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!

Dec. 4, 2019

Holiday Fun Arrives in Berks County

Holiday Fun Arrives in Berks CountyThe holiday season is in full swing in Berks County, and so are the fun events that will bring Christmas cheer to the whole family. You can enjoy all the trappings of the holiday season in Berks County with these upcoming events.

Christmas House Tour & Champagne Brunch

Sun, Dec 8, 11 AM – 5 PM
Centre Park, Centre Ave, Reading, PA

Enjoy viewing the Victorian architecture and beautiful Christmas décor of Centre Park. The day starts with a champagne brunch featuring a gourmet array of breakfast, lunch and pastry items. Centre Park’s 35th Annual Christmas House Tour begins at 11am where you can take a self-guided tour through several of the most beautiful Victorian properties in the historic district.

Ukrainian Food & Christmas Bazaar 2019

Sat, Dec 7, 10 AM – 4 PM
Nativity of BVM Ukrainian Catholic Church

Featuring homemade Ukrainian food and baked goods, along with handmade items for sale.

Santa Paws is Comin’ to Town in Reading

Sun, Dec 8, 6:30 PM
Berkshire Mall

Have a furry holiday season at the Berkshire Mall. Bring your pet for a photo with Santa Claus. Just make sure that your dogs are on a leash and cats must be in a carrier.

Arts Festival

Sat, Dec 14, 10 AM – Sun, Dec 15, 5 PM
GoggleWorks Center for the Arts

Explore the historic, post-industrial campus and immerse yourself in the arts and buy handcrafted art and holiday gifts from some the country’s finest artists, artisans, and craftspeople, as well as enjoy unique holiday activities, performances, food, and fun.

Old Towne Carolers in Reading

Sat, Dec 14, 2 PM
Berkshire Mall

Bring the whole family for an exclusive performance from the Old Towne Carolers at the Berkshire Mall.

Visit our blog every week for more Berks County events and news. Looking for the perfect home in Berks County? 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. 

Nov. 27, 2019

Wishing All of You the Happiest Thanksgiving

Wishing all of you a happy Thanksgiving

We would like to wish all of our family, friends an clients the very best this Thanksgiving Day. We are very thankful to know all of you and look forward to more great times to come in the future.

What are you thankful for this year? Here's a few things we can all be thankful for:

  • Good Friends
  • Freedom to Choose
  • Your Parents
  • Our Pets
  • Having a Home
  • Breathing Fresh Air
  • A Warm Bed
  • Clean Water
  • Love
  • Wisdom

There's so much we can show thanks for. Let's make this the best Thanksgiving Day ever by showing each other how thankful we are for the good things we have in life.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Berks County
Nov. 21, 2019

Tips to Make This the Easiest Thanksgiving Ever

If you plan on hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your house this year, no doubt you've already begun making preparations and plans to make this Thanksgiving one to remember. Even if you've hosted dozens of Thanksgiving dinners, there's always a trick or two that will make the holiday less stressful.

Here's a few tips that can help you have a more enjoyable Thanksgiving.

1. Set the Table the Night Before.

It may be simple, but it's one less thing to worry about on the big day.

2. Empty Dishwasher and Trash Cans the Night Before. 

You now you're going to fill up a few bags, so go ahead and line the cans with extra bags to save time and effort.

3. Prepare as Many Dishes as You Can in Advance. 

You can freeze gravy bases, and veggies can be cooked and refrigerated up to two days in advance. You can also do prep work like washing and peeling vegetables so they're ready to roast.

4. "Make-Your-Own-Breakfast"

If you have guests staying over, have some items ready for them so they can take care of their own breakfast. That way you can focus on the dinner.

5. Make Edible Napkin Rings for the Kids’ Table.

You can make napkin rings out of pre-made crescent dough baked into 4-inch rings. That will keep the kids from complaining that they're hungry.

6. Use Square and Rectangular Pans. 

You can fit more dishes in the oven this way.

7. Save Easy Jobs for Early Birds. 

Why not let the early birds help out? You can save a few simple tasks that your guests can help with, such as filling the breadbasket or pouring water.

With these tips, we hope you have a happy Thanksgiving with friends and family.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and ways to buy a home in Berks County. We can also 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
Nov. 14, 2019

Is a Cash-Out Refinance Right For You?

Are you looking for a way to finance your upgrade for your home in Berks County? One way that homeowners can get extra cash for remodeling or other important purchases is through cash-out refinancing. This is a type of home loan that replaces your current loan with a new one for more than what you owe on your home in Berks County. That means you can use the extra cash to remodel your home or for whatever you need it for. Would a cash-out refinance be a good choice for you?

Here’s how a cash-out refinance works:

  • Pays you the difference between the mortgage balance and the home’s value.
  • Has slightly higher interest rates due to a higher loan amount.
  • Limits cash-out amounts to 80% to 90% of your home’s equity.

Keep in mind that you have to have a certain amount of equity in your home. That means that the value of your home has to be higher than what you owe on it. Plus, you can't pull out 100% of your home's equity with this type of loan.

For example, if your home is valued at $200,000 and your mortgage balance is $100,000, you have $100,000 of equity in your home. You can refinance your $100,000 loan balance for $150,000, and receive $50,000 in cash at closing.

What are the pros and cons of a cash-out refinance?

Pros

  • Lower interest rates: Typically, a mortgage refinance will have a lower interest rate than a home equity loan.
  • Debt consolidation: You can pay off those higher interest credit cards and save money.
  • Higher credit score: Paying off credit cards will help your credit score.
  • Tax deductions: If you use the money for home improvements, you may quality for the mortgage interest deduction.

Cons

  • Foreclosure risk: Since your home is collateral, you could lose your home if you can’t make the payments.
  • New terms: The terms of this new loan will be different from the original loan.
  • Closing costs: This is just like any other home refinancing, so you will have closing costs of around 2% to 5% of the mortgage. Make sure you weigh your potential savings with the costs to make sure its worth it.
  • Private mortgage insurance: If you borrow more than 80% of your home’s value, you’ll have to pay for private mortgage insurance. For example, if your home is valued at $200,000 and you refinance for more than $160,000, you’ll probably have to pay PMI. Private mortgage insurance typically costs from 0.55% to 2.25% of your loan amount each year. PMI of 1% on a $180,000 mortgage would cost $1,800 per year.

If you plan to use the funds from a cash-out loan for making improvements on your home, or in other ways that add equity to your home, then this is the right type of loan for you. But if you plan to use the funds on a new car or a vacation, it would not be a good idea, as these are purchases that offer no return on your investment. In the end, be smart about your refinancing decisions, and you’ll have a better chance of success.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and ways to buy a home in Berks County. We can also 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
Nov. 7, 2019

Have Some Fun With the Kids This Weekend In Berks County

With the cooler seasons coming, you need to get the kids out and expend some of that pent up energy. Don't worry, there's plenty of fun to have for the whole family this weekend in Berks County. Here's a few upcoming events and activities to put on your calendar.

Saturday

Snapology – Discovering Dinosaurs

10:00 am | Berks Nature / The Nature Place, Reading

Snapology STEAM Sessions are a series of workshops hosted at The Nature Place. Through this unique partnership with Snapology, you will allow your child to cultivate their love of science and experience nature in a whole new way.

Skulls & Scat Program

1:00 pm | Berks Nature / The Nature Place, Reading

Inspect the shape, teeth and other attributes that make animal skulls unique, as well as explore animal adaptations and scat.

Bountiful Harvest Train

6:00 pm | Boyertown Rail Yard, Boyertown

The rich fragrances of fall in the Secret Valley delight the senses while locally-produced autumn snacks and ciders available on board warm the soul.

Sunday

Sensory Mornings at The Museum

9:00 am | Reading Public Museum, Reading

The Reading Public Museum strives to be a place of life-long learning and enjoyment for guests of all ages and abilities. Because of this, they host special sensory hours for guests and their caretakers who require a quieter atmosphere to explore The Museum.

Pennsylvania German Folk Art Day

11:00 am | Reading Public Museum, Reading

Come to The Museum to try your hand at centuries old folk art crafts of the Pennsylvania Germans. During this event, The Museum will offer special tours of the Pennsylvania German Gallery and hands on craft stations in The Museum.

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.

Posted in Reading Community
Oct. 31, 2019

Set Your Clocks Back and Enjoy an Extra Hour This Sunday

The time has come again to set our clocks back this Sunday, Nov 3 at 2 a.m. Of course, your smart devices should all set automatically.

When we set out clocks back, we are going back to Regular Time. Daylight Saving Time started in 1966 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act. The law established daylight saving time from the last Sunday in April through the last Sunday in October. 

What will you do with your extra hour? Here's a few suggestions:

  • Enjoy one hour of uninterrupted time with your spouse or significant other.
  • Sit in the park and enjoy the quiet.
  • Call your parents or family.
  • Call a friend to catch up.
  • Tackle at least one thing (if not more) on your to-do list.
  • Try a new recipe.
  • Organize your office.
  • Catch up on the dishes overflowing in the sink.
  • Go outside and take pictures of nature.

If you're thinking about buying a new home in Berks County, you can use our home search tool and take an hour to really help look over some of the great homes for sale here. And be sure to call us on Monday when you find a home you want to look at.

Make sure not to forget to "fall back" this Sunday!

Visit our blog every week for more Berks County real estate articles. We can also 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. 

Oct. 24, 2019

Home Fire Safety

No one wants to think about a home fire. Yet, it's a reality that can strike any home anywhere. That's why its worth the time to think about fire safety, and plan for the worst. Even if a small fire breaks out, it can be a dangerous scenario.

Here are a few fire safety tips and facts for you and your family to keep in mind.

Fire Safety Facts

  • On average, seven people die in home fires every day. 
  • Fire departments respond to an average of 355,400 home fires each year.
  • Cooking appliances are the leading cause of home fires.
  • 65 percent of fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors. 
  • It only takes 30 seconds for a small fire to spread. 
Fire Prevention Tips
  • Keep lighters and candles out of children’s reach.
  • Test your home’s smoke detectors at least once a month. 
  • Keep fire safety equipment in your home. Fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and escape ladders are common home fire safety items.
  • Identify any fire safety hazards, such as lint left in dryers, plugged in heating appliances, and cleaning your chimney. 
Safety Checklist
  • Make sure your smoke alarm and batteries are working each month. 
  • Get interconnected smoke alarms so when one sounds, they’ll all sound. 
  • Create a home fire escape plan that shows two ways out of each room. 
  • Practice your family’s fire escape plan at least twice a year.

Making a Fire Evacuation Plan

  1. Find all of your home’s possible exits. Start by drawing your home’s floor plan. Spot at least two exits in each room. Make sure each exit is clear from clutter and easy to open in case of an emergency. 
  2. Install smoke detectors in your home. Alarms should be installed in hallways and inside of every bedroom on every level of your home so it’s easy to hear when sleeping. 
  3. Be prepared when you hear the alarm. If you hear your smoke alarm sound, leave immediately. When exiting, stay low to the ground to inhale less of the rising smoke. 
  4. Keep loved ones in mind. If you have elders or infants in the home, have a plan to get them to safety and assign one family member to help them ahead of time. 
  5. Stop, drop and roll. If your clothes catch on fire during an evacuation, Stop, Drop and Roll. Stop where you are, drop to the floor, and roll while covering your hands and eyes until the flames are gone. 
  6. Choose a place for everyone to meet safely. Make sure everyone knows how to get there. Call 9-1-1 once you’re in a safe place. Memorize phone numbers just in case you’re not at the meeting location to let family members know you’re safe.
  7. Don’t go back inside. If you left family members or valuables behind, don’t go back towards the fire. When you call, let the dispatcher know so firefighters can handle the rescue. Wait until firefighters say it’s safe to go back to the home. 

Visit our blog every week for more real estate article and ways to keep your home safe and happy. We can also 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
Oct. 17, 2019

Fall Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Faster in Berks County

Fall is a beautiful time of year in Berks County, and you can use that to your advantage when you sell your home. Staging your home during this time of year will help create a warm, inviting place that will make buyers feel at home, and potentially sell your home faster. Here's a few tips you can use to stage your home this fall.

Curb Appeal

Of course, at any time of the year, it's important to have great curb appeal. During the fall, there's usually plenty of leaves to rake up, so make sure to stay on top of lawn maintenance. At least take care of the essentials - mowing, raking leaves, and trimming hedges.

Make sure to clean your home's exterior, especially if the weather has been rough. Make sure the siding, windows, and gutters are clean and clear.

On the porch, add a fresh doormat and a seasonal wreath on the door to make buyers feel welcome. If your porch is covered, add a small outdoor furniture set or bench. Add some potted seasonal flowers to make your porch stand out. Your home's exterior should be neat and attractive.

Inside Your Home

First things first - clean, clean, clean your interior. Go to each room and de-clutter and remove personal items. Make sure every room is staged.

You can add earth toned pillows and throws in the living room to create a warm fall atmosphere. Adding a bowl of seasonal fruits in the kitchen is also a nice touch. In the living room, you can add a decorative bowl or vase with pinecones, nuts, fall foliage, and dried decorations.

You can bring out your fireplace with a tall bunch of dark twigs or stick wrapped in twine on each side of the hearth. A vase of fall flowers on the dining room table or fireplace mantel will also be an inviting touch.

Pull your inspiration from the fall colors outside. After all, they're the best reference for color schemes.

If you apply these few tips, it will go a long way to making sure your home in Berks County is ready to sell.

Visit our blog every week for more ways to sell your home faster in Berks County. We can also 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. 

Oct. 10, 2019

James Ernst Gets Top Reviews

When it comes to being successful selling real estate, experience matters. With 24 years of experience helping home buyers and sellers in Berks County, it's no surprise that James has a 4.9 of 5 star rating on Realtor.com. James grew up here in Berks County and raised in Fleetwood. He has the inside knowledge of the area and the real estate market to make sure you find the home of your dreams.

What are people saying about their experience working with James? Here's a few reviews:

"Jim was very prompt in responding to my initial inquiry on the property. I sent my inquiry on a Sunday morning and had a response within about an hour. He was very thorough and timely in following up on my requests." - Vince

"Jim is an awesome realtor who truly listened to our needs and made it happen for us. His knowledge of the market was second to none. Jim always went above and beyond to help us through the home selling and buying process. We would highly recommend Jim to anyone who wants a first class realtor!" - Theodore

"James Ernst got the job done! He knew my budget and my time limit in purchasing a home for my family of five. He had a great relationship with Customer Bank which was offering a great program that fitted my family's needs. In less than 2 months, my husband and I are homeowners in the school district we wanted and with 100% financing and a 2.95 % fixed rate. Thanks the Perez family." - Juan and Deneida

"Jim was so very helpful during our home search. He made himself available to us both before and after the sale. We could not have had a more helpful agent. The whole process was so smooth and very quick. We made our offer with his assistance and settled in about 2 weeks." - Theodore and Michelle

"Jim is very knowledgable and helpful thought the entire process. I highly recommend him. He listens to you about what you want and what you need. Jim is more focused on you and he puts his clients first before his own personal gain. Jim is fluent in Spanish!!!!! I have a beautiful house and I love it and it's all thanks to Jim!" - Carolina

Will you be the next rave reviewer? James Ernst is ready to help you make the best decisions about your next home purchase or sale in Berks County.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate tips and local Berks County news and events. 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. 

Oct. 3, 2019

Prepare Your Berks County Garden For the Colder Months Ahead

When it comes to keeping your home in Berks County looking beautiful, your garden is very important, as it can help sell your home faster. There are plenty of things to remember when preparing your garden for the coming seasons. Here are a few tips to get things started.

Tossing Dead Plants

A good start would be removing plants that are infested with bugs and disease. These problems can worsen over the winter. It is not recommended to dump these plants into your compost pile. If you're able to, burn them, or bag them for trash.

Preparing Perennials

When cutting back your perennials, do not to cut them down further than 4-6 inches above ground. Also, don't cut them before before the plant is done for the season, so the energy stored up in the plant can flow down into the main part of the plant, where is stays until the spring.

Leave the Pretty Plants

If you don't want your garden to look like a plague hit your garden, leave plants that look pretty and will stay stable through the winter as they are. They could also be very important to next years critters such as butterflies eggs, early bird nests and other important spring life.

Remove Messy Leaves

Not only will your yard and garden look better without a layer of leaves, but it helps keep your plants safe from rotting and harboring bugs or disease. Make sure to remove all the weeds too, before the ground becomes unpleasant to work with.

Putting Down Compost Cover

Keep your ground healthy with a layer of compost. It is the best way to ensure your plants can be healthy and that your garden stays looking beautiful. Laying down a layer of compost from 1-6 inches thick will help replenish the ground with crucial nutrients. A good choice for compost is something with a balance of green and brown matter or composted manure.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate tips and local Berks County news and events. 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