Weekly Mortgage Update

Jesse Storm Realtor

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, which pushed rates slightly higher. Stocks rallied Tuesday, which pressured mortgage bonds. Retail sales rose 0.1% in January as expected. Industrial production fell 0.1% and capacity utilization printed at 79.1. Expectations were for production to increase 0.2% and utilization to remain unchanged at 78.9. That data was mixed and caused very little market movement. Consumer sentiment printed at 76.3. Traders were expecting consumer sentiment to fall 0.3 to 73.5. That data was stronger than expected. Consumer sentiment is an important gauge of future spending from households. In the US, consumer spending accounts for roughly 2/3’s of GDP. Unfortunately most rates finished the week unchanged to 1/8 of a discount point higher.



Date & Time



Housing Starts

Wednesday, Feb. 20,
8:30 am, et


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

Producer Price Index

Wednesday, Feb. 20,
8:30 am, et

Up 0.2%,
Core up 0.1%

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

Fed Minutes

Wednesday, Feb. 20,
2:00 pm, et


Important. Details of the last Fed meeting will be thoroughly analyzed.

Weekly Jobless Claims

Thursday, Feb. 21,
8:30 am, et


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

Consumer Price Index

Thursday, Feb. 21,
8:30 am, et

Up 0.3%,
Core up 0.2%

Important. A measure of inflation at the consumer level. Lower than expected increases may lead to lower rates.

Existing Home Sales

Thursday, Feb. 21,
10:00 am, et


Low importance. An indication of mortgage credit demand. Significant weakness may lead to lower rates.

Philadelphia Fed Survey

Thursday, Feb. 21,
10:00 am, et


Moderately important. A survey of business conditions in the Northeast. Weakness may lead to lower rates.

Leading Economic Indicators

Thursday, Feb. 21,
10:00 am, et

Up 0.3%

Important. An indication of future economic activity. Weakness may lead to lower rates.

10-year Treasury TIPS Auction

Thursday, Feb. 21,
1:15 pm, et


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

Producer Price Index

The producer price index is a measure of prices at the producer level and is important because it is the first inflation report to be released each month. Investors are typically able to gain an initial indication of inflationary pressures from the release. If producer prices are increasing, there is a tendency for producers to pass the increases on to consumers in the form of higher priced goods. It is important to note that PPI is only a measure of goods, while the consumer price index is a measure of goods and services. It is possible for the price of goods to remain stable, while the price of services increases. In this scenario PPI would do little to warn of a change in inflationary pressures, while the CPI report would provide an indication of the inflationary effects of the service component. This distinction between the two reports shows why most analysts view the CPI as a more accurate indicator of inflation. Nevertheless, market participants still gain valuable insight into potential volatility in the financial markets from the PPI release. Be cautious heading into the inflation data this week.

Stop by Http://stormteamrealestate.com for more updates

The ASHI Experience When You Have WIN Home Inspection At Your Side

When you call WIN Home Inspection, you get


Matthew Steger, Owner/Inspector, is an ASHI Certified Inspector meets the rigorous requirements to be a provider of “The ASHI Experience”, a professional home inspection that combines the highest technical skills with superior customer service. We strive for 100% customer satisfaction and we measure this via a customer satisfaction survey provided to the client. Matthew has more than 10 years experience inspecting thousands of homes in Lancaster, Dauphin, and Lebanon Counties. He is also an engineer. We take the time to fully and clearly explain any issues with the client.

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is North America’s oldest and most respected professional society of home inspectors. ASHI sets the mark for the highest inspection standards among national home inspector organizations and also is the only national home inspector association with an accredited certification program.


WIN Home Inspection provides:

1. A thorough & complete home inspection that’s easy to read & understand (w/ digital photos);

2. A Free 90 day limited Home Warranty and a Free Appliance RecallChek;

3. The proper perspective for each home inspected (non-alarmist);

4. Preventive maintenance recommendations to help the buyer better protect their new investment;

5. After-hours ordering and phone support to answer your questions, and;

6. Risk-Free Referral (your liability is lowered since you are covered under our E&O insurance).


Give WIN Home Inspection a try and find out why “We See More. Clearly.”


Print this email and give it to your next client to save them $40 off a Home Inspection/Termite Inspection Combo! (offer expires 31 December 2012)


Call 717-361-9467 or check us out at www.winhomeinspectionelizabethtown.com

Matthew Steger
WIN Home Inspection – “We See More. Clearly.”

Phone: 717-361-9467
Web: www.winhomeinspectionelizabethtown.com
Email: msteger@wini.com
2133 Andrew Avenue
Elizabethtown, PA 17022

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Copyright 2012 WIN Home Inspection

Help Your Seller Clear Out The Clutter

Jesse Storm Realtor

In a perfect world, every home seller would be a neat freak and have their house in immaculate condition. Sadly, that’s rarely true. So here are a few ideas you can use to help your seller improve the overall look and feel of their home, which will help it sell even faster.

KitchenThere’s nothing worse than watching a buyer opening a kitchen drawer that’s cluttered and seemingly dirty. Thankfully, drawer organizers offer a simple solution that will help make silverware and other items look much more appealing.You might also want to consider having your home seller attempt to tame the mess created by unorganized plastic containers. As for those random items cluttering open shelves, try stashing them in rattan baskets.

Kid’s room.

Fight the urge to remind parents how important it is to teach their kids to clean up their room and suggest putting those toys strewn across the room into something like a wicker or canvas basket with lid. While you’re at it, consider storing out of season clothing underneath the bed to make the closets spacious.

Living room.

Despite good intentions, covering a coffee table with magazines and other items rarely has the desired effect. Instead, it can come across as unkempt and become a turnoff for potential buyers. The good news is a simple ceramic or wicker tray can be a great home for items like this and provide eclectic appeal.

Master bedroom

Besides the obvious tips like making the bed, opening the blinds for natural light, and cleaning the floors, keep an eye out for things like cluttered dresser or night stand surfaces. Hanging organizers are a great solution for this particular plight as they can store plenty of items while remaining out of sight.

Be sure to also take a look inside the closets. If you’re staring at an unsightly pile of mismatched shoes of every style imaginable, suggest an expanding tiered shoe rack. This simple step will keep the closet looking organized, and more importantly, expansive.

American Home Shield is providing the information for general guidance only. Due to the general nature of the property maintenance and improvement advice in this material, neither American Home Shield Corporation, nor its licensed subsidiaries assumes any responsibility for any loss or damage which may be suffered by the use of this information.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Avoidance and Prevention

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Avoidance and Prevention
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas produced by the combustion of fuels such as natural gas, oil, and propane in mechanical unit including furnaces, water heaters, and stoves. These items are normally designed to vent the CO to the outside, but harmful interior levels of CO can result from incomplete combustion of fuel, improper installation, or blockages, leaks or cracks in the venting systems. Very high levels of CO can lead to incapacitation or death, with victims sometimes never having been aware they were being poisoned.Homeowners can take action against potential carbon monoxide poisoning by taking the following steps:

Have all fuel-burning appliances professionally inspected annually, preferably before the start of the cold-weather season when heaters and furnaces are first used.
These appliances include gas stoves and ovens, furnaces and heaters, water heaters, generators, and clothes dryers.
All such units should be properly installed and safely vented to the outside.
If repairs are necessary, be sure they are performed by a qualified technician.
Always use the proper fuel specified for the unit.
Have flues and chimneys for fuel-burning fireplaces or wood stoves inspected regularly for cracks, leaks, and blockages that may allow a buildup of CO to occur.
Never use gas stoves or ovens as a home heating source, even temporarily.
Do not idle a vehicle in a garage, even with the garage door open. When starting the car, open the garage door, start the engine, and drive out as soon as possible to prevent dangerous CO emissions from accumulating.
For additional protection, purchase a CO detector (either battery operated or plug-in) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper location and installation. Installation of working CO detectors in residential properties is now required by law in many areas.
Learn what to do if the CO alarm activates: if anyone in the home experiences symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, or confusion, everyone should leave immediately and seek medical attention. If the alarm sounds but no symptoms are felt, open doors and windows immediately and shut off all fuel-burning devices that may be potential sources of CO.

Your local Pillar To Post office looks forward to serving real estate professionals and homeowners all year round. Contact us today!

  • The Pillar To Post Inspection Report can be generated on site at the completion of the inspection, so your client won’t have to wait for the results.
  • All Pillar To Post inspectors carry E&O insurance to protect you, the referring agent.
  • As North America’s leading home inspection company, Pillar To Post is committed to providing the highest quality service to real estate professionals and their clients.
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Inspection includes a comprehensive computerized report that can be delivered on site. Limit one coupon per inspection. Not valid with any other offer. Coupon must be presented at time of inspection.
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For more information about home inspection or to schedule a home inspection, click here to find your local Pillar To Post office. 

Kyle Rupp



4 Reasons to Write a Real Estate Love Letter: When, Why and How to Express Your Emotions About A Home

In a world where an ”XO” text message or Facebook relationship status change signifies deep emotion, the long-form love letter seems to be a dying art. So it is somewhat surprising that the seemingly cut-and-dry, numbers-and-negotiation-riddled realm of real estate is one of the last bastions of the love letter.

Many agents advise both their buyers and sellers to keep a calm, cool and collected demeanor throughout the transaction, out of concern that demonstrating emotion will spark greedy sentiments and advantage-taking desires in the hearts of the folks on the other side of the table. And there’s truth in this: walking into a house and salivating is never advisable. But there are some times when putting your heart on your sleeve – and your pen to paper to express your love for a home you’re buying or selling – is just what your transaction needs to bring things together and get you the results you want.

1. Seller → Buyer: Video Love Letter. Your agent might be telling you that video is THE NEXT BIG THING in marketing a home. And you know what? They’re right. In a recent survey of house hunters, 70 percent cited “touring a certain home” as their reason for viewing videos in the course of their search for a home – and 86 percent said their purpose for watching a video was to learn about a particular area. Fifty-one percent of them pointed to YouTube as their primary video source.

Many home marketing videos are simple tours of the property. But what makes a video a love letter expressing why you love the house (and why a buyer will, too) is ensuring that the swoon-worthy features of the home actually make it into the video! If you have a delightful backyard, have the videographer shoot it alight at night, as well as during the day. If there are custom built-ins, high-end appliances or secret spaces with smart organizers inside – there should be shots of these things, rather than just a couple of broad sweeps of the camera across the room.

If your neighborhood is the epicenter for local shops, farmer’s markets and such, have the videographer incorporate and label shots of these things – ideally after the footage of the house – to paint the fuller picture for the viewer of the full experience of life in your home. If you’d like to do some sort of personal narration about how much you have loved living in this home, and expressing heartfelt best wishes for the next owner, that can be a nice touch – but keep it uber-short.

Work with your agent to be sure the YouTube description of your video includes a link to the home’s Trulia listing, and vice versa. Also make sure the name of your town, neighborhood and “home for sale” appear in the YouTube description of your video love letter about your home, to make it more likely that the right folks will find it when searching the web.

2. Buyer → Seller:
Multiple Offers. So, you finally found the one. Perfect porch – swing included. Coffee shop downstairs in the building. Gingerbread-laden Victorian ready for fixing. Whatever floats your boat, as they say. The only thing is, there are about 5, 15 or 50 other people who think this property is their one – and all of them are making offers to buy it.

As a buyer, there’s no better time to write the seller a love letter about their home than when you are competing in earnest with other offers. (Logistically, this is something your agent will include when they submit your offer and loan approval documentation.)

In fact, the love letter should briefly explain why you like their home, but it should also go into more detail about your love for your family, your life, your career, your town, etc. and why you think their home is the perfect launching pad for the next stage of all of these relationships. It is not overkill to humanize yourself or your family by including a photo – pics of babies and dogs go over well, though some agents feel that photos can work against you in cases of an ornery or biased seller.

That said, it’s essential to think through the multiple offer love letter in the overall context of the fever-pitched negotiations. Will a love letter help you beat out offers of tens of thousands of dollars more than yours? No, it won’t – so it’s essential that even if you do write a love letter, you still make your most competitive offer, price-wise, in light of the comparables, your budget and your level of desire to secure the place.

So what, then, is the advantage you gain from writing a love letter? It might get you a counter-offer when you would normally have gotten an outright rejection. It might get you the leg up on a buyer offering the same amount of money, when the seller is already aware that that dollar is the most the place will appraise for (so countering for more is not a great option). And it might get you some seller graces and above-and-beyond cooperation later in the transaction, like furnishings thrown in or time extension requests granted, if you are the victorious winner. So, for something that costs nothing, it might just be worth it, even if the chances it will help you best a buyer offer thousands more than you are between slim and none.

3. Seller → Buyer: Written Home/Neighborhood Love Letter. It should be clear at this stage of the game that your house will need to speak for itself – it’s location, condition, price and even staging create a holistic package that buyers will scrutinize in evaluating whether or not it’s a love match. But when you have a beautiful home in a fantastic neighborhood, it can still be a powerful thing to have a love letter about your home and neighborhood, with a few other extras, sitting in a binder on your counter.

Buyers fantasize about how happy their families are and will be in the property – so letting them know about the years of joy your family has experienced there only adds to the good vibes.

Buyers might not know all the charming, fun or convenient amenities your neighborhood has to offer. I have lived and run in my neighborhood for almost four years, and just stumbled across a new secret staircase into the park by the lake last week! If your home is otherwise likely to be sought-after by hikers, dog-walkers, foodies or film buffs and your neighborhood has amazing offerings for those types of folks, say so in your love letter. I’ve seen an amazing binder filled with a family’s love letter about their home, their neighbors and their neighborhood, complete with a list of all their favorite neighborhood vendors, restaurants, the names and numbers of their housekeeper and gardener – and even some menus from the restaurants that deliver to the address!

Many listing agents are starting to include any pre-listing inspection reports and disclosures in a binder that remains in the property during showings, as well as being emailed to buyers’ brokers in digital format upon their request. These “disclosure packets,” which tend to increase the chances of getting an as-is offer up front, and reduce the chances that the buyer will try to renegotiate mid-stream, are a great spot to include your love letter and any supporting materials. If there’s something that needs major fixing in your home, and you want to explain anything about it, this might be a good place. If you’ve invested thousands in upgrading it, this is a good place to brief the buyer on that, too.

Work with your agent to create a strategy about what details to include, and make sure your agent signs off on the final version before you put it out for the world to see.

4. Buyer → Seller: Unlisted Home. Did you ever see the War of the Roses, with Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny deVito? At the beginning of the Roses’ ill-fated marriage, they found a storybook home that wasn’t on the market by stalking it, writing a note to the seller and ultimately, being in the right place at the right time when the elderly seller passed away.

This sort of thing does actually happen, on occasion, in real life – a buyer actively pursues a home that is not for sale, simply because they love it, and the seller agrees to sell. This is tricky territory, as often:

  • buyers seeking an unlisted home can be seeking to get an infeasibly low price or seller-financed deal, which the seller has no reason to accept (i.e., before accepting a lowball offer, the seller would put it on the market)
  • sellers simply have no interest in selling the place, or they would have it on the market
  • some scam artists send seemingly handwritten letters to sellers en masse, making them skeptical of the occasional legitimate buyer who writes them a love letter
  • sellers might have unrealistic expectations about what they should get for the home, or only be willing to sell for top dollar
  • there are legal restrictions in some states on making proactive approaches to home sellers who are behind on their mortgage or in some state of foreclosure, which wanna-be buyers should take care to observe (a quick consult with your own broker or a real estate attorney is in order, before you send a seller a love letter on an unlisted home).

That said, if you’re looking for a very unusual type of property in a market where few are sold (e.g., an equestrian property near the city) or there are only a few homes in your area that fit your specifications, it’s not a bad idea to submit letters putting sellers on notice that you are interested in their property and would love to discuss buying it. If the seller does bite, you would be well-advised to bring a broker, attorney or title/escrow professional into the transaction to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected and responsibilities are met in the course of the transaction.

Buyers (Past and Present): Have you ever written a love letter about a seller’s home? Did it work? Have you ever read one? Did you find it compelling?

Sellers (Past and Present): Do you have a success story about using a love letter – written or video – to help sell your home? Do tell!

4 Home-Buying Nightmares You Can Help Prevent


Jesse Storm smaller

If you’re a film fan, you might have noticed a theme that I just discovered recently in movies that star movie star extraordinaire Denzel Washington. He tends to play roles at one extreme of the villain-hero spectrum or the other. But when he’s on the hero end, he often uses his smarts and expertise to do things no other mere mortal could do, despite his personality flaws, addictions and lack of any superhuman powers:

  • In Man on Fire, he rescues a little girl from from a Mexican cartel.
  • In Unstoppable, he stops a runaway train carrying a load of toxic cargo.
  • In his latest movie, Flight, he lands a passenger plane that no other pilot could, in part, by flying it upside down.

Sometimes, as I see it, brokers and agents are the Denzel Washingtons of our clients’ real estate transactions and life visions. There are some hazards of home buying that are totally unavoidable, but there are some that highly-skilled, highly-observant, highly-savvy agents help their clients avoid falling prey to dozens, even hundreds of times throughout their careers:

1. Freak-outs and buyer’s remorse.

I tend to joke with buyers and sellers alike that the on the day an offer or counter-offer is ratified, both parties spend the evening riddled with remorse: the buyers think the accepted offer means they could have gotten the place for less, and the sellers think it means they could have demanded more! Okay, so it’s not totally a joke.

All jokes aside, it is the case that some buyers rue the day they closed on a home for years and years to come. This often happens, in my experience, when the home itself doesn’t turn out to be highly functional for their lives, the place turns out to be a lemon or the buyers find themselves overextended financially and end up in mortgage distress.

Clearly, the decision-making on all of these issues – house “fit,” house condition, and how much to spend – are ultimately the buyer’s decision, not yours. Condition surprises are only avoidable via scrutinizing disclosures and having inspections.

But I have found one exercise to be a powerful way agents can help eliminate later remorse – I call it, the Vision of Home exercise. Before you ask them to get into the nitty-gritty details of the sort of house they hope to buy, in terms of bedrooms, bathrooms and the like, ask your buyer clients to sit down and journal out their vision for their life after they move into the home. Tell them to go whole hog and cover what they see in their minds’ eye on topics including, but not limited to:

  • who they envision living in the home over the next 5 or 10 years
  • what sorts of things all those people will likely do, inside and outside of the home, for work, school, play and downtime (i.e., will they spend their Saturdays walking to the farmer’s market, hiking the regional parks or hammering away on home improvement projects)
  • where everyone will go to school or work, and how they will get there, and
  • how much they want to work, and any changes in their work lives that they would like to make in the next few years, like starting their own business, telecommuting or changing jobs or industries (this point goes both to how much they spend and some of the home amenities they will need).

From there, you can work with them to move to more granular details, like the beds, baths, square feet and location details of a home that should help them realize their vision of home. And here’s how you resolve a freak-out: if or when the buyer gets panicked post offer-acceptance, whip this original Vision of Home document right on out.

At that time, or just before you remove contingencies, you can walk through this document with them, and one of two things will likely happen: they will be delighted to find that, even after the inevitable house hunt compromises, the place still will help them fulfill most of the items on their life vision wish list or they will realize that they have wandered too far astray from their original vision and back out while they still have the opportunity to find the right home for them.

2. Intentional ignorance.

(unread disclosures, inspections – order more, make recommendations, etc.)

Buyers who fail to read disclosures, inspections, loan documents and such are buyers who tend to end up really, really upset at a later stage of the deal – often at you, their agent. Sometimes these are buyers who are so unused to these sorts of transactions that the mere sight of all those papers and zeros makes their eyes glaze over, bodies fall to the ground in the fetal position, mouths foam – etc. and so forth. Other times, these are buyers who have done so many major transactions in their work or their lives that they’ve gotten too casual, too lackadaisical, with the details.

  • Read them yourself – summarize, flag items you think are important and obtain a written receipt with a bold, all caps acknowledgement at the bottom.
  • Set an appointment to review the items with them, rather than just having your transaction coordinator send them over email or through your digital document signature application.
  • Encourage them to ask questions – and give them “permission,” even encouragement to simply keep asking until they feel they are completely comfortable and understand everything. Some Type-As who are used to immediately grasping everything they read are very hesitant to ask what they think are “dumb” questions.
  • Ask the mortgage pro on the transaction to send loan documents to your buyer and yourself at least a day or so in advance. The prospect of trying to read and catch mistakes in that pile of docs sitting at the closing table, often with the keys to the property and their moving hands hanging on whether they all get signed that very moment is one of the most common reasons buyers cite for not reading and understanding their papers.

3. Jumping off a self-made mortgage cliff.

In a heating market like today’s, the auction atmosphere and uber-long timelines of many house hunts can cause buyers to forget some of the fundamental tenets of buying a home – particularly when it comes to maintaining their financials in the same state they were when they were pre-approved for a home. Here’s what I’ve seen work well: tell your buyer clients at your very first meeting all the ways you’ve seen other buyers inadvertently kill or seriously complicate their own deals. Make sure you include:

  • Increasing their credit card or other debt
  • Paying off and closing credit accounts
  • Buying a car (an oldie, but goodies)
  • Changing jobs and industries
  • Paying bills late/incurring new derogatory marks on their credit report.

Even if their house hunt takes a year or longer, even if they are relatively self-service in terms of viewing Open Houses on their own, make sure you stay in close contact with them throughout and make sure they know to check in with you or their mortgage broker before they make any major money or career moves.

4. Deal-killing delay.

Hesitation kills deals – and it often critically wounds those it doesn’t totally slay. Agents know this. Most of us have cringed as we anticipated and actually witnessed this take place, more than once – or more than once every year:

  • The buyer that loves a place, but is afraid to commit, so takes an extra day to make an offer or respond to a counter and loses it to another, more aggressive buyer.
  • The buyer whose anxiety snowballs into feet-dragging on getting their documents to the mortgage broker, forcing them to run behind on loan contingency removal, which the bank seller refuses to extend, or
  • The buyer who waits so long to get serious about reviewing disclosures, reading inspection reports and obtaining repair bids that they panic and consider pulling out of the deal when the first inspection reveals even a few condition issues that would not otherwise be so worrisome.

Obviously, if you can brief your buyers before they get started hunting in earnest on the folly of hesitating, that will get through to a good number of them. Additionally, because much of the early-deal hesitation arises from the novelty of the idea of making such a major financial commitment, doing a very thorough job of running and reviewing the comparable as they decide how much to offer, briefing them on how many other offers they are up against and reminding buyers of all the contingencies you’ll be writing into their offer can help diminish the panic-based paralysis that so commonly stops them in their tracks.


Even the most Denzellian of real estate agents can only do so much. Beyond making your best effort and implementing some of these and similar exercises and strategies, there’s no education like a market education. By that I mean that some buyers simply have to disregard your advice and lose a house or a mortgage before they become receptive to your urging in the future. I’ve found that buyers who go through this can turn out to be your best clients and biggest raving fans in the future – after all, the market has proven you right!

The Art of the Dream House Hunt: 5 Intangibles Every Dream House Has

Across the pond in the U.K., hundreds of stately homes are known by the average person, by name. But here in America, there are only a handful of houses that most people consider iconic: the White House, Hearst Castle and for reality TV fans, Spelling Manor, among them.

But there is one more house that virtually every American of almost every age instantly recognizes by name: Barbie’s Dreamhouse. As of today, this iconic property has been listed for sale, right here on Trulia.

Take one look at the listing, and you’ll see precisely why someone with Barbie’s elevated taste level would deem this Malibu beachfront home the house of her dreams. But what about you and your hunt for your own personal Dream House? The occasion of Barbie’s Dreamhouse going on the market seems like an ideal time for us to explore exactly what features make a property that you’re considering a good candidate to be your own personal Dream House.

As I see it, most Dream House features are intangible and will differ from house hunter to house hunter. But this list of “intangibles” is a useful set of guidelines to think through as you peruse listings online and go visit them, in real life:

Dream House Intangible #1: It’s “right-sized.” Your personal Dream House might not be Barbie-sized (3 floors and 8,500 square feet, to be precise), but it will be “right-sized” for you, your family and the activities you want to do regularly in the home. This is a shift from the days in which the conventional wisdom said that more square footage was always better, even if you weren’t going to use it.

A too-small home is obviously uncomfortable, contributes to clutter (both material and mental) and can even cause tension in the relationships of the people who live in the home. But a too-large home for your family can be a major drain of time, energy and cash when you consider what is required to furnish, heat, cool, clean and maintain it. As well, a home might not be “right-sized” if it is full of square footage you will never use because of poor design or flow, like a living room so cut off from the rest of the house that no living ever gets done there, or a formal dining room in a home where everyone prefers to eat in the kitchen.

Smart Dream House hunters look for homes that are neither too big, nor too small, for their needs in the foreseeable 5 to 7 years — longer if you plan to stay in the home for a longer time period. That means that to understand what would render a particular property right-sized for you, you must consider upcoming probable changes in your family status, family size and the increasing space needs of aging children, young adult children who might return home and even aging parents who might want or need to live with you in the not-so-far-off future.

Dream House Intangible #2: There’s a lifestyle-house match. Related to, but different from being right-sized, your Dream House will be one that matches up nicely with your lifestyle. In particular, the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of your life must be a good match with the features, floor plan and location of a home for that property to hit Dream House status. That can mean many things, depending on “who” does and will live in the home, and “what” activities make up their lifestyle, for example:

  • the Dream House of a family with four children might need to be in a great public school district
  • a retirement-aged couple might find their Dream House to be one level
  • an extended family might find their Dream House has a full bedroom with en suite bath on the ground floor, for the grandparents
  • a young couple’s Dream House might have the ability to rent out a room or backyard cottage to help make the mortgage payment
  • a growing family’s Dream House might have discrete spaces for Mom’s office, the kids’ study areas, Dad’s shop and even other activity areas for various children’s hobbies and pursuits.

At a glance, these things seem obvious, but many a home buyer only realizes the critical importance of lifestyle-house match once they are moved in and paying the mortgage on a house that:

  • requires much more weekend fixing than they have time or budget to do
  • turns out to be noisier or more burdensome, in terms of the commute to work, than expected
  • is difficult for family and friends to come visit, because of steep entry stairs or paltry guest parking.

Here’s a right-sizing exercise that also boosts the chances your lifestyle and Dream House will match up: before you even get out and start looking for a home, sit down alone or with your family and do a hypothetical “audit” of all the rooms of a prospective property, envisioning what people and activities will go where. And be creative – don’t think too literally about the name of a room as a limitation on what you can do in it:

  • do you really need a separate room with a closed door for an office, or will a neat nook with an efficient desk system do just as well?
  • can you carve up a great room into areas for cozy couch conversations, TV-watching, kids’ play and kids’ homework?
  • can you repurpose a dining or living room into an office or work area, if someone needs that?

This way, you can make sure you have enough space — and the right kinds of spaces — for every who and what that needs to “live” in your Dream House.

Dream House Intangible #3: It provides vision fuel. A Dream House is one that allows you to envision a number of exciting upgrades to your every day life, made possible by the house. To be clear, no house has the power to make your life perfect; I mean, even Barbie’s near-perfect palace only complements her wildly successful careers and uber-gregarious social life (hence, her need for a 15-person rooftop hot tub).

That said, there are a number of ways your choice of home can help you real-ize your dreams and be a suitable environment for your vision of the future of your life. For example, urban farmer wanna-bes can select homes that will allow them to flex and foster their burgeoning green thumbs or raise the chickens, goats or bees they envision keeping. And buyers-to-be who dream of having their own businesses can pick properties that have the space for the office, nook, inventory storage space, jewelry workshop or client meeting area they will need to make a go of it – not to mention upgraded electrical or other infrastructure they will need (or at least the ability to install it after closing without breaking the bank).

Maybe your vision for the next phase of your life is focused on relaxing and traveling more, so your Dream House is a low-maintenance condo near the coffee shops, yoga studios and restaurants you love. Or perhaps your vision for the next decade is focused on family and career, so that a suburban home near great schools, with a large yard and an easy commute to work will constitute your personal Dream House. Cultivating clarity on your vision for your life before you start your house hunt is essential, if you’re aiming to buy your Dream House.

Dream House Intangible #4: Staying power. I’ve already alluded to this, but it’s important so let me state it outright: given the still-recovering state of today’s economy and real estate market, it’s important that your Dream Home be one you can see yourself living in and being comfortable with for at least 5-7 years. In fact, if you live and are buying a home in a place that was especially hard hit by the recession, it’s wise to choose a property that will work for your family for even longer, just in case you need to stay put while the market slowly recovers.

I personally witnessed at least three home owners in my own circle lose or walk away from homes when, within the 5-year span from top to bottom of the market, they went from swinging single loft-living to having full-blown, young families for whom living in a loft was actually a hazard. Whether you know you’re likely to pair up and/or have kids in the next handful of years or you know you’ll want to downsize or relocate, your Dream House is one that will accomodate both the present-day you andthe you you’ll be in the next few years.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you buy a home for 15 or 20 years down the line, necessarily, just that you project your space and geographic needs out for the upcoming few years so you don’t end up in a place where you either have to (a) move or (b) hate living there in the pretty foreseeable future.

Dream House Intangible #5: Resale Appeal. Barbie’s Dreamhouse is clearly Barbie’sDreamhouse, as is clear from the fact that it is personalized throughout in her signature pink (note the pink elevator!) But the fact is, colors are cosmetic and can be easily changed by the next buyer to suit their own tastes. Dream Houses, as a rule, are homes that are easily personalized by whoever owns them at the time, and are not so heavily structurally customized that they lack appeal to a broad segment of buyers.

Overly customized homes, especially those without other compelling features that many buyers will see as dreamy, can be difficult to sell. Being stuck in a home when you want or need to sell it is not a dream, it’s a nightmare.

On resale appeal, Barbie’s Dreamhouse scores, both in terms of being easily personalized by the next buyer and in having dozens of other hard-to-find features that will appeal to nearly every Malibu house hunter with $25 million at hand. Most buyers in this segment of the market and this location will have more than a little hankering for beach frontage, unobstructed views and the utterly glamtastic luxury master suite features that Barbie’s place has in spades – steam shower, heated floors and self-flushing toilet, among them.

For more information check out our website at http://www.stormteamrealestate.com

Listing Your Home? Check Out the Latest Real Estate Buzzwords

real estateWinter is considered “off season” in the real estate world, but that doesn’t mean that buyersaren’t still out there. Even in December, when everybody was busy racing around to get ready for the holidays, the number of home sales — including existing homes, foreclosure resales and new home sales — was 8.7 percent higher than in the same month in 2011.

One way to make your home stand out from others during the winter doldrums is to choose words that jump out at potential home buyers when they’re searching through real estate listings.

Desirable features vary depending on price and city, but there are a few universally golden terms at the moment. Daniel Beer, a real estate agent and marketing expert in San Diego, says “open floor plan” and “downstairs master” are popular features everywhere.

“A downstairs master bedroom has long been standard in luxury homes,” Beer said. “But now that requirement has moved down into the middle market, and home builders are responding.” He says this is especially true among aging baby boomers, who are now focusing on smaller homes with fewer levels and fewer, if any, stairs.

Similarly, the “walkability” of a neighborhood is rising in stature. Green terms such as “solar” and “energy efficient” are red hot. “Low HOA fee” continues to be a popular term in listings all over the U.S. because an estimated 63.4 million — and counting — Americans live under the governance of homeowners associations.

On a more local level, the term “No Mello-Roos” is a welcome phrase in California because it means that a particular property is not subject to a special property tax that’s often levied in newer communities to pay for parks, roads and other infrastructure. In coastal Southern California “new construction” jumps out because there is currently so little of it while demand is strong.

Seeing the light

“Light and bright” or words to that effect are huge in Manhattan. “I can’t stress enough how important lighting is in New York,” Leslie Lazarus, an agent with DJK Residential, told the Wall Street Journal. Lighting isn’t as important, of course, in a fair-weather city such as Miami, but a “sunny breakfast room” or nook seems to appeal to people everywhere.

Being as specific as possible with adjectives tends to result in higher sale prices, according to theNational Bureau of Economic Research. Instead of “wood floors,” for example, say “oak floors.” How about “stainless” and “granite”? Not so hot anymore or even necessary: Those are givens these days if you’ve noted that your kitchen has been “updated,” says Beer, who pointed out that “updated” is a word that always gets attention. Stainless may not be king much longer anyway, according to Beer. A current hot buzzword in design material, he says, is “Caesarstone,” which is high-quality quartz.

Dropping high-end appliance brand names continues to be an effective “look-at-me!” lure. The biggies are still Sub-Zero, Viking, Bosch and G.E. Monogram, and “anybody considered a chef will demand a kitchen with a Wolf range,” Beer said.

In the bathroom, the coolest brand name is now Toto. “Actually, it has become the Sub-Zero of the toilet world,” Leonard Steinberg, managing director of Douglas Elliman in New York, recently told theNew York Times.

Be cautious with the ‘F’ word

People tense up when they see the word “fixer,” and readers often translate the term “investor,” as in “investor special,” as “needs lots of work” (use “income property” instead, Beer counsels). “The mood of the market right now is for a ‘turn-key’ or ‘move-in-ready’ property,” Beer said.

At times, however, a term like “needs work” is advantageous. First-time buyers are often looking for a fixer-upper in a desirable neighborhood or coveted school district in which they would otherwise be priced out.

Buyers are often put off by hardcore sales lingo such as “Hurry, won’t last!” Some phrases have been so overused that they now put buyers to sleep. “Gourmet kitchen” and “luxury bath” are in that category. And the word “rare” is anything but rare in real estate listings — “rare jewel,” “rare opportunity.”

Be careful with vague superlatives, too. Some people believe “charming” means “small.” Others consider “classic” a euphemism for “completely out of date.”

Finally, Laura Lothian, a Pacific Sotheby’s agent in La Mesa, CA, says she has seen the words “open house” more and more frequently in listings all over the U.S.

“It’s a trend I love,” she said. “People are having more open houses, and those open houses are attracting bigger crowds.” She speculates that there are two reasons behind this trend. Most real estate photos are now taken by professional photographers, she says, so photos are looking more and more alike. Images can be easily “enhanced,” so people want to get a more realistic look at a place with the electric wires in place and without a Technicolor blue sky.

The second reason open houses are increasing in popularity, Lothian believes, is that people are getting antsy about spending so much of their social lives online in places such as Facebook. “They want to connect with real flesh!”

See more about this topic and others and homes for sale in Lancaster County PA at http://stormteamrealestate.com

3 Ways Real Estate Goes Rogue – and How to Weigh the Risks and Rewards of Rogue Behavior

Sometimes in life, going rogue is what you do when you have an independent spirit or when coloring inside the lines isn’t getting good results. Other times, to go rogue is to veer into the danger zone, beyond the boundaries of what is safe or will get you to your desired goal.

Some things are so high stakes, the potential for massive rewards motivates people to go rogue, but the potential for massive risk cautions the wise person not to. Things that fall into this high stakes group, in my humble opinion, include cosmetic surgery, base jumping and, yes, real estate.

Let’s take a deep dive into some of the ways real estate can and does go rogue, and help you understand just when the risk is worth taking – and when safety is the better bet.

1. The “rogue” buyer’s agent.

The rogue agent is the one who is constantly going entirely off the charts from what you’ve laid out as your criteria for a home. The one who shows you a house in Parkview when you said you wanted to live in Oakview; the one who shows you a 2 bedroom when you insist you need 3; the agent who shows you condos when you’ve asked to see single family homes – and vice versa.

Sometimes, a rogue agent can frustrate a buyer, especially when there is urgency to finding a new home, when your time for house hunting is tight, or when the homes they are showing seem to have nothing that would cause the agent to reasonably expect that you might be inclined to make a compromise. Working with a rogue agent can also be frustrating when you feel like you’re simply not being heard.

But in my experience, more often than not, there’s method to a so-called “rogue” agent’s madness. Some agents go rogue when there’s a real disconnect between a client’s asks and their budgets, in which case they aren’t going rogue at all but, rather, reality-checking you on what you can get for your money in your market (whether you are inclined to shoot the messenger). Other agents go rogue when they’ve really listened deeply to the picture you’re painting of the lifestyle you want to live ‘after’ you buy, and they have reason to believe the homes they are showing you can create that better than what you’ve asked for. Still others go rogue when they come across a unique opportunity they think you might love – frankly, part of the advantage of working with an agent in the first place is to have someone watching aggressively for opportunities that come on the market that you might miss for one reason or another.

Risk vs. Reward:

The risk of working with a truly rogue real estate agent is really the opportunity cost – all the homes you might be missing out on if your agent just won’t listen to what you have to say. But there is incredible potential upside to working with a “rogue” agent if they fall into the following categories:

• who is willing to break the truth to you, no matter how hard;
• who is willing to think creatively and draw on their own experience to bring you creative solutions to your housing needs; and
• who always has you in mind as they see unique opportunities in the market and will surface them to you when they come up.
Before you get upset with an agent you think has gone rogue, make sure they’re not actually just trying to do one of these things.

2. Disclosure debacles.

Some sellers, given the traumatic nature of the market over the past few years, get worried that a laundry list of little fixes, nicks and all the “minor” repairs that have been done over the years they’ve owned the home will scare off a good buyer or will otherwise ruin the deal. Occasionally, one of these sellers goes “rogue” by deciding not to mention a few “little issues” they have had with the home.

Reality check:

a disclosure you might see as minor could be the trigger that makes a buyer’s inspector dig deeper into a particular item – it could even cause the buyer to order an inspection they wouldn’t have otherwise. And, yes – this does increase the chances that a buyer will find something wrong with the place during escrow, and maybe even increase the chances that they will ask for a price reduction or repair credit to close the deal. But most buyers just want full information so they can make a decision about whether and how to move forward – so, chances are also good that the buyer will find nothing wrong at all, or will find something wrong with the place and move forward on the original terms – or maybe will offer to split the difference on the repair costs; the potential outcomes are many.
But you know what? Giving a buyer true, full disclosure also vastly decreases the chances that they will come back and sue you years down the road, when something goes wrong that they might have been able to find if you had disclosed your little plumbing peccdilloes up front. What’s way more expensive than splitting the difference with your buyer on a sewer line replacement? Paying court fees, arbitrators and attorneys to sort it all out five years down the road.

Risk vs. Reward.

When your grandmother taught you that honesty was the best policy, she was unwittingly giving you the best real estate advice there is. There’s simply no contest here – the risks of non-disclosure so far outweigh any possible reward from skimping on the house history that smart sellers err on the side of overdisclosure every single time.

3. HOA hijinks.

The potential for drama within a homeowner’s association (HOA) is a specter that looms large in the nightmares and worst-case scenarios of every condo-considering house hunter and many owners of townhomes, condos and even standalone dwellings in HOA-managed subdivisions. And because an HOA is simply an organization made up by real homeowners, the hijinks and rogue behavior can flow in both directions!
HOA’s themselves can go rogue, so to speak, by:
• failing to appropriately budget for upcoming repairs and expenses
• levying unexpected assessments
• increasing dues beyond what an owner might think is reasonable
• failing to enforce regulations – or being overly restrictive in enforcing regulations – about any subject from paint colors, to flooring materials, to pets allowed and noise controls.

And home owners can – and do – go rogue on their HOAs, as well, including when they:
• default on their HOA dues
• default on their mortgage payments or
• intentionally or egregiously violate the same sorts of regulations described above, terrorizing their neighbors and fellow HOA members.

Risk vs. Reward:

The risks of defaulting on your obligations to your HOA are steep – namely, your HOA can – and many will – send your past due dues to a collection agency, impairing your credit, and after prolonged non-payment, they can even foreclose and repossess your home. Similarly, violating your HOA’s formal rules, even if you think they are unfair, is foolhardy – it can result in a range of issues from a daily fine for having an impermissible pet to a court order requiring you to pull out the hardwood floors that were barred by the HOA guidance and which made a thunderous sound in your downstairs neighbors’ place with every single step.
How can you minimize the risk of a rogue HOA? By vetting the Association completely before you buy, which includes a complete reading and review of the lengthy HOA budget documents, account statements, insurance certificates, board meeting minutes, newsletters, regulations and other documents every HOA home’s seller is required to show to a buyer, by law. Talking to the unit or home’s neighbors, and understanding how many units are delinquent on their dues or in a state of foreclosure doesn’t hurt either.

Your better bet, if you disagree with the fairness or wisdom of your HOA’s rules, is to apply for an exception or contest the rule, publicly, via your HOA Management company or an appeal directly to the board. Truth be told, your best bet in avoiding HOA Hijinks overall is to read the newsletters and board meeting minutes, attend board meetings, stay in touch with your neighbors and even run for a board membership.

Stop by the Storm Team at http://stormteamrealestate.com for more info on this and other topics

Homes for Sale in Solanco School District

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District Goals and Objectives

Solanco School District

Mission Statement

“The mission of the Solanco School District is to develop responsible citizens and life-long

learners by providing opportunities to maximize student academic performance

in a safe and secure environment.”


District Goals and Objectives 2012-2013

1.0 Use high quality teaching practices in every classroom

1.1 Ensure all students are engaged academically

1.2 Increase quality use of graphic organizers

1.3 Use summarization activities to gather evidence of learning from all students

1.4 Implement professional development activities that support best practices

1.5 Implement effective accountability measures to ensure student learning

2.0 Use student-based evidence to inform instruction

2.1 Use data continuously to identify each student’s needs and provide effective instruction to improve the student’s performance

2.2 Monitor student performance to assure adequate academic growth

2.3 Evaluate the effectiveness of programs , interventions and inclusive practices

3.0 Increase the quality of the academic program

3.1 Transition to the Common Core standards

3.2 Build teacher capacity to develop high quality curriculum-aligned assessments

3.3 Continue the process of revising and authoring the district curriculum to a common format

3.4 Enhance the quality of literacy district wide

3.5 Broaden our online options and delivery systems for quality academic programs

4.0 Represent Solanco Expectations consistently throughout all aspects of the district

4.1 All staff will model Solanco Expectations in all interactions

4.2 Develop student and staff leadership built upon the Expectations

4.3 Recognize examples of Solanco Expectations by staff, students, and community

Solanco School District

Know your school choice options in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania some districts allow children to transfer to schools outside their district (called interdistrict choice). They can also attend charter schools. Low-income students are eligible for scholarship funding to attend private schools.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, students attending a Title I school designated as “in need of improvement” have the right to attend a higher performing school in the district.

GreatSchools Rating: 7 out of 10. GreatSchools Ratings are based on test results. 10 is best.
This district’s rating is based on its schools’ test results; 10 is best.
Learn more >
This district’s stats >
121 S Hess St
Quarryville, PA 17566
Map >
PH: (717) 786-8401
yellow arrow Grades K-12
yellow arrow 3,776 students
yellow arrow 7 schools
View all schools in this district >

Most Important Things to Do Before and After Closing

To Do ListYou searched for homes over the course of months or even years. You endured a series of offers and counter offers, property disclosures,inspections and reports. Finally, after so much excitement, stress and anxiety, the house hunt has come to an end.

But the story isn’t over yet. Here are some next steps to consider before you actually move in.

Plan any work well in advance

Rarely does a buyer get a place that is truly in “move-in” condition. By the time you’ve signed a contract, you have lots of ideas about how you’ll live in this home, how you’ll customize it and what work needs to be done.

If the place needs work, don’t wait until you’ve closed to engage a painter, a floor refinisher or a general contractor. Either at your final walk-through or during a private appointment after you’ve removed your contingencies get the proper contractors in the house. Start getting bids for necessary work. If possible, have floor sanding, painting or small fix-it work done before you move in. Real estate agentswork with all kinds of tradespeople, so they’re often a great resource for referrals

Set up the utilities

Some people assume the utilities will work once they walk in on day one. While many utility companies have grace periods (the days between when the seller cancels service and the new ownercalls), you can’t always assume this will be the case. If you have an out-of-town seller, they may have cancelled services the day they knew all contingencies were removed. In this instance, the grace period likely lapsed, and you may be stuck dealing with the electric company, waiting for an appointment or just being without power when you really want to start painting, fixing or cleaning.

The best plan is to call the utility companies and get service set up well before closing. If they haven’t received cancellation notice from the seller, let the seller know to take care of that.

Got the keys? Great, now change the locks

Assume that every one and his brother has a set of keys to your new home. The seller’s real estate agent likely gave copies to his or her assistant, a painter, stager or even another agent at some point during the marketing period. That’s why the first person you should call after getting the keys is a locksmith.

A new homeowner was shocked when a painter walked into the house at 7 p.m. The painter had a punch list of to-do items from the listing agent, but nobody had told him the house had closed two days early. He assumed it was vacant. Don’t let this happen to you. Spend the money to get all the locks changed right away. You’ll sleep better at night.

Hire a cleaning crew

There’s nothing worse than showing up with the movers, dozens of boxes and your personal belongings only to discover the seller hadn’t had the place cleaned.

Assume the worst and get a professional cleaning crew in there the minute after the closing. Even if the seller did clean, they may have done a poor job. You want to start life in your new home with a clean slate. The movers might make a mess while moving in. But the bones of the place will be sparkling clean and you won’t be scrambling to get cleaners in while the home is in a state of disarray as you unpack.

Have a handyman, small contractor or designer on call

Moving in can take days, if not weeks, and is made up of the kind of stuff you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Things like aligning your framed artwork, centering the couch in the living room or getting the large rug set up in the master bedroom can drive you crazy. Nailed multiple holes in the wall in an attempt to get your family photos lined up on the staircase? Not all of us are cut out to do this kind of stuff. Imagine doing all this throughout an entire 3,000-square-foot house, and you’ll probably feel overwhelmed.

While it may seem like a luxury, investing a few hundred dollars in hiring someone to take orders, help with setting up and take over some of these mindless tasks will save time and potentially relieve you of a giant headache.

Thinking ahead is the way to go

The journey to home buying could have been anything from fun to stressful and emotional. When the closing date draws near, you’re probably exhausted. But taking a little extra time to plan ahead will save you time, money and a lot of hassle. And it will make the move into your new home so much more satisfying.

Homes for sale in Donegal School District

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Donegal School District Homes for Sale

This is online information about the school district.

This school is great…unless you ask them to provide add…

My kid is only in K but so far I really like the teachers…

I have spoke to numerous students who consider bullying t…

The administration is exceptional; the bullying can get o…

I am pulling my son out of this school due to the incompe…

While attending the Kindergarten orientation this year we…

This is a great place to start. This will help you get to know a little more about the school district. Also you will get to read about what others think about the school district.

When we move from home to home we often times stop to think about how it will affect our children. The new home may be great and all but if the school is sub par you may not want to have your children there. Then you will have to think about if the home is really the right home. Also you can check into private schools if you don’t care for the public school district your new home will be in. These are all factors parents think about when buying their next home.
Feel free to give us a call if you would like to take a look at any homes in the School District. Jesse Storm with The Jesse Storm Team at Coldwell Banker Select Professionals. Call us at 717-735-6284 or email jstorm@cbsp.com.
Swing by and look at all homes for sale in Donegal School District that is for sale on our website at http://stormteamrealestate.com

Homes for Sale in Penn Manor School District Lancaster County PA

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School Ratings

I have a first grader at Conestoga and she attended K the…

MVMS is a great school. The principal is always involved …

I am a former student of Manor Middle School, and I loved…

My daughter is in 1st grade at Ann Letort Elementary scho…

Eshleman is a small and friendly school. Staff takes the …

Excellent school district. The visual art program is supe…

Best little known secret – Central Manor is an excellent …

Unlike previous rating we have had no issues with this sc…

I have a daughter who started there in K and is now going…

This is a great place to start. This will help you get to know a little more about the school district. Also you will get to read about what others think about the school district.
When we move from home to home we often times stop to think about how it will affect our children. The new home may be great and all but if the school is sub par you may not want to have your children there. Then you will have to think about if the home is really the right home. Also you can check into private schools if you don’t care for the public school district your new home will be in. These are all factors parents think about when buying their next home.