You Can Buy and Sell Real Estate During the Holidays

It’s common knowledge that most people are advised to get their home on the real estate market in late spring or early summer as that is ‘real estate season.’ While the majority of homes do sell in the spring and summer, listing your home or looking for a home during the holidays or in winter is not as taboo as some would lead you to believe. There are actual benefits to listing and looking for a home during the holidays, and if you’ve missed out on the real estate scramble of the spring and summer, starting a home search or listing your home now might just be in your best interest. Here are some of the top reasons why you shouldn’t avoid listing your home, or looking for a home, during the holidays.

Buyers Never Stop Looking
Many would lead you to believe that the real estate market comes to a complete stand still during the holidays or in the winter, but that’s not the case. Every state’s real estate market is thriving year-round, and that even includes during the holiday season. Serious buyers never stop looking, and a serious seller (or a seller who wants or needs to sell their property) will keep their home or property on the market all year long. The holidays bring out the buyers and sellers that are determined – they need something or want to sell now, and they’re not willing to wait for the spring or summer.

Many people with school-age children want to wait to buy a new home with their kids are not in school, but the reality is that a family or anyone looking for a new home can move at any time of the year. Perhaps if you’re in an area with inclement winter weather, you might want to put off your search and move until better weather arrives, but for those that live in a mild climate, moving in November or December is just as easy as moving in May or June. Buyers can also sign up for new listing emails, which alert them to whenever a new property has come on the market, and sellers have the ability to sign up for sellers reports, so they can stay on top of the market in their neighborhood.

Inventory and Competition
While it is known that home inventory is largest during the spring and summer months, the MLS always has homes and properties listed on it. Fall and winter will have properties available, but the number of properties will be lower. Unless you’re total transfixed on a certain home, or you have a  list of needs and wants a mile long, you can be sure to find a property that will fit your housing needs throughout the year.

Despite the fact that inventory will be lower in the fall and winter, people still list their homes, especially if they are serious sellers. While the market is slower, it also is less competitive in terms of other buyers looking for homes. It’s likely the fall and winter won’t create scenarios of multiple, high dollar offers on one property; buyers and sellers like will have more opportunities to actually think about offers, and especially for buyers, low competition guarantees that you’re not making a rushed or rash decision based on emotions or other offers when you do find the perfect property.

This is specifically for buyers, but it’s widely know that home prices slightly fall in the fall and winter when the market has cooled down and more serious sellers are keen to get a sale. This is mostly because real estate sales are seasonal. But that’s not to say if you list your home in the fall or winter you’re going to have to drastically slash the price in order for your property to sell. While it might sit on the market a little longer than it would in the spring or summer, fall and winter sales happen, and if you’re a serious buyer or seller, you know you’ll want to do all you can to make your dream of buying or selling a home a reality.

Homes Look and Feel Charming
You’ll see a lot of articles on how to spruce up a home to ready it for the real estate market, and while the tips are definitely valuable, it’s not a secret that many people decorate their homes over the holidays. There’s something warm and inviting about a decorated home, or a home that feels cozy, and people who list their homes in the fall and winter can take advantage of a fireplace or wood stove to make a room more inviting.

If your property doesn’t have a fireplace or wood stove, you can use candles and other things to make the home smell inviting to buyers. While it may seem cumbersome to sell a property during the holidays or in the winter, you do have some ways to play up the season. And if you are truly set on avoiding the holidays, you can always put it on the market the first of January, when the chaos of the holidays is over.

Why It’s a Smart Move to use a Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling a home seems to be a way of life for a lot of people in today’s world. When you buy, you definitely want to get the most for your money. Many people think they can go it alone when it comes to buying or selling a house, and it’s definitely true that some people are able to handle all of the details of buying and selling a home or property, but in reality the real estate process is intricate and requires a lot of knowledge about the local real estate market, contracts, escrow, appraisals and referrals. While some home owners and buyers are in a position to go it alone, for those intimidated by the market or those who don’t have the time or energy to sell or buy a home on their own, here are some reasons why it’s a smart move to use a real estate agent during your next real estate transaction.

Local Expertise
You’ve lived in an area for some time – but while you may know about local amenities, and activities, do you have a lot of knowledge on the local real estate market? Real estate agents know their markets: they know how much homes are selling for, they know what areas are highly desirable and they know which ones are up-and-coming. You can trust an agent to know the local inventory and know how to get the best price for a home or property.

Real estate agents have a number of access points that a regular buyer or seller doesn’t. They have access to listings before they are put in the MLS, and they have access to the homes! Many sellers are only willing to grant access to agents, which means that most buyers going it alone can only access homes during open houses. An agent working for the seller is only going to provide information with the seller’s best interest at heart, so when you go it alone you might be only getting partial information from any questions you may have. Working with an agent will help provide private access to homes, and an agent will be able to get more information from the seller’s agent.

Buying a home is an intimidating experience – you’re making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. As a buyer, you want to make sure stress and emotions don’t get the better of you, especially when it comes to making important decisions. Real estate agents know what buyers and sellers go through – they’ve been there, as it’s more than likely they too have made a real estate purchase of their own. While they have personal experience, they also have an experienced rational eye when it comes to the business portion of a real estate transaction. They possess clear judgement, and agents are a seller and buyer’s biggest advocate for a successful negotiation. Real estate agents have the experience, knowledge and acumen to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

The real estate transaction process requires a number of professionals and services. From a lender, home inspector, contractors and handmen for repairs, lawyers and a number of other professionals and tradesmen, knowing the right people is beyond important when you want to have a smooth and successful transaction. Real estate agents are in the business, and their past experience has provided them with a number of respectable and dependable contacts and referrals that you’ll find asking friends and family. A ready agent will come prepared with connections and people they are willing to refer because they’ve worked with them in the past and they know their track record. When you choose to work without an agent, you sacrifice the networking that naturally comes with being a real estate agent.

No Cost When Buying
If you’re searching for a home or property to buy, having an agent is free. An agent’s commission is paid by the seller, but most buyers don’t realize this and entertain the idea of going with a Realtor during their home search. If a seller pays the commission, there is no loss to a buyer to take full advantage of all the services a real estate agent offers. It’s also important to understand that even if you choose to go it alone when buying a home, you do not receive the commission a buyer’s agent would. Commission rates are negotiated before the final sale and are included in the contract, meaning if you don’t use a buyer’s agent, the entire commission is paid to the listing agent.

Documents and Paperwork
Unless you’re working with a brand new agent, most agents know the ins and outs of all the documents and paperwork required for a home sale or purchase because they’ve been through a number of transactions. From finding the comps of your market and drafting a purchase agreement, to contacting any other agents and the title company, a real estate agent will be able to provide help in the forms of knowledge, time and resources during the real estate transaction process. Agents also know the important parts of an offer or contract, especially when it comes to line items that could cost a lot in the end or things that are negotiable. Having an agent that knows the process, the paperwork and the documentation is a valuable asset when it comes to making one of the biggest decisions of your life.

The Heat is On

As the weather gets cooler, it’s a good time to check your HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) system to make sure it’s operating properly. While it’s wise to have your HVAC inspected by a heating professional every fall and spring, you can increase the efficiency of your system by following these simple maintenance tips from American Home Shield.

Now: Use a high-efficiency pleated filter with an electrostatic charge that works like a magnet to grab the tiniest particles. Replace the filter every 90 days and check it monthly. If it looks dark and clogged, change it, and if you have pets, you may need to change it more often.

Keep the air-conditioning unit free of leaves, pollen, grass or branches that can interfere with its future efficiency. make sure there is at least two feet of space cleared around outdoor units.

Monthly or Seasonally: Inspect the insulation and refrigerant lines monthly. Before winter sets in, replace the humidifier filter and turn on the water.

Annually: Replace the battery in the carbon monoxide detector. Walk around the exterior of your house and check that outdoor AC units and heat pumps are on firm and level ground. Pour one cup of bleach mixed with water down the AC condensate drain to prevent buildup of mold and algae, which can clog the drain.

Always: Keep at least 20 percent of a home’s registers open to avoid putting unnecessary strain on the HVAC system.

Following these simple tips can prolong the life of your HVAC system and help you be prepared for whatever the winter season may bring.

Shopping for Green

Today’s buyers are more concerned than ever about living green, and that means finding an eco-friendly home. How do you know the home you want is truly green? Green means different things to different people. Buyers focused on energy cost savings prefer home s that have basic energy-efficient features, such as Energy Star appliances, weatherproofed windows, and good insulation. Buyers concerned about personal health issues prefer homes that use non-toxic materials, such as low VOC paints and bamboo flooring. Still other buyers want to contribute to a more sustainable future. They look for building materials that are produced locally or used reclaimed wood.

At the most basic level, Energy Star appliances, double-panned windows and efficient heating and cooling systems can lower energy bills and give buyers peace of mind .Other factors to consider include:

  • Cost. Expect to pay more for a green home. A recent study by the University of California find that green-certified, single family homes sold for 9 percent more than a comparable home that wasn’t green.
  • Square footage. The larger the home, the more energy it consumes. Buying a smaller home is more economical.
  • Paint. Use water-based paints that contain lower levels of VOCs than conventional oil-based paints. VOCs emit gases that can cause health issues.
  • Carpeting/flooring. Choose carpeting made from recycled or renewable materials. For wood flooring, bamboo or reclaimed wood are popular choices.
  • Utilities. Review past utility bills to determine typical monthly energy costs. Also request documentation on any green features that have been added to the property.
  • Landscaping. Choose plants and trees that don’t require the same level of maintenance as a lawn.

If in doubt, ask questions. The more questions you ask, the more confident you will be that you are getting a truly green home.

When it Rains, It Really Pours

No matter where you live, emergencies are bound to happen when you least expect them; the furnace breaks down, appliances stop working, the roof starts leaking or a window gets smashed. The costs for repairs can be tough to stomach, unless you have an emergency fund.

Setting up an emergency fund is easier than you thin. These tips from will help you handle unexpected surprises with ease.

  • First, estimate how much money you might need for the fund. Experts suggest saving enough to cover four to seven months of expenses. Remember, this fund should not replace your entire income, and it should not be used to fund luxuries, like vacations, fancy new clothes or a new car (unless your existing one breaks down.)
  • Keep funds accessible, but not so readily available that you are tempted to borrow from it. Set up a separate account from your regular checking account. Consider using credit unions, which allow consumers to open accounts with smaller sums of cash, or online banks, so you can’t withdraw money from a storefront location.
  • Set up automatic deposits or transfers, so you know for sure that money will be saved each month and the fund will grow steadily, with little effort on your part.
  • Be sure to use the funds only for emergencies, such as replacing broken appliances, replacing the furnace or paying your regular monthly expenses after a job layoff or during a lengthy illness.
  • Begin slowly. Start with a deposit of $50 from each paycheck, then increase it gradually with each job change or pay increase. Set aside a portion of commission checks and tax refund, too.

With these simple steps, you’ll have greater peace of mind, knowing you are prepared for any emergency.

The Hidden Costs of Homeownership

If you’ve never owned your own property before, there are some costs you should prepare yourself for ahead of time. Should you take out a mortgage, you’ll have your monthly mortgage payment, but often there are additional costs and fees added that a new homeowner will not expect. Listed below are items you should expect to pay once you become a homeowner.

Property Taxes

When you rent, you are not responsible for the property taxes on the property. But when you become a homeowner, you’re expected to pay yearly property taxes, of which go to public works, wages for government workers or public school boards. Based on the current value of your home, property taxes are assessed every year and will likely change to reflect an increase (or decrease) in your home’s value. Property taxes can be paid at one time, or they can be divided into 12 payments over the course of a year and added to your mortgage payment. When you’re trying to determine what your mortgage payment will be each month, don’t forget to factor in property taxes.

Home Maintenance

When you live in a rental property, most maintenance is performed by the landlord or a property manager. When you become a homeowner, those maintenance costs fall upon you. When you purchase a home, all maintenance items should be considered when it comes to your overall budget. Will you want to replace all the appliances? Will the property need new windows or a new roof? Does the home need basic upgrades? Most people in the industry suggest you allocate 1% of your home’s worth for maintenance costs every year, but the reality is that 1% is likely the minimum – you should plan on more than 1% maintenance costs each year as a homeowner, and if you plan on any larger renovations, bet on the costs to be even higher.

Mortgage Insurance

Most people, when they buy a home or property, are able to do so by taking out a mortgage loan. If you put less than 20% of the cost of your property down, you’re required to have Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI protects lenders if the borrower defaults on their loan. PMI is charged annually, and it will typically cost 0.5% to 1% of the entire loan amount. The payments are generally paid each month rather than in a large one-time payment. If you plan on taking out a mortgage loan, and you don’t have 20% to put down, expect to add private mortgage insurance payments to your other monthly bills.

Supplemental Insurance

Do you live in an area prone to natural disaster? As a homeowner you’ll need to have regular home insurance to protect your home or property from typical things (plumbing issues, roof leaks, etc.) that homeowners encounter. Should you live in an area that’s prone to weather-related issues (floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes) you will want to purchase supplemental insurance to make sure your home is covered should nature decide to show herself.

Landscaping and Lawn Care

When you rent a condo or an apartment, it’s highly likely you are not spending a lot of time outside in a yard. When you buy your own property (should it have a yard or some kind of outdoor area), expect some hidden costs to come in the form of lawn care. Does the yard need some major landscaping? Are you going to mow it yourself, or will you hire a company to do it? Do you have a lawn mower, rakes, snow or leaf blower, yard tools, shed, and any other items needed to keep your yard looking great year-round? A yard comes with extra costs, so be sure to know how much you want to spend on upkeep per year.

HOA Fees

If you’ve been renting your previous residence, it’s likely you haven’t had to pay Homeowners Association (HOA) fees for your apartment or rental. Should you buy a house, condo or townhouse in a neighborhood with common areas, a clubhouse, pool, or any other kind of community meeting places, it’s likely you’ll move into a neighborhood with an HOA. HOA fees can vary in terms of what the HOA covers within the community, but unless you know through your Realtor or through the homeowner the monthly fee, you can expect to spend anywhere from $10 to hundreds of dollars per month on HOA fees.

Buying your first home or property is a huge step in anyone’s life. Before you start your property search, make sure you consider all of the items above when you’re thinking of buying a home or property and during your property search.


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!