What does this year have in store for you? If you’ve been waiting to sell your home, 2015 might be the perfect opportunity! This year (2014), was the best year in the U.S. economic recovery since the 2008-2009 recession. With the economy accelerating; fueling jobs and income growth, the outlook on prospects for homeowners and would-be home buyers is positive.

2015 Houising Market


Mortgage Rates Will Head Back Up
An improving economy means that mortgage rates will unavoidably increase again. Freddie Mac, the now-government controlled corporation that buys and sells mortgage securities, conducts a weekly survey of mortgage rates being offered by lenders in the U.S. They also make various forecasts relating to the housing industry. Their long-term outlook calls for gradually rising rates over the next 12 months. They expect the average rate assigned to a 30-year loan to rise gradually, perhaps reaching or exceeding 5.0% by the end of next year.

Granted, this is only a real estate prediction for 2015 — not an assurance. But it is based on some of the best data available, analyzed by economists who specialize in mortgage and housing trends. So it probably won’t be far off. Think of it as a well-educated guess.


Mortgages Will Be Easier to Obtain
According to the Federal Reserve results of its July “Senior Loan Officer Survey on Bank Lending Practices,” mortgage lenders are relaxing their standards in several key areas.

To briefly explain, lenders are allowing lower credit scores and higher levels of debt, where mortgage borrowers are typically concerned. This trend is an industry-wide reaction to lower loan volume. Traditionally, when application volume goes down, lenders try to compensate by relaxing their standards and putting more loans into the pipeline. This happened in 2014, and it will likely continue into 2015 to some degree.


The Impact of Millennials
Some millennials, born between 1981 and 2000, are no longer living with their parents as they struggle to pay off student loan debt. Although the job market has been a challenge, employment is improving, and older millennials are planning for the future.

Millennials between the ages of 25-34, represent about 65% of first-time home buyers. This means that older millennials (young adults) are at an age when many are getting married and starting their own families. In the next 5 years, millennials are predicted to have a major impact on the growth of the housing market.


Closing Out the Foreclosure Crisis
It’s been seven years since the housing bubble burst and foreclosures skyrocketed, but in 2015 we’ll see the end of that era. Already this year has seen fewer foreclosures and short sales in the mix. With foreclosure inventories down more than 30%, it is predicted that there will be a slightly greater drop in foreclosure levels in 2015.

However, the situation will differ in every market, neighborhood and individual home, which is why most people prefer working with a Real Estate professional.

Information provided by: Homebuying Institute & Realtor.com


AskHomesale.com provides real estate advise and information for home buyers, home sellers, and homeowners alike. Askhomesale.com is part of the Homesale Realty Family. The Homesale Family of Companies is the leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Maryland, South Central and Southeastern PA real estate markets.  Homesale Realty has more than 25 offices with over 1,000 REALTORS®. Homesale Realty’s footprint includes Maryland real estate offices in Baltimore City, Federal Hill, Fells Point, Westminster, and Timonium Pennsylvania real estate offices include York, LancasterWyomissing, Chambersburg, Gettysburg, Harrisburg, and Schuylkill Haven.


Safest Cities to Live in Maryland

The state of Maryland is many things – it is the wealthiest state in the country with the highest median household income; it is one of the smallest states in area, yet has a high population, giving it one of the highest population densities in the USA; and, Maryland has numerous nicknames including America in Miniature, Little America, and Old Line State. Is Maryland a good place to live if you’re looking for family-friendly neighborhoods with low crime levels? If you are considering moving to Maryland, here are 7 of the safest cities to live.



1. Dayton
Dayton is what’s called an “unincorporated community” and it’s lessthan 30 miles west of Baltimore. Around 10,000 people live in Dayton, in Howard County, enjoying the small town feel and low crime levels. Dayton has a crime index of 96, and is the third safest community in Maryland.


2. Ijamsville
Named for its founder, Plummer Ijams, Ijamsville is a small community in Frederick County, about 7 miles southeast of the city of Frederick. Around 3,200 people live in Ijamsville and it’s the fourth safest town in Maryland. The crime index is 94.


3. Clarksville
The unincorporated community of Clarksville has some of the most expensive homes on the East Coast. Set in Howard County it is also famous as the home of top performing River Hill High School. The town has a population around 9,000 people and is the fifth safest town in Maryland. It has a crime index of 94.


4. Jarrettsville
Jarrettsville is a census-designated place in Harford County, home to around 2,900 people. It was named for the Jarrett family who farmed the land in the 1800s. Jarrettsville is about 30 miles north east of Baltimore and has a crime index of 93.


5. Fallston
Set in Harford County in the north of Maryland, Fallston is a census-designated place that’s home to around 9,000 people. It’s a semi-rural community only 20 miles outside of Baltimore, and it’s the seventh safest town in Maryland. The crime index is 92.


6. Myersville
Myersville is a small town set in Frederick County, about 11 miles northwest of the city of Frederick. Enjoying its status as the ninth safest town in Maryland are roughly 1,600 residents. Myersville has a crime index of 91.


7. Brentwood
Taking the last spot in our top seven safest cities in Maryland is Brentwood. This town is in Prince George’s County, just 1 mile from Washington DC. Obviously the crime problems in the nation’s capital haven’t seeped out to Brentwood yet! Home to around 3,100 people, Brentwood has a crime index of 91.


If you are planning on moving or know of someone who is thinking about moving, then contact your local Homesale Agent for help. For more real estate information, please visit our Homesale website.



Safest Cities to Live in Maryland

How Much House Can You Afford?

The typical homebuyer has been browsing through properties online, eagerly looking for yard signs, and attending open houses. However, before you even go house hunting, you should know how much you are able to spend on a mortgage. You don’t want to spend months looking at homes you think you can afford, when in realty you are out of your price range.

Follow these steps to get a basic idea of what monthly mortgage payment will work for you:


1. Allowable Monthly Debt Payments
As a general guideline, your monthly mortgage payment, including principal, interest, real estate taxes and homeowners insurance, should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income. Although the percentage does vary between lenders. Even if your debts are higher than 28% of your income, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a mortgage, there are financing programs that help make homeownership a reality for people from various financial backgrounds.

To calculate your housing expense ratio, multiply your annual salary by 0.28, then divide by 12 months.

$66,000   (salary before taxes and other expenses)
 X   0.28    (debt-to-income ratio)
= $18,480
$18,480 12 = $1,540
$1,540 Allowable Monthly Debt Payment


2. Total Monthly Debt Expenses

Add together your regular monthly debt payments: car payments, student loans, required minimum credit card payment, and any other expenses. 

$300 (Monthly Car payment)
+ $150 (Monthly Tuition Payment)
+  $90  (Car Insurance)
  $540  Total Monthly Debt Expenses


3. Maximum Mortgage Payment 

Subtract your monthly debt expenses from you allowable monthly debt payment in order to find your maximum mortgage payment.

$1,540  (Allowable Monthly Debt Payment)
 - $540  (Total Monthly Debt Expenses)
=  $1,000  Maximum Mortgage Payment 

Keep in mind that your maximum mortgage payment should include mortgage insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and property tax.

If you have questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our loan officers at Homesale Mortgage (PA) or Mortgage Master (MD).


How Much House Can You Afford?

8 Ways to Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Traveling

Since it is the holiday season, many homeowners may be traveling to relatives or taking vacations. If you are planning on leaving your home for a significant amount of time you should really take a few moments to go through a few extra steps to ensure that your house is well cared for while you are away. Installing a home security system may be the first thing that comes to your mind, but there are plenty of smaller, less expensive steps you can take that are just as (if not more) effective in preventing theft.

Breaking in

So here is a list of things you can do to bring peace mind while you are on vacation.


1. Tell your neighbors you’ll be away.

Even if you are not close with your neighbors, it is important to give them a heads-up when you are leaving town for a week or more. If you are good friends with your neighbors, you should consider leaving a copy of your house key in case of an emergency, or at least a way to contact you while you are away.*Think twice about sharing specific details of your trip on social media. It is better to be safe than sorry.*


2. Use light timers and motion sensors.

Giving the impression that your home is occupied is one of the surest ways to deter theft. Pick up a basic light timer at the hardware store and program your interior lights to turn on for several hours each evening. You can even program your TV to turn on as well.If you don’t have outdoor motion-sensor lights, you should consider installing them before you go away. If you do have them, double check the bulbs before you leave.


3. Hire a pet sitter or house sitter.

Instead of creating the illusion that someone is home, hire or ask someone you trust to actually stay in the house. You could also hire a pet sitter to come by your house once or twice a day to make sure your animal is okay, as well as your house. You can even ask your pet sitter to bring in your mail and water your plants.
If you don’t have a pet, you could do a swap with a neighbor or family member in the area; they watch your house this time, you watch theirs when they go away.


4. Lock it up

It may seem obvious, but sometimes it is easy to forget about windows and doors that are rarely used when you are rushing to the airport. Make sure you leave enough time before you leave to make sure all your windows and doors are securely shut and locked.


5. Secure sliding glass

Sliding glass windows and doors require special care to be really secure. Luckily the fix is a simple one; just cut a wooden pole or thick dowel to fit in the groove of the tracks when the door is shut, and lay it in before you leave. This won’t stop someone from shattering the glass, but it will make your home a less desirable target if a thief can’t easily slide the door open.


6. Keep up the appearance of routines.

If you will be away for more than a week, see if your house sitter/neighbor (etc..), can bring your garbage and recycling bins out for you and back in the next day. Also don’t let mail pile up on your porch or in your mailbox. You can either have someone bring your mail inside or have the postal service hold your mail (for up to 30 days) instead. You can fill out a form online, so you don’t even have to step foot into a post office during the holiday season.


7. Maintain snow or lawn service.

Not only will it be a relief to come home to a neatly shoveled path and tidy yard, but maintaining a normal level of care will help give your house a lived-in look while you are away.


8. Move valuables away from windows. 

You may want to leave a few shades open, since it can look rather off to see a house all closed up if that’s is not your normal routine. However, do be aware of what is visible from the open shades when someone is peering in from the outside. Laptops, flat-screen TVs and other pricey gear within reach of a window make an easy mark for an easy burglary.


 Source: Houzz.com


8 Ways to Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Traveling

“We Didn’t Start the Fire”

From the experts at Pillar to Post Home Inspectors

Fireplace with fire

A wood burning fireplace is an appealing feature in many homes. Regardless of what type of fireplace you have, it is very important to use a fireplace safely and provide all of the necessary maintenance. Here are some reminders and tips for keeping safe and getting full enjoyment from your fireplace this winter season.


Annual Inspections
You should have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional to ensure that it is obstruction free from tree branches and bird nests, as well clear of creosote. Creosote is a black, oily substance that can build up on the inside walls of the chimney. Creosote is extremely combustible, therefore if you are unaware of a thick accumulation and you could put your home at risk of a major fire.


Feeding Your Fire
You should be using dry, well-seasoned hardwoods in your fireplace. Make sure you avoid using pine and other oily woods because they do not burn cleanly. If you choose to use manufactured logs, do not mix them with real wood to avoid the possibility of flare-ups.


Plan Ahead
Clear the hearth of debris, decorations, and flammable materials. Use a metal mesh screen that covers the opening, whether you have glass fireplace doors or not. Make sure you leave the glass doors open while a fire is burning to guarantee ventilation and airflow.


When to Clean
During period of heavy use, clean out the firebox regularly once the embers are cold. Leave about an inch of ash because it acts as insulation, allowing coals to heat faster and retain heat longer. Never use a vacuum to clean up fresh ashes, as embers can smolder for as long as several days after the fire is out, creating a real fire hazard.


Check that vents are unobstructed and able to do their job. If you have a fireplace fan, keep it clean. In non-wood burning fireplaces, clean and adjust glowing embers and logs for best appearance.


Cap Your Chimney
Installing a cap at the top of your chimney will help prevent water damage, keep debris from blocking the opening and deter animals from entering. A spark arrestor will prevent live embers from escaping the chimney and landing on your roof or other buildings.


Use Common Sense
Before you leave the house or go to bed, make sure the fire is completely out; never leave a fire unattended.


For more information, visit www.pillartopost.com
“We Didn’t Start the Fire”

Holiday Safety For Your Home

It is the season of joy and everyone is excited for holiday celebrations! While you are eager to decorate your home, you should take some precautions as you deck the halls and start a fire in the fireplace. Here are a few helpful tips on how to maintain safety in your home and still enjoy the holiday season.


Dec-14-IOV - E-card



AskHomesale.com provides real estate advise and information for home buyers, home sellers, and homeowners alike. Askhomesale.com is part of the Homesale Realty Family. The Homesale Family of Companies is the leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Maryland, South Central and Southeastern PA real estate markets.  Homesale Realty has more than 25 offices with over 1,000 REALTORS®. Homesale Realty’s footprint includes Maryland real estate offices in Baltimore City, Federal Hill, Fells Point, Westminster, and Timonium.  Pennsylvania real estate offices include York, LancasterWyomissing, Chambersburg, Gettysburg,Harrisburg, and Schuylkill Haven.

Tips for Home Buyers  |  Tips for Home Sellers | Tips for Homeowners

Holiday Safety For Your Home

Tips for Selling Your Home in the Winter

When it comes to selling your home, the process can be time-consuming and stressful. Even though as a seller you may be skeptical to place your house on the market during the winter, take advantage of the lack of inventory and play up the winter season. Here are a few tips on how to sell your home in the winter and the home selling process a little simpler.


shovelingsnowShovel and salt often

If you want prospective buyers to be able to safely enter your home then make sure you keep the sidewalk, driveway and front doorsteps clear of ice and snow. It also helps to make your house look well-maintained; similar to raking the leaves in the fall. If you’re not living in the home, or not home enough to keep on top of the snow, hire a service to salt and shovel the driveway and walkways.






Keep it warm

Part of making a home inviting to an interested buyer involves making it feel warm and cozy. You don’t want potential buyers looking at your home shivering as they walk around inside. Make sure you keep the thermostat higher if you know people are coming to look at the home, and if you’ll be there during the showing, set a fire in the fireplace.




Maximize light

During this time of year when daylight hours are at a minimum, light is important. Open the shades and let in as much sunlight as you can. Also make sure all the light fixtures are clean, and use bulbs with the highest wattage that they can safely handle. Turn on lights whenever you show the home to make it shine.


Have clean windows

Unkempt and dirty windows can turn off buyers before they even enter a house, and a strong light in the winter can reveal grime that otherwise wouldn’t be as noticeable. Make the windows as clean as possible and improve a potential buyer’s first impression.



Make it look comfortable

Keeping with the theme of making your house feel like a home, small touches go a long way; throw blanket or on a sofa and a large folded-over comforter on a bed. Make the buyers see themselves’ comfortably living in the home.


Emphasize conveniences

Is your home on a street that gets plowed often or next door to a school so that kids don’t have to wait in the cold for a school bus? Make sure to emphasize the ways your home makes it convenient to deal with inconvenient weather.


Use timers on lights

In the spirit of keeping your home well illuminated, setting up timers on the inside and outdoor lights can make sure your home looks good at dusk and at night. Also pay attention to the light around the front door, and make sure it’s bright enough to seem inviting.


Make it feel festive

When showing a home, you want to make possible buyers feel like they’re invited guests. Set the dinner table with your good china, if you can leave small snacks and drinks like cookies and cider, do that too. You don’t want the home too look stale – reflect the possibilities the home has for entertaining guests when showing your house.





Keep an inviting aroma

The one sense of the human body that sellers may neglect the most is the sense of smell. Make your home pleasing to the nose. Scents to use for the winter season include: cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies, apple pie, and vanilla. Make sure you don’t overdo it with scented candles and incense everywhere – you don’t want buyers to feel like they walked down the perfume isle and can’t breathe. If your home suffers from musty odors and pet smells, clean those areas thoroughly and replace or clean rugs and fabrics that may hold those bad smells.




Appear meticulous

It may seem inconvenient to potential buyers to be asked to remove their shoes or slip on rubber shoe-covers before walking around the home. But some buyers will see that you’re very picky about maintaining a certain quality and cleanliness – and it will reflect well on the state of the house in general.




Decorate to the season

Don’t keep the Christmas tree or Hanukkah lights up after the holidays are over, but other seasonally appropriate decorations can help make a home more inviting, such as decorative wreaths and dried arrangements around the door.




Use winter to your advantage

Some homes can use winter as a selling point. Is there a popular ski resort close by? Is there a great sledding hill down the street? People want to hear about the winter perks they will enjoy living in your home.


If you are planning on selling your home, or know of someone who is thinking about putting their house on the market this winter, contact your local Homesale Agent. For more tips for sellers check out our previous article, Secrets for Selling Your Home.

Tips for Selling Your Home in the Winter