How to Find Your New Home

It's easy, right? You have a friend who has a sibling who is a Realtor. You call them and they say they'd be glad to help you find a home. You start getting automatic computer-generated emails everyday with lists of homes for sale.

This is all fine, but is it working for you? Ask your Realtor what their schedule is for helping Buyers find homes. This isn't a rude question --- you are counting on them to help you.

If I have an agreement with someone to help them find a home, I have their daily home search scheduled in my planner. It involves more than looking at the local Multi-List each morning.

Don't give up on your Realtor if they stumble at first. They may not understand your level of interest in purchasing a home. Make sure they understand if you are serious, or if you are just preparing for something a few months down the road. It's the fair thing to do.

You found the home before your Realtor did? Not unheard of in today's world. Your Realtor is still a valuable resource for you. Determining fair market value, negotiating, expert advice & more.

By the way, it really is a great time to buy. While people are not giving away their homes (who would?) --- your competition is minimal in the Central Pennsylvania wintertime.

Give me a call (717-215-0243), and we can discuss putting you on my schedule :-)


How Long Will It Take?

After figuring out the Fair Market Value of your home --- the next question is usually "How long will this take?". The answer to that is unknown, but your Realtor can give you their expert opinion based on the average time on the market in your area.

I chose three similar areas where I work ---- and the average Days on Market until a contract is accepted is 75 days* (including homes that sold from March 1, 2010 to November 12, 2010).

However, there is much that goes into how long it takes for a buyer to make a move on a home.

- If the home is overpriced ---- it will most likely sit until the price is dropped.

- If the home is not prepared to show to buyers ---- the buyers will lean towards all of the other homes that are for sale in this market. They'll put a new kitchen in if it is outdated, but they will want a "deal" on the purchase price.

- Local conditions play a big factor in home selling. If the local economy is adversely affected due to business closings, disaster, etc ..... you may expect less buyers looking for a place to live.

The important thing here is to be realistic. In today's world, we want things fast. Waiting 5 minutes for a hamburger from your local fast food joint is too long, isn't it?

Once you understand how long the home selling process may take --- you will be better prepared for the move and there should be less stress. That's a good thing!

*Statistics from Central Penn Multi-List


Woof Woof

Don't let Fido or Tabby take a bite out of your home sale price. I see it happen all the time.

It seems like every month I have a client who is very excited about a particular home only to be disappointed as soon as the front door is opened. It is not the gaudy chandelier that has them back pedaling. It is the smell of household pets.

This is a touchy subject. Many of us love our pets. We love them to the point of being offended if others are not overjoyed by the sight of them. So, what do you do? Ask a friend or neighbor without pets to let you know if they smell anything. Ask your Realtor.

If the feedback is bad, air your home out. Wash the curtains. Clean your carpets. Hire a pro --- and don't bargain shop. If you save $150 on the carpet person but receive $8,000 less for you home --- that bargain won't seem so great.

There are some great tips at HouseLogic.

And yes, that is my dog. She is perfect and doesn't smell :-)

Autumn : Time to Check the Chimney

Get your chimney cleaned.
Just do it.

As cool weather approaches, the chimney experts are going to be getting busy so get ahead of the curve and contact them now.

A good article on chimney maintenance for warmth and safety is here.

Regular chimney maintenance by a professional is not only a smart idea for you now, but a record of the maintenance will be important to a Buyer when you sell your home.


Thank You - Apparently I'm Great

I like to work towards a goal, and I feel great when it is accomplished. However, I'm not the best at accepting accolades.

This is why I was surprised to feel so good about being voted "Simply the Best" Residential Real Estate Agent in Harrisburg Magazine for their annual award in 2010. I like Harrisburg Magazine, and look in it every year to see if any new restaurants were voted in. I like to eat!

My office is at Re/Max 1st Advantage in Mechanicsburg. The level of professionalism there is amazing. The smart people I work with make me better at what I do.

I'm good at what I do, but it would be dull for me to think there are not other Real Estate Agents out there who are just as professional. The fact is, people voted for me --- and that feels pretty great. Thanks.

Before I forget, Autumn is around the corner. Look for maintenance tips from me in the coming days. Have a chimney? Get it checked out/cleaned now, before the pros get busy!


Quality of Life

Hidden Gems. I see that phrase in real estate marketing quite often. Trouble is, it can have different meanings. Maybe the home needs some light work to catch it up with the neighborhood. Sometimes the Seller or Realtor is being a bit more literal with the word "hidden". There may be a feature of the home that is not evident to the passerby.

Don't be afraid to look for a home that fits your needs in places you wouldn't normally consider. Your Realtor can keep an eye out for this type of home. A good example is this 3 Bedroom home. It's across from the local elementary school and at first glance it would appear to have a small back yard. Think again. Over 1 1/2 acres of primarily secluded lawn, gardens, and nature.

Or consider this townhome. Normally, people may not associate a townhome with "seclusion". Well, if you are sitting in your back yard and no one can see you, that's secluded.

Take time to think about what will make you happy, and then discuss those things with your Realtor. He or she may have some ideas you have not thought of.


Is the Sky Falling?

Numbers and words. They were partners in crime long before Scrabble hit the market. These two have been used together to impress, scare, and confuse us ever since we decided to count our pebbles and name our children.

I'm hearing predictions of home prices dropping 3%, 1%, .1%. Or wait, going up 3%-6%. Why the discrepancy? I can tell you why. It's because we don't know. It's also because using a percentage based on Median Home Sale Price to determine your home's value is illogical. This is my opinion, mind you.

The dollar amount where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less is the Median Home Sale Price. This may be useful in determining what price range of homes are selling in your area. For example, if the Median Home Sale price is $120,000 --- this may indicate the market is not there for your $450,000 home. It doesn't mean it is not worth $450,000. It does not mean the value has dropped ---- or increased.

I bring this up because the Median Home Sale Price is often used to show people where the market is at. If your local newspaper tells you home sale prices are down 2%, this scares people into thinking the value of their home is 2% less than it was last year or even yesterday. If your local TV station tells you home sale prices are up 3%, someone may automatically think their home is worth 3% more today than it was in the beginning of the year.

How do you find out the Market Value of your home? Talk to a Realtor about a Comparative Market Analysis. This is an estimate of a home's value compared with other homes. The thing is, you must have the human element involved. Otherwise you are comparing castles to huts. With that in mind, if the sky is falling ---- it's probably with apples and oranges.


When to Move

When is the best time to move? I get asked this every week, if not every day. My advice is simple. Move when the time is right for you. That may sound like I'm dodging the question, but the point is make sure you are moving because of reasons that are important to you.

With the Tax Credit expansion and time extension, right now *is* a great time to make a move. Make sure it's the best time for you. If you are already thinking about it, then yes --- it is probably a mistake to not start the process right now. Today. No sense in buying a home 10 or 60 days after the Tax Credit deadline.

Besides the Tax Credit scenario, I am often asked what time of year is best to buy or sell. Honestly, it's up to you. The home that is perfect for you (location, price, etc ...) could be available today. It might not go on the market until June.

Most people start things in the Spring. It's human nature. Spring is a great time to market a home. The trees are getting leaves, flowers are blooming. On the other hand, there will be more homes on the market --- in competition with your home.

From a Buyer perspective, same thing. You get to see a home's landscape in full bloom, water problems can be more evident, and it's generally more pleasant than traipsing around in the snow. However, there are more buyers. You will have more competition.

With few exceptions, time of year shouldn't be your deciding factor. Time of life should be.