Fall Fixes

Yes, it’s true: Fall is here and that means winter is just around the corner. The changing of the seasons is always a good time to invest in a little home maintenance so your abode is running smoothly and you catch any potentially large (and expensive) problems before they get out of hand. Following this checklist and you’ll be in good shape for the winter.


  • Check ceiling and surfaces around windows for evidence of moister.
  • Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bases.
  • Ensure all stairs and railing do not have any loose sections.
  • Test all fire and safety systems, including carbon monoxide detectors.

Heating and Cooling

  • Clean and change furnace filters.
  • Keep area around heating and cooling equipment clear.
  • For boiler systems, check water level and shut-off valve for leaks.


  • Periodically check for exposed wiring and cable. Replace as necessary.
  • Check all lamp cords, extension cords and receptacles for wear.
  • Trip circuit breakers every six months and ground fault circuits interrupters monthly.

Doors & Windows

  • Look for loose or missing glazing putty.
  • Check caulking for deterioration at the opening and joints between dissimilar materials.
  • Check weather stripping.
  • Check for broken glass and damaged or missing screens.


  • Check all faucets, hose bibbs and supply valves for leaking.
  • Check for evidence of leaks around and under sinks, showers, toilets and tubs.
  • Inspect lawn sprinkler system for leaky valves and exposed lines.
  • Check the main water shut-off valve for operations and leakage.


  • Check for any missing, loose or damaged shingles.
  • Look for open seams, blisters and bald areas on flat roofs.
  • Clean gutters, strainers and downspouts.
  • Check flashing around all surface projections, sidewalls and protrusions.
  • Trim back all tree limbs and vegetation away from the roof.

Foundation and Exterior

  • Check foundation walls and floors for cracking, heaving, spalling, deterioration or efflorescence.
  • Inspect chimney for loose, deteriorated or missing mortar or bricks.
  • Verify basement and crawlspace has no moisture or leaks.
  • Inspect all decks, patios, porches, stairs and railings for deterioration.
  • Cut back and trim all vegetation from structures.

Source: CRS newsletter

Trend Report

With rising home prices that boost home equity, many homeowners are opting to remodel rather than move. But any savvy homeowner knows that renovations without an eye on return on investment isn’t a smart move. So stick with remodeling projects that will really increase the value of your home. Here’s five home-design trends.

An open floor plan. Forty-six percent of today’s buyers, regardless of generation, want an open floor plan, according to Truila. You don’t have to add space to get the open concept going through. Call a contractor to see how your existing floor plan can be opened up.

Update the bathroom. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says this is the most popular trend, and the ROI is up to 58 percent.* Strong design trends include a walk-in shower and bigger tiles on the walls and floors.

More purposeful kitchen storage. The NAHB says that this is the second most popular renovation project of the year. Think more and deeper drawer banks, and adding a kitchen island and pantries. The ROI is about 67 percent.

Specialize a room or area. Entryways are transformed into mudrooms and basements are being converted into man caves or playrooms. Even a sunny niche can be turned into a useful reading nook.

Embrace hardwood flooring. Homebuyers definitely want hardwood and they’ll pay for it. The ROI for new hardwood flooring is more than 90 percent, and it’s 100 percent for refinishing existing wood floors.

*All ROI figures from the 2015 Remodeling Impact Report

Source: CRS newsletter

The Best Times of Year for Real Estate

For many in the United States it seems as though real estate season starts in the spring and ends just as the kids head back to school in the early fall. While many home and property sales take place in the spring and summer, the reality of the real estate market in the United States is that it’s all about timing. Whether you’re a buyer or a seller of a home or property, there are optimal times throughout the year, but for the most part, the real estate market and when it’s ‘hot’ depends on where you’re located and the time of year or season.

Spring and Summer
Real estate inventory fluctuates with every season. For many of us that peruse the market throughout the year, the spring and summer months (for the majority of the country) seem to be when the most properties are available. Spring and summer and even early fall are considered the best times for real estate for buyers as the market will see a wide variety of properties, but it also likely means more competition from other buyers. The reality of this, though, is that if you live in a competitive real estate market, no matter the time of the year people will search for real estate and sellers will be able to sell their properties.

One of the main things that drives an influx of real estate in the spring and summer are households with children – parents want and like to move when kids are out of school. If you live in an area where there are a number of families, or where schools are relatively close, spring and summer are great seasons for properties.

Location plays a huge part in the best time to list a property. Areas that are known for their seasonal visitors (like snowbirds) will see more traffic during those seasonal times when people are in town. For example, if you live in a mountain area that sees more visitors in the winter because of snow or winter sports, listing in the winter might be a better way to attract potential buyers than listing in the summer when visitors are limited.

A handy tip for sellers: if you’re going to have an open house, the first Sunday of every month is considered the best day to host it. Many listings will hit the market on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning and have a rushed open house the Sunday after. To create intrigue and build momentum of your property, talk to your agent or Realtor to have your listing appear on Monday or Tuesday and follow with an open house the following weekend.

Fall and Winter
Early fall is also a very popular time to list property. Buyers will find a good number of listings hitting the market by those sellers who were not quite ready to list over the summer. If you’re a buyer, the winter is also a great time of the year for buyers as sellers who are motivated and eager to sell will have no issue listing in the winter and making a deal. Listing in the winter allows sellers to get what they want for their property rather than feel pressured to make quick decisions in the spring or summer when competition is hot.

Real Estate in General
The real estate market in the U.S. will always see motivated sellers and buyers throughout the year. There are times in each season when listings and properties will be more plentiful. But it’s important to remember that while there might be more properties in the summer, that doesn’t mean the market will be any less competitive. Competition is the name of the game in many U.S. markets; if you’re interested in a new home or property, start your search as soon as possible.

Spring and summer will see more properties and greater competition while the late fall and winter will attract more serious sellers and buyers will find less competition overall. If you’re looking to buy or sell remember to enjoy yourself, and work with your agent or Realtor so you have the best real estate experience you can have.

Exterior Updates to Boost Resale Value

Front Yard

One of the best tools in a seller’s arsenal is curb appeal. The outside of a home or property is one of the first things a buyer sees, and while many times it’s not on the outside that counts, when it comes to real estate, the outside of a home plays a huge part of whether a buyer is going to want to take a look inside.

If a property can catch a buyer’s eye from the get go, then probability that the buyer will want to look inside exponentially grows. If you’ve put your property on the market and are not attracting the number of potential buyers you’d like, or you’re considering putting your property on the market and would like to give it a step above the other options on the market, consider these exterior home updates to help attract more buyers and help the resale value of your home or property.

Unless your home or property is in an urban environment, say the middle of the city, it’s highly likely you have some kind of yard or landscape. While not all homeowners enjoy working in the yard, a front yard or outdoor area makes a huge first impression on house hunters. Not to mention that 92 percent of home buyers now begin their search online, looking at pictures of homes, so showcasing the front of your home by landscaping or adding natural elements will undoubtedly help attract buyers and overall add to the total value of the home.

Update Paint
Paint colors can make or break a house sale. If your property is on the market, or you’re thinking of selling, consider adding a new coat of paint to help add value to your property. Depending on the size of your home, painting the exterior of a home can go for one thousand dollars and up, but the average return on the investment is about ninety percent. If your budget is tight and can’t accommodate new paint, consider renting or buying a pressure washer and washing down the sides of your home. Pressure washing is not only more affordable, but it can also bring new life to a tired exterior paint job.

Replace Front Door
The front door of a home says a lot about a property and even about the seller. A high quality front door will not only stand out in pictures but also appeal to any buyers who might drive by the property. If your front door could use a facelift, consider investing in a wood or fiberglass door. Both types have a high-end look and feel and can help to boost the resale value; but if your budget doesn’t have the room for a brand new door, replacing the door hardware and adding a new coat of paint can help invigorate a tired door and still catch the attention of potential buyers.

Install New Windows
Windows can tell a buyer a lot about the property. If your home’s windows are older (single-pane), leaking or seals are broken (there is noticeable moisture between the panes), broken or otherwise not in the best condition, and it’s in your budget, consider installing new windows before you put your home on the market. Many windows are now created to be energy efficient, saving homeowners money every year through energy savings, and the average return on investment is ninety percent. Not only do buyers like the idea of having new windows in a home, but replacing any windows will no doubt boost the resale value of a property.

Updating Siding
Not every home or property suffers from old or bad siding, but siding is another item that immediately pops out to buyers. Many older homes have vertical siding, and while there is nothing wrong with vertical siding, some buyers will be turned off by it. A great way of increasing a home’s resale value is to consider replacing siding – the national average for return on investment for updating the fiber-cement siding is almost eighty-five percent. If your budget can’t take new siding for the entire home, but you want to change your vertical siding, consider adding new siding to the front of the house. While it’s not a total redo, the majority of buyers will be attracted to the new siding, and it will add to the overall resale value of the home.

Updates, Renovations and Remodels

When selling a home or property, one of the main goals of the seller is to get the highest offer possible. If the market is hot, the chance of getting a higher offer is relatively high. If the market is on the cooler side, many sellers look to alternative options to make their properties more marketable, usually by way of a remodel, a renovation or updating the property. But what is the difference between a remodel and a renovation? Is an update something that’s easy or difficult?

While there are no doubt projects that see better return on investment than others, homeowners have a number of options when it comes to boosting their property’s value. If you’re not particularly ready to put your property on the real estate market, but are looking for ways to help boost your home’s overall value, an update, a renovation or a remodel might be just what you’re looking for at the current time.

Want to help boost your home’s value but have a limited budget for projects? Updates are a great option for the homeowner that has limited resources, funds or even time. But what’s an update? An update essentially brings new life to your property, and perhaps brings things up-to-date, but it does so without significant alterations to the existing structure or property. Updates that are common in many households are updating light fixtures, installing new appliances, updating the home to be more energy efficient, updating exterior paint and changing interior colors, etc.

Depending on your budget, updates shouldn’t break the bank, but they can help to boost a property’s value or overall marketability. Buyers like seeing updates, especially when they help boost the overall appearance of the home. Updates are a great and relatively convenient way of sprucing up a home without dedicating a huge amount of time and money to projects, and even minor updates can help boost a property’s overall value. Even just repainting the exterior trim can make a big difference.

Renovation means to restore to a good condition or make new again. Renovating a property or a part of a property refreshes and revives it. Renovating can cover a number of different thing: renovating plumbing or electrical throughout a home or property, refinishing hardwood floors, re-facing kitchen cabinets, adding modern finishes and fixes to an older home. Renovating a property generally means that you’re making the property meet current market expectations. Renovations, especially of certain rooms, can make spaces much more attractive to buyers but also add considerable value. Kitchens are one of the best options for a renovation when it comes to overall return on investment.

If you’re looking to help boost the overall value of your property, adding stainless steel appliances to a kitchen (or even updating to newer appliances), putting in granite or other stone counter tops, changing outdated cabinet doors and hardware can all help boost a property’s value and catch a potential buyer’s eye. Depending on the number of projects you’d like to tackle, renovations can be relatively quick or take time and cost a few dollars. Again, your budget and time frame will determine the scope of your project, but renovations can add considerable value to your property and provide a large return on investment when it comes time to sell.

Remodels require a little more time, labor and funding, and more often than not remodels involve removing or moving walls, building additions or anything that includes significant structural changes to increase utility or appeal via replacement or expansion. A remodel changes to use of a space by altering the structure and the style of a home. Popular remodels include kitchens, bathrooms and even going so far as to add additional square feet to the entire house. Because of how extensive a remodel can be, it’s always suggested that permits are obtains for the work and that an architect and/or contractor is used to make sure any work is done according to current local building codes.

Remodels that help improve a space can increase a property’s value immensely, and in some hot real estate markets could even see a 100 percent return on investment. Some of the most popular remodels home buyers seek: kitchens, bathrooms, and additional square footage (adding rooms) as they show the homeowners invested in the property and took the time to improve it for the future.

Updating a home or property, or choosing to renovate or remodel, is a big decision and ultimately depends on how much time, effort money and sweat a seller wants to put into the task. But if you’re on the fence of whether or not your property could fetch the highest selling price in today’s market, considering an update, a renovation or a remodel might be the top of every buyer’s list.

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.



I also recorded a step by step video on the appeal process.

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.