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3 Things To Know about Pre-Foreclosure Homes

If you browse for homes on other real estate websites, you might occasionally see a home being marketed as a “Pre-Foreclosure.”  Here’s what you need to know:

1.  Pre-Foreclosure homes are not technically for sale….at least, not yet.  When a homeowner is more than 90 days late on his or her mortgage payment, they are issued a “Notice of Default”, the foreclosure process begins, and the home is listed on some websites as a pre-foreclosure.  However, the owner still has a chance to pay their debt and stop the foreclosure process before the home goes to auction.

pre-foreclosure

2. They can be a bargain – but they’re not for everyone.  In fact, homes in the pre-foreclosure stage are considered the trickiest to purchase according to industry experts.  Until the home goes to auction (usually not for at least a few months or even a year) the only way to buy it is through the homeowner — not an easy thing to do with an understandably distressed seller, especially when the home is typically not technically up for sale.

foreclosure

3.  It’s hard to know what you’re really buying.  It may come as no surprise that most people who buy homes during the pre-foreclosure period (or at auction) are professionals with experience in construction.  Often times, buyers won’t have a chance to walk around inside the home – let alone get it inspected!  It’s a risky process, and we recommend that buyers prepare themselves for extensive renovations.


 

The Future of Home Staging with Haven

It’s no secret that professionally staged homes sell faster and for more money, but unfortunately this option isn’t accessible for the vast majority of homeowners.  The price of rental furniture can add up, and the time-consuming suggestions by an interior designer aren’t feasible for many sellers.  That’s where Haven comes in.

Haven

The dream of owners Diane Quercetti and Megan Udovich, Haven is a unique alternative to traditional home staging.  Their team offers budget-friendly restyling, decluttering, and decorating that allows your home to appeal to the largest number of buyers.  Plus, in an effort to keep it simple and affordable, Haven strives to use items that you already own (but if you want to rent their gorgeous accessories, that’s an option too!).

haven
Before and After

And here at EveryHome, our agents and sellers have loved working with Haven.  We can’t say enough good things about their beautiful restyling (but we’ll let the Before and After photos speak for themselves).  Plus, their team is down-to-earth and super sweet!  It can be uncomfortable to bring new people into your home to rearrange your things and box up any extra items, and Diane and Megan completely understand that and treat your home with care and respect.

haven
Before and After

For more information and pricing, be sure to contact Haven.


 

Should Sellers Disclose That Their House is Haunted?

Did you know that Philadelphia is considered one of the most haunted cities in America? With its rich history and spooky sites, it’s no surprise that there are dozens of haunted houses in Philly and the suburbs.  Interestingly, some states require that “stigmatized property” (which may include paranormal activity) be disclosed by sellers.

haunted

However, sellers aren’t required to share their spooky home status in Pennsylvania.  A 2012 court case, Milliken v. Jacono, determined that such information is psychological damage — not material damage — and therefore, not necessary to disclose.  Instead, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that sellers must only disclose identifiable damage.

haunted-2

And even if you don’t believe in haunted houses, you might be curious about whether or not sellers are required to warn prospective buyers if a murder, suicide, or major crime occurred in the home.  According to Pennsylvania law, this also falls under psychological damage and does not need to be disclosed.


 

Mortgage Rates Remain Low for Pre Election Refinance Rush

Is fall the new spring when it comes to the real estate market?  As borrowers rush to refinance or purchase their new home before November 8th, lenders around the country have been busy processing mortgage applications in time for Election Day.  Spring tends to be the busiest time of year for the real estate market, but loan officers, title insurance companies, and real estate agents are enjoying record-setting September and October months!

Mortgage planning election

The average 30-year fixed rate loan stands at 3.44% and the average 15-year fixed rate is just 2.72%,  according to Bankrate.com.

mortgage approval election

The rush to lock in a mortgage is largely due to a fear that interest rates could rise significantly after the election.  Borrowers on both sides of the political spectrum have expressed anxiety that either outcome of the election could trigger the Fed to increase rates.  While industry experts caution that election results rarely cause a significant change in this regard, it’s likely a good idea for many folks to refinance as rates hover at historic lows.


 

This is the Danger of Being “House Poor”

You’ve probably heard stories about people who own attractive four-bedroom homes but struggle to afford their credit card bills, utilities, or even their weekly groceries. Unfortunately, this scenario is more common than you might think, and it’s referred to as being “house poor”.  It typically occurs when homeowners spend a large proportion of their income on their mortgage, and cannot comfortably make ends meet when it comes to other expenses.

House Poor

The common rule of thumb is that a mortgage payment should be no more than 28-33% of a borrower’s monthly income.   In actuality, though, many buyers put 40% (or more!) of their paycheck towards their mortgage.  And to be fair, it’s not usually due to the lender pushing a borrower in over their head, nor is it necessarily due to poor planning on the buyer’s behalf.

House Poor

Often times, this imbalance is due to an unexpected reduction in monthly income (whether it’s due to unemployment or a job change) or because the home’s maintenance of upkeep became too costly.  Not only can being “house poor” take its toll mentally, but it can also result in a lower credit score and difficulty refinancing or selling.


 

Now is the Time to Buy a Vacation Home!

If you’re lucky enough to be considering a second home purchase, you just may want to pull the trigger this fall.  Industry experts suggest that the cooler months of October, November and December are the best time to purchase a vacation home, as prices tend to be lower.  Plus, the supply of homes for sale tends to increase in the fall, as homeowners like to squeeze every last weekend out of summer rental income.

Vacation Home

And with rock-bottom mortgage rates, financing a vacation home is cheaper than ever! Borrowers are currently locking in rates as low as 3.5% for a 30-year fixed rate loan.  If you’re home hunting on a budget, be sure to check out our favorite affordable beach towns.

Vacation Home

EveryHome is pleased to be licensed in New Jersey and Delaware, and we’d love the opportunity to show you around our favorite beach towns! To be introduced to a local agent, be sure to give us a call at (215) 699-5555.


 

This Age Group is Poised to Dominate the Housing Market

After years of concern from industry experts about sluggish first time buyer activity, we’re (finally!) preparing to see a major shift in the housing market.  This time last year, only 33% of people planning to buy a home in 2016 were first-time buyers  This year, however, a staggering 52% of people planning to buy in 2017 are first timers, and the vast majority of these first-time homebuyers are Millennials, approximately ages 18-35.

Housing Market

 

Wondering why so many more young people are buying real estate? It’s likely due to affordability and the improving economy.  Mortgage rates remain extremely low, allowing all buyers to borrow money cheaply.  Additionally, the unemployment rate is low and wages are finally beginning to rise – two big factors for the Millennial age group.

Housing Market

While this increased home buying activity is undoubtedly a benefit for the real estate market, there are a few things to watch carefully.   First, we can expect to see even more competition for affordable homes in the suburbs.  We’ve experienced plenty of bidding wars in the past few years, but the demand might outpace the supply even more in 2017.  Additionally, with increased buyers (and mortgage borrowers!) in the market, we shouldn’t be surprised to see mortgage rates increase this spring.


 

The Average Down Payment Continues to Shrink

Gone are the days of needing 20% down!  Instead, lenders are touting low down payment options for qualified borrowers, and some loans don’t even require a down payment.  For example, the popular FHA mortgage offers loans for just 3.5% down, and USDA and VA loans don’t require their borrowers to put any money down.

Down Payment

Today, the average American puts just 6% down on their new home.  This is a small decrease from last year, and in 1989 when the first data was collected, buyers put down an average of 10.89%.  While plenty of borrowers are flocking to these low down payment options, others prefer to put down 20% in an effort to avoid costly private mortgage insurance (PMI).  When a borrower puts down less than 20%, the lender adds PMI (paid as a premium) in your monthly mortgage payment.  This additional fee serves to protect the lender if you should default on your home.

Down Payment

Ultimately, the popularity of low-down payment loans makes home buying more affordable and especially benefits first-time buyers who may not have the savings for a larger down payment.  However, industry experts warn that these loans can be risky and may have contributed to the housing bubble of 2006.


 

Who’s Really Your Real Estate Agent? Understanding Procuring Cause

It’s not uncommon for both buyers and sellers to be a little confused as to how real estate agents work, when they are representing them (called “procuring cause”) and even how they get paid.

Ultimately, clients should work with just one real estate agent when they’re looking to buy a home.  We highly recommend meeting a few different agents to ensure that you find one that you trust and like, but it’s best to choose just one once you start your serious home search.  This is because only one agent can actually represent you when you make the purchase.  It’s your agent’s full responsibility to show you any home that you like, and If your agent is sick or on vacation, it’s also their responsibility to find a substitute agent to help you out.  If you use another agent to show you a home, it can unfortunately lead to confusion and disputes about who will actually be representing you during the sale – and earning the commission.

Procuring Cause

 

Let’s look at the following scenario.  A homebuyer finds a house they really like on EveryHome.com.  They reach out to make an appointment, and we set up a time for them to see it with an EveryHome buyer’s agent, and they all meet at the home a day or two later.  Let’s say, for this example, that the buyer really likes the home – and maybe even want to submit an offer.  Then he explains to the agent showing him the home that he’s already working with another a different real estate agent, and he’ll reach out to that agent if he decides to purchase a home.

Procuring Cause

Unfortunately, if this situation were to happen, the agent who actually took the time to show him the home and answer all of his questions wouldn’t even get the commission.  On the other hand, if he used this new agent to purchase the home, his original agent who had worked for him for a couple months wouldn’t get a commission.  Either way, someone loses.  So who really has procuring cause, which is the right to represent the client and earn the commission?

Procuring Cause

 

In this example, it’s not entirely clear. Procuring cause is a legal doctrine that establishes which agent or agency has the right to earn a commission.  Unfortunately, the only thing that can ensure procuring cause is “an unbroken chain of events” meaning that the same agent walked through every single step of the home buying process with a client – and in this case, that didn’t happen.  We also don’t mean to sound greedy, but because real estate agents only get paid when homes close, it’s important that we show homes to clients who aren’t planning on using another agent.  Of course, there are big exceptions to all of this – if you aren’t satisfied with your current agent, we recommend having an honest discussion with them so that they understand they’re no longer representing you, and then finding someone else to work with.


 

Here’s What You Need to Know About Mold

We bet you’re envisioning the icky black stuff coating the edges of the walls in your grandmother’s basement, right?  While that’s a major problem (and a serious health hazard), the reality is that mold issues can be far more complex — and difficult to spot! The truth is, mold is a type of fungus that can grow just about anywhere, but certain humid areas such as showers and basements tend to be the most problematic.

Some people are far more sensitive to mold than others, but ultimately it’s a health concern for all people.  People with allergies/sensitivities, infants, and the elderly should especially avoid coming into contact with mold.

mold2

The best way to prevent molds growth is to identify and control moisture and water problems in your home.  Roof and plumbing leaks, humidifiers, clothing dryers venting indoors, damp basements, and steam tend to be the most common reasons for mold issues.  In order to prevent these issues, consider adding a dehumidifier, cleaning your bathroom and basement with mold-killing products, and ensuring that your home is properly ventilated.

mold1

Unfortunately, it’s not always obvious if your home (or a home that you wish to purchase) has an issue.  Often times, you’ll be able to detect the musty odor or see visible spots.  However, be sure to consult your home inspector and a mold remediation expert if a problem is detected.


 

Should You Hire Your Family Member or Friend as Your Agent?

With tens of thousands of Realtors in our region, it’s pretty likely that you know someone who sells real estate for a living.  And if you’re planning on buying (or selling!) a home anytime soon, the thought of whether or not to use them has probably crossed your mind — or maybe they know of your plans and have even approached you about it.

Family Member

So should you hire them as your agent? Generally speaking, we advise against working with family members or close friends for a couple of reasons. A big reason that clients are wary of hiring a loved one is due to privacy reasons. One clever buyer even quipped, “If your Uncle was a doctor, would you want him to be the physician to intimately examine you if something was wrong? Would you want him to have access to your private medical records?”  While your Realtor may or may not ever see your credit score, they will become familiar with your income, savings accounts, and budget.

Another reason is that sometimes things just don’t go as planned.  In fact, some people even say that real estate brings out the worst in people!  Luckily, the vast majority of real estate deals end with a satisfied client, but once in a while things can go awry and it could get awkward — even if it’s not your Realtor’s fault.  The last thing we would want is a broken relationship with a family member or friend.  Plus, your loved one might not be an expert in the neighborhood where you’re moving, or you may have concerns that they will think they know what’s best for you.

Family Member

There are also times when hiring a family member or friend might be a great idea.  If you’re comfortable with them knowing your personal financial information and trust that your relationship is strong enough to withstand any of these challenges, hiring a family member or friend might be an excellent choice. You may feel more comfortable communicating with them than you would with anyone else, and they may also better understand your preferences.

Family Member

If you choose to not hire a loved one, how can you gently tell them that you’d rather use a different agent?  We recommend being open and honest from the beginning and explain that you’re uncomfortable mixing your great personal relationship with business.  Most real estate agents will understand this, and respect that you told them ahead of time — instead of later learning that you used another agent!  Another tip is to ask your family member or friend if they’d like to refer you to another great Realtor (as they’re likely to earn a small piece of the commission this way, too!).


 

Why We Love Trinity Homes (And We Bet You Will, Too!)

It doesn’t get much more charming than Trinity homes, so it’s no surprise that they have become highly popular among people looking to downsize, reduce their carbon footprint, and enjoy living in the city affordably.

Trinity Homes

Well-loved by Philadelphians long before the popular tiny house movement, Trinity homes were originally built for the servants of wealthy families.  The quirky home style is notable for having just one room per floor, and they tend to be small in square footage too (often under 1,000 square feet).

Trinity Homes

While they’re small in space, they more than make up for it in character! Many Trinity homes offer original hardwood flooring, wood beams, and architectural elements. They tend to be located on some of the smallest, quaintest streets in the city, especially in areas like Society Hill and Olde City.

Trinity Homes
123 Elfreths Alley, Phila PA

Plus, Trinity homes are only made cooler by the fact that they’re unique to Philadelphia — in fact, you’re unlikely to find a single Trinity anywhere else in the nation!

Trinity Homes
256 S Quince St, Phila PA

 

What Happens When a Deal is Terminated

Every once in a while, an agreement between a buyer and seller will be terminated before reaching settlement. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but there are a few fairly common ones, including issues with the home inspection, appraisal, and the buyer obtaining a mortgage.

When a deal falls apart, all involved parties will sign a termination agreement that outlines how deposit money will be distributed.  The deposit money is one of the most important things to consider, as the buyer made at least one (and maybe even two) good faith deposits at this point.

Terminated

The buyer is entitled to receive their deposit money back if the reason for termination is due to something that was covered by a signed contingency agreement. For example, if the home inspection reveals damage or disrepair and the buyer had a home inspection contingency, they are permitted to walk away from the sale with their deposit money intact.  Similarly, if the home appraised for less than the purchase price and the buyer had an appraisal contingency, they are also permitted to terminate the agreement.

There are times when the buyer is not entitled to their deposit money, however.  If, for example, they simply decide to not purchase the home a few days before settlement because they changed their mind, the seller is then legally entitled to the deposit.

Terminated

On the other hand, if the seller decides after signing the agreement of sale that they no longer wish to sell, the buyer actually has the right to take them to court and force the sale. This is called lis pendens. As you can probably imagine, it’s a pretty complicated and exhausting process — but thankfully it’s pretty rare that sellers wish to back out!  If you have any questions about how this process works, please be sure to speak to your EveryHome agent or give us a call here at the office.


 

Can’t-Miss Halloween Attractions in Greater Phila

Only a couple more weeks until Halloween! Greater Philadelphia has no shortage of spooktacular haunted houses, hayrides, pumpkin picking, and corn mazes (and be sure to visit each website ahead of time for ticket information and coupons!)

Halloween

It’s hard to start off this list without mentioning Terror Behind The Walls!  Considered Philly’s premier Halloween destination, the event’s signature haunted tour through the Eastern State Penitentiary is terrifying — and wildly popular.  Be sure to book your tickets as soon as possible, as this event tends to fill up quickly.

Halloween

Be sure to take the kids to Merrymead Farm in Worcester, PA (central Montgomery County) for hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin picking, and homemade ice-cream!

Tour one of Bucks County’s most haunted homes, the House in the Hollow.  After you explore all seventeen rooms, be sure to take a ride on the Sleepy Hallow Hayride and trek through the cornstalks in the Field of Fright.

Halloween

Head to Arasapha Farms in Glen Mills for an incredible 5-acre corn maze!  Plus, you can grab a caramel apple and a hot cider right after you take the hayride to a pumpkin-picking patch.


 

Three Natural Ways to Keep Your Home Smelling Great

If you’re selling your home, it’s no secret that your home should be smelling great before any showings or open houses.  However, we advise clients to stay away from candles and traditional air fresheners, as some home buyers may have allergies.  Instead, we recommend the following natural methods to keep your home smelling great for guests.

Cinnamonum verum Smelling Great

One of the easiest ways to make your home smell fresh on a budget is to sprinkle a little baking soda over carpets and furniture about an hour before any visitors.  Let it sit for just a few minutes, and then vacuum it up!

If you’ll be home just prior to a showing, consider boiling a pot of water on the stove and adding a few cinnamon sticks or cloves.  The warm smell will continue wafting throughout the home long after you turn it off, and it’s perfect for this time of year!

Smelling Great

Essential oils are another way to naturally fill your home with soothing scents.  Just be careful, as not everybody enjoys the smell of all oils! Lavender and vanilla are among the most loved, and lemon is a great option to keep things smelling fresh. Consider adding a few drops to a cotton ball and then tucking the cotton ball out of sight (perhaps behind a picture frame, or on a bathroom shelf!).  Another creative seller has even suggested dabbing a couple drops of oils onto light bulbs – when the light is turned on, the oil will heat up and the scent will be released throughout the room!


 

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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)