Bring the whole family to the Philadelphia Comcast Building for their popular Holiday Spectacular! The beautiful event is running until New Year’s Day, and features dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet, a beautiful light show, and spirited music. Each show runs at the top of the hour (from 10am-8pm) and lasts approximately fifteen minutes.
Head to the Penn Museum on December 3rd to learn about holiday celebrations around the world! Guests will receive complimentary passes to “visit” countries on display (including China, Kenya, and Japan) and take part in fun-filled holiday traditions for the whole family. Event runs from 11:00am until 4:00pm.
We love the nation’s oldest continually operating farmer’s market for it’s amazing prepared dishes and fresh produce, but did you know the Reading Terminal Market features an impressive indoor holiday railroad set on display? From now until New Year’s Eve, the market will operate 17 beautiful working train lines that the whole family will enjoy – and of course, entry is free!
The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage jumped another 6 basis points this past week to 4.02%, Bankrate.com reports. Fueled by industry expectations that a Trump presidency will increase corporate profits and cut taxes, the increase in rates have been an unwelcome surprise to buyers across the country. Just a month ago, the average home loan stood at just 3.34%.
Despite a small drop in affordability as a result of higher rates, real estate agents point out that it’s unlikely to greatly affect the current market; the high-demand and low inventory of homes for sale will balance any decrease in buyers. In fact, bidding wars continue to be common across the country.
For home shoppers in our region, it’s unclear where rates are headed. Bankrate.com’s panel of experts remain divided, with some lenders predicting that rates will continue to increase, where others believe they’ll remain stagnant or even decrease.
A lot of buyers, and especially first-time buyers, are unsure how much money they should put down on their new home. Down payment amounts can vary greatly among borrowers, and the majority of EveryHome clients put down between 3.5% and 20%. And sometimes there are even opportunities to buy a home with 0% down – and this is an option for Veterans, as well as people who are purchasing in more rural areas with a USDA loan. Your EveryHome agent can help you learn if these are options for you.
Down payments of 3.5% are one of the most popular choices with people using an FHA loan, which is backed by the government. A conventional loan, alternatively, requires a minimum of 5% down. Generally speaking, conventional loans have slightly better terms and tend to be preferred, but FHA loans have low rates and are a great choice – especially for younger borrowers.
The magic number with down payments, though, is 20%, because you can avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). If your down payment is less than 20%, you will be required to pay PMI, although it’s important to note that it’s not overwhelmingly expensive–especially when you consider the low-interest rates! On average, PMI costs between 0.5 and 1% of the loan on an annual basis, and it’s rolled into your monthly mortgage payment.
If you’re in the process of selling your home, you may be wondering if it’s appropriate to decorate for the holidays. Generally speaking, we think that it’s a great idea to add a few holiday touches to your home. A festive tree, a menorah in the window, or sparkly lights around the mantle can all transform your home into a warm, cozy gathering place in the winter.
That said, we caution sellers to not overdo it! Too many decorations can become distracting and overshadow your home’s best features. We also suggest avoiding any artificial fragrances, such as candles, plug-ins, or aerosol sprays. If you wish to freshen up your home, we recommend a subtle essential oil diffuser (frankincense is an excellent holiday scent) or gently boiling cinnamon sticks prior to showings. For specific recommendations, be sure to consult your EveryHome agent.
We’re so excited for Thanksgiving and upcoming holidays, and we have a lot to be thankful for – especially because 2016 has been our busiest year yet! It’s all due to our dedicated, friendly, and knowledgeable agents. We’re lucky to have an amazing crew of Realtors and support staff!
We’re also grateful to have added over 20 agents to the EveryHome family this year, and we continue to grow throughout the region. EveryHome is now licensed in the state of Delaware, and we’re continuing to expand throughout more regions of New Jersey, including all of the shore points.
EveryHome.com is also going to be going through some major changes in the upcoming months, and we’re pleased to announce that the site will be updating every fifteen minutes to ensure that you have the most reliable information possible. Stay tuned to the website and our Facebook page for more announcements regarding these changes.
And finally, the real estate market has been great to our clients this year. Home values have been increasing at a steady pace, which has been helpful for our sellers, and the continued low mortgage rates have kept buying affordable. We’re excited for what 2017 has in store for EveryHome.
From our family to yours, we wish you a healthy, safe, and joyous Thanksgiving!
Situated alongside the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia’s esteemed Chestnut Hill section, this historic French-style home features a cozy library with original architectural details and an indoor garden. Adjacent to the library is an elegant sunroom overlooking the meticulously landscaped side yard. 9489 Meadowbrook Ave – Offered for $1.575m
This charming farmhouse in quiet Upper Bucks, just outside of Coopersburg, offers a private third-level affectionately known as “The Treehouse”. Overlooking eleven private acres, the bright wood finishes and stunning panoramic views offer a tranquil, creative retreat. 2100 Chestnut Road – Offered for $549,900.
For the most beautiful views of wooded Chester County, be sure to consider homes nestled along Valley Forge Mountain. The contemporary properties typically feature wraparound porches, oversized windows, and charming mid-century details. 307 Jug Hollow Rd – Offered for $519,000.
Expansive windows, professional landscaping, and a picturesque solarium are just a few of the exciting features in this custom-built home in Wyomissing, Berks County. 112 Robert Road – Offered for $1.1m
Mortgage rates jumped above the 4 percent benchmark in the week following the election, and many industry experts are advising buyers to lock their rate immediately. Despite being the biggest one-week increase in over three years, the market remains volatile and rates may continue to rise quickly.
While we haven’t seen rates above 4 percent since January 2016, lenders are quick to remind borrowers that rates remain historically low. In fact, the majority of buyers locked in at 10 percent or higher in 1990, and rates under 5 percent were virtually unheard of until 2010.
The 15-year fixed rate loan, a popular choice for homeowners refinancing, rose to 3.21% from 2.97%.
If you’re thinking about becoming a real estate agent, you’ve probably been reading quite a bit online or talking to family and friends about the decision. And, like with many industries, there are a lot of myths out there!
In regards to the process of becoming a real estate agent, there are a couple of misconceptions. In Pennsylvania, you’re required to take two courses – they’re each 30 hours, and they can be completed online or in a classroom. You’ll also have to take (and pass!) a couple of formal exams, and submit paperwork to the state. Generally speaking, the fees for the necessary courses, exams, and documentation are a little under $1,000.
Another thing that isn’t entirely intuitive to brand new agents is that in order to actually sell real estate and be a licensed salesperson in PA, you must be signed to a real estate agency with a broker. An agent may be licensed to only one agency at a time. Some folks want to open up their own agency and work for themselves right out of the gate, but unfortunately this requires a broker, and you can’t become a broker without first becoming a real estate agent.
It’s also important to keep in mind as you prepare for your new career that it isn’t easy to predict your income as an agent. Nearly all agents are paid entirely by commission, so the sky is the limit, but many agents report that it can take about 3-6 months of work in order to really get your feet under you.
Similarly, commission numbers aren’t set in stone, both in regards to how clients pay the broker, and also how the broker splits the percentage with you. Every agency offers a different commission structure. Some are much better than others, so be sure to shop around and get a sense of what it’s like in your area! In addition to the commission splits, many agencies have hidden costs, like desk fees, mentor fees, or make you pay for your E&O insurance. Be sure to ask about the entire breakdown of costs and fees, because this can really add up.
At EveryHome, we’re pleased to offer highly competitive splits with our agents, plus there are no fees whatsoever. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming an agent, or what it’s like to work at EveryHome, be sure to give us a call or shoot us an email. As we expand throughout the region, we’re always looking for friendly, helpful people to join our team.
EveryHome agent and resident home-flipping guru Jen Kuznits has enjoyed a lot of success flipping homes alongside her husband, Tamir. But it’s a tough industry, and not every home is a slam dunk! Here, Jen shares a few things that she wishes she would have known:
We once bought a ‘3 bedroom 2 full bathroom’ condo in Philadelphia. We bought it for $197,000. Everything indicated that after putting in a new kitchen, bathrooms, flooring and paint, we could sell if for just under $400,000. Turns out, someone had subdivided all the larger condos, and it wasn’t reflected in the public records. As a result, we ended up with a 1 bedroom, 1 full bathroom space. Thankfully, it had been recently renovated, but that was the first time we lost money on a deal. We sold it for $205,000, but after taxes, and Realtor fees, we took a hit.
When buying at sheriff sale, or auction, you typically don’t have access to the property. You can look up neighborhood comparables, you can see the exterior and the kind of condition it was kept in, and you can also see the public records. Typically, public records is correct… but not always!
Another tip is to always keep an eye on the neighbors. Even if you purchase in a great neighborhood, there’s always the chance that one or two of the neighbors have unkept landscaping. One time, we purchased in a nice community and the home had the square footage to command a high price, but two of the neighbors were eyesores. One was just overgrown and dirty, and the other neighbor had an old junked-up car on display. We figured a new gourmet kitchen would outshine their yards, but it didn’t. We still made money, but had to lower our price significantly.
It’s so relaxing to curl up with a cup of tea (or glass of wine!) and tune into one of our favorite shows on HGTV. The only problem, though, is that while we binge-watch these popular house-hunting shows, we can start to believe that what we see is representative of our local real estate market.
While these “reality” shows do accurately depict some elements of the home buying process, there’s quite a bit that misses the mark:
1. Depending on the market, home values and the condition of the homes can be far different. In Greater Philadelphia, there is a major tradeoff between affordability and professionally staged “Pottery Barn-esque” homes. It’s not uncommon for EveryHome agents to work with buyers who would love to have a beautiful, move-in ready home but unfortunately, don’t have the budget for it. Agents work hard to set realistic expectations and assist buyers with seeing the vision of what a home can become with a fresh coat of paint and a little TLC, but it can still be a shock to some folks (especially since we live in a region that is far pricier than many of the communities on TV!).
2. It can be more complicated than HGTV shows portray. In fact, producers have even admitted that (for some episodes) the “home shoppers” are actually already under contract with one of the homes! In real life, there are a variety of factors that makes the process a little more difficult, including home inspections, appraisals, and bidding wars.
3. On HGTV, the home values can be a little too ambitious after a renovation. The home-flipping and renovation shows are some of our favorites because they’re so creative and inspire us to update our own homes! However, some episodes have been a little dramatic in regards to the effect that the renovations have on the home’s price/value. For example, if someone buys a home for $150,000 and puts in $50,000 of work, many shows have suggested that the home’s new value could be $250,000-300,000. In real life, however, it’s not often that lucky — and many home flippers will “flop” more than a few times!
If you or your spouse is an active United States military member or veteran, you may be eligible for a Veterans Affairs (VA) loan. VA loans are a popular type of mortgage for veterans because they offer loans for 0% down payment and do not require mortgage insurance. Additionally, VA loans generally have fewer upfront fees than other types of loans.
While the Veterans Affairs department doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement, private lenders may require a FICO score of 620. Some lenders offer loans to borrowers with lower credit scores (sometimes as low as 580) but this may result in higher interest rates.
The vast majority of veterans and active-duty service members are eligible for a VA loan. In order to qualify, you’ll need to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (this can be completed online through benefits.va.gov). If you’re interested in meeting with a lender or agent with expertise in VA loans and working with veterans, please give us a call at (215) 699-5555.
Mortgage rates dropped yet again, and buyers across the country are carefully watching the market to see if rates will increase sharply before the busy spring market. While it’s hard to accurately predict rates more than six months in advance, industry experts speculate that they won’t climb above 4% in 2017.
The nation’s most popular loan, the 30-year fixed, fell 8 basis points in the past week and currently stands just under 3.49%. The 15-year fixed rate loan, a more common choice among refinancing homeowners, dropped sharply to 2.74% and triggered a surge of mortgage applications just in time for the election.
In the market for a new home, but haven’t yet spoken with a lender? Be sure to ask your EveryHome agent to introduce you to a few local, knowledgeable and friendly loan officers — or just give us a call at (215) 699-5555.
To say that we’re lucky to have Colleen Whitlock on the EveryHome team is an understatement! While she just joined our team earlier this year, she has a varied real estate background including experience in home staging. She’s already represented a number of buyers and sellers with EveryHome, and we look forward to her continued success in Delaware County. Her enthusiasm, creative ideas, and dedication to her clients makes Colleen an excellent agent — and here’s why she chose EveryHome:
“I came to work with EveryHome in April 2016. I never imagined myself as a realtor and fell into the profession in 2015 while working in a real estate related industry. After a short stint with a large brokerage I just wasn’t “drinking the koolaid” and decided to find a place to hang my license that was more my culture.
I went and spoke with several, large brokerages and was starting to lose faith in my decision to practice real estate full time when an EveryHome Agent suggested I give Katie a call. After my initial meeting at “the ranch” I felt like I had found a company who’s visions where in line with mine. I could not be happier to be an agent at EveryHome and consider it one of the best decisions of my professional career.”
The holiday season is busy enough as-is, but it can feel even crazier if you’re also actively looking for a new home! While the real estate market typically slows down in November and December, this year is far busier than most. This is likely because the spring market was so competitive, and as a result, thousands of people in our region were unable to find their new home and are still home shopping during the holidays. Plus, buying is still affordable because mortgage rates are low.
But when you’re home shopping during the holidays, there are a few extra things to consider. First, you may want to request appointments to see a home a little further in advance than usual, as sellers tend to be busy this time of year. This is especially true if it’s the week of Thanksgiving or Christmas. Another thing to consider is that the sellers might celebrate different holidays than you, and may prefer to not have any showings during Hanukkah, for example. And generally speaking, Realtors and sellers prefer to not have any showing appointments on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
One great thing about purchasing a home this time of year is that while it’s still busy, it’s a far less chaotic time than the spring and summer months – so it’s possible that your mortgage may be processed a bit more quickly, and your real estate agent may have a more flexible schedule. That said, most lenders and title agencies typically try to avoid settlements for a couple of days right before Christmas, simply because so many people take off that week and sellers understandably don’t want to move during the holidays.
As always, EveryHome’s website will be updated every day, including holidays, so you can be sure that you’re getting the most accurate information. If you’re interested in seeing a home this holiday season, be sure to give us a call at (215) 699-5555!
With chilly winds and cooler temps, it’s a great time of year to enjoy a warm, hearty meal in a cozy restaurant. Luckily, there’s no shortage of award-winning eateries in and around the city of Philadelphia! Here are a few of our favorite spots in the surrounding counties:
The historic Kimberton Inn in Chester County offers a cozy fireplace, rustic decor, and an extensive wine list! Seafood lovers will find plenty of fresh options on the menu, and be sure to stop by on the weekend for the popular Sunday brunch.
Enjoy the region’s finest French country fare at Spring Mill Cafe in Conshohocken! A favorite among locals, the quaint BYOB is located in a charming farmhouse and features an incredible menu by chef Michele Haines.
It doesn’t get much cozier than the Inn at Phillips Mill in Bucks County! Nestled among pretty gardens and winding roads in the New Hope area, the Inn at Phillips Mill offers a rotating, French-inspired seasonal menu and romantic fireside dining.
If you haven’t heard of Maize in Perkasie, you’ve been missing out! The intimate eatery is a foodie’s paradise, with the locally-grown dishes changing weekly and every item made from scratch. Because of the restaurant’s popularity, we recommend making reservations well in advance.