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.

 

July 21, 2014

Paying off your Mortgage Early

down-paymentIf you are looking to pay off your mortgage earlier than you had initially planned, there are multiple ways to get this done. Before doing any of them, however, you should check with your bank to make sure there are no hidden fees or charges for paying early.

 

Refinance your Mortgage

A good way to put a dent into paying off a 30-year mortgage is to refinance it into a 20-or-15-year loan. 15-year mortgages are the most popular, as there is considerably less mortgage interest in the long run. Be sure before making the change that you are financially able to do so, as changing to a 15-year loan commits you to higher monthly payments. If you are unsure about your financial ability to change to a 15-year, try staying on your 30-year loan and make payments as though you are on the 15-year one. This decreases the amount of time on your mortgage without adding the risk of a late payment.

 

Add a Little Extra

One of the best ways to pay your mortgage off early is to pay a little bit more where you can afford it. You can either do this by adding a set amount every month, or even just by rounding up every month. Even adding an extra 6 dollars to your monthly payments on a 200,000 dollar 30-year loan will save you 4 payments in the end. Make sure before doing this that you check your contract for any prepayment penalties.

 

Unexpected Money

Adding a little bit extra every month is great, but another option to keep in mind is adding any unexpected or extra cash flow to your payment. This can include anything from tax refunds or work bonuses to inheritances and investment earnings. This way it doesn’t feel like you are paying as much as long as you do not rely on that money.

 

Bi-weekly Payments

In Australia, people make bi-weekly half-payments on their mortgages. Why does this make any difference? Well, there are 12 months in a year, so most people will be paying 12 months worth of their loan. Someone who is paying half of their loan every other week, however, will be paying 13 months of their mortgage since there are 52 weeks in a year. This allows you to pay more of your loan off without feeling like you are paying more than you were before.

 

Other Options

These are great ways to cut down on the amount of time you have a mortgage, but there are many other ways as well. These include doubling up on your monthly payment 4 times a year and a money merge account. Money merge accounts should only be used by people who really understand cash management. If using any of the above options, it’s a good idea to get statements from your bank showing how much is still owed and also to make sure that any extra payments are going towards your principal and not being saved until the following year.

July 14, 2014

Homeownership Matters

Laurie and her pop during the Holidays

Laurie and her Pop at Christmas

Laurie Czaplinski, our Agent Services Director, shared her grandfather’s story with us:

My grandparents were married in 1945.  My grandfather had just served his last tour in the Navy for World War II.  One of their immediate goals, as a newly married couple, was to find a home where they could raise a family.  While in the service, my grandfather dreamed of meeting the girl of his dreams and building a home with her.  Their goal was independence and buying a house was the first step.

While talking about the home they were planning to build, my grandmother described a large kitchen where she could cook and bake.  My grandfather dreamed of a basement workshop and a yard where he could grow vegetables and lounge under a tree during the summer.

The home they built was what we would now call a bungalow.  It’s a one and half story that they built for less than $3,000.  Today it would sell for at least $130,000.  It is only a three bedroom, one and half bath but there is a lot of living square footage packed into this little home and they have used every inch of their home for the past 68 years.

As I asked him what he loves about his home he recalled all of the good times our family has shared there.  “A home is not only a place to lay your head at night.” My grandfather said to me.  He reminded me that every Thanksgiving we would pack into their finished basement and my grandmother would set up a large buffet feast for us and that my mom somehow used to be right by his side every time he opened a Coke in the basement.  He talked about the door in his workshop that has the heights of my aunts, mom and all of the grandchildren recorded, every year up until now.  He talked about the day he found his dog, “tuffy” and cat “killer”.  Then told me about the neighbors and the block parties they had.  And I remembered all of the weekend sleep overs and how he would make us ice-cream floats and “pop-pop sandwiches”.

“It doesn’t matter how big or expensive your home is, it’s the people who live there and the adventures you experience together that matter.”

This talk with my grandfather reminded me that homeownership means so much more than a roof over our head.

 

July 9, 2014

Our 2014 First Quarter Awards

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

Total Gross Commission Income (GCI) in the Northeast United States with 41-75 Sales Professionals
2nd Place-Centerville Office

Residential Units in the Northeast United States with a minimum of 76 Sales Professionals
2nd Place- North Pointe Office
3rd Place- East York Office

Residential Units in the Northeast United States with 41-75 Sales Professionals
2nd Place- Centerville Office

Residential Units in the Northeast United States with 21-40 Sales Professionals
1st Place- Schuylkill Haven Office
2nd Place- Carlisle Office

Residential Units in the South United States with a minimum of 76 Sales Professionals
3rd Place-Clarkview 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 Chistoffell 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

July 2, 2014

Landscaping Tips

Have you ever looked at a home and thought that its landscaping was beautiful,
but you could never afford it?

Landscaping can be costly and discouraging if done improperly, but there are several things that you can do to increase the beauty and value of your home for an affordable price. When done correctly, landscaping can even save you on electricity and water bills in the future. Here are a few good guidelines to follow when considering how to landscape your yard.

July 14 IOV - Ecard Graphic

June 30, 2014

Fire Safety Tips

Firefighter&TruckEvery year, more than 3,800 people die in house fires in the United States alone. An additional 18,300 survive but are disabled or injured. It is important to keep your family and your home up-to-date on fire safety.

 

Fire Alarms

Every level of your house should have at least one working fire alarm. Be sure to test the alarms every month, keep them clean, and change the battery at least once a year. Every ten years, fire alarms should be replaced unless the manufacturer says otherwise. There are also smoke alarms available for the deaf or hearing impaired that flash strobe lights and shake the bed.

 

Causes of Fires

The leading cause of fatal home fires in the United States is smoking. If possible, smoke outside and dispense of remnants in designated areas, such as ashtrays. Cooking is another leading cause of fires, typically as a result of people leaving the oven or range unattended for any length of time. Heating equipment should be cleaned, checked regularly and kept away from furniture according to fire regulations. Lastly, burning candles should never be left unattended in the home.

 

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is the deadly result of fuels burning incompletely. It is recommended that every house has a CO alarm on each floor as well as a fire alarm; in 2010 the United States fire department dealt with over 80,000 non-fire CO related incidents. Be sure to keep your home well ventilated, and use charcoal or gas grills outside only. Never keep a car running for an extended period of time indoors.

 

Escape Route

It is very important to have planned escape routes from your house in case of a fire. If possible, try to have at least two different ways out of every room, and make sure everyone in the house is familiar with them. It is advisable to practice your plan twice a year, both at day and at night. If an actual fire occurs, immediately get low, stay low, and get out of the building. Most fire-related deaths are caused by smoke inhalation rather than burns, since fire burns the oxygen out of the air and lets off poisonous gases. You can suffocate from a fire even if you aren’t in the same room.

 

June 26, 2014

Childproofing Your Home

Little Girl Enter HouseDid you know that the most common injuries to children under three years old happen right inside your house? Because toddlers and infants spend most of their time there, it is important to make sure that they are as safe as possible. Childproofing a house is a never-ending task and safety measures need to be constantly updated as your children grow.

 

Every child will accumulate bumps and bruises, but most serious injuries are entirely preventable. Make sure that any equipment or furniture you buy for your child meets the current safety requirements and be sure to follow any assembly instructions accurately. However, most areas of risk involve furniture and fixings that are already inside your house. Here are some key areas to check out:

 

Windows

Your windows pose a variety of threats to a growing child. Be sure that any window ledge corners are appropriately covered and that cords from blinds or curtains are tied up and out of reach. Locks and latches on windows are also important; you may wish to consider safety netting to prevent falls.

 

Outlets

Outlets are the source of sending on average 2,400 children to emergency rooms. Shielding your outlets with outlet covers is a great start to securing your child against electrical shocks. It is also a good idea to unplug any equipment that is not currently in use. Even loose cords can pose a threat, so keep unused cords tied up and tucked where your child cannot reach them.

 

Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most difficult rooms in your house to childproof, because there are so many different areas to consider. Adding latches to all of your cabinets is essential. It is also a good idea to move any hazardous chemicals and sharp kitchenware to high, protected areas. While latches on your cabinets are key, most people forget that it is equally important to secure your oven, fridge, and microwave. Lastly, your trashcan can be an attractive target for your little ones, with all of its interesting smells and contents, so keep it behind closed, locked doors.

 

Furniture

Many household accidents involve pieces of furniture. Whether it is in a bedroom, study, or living room, securing furniture to the wall and floor is vital to prevent tipping. Be sure to secure your TV, as well, in this process. Additionally, most furniture has corners or sharp edges that should be covered, especially those areas near ground level.

These target areas are great places to start, but also remember to consider hazards like stairways, heaters, fireplaces, and outside doors. Every house is unique and has its unique challenges, so one of the best ways to check for areas to childproof is to get down on your child’s level. Remember to update safety measures as your child grows ; previously difficult areas to reach may have become accessible.  Most importantly, remember that you are your child’s best defense, so never leave your child unattended.

 

Check out these additional tips on child proofing your home!

June 19, 2014

Renting vs Buying

Couple Front StepsIf you are a potential buyer searching for the perfect place to live, your gut reaction is probably that it is cheaper to rent a home than it is to buy one. However, according to Trulia’s chief economist Jed Kolko, that is not the case. On average in the United States, it is 38 percent cheaper to buy a home than it is to rent one. Of course, this varies from state to state.

 

Of course, while the base cost of buying a home is cheaper than renting one, there are many other factors to be looked at before deciding between the two. Are you looking to stay somewhere for an extended period of time, or will you be living there for less than 10 years?

 

Upkeep is also something to consider while looking for a place to live. On paper the cost of buying a house may be lower, but overall it actually may be less expensive to rent if you have to continually have maintenance work done.

 

Renting also has the upper hand for people looking for jobs. If you are still moving around the job market or do not have a stable long-term position, it is likely more financially responsible to rent a house so that you are able to move if necessary. However, if you are looking to settle down somewhere, in the long run it looks as though it is more profitable to buy a house rather than rent one.

June 10, 2014

House Hunting Tips

Couple House RealtorIdeally, we’d all love for house hunting to be a quick and easy process that results in the perfect home. Unfortunately not all homes come equipped with a two-story pool and a waterfall, so this is not always the case. Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to find a place that fits all of your needs.

 

Don’t Choose a House for its Awesome Bathtub

Sometimes it can be easy to overlook certain important details—like those dubious mold spots on the ceiling—in favor of a flashy new granite countertop that the owner will be certain to emphasize. When looking at potential houses, keep in mind the difference between the things you need and the things that it would be nice to have. While it can be exciting to find the perfect cabinet handles, make sure you consider them a bonus and not a priority.

 

Living Next Door to a Prison

Location is one of the most important things to consider while looking for your new home. How far is the house from your job or prospective jobs? How far away is the nearest grocery store? What is the neighborhood like? Who are your neighbors? Visit the house at different times of the day to see what changes. Even the house of your dreams can turn into the house of your nightmares if you live next door to a sewage plantation, so it is important to take these things into consideration when you feel like you have found the perfect house.

 

Play Detective

Don’t be afraid to be slightly nosey when it comes to looking for your new home. Remember that you are going to be living there, so it’s important that the house fits all of your needs. Check the cupboards, the closet space, and inside every door. Lift rugs and look under furniture. Try to envision your own possessions in the space and even measure areas to be certain everything fits. While not a deal breaker, it might be upsetting to find out after you move that your vintage bookshelf is taller than the ceiling.

 

It’s Not NASCAR

A common mistake made when house hunting is trying to rush through the process. Whether it’s because it was pushed it off until last minute or because they chose the first decent house presented to them, many people end up with houses not suited to their needs. Take the time to make a checklist of the most important things that you are looking for in a home, and then take the list to each tour. This way while you are making sure that every house has room for your fish tank, you won’t forget that your youngest son needs a bedroom.

While keeping these things in mind, however, remember to relax and enjoy yourself. House hunting is an exciting time full of potential and possibilities for your future, so have fun!

June 4, 2014

Prudential Homesale is now Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty

We are pleased to announce that Prudential Homesale is now Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty. The announcement of our brand name change signals a defining moment in real estate as it unites the strengths of industry leaders, bringing together unparalleled operational excellence, innovation and integrity.

Rest assured, our commitment to our clients and the local real estate market remains unchanged. The company we have established, together with this powerful new network, exemplifies the reputation of Berkshire Hathaway – recognized as the No. 1 company in Barron’s annual ranking of the world’s 100 most respected companies. We look forward to serving all of your real estate needs.

June 14 IOV - Ecard

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