If your petite townhome with a barely-there backyard isn’t cutting it for your growing family, you’re not alone! Here’s how to easily make the jump into your single-family “forever” home:
1. It just might be more affordable than you think. Mortgage rates are hovering near historic lows, and (depending on when you purchased your last home) you may save big each month on the interest alone. Plus, you may keep a couple hundred dollars extra in your pocket each month if you’re moving from a townhome with homeowners’ association (HOA) fees into a single-family home on a quiet street. Calculate the dollars and cents of a “move-up” home by using EveryHome’s convenient Closing Cost Calculator — we’ll even factor in real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance!
2. Consider location. If you’re interested in changing neighborhoods and ready to trade in your trendy, walkable town for a peaceful, convenient suburb, you’re likely to get more bang for your buck! For example, a larger single-family home in Towamencin, Kimberton, or Bedminster is typically more affordable than a similar home in Media, Ardmore, or Doylestown Borough. Plus, many of the school districts in these quieter communities are award-winning (think Palisades, Owen J. Roberts, and Souderton Area School Districts).
3. Can’t sell your current home?Don’t worry! It’s not uncommon for homeowners to be underwater on their current home — in other words, they owe more than their home is currently worth. The good news is that renting it out has become a feasible option for many buyers, as the recent change in mortgage rules now allows buyers to use 75% of the rental income as income towards their next property! (Learn more here)
Have you heard the story about your second cousin’s best friend who submitted nine offers before finally (finally!) securing their dream home? If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a hundred times: buyers are struggling to get offers accepted, especially in hot markets like Lafayette Hill, Ardmore, Glenside and Ambler. This tends to especially affect first time buyers.
Here’s the problem: there are relatively few homes for sale, and competition is fierce among all buyers. In fact, you may have heard your real estate agent friends complain that there simply aren’t enough “good” homes on the market right now! (In this sense, “good” is often defined as fairly-priced, move-in ready single-family homes in nice neighborhoods).
When buyers are competing for homes, first timers tend to get shut out first. Why? There are a few reasons, but most commonly because they simply don’t have their financial “ducks in a row”. This means that young buyers are less likely to already be pre-approved for a mortgage. Because a pre-approval is necessary to submit an offer, the process of meeting with a lender can delay an offer.
If the idea of getting pre-approved sounds scary (we promise it’s not, but we understand!), be assured that your EveryHome agent will walk you through every step of the process. Don’t have an EveryHome agent yet? Text us at (215) 896-6764 or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Plus, more and more homes are going under contract in a day or less. We know that in a perfect world, we’d sleep on the decision (for at least a week), mull it over with a coffee and a few friends, consult our therapist, and call our grandmother — but unfortunately, the luxury of taking a week to “think about it” isn’t always an option. Many buyers in today’s market know exactly what they want, and have the confidence to make a decision on their new home in a shorter period of time.
Who needs a vacation when you live in one of these gorgeous Greater Philadelphia staycation homes? From the rolling hills of Chester County to the horse farms and historical districts of Upper Bucks, we’ve scoured the region to find you the best properties for relaxing, unwinding, and taking a little time off:
Step back in time to “The Roost,” a stunning Chester Springs farm nestled on more than 24 acres. We can picture ourselves cozying up with a good book in front of one of the home’s three fireplaces, or taking a dip in the indoor pool after a hike in the pretty outdoors. The property is currently under a conservation easement through the Natural Lands Trust.Asking price: $1.35m
It doesn’t get much more unique than this raised contemporary home in Upper Black Eddy! The gorgeous new construction home offers sweeping views over the Delaware River, a private boat launch, and a master bathroom that resembles a spa. With a home like this, we can’t imagine ever needing another vacation! Asking price: $969,000
If you love to garden, you’ll love this flower-filled West Mt Airysingle-family home just a couple of blocks from Wissahickon Creek! The charming home offers a respite from city life with plenty of open outdoor space and beautiful landscaping. Plus, we’re dreaming of summer nights in that sun room with a glass of Chardonnay! Asking price: $565,000
Everyday would feel like a retreat at this log cabin in gorgeous Erwinna! The custom Upper Bucks home has been crafted by Douglas Fir logs and is situated on over 25 acres of mature woodlands. But don’t let its rustic good looks deceive you — this home comes equipped with a luxurious updated kitchen, and plenty of modern-day amenities. Asking price: $1.4m
Seeking a little luxury during your staycation? Wait until you see this Lower Gwyneddestate — complete with a leopard-carpeted movie theater, authentic 1950s style diner, and one of the most elegant kitchens we’ve ever seen. The palatial home offers more than 14,000 square feet of living space and a swoon-worthy master bedroom. Asking price: $5.99m
Unwind and unplug in peaceful Birchrunville (Chester County) at this estate inspired by the French countryside! Situated on nearly 8 acres down a long and winding driveway, the home features an in-ground pool, a quaint guest home, and pretty sun rooms overlooking the property. Asking price: $1.75m
Does Memorial Day Weekend have you dreaming of a beach house? If you’re itching for a budget-friendly waterfront property this summer, be sure to check out our favorite local beach towns that you can actually afford:
Peaceful, relaxing, and friendly! Brigantine is located in Atlantic County, New Jersey and the island community is known for its laid-back residents (many of whom live in Brig year-round) and relatively affordable beachfront homes. While the island itself is pretty quiet, Atlantic City is located just a couple of miles away over the bridge, so be sure to stop by Chef Vola’s, Buddakan, or Knife and Fork Inn for a delicious dinner out on the town.
Serene Manahawkin is nestled on New Jersey’s mainland, just across the bridge from LBI! The scenic waterfront community is relatively affordable, offers easy access to some of the state’s most popular beaches, and is located near plenty of shops, restaurants, and parks. And be sure to stop by Mud City Crab House for some of the region’s greatest crab cakes!
Delaware’s Bethany Beach receives a bit less less attention than its neighbor Rehoboth Beach (to the north) and Ocean City, Maryland (to the south) but the quaint and friendly shore community has plenty to offer to both vacationers and year-round residents! The peaceful shore town is a bit smaller than some other Atlantic beach resorts, and that’s just why we love it. It’s a place where families return year after year for vacation, and everybody knows each other’s name. Plus, when you head to Bethany Beach’s quaint boardwalk, be sure to enjoy tax-free shopping at one of the town’s popular boutiques!
Plus, EveryHome Realtors is pleased to announce that we will be licensed in Delaware in the upcoming weeks! We look forward to introducing you to our favorite Delaware shore communities!
It’s not uncommon for married or unmarried couples to have different credit scores. If the difference is just ten or twenty points, it’s unlikely to affect you when buying a home.
But what happens if your credit score is a sparkly 760 and your significant other has a credit score of 620, for example? This is where problems can arise when it’s time to obtain a mortgage and lock in an interest rate.
Unfortunately, the lower of the two credit scores is the one that’s utilized when determining loan eligibility and interest rates. As long as both scores are above 620 or so, you’re likely to qualify for an FHA mortgage. However, the lower partner’s credit score could drive up the interest rate – potentially costing you in the hundreds on each month’s payment.
Sometimes, homebuyers decide that it makes the most sense for only one partner’s name to be on the mortgage. This is especially true if the partner with the lower score can’t easily qualify for a loan, or the interest rate implications are so severe that buying a home becomes more difficult. However, in this situation, it’s important to note that only the higher partner’s financial information may be utilized; in other words, only one income may be used, and only their bank statements and assets may be used to qualify.
If you’re unsure where your credit score stands, consider checking out a reputable online credit score company and speak with your lender for individualized assistance. There may be ways to easily increase your credit score in one month or less!
Homes are selling quickly in Greater Philadelphia, and it’s not uncommon to see homes go under contract within a day! While we often see homes sell in less than a week during the springtime, we’re currently seeing even more competition among buyers than usual.
Most real estate agents attribute rising home prices and quick sales to the lack of inventory of homes for sale. Simply put, there aren’t many homes on the market right now, and buyers are submitting offers quickly to ensure that they land their dream home before another offer is submitted. The imbalance between buyers and sellers is exacerbated by the historically low mortgage rates; home buying has become more affordable, bringing an even greater number of buyers to the market.
Competition for the most popular home styles is fierce, resulting in quick sales, higher offer prices, and the seller’s calling the shots. Moderately-priced homes (between $250,000 and $400,000) that are move-in ready and located in nice neighborhoods or subdivisions tend to be among the quickest to sell.
Home prices are also being driven up by the competition, and more and more buyers are submitting offers at the asking price. In fact, the average sale price in Montgomery County in April 2016 was approximately 95% of the original asking price, which is one of the highest ratios that we’ve seen in the past few years.
If you’re obtaining a mortgage for your new home, you’ll likely be making a down payment. While some loan types don’t require a down payment (namely, VA or USDA loans), the vast majority of borrowers are required to pay at least 3.5% towards their new home at settlement time.
If you’re able to pay 20% of the purchase price upfront, you will avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) which typically costs between 0.5 and 1% of the loan each year. This amount is added to your monthly payment. For that reason, we typically recommend that buyers put down 20% whenever possible.
However, nearly all first-time buyers (and many second, third or fourth-time buyers!) can’t afford to put down 20%. In fact, about half of EveryHome buyers obtain an FHA loan and put down just 3.5%. Another large portion of our buyers secure conventional loans and put down the minimum 5% (conventional loans require a higher down payment, but may offer better overall terms).
It’s also important to note the difference between a down payment and closing costs. In addition to the down payment, buyers are expected to pay closing costs which include taxes, title insurance, and other fees. While these items can really add up, remember that a seller’s assist and EveryHome’s Cash@Closing program can help you save on settlement day!
Chester County is filled with scenic villages, historic districts, and beautiful walkable towns. EveryHome Maureen O’Shea, a long-time resident of the area, shares with us her favorite “hidden gem” in Chester County.
Maureen’s favorite spot in Chester county is Marshallton. As Maureen explains, is a cute little town just west of West Chester that is still full of character from the time of its origination in the late 1700’s. There isn’t the hussle and bussle of West Chester with only one restaurant (Four Dogs Pub), a historic inn, a blacksmith shop and few other small businesses out of homes. Marshallton is a federal historic district located in the township of West Bradford.
Stroud preserve, a 400+ acre nature preserve is located minutes away and is one of her favorite places to visit. Maureen explains, “There is also access to the Brandywine river just further up the road. The town is nestled back in the woods and surrounded by the rolling hills of back country Chester county. Northbrook farm market is located in Marshallton as well, which is great for buying fresh local produce or brunch on the weekends! They even have events certain nights. Plus, the town is conveniently located — just a few minutes west of West Chester!”
Food lovers, rejoice! Philadelphia is home to some of the greatest restaurants and eateries in the country, and we’re planning to celebrate them all month long:
The 9th Street Italian Market Festival will be coming to South Philly on May 21st and May 22nd. The non-ticketed (free to enter!) event will celebrate the flavors of authentic Italian American food. Sample and purchase delicious cheese, meats, pizza and –of course– cannolis.
Treat the strawberry lover in your life to Peddler’s Village annual Strawberry Festival on May 21st and May 22nd. Sample smoothies, shortcake, pies and more as you stroll the dozens of boutiques and eateries that make up one of Bucks County’s favorite villages. This event will be enjoyable for the whole family, and entry is free.
Head to the scenic Wyndsor Farm in Elverson (Chester County) on June 4th for the Chester County Blues Barbecue! Enjoy delicious barbecue from Baby Blues BBQ and listen to live blues, rock, and roots music all evening. Plus, you’ll be supporting a good cause — all proceeds go to local non-profit organizations.
If you’re looking to purchase a “fixer-upper,” you just may want to consider the government-backed FHA 203k loan! The FHA 203k loan is a special type of rehab or renovation loan that allows buyers to borrow money for the purchase price of their new home and the necessary renovation costs. In essence, this loan combines your home loan and construction loan in order to streamline and simplify the process. You can also use a 203k loan to refinance and repair an existing home.
The FHA 203k loan is an especially helpful choice for first-time buyers who may wish to renovate a property, but don’t have the cash to do so — after all, renovations can be expensive!
For example, let’s pretend you’re interested in purchasing a $120,000 ranch home that is outdated and in need of major repairs. And, for the sake of round numbers, let’s say that renovating the kitchen and bathroom as well as fixing any electrical and plumbing issues will cost about $80,000. In the case of this home, you would obtain a 203k for a total of $200,000 and not have to come “out of pocket” for the construction work.
In addition to this standard 203(k) loan which covers structural changes, there is also a streamlined 203(k) loan for homes in need of less extensive work. Intended to be simpler and more efficient (less paperwork!), the streamlined 203(k) loan may be good for homes in need or smaller projects like a new roof, windows and siding, or finishing a basement. For this streamlined loan, the total cost of renovations must be less than $35,000.
Of course, there are a few caveats to the 203(k) loan. First and foremost, there is a lot of paperwork required and you must prepare an extensive proposal with estimates for all renovations prior to being approved for the loan. All work must be done by a licensed general contractor, and since you’ll be working very closely with this contractor, it’s especially important that you have a good relationship with him or her. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that you have a FICO credit score 640 or above, as well as a 3.5% down payment plus closing costs. Other guidelines may also apply – be sure to ask your EveryHome agent or loan officer for details.
It’s no secret that South Philly real estate is hotter than ever! Local EveryHome Realtors and South Philly experts Mark Gatta and Anthony Fanelli weigh in on their favorite neighborhoods in the area.
Mark Gatta explains that the Newbold section of South Philly is his favorite — and not just because he owns and operates a tanning salon there!
As Mark explains, Newbold has endless options for entertainment, dining and housing. While the area is historically part of Point Breeze, Developer John Longacre (owner of the South Philadelphia Taproom, American Sardine Bar, Brew and Renewbold) dubbed the neighborhood “Newbold” in 2003 in an effort to differentiate it from the rest of Point Breeze.
If you’re in Newbold, be sure to swing by The South Philly Taproom for a drink –They have a huge selection of craft beers to choose from. My last pick was the Neshaminy Creek Churchville Lager. If you’re looking for a light snack or dinner, check out the American Sardine Bar. You will love the Portobello Melt!!! And of course, if you’re in Newbold, stop by and see Mark at Express-O-Tan for the guaranteed best espresso that you have ever sampled!
Anthony Fanelli’s favorite section of South Philadelphia includes the area around the FDR Park (aka “The Lakes”). The park offers opportunities for golfing, fishing and ball fields, BBQs, and even tail-gating for your favorite Philly sports team, as Anthony explains.
The residential neighborhoods surrounding The Lakes include Packer Park, Sienna and Girard Estates. But of course, these beautiful neighborhoods come with a price tag! Most homes in Packer Park are priced above $300,000 and some range up to $700,000!
Beer lovers, rejoice! Local residents know that the City of Brotherly Love is renowned for its craft breweries and tap houses, and this weekend’s celebrations highlight some of the “best of the best” in the region. Here’s what’s on tap:
Don’t miss out on Hawthorne’s Annual IPA Block Party this Saturday! On May 14th, the Bella Vista Cafe and Bottle Shop will be hosting their 7th annual event with live bands and “street” food (food trucks, anyone?!). Look for beers from Surly, Russian River, Wicked Weed, and Fat Heads.
The Greater Northeast Philadelphia Beer Festival will run from 1-5pm on Saturday, May 14th. Featuring 75+ spring-style craft beers, the popular outdoor event will also offer food by Cannstatter’s and the opportunity to purchase hand-rolled cigars. Expect to see major brewers such as Yards, Victory, Troegs, and Dogfish. General admission tickets are $40 in advance and “DD” tickets are also available for just $10.
The Yardley Beer Festival is back and better than ever on Saturday, May 14th for its 9th year! Head to the popular Bucks County town for over 100 beers on tap as well as live music and delicious food … we’ll cheers to that! Tickets are $40 in advance and the event runs from 1-5pm.
The average 30-year fixed rate conventional mortgage is hovering just above a 3-year low, Mortgage News Daily reports. Borrowers across the nation can expect to lock in at a rate of approximately 3.625% — not too shabby! This rate is close to the all-time lows that the mortgage industry experienced in 2012-2013.
FHA and VA loans may offer even lower rates, and the average 15-year fixed rate mortgage (popular with homeowners refinancing) is 3.00%.
When you’re discussing rates with local lenders, be sure to consider any additional fees and points in addition to the rate. While a lower rate may look enticing, EveryHome recommends carefully checking for additional costs, services, and fees that each lender may require, as they can nullify any savings from a lower rate.
Interested in learning more about obtaining a mortgage, but not sure where to begin? Give us a call at (215) 699-5555, and we would be happy to walk you through every step of the process, including introducing you to helpful, local lenders!
Bridge Street is located in the center of Phoenixville and is considered the entertainment hub of Chester County. Lined with award-winning shops and eateries, Bridge Street is a popular spot for residents and visitors alike!
There’s no shortage of restaurants in Phoenixville , but Marly’s BYOB just might be our very favorite. With one of the very best menus in the region, Marly’s consistently impresses with dishes including Wasabi Pea Crusted Salmon and Shrimp and Grits. And their fresh bread? To die for! The intimate spot is great for date night, a small gathering of friends, or a girl’s night out — but note that it can get a little noisy on weekends.
Another Phoenixville favorite includes Steel City Coffeehouse – which is so much more than a coffeehouse! The popular spot offers live music featuring excellent local artists (including open mic nights), delicious artisanal coffee creations, and a great menu of sandwiches and tapas.
Lastly, we highly recommend Bluebird Distilling. The craft distillery is nestled in the heart of Phoenixville and serves up award-winning spirits and cocktails from Wednesday through Sunday. Be sure to stop by and check out the popular and tasting room designed with mixed metals, reclaimed wood, and industrial artifacts. Weekends are busy!