Real Estate Information

Chester County PA Real Estate Blog

Scott Darling

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 333

Going from Summer to Fall in Your Outdoor Spaces

by Scott Darling

Hopefully, you’ve made good use and great memories this Summer in your outdoor space.  Just because we’re getting closer to Fall doesn’t mean we have to wrap it all up and put it away!  There’s plenty we can do to transition our porches, decks and patios for cooler weather use.  Let’s look at some simple ideas that will keep us outdoors a little longer. 

 

  • - Change pillow and cushion covers from their bright colors to more neutral tones, with a splash of soft red or orange here and there. 

  • - Once your potted plants’ Summer blooms fade, repot your containers with ornamental grasses, decorative kale, pansies, marigolds and chrysanthemums. 

  • - Drape light blankets over the backs and arms of your seating to use on chilly evenings. 

  • - If you don’t already have one, buying or creating a firepit is a great way to warm up cool nights.  If you’re not sure of your style or if the budget is tight, morningchores.com has photos and links to 57 different DIY firepits!  

  • - The days are getting shorter and adding lighting to your porch is important.  With so many choices for inexpensive and energy-saving LED lighting, you can add torches, candles and lanterns to a table for soft, relaxing lighting without spending a ton. 

  • - Add a cozy area rug to ward off cold feet and add texture to the space. 

  • - The cool breezes we long for in the heat of July are a little less desirable on a cool Autumn night.  Add some no-sew outdoor curtains using drop cloths, of all things, to block the wind, and use strong adhesive like E6000 to add heavy washers at the bottom to weight the curtains down. 

  • - Making the outdoors more inviting in Fall means adding warmth--literally.  Outdoor heaters come in many styles and price ranges and use electricity as well as propane to keep you and your guests’ toes warm. 

  • - Finally, when the pumpkin patches open, get a variety of pumpkins, gourds and other fall produce, and tuck them into your container plantings, or create a centerpiece or to make the outdoors an even more inviting space to enjoy.
     

There’s no need to stop going outside just because the days are shorter, and nights are cooler.  Being outside is proven to help alleviate stress, make us feel happier, and may help us sleep better, especially if we can catch the sunset.  So, don’t neglect your much-loved outdoor space this Fall; you created it to be used, and Fall is the perfect time to enjoy it. 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: http://telano.info

Internet Security, Passwords & 2FA

by Scott Darling

Internet security continues to concern more and more users, especially after one of the largest identity-theft protection companies in the US, LifeLock, discovered that they may have left customers’ email addresses exposed, making them vulnerable to phishing and other spam-related attacks.  Many apps, email providers, and websites now offer second-factor authentication (2FA) to help avoid identity theft.  Here’s a brief rundown about using 2FA, as well as other ways to keep our accounts safe. 


  • - Many internet security experts suggest that you change your passwords frequently. Yes, it can be a pain, but someone hacking into your online banking account would be even more painful.  Use upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols, or try a “passphrase,” a brief phrase usually limited to fifteen characters. 

  • - Change your security questions often if you have that option.  Most account profile settings will allow you to choose different questions. 

  • - Hackers are becoming more inept at stealing mobile phone numbers and hijacking SIM cards, as well as social media accounts that are associated with the numbers.  Motherboard writes that we should set up a special password with our cellular providers to make it more difficult for these thieves to pretend to be the account owner when they call the phone company.  

  • - Almost everyone uses a computer at work these days, and you may occasionally use it for personal things.  The best advice:  don’t use your work computer for anything personal.  If you need to handle something during the day with your child’s teacher, handle it in phone conversation or use your smartphone’s email app.  Internet acceptable-use policies are in place in most business and organizations, so it would be best to re-familiarize yourself with that section in your personnel handbook. 

  • PCMag lists many popular websites that have the option of 2FA, it’s just hiding in the settings.  The article also gives us directions for different websites. 

  • - If you must write down passwords for multiple accounts, make sure whatever you have them written on is in a locked and secure place. 

  • - Our smartphone’s software is becoming so advanced that they can recognize our fingerprints and faces, but our pc’s and laptops continue to use passwords as the most common way for logging in.  There are several ways to provide additional information for the apps and websites we log in to, and PCWorld’s website gives us a rundown of the best apps available. 

 

The best protection we can give our personal info is to not get slack.  We must be proactive and stay one step ahead of ourselves, as well as anyone who’d like access to our personal information.  As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that certainly applies to keeping our own data secure and out of the wrong people’s hands. 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: blog.internetcreations.com

Home-Buying After Foreclosure or Bankruptcy

by Scott Darling

If foreclosure or bankruptcy has been part of your past, and you’re ready to jump back into buying a new home, welcome to the “boomerang buyer” club!  There are several factors to buying a home after these losses, so before you start house-hunting, make sure you’re not only emotionally ready, but financially ready! 

 

  • - Be absolute certain your credit has been rebuilt by paying all your bills on time and in full. Check your credit score, and keep an eye on it.  Aiming for a minimum score of 580 improves your chances of qualifying for a home loan. 

  • - Get every penny you can into savings! 

  • - Consider taking a course in financial management.  Not only does this help you become more financially stable, it shows a lender that you’re serious about it. 

  • - If your last home went into foreclosure, there are waiting periods for applying for a mortgage: three years for FHA loans, seven years for Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac loans, two years for Veterans Affairs loans, three years for USDA loans, and other lenders have different waiting periods. 

  • - Buying a home after bankruptcy depends on what type of bankruptcy was filed, so there are different factors when it comes to each situation. 

  • - If you have experienced a short sale with your last home, depending on the lender, the waiting period to apply for a mortgage is two-seven years. 

  • - Some lenders may ask you to write a letter explaining the circumstances for the foreclosure or short sale, as well as what you learned during the process.   

  • - Extenuating circumstances that caused a foreclosure or bankruptcy, such as a major illness or job loss can make a difference in how long you must wait to apply for a mortgage, depending on the lender.  Be prepared with any paperwork that shows your loss of income or increase of debt. 

 

Before you begin this second chance on homeownership, talk to a RealtorⓇ who is experienced with assisting those who have experienced financial hardship and lost a home in the past.  They have a wealth of knowledge to help you every step of the way on the path to a fresh start! 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: http://tspmortgage.com

Chester County PA Real Estate Market Trends for July 2018

by Scott Darling

Chester County PA Real Estate Market Trends for July 2018

Chester County PA single-family homes saw pending sales decrease by 1.2% in July 2018 when compared to July 2017. 726 homes sold in July with a median sales price of $360,000.  The average sales price decreased by 1.7%, and homes were on the market 20 days more.

If you are thinking about selling your home get a free instant home evaluation Learn More

Ready to Buy a Home in Chester County, PA

by Scott Darling

Buying a home is likely the largest investment you will ever make.  There is plenty of preparation before you start house-hunting, so make the process as smooth as possible with this guide to buying a home. 

 

  • - We can’t say it enough:  mind your credit!  Unless you have the funds to pay for a house in cash, then you need to keep an eye on your credit. Get a report from all three credit reporting agencies from the Annual Credit Report website. 

  • - Know what you can afford.  Make a budget and stick to it, recording everything on paper or using budgeting software.  Once you see where your money is going, it’s easier to cut some unnecessary things to put towards your down payment. 

  • - That said, start saving now, not only for your down payment, but any other expenses associated with a home purchase:  inspections, closing costs, and taxes are a few to expect. 

  • - Once you are close to having all of your down payment, start shopping for the best mortgages, and get pre-approved.  Being pre-qualified is great, but it’s not much help if you’re not approved for the loan. 

  • - Be ready to compromise on certain home aspects:  square footage, having to make minor repairs, or even living on a busy street.  If the price is right, the house fits your needs and wants, then put the it on your possibilities list. 

  • - Just because you’re approved for a certain home loan amount doesn’t mean you have to max that budget.  You need as much leeway in your finances for emergencies and unexpected costs. 

  • - Prepare yourself for possible let-downs:  some perfect-for-you homes are also perfect for others who are on the search for a new house.  If there are several offers on a house, you may have to walk away from it and keep hunting. 

  • - Don’t go through it alone!  Find a Realtor that you trust and like.  These real estate professionals are your ultimate guide through the home-buying process, and will make it so much easier for you.   

 

The house-buying process for most Americans takes a bit longer than what we see on the home-buying television shows. It takes planning and patience to find what you need and want.  So, do your “home” work, and you’ll soon be on your way to being homeowners! 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: thehomebuyerguygj.com

Necessary Tools for the Homeowner

by Scott Darling

While not everyone considers themselves a Weekend Warrior, every homeowner should have certain tools on hand.  A small hammer and duct tape are just the basics every person should own, and while a large toolset isn’t necessary, some items are. Keep this guide in mind the next time you head out to the home center or local hardware store. 

 

  • Toolbox:  It may seem obvious, but keeping everything in one place will save time when you need an item in a hurry, and keep the box in a dedicated place in your garage or storage closet. 

  • Claw Hammer:  Every home needs a hammer, preferably with a clawed end to remove nails or for prying hard-to-open objects. 

  • Adjustable Wrench:An adjustable wrench takes the place of a wrench set, and, hence the name, can adjust to most average-size bolts. 

  • Screwdriver:  Most people have two standard screwdrivers: flathead and Phillips.  There are screwdrivers that have changeable bits for different sized screws, and they are especially convenient. 

  • Pliers:  Many types of this versatile tool are available, and the basic design is perfect for all sorts of jobs.  You can get specialized styles:  needle-nosed, pliers with wire cutters--the choices are endless.  Get what you think is best for your needs. 

  • Boxcutter/Utility Knife:  A folding or disappearing blade would be best for this tool, especially if you have children. It’s a great tool to have for many uses, such as cutting insulation, trimming shingles, as well as repairing drywall. 

  • 25-foot Tape Measure:  You never know when you’ll need to measure more than a yard-stick’s length, and a 25-foot style is great for measuring rooms, or outdoor projects. 

  • Cordless Drill: Brian Kelsey, host of the online video series, Kelsey on the House, says a cordless drill will become your “...most-used tool in your tool kit,”  

 

Home centers will have an array of pre-filled toolboxes, and if that’s what suits your needs, purchase one of those. But if you know what you want, assemble a custom tool set to use for all your home projects/minor repairs.  Bob Vila provides a list with some extras not listed here, so if you’re a go-getter in the DIY field, see his recommendations for a little more than the basics. 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: http://turnkeymakereadybcs.com

Park the Car in the Garage in Chester County, PA

by Scott Darling

Do you actually park your car in the garage?  A 2015 survey from PRN News found that only 1 in 4 Americans keep their car in the garage when they’re at home!  The rest use it for storage, extra workspace, and, sometimes, junk.  Spend some extra time and a little money to get organized and get more use from this large space! 

 

- Hang folding outdoor chairs from wall hooks or strong nails to get them out of the way.  Plastic chairs can be stacked and placed in a corner. 

- Create off-the-floor storage space by adding shelves, and put lightweight items in clear plastic storage totes, and place them on the shelves. 

- Have the kids’ sports balls taken over the floor?  Use bungee cords to get them out of the way!   

- Use plastic window planter inserts for storage, mounting them on a wall with a washer/bolt combination for strength.  Store smaller miscellaneous items in the planters--gardening hand tools, spray paint cans, or paint brushes. 

- If your garage has visible studs, use that space to hang items by placing a tension rod in between the studs.  Hang spray bottles by their nozzles, add hooks to store garden tools, or attach small plastic baskets with shower curtain hooks for storing small items. 

- A worktable can take up a lot of space if you’re not using it all the time, so creating a fold-away table is perfect for the hobbyist.  Crafted Workshop shows us how to build one for about $35. 

- An unused filing cabinet can be turned into garden tool storage by removing the drawers, standing the cabinet on its back, and use the empty drawer spaces to stand tools in.   

- Toy bins with rope handles are sturdy enough to store garden hoses, extension cords, and actual outdoor toys, and the bins can hang via their rope handles on large nails or hangers. 

- Wood pallets can be put to so many uses, and the garage is no exception.  Attach them to the walls, add nails or hooks and hang items, or create shelving with them. 

- Keep small hardware and machine parts handy in jars with screw-on lids.  Make them even more convenient by attaching them to the undersides of shelving!  Instructables shows you how to DIY this project. 

 

Home centers have units and other materials to create hanging storage on the ceiling, as well as storage cabinets for things that need to be locked up or out of the kids’ reach.  However, you choose to tidy up your space, your hard work will pay off because you just might end up with room to park the car!

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: garagejournal.com

Chester County PA Real Estate Market Trends For June 2018

by Scott Darling

Chester County PA Real Estate Market Trends for June 2018

Chester County PA single family homes saw pending sales increase by 5.5% in June 2018 when compared to June 2017. 823 homes sold in June with a median sales price of $355,000.  The average sales price increased by 3.2%, and homes were on the market 15 days more.

If you are thinking about selling your home get a free instant home evaluation Learn More

Backyard Getaways in Chester County, PA

by Scott Darling

Many of us have seen the “she shed” photos on social media, where an outdoor building has been made into an outdoor spot for Mom to unwind--the counter to the basement man cave.  With these ideas, you can take your garden shed, gazebo or covered porch to many levels to provide a place to relax, entertain, or watch the children play in the sprinkler.   

 

Outdoor Oasis Plan 

- First, check with your municipal codes for accessory buildings, garden sheds, and see what permits you need to add one to your yard. If you already have one, you’re one step closer to your party hut. 

- Decide on what will fit in your space, then shop pre-fab shed distributors, Pinterest for DIY material-repurposing ideas, or online for downloadable building plans.  

- How do you want to use your space?  Will it be an entertaining area, a place to relax, or a low-budget pool house? Make a budget for decorating and extras, and stick to it. 

- Once you have your building in place, choose your decor and paint scheme:   

  • - Beach-inspired colors are bright, and you can include an old surfboard, vintage buoys and signal flags found at tag sales. 

  • - Rocking chairs, light colored walls, natural elements, and floral seat cushions make for a country retreat. 

  • - Go modern with simple folding chairs, which offer a storage bonus, simple green succulent plants in sleep pots, neutral colors, and a sleek bar of polished wood. 

  • - Send guests a message of fun in the sun with a palm-frond roof, tiki torches, lots of wood elements and an open-air bar for a tropical feel. 

  • - Create a small pool house with space for lounge chairs, as well as hardware for hanging clothes and towels, and storage for pool toys.   

 

Outdoor Entertaining with Conveniences 

- Lighting can be tricky if you don’t have electricity running to your outdoor structure.  If you decide to fully wire the place, have an electrician take care of this aspect.  You want it well-lit, but not a shining beacon--soft lighting is perfect for Summer night entertaining. 

- Give self-charging solar lights a try.  LED’s associated with solar lighting have come a long way, and can be bright without being harsh. 

- Battery-operated LED lights are an excellent alternative, and come in many designs to complement your decor.  Strings of Chinese lanterns and vintage-style bulb covers can be found in many styles in home centers and online. 

- You may not want to deal with the cost of a hiring an electrician to wire your new party pad, but using solar power on your small building is easier than you may think.  Home improvement centers have small solar kits that you’ll need to light the night without adding to your utility bill. 

- Solar-powered ceiling fans for outdoor use are easily found online, as well as stand-alone units.  Moving air will keep you and any guests comfortable.   

 

With so many products and ideas available at our fingertips, thanks to the internet, an outdoor gathering place can be outfitted as simply or luxuriously as we want--there’s no need to break the bank.  Create a haven that fits the needs for your family, and make fun-filled Summer memories without leaving your backyard! 


Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: Country Living Magazine

Pet Summertime Safety

by Scott Darling

When we’re enjoying the warm weather, our pets usually are, too.  When we’re spending time outdoors with family and friends, we usually include our pets.  Keeping our furry family members safe should always be a priority, and these tips may be a refresher course for some, but it never hurts to make sure all our loved ones are kept out of harm’s way. 

 

In the Backyard 

- Fencing should be examined to make sure there are no gaps at the bottom, and that all materials are in place and secure.  You don’t want Fluffy taking a neighborhood excursion by himself. 

- The garden and landscaping bring us great satisfaction, and animals like to take a bite of growing things occasionally.  Check these lists for cats and dogs from ASPCA to make sure you keep your pets from chewing on them. 

- Keep any swimming pool chemicals and mechanical lawn tools sealed and out of your pets’ way.  Some of these products have a scent that is enticing to animals, and they wouldn’t hesitate to give them a try.   

- It may sound sensational, but if you have an animal that is a toy breed, or weighs five pounds or less, keep an eye and ear out for any predatory birds.  Owls, hawks, and eagles have been known to attack small pets, mistaking them for a wild meal. 

- Sometimes it’s necessary to leave your dog or cat outside while you’re gone for a while.  Make sure they have adequate shelter to keep them cool, and plenty of cool water to prevent heat stroke or dehydration. 

- Allowing your cat to roam in the yard is great for them, as they are natural hunters, and they find great pleasure in all the sights and sounds.  Keep an eye on them in case they see a bird they’d like to get to know better, or find a snake in the flower bed.  Protecting wildlife and your feline friend go hand-in-hand. 

 

Out and About 

- Does your dog go with you for exercise while you’re biking or jogging?  Some active pet owners take a water bowl with them, so they can offer a cool drink to their pet, and you can train them to drink directly from the bottle using an adaptor created especially for dogs. 

- Going fishing or water skiing?  Make sure you have a life jacket for them, as well as an overboard plan.  If you think Fido would enjoy jumping into the water, maybe you should leave them at home or at the kennel for their safety as well as your own. 

- vetSTREET offers some great tips for taking your dog to the beach.  Heat, waves, and hot sand can all play a role in just how much fun everyone will have--or not. 

- It’s vacation time, and you’d like to bring your pet with you, so call ahead for information on pet-friendly lodging, and where they can stay for events where pets aren’t welcome. Make sure you have a vehicle safety harness or seat belt for them or their carrier while you’re traveling. 

 

Summertime brings water fun, cookouts, and don’t forget the insects!  Keep your pets safe from biting insects, and be sure they get a flea and tick repellent treatment and heartworm prevention to avoid any diseases these insects can cause down the road. Pets need to be kept as safe as small children, so take preventive measures so you can have a fun and healthy Summer with the whole family.   

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: allpetnews.com

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 333

Syndication

Categories

Archives