Our Team Is Growing!!

First of all, we would like to thank everyone who has believed in The Dave Mattes Group and used us for their real estate needs or referred us. Without wonderful clients and customers like you, we could not succeed and grow.

It is with great pleasure that we are announcing the addition of Dave Renninger as the second Buyer Specialist to our team! As you know, Melanie Mattes was our first Buyer Specialist. Both Dave R. and Mel are dedicated 100% to helping families and individuals find the home of their dreams.

Dave has 20 plus years helping other Realtors market themselves and their properties. Dave initially joined RE/MAX of Reading in 2014 and in the last twelve months he has helped more than 15 families buy or sell their home. Dave especially likes working with first time home buyers, educating them on the financing options and guiding them through the exciting home buying process. Dave is an active member at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Douglassville and the Amity Township Lions Club. Dave and his wife, Carole, have five children and eight grandchildren.

Please help me in welcoming Dave to our growing team!

The Berks County real estate market is alive and well, so if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell, call The Dave Mattes Group–Put a Team to work for you today!

Lock It Up

With all the advantages in smart-home security technology and systems, once homeowners may overlook one of the most basic keys to home security – door locks and keys. According to This Old House, nearly 3 million U.S. homes are broken into each year. Locks have come a long way in terms of the protection they provide, and it’s a good time to examine some options for improving home security with a simple upgrade of door-lock hardware.

Determining what kind of exterior lock you need is the first step. Consider the pros and cons of various keyed-entry doorknobs, handle sets and dead bolts before you buy. All exterior doors need a dead bolt no matter what kind of know or handle set you decide on. You can mount the dead bolt and doorknob together or separately, or purchase a set that includes both as one installation.

Exterior locks should be Grade 1 or 2. Choose locksets with a dead-locking latch bolt or dead bolts that include hardening pins. Install these with a heavy-duty plate and at least 3-inch screws. Prices for the locksets vary from $25 to over $300 depending on quality, style and safety rating.

When you’re shopping for a new lockset, keep in mind that you want to look for a dead bold that will withstand door jimmying with a credit card or saw. According to a study by ConsumerReports.org, forcible entries such as door kick-ins are the most common type of home break in. The report also found that the majority of new smart-home locks that are opened by a fingerprint, passcode or key failed their prying/wrenching test. Since technology isn’t necessarily the solution when it comes to home security reinforcing doors with upgraded locks that feature good safety-rated parts will keep your home safe.

Provided by the council of Certified Residential Specialists

Return on Improvement

Are you thinking about selling your home, or do you just want to spruce things up and don’t know where to start? If you’re working within a strict budget, the thought of remodeling your home can be daunting. It’s best to assess your needs and also educate yourself on current market trends before you get started.

The 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, produced by Remodeling magazine in cooperation with the National Association of REALTORS, reports that large-scale jobs aren’t likely to return sellers their full cost. Instead smaller, replacement jobs tend to generate a higher return than remodeling projects. The report uncovered that replacement projects showed an average return of 73.2 percent, while the cost-value ratio of remodeling projects showed an average rate of return of 60.8 percent.

Arming yourself with information like this is key before you invest in making improvements. Here are the five mid-range projects that are most likely to recoup the cost of the investment:

  • Entry door replacement
  • Manufactured stone veneer
  • Garage door replacement
  • Vinyl Siding Replacement
  • Wood Deck Addition

Provided by Council of Certified Residential Specialist.

Fast and Easy Updates to Help a Home Sell

 We are smack dab in the middle of home buying season, and while some properties are off the market before they’re even on it, others haven’t had such luck. A great way to boost your home’s selling power is to make small and affordable updates throughout the home. These quick updates and fixes won’t break the bank or a budget, and they will help make your home more inviting to potential buyers and a potential sale.

Spruce Up the Front Door

The front door is one of the first things potential buyers see when viewing your home. Spruce up the front door by touching up paint (either paint over chipped or fading paint, or change the color completely), adding a kick plate, changing out the hardware, or you can replace the door completely. A new front door can add energy efficiency and additional security if you choose a metal door. Making the front door pop not only adds a special touch to your curb appeal, but potential buyers definitely notice a door that’s been taken care of.

Freshen Up the Kitchen

Kitchens appeal to so many buyers. If you don’t have the budget or time to overhaul your kitchen, don’t panic. If you have nice wood cabinets and don’t have the budget to update them, consider adding a coat of paint to freshen them up. You can also add new hardware (knobs, handles or pulls) to help give cabinets a younger look. You can also change out any outdated countertops, and adding a new faucet to the sink is another way to give a kitchen a new vibe. If you have the time and the budget, consider changing any flooring that is chipped, cracked or broken. Vinyl flooring is economical and affordable, and it’s available in a number of types and styles to suit any kitchen design.

Update Porch Columns

Porch columns are another item buyers see immediately; if you have columns that have chipped paint, are decaying, or don’t match the style of the home, consider updating or replacing them completely. Sand and paint over chips, or update the look with vinyl wraps. If you have the budget to replace the columns, consider fiberglass, which is weather resistant and helps support the weight of the porch roof.

Tidy Up a Bathroom

Bathrooms are another large selling feature of properties, and outdated bathrooms are a top sale killer. Update within reason of your budget and time: replacing the vanity, counter, sink and faucet can be a quick fix that is also budget friendly (some home improvement stores have entire kits available for this). If this doesn’t fit your budget, consider painting the vanity and replacing the hardware and faucet. Other updates that can be done in the bathroom: change out a toilet (you can usually find energy efficient toilets at a local big box store for under $200), update a showerhead, and replace any vanity or overhead lighting for more modern and energy efficient options.

Update a Staircase

Many staircases are located just as you enter a home, which means they are a focal point and something buyers look at and judge the moment they walk into a property. If your staircase has seen better days, take the time to do some small updates. Fix any broken or loose steps and evaluate the railing; refinish a wood staircase, replace a broken railing, change outdated balusters, and, if the stairs are carpeted, clean or replace the carpet.

Jazz Up a Fireplace

Whether it’s gas or wood, many homes have fireplaces, and many buyers love them for their purpose and as focal points. An updated fireplace can say loads about your home, and a great looking fireplace can help a sale. You can paint and transform outdated brick or add ceramic tiles to add color. You also have the option of adding budget-friendly artificial stone veneer or natural stone (if you have the time and money). Mantels are a large part of fireplaces – add, update or replace a mantel with wood, stone or marble. An updated fireplace and mantel can help any home sale.

Light Up the Yard

Lighting can take the exterior of a home from drab to fab. Dark homes don’t pop to buyers, and outdoor lighting can add a ton of appeal. Update any outdated outdoor lighting fixtures, especially those that no longer work or are broken. If you have some extra money to put toward projects, consider adding additional outdoor lighting in the way of a lamppost or path lights, and if you live in a sunny climate you also have the option of solar lights.

Organize a Closet

Buyers will go through cupboards and closets, and a cramped bedroom closet can be an issue with some buyers. A quick and budget-friendly fix is a closet organizer. Organizers come in a variety of options, from wood and plastic-laminate to wire, and most are DIY, which cuts down any installation costs. If your closets are stuffed or poorly organized, buyers will see this and could potentially be turned off by it.

Make an Attic More Usable

Most homes have some kind of attic, whether it be a small crawlspace that’s barely accessible or a large attic area accessed by a staircase. Make sure your attic area is accessible: if it’s not, add a ladder and insulate the door for better energy efficiency. If your attic area is just studs, add a plywood floor to make it more accessible and ready for storage. By adding a couple extra things to an attic area, you’re adding usable space and making your home more marketable to potential buyers.

These fixes are relatively easy, and most shouldn’t break the bank. If you can afford to do some, go for it, but do what is in reason of your time and budget. You want to sell your house, and you don’t want to spend a fortune updating it. Small fixes can be the ticket to a quick sell, or they can help a home that’s been sitting for a while finally get some movement.


Budget Friendly Curb Appeal Ideas Done in a Day

88 percent of homebuyers begin the process online, looking at pictures on the listing site. Good photos and real curb appeal help entice buyers to check out your house in person. You want to make a great first impression, so don’t feel scared to make a statement — you want buyers to fall in love with your house. The fixes below are minor and budget friendly enhancements that can be done in a day to help make your house more inviting and appealing, and help get potential buyers to schedule a showing!

Glam the Front Door

The entry is a huge focal point for potential buyers, especially when it’s one of the first things they see. Create appeal by cleaning the front door — wipe it down, remove dirt, update the color with some paint. The front door should play off a home’s interior: add a kick plate, swag or a seasonal wreath to reflect the interior style of the house.

Create Symmetry

It is known that humans find symmetry beautiful – symmetry is attractive to the human eye, especially in nature. Symmetry is also appreciated in the design world for its familiarity, balance and it works with every style. Using symmetry to entice potential buyers is a quick and cost-friendly tool to the home seller: compose light fixtures, plants and front-door accents based on symmetry to create welcoming and inviting entryways and boost the house’s curb appeal.

Makeover the Mailbox

If you have a mailbox, it can be a great way to accent your house and add a little touch of personality. If you’re going to replace the box, pick one that mimics the style and trim of the house. You also have the option of dressing up a mail box by painting the post to match the house’s exterior color, or you can surround it with flowers or other plants.

Add Outdoor Lighting

A quick, easy, and budget friendly way of adding appeal to the outside of your house is to add outdoor lighting. Outdoor lighting adds a little something extra, and it can also provide safety and security. Homeowners have many options for lighting, from wired to solar, and lights can be purchased at many retailers and hardware stores. Install landscape lighting along paths and trees.

Patch Up the Grass

Pets, animals, weather and other events at your house can take a toll on your yard’s grass, and most buyers will notice a lawn that looks like it’s on its last leg. Cut out any dead spots and replace with sod, or, if you have time, replant with seed. If you live in a non-drought area, turn on the sprinklers: a lawn needs at least 1″ to 1 ½” of water per week and should be watered deeply 2-3 times per week.

Install Window Boxes

Window boxes can be a really budget friendly way to liven up the outside of a house. They help play up windows, and they can add a pop of color by way of plants or flowers. For a traditional look, choose boxes made of copper or iron, and pick painted wood for more of a cottage feel. Use a window box to play with flowers that will suit the lighting in the yard and the color scheme of the outside.

Renew Planters and Beds

Poorly maintained planters and flower beds can be a big letdown to potential buyers – especially when many view poor upkeep as an indication of what a house may look like inside. Be sure to prune overgrowth, pull weeds, plant extra flowers and add new mulch to restore life and color depleted by the sun and harsh weather. Adding a border around flower beds or along paths can be a great addition, and budget friendly. If your yard already has a border, clean and restore pieces that are worn or upgrade the stone altogether.

Another budget friendly fix you can do in less than a day is pressure washing any dirty siding, decks, patios, driveway or sidewalks. A pressure washer can be rented at any home improvement store for a small amount, and freshly washed pavement and siding can help make a home look revitalized. If you’re limited on outdoor space or have no yard, add some color by creating a container garden. These small gardens are easy to maintain and can easily be transported to your new residence once the sale is finalized. As a seller your top priority is getting the most out of your house — concentrating on small and easy fixes that are budget friendly can really help give your house that pop so many buyers look for.

Barbecue and Fire Pit Safety for the Summer

Throughout the United States, the summer months are those months where millions of Americans find themselves enjoying the outdoors or chilling in the backyard. With summer comes barbecues and evenings outside, sitting beside the fire pit. It’s important to remember that barbecues and fire pits require a certain amount of safety when in use. To help you in your summer celebrations, keep these safety tips close by when using a barbecue or fire pit this summer.

Barbecue Tips

Grilled food is a true treat, especially when you don’t want to cook inside during the warm summer months. Grills should always be used outside, in a well ventilated area. To ensure safety, grills should be stationed away from the home, deck railings and away from any low hanging tree branches or plants.

The most important thing to remember is to never leave the grill unattended, especially if you have children and pets. The second most important safety item is to remember to keep the grill clean by removing grease and fat buildup. You can also clean or replace any trays that sit below the grill and collect food waste, oil and other grill debris.

Propane Tips

Propane can be found in both liquid and gas form. Naturally odorless, an additive is added to the gas to give it a distinct odor to help people identify when the gas is around. Propane, when stored under pressure, is a liquid. When you hook up a propane tank to a gas grill, the tank is opened which allows propane gas to leave the tank and power the grill. Liquid Propane is very cold, so cold that it can cause freeze burns if it comes into contact with skin.

Storing propane is an important part of propane use. A propane tank should always be stored and transported upright, and proper propane storage requires the tank be in a temperature controlled area. If you store a propane tank in an area that’s susceptible to high temperatures, there is a risk of the pressure release valve opening and releasing gas, which is a fire hazard.

When transporting propane, make sure the pressure release valve is closed and that there is cap or plug over the valve outlet. Tanks should always be transported in an upright position, sitting on the tank’s foot. During transport, the tank should be secured, even if it’s empty. You can secure the tank with a safety strap, the seat belt, or some kind of other container to prevent the tank from tipping over.

It’s important to remember not to transport more than four propane tanks inside an enclosed vehicle at one time. You can carry more than four if you are transporting the tanks in the bed of a truck and they are secured to prevent escape.

Fire Pit Tips

Sitting beside a fire pit, enjoying a drink, roasting marshmallows, or just listening to the crackle of the wood can be some of the most enjoyable and memorable moments of the summer. Fire pits are a great outdoor accessory, but they do require an amount of safety to operate. A fire pit should be at least 10 feet away from any structure or combustible surface. Unless the owner’s manual says it’s ok, do not put a fire pit on grass, a wood deck or in an enclosed deck/porch.

When it comes time to light the fire, be sure to always burn dry, seasoned wood that was cut at least six months earlier. In order to prevent sparks, keeps logs no longer than three-quarters of the pit’s diameter. When starting the fire, don’t use gasoline, lighter fluid or kerosene as these are not meant for fire pits! Use a fire starter or newspaper and kindling.

Do not light a fire in windy conditions, and it’s important to remember to stay up-to-date with burn bans or burn ordinances in your area. If the pit is located in an area near trees or bushes, pick up any leaves or combustible material from around the pit before starting your fire. Keep a bucket of sand, a fire extinguisher or a garden hose nearby in case things get out of control.


Prepping Your Home for a Vacation

Vacations are a time to relax and escape from regular life. When you’re miles from home, the last thing you want to worry about is the safety of your home. If you plan on taking a vacation this summer (or any time this year), here are some simple tips on prepping your home for vacation.

Stop Your Newspaper and Mail
One sure way of being absent from your home is a pile of newspapers in the driveway. Contact your newspaper delivery person and stop service while you’re gone. If you don’t have a locked mailbox, contact the post office and have them hold your mail. You can also ask a trusted neighbor to collect mail, newspapers and deliveries and have him/her hold the for you until you’re back.

Park Your Car in the Garage
The last thing you want is to get home from a vacation and have your car gone. If you can, park your car inside the garage, or have a family member park it at his/her house. You can also ask a neighbor to park their car in your driving, making it look like someone is leaving each morning.

Put a Light on a Timer
A dark house stands out in a neighborhood, especially when all of the other homes are lit up. Before you leave, buy a timer and install it on a lamp in your home. It’s also a good idea to install a motion-activated sensor on the outdoor floodlight that will be triggered should someone walk by it. You can also ask a neighbor to turn on the front porch light in the evening.

Mow Your Lawn
Grass can grow pretty fast in two or three days. If you have a lawn, make sure it’s trimmed before you embark on your trip. If you’re going to be gone longer than a week, ask a family member or neighbor to cut the grass in the front yard while you’re away.

Some of these items are easily overlooked, but could cause major issues when you’re away:

Unplug Small Appliances and Electronics
Small appliances and electronics can be energy vampires when plugged in, and some are still active even when they look like they’re turned off. Before you leave, unplug those items that won’t be used while you’re gone (coffee maker, toaster, espresso machine, etc.). It’s also a good time to make sure all smoke detectors work properly throughout your home.

Turn Down the Thermostat
Your thermostat makes sure your home maintains a specific temperature throughout the day. Before you leave, set the thermostat to a lower temperature if the house is going to be empty. This will help conserve energy while you’re gone. If you do turn down the thermostat, be sure to keep your home at a temperature that will still protect plants, pets and furniture.

Put the Water Heater in Vacation Mode
Traditional water heaters heat water throughout the day, even when you’re not using water. Before you head out on a vacation, out the heater in vacation mode. Check to see if your water heater has a VAC setting – which is for vacations. If it doesn’t you can turn down the thermostat to the lowest setting. But don’t stop the water heater: turn off water valves to the dishwasher, washing machine and any sinks. The last thing you want to come home to is a flood in your house because a pipe broke or a hose burst.

Tidy Up the Kitchen
Before you leave it’s always a good thing to clean out the fridge and dispose of anything that will go bad while you’re gone. The sink can harbor things that cause bad smells – run a half cup of vinegar and some water through the garbage disposal to alleviate any potential buildups, and make sure to take out any trash and recycling so you don’t come home to a smelly house. If you have a trusted neighbor, ask them to put your garbage, recycling or yard debris bins out on pickup day.

Leave Emergency Contact Info with Neighbors
You may tell your family that you’re heading out, but you should also let a neighbor know. Neighbors live near you and can be your first point of contact should something happen to your home while you’re away. Let a trusted neighbor know you’re going out of town – provide them with information on where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, and contact information for yourself and family members in case of emergency