Tax Assessment Appeal Notice!

Hello! I hope summer has been great for you so far.

With summer comes the time in Berks County when you can appeal the assessment on your homeĀ if you think it is too high. I know we all think our taxes are too high, but I am happy to speak with you about it and let you know my opinion on whether you have a case or not.

The appeal period runs from 7/1 through 8/15 in Berks County so don’t wait, get your form completed today! Call or email me and we can take a look at your assessment together. Below is the link for information on tax assessment appeals and the second link will direct you to the page to download the appeal form. The county charges $25 for most properties.

http://www.co.berks.pa.us/Dept/Assessment/Pages/AssessmentAppealNotice.aspx

http://www.co.berks.pa.us/Dept/Assessment/Documents/revised_appeal_form.pdf

I also recorded a step by step video on the appeal process.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL-FNaQ6kFw

Remember there is no cost for me to help you with this! I offer to help my current clients, past clients and their friends and families with this service in order to build good will and provide excellent service! I have helped a lot of people save thousands of dollars if the assessment is too high.

Give us a call at (610) 334-0294, we are here ready to help you!

 

Appraisals and Home Inspections

When buying or selling a home, many have heard of an appraisal and a home inspection. While both are very important to the entire transaction, an appraisal and home inspection are two very different things. If you’re looking at buying a new home or property, or you’re interested in selling your current property, it is beneficial for both parties to know the difference between the two and why they are important.

 

What is a home appraisal?

A home appraisal is an educated guess as to the worth of the property.

An appraisal is required by a financial institution; if you’re looking to get a mortgage loan, the property will have to have an appraisal. If a mortgage loan is not needed (the buyer is paying with cash), then an appraisal is not required for the purchase. Who pays for the appraisal? As part of the final contract, the appraisal can be negotiated between the buyer and the seller, but traditionally the buyer pays for the appraisal.

But why is an appraisal needed?

An appraisal lets the bank or lender know what the loan collateral will be set at for a worst-case scenario situation. What does this mean? The bank wants the home to appraise for a similar amount they are going to loan to the buyer. Should anything happen, and the bank has to sell the home, the bank doesn’t want to be stuck with a home that had a million-dollar loan on it but can only be sold for $100,000.

Appraisals are important, but they can be a tad stressful. The appraisal is done after the sale price is negotiated and the contract has been signed, which is why many people hope the appraisal is close to the sale price negotiated by the buyer and seller. To protect the transaction for both sides, the buyer and seller should have a sales-and-purchase agreement that addresses the possibility of the appraisal being below the purchase price. This would allow the buyer to terminate the contract or negotiate the sale price. If not, the buyer could be obligated to cover the difference between the purchase price and the appraisal.

What does an appraiser do?

The appraiser will walk around the property and look at the value of the home, but she or he will also make note of any problems or issues. It has happened that an appraiser has pointed out things to be fixed in order for an appraisal to come back higher. Appraisers mainly look to check the main characteristics of the house; square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms, the overall condition of the property, recently sold comparable properties in the area and any noticeable health or safety issues. Appraisals are not an in and out thing – they can take up to a couple days to complete, and loan underwriters can request more information than in previous years. As a seller, the number one thing you can do to help the appraisal process is to make sure the house or property is in good order.

While an appraisal determines the value of the property based on an inspection done for the loan company, an appraisal is not a home inspection. The appraisal for the mortgage lender; the home inspection is primarily for the buyer.

 

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is the inspection of the physical condition of a home or property. A home inspector is going to look for defects or malfunctions in the property’s structure, systems and physical components (which can be anything from the roof and plumbing to the HVAC system, floors, windows and foundation). A home inspection generally takes place after the seller and buyer have signed the contract. The home inspection can help guide any repairs that might need to be done to the property, or it can alter the final selling price if major repairs need to be done to the property. Sellers can sell their properties “As Is,” and any home inspection done will simply be a way for the buyer to know what to expect once they receive the keys.

Who is responsible for the home inspection?

The buyer generally arranges and schedules the inspection; your agent or Realtor will most likely be able to suggest a home inspector she or he has worked with in the past, but it’s important to make sure the inspector has experience and is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. But the most crucial part of the home inspection is to provide a thorough and tough inspection of property to the buyer.

When buying or selling a home, it’s important to know and be aware of all that is available to buyers and sellers. While the appraisal is done for the benefit of the lender, the appraisal also benefits both the buyer and seller by determining a value of the property. The home inspection is done for the benefit of the buyer, but it’s also a good indication for the seller about the property and any issues that might need to be addressed should the buyer drop out of the transaction. Both an appraisal and home inspection are valuable and important parts of the property transaction.

Finances and Buying a Home

Home ownership has always been a top dream for millions of Americans, and with the many television shows, magazines and other media geared towards owning a home in the U.S., buying a home is very much a reality in our country.

While we can get caught up in the very fun aspect of looking at homes, browsing the many websites dedicated to real estate, looking for a home or property is just one aspect in the entire home buying process. One part, of which is fairly important and might be casually looked over at the beginning, is that of getting one’s finances in order to begin a home search. Finances are a huge part of buying, especially if you’ll be applying for a mortgage loan. To put yourself in a great position before you begin your home or property search, use the tips below regarding credit, a home budget and having cash for a down payment and closing costs to help ensure you have your bases covered before you begin your property search.

Credit

One of the most important aspects of your finances when it comes to buying a home, or even in general, is your credit. Your credit is your ability to obtain goods or services before payment. Credit, when it comes to home ownership, generally means a mortgage loan. The majority of buyers in the United States will have to obtain a mortgage loan in order to purchase a home or property, and that’s ok. Mortgage loans have been around for decades, helping buyers who might not have a cash payment be able to afford a home. If you are one of the thousands of home buyers that will need to look into a mortgage loan, getting your credit in order before looking at homes is an excellent step to take in getting your finances in order.

Your credit is made up of your credit score and your credit report. A credit score is a three digit number that is generated based on what is in your credit report, and it basically tells banks and other lenders what your creditworthiness is. In general, a higher credit score means better creditworthiness. Your credit report is a detailed report of your credit history, and the information is used to generate your credit score.

When most people consider buying a property, one of the first things that’s suggested is to get one’s credit in order. This can mean a number of things, but it includes running a credit report, checking a credit score, and paying off or paying down any debts that might be outstanding in order to have a better credit score and higher creditworthiness. If you’re looking at buying, run your credit report to make sure it’s current, up-to-date and that there’s nothing ‘off’ on the report. You want to make sure all the information that’s listed is true and only pertains to you.

 

Budget

We all can get wrapped up in the fun and excitement of property searches, and many times our wants and likes go beyond what our budgets can afford. Once you have your credit in check, the next thing to do is determine your budget. The best advice to heed when thinking about a budget: you want to be financially comfortable. You already know your monthly expenses as a non-homeowner, but if you don’t dedicate some time to sitting down and writing out all your monthly expenses to get an idea of how much you or your household spends each month. Compare this number to the amount of money you bring in each month If you’re already renting, you know how much of your incomes goes towards your rent, renters insurance, and any other expenses that come along with your rental unit.

If you don’t rent, once you have all of your spending written out, you’ll have a good understanding of how much you have left each month that can go towards a mortgage payment or towards a down payment. An excellent tool that can be found on the internet is a Home Affordability Calculator – this helps to determine a comfortable mortgage payment based on all of the other recurring expenses a household might have.

 

Cash for Down Payment and Closing Costs

Another part of finances when it comes to buying a home or property is a down payment and closing costs. You’ve made sure your credit is in order; you’ve figured out a comfortable budget for a monthly home payment; now is the time to set some cash aside. A down payment is generally required when taking out a mortgage loan. Most lenders require a down payment and it goes towards the total amount of the mortgage loan. Your down payment is going to be based off the type of mortgage loan you get – which, percentage wise, can range all the way up to 20% of the total purchase price. There is no limit to the down payment, as you can pay as much as possible toward it, but for the majority of home buyers the down payment will be anywhere up to 20% of the final price.

Another cash expense of home buying is closing costs. Closing costs are fees that are associated with the closing of a real estate transaction, and they are paid either by the buyer seller, or both parties together. The costs are based on the type of property that is purchased, the location of the property, and a number of other things, but for the most part closing costs can range anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of the purchase price. Closing costs, just like a down payment, are made in cash, and sometimes buyers can negotiate for a seller to cover closing costs. To be on the safe side, have enough cash set aside to cover both a down payment and closing costs when buying a home or property.

Buying a home is an exciting life event, but it’s also a large financial event. Before you begin your home search, have all of your bases covered when it comes to finances and the home search will be much more rewarding and less stressful in the long run.

Accessorize It

If your home decor seems stuck in a rut, updating your accessories can bring more spice to your living space. When accessorizing your home, follow these simple tips and tricks from HGTV and HouseBeautiful.com.

  • Highlight a few favorite accessories at one time. While it’s fun to collect different styles of pillows, artwork and collectibles, displaying them all at one time can overwhelm the room. Try showing only 20 percent of your prized accessories at a given time and change them regularly throughout the year.
  • Highlight a focal point in the room. Perhaps you have a uniquely designed fireplace or mantel or a treasured area rug that you want to showcase. Select a piece of artwork to complement the rug, or display a few photographs of your favorite figurines along the mantel.
  • Chose a color scheme and theme. Before buying accessories, decide on one or two colors that will add visual interest to each room and complement your furniture and wall colors. If your furniture and walls are neutral, choose bold colors for your accessories to create a vibrant look. Accessories can also play up a theme of a room.
  • Group similar items. To create a consistent, balanced look, display accessories in small groupings. Some designers work by the rule of three. For example, a trip of matching mirrors lined up on the wall with a contrasting background can provide a dramatic focal point.
  • Light up your space. Create instant impact by choosing light fixtures that complement the design style of the room. To create a certain mood, use wall sconces, and extravagant chandelier or recessed lighting.

With the right accessories, your home can go from stale to stunning in no time.

Rental Patience

Homeowners who need to move but are struggling to sell their homes are turning to rent-to-own agreements to find prospective buyers. Under these leasing options, which can last from two to five years, owners allow a prospective buyer to move into the home and pay monthly rent. A portion of the rent is set aside to be used as a down payment on the house at a later date.

Financial experts at Bankrate.com say credit-challenged renters have the chance to try out the house and neighborhood, while saving for a down payment and building up good credit. They can also lock in a sales prices and terms upfront.

The set-up helps homeowners find an eager buyer and long-term renter who can provide a steady income while caring for the house on the owners behalf. The downside is the possibility that the renter could change their mind and opt out of the agreement, which means the owner must start the process over again.

Rent-to-own arrangements are complex and every state has its own regulations, so it’s advisable for renters to meet with an attorney and real estate agent to understand financial implications. Renters should also meet with a mortgage broker so they know how much they need to qualify for a loan.

Financial experts say both parties should treat the deal the same way as a home purchase. Obtain an appraisal and a home inspection, and owners should require a security deposit and reserve the right to evict renters if they fail to make payments. The contract should also spell out how funds will be held by owners, under what conditions the sale will take place, and who is responsible for maintenance and repairs.

With proper planning and due diligence, rent-to-own arrangements can be a viable option for buyers and sellers.

Brought to you buy your agent – a member of the council of residential specialists

Save Me, Super Kitchen

Kitchens have come a long way from linoleum floors and olive-colored appliances that our grandparents had. Today’s kitchens are super-sized and designed for multiple purposes. Sixty-nine percent of owners use their kitchen space for dining, while 49 percent us it for entertaining and 43 percent for socializing, according to a recent study of homeowners by Houzz. The kitchen has become the hub for family activities, such as doing homework, watching TV and reading. Nearly two-thirds of homeowners spend more than three hours a day in their kitchen.

Therefore, today’s homeowners are not skimping on renovations. Nearly one-third of homeowners surveyed spent $25,000 to $50,000 on kitchen renovations and another third spend more than $50,000.

Features that are typically part of living and dining rooms, such as dining tables, chandeliers, TV’s and workspaces, are being added to kitchens Wine refrigerators and built-in coffee stations are popular for entertaining, while custom cabinetry and hardwood floors integrate more seamlessly with the home’s overall design.

As the modern kitchen has continued to evolve, several design trends have emerged:

  • Two-tone kitchen cabinets that mix colors and styles.
  • Black and bronze finishes on stainless steel appliances contribute a sleek, modern look.
  • Deep kitchen drawers help organize dishes and pans.
  • Niche appliances, from steam ovens, warming drawers and inductions cooktops, add luxury and practicality.
  • Kitchen islands with more works[ace and storage, prep sinks and seating are the workhorse of the home.
  • Unexpected combinations of backsplash and countertop finishes can spice up kitchen decor – for example, a brink backsplash with concrete countertops or yellow ceramic tile with butcher block.

The modern “super kitchen” not only improves flow, storage and aesthetics, it also supports family life with style and substance.

 

Brought to you by your agent – a member of the council of residential specialists.

Walk on Wood

Hardwood flooring is one of the most sought-after features in new and existing homes. This eco-friendly feature can turn your home into a warm and inviting space to relax and entertain. Selecting the right flooring can be a challenge, however, depending on your design style, budget and personal preference. Before choosing a wood floor for your home, here are a few things to keep in mind, courtesy of the National Wood Flooring Association:

There are two basic types of wood flooring. Solid wood flooring can be sanded and refinished many times and can be used in all rooms, including kitchen and powder rooms. Engineered wood is manufactured with multiple layers of wood veneers, so it expands and contracts less than solid wood flooring when temperatures and humidity fluctuate. Engineered wood is a better alternative for basements and other below-ground living areas.

Hardwood floors come in different finishes. Satin gloss offers the most shine and reflects the most light, so scratches and normal wear and tear are less noticeable, while matte finishes offer the least shine.

Light woods like as or maple help make a room appear more open and airy, while darker woods like walnut or mahogany can give a room a more stately and refined appearance.

To keep floors looking new, clean them frequently using a dust mop or vacuum. Avoid using a wet mop as water can dull the finish and damage the wood over time. To prevent scratches, place scatter rugs at all entrances and floor protector pads on the bottom of furniture legs.

When spills occur, wipe them immediately with a dry or slightly damp cloth. When floors begin to look dull, us a wood flooring cleaner to renew the luster. Use only products that are compatible with your wood floor type. The wrong cleaning product can damage the finish and possibly the wood itself.

With these simple tips in mind, hardwood floors can provide comfort and enjoyment for many years.