Real Estate Category

A Big Thank You!

I am thrilled to have been selected as a Five Star Real Estate Agent for the second year in a row; thank you to my clients who took the time to participate in the most recent survey! I would love to thank you personally, but as you know, I am not privy to the names of the participants. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the program, it is a blind survey in which real estate professionals are evaluated by their clients in 8 different areas:

  • customer service
  • integrity
  • market knowledge
  • communication and negotiation skills
  • closing preparation
  • helping you find the right home
  • marketing the home being sold
  • overall satisfaction

The final list includes the real estate agents in the local market who scored highest overall. This list represents less than 7% of agents in our local market, an honor that I am so proud have! The Five Star Agents in our area will be featured in the September issue of Philadelphia Magazine.

Categories: Real Estate

Lovely New Ambler Listing

Here is a perfect example of why I love Ambler; look at this beautiful home, they just don’t make them like this anymore! This Victorian gem was built 118 years ago and still stands the test of time. What makes this home better yet is that it is within walking distance to downtown shops, restaurants and theaters as well as the train, you can’t beat it! Looking forward to taking a tour this afternoon!

We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 5874076 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.

Categories: Ambler, Real Estate

Ambler Anomaly

For those of you who live in Ambler, or know the area well, you know that there are very few homes within the borough that have an inground swimming pool; oddly enough there are two for sale right now. The last home to sell in Ambler with an inground pool was in 2005 and before that 2003, which happens to be one of the homes that is for sale today.

That home is on Overlook Road in the neighborhood bordered by Mount Pleasant, Hendricks and Tennis. This small neighborhood offers pretty much just two styles of homes, doll-house Cape Cod or contemporary (if you will). This home is one of the contemporaries, or as I like to refer to them, Brady Bunch’s.

We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 5834608 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.

The other home is in one of my favorite spots in Ambler, on the block of Belmont where it dead ends at Glen Mawr. Unfortunately this home, or should I say the listing of this home is an anomaly in and of itself. I have tried to see the home, but to no avail. It has been on the market for close to a year and due to unusual circumstances they aren’t allowing showings. It seemed pointless to include it but it does have a pool and it is technically for sale. There are no photos of the home but the listing information is here nonetheless.

We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 5689963 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.

According to public records there are only 20 homes in the borough (out of 1771) with pools, 11 of them are reported to be inground. Of course this may not be entirely accurate, but short of knocking on every door in town, that’s the best I can come up with.  I’m just happy to sit here, in my nice toasty office, thinking of days warm enough to go swimming!

Categories: Ambler, Real Estate

let’s do the math

If ever there was a time to appreciate the power of a low interest rate, this is it. But some of us relate more to dollars than to percentages, so let’s do the math.

According to www.FreddieMac.com On April 29, 2010, just before the tax credit expired, the interest rate on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 5.06%, a very good rate.  Coupled with up to an $8,000 tax credit many people bought a new home.  But the current interest rates make today an even better time to buy.  I realize this sounds hard to believe, but let’s break it down and look at the big picture…

As of late August the interest rate was down to 4.42%.  For a $400,000 home purchase, that translates to a monthly savings of $154 versus the same purchase for an April buyer.  The bigger picture is that over the life of the loan the interest savings is $55,515!

There is even more to consider… What if you bought or refinanced your home 5 years ago and now have 25 years left on your loan?  Assuming your home will appraise, you can refinance today and save a bundle.  If you financed a $400,000 in 2005, when the average rate was 5.87%, you are paying about $2,365 per month in principal and interest.  You could refinance your balance and reduce your principle and interest payment to about $1.857, saving $508 per month!  Or you could keep your payments the same and shorten the length of the loan, saving tens of thousands in interest over the life of the loan.

There are people who need to buy and sell in every market, and today’s market is no exception.  People typically purchase a home due to changes in their lives.  Are you or anyone you know getting married, divorced, having children, emptying the nest, getting promoted, or changing jobs?  If so, now is an excellent time to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity, housing affordability is at record high levels.  Do you know that in your lifetime there has likely never been a better time to buy or refinance?  Are you sitting on the fence waiting to see if prices go down while the interest rates inch up?  Don’t allow yourself to look back at this time with regret over a missed opportunity.  The stars are aligned right now with good inventory, low prices and low interest rates.  Today is the day to take full advantage of this good economic news and share it with those you know who stand to benefit!

Categories: Real Estate

Local Real Estate Market Gone Wild!

My day began with a phone call cancelling my showing of a home listed 3 days ago.  The appointment was cancelled because the house was already under contract, in 3 days!  This didn’t come as a huge surprise as the home was well priced and in great condition.  Last night I wrote an offer for a home that was listed 7 days ago, and my buyer is one of three offers!  Two weeks ago clients rushed to put an offer in on a fabulous home in just 4 days because the seller already had second showings and was expecting an offer.  This is after their “number one so far” had gone under contract, receiving 3 offers following a necessary price reduction and a weekend of heavy traffic.  A few months ago in the middle of winter (typically a time of decreased activity in real estate) a wonderfully maintained Ambler twin received multiple offers and went under contract within a week.

Yes, this is contrary to what the market has been and what you have heard in the media for the better part of the past three years. Why, you ask? The increased activity, competitive atmosphere and multiple offer situation is being spurred on by the first time home buyer tax credit. To take advantage of the current government tax credit (potentially $8000 to those who qualify) buyers must be under contract on a property by April 30,2010. This has been common knowledge since November 2009 but clearly many buyers have been dragging their feet. Although that is not the case with all buyers looking to take advantage of the credit, for many there just hasn’t been a good amount of decent inventory. Hence the rush when a properly priced home that shows well enters the marketplace.

How does this help you?

If you are a first time buyer looking in the entry to mid level housing market, first and foremost you need to have carefully considered what you want and need out of a home. You also need to be pre approved for a mortgage within a price range where you are comfortable and know your bottom line. If you find yourself in a multiple offer situation sometimes emotion can take over and you may find yourself paying too much or making other concessions that you normally wouldn’t. It is extremely important that you are represented by a Realtor who has your best interest in mind and will advise you with regard to individual properties and current market value of a home prior to writing an offer. That being said, it is imperative that you get out and visit any home of potential interest as soon as it is listed.

If you are considering selling your home and you fall into the entry to mid level price point you need to contact a Realtor asap to see if there is time for you to take advantage of the activity created by the tax credit. Spring is always a busy time in the world of real estate, but coupled with the expiration of the tax credit this Spring is an ideal time to have your home on the market. If you are thinking of selling your home but are unsure of current market value give me a call and I will be happy to provide you with a free market analysis.

Categories: Ambler, Real Estate

Open House, Sunday Jan 31, 1-3pm

Come visit me Sunday and see one of Ambler’s great historic homes.  86 Orange Avenue was built in 1890 in the heyday of Keasbey-Mattison.  True to construction of the time it is a well-built, solid stone twin abounding with charm and character.  This home features 3 levels, all with hardwood floors, an updated eat-in kitchen and bath, and a lovely fenced in backyard complete with brick patio.  The location is extremely convenient; walking distance to the train station and wonderful downtown Ambler with an array of great restaurants, shopping and cultural attractions.  Click here for further information.

Categories: Real Estate

Home Buyer Tax Credit

Ok, I’ve been putting it off for a week, here is my obligatory tax credit post.  Don’t be confused by my lack of enthusiasm, the tax credit is a great incentive to buyers and sellers alike.  I believe that it will help push the economy forward in the short-term; what this credit means down the road is what concerns me (increasing debt=higher interest rates, who’s going to pay for it, etc.), but that is a discussion for another time.  As you may know the 2009 first time home buyer tax credit was set to expire November 30, 2009.  As of November 6th new legislation was passed to extend the existing first time home buyer’s credit as well as the addition of a new credit for repeat buyers.  So without further delay, here are the fundamentals of the new extended and expanded home buyer tax credit…

First time home buyers remain eligible for a credit equivalent to 10% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of $8000 (which is the norm in our market).  You are considered a first time home buyer if you (or your spouse) have not owned a residence at any time within the past 3 years prior to the new home purchase.

Pete and repeat were walking down the road… sorry, sometimes I just can’t help myself.  Repeat buyers are taxpayers who have lived in the same principal residence for 5 consecutive years out of the last 8 years.  This type of buyer may be eligible for a tax credit equivalent to 10% of the purchase price of a new residence, up to $6500 (again standard in our market).

To take advantage of either credit you must meet the following qualifications:

  • You must occupy the new home as your principal residence for a minimum period of three years after settlement or be required to pay back the credit.
  • There are income limits to qualify; if you make less than $125,000 single filer/$225,000 joint filers you are entitled to the full credit.  For individual/joint filers making $125-145,000/$225-245,000 the credit phases out and you may be qualified for partial credit.  Buyers earning more than $145,000 (single)/$245,000 (joint) are not eligible for the credit.
  • You must be under contract to purchase your new home no later than April 30, 2010 with a settlement date no later than June 30, 2010.
  • The sale price of the new home cannot exceed $800,000.

Please note that the above information applies to properties that are purchased November 7, 2009- April 30, 2010.  Also important to note is that this is a refundable tax credit, not a deduction.  This means that the credit offers a refundable dollar-for-dollar reduction in what the taxpayer owes.  For example, a taxpayer who owes $10,000 and qualifies for the full $8000 credit would only owe the IRS $2,000.  If the qualifying credit exceeds the taxpayer’s liability, the government would refund the excess portion of the tax credit.  For example, if you qualify for the $8,000 tax credit but only owe $5,000 in tax, you could receive a $3,000 check from the IRS.  Pretty sweet!

Categories: Real Estate

Ambler Real Estate News

It is hard to believe that we only have three months left in 2009!  If the calender didn’t aptly bring this to light, I would have deduced the impending winter due to the seemingly abrupt need for a wool poncho and slippers while writing this.  Anyway… I thought it would be a good time to bring you up to speed on the current happenings in Ambler real estate and a brief recap of events since the beginning of the year.

As of today there are 19 homes for sale in Ambler; 12 single homes, 1 twin and 6 row homes, ranging in price from $174,900-369,900.  Since January 1, 2009 40 homes have sold in the borough, priced from $60,000-395,000, 10 homes are currently pending settlement.  Of these 40 homes, 20 were single homes, 6 were twins and 14 were row homes.  The average days on market for homes in Ambler since the beginning of the year is 86.3, pretty much on par with last year at 86.6, but a far cry from the peak of the market in 2005 at 28 days.  86 days may sound somewhat dismal, but I can assure you it is possible to sell a home in this market in a reasonable amount of time.  I have seen several properties in Ambler go under contract within a few weeks.  My average days on the market for my listings is currently 18 with an average list to sale price ratio of 98%, this means that homes are still selling in a short period of time and at or close to list price.  It is extremely important for homes to be priced properly, aggressively marketed and show well (hopefully better than the competition). 

The aforementioned information is based only on resale homes, which until recently was pretty much all Ambler had to offer.  Ambler is known for its history and beautiful older homes (my personal favorites) dating as far back as 1732 (corner of Mattison and North Streets).  New construction is a term rarely, if ever, associated with Ambler.  As Inspector Clouseau would say (in his best french accent) “Not anymore!”  A first for downtown Ambler is Station Square, a new townhouse development on South Main Street.  Although some are confused by the location, WB Homes did it right.  The townhouses are well crafted with great attention to detail and thoughtful modern amenities.  Many people have asked me “Why would they build next to the train tracks and who would want to live there?”  The location and community are geared towards those who commute and lead the all too common “busy” life style.  Just 2 blocks from the train station, it is like city living but in the calm and comfort of the suburbs.  It seems they made a good decision as they have already sold 23 of 58 homes/lots.  There are 7 different models to choose from, all named after stops along the R5, ranging in price from $310,600-354,00 (not including upgrades to the standard options).  

It is still a buyers market by far, but the inventory of homes is slowly decreasing and sale prices seem to be holding steady, some areas have even shown signs of an increase.  Fortunately foreclosures have not had a huge impact in our area, unlike many other parts of the country.  I am optimistic with regard to the future of home sales and values in Ambler and look forward to an exciting fall!

Categories: Ambler, Real Estate

Don’t miss out on the first time home buyer tax credit!

At the rate we’re going November 30th will be here before we know it! That date is the deadline for first time home buyers to take advantage of the $8000 tax credit currently offered by our government. This credit is refundable, which means if your total tax liability for 2009 is less than $8000 (which is typical) the IRS will issue a refund for the balance. What an amazing opportunity! In order to be eligible for the credit you must be a first time home buyer or someone who has not owned a home within the last 3 years, a single filer making less than $75,000/year or joint filers making less than $150,000/year and use the home as your primary residence. Your new home must be purchased and settled by November 30, 2009 and you have to own the home for a minimum of 3 years. Check out this link to watch a short video that clearly describes how the program works http://tr.im/taxvideo.
In addition to the tax credit there are many reasons why our current market significantly benefits first time home buyers:

  • you have no home to sell, putting you in a choice position for negotiation
  • the inventory of homes for sale is still very large, so there is a lot to choose from
  • prices have declined in many areas
  • rates are still near historic lows
  • excellent loan programs are available, such as FHA which allows as little as 3.5% down, you can obtain money from parents as gift funds, lower credit score requirements than conventional loan programs, and a possible seller assist of up to 6%

If that isn’t enough to get you excited about purchasing a home how about these 7 additional reasons to buy a home, and these apply in any market:

  • Tax breaks- mortgage insurance, property tax and some closing costs are tax deductible
  • Appreciation- real estate has long-term stable growth in value. while year-to-year fluctuations are normal, median existing home sale prices have increased on average 6.5% each year from 1972 through 2005, and increased 88.5% in the last ten years (NAR statistics)
  • Equity- money paid for rent is money you will never see again, I often liken it to being thrown down the toilet, whereas mortgage payments let you build equity in your home
  • Savings- building equity in your home is like a ready-made savings plan
  • Predictability- unlike rent, fixed mortgage payments don’t increase over time
  • Freedom- after years of living with rented white walls, you can have color in your life- paint each wall a different color of the rainbow if you like, you can because it’s yours!  paint the walls, plant a tree, do whatever you want
  • Stability- Living in one neighborhood for a number of years gives you a sense of community and offers educational stability for children

This is a fabulous time to take this big step in your life, if you feel that you may be ready I would love to help!

Categories: Real Estate

Recent economic news

Overall economic trends continue to be down, but offset this past week by some positive news:

  • Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s release of the details of the government’s plan to reduce toxic assets held by banks is an important step in stabilizing the banking system
  • The S&P 500 stock market is up 21% since March 9, 2009
  • The Fed’s investment of another trillion dollars to purchase mortgage backed securities and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt prompted mortgage interest rates to fall yet again
  • The National Association of Realtors announced that exisiting home sales rose by 5% in February
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s monthly housing price index estimated that home prices rose 1.5% from December to January

The paradox of our sagging economy is that there hasn’t been a better time to buy a home in a decade.  Buyers who are able to see past the immediate future will take advantage of a golden opportunity.  In a few years, they will look back and realize they made an excellent decision.

Buyer activity is increasing, which is great, but it won’t lead to immediate price appreciation.  There is too much inventory to get through.  That’s why it is more important than ever for sellers to price their properties right from the outset.  If they do, they will benefit from the increased optimism of buyers venturing into the market.

Whether these events represent an uptick in a still-decreasing trend line, or the start of a stabilization of our economy is yet to be known.  But after so many months of negative trends, it is welcome news for our economy and our local market.

Categories: Real Estate