lacking in storage space. Whether it’s due to a major downsize, an older home with few closets, or a poorly designed space, we’ve seen it all! Here’s how to keep your stuff and your sanity…without spending on a storage unit:

storage space

Armoire available at Pottery Barn

1. Storage doesn’t have to be ugly. Consider a pretty wicker basket for linens in the bathroom, a fancy armoire, or a bright ottoman with storage for magazines and books.

storage space

2. Who can’t use a little more closet space? Consider replacing the existing hanging rod with two rods — simply add one a bit above the previous spot, and one closer to the ground. Shirts and dresses will fit comfortably up top, and pants will fit nicely underneath.

3. It’s time to get creative! If possible, install bed lifters (they’re cheap and easy!) so that you have a bit of extra room underneath your bed. The Container Store sells tons of options for under-the-bed storage and we highly recommend the ones on wheels. Sweaters and shoes will fit with ease! And if you’re in the market for a new bed, consider one with built in storage.

storage space

4. Consider unusual spots for storage. While we all know to hang shelves in the bathroom above the toilet, some other ideas aren’t always so obvious. Our favorites include a mudroom bench with storage and a coatrack, floating book shelves above the bed, a dining room table bench seating with storage, and an on-the-wall rack for pots and pans!


Average Sale Price Reaches All-Time High in June

The national median sales price for existing homes in June was $236,400, which surpassed the previous record set in July 2006.  Home sales rose 6.5% from this time last year. The median sales price is expected to continue rising at a healthy pace.

nar

Additionally, existing home sales reached their highest pace in over eight years.

What’s causing this growth? The improving economy and relatively low unemployment rate is allowing more and more buyers to purchase homes. This spring has been the strongest year in sales since 2007! Additioally, this strong demand from buyers and relatively few homes for sale is pushing home values higher.

Information courtesy of the National Association of Realtors.


XPoNential Music Festival July 24-26!

XPoNential Music Festival

WXPN’s popular musical extravaganza, XPoNential Music Festival, is back this weekend! The three-day event will be held at the Susquehanna Bank Center and Wiggins Park.

XPoNential Music Festival

The event is featuring George Ezra, My Morning Jacket, Indigo Girls, and Grace Potter. A number of local artists will be featured as well. In addition to music, spectators can look forward to plenty of Philly’s finest food and beverage specialties (food trucks!!!), as well as family-friendly activities.

Three-day passes start at just $65 for XPN members and $130 for the general public. Be sure to visit their official website for more details.


How Much Does it Cost to Sell?

When you’re buying or selling a home, you probably already know that there is more involved than simply the purchase price. If you’re the seller, the good news is that there are far fewer expenses than if you’re the buyer – but there are still a couple of things to keep in mind.

Here’s how to calculate what you’ll be able to walk away with from the settlement table:

-The first thing is the transfer tax. This is typically split evenly between the buyer and seller, and it usually costs the seller 1% of the purchase price.

-Next, consider the commission fee. If you’re working with an EveryHome agent, this will probably cost 4.5% of the purchase price.

cost to sell

503 Jacob Rd in Collegeville, PA – just $344,900!

-It’s also important to set aside a few hundred dollars for township certifications. This includes the water cert, sewer cert, and tax cert. The fees can vary significantly by township, so your real estate agent and conveyancer can help you to better estimate this.

-Depending on where you live, the seller may also be responsible for purchasing a “U&O” (Use and Occupancy) permit. And if you’re in a condo community or a part of a homeowners’ association, a resale certificate and other documents might need to be purchased as well. Again, a few hundred dollars should account for all of these certificates and permits, but your agent can help to narrow down your specific costs.

-Another thing to consider is negotiating the home inspection, if you haven’t yet done so. It’s the home inspector’s job to find any flaws or necessary repairs in your home – and as frustrating as this can be now, you’ll surely appreciate it when you’re on the buying side. Since no home is perfect – not even new construction—there will typically be a negotiation between buyer and seller which may result in the seller making repairs, at their own expense, prior to settlement, OR crediting the seller money to make the repairs themselves. While this isn’t a universal occurrence, some level of negotiation happens here in the vast majority of deals, so it’s important to consider.

-And lastly, of course, is your mortgage payoff. Whatever you owe on your mortgage will be deducted from the proceeds at settlement.

If you have any questions at all regarding how much it might cost to sell, be sure to reach out to your EveryHome agent for assistance!

The EveryHome Agent Difference

If you like our website, you’ll love our agents! Tens of thousands of people browse homes for sale on EveryHome.com every day, but did you know that we have approximately 50 full-time real estate agents who work with buyers and sellers just like you? We don’t operate like most other agencies, and we’re proud of these differences!

everyhome agent

The first difference that you’ll notice is how friendly and relaxed your EveryHome agent is. We don’t have monthly sales goals, we don’t push our agents to work with too many clients, and we certainly don’t embrace competition among our agents. And our reason is simple: we believe that creating a competitive work culture leads to stress and even hostility… and who wants a stressed out, pushy real estate agent? Certainly not us!

everyhome agent

But EveryHome is more than just a pretty face! We’re active members of our community and enjoy volunteering at local non-profits, being involved with our children’s schools, running 5k’s for charity, and patronizing locally-owned businesses. We pride ourselves on knowing the ins and outs on the communities we serve, and we’d love to welcome you to our neighborhood. Just give us a call at 215-699-5555!


Downsizing Your Home And Your Mortgage

Did you know that the average home built last year was over 2600 square feet? While that might not sound huge, consider that home sizes have climbed steadily since the 1950s– and the average family size has decreased! Unfortunately, higher mortgage payments and utility bills accompany bigger homes, so it’s no surprise that one of the biggest trends is to downsize and live comfortably in a modest home. Here’s why we love it:

downsizing

We love this 2 bedroom condo! 607 Mews Dr in Sellersville, PA

1. Less is more! One of the best parts about downsizing is a lower mortgage payment, but that’s not the only place you’ll save! You’ll also enjoy lower utility bills, an easier time cleaning and lower homeowner’s insurance. Plus, you might make a few bucks on your unwanted furniture and household items (see #2).

2. Downsizing has become more practical. While some families opt to rent a storage unit (we personally think of this as a last resort!), others decide to sell, donate, or recycle their unwanted items. Craigslist, eBay, antique auctions and numerous convenient charities make it easy to get rid of your stuff while making a buck, or helping someone else out. Enlist your most honest, trusted friend to give you advice on what to keep and what to get rid of — after all, you’re not really going to use those brass peace sign bookends from the 1970s, are you?

downsizing

Salvation Army picks up donations for free!

3. Less stuff, less mess, less stress. It’s easy to get attached to our “stuff,” and many clients say that one of the unintended rewards of downsizing is the tranquility of living in a clutter-free home. After all, less stuff = less stress!


Touring a Home Tips

3 Tips For Touring a Home

Touring a home is typically the first step in the buying process, and it’s one of the most exciting parts of the home buying experience! Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Make sure to have your own representation when touring a home. In other words, don’t call the listing agent! The listing agent represents the seller and it’s his or her job to make them as much money as possible on the home. Instead, go see the home with your own agent. And don’t worry — the seller pays your agent’s commission, so representation is free. Don’t have an agent? We’ll happily introduce you to a friendly, local, knowledgeable agent.

touring a home

Congratulations to two of EveryHome’s newest happy homeowners, courtesy of agent Maria!

2. Ask your agent for the Seller’s Disclosure prior to seeing the home in person. This document lists all of the known upgrades and defects about a home. It’s best to have this disclosure handy when touring a home, so that you know exactly what to look for. Plus, it can give you a heads up about any major issues.

3. Consider whether or not it makes sense to bring the kids or the in-laws. As a family-owned, family-run agency, we love nothing more than the idea of bringing the whole clan — but unfortunately, we understand that it can be distracting to have the little ones in tow. Instead, consider inviting the whole family (in-laws and all!) for a second showing. This will preserve your first impression, and allow you to form a careful opinion before getting too much other advice!


Beach Towns That Are Right For Your Family

The only thing that we love more than going “down the shore” is helping families buy their dream vacation home!  Here are a few of our favorite beach towns in New Jersey:

1. For big families and small children, we love Ocean City and Wildwood. We bet you could have guessed that — after all, they top nearly every list for a reason! The family-friendly activities, popular boardwalks with tons of rides for the kids, and large homes make it the perfect getaway for the entire extended family. Philadelphia Magazine reports the median sale price in Ocean City as $474,403, and Wildwood as $251,025 in 2014.

beach towns

Beautiful sunset over LBI!

2. Looking to relax and rejuvenate? Long Beach island (LBI) and Brigantine are two of our favorite quieter towns! With easy access to the beach, and plenty of restaurants and shops, there’s certainly no shortage of things to do, but these certainly aren’t the shore’s party towns and neither has a boardwalk. Brigantine tends to be more affordable, with a median sale price of $282,475 while LBI is higher at $636,125.

3. Looking for beach towns that are a little more upscale?, we’d have to mention Avalon and Stone Harbor. The Cape May County favorites offer beautiful scenery, the best boutiques, and great restaurants. Of course, this comes with a matching price tag: the average sale prices are over $900,000.

-

Your Beach Home at 107 Stillwater Road Barnegat in New Jersey is waiting for you!

4. If you’re looking for something more affordable, Atlantic City is a buyer’s paradise. With a median sale price of just $96,640, it’s feasible to find a beachfront property for under $75k. However, it’s important to note that residential property taxes are high in this struggling casino town. Nearby Ventnor is also relatively low-priced (and quiet!) with a median price of just $217,091.


Our Favorite Suburbs for Affordable Land

Looking for a big backyard with plenty of room for the kids to run? Or maybe you’re interested in horses, agriculture, or a little peaceful privacy? Whatever your reason is, you’re sure to find a town that you love in Greater Philadelphia. Here are our favorite spots for finding a lot of acreage for less:

affordable land at 1420 Richlandtown Pk in Quakertown

1420 Richlandtown Pk in Quakertown features nearly 10 acres for under $325,000!

1. Quakertown! The northern Bucks county town has gained in popularity in the past year, and for good reason! It’s affordable land, located in a nice school district, and convenient to many major roadways. You’re sure to find lots of old farmhouses located on big patches of land, as well as new construction with sizeable backyards.

2. Gilbertsville has been booming in recent years. Thanks to urban sprawl, there is more new construction than ever in the Gilbertsville/Boyertown area! The towns straddle Montgomery and Berks counties, and are located within Boyertown Area School District.

3. North Coventry township is tucked in northern Chester County and offers a ton of affordable land in the award-winning Owen J. Roberts School District. With plenty of homes with big backyards and opportunities for horses, the township is one of Chester County’s most affordable places to live.

affordable land at 171 Creamery Rd in Coatesville

171 Creamery Rd in Coatesville is new construction on 2.35 acres for just $284,900!

4. Coatesville is one of the very best towns for affordable new construction on an acre or more! You’ll also find plenty of properties for sale nearby with opportunities for farming, horses, and more!


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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)