This time of year, with the approach of Thanksgiving, we tend to reflect on the things in our life that we are grateful for. We all face challenges from time to time, and it is very easy to get wrapped up in busy work and life schedules. Making some time to take a breath and give thanks for the things in your life that you do treasure can help to put things in perspective. The members of the Centre County Association of REALTORS have plenty to be thankful for.
Our market is stable: Here is one example in the 3rd quarter of 2014, we have
closed 393 residential transactions in Centre County vs. 374 in the 3rd quarter of
2013. (Data provided by Centre County Association of REALTORS MLS). Homes
are selling and interest rates remain low.
Our market area is growing: Many of our members are expanding their
service into neighboring counties. Those agents that have familiarity with areas
of Mi. in, Huntingdon, Clear. eld, etc. are able to reach further to provide their
expertise to new clients.
Our membership is cooperative: Real estate sales is a competitive business.
However, the professionals serving as REALTORS in this area maintain respectful
and cooperative relationships with each other. These relationships strengthen
our network and allow us to better serve our clients.
Our membership is generous with their community: The majority of our
REALTOR and Business Partner members are involved in a variety of organizations
to which they donate their time, expertise and energy. Our members serve on
boards and committees and volunteer for events and service in all corners of the
county and beyond. They are invested in this community and can be seen at all
levels of involvement.
What in your life are you most grateful for? Is there a way you can express
your appreciation by taking some time to help someone else? There are many
organizations and groups in the area that can use your time and talents. If you
don’t know where to start, have a chat with your REALTOR of choice and get
Enjoy the season!
Autumn is a beautiful and exciting season in Central PA. Turning leaves create a palette of color across the landscape, the sky is a rich blue, and the weekends are full of football fun for the local clubs, area high schools and PSU. If you are taking advantage of the beautiful backdrop and football weekend activity to sell your home this fall, remember to follow these maintenance tips from Forbes.com to keep your yard and curb appeal above the competition!
Leaves – they are beautiful on the trees, but we know what a chore it is to keep them cleaned up once they start to fall. Rake them frequently to keep your yard looking clean. Keep your walkways clear of leaves and debris as well.
Grass – keep up your lawn maintenance. If possible, address any brown areas before it is too late.
We have had an unusually wet August, so lawn life has been extended this year! Keep the grass
trimmed and groomed as you would in the summer.
Mulch – a fresh layer of mulch always gives your yard a “† nished” look. Mulching will give you an
added layer of protection for your plants as winter approaches.
Fading/wilting ‰flowers – cut down all old growth to prepare for winter. If your yard lacks fall
color, visit one of our many local greenhouses and choose some fresh mums in the hues of the
Front door – don’t forget to take o‹ that summer decoration! Add a fall themed wreath to dress
up your entry. Take a look at your welcome mat as well – something in a natural material and
earth tones will do nicely at this time of year.
Pressure wash – clean the exterior of your home, including the windows. Once the trees are
bare, your home exterior is a little more exposed as potential buyers drive by to take a look.
Gutters and downspouts – give them a good cleaning once the leaves have fallen, you will be
very happy in March and April that your gutters are clear for melting snow and spring rain. It
also sends the message to buyers that home maintenance is a priority for you.
Exterior lighting – make sure your outdoor lighting is adequate. The days will be getting shorter
and you want to make sure buyers have a welcoming, well-lit path to your front door.
Storm doors/windows – this is the time to install these seasonal items. Clean them well and
make sure they are in good working condition. It is a good time to take inventory of any that
may need to be repaired or replaced.
Seasonal furniture – clean and cover or store your seasonal furniture. As long as the weather
holds, it is nice to see the furniture set up on patio or deck (make sure to sweep the leaves and
fall debris away!) but make sure to cover or store before snowfall.
Fall can be the perfect time to sell your home. Many people have put their summer travels
behind them and are now focusing on getting into their next home before the holidays or
before the snow ‰flies. To make sure your listing stands apart from the competition, take the
time to address the exterior maintenance items speci†fic to this season.
Over the next decade, the number of households in their 30s will increase dramatically. According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, the increase will be about 2.7 million households. These are the members of the Millennial Generation.
Millennials, also known as Gen Y, are defined as being those born between the early 1980s through the early 2000s. There is some variety in the exact years this generation begins and ends depending on which study you see. This is a large demographic, which includes the children of the Baby Boom generation. Millennials are also called the Echo Boomers for this reason.
Millennials have some common traits as a group. One is that they are waiting a bit longer to purchase homes. Many are renting, but a very large number are still living at their parents’ homes. This is because their student loan debt is higher, entry level incomes are falling and professional jobs are a bit more scarce for those without a specialized or advanced degree. Another reason for waiting to purchase a home is their experience with the recession. They watched as parents struggled with job loss or were forced to leave a home due to foreclosure. It may be awhile before these buyers feel comfortable with the long term financial commitment of a mortgage.
Millennials are also thinking differently about location and what type of home they will choose to purchase when the time comes. Their tastes are more urban. This group would prefer a smaller, functional home close to a city center, shops, restaurants and public transportation than a large, sprawling home with a big yard to maintain and the necessity of getting into a car to go everywhere.
This group will be interested in homes that reflect their individuality. They would prefer an area with many different home styles rather than a development with similar-looking homes. Wasted space is another turn-off. If they are purchasing a home they won’t be interested in a formal dining room and living room that will only be utilized occasionally. The preference will be for an office area and/or home theatre that will get regular use. Upgrades will not impress them unless they are to save energy or are for technology – for example, a TV in the sleek, functional kitchen would be preferable to a large kitchen with extra prep sink and multiple ovens.
Don’t forget that cell service! Millennials use their phones and hand-held devices for many purposes and are socially connected all the time. A home in an area without good cell service won’t work for these buyers.
Millennials will be a strong presence in the housing market once their incomes begin to grow. They are already making an impact in the rental market nationally. If you are a Millennial working toward purchasing your first home, or you are a Boomer thinking of downsizing and would like to take advantage of this large market in the next few years, check in with your REALTOR of choice and start to prepare!
It used to be much more common to know the folks living around us. People were more likely to stay in one home for a longer time and we had relationships with our neighbors. Times have changed a bit. Now our lives seem to be running at warp speed with little time to sit still in our own homes let alone spend time chatting with the people next door.
If you are having a problem with a neighbor, the first thing you may want to consider is the necessity of getting to know them a bit better. It is very easy to be angry and critical of a stranger, but not so easy when you know the person behind the rusty car on the lawn. The reality is that if you live in a neighborhood you are going to be side by side with people who don’t necessarily think the way you do. Make sure you are behaving in a neighborly way yourself. It will be much easier to request that the loud music be turned down a bit if you have already established a respectful relationship with each other.
When the necessity arises that you must confront a neighbor about a problem, stay calm and approach them in a friendly way. Anger is more likely to make the problem worse. Bring a gift – cookies or a bottle of wine. State your concern in a way that is not an attack and include some possible (realistic!) solutions. Ask nicely, but make sure to be clear and make your point. It is possible that if you simply state what your concern is and why it is bothering you, your neighbor may have been completely unaware that the issue was affecting you. You could have been stewing for weeks and about to boil over, when a simple request would have done the trick! Stick to the most important issue or issues, don’t stalk next door with a long list of gripes.
If you are too uncomfortable to approach them directly, or have trouble reaching your neighbors, leave a friendly note. Make sure it is clear and concise – avoid passive-aggressive language and leave little opportunity for misinterpretation. Invite them to discuss the issue with you, include your phone number if you are comfortable.
If the problem is junk or yard maintenance and they seem overwhelmed, maybe they just need help. Offer to mow their lawn or help to get the yard under control. Let them know that you can help out by getting some information and estimates on hauling junk away.
If the issue is of a more serious nature, or your friendly attempts to address the problem are not working, it may be time to involve the authorities. Make sure you know what laws (if any) your neighbors are actually violating. Are there township ordinances regulating trash and lawn care? What about trespassing, noise or pet control? If you are in a neighborhood with an HOA, check the rules and regulations. You may want to report the situation to the police or contact an attorney to find out whether it is worth the time and cost of pursuing legal action against your neighbor. If you choose to make a formal complaint, make sure to document everything. Keep any correspondence, take photos if necessary. Once you make the decision to take legal action, inform your neighbors. This will give them one last opportunity to address the problem to avoid a legal issue.
Take responsibility for being a member of your neighborhood community and attempt to establish relationships with the people around you. If a problem arises, behave in an open, friendly and direct manner. You will find that the majority of issues can be worked out with simple communication skills….or a drink or 2 on your deck!
Disclosure of material defects of a property are part of the process of selling a home. When using a REALTOR®, there is a standard PA Seller Disclosure that a seller fills out as a part of the listing process.
A seller should consider the experience that they have had during the time of their ownership, and answer the questions on the disclosure form to the best of their knowledge. There are sections in the form regarding occupancy, roof condition, heating and cooling, plumbing, electrical, environmental concerns and more. The standard PA REALTOR® Seller Disclosure form is more detailed than what is required for the seller to disclose by law.
What are we looking for here when a buyer is reviewing a Seller Disclosure? The intention is to consider “material defects”.
Buyers and sellers usually wonder what constitutes a “material defect”. The PA Residential Real Estate Transfers Law defines “material defect” as: a problem with a residential real property or any portion of it that would have a significant adverse impact on the value of the property or that involves an unreasonable risk to people on the property. The fact that a structural element, system or subsystem is near at or beyond the end of the normal useful life of such a structural element, system or subsystem is not by itself a material defect.
What if there is a tragedy or a crime associated with a property? There has been a case of this nature making its way through the Pennsylvania court system.
On July 21, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously decided that a murder-suicide in a property is not a material defect that a seller has to disclose to a buyer.
This case stemmed from a transaction where a buyer purchased a home in which a highly publicized murder-suicide occurred. The new owner found out about the event from a property neighbor after settlement. During the course of the lawsuit and subsequent appeals, the Supreme Court would not hear the appeal on the issue of violation of the Seller Disclosure Law, which meant that this law did not require a seller to disclose a murder-suicide associated with the property. A psychological stigma is not currently accepted as a measurable factor in determining the impact on value or condition of a property, and does not result in structural defects to the home.
Check out this article on the ruling for the details:
This leaves the decision whether to reveal such an event to the seller. An agent representing a seller that does not want a traumatic event associated with the property revealed cannot disclose the event. That agent, if asked directly by another agent or potential buyer about whether such an event has occurred also cannot lie and say “no” – all they can do if asked (unless the seller has given consent to disclose) is to state that they cannot answer the question. This does leave the listing agent open to criticism, unfortunately, but they are also legally bound by the terms of a listing contract in representing their seller.
If you are a buyer in search of a home, and you absolutely would not want to purchase a property in which there was a traumatic event, you should discuss this with your REALTOR®. Your agent can make inquiries to the listing agents of the properties you tour, although some sellers may not even know the history of the home prior to their ownership (some of you may not believe that an owner would not care whether someone was killed or died in their home, but it is absolutely true). Ultimately, keep in mind that it is in your hands to do your own research – which is certainly much easier in this age of social media and information access. A highly publicized murder-suicide, as in this particular case, would only take a simple internet search.
My first trip downtown for the Arts Fest this year (my 27th, though it was founded in 1967) was Thursday. My assistant, Destiny, has never experienced the State College Arts Fest – a situation that needed to be rectified! We downloaded the festival app onto our phones (search the app store for “arts festival state college”) and headed out.
A great addition to the Fest this year is the new “Fest Zero” initiative for controlling waste. A recycling container is next to every trash container, and compost bins are near food stands. Under this initiative, introduced by Brad Fey, the festival Trash Crew had been renamed the Green Crew and volunteers are on hand to help festival attendees put their waste into the appropriate containers. Want to know more about this initiative and the benefits of living a sustainable lifestyle? Stop by the Fest Zero education booth on Allen Street and chat with the volunteers! Please take a moment before you discard anything downtown this weekend and help with this effort of keeping some of the 75 tons (!!!) of waste generated in an event of this size out of the landfill.
After lunch it was time to head back to RE/MAX Centre Realty but I had one more stop to make before the parking garage. Heidi’s Strudel. Love. These. Pastries. I always make a show of looking over the choices but on my first day I know what I am ordering. Apple. Friday it may be cheese or apricot, we will have to wait and see.
Want to plan your weekend at the Fest? Download the app to see entertainment schedules, artists, maps and other information, or go online www.arts-festival.com I have to make a plug for my daughter, Clara, and the students from State High that are performing “Alice in Concert” at the Downtown Theatre on Friday at 2pm and 8pm. This group of performers is taking “Alice” – sets, costumes, and all! - to Scotland in August to perform in the Fringe International Theatre Festival. Grab a festival button and meet me there!
Glad I was able to give Destiny her first glimpse of the Fest. If we have time on Friday I will have to bring her to the People Choice Festival in Boalsburg, another must-see event this weekend. An arts fest with a bit more laid back attitude and a more distinct local (PA) flair, the People’s Choice Festival runs through Sunday. Artists, craftspeople, food, and entertainment galore at this event as well. More info at www.peopleschoicefestival.com .
My apple strudel is calling me from a box on my kitchen counter.
Now that the weather has warmed up and the days have lengthened, it is the perfect time to address the outdoor maintenance of your home. Homeowners don’t love the list of summer chores, but keeping an eye on the exterior of your home is essential if you want to avoid bigger maintenance issues down the road. Here are the basics:
Keeping your home maintained will protect the investment you have made in it. Someday, when you sell your home, the fact that it has been well maintained will strengthen its position in the market. Curious as to what projects may be a worthwhile investment for you to enjoy now but still see some return in value when you sell your home in the future? Contact your REALTOR of choice and have them out for a glass of iced tea and a tour!
By: Kris Hanahan