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!

Jan. 21, 2021

The Best To-Go Food in Reading

Looking for a quick bite to eat on the go? Or maybe you just want to eat your food at home to stay safe from the virus? There's plenty of outstanding to-go eating options in Reading. No matter what you're in the mood for, from local to international cuisine, there's something to make your mouth water. And your support for local Berks County businesses will be greatly appreciated. Here's a few of the best places to get food to go in Reading.

Judy's On Cherry

332 Cherry St, Reading, PA 19602

(610) 374-8511

Upscale Mediterranean bistro with a wood-fired oven used to cook many dishes. Featuring a wide selection of pizzas, salads, pastas, entres, and desserts. Offering pickup and curbside service.

Ugly Oyster Drafthaus

21 S 5th St, Reading, PA 19602

(610) 373-6791

Irish tavern featuring great pub grub, including thier famous oysters. Savor thier brilliant grilling recipes for USDA Prime Steak and the freshest catch of the day.

Vietnamese Delights

2934 N 5th Street Hwy, Reading, PA 19605

(610) 621-9097

Delicious Vietnamese dishes at a reasonable price. Select from a wide range of dishes including delicious beef rice noodles soup and others.

Frank & Diannah's Arbor Inn

47 Bingaman St, Reading, PA 19606

(610) 406-0126

Cozy, wood-paneled restaurant with a vintage vibe serving American classics & craft draft beers.

Lang Restaurant

22 N 6th St, Reading, PA 19601

(610) 372-6407

Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine including Beef Noodle Soup/Pho, Noodle Soup Bowl, Vietnamese Style Hoagie/Banh Mi, Lo Mein, and more.

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 Reading Community
Jan. 14, 2021

Finance Tips You Should Know When Buying a Home in Berks County

Buying a new home comes with financial risks, no matter how ready you are. There's liability, increased cost of living, unexpected stress, and more time commitments. Yet the benefits are equal to the risks. Owning a home can also be a good way to build wealth.

Here are 5 basic financial tips you need to know if you plan to buy a home in Berks County.

Prepare Before Purchasing

You've probably noticed by now how fast homes come and go on the Berks County real estate market. This might make you feel that you have to jump on a home before you're ready. But you need to prepare before you start making offers on homes.

Get your finances in order. This includes paying down outstanding debts, setting an accurate budget for daily living, and having a clear picture for what you can truly afford. Once you've done this, take the time to save for a larger down payment. Zero-payment down loans and small down payment loans are out there, but they come with many strings attached. There will always be opportunities to buy later, when you're ready.

More Square Footage = Higher Cost Of Living

Considering buying real estate to increase your living space? Besides the added cost to your monthly mortgage payment, plan for increases in these bills as well:

  • Homeowners Insurance
  • Heating and cooling costs
  • Larger heating and cooling unit maintenance
  • Water for home and lawn maintenance
  • Electricity
  • Larger appliance repairs
  • Property taxes
  • Home furnishings and renovations

Budget For Unplanned Repairs

On top of your increased cost of living, you also need to consider the cost of unplanned repairs. How do you plan for a repair you don't know about yet? 

Home repairs will be needed on a regular basis. The cost for these repairs will vary widely. But especially with a larger home, you will need to plan on high repair costs as cooling, watering, plumbing, electrical, roofing, etc. are all more extensive systems. While planning your finances for purchasing real estate, add into your budget a savings for home repairs.

Regularly Inspect Major Appliances

It's a wise idea to set aside money to regularly inspect major appliances like water softeners, water heaters, home heating and cooling units, and more. Doing so will save you money on huge repairs later, and keep your home running more smoothly.

Build Equity With Larger Mortgage Payments

Many home buyers in Berks County will go with a 30-year mortgage as it costs less per month. But you end up paying a lot more interest this way over the term of the loan. The ideal route for purchasing a new home is with a 15-year fixed rate mortgage (unless you have cash, then forget financing!). If that isn't possible, making an additional mortgage payment at least once a year can help to dramatically lower the interest you pay on the overall 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 Home Buyers
Jan. 7, 2021

Why You Need an Agent to Buy a Home for Sale by Owner in Berks County

If you've been looking to buy a home in Berks County, you may have seen some homes for sale by the owner, otherwise known as a FSBO. That means they are not selling their home with the help of a real estate agent. You may be tempted to deal with them without an egent of your own, thinking it will save you money.

Here's why buying a FSBO home, or any home, without the help of an agent is a bad idea.

Overpaying for the home.

The price of a FSBO home is set by the seller. What are they basing that price on? An experienced real estate agent will set the price based on how much similar homes in the neighborhood have recently sold for. This is called "comps", or comparable market value. They have the experience to know if a home is priced too high or too low. Does the seller have that same experience?

A real estate agent won't base the price of the home on emotions either. Many FSBO sellers tend to price their home too high due to emotional connection. And if you decide to buy that home without an agent on your side, you may not know that the home is overpriced. So any money you thought you were saving on commission just went out the window, and then some.

And don't count on Zillow to guide you. Zillow Zestimates are notoriously inaccurate and do not use the same criteria as an experienced agent will use to determine the price of a home. Having a buyer's agent on your side means you'll be more protected from paying too much for a FSBO.

Inspection problems.

Home inspections are critical when buying a home. If you aren't familiar with inspection reports, you may find it hard to decipher. The inspector will list every single potential problem with a home. Some issues will need attention, and some won't.

An experienced Berks County real estate agent will be able to read those reports and let you know what should be repaired by the seller before you buy the home. Also, your agent will know what specific types of inspections to order to make sure all types of issues are inspected, such as mold, radon, insects, and other special issues. Buying a home without know all the potential issues is just asking for trouble.

No knowledge of the neighborhood.

How much do you know about all the neighborhoods in Berks County? An experienced agent will know the neighborhoods, along with the schools, property taxes, HOA rules, commutes, property values, etc. The neighborhood is just as important as the home itself. "Location, locationlocation" is not just a slogan, it's a fact.

Laws, regulations, and paperwork.

There's nothing more relaxing than dealing with laws and regulations, right? Not so much. When dealing with real estate transactions, you need to know the laws inside and out to avoid headaches in the future. You also need to know how to read a contract before you sign it. And you need to fill out all the needed paperwork correctly and submit it by deadlines. Sound exhausting? That's why an experienced Realtor is such a valuable asset when buying a home. They do all of this for you.

There are certainly more reasons than discussed here to hire an experienced Realtor to help you buy a FSBO home, or any home, in Berks County. Contact James Ernst today to see how he can help you get into the right home for your needs.

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.

Dec. 31, 2020

Happy New Year 2021!

I'd like to wish all of my friends, family, and clients the very best this new year in 2021. I hope that you make the best of the year to come and that you find happiness with your friends and family.

To start off the new year, here are some easy ideas for new years resolutions.

Build a better budget.

If there's one New Year's resolution that will help you the most in the long run, it's making a vow to save more money, especially if you plan to buy a new home in Berks County in 2021. Outline a budget that works for you and make a plan for how you'll stick to it. Apps like Mint and You Need a Budget (YNAB) can help you do this as painlessly as possible.

Cook one new thing each week.

Everyone wants to eat healthier in the new year, but you should also try to eat more diverse foods. After all, variety is the spice of life. This year, choose an easy dinner recipe you've never tried before at least once a week.

Read more books.

January is the perfect time of year to snuggle up with a new book. Keep yourself accountable to this New Year's resolution by opening a Goodreads account and reviewing each book you read. By next year, you'll have a clear snapshot of how well you accomplished this goal.

Take the stairs.

Take 10 minutes to run up the stairs in your office or home. A published study in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that tired women who climbed stairs for 10 minutes got a bigger energy boost than those who had the caffeine equivalent of a can of soda or half a cup of coffee (and burned calories too!).

Have a Safe and Happy New Year 2021!

Posted in Real Estate Advice
Dec. 24, 2020

Happy Holidays!

I'd like to thank all of my clients for trusting me with your real estate needs here in Berks County over the past year. I wish you the happiest holiday season ever in your new home. And may the new year to come bring you joy and prosperity.

Happy Holidays!

Posted in Community Events
Dec. 17, 2020

Light Up Your Holidays With These Dazzling Berks County Light Displays

If you haven't already seen the dazzling light displays in Berks County, now is the time to spend an evening enjoying the wonder of the season with your family. Here are some of the best holiday light displays to enjoy this year.

1. Holiday Lights at Grings Mill

2083 Tulpehocken Road, Wyomissing

6:00-9:00 on December 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

Free Parking. Due to Covid-19, Holiday Lights will be a walk-thru light display only. Guests are asked to practice social distancing and encouraged to wear facemasks when social distancing is not possible. 

2. Koziar's Christmas Village

782 Christmas Village Road, Bernville

Thanksgiving through January 2: Mondays-Fridays - 6-9pm, Saturdays - 5-10pm, Sundays 5-9pm

The site of Christmas Village in the valley below as you crest the hill is pure amazement and the perfect way to welcome your family to the festive and dazzling local attraction. They highly recommend visiting during the week, which is not as busy as weekends. 

3. Twas the Lights Before Christmas

4891 Penn Avenue, Sinking Spring

December 2 - 22
Light shows run every 15 minutes from 5-10pm

FREE! Over 100,000 lights (more than 5 miles!) dancing and twinkling along to music. Free kids gift bag on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 6:00-9:00pm. 

4. Christmas on Lincoln

2031 Lincoln Court, Wyomissing

5-9pm daily beginning the day after Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve.

Champion of ABC's Christmas Light Flight in 2013, this home features over 60,000 Christmas lights that dance and flash to music. Please pull to the side of the road and set your radio to 87.9 FM. Please keep your radio at a reasonable level so you don't disturb other neighbors. 

5. Christmas Display to Benefit the Animal Rescue League

216 Elwyn Avenue, Sinking Spring

6-9pm daily through December 31

See this house with about 30,000 Christmas lights. Walk down Candy Cane Lane to see more! New this year: make sure to bring your camera for the great photo area - a handmade sleigh you can sit in. Please consider bringing donations for the Animal Rescue League of Berks County. They can not accept bedding, but you can bring dog or cat food, cat litter, treats or a cash donation.

6. GT’s Simply Peace Light Experience

1110 Snyder Road, West Lawn

6:00-10:00pm through January 2

Load up the car and have some fun driving through a winter wonderland experience! The Glad Tidings parking lot will be transformed into a drive-through light experience where you can learn more about the Christmas story and create lasting memories with your family.

7. Music & Lights on Liberty Place

904 Liberty Place, Birdsboro

5:00-9:00 on Sunday-Thursday, 5:00-10:00 on Friday and Saturday
Through 1/1/21.

The light display is set to music, which you can hear by tuning into an FM radio station. 

Other local houses that are definitely worth driving by:

1. 885 Pomander Avenue, Reading

2. 398 Anthony's Mill Road, Bechtelsville

3. 202 State Street, Hamburg

4. 124 N. 3rd Street, Hamburg

5. 122 Heckman Road, Temple

6. 1805 Squire Court, Wyomissing

7. 1029 Christina Drive, Leesport (Tune to 88.1)

8. 20 Caribou Court, Exeter

9. 409 Main Street, Oley (Access the alley to see the back of the house, which is also decorated.)

10. 9 Lake Street, Reading

11. 505 Albert Drive, Sinking Spring

12. 804 Philadelphia Terrace, Birdsboro

13. 411 Green Meadow Drive, Douglassville

14. 2104 Rosewood Court, Wyomissing

15. 505 Canvasback Court, Birdsboro

16. 17 Bent Brook Circle, Reading

17. 923 N. Reading Avenue, Boyertown

18. 10 Samantha Lane, Gilbertsville

19. 103 Marisa Lane, Gilbertsville

20. 2178 Weller Court, Gilbertsville

21. 41 Oley Road, Fleetwood

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
Dec. 10, 2020

How to Make Your Christmas Toddler-Proof

If this is your first Christmas in Berks County with a toddler who's up and walking, you have a whole new ballgame to deal with when it comes to decorating for the holidays. You need to rethink everything, especially the tree. There's so many shiny things that toddlers just can't resist. So how can you keep your home festive and safe for your little ones?

Here's some tips to keep in mind to toddler-proof your holiday decorations:

Skip the Metal Ornament Hooks

Metal and plastic ornament hooks can end up on the floor and cause a major choking hazard. String, ribbon, or thin zip ties will work just as well and are very affordable.

Glass Ornaments Up High

You don't need to keep your precious glass ornaments in the box this year. Just put them up and out of the way on the tree.

Make a Special Toddler Tree

You and your young ones can make their own special tree to distract them from the larger one. You can make one out of felt cutouts, dowels, and wood slices. Be creative. Or you can play "Pin the Ornament on the Wall" by making a construction paper tree that you can tape to the wall. Then you can cut out paper "ornaments" and let your toddler stick them to the tree. Or you can do the same thing with felt.

Let Them Help Decorate

Usually toddlers love to mess with things that are forbidden. If you let them help decorate the tree, this might help keep them from thinking the tree is off limits and from playing with the ornaments. It's kind of a reverse psychology. You can let them hang a few soft ornaments at the base of the tree.

Buy a Fresh or Artificial Tree

You want to keep your toddler from putting pine needles in their mouth, so a fresh tree or artificial one will do the trick. Plus, you won't have to vacuum as much, and it's less of a fire hazard. A win-win for all.

Get Out the Old Baby Gates

If you saved the baby gates, you can make a gate around the tree to keep your toddler safe. It may not look as nice, but it's easy to take down if you have guests.

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
Dec. 3, 2020

Celebrate the Holiday Season With These Fun Events in Berks County

The holiday season is underway in Berks County, and so are the fun events that help bring in the season. Berks County has plenty of fun events the whole family will remember for years to come. Here are some events coming up soon to put on your holiday calendar.

Holiday Lights at Gring's Mill

Gring's Mill Recreation Area
2083 Tulpehocken Rd.
Wyomissing, PA 19610

Sat 12/5/20 6:00 pm
Sun 12/6/20 6:00 pm
Fri 12/11/20 6:00 pm
Sat 12/12/20 6:00 pm
Sun 12/13/20 6:00 pm
Fri 12/18/20 6:00 pm
Sat 12/19/20 6:00 pm
Sun 12/20/20 6:00 pm
Mon 12/21/20 6:00 pm
Tue 12/22/20 6:00 pm
Wed 12/23/20 6:00 pm

This will be a WALK THROUGH ONLY light display. Visitors are asked to practice social distancing and encouraged to wear face masks when possible.

Free Parking, Refreshments available through Beansie's Mobile Espresso Cafe.

Night Before Christmas Train

Boyertown Rail Yard
Washington and Third Streets
Boyertown, PA 19512

Fri 12/4/20 6:00 pm
Sat 12/5/20 7:00 pm
Fri 12/11/20 6:00 pm
Sat 12/12/20 7:00 pm
Sun 12/13/20 7:00 pm
Fri 12/18/20 5:15 pm
Sat 12/19/20 7:00 pm
Sun 12/20/20 7:00 pm

Come in your pajamas and sip complimentary hot cocoa as they read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Enjoy Christmas music and the comfort of our Edwardian-era cars, look for lights as the Secret Valley rolls past your window. Rumor has it Santa himself will appear with a gift for every child.

Koziar's Christmas Village

Koziar's Christmas Village
782 Christmas Village Rd
Bernville, PA 19506

Fri 12/4/20 6:00 pm
Sat 12/5/20 5:00 pm
Sun 12/6/20 5:00 pm
Mon 12/7/20 6:00 pm
Tue 12/8/20 6:00 pm
Wed 12/9/20 6:00 pm
Thu 12/10/20 6:00 pm
Fri 12/11/20 6:00 pm
Sat 12/12/20 5:00 pm
Sun 12/13/20 5:00 pm

Fnd yourself in a dazzling valley set aglow with more than one million Christmas lights adorning buildings, gift barns, and landscape. A reflective lake adds to the stunning beauty of this magical place.

Santa's Polar Bear Express

Boyertown Rail Yard
Washington and Third Streets
Boyertown, PA 19512

Sat 12/5/20 10:00 am
Sun 12/6/20 10:00 am
Sat 12/12/20 10:00 am
Sun 12/13/20 10:00 am
Sat 12/19/20 10:00 am
Sun 12/20/20 10:00 am

Join Santa on a magical adventure into Christmas past on one of the most beautiful train journeys in the United States. Sip complimentary hot cocoa or enjoy Christmas cookies and, on some trains, sing favorite carols as the Secret Valley passes by your window. Santa brings a gift for every child, and every child has an opportunity to give their Christmas letter to him (we even provide the crayons!) The Victorian charm of the heated coaches makes Christmas memories to last a lifetime.

Tree Lighting in the Park

Carsonia Park
905 Byram St
Exeter Township, PA 19606

Sat 12/5/20 6:30 pm

Join us in community spirit for our annual Tree Lighting in the Park.

6:30 – Gather in the Recreation Building at Carsonia Park for hot chocolate, coffee, and cookies. Hear our Antietam choruses sing seasonal favorites.

7:15 – Follow the Path of Luminarias to the pavilion via the walkway next to the lake.

 

7:30 – Under the lights of the park gazebo, join together in singing songs of the season as they light the beautiful spruce tree growing by the lake and welcome a Certain Jolly Elf to our celebration!

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 Berks County
Nov. 25, 2020

Wishing Berks County the Happiest Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving is a particularly special holiday for all of us. We've all had a tough year, but that only makes us more greatful for what we do have. So let's take all the negative things that have happened this past year and look for the positive things that we can show our gratitude for.

Here are some things we can all show thanks for this Thanksgiving:

  • Family
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Friends
  • Love
  • Music
  • Your Job
  • A Good Laugh
  • Sunshine
  • Rainy Days
  • Living in Berks County!

However you spend this special week of thanks, we wish everyone in Berks County the very best this Thanksgiving Day!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov. 19, 2020

Home Improvement Projects to Do During the Pandemic

We've all been at home a lot more these past few months, and it looks like we will be for a while longer. How can you use this extra time at home more productively and in a way that may very well lift your spirits?

Here are some simple projects that can make a big difference in the enjoyment of spending all this time at home. And if you plan to sell your home soon in Berks County, the bonus is that these projects may help you sell your home faster and make more money. It's a win-win either way.

Do an even deeper clean than usual

Sure, it may not be spring but that doesn't mean your home doesn't need another deep cleaning. You've no doubt been using it much more lately, so it needs to be cleaned more to keep up with the use. You can also add some tasks to your cleaning list that are focuses on killing germs

Check to see if your cleaning materials are in the list of approved products released by the CDC. While many of these products haven’t been officially tested against the coronavirus, these contain chemicals which were designed to kill similar pathogens. According to the CDC, it’s best to clean evidently dirty surfaces first with soap and water before disinfecting them. Remember also to wear disposable gloves when you clean. To prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria, clean frequently touched surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.

This will also be a good time to check your replacement air filters. They may not help as much with the coronavirus, but they do help if you have respiratory issues, as long as you use HEPA filters. These are designed to stop the tiny allergens.

Paint

Do you have some leftover paint hanging out in the garage? Why not put it to use and touch up the walls and baseboards. If you don’t have any paint, you can pick some up the next time you go to a store to buy food, such as Walmart.

Painting will give your space new life, which you could probably use right now.

Clean out your closets

Your closets are no doubt also getting some extra use lately. If they're getting too messy, you can take out everything and get rid of what you don't need. The interior can then be given a good cleaning.

If you’re cleaning your clothes closet, sort your clothes by category and be sure to hang delicate items and stack thicker things like denim. Put your most-used items at the front, while seasonal or rarely used pieces can go up higher or in the back.

Stick to projects that are not super labor intensive or that will take a long time

Getting projects taken care of in this interesting time is about making smart choices. Someone in the family could get sick, or you could be called back to work sooner than expected. You probably don’t want an unfinished project when it’s time to get back to regular life.

Limit the products you need

You could run into supply chain issues, backorders, or delivery issues with your renovation, which could delay or derail your project.

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.