Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Aug. 15, 2019

How Much Mortgage You Can Afford For Your Berks County Home?

Home ownership in Berks County should offer safety and security, especially financial security. That's why it's important to carefully calculate how much you truly can afford for a mortgage to make sure it fits comfortably in your budget.

Prepare a Detailed Budget

The standard rule of thumb says that you can afford a home that costs 2 to 3 times your gross income for one year. In other words, if you earn $100,000 in a year, you should be able to afford a home between $200k to $300k.

There is one problem with this rule. It doesn't factor in your monthly expenses and debts. If we use our previous example of $100k per year income, and you have $1000 monthly debt payments, this leaves you with less money to pay the mortgage.

You should prepare a family budget that takes into account your ongoing monthly bills for everything — credit cards, car and student loans, lunch at work, day care, date night, vacations, and savings.

Now you can see what's left to cover the costs of owning a home, such as your mortgage, property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable.

Factor in Your Downpayment

Having enough for a down payment is also an important factor to consider. It's simple: the higher the down payment, the lower your monthly mortgage costs will be. If you put down at least 20% of the home’s cost, you may not have to get private mortgage insurance, which protects the lender if you default and costs hundreds each month. That leaves more money for your mortgage payment.

The lower your down payment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for and the higher your monthly mortgage payment.

But, if interest rates and/or home prices are rising and you wait to buy until you accumulate a bigger downpayment, you may end up paying more for your home.

Consider Your Overall Debt

Lenders generally follow the 43% rule. Your monthly mortgage payments covering your home loan principal, interest, taxes and insurance, plus all your other bills, like car loans, utilities, and credit cards, shouldn’t exceed 43% of your gross annual income.

Here’s an example of how the 43% calculation works for a home buyer making $100,000 a year before taxes:

  1. Your gross annual income is $100,000.
  2. Multiply $100,000 by 43% to get $43,000 in annual income.
  3. Divide $43,000 by 12 months to convert the annual 43% limit into a monthly upper limit of $3,583.
  4. All your monthly bills including your potential mortgage can’t go above $3,583 per month.

You might find a lender willing to give you a mortgage with a payment that goes above the 43% line, but consider carefully before you take it.

Use Your Rent as a Mortgage Guide

If you currently are renting, then you can use an online calculator to compare the costs of renting vs owning a home to see which makes the most sense for your financial situation.

If you’re struggling to keep up with your rent, buy a home that will give you the same payment rather than going up to a higher monthly payment. You’ll have additional costs for home ownership that your landlord now covers, like property taxes and repairs. If there’s no room in your budget for those extras, you could become financially stressed.

Also consider whether or not you’ll itemize your deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t also deduct mortgage interest payments. Talking to a tax adviser, or using a tax software program to do a “what if” tax return, can help you see your tax situation more clearly.

We can help you find the perfect home for sale in Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley with our powerful property search tool. And make sure to come back to our blog every week for more Berks County real estate advice and local articles.

Posted in Home Buyers
Aug. 8, 2019

Negotiate Your Best House Buy in Berks County

Buying a home in Berks County can have emotional moments. Yet when it comes to negotiating a price for the home, you want to keep emotions at a minimum.

This is where your agents comes in to guide you through this process. Your agent will give you advice, but in the end, you're the one who makes the final decision.

Here are six tips for negotiating the best price on a home for sale in Berks County.

Get Prequalified for a Mortgage

More and more, this is a step that can't be overlooked. Sellers these days expect that a serious buyer will already be qualified for a mortgage and know how much they want to spend on a home. This also puts you ahead of those buyers who may not be prequalified.

Ask Questions

This is one of the most important purchases in your life, so ask all the questions you want. Even if the questions may otherwise seem too personal, as long as they relate to the sale, ask them. What's the seller's motivation for selling? What is their financial position? Are they facing foreclosure or a short sale? Have they already purchased a home or relocated, which may make them eager to accept a lower price to avoid paying two mortgages? Has the home been on the market for a long time, or was it just listed? Have there been other offers? If so, why did they fall through? The more signs that sellers are eager to sell, the lower your offer can reasonably go.

Work Back From a Final Price to Determine Your Initial Offer

Decide in advance what the highest you're willing to pay for a home, then work back from that amount to make your initial offer. Just remember that if you bid too low, you may offend the seller. If you bid too high, you may end up spending more than you need to.

You agent can work with you to compare homes in area that have sold recently to come to a fair initial offer.

Avoid Contingencies

Sellers don't like taking chances. Nobody does for that matter. So keep the bid free of complicated contingencies, such as making the purchase conditional on the sale of your current home. Try to keep contingencies for mortgage approval, home inspection, and environmental checks typical in your area, like radon.

Remain Unemotional

Remember that buying a home is a business deal. Treat it that way. Consider any movement by the sellers, however slight, a sign of interest, and keep negotiating.

Each time you make a concession, ask for one in return. If the sellers ask you to boost your price, ask them to contribute to closing costs or pay for a home warranty. If sellers won’t budge, make it clear you’re willing to walk away; they may get nervous and accept your offer.

Don't Let Competition Change Your Plan

Great homes and those competitively priced can draw multiple offers in any market. Don’t let competition propel you to go beyond your predetermined price or agree to concessions — such as waiving an inspection — that aren’t in your best interest.

We can help you negotiate your next home purchase in Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley. Find your next dream home with our powerful property search tool. And make sure to come back to our blog every week for more real estate tips and local Berks County articles.

Posted in Home Buyers
Aug. 1, 2019

Upcoming Events in Berks County

Summertime is about halfway over, so it's time to get out in Berks County and enjoy the great weather while it lasts. There's plenty of ways to enjoy the summer in Berks County, with evens and activities for the whole family. Here's a few events you can plan for over the coming weeks in August.

Ghost Tour of Brinton Lodge
AUG 3, 2019 10:00 PM - 11:30 PM | HISTORIC BRINTON LODGE

Through darkened halls and secret rooms, this candlelight ghost tour leads you into an otherworldly realm that overlaps with our own. You will have the opportunity for your own close encounter using the ancient technique of divining rods. Discover why Brinton Lodge was named one of the top 10 most haunted houses in Pennsylvania!

Grings Mill 5k and 10k Races
AUG 4, 2019 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM | BERKS COUNTY HERITAGE CENTER

The race will still be run on the scenic Grings Mill canal path, but a new start/finish location for this year will be at the Berks County Heritage Center, located at 1102 Red Bridge Road. There will still include both a 5K and 10K. Be sure to bring the whole family whether you're interested in running, hiking, biking, fishing, picnicking, volleyball or just enjoying a little down time - Grings Mill Park has something for everyone.

Hands on History Days
AUG 6, 2019 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM | LANDIS VALLEY VILLAGE & FARM MUSEUM

Step back in time and experience chores, historic crafts, and a school lesson. For more information, please visit our website at www.landisvalleymuseum.org. August 6, October 17, 24 & 31 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission: $11 per child

Penn Street Market
AUG 8, 2019 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM | PENN SQUARE, DOWNTOWN READING

The Penn Street Market is an open-air, seasonal farmers market in the heart of downtown Reading, PA. The Market features local farm produce, fresh meats, baked goods, locally owned restaurants and food trucks, and more!

Read 'n' Pick Story Time
AUG 14, 2019 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM | WEAVER'S ORCHARD

Looking for things to do with the kids on a summer day? Bring preschoolers, kindergarteners and elementary school children to Weaver’s Orchard for Read ‘n’ Pick Story Time.

Come back to our blog every week for more local Berks County news and events. Searching for the perfect home for sale in Berks County? We can help you find the home that's right for you in Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley with our powerful property search tool.

July 25, 2019

Tips for Buying a Foreclosure Home in Berks County

When a home is foreclosed in Berks County, the bank's goal is to sell it as fast as possible. Lenders will use a real estate agent to sell the property, since selling homes is not what banks do.

If you're thinking about buying a foreclosed home in Berks County, what steps should you should take?

Here's 4 tips to help you buy a foreclosed home.

1. Choose a foreclosure real estate expert. 

Lenders will usually sell a foreclosed home through a real estate agent. We can help you find foreclosed homes for sale and work with those agents to help you complete the sale.

As real estate experts, we have experience selling foreclosed properties and can guide you through the process.

2. Work with your agent to set a price. 

We can show you how much comparable homes have sold for in the neighborhood of the foreclosed home to help make an offer. Since the lender is motivated to sell, you may be able to make an offer that's well below the market value.

3. Get your financing in order. 

The more prepared you are with your financial information, the faster you can act on purchasing a foreclosed home. Closings can be faster with foreclosed homes since they are vacant. Make sure you have your finances ready to close the deal.

4. Expect an as-is sale.

Foreclosed homes can sometimes be neglected since the previous owner was obviously strapped for cash. Make sure you have enough money after the sale closes to take care of any issues, big or small. 

Lenders will also require that you purchase the home “as is,” which means in its current condition. Have a home inspector go over the home to give you an idea of what you're getting into financially.

Be sure you also do all the environmental testing that’s common to your region to find hazards such as radon, mold, lead-based paint, or underground storage tanks.

If you plan to buy a foreclosed home in Berks County, we can help you find the home that's right for you in Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley with our powerful property search tool.

Posted in Home Buyers
July 18, 2019

Should You Buy a Fixer Upper in Berks County?

Buying a fixer-upper in Berks County can be a great investment, provided you buy the right one. If you find a home where the right things are wrong, it can be a great way to find your dream home. 

But do you need to be a DIY master? No, you just need time and patience.

How can you tell if that home you're looking at in Berks County is worth fixing up?

Evaluate the Price

Is the house priced according to the repairs it needs? Don't fall in love with a home that “just needs a little TLC.” Do the research to make sure the price compensates the needed repairs.

You should also check how much other homes in the area sold for. This will also help you decide if the home is priced too high. Also, you should make sure you don't over-improve the home for the neighborhood, as it could affect how much you get back on it if you decide to sell it after you make the improvements.

What Improvements Are Needed?

A home that has opportunities for instant equity is what you want. So if you turn around and sold the home, you'll get your money back.

You may find a home that just needs a good paint job or landscaping, which are relatively easy fixes.

Other tasks may require the work of professionals and cash to pay them. It’s those projects you want to carefully evaluate against the home’s price.

Which Projects That Require a Pro Add Instant Equity?

Some of the improvements a home needs require a pro (unless you're already a pro). There are a few projects a home may need that are at the top of the list for things that are worth the cost:

  • New roof
  • Hardwood floors
  • Insulation

While those three are pretty safe bets. Almost any project can be worth it with a fixer-upper if the price is right. For example, a complete kitchen renovation can cost $65,000 and recover only about $40,000 when you sell. But if the fixer-upper is discounted enough, think how amazing it would be to cook in a kitchen you designed yourself.

Evaluate Your Ability to Deal with Disruption

Whether you’re a DIY Jedi or content to let the pros handle the remodel, if your patience is shorter than your potential home’s to-do list, a fixer-upper may not be a good choice.

Renovating a bathroom alone can take two to three weeks. Add hardwood flooring, a new kitchen, and siding, and you’re looking at a whole summer’s worth of rehab.

When considering a fixer-upper, evaluate the limits of your emotional energy as well. Inevitable project pitfalls and delays can be wearing. Only if you have the time, patience, and emotional endurance for a fixer-upper will it be a good fit for you. And only you can determine that.

But if you can budget your time and money, and employ the right fixer-upper strategies, you might find yourself with a double reward: A home that’s worth far more than you paid, and the joy of knowing you helped get it there.

Searching for the perfect home for sale in Berks County? We can help you find the home that's right for you in Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley with our powerful property search tool.

Posted in Home Buyers
July 11, 2019

Send Your Children to the Best Schools in Berks County

You might think it's too early to talk about going back to school, but if you plan on buying a home in Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley, then you no doubt want to know where the best schools are. Niche.com has rated the best schools in Berks County, based on analyzing key statistics and reviews from parents and students.

Here's a few of the schools in Berks County that made the top grade.

Exeter Township Senior High School
#3 Best Public High Schools in Berks County

Exeter Township Senior High School has 1,354 students in grades 7-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 16 to 1. According to state test scores, 77% of students are at least proficient in math and 71% in reading. One student notes "Attending Exeter High School the past four years has taught me so much both academically and personally. With the useful teachers in place, the importance of the teacher-student relationship stood out to me."

Search Homes For Sale Near Exeter Township Senior High School

 

Kutztown Area Senior High School
#4 Best Public High Schools in Berks County

Kutztown Area Senior High School has 444 students in grades 9-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 11 to 1. According to state test scores, 77% of students are at least proficient in math and 82% in reading. One student notes that "KAHS was a great school to prepare me for college. I love the small town because I knew everybody. The academics were great and the teachers are very willing to help."

Search Homes For Sale Near Kutztown Area Senior High School

 

Boyertown Area Senior High School

Boyertown Area Senior High School has 1,646 students in grades 10-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 15 to 1. According to state test scores, 85% of students are at least proficient in math and 84% in reading. One senior student had this to say about attending school here: "The higher level academics (AP and CE courses) are taught by amazing teachers who regularly have students score above average compared to other school districts."

Search Homes For Sale Near Boyertown Area Senior High School

 

Oley Valley Senior High School

Oley Valley Senior High School has 562 students in grades 9-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 14 to 1. According to state test scores, 72% of students are at least proficient in math and 77% in reading. One reviewer noted that "The staff and educators are all highly intelligent and understanding. The programs available at OVHS offer a challenge that provides a deep understanding of the topics and ensures your readiness for post-secondary life."

Search Homes For Sale Near Oley Valley Senior High School

 

We can help you find the perfect home for your family in Berks County. Search for homes in Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley with our powerful property search tool.

 

July 5, 2019

How to Be a Good Open House Guest in Berks County

An open house in Berks County. Now you get to view homes for sale and envision them as your own.

But whether you're viewing an open house or going to a private showing, it's an exciting time. It shows you far more than any photo can.

Real Estate agents will always do their best with photos online to represent the home for sale in Berks County the best they can. But they can't show everything. That's why viewing the home yourself is so crucial.

Before you tour homes, you should discuss what you your needs and wants are with the ones in your family who will live in that home. Then do some research (our website is a great resource), talk with your agent and lender. That way you can make a targeted visit with the homes you view, giving you an advantage over other buyers, as well as saving time.

So, before you start viewing, follow these tips to get prepared.

Make It Your Job to Know Which Houses Are “Open”

To know when a house is available for viewing:

Ask your agent. We have details on specific properties and can keep you informed of open houses that fit your specific needs.

And while you’re searching, be sure to jot down the location, time, and date for any open house that strikes your fancy. It will make it that much easier to plan times and routes for hitting as many homes as possible.

Get There Early (and Say Hi to the Neighbors)

Showing up early shows you're serious about buying. You can beat the rush as well and have more time to speak with the hosting agent.

And don't be afraid to ask questions. Many home buyers avoid talking with the showing agent. But the more you speak with them, the more you'll learn about that home.

If a house seems like a match, take a walk around the neighborhood. If you see neighbors out and about, try to talk with them about the neighborhood and get the inside scoop on what life is like there.

Visit our blog every week for more local articles about Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley. And make sure to check out our latest listings and search for your dream home with our convenient home search tool.

Posted in Home Buyers
July 4, 2019

Setting a Price for Your Berks County Home

If you're planning to sell your home in Berks County, setting the right price is a big step. That's OK, we're here to help.

Admittedly, setting the right price can be a bit tricky. You've invested money in your home and hopefully have great memories living in Berks County.

Most Berks County home buyers are more concerned about price than value. So the price you set can attract buyers or chase them away.

We can help you set the right price for your home in Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley based on similar homes in those areas. That way your home won't sit for too long on the market.

Even though we will help you set the price, you need to have your own idea of how much your property is worth. Here’s how to get it.

Work With Your Agent

Working with your agent is critical for setting the right price. We know the Berks County real estate market and will bring that knowledge to the table.

To assure you that we are pricing your home properly, here's what we'll do throughout the process:

  • Listen to your needs
  • Take into account your research
  • Use our knowledge of the local Berks County market to help you pick the best asking price

You’re part of our team. It’s in both of our interests to price your home correctly. A timely, profitable sale is win for everyone. Don't let emotions or impatience get in the way of selling your home for the right price.

You Should Also Check the Internet

You can use the internet to a certain extent to get an idea of how much your home is worth. Just remember that this is an estimate and intended as a starting point. These estimates are based on your home’s square footage and real estate data such as recent home sales in your local market.

But these estimates can't take into account your unique situation. That's where we can help you fine tune your home's price based on our experience in the local Berks County real estate market.

Know Your Local History

What your home’s listing price should be largely depends on what similar homes, or “comps,” recently sold for in your area. To price your home, we will run the average sales prices of comps to assess your home’s value.

What constitutes a comp? A number of factors, including a home’s:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Square footage
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms

We will look into the difference between each comp’s listing price, and the price it sold for. Then we can consider price reductions and why they happened, if relevant. All the while, we will also rely on inside knowledge of housing stock and the local market. That nuanced understanding is invaluable, particularly when measuring the unique aspects of your home with raw data about comps.

If you plan to sell your home in Berks County, rely on our experience selling homes in this market to help you set the right price for your home.

Visit our blog every week for more local articles about Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley. And make sure to check out our latest listings and search for your dream home with our convenient home search tool.

Posted in Home Sellers
June 27, 2019

Have Fun This Independence Day In Berks County

The day is approaching to celebrate freedom in Berk's County! If you live in Berks County, there are some great celebrations coming up to help your family get the most from the holiday week. Here are a few events in and around Berks County that will make this a 4th of July to remember.

Star-Spangled Spectacular – July 4th Concert
Thu, Jul 4, 8 – 10 PM | EnerSys, 2366 Bernville Rd, Reading

Come hear your favorite patriotic melodies in a free concert in a park-like setting. Bring your picnic baskets, maybe a bottle of wine, and sit back, relax, and enjoy your RSO in a unique outdoor concert experience. The event features fun and food trucks, and concludes with a dazzling fireworks display.

Independence Day Celebration
Thursday, July 4, 2019 - 12:00pm | West Reading Pool

Enjoy the day with food, music, swimming, dancing on the pool deck and games! Swimming pool events will be held from Noon to 6:00 p.m. Music on the field will be available from 6 - 9:00 p.m. with the firework display beginning at 9:30 p.m.

Independence Day Prep and Parade
Tue, Jul 2, 6 – 7 PM | Wyomissing Public Library

Show your patriotism and support the library by marching in Wyomissing Borough's annual Independence Day parade. Come on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. to make tee shirts, then assemble on Thursday at 9:45 a.m. for the parade.

Free Bubble Festival at Pottstown's GoFourth Celebration
Thu, July 4, 2019 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Memorial Park

Pottstown GoFourth Festival will sponsor Grandpop Bubbles™ and his amazing "Free Bubble Festival" at their 4th of July celebration. Grandpop Bubbles will bring his bubble wands, poles, basins, buckets, and plenty of gallons of SPECIAL BUBBLE JUICE for as many kids as possible to enjoy bubbling with #GPOPB.

Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July!

Visit our blog every week for more local articles about Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley. And make sure to check out our latest listings and search for your dream home with our convenient home search tool.

 

June 20, 2019

Celebrate the Beginning of Summer in Berks County Parks

Summer has arrived in Berks County, and what better way to enjoy the warm summer days than in the natural beauty of parks in Berks County? If you plan to buy a home in or already live in Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, Oley, Reading, Shillington, or Topton, these parks will help you enjoy the summer months to the fullest.

Here's a few events coming up in Berks County Parks to get you going on your summer fun:

Celebrate Summer Solstice | June 21
Berks County Heritage Center

1102 Red Bridge Rd, Reading, Pennsylvania 19605

Featuring a farm to fork style farmer's market, you can explore local goods while being serenaded by the flute and drum circles. You can even learn to build your own flute at the flute building station. Go for a Yoga Walk on the Union Canal Towpath or leasure walk as you learn the history of the Deppen Cemetery. It's a fun way for the whole family to celebrate the beginning of summer in Berks County.

Family Science Day - Weather | June 22
Berks County Heritage Center

How does weather work? Find out what tornadoes are made of, what clouds bring rain and snow, and how we get rainbows. Learn how we build bridges and buildings to stand up to the weather. It's a great event for kids 7-12 and their family to learn and have fun.

Paddle n’ Concert | June 23
Blue Marsh Lake, Stilling Basin to Gring's Mill amphitheater

This scenic trip starts at the Stilling Basin at Blue Marsh Lake and goes along the Tulpehocken Creek to Gring’s Mill Park. There you can paddle around as you enjoy music from the The Jersey Four from the Gring’s Mill amphitheater.

Fireflies, Fireworks in the Field | June 28
Angora Fruit Farm | 502 Angora Road, Reading, Pennsylvania 19606

Learn about the state insect, the firefly, at this fun family event. You'll be provided with a net to catch them in the open field.

Paws on the Path | June 30
Antietam Lake

Bring your friendly pooch to join volunteer Beagle Puppy Zoey as you venture along the trails at Antietam Lake Park. Make sure you bring water for you and your dog, along with a donation to the Animal Rescue League, if you feel generous.

Visit our blog every week for more local articles about Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley. And make sure to check out our latest listings and search for your dream home with our convenient home search tool.