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!

April 8, 2021

Private Mortgage Insurance Explained

If you plan to buy a home in Berks County and can only afford a down payment of less than 20%, your lender may require that you purchase Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). What is it and who does it protect?

What Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

Typically lenders will require borrowers to purchase PMI when they make a down payment of less than 20% of the home's purchase price.

Whenever a borrower puts down less than 20% of the purchase price of the property, the loan-to-value ratio of the mortgage is greater than 80% (the higher the LTV ratio, the higher the lender's risk of default).

The policy does not protect the owner's investment in the home; instead, it protects the lender's investment. However, PMI allows some people to own properties sooner.

There are additional monthly costs associated with PMI, so borrowers must continue to pay it until they accumulate enough equity in their home that borrowers are no longer considered high-risk by the lender.

Your PMI can cost you anywhere from 0.25 to 2% of the loan balance each year, based on the amount of the down payment, the length of your mortgage, and your credit score. There are several major PMI companies in the United States, which charge similar rates, which are adjusted annually. Since PMI is a percentage of your mortgage, the more you borrow, the more PMI you’ll pay.

Although one could argue paying PMI is expensive, so would continuing to rent and possibly missing out on market appreciation over a longer period of time. 

How Does PMI Work?

For starters, it is important that you understand how PMI works. For example, assume you put down 10% and the loan is for the remaining 90% of the property value—$20,000 down and a $180,000 loan. Mortgage insurance limits the lender's losses in the event they have to foreclose on your mortgage. That could happen if you lose your job and are unable to pay your mortgage for a number of months.

The mortgage insurance company covers a certain percentage of the lender’s loss. For our example, let’s say that percentage is 25%. So if you still owed 85% ($170,000) of your home’s $200,000 purchase price at the time you were foreclosed on, instead of losing the full $170,000, the lender would only lose 75% of $170,000, or $127,500 on the home’s principal. PMI would cover the other 25%, or $42,500. It would also cover 25% of the delinquent interest you had accrued and 25% of the lender’s foreclosure costs.

You might wonder why the borrower has to pay PMI if PMI protects the lender. In essence, the borrower compensates the lender for taking on the higher risk of lending to you—vs. lending to someone putting down a larger down payment.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • If your down payment is less than 20% of the home's cost, you'll need private mortgage insurance (PMI).
  • The PMI is meant to protect the lender, not the borrower, from potential losses.
  • There are four main types of mortgage insurance you can purchase: borrower-paid mortgage insurance, single-premium mortgage insurance, lender-paid mortgage insurance, and split-premium mortgage insurance.
  • You will need a specific type of insurance if you apply for a Federal Housing Authority loan.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. 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.

Posted in Real Estate Advice
April 1, 2021

Removing Old Wallpaper to Attract More Berks County Home Buyers

One thing you’ll probably never hear a home buyer in Berks County say is “Look at all that gorgeous wallpaper!” But alas, at one time home owners thought that wallpaper was the bee’s knees. It may still be used today in some applications, but when you’re dealing with an older home with outdated wallpaper everywhere, it ca be a real turn off for home buyers. 

If your home has outdated wallpaper and you plan to sell it, here’s how you can clear it out and attract more buyers.

Clear and Prepare the Room

Remove items from the walls and move furniture to the center of the room or out of the room if possible. Cover floors and remaining furniture with drop cloths to prevent them from getting wet.

Cut the Power

Shut off the electricity to the room and cover any outlets or light switches with painter’s tape.

Determine Your Wall and Wallpaper Type

Before you peel off your wallpaper, you should figure out whether your walls are made of plasterboard or drywall. If drywall gets too wet, it can be damaged, so you have to be careful not to soak it too much.

You also need to figure out what kind of wallpaper you have. Loosen a corner with a putty knife and try peeling it. If it comes off easily, you got lucky as it's strippable wallpaper. If the wallpaper comes off but leaves a paper backing, it's peelable wallpaper. If it doesn't come off, it's traditional wallpaper, which needs to be taken down with water and chemical stripper.

Here's how to remove each type.

How to Remove Strippable Wallpaper

  1. Gather your Materials
  • Putty Knife
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Rags
  1. Loosen the Corner and Pull

Use your putty knife to lift the corner of the paper. Use your hands to peel the paper from the wall, pulling as close to the wall as you can to avoid tearing the paper. If the paper does rip, loosen another corner and start again. Repeat the process around the entire room.

  1. Clean the Walls

Once all the paper has been removed, clean the walls with soap and water to remove any residue. Allow the walls to dry completely before painting.

How to Remove Traditional Wallpaper

  1. Gather your Materials
  • Water
  • Wallpaper stripper
  • Spray bottle, garden sprayer, or paint roller
  • Putty knife
  • Scoring tool (if necessary)
  • Ladder
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Rags
  • Rubber gloves
  1. Mix the Solution

Combine hot water and wallpaper stripper according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pour the solution into a spray bottle or garden sprayer.

  1. Apply Solution

Use a spray bottle, garden sprayer, or paint roller to apply the solution to a small section of the wall, about 3’x3’. Let the solution sit and absorb for several minutes.

  1. Scrape the Wallpaper Off

Use your putty knife to peel off the wallpaper, working your way up the wall. Be careful not to gouge the drywall as you scrape. Once the paper has been removed from the section, move on to the next area.

  1. Score if Necessary

If the solution doesn’t absorb and the wallpaper is difficult to scrape, you may need to score the wall before applying the solution. Roll a scoring tool over the paper, making overlapping circles.

  1. Clean the Walls

Wipe down the walls with soap and water to remove any residue. If there’s stubborn adhesive left behind, follow our guide on how to remove wallpaper glue.

How to Remove Peelable Wallpaper

  1. Gather your Materials
  • Water
  • Wallpaper stripper
  • Spray bottle, garden sprayer or paint roller
  • Putty knife
  • Scoring tool (if necessary)
  • Ladder
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Rags
  • Rubber gloves
  1. Remove the Top Layer

Begin by peeling off the top layer of the wallpaper. Loosen the corner with a putty knife and pull the paper off the paper backing.

  1. Remove the Backing

To remove the paper layer left behind, you’ll use the technique described above for removing traditional wallpaper.

How to Remove Wallpaper When Nothing Else Works: Grab a Steamer

If your wallpaper refuses to budge no matter how much you spray and scrape, you may need to use an electric steamer, which can be rented from a home improvement store.

  1. Gather your Materials
  • Electric steamer
  • Putty knife
  • Safety goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Scoring tool (if necessary)
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Rags
  1. Set Up the Steamer

Follow the manufacturer's instructions to prepare the steamer. After you add water to the steamer, let it heat up before you start. Be sure to wear protective gloves and long sleeves to avoid getting burned by the steam or dripping hot water.

  1. Steam the Wallpaper

Hold the steamer to the wallpaper to loosen the adhesive. If you have drywall, be careful not to oversteam. Scrape the wallpaper off with a putty knife. If the steam doesn’t penetrate the wallpaper, use a scoring tool to make small holes in the paper. Continue the process of steaming and scraping until all the wallpaper is removed.

  1. Clean the Walls

Clean off any residue with soap and water. Allow the walls to dry completely.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. 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.

Posted in Home Sellers
March 25, 2021

Have a Hoppy Easter in Berks County

Spring has sprung and so has the Easter bunny as he hops ever loser to Berks County! If you and your family want to enjoy this Easter holiday, you have a couple of great ways to do so. Check out these upcoming events and be sure to reserve your spot early.

Allentown and Auburn Easter Bunny Train Rides

Allentown and Auburn Railroad

4/3/2021 | 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
4/4/2021 | 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Come ride the rails this Spring and enjoy a scenic train ride though the Kutztown countryside where each of the kiddos are able to see the Easter Bunny. Trains depart Kutztown station at 10Am, 1Pm, and 4pm.

Easter Festival FirstEnergy Stadium

4/3/2021 | 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

The Reading Fightin Phils are pleased to present a fun, outdoor event for the Easter holiday. On Saturday, April 3 from 12:00pm – 2:00pm, FirstEnergy Stadium will host an Easter Festival for families to celebrate with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Baseballtown Charities.

The event will include an on-field egg hunt that are filled with goodies. It is recommended that participants bring their own bags to hold collections. In addition, R-Phils concessions will be open for business.

Tickets to enter the gates of America’s Classic Ballpark are $4 per person. An additional $4 pass will be required to participate in the on-field activity. All passes must be pre-purchased. Please note the number of guests from your party attending (ages 2 & under are free) and the number of children participating in the onfield egg hunt. Also, we ask that you list the ages of the children who will be joining in on the egg hunt. Fans cannot partake in the egg hunt without purchasing a pass.

Each age group will have its own set time for the on-field egg hunt to make things more entertaining and fairer for everyone!

12:30 – 2 year olds & under
12:45 – 3 & 4 year olds
1:00 – 5 & 6 year olds
1:15 – 7 & 8 year olds
1:30 – 9 year olds & older

R-Phils award-winning classic ballpark food from the Grand Slam Grill will be available for all attendees to purchase. In addition, the Easter Bunny will make an appearance at the ballpark and will be around to take photos with fans.

Have a Happy Easter!

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. 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.

Posted in Community Events
March 18, 2021

Tips for Preventing Home Theft

As much as we hate to admit it, crime is a fact of life, and it’s something to we need to protect ourselves against, especially if you own a home. As a homeowner in Berks County, not doubt you’ve already taken steps to protect your home and family.

Prevention is the key to home security. It’s not enough to catch a their after they’ve broke into your home. You want to stop them from breaking in at all. That also involves not only locking doors and windows, but considering the weak points in your property's security and resolving these issues. And criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, even using the Internet to find targets.

What are some basic steps you can take to make sure your Berks County home is secure?

  • Even if you are at home, lock windows and doors when not in use.
  • Even if you go out only for a short time, lock up your home. Many burglars just walk in through an unlocked door or window.
  • Change the locks immediately if you lose your keys.
  • Make sure you don’t put an outdoor spare key in an obvious place such as under a doormat or potted plant.
  • Keep a light on when you are not home. This suggests to potential intruders that someone is inside the home, thus possibly deterring them from breaking in.
  • Don't leave notes on the door. These can serve as a welcome mat for burglars.
  • Items of value, such as fine jewelry and gaming consoles, should be kept out of plain sight as much as possible.
  • If you leave your home for an extended period of time, have a trusted friend or family member grab your mail while you’re away. You can also place a hold on your mail with the post office.

Technology Can Help

By now, you've heard about smart home systems that can monitor your home while you're away. The options range from as simple as a video doorbell to professional camera alarms that are professionally monitored. Here are a few options:

  • Easy to install outdoor motion sensors. These range from $20 - $100.
  • Smart camera system to watch your home remotely through a phone app. These will alert you when they sense motion or someone trips a sensor.
  • Make sure to hide any wiring, as they can be cut and could disable your security system.
  • If you don't have the budget, even a fake security sign or sticker on the window can deter criminals.

How can you make sure your home is secure? You can plan to 'burglarize' your own home to discover any vulnerabilities in your security. The best way to safeguard your home is to take it from an outsider's perspective. If you can easily tell that a window could be pried open, a thief will definitely be able to come to the same conclusion. 

While you’re checking for vulnerable spots, take note of any expensive electronics, art, or furniture that is easily spotted through windows. You don’t have to redecorate your entire home to keep expensive items out of sight, but it doesn’t hurt to make small adjustments where you can.

If you follow these tips, you can help reduce the chances of your home being the target of criminal activity.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. 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.

Posted in Real Estate Advice
March 11, 2021

Should You Buy an Existing or New Home in Berks County?

Buying a home in Berks County involves a number of important choices, one of them being if you should buy a newer or older home. There are pros and cons to each, and you must weigh them carefully before you make your choice.

At one time it was almost always more expensive to buy a new house than an older house. The cost of buying materials for a new home is more affordable now than in the past, so price alone may not matter.

Upsides of an Existing House

Older homes might offer the following benefits:

  • High-quality or detailed construction: This isn’t to say that new homes aren’t well-built, but older homes often have attention to detail that is more difficult to find in newer construction. The craftsmanship used in the construction of these homes often was a point of pride for the people who worked on them and lived in them.
  • Bigger yards: Land used to be cheaper, so older homes typically had a larger yard.
  • Character: You may prefer an older home's character and charm.
  • Established neighborhoods: New developments in Berks County may lack large trees, and they usually undergo some growing pains as they mature. A neighborhood with established trees and mature shrubbery may look much more appealing.
  • More walkability: In an older community, you’re likely going to find that you have more walkability, and neighborhoods with older houses tend to be closer to city centers, as opposed to newer houses which tend to go further and further out from cities as part of suburban sprawl.

Downsides of an Older Home

Buying an older home isn’t just about the craftsmanship and charm. There are some very real cons you need to consider:

  • Smaller spaces: An older home may have more rooms and fewer open-concept floor plans. For example, there may be smaller garages and closets, and it can be tough to remedy this issue.
  • Maintenance: If you want a home that needs little maintenance, this will be hard to find in an older home. For example, you might find that tree roots disrupt your sewer pipes, or you have problems with your foundation.
  • Updates: On top of regular maintenance, you may need to update an older home. For example, you might have to update the kitchen or the bathroom to meet your needs.

What Are the Pros and Cons of New Construction?

New construction comes with its own set of advantages, including the ease of maintaining them as well as the fact that they come with modern features that make life more enjoyable. For example, a home that's brand new will probably have features such as a dishwasher and wiring for electronics, as well as features like wine coolers.

Newer homes use less energy, which has the effect of making them more eco-friendly and energy-efficient.

A new home is going to be built according to current codes, and once you buy one it feels like yours in an instant, rather than containing the emotional baggage of previous owners.

Finally, the downsides of new construction include the fact that these homes sometimes lack warmth, charm, and uniqueness. If you live in an area with tract homes, every house looks almost identical.

In these neighborhoods, there are not many mature trees or yards, and a lot of dirt might be visible during construction.

Newer neighborhoods don’t tend to be close to downtowns or city centers, and new homes settle over time, which means you might notice cracks in your walls, door frames, and even your foundation.

It goes without saying that there are pros and cons to either option, and you have to find the one that works for you. We’re happy to help guide you through the decision making process by giving you the information you need to make the right choice for you.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. 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.

March 5, 2021

Sell Your Home Fast in This HOT Berks County Sellers Market

If you plan on selling your home sometime this year in Berks County, don't wait! This spring home selling season is already heating up, and homes in Berks County are selling faster than ever.

There are currently fewer than 500 homes on the market in Reading. Yet there are far more home buyers than sellers, so your home will sell faster and for more money. This year, homes are selling for an average price of $195K, which is an increase of 8.4% over last year. The ROI on home sales in Berks County has been strong. The average days on market is only 25 days, so homes are selling fast.

Home buyer demand is back with a vengeance

Just a year ago, when states shut down open houses due to the outbreak of COVID-19, home sales slowed for a while. Pennsylvania has loosened lockdown restrictions, and Berks County home buyers are eager to make good on lost time.

Based on the Pending Home Sales Index, the National Association of Realtors® is already seeing strong signs of a recovery in the housing market. 

Home inventory remains low

Yet amid this increase in home buyers, the number of homes for sale to actually meet this pent-up demand is at an all-time low. According to realtor.com, housing inventory in June of 2020 was 27% lower than a year earlier. That trend continues in 2021.

But a few reasons for the shortage of available homes have less to do with the pandemic. For example, the number of homes for sale is at a “generational low,” as people are staying in their homes longer than they used to. In fact, NAR data indicates that Americans live in their homes an average of 13 years before moving.

As a result of the massive government stimulus assistance and the mortgage forbearance and generous unemployment benefits, the number of distressed properties is also significantly lower. 

Home prices are up

With home sales up and inventory down, conditions are perfect for home sellers in Berks County to get a good price for their home sale.

NAR reports that single-family home prices increased in most markets during the first quarter of 2020, with the national median single-family home price increasing 7.7%, to $274,600.

This good news may come as a surprise to sellers, since there were expectations that the housing market would take a hit and home prices would fall because of the pandemic. The opposite is actually true.

As with any real estate trend, it’s difficult to know exactly what the future holds. So the key is to take advantage of the current market to realize your goals. James Ersnt can help you take advantage of the hot home sellers market in Berks County to sell your home in record time and for a higher return.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. 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.

Posted in Home Sellers
Feb. 25, 2021

Why Should You Buy a Home in Berks County This Year?

There are so many great reasons to purchase a home in Berks County. If you're a first-time homebuyer, buying a home can give you a greater sense of security and accomplishment in an uncertain world. If you’re looking for a repeat buyer a second time around, moving might provide you the space or features you need for greater success and happiness in your new way of life. Whatever your motivations are, here are three reasons why you should become a homeowner now to save big in the long run.

1. Buying a Home Is a Great Investment

Real estate continues to be a good investment, outpacing gold, stocks, bonds, and savings. Why is that? Because real estate builds equity, generating forced savings that grow your net worth. According to the latest Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions:

“The count of equity-rich properties in the fourth quarter of 2020 represented 30.2 percent, or about one in three, of the 59 million mortgaged homes in the United States. That was up from 28.3 percent in the third quarter of 2020, 27.5 percent in the second quarter and 26.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, despite the ongoing economic damage caused by the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic.”

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Low

According to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey, 30-year mortgage rates have declined since November 2018 when they hit 4.94%. Freddie Mac's latest forecast projects that interest rates will remain low, leveling off at 2.9% in 2021.

A low mortgage rate results in a lower monthly mortgage payment, giving you the opportunity to get a larger house for your money.

3. Investing in Your Future Pays Off

Many renters haven’t purchased a home yet because they’re uncomfortable taking on a mortgage obligation. What they don’t realize, however, is the positive financial power of equity.

When you own your own home, you get to take advantage of ‘forced savings’ that you can reinvest later in life. You can use the equity in many ways; for instance, to fund a loved one’s education, to move into a better home, or to open your own business. As a renter you actually grow your landlord’s equity instead of your own.

If you’re ready to start working on your dreams and goals, purchasing a home and using your monthly payments for that may be the right move to make, especially as rental prices continue to rise.

Investing in a home as soon as possible can lead to significant savings and long-term financial growth. Check with us to determine if owning a home in Berks County is the right choice for you this year.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. 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.

Posted in Home Buyers
Feb. 18, 2021

Staging Your Berks County Home for a Faster Sale

If you’re trying to get top dollar for your home for sale in Berks County, you want to do everything you can to make your house attractive to potential buyers. Staging is one of those things that makes a big difference in whether the house sells fast or lingers on the market.

The National Association of Realtors says that staging can improve the value of a home. A majority of realtors say staging can increase a home's sales price anywhere between 1 and 10 percent. Staging, 34 percent of Realtors stated, also decreased the time a home spent on the market by half. Buyers’ agents endorsed this theory, saying 77 percent of buyers could see themselves living in a home after it was staged.

There are some important things to keep in mind when staging your house, as a badly staged home can have a negative impact on the sale. Here are five staging tips you need to know so you can put up that “SOLD” sign in no time.

Declutter and Clean

The first thing is to declutter and deep clean before decorating or putting furniture in place. Clear countertops and other surfaces, and store away anything that isn't essential. You should remove anything distracting from buyers from seeing the positive areas of your home; that's why realtors often advise taking out family photos and overly personalized decorations. Remember, decluttering also means getting rid of excess furniture to make your rooms look bigger.

Group Furniture

After removing large pieces of furniture, organize furniture into conversational groups that are away from the wall and oriented away from the windows. You want a fluid flow in each room; keeping the walls clear of large pieces of furniture makes the room feel larger.

Accessories in Odd Numbers

As you declutter, you still want to make the space feel like home, so add touches like vases, books or plants. Staging experts often recommend grouping like shades of colors in odd numbers pair and vary height and shape.

Add 1 or 2 Bold Accents

Adding one or two bold pieces to your staging décor will help to highlight one or two great features of your home. A chandelier that matches the design of your home to a dining room, entranceway or even a fabulous bathroom provides light and architectural interest to the space.

Use Mirrors

Mirrors can brighten dark hallways, bring light into the room and make a room feel larger. Get small mirrors in different sizes or different shapes for dramatic effect. In rooms with windows, place mirrors across the window so the sunlight reflects back into the room.

Staging your Berks County home is about creating an emotional connection with your home. Buyers see themselves living there when you declutter, group furniture, use mirrors, and add one or two bold accents. Now you can wait for the offers to roll in.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. 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.

Posted in Home Sellers
Feb. 11, 2021

Have a Romantic Valentine's Day in Berks County

Are you still looking for a way to show your true love how much you care this Valentine's Day? If you're feeling like going out for a special night in Reading, you'll find a number of great Valentine's Day specials and dinners to make this Valentine's Day one to remember. Here is a sampling of some of the Valentine's Day events going on in Reading and Berks County this weekend.

Valentine's Weekend Dinner

Sat, Feb 13, 12 – 3 PM
Stokesay Castle & The Knight's Pub
141 Stokesay Castle Ln, Reading, PA

What better way to surprise your partner on Valentine's Day than with the Royal Treatment? Enjoy our Special Prix Fixe Four-Course Valentine's Menu at Romantic Stokesay Castle. Call 610-375-6100 ext. 26 to make your reservation.

Valentine's Dinner and Wine Event

Sun, Feb 14, 1:30 – 5:00 PM
Lily's Vineyard on Skyline Drive
110 Skyline Dr, Reading, PA

Reservation Only. Please call Ron DiBenedetto at 610 698-1261 to make your reservation. All reservations must be in by February 12th. Ticket price is $100.00 per person. Event will include a harpist during dinner and a DJ for dancing to finish off the night.

Robbie Dean Werner "Unplugged" at The Goodies Valentines Day Dinner

Sat, Feb 13, 5 – 8 PM
Goodwill Beneficial Association
100 Madison Ave, Reading, PA

Back by popular demand The Goodies will be hosting their 3rd annual Valentines Day Dinner. Saturday, February 13th, 2021 from 5pm till 8pm. Menu includes Steak, Shrimp, baked potatoe, corn and a desert. $25 per person or $45 a couple.

Valentine's Parents' Night Out!

Sat, Feb 13, 4:30 – 8:30 PM EST
Wyomissing ATA Martial Arts
98 Commerce Dr, Reading, PA

Parents - take the night off! We'll watch the kids while you take date night or nap time. This is better than babysitting AND pizza! This event is only for kids ages 7-12.

Valentine's Cupcakes & Wine Pairing

Fri, Feb 12, 11 AM – 2 PM EST
Lucky Leprechaun Vineyard and Winery
412 State St, Hamburg, PA

Valentine's Cupcakes and Wine Pairing. Lisa Moyer, local baker, provides 4 large, gourmet cupcakes that we pair with our wines. The cost is $12, dine in or take out. Friday 4-7 pm and Saturday 12-6. Contact Terri to reserve your table, or to place your pick-up order by February 8th. taterriann@gmail.com 610-554-9189.

Have a Happy and Romantic Valentine's Day!

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. 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.

Posted in Community Events
Feb. 4, 2021

What Should You Do if You Inherit a Home in Berks County?

What could be better than inheriting a home? It may be the best thing to ever happen in your life. On the other hand, it may be a nightmare.

Inheriting a house can bring about a range of emotions. You might be sad because someone you love has passed away, and it can be overwhelming to know what steps to take next and what the financial implications are. But you may also be excited because a house can be a huge asset.

So what should you do if you inherit a home in Berks County?

If you find yourself in this situation, you basically have three options. The first is to sell it, the second is to move there, and the third option is to rent it out to someone.

Initial Considerations

You should first consider the legal and financial obligations that come with inheriting a house. There may be debt obligations, for instance. Also, you should consider the tax liabilities that come with inheriting property, including capital gains and estate taxes.

If you inherit a residence, you don't have to pay federal inheritance tax. The Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax is 12% for transfers to siblings, and 15% for transfers to others (except charities, exempt institutions, and government entities that are tax-exempt). 

You could be required to pay tax on the difference between the fair market value when you inherited a home and the selling price when you sell the home. You could pay taxes based on the difference between the fair market value when you inherited a home and the selling price.

You might be able to qualify for an exemption if you keep the house.

Is There Currently a Mortgage?

If you inherit a home and it’s paid for, you'll have less to worry about financially.

If the house has an open mortgage, you might assume it and take over the payments, which would mean that you pay off the debt based on the original terms of the mortgage.

Some loans, such as reverse mortgages, require the remaining balance to be paid upon death or at the time of sale. That means that as an heir if there is an outstanding reverse mortgage, you will have to sell the home in order to pay off the remaining debt.

Did You Inherit a House with Your Siblings?

A complicated scenario occurs when more than one sibling or other family member inherits a house. This means that their different viewpoints need to be considered based on what is in the best interests of the property.

An option when there are multiple stakeholders is a buyout. In such a case, one sibling can buy out the other sibling for whatever reason.

Selling the home and splitting the profits is the easiest option. You could also rent it out and split the profits.

If you cannot agree, you may have to file a lawsuit for partition. This lets you ask a judge to order the sale of the property. You'll have to pay legal fees, and this takes time. Generally speaking, you'll get less money if you do this.

Can You Move into the House?

If there are no complicating factors or the owners of the property agree to it, you might be inclined to move into a house you inherit. However, a mortgage will be a consideration and can help you determine whether or not it makes good financial sense.

You have to consider the mortgage payment as well as property taxes and any other costs associated with keeping the home.

If you don’t have debt obligations, you may have the option to sell your current home and move into the new place without having to take on debt.

Many factors go into deciding what to do after inheriting a house, from how many people share it with you to whether it's currently debt-free. Be sure to research all financial implications before making any decisions.

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Posted in Real Estate Advice