Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8

Reasons To Payoff Your Mortgage Sooner Rather Than Later

by Scott Darling

According to a DexOne Corporation survey, as reported by CT Power Team, “42% of Americans say that their mortgage is the debt they most want to eliminate.” That is a completely understandable goal when you consider the savings. The important question is "How can I do it?” Here are some examples…

mortgage payoff

  • Increase your monthly mortgage payments simply by adding a fixed amount to your required payments. The easiest way to do this is to use an increase in your income from time to time to increase the amount of your mortgage payment. Doing that does two things for you...
  1. It decreases the amount of principal owed by a larger amount each month.
  2. The following month, after making an increased payment, you pay less interest because of the larger decrease in the principle.

    The combination of the above two changes results in paying off the mortgage in less time than originally scheduled and you will pay significantly less total interest.
  • Make additional payments on the principle at any time if you can’t increase your regular monthly payment. You can do this anytime you have a little left over at the end of the month, or you get a bonus at the end of the year, or you receive a gift. No matter how much, or how little, you pay extra it will decrease the time it takes to pay off the mortgage. That means you will save interest.
     
  • Refinance with a shorter-term mortgage if you see the interest rates come down. Just keep in mind that refinancing means spending money on loan closing costs. Only consider this if the interest rates are lowered enough to justify paying closing costs. Otherwise, you can always choose to keep your original mortgage, but increase the monthly payment as outlined above.

Here’s just one example of how paying off early works…

Let’s assume you are paying on a 30-year mortgage for $200,000 at a 5% interest rate. If you pay off the mortgage in 30 years, you will pay $186,512 in interest. If you pay off that same mortgage with even payments over 20 years, you will pay as little as $116,779 in interest. That’s $70,000 that stays in you pocket!

Visit bankrate.com for more in-depth information. Also, use their online mortgage calculator. You will never regret paying off your mortgage sooner then planned.

 

Tailgating Essentials: 7 Tips for Game Day

by Scott Darling

Along with the hard hits, the heartache and exhilaration, football is about getting people together —even if they don’t always root for the same team. If you’re one of those fans who made several mock drafts of your ideal fantasy football team or have the stats of your favorite players memorized, chances are you’re also gearing up for some serious tailgating this season. 

tailgating

While everybody loves a good sofa or recliner, nothing captures the spirit of the game more than tailgating – where people gather, eat, drink and get ready for some football!  

Whether you are a fan of football, crazy cheers or delicious dips, tailgating has something for everyone. Don’t get sidelined this season, keep it simple with these tailgating tips to cover everything you need and nothing you don’t for a winning season.

1. The game plan. Tailgating is all about planning and having everything you need and nothing you don’t. An easy way to make sure you don’t forget something is to make a reusable, laminated checklist. That way you can easily check off everything you have with a dry erase marker then wipe it off and be ready for the next game.

2. Keep a variety of plays in your meal plan. In a world of changing diets and allergies, a good tailgating menu is about more than just burgers, brats and buns. Be prepared to please all of your tailgate guests by incorporating delicious health-conscious side dishes along with your tailgate go-tos.

3. Huddle up. Remember, you’re the host of your spot in the parking lot, and it’s your job to keep people together and keep them comfortable. It’s a good idea to have a stash of blankets and raingear tucked away in your vehicle. After all, there’s always going to be one person who forgot their coat.

4. Instant replays. Social media lets you share your tailgating fun with friends and family near and far. With apps galore you can snap and share pictures, text your post-game rendezvous point and check in on other scores. 

5. Don’t get sidelined. Keep the play and your social media updates in motion with touchdown cell phone service.

6. TP is for more than “team player.” Even if you think you have the most important things checked off your list, far too many people forget one of the most important items: toilet paper. Just because there’s a porta potty doesn’t mean there’s toilet paper. Keep your tailgate buddies covered by packing a few rolls.

7. Tackle the trash. Tailgating is fun but cleaning up, not so much when you have a game to watch! Go green and keep things simple by bringing real dishes and silverware. When everyone is done, place the dirty dishes in a tub in your trunk and hose down when you get home. After all, you have a game to watch!

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to the best season yet! (BPT)

7 Steps For Simplifying Your Next Paint Project

by Scott Darling

If you’re considering a household painting project, now’s the perfect time. The summer’s hottest days are in the past and winter’s frigid temperatures aren’t even on your radar. Whether you plan to paint your kitchen, a hallway, outdoor siding or a refurbished piece of furniture, keep in mind a few helpful tips to make your project flow a little bit easier.

kitchen

  1. Patch holes and imperfections. For better or worse, painting a room allows you to examine all of the walls and find any imperfections in need of repairs. In most cases, these dents can be repaired with a caulk or a putty knife and some spackle or joint compound. Whatever repairs are in order, they should be done a few days before your painting project begins, to ensure that everything is completely dry when it comes time to paint.
     
  2. Prepare the area before you paint. Proper preparation is key to ensure less frustration later on. First, remove draperies, pictures, switch and outlet cover plates from walls. Second, wipe off any dirt or dust from walls and baseboards with a damp cloth. If the area is highly contaminated, use a mild detergent. Lastly, tape off any woodwork, windows and trim. Using a strong, long-lasting painter’s tape can ensure your beautiful baseboards and your woodwork are protected, ultimately making them stand out.
     
  3. Find the right finish for the job. Consider the amount of dirt and activity your walls will be exposed to before choosing your paint sheen. Flat or eggshell sheens should be used in low-traffic areas, because they hold dirt and are more difficult to clean. Semi-gloss and gloss finishes are best suited for high-traffic or active areas, such as a child’s bedroom, because they can be easily washed without losing their luster.
     
  4. Choose a durable paint. If you’re looking for a paint that can stand up to the daily wear and tear that happens on the inside and outside of a busy home.
     
  5. Work from the top down. If you’re painting a room, start with the ceiling first. If you’re painting another area or structure, begin with the highest point.
     
  6. Use the proper brush or roller technique. When utilizing a brush for tight trim work, dip half the length of the bristles into your paint, then gently tap the brush on the side of the can rather than wiping it across the lip. Be sure to hold the brush handle near the base to ensure maximum control, applying light pressure to the surface being painted. When using a roller on larger surfaces, slowly roll the brush into the paint tray, ensuring an even coat on all sides. Use the ridges in the upper portion of the tray to remove excess product, then paint the surface in a capital “M” motion. Continue this motion until the area is completely covered.
     
  7. Keep your workspace ventilated. This season’s temperatures are perfect for a do-it-yourself (DIY) project so take advantage of it. If your project has you painting indoors, open the windows and allow a fresh breeze into your painting space while you work. And when the project is done and your paint has dried, keep the windows open for a few hours to ensure your new room looks as great as it smells. If your project has you painting outside, make sure that the weather forecast is clear for a few days so that your newly-painted project has ample time to dry.

Whether this is your first painting project or you’re a seasoned do-it-yourself painter, there’s something exciting about picking up a roller and recreating a space with a fresh coat of paint. (BPT) 

Chester County PA Real Estate Market Trends -August 2015

by Scott Darling

Take a look at August's real estate sales broken down by school district.

Downingtown School District

The number of homes selling in the Downingtown school district in August 2015 rose by 6.42% when compared to August 2014. The average selling price decreased by 4% to $385,570. The median selling price dropped by  7.96%, while the average market time increased by 9 days.

Date Sold
Listing

Average
Selling Price

Median
Selling Price
Average
Days On Market
August 2015 116 $385,570 $376,450 48
August 2014 109 $401,691 $409,000 39

 

West Chester School District

The number of homes selling in the West Chester school district in August 2015 decreased by 3.82% when compared to August 2014. The average selling price decreased by less than 1% . The median selling price increased by 3.7 %, while the average market time decreased by 11 days.

Date Sold
Listings

Average
Selling Price

Median
Selling Price
Average
Days On Market
August 2015 126 $394,971 $372,500 38
August 2014 131 $398,558 $359,000 49

 

Coatesville School District

The number of homes selling in the Coatesville school district in August 2015 increased by 22.06% when compared to August 2014. The average selling price decreased by .35% to $227,766. The median selling price decreased 5.95%, while the average market time rose by 4 days.

Date Sold
Listings

Average
Selling Price

Median
Selling Price
Average
Days On Market
August 2015 83 $227,766 $214,900 78
August 2014 68 $228,559 $228,500 74

 

Great Valley School District

The number of homes selling in the Great Valley school district increased by 35%. The Average Selling Price increased by 6.02% to $519,733. The median selling price rose by 15%, while the average market time increased by 22 days.

Date Sold
Listings

Average
Selling Price

Median
Selling Price
Average
Days On Market
August 2015 50 $519,733 $460,000 56
August 2014 37 $490,242 $400,000 34



Unionville School District

The number of homes selling in the Unionville school district in August 2015 decreased by 29.17% when compared to August 2014. The average selling price decreased by 21.06% to $495,541. The median selling decreased 18.69% while the average market time increased by 29 days.

Date Sold
Listings

Average
Selling Price

Median
Selling Price
Average
Days On Market
August 2015 34 $495,541 $436,000 78
August 2014 48 $627,708 $536,250 49



Tredyffrin-Easttown School District

The number of homes selling in the Tredyffrin-Easttown school district in
August 2015 decreased by 19.72% when compared to August 2014. The average selling price increased by 7.23% to $531,563. The median selling price increased by 31.49%, while the average market time increased by 10 days.

Date Sold
Listings

Average
Selling Price

Median
Selling Price
Average
Days On Market
August 2015 57 $531,563 $506,250 54
August 2014 71 $495,723 $385,000 44

 

Owen J Roberts School District

The number of homes selling in the Owen J Roberts school district in
August 2015 increased by 23.81% when compared to August 2014. The average selling price decreased by 12.63% to $340,771. The median selling price rose by 4.64% while the average market time remained the same. 

Date Sold
Listings

Average
Selling Price

Median
Selling Price
Average
Days On Market
August 2015 52 $340,771 $347,000 60
August 2014 42 $390,023 $331,625 60

 

Phoenixville School District

The number of homes selling in the Phoenixville school district in August 2015 increased by 42.11% when compared to August 2014. The average selling price increased by 10.51% to $309,915. The median selling price rose by 10.9%, while the average market time dropped by 15 days.

Date Sold
Listings

Average
Selling Price

Median
Selling Price
Average
Days On Market
August 2015 54 $309,915 $254,950 43
August 2014 38 $280,444 $229,900 58

 

Think you’re ready to buy?

Watch this short video to get advice on how to know when you’re ready to buy and find out what you need to get a competitively-priced loan.

Curious about the value of your home? Get your home's value here!

Answers to Typical Real Estate Questions

by Scott Darling

There are two typical questions raised all the time about real estate…

Sellers: “Shouldn’t I first start with trying to save some money by selling on my own as a “For Sale By Owner?”

Buyers: “Shouldn’t I just look around on my own and work with the listing agents when I find something I like?”

question mark

Both of those scenarios have hidden problems. The field of real estate is loaded with land mines. Real estate professionals “know the ropes” so you don’t need to. Here are some thoughts for you to consider!

  • Sellers need true expert guidance navigating the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a buyer ready, willing and able to pay fair market value at a time when lending standards are so stringent is not an easy task.
     
  • Buyers are finding reasonable financing is not easy to come by. It can be very tricky when interest rates are volatile like they have been over the last several months. And underwriting standards are tight, meaning that you need special guidance getting pre-approved and assuring that your credit is clear.
     
  • Both buyers and sellers need to be hiring a talented negotiator who could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer, to the possible re-negotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.
     
  • Sellers should also realize that when an agent is negotiating their commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family’s head; the salary that puts food on their family’s table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family
     
  • Buyers should consider working with a buyer’s agent from the start. That should be someone who really tunes into your needs and wants. That’s so they can really pinpoint the search for the right property for you. They can save you hours of spinning your wheels and they are ultimately compensated by the seller at the closing table.

Both buyers and sellers should take to heart that old saying “You get what you pay for.” Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, real estate professionals will save you money when all is said and done.


Information provided by Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

How To Avoid 4 First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes

by Scott Darling

First-time homebuyers owe it to themselves to do a lot of research about the finances of buying a home. Here are four first-time homebuyer mistakes to avoid.

oops

1. Spending the maximum amount on a mortgage a lender will loan.

Lenders often qualify buyers based on incomes and debt-to-income ratios without considering how much the borrowers spend on other budget items.

Financial experts recommend that consumers decide how much they want to spend each month on housing before meeting with a lender. It’s up to you to know your budget and to not just jump at a mortgage amount that a lender says you can afford.

2. Not getting pre-qualified.

This should be the first step toward homeownership. Many first-time homebuyers wait until they are ready to start house hunting before contacting a lender.

Buyers need to get pre-qualified early enough in the process so that they can make changes if they need to or correct errors on their credit report. Some first-time buyers may need to spend up to a year saving more money, increasing their incomes or cleaning up their credit before making an offer on a home.

3. Underestimating the importance your credit score.

While most consumers know it's important to have a high credit score, not everyone understands how costly a low score can be. Mortgage lending is done with a tier of interest rates and terms based on consumer credit scores. Learn about credit scores the minute you start working. Many websites provide information about how to improve your credit score.

And remember, even after a mortgage approval, you must avoid applying for new credit or taking on new debt, because a second credit check is now often required before settlement.

4. Choosing the wrong mortgage product

Many first-time homebuyers opt for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage only because it is an industry standard. Alternatives to a 30-year-fixed sometimes make more sense. For example, buyers certain they will be relocated by their companies within five years may find a 5/1 ARM could be a much better mortgage.

Homebuyers eager to build equity in their homes or who are older and want to live mortgage-free in retirement should consider a 15-year fixed-rate loan or even a 10-year mortgage to reach their goals.

Do your homework and don’t jump at a mortgage because it will buy you a bigger home.

5 Ways to Get Buyers to See Your Open House As Their Next Home

by Scott Darling

What makes a person or a family decide a home is the perfect for them? Is it all location, location, location? What about price, schools or the neighborhood? Or is it something else; a feeling they get when they walk in the door, a detail they notice or a scent in the air.

open house

Your home, your location, your neighborhood and school district are pre-determined. Yet there is plenty you can do yourself to make sure your open house has that wow factor and captivates would-be buyers. Here are five tips to get you started so that next family will determine your home is the perfect home.

Get clean. It sounds simple, but it's amazing how many homeowners don't clean their homes before an open house. This is one case where lived-in isn't going to cut it. The kitchen and bathrooms should be spotless, cracked tiles should be repaired and any plumbing issues should be addressed. Expect that people will try the sinks and flush the toilets. If you don't feel you can get your home ready on your own, hire a professional cleaning service to do the job for you. The money you spend on the cleaners will be well worth it when your house sells quickly.

Add a fresh sent to the air. Your home should be pleasing to the eye as well as pleasing to the nose. Realtors have recognized the benefits of great smells for years. Best idea…bake chocolate cookies just prior to the open house. Be sure to leave them on the counter for prospective buyers to help themselves.

Time for a makeover. If your home needs a more substantial makeover before it can sell, focus your energy and your money on the most important rooms in the home. Kitchens and master bedrooms sell homes, meaning that a granite counter-top, new appliance or fresh coat of bedroom paint will give you a better chance to sell your home than other projects may allow.

Cut the clutter. Even the cleanest homes still feel messy if there's lots of clutter. Before your open house, adopt a minimalist approach and keep your home as clutter-free as possible. Remember, you want buyers to see the beauty of your home, not simply the items you keep in it.

Start at the curb. Poor curb appeal can put buyers off to your home before they even step foot inside. Make sure your home's outside is every bit as beautiful as the inside. Paint the exterior if you need to, plant flowers in the flower bed and mow the lawn. Buyers should never walk up to your front door already thinking it's a fixer-upper.

An open house provides an excellent opportunity to showcase your home and help buyers fall in love with. And once they do, they're sure to make your current home their future home. (BPT)

How Empty Nesters Can Boost Home Value

by Scott Darling

Whether they're heading off to college or they've finally finished their education and are starting their careers in a distant city, the departure of kids from your nest makes for a bittersweet time. If you've committed much of your energy-and most of your home-to raising kids for a couple of decades, you may be at loose ends when they move out. Home improvement is just the ticket to make yourself feel better!

home value

Updating your home after the kids move out is good for you on multiple levels. In addition to the emotional boost, improvements can enhance your home's resale value if you're planning to down-size down the road. Or, you can focus on home improvements that will facilitate aging in place, like improving the lighting and usability of key rooms, such as bathrooms and the kitchen.

Here are a handful of renovation ideas for baby boomers looking to reclaim their home spaces after the kids have left the nest:

Emphasize natural lighting and ventilation.

Vision changes as you age, so the artificial lighting that worked for you when you were in your 30s or 40s may not be adequate when you enter your 50s and 60s. Lighting is an important upgrade if you plan to remain in your home into your Golden Years. Look for improvements that will help aging eyes see better, like increased natural lighting and task lighting in work areas.

Modern, energy efficient fresh air skylights are a cost-effective and beautiful way to improve a home's natural lighting and passive ventilation. Especially effective for ventilation in kitchens and for ventilation and privacy in bathrooms, skylights can work in virtually any room - even those with no direct roof access.

Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered fresh-air skylights can also improve a home's energy efficiency and improve indoor air quality through passive ventilation. Solar-powered blinds, available in designer colors and patterns, further boost the efficiency and beauty of skylights. Plus, the skylight, blinds and installation costs are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit for energy-efficient home improvements.

Create a "me space".

You already have a guest bedroom, so there's no need to leave Junior's old room set up as a bedroom. Turn it into a space that works for you, like a home office, exercise room, music studio, craft room, workshop or home theater.

As you're planning the improvement, keep in mind your long-term plans. If you'll be selling the home at some point, consider a room that will have broader appeal, like a home office. If you plan to age in place, remember to incorporate features that will facilitate your use of the room even if you experience mobility issues down the road. For example, you may want to take the opportunity to widen doorways, replace doorknobs with door handles, replace loose carpet or slippery tiles with slip-resistant flooring, and improve natural lighting and ventilation throughout the room.

Renovate (or create) a master bathroom.

Bathrooms sell homes, and if you've had to share your bathroom with the kids or live with an outdated master bathroom - or none at all - now's the time to renovate your bathroom. In addition to all the luxurious features you've been dreaming of, like a rainfall shower head and heated floor, keep in mind the practical improvements that will make the room safe and usable as you grow older.

Look for slip-resistant flooring, improve natural and task lighting and replace faucet knobs with easy-to-maneuver levers. Install grab bars around tubs and toilets, as well as in the shower. Bath product designers are now making grab bars that offer the look of design elements coupled with the security of sturdy support.

The departure of your children creates an opportunity to accomplish some home improvements you've been dreaming of for a while. As you're reclaiming spaces once devoted to kids, look for improvements that can increase your home's value and help you stay in your house as long as you wish. (BPT)

Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8

Syndication

Categories

Archives

Contact Information

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