Archive for ‘For Buyers’

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.

piggy

 

 

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 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”


mixingoldandnewSource: http://www.houzz.com

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”

 

darkbathroomSource: look-n-feel.tumblr.com

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”

mixingmetalsSource: simplymodernhome.com

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): buzzfeed.com and modpiecesblog.com  

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: decorallure.blogspot.com

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”

   mixmatchcolorsSource: http://www.2014interiordesignarticle.com

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: decoist.com

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):  housebeautiful.com and old.murcadesign.com

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 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: Travelsquire.com (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

 rockySource: Totalrocky.com

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: mediapatch.com

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

 centraliaSource: Shadowactivity.tumblr.com

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

  lagerSource: Yuengling.com

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

 mushroomSource: mushroomfestival.org

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

 shoppingSource: phillystylemag.com

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: 3riversartsfest.org

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 topeventsusa.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

May 7, 2014

Why Use a Realtor?

Are you considering buying or selling a home?  A real estate transaction is most often one of the largest financial decisions that you will make in your lifetime.  It is important to work with someone who has the knowledge and experience to guide you through the real estate process.  Check out the Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Agent:

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AskHomesale.com provides real estate advice and information for home buyers, home sellers, and homeowners alike. Askhomesale.com is part of the Prudential Homesale Family. The Homesale Family of Companies is the leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Maryland, South Central and Southeastern PA real estate markets.  Prudential Homesale has more than 25 offices with over 1,000 REALTORS®. Prudential Homesale’s footprint includes Maryland real estate offices in Baltimore CityFederal HillFells PointWestminsterand Timonium.  Pennsylvania real estate offices include YorkLancasterWyomissingChambersburgGettysburgHarrisburgand Schuylkill Haven.

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

April 14, 2014

Neighborhood Spotlight- Ellicott City, MD

Thinking about moving to Maryland? Howard County has a diverse selection of neighborhoods and locations to choose from. Ellicott City is a popular choice and after reading this, your interest may be increased. Voted #8 on the best places to live charts, Ellicott City offers the best of both worlds — a charming, historic downtown with plenty of restaurants and a thoughtfully laid-out, planned community with tons of stores.

Take a Day to Relax
Have a spa day and get away from it all at The Spa Turf Valley. Take advantage of the “Total Indulgence” package that includes a facial, massage, body treatment, and lunch. A good value for all that’s included that will leave you completely stress-free.

Have Fun with the Childrenellicott city

If you are looking for an educational and fun outing to experience with the children, then the B&O Railroad Museum near Ellicott City may be your best bet. Offering a wide selection of activities throughout the museum, young children will be able to sit in authentic antique rail cards, and for older kids, they can be entertained by the roundhouse of full antique trains and real train cars that they can enter.

Go for a Walk at the Park

Scientific studies have found that walking is good for your health. Benefits include improved immune system function, lowered blood pressure, and better feeling of overall health. Patapsco Valley State Park is a great place to spend with your family and it’s “nationally known for its trail opportunities and scenery.”

Shop until you Drop

Wind River Classic is a national outlet in Ellicott City that features women designer samples and major retailer overstock at 60% off or more regular retail.

Have a Sweet Tooth?

Stop into Old Mill Bakery Café for fun and tasty treats. From baked goods to coffee, the whole family will love this shop.

Wine & Dine

Looking to fine dine for date night? Portalli’s Italian Restaurant is an exceptional restaurant located in historic Ellicott City that offers a mixture of traditional Italian dishes and Italian-inspired dishes.

Real Estate Overview

With a desirable combination of good schools, low crime, college-educated neighbors, Ellicott City really has some of the features that families look for when choosing a good community to raise children. If you’re interested in buying a home in Ellicott City, please contact one of our local real estate professionals.

April 7, 2014

Credit Karma

For many of you, the thought of buying a home raises some financial concerns such as CreditKarmagetting pre-approved and affording the down payment. Getting pre-approved is often based off your debt-to-income ratio, your credit score, work history, etc. Take note, that just because you pay everything on time, doesn’t necessarily mean that your credit score is perfect. It is important to have a sense of where your credit stands; check out creditkarma.com to find out.

CreditKarma.com provides you with a free credit score; no credit card required. By creating a free account and becoming a Credit Karma member, you will have safe and secure access to four different credit scores including your TransUnion Credit Score, Vantage Score, Auto Insurance Score, and Home Insurance Score. This system also includes a simulator that allows you to plug in variables and see how your credit score may be affected.

Staying up-to-date on your credit score and working to continuously improve it, will keep you on track so you know when buying a home is right for you.

March 31, 2014

Before you Buy…

before you buyThe home you found might appear to have the right features and price but before you make an offer there are some other factors you should consider.

Sometimes when we want something so badly, we might not always ask the questions we should. Since this is one of the largest financial investments most of us will make in a lifetime, taking a step back and having one more look is probably a good idea.

Have you considered the items below?

  *Have an Inspection – Most homes have a defect; some are obvious, most are fixable. Knowing what could potentially need fixed can help you negotiate a better price now. Inspections for lead paint, radon, and pests are also strongly recommended.
* Ask for utility bills – Homes with high ceilings or glass walls might just break your monthly heating/cooling budget and maintaining a beautiful, but elaborate landscape could cause your water bill to skyrocket. All of these should be considered in your monthly expenses.
* Is there an Association? – An association that will keep lawns mowed in summer or walks shoveled in winter could be a very nice perk. As association that organizes community functions also shows that the residents care about their neighborhood.
* Talk to Neighbors – It might be nice to know how many residents are homeowners versus renters.
* Visit at various times – A seemingly quiet street now may be noisy during morning or evening rush hours. The school across the street may appear quiet over the summer but that could change during the school year.
* Look through newspaper archives – Do a little research to see if the area you are considering has any “skeletons” in its closet. Is it prone to water contamination problems or are their future plans to run a power line through your back yard? It pays to be informed.
* Examine taxes closely – Don’t just ask to see the current tax bills, but look at past bills as well. Does this municipality re-appraise homes frequently, leading to increased taxes? Is the local school funded by property taxes? This could be another cause for tax increases.
* Check with City Hall – Check into the property and neighborhood zoning. Also look for any easements or liens that may be connected to this property. Your realtor can help you with the research.
* Reconsider the “options” – Do you really need the in-ground pool? Can you afford the costs to maintain it? Can you live with just a one-car garage or on-street parking? Consider these items again before you buy.
* Explore – Get to know the area around the home. Are you close to an airport or fire station where noise could be a factor at all hours of the day and night? Is the home close to an agricultural area where smells or airborne dust could cause problems? Look beyond the streets of the neighborhood for other potential “deal-breakers”.

Try your best to be impartial and un-emotional when re-evaluating the home. This may be hard to do, but you will be glad that you took the extra time and put just a little more thought into it.

Your home purchase should fill you with joy, excitement, and happiness;
not leave you with buyer’s remorse!

March 18, 2014

Thinking About Buying a Foreclosed Home?

Purchasing a foreclosed home is quite different from buying a foreclosure signtypical resale. A foreclosed home is the process by which a homeowner’s rights to a property are forfeited because of failure to pay the mortgage.

The home you found might appear to be the right price and be in tip top shape, but before you purchase make sure to take some of these suggestions into consideration.

Reconsider Auctions – This process has many risks; prospective buyers aren’t able to do thorough home inspections or stay informed of outstanding taxes owed on the property before making the purchase.

Budget your Funds– Just because the price seems low to you now, doesn’t mean that something can’t be expected later. With low payments, this gives you a chance to really save your money.

Purchase Through a Bank – It might be better to go through a bank to purchase a foreclosed home. Banks are required to handle and pay off any back taxes  and you will be able to inspect the home before purchasing.

Inspect the Home & Neighborhood Thoroughly! – Answer these questions and record your findings when conducting your inspection:

How is the neighborhood?

How long has the house been empty?

How is the landscaping of the home and neighboring homes?

Was the house winterized?

Really take time and think about what your best options are. Are you prepared for the obstacles that could arise when purchasing a foreclosed home? If so consider these suggestions and do your research. 

“Really good deals on these bank-owned, they go quick — and the buyer doesn’t necessarily have time to try to work out the financing afterward. They need to work that out first.” – Jenson

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