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Friday, April 29, 2011

1st Quarter Real Estate Market Recap Bucks County, PA

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* See bottom of article for MLS Statistics.
How to Successfully Buy and Sell in Today’s Housing Market

As usual, there’s a lot of activity here in Bucks County, PA – and I’m here to keep you informed.  This year so far, we’ve seen lots of swing in terms of value determined by the sellers in our market.  We’re looking at a ten percent drop in sales so far but that’s countered by a strong inventory of over 4,000 homes at the moment.  A total of 770 homes have sold in 2011 AND you can still grab those super low interest rates before they disappear.


The name of the game for sellers is activity. You need to generate traffic and buzz if you are going to generate offers. The three main things to pay attention to in this market are price, staging, and marketing. When so many homes are for sale, you have to make your home stand out in the crowd.

Pricing. The first way that potential buyers will find your house is by doing a search for homes in their price range. They will compare the statistics, location, and appeal of your home based on the bang they get for their dollar. Be sure to research homes that have sold recently and others that are for sale to compare square footage, room sizes, neighborhood, and perks and amenities to see how you compare. This is a price-driven market, so presenting a great value to home shoppers is the first way to get their attention. Sacrificing a few thousand dollars up front may cut your market time in half, which is worth a lot.

Also, if people are looking for a house from $200K to $250K, they won’t find your listing for $199,900. Sometimes you might want to consider rounding the price up to a nice round number that may get your home included in more searches. In this example, a $200K listing will be found by the people looking for $150K to $200K as well as the ones looking for $200K and above.

In any case, make very sure that you are priced right. Basing your price on the realities of today’s competitive market is not always easy, but it is the most important first step toward a successful sale.

Marketing. Only a real estate professional has access to all of the inside channels for marketing a home – and remember, almost all of your competition has enlisted the services of a professional. Making sure your home shows up in all of the databases that people search is vital, and having plenty of professional-quality photos in the listing is key as well. You will also want to have a nice fact sheet with photos, hold open houses, and get the word out to as many real estate agents and home buyers as possible. It takes more than a sign in the yard to sell a home, so make sure you don’t forget about the marketing piece.

Staging. You’ve built a nice fire with the right pricing and strategic marketing, and now the pot is starting to boil. People are coming to look at your house. Their impression of your home is the make-or-break part of their decision-making process. Your real estate agent can show you how to make the house ready for home shoppers.

Less is more, when it comes to staging. Less furniture, less personal memorabilia, less of a “lived-in” look will make the home feel warm and welcoming. Getting them emotionally hooked is a big step in getting an offer.

You should also consider doing some updates and cosmetic improvements that will make your home sparkle, both inside and out. Most people aren’t looking for a home improvement project. Get rid of the wallpaper and the purple paint in the kids’ bedroom and replace it with a warm and neutral paint. A carpet allowance is nice so people can pick out their own new carpeting, but a nice new neutral carpet can be very eye-catching and appealing to people too.

Fix the doors and knobs and screens, and do a little landscaping or painting outside. Depending on the price bracket your home is in, you may even want to redo the bathroom, get new appliances, or even put on a new roof if people are likely to reject the home because of those outdated features. Give people something to fall in love with about your home that will give you a competitive edge.


It is still a buyer’s market in real estate these days. There is a huge inventory of homes for sale, lots of bargains and distressed properties to consider, and all-time low interest rates. But, even though the deck is stacked in your favor if you’re a buyer, you still need to take a systematic approach to this major investment. For buyers, success in this market depends on credit, proper budgeting, and rational expectations.

Credit. There may be a lot of homes to choose from, and interest rates may be low; but lending is not as free and easy as it was a few years ago. Banks are shy of risk and are looking for solid buyers with a history of good credit. Get pre-qualified before you shop if you want sellers to take your offer seriously. Pay your bills on time and fix any blemishes on your credit rating before you fall in love with the house of your dreams.

Stay rational. Better yet, don’t let emotions control your home purchase at all. If you let yourself become emotionally attached to a home, you are more likely to over-spend and make a poor financial choice for your family. Remain logical and realistic, and base your purchase on sound economics.

Budgeting. Set a price range based on what you can afford, and remember to factor in your property taxes, insurance, utilities, commute time and expense, and maintenance of the new home. You should become very familiar with your household budget and track all of your expenses for the past several months before you set a budget for a new home. Your household budget and your home-buying budget have to work together.

Try to put together a good down payment, and over-estimate the probable interest rate and property taxes you will have to pay in order to leave yourself a buffer of safety. Then, based on the amount of the loan you will need, you can “reverse engineer” the comfortable price range of your new affordable home.

Whether you are buying or selling, today’s fluid market has plenty of perks and potholes, so plan ahead, make smart decisions, and employ the help of a real estate professional.

Monthly Statistics for the Date Range Selected
Units Listed
Listed Volume
Listed Average
Units Sold
Apr 2011
Mar 2011
Feb 2011
Jan 2011
Dec 2010
Nov 2010
Oct 2010
Sep 2010
Aug 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
Apr 2010


Inventory Accumulation for the Last 12 Full Months

Current Inventory *
Inventory Volume
Current Average
Average Monthly Sales**
Inventory Accumulation ***
*Current Inventory is based on the actual available properties on the date this report was created.
**Average Monthly Sales is the average sales for the last 12 full months
***Inventory accumulation (in months) = Current Inventory Units / Average Monthly Sales

Pricing Details of Sold Units for the Date Range Selected
Minimum Prices
Maximum Prices
Average Prices
Original List Price : $49,900
Original List Price: $4,395,000
Original List Price: $357,691
Sold Price : $33,500
Sold Price: $3,400,000
Sold Price: $327,664

Inventory Accumulation figures are only calculated when Report End Month is the current month 

Market Statistics Criteria Used
Date Range:
4/2010 to 4/2011
Price Range:
$9,000 to $9,999,000
Property Category:
All Bucks County

© Copyright 2011 TREND MLS - Information Deemed Reliable but Not Guaranteed. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Landscaping Tips for Spring – How to Care For Your Home’s Exterior

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A special thanks to Shady Brook Farm for letting us film there and participating in our video!

It’s that time of year again when everyone will be seen working on their yard! What exactly does your yard say about you? Is it messy, unkempt and in a total state of disarray? Or has it been meticulously manicured to a level that even glossy magazines couldn’t compete? No matter where you fit on the spectrum of the landscaping scales, there is no question that the exterior appearance of your home is an important one. Too many homeowners neglect to look after the very first noticeable part of their abode – so here’s how to make sure you are not one of them.

Time to Spring Clean Up Last Year’s Messes

That’s right. Very often by the time this year’s snow melts, we tend to find last year’s garden messes all over the place. Maybe that first snowfall was enough to make you hang up the rake and wait it out till the following season, but too often there are many things left behind. Anything from garden tools, piles of left over (and very moldy) mulch or an old garden statue that you meant to put away in the shed before the snow set in – all these things can tend to look very bad after a season of ice and cold. And if you’re in a warmer climate, things sitting in the yard for so long just keep gathering more dirt and grime, making your front (and back) yard look like a major eye sore.

Make a Plan, Check It Twice and Implement It

Many times an over-zealous homeowner will make a trip to the home and garden store, buy everything they see in the main aisles, that are currently being hyped by the store, and then end up back home with no plan in sight as to how to implement it. By carefully reviewing the space you have, taking notice of the areas that need more help than others and realizing where the opportunities lie for you to enhance your outdoor space, you will be in a better position in the long run. Use the help of the technicians and associates at the home and garden store, since they are very well versed with these projects and have a lot more experience.

Invest In Some Help

Unless you are an avid lawn and garden enthusiast, have all the time in the world or are just not too concerned about perfection, it would be a good idea to invest in some help. By hiring a landscaping company to jumpstart the look of your home’s exterior, you will benefit from the high-quality and often expensive equipment that you may not own plus the knowledge and expertise of skilled, quality craftsmen and women. Landscapers also offer a maintenance plan where they come during the week at pre-set times and make sure the lawn is kept up.

Water the Plants, Shrubs and Trees

Thirsty vegetation can be seen from a mile away. Instead of having dry, cracked and brittle brown leaves and grass, be sure to water your lawn, the surrounding leaves and greenery with enough water to sustain it. Whether you install a complex sprinkler system or a purchase a $20 single unite that you need to manually move around throughout the day and weekend, the important thing is that your greens stay green.

Make the Space Pretty, Or At Least Easy on the Eyes

With just a few simple enhancements you can make all the difference in the curb appeal of your home. Retouching the fence paint, trimming the hedges to a reasonable height, removing all extra items, planting seasonal plants and flowers (especially along the walkways) or including interesting garden elements – are all ways to enhance the space.
As long as you realize that the landscaping of your home is just as important aesthetically as the interior, you will begin to make changes that will improve the overall look and feel of your house. Not only will it be more enjoyable to spend time outdoors, but it will also be a source of pride for you when visitors (and neighbors) comment on the fabulous look you have going!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ten Things Real Estate Agents Help Take Care of When Buying a Home

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You may have heard the common question asking why anyone would want to hire an agent to help buy a home. The fact of the matter is that real estate agents have many services to offer on all sides of the real estate equation. We all know what they do to assist us in selling our homes but did you know that there is equally as much, if not more, that they can assist us with when buying? Industry jargon coins it Buyer’s Value Proposition – and to make it simple we’ve listed ten things, from start to finish, helping to clarify exactly why, if you’re in the market to buy a property, hiring a real estate agent is a very smart initial move to make.

Needs Analysis

Agents thoroughly assess your needs as a buyer and assist you with identifying how you define the ideal home. They focus on the things that matter most to buyers in a home so that finding the right home is a much more fruitful endeavor.

Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval
Choosing a loan officer can be a daunting task if you are out there on your own. An agent has a solid rapport with qualified loan officers in the region and they connect you with one to suit your needs, see through the process of getting pre-qualified and then approved. Terms are then negotiated to be in the buyer’s favor and assistance with finding the best possible mortgage financing is also provided.

Neighborhood Profiles

Understanding and listing a buyer’s selection of neighborhoods, real estate agents also compile data for each locale that helps to center in on which neighborhood is the right one.

Home Search Multiple List Services

Helping you to gain access to a large number of properties, agents arrange a home search process that makes accessing and perusing a MLS much simpler and useful at the same time. Not only that, your agent will keep you updated regularly, provide you assistance with drive-by home visits and coordinate home showings of the ones you are interested in.

Making Offers

When you center in on a home after going through the entire prequalification and then search process, the last thing you want to do is to make a decision that could hurt your chances of getting that ideal home. Agents go through the process with you, offering advice on terms so that you can be confident in your decision. Once the offer is decided, the contract is filed out with your agent’s help.

Negotiation to Buy

One less thing for you to worry about, your real estate agent will handle the process of taking your offer to the seller and his/her agent and negotiate the purchase on your behalf.

Coordination of Vendors

With so many vendors also in the picture for things ranging from the mortgage, title and insurance to other important aspects of the real estate deal, some coordination is required. As real estate agents, most deal with vendors on a regular basis and your own agent can help connect you to reputable vendors.

Preparation Prior to Closing

The main thing to be careful on is the documents right before closing on your new home. With assistance on all pre-close preparation, including document generation, agents also provide consultations to make sure the buyer is comfortable with all stages of the process and is ready to proceed.

Closing of the Sale

Providing a watchful eye and a helpful hand, real estate agents play a pivotal role in making sure all things are lined up during the closing stage of your new home purchase. Working to make everything as smooth as possible, you will be guided and then provided help throughout, until the final transaction is successful.

After Closing Assistance

Once all is said is done, the real work begins. Your agent will provide you support and backing to make the move-in process as smooth and effortless as possible. Whether assistance with moving your household items or learning about the new neighborhood you will be given ample help on that front, or in any thing you may need.

It’s an often misconstrued fact that real estate agents are very useful for the all-around real estate process; whether you are looking to sell or buy, you can definitely benefit from the supportive hands of your local agent.