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!

Sept. 29, 2022

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Solar Panels

A solar panel system can cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for your Berks County home. This is why it is important to purchase the right solar system and have it installed properly from the start. 

If you install solar panels correctly, they will last you 20-30 years, lower your energy bills considerably, and increase the value of your home. Here are four mistakes to avoid when purchasing solar panels.

Sourcing Parts Separately

In an effort to save on solar panels costs, some people opt to build Frankenstein systems, whereby they source the various parts separately and have a solar systems expert put them together.

Parts are often mismatched. You may have an undersized inverter, unmountable panels, or a battery that does not match the charging source. As a result, you have a total system failure that is both costly and dangerous. 

Overpaying for the Solar System and Its Installation

Getting multiple quotes for the solar system and its installation is important. Compare the quotes not just based on price but also on the range of services offered. 

The majority of solar companies offer installation and maintenance services, either free of charge or at an additional cost. You should compare interest rates and costs when applying for a loan or lease.

Check consumer reviews for prospective suppliers and service providers on forums such as Reddit and review websites like Pissedconsumer.com. The customer feedback will indicate if the companies are reliable. 

To determine if a company has recurring issues, read the consumer reviews in addition to the overall rating. Watch out for complaints about poor quality solar panels, bad customer service, and unfavorable lease terms.

Choosing the Wrong Type of Solar Panels 

There are 3 main types of solar system designs—on-grid, off-grid, and hybrid. On-grid solar systems are the most common. They are connected to the public electricity grid. As such, the system does not require batteries. 

In the event that solar is not enough to meet your power needs, the switchboard will import electricity from the grid to make up the difference. A major disadvantage of this system is that a power outage in the main grid will also result in a blackout.

Off-grid systems are not connected to the main grid. They are most suitable if your house is not connected to the public electricity grid, such as if you live in a remote area. Since there is no supplemental power source, the solar panels have to generate enough power to meet all your energy needs.

As off-grid solar systems require expensive batteries and inverters, they are more expensive than on-grid systems. You may also need a backup generator to supplement the energy in the winter season when the solar system cannot produce enough power.

A hybrid system requires more expertise and is more complex to install. Those units are connected to the main grid and have batteries for storing energy. As soon as the battery's energy is depleted, the grid backs up the battery.

Wrong Size

The right size of a solar system depends on various factors, including your energy consumption, power rating, battery size, energy efficiency, sun hours per day, and the number of panels. 

It is best to consult with a solar systems expert about the ideal size of a solar system for your home. They will accurately calculate your daily energy consumption and recommend the most suitable solar system size according to its efficiency, power rating, and output.

When sizing, keep in mind that solar panels lose 0.5-1% efficiency annually. Therefore, in 20 years, the solar system will have lost 10-20% efficiency. Therefore, account for the efficiency loss when choosing a solar system. 

Are They Worth It?

Are solar panels worth it? Yes. They lower your energy bill and improve the value of your Berks County home. However, the caveat is that you have to choose the right solar system design, layout, and size for your home.

It is best to get a complete unit from one supplier instead of sourcing parts separately. Also, check online reviews to establish the credibility of prospective products, suppliers, and installation service providers. 

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
Sept. 22, 2022

Consider This Before Buying Furniture for Your New Berks County Home

You've found the perfect home for sale in Berks County and closed the deal. Now for the fun part - buying furniture! But hold on, don't get carried away. Doing so can lead to costly mistakes. When it comes to buying furniture for your home, there are a number of points to consider to make sure you buy the right items.

Measure Twice, Move Once

Will your new luxury leather couch fit through the front door, or any of your doors? There’s nothing more frustrating than buying a piece of furniture and not be able to get it in the house. Also, consider the size of the room you’re placing your furniture. Would it be too big or small? Make sure that you get the measurements on the furniture you’re buying and compare it to the space you plan to put it. You can also download an app for your pad or phone that will help you visualize how furniture will look in your home.

Maintenance

Hardwood furniture is certainly appealing and will last for many years, but it does take more maintenance than furniture made with synthetic materials. Make sure that you have the time and know-how to care for hardwood furniture before you invest in it.

Avoid Fads

Will that trendy chair or sofa still be in style next year? If you want to avoid having your home look dated, consider more classic styles. Classic styles will outlive trends for generations and always keep your home looking good.

Take Some Time

There’s no law that says you have to buy the first piece of furniture that strikes your fancy. It’s a lot like buying a home. Did you buy the first home you saw? Probably not. When you take your time, there’s more of a chance of finding the best products that will compliment your home.

Think Ahead

What are your living plans over the next few years? Are you staying in your home indefinitely? Or are you planning to upgrade in the a few years? Base your furniture choices on your plans as much as possible and you won’t have to spend more money than you need to if you do move.

Cost and Budget

Lay out a budget before you dive into the furniture stores or shop online. And of course, furniture stores have all sorts of sales and plans to get you to buy more than you need. Stay focused on your goals and budget. If you buy furniture using credit plans offered by these stores, you will pay more than you need to for items that are not necessarily of higher quality. Remember – furniture stores exist to make money.

If you keep these thoughts in mind when buying furniture for your home in Berks County, you can make great choices that will make your home look amazing for years to come.

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
Sept. 15, 2022

What First Time Berks County Home Buyers Can Do If They're Priced Out of the Market

Berks County first-time homebuyers face a major challenge when it comes to buying a home. There is still a record rise in home prices, despite a slight cooling. The median home price in the U.S. has surpassed $400,000 for the first time ever.

This trend is likely to continue due to several factors. Housing supply is limited, there are a lot of motivated buyers, and mortgage rates are low. Prices are rising for everything, including homes, due to inflation. Since mortgage rates are low, buyers can buy more than they would otherwise be able to, resulting in heated bidding wars.

Additionally, sellers are staying put to avoid a highly competitive buying market, further reducing the supply of homes for sale.

In addition to being unable to obtain materials, homebuilders are also facing a labor shortage.

Where does this leave first-time Berks County home buyers or any buyer?

What Does It Mean to Be Priced Out?

Buying an entry-level home is out of reach for someone who is priced out of the real estate market. A number of factors can lead to first-time buyers being priced out, many of which are converging at the moment.

You may have noticed that the down payment you saved hard isn't going as far as you expected. You might not be able to afford a house if you only saved 20% of the price you were preparing to pay.

So, what can you do?

You might think automatically you should keep renting, but rent prices are going up because of inflation as well, while wages aren’t keeping up, so this isn’t the ideal option.

There are a few things you can do, and none of them might feel ideal, but your options are limited when you’re priced out.

Save More

It may be necessary for you to keep renting and add to your savings if you live in an unaffordable market right now. As a result, you can also wait out the market in some respects. You may need to be patient because it could be a couple of years before you’re able to re-enter the marketing successfully.

It's better to consider your monthly expenses rather than the sales price when determining what you can afford.

Put your money in a savings account if you plan to wait out the market for a while. Some of your savings may need to be invested in riskier, but higher-earning options like stocks.

Change Your Expectations

You can also change your expectations when you're priced out of the market. Due to limited inventory and other factors affecting the market right now, you may have to give up a few items on your wish list.

You could end up buying a fixer-upper that’s more in line with your budget.

For first-time buyers, being humble is key to getting a home in the current environment.

Broaden Your Home Search Geographically

As you might have to give up some of your wish list as far as home features, you might also want to broaden the geographical area you're looking in. Depending on the neighborhood or suburb in Berks County, home prices can differ considerably.

Hire a Great Real Estate Agent

Finally, if you don’t already have a great real estate agent on your side, it would be nearly impossible to navigate the current market as a first-time buyer without getting one. Even if you can find a home you’re able to afford, you may be facing stiff competition.

You will have an edge over other buyers since real estate professionals are aware of properties before they go on the market. They’ll also be able to help you understand your local market so you can adjust your expectations as needed.

By negotiating on your behalf, a real estate professional can reduce your stress. James Ernst has the experience you need to help you navigate this stressful market.

It’s not an easy time to buy a home, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You might wait it out, or you could shift your approach and strategy a bit. Call us today to talk about your home buying options in Berks County.

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
Sept. 8, 2022

Fall Festival Fun This Weekend in Berks County!

It's festival time in Berks County! Get ready to have a great time with these fun fall festivals in and around Reading this weekend.

Chile Pepper Festival

Sat, Sep 10, 9 AM – 6 PM
Bowers Park
233 Bowers Rd, Mertztown, PA

The Largest Chile Pepper festival of its kind anywhere. A must attend event for Chile pepper lovers. Includes music, Salsa Contest, Jalapeno Eating Contest.

Family friendly. No alcohol. Admission by donation.

Hay Creek Festival

Fri, Sep 9, 6 AM – Sun, Sep 11, 1 PM
Haycreek Valley Historical
1250 Furnace Rd, Geigertown, PA

Welcome to the 46TH annual Hay Creek Festival. This annual heritage festival is the most diverse event in Berks County, Pennsylvania and features over 1,500 volunteers bringing together two centuries of history with authentic demonstrations of early American trades and crafts, mechanical technology exhibits, old time music, and a modern craft & antique market. So “Step into the Past” and immerse yourself in a history that our forefathers would be proud of experiencing.

2nd Annual Berks County Music Fest

Sat, Sep 10, 12:00 – 1:15 PM
Mohnton Playground Association
Walnut St, Mohnton, PA

Presented by The Mohnton-Cumru Lions Club and featuring The Uptown Band, Smith Compound Band, and The Large Flowerheads! Event runs from 12:00 PM - 7:00 PM!!! $15.00 in Advance / $20.00 at Door.

Berks County Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Happening

Sat, Sep 10, 4:30 – 10:00 PM EDT
FirstEnergy Stadium
1900 Centre Ave, Reading, PA

The Berks County Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, (BCRRHOF), has partnered with The Reading Fightins and The Reading Musical Foundation to present our Berks County Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Happening at First Energy Stadium on Saturday, September 10, 2022, with live music jam starting at 4:30.

General admission tickets are on sale in advance at First Energy Stadium or at the gate. Special VIP picnic area tickets for admission, food and beverages may be bought in advance at Deck Picnic Ticket: groupmatics.events/event/Berkscounty

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
Sept. 1, 2022

Signs Your Berks County Chimney Needs Repair

All Berks County households with fireplaces or wood stoves must have chimneys. They reduce the amount of soot and fire embers indoors, resulting in cleaner and healthier air. Your rooms can have grease-free walls and floors thanks to chimneys.

In contrast, houses without efficient chimneys tend to have stained walls and ceilings. There is also a possibility that floors will appear greasy. You and your family may also suffer from poor indoor air quality due to the high concentration of particulate matter. 

So, for property owners like you, maintaining and repairing chimneys is a must for ensuring their maximum performance. Unfortunately, being able to tell when a chimney needs repair can be tricky. 

This post will discuss different tell-tale signs you can spot to help you tell whether you need to schedule a chimney repair job the soonest or not. 

White Staining

A white stain, also known as efflorescence, indicates moisture problems in your chimney. Usually, these appear as crystalline stains on brick and concrete. In small amounts, it may not be a concern, but large deposits could lead to severe moisture problems.

The common causes of this issue are damaged liner and loose flashing, leading to massive mortar deterioration. If your chimney has this issue, you may want to hire a reliable chimney repair company. You may ask for a new flue liner installation or repair the crown's flashing.

Damaged Mortar Joints

Mortar joints deteriorate over time because of adverse weather elements, such as rain and snow. When this occurs, the mortar joints are exposed to more moisture issues that may lead to structural damage to the chimney.

As the chimney freezes, moisture seeps into existing cracks and further damages it. A chimney collapse may result if ignored. In order to solve this problem, you should replace the old mortar joints with new mortar at least an inch thick. The repair may also be strengthened by adding mortar sealant.

Cracked Chimney Crown

Due to extreme weather elements and natural wear-and-tear, chimney crowns lose their structural integrity, weaken, and collapse. When this happens, major water leaks and further structural damage, such as broken tiles and rusted dampers, occur. To address the damage, a chimney mason may caulk the flue liner or replace cracked bricks or tiles.

Rust

The metal components of your chimney may rust when they are repeatedly exposed to moisture and oxygen. A common cause of this problem is improper maintenance and natural wear and tear. Also, excessive rust could indicate a bigger hidden problem, such as cracked flue tiles.

When signs of rust appear in your chimney, you may need to seek a chimney sweep for rust removal immediately. Neglecting this issue may lead to more serious trouble, such as structural damage and collapse.

Falling Tiles

Falls tiles are caused by improper tile setting and water damage. The chimney materials may flake as a result. Chimney areas without tiles are more prone to damage as there's no more extended protection for the concrete.

Falling tiles are dangerous and should be addressed immediately. For this purpose, tile replacement is necessary. This could be partial and will only cover a particular damaged area. On the other hand, if it's a total replacement, the entire chimney brickwork may be replaced.

Dirt Buildup

If soot and greasy walls appear not just in the chimney but also in the kitchen walls, a chimney problem may occur. In most cases, this is caused by interior chimney structural issues, such as cracking or settling. When this happens, the smoke from the kitchen may find it challenging to go upward quickly; thus, the soot and wall stains appear.

Spalling

Spalling refers to the popping out or peeling off of the exterior portions of a chimney. This usually happens when moisture repeatedly enters and exits the chimney's masonry. Many chimney contractors suggest quick masonry repairs to avoid massive chimney damage or even a total collapse. In some cases, the complete brickwork is replaced.

Chimney Leaks

When leaks, such as pools of water, appear in the fireplace or its adjacent area, a moisture problem is indicated. When this happens, you should apply immediate assessment to know the cause of the problem. With this, one could provide prompt and appropriate repair, such as defective flashing, damaged crown, or deteriorated mortar.

Early damage prevention is one of the best ways to avoid more significant structural chimney problems. The first step for early prevention is knowing the typical signs of chimney damage. For this purpose, reading this feature is necessary. Aside from providing the usual signs of chimney damage, it also offers tips on how to repair them accordingly.

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
Aug. 25, 2022

How to Figure Out How Much Mortgage You Can Afford to Buy a Home in Berks County

Owning a home in Berks County should give you safety and security, and that includes being financially secure. Before you buy a home, you should calculate how much you can afford for a mortgage and make sure it fits safely withing 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 Down Payment

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 down payment, 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.

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
Aug. 18, 2022

The Top Things to See in Berks County

In eastern Pennsylvania, Berks County is often overlooked in favor of popular destinations like Lancaster, Hershey, and the Lehigh Valley. Even so, Berks County, PA, offers many things worth seeing.

Reading (pronounced "Redding"), one of Pennsylvania's largest cities, is located in Berks County, as well as a variety of small towns offering a variety of historical and natural attractions. This area offers a taste of both Pennsylvania Dutch Country and the Philadelphia suburbs and Lehigh Valley, offering an excellent variety of activities.

Here are a few of the best things to do in Reading, PA, whether you are looking for something fun to do in the countryside or in town.

Reading Pagoda

The Reading Pagoda might be the most visible yet unexpected attraction in Reading.

Atop Mount Penn, the Pagoda can be seen from just about anywhere in the city, and has certainly elicited many surprised reactions.

In the early 20th century, the pagoda was built to resemble an authentic Japanese pagoda. The pagoda was originally supposed to be the focal point of a mountaintop resort, but the rest of the plans fell through.

This amazing spot offers breathtaking views of downtown Reading as well as a closer look at the pagoda. On weekends, the museum, gift shop, and viewing area are open seasonally.

Nolde Forest

You should check out Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center if you're looking for things to do near Reading, PA.

Ten miles of hiking trails wind through some of the region's most beautiful woodlands at this 600-acre state park. This is an excellent place for families to visit because the trails are fairly easy.

The park is not only great for hiking, but also offers many historical spots and educational opportunities.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Hiking and bird watching are great at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in northern Berks County.

Nearly ten miles of hiking trails lead to several incredible vistas within this privately-owned sanctuary. Additionally, hundreds of birds of prey can be seen in a single day during the fall migration.

If you are not able to see the migration in the fall, this is still a great hiking destination.

Daniel Boone Homestead

Berks County was the birthplace of frontiersman Daniel Boone. There is still a remnant of Daniel Boone's childhood home at the Daniel Boone Homestead, where you can learn about his life in Pennsylvania.

Over the years, the current home on the property has been expanded several times and offers a great look at life in this part of Pennsylvania during the 18th and 19th centuries. There is also a small museum and several other buildings that do a great job offering insight into Boone and early American history.

Goggle Works

If you are looking for things to do in Reading, Goggle Works is a great option in the heart of the city’s downtown.

Formerly, this factory produced everything from optical lenses to bras and goggles. After closing in 2002, it was repurposed as a gallery, studio, and teaching space.

There are galleries filled with works by local artists, as well as artist studios where visitors can see what creations are currently being made.

Covered Bridges

Five historic covered bridges can be found throughout the county. And if you love history, a covered bridge driving tour is a favorite thing to do in Berks County.

There are five bridges in Reading, four of which are located north and east of the city, and one of which is located west of the city. These bridges are great additions to your itinerary whether you visit all of them during a road trip or just one or two on your way elsewhere.

In addition, many of these bridges have unique faces that set them apart from Pennsylvania's other 200 historic covered bridges.

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.

Aug. 11, 2022

What Does Homeowner's Insurance Cover in Berks County?

Do you know what homeowner's insurance covers for your home in Berks County? There are varying coverages that depend on what company you go through. But there are some common items that are covered among most policies.

A basic homeowners insurance policy (called HO-1 in insurance lingo) covers your home and possessions if they’re damaged or destroyed by these things:

  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Windstorm
  • Hail (not available everywhere)
  • Explosion
  • Riots
  • Civil commotion
  • Aircraft (and things falling from aircraft)
  • Vehicles (and things thrown from vehicles)
  • Smoke
  • Vandalism (although some policies exclude this)
  • Malicious mischief
  • Theft

Upgraded Homeowners Insurance

An upgraded policy (called HO-2) adds protection to your home and possessions from even more perils. You get protection from everything on the HO-1 list (above) plus:

  • Falling objects
  • The weight of ice, snow, or sleet
  • Flooding from your appliances, plumbing, HVAC, or fire-protection sprinkler system
  • Damage to electrical parts caused by artificially generated electrical currents (such as a power surge not caused by lightning). But damaged electronics such as computers aren’t covered.
  • Glass breakage
  • Abrupt collapse (say from termite damage)

That same list applies to the homeowners insurance you buy for a condominium or co-op (except then it’s called HO-6 instead of HO-2).

With HO-1, HO-2, and HO-6, what you see is what you get.

Other Things Homeowners Insurance Covers

In addition to covering your home, homeowners' insurance also covers four more things:

1. Your outbuildings, landscaping, and hardscaping. If you have outbuildings, landscaping, or hardscaping, your homeowner's policy most likely covers those for up to 10% of your policy amount.

Sometimes policies exclude damage to outbuildings, landscaping, or hardscaping caused by a particular peril (like wind).

2. Damage or loss of your personal belongings. Your homeowner's policy covers your family’s belongings, even when you take them out of the house. If your child heads to college with a laptop and it’s stolen, that’s probably covered by your homeowner's insurance policy.

A home insurance policy covers a lot of your personal belongings, but not necessarily everything.

Replacement cost means that the insurance company will pay the full cost of replacing an item once you show a receipt. Cash value means the insurance company will issue you a check for the amount that the laptop or sofa would have been worth when it was stolen or destroyed.

3. Temporary living expenses if your home is so damaged you can’t live in it. When you can’t live in your home, your homeowner's insurance covers your living expenses, including hotel bills and meals. But you can’t live in the hotel forever and eat lobster every night on the insurance company’s tab. Your policy will have limits on how long you stay and how much you can spend.

4. Injuries or accidents at your house. Homeowners insurance coverage includes liability – meaning it covers you when you or your family members cause injuries or damage. This coverage also pays when your dog bites someone (medical payments) or someone falls and injures themselves.

Add an umbrella policy to boost your liability coverage into the millions.

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
Aug. 4, 2022

Don't Make These Mistakes When Remodeling Your Berks County Home

You've done it! You're the proud and happy owner of your very first home (or second home) in Berks County!

Now you can do all the things you've dreamed of doing to a home. You can install that huge patio, do some fancy landscaping - the sky is the limit. But this is also the time when you're most likely going to make some costly mistakes.

This is especially true in your first year, when your happiness, eagerness (and sometimes ignorance) might convince you to make one of these mistakes:

Going With the Lowest Bid

Things break. So, what do you do when you need major repairs?

The smart thing to do is to get several contractor bids. But going with the cheapest bid is not always smart.

For example, one couple went with a contractor who bid half of what a previous contractor they had used in the past charged. He promised to complete the work in less time as well. The result? A year later, their house was still a construction zone.

What to do:

Make sure that ll the bids have the same scope of work. Cheaper bids may not include all the actual costs and project details. The less expensive contractor may also lack the experience needed to determine any additional steps and costs.

Submitting Small Insurance Claims

You may think it's a good idea to use your insurance for all claims. But if you file too many claims too close to each other, it can increase your premium. If a claim is less than your deductible, it's better to pay out of pocket and save your insurance for catastrophic issues.

An even better solution is to maintain your home so that small claims don't come up in the first place.

What to do:

Before you pick up a sledgehammer, check with an agent or appraiser, who usually are happy to share their knowledge about how much money an improvement will eventually deliver.

Throwing Away Receipts and Paperwork

Don't throw away receipts for items you replace in your home. Small improvements can actually boost the price of you home when you decide to sell it. And saving warranty information can save hundreds down the road.

What to do: Stow paperwork like receipts, contracts, and manuals in a three-ring binder with clear plastic sleeves or photograph your documents and upload them to cloud storage.

Remodeling Without Doing the Research

No one wants to be a Debbie Downer, but there’s a benefit to knowing the worst-case scenario. One homeowner tells the time he hired roofers to remove box gutters from his 1880s home. Little did he know, more often than not aged box gutters come with more extensive rot damage, which his roofers weren’t qualified to handle.

Had he researched the problem, he could have saved money and anxiety by hiring a specialist from the start, he says.

What to do:

Before you begin a project, do thorough research. Ask detailed questions of contractors so you can get your timing, budget, and expectations in line.

The bottom line when it comes to remodeling your new home is to take time and use common sense. You can relax. This is going to be your home, hopefully for years to come. Take the time you need to make it truly yours.

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
July 28, 2022

Enjoy the Bounty of Berks County Farms at Our Farmers Markets

Now that summer is in full swing, it's time to enjoy all that the local farms have to offer. There are a number of fine outlets for local Berks County produce right here in the Reading area. Don't delay, as the end of the season will come too soon. Here are a few of the best local farmer's markets waiting for your discovery.

West Reading Farmers Market

598 Penn Ave, West Reading, PA 19611

Sundays from 9AM - 1PM. Located on the 500 block of Penn Ave + 6th Ave between Penn & Cherry.

Fairgrounds Farmer's Market

Fairgrounds Square
2934 N 5th Street Hwy, Reading, PA 19605

Voted best farmers market in Berks County for 2019, Boscov's Fairgrounds Farmers Market is home to 65 family owned and operated merchants selling a variety of locally grown fresh produce and much more.

PA Dutch Farmer's Market of Wyomissing

845B Woodland Rd, Wyomissing, PA 19610

The PA Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomissing is always stocked with fresh, locally grown, and organic produce directly from the fields, luscious fruits, delectable meats and cheeses, and the most mouthwatering baked goods and candies around. Stop by for a gourmet coffee, slice of pizza or tasty omelet straight off the grill. Meet the local farmers and share in their deep Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. 

Shillington Farmers Market

The Shoppes at Shillington
10 S Summit Ave, Shillington, PA 19607

Open year-round, with over 25 merchants, you are bound to find everything you need in one quick stop. The Shillington Farmers’ Market offers fine fruits and vegetables, meats, and other homegrown products. They have the best vendors in town, so visit the Shillington Farmers’ Market and see what they have to offer.

Antietam Valley Farmers Market

Carsonia Park
905 Byram St, Reading, PA 19606

The Antietam Valley Farmers Market will be held twice a month this year. With the exception of holidays, the Antietam Valley Farmers’ and Artists’ Market will operate on the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month, May through December.

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