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Spotlight On: Central Bucks School District

One of the most popular school districts in the region, Central Bucks is a large, award-winning district serving nearly 20,000 students!  Central Bucks routinely scores in the top ten districts in the state for achievement-based test scores, and it’s powerhouse athletic program has even produced a number of professional athletes.

Central Bucks South High School
Central Bucks South High School

The district serves the Doylestown area and operates fifteen elementary schools, five middle schools, and three high schools (Central Bucks West, East, and South).

bucks sd

Most of the homes in Central Bucks School District are priced at or above the Bucks County average.  The majority of single homes are priced between $500,000 and $800,000, although it’s not uncommon to find luxury estates valued over $2 million!  If you’re interested in living in a more affordable home in the district, you’ll be sure to find plenty of townhomes under $250,000, especially in the towns of Warrington, Warwick, and Chalfont.

doylestown home

 

How Long Will it Take to Sell Your Home?

If you’re planning on selling your home in 2017, you might be wondering how long the process is expected to take. Currently, the average home across the nation is on the market for approximately 65 days before going under contract with a buyer, although this length of time can vary greatly!  In general, homes sell quickly in the spring and slower in the colder months.

In Greater Philadelphia, the average number of days on the market tends to be pretty similar to the national average, but with significant variation between neighborhoods.  If your home is located in a closer suburb and an award-winning school district (think Abington, Ardmore, or Media), it’s likely to sell quite a bit faster — especially if it’s moderately priced.  Homes located in more rural areas (including Barto, Plumsteadville, or Coatesville) tend to take a little bit longer.

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Additionally, homes that are particularly unique or expensive — especially over $800,000 — tend to take longer to sell.  In fact, homes valued over $2 million tend to take three or four months longer to find a buyer than the average property.

Of course, it takes more than finding a buyer and agreeing on a price.  Once your home is under contract, it takes approximately 45 days until it closes.  Buyers who are paying cash for the home tend to settle more quickly (often in just a couple weeks) whereas some buyers prefer not to settle for three months.  Either way, the buyer and seller must come to a mutual agreement when signing the Agreement of Sale.   And the good news? You’ll typically receive your proceeds on settlement day!

Mortgage Rates Tick Slightly Higher

Lenders across the nation reported a slight increase in mortgage rates on Monday, January 17th.  The average 30-year fixed rate loan jumped 4 basis points this week to 4.04%, while the average 15-year fixed rate loan climbed to 3.19%.  Following November’s election, mortgage rates surged nearly half of a percent higher, but appear to have stabilized in the last three weeks.

Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 5.24.48 PM

Each week, Bankrate.com surveys loan officers across the country to determine whether they believe rates will rise, fall, or remain unchanged in the following week.  The majority of experts (54%) weighing in believed that rates will remain relatively stable in the upcoming week, whereas 18% believe they will increase and 27% expect for them to decrease.  The Rate Trend Index is a popular resource for borrowers to determine when to “lock in” their mortgage rate.

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Interested in learning more about loan options?  We’d love to introduce you to local, helpful, and knowledgeable lenders.  Just give us a call at (215) 699-5555 or email us at theoffice@everyhome.com.


 

Is Your Home or Neighborhood a “Seasonal Sale”?

Some homes have a good chance of selling any time of the year, whereas other homes sell more easily during the spring and summer months.  As EveryHome agent and home-flipping guru Jen Kuznits explains, “If you buy a 4-bedroom home in a good school district, with higher taxes, you will typically have a much harder time selling it if school has just started.”  These types of homes are sometimes referred to as a “seasonal sale” because they tend to be most appealing to families who would prefer to move their children in the summer rather than the middle of the school year.seasonal saleJen shares her story of how she learned about the value of seasonal sale: “One time, we finished a large home at the end of September. We couldn’t sell it. We finally got a much lower than anticipated offer at the end of December.  We were willing to take it, but the buyers didn’t want to settle until spring. We decided that if we waited for a spring settlement, we may as well wait until spring to sell. We took it off the market for a couple of months and re-listed it at the beginning of March.  It sold for $30,000 more than what we would have settled for had we taken that winter offer!”

seasonal sale


 

The Pros and Cons of New Construction Homes

Do you prefer the customizable, shiny “newness” of a brand new house?  Or would you rather move into a character-filled and quaint pre-existing home?  According to a survey by Trulia, approximately 41% of homebuyers prefer new construction if the costs were the same, whereas only 21% prefer an existing home, and 38% reported no preference.

New Construction

Of course, buying a brand new home typically comes with a higher price tag – and far fewer homebuyers are willing to pay for it.  While it’s difficult to assess the exact premium placed on new construction (since they tend to be larger, and with nicer features than existing homes), the price tends to be about 20% higher when adjusted for the features and location.  When these additional costs are taken into account, less than half of people who prefer a new home would actually pay this additional 20% fee.

New Construction

And according to the survey, new construction appeals most to younger buyers, but is most feasible for older folks with higher disposable incomes. If you’re interested in learning about new communities in the Greater Philadelphia area (including affordable new homes!) , be sure to reach out to EveryHome to meet an experienced and helpful agent.


 

Mortgage Insurance Premiums Just Got Cheaper

Good news for buyers using an Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan and making a down payment of less than twenty percent!  Annual mortgage insurance premiums just dropped significantly in price, from 0.85% to 0.6% of the loan balance.  The recent change, announced January 9th, is expected to save the average homeowner approximately $500 per year.

Mortgage Insurance Premiums

The surprising move was welcomed by most real estate professionals, as rising interest rates threatened to squeeze first-time buyers out of the competitive real estate market.  As the President of the National Association of Realtors, William Brown, explains, “It follows that dropping mortgage insurance premiums today will mean a whole lot more responsible borrowers are suddenly eligible to purchase a home through FHA. That puts more money in the fund to protect taxpayers, and it puts more families in homes so they can live out the American dream.”

Mortgage Insurance Premiums


 

Mortgage Rates Finally Fall, Ending 9-Week Streak

Breaking a 9-week streak of increasing mortgage rates, the average 30-year fixed loan tumbled this week to 4.20%.  Last week, the average rate stood at 4.32%.  Government mortgage agency Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates have fallen for the first time since the presidential election, and that the 15-year fixed rate loan and 5/1 Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM) have decreased as well.

freddie-mac

Lenders remain undecided on where mortgage rates are headed.  Bankrate.com’s weekly mortgage trend index found that experts are mixed on whether rates will continue to fall, remain steady, or rise once again.  As the chief financial analyst of Bankrate, Greg McBride, explains, “The run-up in bond yields and mortgage rates the last two months of 2016 was too much, too soon, and not based on anything concrete.”

freddie

The weeks surrounding the holidays tend to be a fairly slow time for mortgage applications to begin with, but local lenders are reporting they’re slower than usual – especially in regards to homeowners refinancing.  While mortgage rates appear to be stabilizing, they are still 23 basis points higher than this time last year and, as a result, even fewer homeowners are choosing to refinance their properties.


 

Winter Home Inspections

Whenever you purchase a home, we always recommend having a home inspection performed on the home prior to settlement.  In the harsh winter weather, however, there are some unique challenges and even some benefits, when it comes to winter home inspections.

Winter Home Inspections

Certified home inspectors are trained to complete thorough inspections, even in the wintertime.  Sometimes, though, certain parts of the inspection just have to wait until the ice and snow melts, including the roof, porch or even the home’s foundation if snow is piled up against it.  As a homeowner, you can help this process go more smoothly by shoveling the porch or deck, and allowing room for the inspector to check beneath the porch. It’s also helpful to pile any snow away from the side of the home.

Winter Home Inspections

Another thing that inspectors carefully consider is frozen pipes.  If the pipes are frozen, it can conceal any potential leaks.  As a homeowner, it’s especially important to keep your heat on, even if the home is vacant, to prevent any frozen pipes or windows. It’s also a good idea to consider wrapping your hot water pipes in insulation this time of year – it’s a cheap and easy project and you can pick up supplies at your local home improvement store.

Winter Home Inspections

And while your home inspector will get a good look at the home’s heating system in the wintertime, unfortunately they won’t be able to get a good read of the home’s air conditioning system – in fact, they could damage the unit if it’s turned on when the weather is below 60.  In the summertime, buyers have the opposite problem – they can check out the AC, but not inspect the heating system as easily. Similarly, another benefit of winter home inspections are checking the drafts and insulation.  Your inspector will be able to spot where any cold air is entering the home.

Winter Home Inspections

If the home has a swimming pool or hot tub, a trained pool inspector can visually assess for any damages or needed repairs – even if the pool is winterized.  Unfortunately though, it’s not as helpful as an inspection during the warmer weather when the pool is open.  If you own a pool and plan on selling your home during the cooler months, it’s helpful to get your pool pre-inspected by a reputable company prior to closing it for the summer.

If you have any specific questions about home inspections or maintenance during the wintertime, we’d love to help you out.  Just give us a call at (215) 699-5555 and we’ll introduce you to an expert in your area.


 

Three Affordable New Communities

New construction is booming in Greater Philadelphia, but the majority of new homes for sale are over $400,000.  If you’re in the market for something a little more affordable, be sure to check out some of our favorite new communities:

new communities

new communities

Northgate is a unique, new community by THP located in peaceful Pennsburg.  Enjoy the best of both worlds at Northgate, as you’re just minutes to award-winning restaurants, shops, and fitness studios, but surrounded by acres of open land, biking trails, and playgrounds.  A 2-bedroom condo starts at $149,000 and single homes start around $280,000.

new communities

new communities

Nestled in pretty Chester County, Washington Square is a new community offering both single homes, and townhomes with garages!  These stunning Ryan Homes are located in Spring City, just minutes from Malvern and Phoenixville.  Townhomes start around $220,000 and single homes start around $290,000.

new communities

new communities

Perkasie Woods is one of Bucks County’s newest communities, and its conveniently located in walking distance to Perkasie’s great shops and restaurants (including one of our favorite eateries in the region, Maize!).  The luxury townhomes offer high-end kitchens and bathrooms, but at an affordable price tag – they start at just $250,000!


 

Mortgage Rates Hit Two-Year High

The nation’s most popular home loan, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, rose 2 basis points (or 0.02 percent) this past week to 4.32%.  Mortgage rates haven’t been this high since April 2014.  The 15-year fixed rate loan jumped 3 basis points to 3.55%, and the 5-year adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) actually decreased slightly to 3.30%.

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This is the ninth consecutive week of mortgage rate growth since November’s election, and industry experts speculate that rates could hit 5% by mid-2017.  Lenders are quick to point out that rates remain historically low, however.  To put it into perspective, the average 30-year fixed rate fluctuated between 6 and 7 percent in 2007 and 2008, and they jumped above 8.3% in June 2000.

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Cozy and Local Contemporary Homes for Sale

Contemporary homes come in all shapes and sizes, but typically feature clean lines, asymmetrical shapes, expansive windows, and a modern design.  If you’re interested in buying an efficient, unique home in 2017, look no further than the following three options:
contemporary

contemporary

contemporary

An affordable and spacious artist’s retreat, this gorgeous mid-century home features an open floor plan and a Silo entryway.  Plus, this creative and contemporary space is walkable to the village of Hatfield, and across the street from a park!  2419 E Vine Street – Asking $254,900

 

contemporary

contemporary

contemporary

Nestled in the beautiful hills of Bucks County, this 4,000+ square foot contemporary home is truly one-of-a-kind with expansive windows, a wraparound deck, and a fresh koi pond.  1948 Brooke Drive – Asking $695,000

 

contemporary

contemporary

contemporary

Valley Forge Mountain is known for its unique homes and contemporary architecture, and this 6,400 square foot estate is no exception!  The home features original wood beams, a stone wine cellar with space for hundreds of bottles and a tasting area, and over $400,000 in landscape architecture!  116 Oakwood Lane – Asking $1.29m


 

Buying Your First Home in 2017? Read This First

If your New Year’s Resolution is to buy your first home, you’re not alone!  In fact, real estate agents anticipate that first-time buyers and Millennials will make up the largest share of home shoppers in 2017.

2017

While predicting the real estate market is notoriously difficult, industry experts warn that 2017 might be even more unpredictable than usual.  There are a few things that we can reasonably expect, though – including rising mortgage rates.  Following the election, mortgage rates climbed 50 basis points (or half of a percentage point) in just a couple of weeks.  While these higher rates will certainly affect homeowners wishing to refinance, its unlikely to pose any significant difficulties among homebuyers.  Generally speaking, when mortgage rates rise, home price growth slows, so the overall price of buying a home isn’t expected to rise considerably.

2017

The spring real estate market is likely to be very busy in 2017. As demand for homes continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale, we anticipate a competitive market with bidding wars common among buyers.  As a result, it’s likely to remain a seller’s market in much of Greater Philadelphia, particularly among the closer suburbs to the city,.  The best advice we can give to buyers is to have all of your financial ducks in a row before seriously shopping for homes.  This means having a preapproval letter in hand from a lender, because you’ll need it when submitting an offer.

2017

If you plan on looking for a home in the earlier part of the year, be sure to file your taxes early because your lender will want to see the latest information regarding your finances.   And if you’re lucky to receive a tax return, it’ll be a great jumpstart on your down payment!


 

A Real Estate Agent’s Christmas Wish List

Dear Santa,

We’ve been really good this year (and sold more houses than ever before!).  Here’s what we’d love for Christmas this year:

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1. We know the interest rates are increasing because the economy is recovering, but can you please keep them below 4.5% for the busy buying season of 2017?  It’ll help our buyers more easily afford their homes, and who wouldn’t want that?!

2. It’s been a tough couple of years for our buyers already, since the inventory of homes for sale has been so low.  Can you please help us by encouraging more sellers to list their home in 2017 (and after all, with rising home prices, it only makes sense!).  And maybe let them know about EveryHome and our low commission rate of just 4.5%? We’d appreciate that!

christmas-gift

3. EveryHome agents have had the most amazing clients this past year, and we’d love to keep that trend continuing in the coming year!  We have had the pleasure of representing such kind, hard-working, and fun buyers and sellers, and it’s our clients who keep our work so fun!

XOXO,

EveryHome


 

What the Federal Reserve’s Rate Hike Means for Buyers

The Federal Reserve voted to raise the benchmark interest rate one-quarter of a percent on Wednesday, signaling a future uptick in mortgage rates.  The unanimous decision, which was widely predicted by industry experts, was only the second time in a decade that the Federal Reserve raised interest rates.

Federal Reserve
Image via The New York Times

Explains Janet Yellen, the Fed’s chairwoman, “My colleagues and I are recognizing the considerable progress the economy has made.  We expect the economy will continue to perform well.”

Federal Reserve

While mortgage rates aren’t directly tied to the Federal Funds Rate, they tend to closely follow any decision made by The Fed.  As a result, the average 30-year fixed rate crawled up to 4.19%, and is continued to rise.  Rates have increased for seven weeks in a row, and are expected to slowly climb toward 5% in 2017.


 

EveryHome’s Favorite Last-Minute Hostess Gifts

We’ve all been there.  Whether it’s an impromptu get-together, a holiday party that your spouse forgot to tell you about, or a last-minute housewarming soiree, we’ve forgotten a small token of appreciation for the host or hostess….and, inevitably, found ourselves picking up a mediocre bottle of wine at the liquor store on the way to their home.

This holiday season, we resolve to put a little more thought into a gift for the host or hostess.  Here’s what we’re planning:

Hostess
Image via Teavana

If your loved one is a tea drinker, consider some fresh loose-leaf tea from your local boutique (we especially love Teavana and David’s).  The knowledgeable staff can help with selecting a premium tea – you’ll have your pick from dozens – and you can even nab a small teacup set or charming travel mug while you’re there.

Treat the hostess with the mostest to an at-home spa experience courtesy of Lush.  With locations in King of Prussia and Philadelphia, Lush offers handmade, vegan bath and body products.  We especially love their bath bombs, cut-to-size soaps, and creamy lotions!

Hostess
Image via West Elm

Another one of our favorite wintertime gifts is a cozy throw blanket from a store like West Elm (best patterns and colors), Target (best value), and Pottery Barn (most luxurious).  Consider tying one up with a pretty ribbon and a Netflix gift card this holiday season for a stay-at-home gift that they’ll love.


 

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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)