27 Home-Selling Tips

“…discover how to protect and capitalize on your most important investment..”

Because your home may well be your largest asset, selling it is probably one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. To better understand the home selling process, a guide has been prepared from current industry insider reports. Through these 27 tips you will discover how to protect and capitalize on your most important investment, reduce stress, be in control of your situation, and make the most profit possible.

1. Understand Why You Are Selling Your Home

Your motivation to sell is the determining factor as to how you will approach the process. It affects everything from what you set your asking price at to how much time, money and effort you’re willing to invest in order to prepare your home for sale. For example, if your goal is for a quick sale, this would deter-mine one approach. If you want to maximize your profit, the sales process might take longer thus determining a different approach.

2. Keep the Reason(s) You are Selling to Yourself

The reason(s) you are selling your home will affect the way you negotiate its sale. By keeping this to yourself you don’t provide ammunition to your prospective buyers. For example, should they learn that you must move quickly, you could be placed at a disadvantage in the negotiation process. When asked, simply say that your housing needs have changed. Remember, the reason(s) you are selling is only for you to know .

3. Before Setting a Price – Do Your Homework

When you set your price, you make buyers aware of the absolute maximum they have to pay for your home. As a seller, you will want to get a selling price as close to the list price as possible. If you start out by pricing too high you run the risk of not being taken seriously by buyers and their agents and pricing too low can result in selling for much less than you were hoping for.

Setting Your Home’s Sale Price

  • If You Live in a Subdivision – If your home is comprised of similar or identical floor plans, built in the same period, simply look at recent sales in your neighborhood subdivision to give you a good idea of what your home is worth.
  • If You Live in An Older Neighborhood – As neighborhoods change over time each home may be different in minor or substantial ways. Because of this you will probably find that there aren’t many homes truly comparable to your own. In this case you may want to consider seeking a REALTOR® to help you with the pricing process.
  • If You Decide to Sell On Your Own – A good way to establish a value is to look at homes that have sold in your neighborhood within the past 6 months, including those now on the market. This is how prospective buyers will assess the worth of your home. Also a trip to City Hall can provide you with home sale information in its public records, for most communities.

4. Do Some “Home Shopping” Yourself

The best way to learn about your competition and discover what turns buyers off is to check out other open houses. Note floor plans, condition, appearance, lot size, location and other features. Particularly note, not only the asking prices, but also why they are actually selling. Remember, if you’re serious about getting your home sold fast, don’t price it higher than your neighbor’s.

5. When Getting an Appraisal is a Benefit

Sometimes a good appraisal can be a benefit in marketing your home. Getting an appraisal is a good way to let prospective buyers know that your home can be financed. However, an appraisal does cost money, has a limited life, and there’s no guarantee you’ll like the figure you hear.

6. Tax Assessments – What They Really Mean

Some people think that tax assessments are a way of evaluating a home. The difficulty here is that assessments are based on a number of criteria that may not be related to property values, so they may not necessarily reflect your home’s true value.

7. Deciding Upon a REALTOR&reg

Nearly two-thirds of people who sell their own homes say they wouldn’t do it again themselves. Primary reasons included setting a price, marketing handicaps, liability concerns, and time constraints. When deciding upon a REALTOR&reg, consider two or three. Be as wary of quotes that are too low as those that are too high.

All REALTORS® are not the same! A professional REALTOR® knows the market and has information on past sales, current listings, a marketing plan, and will provide their background and references. Evaluate each candidate carefully on the basis of his or her experience, qualifications, enthusiasm and personality. Be sure you choose someone that you trust and feel confident that they will do a good job on your behalf.

If you choose to sell on your own, you can still talk to a REALTOR®. Many are more than willing to help do-it-your-selfers with paperwork, contracts, etc. and should problems arise, you now have someone you can readily call upon.

8. Ensure You Have Room to Negotiate

Before settling on your asking price make sure you leave yourself enough room in which to bargain. For example, set your lowest and highest selling price. Then check your priorities to know if you’ll price high to maximize your profit or price closer to market value if you want sell quickly.

9. Appearances Do Matter – Make them Count!

Appearance is so critical that it would be unwise to ignore this when selling your home. The look and “feel” of your home will generate a greater emotional response than any other factor. Prospective buyers react to what they see, hear, feel, and smell even though you may have priced your home to sell.

10. Invite the Honest Opinions of Others

The biggest mistake you can make at this point is to rely solely on your own judgment. Don’t be shy about seeking the honest opinions of others. You need to be objective about your home’s good points as well as bad. Fortunately, your REALTOR® will be unabashed about discussing what should be done to make your home more marketable.

11. Get it Spic n’ Span Clean and Fix Everything, Even If It Seems Insignificant

Scrub, scour, tidy up, straighten, get rid of the clutter, declare war on dust, repair squeaks, the light switch that doesn’t work, and the tiny crack in the bathroom mirror because these can be deal-killers and you’ll never know what turns buyers off. Remember, you’re not just competing with other resale homes, but brand-new ones as well.

12. Allow Prospective Buyers to Visualize Themselves in Your Home

The last thing you want prospective buyers to feel when viewing your home is that they may be intruding into someone’s life. Avoid clutter such as too many knick-knacks, etc. Decorate in neutral colors, like white or beige and place a few carefully chosen items to add warmth and character. You can enhance the attractiveness of your home with a well-placed vase of flowers or potpourri in the bathroom. Home-decor magazines are great for tips.

13. Deal Killer Odors – Must Go!

You may not realize but odd smells like traces of food, pets and smoking odors can kill deals quickly. If prospective buyers know you have a dog, or that you smoke, they’ll start being aware of odors and seeing stains that may not even exist. Don’t leave any clues.

14. Be a Smart Seller – Disclose Everything

Smart sellers are proactive in disclosing all known defects to their buyers in writing. This can reduce liability and prevent law suits later on.

15. It’s Better With More Prospects

When you maximize your home’s marketability, you will most likely attract more than one prospective buyer. It is much better to have several buyers because they will compete with each other; a single buyer will end up competing with you.

16. Keep Emotions in Check During Negotiations

Let go of the emotion you’ve invested in your home. Be detached, using a business-like manner in your negotiations. You’ll definitely have an advantage over those who get caught up emotionally in the situation.

17. Learn Why Your Buyer is Motivated

The better you know your buyers the better you can use the negotiation process to your advantage. This allows you to control the pace and duration of the process.

As a rule, buyers are looking to purchase the best affordable property for the least amount of money. Knowing what motivates them enables you to negotiate more effectively. For example, does your buyer need to move quickly? Armed with this information you are in a better position to bargain.

18. What the Buyer Can Really Pay

As soon as possible, try to learn the amount of mortgage the buyer is qualified to carry and how much his/her down payment is. If their offer is low, ask their REALTOR® about the buyer’s ability to pay what your home is worth.

19. When the Buyer Would Like to Close

Quite often, when buyers would “like” to close is when they need to close. Knowledge of their deadlines for completing negotiations again creates a negotiating advantage for you.

20. Never Sign a Deal on Your Next Home Until You Sell Your Current Home

Beware of closing on your new home while you’re still making mortgage payments on the old one or you might end up becoming a seller who is eager (even desperate) for the first deal that comes along.

21. Moving Out Before You Sell Can Put You at a Disadvantage

It has been proven that it’s more difficult to sell a home that is vacant because it becomes forlorn looking, forgotten, no longer an appealing sight. Buyers start getting the message that you have another home and are probably motivated to sell. This could cost you thousands of dollars.

22. Deadlines Create A Serious Disadvantage

Don’t try to sell by a certain date. This adds unnecessary pressure and is a serious disadvantage in negotiations.

23. A Low Offer – Don’t Take It Personally

Invariably the initial offer is below what both you and the buyer knows he’ll pay for your property. Don’t be upset; evaluate the offer objectively. Ensure it spells out the offering price, sufficient deposit, amount of down payment, mortgage amount, a closing date and any special requests. This can simply provide a starting point from which you can negotiate.

24. Turn That Low Offer Around

You can counter a low offer or even an offer that’s just under your asking price. This lets the buyer know that the first offer isn’t seen as being a serious one. Now you’ll be negotiating only with buyers with serious offers.

25. Maybe the Buyer’s Not Qualified

If you feel an offer is inadequate, now is the time to make sure the buyer is qualified to carry the size of mortgage the deal requires. Inquire how they arrived at their figure, and suggest they compare your price to the prices of homes for sale in your neighborhood.

26. Ensure the Contract is Complete

To avoid problems, ensure that all terms, costs and responsibilities are spelled out in the contract of sale. It should include such items as the date it was made, names of parties involved, address of property being sold, purchase price, where deposit monies will be held, date for loan approval, date and place of closing, type of deed, including any contingencies that remain to be settled and what personal property is included (or not) in the sale.

27. Resist Deviating From the Contract

For example, if the buyer requests a move-in prior to closing, just say no, that you’ve been advised against it. Now is not the time to take any chances of the deal falling-through.

8 Things To Do In December If You Want to Buy or Sell in 2013

True Confession: I set a handful of New Year’s Resolutions every single year. Why? They work for me – I’ve got probably a 75 percent success rate. Some of this is in the science of setting the Resolution the right way in the first place, including the preparation.

Here’s my secret: I always get started in December. I like to use my holiday down-time to plan things out, gather up the resources or do the research I need, figure out what my challenges are likely to be and make a plan to deactivate them, set appointments with any professional I need to get on board to make my goals happen and even get some momentum built up with my new eating program, workout plan, financial goals or career endeavors.

I aim to be like that old Marines commercial – by January 1, I’ve already done more than most Resolution-setters do all year!

And I’d like to help you do the same. Let’s boost the chances that your home buying or selling goals for 2013 will be successful by devoting a little time in December to getting things lined up and in motion. Here is my short list of tasks I would put on my December to-do list if I wanted to buy or sell a home next year:

1. Handle your credit horrors.

Maybe you don’t have any credit horrors – kudos to you! But let’s get real, this year will be a year in which many post-foreclosure, post-bankruptcy, post-layoff Americans will find themselves sufficiently recovered, post-recession, to get back into the real estate market and buy a home. If you count yourself among the number of 2013 wanna-be buyers who experienced a financial glitch of any degree during the recession, December is the right time to start pulling your credit reports and doing a damage assessment and control campaign.

  • Visit AnnualCreditReport.com (the only website through which you can use your government-mandated free reports) and order your own credit reports from all three reporting bureaus.
  • Review them all, line-by-line, checking for errors and discrepancies. It is extremely common for paid-off accounts to still be reporting as delinquent, for foreclosed mortgages to still be listed as open and past-due and for bills that were settled in collection to be reported as behind. Follow the instructions to dispute any such errors you see.
  • When you talk with your mortgage broker (see #4), go over the reports with them again, getting a read on precisely when your foreclosure, bankruptcy, delinquencies, gaps in employment or other credit woes will be sufficiently “seasoned” (i.e., long ago) to allow you to qualify for another loan, and get their advice on any action items, like paying a particular debt or set of credit cards down to $X amount will be important for you to complete before you try for a legitimate pre-approval next year.

In fact, this last point applies to everyone – whether or not you think you have any dings on your credit report. It’s essential to get clear on any of the work you’ll need to do to optimize your credit standing now, as the payoffs, disputes and other credit work that can move the needle on your score may take some time.

2. Purge. It’s time.

Time to get rid of all that things you know qualify as clutter – all the stuff you know buyers won’t want to see when they tour your home, and all the stuff that you won’t want to move to your next place. If you give your junk before the end of the year, you might be able to get a receipt and deduction for the taxes you file in 2013. And tax break or not, getting all that stuff out of your attic, your closets, your shelves and your rooms will clear up loads of mental space and energy, reduce some of the overwhelm latent in the prospect of moving – and might even surface a few things you can sell to boost your down payment savings or your home staging budget.

Clutter clearing gets overwhelming when you simply lack the time, in the face of everyday urgencies, to invest a few hours or days to go deep, pull out all the minute and memory-laden How better to spend those wintry days between Christmas and New Year’s than to clear out the clutter in your home – and your mind?

3. Plan your prep.

If you’re thinking of selling your home in 2013, now is a great time to start organizing your list (or spreadsheet, or Evernote file) of home preparation tasks that need to get done before you put the place on the market. Things like painting, carpeting, landscaping and other preparation tasks can be less taxing and less disruptive to your life if you have plenty of time to collect bids, sock away the cash to cover the costs and arrange projects at your family’s convenience or during off-seasons, when contractors might be wiling to charge a bit less.

Talk with your agent before you put a plan in place; they can help you make good decisions which projects to do (and which to forego), as well as choosing finish materials and colors that will appeal to the broadest segment of buyers – to boot, they often can refer you to the most cost-effective contractors in your area for these sorts of pre-listing projects.

4. Save. More.

There’s no such thing as saving too much cash up for your down payment. If you have a home to sell, you have no idea how much you’ll take away from that transaction until it closes. And even if you’re currently renting, having maximum savings set aside allows you maximum flexibility in terms of selecting homes, competing with other buyers, covering closing costs (which can run as high as 3-4% on average for an FHA loan) and even handling post-closing repairs, appliances and property personalizeation.

5. Collect your gift money.

Buyers who get gift money from a relative to apply toward their down payments are often subject to seemingly strange and definitely invasive documentation requirements – the most onerous of which is to produce copies of the gift GIVER’s bank accounts proving the source of the funds. If you know Mom, Dad, Granny or Aunt Bernie is going to chip in some cash toward your down payment in the Spring, consider asking them to go ahead and give it to you now, so you can put it in your own accounts and begin “seasoning” it as yours, which will help you avoid all those documentation demands.

Your benefactor should check with their financial and tax advisers to be sure the gift is structured to avoid any tax implications, before they give it.

6. Connect with an agent and a mortgage broker – stat.

Don’t wait until the month before you want to buy or sell to ring up your trusty agent and start the conversation. Ask around for referrals or find an agent here on Trulia Voices now, get a mortgage broker (or 3) on the phone, and ask them to help brief you long-lead topics like:

  • Whether your market is a buyer’s market or seller’s market, and how that translates into what you can and should expect when you plan to buy or sell next year
  • Whether there are any area-specific timing issues you should factor in as you map out your timeline
  • What – given the specifics of your financials, your savings, any past credit or other issues you have – you should be doing now in terms of paying bills down, setting savings targets, and such
  • What changes, if any, you should plan on making to your property before listing it
  • What sort of property you can get for your money in the areas you’re targeting as a buyer, and what kind of money you can expect to command for your property in your local market (this, obviously, will change over time – even over the few months or so between now and the time you list your home, but it still helps to have a general ides of the current market values).

7. Go Open House hunting.

If you’re selling next year, it’s essential to get a real-life read on what the competition’s like, everything from what sorts of houses in your area are listed at various price points to what your target buyers are going to be seeing on their way into or out of your house. There’s no reality check on your own home’s preparation and staging – its overall readiness for listing – like putting on a buyer’s shoes and taking a tour through similar homes in your area. And there’s no time for this reality check like right now: when Open Houses are still a-plenty, you have more time to attend them, and you still have plenty of time to process your takeaways and incorporate them into your own property preparations.

Open House hunting is also helpful for those who have home buying on their 2013 to-do lists. It’s the only way you can start understanding how to decipher the listings you see online into a reality-based set of expectations about a property. It’s also the best way to get indoctrinated deeply into the realities of what you get on your local market at various price points, and it’s the most impactful strategy for starting the process of negotiating compromises with your co-buyers.

8. Think hard about your deductions, if you’re self-employed.

In the wake of the recession, most mortgage guidelines for self-employed borrowers changed, so that your income for purposes of qualifying is assumed to be the average of your last two years’ Adjusted Gross Income, as reported on your federal income tax returns. That means lenders calculate your income after all your business-related and other deductions, not before.

So, yes, this does mean that maximizing your deductions may impact your ability to qualify for a home loan in 2013. But them’s the breaks – better to know this before you file your tax return, in the event it might change something about how you file. Loop your tax advisor, business bookkeeper and mortgage broker into your decision-making process about your 2012 taxes before filing, if you’re self-employed and plan to buy or refinance your home next year.

ALL: Whatever your 2013 goals are, I’ve put together some ‘gifts’ to help you get a head start: 12 lists of the best books, blogs and videos to make ANY change on your personal Resolution list. Click hereto follow my 12 Days of Transformation.


For more info on buying or selling a home please stop by our website at Http://LancasterPARealtor.com



This is a question that has been asked many times. I welcome every one to weigh in on this topic. Rule of thumb in Lancaster County, PA is as follows. The average cost per square foot to build is about $100.00 per square foot. for the home. Then you have to look at the cost of the land that your building the home on. This is a finished square foot price. Some builders will charge $75.00 per square foot to build if you’re pulling the permits and ordering the inspections. Other builders will charge up around $125.00 per square foot. Some builders use better materials than others on a home. Also the finishes can vary from builder to builder.

Some builders will use builder grade lighting. Builder grade lighting at Lowe’s is very cheap and in most cases only has one light bulb in it versus the same product that comes with a 2 bulb set up. Know your builder and know the quality of the builder that you pick. I have seen some builders that charge upwards of $200.00 per square foot to build a home. But those builders for the most part use a lot of stone on the out side of the home and high-end finishing.

Every one really needs to take the time and talk with a Realtor to recommend a trusted builder in your area. Realtor’s normally know what is going on with their builders in their local market. You can have a builder that builds a nice looking home but has all kinds of issues after the fact due to cutting corners on the build. You may not see or pick up on those issue in the first 5 years but then things start to change with the home and you suddenly start having all kinds of issue. Then it could be too late to go back after the builder. I have seen builders put insulation in homes for the inspection only to take it out after the inspection is over and take it to the next house and put it in there for that inspection. Close the walls up on the first home and move on. Insulation is not cheap but once the walls are closed up how do you know what you paid for is still there.

Bad builders from time to time will change their name. Or suddenly there wife owns the business or their new girl friend is the business owner. Don’t be put off if you have two sellers on a contract when buying new construction. Some times you have a builder and the land owner both on the contract. Other times you buy the home from the land owner and then the builder is just a line item on the hud 1 for building the home.

5 New Years Resolutions Your Clients Are Making Now

At this time of year, New Year’s Resolutions are on the front burner in many minds, and for those who are planning to buy and sell a home in 2013, real estate Resolutions rank right up there with the obligatory ‘lose 10 pounds,’ ‘take a trip to Paris’ and ‘call Mom once a week.’ But here’s the rub: the obvious overall Resolutions to ‘buy a home’ or ‘sell this house’ don’t give us the details we need to be able to target our marketing to magnetically attract these Resolution setters.

Rather, to market to 2013 buyers and sellers, we have to dive deep into their micro-Resolutions, if you will: the baby step goals they are putting on their lists of wildly important goals (WIGs) for this coming year. Let’s explore 5 of the micro-WIGS that 2013 buyers and sellers are setting for themselves this very moment, and how you can use them to position yourself as their go-to local agent. Buyers and Sellers Remember, the vast majority of sellers are moving on up, which means they’re planning to buy, too!

1. Save/find down payment money.

Both buyers and sellers are more concerned than ever about making sure they have enough down payment money to seal the deal. In fact, many are still operating under the mistaken impression that their only options are what they were at the bottom of the market: a high-closing cost FHA loan that will allow the low down payment of 3.5 percent or a 20% down conventional loan.

You can market to these folks by helping educate them that there are many other loan programs available now, including 5% and 10% down Conventional loans, and 80/10 programs which allow those with 10% down to get a mortgage without paying PMI. Also, consider co-marketing with a reputable mortgage broker or financial planner, or offering local first-time buyers access (via social media or seminars) to content like this post, which surfaces unconventional ways they might be able to gather up the cash they need to make a down payment.

2. Pay down/off credit card debt.

Financial goals like reducing or eliminating credit card debt generally fall into the top 10 resolutions set by Americans at large – and I’d take an educated guess that this goal is even more prevalent among buyers- and sellers-to-be.

If you send out a monthly client newsletter or your own resolution list includes starting a Trulia Voices blog, you can be sure to get the attention of 2013 buyers and sellers-in-the-making by posting content that supports their debt-reduction goals. Want a writing-light way to do this? How about curating and publishing your own list of credit-card debt-reducing blogs, websites, books or local resources, like non-profit credit counselors or support groups? Position yourself as the expert by adding your own strategic insights to make sure they don’t go overboard and make moves that can make it harder to qualify for a home loan, like closing out all their credit accounts or leaving everything with a zero balance.

3. Boost credit score.

Remember, many of the buyers and sellers who will be looking to make a real estate move this year are coming out of the near-universal financial crises of the recession era. They might have had a past bankruptcy or foreclosure, or a job loss which interrrupted their income temporarily, causing them to make a few late payments which brought down their credit score. And generally speaking, they are highly likely to

What can you do to market directly to those who are setting the baby step resolution to boost their credit score?

    • Co-market a credit score clinic with local mortgage broker, actually running credit scores, putting individualized action plans in place and briefing buyers about what sorts of local homes they can get before and after they do the recommended work
    • Place locally targeted ads in social or other media, positioning yourself as a specialist in helping those who need to boost their credit scores and get financially ready to buy a home.
    • Create educational articles, blog and social media posts:
      • Educating your local readers and followers on what their credit score really needs to be to qualify for a home loan – many will think the minimums are higher than they truly are.
      • Encouraging them to begin pulling their own reports and giving them some basic, credit-boosting action steps to follow, plus the link to the free, government-mandated reports at AnnualCreditReport.com.
      • Reaching out to your contact database and letting them know that you have resources for any of their friends and referrals who would like to buy but are worried about credit issues: you might be surprised at how many of your contacts will respond asking for help for themselves!

4. Foreclosure recovery.

Buyers Only

There is a burgeoning buyer sector made up of people who owned homes and lost them to foreclosure, and have been renting for the last few years until they were ready and able to buy again. This group can be a very desirable niche to work with, as many are cash flush from paying lower rents and they tend to be extremely motivated to get the privacy, lifestyle and tax advantages of home ownership back in their lives.

You can market to and reach these buyers by publishing ads, newsletters, blog posts and local newspaper articles about common lender foreclosure seasoning requirements, as well as common roadblocks and workarounds for buying a home after a foreclosure.

Sellers Only

5. Paint/carpet/landscape/remodel.

Most sellers will wait to work on the nitpicky staging projects until after they reach out to list their homes for sale. But many who have a 6-12 month time frame for sale are very well aware of some major projects they are assuming they’ll need to do to the property, and will move forward with them in advance of contacting agents for listing presentations.

If you farm a particular neighborhood, why not offer a Pre-Listing Property Preparation Consult in your monthly newsletter, email or postcards? Include a data point about how your listings (or well-prepped/staged homes in general) sell faster and for more than average. Then offer to come in as much as a year in advance and give sellers resources and a personal consult for getting their home ready to sell, including advice about what investments they shouldnot make and your own personal list of recommended, cost-effective vendors.

Chances are good that the agent that meets with sellers and gives sound strategic advice months in advance will have a major leg-up when it’s time to sign a listing agreement.

As real estate pros, it’s essential that we spend our spare time exploring what’s inside the mind of our prospective clients. How better to serve and satisfy their needs, as well as marketing to and for them? If you want to become a buyer or seller’s agent for life, understand their goals and Resolutions – at all times of year – and provide resources that assist them in realizing their aspirations. You’ll become a trusted advisor in multiple areas of their lives, as well as their undisputed go-to resource for all things real estate.

For more information on this topic and other please look at http://lancasterparealtor.com

Homes for Sale Ranch Raised Ranch or One Story Living

Rancher or Ranch Home

Ranchers come in two types of homes. One is commonly called a Rancher it is one story living and the home is setting flat one the ground. This is what most people think of when they think of a ranch home. The other, is called a Raised Ranch this is not a bi-level or a split level those homes are different then a raised rancher. Can you turn a Raised Rancher into a Bi-level or a Split Level home. Yes you could but why. A Rancher is more suet after then a bi-level or a split Level. What is a Raised Rancher? A raised rancher is just that raised. You are going to see the main front of the home in most raised ranchers are ground level with the yard like a rancher. But you will see the grade drop off to the back of the home most times you will see a built-in garage under one end of the home. Some times you will see a daylight basement with a walk out-door at ground level. Other times you will see the whole home setting higher than ground level. Have you ever see the homes at the ocean where they are on legs these, could be considered raised ranchers if they are only one story living.

What’s the Difference between a Raised Rancher and a bi-level or split level.

Well a Rancher you walk in the front door and there are no steps going up or down. You are living all on one floor. Your bedrooms and bathrooms and main living area are all one floor. Over the years some people may finish the basement of a Rancher to make more room or another bedroom or family room. A bi-level or split level when you walk in the front door your going to options. Yes options your walking up stairs or your walking down stairs. But you’re not walking in the front door to the main level you have to get there with one of your options. This means steps.

One Story Living

Thank you for stopping by to look at the options today on one story living. You can take a look at all the one story living types of homes with the links provided here. Also you can look by area for your next one story living home by click here. One story living does not mean only Rancher’s or Raised Rancher’s. You can have one story living in a condo or even a mobile home. There are quite a few options for one story living in Lancaster County PA.

7 Places Your 2013 Down Payment Might be Hiding

If buying a home is on your New Year’s Resolution list for 2013, know this: your biggest challenge will almost certainly be coming up with your down payment and closing costs.

Whether you’re trying to scrape by with 3.5 percent for an FHA loan or you’re planning to put down a full 20 percent, saving for a down payment might be the largest savings endeavor you ever undertake, after retirement planning.

But don’t let that daunt you. Look at it as more of a challenge or a game than a slow-slogging deprivation-driven chore. In fact, I suggest that you add something to your scrounging and saving: scavenging. Finding your down payment money hidden in resources that are right in front of you can be a fruitful and fun angle to take on an otherwise overwhelming goal.

Use this short list of oft-untapped down payment treasure troves to open your eyes to funds that might be hidden in plain sight:

1. Your budget’s biggest line items.

I like to get maximum bang for my buck. And I like to enjoy my life, too, so depriving myself of little luxuries without getting much mileage toward my goal is definitely low on my savings strategies list. But I’ve often found that if you take your top 10 or so monthly expenses, there are almost always at least one or two that you could slash significantly or totally do without, push come to shove: all without feeling as deprived as you would if you cut your daily coffee.

Home buying is one of those push-meet-shove-type situations. If you’re serious about coming up with your down payment funds, sit down during your holiday off-days, and backtrack over your monthly budget (if you have one) or your last month’s checking account statements. Isolate your top 10 budgetary line items and do an internal gut check on whether there is anything on this list that you can slash or eliminate.

If this seems obvious or silly to you, don’t scoff before you give it a chance. I have seen buyers do this exercise and decide to:

  • move home or to a cheaper place to eliminate rent
  • go from two cars to one to eliminate a car payment
  • cancel cable or switch cell phone service providers to get rid of a hundred bucks or more every month,

pressing fast-forward on their down payment savings and home buying plans by many months, even years.

2. Your bad habits. Have you heard yourself say – out loud or internally – I’ve got to stop:


  • drinking so much
  • eating out so much
  • eating so much junk
  • watching so much TV
  • drinking so many sugary coffee drinks
  • impulse shopping
  • OSUI: Online Shopping Under the Influence (it’s a real thing – I promise!)

– or anything in that vein? Well, each of these are bad habits that cost. And because they are often engaged in compulsively, they can cost much, much more over time than you have any idea you’re actually spending.

Again, far be it from me to suggest that someone who works hard every day shouldn’t treat themselves to a coffee or lunch here or there. The fact is, if you deprive yourself too severely, there’s a good chance your efforts to cut back and save will be very short-lived, and possibly even backlash into binging behavior. But if there’s a habit you’ve been wanting to change for health or other reasons that also costs you a pretty penny, you might find it easier to make those changes when you know you’re doing it in service of your vision of owning a home.

So, make a project of it. Figure out roughly what you’re spending on your bad habit, and set up an automatic saving transfer from your checking account into your down payment savings account. Then, get and leverage some habit-changing resources, like those at ChangeAnything.com or in one of my favorite books this year, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Then, when you feel the compulsion to engage in your bad habit, come to Trulia instead and peruse new listings in the price range and neighborhood of your own target dream home – that will help you stay on track by staying mindful of what’s really important.

3. Your stuff.

When you need to save money, there are really only two levers you can pull: you can spend less, or you can make more. Selling stuff you have and don’t use or need is a relatively painless way to make more money to go toward your down payment. If you’re really serious about home buying, put everything on the table.

I’ve known buyers-to-be who sold any and everything, including:

  • cars and motorcycles
  • clothes, costumes, shoes and handbags
  • hobby-related gear (bikes, tools and even costumes)
  • furniture and antiques
  • and electronics, CDs and even books (think: TVs, computers, old smart phones, etc.)

to fund their down payment and home buying-related debt elimination plans.

Don’t underestimate the amount of cash you can bring in from the stuff you already own. Millions of home owners worldwide are now renting out rooms or floors of their current homes for short periods of time on sites like Airbnb and VRBO. Sites like Getaround and Zimride allow you to rent out the extra seats in your car – or the whole vehicle, if you’re not too faint of heart!

4. Your skills and time.

One way to make more money, as discussed above, is to liquidate the things you have lying around. Another way is to get to work! Spend your off-time, your evenings and weekends leveraging your professional skills or personal hobbies to bring in some extra cash. A friend of mine recently had a savings target she was trying to reach and actually sent her whole circle of friends an email detailing (a) what she was selling and (b) what sorts of projects she was willing to do to get there – she earned well into the four figures, in less than a month.

Maybe you can sew or knit stuff to sell on Etsy, grow things in your backyard to sell at the farmer’s market or, like one enterprising Mom I know, use your baking and cake decorating skills to monetize your kids’ classmates’ birthday parties. Or maybe you’re more interested in cooking, house cleaning, babysitting or dog walking – in fact, another acquaintance of mine has earned thousands of “extra” dollars dog sitting while she works at home. If that sort of thing is not up your alley, think about whether you can help people you know with their small business projects, like research, bookkeeping or office organizing projects.

Once you get serious about coming up with your down payment cash and decide to be creative about where to find that money, using your skills and your time creatively is a power-packed way to open the financial floodgates. Consider starting out with a simple email to your circle of acquaintances or by listing your services on a site like TaskRabbit.

5. Your loved ones.

Some folks are fortunate enough to have cash-flush loved ones who would love nothing more than to help you have a home of your own. The best case scenario is to have some idea of what sort of gift money you can count on as far in advance as possible, as it will impact your own savings targets and your lender’s documentation requirements. If you have a parent, sibling or auntie who has mentioned their interest in giving you this sort of gift, it’s not bizarre to bring the subject up, express your gratitude and let them know that you’re planning to buy in 2013 so you can have a detailed conversation about logistics – including their financial, tax or estate planning pros, if it makes sense.

Alternatively, if your home buying plans are timed alongside your wedding plans, graduation plans or new baby due date, consider opening a down payment registry, so well-wishers can funnel their gift funds right into your real estate savings. For example, the federal Dpeartment of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allows small gifts to be combined in a single savings account and eliminates otherwise onerous gift money documentation requirements with the FHA Bridal Registry program, which is available around weddings and “other legitimate occasions where substantial gifts are typically received by an individual or individuals.”

Touch base with your lender and agent to see whether there are any registry programs that might make sense for your situation.

Finally, buyers who decide to team up with their BFFs, siblings, parents or other loved ones to buy a place they can jointly own and/or live in might be able to structure things so that they have to come up with less down payment money than they would otherwise – the co-buyer comes up with the rest! Think about whether this sort of arrangement might help you and your loved one accomplish your respective financial and real estate goals, in one fell swoop.

6. Your employer.

Believe it or not, some employers actually offer down payment and other forms of mortgage assistance to employees. In particular, universities and governmental agencies that employ first responders who are required to live locally for their jobs (e.g., police, fire and other emergency personnel) often have housing assistance programs that can include down payment funds or access to mortgage programs with lower down payment requirements.

Even if you don’t work for one of these sorts of agencies, if you are relocating for work, touch base with your HR department to find out whether there are any relocation benefits that can help you make up the difference between the cash you have and the down payment you need to make your move.

7. Your city, county or state.

What you’ve heard is true: there are few, if any, down payment assistance programs still available on a national level. But many states, counties and cities offer their own down payment assistance programs, which are generally available to folks falling into one or more of the following categories:

  • first-time buyers (people who haven’t owned a home in the area in the last 3 years)
  • buyers in low- or moderate-income brackets
  • or those buying homes in a particular part of town.

Your mortgage pro and real estate agent should be able to help you track down any such local programs applicable to you. In fact, this is one great reason to touch base with them at the beginning of your down payment savings adventure versus waiting until the end. But make sure you read up on the programs extensively before you decide to opt into one. Many of them run out of cash over the course of the year, so shouldn’t be counted on; others may require you to repay any assistance received if and when you sell or move – things you should keep in mind at the outset.

ALL: What creative or aggressive means did you or your clients take to get their down payment savings on the fast-track?

Fulton updated Mtg. Rates for 12/12/12 Home loans at there best.

Fulton updated Mtg. Rates for: 12/12/12

Conventional 30 year fixed FHA 30 year fixed

60 day lock period 60 day lock period

3.00% – 2.125pts 3.375% – 1.75 pts back

3.125% – .875pts 3.25% – 1.625 pts back

3.25% – .125pts 3.125% – .5 pts.


Conventional 15 year fixed 30 year Construction/perm

60 day lock period 180 day lock period

2.25% – 2.625pt 3.25% · 2.625 pts

2.5% – 1.25pt 3.5% 1.125 pts

2.750% – 0. pts 3.75% * 0 pts


Special Portfolio Products

15 year fixed 10/1 ARM 7/1 ARM 5/1 ARM

3.00 % 3.99% 3.49% 2.875%

Online Applications available at www.fultonmortgagecompany.com

Information provided is only for use by realtors and builders and is not intended for further distribution to any individual customer. Specific rate and product disclosures have been omitted. Please consult a Fulton Mortgage Company Loan Officer for further details. Rates are subject to change without notice.

If your looking for a loan to buy a home Fulton Mortgage Company is one of the most premier lenders in Lancaster County, PA. They carry every thing from a home loan to commercial lending. If your in need of a loan please look at our main page for a Fulton Bank Lender that is part of our VIP program. We have worked with each of our VIP lenders and know that you will get first class service. They strive to provide you with the best loan service one can provide. Once you use one of our VIP providers please let us know how it was. We only want to recommend the best. With your help we can help you buy and sell homes in Lancaster, PA with the best experience any one can provide. Take a look at all the homes for sale in Lancaster City on our website. Once the bank tells you what your qualified for stop by and look at homes for sale by price. We have listings broken down in price ranges like 0-100k, 100-200k or even 200-300k. You can find every home in Lancaster County listed for sale on our website. If you see it here it’s for sale unlike Zillow or Trulia. Find your next home with Lancaster PA Realtor’s today.

Home Mortgage update on bond pricing

Newsletter-December 10th, 2012

Remember you can all ways find more information at our website . Full access to the Local MLS for free.

Provided by
Robin Gamby

Robin Gamby
M&T Bank
2270 Erin Court
Lancaster, PA 17601
Phone: (717)391-8082
Fax: (866)439-8254
Cell Phone: (717)575-9032
E-Mail: rcgamby@mtb.com
Website: http://www.mandtmtg.com/rgamby

Market Comment

Mortgage bond prices finished the week lower pushing rates higher. The market was negative early Monday morning causing rates to spike. Fortunately the ISM Index data was weaker than expected and rates recovered later that day. Better than expected productivity data helped rates improve slightly Wednesday morning. Better than expected weekly jobless claims Thursday morning erased the small improvements from Wednesday. Jobless claims printed at 370K compared to the expected 380k mark. The employment report came in stronger than expected Friday morning, which caused a sharp spike in rates that morning. Mortgage interest rates finished the week worse by about 3/8 of a discount point.LOOKING AHEAD


Date & Time



Trade Data

Tuesday, Dec. 11,
8:30 am, et

$42b deficit

Important. Affects the value of the dollar. A falling deficit may strengthen the dollar and lead to lower rates.

3-year Treasury Note Auction

Tuesday, Dec. 11,
1:15 pm, et


Important. Notes will be auctioned. Strong demand may lead to lower mortgage rates.

10-year Treasury Note Auction

Wednesday, Dec. 12,
1:15 pm, et


Important. Notes will be auctioned. Strong demand may lead to lower mortgage rates.

Fed Meeting Adjourns

Wednesday, Dec. 12,
2:15 pm, et

No rate changes

Important. Few expect the Fed to change rates, but some volatility may surround the adjournment of this meeting.

Weekly Jobless Claims

Thursday, Dec. 13,
8:30 am, et


Important. An indication of employment. Higher claims may result in lower rates.

Retail Sales

Thursday, Dec. 13,
8:30 am, et

Up 1.3%

Important. A measure of consumer demand. Weakness may lead to lower mortgage rates.

Producer Price Index

Thursday, Dec. 13,
8:30 am, et

Up 0.1%,
Core up 0.2%

Important. An indication of inflationary pressures at the producer level. Weaker figures may lead to lower rates.

30-year Treasury Bond Auction

Thursday, Dec. 13,
1:15 pm, et


Important. Bonds will be auctioned. Strong demand may lead to lower mortgage rates.

Consumer Price Index

Friday, Dec. 14,
8:30 am, et

Down 0.1%

Important. A measure of manufacturing sector strength. Weakness may lead to lower rates.

Capacity Utilization

Friday, Dec. 14,
9:15 am, et


Important. A figure above 85% is viewed as inflationary. Weaker figure may lead to lower rates.

Low Rates

The direction of the global and US economies are in question and the world is facing another recession. The situation is complicated and has many moving parts with the Euro Crisis, an economic slowdown in China, unrest in the Middle East, the US debt ceiling, and the “fiscal cliff” fast approaching.

The good news is mortgage interest rates are currently near historic lows with the national average below 4%. Housing is showing signs of stabilizing and Fed Chairman Bernanke indicates a desire to keep rates low into the near future. Now is great time to take advantage of this low interest rate environment.

To unsubscribe, please hit “reply” and include unsubscribe in the subject line.

Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved. Mortgage Market Information Services, Inc. www.ratelink.com The information contained herein is believed to be accurate, however no representation or warranties are written or implied.

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Newsletter-December 10th, 2012


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Free Home Value Check CMA

Yes, we are now offering a free home value check.

This is not your mom’s zillow, z estimates or your dad’s trulia property value. This is the real deal a free full blown CMA (competitive market analysis). We take all the real information and look at the house based on the real market. So many times we get clients in that say well this house or that houses value is only 105,000 dollars that what it said on zillow’s z estimates or on trulia’s property value sheet.

Then we have to tell them that the person who owns the home really does not have the home on the market for sale and when they bought it 3 years ago they paid 245,000 for it. I don’t think they are going to sell it now for 105,000 dollars to you. So many times there are fake listings on zillow, trulia and the other third parties sites. This gets people thinking they should be able to buy the home down the street for a fraction of what it really is worth.

Other times these third party sites tell people that are looking to sell there homes that they are worth thousands more then they really are. Sure you can sell your 150,000 dollar home for 250,000 dollars at some point just not this year.

So if your looking to sell your home or your in the market to buy a home. Fill in our Free Home Value sheet and we will email you a real value for your home.

Buyers beware

Most home buyers in today’s market are not working with full time Realtor’s or there working for some chop show back office company to buy there home. If you are working with a full time Realtor, he or she should be able to do a CMA on a home for you prior to you putting in an offer.

Don’t Rely on the Appraisal

Appraisers don’t want to see you loose out on buying a home. So they many times ask for a copy of the contract and they come up with an appraisal that is or just over the buying price of the home. Your agent should not be giving the Appraiser a copy of the contract you need to know the real number not a number that looks good. Your going to sell the home some time in the future don’t you want to know your not over paying for it now.

Seller’s beware

Seller’s I know it will cost you a few dollars but have an appraisal done on your listing. This does two things. First you know what the real home value is if your Realtor did not do a good job of coming up with comps. Second you can show this off to prospective home buyers so they know that the home is really worth the price your asking. Why is this an issue. How many times in today’s market do you hear some one is looking for a steal of a deal. They offer people 20,000 thousand dollars less then the asking price and then asking for 6% seller help on top of it. Sell your home for what it’s worth. Geat your investment back out of your home that you put in. Don’t be cheap get a full blown FHA appraisal done on the home. Why, you will know what repairs will be needed to pass an FHA inspection Appraisal you will have time when the home is listed to do those repairs. This way some one does not come in and ask for xyz and the sun to be done and you get negotiated into doing all this. You have it in your hand my home with worth x repairs needed are y I am selling it for no less then Z. Does this not make you feel better.

Don’t forget to get a fee CMA (competitive market analysis) for your home to sell or if your thinking of buying a home we can help you get the real value.

6 Effects the Holidays Have on Your Local Real Estate Market

We generally think of the holiday season as causing explosions of bad (if sweet) sweaters, creating waistline expansion and snowballing into bank account shrinkage. But there are loads of less obvious implications of the holidays – both good and bad – in every area of life.

For example, I recently read that household energy use spikes almost 39 percent in December (bad), due to holiday lighting (good) and baking (good) and all the extra time we run the furnace for our holiday guests (good).
Depression and alcohol use go up, but so does charitable giving. Stress goes up, but so do acts of kindness.

What if we applied that same, balanced eye to understanding the effects the holidays are likely to have on your local real estate market and – by translation – on your personal real estate endeavors at this time of year?

Let’s do just that – here are a few holiday market impacts you should factor into your plans and expectations:

1. Your home’s online marketing becomes uber-important.

Let’s face it – buyers are busy around the holidays. And even where the weather is relatively mild, like here in California, they would rather not spend their warm-and-fuzzy holiday moments traipsing in and out of the rain to view homes that aren’t worth it. Further, the holiday season is the time of year in which buyers are the most likely to visit friends and family member’s homes in neighborhoods they’re not familiar with.

That means two things about holiday home buyers:

  • they are more severe than at other times of year when it comes to weeding out properties they might want to see in person, based on their online listings, and
  • they are more likely to rely on smartphone apps to explore neighborhoods that are new to them – and to investigate the homes for sale in these new areas.

All this has important implications for sellers: it’s more important now than ever that your home ‘shows’ beautifully online (with ample, accurate photos), and that it is priced and described in a way which makes it appeal to buyers as a good value for the money, compared with the other homes that are likely to come up in the same internet search as yours.

Collaborate with your agent to make sure that you’re both happy with how your home is being reflected online, both on its own and by comparison with other listings that your target buyers are likely to peruse. Fortunately, if you can get the listing to a place where you feel great about how your home is listed on Trulia.com, it will automatically show up the same way on the very popular Trulia mobile apps.

2. Wet weather surfaces property problems.

Home inspectors can and do a whole lot to help buyers avoid post-closing surprises in property condition. Wet weather helps inspectors, buyers and sellers, for that matter, see things they otherwise wouldn’t. Roof leaks, drainage issues, flood-prone basements and pump problems are all evident in inclement weather in a way they simply are not in the summer time.

Seeing and selling a home when the weather is bad lets all parties involved be certain that everyone is on the same page about the home’s condition before closing, or that needed repairs are negotiated and/or completed on a timeline that makes sense for everyone involved.

3. Competition falls.

If you’re a buyer who has been frustrated by multiple offers all year, you’re in luck. Because of holiday season weather, parties, dinners, travels and the like, there are a number of buyers out there who flat out press pause on their house hunts until the New Year. That means that if you go contrarian and stay in the game, you’re less likely to run into as many multiple offer scenarios this time of year.

And this competition-reducing impact also happens on the seller side: if you’ve had a hard time getting your home seen amidst a crowded field of similar listings earlier this year, the holidays create a great opportunity to position your home as a standout. Some sellers will slow down on showings during the holidays, and a few will even put their listings on hold until 2013. So the sellers who keep their homes on the market and keep them priced, staged and marketed aggressively over the next month have a better chance than at any other time of year of attracting buyers to come see and make an offer on their homes.

4. Motivation spikes.

When less motivated folks of both persuasions put their plans on hold until New Year’s, net motivation levels on both sides automatically go up. That leaves only the people who are truly ready and committed to make a move still actively in the game.

But some members of this already highly-motivated population will see the year’s end as a psychological closure mark, and get even more serious about house hunting, Open Houses and even negotiating in order to be done with as much of the work of the home buying or selling process as possible before the end of the year (even though escrow won’t close until 2013).

When everyone active in the marketplace is highly motivated, it’s good for all sides. Sellers will only have their holidays disrupted by buyers who are serious about making offers, and buyers might find sellers more receptive to their offers than they did earlier in the year. Additionally, both parties may find that negotiations are a bit less likely to get stuck on small, nitpicks and more likely to be furthered by a spirit of collaboration and cooperation now than at any time of year.

That’s just what happens when everyone involved is ready and highly motivated to move forward.

5. Halls are decked.

In many areas, homes and neighborhoods are decked to the nines at this time of the year — decorated, lit and shown off to their very best advantage. This is the case, not only aesthetically, but also in terms of social and community events. This is a great time of year for buyers to evaluate how developed an area’s offerings are in terms of social, recreational and cultural events – or not.

Almost every town’s or neighborhood’s news outlets and blogs are running a steady calendar of local events at this time of year. If you’re in the process of vetting an area to see whether it might be a good fit, or are trying to get a better sense of the neighborhood flavor of a few different districts around town, compare them against each other. Consider showing up to a few holiday-time local events to feel the area and your prospective future neighbors out.

6. Willpower wanes.

Behavioral economists have called out a phenomenon called ego depletion, based on findings that if you are hungry, tired or have depleted your willpower by exercising it to, say, stay on a diet or spending plan, you are more likely to splurge or make an impulsive decision in another area. This is a critical insight for buyers, who may be trying to keep strict controls on their holiday indulgences in food, drink and gift shopping, causing them to have less self-control – neuropsychologically speaking – when it’s time to make conservative financial decisions about what to offer or spend for their home.

Take care to avoid house hunting – online or off – at the end of a long, holiday festivity-laden day or week, when you’re already tired or hungry. In fact, so long as your agent lets the listing agent know that you’re preparing an offer (just to make sure the home doesn’t get snatched out from under you), it’s not a bad idea to do a pre-offer check-in with your mortgage pro, before submitting it, or even to sleep on your offer price and terms before you send the offer out in the morning.

ALL: What do you see happening in your local market right now? How are the holidays changing your personal plans – or not – when it comes to buying or selling?

Top Searched School District Solanco

Yes, as of this week Solanco School District has been search more times then Penn Manor School District.

For some time now the Penn Manor School District has been the number one search school district search in Lancaster County from our website. As of today Solanco School District has taken that title as number one search school district search in Lancaster County.

One would think that would mean Penn Manor is now the number 2 most search school district from our website in Lancaster County. To that I say one would be wrong as of this week Donegal School District has taken the number two spot for most search homes in Lancaster County. Then we have Cocalico School District that moved in to the 3rd most search School District in Lancaster County from our website. In 4th place this week after setting on top for a few weeks we have Penn Manor School District.

Why would Penn Manor School District fall to 4th place in searches from our website this week. Well I think that Penn Manor School District has held a very strong price point in our market for some time. I think we are in that point of the year where people or buyers are looking for some crazy deal. Penn Manor School District has always offered great homes at a very reasonable price. Plus the taxes and other cost in Penn Manor School District have stayed very reasonable for the past few years. This has allowed many people to sell their homes for a very fair price and keep their shirt. As we turn in to the end of the year people are now moving looking for a great big steal in the price and for the most part they are not finding that in Penn Manor.

Home buyers are now starting to look in other School Districts to find what they think is a steal for a home price. But what are they finding. Well they’re finding that yes they may get a better price on the home that they find in some of the other School Districts but there not getting as much home and there not really looking at that. They are looking at what the home sold for 4 – 8 years ago for and what they can buy it for today. These homes are being sold for a little loss in some of these other school districts but what they are not thinking of. Taxes until they get their payment from the bank. Yes you heard it. That 2200 dollar tax bill from Penn Manor just turned into 5100 in some of these other school district. The house price is a steal but there paying through the noise with the taxes.

Why do you think these other school district are loosing home values. Well if you can by a 2,000sq ft home in one area with low taxes for one price that has held for some time. That is where most people shop. Then when you’re looking at an area where that same home would cost 40,000 dollars more with 2 or 3 times that tax’s over the past few years people have chosen the cheaper homes with the lower taxes. Now those higher priced homes are lowering their prices to sell them and we hit the point in the market where buyers could not find a deal for a few months. With the lower prices and the z estimates that people have come to love from Zillow. They think they are getting a deal paying 20 – 30 thousand dollars less for that home it may take 4-10 years for their price to go back up to that price point that they where thinking they where getting a deal on. At the end of the day they hit the bank for the loan and find out that they where getting the home for 5,000 dollars cheaper than they could have in Penn Manor School District they are all happy. Till the bank, the 5k price saved them about 40 bucks a month on their payment but the taxes added 240.00 dollars a month to their payment due to the increase in taxes.

They will be back, Penn Manor and the other school districts that have help their taxes down to a manageable level for the average person will see the increase soon. I think it may take the winter but we will see Penn Manor back on top for the most search school district in the future.

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with a school district that charges you 400 to 800 a month for taxes for an average home. But we are in a time of recovery we are all watching our money. That is why buyers more than ever are looking at the z estimates from Zillow to see what their home value is. Friend this is not a true number for most homes in Lancaster County. In most cases it’s some what close but not 100%. In the coming few weeks we will be rolling out a home cost program. Yes you will have to give real information so a real estimate can be done on a home value but it will be free. This will be done by real agents that will use real comps and real home values to give you a real average cost for you home.

Check back in the coming weeks at http://lancasterparealtor.com for our new home cost page.

From Stale to Sold: 5 Ways to Revitalize Your Listings

Homes for Sale in Lancaster County Get a big kick in sales.

Even though the housing market is getting back on track, most listings still aren’t instantly flying off the market. While we all know price is one of the most important factors in the sale of a home, there are other factors they can improve the saleability of your listings.

Here are a few tips to get that stale listing sold plus a handy download designed just for sellers.

1. Offer incentives or alternative financing options

Incentives can make a big difference for buyers who are stretching to find the down payment to buy a home or who may be sitting on the edge of loan limits. Seller incentives such as paying for closing costs, inspections, or repairs, or providing allowances or credits for home upgrades after closing can make a big difference to home buyers short on cash. Other alternatives could include pre paying taxes, homeowners dues and insurance. Consider offering buyer incentives to encourage on the fence buyers to take action on your listing.

2. Make it accessible

Take a hard look at the accessibility of a home. Today’s home buyer is impatient. They want to see homes and they want to see them now. Make sure your listings are simple and easy to show. Carl Medford, an agent with Prudential California Realty in the San Francisco Bay Area believes home accessibility is the #1 reason homes don’t sell. “If we can’t get in, we can’t show the house. If we can’t show the house, we can’t sell it. We frequently end up showing less than six homes because we can’t get access to homes on the list.”

3. Expose it- everywhere!

We are often surprised by the number of homes with property addresses undisclosed on the internet. It’s no secret homebuyers are looking on the internet for homes, make sure they can easily find it. Two popular search filters we see prospective homebuyers using on Trulia.com are filters for listings with open houses and filters for listings with price reductions. Want more eyeballs on your listings? Make sure they are updated weekly on popular real estate search sites like Trulia and Craigslist and be sure to list your open home times to get the max exposure for your listings. Want more info? Check out 3 free ways to rank higher on Trulia.

4. Refresh your photos

Today’s homebuyer spends a lot of time online. As your listing becomes stale, so do the property photos. Consider retaking the photos, especially if seasons have changed. If taking new photos is out of the question, you may want ot consider changing up the order your photos display online to give it a fresh appearance for web browsing buyers. Many agents start their photos with a picture of the front of the house when they would be better served displaying the huge backyard or the amazing chef’s kitchen.

5. Put some zing in your marketing copy

In addition to stale photos, your marketing copy may be putting prospective buyers to sleep. “Check out my 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in a great location.” Yawn. Add some zing to your headlines and descriptions to draw the attention of homebuyers. Your marketing copy needs to tell a story that appeals to the people most likely to buy your listing. Your copy can get old too. Simply freshening it up frequently is a good way to capture more attention to your listings.

It’s your turn- what other tips do you use to move your listings?

Office Furniture Outlet & Second Saturday Art Gallery is sponsoring a benefit event for Human Life Services

Office Furniture Outlet &
Second Saturday Art Gallery
is sponsoring a benefit event for
Human Life Services
Office Furniture Outlet
519 N. Franklin Street
York, PA 17403
Baby Needs
 Formula—Good Start (orange can) or Simi-lac (blue can)
 Baby Wipes
 Diaper Bags
 Dreft Laundry Deter-gent
 Crib Sheets
 Baby Thermometers
 Baby Nail Clippers
 Baby Lotion
 Baby Shampoo
 Baby Wash
 Diapers—NB’s. 3’s, 4’s, 5’s, 6’s (only sizes listed please)
 New Born Sleepers/Gowns
 Infant Clothing Pree-mie to 12 months
 Hooded Towels
 Burp Cloths
 Gift Card (Walmart or Target)
 Baby Cornstarch (no powder, please)
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to the PUBLIC.
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8 Remedies for Real Estate Remorse

With a transaction as large as a home purchase, experiencing some level of remorse is par for the course. Whether you’re already suffering from it, or trying to avoid it, these remedies should help.

1. Envision the life you want to live after you close the deal, then write it down.

Before you get too far into the weeds, write down exactly what sort of lifestyle you are trying to create—financially and otherwise—by starting this process. Include wants, needs, deal-makers and deal-breakers. Then, re-examine the list periodically, and be sure to compare it against a home you’re in contract to buy before removing contingencies.

2. Ask: “How does this decision make me feel?”

Approaching real estate decisions only from a place of logic can lead you to reason your way into something that isn’t right for you. Always ask yourself how the idea of living in a particular home makes you feel. Often, your intuition provides the best clue to the right decision—one that won’t result in remorse after the fact.

3. Manage your mindset.

If you hated everything about renting, and now everything about owning makes you crazy, you might be guilty of thinking the grass is always greener on the other side. Cut it out. If you want to change the way you feel, practice gratitude by jotting down things you’re thankful for. Seeing all you have written out in front of you makes it much difficult to dwell in regret and discontent.

4. Recognize hypotheticals as hallucinations.

Hypotheticals, by definition, are the opposite of what’s real. So thinking about how much less you could’ve paid is nothing but fantasy, and it won’t change a thing about your real-life situation.

5. Have difficult conversations during the deal.

If you normally avoid negotiations or money talk, do yourself (and your finances) a favor: speak up if something doesn’t look right on your contract or you don’t understand the loan paperwork. Then ask, and keep asking, until it’s fixed or you do understand.

6. Sit still before you start the demolition.

Remorse often comes when homeowners start remodeling a place too soon. Best practice is to live in a place for a few months first, observing the natural light, noise, traffic, and even how your family uses the space in the home before you start tearing down walls and turning windows into French doors.

7. Do your own numbers first.

Remorse that stems from getting in too deep financially is often a result of taking someone else’s word about your finances. Go into the buying process knowing exactly what your max monthly expenses should be, rather than expecting someone else to figure it out for you.

8. Resolve the regret systematically.

If you’re remorseful over your home purchase, stop wallowing and start acting. Systematically list the things that are driving you nuts, get clear on all your options, and then take the steps you’ve outlined to improve your situation. You might not change your mind overnight, but conquering your list, bit by bit, can eventually turn your house into a home you love.

5 Confessions of a First-Time Home Buyer

I know a lot about real estate – now. But when I bought my very first home, I knew nothing about real estate and hadn’t even starting working in the field. In fact, I was like any other brand-new home buyer out there: fired-up, overeager and completely uninitiated.

So, I made a mistake or two. Or twelve, give or take. Many of these were mistakes I didn’t even realize I’d made until a few years down the line. Fortunately for me, none of my first-time home buying mistakes were disastrous – and fortunately for you, I’m going to share them here, so you don’t have to repeat them!

Here are five lessons I learned in the course of buying my first home, so all you first-timers don’t have to. (Agents and homeowners, please share your lessons in the comments, too!)

Confession #1:

I would never have found my house searching in what I thought was my price range. I started my house hunt pretty clear on what price range I should be searching in, based on what I could afford and how much my lender said I was qualified to borrow. Then, as buyers are wont to do, I began to inch my search price range upwards, looking at homes listed above what I could afford in hopes that I could find a higher-priced (read: better) home, then negotiate my way back down to my target price range.

In one way, this strategy worked: tweaking my price range upward opened up a number of new properties that I’d never seen before. Unfortunately, the market climate was then very similar to what it’s like now – in my area, it was very common, at the time, for the better homes to get somewhere between 3 and 10 offers. So, I would make an offer on a listing priced slightly above my max, and not only could I not bring the seller down, the home would actually sell for more than it was listed for.

In the end, I tweaked my home search price range a bit below where I’d been looking before, and voila – that opened up lots of new properties, too. But these were properties where I could be very competitive, even against other buyers, at offer prices well within what was affordable to me. One of these lower-priced homes, in fact, turned out to become my home.

The upshot: If property pickings seem slim, tweak the price range you’re using to search for homes – in both directions.

Confession #2:

I had to learn to walk a fine emotional line. Here’s the deal – at the time, my home was the biggest purchase I had ever made – by far. I was a lawyer, so I’d worked on some major transactions, but still – we were talking about the place where I’d live every day, the place for which I’d be writing what then seemed like a whopping check every month, the place where my kids would grow up, for Pete’s sake! So, I wanted to get it right, like every first-time buyer does.

At first, I did not want to even consider making an offer on a place unless I found everything about it to be utterly breathtaking. I mean, I wanted the place to literally sweep me off my feet, sing me a love song and woo me with rose petals before I’d even give it the time of day.

And I saw homes that did – they seemed perfect. To me and, apparently, to every other buyer in the greater East Bay area, that is: the places I loved beyond all reason ended up being the subject of 10, 15, even 18 offers.

At the same time, my agent showed me this dumpy little house that just did not do it for me. Someone from another era and with a decidedly different design aesthetic than mine had lived there, for sure: there were actually rooms wallpapered – wallpapered! – with roses, bows and kittens. And there was what I liked to call “puke green” shag carpet all over the place. But the layout and neighborhood were nice, it had panoramic Bay Views and hints of hardwood could be seen in the closets.

But my agent showed me this place at least three times, and at some point, something clicked in my head. I started to be able to visualize how things *could* be in that home, after some work. Eventually, I bought this house – because it showed so poorly, as a listing, I had zero competition and was able to get it for a song. (It’s the Bay Area, so it was a big, long song, but much less than I’d expected to spend.)

And even more eventually, it became more beautiful and much lovelier to live in than I’d ever imagined it could. But that only happened after much more work, much more money and much more time than I’d ever expected. Without the vision for what could be, I’d have certainly gotten discouraged at some point along the way.

So, yes – it is important to fall in love, before you pull the home buying trigger. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be with the property in precisely its present condition. Ultimately, I realized that your love for either the home or for your vision of the life you could realistically live in that home someday are equally solid foundations for making an offer on a property. At the same time, I learned, it is foolhardy and exhausting to get so emotionally attached to a home that you overextend yourself trying to get it, or have a hard time moving on to the next listing if you are ouitbid.

It’s a fine emotional line, but one that you have to learn to walk.

The upshot: Don’t make an offer unless you’re excited about the home – as it is now, or as it could be. But don’t get too excited until after you’re in contract and past the inspections and appraisal.

Confession #3:

A “free” agent is the most effective sort. Allow me to be frank: I’ve been called bossy. I know what I like, what I don’t like and how to get it – in every sort of situation. I know the keywords that have proven success getting me exactly what I want from every vendor: from the tailor to the vet to the over-the-phone order taker at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant (“A number 64, please; no tomatoes – pause while they find the “no tomatoes” button; no onions – pause while they find the “no onions” button; substitute shrimp for the tofu. Thanks!”)

Here’s what I found out: buying a home is simply not like placing an order. And working with a real estate agent is not like working with any other sort of salesperson. Rather, working with a great agent is like a hybrid experience of working with an expert salesperson who intimately knows their inventory and the ins-and-outs of how to make a deal, and working with an expert advisor like a CPA or an attorney, who you pay specifically for their advice, insight and expertise at complex topics that you know little or nothing about.

My agent showed me that little ugly kitty wallpapered house first. Then he showed me the places I wanted to see, we made offers, and I didn’t get any of them. Then he showed me the puke green carpeted house again. And then again. And eventually, I could see what he saw: the massive untapped value. The huge potential. The sound investment and the great place to live that this home ultimately represented for my family.

And so it was that I learned this: if you trust your agent, give them the freedom to show you things that may not fit inside the little, precisely defined box of what you think you want. I’ll go even further – give your agent the freedom to show you things that you don’t think you’d like. Then have a dialogue: ask them to help you see what they see – ask them to make the case for why you should consider the property. And stay open to seeing things through their eyes – that sort of flexibility can open up whole new realms of possibilities and properties. (And if you don’t trust your agent, you’re just working with the wrong one. There are plenty out there worthy of your trust.)

The upshot: Stay as flexible as you can, as long as you can. Keep your deal-breakers and must-haves to a minimum to get maximum benefit from your agent’s expertise.

Confession #4:

I didn’t do my due diligence. Now, I was no idiot: I went to all the inspections, read all the reports, asked all the questions. Yet and still, I missed things – a couple of big things. I’d been told my new home, which was in an unincorporated area between two towns, was in the school district of the closest town – which was a very desirable district. But I didn’t actually call the district to verify this and, as a result, my kids spent a year taking two buses to get to the not-so-great schools of the district we were actually in before I pulled them out and spent a small fortune on private schooling for a number of years.

Further, as I became friendly with the neighbors after I moved in, they asked me how I’d felt about the “tragedy” that had taken place in the property before I moved in, and expressed admiration for my bravery at buying the place. I had no idea what they were talking about, did some digging and found that someone had tragically killed themselves in the home not long before I bought it.

Were these lapses in the legally required disclosures? You bet: the seller absolutely had a legal obligation to make accurate and complete disclosures on both these points, and didn’t. More importantly, though, these were both things that I could have uncovered quickly myself by simply calling the school district and doing an online Google search for the property’s address (the unfortunate death had been covered in the news which was just starting to be available online). And I didn’t. But that was the last time I ever made those mistakes!

The upshot: Hire the pros for your inspections and such, but ultimately, due diligence is a dish best served DIY (do it yourself).

Confession #5:

I didn’t know what was really important to me. I thought square footage, good views, safety and quiet were all criticaI. I insisted those items were deal breakers – and got them. I also wanted a big yard for the kids, fantastic views and a good commute to a wide variety of areas, but these were a little lower down on my priority list.

In retrospect, I can say that I definitely missed the mark on a number of other things. I thought a safe, quiet neighborhood was great – something off the beaten path. I thought an area with no rowdy school kids around would be ideal for the serenity I sought. So, I bought a home in a neighborhood filled with retired couples, some of whom I still count as dear friends, high on a hilltop with stunning views. I thought I’d be so delighted to take my kids and dog to the park to play that I’d rather have lovely views than a backyard.

Unfortunately, “off the beaten path” translated to “really far from the nearest Trader Joe’s.” And no noisy kids meant that my own kids had no neighborhood friends. Before we even made it to the next autumn, the aging population cause the powers that be to shutter the nearest schools, so we had to bus the kids two towns over to get to our “local” elementary school. And before long, I started my own business, having zero time to take kids or canine to the park, so all of my little monsters spent much more time indoors than I would have liked.
Needless to say, my next home was on a quiet street, just a few blocks away from a bustling shopping district, near the kids’ school – and it had a big backyard, a much more diverse age mix of neighbors and a dog park at the end of the block.

The upshot: Cultivate clarity about your vision for your life, rather than just the specs of the home you think you want, before you start your house hunt.

The other upshot: Whatever you dislike about your home (and there will be something) you’ll have a chance to correct the next go-round.

All: What lessons would you like to share with those buying a home for the first time around? Fess up!