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Kennett Square Home For Sale: 119 Federal Walk

by Scott Darling

Kennett Square Home For Sale:

119 Federal Walk, Kennett Square PA 19348
MLS# 6526599

Spectacular In Every Way!



Spectacular! Move right into this spacious townhome in fantastic condition. Longwood Village is a pretty community with mature landscaping and just 42 townhomes. It isn't often that one comes on the market. Wonderful, spacious floor plan with 3 levels of living space, a full basement and a Garage! Foyer entry has hardwood floors. Spacious Living Room features a gas fireplace. Kitchen has a gas stove, hardwood floors, granite counter-tops, lots of cabinetry and a pantry. Dining Area has sliding glass doors to a secluded Deck with beautiful landscaping that adds privacy. Second floor has a wonderful Master Bedroom with huge walk-in closet and tiled bath. Two additional Bedrooms, Laundry Room and another full Bath complete the second floor. The third level is an awesome LOFT with another walk-in closet! This would make a wonderful office or 4th bedroom. Immaculate condition. Walk to shopping, restaurants, & Starbucks!

Marketed by Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

 

12 Cold Weather Maintenance Tips For Your Home

by Scott Darling

We certainly have had our share of winter this year. Here are a few cold weather maintenance tips to make you warm and cozy!

warm feet1. Allow Your Faucets To Drip

This sounds counter intuitive, but if the temperatures are well below freezing outside, your pipes are at risk of bursting. Fixing exploded pipes is a costly and pain-staking procedure, so you'll want to avoid that at all costs. If the temperature drops well below freezing, simply crack your faucets to allow water to steadily drip out. The running water in the pipes will keep your pipes from freezing.

2. Leave Your House Immediately If You Detect The Smell Of Gas

If you use gas to heat your home and smell a strong sulfur-like odor, you need to leave your house and call a professional. Gas leaks do happen and they need to be taken seriously and handled by a professional.

3. Turn Down The Thermostat

Or even better, purchase a programmable one. You can save as much as 2-3% on your energy costs for every degree you lower your thermostat around the clock. If you program the heat to lower while your gone at work or sleeping, you can save as much as 10% on your annual heating bill. That sounds pretty nice!

4. Give Your Furnace A Good Inspection

Look for rust. Check for scaling on the heat exchanger. Ensure proper flame color. Also, listen for odd sounds, and note any odd smells. Lastly, check the condition of venting. If you have any cause for concern, consult a professional.

5. Clean Or Replace Your Furnace Filters

Not only does this help you save on heating costs in the long run, but it's a safety thing as well.

6. Check All Windows For Drafts

Use caulking to seal in anywhere that might be drafty.

7. Examine Windows And Doors For Ice Accumulation

If you find any, make a note to replace or repair in the springtime.

8. Check Your Attic For Frost

If there is excessive frost or staining on the underside of the roof, you'll want to see to that in the spring.

9. Clear Exhaust Vents Around The Outside Of Your House

As snow falls, make sure outside vents are clear from snow cover. Covered vents can force dangerous carbon monoxide back into the house.

10. Ensure Your CO2 And Smoke Detectors Are Working

Cold weather shows a jump in carbon monoxide calls for the fire department. Make sure that all of your detectors are working. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, so you'll need a detector to tell if you have a leak.

11. Close Fireplace Dampers When Not Using The Fireplace

If you leave dampers open, it will pull warm air from you house, even if there is no fire. NO sense in paying to heat the outside.

12. Make Sure The Heat Is Actually Getting To You

Vacuum out radiators, baseboard heaters, and furnace duct openings. Also, ensure they are free of obstructions. If you're paying for the heat , you might as well feel it.

Information courtesy of Chester County PA Real Estate Expert Scott Darling.

New Homeowner Tax Mistakes NOT To Make

by Scott Darling

It’s that time of year again; time to file your taxes.  You may or may not be happy about that but there are two taxesthings that are always going to happen, death and taxes.  On a not so morbid note, let’s look into a few homeowner tax mistakes  that folks typically make so that you can be sure to avoid them. 

Many times when folks purchase a home that needs a lot of renovations, they forget to keep the receipts for these renovations and take advantage of them at tax time.   Some home renovations can be a tax write off.   If you do such things as installing energy-efficient features into your home you need to be sure to take these as a tax right off.  There are some home improvements that will not qualify as a tax deduction but they will still be helpful if you ever decide to sell your home.

  • If you have been a home renter for many years, you may have been able to file a very easy tax form known as the 1040ez.  Do not make the mistake of thinking you can continue to file this simple form for taxes once you purchase your own home.  It may be to your benefit to talk to a tax professional about what all you can deduct once you become a homeowner and what forms to use.  You may in fact want to just hire a professional to make sure that your taxes are done correctly and save yourself a lot of worry. 
  • Be careful not to list your full escrow amount on your taxes.  Many homeowners try and list their full escrow balance on taxes.   You may be surprised to find that if you are a homeowner not all of your funds in escrow are used to pay taxes.  Again, hiring a tax professional may be in your best interest at least for the first year after becoming a homeowner.  Why have unnecessary stress when you can let someone who knows what they are doing take care of your taxes. 
  • You may find this surprising but many folks file their new home on their tax forms in the wrong year.  Remember that taxes are a year behind.  If you purchased your home in the first part of 2015, you do not need to include it in your tax return this year because you are filing 2014 taxes.  You can actually end up filling the wrong amounts if you make this mistake and that can lead to less of a refund than you had anticipated. 

Hopefully these tips will be helpful to you this tax season.  If you haven’t yet filed your taxes, go ahead and do so to avoid having to file extensions.  Better to get it all out of the way and enjoy whatever 2015 is going to bring your way and stop worrying about your taxes so that you can enjoy your new home!

To Fix Or Not To Fix?

by Scott Darling

I am often asked, “Should sellers fix up their home before selling?” First, let’s talk about the stuff any Realtor is going to tell you so you have context for the rest.

home sellerIt is easier to sell a house that is attractive to buyers and shows as being well-maintained. That is a matter of doing a little fix-up, but mostly clean-up. Make sure pipes aren’t leaking, for instance. That is relatively easy and not expensive. If your home really needs painting consider doing that. These are not high priced issues. Below we are talking about the expensive items.

If your house has structural defects or other problems that are expensive to fix you have more challenging decisions to make. First, remember that every house has defects! That is simply the nature of a complex structure. Second, savvy buyers know to expect defects so don’t try to hide them. Don’t kid yourself that if a problem can’t be seen easily it won’t be found out.

Most buyers assume there are some problems with any house. If they make an offer that you accept they will pay for a professional home inspector who knows real estate. Good buyer inspectors are very thorough. They are being paid by the buyer and are looking out for the buyer’s interests, not yours. It is not unusual for an inspection report to be in excess of twenty pages…in small type! Being honest with yourself about defects will prepare you better when you are faced with that inspection report.

So, the question becomes “Do I fix the problems before going on the market, or do I make it clear that I am selling “as-is” and discount the price accordingly?” The obvious follow-up question is “If I spend the money before selling, will I get that money back in the final sale price?” The general answer is that it depends on the nature of the defect and magnitude of the likely cost of repair.

Potential buyers are most likely to overestimate the cost if they have to make the repair and under-estimate the cost if the seller is paying. Cost versus value then becomes a negotiation to establishing a final purchase/sale price. If the cost of repair is major, such as a septic system, it makes the most sense to repair it before selling.

The best way to go about making these decisions is to pay a professional home inspector in your real estate market to make an inspection on your behalf as the seller. Their report will give you a thorough list of issues you might be faced with. It will also give you the tool to get estimates from contractors to make the repairs. Then you have a sound basis for making decisions.

An added benefit to having your own inspection on hand is that you have a professional document that you can use when negotiating with a buyer. Be practical and be prepared with your own inspection.

Information courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

5 financial fitness habits to begin in the new year

by Scott Darling

budgetWhile many people focus on personal health goals in the New Year, the beginning of the year is also a great time to check your financial fitness. So how can you whip your finances into shape?

South University College of Business, Virginia Beach faculty member Dr. Alan Harper says everyone should adopt these five financial habits in 2015:

1. Establish a budget

Harper says the first step in taking control of your finances is to establish a budget. "It is extremely important to know how much money is coming in, where it's going, and allocating it appropriately," he says. "Having a budget allows you to gain a broader understanding of your spending habits."

Make sure your budget includes allowances for food, clothing, gas, and even entertainment, Harper advises.

2. Start saving

Your budget should also include money set aside for emergencies. Harper says the old rule-of-thumb that three month's salary is enough to have in your bank account no longer applies in our current economy.

"We found in the last recession that people who lost their jobs tended to stay out of work much longer than three months," he says. "You should have six months to a year's worth of income in savings, just in case."

Harper says you should also try to put away 15 percent of your take-home income toward your retirement. Many retirement savings options are available, including 401(k)s, Roth IRAs and individual retirement accounts. It is important to do your homework before deciding on a long-term investment strategy so that you are aware of terms, conditions and any fees associated with your options.

3. Manage your credit

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to check your credit history, and to look for any mistakes on your credit report, Harper advises. Mistakes on your credit report can cost you large sums of money in interest rates, or even keep you from being approved for a loan.

"The law requires the three major credit reporting agencies to provide you with one free credit report a year," Harper says. "Pull those reports and look for discrepancies. If you find one, file a dispute with the credit reporting agency and they will remove the item if it is incorrect."

Harper also says to check your FICO score on the report, make sure you have an understanding of what the score means, and how to improve it if the score is low.

4. Shop smart

Make it a priority to save money while you shop, Harper says. He encourages clipping coupons, and says purchasing membership cards to discount stores like Sam's Club and Costco can help you save money over time.

"Those stores will save you money in the long run on purchases like food, gas, and even personal care items."

5. Check your insurance

Setting aside time at the beginning of the year to check your insurance policies can also save you money. Harper advises that you should review your auto, home and life insurance to make sure you have the proper coverage.

"You want to make sure you aren't paying for coverage that you may no longer need, but you also want to make sure you have adequate coverage in case there is an accident or you need to make a claim," he says.

Many companies also offer discounted rates if you hold multiple policies with them. So, if your auto, home and life insurance policies are with different companies, you may want to explore the benefits of choosing just one company.

"It's also important to make sure your life insurance policies are sufficient to protect your family from a financial crisis in the event that something happens to you," Harper notes.

"Establishing a budget, saving, staying on top of credit and insurance, and shopping smart all take some work," Harper points out. "But the rewards to your personal and household bottom line are well worth the effort." (BPT)

Millennials: How to make your home ownership dreams a reality

by Scott Darling

millenialsOwning a home is part of the American Dream, yet standards on income, credit and debt are making it tougher to buy a home than it was 10 years ago. Even though requirements are relaxing, only three out of five borrowers get approved.

While stricter standards make it tougher for young families to qualify for a mortgage, millennials said they understand why these standards exist and think the tougher requirements won't stand in their way of buying a home.

Because mortgage lenders use debt-to-income to evaluate a borrowers' ability to repay a loan, student debt is a growing burden on millennials interested in financing a home. Unlike medical debt, student debt carries an equal weight to credit card debt. Nearly half of those surveyed said it's unfair to weigh both types of debt equally.

As for the tougher requirements to getting a mortgage, millennials do think the tougher standards guard against risky loans and will help prevent another mortgage crisis. More than half say making it easier to get a mortgage will result in more foreclosures.

If you have student debt and want to buy your first home, here are a few ideas and tips to help you prepare:

  • Lower your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). DTI is your total monthly income as compared to your total monthly debt payments. Most lenders will only lend to you if your DTI is at or below 43 percent. So to lower it, try to increase your income by pursuing a promotion or raise, finding a higher-paying job or taking on part-time work. Decrease your required monthly debt payments by refinancing or consolidating student loans and paying down any credit card balances.
  • Get your credit score in order. Analyze your credit report before you start the home buying process. Dispute incorrect derogatory information and ensure all three credit-reporting bureaus list all of your positive information. Pay all your bills on time, reduce credit card balances to 30 percent of the credit limit or lower, and don't open new credit cards if you already have a few.
  • Save for a down payment. Make a budget for each month before it starts, with a plan for spending and saving, and stick to it. Stash away extra money from bonuses, overtime or financial gifts on your birthday or holidays. Find a roommate to help pay your rent or move into a less-expensive rental. Do freelance or contract work on the side. Sell unneeded stuff on Craigslist. (BPT)

6 Creative Homebuying Strategies

by Scott Darling

The number of available properties for sale nationwide has dropped dramatically over the past 12 months according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). If you’re a homebuyer searching for real estate chances are you have found a low inventory of properties.

A low inventory of properties also tends to cause bidding wars to come back. That means homebuyers have to get more creative. Paul Bishop, VP of NAR suggests going beyond the usual market tactics to help you be the first to find homes. Simply getting pre-qualified for a mortgage is not enough anymore.

Here are 6 tips for creative strategies…

  1. Head off the competition by finding “pocket listings.” These are listings that have been contracted for, but haven’t reached the market or been posted on the MLS. There are various reasons for this to happen, many times at the seller’s request. However, the listing broker knows the property is for sale. Tell your agent you want to know immediately of any new properties for sale.
     
  2. Get real-time information. Most potential homebuyers depend on the normal flow of information from MLS sites or other sources like Realtor.com. Ask your agent about real-time MLS alerts – emails that go out immediately when a listing goes live. This avoids waiting hours or days before you know about new home for sale.
     
  3. Tell your Realtor you want to be notified immediately when the inventory of properties changes – and make sure he or she knows exactly what you are looking for! That does three things for you: it forces you to be very specific about what you want; it tells your Realtor valuable information about your wants; and, it signals just how serious you are about moving on a purchase quickly.
     
  4. Don’t be too quick to reject what you think are bad listings! Look past the need for paint, or bad lighting, or unflattering photos. Make sure not to superficially reject any listing that could be a treasure that is just packaged poorly.
     
  5. Set your search criteria a bit higher than your actual target price. You are then looking for real estate that is over-priced so you can keep an eye on them to come down.
     
  6. Look out for would-be sellers. Tell your Realtor to check property listings that expired weeks or months ago. Get him to contact the sellers to see if they are considering coming back on the market. They may jump at someone like you who is ready to buy!

Develop a strong relationship with your Realtor, get pre-qualified for a mortgage, make sure your credit is clean, and then let your agent know that you are ready to move quickly when the right property comes along. Read here for more general buying tips.

Information courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Displaying blog entries 1-7 of 7

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Photo of Scott Darling Real Estate
Scott Darling
RE/MAX Action Associates
403 W. Lincoln Highway #101
Exton PA 19341
(610) 594-SCOT
610-363-2001
Fax: (610) 363-5275