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!

May 28, 2020

What You Should Know Before Buying a Video Doorbell

Video doorbells have now become a staple of home security in Berks County. We've all seen videos online and TV captured by these handy devices. Not only do they deter crime and catch criminals, they let you know who's at your door before you answer. You can also answer your door remotely. It's a great way to protect your home.

Before you buy a video doorbell, here's a few things to think about:

Resolution

Make sure the doorbell camera has at least a resolution of 1080p or higher. You want to have nice clear view of whoever is at your door. Long gone are the days of the grainy "convenience store" cameras. Now you can capture video of visitors with crystal clear quality.

Night Vision

You also want clear vision at night, since that's obviously when most crime happens. Not all cameras offer night vision, so make sure the one you purchase has this important feature.

Field of View

The field of view also makes a big difference in what the camera can capture. 180 degrees means that it sees in front and on the sides. A 90 degree camera can only see what's in front and a little on the sides. The wider view is obviously better.

Audio Features

Another great feature of video doorbells is being able to speak with the person at the door. This is especially handy if you're away from home and expecting an important package, as you can direct the delivery remotely.

Motion Detection

Try to get a camera that will let you define which zones react to motion. That way if you live on a busy street, it won't alert you every time a car drives by.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is the preferred choice for storing video footage. If someone does break into your home, then your footage of them is safe and ready for you to send to the police.

App Support

Check into the app support for the doorbell and find reviews if possible. If the app gets low ratings, it may not be the best choice. The last thing you need is to have a hassle with the app support.

Also, since these devices use your wi-fi, it's a good idea to place your internet router close to the door to make sure it has a strong signal. If that's not an option, then a signal booster located near the door will work.

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
May 22, 2020

Why Selling Your Home Without an Agent in Berks County is a Mistake

Are you planning on selling your home in Berks County, but thinking about selling it without an agent, otherwise known as a FSBO or For Sale by Owner? A certain amount of home sellers think this is the way to go, thinking they'll net more money by not paying commission to an agent. But do you really save money by selling your home on your own? And what problems can arise from selling your home as a FSBO?

Here are a few reasons why you should use an experienced real estate agent in Berks County when selling your home.

1. Safety

Showing homes during the COVID-19 outbreak has been more difficult in regards to safety. Real estate agents in Berks County have been working on ways to keep clients safe while viewing homes. They do this by limiting the number of individuals looking at a home during a showing and by making sure sanitation procedures are adhered to. They also can arrange for virtual tours if needed.

The safety of your home and possessions is something to think about. Agents in Berks County, such as James Ernst, have procedures in place to make sure that your home is protected during showings, and that no one sees your home unless they're ready to buy it.

2. Powerful Online Marketing

Do you have a network of buyers to sell your home to? Are you familiar with online marketing when it comes to selling homes? Real estate agents have a vast network of buyers and agents they can market your home to in Berks County. James Ernst will list your home in what's called a Multiple Listing Service that networks your home to a host of online resources that can be viewed by anyone in the world. This assures that more buyers will bid on your home, helping you net more money from the sale.

3. Negotiations

If you sell your home in Berks County on your own, you will have to negotiate with various individuals to complete the sale, including the buyer, the buyer's agent, inspectors, the appraiser, and more. Real estate agents are experts at negotiating with these individuals. They make sure that those negotiations result in a smooth and fair transaction.

4. Is the Buyer Qualified for a Mortgage?

When a buyer is interested in your home, the first important step is to make sure they can afford it. If you sell your home as a FSBO, you can't tell if a buyer is pre-approved for a mortgage, unless they tell you. Real estate agents in Berks County are experienced in asking the right questions and making sure that you are presented with a buyer who's ready to make deal.

Also, keep in mind that the mortgage market is changing rapidly, with so many families out of work. What a person qualifies for in regards to mortgages can change daily. You need an agent who works with lenders daily and can make sure your buyer can complete the sale.

5. FSBOing is More Difficult Legally

Are you familiar with all of the mandatory disclosures and regulations that are needed to complete a home sale in Berks County? Again, your agent deals with legal issues daily and can help you avoid your own legal issues.

6. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

You might think you'll save money by not using an agent to sell your home. But in reality, the opposite is true in most cases. In fact, studies show that you may make less money selling your home as a FSBO. Your agent will also bring more buyers to the table, which can end up in a bidding war and netting even more.

In the end, it just doesn't add up to sell your home in Berks County on your own. You can rely on James Ernst to make sure that your home sells quickly and for the best price possible. Contact us today to discuss your options.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. We can help you find the perfect home for sale in Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley with our powerful property search tool.

Posted in Home Sellers
May 14, 2020

What Does Pennsylvania House Bill 2412 Mean For You?

Great News! House Bill 2412 passed out of the state Senate and will soon be in the Governor’s hands. What does this mean for you? If this bill passes, I will be allowed to meet with clients and show homes while practicing CDC guidelines. The virtual tours are awesome and is a great way to get a sense of how a home is laid out. But with a virtual tour, you cannot see if there is any mold, or if the roof needs to be replaced. How about unsightly smells for anyone who has allergies?

What does this bill include? Introduced by Rep. Todd Polinchock (Bucks), it would allow some level of in-person real estate services in all counties in Pennsylvania.

"By passing House Bill 2412, the Pennsylvania Senate has recognized that shelter is essential and real estate is life-sustaining," said PAR President Bill Festa. "Throughout the commonwealth, the incredibly restrictive shutdown of real estate services has created difficulties and financial hardships for so many consumers. This legislation would allow real estate transactions to occur in every county of the state."

The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® has been urging Gov. Wolf to follow the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Advisory Memorandum to designate real estate as a life-sustaining business. The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® is not requesting a return to "business as usual." Real estate professionals would be following guidelines developed using recommended guidance from the Centers for Disease Control to ensure the safety and protection of consumers as well as real estate professionals.

"Pennsylvania is the only state to shut down all real estate activities, despite the ongoing need for housing," Festa added. "It's tragic that a majority of Pennsylvanians continue to be unnecessarily restricted from purchasing or selling a home."

Let’s cross our fingers and hope our Governor signs this bill.

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.

May 8, 2020

Treat Mom to a Special Mother's Day

Are you looking for some last-minute ideas for Mother's Day? With all the COVI-19 restrictions in Berks County, it's a little more tricky this year to show our mothers how much we appreciate them. Here's a few ideas that will help you celebrate your mom while keeping social distancing in mind.

Serve her breakfast in bed.

If you know how to cook at least the basics, you can treat your mom to a special breakfast in bed. And if you can't make it yourself or don't live nearby, you can order it from a local restaurant in Berks County and have it delivered. Check out our blog for local restaurants in Berks County offering takeout and delivery.

Host a virtual happy hour.

If you can't be with mom in person, you can host a virtual celebration on Zoom or another video conferencing app. You can play games, watch a virtual concert, or just chat away with a drink in hand.

Enjoy nature together

The weather is going to be beautiful this Sunday in Berks County, so why not sit together on the porch and just enjoy the fresh air. Poor some lemonade or wine, sit back, and relax.

Relax with casual activities

Another relaxing way to spend time together, virtually or in person, is to watch a favorite movie or TV show. Many major TV stations like ABCNBC, and CBS offer full episodes of their shows for free on their websites and through their apps.

You could also do a jigsaw puzzle, sudoku, or crossword puzzle together. If you’re not in the same household, it doesn’t have to be the same puzzle. The goal is to enjoy an activity together.

Bake or cook together

Why not spend the day baking or cooking a favorite dish or dessert? Depending on each of your abilities, one of you can prep for the other, or just be a taste-tester.

Relax with music

If you and your mom like the same music, you can enjoy it together even if you have to do it remotely. If you both play the same song, you can listen or even sing along together. If one or both of you plays an instrument, you can pick a song or two to partner up on.

Whatever you do, make this Sunday a Mother's Day to remember. Your mom deserves it!

Happy Mother's Day!

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. We can help you find the perfect home for sale in Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley with our powerful property search tool.

Posted in Berks County
April 30, 2020

6 DIY Home Improvement Projects With Tutorials

Before the quarantine, it seemed we never had the time to work on our homes. Now we do!

The best thing you can do with a bad situation is to take advantage of the opportunities it provides. If your Berks County home needs a bit of updating, or if you plan to sell it soon, then make your time count. And instead of watching Netflix all day, you can take some time to learn how to make these improvements from the comfort of your couch.

Here are a few ideas with online tutorials that will help you become a DIY master.

Install a Ring Doorbell

Home security technology is making it easier than ever for homeowners to install their own security system. There's no need to feel intimidated by installing your own security. Ring doorbells are easy enough to set up. Here's a tutorial from SafeWise that will give you a good overview of the world of modern technology upgrades.

Lay down luxury vinyl tile

If you need to update your flooring, luxury vinyl is a great option that's more affordable than hardwood. It mimics the look of hardwood and actually is more durable. These floors are nearly indestructible, making them perfect for kids and pets. You'll be surprised how easy they are to install, as it can go right over your existing flooring. Here's a great tutorial for beginners, along with this video with tips to help make the installation go smoothly.

Make a concrete countertop—in less than an hour!

Do you want to create a custom concrete countertop in less than an hour? Typically, custom concrete countertops can be tricky and time consuming. This tutorial will show you how to create a concrete countertop in less than an hour. It won't be worthy of a gourmet kitchen, but it's a great solution for your outdoor kitchen needs.

Glam up your patio

Can you create your own herringbone paver patio? Yes you can with this tutorial.

Remove your popcorn ceiling

Are you living in an older home with those dated popcorn ceilings? If you're ready to say goodbye to that eyesore, now is a good time. This Home Depot tutorial will help. Plus it will be a good workout with all the reaching and scraping you'll be doing. Just make sure you check for asbestos, which you can do with a kit available at most home improvement stores.

Build your own deck

There have been more than 6.5 million views of this tutorial that can teach you how to build your own 8x10 deck. And, it’s specifically for beginners, so the directions are easy to understand and follow. 

Even if you just do one or two of these projects, you can take pride in how you used your time during the quarantine, all while increasing the value of your home. Time well spent!

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.

April 23, 2020

Tips for Moving During the Coronavirus Pandemic

While many people are staying home here in Berks County, the reality is that some people have to move due to predetermined closing dates. Moving to a new home is a part of life that just sometimes can't be avoided.

Moving into a new home can be stressful enough, but now that we have a pandemic to deal with, it's even more stressful. There are so many objects that need to be touched by more than one person, so it can be easy to spread the virus if precautions are not taken. What are some steps you can take to protect yourself during your move?

Get familiar with virology

There is certainly much we don't know about COVID-19. But we do know how viruses spread. This virus spreads through human-to-human contact and through respiratory droplets in the air. Research published by the New England Journal of Medicine says that the virus may live for up to three days on surfaces.

This means that during your move, you need to pratice as much social distancing as you can. If you have to meet in person with the movers or to pick up supplies, try to keep at least 6 feet away from anyone you meet.

Consider delaying move-in

If possible, you may want to delay moving into your new home by three days or longer to give you more time to move in and reduce your exposure.

You may also be able to have your real estate agent negotiate with the seller for early access to the home. Then you can deep clean the home before you move all of your stuff in. Your agent may also be able to coordinate staggered closings, depending upon the other parties involved (sellers, lenders, title agents, and so on).

Stock up on supplies

Make sure to buy enough cleaning supplies before you move, and keep them handy. If you can find hand sanitizer, make sure you have some ready along with antibacterial wipes, sprays, cleaning soaps, and hand soaps. Just buy enough for what you need so that others can buy what they need.

Communicate moving expectations

If you're working with professional movers, feel free to make your standards clear before your move in regards to preventing infection. They should at least wear gloves and masks, as they no doubt want to stay safe as well.

You should also check into their truck sanitizing procedures, along with how they clean blankets and moving pads.

If you rent a truck, you should sanitize it as well. Check to see when the truck was last used. If it's been less than 3 days prior, then you should take extra steps to sanitize it. Use antibacterial wipes on all cab surfaces, and ask about acceptable cleaning practices for the cargo area. 

Leave doors open

Keep your doors open and lights on as much as you can during the move in. Having fresh air circulate through your home can only help. Plus it will limit how many times the doorknobs and light switches are touched.

No matter what you do, make sure to use caution and common sense during your move. The fewer people involved, the better. The less you touch and the further you stay from other people, the more you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. We can help you find the perfect home for sale in Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley with our powerful property search tool.

Posted in Real Estate Advice
April 16, 2020

How to Improve the Air Quality in Your Berks County Home

Since we are all spending a lot more time at home here in Berks County, one thing we need to focus on is the air quality in our homes. Even though having clean air in your home is no cure for the coronavirus, it will certainly help if you do end up with it (god forbid). Poor air quality can exacerbate asthma and allergies, and potentially worsen the conditions for people afflicted with the coronavirus. Air pollution can also boost levels of inflammation in the lungs, making you more vulnerable to other infections.

Here are several things you can do to improve the air quality in your home now.

Change your air filters

According to many filter companies, you should change your filter every 30 days. That may be subject to your situation. But if it's been a month or two, order more filters. And make sure you get quality filters.

Get an air purifier

Air purifiers are great tools for helping improve the air quality in your home. As air moves through the filter, pollutants and particles are captured and the clean air is pushed back out into the living space.

There's another interesting benefit of having air purifiers. According to a report by Curbed, "there’s also growing evidence that simple in-room purifiers can clean air enough to boost cognitive development and academic performance. A remarkable study was conducted in LA after the Aliso Canyon methane gas leak, where plug-in air purifiers were installed in businesses and schools within a five-mile radius of the gas facility as part of the mitigation process. These were larger, industrial-sized units that run about $700, but just adding them to school classrooms improved test scores, the study authors say—the equivalent of cutting class size by a third. This alone seems like an excellent argument for putting at least one purifier in the same room as your child’s brain.”

Get some plants

Plants have long been known to purify air and lower stress levels. Plants can remove pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, which can cause irritation to the skin, ears, eyes, nose, and throat, as well as some cancers, according to the EPA. The study suggests that at least one plant per 100 square feet can effectively clean the air.

Get a salt lamp

Himalayan salt lamps not only look cool, but they're also thought to bring healing properties. Combined with a light source inside the lamps, the chunks of salt produce negative ions, which yield positive effects on indoor air. Placing a Himalayan salt lamp in every room of the home can reap several health and environmental benefits.

Keep the house clean

Vacuuming and dusting and cleaning surfaces more regularly to remove dust, particulates and other lung irritants, as well as prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. We can help you find the perfect home for sale in Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley with our powerful property search tool.

Posted in Real Estate Advice
April 8, 2020

Make Your Yard Stand Out to Berks County Home Buyers

If you plan to sell your home soon in Berks County, or you just want a productive way to use your extra time at home, now is a great time to focus on your lawn. With just a few simple chores, you can make your lawn stand out from the crowd, which is now more important than ever when selling your home. 

Rake

Raking your lawn in the spring will remove lingering falls leave and grass blades that didn't survive winter. It will also loosen matted grass clumps caused by snow mold, which can smother new growth.

Use a spring-tine rake with a strong upward pull to remove dead grass. Rake when soil isn't soft and muddy, or you risk pulling up healthy grass crowns.

Overseed

Fill bare or thin spots in the lawn by overseeding. When you overseed, apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Five weeks after overseeding, apply a quick-release nitrogen feed.

Aerate

If your soil is compacted, aeration is the solution. With a spike aerator, you simply use the tool to poke holes into the ground with a solid tine, or fork. Plug aerators remove a core or plug of grass and soil from the lawn. For the best results, use an aerating tool or machine that actually removes plugs of soil.

Weed

If Crabgrass is a problem in your lawn, apply pre-emergent herbicides to keep seeds that dropped last summer from germinating. Timing is critical for this application. Most product bags have application timing advice. 

Use post-emergent broadleaf herbicides for perennial and winter annual weeds in warm-season lawns. Treat or dig perennial weeds as they start appearing in cool-season lawns or try All-In-One Weed & Feed. It kills lawn weeds like Dandelion and Clover, pulls kills Crabgrass. 

Fertilize

Apply spring fertilizer roughly three weeks after grass starts greening (that usually corresponds to the time following two or three mowings). Apply too early and you risk feeding weeds and creating fertilizer runoff. Too-early applications also trigger lush blade growth at a time when roots may not have started their spring growth spurt.

Mow

Start mowing when the ground is dry enough and grass is long enough to require cutting. Cut at the proper height for your type of grass. Avoid mowing too low. Grass cut too short allows sunlight to reach soil, encouraging weed seeds to germinate. It also favors shallow root development, which makes the lawn more easily susceptible to drought stress. 

Water

Make sure to water early in the morning. This will prevent the water from evaporating too quickly and going to waste. It will also help prevent insect and disease issues. Watering deeply and less frequently makes the roots stronger and deeper. Just don't over water, as it can make your roots soggy, keeping them from breathing, as well as rotting and attracting insects and disease.

You can check to see if your lawn needs watering by taking an 8" screwdriver and pushing it into your lawn. If it goes in easily, it doesn't need watering.

Follow these simple tips and you can get your yard in shape to make a great impression on home buyers 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 Sellers
April 1, 2020

Get Your Berks County Home Clean for Spring

Since most of us are in need of something productive to do, now is the time to get out the cleaning supplies and take care of your spring cleaning. If you plan to sell your home in Berks County soon, cleaning your home is a must. But if you're not selling your home, cleaning it deeply is a great way to take care of a necessary task and have a sense of accomplishment.

Here are a few tips to get you going.

Clean Room-By-Room

Cleaning your home room by room is the most effective way to deep clean. Make a room checklist for areas of your home that need more attention. Go ahead and skip cleaning items that were recently cleaned so you can focus on the more neglected parts of your home.

Organize and Clear the Clutter

Getting rid of clutter is a big part of spring cleaning. And since you probably have more time on your hands now, you can make an extra effort to clear your life of things you don't need. You can take a systematic four-step approach to identifying problems, analyzing reasons, determining solutions, and implementing remedies. Then sort your belongings into four categories—trash, give-away, store, or put-way.

Get the Family Involved

If you have a family, don't leave them out of the fun. Now more than ever, this is the time for the family to work together. Just try to have fun and you'll be surprised at how much you can get done.

Tackle the Seasonal Chores

Some special chores need to be done seasonally. We ignore them for most of the fall and winter, but now it is time to bite the bullet and get these things clean. Even though these chores only need to be done once or twice a year, they will help your home run look better and run smoothly. Outdoor chores like cleaning grills, patios, and windows can be a little intimidating, but some simple tricks can keep the jobs manageable.

Keep Cleaning Products to a Minimum

Since cleaning supplies can be hard to come by, just try to buy what you need. Resist the temptation to buy a ton of cleaning supplies (if you can find them). The real champions of spring cleaning are more basic supplies, such as a good all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloths. There are even homemade cleaners you can make that will save you money while protecting the environment.

Establish New Cleaning Habits

A good, thorough spring cleaning that includes the whole house is a great time to establish new on-going cleaning habits, and it can also make the next spring cleaning a good deal easier. Simple 15-minute cleanup routines practiced every few days, each including a series of one- to two-minute chores, can make it remarkably easy to keep your home clean and tidy all year long.

 

Above all, stay home and stay safe!

Visit our blog every week for more real estate articles and local Berks County articles. We can help you find the perfect home for sale in Reading and the surrounding communities of Blandon, Boyertown, Douglassville, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Kutztown, and Oley with our powerful property search tool.

March 26, 2020

Support Local Reading Restaurants With a Take Out or Delivery Order

With the Coronavirus threat, many local restaurants in Reading are struggling with the situation. We can support them and enjoy some great food at the same time by ordering food for pickup or delivery.  Many restaurants in Reading and across the nation are converting to this new business model.

Here's some of the best local restaurants in Reading offering takeout or delivery at this time. Of course these details could change at any time. We wish all of our businesses in Berks County the best and continued success.

Sweet Street Desserts | Order Online

722 Hiesters Ln, Reading, PA 19605 | (610) 929-0616

Sweet Streets offers a full menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner selections, along with pizzas and desserts.

Screpesi's Sandwich Shop

500 Lancaster Ave, Reading, PA 19611 | (610) 373-9913

Screpesi's Sandwich Shop features homemade bread, meatball sandwiches, sandwiches, and pizza.

Aladdin Restaurant | Facebook

401 Penn Ave, Reading, PA 19611 | (610) 685-6677

If you crave middle eastern cuisine, you can order from Aladdin for pickup or delivery.

Jumbo China Buffet

3252 N 5th Street Hwy, Reading, PA 19605 | (610) 921-1998

Jumbo china buffet is the largest Chinese buffet in Reading and offers takeout.

Sebastiano's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria | Order Online

3227 Perkiomen Ave, Reading, PA 19606 | (610) 370-9660

Sebastiano's offers an extensive range of traditional Italian dishes, pizza, Italian entrées, sandwiches, salads, and more.

Mi Casa Su Casa

320 Penn St, Reading, PA 19602 | (610) 375-1161

Latino American cuisine with a touch of soul such as baked chicken, roast pork, rice and beans, baked mac and cheese, empanadas, Cuban sandwiches, salads, smoothies, soups and more.

We hope that everyone stays safe and healthy during this trying time. And hopefully you stay well fed supporting these restaurants in Reading.

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.