August 28, 2014

The Rent Trap


If you are currently renting, you could get caught in the continuous cycle of increased rents, without realizing the long-term impact on your future ability to save for a down payment. Purchasing a for-sale home still remains highly affordable for buyers who are able to save for a down payment and capitalize on low mortgage interest rates. Unfortunately, for current renters, as monthly rents continue to rise , along with interest rates and home values, saving for a down payment and attaining homeownership becomes that much more difficult for them.


Zillow Press Release Synopsis

The affordability of the nation’s rental inventory is currently much worse than the affordability of the home sale inventory. Nationally, renters who signed lease agreements at the end of June (beginning of July) will pay 29.5% of their income towards rent. In comparison, U.S. home buyers at the end of June (second quarter) could actually expect to pay 14.3% less of their total income towards their mortgage.


What are the options?

While you may already have enough saved for the purchase of your first home; many Millennials are skeptical about their ability to own a home. Housingwire recently reported: “It’s not that Millennials and other potential buyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment. It’s that they think they are not qualified or they think they don’t have a big enough down payment.”

There are many factors as to why one would be apprehensive about applying for a mortgage, whether it’s due to student debt or other financial limitations. The reality is, applying for a mortgage, no matter how great the credit score is, is uncomfortable for some people. With all the chatter making its way out of the trade space, the average buyer may be left misinformed about their own financial capability. The good news…. the credit box has actually expanded and the credit requirements are not as bad as one would think. Housingwire reported, 1 in 5 borrowers who took out conforming, conventional mortgages put down 10% or less this year.

The biggest problem is that many potential buyers are sidelining themselves. They do not want the embarrassment of a rejection, so they either stick with their apartment or remain in a house they have outgrown.


Be Proactive

Don’t lose sight of your future and get caught in this renters’ trap. If you believe you are ready to purchase a home, be proactive and find out if you are financially ready and when the time is right move forward…..don’t sideline your own dreams!





August 25, 2014

Neighborhood Spotlight- Bethesda, MD


bethesda, MD

Thinking about moving to Maryland? Bethesda has a diverse selection of neighborhoods and locations to consider. Bethesda is a great choice and after reading this, your interest may be increased. Downtown Bethesda is full of entertainment and a big supporter of the arts.  There are more than 200 ethnic restaurants, countless art galleries, two live-action theatres, numerous music and dance studios, and boutiques on almost every corner.


Have Fun with the Children

If you are looking for a fun and artistic experience with the children, there are a handful of options. The Strathmore Music Center might be a good place to start. This 2,000 seat state-of-the-art concert hall offers performances by major national artists of various genres.


Go for a Walk at the Park

It’s a perfect day for a nice stroll in the park! Cabin John Park provides 528 acres to explore, with a wide variety of recreational opportunities for anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The park has one of the area’s largest playgrounds (Adventure Playland), a nature center, a miniature train, picnic areas and much more.


Shop until you Drop

Bethesda Row is large urban shopping center. From fine cookware to fine art, high fashion to high-tech gadgets, workout gear to sparkling gems, this center offers a mix of open-air boutiques and shops that keep you busy all day.


Wine & Dine

Looking to try something new? Bethesda includes an eclectic variety of cuisine. Guardado’s Restaurant offers a casual dining experience and serves a collection of authentic Spanish and Latin American cuisine.  If you are a wine connoisseur, you will fit right in at Oakville Grille & Wine Bar, a contemporary American restaurant offering an extensive wine list of more than 120 wines.


Interesting Fact

Last year, Bethesda placed first on Forbes list of The Most Educated Places in America (based on U.S. Census Data 2011), and first on’s list of top-earning American towns in 2012. Only 1.9% of the population has not finished high school, 27.3% of residents have professional or doctoral degrees and an impressive 26.8% have master’s degrees as their highest level of education.


Real Estate Overview

With a desirable combination of first rate schools, and an affluent, highly educated population ; Bethesda contains vital features that families and young adults look for when choosing a community in which to live. If you’re interested in buying a home in Bethesda, please contact one of our local real estate professionals.

August 21, 2014

Financial Benefits of Homeownership


Which is a better option, renting or buying a home?  This question is difficult to answer and depends on one’s current financial situation.  However, it is important to note that homeownership does come with major financial rewards that are not applicable to renters.


1.) A Leveraged Investment

Owning a home allows a homeowner to increase any appreciation on the value of their home by a leveraging factor. Even a substantial 20% down payment results in a leveraging factor of 5 so that every percentage point in the value of the home is a 5% return on the equity. With the average buyer putting 10% or less down, their leveraging factor is 10 or more.  Every month the mortgage is paid, the reduction from the mortgage increases the amount of equity. Plus with equity from your home, you would be able to pay for college, retirement or other major life events.

2.) Rent or own, you are still paying

It makes a lot more sense to invest your money in something you own, than it does to pay a landlord. Homeowners pay financial institutions to reduce their own principal, while renters pay to reduce the principal for their landlord.

3.) “Forced Savings”

Owning a home tends to change the perspective many people have on saving money…spend now, save later. Owning a home means more financial responsibility, which encourages smarter saving and spending habits.




4.) Tax benefits of owning

As a homeowner, you will be able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from your annual income taxes. Plus capital gains (up to $250k for single filers and $500k for married couples) are excluded if you sell your home for a gain.

5.) Owning protects from inflation

Housing costs and rents tend to increase over time at a faster pace than the rate of inflation. This makes owning a home a more attractive option.

6.) Mortgage Rates

Over the past 30 years, mortgage rates have been decreasing, which means a decrease in your monthly payment.

Historic Mortgage Rates by Decade


Local real estate markets, your financial status, as well as personal needs and goals will all affect your housing decision. Homeownership makes sense for many people due to an assortment of personal and social reasons, but it also makes sense financially. Consult a local real estate professional to help guide you to happy and responsible living.





August 18, 2014

Get to Know Your Neighborhood with Nextdoor


Moving incatto a new neighborhood can be intimidating at times, especially if you are trying to enter an established “neighborhood circle”.  Whether there is a tight knit neighborhood bond or everyone on the block is still getting to know each other; there is simple solution to get the ball rolling and to start interacting with your neighbors.


Nextdoor is a free, hyper-local social network for you, your neighbors, and community. It is the easiest way to connect and communicate with the people who live around you. When neighbors start talking, good things happens. The amount of interaction is up to you and those who join the social network. It can be used to post information about neighborhood events, gather recommendations for trustworthy babysitters, learn your neighbors’ actual names, to help find a lost pet, and so on.  Another interesting feature of the site is that it is a private social network. Members must provide their real first and last names, verified address, and email. Only people within the pre-mapped community/neighborhood are allowed to join, comment, and interact.











Nextdoor was founded in 2010 and is now running in every state. There is a free app supporting both iOS and android platforms. The company’s mission is to push the benefit and importance of a strong, tight-knit neighborhood community. There have been numerous articles supporting the valuable impact the site has had on communities; such as helping police reduce neighborhood crime, alerting neighbors about suspicious activities, and making communities much safer. So if you are interested in checking out the site…go on…you have nothing to lose; only new neighbors and a strong community to gain!


August 14, 2014

Interior Design Rules You Should Break

“The first rule of decoration is that you can break almost all the other rules.”

Decorating your new/current home can be stressful and intimidating, but it can also be fun and exciting! Whether you are preparing to sell your home, just purchased a new home or are looking for some inspiration, here are a few creative tips on how to add a personal touch to your house.


1.) “Don’t Mix Old and New”


The most livable and inspiring rooms combine old and new pieces in a variety of styles to give them an effortless sense of having been assembled over time. Mixing vintage and contemporary pieces will give any room or space personality and dimension.


2.) “Paint a Small Space in a Light Color”



Most people are under the impression that the easiest way to make a small room appear larger is to create the illusion by painting everything in the small area white, yellow or another lighter color. However, by using a darker paint, you are able to create a sense of depth within the small space.

Painting with darker colors can fool the eye into not knowing where the wall begins and ends, creating the impression of more space. Be sure to balance the dark color with light-catching objects, such as mirrors, metallic accents, and incorporating lamps/lighting to ensure that the room has a warm radiance.


3.) “Don’t Mix Metals”


There was a time when mixing metals, whether in home décor or jewelry, was considered “tacky”. Although the idea of mixing metals to some people is still preposterous; many designers and homeowners are embracing this previously misconceived decorating faux pas. There are many ways to approach mixing metals. You can choose to take the subtle route by adding a few pieces within the house or you can go bold by bringing in large pieces that will play off one another in combination with lights and mirrors. Either approach is a guaranteed way to incorporate richness in any room.


4.) “Use Only One Type of Wood In A Room”

mixingwoodSources (from left to right): and  

The era of the matching furniture sets is long gone, but many people are still apprehensive to mix multiple wood finishes in the same room. Allowing various wood tones to cohabitate within the same room will create a layered and textured look.


5.) “Dining Chairs Should be part of a Matching Set”

kitchen Source:

It has been the norm to always have a kitchen/dining table with matching chairs. But sometimes those furniture sets can look too perfect. Although a formal dining room equipped with a matching table and chairs can be absolutely beautiful, it can also appear unimaginative and “stuffy”. Purchasing one of a kind/unique furniture pieces allows you to add a little spice and personal touch into your dining area. Remember there is a difference between being mismatched and being “stylishly” mismatched.


6.) “Don’t Mix Patterns”


There are no guidelines when it comes to mixing patterns, however it may take a few tries before you feel your unmatched patterns somehow match. For a first-timer, choose a limited palette (such as blue and white) so you will be able to focus on and play around with patterns and size, instead of being overwhelmed with too many colors. Or another approach is to choose complimentary colors, and then mix/match from there.

Designer Tip: When choosing patterns, the key is to stick with an odd amount, particularly three. According to home décor style guides, three is the minimum number of patterns you should use.


7.) “Match Your Colors”

mixnmatch Source:

There is no reason to continue following the rule that you have to match your pillows to the drapes and /or carpet. Playing with color is fun, and adds a touch of unique personality to your home. In order to avoid getting carried away with all the color options, choose fabrics and finishes within the same color family, but that don’t necessarily match. If the thought of combining so much color in one room is unsettling, there are subtle ways to play with color as well. For example, if you prefer a clean natural look in your home, you could play with different neutral shades in varying fabrics.


8.) “Ceilings Should Remain Unpainted”

ceiling2 Sources (left to right): and

Don’t forget to look up. Ceilings are often considered “the forgotten fifth wall”. Many people give little thought to the horizontal dry-wall hanging above their head. A ceiling is usually given a fresh coat of paint only once during its existence. However, it is time to change our perspective on the rooms we live in. Color, sheen, pattern, and texture on the ceiling can transform the entire look and feel of a room. Give yourself and your guests something to look up to…..literally.



August 11, 2014

Our 2014 Second Quarter Awards

Office Awards (Top 3 Offices by Region based on Office Size)

Residential Units in the Northeast United states with a minimum of 76 Sales Professionals
3rd Place – North Pointe Office

Residential Units in the Northeast United States with 41-75 Sales Professionals
3rd Place – West York Office


Team Awards

Residential Units in Pennsylvania (Top 3 Agents or Teams)

2nd Place- The Craig Hartranft Team
Craig Hartranft, Sarah Sample, Kim McPhail, David Ishler, Leah Davis, Brandon Hartranft, Keith Shaub, Jim McPhail, Michelle Christoffell Sumpman, Laura Chehi, Danielle Gwilt, Leanne Skoloda

3rd Place- The Carr Cleaver, Flinchbaugh Team
Mark Carr, Jeff Cleaver, Adam Flinchbaugh, Cindy Beatty, Matt Binko, Tracey Bachman, Jill Bleecker, Jeff Grove

August 6, 2014

Are you ready to sell?

Have you been thinking about selling your home? Your patience or perhaps procrastination may have paid
off in a big way. Experts say this is the year to sell your home, sooner rather than later. Many current factors
are fueling a sellers’ market; read on to uncover a few reasons why you shouldn’t wait any longer:


Aug 14 IOV - Ecard



Whatever your reason may be, take control of the situation. Start your home selling process today so you’re able to find your dream home sooner.



August 4, 2014

12 Things You Should Know About Pennsylvania

1.) Off To Market You Go….

marketSource: Roots Country Market and Auction

No matter which county you move to in Pennsylvania, you’ll see a vast amount of roadside stands and indoor/outdoor farmer’s markets where you can get fresh produce. You should venture out of the grocery stores and load up your reusable bags with fresh vegetables, fruits, baked goods and delicacies to support your local farms. Some of the major markets include, Green Dragon Farmer’s Market, Lancaster Central Market, Roots Country Market, Reading Terminal Market and Pittsburgh Public Market.


2.) Be Prepared For All the Sweet And Salty Temptations

tastySource: Facebook user Tasty Cakes

Pennsylvania is the snack food capital of the nation. As many know, Pennsylvania is the home of Hershey’s chocolate, but not many people are aware that we produce more potato chips than any other state. PA creates enough potato chips to fill 80 million 12-ounce bags every year. The original soft/hard pretzels (Sturgis) and the original animal crackers (Stauffer) were produced in the late 1800’s right here in Pennsylvania. Let’s not forget to pay homage to Philadelphia cheesesteaks, Tastycakes, marshmallow Peeps, Mrs. T’s pierogies, Lebanon bologna, shoo-fly pie, and the Heinz ketchup and relish on all those delicious hot dogs we love.


3.) We Have Four Seasons, But Autumn Knows How to Paint Each Town

 autumnSource: (Jeff Greif)

Whether you already live in Pennsylvania or are considering moving somewhere within the state, residents are able to experience all four seasons, but the colors of fall truly compliment the state’s complexion. The changing leaves paint the open landscape’s scenery with breathe-taking colors and the crisp air is usually filled with the flavorful smells of apple cider and pumpkin.


4.) Sightseeing in Pennsylvania Is Endless


Throughout the state, there are numerous historic monuments to see and nature sights to experience. Mountains, skyscrapers, museums, vintage railroads, coal mines and even the view from the Philadelphia Art Museum steps are just a few options to keep your weekends packed with family/friendly fun.


5.) Be Prepared for a Bouncy Ride

potholes Source:

Due to various weather conditions, roads in Pennsylvania start to crack and eventually turn into large potholes. Therefore make sure you are aware of the mini ponds on the roads/highways while you are driving to protect your vehicle from any potential damage.


6.) Least Populated Municipality in PA is Centralia


Over fifty years ago, it is believed that burning trash in a landfill near an old abandoned strip mine sparked an exposed coal vein. The fire quickly spread throughout the maze of mines underneath the town, creating an unstoppable blaze, which has yet to subside. Originally the town was home to over 2,000 people, but due to the toxic fumes and unsafe living conditions, the population has now reduced to around 10 people. Those who still reside there are fighting the state from eviction and demolition of their homes. Experts say that the amount of coal left will keep the fire burning for another 250 years.


7.) Pennsylvania is home to America’s oldest brewery…and many others


Established in 1829, D.G. Yuengling & Son is one of the largest breweries by volume in the country. The brewery is headquartered in Pottsville, PA. Yuengling is an Anglicized version of Jüngling (aka the founder’s surname), and is the German term for “young man”. Due to the popularity of Yuengling Traditional Lager in Pennsylvania, it can simply be ordered by asking for a lager. Pennsylvania is also home to many other popular brewing companies such as, Slyfox Brewery, Rumspringa Brewing, Spring House Brewing, Troegs Brewing, Victory Brewing, Yards Brewing, Saucony Creek, Neshaminy Creek Brewing, Appalachian Brewing and many more.


8.) You will never run out of Wine

 wineSource: Facebook user Pennsylvania Wines


The first vineyard in Pennsylvania began in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. Today there are over 200 licensed wineries in Pennsylvania, with 12 wine trails throughout the state. PA is ranked 7th nationally in the number of wineries and is the 5th largest producer of grapes in the U.S.  No matter where you are in PA, there is never a winery more than an hour away.



9.) Kennett Square is the Mushroom Capital of the World


Over 65 percent of mushrooms consumed in the United States come from Kennett Square. Due to the large amount of mushrooms, enthusiasts within the community decided to host a small Festival to celebrate what their town is renowned for in hopes to raise money for a good cause. Today the Festival has grown to a large affair, hosting over 200 vendors and up to 100,000 guests.


10.) Remember in Pennsylvania, Amish is pronounced Ah-mish, not Ey-mish

amishSource: Facebook user VisitPa

Mainly focused around the Lancaster county area, Pennsylvania has the second largest Amish population in the country. The Amish travel all throughout the state to sell their delicious homemade goods to those who aren’t lucky enough to live close by. Be mindful of the parade of horse and buggy’s you will witness every Sunday, that is, if you live near Lancaster.


11.) Pennsylvania knows quality shopping


The shopping options available suit any shopping personality whether you’re a spontaneous and impulsive buyer or a dedicated and true bargain hunter. PA offers large shopping centers, outlet malls, chic boutiques and unique main streets. Pittsburgh is home to the quaint and quirky Strip District, or at King of Prussia, you can shop at the largest shopping mall on the east coast. Pennsylvania also features Tanger Outlets, located in Lancaster and Hershey, and the Philadelphia Premium Outlets.


12.) The Amount of Entertainment Will Never Leave You at a Loss for Fun

entertain Source:

There are numerous events and festivals throughout the state all year round. Some Pennsylvania events, such as the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia, and the Flower and Garden Show, have been recognized as two of the Top 20 Events in the United States. Other popular events include the PA Farm Show (Harrisburg), Groundhog Day (Punxsutawney), Three Rivers Arts Festival (Pittsburgh), The Gettysburg Festival, Musikfest (Bethlehem), and the Square Applefest (Franklin). More information and events can be found at







August 1, 2014

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty Awarded Platinum Honors for Top Relocation Services in North America


Lisa Fields, Cathy Jenkins, Alicia Motter (V.P. of Relocation & Business Development),
Kathy Clark, Brandy Simmons, Katherine Marion                     


Pictured above is the Relocation and Business Development group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty holding the Platinum Award for providing Top Relocation Services to Brookfield Relocation Services and its’ clients.


Not pictured are all the great sales agents, office leaders and support group throughout the company’s 28 offices in PA and MD who make up the rest of the team that combines efforts to deliver the award winning relocation services.


Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty was honored with the Top Award at the annual Brookfield Relocation Conference in Orlando on 7/25/14.


“Relocation is never easy, and we are excited about the way our team works together diligently to help people relocate as smoothly as possible” said Rick Doyle, President of Realty Operations.  “Relocating in North America or around the globe requires clear focus by many on a hundred little details to bring about a really big happy experience for the transferee”.  Said Alicia Motter, Director of Relocation & Business Development, “I am so proud of the team’s work”.




July 28, 2014

Neighborhood Spotlight- Hershey, PA

hersheyThinking about moving? Hershey, PA has a diverse selection of neighborhoods and locations to choose from. Hershey is a popular choice and your interest may increase after seeing why. Hershey, also known as “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” is a short drive from Lancaster, PA, Baltimore, MD, and Philadelphia, PA, and is the founding place of Hershey’s Chocolate.


Take a Day to Relax

Hershey, PA is home to several beautiful spas such as the wildly popular Spa at Hotel Hershey, a luxury spa affectionately nicknamed “the Chocolate Spa” where friends and couples can relax together with traditional massages, hydrotherapy, facials, and more.


Have Fun with the Whole Family

Looking for an activity that’s fun for the entire family? Take everyone down to Hersheypark. With roller coasters, the Boardwalk Water Park, live entertainment, shops, and food, Hersheypark is a great place to spend an afternoon or even a weekend. ZooAmerica and Hershey’s Chocolate World are also included in the ticket price, so you can find out how chocolate is made and see over 200 wild animals in between rides.


Take a Walk at the Park or a Stroll in the Garden

It’s a beautiful day and you want to spend it relaxing outside. Where do you go? Hershey Gardens began as Milton Hershey’s personal rose garden, but is now a gorgeous attraction that you can enjoy with friends and family. Boasting over 5,600 roses, an outdoor butterfly house, and an enchanting arboretum, Hershey Gardens has 23 acres of beauty to discover. If the kids are looking for something more active, try Brookside Park


Shop until you Drop

The Tanger Outlets  are a great place to go shopping if you are looking for deals and variety, and have everything from Banana Republic and Tommy Hilfiger to Gymboree and the Disney store for the kids.


Have a Sweet Tooth?

Then you are in the right place! Everywhere you look you can find Hershey’s products, which means that sweets are not hard to find. If you are in the mood for something not made by Hershey, try the Mazzoli Ice Cream shop, where you can get fresh, homemade ice cream at great prices!


Wine & Dine

Looking for a place to eat where traditional meets contemporary? Phillip Arthur’s Cafe is a cozy and elegant place to grab a bite with friends or a significant other. It serves pizza, pies, paninis, designer sandwiches, and subs along with Hershey’s ice cream for dessert. If you are looking for a slightly more formal setting, The Chocolate Avenue Grill may be the place for you.


Real Estate Overview

Hershey, PA has many of the features that families look for when choosing a good community to raise children. If you’re interested in buying a home in Hershey, please contact one of our local real estate professionals.



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