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. 15, 2020

Keep the Winter Fun Going With These Events in Berks County

Keep the winter fun going with these events in Berks CountyAre you looking for some fun events to keep your family busy this month? There's plenty of ways to enjoy the winter months in Berks County. Here's a few upcoming events that will help you ride out the winter.

Reading Fire + Ice Fest

Fri, Jan 17 – Sat, Jan 18
500 Penn St, Reading, PA

Reading Fire + Ice Fest is the flagship winter festival of Berks County. This event will feature a variety of both indoor and outdoor activities, including a chili & wing cook-off, Snowfall Bash, professional ice-carving competitions, fire performances, live music, vendor fair and inaugural craft beer fest. Most of the activities will be free, except for the chili cook-off, Snowfall Bash, and craft beer fest having nominal entry fees.

World Championship ICE Racing

Sat, Jan 18, 7:30 PM
Santander Arena | 700 Penn St, Reading, PA

World Championship ICE Racing, presents The 2020 Fire on ICE Tour at the Santander Arena for one night only on Saturday, January 18th, at 7:30 p.m.  Featuring the biggest names in professional motorcycle ICE racing along with the most fearless riders on the untamed Unlimited Outlaw Quads. Tickets for World Championship ICE Racing are $12.50, $20 and $30. Kids tickets start at just $9. Ticket pricing increases $3 day of show.

Lehigh Valley Pet Expo

Fri 1/24/20 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Sat 1/25/20 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Sun 1/26/20 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Allentown Fairgrounds | 302 N 17th St, Allentown, PA

Pet Expos are designed to educate and entertain the public about the wonderful world of pets. They are family oriented events featuring many educational demonstrations and seminars, hands-on-petting opportunities, special attractions, pet adoptions, and entertaining exhibits.

Pajamas & Popcorn

Sat, Jan 18, 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM
R/C Reading Movies 11 & IMAX | 30 N 2nd St, Reading, PA

Bring the whole family for a fun morning at the movies, Tickets are $5.00 for all movies. Wear your PJ's and get a FREE popcorn! Titles will include DOLITTLE, STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL, LITTLE WOMEN and FROZEN 2.

William Shatner

Sun, Jan 19
Santander Performing Arts Center | 136 N 6th St, Reading, PA

The one and only William Shatner screens one of the most iconic science fiction movies of all time, Start Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. After the movie, "Captain Kirk" will be sharing fascinating and humorous stories from his career spanning over 50 years, along with answering questions from the audience.

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. 

Jan. 8, 2020

How to Know When Your HVAC Needs Repair

How to Know When Your HVAC Needs RepairIf your home in Berks County is heated with an HVAC unit, you already know how important it is to keep it running smoothly. When something goes wrong, you should also know when you can handle a repair or when you should call in an expert. You should also be able to detect when something is about to go wrong with your HVAC. Here's a few things to look for to decide when it's time to call for help.

Does It Make Noise?

Modern HVAC units should be almost silent. If you hear any odd noises such as whistling, rattling, squealing, or knocking while it's running, there is probably an issue. Sure, you may be able to fix small issues by yourself. But to be on the safe side, you should call an expert. They know what to look for, and how to safely open up your unit, as there are electrical parts that could harm you if not handled properly.

What's That Smell?

Another sign that there could be an issue is if it smells. A unit that's functioning correctly will not emit any odors. The issue may simply be a filter that needs replaced. You can replace the filter and see if the odor goes away. If it does, problem solved. If not, there could be larger issues to deal with. An HVAC expert can do a thorough cleaning of your HVAC and find any problems such as mold or a damaged air duct.

Not Going With the Flow

If the air coming in from your HVAC is not flowing properly, you could be dealing with clogs or blockages. This is also an issue that will need a Berks County HVAC professional to look at your system. They already know how to find airflow issues. Your HVAC system is more complex than you may realize, so it's best to leave airflow issues to experienced professionals.

Are Your Energy Bills Rising?

If your energy bills are rising even though the temperature outside is remaining the same, this could indicate the need for an expert to diagnose your unit to see if it's using more energy and needs repair.  Sometimes an HVAC unit will have a problem that can't be heard or smelled.

Finding the Right HVAC Repair Company in Berks County

Finding a good HVAC repair company will take a little research.  Not all HVAC companies are the same, so you should consult more than one source during your search. Check their credentials to make sure the company is keeping up to date with their training. Also, ask around and check online reviews. Then when you find a company that looks good, ask for an estimate. Try to get estimates from more than one HVAC repair company so that you can see if any of them are trying to price gouge you.

If you follow these tips, you can keep your HVAC running smoothly and stay warm during these cold winter days in Berks County.

Come back to our blog every week for more helpful 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. 

Posted in Real Estate Advice
Jan. 1, 2020

Wishing You the Best in 2020

Wishing You the Best in 2020

I'd like to thank all of my clients, friends, and family for making 2019 such a memorable year. I wish you all a very prosperous and happy new year in 2020.  

If you need some help thinking of a resolution for the new year, here's a few ideas:

  • Learn Something New Each Day
  • Pick Up a Hobby
  • Play More
  • Be More Grateful
  • Stop Procrastinating
  • Spend More Time In Nature
  • Enjoy the Little Things
  • Become More Confident
  • Be More Conscientious
  • Bring More Peace Into Your Life

Whatever you do, make this the best decade of your life!

Happy New Year!

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 Berks County
Dec. 25, 2019

Have a Happy Holiday Week in Berks County

Happy Holidays

Here's wishing all of my clients, friends, and family the very best this holiday week. I look forward to another year of helping my valued clients buy and sell their homes in Berks County.

If you want to keep the holiday fun going this week, here's a few events in the Berks County area that will help you stay in the spirit of the season.

Stars On Ice - Holiday

Sat, Dec 28, 8 PM EST
Santander Arena | 700 Penn St, Reading, PA

Cirque Dreams Holidaze — Santander Arena & Performing Arts Center

Thu, Dec 26, 8 – 9 PM EST
Santander Arena | 700 Penn St, Reading, PA

In addition to an amazing show, you are also invited you to a full buffet Dinner right upstairs in our Performing Arts Center Mezzanine Lobby 90 minutes before the show. Dinner is just $22 per person (reg. $27) and includes:

Bethlehem By Night Christmas Tour

Thu, Dec 26, 3 – 9 PM - Sun, Dec 29, 7 PM
Historic Bethlehem Visitor Center | 505 Main St, Bethlehem, PA

Visit the famous star atop South Mountain, historic highlights in north and south Bethlehem. See the holiday lights, sights and sounds of Bethlehem Historic District. Rides run every 20 minutes.

Holiday Lights at Gring's Mill

Sun, Dec 29, 6 – 9 PM
Gring's Mill Recreation Area | 2083 Tulpehocken Rd, Reading, PA

Walk around the beautiful grounds of Gring’s Mill park to view a spectacular light display highlighting the historic buildings and landscaping around the park. A $5 per car parking donation is requested at the park entrance.

Happy Holidays!

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. 

Dec. 18, 2019

How to Save Money When Moving to Berks County

How to Save Money When MovingThere’s usually excitement when it comes to moving into a new home in Berks County, especially if it's your dream home.

But this can also be a stressful time, as you may run into unexpected expenses. Moving generally is not cheap. But you can reduce costs if you plan carefully. Here's a few tips that will help save money.

Shop Around

Depending on where you're moving from, you should have several moving companies to chose from. If it's a slower time of year, some may offer discounts that will help make it less expensive. 

Try to check at least 3 moving companies before you hire one. They should also perform an inspection or your items that you're moving before they give you a quote.

If you're moving to Berks County from a long distance, the cost may be determined by the weight of your belongings. You can cut costs down by getting rid of things you don't need or use. This can really save you a lot of money.

Pack Yourself

It's always cheaper if you don't have to hire pros to help you. Packing is one area that you can save big by doing it yourself. If you can enlist the help of family or friends, then that will help. A few pizzas as a thank you is certainly cheaper than hiring pros. But don't rule out hiring professional help if you have fragile items that need special handling.

You can also visit local stores for boxes, or check with moving companies to see if they sell used boxes that are still in good shape. 

Get a discount from the IRS

Depending on the purpose of your move, you may be qualified to a tax cut. If you’re moving to a new home because of work-related reasons, you should be able to claim your moving costs as a federal income tax deduction. So save those receipts, you may need them to avail of the discount next tax season.

These tips are only a few of the many things you can do to save money when moving to a new place. There are plenty of other ways to keep the costs down. Just remember to always plan ahead and compare prices.

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
Dec. 11, 2019

What to Keep in Mind When Selling Your Berks County Home in the Winter

What to Keep in Mind When Selling Your Berks County Home in the WinterAre you getting a new job or need to relocate quickly? Most people prefer to sell their home in Berks County during the Spring and Summer months, as there are typically more buyers on the market. But if you need to sell your home during the Winter, you can still have a successful sale. Here's a few things to keep in mind.

Be Real

Since there will be fewer buyers during the Winter months, don't expect to be flooded with offers and crowded open houses. As an experienced real estate agent, James Ernst knows the Berks County market and will help you set your home at a price that will sell the fastest in this market. Keep your expectations realistic and you won't be disappointed.

The Right Price

Pricing your home to sell during Winter can be a little more tricky with fewer buyers. And again, your agent will guide you to set the optimal price for the market in Berks County, using comparable home sales in your neighborhood. 

Setting the Stage

You don't need to break the bank to appeal to home buyers.  You can start by de-cluttering and depersonalizing your home. Put as many of your possessions as possible out of sight of buyers so they can visualize your home as a clean slate that they will make their own. Make sure to focus on rooms such as the living room, master bedroom, and kitchen, as these are the rooms that matter most to buyers. 

Curb Appeal

Make sure you don't leave yard debris to collect on the lawn. The winter months in Berks County can be more challenging when it comes to keeping the outside of your home clean and appealing to buyers, but it's a must. You need to be prepared for last-minute showings as well, so your curb appeal needs to be kept up through the selling process.

Dial Back the Holiday Decor

If you love to deck your halls with the full range of holiday decor, you may want to skip doing so this year. You want your home to shine on its own, not from the bright Christmas lights. If you really feel the need to put up decorations, keep it simple and tasteful as to not distract from your home.

Be Flexible

To sell your home as fast as possible, you need to be available when buyers want to view your home. This means you may want to limit holiday gatherings at your home and make sure your home is neat and tidy.

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. 

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