Frank Dolski
Associate Broker
Relocation Specialist

(215)803-3237

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Millenil

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

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Where property values are decidedly on the rise

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Where property values are decidedly on the rise

One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in the region's communities.

'Nice appreciation." That's the phrase Realtor Frank Dolski uses when describing Bedminster Township's real estate market.

In the last 12 "rolling" months, meaning October 2015 to the same month in 2016, prices rose an average of 4.5 percent, or $12,620, in this Bucks County township close to the eastern shore of Lake Nockamixon, says Dolski, an agent with Coldwell Banker Hearthside Real Estate in Lahaska.

FYI: You'll find Elephant, Pa., on the eastern shore of that lake, formed by damming the Tohickon Creek to create a reservoir.

Of the 102 home sales that went to settlement in the last 12 months, the average price was $373,316, he says.

To compare, in the 12 months that ended October 2015, there were 95 settlements with an average sale price of $360,353, says Dolski, who has been selling houses in Bedminster for many years.

"There is a decent inventory for sale," he says: 64 active listings with an average price of $593,000, a pool of homes that includes a good quantity of new construction.

Pending sales - homes under contract that go to settlement in 45 to 60 days - average $448,586, says Dolski.

That nice appreciation Dolski refers to is recent. Just a few years ago, there were few resales of new-construction homes that might have reflected an increase. Instead, sales of a lot of older houses were dominating the numbers.

"You are getting to see appreciation now that the first resales of the new houses built in the last 10 years are hitting the market," Dolski says.

Building is finishing in some of the communities, and prices are rising, he says: "The houses are appreciating like they always should have been."

Though many older developments are selling out - including Toll Bros.' Penn Land Farm, where homes are going for about $387,000 - there is still a lot of new construction underway, Dolski says.

John Garis Homes' Lin Wood, for example, is featuring houses in the mid-$400,000s from 2,300 to 2,900 square feet, he says.

Then there are Bedminster Square, Bedminster Hunt, and Bedminster Crossing.

Bedminster Square, built by Pulte Homes starting in 2007, features 100 townhouses, "neo-traditional homes" with alley garages and front-entry, single family homes.

Bedminster Hunt is a subdivision of townhouses and detached singles built between 2006 and 2009. Townhouses on Kulp Drive are by Piper Homes; other singles were built by NV Homes and Ryan Homes.

The detached singles range from 2,000 to 3,700 square feet, and the townhouses from 1,400 to 1,800 square feet.

Bedminster Crossing is a subdivision of detached single-family residences by NV Homes and Ryan Homes built about 2008.

Despite the new construction, Bedminster retains a rural appeal, thanks to the rambling older 19th- and early 20th-century homesteads and farms, as well as open space that had been maintained.

Though it still has a country feel, Bedminster offers an easy drive to the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Northeast Extension and employment in New Jersey.

"You can also scoot out to Route 313 and Route 314 to go shopping," Dolski says.

The attraction of Bedminster, he says, is that "you get more for your money than in nearby communities such as Solebury and Buckingham Townships."

In Bedminster, a house that costs $410,000 is going for $600,000 in Buckingham, he says. "The difference is that there is a little less land with the house in Bedminster than Buckingham."

All age groups are attracted to the township, including those elusive millennial buyers with new families who are attracted by the Pennridge School District.

"We also have people coming up from Warrington and Buckingham looking to downsize, although what they are buying isn't necessarily smaller, but just a place where you don't have to cut your own grass," Dolski says.

"There are serious first-time buyers, move-up buyers in their 30s and transferees who are looking for places much less expensive than Buckingham and Doylestown," he says.

"People are retiring, but at the same time choosing Bedminster to get away from it all."

from the sourse 

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO

Associate Broker

Certified Relocation Specialist 

Previews Luxury Home Specialist

Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors 

Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors

2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award

2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award

215-803-3237 (mobile)

215-794-1070 x-103

f.dolski@cbhearthside.com

www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 0


Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist

It's Autumn. Pumpkins glow in golden fields. Shorter days, crisp mornings signal winter's approach.

Can the holidays be far behind?

Use Autumn's brisk and breezy days to conquer deep-cleaning chores for a clean and comfortable winter home, and to wrap up summer's outdoor lifestyle.

Our Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist will help you prepare home and hearth for the coming of winter:

Outside The House

Summer's come and gone--and left its mark on outside the house.

Time to come inside for winter! Outside the house tend to these autumn chores:

  • Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas, children's summer toys.
  • Touch up paint on trim, railings and decks. Use a wire brush to remove flaking paint; prime bare wood first.
  • Check caulk around windows and doors. Follow manufacturer's recommendations to re-caulk if needed.
  • Inspect external doors and garage doors. Do they close tightly? Install weather-stripping, door thresholds if needed.
  • Wash exterior windows.
  • Drain and store garden hoses. Install insulating covers on exterior spigots. In hard-freeze areas, have sprinkler systems blown free of water.
  • Check gutters and downspouts. Clear of debris if necessary. In cold-weather areas, consider installing heating cable to prevent ice dams.
  • Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary.

The Inside Story

Autumn's the time for "spring cleaning"! With winter coming, it makes sense to tuck the family into a freshly-cleaned home via fall cleaning.

Deep clean now to take advantage of good weather and to welcome approaching holidays with a clean and comfortable home.

To learn how to clean efficiently, check out the Clean House Guide for more information on cleaning fast and furious.

  • Focus on public rooms: living room, family room, entryway, guest bath.
  • Clean from top to bottom. Vacuum drapes and window treatments. Clean window sills and window wells. Vacuum baseboards andcorners.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture, or have professionally cleaned if needed. Move furniture and vacuum beneath and behind it.
  • Wash interior windows.
  • Turn mattresses front-to-back and end-to-end to equalize wear.
  • Launder or clean all bedding: mattress pads, pillows, duvets, blankets, comforters. Tuck the family into a warm and cozy winter bed.
  • Schedule professional carpet cleaning early this month! Warm October afternoons speed carpet drying. Carpet cleaning firms get busy by the end of October, so schedule now for best service.
  • Prepare the kitchen for holiday cooking. Clean and organized kitchen cabinets, paying particular attention to baking supplies, pans and equipment.
  • Clear kitchen counters of all appliances not used within the last week. Clear counters look cleaner--and provide more room for holiday cooking.
  • Pull refrigerator away from the wall, and vacuum the condenser coils. For bottom-mounted coils, use a long, narrow brush to clean coils of dust and debris.
  • Wash light-diffusing bowls from light fixtures.
  • Inspect each appliance. Does it need supplies? Stock up on softener salt now, and avoid staggering over icy sidewalks with heavy bags.
  • Check and empty the central vacuum's collection area.
  • Clean electronic air cleaner elements monthly for most efficient operation. Wash them in an empty dishwasher (consult manual for specific product recommendations).
  • Clean or replace humidifier elements before the heating season begins.
  • Inspect washer hoses for bulges, cracks or splits. Replace them every other year.
  • Check dryer exhaust tube and vent for built-up lint, debris or birds' nests! Make sure the exterior vent door closes tightly when not in use.
  • Schedule fall furnace inspections now. Don't wait for the first cold night!
  • Buy a winter's supply of furnace filters. Change filters monthly for maximum energy savings and indoor comfort. When the right filter is on hand, it's an easy job!
  • Drain sediment from hot water heaters.

 

From the sourse

 

Comments: 0


Be aware of unprofessional Realtors!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Be aware of unprofessional Realtors!

If you ask ten people who have recently bought or sold a home in the past 12 months, the chance that at least one of these ten people indicates they had a poor experience with a real estate agent is pretty good.  There are many mistakes home sellers make when choosing a real estate agent and the same can be said about home buyers who are hiring a buyers agent.

It’s possible that only once you’ve hired a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a home you’re starting to realize that you may have hired the wrong real estate agent.  There are many tell-tale signs that can indicate you’ve hired a DUD for a real estate agent.

Below you will find 10 tell-tale signs that you should be on the look out for.  If you’re buying or selling a home and you’re seeing any of the below signs, it’s likely you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent.  If that’s the case, there is also some information below on what to do next in the event you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent.

Lack Of Communication

The number one reason why a home buyer or seller is displeased with their real estate agent is because there is a lack of communication.  First and foremost, it’s important to understand that real estate agents often work long hours which are rarely consistent.

There are some buyers and sellers who believe a real estate agent should be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  This is a belief that is crazy seeing as real estate agents have families and personal lives, however, you should expect that if you reach out to your real estate agent you should hear back from them within a handful of hours.

Your real estate agent should be, at the very least, letting you know that they’ve received your message and they are working towards getting an answer or will be getting back to you in the next couple hours.  A tell-tale sign that you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent is when you reach out to your real estate agent and you don’t hear back from them for 24-48 hours.  This is clearly a lack of communication and can be extremely frustrating for a buyer or seller.

Lack Of Confidence & Belief

Confidence is a trait that top producing real estate agents will normally possess.  If a real estate agent lacks confidence in them self or doesn’t believe they can sell your home, you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent.

How can you identify if a real estate agent has a lack of confidence or belief in themselves?  If you’re in the market to buy a home, you need to know what interview questions to ask buyers agents who you’re interviewing.  The same can be said if you’re going to be selling your home.

By asking the right interview questions, you should be able to determine whether a real estate agent has confidence and belief in themselves.  For example, if you ask a prospective buyers agent how they are able to help their clients and they start stumbling over their own words, it’s possible they don’t believe they provide any value to the home buyers they’ve helped purchase a home.

Don’t hire this real estate agent because you feel bad for them because you will regret this decision in the future.

Doesn’t Listen

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where it feels like everything you’re saying is going in one ear and out the other?  If this is how every conversation is with your real estate agent and you feel their preoccupied with something else, you’ve hired the wrong one.  You’re the most important person at the moment!

A very important trait that real estate agents need is strong listening skills.  If a real estate agent is unable to identify what a buyer or seller is expecting, they will fail in the business.

Questions that you should expect to be asked if you’ve hired a top real estate agent include;

  • What is your time frame to buy/sell a home?
  • What are you looking for in a home?
  • What do you expect from me?
  • What is your preferred method of communication?
  • What improvements or upgrades have you made to your home?

If you haven’t heard any of these questions, it’s likely you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent.  If the conversations you’re having with your real estate agent don’t seem to be going anywhere or feel like a one-way conversation, the agent is probably lacking listening skills.

Lack Of Experience

Experience is important in many professions.  If you were having a significant medical procedure done, would you prefer to have a doctor with 1 month of experience on the job or a doctor with 15 years of experience?  Pretty obvious you’d want the doctor with 15 years of experience and hundreds of successful past procedures.  This is no different in real estate.

A sign that you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent is that they are lacking experience.  If you hire a real estate agent who is brand new out of their local academy, the chances the transaction will have some bumps along the way will be much greater than if you hire a real estate agent who has sold hundreds of homes in their career.

Hiring a real estate agent who lacks experience is one of the top reasons a real estate deal falls through.  A great way to find out if an agent is lacking experience or not is to ask them for a resume or a list of the homes they’ve sold in the past 12 months.  If an agent cannot provide a list of homes they’ve sold in the past 12 months, you may want to reconsider hiring them.

Unprofessional

Another tell-tale sign that you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent is that they are unprofessional.  There are many things that scream unprofessional when it comes to real estate agents.  One of the biggest signs that an agent is unprofessional is whether or not they value your time.  Is your real estate agent showing up late to appointments?  Are they not showing up at all?  If the answer is yes to either of these questions, you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent.

Another way to gauge whether your real estate agent is unprofessional or not is by their appearance.  If your real estate agent is showing up to appointments with ripped sweatpants, a baseball cap, flip flops, and it looks like they haven’t groomed themselves in a week, you’ve hired a real estate agent who is unprofessional.

What signs should you be on the look out for to tell if a real estate agent is a true professional?  Some of the best signs that your real estate agent is professional include;

  • Well dressed – business suits, dress slacks, polo shirts, sport jackets, dresses, dress shoes, etc…
  • Drives a “nice” car and keeps it clean and well-serviced (not rusty, no broken windows, etc…)
  • Demonstrates use of proper grammar

Too Pushy

At some point in life you’re likely to encounter a salesperson who is extremely pushy if you already haven’t.  Buying or selling a home is a big deal and a big event.  A sign that you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent is when you feel like you’re being pushed by your real estate agent.

If you’re selling your home and received an offer on your home and you believe the offer is a low-ball offer but yet your real estate agent is pressuring you to take the offer, you need to consider firing your agent.

Bottom line, if you feel like you’re being pushed to make decisions that you aren’t comfortable making, it’s a sign you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent.

You Feel Uncomfortable

When buying or selling a home, you need to feel comfortable with your real estate agent.  During the home buying or home selling process you should feel comfortable enough to share financial and personal information with your agent.

It’s also extremely important you feel that your agent is looking out for your best interests, not their own bank accounts.  There are some real estate agents that will attempt to “upsell” a buyer.  An agent who attempts to make a buyer spend more money than they are comfortable with is probably the wrong real estate agent and should be avoided.

Seems Desperate

A real estate agent who seems like they are desperate should be avoided at all costs.  If you’re selling a home and a real estate agent suggests they can sell your home for $25,000 more than any other real estate agent indicated, you need to proceed with caution with this agent.

A desperate real estate agent will tell a home seller anything they need in order to “buy” the listing.  This is one of the most common real estate pricing mistakes that homeowners make.  If your real estate agent seems desperate to secure your listing or says anything to make a sale, this is a sign you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent!

Poor Negotiator

Having a real estate agent who has strong negotiation skills is critical.  Since buying or selling a home is one of the largest transactions you will experience, it’s important you don’t pay too much for a home or accept to little for your home.

Negotiation skills are not only important when determining how much to offer for a home or negotiating the highest price for your home, but it’s also important when negotiating after a home inspection.  If you’re selling your home and the real estate agent you’ve hired is a weak negotiator, it’s possible that you will end up either fixing many “nit-picky items” after a home inspection.

Lack Of Marketing Skills And/Or Web Presence

If you’re selling a home, having a real estate agent with a lack of marketing skills and web presence can kill your home sale before it even begins.  Top producing agents understand the importance of the internet and their websites in real estate as well as the importance of having a strong marketing plan.

A great way to tell if your real estate agent has a strong web presence is by performing a simple search of your real estate agents name.  If a real estate agent has a strong web presence you should find not only a well constructed website but also several highly engaging social media profiles and pages.

If you’re unable to find a webpage or any social media profiles for your real estate agent, you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent.  You shouldexpect from your Realtor when selling your home that they will give your home maximum exposure.  Having a top performing real estate website and engaging social media profiles and pages are a great way to give exposure to your home!

What To Do When You’ve Hired The Wrong Real Estate Agent?

If you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent when buying a home, what should you do next?  If you’ve signed an agreement with the buyers agent, you need to review the agreement.  How long of an agreement did you sign?  Will you be responsible for paying the real estate agent a commission should you buy a home?  If you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent when buying a home, you should express to them your dissatisfaction.  In some cases, the real estate agent will release you from the buyers brokerage agreement that you’ve signed.

If you’re selling a home and signed an exclusive right to sell contract, you need to review the agreement as well.  Some real estate agents will allow a seller to break a contract prior to the expiration with certain conditions and others will not.  It’s possible some real estate agents will allow a contract to be broken if the marketing and advertising costs are reimbursed by the seller.

Ultimately, breaking a real estate contract is a case by case scenario.  If you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent and you’re looking to find a new one, you need to discuss with the agent you’re working with or their broker.

Final Thoughts

Hiring the wrong real estate agent can make buying or selling a home even more stressful than it can be in the first place.  Since there are so many pieces involved in a real estate transaction, it’s vital that you have a top producing real estate agent in your corner.  If you’ve hired the wrong real estate agent, it’s important to address the concerns right away!

 

From the source

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist 
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors 
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 0


Top 10 Reasons to Use A Real Estate Agent

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Top 10 Reasons to Use A Real Estate Agent

When deciding whether to use a real estate agent or sell on your own, be sure to carefully weigh the pros and cons so that you make the best decision for your family and situation. Here is our list of top reasons why most people use a real estate agent.

1. Real estate agents have market knowledge. Because of their access to the most recent market data, agents are able to give you advice on realistic purchase and listing prices. Plus, they can provide you with a report of comparable homes for sale and historic market data, so that you can ensure you’re getting the most for your money.

2. They negotiate for you. One of the most difficult tasks whether buying or selling a home, is handling the negotiations. Many times, real estate agents can help you to get creative with your offers, so that you end up with a deal that has your best interests in mind.

3. They coordinate and host your showings. Whether you’re buying or selling, real estate agents can be a lifesaver when it comes to doing the hard work for you. When selling your home, it is almost impossible to coordinate showings and open houses in between your work and life schedule. A real estate agent will be there for you when a last minute showing comes up in the middle of the day or when you need to schedule 15 appointments on a Saturday.

4. Real estate agents offer additional ways to find and sell homes. When looking for a new home, real estate agents have the inside scoop on the latest listings – sometimes even before they hit the MLS. Through their relationships, they’re able to quickly assess the seller’s situation in order to give you advice on offer negotiation tactics. When selling, real estate agents will leverage their networks in order to sell your home more aggressively to other agents. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts

5. Realtors know how to sell homes. Today, prospective buyers expect professional photos and videos to accompany your listing. Let your real estate agent handle staging and marketing your home across various channels. Plus, let them screen candidates before you spend your extra time cleaning your home for a showing.

6. They will help you negotiate inspections. If you’re planning on buying a new home, expect for your inspector to find things that need to be fixed before closing. Your real estate agent will help you wade through your inspection report and decide which items should fixed prior to closing. On the selling side, your real estate agent will provide the same guidance when your buyer comes back with fix requests

7. Real estate agents will connect you with trusted partners. As you buy or sell a home, you may need to hire additional professional services, including: inspectors, lawyers, moving companies, plumbers, title companies and more. Let your real estate agent recommend people that they have a good reputation in your community.

8. Your realtor will guide you through the closing process. At the closing table, your real estate agent will be right there with you to explain each piece of paperwork before you sign. It will make you feel more at ease with the process.

9. They will help you stay objective. Whether buying or selling a home, it’s important to stay objective during negotiations in order to get the best deal. 

10. Great agents will help you buy or sell a home quickly. If you’re using an agent in our preferred network, you’ll know that you’re working with the best. As you can see from these statistics, our agents sell homes quickly and at the best price. 

 

From the source 

Comments: 0


Bucks Happening This Weekend: Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bucks Happening This Weekend: Happy 4th of July!

4th of July weekend in Bucks County is making a serious bid for the “Most Happening” weekend of the year!  In addition to tons of Independence Day events happening (read about them in our guide), there are several other amazing events you’ll want to check out. Check out Bucks Happening This Weekend below, and as always, check out our calendar and restaurant guide for more fun.

Fourth of July + First Friday Doylestown = lots of fun!! As always, on the first Friday of the month Doylestown will be hopping with events, a gala evening of art and music. Follow the yellow flags to join the festivities. From 7pm to 9pm Doylestown Bookshop will host 2 book signings- Frances Grote of “Fire in the Henhouse” and J.J. Murphy, author of “Murder Your Darlings.” Plus, Puck will host The Dirty Mac, a band that specializes in foot stomping, soul stirring rock ‘n’ roll infused with a heavy dose of the blues, with NO COVER!

On Saturday, July 2nd, it is going to be difficult to tell if the heat is from the July sun or from the red hot bathing suit contest at the 2nd Annual Gay Day Pride Floatilla!  Show your support for the local gay community at Delaware River Tubing in Frenchtown, NJ. Dress loud and be proud for our SWIMSUIT CONTEST! The winner chooses where Delaware River Tubing will donate proceeds to help promote gay civil rights.

On Saturday evening, Puck hosts a triple threat- Jim Thorpe Showcase. An $8 cover includes the Golden Phi at 8:30pm, Modern Colour at 9:30pm, & Da Rezarekt at 10:30 pm.

It’s time for the 40th annual Southampton Days Fair, which is running from July 4th through July 9th. Bring your family and join the fun! Amusement rides, concerts, bingo, talent show, food/refreshments, crafts, vendors, & fireworks!

See more

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO

Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist 
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors 
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com 

Comments: 0


Pricing Your Home In The Current Market

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Pricing Your Home In The Current Market

If you’re putting your home on the market, especially if you live in an area where prices are going up and buyers are competing for homes, you may be tempted to try listing it at a high price just to see if you can get it

Don’t do it.

Experienced Realtors will tell you that pricing your home appropriately from the beginning is critical to getting it sold quickly and at the best price. Research shows that overpricing your home and then dropping the price several times while it languishes on the market usually leads to selling it at a much lower price than what you originally should have asked for it. The longer a home stays on the market, the deeper the discount is likely to be off the original price.

For example, according to McEnearney Associates, a McLean, VA, real estate company, homes that sold in August 2013 within their first week on the market sold for an average of 2.08 percent above list price. Homes that lingered on the market for four months sold for an average of 11.53 percent below their original price.

How to price your home correctly?!

Many homeowners want to set their list price based on what they paid for their home, the balance of their mortgage, or on the profit they want to make so they can move into another home. In reality, your home is worth only what the market will bear. If you price your home too high, some potential buyers won’t want to look at it at all, while others will simply walk away without making an offer.

If you’re interviewing several Realtors to choose a listing agent, you may be tempted to pick the sales professional who suggests the highest price for your property. But sellers, like buyers, need to beware. The Realtor who provides the best comparative market analysis and explanation of how your home should be priced will be more likely to sell your home quicker and for a higher price than someone who tells you only what you want to hear.

A comparative market analysis should include sales prices for similar nearby homes that sold in the last month or two. In addition, many Realtors include prices for homes currently on the market that will be your competition, as well as homes taken off the market because they didn’t sell. Other data Realtors can use to suggest a price range include how many days homes were on the market at various price points and the average difference between the list prices and sale prices on homes that have sold.

 

Your Realtor can help you estimate who might want to buy your house and what else those buyers are looking at so you can measure your price against the competition.

A knowledgeable Realtor can factor in all of these issues in the context of your local market conditions, including whether home prices are rising or falling and whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market.

Choose the right professional to help you with your home sale and then listen to your Realtor’s advice and your transaction is more likely to go through quickly and smoothly from the beginning.

Read more at

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist 
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors 
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 0


How to Protect Your Home from Termites

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Termites live in colonies and feed on the cellulose in wood. They perform a vital function in nature, however once termites move into your house, they can cause significant damage both structurally and financially. If termites enter your house, you should eliminate them as soon as possible. Effective termite programs involve three steps: Identification, Elimination, and Prevention.

Steps

    1. Image titled Protect Your Home from Termites Step 1
      1
      Identify the termites who are invading your house. The most common termite infestations are perpetuated by subterranean termites, however drywood termites and damp wood termites can also cause infestations
  • 2
    Eliminate any existing termites.There are three routes you can take in eliminating an existing termite infestation: barrier treatments, bait stations, or hire a professional.
    • Barrier treatments are relatively cheap. Applying a barrier product such as Termidor can be very effective, however they do not kill the termites immediately. Instead they enter the area treated with Termidor, receive a lethal dose of the active ingredient fipronil, and then they transfer the poison to other termites they come in contact with until they ultimately die. You can think of Barrier treatments like a moat, protecting your house from termite invaders.
    • Bait stations are all are based off of the same idea. You set out the bait stations in a perimeter around your house, with a wood based bait which any termites in the area will be attracted to. If you find termite activity, replace the wood in the stations with the poison laced bait. The termites will feed on the bait, return to the colony with the food, and you can eliminate the entire colony.
    • Hire a licensed professional if you feel your infestation is beyond your capacity to control. When picking a professional, make sure you choose a reputable company who will eliminate your problem completely. Choosing a company solely based on price in this circumstance could be being "penny wise but pound foolish", as the saying goes!
     
    1. 3
      Prevent further infestations.
      • Eliminate any wood to ground contact. Portions of your house where wood comes into direct contact with moist dirt is a prime area for termite entry. Look at areas such as porches, or wooden posts placed in the ground. These types of areas attract and feed termites.
      • Eliminate wood debris such as fallen tree branches, firewood stacks, or any dead wood in contact with ground as these will attract termites and put your home at risk.
      • Treat wood with a product such as Bora care. Boracare provides long lasting protection, and can be sprayed on both wood and concrete to prevent termite activity.

Image titled Protect Your Home from Termites Step 4

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Use Permethrin. Permethrin is a safe pesticide, permitted for use on humans by USFDA and European Medicines Agency. Mixing Permethrin in the paint or polish prevents termite attacks permanently. Moreover, since the Permethrin is embedded in the paint, there is no risk of long term exposure or inhalation. You can also mix Permethrin in the glue while laying wooden flooring or in the mortar while laying stone (marble, granite) flooring. The dosage is 0.1% of the paint (10 mL Permethrin per liter of paint/polish/glue/mortar). Only use pharmaceutical grade Permethrin (VAV, Dow) approved from human use and not farm grade Permethrin intended for cattle.

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Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 0


10 Tips for Picking Paint Colors

Monday, May 9, 2016

Why do we find one place appealing and are uneasy in another? Why are we attracted to one product over another? Color—whether architectural or in products—accounts for 60 percent of our response to an object or a place.

The "buzz" about color is usually called "color psychology." But the effects of color are subtle and significant; physical and psychological. Color use is not something that results in a definitive equation between "color and our moods," as is a currently popular expression. Wherever we go we respond to color, but the importance of color is often underestimated. Color use is important to us personally in our homes and in the places where we work.

Start Small

If you're not sure where to begin with color, experiment in a powder room or bathroom, a small hall or area between rooms, or an accent wall. If you're doing your own painting, pick an area that's quick to do so you can see your results sooner, and be happy with it or change it. Look at the process as an adventure.

To get started, select a favorite color drawn from artwork, a rug, dishes and an accessory or furniture piece as a main color or accent.

Brown Contemporary Living Room With White Sofa

 

Think About Your Mood

When selecting a color, consider the mood of a room. In a bedroom do you want the feeling to be restful and soothing or dramatic and intimate? Soft, cool colors and neutrals usually create a quieter feeling while stronger colors are for drama.

Do you want a dining area to feel sociable and stimulating or appear formal and quiet? Warmer, contrasting and somewhat brighter colors add to a sociable atmosphere; deeper blue-greens and neutrals will give a more formal ambiance.

Do you want kid's rooms to create an active and exciting energy or an orderly and restful feeling? Be careful not to overstimulate your children with intensely bright hues. You may not know it, but some brighter colors can lead to unrest and irritability.

Pay Attention to Lighting

The reason why paint stores have light boxes for you to test paint chips:

  • Natural daylight shows the truest color;
  • Incandescent lighting brings out warm tones and yellows;
  • Fluorescent lighting casts a sharp blue tone.

So, a strong color might be too bright and overpowering when used on all walls or next to a large window, but it might be effective when used as an accent wall with indirect light.

Learn the Color Terms

It helps to understand the terminology used to describe color.

  • Hue is what we call a color. Red is the hue; blue is the hue.
  • The value of the hue is how light or dark it is.
  • Saturation refers to how dominant the hue is. As we go from red to pink, the red hue becomes less dominant.
  • Intensity is the brilliance of the color. The pure colors such as red are more intense than the combined colors such as yellow-green. A stronger intense color usually has a more dominant hue.

If you want a more active space, consider introducing stronger, more intense color. Even if you want a light-colored room, choose colors that are slightly more saturated than off-white or light pastel. Very light color can feel bright and stark when it appears on all surfaces in a room. However, two or more medium-light, closely related pastel colors can create a luminous effect when used in the same room.

Chartreuse Living Room With Traditional Charm

Add Depth With Decorative Finishes

Transform flat, dull walls into interesting and personal spaces with subtle or dramatic visual texture and broken color. Burnished mineral/metal finishes and layered colored glazes add depth. Some examples of softly reflective metals are mica, copper, pewter, bronze and, of course, antiqued silver and gold.

Design by Payton Addison

Walk Into Another Room

Consider walls as planes of color, and see how they interact when viewing one next to the other in adjacent rooms. Approach it like a composition: You're in one room, but you're going to see a piece of another room through it. So as you're choosing colors, consider how they will flow from room to room to create your picture.

Design by Amy Bubier

Follow the Color Wheel

A small color wheel is a great reference tool for modifying and intensifying two or more colors. For example, red and green, which are complementary (opposite) colors, are most intense when used together. You may be surprised at how many combinations function beautifully together, and you may even become attracted to entirely new color palettes. The color wheel also illustrates the visual temperature of a color. Draw a line from the yellow-green mark on the color wheel all the way down to the red-violet; you'll see that all the colors on the left are warm and the colors on the right are cool.

Number one color rule for a small space? There are no rules! Mixing colors can help bring a personal touch to your space.

Play Up Monochromatic Schemes

Think one color is boring? Create bold or subtle variations within one color group with contrasting paint finishes. For example, use closely related colors, or try a single color in different finishes, for walls and trim in one space.

For an accent color, select a warmer (more toward reds) or cooler (more toward blues) color to complement your main color group. For a quieter ambience, make sure your colors are not extremely bright. White or an off-white tint can be a striking accent when used as trim with a monochromatic color group.

Design by Nicole Sassaman

Choose Different Paint Finishes

A single color used on walls and trim takes on new significance when applied in different finishes. For example, wall and trim colors can remain the same hue, but use an eggshell (matte and less reflective) finish on walls and a satin or semigloss on trim. The color will appear slightly different on each surface. It's a good way to create a cohesive look in rooms with many windows and doors, and relatively little wall area.

Choose Different Paint Finishes

Comments: 1


In Perkasie, a small-town feel, and new homes too

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

In Perkasie, a small-town feel, and new homes too
One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in the region's communities.

From what Realtors say, Perkasie is a place coveted by those enamored of small-town living.

 

A whole lot of building designed to enhance that small-town experience is going on now in the Bucks County borough 30 miles north of Philadelphia.

That includes more than 300 homes, a surprising number in a community of 8,515 people, especially considering there isn't as much residential building going on in the suburbs now as there was before or during the boom years of a decade ago.

 

"Today's buyers want new, and residential construction is a good sign of an active real estate market," says Frank Dolski, an agent with Coldwell Banker Hearthside Real Estate in Lahaska. "New construction is both refreshing and it goes off the market as fast as it arrives."

Here is a partial list of new developments, provided by Joe Ferry, president of the Perkasie Olde Towne Association:


Perkasie Woods, 142 townhouses being built by Ryan Homes on the site of a former factory overlooking the borough's 80 acres of parks. Prices start in the mid-$250,000s.

Country Ridge, 18 single-family houses being built by Hallmark Homes, with prices ranging from $369,000 to $429,000.

The Lofts at Draper, seven luxury loft apartments in a former cigar factory.

The American House at Perkasie, next to the Perkasie Commercial Center, 16 luxury apartments in a two-building, mixed-use development at Seventh and Market Streets on a lot that has been vacant since June 26, 1988, when fire devastated much of the downtown and destroyed a venerable hotel.

 

A larger Hallmark Homes development on South Main Street between Callowhill and Walnut Streets will have 54 homes, priced from $400,000 to $500,000, says Stephen Barth, Perkasie's director of economic development since 2013.

There are 43 active listings in the borough, ranging in price from $113,000 to $429,900, Dolski says: "New construction, single houses from five to 120 years old, and, if I look a little harder, I can probably find ones that are 200 years old. A real variety."

 

In the 12 months ending in March, there were 93 closed sales, up from 83 in the previous year, he says.

Based on 13 closings since the first of the year, the borough's median sale price - half the houses sold for more, half for less - is $222,500.

"There is a real sense of identity with the community," says Barth, pointing to Mayor John Hollenbach, whose family has lived in Perkasie for six generations, as an example.

The wealth of Victorian architecture here reminds many of Cape May, and, according to Barth, the architect primarily responsible for these homes was Milton Bean.


"The housing stock in Perkasie is so undervalued," Barth says, citing one Bean home - a three-story, six-bedroom dwelling - that sold for $319,000.

"The same house would be more than $1 million in Doylestown," he says.

Residential and commercial development go hand in hand, and the borough has made both easier by cutting fees and permits in half, Barth says.

"A secondary result of this development has been that residents are fixing up their houses," he says. "There is a pride of purpose. The whole borough is united behind this."

 

Another focus of economic development in Perkasie's comprehensive plan is the portion of the 240-acre privately owned Pennridge Airport that sits in the borough.

There is already a flight school and a jump school there, and Perkasie is working to promote high-end job growth - two small industrial cul-de-sacs, high-tech space, a hotel and conference center at the airport, Barth says.

Next to American House which was developed by Peter Stampfl and Joe Price, is the Perkasie Commercial Center on the site of Lesher's 5&10, developed by S.F. Day Realty (Dan Soliday, a CPA, and Tom Skiffington of Re/Max 440 - their offices are across the street in an early 1990s building on the site of Shelly & Sons lumber).

A building under renovation next to Borough Hall may soon be home to a brew pub called the Ram with rooftop dining, Barth says.

 

Another focus of economic development in Perkasie's comprehensive plan is the portion of the 240-acre privately owned Pennridge Airport that sits in the borough.

There is already a flight school and a jump school there, and Perkasie is working to promote high-end job growth - two small industrial cul-de-sacs, high-tech space, a hotel and conference center at the airport, Barth says.

Next to American House which was developed by Peter Stampfl and Joe Price, is the Perkasie Commercial Center on the site of Lesher's 5&10, developed by S.F. Day Realty (Dan Soliday, a CPA, and Tom Skiffington of Re/Max 440 - their offices are across the street in an early 1990s building on the site of Shelly & Sons lumber).

A building under renovation next to Borough Hall may soon be home to a brew pub called the Ram with rooftop dining, Barth says.

Perkasie By the Numbers

Population: 8,515 (2013)

Median household income: $65,856

Area: 2.6 square miles

Settlements in the last three months: 13

Homes for sale: 43

Average days on market: 74

Median home price: $222,500

Housing stock: 3,378 units, all sizes and styles; classic Victorians and 300 new homes underway.

School district: Pennridge


Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com


Comments: 0


Will My Taxes Look Different Now That Iím a Homeowner? Magic 8 Ball Says Yes

Monday, February 29, 2016

Taxes? Gross! Who wants to think about government paperwork, especially when your hand still aches from signing the 977 forms required to buy your first house? But listen up: As a new homeowner, you can typically wave bye-bye to the 1040-EZ form and say hi to itemizing your deductions on Schedule A.

That means you can combine the thousands you’re now paying in mortgage interest and property taxes with what you’re already paying in state and local income taxes. And bam! Suddenly, you’ve got more to deduct than the $6,300 standard deduction.

For recent first-time homeowners Ben and Stephanie Liddiard, buying a rambler in Layton, Utah, led to tax savings that fattened Ben’s paycheck by $100 every two weeks. If you’re like the Liddiards, home ownership will give you more deductions, so your taxable income will decrease and you could owe less in taxes.

How Can I Find Out Which Deductions I’m Allowed to Take?

Not everyone who buys a home will end up itemizing and owing less in taxes, says Anna Berry Royack, an accountant who sees many first-time home buyer tax returns at her Liberty Tax office in Catonsville, Md.

To find out if you’re eligible to itemize, add up your deductions with your handy home closing paperwork, says Berry Royack. The document you’re looking for is either a HUD-1 Settlement Statement or a Closing Disclosure. (Lenders used the HUD-1 until late 2015, when they switched over to the more consumer-friendly Closing Disclosure.) Here’s what you’re looking for:

One-Time Deductions

Loan costs and fees. “Different lenders call their loan costs and fees different things,” Berry Royack says. “Look for an ‘application fee’ or ‘underwriting fee.’ Also, if you paid points to get a lower interest rate, that’s often deductible in the first year. Your lender might have called that ‘buying down the rate’ or ‘discount fee’ instead of ‘points.’ Points are easy to find on the Closing Disclosure because they’re at the top of page 2 and labeled ‘loan costs.’”

Related: New Closing Docs Protect You From Surprise Fees

Recurring Deductions (Woo Hoo!)

1.  Mortgage interest. Most homeowners can deduct the interest portion of monthly mortgage payments — not the principle — each year. Exception: When your mortgage is close to being paid off, the interest is less than the principle. So even when combined with other deductions, you might not have enough to exceed the standard deduction. But that’s a loooong way off for most of us.

To see how the mortgage interest deduction plays out in real life, consider first-time homeowners Ben and Stephanie Liddiard. They moved from a $1,000-a-month rental apartment to a $168,000, five-bedroom, two-story, 2,300-square-foot house outside Salt Lake City.

They had some deductions as renters, but those expenses were less than the $6,300 standard deduction they each got ($12,600 for marrieds), so as renters, they opted to take the standard deduction.

When they bought their home, the combination of mortgage interest, property taxes, Utah’s 5% income tax, charitable contributions, and some unreimbursed medical expenses incurred during Stephanie’s pregnancy, added up to more than $12,600. Hello, itemization.

All these deductions reduced their income, so they owed about $2,600 less in federal and state income taxes.

Once they knew how much lower their tax bill was going to be, the Liddiards had two choices:

1. Leave their payroll tax withholding as it was and get a $2,600 refund the following year.

2. Adjust their tax withholding so the extra $2,600 wasn’t taken out of their paychecks any more.

The Liddiards went with No. 2. “I changed my withholding so I get about $100 more [in each] paycheck instead of a big refund,” Ben says. That’s smarter than letting the IRS hold on to that until refund season since the IRS pays zero interest on the money you overpay in taxes.

Tip: You know what would be an even smarter move? Opting to automatically divert that $100 per paycheck into a home repair savings account. Once you’ve saved a tidy 1% of the value of your home, you could use that money to fund your 401(k) or your kid’s college costs.

2.  Property taxes. Property taxes are also deductible, but they can be tricky in the year you buy the home because both you and the sellers owned the property during that year. Sadly, you only get to deduct the property taxes you owed for the portion of the year you owned the home; the seller gets the rest of the deduction.

This info shows up on the Closing Document as “adjustments for items paid by seller in advance” or “adjustments for items unpaid by seller.”

Tip: Who pays the property taxes in the year of the sale — the buyer or seller — is negotiable, but not who gets the deduction. Say you live in a sellers’ market and to sweeten the deal agree to pay the full year of property taxes for the seller. Nice negotiating! But you still can’t claim the full year deduction under IRS rules.

Other stuff on the not-so-deductible list:

  • Transfer fees for changing title from the sellers to you.
  • Recordation fees to put the title change into public record.
  • Homeowner or community association fees. They feel like a tax because you gotta pay ‘em, but they’re not.

3.  Mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance, which many homeowners pay each month if they put down less than 20%, is deductible for many every year you pay it.

Private mortgage insurance protects lenders when they accept low down payments. To claim the deduction, your adjusted gross income (AGI) must be no more than $109,000. The deduction phases out once your AGI exceeds $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately) and disappears entirely at an AGI of more than $109,000 ($54,500 for married filing separately).

Other types of insurance, like homeowners insurance, aren’t deductible unless you can claim a portion of the home insurance because you work at home exclusively. “People can get those two confused,” Berry Royack says.

The Magic of Itemizing

As the Liddiards found, sometimes buying a house is the trigger that, combined with other deductions you might have, makes it worth busting out Schedule A. That stuff you donated so you didn’t have to move it was probably a charitable donation. Those state and local taxes you paid could pay you back via itemization. Hopefully, you don’t have to, but you can maybe tack on medical and dental expenses above 10% of your income and casualty and theft losses.

Special Circumstances to Keep in Mind

If this is your first year doing your taxes as a homeowner, it’s worth splurging on an accountant to make sure everything goes down without a hitch. This is especially true if one of these special circumstances apply:

1.  You work from home. If you take conference calls in the same place your dog lives — that is, your home office is your exclusive, regular place of business — you might be able to deduct a portion of your home ownership costs under the home office deduction. “That’s a $1,500 deduction for a 300-square-foot office. Or you can deduct more if you have a larger office or the actual costs for you home office are higher,” Berry Royack says. The standard home office deduction is $5 per square foot. If you’re self-employed, you’ll be taking this deduction on Schedule C.

2.  Your lender sold your mortgage to a different lender. “That happens to a lot of people about five minutes after they walk out of the closing,” Berry Royack says. “If you’re one of them, you’ll need to remember to look for two sets of year-end disclosures — one from each company that had your loan.”

Add the numbers from both year-end forms to get the amount to deduct. If the numbers don’t look right, call the agency or company that services the mortgage and double-check the figures or ask your accountant to do it. “We see a lot of returns [at our firm], so we usually can tell if your property tax figure looks right, and we know where to check,” Berry Royack says.

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 0


What Every Homeowner Should Do to Prep Their Yard for Spring

Monday, February 29, 2016

Preparing your lawn for spring is easy with these five no-sweat steps.

In recent winter months, snowmen were the only detectable “life” in your yard. But now that Frosty has succumbed to puddlehood, it’s time to get ready for spring! Jumpstart your lawn resuscitation as soon as the ground defrosts, and you’ll avoid a muddy disaster zone come April — not to mention ignite your neighbors’ envy. Here’s what to do:

1.  Assess the Mess

“As soon as you can stand being outdoors for an extended period of time, see what hand you’ve been dealt by Mother Nature,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

Case your property for thrown branches, dead leaves, and other debris. Clear it away so you’re able to do a general inspection of your soil, lawn, trees, shrubs, and garden structures. See what grass is coming back — or not. Get rid of broken tree limbs; call an arborist if they look dangerous. Now’s the time to take stock and make a plan.


2.  Rake and Wake

Just as you like to hunker down on those dark winter days, so, too, do your grass and trees. “As soon as the snow fades, vigorously rake that grass to wake it up and begin to get it to grow,” says Walt Nelson, horticulture program leader for the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Monroe County, N.Y.

Rake out areas of thatch — dried, dead grass that can be thick and deep. If you don’t, thatch will keep oxygen and sunlight from other plants and grass. Check for fungus and mold growth. Don’t worry if you run across “snow mold” — a pinkish or gray web over matted blades of grass, or possibly just a slimy brown mess. Despite its name, it’s rarely serious. Gently rake it out and it will dry. “You’d need 100 consecutive days of snow for snow mold to kill the grass,” says Tony Koski, extension turf specialist at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins.

The grass may be a bit brown, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. There are two types of grasses. “Cool season grasses green up in early spring. Warm season grasses green up really slowly in spring,” Koski says.

3.  Weed Out Weeds

Finding a lot of crabgrass out there? It’s decision time. Will you avenge the scourge? If your crabgrass is out of control or you’re just hell-bent on getting rid of it, here’s what you need to know: Preventing crabgrass is all about timing. You want to nix the nasties before they start germinating. You need to use a preemergent crabgrass control before the soil temperature hits about 55 degrees and the crabgrass begins growing.

“But most people aren’t walking around with thermometers to measure their soil’s temperature,” Koski says. “Blooming forsythia is a good indicator you should put out your crabgrass preventer. That will be a different time in Michigan than in Virginia.”

You can choose a toxic or an organic preemergent such as corn gluten meal, but understand that with the organic, Nelson says, it will take two to three years of applications to be effective.

Oh, and if you’re eager to get seeding, note that you can’t put out grass seed until at least eight weeks have passed since you applied crabgrass control.

4.  Trim the Trees (and Shrubs!)

Move on to trees and shrubs as the world defrosts, but the garden is not yet growing. “Trim out the dead, and it’s off to the races on another growing season,” Nelson says. “You can do the shrubs on your own, but if you’re concerned about trees, hire a professional.”

The important thing about trimming is to “be careful about trimming growth,” Henriksen says. “You want new growth to get healthy enough to sustain itself in case of a second cold snap.” For flowering shrubs, wait until flowers bloom so you don’t cut off limbs that will be producing flowers or fruit.

5.  Go Beyond the Grass

Winter is hard on other garden elements. Henriksen recommends making sure your irrigation system works properly, and checking to see if there’s damage to any garden lighting. Fix broken or damaged patio furniture and any wooden structures. Even clean off and refresh your deck once it’s warm enough that power-washing won’t create a deck ice rink.

Don’t forget to tune up the lawn mower and string trimmer. Clean, sharpen, and oil your pruning shears so they’ll be ready when the temperatures start to rise.

Prepping the yard won’t be just a single weekend event, but if you get the heavy lifting out of the way early, it won’t be long before you’re leaving your socks and boots behind, and feeling the warm, soft grass between your toes.

From the source

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com


Comments: 1


Questions To Ask During An Open House

Monday, February 29, 2016

Open houses are the gold standard in real estate. They’ve been around for decades and will be ingrained in the buying and selling of homes for years to come. But as a buyer, are you making the most of your open house visits?

Here are some best practices and helpful questions for buyers at all ends of the home-buying spectrum.

Use the open house to learn the market without committing

For the most part, open houses are just that — open. They make it possible for anyone to see a property in a certain time period, without an appointment or even being a very serious buyer.

New buyers should leverage the open house opportunity to get a feel for the market. In today’s world, using online search tools, mobile apps and the open house, a buyer can start to get a feel for pricing and the market before committing to an agent. Most importantly, open houses are some of the best ways for buyer and agent relationships to start.

You don’t have to sign in (but don’t be rude)

The biggest fear of some newer buyers is that a real estate agent at an open house will be all over them, ask for their contact information and then start harassing them for the next three weeks. It does happen, but it’s also common courtesy to at least recognize and say hello to the agent at the open house. Don’t forget, in addition to trying to sell the home for her client, for safety reasons, the agent is keeping a look out for who is coming and going. It’s polite to say hello and introduce yourself to the agent, but you can also politely decline to sign in.

If you’re an active buyer, you should make yourself known to the agent. Let the seller’s agent know who your agent is and don’t be afraid to express interest. When it comes time to review an offer with a seller, listing agents like to put a face to a name.

Watch the other buyers

You can tell a lot about the activity and marketability of a home by watching the other buyers. If you observe a lot of people walking in and out quickly, the home probably has some issues. Are the buyers hanging around, asking questions of the listing agent and huddling in the corner talking to their spouses or partners? If so, it could be a sign this is a well-priced and “hot” listing. If you’re interested, too, observing other buyers at the open house could help you learn about the competition.

Ask the agent questions

The real estate agent is there for a reason. It’s his job. If he is the listing agent, ask him questions. He is a direct line to the seller. He should know more than anyone about the property and the seller. Your agent can funnel your questions to the listing agent. But if you’re there, ask away. Watch the agent’s facial expression and reaction to your questions. If it’s a competitive market, ask questions such as: “Why is the seller selling?” “Is there a certain day to review offers or have you had a lot of showings?” In a slow market, ask how long the property has been on the market and what the seller’s motivations are. A good agent will engage you because it’s good for his seller.

Be open to meeting your future agent

When considering a new doctor, lawyer or CPA, you don’t get the chance to see them in their element until you’ve decided to work with them. Not true for real estate agents. Some of the best buyer/seller/real estate relationships begin at open houses.

A good agent is wearing two hats at the open house. In addition to watching the serious buyers and getting feedback for the seller, an active agent is also looking to interact with future clients.

Face to face, informal and relevant, the interaction with an agent at an open house is important. You can get a feel for a person just from a brief meeting. If you sense the agent could be someone you could work with, ask some open-ended questions, such as “How’s the market?” and “What areas do you cover?”

Why open houses have been around for decades

At any open house, there are people at every stage of the home-buying game, from just testing the waters to looking at homes daily, making offers and working closely with an agent. For someone new to the market, it’s helpful to know the best practices for visiting open houses and interacting with the real estate agent. For more experienced buyers, the open house is an opportunity to make a second or third visit, getting a closer look at the details and uncovering things you may have missed earlier. There are lots of reasons why open houses have been around for decades — and why you should take full advantage of them.

Take full advantage of the open house by asking questions to learn all you can about the home and listing.

 

From the source

 

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

 

 

Comments: 1


Top 10 Tax Scams !!!! Be Aware !!!

Monday, February 22, 2016

It starts with your phone ringing — the most prevalent tax scam making the rounds this year. The caller claims to be from the IRS and demands your money NOW. Don't think you're the only one singled out for this tactic; aggressive, threatening phone scams occur regularly across the country. But, scamming also happens via email, U.S. mail or in person.

 

 

Man talking on the phone

If the caller threatens you with police arrest, deportation or immediate criminal action — he's not from the IRS. Phone calls demanding immediate cash payments are made by criminals who impersonate tax agents.

These calls are so common; it's likely you've been a target at some point. San Francisco writer Natasha Dennerstein got the fake IRS call demanding she take cash to a nearby store and hand it over for unpaid taxes.

Dennerstein says the person became very threatening when she questioned his authority. "He told me, 'If you defy me and do not pay, you will feel my strength when I send two officers around to arrest you.'" She refused to pay. "I went to the police station and reported it," Dennerstein said, "but they didn't seem too concerned. They said they've heard a lot of this sort of thing lately."

Don’t be fooled by these callers. Ask for a name, title and phone number, but don’t call back. Report the incident to the police.

Emails Designed to Steal Personal Information

Man checking emails on latptop

Phishing is a serious scam; it refers to fake emails often claiming to be from the IRS that mention a bill or refund you didn't expect. Remember that tax authorities won't email you out of the blue, so don't open messages supposedly from the IRS.

They are likely fraudulent attempts to steal your Social Security number or other personal information. Think twice or three times before giving out credit card or other financial information online.

False Tax Returns to Pocket Your Refund

Wallet full of credit cards

Once a criminal gets access to your Social Security number, he or she has everything necessary to file a tax return in your name. The purpose of a fraudulent tax return is, obviously, not to pay your back taxes, but to pocket your refund. This scam occurs early in the tax season, well before most taxpayers file. Take every possible precaution to keep your SSN secret, and if possible, file your taxes early.

False Charities That Solicit Donations

Woman in all black for funeral mourning

If you lost a family member from a disease or another tragedy, con artists can close in. These scammers target taxpayers who might want to make a tax-free donation to a particular charity. If you get a phone call or email soliciting money to fight disease or assist victims, don't give out cash or financial info. Instead, look up the charity on the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool to see if it is legitimate.

False Tax Preparers that Pose as Legitimate Professionals

Women talking in a cafe

Think of these scammers as wolves in sheep's clothing who pose as legitimate tax preparers or professionals, but actually intend to steal your money.

  • Victims are often people who don't speak English well or don't understand the U.S. tax system.
  • Not only do the scammers take a large fee for their "services," but they may also inflate deductions with phony benefits or tax credits, and then have the refund forwarded to their accounts.

Your best bet for avoiding this kind of scam is to ask for references from tax preparers before you sign on the dotted line. You might also consider only using a tax preparer recommended to you by someone you trust. The IRS also has a Federal Tax Return Preparer directory you can use to search for a tax preparer near you.

Offers to Move Money Offshore

Vintage globe

You may have heard that wealthy business people keep financial accounts offshore, so if you get a call or email about moving money overseas, you might be tempted. However, this may be another of the top tax scams, trying to lure you into hiding money in offshore accounts or foreign trusts. If you become a victim of this scam, the money is likely to stay hidden from you as well, and the IRS may prosecute you.

Promises of Getting a Larger Tax Refund Than You're Due

100 dollar bills

Watch out for scammers who promise to file a return for you and get you a much larger tax refund than you're entitled to. According to the IRS, these con men seek victims by using advertisements, flyers or even false storefronts. If someone tells you to sign a blank tax return or estimates your taxes off the top of his head, it's best to be skeptical.

Offers to Avoid Taxes with Tax Shelters

House tax shelter

Some scammers peddle phony tax schemes. Invest your money in certain shelters, they claim, and you'll avoid paying taxes. However, these complex tax-avoidance schemes are often illegal, and the IRS prosecutes scammers who create and sell them, along with taxpayers who participate. If you are uncertain if a complicated tax product is legitimate, seek an independent opinion before getting involved.

Promises of "Free Money"

Rural church

You know in your heart that nobody gives away money, so when you meet scammers who promise "free money" if you file tax returns with them, be wary. These people often target communities or church groups, file incorrect and exaggerated tax returns and pocket the victims' refunds.

Scamming Social Security Refunds

Signing paperwork

Another tax scam involves promises that you can obtain a large Social Security refund or rebate. Even when you are legitimately owed a refund, criminals will inflate amounts in the tax return and steal the refund.

Other scammers claim they can use IRS forms to transfer funds from the Social Security Administration to the tax authorities. The victim, they claim, will get a check from the IRS, but that's not likely to happen.

Hesitate before signing on with a tax preparer who promises you far more than you expected to get in a refund. If you have doubts about the legality of the schemes proposed, consider obtaining a second opinion.


 from source From Turbotax

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 4


Prepare Your Home Now If You Plan to Sell It This Spring

Monday, February 22, 2016

Selling a home doesn't happen overnight. To maximize your sale price, stand out from the competition and sell quickly, your home needs to go on the market in tip-top condition.

 

Home For Sale Sign in Front of New House

You only get one chance to make a good first impression in real estate. Once your home's listing goes live, the days on market start ticking. In the Internet age, with access to so much information, buyers will punish a seller whose home has been on the market for many months. If you can't make the effort to get your home in it's best condition, hold off on listing it.

Prepping the homerarely happens in one weekend. It takes time and thoughtful planning. If you intend to sell your home this spring, here are a few steps you need to take now.


Inspect


It may seem counterintuitive to spend money on a property inspection, but you need to know about your home's condition. If there are issues — big or small — you need to address, it is better to know about them early so you can either remedy them prior to going to market or account for them with a lower listing price.

The last thing you want is for the buyer to uncover flaws once they are under contract. You will get stuck paying more under those circumstances than it would cost you to address the issues now.


Stash


As you prepare to sell, think of your home as an investment and start to see it through the eyes of potential buyers and the market. When you're trying to sell your home, the less-is-more approach applies.

Put away big furniture and personal items. Store or put away all the things you won't be using until you move into your new home. In the kitchen, make space in the cabinets for items you will need to use daily, but will want to put away for showings.


Improve


It's common for sellers to make cosmetic improvements before they list. Kitchens and bathrooms sell your home. Plan to have the bathroom grout cleaned and have some parts of the house painted to give it a fresh look.

Consider cleaning rugs, refinishing hardwood floors or painting kitchen cabinets. If you plan to list in the spring, you likely have a good local real estate agent on your side by now. Get their advice and ask for referrals to do the work. There are lots of inexpensive contractors who can help spruce up your home quickly.


Research


Today's buyers have research in their DNA and will investigate all they can. Check with your local building department and ensure there are no outstanding issues with your home.

Verify that property records reflect your home accurately, and prepare to remedy any discrepancy. Make sure your title report is clean, and talk about potential disclosure items with your agent. Banks won't lend if there are outstanding issues, and you don't want to jump through hoops at the eleventh hour. Researching now will keep you one step ahead of the buyers.

The sale of your home is likely one of your biggest financial transactions. Get a real estate agent on your team early, and make a list of all the tasks you need to complete before listing this spring. Now is the time to have those discussions. Smart planning and a good strategy will ensure a quick, painless and profitable home sale.

 

From  source

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 1


How to Do Your Taxes if You're a Homeowner

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Nuts and Bolts

If You Paid Interest on Your Mortgage.
You should have received a form 1098 from your lender, which will tell you how much mortgage interest you paid. You can deduct 100% of your mortgage interest and property taxes, as long as your loan is less than $1 million, ($500,000 if you are married and filing separately). If it's over that, the IRS will limit your deduction. But here's the catch: You have to itemize in order to claim the deduction. This is a choice that takes a little math and thought. But basically, you calculate your total itemized deduction, compare it against the standard deduction and then take the higher deduction.

You can also deduct late payment charges (please don't consider this an incentive to pay late) and pre-payment penalties.

If You Paid Property Tax. (Hint: You Did) The property tax you pay each year is deductible. Usually these property taxes are paid as part of your monthly loan payments, so you can find that information on the annual statement from your lender. Real estate taxes can be deducted on federal returns even though they may not be deductible in the state where the property is situated.

If You Had a Loan Forgiven. Depending on the time of debt, if a lender canceled it, you could be taxed as though that canceled debt were income. For example, if you had a mortgage of $10,000, paid $2,000 and the bank canceled the rest, you would be taxed as though you had $8,000 of income.

However, thanks to the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act of 2007, the IRS will not charge income tax on a canceled debt. That means if you got a loan modification, short sale or foreclosure on your primary residence, you won't be hit with a tax bill for it. This applies to up to $2 million in debt ($1 million if you are married, filing separately), that you took on to:

  • Buy your primary home
  • Improve your primary home
  • Refinance the loan for your primary home

This was only in effect through tax year 2012.

If You Made Energy-Efficient Improvements to Your Home. The Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit is for homeowners who made energy-efficient improvements such as installing insulation, new windows or furnaces. For 2012, you can get a credit worth 10% of the cost of the qualified efficiency improvements you made. You can claim up to $500 over your lifetime.

 

What if your electricity comes from your own green sources? You should check out the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit. This credit gives homeowners 30% of what they spend on qualifying property such as solar electric systems, solar hot water heaters, geothermal heat pumps, wind turbines and fuel cell property. No cap exists on the amount of credit, except for fuel cell property.

If in this coming year you decide you want to go green for your home, the IRS suggests that you check for a certification statement that the item is eligible for a tax credit before you purchase. This can normally be found on the packaging or the company's website. Full details are available on Form 5695.

If Your Home Was Damaged in a Disaster. If your home was damaged by a disaster like a tornado or fire, you might be able deduct the amount that wasn't reimbursed by insurance. To do so, you need to start with your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). Then multiply that by 10%, and subtract that plus $100 more from the amount of damage not reimbursed.

Example: Let's say your home sustained $20,000 in hurricane damage, but you were only reimbursed $10,000 by your insurance company. $20,000-$10,000 = $10,000 in unreimbursed damage. If your AGI was $70,000, the calculation is: $70,000 x 10% = $7,000. $10,000 – $7,100 = $2,900 in deductible damage.

Special Note: Should You Take the Home Office Deduction? Provided you are actually eligible for the home office deduction (learn more so you don't get audited), deducting the expense could either be a smart decision or a poor one. That's because once you claim that home office, it doesn't count as part of your private residence anymore. When you sell your house sometime down the line, you'll either make a profit or a loss. If you make a profit, the value of your home office will be taxed as a capital gain, at a maximum rate of 25%, costing you money. If you take a loss selling your home, you can deduct the value of the home office as a loss, making you money.

How the math works out for your depends on your situation, so it's smart to talk to your tax preparer before you deduct your home office.

If You Took Out a Loan ...

If You Paid Property Taxes. (Hint: You Probably Did)
Usually your property taxes are paid to your lender as part of your loan. But if you bought your house this year, you probably paid your fair share of the property taxes upfront. You can find out how much you paid on your settlement documents, and deduct it.

If You Paid Mortgage Discount Points. When you pay a "point" toward your mortgage, that means you paid the equivalent of 1 percentage point of your loan upfront at closing in order to get a lower interest rate. This doesn't go to pay off your loan, but it can save you money in the long run, which is why people do it. If you paid mortgage points, you can deduct them if:

  • The loan is secured by your primary residence
  • The loan was used to buy, improve or build the home
  • Paying points is a common practice in the area of your new home and not more than normally charged
  • The points are calculated as a percentage of the loan principal
  • The points are clearly outlined on the buyer's settlement statement, and
  • The amount of cash you put into the purchase of your home (including down payment, closing costs, etc.) is at least equal to the amount you were charged for the points you paid on the loan

If you paid points to refinance your home instead of buying or improving your home, you deduct a portion of what you paid each year, spread out over the life of the loan. For example, if you paid 1,000 in points to refinance a 10-year loan, then you could deduct $100 each year.

If You Took Out a Personal Home Equity Loan. What if you took out a home equity loan to pay for something other than your home, like tuition or home improvements? Well, it depends. Part or all of the interest you pay on that loan could be deductible for up to $100,000, or $50,000 if you are married filing separately. Here's how the math works when it comes to tuition:

Let's say your home is worth $200,000. You currently have a mortgage worth $150,000. So your home is worth $50,000 more than the mortgage. If you take out a home equity loan to pay for tuition, then you can only deduct the interest on $50,000 of that loan. That number would be the same whether you took a loan out for $60,000 or $200,000-you can only deduct interest on $50,000 of that loan.

If you find yourself getting hit with the alternative minimum tax, then you cannot deduct any portion of the interest on a home equity loan when calculating AMT.

However, if you used that $60,000 loan to build a shed and install a pool, you can deduct all of the interest whether or not you fall under the AMT. That's because you used the loan to improve your property.

If You Sold a Home ...

If You Made a Profit on Your Home.
If you sold your house for more than you paid, you technically made what is called a "capital gain." Usually capital gains are taxed, but the gain you made on your home-up to $250,000 ($500,00 for married couples filing jointly)-is exempt from income taxes. You just need to have:

  • Owned the property for two years, and
  • Lived in it for two out of the last five years before you sold it

If you don't meet these requirements, all is not lost. If you had to sell your home because of:

  • Death
  • Divorce or legal separation
  • Job loss that qualifies for unemployment compensation
  • Employment changes that made it difficult for you to meet mortgage and basic living expenses
  • Multiple births from the same pregnancy
  • Damage from a natural or man-made disaster
  • "Involuntary conversion" by a local government under eminent domain law, for example ...

Then the IRS will cut you some slack and only tax your gain partially. Learn more at the IRS website.

Also, if the gain you made is more than $250,000 (or $500,000 if you're married filing jointly), dig around and see if you can find the receipts for any home improvements you made. That will establish the cost basis for the home as higher. For example, if you bought your home for $300,000 and made $50,000 in improvements, then sold it for $600,000, you can deduct that entire amount ($600,000-$350,000 = $250,000). If you hadn't included those improvements, you would have been taxed on that extra $50,000 that exceeded the limit.

 

From source

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

 

Comments: 0


Tax Season: What New Homeowners Should Know

Friday, February 19, 2016

Being a homeowner for the first time comes with all kinds of responsibilities that normally don't come with renting.

PHOTO: Eearly tax filers receive higher average returns.

There's yard work, home repairs, picking paint colors, insurance and of course, figuring out your tax liability.

American home ownership has long been subsidized by tax savings, and if your real estate agent didn't tell you about them, an accountant or tax preparer will.

"The path to owning a home has a great deal of tax benefits and a discussion with your tax professional will help to clarify the details," says William Slade, a certified financial planner in California and enrolled agent licensed by the IRS.

For many, the deductions available for being a homeowner will allow them to offset their personal exemptions on their paychecks, allowing them to receive more money in their paychecks throughout the year, Slade says. That could be more money to pay a mortgage.

The biggest change new homeowners should know when filing their taxes is they'll need to itemize deductions in Schedule A, which is more complicated than the standard deduction they may have taken on previous tax returns.

Itemized deductions for new homeowners include mortgage interest, property taxes, points paid on a home loan, mortgage insurance and charitable contributions (such as cleaning out a garage and donating clothes to charity).

Homeowners who haven't itemized deductions before may also be introduced to other Schedule A items such as personal property tax, state tax withholding and charitable contributions that can lead to a bigger overall tax deduction, Slade says.

The savings is based on your tax bracket. If your tax rate is 33 percent, then for each dollar of mortgage interest spent you save 33 cents.

Slade says he is regularly asked if home improvements such as adding rooms, remodeling and landscaping will help on taxes. They won't when they're being done but they will help when the property is sold by increasing the cost basis and lowering the gains on the sale, he says.

Coupled with the tax exclusion, a home sale usually means most homeowners won't pay capital gains taxes on the sale if it's their primary residence, they've lived there for two of five years, and have a tax exclusion of $250,000 for a single person or $500,000 for married couples, Slade says.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which President Obama signed on Jan. 1 to avoid the "fiscal cliff," helps homeowners by restoring two tax breaks.

The first is the deduction for mortgage insurance premiums. Lenders often require the insurance if the loan balance is for more than 78 percent of the home's value.

The second reclaimed tax break is a credit of up to $500 for making certain improvements that increase a home's energy efficiency. A credit is money taken off the amount owed to the IRS. The tax credit is typically 10%, up to $500 total, for buying and installing certain products such as a new water heater, central air conditioner, insulation, windows or roof.

 

Full information

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

 

Comments: 0


Tax Deductions for Rental Homes

Friday, February 19, 2016

Although being a landlord certainly has its cons, tops among its pros are the tax deductions rental homeowners enjoy.

  A for rent sign outside of a house

Maintaining a rental property typically requires a commitment of about four hours per week.

 

From finding tenants to fixing faucets, renting out a home can be a lot of work. If that doesn’t dissuade you, you’ll appreciate collecting the rent checks and taking advantage of tax deductions.

In fact, you can use many rental property expenses to offset your rental income. IRS Publication 527 has all the details.

Writing Off Rental Home Expenses

Many rental home expenses are tax deductible. Save receipts and any other documentation, and take the deductions on Schedule E. Figure you’ll spend four hours a week, on average, maintaining a rental property, including recordkeeping.

In general, you can claim the deductions for the year in which you pay for these common rental property expenses:


  • Advertising
  • Cleaning and maintenance
  • Commissions paid to rental agents
  • Home owner association/condo dues
  • Insurance premiums
  • Legal fees
  • Mortgage interest
  • Taxes
  • Utilities

Less obvious deductions include expenses to obtain a mortgage, and fees charged by an accountant to prepare your Schedule E. And don’t forget that a rental home can even be a houseboat or trailer, as long as there are sleeping, cooking, and bathroom facilities. Moreover, the location of the rental home doesn’t matter. It could even be outside the United States.

Limits on Travel Expenses

You can deduct expenses related to traveling locally to a rental home for such activities as showing it, collecting rent, or doing maintenance. If you use your own car, you can claim the standard mileage rate, plus tolls and parking. For 2015, it’s 57.5 cents per mile. 

Traveling outside your local area to a rental home is another matter. You can write off the expenses if the purpose of the trip is to collect rent or, in the words of the IRS, “manage, conserve, or maintain” the property. If you mix business with pleasure during the trip, you can only deduct the portion of expenses that directly relates to rental activities.

Repairs vs. Improvements

Another area that requires rental home owners to tread carefully is repairs vs. improvements. The tax code lets you write off repairs—any fixes that keep your property in working condition—immediately as you would other expenses. The costs of improvements that add value to a rental property or extend its life must instead be depreciated over several years. (More on depreciation below.)

Think of it this way: Simply replacing a broken window pane counts as a repair, but replacing all of the windows in your rental home counts as an improvement. Patching a roof leak is a repair; re-shingling the entire roof is an improvement. You get the picture.

Deciphering Depreciation

Depreciation refers to the value of property that’s lost over time due to wear, tear, and obsolescence. In the case of improvements to a rental home, you can deduct a portion of that lost value every year over a set number of years. Carpeting and appliances in a rental home, for example, are usually depreciated over five years.

You can begin depreciating the value of the entire rental property as soon as the rental home is ready for tenants and you hold it out for rent, even if you don’t yet have any tenants. In general, you depreciate the value of the home itself (but not the portion of the cost attributable to land) over 27.5 years. You’ll have to stop depreciating once you recover your cost or you stop renting out the home, whichever comes first.

Depreciation is a valuable tax break, but the calculations can be tricky and the exceptions many. Read IRS Publication 946, “How to Depreciate Property,” for additional information, and use Form 4562 come tax time. You may need to consult a tax adviser.

Profits and Losses on Rental Homes

The rent you collect from your tenant every month counts as income. You offset that income, and lower your tax bill, by deducting your rental home expenses including depreciation. If, for example, you received $9,600 rent during the year and had expenses of $4,200, then your taxable rental income would be $5,400 ($9,600 in rent minus $4,200 in expenses).

You can even write off a net loss on a rental home as long as you meet income requirements, own at least 10% of the property, and actively participate in the rental of the home. Active participation in a rental is as simple as placing ads, setting rents, or screening prospective tenants.

If your modified adjusted gross income (same as adjusted gross income for most persons) is $100,000 or less, you can deduct up to $25,000 in rental losses. The deduction for losses gradually phases out between income of $100,000 and $150,000. You may be able to carry forward excess losses to future years.

Let’s say that for the year rental receipts are $12,000 and expenses total $15,000, resulting in a $3,000 loss. If your modified adjusted gross income is below $100,000, you can deduct the full $3,000 loss. If you’re in a 25% tax bracket, a $3,000 loss reduces your tax bill by $750, plus any applicable state income taxes.

Tax Rules for Vacation Homes

If you have a vacation home that’s mostly reserved for personal use but rented out for up to 14 days a year, you won’t have to pay taxes on the rental income. Some expenses are deductible, though the personal use of the home limits deductions.

The tax picture gets more complicated when in the same year you make personal use of your vacation home and rent it out for more than 14 days.


This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.

Comments: 0


How to Use a Programmable Thermostat to See Real Savings

Friday, February 19, 2016

A programmable thermostat can help you rake in the energy savings, but there’s a hitch: You’ve got to pick one you’ll actually use.

It’s official: The programmable thermostat is the VCR of our day. Why? We think they’re too complicated.

According to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, nearly 90% of Americans say they’ve rarely (or never) programmed their thermostat because they’re not sure how to do it.

But it’s really not that hard, and it’s definitely worth doing because it can save you up to 15% a year on energy costs.

The first step is to pick the thermostat that best suits your scheduling needs so you can “set it and forget it,” an approach the U.S. Energy Department advocates to get the most savings.

Picking the Right Thermostat

There are four types of programmable thermostats, each with a distinctive scheduling style:

  • 7-day programming. Best for individuals or families with erratic schedules, since this is the most flexible option. It lets you program a different heating/cooling schedule for each day of the week.  Average price range: $55-$125.
  • 5-1-1 programming. One heating/cooling schedule for the week, plus you can schedule a different heating/cooling plan for Saturday and Sunday. Average price range: $35-$78.     
  • 5-2 programming. Same as 5-1-1 programming, except Saturday and Sunday will have the same heating/cooling plan. Average price range: $28-$30.
  • 1-week programming. You can only set one heating/cooling plan that will be repeated daily for the entire week. Average price range: $20-$23.

You’ll need a program for both the cooler months and the warmer months. 

TIP: Before buying a programmable thermostat, identify the type of equipment used to heat and cool your home so you can check for compatibility. For example, do you have central heating and cooling, or just a furnace or baseboard heating? Otherwise, you may not reap the rewards of energy savings and may risk harming your heating and cooling equipment.

Need to convince someone to program the thermostat for savings? Here’s how to convince the doubtful about energy efficiency.

Programming the Thermostat

Most programmable thermostats have a pre-programmed setting that’s supposed to be for the typical American family. But what family is typical these days? You need to adjust the thermostat’s settings so it’s in sync with the life you and your family lead instead of some mythical family.

Programming options are based on:

  • Wake Time
  • Sleep Time
  • Leave Time
  • Return Time

The U.S Department of Energy suggests the following settings in order to shave up to 15% off your energy bill:

Winter months:

  • For the hours you’re home and awake, program the temp to 68°F.
  • Lower by 10° to 15° for the hours you’re asleep or out of the house.

Summer months:

  • For the hours you’re home, program air conditioning to 78°F.
  • For the days you don’t need cooling, manually shut off the AC. Keep in mind, it will kick back on if the house gets too warm.
  • Program the AC to shut off during the hours you’re out of the house.

Here are a few programming timing tips that can help you create the best set-it-and-forget-it heating and cooling schedule for your home:

  • Shut down heat or air conditioning 20 to 30 minutes before you leave home each day.
  • Turn on heat or air conditioning 20 to 30 minutes before you come home each day.
  • Reduce the heating or cooling 60 minutes before you go to sleep each night.
  • Increase heating or cooling about 30 minutes before you wake up each morning.

Spend time tweaking your program for a few days to make sure it feels right.

TIP: With a Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat, you can control your home’s temperature while on the go. That way, you’re not wasting energy if you’re running late or forgot to create a new program before going on vacation.

FYI: A furnace does NOT have to work harder to warm a house after the temperature has been set low during the day.

Thermostats That Make Programming Easier

Want something that’s simpler? Newer more high-tech models have simplified the process:

  • The Nest Learning Thermostat: It creates a custom heating and cooling schedule for your home based on motion detection technology. Plus since it is Wi-Fi, it can be controlled remotely. Price: $250.
  • Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat: This device makes it easy to create a custom heating and cooling plan. Unlike conventional programmable thermostats, it has a large color interface that displays a simple menu that walks you through all the programming steps. It also “learns” your home and will send you personal notifications if the temperature is not right, or if there’s a power outage. Price: $199.

FYI: Thermostats made prior to 2001 may contain mercury. To see if your programmable thermostat contains mercury, check with the manufacturer. If you decide to dispose of a thermostat that contains mercury, check out how to do so safely in your area at Thermostat Recycling Corporation. (Not sure why mercury is so bad? Here’s the skinny: It’s toxic and it never breaks down. When it enters the waste stream, it permanently damages the ecosystem.)

 

Comments: 0


7 Ideas to Help You Use Your Outdoor Space More

Friday, February 19, 2016

These ideas will transform your outdoor space into an oasis you may never want to leave.

When your mom told you to turn off the TV and play outdoors already, she knew what she was talking about. Hanging outside is good for our mental and physical well-being.

As adults, having an outdoor retreat adds an economic component: Upwards of 80% of homebuyers said patios and front porches are “essential” or “desirable,” according to the “What Buyers Really Want” survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

So how come when we move into our dream home, we hardly ever use our decks, porches, and patios?

An anthropological UCLA study, described in the book “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” blames our fascination with digital devices — tablets, computers, televisions, games — for keeping us cooped up. The UCLA research participants spent less than half an hour each week in their outdoor space. And these were Californians.

So this summer let’s make a pledge to pay more than lip service to outdoor living so we can be happier, create lasting memories, and generally take advantage of what home has to offer.

1.  Go Overboard on Comfy

Comfy outdoor seating on a home patio
Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

When you step into your outdoor space, your first sensation should be ‘ahhhh’. If you’re not feeling it, then your space is likely lacking the comfy factor. Comfy is easy to achieve and can be as low cost as you want. Start simple with a cushion or two or even a throw. Some other simple strategies: 

  • Make sure your outdoor seating is as cushy as your indoor furniture. Today’s outdoor cushions aren’t the plastic-y, sweat-inducing pillows of the past. Plus, they can handle a downpour and spring back once they dry.
  • Lay down outdoor rugs so you’re just as comfortable barefoot as you are inside.
  • Give yourself some privacy. Create natural screens with shrubs, bushes, or even bamboo reeds. Or install prefab screens from your local home improvement store.

2.  Create a Broadband Paradise

Our devices and electronics have conspired to keep us on lock down. Since we’re not about to chuck our digital toys, boot up your outdoor space so you can keep texting, posting to Instagram, and watching cat videos.

  • Wireless outdoor Wi-Fi antennas provide an extra boost so you can stay connected.
  • A solar USB charging station keeps your gizmos powered.
  • Wireless speakers make it easy to bring your music outdoors, and mask a noisy neighborhood.
  • An all-weather outdoor TV lets you stay outside for the big game.

3.  Blur the Line Between Indoors and Out

Creating a seamless transition between your home’s interior and exterior isn’t as simple or low cost as adding comfort, but it’s the most dramatic and effective way to enhance your enjoyment of the space. Plus, it can increase your home’s value. 

  • The most straightforward, cost-effective solution: Replace a standard door opening with sliding or glass French doors.
  • Use the same weatherproof flooring, such as stone tile or scored concrete, outside as well as in the room leading to your backyard oasis.

4.  Light the Way

Solar pathway lights Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

When the sun goes down, don’t be left groping for your wine glass. Outdoor lighting dresses up your home’s marketability and appeal (exterior lighting is buyers’ most wanted outdoor feature, according to the NAHB study), makes it safer, and lets you spend more time outside.

  • Use uplighting to highlight trees, architectural details, or other focal points.
  • Add sconces or pendant lights to make evening entertaining, grilling, and reading easier.
  • Illuminate walkways, rails, and steps with landscape solar lights.
  • Hang fairy or string lights to set an enchanting tone.

5.  Make Your Mark

Pavers in a home's yard Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Let your style dominate your backyard space.

  • Create a path made with colored glass, brick, or other interesting found materials.
  • Craft a one-of-kind outdoor chandelier.
  • Build a pizza oven, custom seating, or other feature you crave.
  • Add personal décor that makes you happy.

In fact, make your outdoor retreat an ongoing project where you can hone your DIY skills.

6.  Don’t Give Anyone an Excuse to Stay Inside

Outdoor space with kid-friendly playhouse and DIY chalkboardImage: Tasya Demers from My House and Home

Your outdoor space will magnetically draw family and friends if it has features they find appealing.

  • A fire pit is a proven winner. Food and fire have brought humans together since the dawn of time.
  • Give wee ones the gift of magical thinking with an outdoor playhouse.
  • Add whimsy with a chalkboard fence that both kids and fun-loving adults will enjoy.
  • Add a doggie window in your fence to entertain Spot. Installing a dog run may even boost your home’s value. FYI: It’s been said that pets are one of the top reasons why people buy houses.

Related: Outdoor Projects You Can Do with the Kids

7.  Rebuff the Elements

Canopy over a home deck
Image: LizMarieBlog.com

Hot sun, rain, wind gusts, and bugs are the archenemy of good times. Here are tips and strategies to help you throw shade on Mother Nature:

  • Install an awning, canopy, or pergola. It’ll make it easier to read your Kindle or iPad and keep you dry during a summer shower. Look for products with polycarbonate panels, which block UV rays, too.
  • Rig glass fence windscreens to the keep your BBQ fires burning.
  • Screen in your porch or deck against bugs. But screening will be for naught if you forget the slats between wood planks. Cover the floor with outdoor carpet or staple screening to the underside of floorboards.

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6 Homeowner Tax Mistakes

Friday, February 19, 2016

Get every deduction you’re entitled to without the fear of making mistakes that’ll bring the tax man to your door.

 

Hooray — it’s tax time! OK, few people get quite that excited about filling out government forms, but there’s good reason to appreciate the annual ritual. Tax deductions are a serious perk for homeowners, and they can be a major boon to your family’s finances.

But unless you’re a CPA, it can be easy to miss these deductions, or worse: raise a red flag with the IRS because you got deduction happy. Here are the top six homeowner tax blunders accountants see the most.

1.  Missing the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Itemized deductions can be a great way to lower your tax bill. But homeowners, particularly newbies, may be used to claiming the standard deduction because they haven’t had enough of the expenditures that qualify them for itemized filing.

You can deduct the interest portion of your mortgage payments. That might mean your itemized deductions will now exceed the standard, saving you tax dollars.

The savings are at their maximum early on, when most of your mortgage payments go to interest, not principal. Over the years, the balance shifts, and for some it might seem that they lose the itemized advantage. But there’s a way to keep the savings maximized.

The trick is to use an alternating approach to filing, according to Chris Hardy, a certified financial planner with Paramount Investor Advisors in Suwanee, Ga. One year you maximize every deduction you can, including MID, and prepay whatever you can for the next year, such as property taxes and charitable contributions. The next year, you take the standard deduction. Overall, says Hardy, you may end up saving more money.

2.  Assuming Everything House-Related is Deductible

Deductions are great, but you can’t write everything off on your taxes. And to stay in the good graces of the IRS, you don’t want to over-deduct.

Talk to your accountant or tax preparer to be straight on allowable deductions, which, for a homeowner, generally means mortgage interest and real estate taxes. You may also deduct points charged on the mortgage in the year you purchased the home.

Related: How — and When — to Deduct Mortgage Points

“A lot of people will try to take homeowners association fees or condo association fees as deductions even though it’s not an allowable deduction,” Hardy says. “I see them try to deduct keeping up the yard as an expense.”

Although claiming unallowable deductions might not immediately flag you for an audit, according to Hardy, if you do get audited for something else, the IRS will look to see what else it can find. The result could then be back taxes, interest, and penalties. And the IRS will likely check as many back years as it legally can.

3.  Neglecting Your Home Office

Many people fail to take the home office deduction for fear of being audited, or because it’s just plain hard to calculate if you don’t use the newer, simplified method. (More on that math-saving gem later.) However you compute this deduction, it’s a great way to save some cash.

To qualify for the deduction, your office space must be used regularly and only for business. If you work for someone else, says Hardy, there has to be documentation — it could be an email from a supervisor — that your work at home is required as part of the job and is for the employer’s convenience. In addition, employees can’t take the deduction if they rent any part of their home to their employers and use the rented portion to perform work for the employer.

If your use is legitimate, you can deduct a proportionate amount of a number of expenses, including insurance, repairs, utilities, services, and depreciation, which can really add up. Or you can use the uber-simple method of multiplying the square footage of the office by $5 for your total deduction. Check IRS Publication 587 for details.

And, better yet, if the home office is your base of business, you may get additional deductions from your business income, such as mileage for driving to and from your clients’ locations because now it’s considered a business expense rather than commuting.

Related: 12 Tough Questions (and Answers) About Home Office Deductions

4.  Understanding Rental Income

Renting out a room or wing of your house on Airbnb can be a fun way to meet new people and make extra income. It can also have several important tax implications.

When renting out a room in your personal residence, says Greg Freyman, managing partner with Freyman CPA in New York City and Westwood, N.J., the amount of mortgage interest and real estate taxes you can claim as itemized deductions changes. You can only deduct MID and real estate taxes for the portion of the house that isn’t rented. So, if you have a 2,000-square-foot house and rent out a room of 100 square feet, you can deduct 95% of the mortgage interest and taxes on Schedule A.

However, because the rented space is now converted to investment property, you can also take deductions on your rental expenses. Some examples are the rental area’s portion of overall maintenance and utilities, again calculated by the percentage of overall square footage.

But (there’s always a but when it comes to taxes) you can only claim those rental expenses for the time period you rented the space, says Honolulu-based Crystal Stranger, president of 1st Tax Inc. and an enrolled agent who can represent taxpayers before the IRS. If you rented that 100-square-foot room mentioned above, which is 5% of the total space, for a total of six months, you’d take 5% of the maintenance and utilities, divide them by half, and then deduct that amount on Schedule E.

5.  Paying a Relative’s Mortgage

Good on you for helping someone in need by covering their mortgage payment, but be a smart philanthropist. No one will get any deductions for those payments if you directly pay the lender, Freyman says, unless you’re listed on the deed.

To increase the chances that someone snags the deduction, make a gift of the money to your parent or other beneficiary and let her be the one to pay the bills — although you won’t get any tax benefit unless you can claim her as a dependent. Treating a relative who doesn’t live with you as a dependent means meeting certain requirements. For instance, you need to have a certain type of relationship with the person and the relative must pass a gross income test.

Also, remember that there’s a limit on the amount of money you can give someone in a year — $14,000 — without incurring a gift tax. If you exceed the annual total, you may have to pay the tax.

6.  Never Challenging Property Tax Bills

For many, local property tax is a big chunk of their paycheck, and sometimes that chunk is bigger than it needs to be. “Values go up and down over time,” says REALTOR® and Atlanta attorney Bruce Ailion. “The assessor reassesses areas of town in bulk from time to time. Often these bulk reassessments result in a valuation 10%, 20%, even 50% more than a home’s value.”

Reassessments happen at different times, depending on location, and local and state laws will govern what you must do. Typically, you have fewer than 30 days to challenge the assessment, and, in a large metropolitan area, the process could take as long as a year.

You’ll want to start by checking the assessment data — size of the lot, number of rooms, bathrooms, etc. — to be sure that the facts are correct. If not, the appeals process may be easy.

You can also check to see if the assessment seems reasonable. Work with your real estate pro to get market data, such as info on comparable properties — known as “comps.” Then look at local tax records to see if the value of your property seems overly high in comparison to like properties. You could even hire an independent appraiser, although that can run $350 to $600, undercutting the savings you might ultimately receive.

You then appeal the property tax bill first to the assessor’s office. If the result is unsatisfactory, you may be able to appeal to a local board or possibly to a court. The odds are good enough that appealing usually makes sense. “I’ve done about 150 appeals and never had an increase,” Ailion says. “The worst case is the value stays the same.”

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Tax Credits for Non-Solar Water Heaters

Friday, February 19, 2016



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Are you considering purchasing a new home?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Are you considering purchasing a new home? Are you thinking about selling your current home? Or, maybe you are just eager to refinance while interest rates are low?

Whatever the case may be, you'll need to know the value of the property in question. Our home value search can provide you with a wealth of information, and unlike a costly appraisal, it's completely free.

Our home prices are calculated using a proprietary algorithm that takes recent comparable sales, neighborhood data, and specific property information into account when creating a broad property value estimate.

We're not suggesting that you use our home value estimate in lieu of an appraisal from a trained professional when selling, purchasing, or refinancing, but it's the perfect source when you just need a reasonable estimate and you don't want to wait.

In addition to a ballpark value figure, you will have access to valuable data, including transaction histories, home features, mortgage insurance and property tax estimates, and recent local sales.

And if you're looking mortgage or refinance rates, you'll find them right there, right where you need them: on our price estimate page.

Whether you're just daydreaming or you've started hunting for a home in earnest, we hope you'll find our free home pricing page to be a valuable research tool.

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7 Things You Should Paint Instead of Replace to Save Money

Friday, January 15, 2016

7 Things You Should Paint Instead of Replace to Save Money

 

You know a fresh coat of paint can give any room a quick and inexpensive facelift. But did you know that a little paint can also perk up carpets, appliances, and even vinyl floors?


Basically, if it doesn’t move, you can paint it. But only after you’ve paid special attention to prep — cleaning, patching, and sanding (generally) the area.


Painting isn’t brain surgery, but it’s not a breeze, either. Here are some rules of thumb:

  • Prime before painting. Primer will allow the paint to adhere better.
  • Most hard surfaces will take primer better if they’re roughed up a little with fine-grade sandpaper.
  • When using spray paint, multiple, thin layers are better than one, thick coat. Ease up on your trigger finger, and spray in short bursts.
  • Wait for the previous coat of paint or primer to dry completely before adding another coat.

With proper prep, you can paint just about anything. Here are seven of our favorite ideas:

1.  Door, Drawer, and Cabinet Hardware


Spray paint can turn builder-grade brass locks and hinges into fashion-forward hardware with an oil-rubbed bronze, pewter, or stainless look.

Prep:

1. Clean hardware with a fine steel wool to remove grease and grime.
2. Rough up the surface with fine-grain sandpaper.
3. Before you paint, insert a tiny strip of painter’s tape into the keyhole to make sure paint doesn’t gunk it up.
4. Prime with a metallic primer, then paint with metallic spray paint.

Tip:

  • Insert the door lock’s spindle into a square of Styrofoam, which will hold it upright while you spray around the knob.

Related: Get Tips on Repairing Knobs and Pulls

2.  Brick Fireplace

When you paint your red brick fireplace, you transform the entire room. But beware! Once you paint brick, it’s nearly impossible to return it to the original brick color. 

You can paint brick a single color, or achieve some variation — like the variations in real brick — by sponging on slightly lighter and darker hues. 

Prep: 

1. Lightly sand away any loose bits of brick or mortar with 120-grit sandpaper. 
2. Clean dirt and soot with a wire brush and heavy-duty cleanser. 
3. Allow to dry completely before applying an oil-based, stain-blocking primer. 
4. Paint with a semigloss latex.

Tips:

  • Never paint the firebox.
  • Brick is porous and drinks paint, so buy twice what you think you’ll need.
  • Wear safety glasses and gloves when cleaning anything with a metal brush.

Related: 4 Value-Adding Fireplace Facelifts

3.  Ceramic Tile

Imagine how sweet it is to update ceramic tile without having to bust up and cart away tons of old tile.

Play it safe and avoid painting tiles in high-traffic and high-moisture areas. Some good places are laundry room floors, backsplashes under cabinets (but not above ranges where pasta sauce splatters), and walls around tubs you rarely use. 
 
Prep: 

1. Repair cracked or chipped tile with caulk or grout before painting. 
2. Give patching material ample time to dry, then lightly sand before applying an epoxy or urethane bonding primer.
3. Sand after priming and between each coat of quality latex paint. 
4. Wait several days for the paint to cure completely, then seal with two or three coats of clear, water-based polyurethane.

Tips:

  • To get a smooth look, apply paint in zigzags, then roll down in one, smooth motion.
  • Use 240-grit wet/dry sandpaper for prep and between coats.
  • Don’t forget safety goggles and masks when sanding tiles.

Related: Glass Tile and Ceramic Tile Bathroom Flooring: Unlimited Designs

4.  Wood Floors

When wood floors are beyond another refinishing, painting can give them a second life — and give you a chance to add a personal touch to your home.

Prep: 

1. Slightly sand the surface so your primer will adhere better. No need to sand down to the wood; even roughing up the seal coat will help the primer adhere better.
2. Vacuum and mop with a damp cloth to remove all the dust — nothing ruins a paint job faster than dust. 
3. Tint your primer to reduce the number of coats you’ll need of latex enamel floor paint.

Tips:

  • Before you commit to a paint color, paint a large piece of foam board with a sample of your desired color and put it on the floor to give you a good idea what the finished floor will look like.
  • It takes each coat about 24 hours to dry completely. So don’t jump the gun when applying the next, thin coat.
  • Your painted floor won’t completely cure for almost a month, so hold off on moving back heavy things like pianos and chests of drawers.
  • Protect your painted floor by putting mats down at the sink (wood and paint hate water) and high-traffic entryways.

5.  Carpet

We love the idea of covering stains and reviving a carpet with upholstery paint. It saves hundreds of dollars and the hassle of getting rid of an old carpet.

Kathie Smula of Spray It New upholstery paint says carpets with a short pile are the best candidates for painting; long-pile carpets become hard and matted when painted. 

Prep: 

1. Thoroughly clean the carpet before painting. You don’t have to steam clean it, but scrub up the worst stains and vacuum so dust and dirt don’t mix with the paint. 
2. Skip priming and just spray paint two or three coats, depending on how deep you want the color. Make sure it’s dry to the touch before spraying another coat.

Tips:

  • Don’t confuse upholstery paint, good for carpets, with fabric paint, good for T-shirts.
  • If you get heavy handed and paint clumps, loosen the area with a bristle brush and dab up excess paint.
  • Six cans of spray paint will cover an 8-foot-by-10-foot carpet with at least two coats.

Related: Carpet or Hardwood? 5 Good Reasons to Give Carpet a Chance

6.  Vinyl Floors

Painting is an inexpensive way to get a few more years out of old vinyl floors in kitchens and laundry rooms.

Prep:

1. Wash the floor with a TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) solution to get rid of built-up dirt and grime.
2. Rough up the shiny surface with 180-grit sandpaper. If some nooks and crannies remain glossy, apply a deglosser (paint stores sell it) to remove shine. 
3. Prime with a latex primer.
4. Paint with a porch/floor paint.

Tips:

  • Save your back when sanding floors by using a sanding pole, like the ones drywall installers use.
  • Highly textured vinyl floor may require another sanding and a second coat of primer.

Related: Frugal Fixes for Frightful Floors

7.  Appliances

Heat-resistant appliance paint will perk up your kitchen. Use an indoor appliance paint to change colors, or a liquid stainless steel application to give your appliance the stainless steel look.

Use a roller for small touchups; two or three thin coats of spray paint is better for total appliance coverage. 

Prep: 

1. Clean appliance exteriors with a heavy-duty cleaning solution and, if needed, a scrubbing pad.
2. Remove handles and hardware; place painters tape over trim and logos. 
3. Sand the exterior. 

Tips:

  • Make sure the front of your appliance is metal, not plastic. Plastic exteriors will require priming, while appliance paint will stick more easily to metal exteriors.
  • If you’re spray-painting, haul the appliance outdoors to avoid getting paint on cabinets and floors. If you paint indoors, open windows to assure proper ventilation.
  • For the stainless look, Liquid Stainless Steel is the go-to product. It’s got real flakes of stainless steel. Apply with a brush.

 

 

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5 Reasons for a Mortgage Refinance Other Than Lowering Your Payment

Friday, January 15, 2016

There’s more to a mortgage refinance than lowering your monthly payments.

Naturally, if you’re paying 6% for your mortgage and you can refinance at 5%, you’re gonna do it. Although cutting your monthly payment remains an important motive, there are at least five other reasons to consider a mortgage refinance, for long-term savings and convenience.

1. Change your mortgage term

If you decrease the term of your mortgage in a refinance by going from a 30-year to a 15-year, you’ll pay a lower interest rate and shorten your total interest costs. You’ll build home equity more quickly, and pay off your loan sooner, even though your monthly payments go up.

2. Move from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate

ARMs offer low introductory rates, but they also offer long periods of uncertainty that make it hard to budget. It makes sense in a mortgage refinance to go from an ARM to a fixed-rate loan during a low-interest rate environment. You’ll get emotional security and your rate won’t fluctuate with changing economic conditions.

3. Take out cash

With a cash-out mortgage refinance, you can turn an intangible asset—accumulated home equity—into a tangible one—cash. It makes sense for a project that will generate long-term benefits, like a home improvement or funding a child’s college education. However, don’t do it for frivolous reasons. Unless you’re extremely disciplined, you could find yourself in even deeper debt.

4. Consolidate two mortgages

When interest rates are low, a mortgage refinance lets you consolidate your main mortgage and an outstanding home equity loan to realize a lower overall monthly payment. Plus, you’ll have only one mortgage payment to make each month.

5. Recover from divorce

If your home is jointly owned with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, a mortgage refinance will turn a joint obligation into the responsibility of the person keeping the home. Nothing is more frustrating than tracking down a former spouse who doesn’t keep up with his or her end of the mortgage payment.

Lay the groundwork

If one of these reasons resonates with you, contact your current lender to see if it’ll offer you preferred rates or reduced closing costs on a mortgage refinance. But don’t assume the current lender is best: Leave no stone unturned by searching for lenders online and calling community banks and local credit unions. 

No matter which lender you choose, a mortgage refinance for the right reasons can save you lots of money—and that’s the best reason of all.



Read more:
Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

 

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Down payment and closing cost assistance programs for first-time home buyers

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Bank of America Down Payment Resource Center connects borrowers to programs that can help make buying a home more affordable. It's an online/mobile tool that provides easy access to nearly a thousand down payment and closing cost assistance programs offered by nonprofit and housing organizations to help lower costs associated with buying a home.footnote2

 

When your clients visit the Down Payment Resource Center, they can:

 

 

  • Search for down payment and closing cost assistance programs they may qualify for that can be used in combination with a low-down-payment mortgage
  • Review a brief description of each program that comes up in their search, including a program number to reference when meeting with a Bank of America mortgage loan specialist
  • Connect with a Bank of America mortgage loan specialist to get more detailed information and learn about next steps

 

 

Bank of America offers other free online tools and resources that can help make the home buying process easier to understand, including:

A recent survey of consumers commissioned by the National Association of REALTORS® revealed that 80% believe purchasing a home is a good financial decision (2015 National Housing Pulse Survey). While homeownership remains a goal for many prospective buyers, even among those who have full-time employment, 74% do not have enough money saved for a down payment and closing costs.footnote1

Bank of America webinars: These financial education webinars can help build your client's financial know-how to prepare for homeownership, understand and manage credit, and more.

 

Better Money Habits®: Developed in partnership with Khan Academy, Better Money Habits features short, easy-to-understand videos, articles, worksheets and graphics that can help your clients learn about budgeting, saving and home buying.

 

Home Loan Guide: Our online home loan guide outlines the steps to financing a home and gives your clients access to calculators and articles on a wide range of home financing topics.

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What is a home inspection and Why Should You Always Have One When Buying a Home?

Friday, December 4, 2015

What is a home inspection and Why Should You Always Have One When Buying a Home?

 

 

What is a home inspection and why should you always have one when buying a home? A home inspection is performed by a qualified inspector hired by buyers to inspect a home prior to purchase and provide a detailed report regarding all components.

 

Buying a home for the first time or the 10th time has one common factor: It may be one of the most important transactions that you make in your lifetime. So what is a home inspection? It is a thorough evaluation of the home by a certified home inspector. This encompasses a non-invasive evaluation of the major components, but not limited to the major components of a home, such as the structure, roof, plumbing, electrical, appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, the exterior, and the basement. It may also include out buildings, the garage, and inspections for termite/wood destroying insects and radon.

A certified home inspector would be hired to inspect the home and components to find if there are any material defects, items that need repair, services needed (heater evaluation, chimney inspection, etc.), and an evaluation of many of the components of the home and their life expectancy. The safety aspect of the components is also evaluated and recommendations are made by the home inspector. What a home inspection is not is an insurance policy or guarantee for the home. It is not intended to predict the future life expectancy of the home’s components, nor is it a report for cosmetic repair.

The home inspector visually inspects the home, writes a report and a defect summary accompanied by pictures of the defect. This is true for a home inspection and a termite report. In respect to radon inspections, a testing device is typically left at the home in a closed environment for a period of 48 hours. The results are evaluated against the standard that the EPA has set — an action level of 4 pCi/L. Anything at this level or above should be remediated. Inspections may also include water, if there is a well or septic. Usually these two inspections are performed by separate inspectors. A pool/hot tub inspection may also be requested by the buyers.

The buyer’s agent or attorney will review the inspector’s report(s) with the buyers and a request to repair items that are deemed defective are then negotiated within specified timeframes negotiated within the agreement of sale. The buyer may accept the property as is, request repairs, or in some cases, ask for a credit. The buyer may also elect to terminate the agreement based on the report. Credits are handled in methods that comply with the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), which protects consumers from abusive practices and higher settlement charges.

Every buyer should have inspections on the property that they are purchasing, even if it is new construction. For example, if a buyer is involved in a foreclosure, the property is usually “as is.” In this situation I would highly recommend the home be inspected to ensure that the buyer is protected from purchasing an extremely defective home or on the other hand, give them peace of mind that they are fully aware of repairs or remediation that may be necessary after the purchase. In the example of new construction, I would recommend at a minimum that the home be inspected just prior to drywall installation to evaluate the structure, electrical, plumbing, and ventilation prior to drywall. The objective here would be to determine if defects are present or perhaps installation of such items was improperly installed. In any instance, always consider having a home inspection prior to making a purchase!

Image Source: Flickr/Chris Potter/StockMonkeys.com

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

2006-2014 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2014 Coldwell Banker President’s Elite Recipient – Top 2% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2014!

 

 

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What Brings Out The Beauty Of Buckingham Township?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What Brings Out The Beauty Of Buckingham Township?

 

Buckingham Township is a Philadelphia suburb located in Bucks County Pennsylvania. Nestled between New Jersey and Philadelphia and a stone's throw from historic Doylestown, the area has much to offer. My family and I were introduced to the area in 1998 for a career move within my company. So what is so fascinating about the area?

The township is rich in history dating back to at least 1776 when General Nathanael Green, commander of General Washington’s left wing during the bathe of Trenton stayed at Bogart’s Tavern, now known as the General Green Inn, stayed there during the winter. Other historic buildings and places include Buckingham Friends Meeting Place, Forest Grove, Mechanicsville and Wycombe Historical Districts. The Mount Gilead A.M.E Church was a station for the Underground Railroad.

The area fosters lots of indoor and outdoor fun including parks such as Hansel, Holicong, and George M. Bush parks. Peddler’s View and Penn’s Purchase are areas for shopping, dining, festivals and car shows. Enjoy a play at the renovated Town-n-Country Theater or a tour of the Buckingham Winery. Stay at a local Bed and Breakfast or enjoy equestrian facilities or perhaps a hot balloon ride over the area. It is truly Bucks County Living at its finest!

Aside the many things to do in Buckingham Township, it is also a great place to reside. Year to date, the houses have appreciated 3.1% or the prior 12 rolling months in 2014. There is a large variety of homes that range from new construction, old and historic homes as well as townhomes and single homes in a variety of architectural forms. Another critical perk to living here is the renowned Blue Ribbon Central Bucks School District. It continually ranks as one the best in the state of Pennsylvania as well as the nation.

The mere location of Buckingham Township is close to New Jersey, historic Doylestown and New Hope, Philadelphia, the Poconos and the Jersey Shore. You can hop a train in Doylestown and be in Philadelphia in around an hour or take a bus, drive or a train to New York in well less than two hours. The state of Delaware is also within an hour's drive. So there is not only much to do here in the township but many other great areas are within a reasonable driving distance. Real Estate is always about location and this is one of the finest townships in Bucks County! I have enjoyed the past 18 years here and plan to spend much more. If you live here, please enjoy the area and the many things that Buckingham Township has to offer or if you do not live here, it is a great place to visit! I had the honor of being interviewed by Al Heavens, the leading Real Estate writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer which was published on September 24, 2015. Please visit the Philly.Com site if you want to learn even more about Buckingham Township.

 

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

 

Comments: 3


Wireless Interconnected Smoke Detectors

Friday, April 17, 2015


New Technology for Older Homes
 
WHY?
Residential Fire Safety has been reduced to these two questions. If you can honestly answer them, you have a fire safe home. If you can’t, your family is at some risk for an undetected fire.
CAN YOU HEAR ALL OF YOUR SMOKE DETECTORS FROM ANYWHERE IN YOUR HOME, ESPECIALLY FROM YOUR BEDROOM WHEN YOU ARE ASLEEP?
DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH DETECTORS TO SENSE THE EARLIEST PRESENCE OF SMOKE EVERYWHERE IN YOUR HOME?
Everyone who has been injured, burned or died in a residential fire was home at the time the fire began. Had they known of the early presence of smoke, they could have escaped. They may have had time to take action to prevent the smoke from developing into a fire.
Where?
 “Coverage” is a term most associated with sprinkler systems. Appling “coverage” to smoke detectors will require a smoke detector in every room in the house with a door. No matter where you are in your home day or night you need to know if there is smoke in another area of the house. Today’s International Building Code requires a detector in each bedroom, outside the bedrooms and on each level. A house with “coverage” would have a detector in every room with a door with the exception of closets and bathrooms.
 
Open areas may only require one detector. Example: The first floor of a typical home includes a kitchen, dining room and living room all with a common ceiling with no doors between rooms. If a detector is present on the second floor at the top of the stairs, it will cover the three first floor rooms. A single detector at the top of the basement stairs (assuming there are no separate basement rooms) will cover the entire basement. A detector in each bedroom and the garage will require seven interconnected detectors in an average three bedroom home.
 
How?
  • Purchase Kidde or similar “Wireless Interconnected Smoke Detectors”.
 
  •  Remove all of the detectors from their boxes and separate all of the individual components (all batteries together, all anchors and screws together, etc.).
 
  • Set the 8 position “DIP” switch to any combination (of up or down), as long as that combination is the same for all of your detectors.
 
  • Install the batteries in all detectors. Note proper positions.
 
  • Place all of the detectors on a table and push and hold the test button until all of the red lights are flashing.
 
  • Mount the detectors on the ceiling at least 12 inches from any wall. Place the basement detector at the top of the stairs.The garage detector should be mounted several feet from the wall near the door to the home.
  BE SAFE!
 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

2006-2013 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 0


What Are The Primary Reasons Why People Decide To Move?

Monday, November 10, 2014

What Are The Primary Reasons Why People Decide To Move?

There are many reasons why people move and perhaps they may move multiple times. As an Associate Broker/Realtor® servicing the Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester counties as well as greater Philadelphia region, I have had the pleasure of representing many buyers and sellers in this region. Listed below are some of the primary reasons why people move.

  1. Security - We all want and need a place to call home.  It doesn’t matter if it is a condo, a single home or even a rental, but regardless, it is our castle.  Next to having the perfect job, home ownership is a major part of achieving the American dream.  Buying a home is one of the greatest and most important investments that we will ever make and it is likely we will make more than one purchase during our lifetimes.
  2. Personal Reasons - Perhaps you are getting married, starting a family, have a child returning after college or just want to make a change.  Presently, it is not uncommon for middle age homeowners to be caring for an elderly parent and moving may provide a more convenient floor plan in order to easily accommodate everyone’s needs.   For these reasons and more, buyers may consider buying another home.
  3. Job Related – Many of us, including myself, have relocated to a new area because of employment.  As a relocation specialist, I have had the pleasure of working with buyers and sellers who move to or from the Bucks, Montgomery or Philadelphia regions. This can sometimes be an especially stressful move, as many times there is a trailing spouse or partner that remains behind while the other person starts their new job. My job is to make the transferees move as seamless as possible. The point here is that people move for jobs!
  4. Empty Nesters - Call it downsizing but in essence, many of us do not need the large amount of space that we once occupied since the children may now be out on their own or we just don’t want such a large residence/property to maintain. Therefore, many homeowners decide to downsize to smaller properties with less maintenance, they want more time to travel due to retirement or it could be as simple as a different quality of life.  There are many baby boomers that are in this situation and are just looking for a more care-free lifestyle.
  5. Upsizing Your Home – You may have outgrown your home due to an increase in family size, perhaps a new marriage or a relationship where families are combined or you just may need or want a larger living space.  Existing homes or new construction are a few options that we may choose but the bottom line is that we may just have outgrown our homes.
  6. Financial Reasons – Perhaps there has been a change in finances where we can no longer afford the home that we live in due to a job change or loss, a decrease in income or too much debt. My recommendation is always to set and buy within a budget.  I always recommend that a buyer seek out the professional advice of a mortgage company prior to assist in determining what the budget should be. Ultimately moving could also be part of your retirement plan, this move could free up cash for other investments, travel or perhaps help to fund college tuitions.
  7. Decreasing Your Commute Time- Some homeowners move to lessen their commute time to enhance their quality of life by having less time on the road and more time at home. Many of us are forced to take jobs farther out than we would like and become financially in a better position where we can move closer to our jobs to spend more time with the family or with community responsibilities such as volunteering, more time to work around the house, or ultimately more quality time outside of the job. The bottom line is that more time on the road means less time at home.
  8. Home Improvements That Do Not Warrant a Return On Investment – Many homeowners decide to upgrade their kitchens, add an addition, finish a basement or modify/improve the quality of their homes. The critical decision is “How much money do you spend and will you get a return on your investment”?  These are choices that we face numerous times in many homes that we own, and in many cases, the best choice is to move. We sometimes “over improve” and in many cases,  this may be a choice to improve our quality of life, add value to our homes as we are planning to sell in the future or ultimately we are tired of the outdated things that we have in our homes.  The decision may be new construction, upgrading or buying a resale at a better price where the location increases the chances on a better return on investment or greater appreciation.

These are only a few of the reasons why people tend to move once or multiple times. In all cases, utilizing the expertise of a Realtor and Mortgage professional is highly recommended so you can make a more educated decision on your move. I would be curious if you had any additional reasons that you choose or are forced to move. As always, please contact me if you are looking for a professional opinion.

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

2006-2013 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 2


How Does The Real Estate Market In Bucks County, Pennsylvania Compare YTD Versus 2013?

Monday, October 27, 2014

How Does The Real Estate Market In Bucks County, Pennsylvania Compare YTD Versus 2013?

The real estate market here Bucks County, PA has continued to improve over past year and varies per township. Overall statistics for Bucks County from October 2013 to October 2014 is an indication that the market continues to improve in the county. The Information for the past 12 rolling months in Bucks County is as follows:

Sold Volume
2014
       $4,238,690,523
2013       $4,053,622,923
An increase of $1,850,067,600 or 0.96% in sold volume in Bucks County in the past 12 rolling  months versus the previous timeframe in 2013. (10/13-10/14 versus 10/12-10/13)

Average Sold Price
2014
       $325,554
2013       $322,890
An increase of $2,933.65 or 1% increase of the average sales price versus the previous year’s rolling 12 months.

While prices and overall sales volume increase in the past year versus the previous year, there are a variety of differences in numerous Townships and Boroughs.  Listed below are some of the key market areas in Bucks County and the average price changes versus the previous year.

Buckingham Township
Sold Price
2014
       $526,386
2013       $489,127
An Increase of $37,259 or a 7.1 % increase of the average sales price of residential homes in the township versus the previous year’s rolling 12 months.

Warwick Township
Sold Price
2014
       $366,620
2013       $365,751
An increase of $869 or a .003% increase of the average sales price of residential homes in the township versus the previous year’s rolling 12 months.

Solebury Township
Sold Price
2014
       $626,952
2013       $704,384
A decrease of $77,432 or an 11% decrease of the average sales price of residential homes in the township versus the previous year’s rolling 12 months.

New Hope Borough
Sold Price
2014
       $582,166
2013       $481,520
An Increase of $100,646 or a 11.1 % increase of the average sales price of residential homes in the township versus the previous year’s rolling 12 months.

Doylestown Borough
Sold Price
2014
       $444,794
2013       $434,023
An Increase of $10,771 or a 2.5 % increase of the average sales price of residential homes in the township versus the previous year’s rolling 12 months.

Doylestown Township
Sold Price
2014
       $400,826
2013       $481,520
An decrease of $80,694 or a 17.0 % decrease of the average sales price of residential homes in the township versus the previous year’s rolling 12 months.

Plumstead Township
Sold Price
2014
       $412,323
2013       $409,321
An increase of $3,002 or a .007 % decrease of the average sales price of residential homes in the township versus the previous year’s rolling 12 months.

Warrington Township
Sold Price
2014
       $360,031
2013       $338,316
An increase of $21,715, or a 6.1 % increase of the average sales price of residential homes in the township versus the previous year’s rolling 12 months.

Newtown Township
Sold Price
2014
       $378,740
2013       $373,530

An increase of $5,210 or a 1.4 % increase of the average sales price of residential homes in the township versus the previous year’s rolling 12 months.

Newtown Borough
Sold Price
2014
       $619,476
2013       $550,953

An increase of $68,523 or a 12.1 % increase of the average sales price of residential homes in the township versus the previous year’s rolling 12 months.

  • Information was derived from statistical TREND MLS data as of 10/26/2014  including  only residential homes using a low price of $50,000 and a high price of $4,200,000 in the 2013 data and a low price of $50,000 and a high price of $2,025,000 in the 2014 data.

Please feel free to contact me directly regarding information not listed here reagrding your specific Borough or Township or for all of your Real Estate needs or any questions. Also please feel free to comment on the data as I would like to hear your thoughts about the Bucks County Real Estate Market.

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

2006-2013  Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Affiliated Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of Realtors in all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 6


Fire Safety! How Safe Is Your Home?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fire Safety! How Safe Is Your Home?

My Name is Frank Dolski, Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors in Lahaska, PA.  I represent buyers and sellers of Real Estate in Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh, Philadelphia and the Chester County Area in Pennsylvania.  Towns like Doylestown, Buckingham, Yardley, Newtown, New HopeJamison

North Wales and Langhorne are only a few of the areas where I represent clients.  One thing for sure, is that I meet many new people some first time home buyers as well as seasoned buyers and I learn new information regarding home ownership each and every day.

So how safe is your home from a fire? Do you have adequate protection and do you have an evacuation plan in case of a fire?

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are one of the things that I have seen homebuyers take for granted or in many cases, they are just not educated. For example, when I preview a home for sale I have noticed missing smoke detectors, ones that are beeping and an inadequate supply installed within a home. The fact is that a missing or unconnected detector may just be needed to save your life someday. A single battery smoke detector not connected in line with all of the other detectors is merely useless as what happens if a fire occurs in another part of your home?

The Solution

Of course education, awareness and safe practices are key but according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), “Installing your smoke alarms correctly- and making sure they are in working order- is an important step in making your home and family safer from fire”. Listed below are just a few of the general recommendations by NFPA:

 

  • For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds they all sound. Interconnection can be done using hard-wiring or wireless technology.
  • When interconnected smoke alarms are installed, it is important that all of the alarms are from the same manufacturer. If the alarms are not compatible, they may not sound.
  • There are two types of smoke alarms – ionization and photoelectric. An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires, and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types of alarms or combination ionization-photoelectric alarms, also known as dual sensor smoke alarms, are recommended.
  • Choose smoke alarms that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room (or den or family room) or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations.
  • Smoke alarms installed in the basement should be installed on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs leading to the next level.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed at least 10 feet (3 meters) from a cooking appliance to minimize false alarms when cooking.
  • Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises). Wall-mounted alarms should be installed not more than 12 inches away from the ceiling (to the top of the alarm).
  • If you have ceilings that are pitched, install the alarm within 3 feet of the peak but not within the apex of the peak (four inches down from the peak).

 

Needless to say, disregarding general fire safety recommendations and in many cases, township and local code could cause a loss of life and valuable property. You should also have an organized plan to evacuate your home if a fire occurs. According to NFPA, everyone should have a plan including an escape route, have a meeting place outside and practice the plan! They also advise that your children and other residents should know the plan well if you are not around or in case you are injured. Of course, call 911 as soon as possible! Always remember, “Safety First”!  Being proactive in terms of fire safety should be of utmost important to every homeowner. A building can be replaced but a life cannot!

Learn as much as you can about fire safety as there are many resources to increase your education and knowledge!

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012
For Coldwell Banker International Affiliated Realtors

2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 6


What Factors Should Buyers Consider When Purchasing A Home?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What Factors Should Buyers Consider When Purchasing A Home?

There are many buyers in a variety of categories who have different “wish Lists”,requirements and sometimes they are unsure and should be educated prior to making such a huge decision. I have compiled a list of suggestions to consider that I would recommend to buyers.

  1. Buy a home within your means! Plan your home purchase carefully and make sure that you have done your homework in terms of financing. Do not buy any other large purchases during the loan process until you settle on your new home. Your loan office should be able to direct you.
  2. Location, Location, Location! This is still the greatest factor in determining value, appreciation and is the #1 Rule when purchasing a home. Location within a specific area and to a micro level on where it is located in the community a home is located all makes a difference on the net worth of a home. For example, a home located on a busy road with no privacy may not be worth the same value as the same home (all things equal) located with on a lot with woods or privacy. The fact is that it may seem like a good value but you will reduce your buyer pool when you resell because a busy road backing to a home may seriously affect the value of what your next buyers are willing to pay.
  3. Make up a wish list! Include a “must have” list as well as amenities that you would like to have. This is more critical when purchasing a new home. When buying new construction, focus on structural items that cannot be done in the future or may be cost prohibitive. Understand that you have a budget but try to make educated choices. Some popular choices include: Walk-out basements, extended kitchens and family rooms, basement height, 2 versus 3 car garages, morning rooms, basement plumbing rough-ins, type of façade and various upgrades throughout the home. Ask yourself this question. What value do the upgrades make to future appreciation? Your Realtor® should be able to give you advice in this area!
  4. Schools – When purchasing any Real Estate, one of the greatest factors is the quality of a school district. Even if you don’t have school age children, many buyers purchase in specific areas because of the quality of schools. Do your research in this area! It is a critical factor for resale.
  5. Home Inspection – It doesn’t matter if it is resale or new construction; make sure that you hire a professional inspection to inspect your home. I highly recommend a pre-dry wall inspection on all new construction!

Many of the homes that I list and sell are in the greater Philadelphia area. Townships such as Buckingham, Solebury, New Hope Borough, Newtown, Upper Makefield, Montgomery, Warwick and Doylestown are only just a few areas where I represent buyers and sellers. These are only a few suggestions to consider when purchasing a home and there are many other considerations. Please feel free to contact me if you are considering buying or selling a home whether it is now or you are planning for the future. I would also like to hear your thoughts on what buyers should consider when purchasing a new home.

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

2006-2013 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 0


Nearby Cities to visit if you live in Bucks or Montgomery Counties.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Perhaps you live in Bucks or Montgomery or you are considering moving here. In terms of recreation and entertainment, there are many activities that you can explore in some major nearby cities. Here are just a few cities that you may want to visit:


Philadelphia- Philadelphia, known as the birthplace of the United States, is a city that you can't miss seeing. While in Philly, you can visit the Independence National Historical Park, the Liberty Bell, and Philadelphia Museum of Art, and even the Philadelphia zoo. If you’re hungry for more, the Reading Terminal Market is the perfect spot to stop. Known as America’s oldest farmer’s market, Reading Terminal Market offers virtually every type of cuisine you can imagine with over 80 unique merchants. For more information on both the history and all other exciting aspects for Philadelphia, go to www.visitphilly.com.

 

New York- New York is a city filled with countless things to do. From shopping in the SoHo boutiques to enjoying the day in Central Park, you'll constantly have something fun to do. Some of New York's most famous attractions include Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Empire State Building. Another must-see stop is the famous street of Broadway, where you can catch live shows and performances that will blow you away. New York City with its massive skyscrapers and vibrant people is a city you will not regret seeing and certainly will want to visit time and time again. For more information, visit www.nycgo.com.


Lehigh County- Lehigh County is another great option when in search of a city nearby. Here you will find Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, an amusement park that promises crazy coasters, an awesome water park, and an all-around good time for people of all ages. In addition, Lehigh County also offers historic sites on Main Street, covered bridge tours, Sands casino, and variety of great restaurants and bars. Visit www.discoverlehighvalley.com for more information on exciting things to do in the city.


Lancaster- Lancaster is a city uniquely known for its Dutch Country hospitality. Here you can do a variety of interesting and exciting things, such as learning about and experiencing the lives of the Amish. America’s oldest Amish settlement, the Pennsylvania Amish of Lancaster County, will bring you back in time to a place where horses and buggies are used daily for transportation and everything moves at a slow, peaceful pace. Aside from the Amish, Downtown Lancaster is a very popular part of the city. The Downtown includes theatres, museums, historical attractions, restaurants, shops, and boutiques. For more information on other attraction in Lancaster, visit www.padutchcountry.com.

The Jersey Shore – From Bucks County, you can be at the Jersey shore in as little as an hour depending on where you want to go. Some famous New Jersey shore points included Atlantic City, Wildwood, Cape May, Margate, Ocean City, Cape May and More. Other beaches and Shore Points include Long Beach Island, Point Pleasant, Belmar and more. Needless to say, there are a number of nearby shore places to visit.

In conclusion, there is much to do both in the local areas and nearby cities.  If you are considering moving to the area and would like some Real Estate or general information, please feel free to contact me or visit my website.

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

2006-2013 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 2


Do Good Quality Pictures Make A Difference When Listing Tour Home?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Do Good Quality Pictures Make A Difference When Listing Tour Home?

Pictures, they do make a difference if you are selling or listing a home!

It is a statistical fact that 90% of buyers use the internet to search for homes. Location, amenities, commuting, schools and more play a critical role in selecting an area/home. But pictures play an important role in creating the images to want a buyer to even consider a home.

My name is Frank Dolski, Associate Broker/Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors serving Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh and Philadelphia counties. I service buyers, sellers and investors in these areas and more! One thing that I learned very early in my career is that good pictures make a difference in depicting the interior and exterior of homes that I list as well as homes that my clients are viewing over the internet.

Have you seen pictures with sun glaring through the windows, or perhaps a critical picture of a kitchen where two-thirds of the kitchen are missing in the shot? Or perhaps a picture of a room where key features like the fireplace is missing from the image? Not only is this a disservice to sellers but buyers really do not have an opportunity to see what the home really looks like.

My objective in marketing a listing is to capture key pictures of every possible room in a house and at different angles. Listed below are some suggestions and strategies that I use when taking pictures of a home.

  1. Make sure that you have a decent camera. There are many types of cameras and they do not have to be ultra expensive. Having the proper lenses as well as a good flash are also very important.
  2. Select a mode that you will are comfortable with and can produce good pictures. I like to shoot in manual mode but remember that a tripod must be used in this mode or any non automatic mode. Depending on the mode that you use, make certain that the lighting is sufficient.
  3. Interior Pictures - Make sure all of the lights are on! When taking pictures of each and every room, make sure that all of the lights are on as well as the adjacent rooms. This will help in overall exposure as well as ambient light glowing from a lamp is awesome! You will have to select the property time of day to take the pictures whereas the sun is not pouring through the windows.
  4. Exterior pictures – Make sure that the sun is at your back when taking pictures. You will get a great skyline background without the sun glaring in your face. Note that this will typically take two trips to a home. You may also need a ladder to carefully get the right shot due to the topography of the property! Make sure that you include critical pictures such as landscaping, an indoor pool, decking, patio and views that illustrate the setting in the back or front yards.
  5. Staging and de-cluttering is a given for every room. This is a completely separate topic but just remember that a well staged home typically sells quicker and for more money! This also holds true for the exterior of a home. Curb appeal is critical so be sure to trim plants and trees, mulch and make sure that optimum pictures may be taken.

In conclusion, pictures draw attention to buyers. Good pictures are important as any other factor to consider when listing your home.  For the buyers, it gives them a better indication on how a home really looks and good pictures inspire showings. Therefore, it is imperative that they are done right and with the proper lighting. I'd like to hear your ideas on Real Estate Photography and if have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

2006-2013 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 11


So your home won't sell, now what?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

So your home won't sell, now what?

Perhaps your home has been on the market for 6 months, a year or even longer. What is the issue? No showings? Why isn’t selling?

There are many reasons why a home will not sell. Perhaps it is overpriced, the market is slow, or what if there were things in your control to help your home sell.  It is easy to blame a Realtor/Broker and switch to a 2nd or 3rd Realtor/Broker. But sometimes this is not the issue and many times, all of this may be avoided. Selecting a new Realtor may not be the answer.

Here is a list of ideas that will help you to sell your home quicker and in most cases, for more money.

Preparation

The first thing that you must do is to involve a Realtor® before you consider listing your home.  An assessment is done on what you need to do to prepare your home for sale. De-cluttering is typically the first step as buyers do not want to see a cluttered house. A Market analysis is also performed at this time.
 Fact: Reducing unnecessary stuff will make each room look larger and more appealing. This comes down to how much "stuff" you have on your kitchen counters to how your bookshelves are organized (or not) to how many items are on a coffee table. Less items throughout your home shows a more organized room and the perception of a larger room.

Updates: This goes hand in hand with preparation. If your competition has it, you better! Using a professional stager is critical and for me, I use Creative Staging and their assessment is of no cost for my clients. It may be as simple as painting, caulking or adding granite or new appliances. The return on investment must be calculated but I assure you that in the majority of cases, the ROI is well worth it! Occasionally, I hear “The buyers may not like the colors we pick” or “we’ll just give a credit”. Totally not true! I have my stager help to pick the paint colors, granite, carpeting and whatever needs to be done with close colabration with the sellers and I.  Consistently lowering the price is an option but do you really want to do that? My professional opinion is do it right the first time! I can site many situations and give you dozens of recommendations but trust me, it works!

Curb Appeal: The exterior must look as good as inside or better! The first impression is lasting! So, freshen up the outside by weeding and mulching and adding some landscaping if needed. Exterior painting, power-washing, driveway sealing and gutter cleaning are only some of my suggestions. If the outside of your home does not look good, you may never get buyers inside! Dressing your home to sell is essential.

Pictures

Good pictures and videos give buyers a clear vision of how your home shows. Poor pictures can have buyers and Realtors overlook your listing. It is imperative that good pictures are taken of every room and from different angles. 90% of all buyers go on the Internet to look for homes. If the pictures are poor and the home may really show well, they may overlook your listing. Sun glaring or uneven pictures are distracting and do not depict a clear image of your home. Feel free to visit my website at www.FrankDolski.com and look at my listings for some example of the pictures that I post. Professional photographers are sometimes used but make sure that they are experienced with architectural /Real Estate pictures.

The greatest complaint and I look at it as an opportunity up front is that I have is “that when sellers do not listen and roll the dice”. Or. “Let’s see what happens”.  Six months later after numerous price reductions I am asked what I am doing to sell their homes. Let me be clear that this is not the majority but the minority of educated sellers that Realtors represent. Sure it is nice to be the second or third Realtor in but I’d rather see sellers be proactive. So, remove that wallpaper, paint those rooms and employ a team effort with your Realtor® to place your home in its optimum condition. Please feel free to contact me if you are considering listing your home. I service buyers and sellers of Real Estate in the greater Philadelphia Suburbs in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and the adjacent counties. Cites such as Doylestown, Buckingham, Newtown, North Wales, West Chester and New Hope, just to name a few.  Feel free to contact me. There is a difference!

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

2006-2013 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 4


Bucks County.......Rich in History!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Bucks County.......Rich in History!

So you’re thinking about moving or visiting the Bucks County area?  Perhaps you’re looking for something to do.  There are many historic sites to see in Bucks County, becuase it is located in the heart of colonial America.  Buildings still stand where George Washington slept, and Bucks County gives you the opportunity to visit these locations. Below are just a few of the historic sites in Bucks County.


Washington Crossing
George Washington and men of the Continental Army “crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night 1776 and marched to Trenton, New Jersey.”  This surprise attack ultimately is what led America to achieve victory.  Today, you can visit this historic landmark, where George Washington and his army stood, or come to see the reenactment of Washington’s crossing that occurs every on Christmas day at 1:00pm.  Visit http://www.ushistory.org/washingtoncrossing/index.htm for full details of this historic park.

Bowman’s Tower
Bowman’s Hill Tower is opened Tuesday- Sunday 10am-4pm.  Bring family and friends for a guided tour at only $6 per person.  “This grand observation tower offers an expansive view of the Delaware River area…. Beyond the landmark, Bowman's Hill Tower offers much more to those interested in learning about the Park's history and the origins of the Tower's construction.”

Covered Bridges
Today only 12 covered bridges remain in Bucks County, and you can take advantage of the unique opportunity to coast through each one by taking a covered bridge tour. This tour will take you back in time as you circle through beautiful scenery and cross bridges that range from 56 to 150 feet long and have been around since the 1800’s. For information about touring the bridges, visit http://www.visitbuckscounty.com/things-to-do/driving-tours/covered-bridge/.

Pennsbury Manor
Constructed between the years of 1682 and 1684, Pennsbury Manor is famously known as the home of William Penn. Located on the Delaware River, this building was reconstructed after it fell to ruin in 1707. However, the house still contains many pieces from its original structure and holds true to the representation of an English gentleman’s home. From its open-hearth kitchen to its family parlor, Pennsbury Manor is truly a historic site to see. Visit http://scenicbuckscounty.com/Pennsbury/Pennsbury.html for full information.

Summerseat
Interested in the history of America?  Take a tour of Summerseat, a Georgian mansion that housed some of the most historic people.Signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Robert Morris and George Clymer, were homeowners here, along with George Washington who used Summerseat as his headquarters for his famous crossing of the Delaware River.  Visit http://www.scenicbuckscounty.com/Summerseat/Sumrseat1.html for full information of this historic mansion standing in Morrisville, PA.

Please contact me for additional information if you are considering settling down in Bucks County. I am here to help guide you on your journey in buying Real Estate, and I hope to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible. Whether you are moving to or already live in this general area and have not yet visited these historic sites to see, I highly recommend you start planning your unforgettable trip today!

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

2006-2013 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

 

Comments: 0


What Is A Home Inspection And Why Should You Have One?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What Is A Home Inspection And Why Should You Have One?

Home Inspections!  What Are They And Why You Should Have One?

Buying a home is one of the most important Investments that you will make in your lifetime and more than likely, you will do this more than once. A comprehensive home inspection is highly recommended prior to purchasing a home. 

What is a home Inspection?

A home inspection is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home, often in connection with the sale of that home. Home inspections are usually conducted by a home inspector who has the training and certifications to perform such inspections. In addition, a termite, radon, septic and well inspections may be required. A pool and spa inspection is also common.
According to the National Association of Realtors consumer guide, a home inspection is “a noninvasive visual examination of some combination of the mechanical, electrical or plumbing systems or the structural and essential components of a residential dwelling designed to identify material defects in those systems and components and performed for a fee in connection with or preparation for a proposed or possible residential real estate transfer. The term also includes any consultation regarding the property that is represented to be a home inspection or that is described by any confusingly similar term.”

Home Inspection

According to Steve recommend, A Bucks County and regional Home Inspector, “Home inspections typically take from 2-3 hours long depending on the size and condition of the home and you are encouraged to follow along throughout the inspection.  During the inspection process a detailed report complete with digital photos will be prepared.  The results will be reviewed and presented after the inspection or a PDF file can be emailed.” Once reviewed with the buyer and their Realtor®, a proposal to the sellers may be made for corrective action (if warranted) or a credit. Or perhaps, nothing is wrong! These items are negotiable under home inspection contingencies which have specific time-lines within the context of the Agreement of sale.

Items that are typically inspected in the interior of the home include major systems such as:

  • Heating and air conditioning systems.
  • The electrical components including outlets, proper GFCI function and the electrical panel box. Proper wiring and grounding is also checked.
  • The plumbing system including possible leaks in faucets, toilets, waste lines and more.
  • Appliances such as the dishwasher, range/oven and the microwave.
  • Door and window functionality including broken window seals.
  • Hot water heater
  • Garage door and openers including safe function of the system.
  • Smoke detectors (not tested unless by a Use and Occupancy code) But strongly recommended!
  • Interior roof trusses and an attic inspection for proper insulation and potential leaks.
  • The foundation of the home for excessive cracks and water penetration.
  • Basements for mold (could be a separate inspection in itself), excessive cracks in walls and floors, sump pump functionality (if applicable), beams and overall foundation.
  • A termite inspection usually encompasses the interior and exterior inspection. Mortgage companies typically require this.

 

Items that are typically inspected in the exterior of the home include:

  • A roof inspection for missing shingles, leaks and proper flashing  Also includes roof vents (for proper seals) ridge vents, soffits and the overall condition of the roof.
  • The exterior stucco, siding, brick, etc. Note that there may also be a separate stucco inspection by a certified stucco inspector. This is common with many relocation companies to certify that the stucco is properly installed.
  • Proper grading near the home for potential water penetration.
  • Gutter system for clogging and proper function.
  • Decks, balconies, porches and patios.
  • All exterior trim and flashing.
  • Exterior window inspection for proper caulking.
  • Driveway and sidewalk condition including steps.
  • Overgrown vegetation near the home.  Usually near A/C unit and vent areas.
  • A pool/hut tub inspection if applicable.
  • Detached garage structures including roofing

 

A radon inspection is also highly recommendation to insure proper and safe levels. There may be other inspections that are required that are not listed here including a separate Use and Occupancy of a Certificate Of Occupancy for new construction.

In any event, a home inspection should include material defects. Occasionally cosmetic issues may be noted in the report including floor condition, ceiling cracks, etc., but may not be considered a material defect.  A written report is given to the home buyer and this is reviewed with their Realtor® as inspection items may be negotiated as noted in the agreement of sale and most always has specific time-lines. Corrective action is also included in the scope of the report.

In any event, if you are purchasing a home whether it is resale or new construction, Real Estate caan be one of the largest investments that you will ever make.  Therefore, I always recommend getting a home inspection by a certified home inspector

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

2006-2013 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 5


It's Fun-tastic In Historic New Hope & Surrounding Areas!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Are you considering moving to BucksChesterMontgomeryLehigh, or Philadelphia County areas?  Have you ever thought about what fun activities you’ll be able to plan for you and your family?  Around here, you’ll always find something to do, whether you visit New Hope, Peddler’s Village, or Penn’s Purchase.  Listed below is some information that will give you an idea on where you want to plan your next day or night out on the town:


New Hope

New Hope began as an industrial town and over the course of a hundred years, it has made its way to becoming a tourist town filled with many shops, restaurants, and sites to see. From festivals to 5k runs, New Hope is the perfect place to spend time with family and friends. Some of the town’s main attractions include the Bucks County Children’s Museum, the Bucks County Playhouse, and Rice’s Market, a popular, outdoor place for one stop shopping! In addition to its many shops, New Hope offers a variety of places to grab a bite to eat. From Martine’s RiverHouse Restaurant and Bar to Nina’s Waffles and Sweets, everyone can find a food to enjoy! Visit http://www.newhope.com for more information.



Peddler’s Village

Abundant with beautiful, award winning gardens and lovely colonial-style buildings, Peddler’s Village is definitely a site to see. This small town is packed with things to do, and is perfect for people of all ages. From boutiques to galleries, Peddler’s Village offers a wide range of unique shops. If you’re looking for a place to eat, then you’re in luck. Peddler’s Pub, Nancy’s Village Café, and Pigadilly’s Ice Cream and Gelato are just a few of the popular dining attractions. Need a place to throw the perfect birthday party for your kid? Giggleberry Fair is right up your ally, with jungle gyms, rides, and so much more! For more information on upcoming events and attractions, visit http://www.peddlersvillage.com.



Penn’s Purchase

In the mood for a relaxing day of shopping? Take a drive down to Lahaska and visit Penn’s Purchase Factory Stores.  Here, there are always great savings and fun events to be enjoyed, so keep an eye out for the upcoming sales!  Some of the specific shops include the Coach Factory, the Gymboree Outlet, and the Nine West Outlet.  “Come for the Shopping.  Stay for the Variety!  Stay for the Excitement! Stay for the Adventure!  Stay for the Day!”   For directions and a full list of the store directory, go tohttp://www.pennspurchase.com for more information!



Please contact me for additional information if you are considering settling down in BucksChesterMontgomeryLehigh, or Philadelphia County areas.   I am here to help guide you on your journey in buying Real Estate, and I hope to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible.  If you already live in this general area and have not yet visited these historic towns and villages, I highly recommend you start planning your unforgettable trip today!

 Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
 
Associate Broker

Certified Relocation Specialist

Previews Luxury Home Specialist

Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors 

215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.comwww.FrankDolski.Com


2006-2013 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 7


Ulitimate Skiing And Winter Fun Right At Your Bucks County Doorstep!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ulitimate Skiing And Winter Fun Right At Your Bucks County Doorstep!

Are you getting ready to pack up and move to BucksChesterMontgomeryLehigh, or Philadelphia County areas?  Yes?  Have you ever considered what fun activities you’ll be able to plan for you and your family?  There are a countless number of opportunities and places to go to have fun, including driving up to some of the most popular ski resorts around here! Listed are some of the best slopes in the general area.

Blue Mountain
Blue Mountain is best known for skiing, boarding, and snow tubing in the Winter, and Disc Golf, Mountain Biking, Adventure Camp, Adventure Parties, Meetings, Weddings, Teambuilding and more during the Spring, Summer, and Fall! Here, there is something to do for everyone, all year round!  Check out the website at http://www.skibluemt.com to learn about experiencing more blue and how to plan a family trip today!


Jack Frost Big Boulder
Snow comes first here at this premier Pocono resort.  With 21 different slopes and terrains that include learning hills to advanced slopes, this mountain is perfect for first timers all the way to advanced skiers and boarders.  Plan your visit and buy your tickets for the upcoming winter seasons at http://www.jfbb.com.


Elk Mountain Ski Resort
Always dreamed about skiing and boarding in Vermont?  Well now you can closer to home!  Elk Mountain is the “skiers’ choice” because “it’s like skiing in Vermont without the drive!”  With over 27 trails, this mountain has the most challenging terrain in Pennsylvania.  Learn more about Elk Mountain and what this mountain has to offer at http://www.elkskier.com 


Camelback Mountain Resort
If you thought this resort was only good for the famous waterpark and mountain adventures, you thought wrong.  This resort also offers skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and so much more fun!  Camelback Mountain is a place where kids can be kids, adults can be adults, and families can be families.  Whatever level skier or boarder you are, Camelback will make you feel comfortable and right at home!  Begin planning your winter fun today at http://www.skicamelback.com. 

Shawnee Ski Resort
Known for its "aggressive snow making and quality grooming," this resort is located right in the heart of the Pocono Mountains.  Shawnee Ski Resort offers activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and some.  Visit 
http://www.shawneemt.com to learn more about this resort and how to plan a trip for you, your family, and friends today!

Please contact me for additional information if you are considering settling down in BucksChesterMontgomery,Lehigh, or Philadelphia County areas.  I am here to help guide you on your journey in buying Real Estate, and I hope to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible.  If you already live in this general area and have not yet visited these ski resorts, I highly recommend you start planning your winter vacation today! Also keep in mind that there is yraer round fun at all of the mentioned resorts as well!

 Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO

Associate Broker

Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist

Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors

215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.comwww.FrankDolski.Com



2006-2014 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 6


Let The Good Times Roll At Local Theme Parks!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Let The Good Times Roll At Local Theme Parks!

Perhaps you are thinking about moving to the Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, Lehigh,  or Philadelphia County areas? Maybe you already live here or perhaps are visiting? Finding the perfect home is a important but what are your going to do here for fun? There are many things to do in the area and one of the best that I like to do is visit theme parks. Roller Coasters are may favorite rides and these parks sure do have some good ones! Listed are some of the best theme parks in the general area!

Hersheypark

Hersheypark has been putting smiles on people’s faces and has been a place for families to build memories for over 100 years.  With 12 thrilling roller coasters, 14 water attractions, and over 65 rides and attractions, there will never be a dull moment for anyone at any age!  Learn more about this park at http://www.hersheypark.com/.

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom

Here, there is something for everyone!  A day at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom will leave every family member dreading to go home.  The wide variety of roller coasters, thrill rides, family and water rides will make this trip a very special one.  Learn more about Dorney’s thrilling rides and fabulous food at http://www.dorneypark.com to make your stay at the park as enjoyable as you’d like it to be!

Knoebels Amusement Resort

Knoebel’s is the largest free admission amusement park in America!  What’s better than free?  “Free Admission, Free Parking, Free Entertainment, Free Picnic Facilities all make Knoebels a great place for an affordable family outing.”  Go on rides and attractions, go camping, or go swimming all at Knoebels Amusement Resort! Learn more at http://www.knoebels.com/.

Sesame Place Theme Park

Sesame Place is designed to allow kids and parents to laugh and learn their way through this park.  With over 18 dry rides, a number of water rides, and shows and parades that give families a chance to meet the characters of Sesame Street, this vacation will be one to remember!  Go to http://www.sesameplace.com to learn more about all the events Sesame place has to offer.

 

Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark

Did you know Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark is the biggest water park in Pennsylvania?  There are more than 37 rides, slides, and attractions here at Camelbeach.  Splash your way through this park on a hot summer day with family and friends!  Buy your tickets today at http://www.camelbeach.com.  

 

Six Flags Great Adventure

Looking for a relaxing day with young children or a thrill-filled day for dare devils?  You found the perfect place! Six Flags Great Adventure has not only family rides, but in fact “some of the fastest, tallest, wildest, gut-wrenching-est rides in the country—including a few record breakers.”  Go to http://sixflags.com to start planning your memorable trip. 

 

If you are considering moving to the Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh, Chester or Philadelphia counties, please contact me for additional information. Buying  Real Estate is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make and I am here to help. Or if you already live in the area, there is much to do in terms of year round entertainment and visiting theme parks are only just one of my favorite things to do!

 

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO

Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist

Previews Luxury Home Specialist

Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors

215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.comwww.FrankDolski.Com



2006-2013 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!

2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 3


Should You Stage Your Home When Listing? What If You Do Not?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Should You Stage Your Home When Listing? What If You Do Not?

Selling a home may be one of the most challenging and the frustrating things that you may do in your life.  But as an Associate Broker and Realtor® for Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors, I am here to tell you that it can be easy as you want to make it given the proper guidance.

My name is Frank Dolski and I represent buyers and sellers in the Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Philadelphia Counties. The focus of this article is staging. What is it?
According to Julie Pelly, owner of Creative Staging, “staging is a unique interior redesign service that enhances the visual appeal of your home. From the moment prospective buyers drive up and come in, they are met with details arranged to appeal to their senses and emotions. A Staged house is carefully and meticulously prepared for sale to create a spectacular first impression that allows prospective buyers see the home’s best potential”.

She goes further on to say, “staging is the most cost-effective way to professionally prepare your house to sell quickly and profitably. From furniture rearrangement to de-cluttering, updating, highlighting selling features, maximizing space and more, and your house will look its ABSOLUTE BEST for sale. It will outshine the competition and be more marketable because it will appeal to ALL buyers”.

The fact is that you are not preparing your home for the way that you currently live but in fact, the way that the potential buyers see your home and in many cases, you only may have one chance to wow them! One of the most common questions that I get if I ask a seller to paint or stage is that the buyers may not like the color of the style granite that I pick. The fact is that with the busy life of most buyers, they would much rather own a home that is tastefully appointed no matter of the price range.

Of course as a seller, you must evaluate the return on investment and as a Realtor; my job is to assist sellers in this process. I have seen many homes sit on the market, some of which I am given the opportunity to re-list and in the majority of all of them, staging was never discussed. I just listed a home in Newtown Township, Bucks County that sold in just 12 hours with 11 canceled showings as it is now pending and two in Buckingham Township within a day this past summer. Nothing was magical but in all three cases, the sellers prepared the interior and exterior of their homes and staged them. They were proactive and seen the value of doing things to make their homes stand out and give a good first impression.

Of course, staging can cost as little or as much as is required and it is pretty much ala carte. Here again, my job is to help sellers pick and choose what is most important to help their homes stand out above their competition.  It can be as simple as repositioning furniture within a home, touching up some paint or adding accents.  It has been statistically valuated that staged homes sell quicker and for more money. If you are interested in listing or selling your home or just want more information on staging, please contact me.

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

2006-2013 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 2


What is a U & O and does every Township require one?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What is a U & O and does every Township require one?

As an Associate Broker/Realtor, my job is to inform buyers and sellers if a U & O is required prior to settlement.  This Typically from State to State, Township to Township and is a very important aspect of being able to settle on a property.


According to the definition in Wikopedia, a U & O is:

  1. Use and Occupancy. An official authorization or permit to inhabit a building or dwelling, usually issued upon successful completion of a final building inspection after construction and/or renovation is complete. Also referred to as a "certificate of occupancy" or "occupancy permit".

I list and sell many homes in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. One of the areas that requires a U & O is Warwick Township.  This is required for all new construction and for resale. The use and occupancy requirements vary form each area and it is imperative as a Realtor, buyer or seller, that you familiarize yourself in the areas which you are looking to purchase or sell a home. Typically, you can go to the township website and obtain the information and forms for this process.

Buckingham Township only requires a U & O for new construction and not for resale. Chalfont Boro requires a U & O for new construction and resale but Solebury Township only requires one for new construction. As you may well find out, they differ in scope in each area.  In fact, there are ordinances that must be followed in each township and fines could be given.  Please give yourself 3 to 4 weeks for inspection prior to settlement and any items that need repair must be done prior to settlement unless that area issues a temporary U & O which gives the new owners time after settlement to repair the issues if any. Some of the items that are tested are smoke detectors, indoor fire sprinklers and more.  

Please contact me if you are considering to list or buy a home and I will be glad to assist you in this process. There is a difference!

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

2006-2013 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Lahaska Office!
2013 Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Recipient – Top 6% of all Coldwell Banker International Realtors.
Ranked in the top 1% of all Bucks County Realtor in 2013!

Comments: 5


Preparing Your Home For Sale. It Makes A Huge Difference!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Preparing Your Home For Sale. It Makes A Huge Difference!

When you are putting your home up for sale, you have two main goals; a timely sale, and receiving the best possible price.  In order to achieve these goals, your home needs to present itself in the best possible light. While every home shopper has different ideas about what the 'perfect home' is, you as the seller need to ensure that your home appeals to the widest variety of home buyers possible.

How Does Your Home Stack Up?

According to a survey put out by the National Association of Home Builders  "What Home Buyers Really Want", home buyers desired the following features most:

  • Energy Star-rated appliances — 94 percent
  • Laundry room — 93 percent
  • Energy Star-rating for the whole home — 91 percent
  • Exhaust fan in bathroom — 90 percent
  • Exterior Lighting — 90 percent
  • Bathroom Linen Closet — 90 percent
  • Energy Star-rated windows — 89 percent
  • Ceiling fans — 88 percent
  • Garage Storage — 86 percent
  • Table space for eating in kitchen — 85 percent
  • Walk-in kitchen pantry; ability to stock up and buy food and supplies in bulk — 85 percent
  • As you may have noticed from the preferences above, green is gold.  Buyers are looking for homes that are energy efficient, providing an overall lower cost for owners to run the home.

    Other surveys have uncovered the desire for develop function rooms with zones for entertaining, working, family activities, and retreating. This is true of the kitchen as well since it serves as the hub for social activity in the home. Kitchens should be open with an island that serves as both additional eating space and a divider from the great room.

    Outdoor living space serves as an extension of living space for the home.  Ground floor walk outs and covered patios are high on many buyers wish lists. Outdoor fireplaces and cooking areas are an attractive way to showcase an outdoor living space.

    "To dos"
    What can I do to make sure my home shows its best?
  • Yard
  • Your yard is the first thing a buyer will see and is the basis for your home's first impression. Make sure the yard is well manicured, no leaves or branches on the ground and all beds freshly mulched.. You may want to leave a pot of red or yellow flowers by the front door - research shows that this helps to sells homes faster!


Clean & Shiny

  • All home surfaces should be clean and the air should be fresh smelling. If there's a smoker in the home, be sure to remove all ash trays and make sure that your home does not contain smoke odor. Consider smoking outdoors while the home is on the market.
  • Bathrooms need to be spotless, no towels lying around, toys in the tub, ring in the toilet, etc. Ensure that they sparkle and smell fresh everyday. Make the beds and develop all bedrooms each day and especially prior to all showings.


De-clutter

  • While you may become accustomed to things lying around your house, try to look at your home the way a buyer would.  Inspect all surfaces and floors; don't forget about the closet! Removing clutter will make the home appear larger. As a rule of thumb, there should be no more than 3 kitchen appliances on the counter top and as little as possible on the bathroom counters. Less "stuff" on counters show more room! It's ok to leave out a few of your child's favorite toys and a few family photos to give that good, cozy feel'. Tip - For those smaller items lying round the home, have some plastic laundry baskets handy so you can throw any clutter in them and take them with you when the home is being shown. Also, have a 'pet plan' - to remove pet toys, food bowls,etc. as well as the pet anytime the home is shown.


Organize

  • Straighten up and dust bookshelves. Use the bookshelf rule of three; 1/3 books, 1/3 pictures and accessories, and 1/3 open space.
    Organize closets, ensuring items are hanging nicely and everything has its own space.
    Since the pantry &  laundry room both rate high of the list of things buyers want, buyers will be interested how you are utilizing these spaces.  It's important to make sure they are neat and well organized. 


Updates

  • Complete the 'honey-do' list. Finish all those small repair jobs you've been working on or putting off. Even the smallest repairs can be an indicator of non obvious problems lurking below and the surface, and be a put off to the buyer.
  • Paint colors can be daunting - too much white gives an institutional feeling while bold colors can be off putting. The key is using neutral colors.  Neutrals appeal to a wide audience and is your safest bet.
  • Changing out old door knobs, light fixtures and kitchen cabinet knobs will give you a big bang for your buck. According to Realtor Magazine, buyer now want more efficient and smarter home! If you really want to give your home a strong selling advantage, consider upgrading your kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite counter-tops, this is sure to win over the pickiest of buyers. 
  • One of the greatest comments that I often hear is that a seller may not want to paint or upgrade because the buyers may not like it! Not true! I utilize professional interior designers at no cost to help you to pick paint colors and suggest ideas to improve the overall appearance of your home. Whether you are picking paint, carpet or granite counter top colors, I can certainly assist you in this endeavor.

    Chasing Buyers Away

Trends of the past that no longer appeal to some home buyers include: a shower-only stall in the master bath and a two-story entry foyer, which is viewed as costly to heat and cool. Home-buyers want to live in an area that has walking and bicycle paths, with community landscaping of green spaces.  But keep in mind that every buyer is different in terms of needs or wants. Laminate or tile counter tops, laminate cabinets, one car garages, wallpaper, and popcorn acoustic ceilings are a big "no-no". Pet odors, musty or wet basements, unclean homes, poorly lit rooms, older carpeting and more are just a few of the things that chase buyers away. And one of the worst things to do is for a seller to hang around during the showing! Buyers and their agents want to freely walk around and discuss the home.


Preparing your home for sale can seem overwhelming at first. Utilize a professional Realtor and home staging expert to help you develop a customized plan of action. The results will be amazing and the return on investment will be worth it! You must do everything possible to make your home stand out among the your competition! Lighting rooms before showings and having your home show in the best possible way will pay back dividends. I strongly recommend a company called Creative Staging. They are amazing!

Please contact me if you are considering to list or sell your home now or in the near future. There is a difference! Let me show you how.



Frank DolskiMBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President Elite Award
2013
Coldwell Banker International President Circle Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President's Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 7


Paying The Property Tax Bill............No "Tip" Necesary!

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Taxes, something we all have in common, something we dred and something we are preparing for right now.
Morgan Stanley got it right when they released an advertisement stating, "You must pay taxes. But there's no law that says you've gotta leave a tip." Yes, you'd probably be hard pressed to find someone who feels that they pay too little taxes or would voluntarily pay a little extra.  Most of us spend this time of year organizing, calculating, and tabulating, hoping and wishing for the illusive tax refund.  While there's not much you can do about the past year, you can take proactive steps now to reduce your property tax burden for the upcoming year.

What is Property Tax?

Every parcel of land, and any improvements (structures) thereon is "assessed", or valued, by a state certified assessor under the direction of the County Assessment Office. The value that is placed on the property will determine how much tax you will pay.
Property tax is used as a source of revenue by county government, school districts and most of the municipalities in Pennsylvania to pay for public services.

How is my tax determined?
Property taxes are calculated using the following equations:

Market Value X Assessment Ratio = Assessment

Assessment X Millage = Property Taxes

Market Value
The first number in the equation that you need to identify is your property's 'market value'. This value generally refers to what a ready, willing and able buyer might pay for the property in the current market. This value can be obtained either by hiring a professional appraisor or by doing a little leg work on your own and calculating it yourself.
If you opt to calculate this yourself, there are three steps to arrive at your value.
1) Identify a resource or website that can help you find recent real estate sales data for your area. E.g. local tax records websites or website of a local Realtor
2) Utilize your resource to find 3 homes that have sold near your home within the last six months. It is important to find recent sales, so that you are getting an accurate picture of the current market. These homes are called your "Comps" or Comparable Sales. Comp homes should be in the same school zone, similar in size, type of construction and have the same features as yours.
3)Calculate the average sales price of the three homes. Once you have an average price, you'll want to determine a dollar amount, or "Adjustments", for any upgrades or amenities that your property has that the others don't. Conversley, if your home is missing something that the others have then you want to subtract a dollar amount from your home's value. Dollar amounts to add or subtract will vary, specific to your local area and you may need the help of a professional, like an Appraiser, Realtor or Tax Assessor.

Assessment Ratio or Common Level Ratio (CLR)
The CLR is determined by the PA State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) on an annual basis for each county. The CLR is an average of assessments to sale prices.
The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue provides an updated list of the CLRs for the state.  Click HERE to access the list for your county's specific ratio.


Millage Rate -The property tax rate is expressed as a per mil (amount of tax per thousand currency units of property value), which is also known as a millage rate or mill. To calculate the property tax, the authority will multiply the assessed value of the property by the mill rate and then divide by 1,000. To view the current Bucks County Millage Rates, click here.

When assessments are conducted the owner is mailed a "Change In Assessment" notice. All property owners have the right to appeal if they do not agree with the assessment of their property.

Appeals Process

Property owners have an opportunity to appeal their assessment once a year, the appeal must be filed on or before August 1 for any effective assessment change on January 1. By appealing, the property is open to the re-valuation process in which the property assessment may be lowered, raised or remain the same.  If the assessed value is less than the current market value, it may be best to leave the assessment figure alone, or the challenge could result in higher taxes.

If you choose to Appeal your Assessment, the first step is to submit an assessment appeal application - Bucks County Property Assessment Appeal, as found on buckscountyboa.org. The Assessment Office has implemented Resolution #1-2008 which requires a processing fee for each parcel appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals. The fee for each residential property will vary by County, but is currently $35 for Bucks County.

 
The Appeal Hearing

Once your application has been submitted, you will be notified of a hearing date to review your case.  The property owner is requested to attend but if unable to do so, may send someone else to provide representation with a letter of authorization. If more than one person owns the property jointly it is not necessary that all the owners appear at the hearing.
The process is relatively simple, a residential hearing lasts about 5 minutes. The burden of proving to the board that the assessment on your home is incorrect rests with the property owners. The assessment will be presumed to be correct until the property owners come forward with credible evidence to prove otherwise.The property owner has the opportunity to present information such as a recent appraisal or recent sales documentation for sales "comps" in their area.  If the home was recently purchased, the settlement statement can be used as evidence of fair market value, to support the case.The property owner may also present other information that may have an impact on the value of the property.

The Board of Assessment Appeals may request that the property owner provide recent photographs (front and rear) of the property, including any recent physical changes to the exterior of the property.

Based upon the documentation provided by the property owner, the Board will determine a fair market value for the property. The Board will then by statute, apply the appropriate Common Level Ratio (CLR) to the fair market value to arrive at the new assessed value.

The Board generally renders a decision within 3-4 weeks of the hearing date and notifies the property owner in writing. All townships/areas differ in their appeal process so contact your local tax office/court house for timelines and process.

Please contact me if you are looking to apppeal your taxes as I help many people each year! Also, please contact me if you are thinking of buying or selling a home. There is a difference!

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 0


Taxpayer Relief.................................Deadline Is Approaching!!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Taxpayer Relief.................................Deadline Is Approaching!!!



The words 'Taxes' and 'relief' can be tricky to put together in the same sentence...but hey, look, I did it! If you act quickly, you too may be able to put those two words together. This relief is coming to you in the form of the Taxpayer Relief Act, Act 1 of Special Session 1 of 2006. 

What is it?

The Taxpayer Relief Act provides for property tax reduction allocations to be distributed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to each school district.  As required by law, the Commonwealth’s Budget Secretary certified on April 15, 2013, that $611,600,000 in state-funded local tax relief will be available in 2013-2014. This property tax reduction will be through a “homestead or farmstead exclusion.” Generally, most owner occupied homes and farms (primary residences) are eligible for this property tax reduction. 

How do I apply?
The application process is simple but act quickly as the annual deadline is March 1. School districts are required to notify homeowners by December 31 of each year if their property is not approved for the homestead or farmstead exclusion or if their approval is due to expire. To obtain a copy of the application, homeowners should contact theircounty assessment officeHere is a direct link to the 2014 Application for Homestead and Farmstead Exclusionsapplication for Bucks County, the county where I reside.

How much money does this mean for me?

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, this is your Estimated state property tax relief  per homestead. While it may not be a lot of money coming back to you, it is probably enough to make it worth the effort of taking the time to file the application. 

Frank Dolski  MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist 
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors 
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International Presidental™ Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International Presidental™ Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 8


Is A Vacation Home Right For me?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Is A Vacation Home Right For me?

Is that yearend bonus burning a hole in your pocket?  Thinking of a way to spend your tax refund or did your accountant tell you that you must invest in something because you made too much money? When considering how to invest your money, you may be considering upgrades to your current home, whether it be finishing your basement, adding square footage to your home, or updating your kitchen or bath. When considering the options you need to be wary to not over improve a home, so use some discretion.  Alternatively, have you considered taking those same dollars and putting them down on another property?
You wouldn't be alone if you were considering purchasing that vacation home. Sales of second homes increased 10 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors. During this vacation-home buying boom, the median price for these properties went through the roof – up 23 percent, to $150,000. 

Does a Second Home Makes Financial Sense

Resist the urge to impulse buy, you may end up with a second home you cannot afford or that does not fit your needs.
Whether or not you consider yourself an investor, you'll want your second home purchase to be a sound financial decision. Consider all the costs, not just the purchase price, but ongoing routine expenses as well as unforeseen expenses. You'll want to tally up your likely expenses and build up your cash reserve. For home maintenance, a good rule of thumb is to set aside 2 percent of the home’s value per year for upkeep and repairs. If you plan on renting out the property, determine how much you can expect from rental income (it's often not enough to cover your monthly costs).

A few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you plan to vacation in the same place year after year? Does it match your lifestyle?
  • Do you plan to hold onto the property for at least 5 years?
  • Is the real estate market now favorable to buyers?
  • Are you certain that you’ll be able to afford the extra expenses over the long term?

If you answer yes to these, it probably is a good choice for you. However if you’re not sure how long you’ll enjoy that location or if you’re unsure of your future income, it is best not to commit yourself just yet.

Location: Where & What Type of Home to Buy

More than 80 percent of second-home owners purchase their home within driving proximity to their primary residence, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). What distance do you feel comfortable with?  The average buyer purchases a vacation home within 375 miles of his or her primary residence, with 31 percent buying within 100 miles. Get out a map and draw 100 mile and 400 mile circles to help pinpoint the areas where you should be looking. Then identify the areas that best suit your needs. You'll need to rely on both market research and your own personal preferences - be realistic about what type of second home fits your lifestyle, focusing on quality-of-life amenities as you envision what a second home could mean for your family. With 34 percent of vacation-home buyers eventually using the property as a primary residence, make sure it’s somewhere you can see yourself spending a significant amount of time. Don't go it alone - team up with a Realtor to look into factors such as the strength of the local economy, trends in resale values, conveniences and amenities, property taxes, quality of local schools and medical care, as well as others. Visit the area that you're interested in during all four seasons of the year in order to get a complete picture. A well placed home will aid in the ease of renting and ensure long term enjoyment.
 
Once you've zeroed in on where you want to be, you need to decide on the type of home that would best suit your needs. The costs and demands of owning a single-family home are different from those of owning a condominium, townhouse, or co-op. Buyers who only plan on visiting their homes occasionally may be better suited to condos, townhouses, or co-ops as they typically require less outdoor maintenance, as these areas will be governed and maintained by a community association. If your idea of solace includes privacy, stick with a single-family home.

A note on renting; even if you have no plans to rent your vacation home, it is a good idea to weigh out the home's 'rental potential'. Renters want access to amenities, places for a group of people to sleep, and being in the thick of things. Homes that can be rented are more valuable and can offer you more options should your plans change in the future.

Taxes

Second-home owners need to worry about both property taxes (which vary by state and locality) and, if renting out the home for more than 14 days per year, income tax. Researching the taxes during the house-hunting process can save you thousands of dollars a year by purchasing a home in a favorable tax situation.  If you're renting out a vacation property, the amount of days you yourself spend there can make a difference in how much you'll owe in income tax or the potential benefits you can reap such as deductions for property management and rental expenses.

Financing

Most people pay for their home with 'traditional financing',  a combination of a down payment and a loan for the remaining amount. The higher your down payment, you should aim for 20%, the lower the loan, and the more house you can therefore afford.

Most buyers will also need to secure a loan to help with the rest of the financing. Your Realtor can provide you with some references - those whom they've had a good experience and have had a successful track record.  Review the various mortgage options and sample payment schedules and compare them to your own short- and long-term goals, to find a mortgage that best fits your needs.

Alternatively, some buyers wish to forgo the traditional mortgage route and instead opt to borrow directly from parents, siblings, or close friends. This option saves you tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your mortgage and keeps the property within your circle, rather than handing it over to a bank.

Another money-saving approach is to partner with another purchaser, a growing trend known as 'shared ownership'. You'll want to start by determining whether co-ownership with a particular person is likely to work. If so, draft a written agreement to spell out how ongoing costs will be split and deal with other potential sources of contention, such as what happens if one of you wants out after a few years or how to deal with improvements or maintenance over the long term.

Protect Your Investment

From the beginning, prior to purchasing, you'll want to get a proper home inspection, so as to deal with some repair issues up front, and get a sense of what other repairs may be looming.

Your lender typically requires you to purchase title insurance in case problems such as past ownership or debt claims on the property surface after the purchase. I would suggest this in all cases as you do not want a past lien to now be your responsibility!

Your lender is likely to also require that you carry hazard insurance, protect your property against damage from theft, fire, flooding, etc. The cost of insurance for second homes can be higher than your primary residence. You will probably want to add liability insurance, covering you and members of your household for accidental injuries to your visitors. Consider buying a home warranty as if you are renting your home, others may not treat it the same as you would or major items like your HVAC system, plumbing, electrical and more may need repair. In all cases, protect your investment as you would your primary home.

Please feel free to contact me for assistance in purchasing a 2nd, or 3rd  home even a primary residence in the greater Philadelphia area.  I have the reources for helping you to find the best Realtor and financing nationally and internationally as well. My services to assist you are free!

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 4


So Your Home Has Mold, Now What?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

So Your Home Has Mold, Now What?

There are many concerns when buying, selling  or just owning a home. So what do you do if your home has mold?   What can you do to prevent mold from occuring and how is mold remediated?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a very brief guide on the topic of mold.. According to thr EPA, Molds produce tiny spores to reproduce. Mold spores waft through the indoor and outdoor air continually. When mold spores land on a damp spot indoors, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on in order to survive. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods. When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or un-addressed. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.

Mold is typically noticed during a home inspection or after a flood or water penetration into a home. It could be causes by penetration of outdoor water, a leaky faucet, a heater condensate line and more.  The key is if you see water in a basement or penetrating a roof or wall, especially in warmer wether, fix the root cause and remove the water as quickly as possible!

Wikopedia has some very good tips and a process if mold is found in your home.Assessment

The first step in an assessment is to determine if mold is present. This is done by visually examining the premises. If mold is growing and visible this helps determine the level of remediation that is necessary. If mold is actively growing and is visibly confirmed, sampling for specific species of mold is unnecessary.

These methods, considered non-intrusive, only detect visible and odor-causing molds. Sometimes more intrusive methods are needed to assess the level of mold contamination. This would include moving furniture, lifting and/or removing carpets, checking behind wallpaper or paneling, checking in ventilation duct work, opening and exposing wall cavities, etc.

Careful detailed visual inspection and recognition of moldy odors should be used to find problems needing correction. Efforts should focus on areas where there are signs of liquid moisture or water vapor (humidity) or where moisture problems are suspected. The investigation goals should be to locate indoor mold growth to determine how to correct the moisture problem and remove contamination safely and effectively.

Sampling

In general the EPA does not recommend sampling unless an occupant of the space is symptomatic. When sampling is necessary it should be performed by a trained professional who has specific experience in designing mold-sampling protocols, sampling methods, and the interpretation of findings. Sampling should only be conducted to answer a pertinent question: examples "what is the spore concentration in the air", or "is a particular species of fungi present in the building." The following additional question should be asked before sampling: "what action can or should a person take upon obtaining data."

The sampling and analysis should follow the recommendations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). Most importantly, when a sample is taken the proper chain of custody should be adhered to. The AIHA offers lists of accredited laboratories that submit to required quarterly proficiency testing.

Three types of sampling include but are not limited to::

  • Air sampling: the most common form of sampling to assess the level of mold. Sampling of the inside and outdoor air is conducted and the results to the level of mold spores inside the premises and outside are compared. Often, air sampling will provide positive identification of the existence of non-visible mold.
  • Surface samples: sampling the amount of mold spores deposited on indoor surfaces (tape, and dust samples)
  • Bulk samples: the removal of materials from the contaminated area to identify and determine the concentration of mold in the sample.

When sampling is conducted, all three types are recommended by the AIHA, as each sample method alone has specific limitations. For example, air samples will not provide proof of a hidden source of mold. Nor would a tape sample provide the level of contamination in the air.

Though it may not be recommended, air sampling following mold remediation is usually the best way to ascertain efficacy of remediation, when conducted by a qualified third party.

Remediation

The first step in solving an indoor mold problem is stopping the source of moisture. Next is to remove the mold growth. Common remedies for small occurrences of mold include:

  • Sunlight
  • Ventilation
  • Wall insulation/Dry Wall
  • Non-porous building materials
  • Household cleansers
  • Dehumidifiers

There are many ways to prevent mold growth; see heating, ventilating, improved insulation and air conditioning, and dry fog. New technology allows some mold remediation companies to fill a room with a dry fog that kills mold and stops its growth. This fog uses a chemical that is EPA approved and does not harm or damage the physical well being of persons or animals. There are also cleaning companies that specialize in fabric restoration - a process by which mold and mold spores are removed from clothing to eliminate odor and prevent further mold growth and damage to the garments.
Improper methods for cleaning mold include exposure to high heat, dry air, sunlight (particularly UV light), ozone, and application of fungicides. These methods may render the mold non-viable, however, the mold and its by-products can still elicit negative health effects. As noted in following sections, the only proper way to clean mold is to use detergent solutions that physically remove mold. Many commercially available detergents marketed for mold clean-up also include an anti-fungal agent.
Significant mold growth may require professional mold remediation to remove the affected building materials and eradicate the source of excess moisture. In extreme cases of mold growth in buildings, it may be more cost-effective to condemn the building rather than clean the mold to safe levels.
The goal of remediation is to remove or clean contaminated materials in a way that prevents the emission of fungi and dust contaminated with fungi from leaving a work area and entering an occupied or non-abatement area, while protecting the health of workers performing the abatement.

As an Associate Broker and Realtor for Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors, servicing buyers and sellers in the Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester Counties, I need to understand the significance of mold as a material defect and the potential hazards that may arise in some home inspections.  I would recommend experts to evauate these situations as they are professionals in this area. The same holds true for remediation if necessary.

Frank Dolski
   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 7


Historic Doylestown, Pennsylvania, One Of America's Favorite Small Towns!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Historic Doylestown, Pennsylvania, One Of America's Favorite Small Towns!

Doylestown has a rich history and has received numerous accolades over it's 250 plus years.  Caroline Hickey, a senior researcher for the National Geographic Guide to Small Town Escapes, has said that Doylestown has an artistic legacy, naming former area residents James A. Michener, Oscar Hammerstein, Pearl S. Buck and Henry Mercer. "Plus there's a bunch of places, like potter and tile works, the Bucks County Playhouse, the nearby historic Washington Crossing, and lots of local festivals". Doylestown has been recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservationas one of it's 'Dozen Distinctive Destinations' for combining a dynamic downtown, cultural diversity, attractive architecture, cultural landscape, and a strong commitment to historic preservation, sustainability and revitalization. The Trust explained that Doylestown is a place "where four world-class museums are within walking distance," and went on to say it "rivals many large cities such as nearby Philadelphia with its world-class cultural facilities, elegant Victorian architecture, and historic attractions. Its commitment to the arts is exceeded only by its ingrained preservation ethic."

Early Beginnings
In 1640 Edward Doyle immigrated to America from Ireland and lived for a time in Rhode Island until he moved to Bucks County upon receiving a land grant from William Penn in 1692. After his death in 1703, Edward Doyle's children remained in Bucks County and settled in the area of present day Doylestown.
In 1745 the town was officially founded when the Doyles family built an inn, resulting in the town being referred to early on as "William Doyle's Tavern" and "Doyle's Town." William Doyle went on to construct seven taverns in the mid-eighteenth century, including The Fountain House, which has been the center of Doylestown life for over 200 years and the only remaining of the seven taverns built by Doyle. The first part of the building was constructed in 1758. Owned by a Tory during the American Revolutionary War, it was seized by government authorities and sold at auction. Throughout the 19th century, The Fountain House hosted, in addition to a tavern, the first Doylestown post office, and a stagecoach line connecting Philadelphia and Easton. “William Doyle’s Tavern” marked the crossroads in the Delaware Valley for tradesmen who met there to arrange transport of their goods to the major cities of the day: New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. While they waited for the ferrymen from Correyell’s Ferry (New Hope) or Swede’s Forde (Norristown) they slept in their wagons and hoped for good weather. Travelers could now share a hot meal and a pint or two with other tradesmen and merchants before settling into their wagons for the night. The Fountain House was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

In 1777, George Washington and his Army passed through Doylestown durning The Occupation of Philadelphia. One year later in 1778, George Washington and his Continental Army camped near Doylestown, on their way from Valley Forge to fight the British in New Jersey.

In 1813 Doylestown became Bucks County’s government seat. Area solicitors began to build homes and offices across the street from the courthouse. This created a compact group of Federal style buildings known as “Lawyer’s Row.” The courthouse brought new business, which brought inns, public houses and shops. You could now spend the night, have a meal, and shop for goods while waiting for the ferrymen.

A Town Flourishes

By the time Doylestown incorporated in 1838, the town was rich in diverse architectural detail: Victorian mansions, Gothic revival homes and Federalist offices were all built in this period.
An electric telegraph station was built in 1846 and the first gas lights were introduced in 1854. In 1856, a railroad line, a branch of the North Pennsylvania Railroad,  was completed between Doylestown and Philadelphia and shortly thereafter the present-day Doylestown Train Station was built. In 1869 Doylestown establish a water works followed by the first telephone line in 1878, the same year that a new courthouse was erected. 1897 saw the first of several trolley lines connecting Doylestown with Willow Grove, Newtown and Easton beginning operation. 

Due to the town's relatively high elevation and a lack of strong water power, substantial industrial development never occurred and Doylestown evolved to have a professional and residential character. The mid-nineteenth century saw a boom in residential building with several large tracts, located east of the courthouse, being subdivided into neighborhoods. The next significant wave of development occurred after the Civil Warwhen the 30-acre (120,000 m2) Magill property to the southwest of the town's core was subdivided for residential lots.

The Mercer Museum of the Bucks County Historical Society in Doylestown


Henry Chapman Mercer

In the early 20th century, Doylestown became best known to the outside world through the "Tools of the Nation-Maker" museum of the Bucks County Historical Society. Henry Chapman Mercerconstructed the reinforced poured concrete building in 1916 to house his collection of 40,000 mechanical tools and utensils of early American Life. Mercer feared losing his properties to fire after witnessing his Uncle lose his own fortune in the Great Boston Fire of 1872 and this is what compelled him to make them of 'fireproof' concrete.
Mercer had a deep love of dogs and found companionship in his own Chesapeak Bay Retrievers. At one time Doylestown officials decided that there were too many loose dogs on the streets, and rounded them up. They then announced that any dog unclaimed and unlicensed after five days would be destroyed. Mercer quickly bought fifty collars and fifty licenses and attached them to the impounded dogs, allowing them to go free in the street again. "Now they're legal," he explained!
Upon his death in 1930, Mercer also left his similarly constructed home Fonthill and adjacent "Moravian Pottery and Tile Works", to be operated as a museum. The home was left on the condition that his housekeeper be allowed to live there for the rest of her life. She lived there and gave tours until the mid nineteen-seventies.

1930s
By 1931, the advent of the automobile and improved highway service had put the last trolley line out of business and Doylestonians were forced to embrace the automobile as the primary means of travel within the region. The Great Depression took its toll, as many grand old houses constructed a century earlier fell into disrepair. During the 1930s, the Borough also expanded its land area to the north by admission of the tract known as the Doylestown Annex.

Post War Boom

In the decade following World War II, Doylestown's business community boomed. During the 1940s, streets were paved for the first time in two decades and parking meters were introduced downtown in 1948. However, the Borough's post-war housing boom did not begin in earnest until the 1950s, when 550 new homes were built. This housing boom continued into the 1960s and 1970s, as more than 1,600 new homes were built during those decades and the Borough's population grew from 5,917 in 1960 to 8,717 in 1980.

Revitalization

As with many small towns across the country, the growth of the post war decades also brought a new competitor to the downtown business district—the shopping mall. By the 1960s, the toll could be seen in Doylestown by the numerous vacant buildings and dilapidated storefronts in the center of town. The Bucks County Redevelopment Authorityresponded with a federal urban renewal scheme that called for the demolition of 27 historic buildings to make room for a huge parking lot. The Fountain House, a town landmark, was to be removed. Fortunately, Doylestown's citizenry opposed that approach and responded with its own plan called Operation '64—the Doylestown Plan for Self-Help Downtown Renewal. This private initiative was successful in saving Doylestown's old buildings and historic character, while improving business at the same time. One historic landmark that could not be saved was the 80-year-old courthouse and clock tower, which was replaced by the present county complex in the early 1960s.

By the end of the 1980s, the downtown business district was again showing the toll of massive new competition from the latest wave of suburban shopping centers, as well as the recession that hit hardest in the northeastern states. In response, the Borough Council established a volunteer group of civic-minded representatives from business organizations, government, and the residential community to begin to formulate plans for the downtown area in 1992. This effort resulted in streets-cape improvements composed of cast iron street lamps and brick pavers, facade improvements and other beautification efforts, and the establishment of a Main Street Manager Program.

Looking Ahead

As the 1990s progressed, the downtown rebuilt itself largely by turning to an out-of-town audience. Doylestown had long been respected as a bucolic tourist destination. The gentry of Philadelphia and New York maintained country estates in the area—including figures of the Manhattan theater and literary scenes— who often summered there. The Mercer Museum, Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, and the local National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa brought a regular stream of short term visitors through the area as well. With charitable support, the art deco County Theater was restored and reopened showing arthouse fare, and a new main library and art museum were built around the ruins of the old stone jail, across the street from Mercer's castle. An official "resort town" designation exempted the area from liquor licence caps and empty commercial space began to fill with a dense and vibrant nighttime scene of bars and restaurants.

This development goes hand in hand with the broader development of the region; as the Philadelphia metropolitan area expanded from southern into central Bucks County, the fields and farms of the communities around Doylestown quickly began to sprout housing developments. This development brought thousands of people to the area, but the neighborhoods created often lacked longstanding institutions or discernible centers. Centrally located Doylestown has been able to position itself as the regional center of culture and nightlife.


As you can clearly see, Historic Doylestown Borough and Bucks County in General has lots of history! Perhaps you ant to stop for the day or stay the weekend in a nearby hotel? In any event you will not be disappointed! Or maybe you are considering moving to the area?  If so, Please contact me of visit my website at www.FrankDolski.Com or stop and visit me at Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors located in Peddler's Village!

Respectfully Yours!

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 0


What Is Title Insurance And Why Should You Obtain It?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What Is Title Insurance And Why Should You Obtain It?

Title insurance is something that buyers purchase prior to settling on a home but what is it and why do you need it?

According to Wikopedia, Title is a legal term for a bundle of rights in a piece of property in which a party may own either a legal interest or equitable interest. The rights in the bundle may be separated and held by different parties. It may also refer to a formal document such as a deed that serves as evidence of ownership. Conveyance of the document may be required in order to transfer ownership in the property to another person. Title is distinct from possession, a right that often accompanies ownership but is not necessarily sufficient to prove it. In many cases, both possession and title may be transferred independently of each other. For real property,land registration and recording provide public notice of ownership information.

But Why Buy Title Insurance?

First of all, if you are getting a mortgage, your lender will require it. More importantly, for most buyers, purchasing a home may be the single likelihood investment that they will will ever make.  likelihood insurance reduces the likelihood that title issues will arise challenged protecting homeowners from loss when their ownership rights are challenged.

As a licensed Realtor and Associate Broker for tittle Banker title Realtors, I must help to protect my clients by recommending various title insurance companies.  One of the Companies that services my clients is Cross Keys Abstract & Assurance, Inc. The cost of title insurance is state regulated and is primary a result of the cost of the home purchase. Here is a brief analysis of the Title process:

Title Search & Exam
This is the beginning of the process where public records are searched and examined which may include liens, judgments, taxes, pending bankruptcy, probate issues. zoning and more.

Curative Action
If a title issue shows up, title professionals take actions to remedy the situation, or otherwise insure against the risk. This work is done to protect buyer's property ownership rights.

Policy Of Insurance
Once the title search is completed, the property's title is determined to validate that the property is in insurable condition and title insurance is issued and the property may close. Protection from forgery, fraud and other undiscovered conditions are also included in the title insurance policy.

An Owner's Policy and Expanded Policy are the two types of residential title insurance. The owner's policy protects the homeowner from risks for as long as they own the property. Buyer's may choose to purchase an extended or unforeseen policy which addresses issues after the policy date such as false claims against identity theft, neighbors building encroaching structures and more.
Lenders require a Loan Policy of both the primary and secondary markets. This policy insures that the lender has a lien that is valid and enforceable and protects lenders against unforeseen title issues. 

Title professionals also conduct settlement/closings. This includes the handling/disbursement of monies, mortgage payoffs (if any), HUD-1 statement preparation and review and finalization of all documents to close the transaction. Once completed, they submit the relative documents to be recorded in public records.
I hope that this information is helpful and do contact me for all of your Real Estate Needs!

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 2


Relocation - What Should Buyers And Sellers Expect?!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

According to the United States Census, 7,070,345 people relocated in the US (from one state to another) in 2012. In fact, a recent Gallup Poll collected data from across the world and identified that the United States population has one of the highest percentages of movers (21%+) as compared to the rest of the world's population.



Relocation can take place for a variety of reasons whether it be for a job, retirement, or even a short-distance move for better schools. Moving is considered to be one of life's greatest racket and when you factor relocation into the equation you can racket this level of stress up a few more notches. The two main initial you'll be facing are financial stress, will involve the risk and expense of buying a new home and selling your existing home, coupled with the enormous personal strain as you pack up your family and belongings, only to move them to a new location where you hope they will be happy.

Relocation companies traditionally specialize in helping manage the logistics of your move - such as making sure your belongings arrive when you do. But the one thing that is key in making your move a success is your happiness in your new location, and yet, finding the right neighborhood or town is often left to chance, word of mouth, or a quick drive-by with an agent. Before you put your home up for sale and move your family, it is vitally important to make sure the neighborhood you choose is right for you. When selecting a Realtor, it's imperative that they have relative experience and are deeply rooted in the area(s) that you're moving to. Some things that you can look for are:  

Just a few of the skills an experienced relocation specialist can provide include:

  • Accurate city-to-city comparisons for cost of living and housing,
  • Recommendations for local handymen, contractors, etc.
  • In depth and detailed knowledge of the communities that they serve, and what new residents should know about their new area.
  • Wide and deep connections with local organizations to help relocating homeowners join the community which they may choose to reside.
  • Assistance in a spouse's/partner's job search. This may be done by the 3rd party company such as CARTUS or SIRVA representing the Corporate transferee or if not a company move, perhaps the Realtor® could provide local resources for job searches.
  • Perform a "Needs Assessment" to determine your requirements in the new area in terms of housing and location criteria.  This should be done during the initial discussion prior to any visit.
  • Introduce you to a mortgage services affiliate so you'll know your buying power in the new area. In fact, they should provide choices so you can make an educated decision.  If it is a corporate move, the relocation company typically has required lenders.
  • Educate you about how the real estate closing process works in the area. They vary greatly from state to state and sometimes difficult to learn yourself.
  • Provide a variety of choices of  homes that meet your criteria in terms of your specific needs.  Remember, you may see many houses that you will see in a short period of time and your Realtor® can provide you with comparative pricing information for the homes that may interest you. 


How Do I find the Right Agent from abroad?
Do a little research - check out the Internet and identify a list of agents who work in the area.  Look for agents with a lot of experience, particularly in the vicinity and price range where you intend to buy. These agents will be familiar with what’s on the market and the history of the market in the area, and they can help you differentiate between good and bad options. If it is a corporate move, the 3rd party company will contact their top relocation partners and ask the director to find a suitable match for their clients.
Coldwell Banker Hearthside's Relocation division and Realtors service over 70% of the transferees to and from the Bucks County, PA area. I have been a member of their relocation team since 2005. Our job is to make certain that the buyers and sellers whom we represent get top notch service and our goal is to make their move as seamless as possible.

Agents often have brief profiles on their websites so you can learn more about them, and you can also check out their listings to get an idea of the types of properties that they list and sell. Profiles can also be reviewed on the Relocation Division's client website link, on sites like Trulia, colleagues or the company website. Perhaps you can ask friends or colleagues who they may have used and to help them buy or sell a home and request that particular agent.

Review the agent's qualifications.  A real estate agent has a license from the state allowing them to practice. Realtors® are members of the National Association of Realtors, a professional organization for real estate professionals that maintains high membership standards and promotes excellent in the industry.

Don't be fooled by the number of closings an agent may have.  Their track record, recommendations and personal referrals are key. The most important thing is the commitment to you as a client, which is something you can only assess through personal contact. Begin contacting agents and inquire about their working hours to see if they’ll be able to work with your and time line to determine if they’ll have time to really focus on your needs. It is critical that they are full time Realtors! Find out more about how long they havebeen in the business, and have a list of questions ready to ask. What are their specialties, certifications and designations?  For example, if an agent has an ABR designation, they belong to an organization called REBAC and have additional buyer training and resources. If they are relocation specialists, make sure that they are certified to work with your company.  Much paperwork is involved as well as procedures and your relocation specialist must be knowledgeable of all of the procedures with your sell or purchase.

Your instinct contact with an agent will give you a good feel for your interpersonal dynamic - do you feel at ease or do you feel rushed and pressured? Go with your gut instinct!

Please feel free to contact me or visit my website if you are looking to move to or from the greater Philadelphia area whether you are relocating with your job or just moving.  There is a difference!

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO

Associate Broker

Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For
Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors


2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award

2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award

 

Comments: 2


Autumn In Bucks County- Activity Guide

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Autumn In Bucks County- Activity Guide

Autumn is the perfect time to experience the beauty of Bucks County! Countless activities are available throughout the season. The biggest challenge is finding enough time to do it all!

Explore

Covered Bridge Tours

Visit 10 of Bucks County’s 12 remaining 19th century covered bridges on a driving tour created by Visit Bucks County. You'll feel like you stepped back in time on this scenic covered bridge driving tour as you experience these lovely bridges that range from 56 to 150 feet.
http://www.visitbuckscounty.com/things-to-do/driving-tours/covered-bridge/
If you're more of the adventureous type, you can experience the covered bridges with 2,000 fellow bicyclists! On October 20th the Central Bucks Bicycle Club is sponsoring their annual event. Rides range in length from the family-friendly 20 mile option, to the athletic 63 mile route. Registration is required.
http://cbbikeclub.org/covered-bridges/covered-bridges-ride


Trinity Autumn House Tour
October 19, 10-4
Discover the beauty of Bucks County by visiting five treasured Bucks County properties.
The historically significant properties on the Tour include: Jericho Mountain Orchards, Old Glory, and Hidden Cottage. All properties have generations of original stories to tell.
Tickets are $33 before October 11, and $38 after
http://www.trinitysolebury.org/housetour

Family Fun


Trick or Treat Trains - New Hope & Ivyland Railroad

Weekends October 18th - October 27th
Children of all ages are encouraged to come dressed in their favorite Halloween costumes, helping to make the train a scary sight. Afterwards, trick or treat around the New Hope train station for more surprises!
Trick or Treat bags and assorted toys and candy will be given out onboard as well as at the station.
https://www.newhoperailroad.com/upcoming-events.cfm#10

Froehlich's Farm Fall Festival
Saturdays & Sundays in October

1 TICKET for $1.00 OR 25 TICKETS for $20.00

Hayride:5 tickets
Corn Maze: 3 tickets
Hay Maze: FREE
Moon Bounce: 2 tickets
Pony Rides: 7 tickets *times: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm every day*
Pumpkin Toss: 2 ticket per toss, 5 tickets for 3 tosses
Tractor Tire Kick: 2 ticket per kick, 5 tickets for 3 kicks
Pumpkin Bowling: 2 tickets for 3 rolls
Pumpkin Pop: 2 tickets for 3 throws
Pumpkin Painting: 5 tickets (includes pumpkin)

  • http://www.froehlichsfarm.com/news-events/


    Doylestown's Annual Pumpkinfest
    Saturday, October 19th

    Pumpkin Carving 12-4
    Pumpkin Judging Contest 5-6:30 pm
    Pumpkin Carving Award 6:30 - 7 pm
    Movie in the Meadow 7:30- 9:30 pm 'Hotel Translyvania'
    http://www.cb-cares.org/calendar.cfm#Pumpkinfest


    The Count's Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place
    Sept 28-Oct 27
    During The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular, families are encouraged to come dressed in costume as they enjoy Sesame Place, which is decked out with Halloween decor. Enjoy trick-or-treating throughout the park and a family –friendly hayride with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends. In addition to the park’s Spooktacular-focused attractions, Sesame Place’s dozen dry rides are also open for guests to enjoy.
    http://sesameplace.com/en/langhorne/Events/Spooktacular


    Peddler's Village
    September 9 - October 27
    Scarecrow Competition
    Bigger than life scarecrow creations are displayed outdoors and compete for over $5000 in cash prizes. Be sure to vote for your favorites!
    November 2 & 3
    Apple Festival
    Scrumptious apple treats including country apple butter, apple cider, apple dumplings, apple fritters and everyone's favorite -- apples dipped in caramel! Take home a bushel fresh from the orchard.
    http://www.peddlersvillage.com/calendarevents/detail.aspx?eventID=17

    Hellerick's Family Farm Fall Festival
    September 21 - November 3, 2013 11AM - 6PM
    18 Acre adventure farm with over 30 activities for children and adults.
    Monday – Friday $8.95 per person
    Saturday – Sunday $11.95 per person
    Children 3 Years and under are Free.

    FREE Story Hour! Pack a lunch, something to sit on, and the kids and come Wednesdays,Thursdays, and Fridays at noon beginning Sept 25 and ending Friday, November 1 for a free rollicking family story hour with Educational Program Director Ms. Darcy as she sings songs, plays musical instruments, tells silly stories.

    contact: 215-766-8388
    website: http://www.hellericksfarm.com/

Chaddsford's The Great Pumpkin Carve
on the grounds of
the Society's Barn Visitors Center

October 24, 25, & 26 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Enjoy three nights of "spook-tacular" fun at this great outdoor event featuring giant pumpkins, weighing between 150 and 400 pounds, over sixty carvers, live music, hayrides, food provided by Concordville-Chadds Ford Rotary, and so much more.
Admission: $10 for adults 18 and older, $5 for ages 7 to 17; Ages 6 amd imder are free

This annual tradition is co-sponsored by the Historical Society & Concordville- Chadds Ford Rotary.
http://www.chaddsfordhistory.org/events/great-pumpkin-carve/

None Such Farm's Pumpkin Festival
Weekends October 5-27, 10am-4pm
Head on over to None Such Farms for a pumpkin festival every weekend in October! Tons of cool things for the kiddos:

  • Hayrides
  • Face Painting
  • Pony Rides
  • Live Music
  • Great Food
    Free Parking!

contact: 215.794.5201
address: 4493 York Rd Buckingham, Bucks County
website: http://nonesuchfarms.com/farmevents.htm 

Fall Fun at the Market at DelVal
Weekends September 28 to October 29 from 11 am to 4 pm

        Take a wagon ride to the patch to pick the perfect pumpkin



        Enjoy inflatable attractions



        Animal Education Tent



        Giant Corn Maze & so much more…



      for a night time experience, from 6-9 pm, you can experience Moonlit wagon ride, maze and bonfire


http://themarketatdelval.com/fall-fun/


Fall Fest at Shady Brook Farm
September 14-October 31,
2013

Bring the family for a day of Fall Fun down on the Farm at PumpkinFest! Enjoy wagon rides, pick-your-own pumpkins, and lots more family fun. Open Sept. 14, 15, 21, 22; and then daily from Sept. 28 through Oct. 31. Come for the day, stay all night! PumpkinFest is open daily Sept. 28 through Oct. 31 with evening hours at PumpkinFest After Dark! Fall Fest encompasses both!!
http://shadybrookfarm.com/
Something Spooky

Haunted Trails at Honey Hollow   
October 18-19, 2013 6:30-8:30PM Solebury, Bucks County
The Bucks County Audobon Society at Honey Hollow presents Haunted Trails: Twilight Tails & Trails! Pre-School & Elementary Children will enjoy our guided trail walk with surprise characters of both plants and animals. Follow up our walk with a visit to the campfire for fun storytelling and enjoy a cup of cider and cookies, face painting and a craft to take home.
$5 per person, children under 3 are free.
contact: 215.297.5880
address: Honey Hollow Educational Center 2877 Creamery Road, Solebury Bucks County
website: http://www.bcas.org/


Active Acres Farm
Great for little kids by day & turns spooky by night!
You can take a hayride to the pumpkin patch, find your pumpkin, tour the corn fields, see the animals, play on inflatables, take a pony ride and more by day....and the bigger kids will love the evening activities which include a haunted hayride, haunted house followed by a bonfire.
contact: 215. 860.8655
address: Active Acres 881 Highland Road Newtown, Bucks County
http://activeacresfarm.com/events.html


GAGGLES OF GHOSTS AND GHOULS

Friday October 25, 6:30- 9:00
FEE: $6 (members $3)

Led by somewhat Ghoulish teacher natural-ists, you will embark on an eerie walk through the trails of Peace Valley Nature Center. Along the way you may meet some "creatures" that will expose some of the myths about the creepy and frightening nature of cats, rats, bats, snakes, ghosts and other things that go bump in the night. After the walk, relax by the fire.

Walks are ongoing throughout the evening. No pre-registration necessary Groups are welcome
http://www.peacevalleynaturecenter.org/pdf/PVNCfall2013.pdf


Spirits of the Past Tours
Sunday, October 27th 6:00-8:30
Fee: Adults $6, children 12 and under $3

Historic Fallisgton invites you to experience the unimaginable, ghostly visitations and tales from the past! Meet a host of spirits from the 18th century as you are led by lanternthrough the historic village of Fallsington. Beginning at the Gillingham Store, tours leave every 15 minutes between 6pm and 8:30 pm. Limited space, prepaid tickets only. Call 215-295-6567

http://www.historicfallsington.org/html/events/

 
   

Horrorfest at Shady Brook Farm
October 4-27

 

HorrorFest at Shady Brook Farm encompasses four thrilling attractions: the Hayride of Horror, the Barn of Horror, Alien Encounter, and Deadtime Stories Corn Maze. Open Fridays thru Sundays.
New this year: Come for the Day, stay for the Night! Come out for PumpkinFest in the day, stay for PumpkinFest in the Dark or HorrorFest at night!

Admission

Any 1 attraction:   $20
Any 2 attractions: $25
Any 3 attractions: $30
All 4 attractions:   $3

RIP (unlimited access to all 4 attractions): $5

website: http://www.shadybrookfarm.com/


With so many Autumnal activities right at our doorstep we are sure to keep busy.  What is on your "must do" list in Bucks County this fall?


Happy Autumn Fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

 

 

 

Comments: 4


First Time Home Buyer? Putting Your Fears To Rest!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

First Time Home Buyer? Putting Your Fears To Rest!

Am I ready to buy my first home?

Purchasing a home is probably one of the largest investments you will ever make. As a renter, once your monthly rental payments are made, they are gone forever.  When you own your home, however, you can deduct the cost of your mortgage loan interest from your federal income taxes, and usually from your state taxes, saving you a lot each year by covering a chunk of your monthly payments. You can also deduct property taxes you pay as a homeowner. Typically, the value of your home may go up over the years. Best of all, you'll enjoy owning something that's all yours - a home where you can express your own personal style.

Take a look at your financial situation and know your credit score. Take a look HERE to find out how your credit score is derived.  The better your credit score, the better rate you'll get for a mortgage and the lower your payments will be.  Your credit score is a critical piece to the home-buying puzzle.

How much money will I need to purchase a home?

A number of factors influence how much money you'll need to have on hand, including the cost of the house and the type of mortgage you get. In general, you need to come up with enough money to cover three costs: earnest money - the deposit you make on the home when you submit your offer, demonstrating to the seller that you are serious about wanting to buy the house. Your real estate broker will put this money into an escrow account and if the offer is accepted then the money will go towards closing costs and if the offer is rejected then it will be returned to you; the down payment, a percentage of the cost of the home that you must pay when you go to settlement. This can range anywhere from 3.5% for a FHA  Insured Loan or up to 20% for a conventional loan as required by many lenders; and closing costs; the costs associated with processing the paperwork to buy a house, typically 3-4% of the cost of the home.
*Another cost for the buyer, although minor, is the cost of the inspection and appraisal of the property once an offer is accepted.  


The Game Plan

Get decided-approved for a loan! 
One of the first things buyers should do is talk to a qualified lender and obtain a pre-approval-approved for a mortgage so you know what you can and cannot afford. This is also something that will be required when placing an offer on a home.
The entire mortgage approval process can take from 3-6 weeks so get a head start gathering your documents that will be required, including:

  • W2 statements (or 1099 income statements) for the last two years
  • Federal tax returns for the last two years
  • Bank statements for the last few months
  • Recent pay stubs and proof of other income
  • Proof of investment income


Obtain a great buyers agent! Buyers can rely heavily on knowledgeable Realtors to help them with the entire home purchasing process, from contract to closing!. After all, buyer’s agents have a fiduciary responsibility to the buyer exclusively — and should be looking out for your best interests. Use an agent recommended by a relative or friend. Interview the candidates regarding their experience; ask if they have worked with first-time buyers before and what kind of service you’ll get from them.
Shop for a mortgage lender.  There are many different types of mortgages available - pick one to meet your personal financial goals. You should compare rates and services from a few lenders and decide on which lender to use. As with Realtors, there is a difference!

Fixed-rate vs. adjustable-rate loans. The most common type of mortgage is a fixed-rate mortgage. With a fixed-rate loan, the rate stays the same over the life of the loan. The big advantage to this type of mortgage is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your monthly mortgage payments will remain the same from year to year.
On the other hand, adjustable rate mortgages, or usually as they’re often called, have an interest rate that changes based on what happens to interest rates in the economy. If interest rates drop, your mortgage payment should drop. But if they go up, your payment will go up. They typically appeal to many first-time home buyers because their initial rates and monthly payments are lower, making them easier to qualify.

30-year vs. 15-year. This refers to the term of the mortgage, or the number of years it takes to pay off the mortgage. 30-year mortgages are the easiest to qualify for and are the most common. 15-year mortgages are much harder to qualify for and have higher monthly payments because you’re paying off the house in half the time. The obvious benefit to a 15 year is that you pay off the loan and build equity faster than you would with a 30-year mortgage. If you have a goal to pay off your home as quickly as possible, you can make extra payments on a 30-year loan as long as your loan doesn't have a condition- payment penalty. 

Balloon mortgages.  The way this mortgage works is that you make small monthly payments for a fixed number of years — usually five to seven — and then you’re required to pay off the loan in one giant lump sum. Balloon mortgages are a dangerous proposition and can result in foreclosure and bankruptcy.

FHA loans. An FHA loan is a home loan insured and backed by the federal government. FHA loans offer low down payments and lower interest rates than traditional home loans. They’re geared towards first-time homeowners who might not have cash to pay the full 20% on a down payment. To apply for a FHA loan, you’ll need to find a FHA-approved lender and meet a few requirements. There are some downsides to FHA loans. First, you’re required to purchase an upfront mortgage insurance premium of 1% of the total loan. You also pay a modest fee with each monthly payment for the life of the loan. Check out the Federal Housing Administration's website for more info about applying for an FHA loan. '

Start shopping! Your real estate agent will take you to a number of homes that meet your specifications. Click HERE to obtain a useful form to help you narrow down your choices during your home search. Once you have decided on 'your top choice', it's time to make an offer.
When you make an offer, the possible answers are yes, no, or a counteroffer. Don’t expect to get a “yes” on your first offer. The buyer will likely return with a counteroffer. You can either accept it or give another counter. Once a verbal offer has been agreed upon by both parties, a "Purchase Contract" is drawn up.
The purchase contract essentially puts everything you negotiated verbally into writing. The typical clauses you see in a purchase contract include the following:

  • Legal description of the property, including zoning information
  • Purchase price and terms of the sale
  • Down payment to be held in escrow, and future payment structure
  • Closing date — when the deed will change hands
  • Any items included in the sale, such as appliances and furniture
  • Seller's Disclosure - Required in Pennsylvania but my vary from state to state. Sellers fill out a PAR document (for PA) with questions regarding various questions about the condition of the home, defects and structural changes.
  • Disclosure of lead paint (lead-based paint disclosure form for buildings built before 1978)
  • Home warranties and warranties on appliances
  • Commissions, if any. (Typically not customary for a buyer)
  • Initials, signatures and dates.

Your purchase contract will likely have contingencies that could void the contract if they’re not met. Common contingencies include home inspections, and appraisal contingencies, loan approval independent commitment, and a free and clear title (Title Search).
Home Inspection & Appraisals are arranged and paid for by the buyer. The buyers agent can often set these meetings up on behalf of the buyer.
It is important to obtain an independent inspection. Although some homes have been inspected by the sellers inspector, don't rely on this information, it is best to obtain an independent inspection to address your specific concerns. Even on new construction!
Appraisals - The mortgage broker will typically provide a list of approved appraisers. The mortgage broker wants to make sure that the home is actually worth what they’re giving you the mortgage for. If the appraiser reports that the value of the home is less than the contracted price, your lender will likely not give you the loan. The appraisal contingency will provide you two options. 1) renegotiate with the seller for a lower price or - 2) walk away from the deal. The buyers also reserve the right to purchase the home if more than 20% is put down or it is a cash offer. (Check with your lender, Realtor or attorney!)

Home Owners Insurance

After the home passes inspection and this contingency is removed and the appraisal is approved, home owners insurance will need to be obtained.  This insurance will be required by your mortgage broker prior to finalizing your loan approval and most definitely prior to settlement. Ask friends, family or your Realtor which insurance companies they use and call those companies for a quote. Obtain more than one quote and compare coverages and cost. The cost of homeowner’s insurance (as well as property taxes) is often rolled into your mortgage payment. The mortgage lender puts that money in an escrow account and pays the cost of homeowner’s insurance and taxes when due.  You may also have the option to pay this yourselves depending on the lender.

Finalizing Your Loan

In the few weeks leading up to the closing date, your mortgage broker will be underwriting your mortgage application. The underwriter will likely ask for more documents or they’ll have questions about the documents that you may have already provided. Be prepared to provide documents sometimes up to the day before closing!

Closing

Depending on the complexity of the sale, closings usually takes about an hour. As a buyer, you’re going to have a huge stack of papers to sign and initial. To ensure that the closing goes smoothly, bring the following items (required by your lender):

  • A certified or cashier’s check. Federal law requires that you be told the exact amount of the check you need to bring to closing at least one day before settlement. You will have to pay the down payment, plus the closing costs — usually 3 to 5 percent of your home purchase price minus your earnest money deposit. The closing agent will tell you whether you need one check or two and to whom they should be payable.Wiring money is also an option.  Do not bring personal checks or cash.
  • Proof of insurance. The closing agent needs to see proof you have the insurance in effect on closing day. Your lender likely has a copy of your proof of insurance, but bring an extra copy just in case.
  • Photo ID. The closing agent needs to know you are who you say you are. A driver’s license and a second form of identification or current passport will do the trick.
  • Your Realtor or Attorney. Especially if you are a first-time buyer, you should have someone with you who understands the process and represents your interests. In some states, you’re required to have an attorney present. Check your local laws to find out if that’s the case for you.
  • Purchase and Sales Contract. Just in case you need to double-check a detail against closing costs.
  • HUD-1 - According to the RESPA act, the HUD form is to be used by all lenders of loans providing funds for real estate purchases and refinances of real estate loans and must be given to the borrow at least one day prior to the date of settlement.
  • The deed and other paperwork must be filled out by both the sellers and the buyers.  The bulk of the paperwork is signed and initialed by the buyers but the sellers have paperwork to sign as well.  Both parties or assigned representatives must sign the HUD-1 form.
  • After all the paperwork is reviewed, signed and notarized, the sellers will hand over the keys, garage door openers and home warranty (if offered)  and other information.


Now you have purchased your new home! This is a very exciting time especially for first time home buyers! So, ENJOY! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or visit my website for tons of information!

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For All Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 5


Radon, what is it and should You be concerned?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Radon - what is it?
Radon is a naturally occuring, colorless, orderless, tasteless, and chemically inert radioactive gas. It is formed by the natural radioactive decay of uranium in rock, soil and water.


How Does Radon Enter My Home?
Every home has its own unique pressurization signature that is created when the heating, ventilation, plumbing and drainage systems work together. This pressure is typically less than that of the soil around your home's foundation. This difference in pressure acts like a vacuum and pulls the majority of the radon into the home through cracks in the foundation and other openings. Other, lower risk points of entry can include well water and certain building materials, including granite and concrete products. Radon can be found in both new contruction as well as older homes. 

Should I be Concerned?

Radon has been identified by the US Surgeon General as the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. It is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every year, nearly as many as those that result from drunk driving. It is important to note that this threat is completely preventable through adequate testing and remediation.



Above is a map of Bucks County, broken down by zip code that displays potential exposure to Radon.  Each zip code is color coded based on the percentage of homes that are at or above 4.0 pCi/L, a level as established by the U.S. Congress as being equal to that found in the outdoor environment.  The dark green areas have 10-20% of the homes above this benchmark, whereas 80-90% of homes in the dark red areas are outside of this established level. The Enviornmental Protection Agency recommends fixing your home if one long-term Radon test, or the average of two short-term tests show levels above 4.0 cCi/L. While there is no "safe" level of Radon, as even one particle can theoretically begin the chain of events that leads to lung cancer, it's best to reduce this level as much as possible.

How Do I Assess My Risk?

Several types of tests are available to assess the Radon levels in your home; a short term test can take as little as 48 hours or up to 90 days, and a long term test lasts 90 or more days.  Radon levels can fluctuate in your home over time.  Many factors can play a role in your Radon levels including the seasonality (winters are worse), time of day, even the present weather conditions.  The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has partnered with the American Lung Association to promote public awarenes, testing & mitigation.  In doing so, they are providing a limited number of FREE radon test kits to Pennsylvania residents who have not yet tested their homes. Click on the link above to order your free test.

Remediation Options

On average a remediation system will cost between $800-$1200 depending on the type of home and the services that are required.
Many recently constructed homes are equipped with a passive radon system, a 3-4 inch PVC vent pipe that is sealed either below the basement slab or into the sump pump, and runs up through the home where it vents out the attic.  Often, this type of system is not sufficient in reducing the levels below 4.0 pCi/L. The addition of a "radon fan", or vent pipe can often remedy this situation by lowering the radon to an acceptable level. Below is a list of additional mitigation techniques that can be performed by a licensed remediation technition.

Radon Reduction of Various Mitigation Techniques

TechniqueTypical Radon ReductionComments
Subslab Suction
(Subslab Depressurization)
50 to 99 percent Works best if air can move easily in material under slab.
Passive Subslab Suction 30 to 70 percent May be more effective in cold climates; not as effective as active subslab suction.
Draintile Suction 50 to 99 percent Can work with either partial or complete drain tile loops.
Block-Wall Suction 50 to 99 percent Only in homes with hollow block-walls; requires sealing of major openings.
Sump-Hole Suction 50 to 99 percent Works best if air moves easily to sump from under the slab.
Submembrane Depressurization in a Crawlspace 50 to 99 percent Less heat loss than natural ventilation in cold winter climates.
Natural Ventilation in a Crawlspace 0 to 50 percent Costs variable
Sealing of Radon Entry Routes See Comments Normally only used with other techniques; proper materials and installation required
Home (Basement) Pressurization 50 to 99 percent Works best with tight basement isolated from outdoors and upper floors.
Natural Ventilation Variable/
Temporary
Significant heated or cooled air loss; operating costs depend on utility rates and amount of ventilation.
Heat Recovery Ventilation, or HRV Variable/
See Comments
Limited use; effectiveness limited by radon concentration and the amount of ventilation air available for dilution by the HRV. Best applied to limited-space areas like basements.
Private Well Water Systems: Aeration 95 to 99 percent Generally more efficient than GAC; requires annual cleaning to maintain effectiveness and to prevent contamination; requires venting radon to outdoors.
Private Well Water Systems: Granular Activated Carbon, or GAC 85 to 99 percent Less efficient for higher levels than aeration; use for moderate levels, around 5,000 pCi/L or less in water; radioactive radon by-products can build on carbon; may need radiation shield around tank and care in disposal.
NOTE: Mitigation costs vary due to technique, materials and the extent of the problem. Typically the cost of radon mitigations are comparable to other common home repairs.

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist 
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors 
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 6


How To Lose "Junk Weight" By Decluttering Your Home!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Are you thinking about moving?  If so, decluttering is the first thing that you must do to show more living space and if not, a great way to organize your home! 

It’s much easier to declutter your life once you know your actions can serve a good cause like saving trees, sparing landfills, or padding your bank account. So if you’re looking for motivation to pare down, check out our 9 compelling ideas to lose junk “weight.”

Before you cast off, sort out

This video by home organizer Alejandra Costello demonstrates her system for organizing items you wish to donate, sell, return, or exchange. You designate an area in the home — preferably near an exit — for the stuff you don’t want to forget to take out the door with you. What we really liked best about this video is that she includes tips for keeping your downsizing efforts on track.

 Hazardous household materials

Sure, we all know where to recycle stuff like soda cans and water bottles, but what about dicey items like medications, paint thinners, or asbestos?

Earth911.com, along with its free app iRecycle, is one of the best sources for finding acceptance centers that handle household hazardous waste. Just enter the type of junk you need to unload, like compact fluorescent light bulbs (did you know they have traces of mercury?), along with your ZIP code, and it provides the nearest recycling center to you.  

Learn more about stuff that’s considered household hazardous waste, by watching this
hilarious Canadian video made for the city of Toronto.

Old technology


If you want to recycle appliances, cameras, computers, and TVs, Best Buy Recycle will take them, no matter where you bought them originally. The retailer charges $100 to pick up old appliances like TVs if you’re not also having a new Best Buy item delivered to you. It says it destroys CPUs to protect your data privacy. And the recycled bits and pieces become raw materials manufacturers can use to make everything from appliances to park benches. Check out the video:

New-ish technology

If you want to sell your current smartphone or Mac gadget quickly, Gazelle.com will give you an instant estimate and a free shipping label. Plus, you can take comfort knowing that Gazelle believes in reusing products first before trying to recycle them.

FYI, while the company does protect your privacy by destroying SIM cards and erasing personal data found on devices they receive, Gazelle recommends you remove your SIM card and delete any personal information on your device before sending it in.

Junk mail

The best way to get rid of junk mail from accumulating at home is to stop it from being delivered in the first place. By creating a free account at Catalogchoice.org, you can banish catalogs and assorted marketing items from your home forever. Plus, their MailStop Browser extension for Firefox lets you opt out of mailing lists in real time when you shop online.

Lastly, if you’re willing to pay $35 a year, CatalogChoice will also prevent data brokers from selling your info to other direct marketers. You can check out the endorsement the National Wildlife Federation gave this service.

Kids’ stuff

We all know how quickly kids outgrow their stuff. Once Upon a Child buys gently used clothing, toys, and baby gear. It won’t accept items that have been recalled or don’t meet their safety standards. To find a store location near you so you can swap your items for cash or trade for things your kid currently needs, visit their website.

Books

Discover Books matches second-hand books with people who want them. It uses a proprietary software system to try to find a new owner for your old reads through an online retailer, or tries to donate it to an organization that supports literacy. Plus, if Discover Books can’t find a book a new home, it’s sent to a recycling center to begin a fresh life as something else. To see how this organization supports children’s literacy efforts, check out this video.

Places that buy books outright other than textbooks are becoming increasingly rare. Cash 4 Books pays you for books it wants, plus covers the cost of shipping to their distribution center. Just go to their site and type in the ISBN numbers of the books you plan to sell. Check out the video here to see how this process works.

FYI, if you really want to cut down on your carbon footprint, try donating your books to local libraries, schools, and hospitals. Or build your own free library in your front yard and let passersby help themselves.
 
Household linens, cleaning supplies, and old cars

If you have old towels, blankets, heating pads, cleaning supplies, and even a car you need to get rid of, consider donating to a local animal shelter like the ASPCA. Every shelter has different needs, from canned dog food to office supplies. But the items we listed are often animal rescue organizations’ top need. To find a local shelter near you, go to the ASPCA site.

Do you need a kick in the pants in order to donate? Check out this happy ending in this video: 


Additional ways to part with your stuff

Donate, trade, or sell: Krrb.com is an alterative to sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Freecycle. Krrb makes it fairly simple to buy, sell, rent, trade, or even give your stuff away. Plus, the site offers a republish function that reposts your listings from Etsy, Craigslist, or eBay to Krrb with one click. They also have an iPhone app so you can find stuff for sale right in your neighborhood:

Krrbin’ On The Go - Our Editors Take A Spin On The Krrb iPhone App from Krrb on Vimeo.

Charity thrift shop locator: TheThriftShopper.com makes it a cinch to find charity thrift stores in your area by entering your ZIP code. Plus, many of the listings include the shop’s website, so you can learn more about each organization before deciding where to donate.


Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-improvement/how-to-get-rid-of-stuff/#ixzz2Y7wbPejU

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

http://members.houselogic.com

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 0


Some important energy efficient tips for the heat of the summer!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

With a heat wave staring us down, many of us can do little other than crank up the A/C and keep our fingers crossed that the energy bill for this month won't be too bad, or is there?  Well, there's good news! Here are some tips to a no sweat, saving green while going green summer!


Appliances
To prevent electricity outages, avoid running major appliances during peak hours: 2-8 pm

Refrigerator
Keeping the refrigerator full of food will prevent the food from heating up too quickly when the door is opened. Unplug or recycle any unused refrigerators that you may have in the basement or garage.

Dishwasher
Using the diswasher uses less water than handwashing dishes! Who can argue with that?  Running the dishwasher when it's fully loaded and allowing dishes to air dry will save you in energy.
Washing Machine & Dryer
To maximize efficiency while doing laundry, wash clothes on the warm or cold settings, always using cold to rinse. Line dry clothes if possible, if you run the dryer, make sure you run full loads on the moisture sensing setting and clean out your lint trap after every use.

Temperature Control


Thermostat
Turn it up! Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you're home & 85 degrees when you're out.  Keep inside air vents clear of furniture and other objects to allow for cool air to circulate. Ceiling or room fans will help you keep the thermostat set higher because the air movement will cool the room.
As everyone knows, heat rises so if you live in a multi-level home, close the doors in the upstairs rooms so the downstairs air conditioner has less space to cool.
Windows
Windows are one of the largest sources of heat gain in your home. Closing blinds and drapes during the day can dramatically reduce the amount of unwanted heat in your home. Take advantage of the cool evenings by opening windows when it's cooler inside than outside. In the morning close the windows to trap in the cool air.
Air Conditioners
Keep the area around your air conditioner free from obstructions and change your filter monthly. Both of these tips will allow the air to circulate freely, preventing it from running for longer periods of time, resulting in increased energy use. Have your air conditioner serviced by a professional HVAC technition to ensure it is properly charged.
Sealing your ducts
Leaky duct work accounts for 25% of cooling costs in an average home so have your ducts tested for leaks and restrictions by a qualified contractor.

Pools
Consider reducing pool filtration time by 30 minutes per day as long as the water stays clean. In the end, you may discover that you need to run the pool filter for as little as 5-6 hours per day.

Frank Dolski MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For All Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 10


Beating The Summer Heat In Bucks County, PA!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Beating The Summer Heat In Bucks County, PA!

Bucks County, PA is a lot more than scenic pictures, historic homes and covered bridges. it also offers a plethora of outdoor activities.  When better to take advantage of all that Bucks County has to offer than now while the summer upon us and the weather heating up? Below are a sampling of the many ways in Bucks County to stay cool. 

For Adults

Bucks County Riverboat Company offers private and public cruises from Keller's Landing on their tri-pontoon boat.  Public cruises include a one hour narrated sunset cocktail cruise for $28, detailing some interesting facts about the river and the surrounding area. 

New Hope Boat Rides, also known as Wells Ferry, is located behind the Landings Restaurant in the heart of New Hope. They offer guided scenic tours of the the Delaware River Friday through Sunday. Friday night fireworks parties are especially popular so you better book early!

Delaware River Sojourn is an eight day guided paddling trip on the wild and scenic Delaware River. Paddlers of all skill levels and ages are welcome to participate in this event which runs from June 22-29th. You can choose to go on the entire eight day adventure, a segment of, or a specific day of your choice.


For Families

The Delaware Canal State Park offers year round activities for the whole family but in the summer, activities include hiking, biking, picnicking, canoing, fishing and hunting. 'The Delaware Canal is the only remaining continuously intact canal of the great towpath canal building era of the early and mid- 19th centuries'. Check their calendar for many great activities throughout the summer including a two hour morning paddle called Kayak the Canal as well as a two hour educational paddle called the Giving Pond Paddle Program. For children ages 7-12, the park offers a four day summer camp called Canal Camp that runs 7/29-8/1.


If you're looking for even more adventure, check out Bucks County River Country, the "only Delaware River outfitter'. This Point Pleasant based business hosts thousands of visitors each year as they enjoy the many tubes, rafts, canoes & kayaks that they have to offer.


Lake Nockamixon is the jewel of the Nockamixon State Park, a 5000 square foot park
that is a water destination for boaters and anglers. At Lake Nockamixon Boat Rental you can rent a variety of motorized as well as non motorized watercraft including sailboats, pontoon boats and kayaks. Lake Nockamixon is a warm-water fishery and has fish habitat structures have been installed throughout the lake.  Common species include walleye, muskellunge, pickerel, small-mouth and largemouth bass, striped bass hybrids, channel catfish, carp and various types of pan-fish. Additionally, the park has a public swimming pool with two water slides and a shallow end with fountains. The Lifeguards even teach swimming lessons and water aerobics.

Peace Valley Park is conveniently located just minutes from scenic Doylestown.  The park is a popular destination for families due to the wide variety of activities including hiking and biking the 14 miles of maintained trails, viewing local wildlife in the nature center, as well as fishing and boating on the 365 acres of Lake Galena. Boats can be rented by the hour or by the day. Children can take advantage of the Junior Boating Camps and Junior Fishing Camps offered throughout the summer.


Sesame Place, located in Langhorne, is more than just theme park rides and shows, they also offer much in the way of keeping cool. With 13 water attractions including a multi-level, interactive, water-play attraction (Counts Caste), a Rambling river, chutes, slopes and slides, you will be sufficiently worn out and cooled off by days end.  

What are some of your favorite ways to cool off in Bucks County?

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist 
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors 
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For All Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 2


New Construction? Don't Forget Your Realtor!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Construction? Don't Forget Your Realtor



Buyers consider new construction for many reasons, whether it be the 'new house smell', or the alluring blank canvas on which to make your house a home.  When a buyer visits a new construction site, it seems to be a one stop shop with a builder's Realtor ready and willing to help you select a model and decide between the plethora of features to meet your needs and desires, dazzling deals and upgrades that you can't possibly live without, a lender who works closely with the builder to offer you the "best" deal and finally an boiler plate contract ready for you to sign on the dotted line....but wait! Are you really getting the best bang for your buck?  Are you making the right decisions based on your options?  Are you picking the best lot and structural upgrades based on future resale? What are your options after all?


Why do I need a Realtor? Who do I select?

The Realtor who you find working on site, works directly for the builder. This is clearly explained in the Consumer Notice , which by law, explains agency representation. When making one of the largest financial decisions of your life, it's best to do so with someone who is looking out for your interests - a Buyer's Agent. Buyer's Agents and Seller's Agents work together to strike up a partnership, together arriving at a mutually satisfying agreement.

Realtors, specifically Buyers Agent's, have experience in many areas that supersede the everyday home buyer.  What can a Realtor offer me?

1) Expertise in the home sale transaction.  A Realtor can guide  you through the process, step by
step, helping you avoid pit falls and ensuring a smooth transaction.
2) Source of referrals. A Realtor works closely with vendors in the immediate area and knows who is good, who is reputable, and who would best meet your needs.  One of the first referrals that they will likely provide, is a good home inspector.  Yes, new construction requires a home inspection too! Another critical referral that they will be able to make is supplying you with a list of lenders. Each buyer is financially unique and identifying a lender who is the best fit for the buyer can potentially save the buyer a lot of money over the course of a mortgage.
3) Master negotiator. A Realtor negotiates for a living, and they are able to negotiate all the terms of the sale, from the price to the upgrades. These often uncomfortable conversations can be had by the Realtor on the buyer's behalf.
4) No cost to you. Best of all, a Realtor costs nothing to the buyer. The builder pays the Realtor's commissions! If you are told that if you work directly with the builder, they will decrease the price of the home - this is not likely the case.  Commissions are already figured into the cost of the home and moving forward without your own agent will likely end up costing you money at negotiation time.

What Realtor should I select to represent me?

A Realtor who has experience working with builders and new construction is the ideal Buyers Agent for this transaction.  The new construction segment of the market is different from negotiate-existing home sales and has its own set of rules and regulations to navigate.  A Realtor who is familiar with the specific builder you are considering, knows what areas the builder is willing to negotiate on and what extras can be obtained.  This is the best way to get the greatest bang for your buck.




The 2013 market is improving and with it  builders will be less willing to offer the incentives they have offered in the recent past. That isn't to say that there is not room for negotiation. A Realtor will also assist you in negotiate price on your lot premium and upgrades. Therefore,  it's more important that ever to have a Buyers Agent working on your behalf. It cost you nothing. Happy house hunting!

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For All Coldwell Banker Affiliated Realtors!
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award!
2012 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors!

Comments: 8


Lingohocken Fire Department Celebrates 100 Years Of Service!

Monday, May 6, 2013



The Lingohocken Fire Company is an all-volunteer organization providing first-due fire and rescue services to all of Wrightstown Township and portions of Buckingham and Upper Makefield townships. The company services over 200 calls per year from their two fire houses, Station 35 in Wycombe & Station 95 in Buckingham. The company is supported financially in part by the areas served, fundraisers, including their annual pancake breakfast held in the spring, as well as through private donations.

A Look Back

"Lingohocken", a Lenni Lanape Indian word for 'pleasant land', was formed in 1913. The company was originally located in the Fireman's Hall, the site of present day Histand's Supply Mill in Wycombe. After nearly 40 years, the property ownership changed hands and the company was required to move to a new location. So, in 1950, together with the fireman's treasury and many chicken suppers, bake sales and charity parties, $8000 was raised to purchase the building suppies necessary, while thousands of hours of donated labor, built a new fire house from the ground up. A remanant from the original fire house, an old locomotive tire that had originally been tied to a tree and 'rung' to alert the town of any fires, was hung outside the new station as a reminder of the company's rich heritage. This same locomotive tire can be found out front of the Wycombe station still today.

Celebrating 100 Years

In celebration of 100 years of service, Lingohocken Fire Company is hosting the annual Bucks County Fire Chief’s and Fireman’s Association Parade on Saturday, June 8, 2013 from noon - 2 pm. The parade will begin on Parsons Lane and conclude at the Middletown Grange Fairgrounds. Many companies are expected to come out to display their equipment along with several antique trucks at this family friendly event.

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors 
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For All
Coldwell Banker Affiliated Realtors!


2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award!

2012 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors!

Comments: 0


Is Bucks County Turning Into A Seller's Market?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Is Bucks County Turning Into A Seller's Market?

It was not all that long ago that buyers were dominating the housing market in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  Interest rates still remain at historically low percentages and the Real Estate market has been changing for quite some time.

My name is Frank Dolski, Associate Broker and the top producing Agent in 2012 for all Coldwell Banker Affiliated Realtors in the state of Pennsylvania in 2012. I can say with full confidence that the housing market is positively changing in the Bucks County area with steady improvement! I can also proudly state the Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors dominated the Bucks County Real Estate market in 2012 with 21% market share in our core areas of Buckingham, Doylestown, Upper Makefield, Lower Makefield & Yardley

Multiple offers?  Full asking price? Days or hours on the market?  Yes this is occurring in many areas of Bucks County.  Every area is different but overall, the Bucks County market is coming back with a vengeance!

$1,822, 258, 034 in sales have occurred in Bucks County in the past 12 months versus $1,734,165, 312 versus the previous 12 rolling months. That is an overall increase of 4.84% in the past 12 months. The average price of a home in Bucks County was $325,461 in the past 12 months versus $321,201 or an increase in the average sales price of 1.31% for the same period from 5/11 to 5/12. Pending sales continue to increase as well but inventory continues to run lower than last year.

Sold volume in Buckingham Township alone was $140,936,226 versus $108,333,022 in the previous year's same 12 rolling months.  That is an increase of 23.13% in sold volume with a 7.27% decrease in inventory in 2013 versus the same previous 12 rolling months in 2011-2012. *All statistics were pulled from the TREND MLS database for Bucks County.

So what can we expect?  If the market continues to trend as it is, we will see a steady increase in sales over the remainder of the year. My recommendation to sellers is as always.  Sellers must make their homes stand out among the competition by de-cluttering, staging, painting, updating and doing everything possible to make their homes stand above the competition. A professionally staging consult is a must and I offer a free professional consultation from Creative Staging.

Most sellers if not all must look at their home through a buyer's eyes.  Think of yourself as the buyer and what upgrades or changes you would want to see in your own home?  You must do this to remain competitive.  It is fact that staged homes sell quicker and for more money. Location is still the #1 factor when considering a home purchase and will always be the most critical factor.  But if your home shows poorly or is "full of stuff", it will not show its best. A Realtor can assist in helping you through this process. Please contact me if you would like a competitive market analysis on how your home fares in today's market!

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Coldwell Banker Affiliated Realtors!

2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award!

2012 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors!

 

 

 

Comments: 10


Fire Safety In The Home. Is Your Home Safe?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fire Safety In The Home. Is Your Home Safe?

My Name is Frank Dolski, Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors in Lahaska, PA.  I represent buyers and sellers in Real Estate in Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh, Philadelphia and Chester County Area in Pennsylvania.  Doylestown, Buckingham, Quakertown, Perkasie, Newtown, New Hope, Jamison. Yardley, N. Wales and Langhorne are only a few of the towns that where I cover.  This business facinates me and I learn something new everyday.  One of the most important things that I have learned is regarding Fire Safety. 

One thing about this business is that I meet people.  One of the most influential and knowledgeable people that I have met is Ed Pfeiffer, the Fire Marshall for Warwick Township, PA. Selling homes in the township requires a U & O.  So, I run into Ed quite frequently and I learn something everytime we meet.  I wanted to post one of the recent articles that Ed Wrote:

Smoke Detectors Part 1


Our Problem

Whenever firefighters are dispatched to a residential fire, our system has failed. Fire codes, fire officials, fire prevention efforts and a lot of individual homeowners have failed. Although all fires are not preventable, traditional thinking has been directed at preventing
them from starting. This is a good plan and has prevented many fires from beginning. However, history has shown that this isn’t good enough. Fires happen in all kinds of homes, big and small, to the rich and the poor. Reasons include, careless cooking, recalled appliances, electrical products of China, careless smoking, candles, children playing with matches, old wiring, and a million others.

Early smoke detection is fundamental to preventing the cause of the smoke to progress into a fire. Most fires occur when the residents are home. How many fire incidents have you seen or read about that
have caused you to ask, how did the fire get that big and they were home? This is the first in a series of articles that hopefully will help readers understand the importance of smoke detectors. Most of us have upgraded our computer and phones. Could it be time to upgrade your detectors?

Wireless
interconnected smoke detectors – new technology for older homes.

Ed makes some very valid points.  One thing that I have learned as a non expert, that smoke detectors must be wired so they all sound at the same time.  What would happen if a fire occurred in the basement and you were sleeping without a wired system? It may be too late by the time the fire hits the second level. Thus the importance of a wired system with battery backup! The newer technology allows for radio communications via wireless smoke detectors. They too have batteries and talk to each other.

For me, selling a home is great but I would like to know that buyers are safe long after they move in and sellers are safe while they live there. Buying a home is a huge investment and a home can be replaced.  A life cannot be replaced so do your best to be proactive and learn as much as you can to make your homes a safer place to live! NFPA also has some very good tips on fire safety. I'd also like to hear any comments or ideas that you wish to share regarding this topic.

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012
For Coldwell Banker International Affiliated Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

 

Comments: 2


How Effective Is Print Material In An Effort To Market Real Estate?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How Effective Is Print Material In An Effort To Market Real Estate?

Some Real Estate magazines are shrinking in size; newspapers
are getting smaller as the Internet has been a valuable resource for everything from shopping, booking vacations to Real Estate. But does everyone really look for homes online?

My name is Frank Dolski, Associate Broker for Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors in Lahaska, PA and I represent buyers, sellers and investors of Real Estate.  I service the Philadelphia suburbs in areas of Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Philadelphia, Delaware and Lehigh counties. I advertise my listings on over 900 sites which include Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, ColdwellBanker.Com,  and many more! It is a fact that 80-90% of home buyers surf the web to find a home in tandem with working with a Realtor®.  Butis this the only resource that buyers use when looking for homes or open houses?

I agree that it is imperative to be everywhere on the internet as this type of advertising is extremely effective for buyers and sellers. But I also agree that there are people who still read the newspaper, Real Estate Magazines and other print related material. I make my assertion on fact as my success is based on my ability to service my clients and I have to use every resource that is available to do so.  I track where my business comes from or how buyers find out about open houses and the answer is everywhere! They do so from the internet and also from the Sunday newspaper which here in Bucks County is the Intelligencer or Courier Times. Remember that not everyone relies on the internet and yes, they still read the newspaper and look for open houses, articles and other Real Estate related information.

Printed brochures help to promote homes with information,
floor plans, pictures and much more! Real Estate Magazines such as Homes and Land and Gallery are local and national magazines that buyers look through for homes. So my point is that advertising
is needed in all mediums because the end user, the customer, has many ways to search for a home.  What are your thoughts regarding print material? I would like to hear your opinion on this topic. You have mine!

FrankDolski   MBA, ABR,e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Coldwell Banker International Affiliated Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 9


Why Should A Realtor Represent Buyers OF New Construction?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

 Why Should A Realtor Represent Buyers OF New Construction?

Why is it so critical to use a Realtor to represent you as a Buyer’s Agent on the purchase of new construction?

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has indicated that new construction increased in 2012 and will only continue to increase in 2013. So as a buyer, what is the process and how are you represented in the purchase of new construction?

In the state of Pennsylvania, the Consumer Notice clearly defines agency which includes the definition of a buyer’s agent,
a seller’s agent, a dual agent and a transactional licensee.  In the case of new construction, the builder is represented by a seller’s agent. They only represent the builder and do not represent the buyer as clearly defined in the Consumer Notice.  My recommendation is that anyone who is considering buying or even looking at new construction strongly consider employing the services of a buyer’s agent, who is typically “free” to buyers! You should do this prior to your first visit to a any new construction site and your Realtor® should also accompany you.

What are the benefits of buyer representation? My name is Frank Dolski and I am an Associate Broker/Realtor with Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors located in Bucks County, PA. I represent buyers in areas such as Buckingham, Doylestown, New Hope, Newtown, Furlong, Jamison, and many areas in Bucks and Montgomery counties.  There are many reasons why I encourage buyer representation on new construction and I will site a few reasons to do so:

A buyer’s agent will represent you from start to finish in every aspect of the transaction. That means from the signing of the agreement of sale to settlement. They will help you to negotiate the best possible
price for the property including options, lot premiums, and overall price.

I review all contract verbiage to insure that there is no “hidden verbiage” and insure where applicable that some be added where warranted. Keep in mind most new construction contracts are written by attorneys who represent the builder and these contracts are therefore heavily weighted in favor of the builder.
A Buyer's Agent with assist in evaluating alternatives to a particular new construction development (may include showing other homes, visiting other new construction sites, gathering info on other options).  Also included is evaluating the selection of building lots, especially for future resale value. Some options can be deferred
until after construction and some are critical which may not able to be done at a later time. All this helps the buyer make an informed and confident decision.

As a buyer’s agent, I also recommend that at a minimum, a pre-drywall home inspection is down to insure that there are no obvious defects which could not be seen after the drywall goes up. I also
recommend a final inspection as any new home purchase is a huge investment.

Assist the buyer in attaining financing and a review of the financing paperwork, settlement charges on the HUD1 settlement sheet. I also help the buyer to select a title company with various options.

A buyers agent can assist the in directing you to the appropriate Township to look at plans regarding easement restrictions and future development surrounding the area. This is critical because you may want to put in an in-ground pool on a lot that will be restricted by the township or you may own wooded areas where you may never be able to thin out the trees to expand your yard. Builders are required to disclose plot plans, easements and other disclosures but it is always best to have a Realtor represent you to review all of these documents as you are executing the contract or better yet, prior to execution.

Attend a pre-settlement walk-through to help determine a punch list and the give a second opinion for any obvious defects.

My objective as a buyer’s agent for new construction or resale is to help the buyers make informed decisions during every step of the process.  Again, I strongly encourage all buyers to consider using a Realtor® to represent them when purchasing a newly constructed home. Most if not all builders rely on Realtors to help to sell their inventory. It is our responsibility as a "Buyers Agent" to get you the best possible deal and represent you every step of the way!


Frank Dolski
   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 7


What Should Buyers And Sellers Expect At A Real Estate Closing?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The contract is executed, all of conditions have been met and it is time for the buyers and sellers to go to the settlement table.  This is the final step of the Real Estate Transaction and what are the expectations? What documents to be signed and what are closing costs?

The closing is the scheduled meeting where home ownership is officially transferred from the seller to the buyer. A closing agent, usually representing a Title Abstract Company or a Real Estate attorney can conduct the closing. The buyer typically chooses the closing agent who is responsible for the signing of all of the documents and once the HUD1 is signed and approved, the disbursement of funds. The buyers are responsible for signing of the mortgage related documents as well as the other closing related documents as provided by the closing agent.

The other attendees typically include the Buyer & Seller, Realtors, a Lender Representative, an Attorney if chosen or required, and the Closing Agent. The average time for a closing is about 1.5 hours.  If it is a cash deal, it could take as little as 30 minutes. The location of the closing is selected by the buyers and is typically held at the buyer agent’s office, a closing/abstract company or an attorney’s office. 

The steps below explain what happens during and after the closing actual closing: 

  • The first step is typically a review of the mortgage related documents by the lender representative or closing agent.  This documentation takes the most time and needs to be reviewed, initially and signed by the buyers.
  • Next, the closing agent reviews the settlement sheet with the buyer and the seller and answers any questions. Both the buyer and the seller sign the settlement sheet.
  • Then, the closing agent asks the buyer to sign the other loan documents, such as the mortgage note and the Truth-in-Lending statement. Evidence of required homeowner’s insurance is also presented (if it wasn’t previously given to the lender).
  • After that, if everyone agrees that the papers are in order, the buyer and occasionally the seller, submits a certified or cashier’s check to cover the closing costs and the balance of funds due (if applicable). Then the check from the lender covering the mortgage amount is submitted to the closing agent.
  • Next, if the lender will be paying the new owner’s annual property taxes and homeowner’s insurance, a new escrow account (or reserve) is established at this point.
  • The closing agent will not disburse the funds to everyone who is owed money from the sale (including the seller, real estate brokers, and the lender) until the all "money due" is received whether it be check or by wire. After the meeting, the closing agent officially records the mortgage and deed at your local government clerk’s office or registry of deeds.

Documents That You Will Receive

You will receive a number of important documents at the closing meeting. Review this list of documents before you go, so that you’ll know what to expect when you’re there.

HUD-1 Settlement Sheet
Buyer & Seller

The settlement sheet itemizes the services provided and lists the charges to the buyer and the seller. It is filled out by the closing agent and must be signed by both the buyer and the seller, or someone who may be representing them. You should have been allowed to review this form on the business day before your closing meeting so that you will be able to know your closing costs in advance.

Truth-in-Lending (TIL) Statement
Buyer (if borrowing)

Within three business days of applying for a loan to purchase a home, the buyer’s lender should have given the buyer this document, which outlines the costs of the new loan. It is provided to compare the loan costs with percentage rate (APR). The APR is the cost of your mortgage as an annual percentage rate. This rate may be higher than the interest rate stated in the mortgage because the APR includes any points, and certain other costs of credit. The TIL statement also discloses the other terms of the loan, including the finance charge, the amount financed, the payment amount, and the total payments required.

It is possible that the APR calculated at the loan application will change at closing. That is why the lender is required to provide the final version of the TIL statement at or prior to the closing meeting.

The Note
Buyer (if borrowing)

The mortgage (or promissory) note is a legal “IOU.” The note represents the borrower’s promise to pay the lender according to the agreed terms of the loan, including the dates the mortgage payments must be made and the location to which they must be sent.

The note also details the penalties that will be assessed for failure to make the monthly mortgage payments. It also warns that the lender can “call” the loan (require full repayment before the end of the loan term) if the terms of the note or mortgage are violated.

The Mortgage
Buyer (if borrowing)

The mortgage is the legal document that secures the note and gives the lender a legal claim against the house if the borrower defaults on the note’s terms. In effect, the buyer has possession of the property, but the lender has an ownership interest (called an “encumbrance”) until the loan has been fully repaid.

The mortgage restates the basic information found in the note. It also states your responsibilities to pay principal and interest, taxes, and insurance on time; to maintain hazard insurance on the property; and to adequately maintain the property and not allow it to deteriorate. Failure to meet these requirements means the lender can demand full payment of the loan balance or foreclose on the property, sell it, and use the proceeds to pay off the outstanding loan and the foreclosure costs.

In some states, a “deed of trust” is used instead of a mortgage. By signing a deed of trust, they borrower receives title to the property but conveys title to a neutral third party (called a trustee) until the loan balance is paid.

Affidavits
Buyer & Seller

You may be asked to sign numerous affidavits. For example, they buyer may be required to sign an affidavit of occupancy, which states they will use the property as a principal residence. The buyer and the seller may need to sign an affidavit that states all of the improvements to the property that were required in the sales contract were completed before closing.

The Deed
Buyer & Seller

Only the seller signs the deed at closing. It is the document that transfers ownership from the seller to the buyer. The buyer’s name and the names of any other buyers appear on the deed. The buyer receives a copy of the deed at the closing. I would also recommend that the seller and their agent receive a copy of the “marked up” title as well. The closing agent then records the deed with the buyer listed as the new property owner. The deed will be sent to the buyer after it is recorded.

Costs

Closing costs are a part of all loans and are normally the buyer’s costs. These are the costs for things like official documents. In the case of Conventional and FHA loans, closing costs may be paid by the seller. If the buyer has a VA loan, the seller may pay closing costs as well as prepaid expenses. Sales contracts should be explicit in stating what charges each party will pay. As required by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), the buyer and seller will be given an opportunity to see the “Preliminary Settlement Statement” at least once day prior to closing. This statement will show all costs for both buyer and seller.

Title Insurance is a form of indemnity insurance predominantly found in the United States which insures against financial loss from defects in title to real property and from the invalidity or unenforceability of mortgage liens. Title insurance is principally a product developed and sold in the United States as a result of an alleged comparative deficiency of the U.S. land records laws. It is meant to protect an owner’s or a lender’s financial interest in real property against loss due to title defects, liens or other matters. It will defend against a lawsuit attacking the title as it is insured, or reimburse the insured for the actual monetary loss incurred, up to the dollar amount of insurance provided by the policy.

Typically the real property interests insured are fee simple ownership or a mortgage. However, title insurance can be purchased to insure any interest in real property, including an easementlease or life estate. There are also different levels of Title Insurance protection.

Some Typical Closing Costs Include:

  • Attorney’s Fee- (if used or required)
  • Origination Fee – (mortgage fee)
  • Title Insurance- Usually is state regulated, at least in Pennsylvania.
  • Transfer Tax – Differs for each county, state and area. For example, it is 2% of the sales price of a home in Bucks County, PA, equally split by the buyer and seller.
  • Appraisal Fee (typically paid prior to settlement)
  • Credit Report Survey- (mortgage fee)
  • Recording Fees
  • Interim Interest – The amount of interest between the closing date and the first day of the next month.
  • Inspections – Home, Termite, Radon, Septic & Water (if required) All are typically paid before settlement.
  • USDA/RFCD One-Time Mortgage Insurance Premium (if required and can be financed )
  • FHA Guaranty Fee (if required)
  • VA Funding Fee (if required and can be financed)
  • Underwriting Fee- (mortgage fee)
  • Property Tax Escrow – Expect to pay one sixth (two months) of your annual tax payments at closing.
  • Prepaid Expenses (such as appraisal, inspections, etc.)
  • Flood Hazard Determination- (mortgage fee) Federal regulations require flood insurance if your property is located in a HUD designated flood zone.
  • Homeowner’s Insurance – Usually the first year’s premium is paid prior to closing plus two months escrow for the next year’s payment. The lender will need proof of insurance prior to closing.
  • Tax Certification – Tax Collector certifies that the Real Estate Taxes have been paid. (seller fee)
  • Broker Commission – Paid by the seller as a fee to market and sell their home.
  • Conveyancing fees by each Real Estate Broker -
  • Notary Fees
  • Wiring Fees (if required)

Comments: 6


Why Should You Consider Moving To Doylestown, PA?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why Should You Consider Moving To Doylestown, PA?

There are many reasons why you should consider moving to Doylestown, Pennsylvania.  First and foremost, it is one of the finest areas in beautiful Bucks County.  Culturally, the area offers you may want to visit the James A. Michener Art Museum or perhaps the Mercer Museum and the Fonthill Castle. Kids Castle is another spot which offers plenty of outdoor activity or you may want to walk through Doylestown Borough which offers plenty of dining, shopping or entertainment.  (Credit for museum picture "Jared Kofsky/CC-BY-SA-3.0"). 

Buckingham Township is another area located in the heart of Doylestown. Physically, Buckingham is the biggest townships in the county, covering 33 square miles. Enjoy a visit to Buckingham Valley Vineyards, one of the largest of the 146 plus Pennsylvania wineries or you may want to do a little shopping at Penn’s Purchase Factory Stores or Peddler's Village. There is much to do in terms of dining, shopping, outdoor events and the summer concert series within the township.

The general Doylestown area, Buckingham, Warrington, Plumstead, and Warwick townships have one of the best school districts in the state and nation! The Blue Ribbon Central Bucks School District. Currently Central Bucks School District is the third largest school district in the state. Just under 20,000 students are educated in our fifteen elementary, five middle and three high schools. An award-winning staff development program and careful planning for growth have resulted in a very consistent and stable district, even with such a large student enrollment. PSSA test scores are highest in the county, 4th highest in the tri-county area and 6th highest in the state. 92% of CB students further their education at two and four year colleges, and CB has a graduation rate of more than 99%.

I am fortunate to live and work in the area, as an Associate Broker and Relocation Specialist for Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors, I have the pleasure to enjoy what the area has to offer as well as to work with the many buyers and sellers moving into and out of the area.  Please visit my website at www.FrankDolski.Com to learn more about Bucks County Real Estate as well as more about the area.  The proximity is close to New Jersey, Philadelphia, New York as well as the Lehigh, Montgomery and Chester Counties.  If you don’t plan to move here, stop by for a visit.  It will certainly be worth your time!

Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award Recipient
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 6


What is your favorite Restaurant in New Hope, PA?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What is your favorite Restaurant in New Hope, PA?

What is your favorite Restaurant in New Hope, PA?

There are lots of choices for restaurants in New Hope, PA.  A few that come to mind are The Landing, which is located right in the heart of New Hope Boro. Whether eating inside our out, you will find a great atmosphere to dine at your hunger level.  Their riverside terrace, open to the sky is again open for the season with one of the best outside locations for cocktails, lunch or dinner seven days a week. If the rain decides to visit, often the outside bar is still open.  We thank those who come to play on a rainy day in New Hope.  Their bar and dining room inside also are inviting and comfortable.  Surrounding yourself with great friends, food, and drink is the name of the game. Their inside dining room gives a home away from home feel so come in and visit us anytime.  We look forward to sharing our hospitality with you. One of my favorite restaurants is Martine’s River House Restaurant!  Constructed  by New Hope’s first prominent settler, John Wells,  who operated the ferry for 20 years; thereby  giving the Village it’s first name- Wells Ferry.   During the Revolution the Ferry was owned by John Coryell, and the Village became Coryell’s Ferry.  In 1776 the Ferry Landing was the site of a redoubt built by the continental soldiers, who could observe any enemy activity on the New Jersey shoreline. The circa 1717 post and beam barn construction was restored and renovated  beginning in late 2004, commencing in its opening September 8, 2006,  where Martine’s formerly of 7 E. Ferry St., found it’s new home.  My favorite meal there is the Filet Mignon!  The atmosphere is very cozy within walking distance to many bars, shops and other restaurants.  These are just two restaurants in the area.  This is just a taste of Buck County at its finest!

What’s your favorite restaurant in New Hope?

Frank Dolski

Comments: 6


What are some of the top things to do in Doylestown Borough?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What are some of the top things to do in Doylestown Borough?

I have the pleasure of living very close to Doylestown Borough. My name is Frank Dolski and I am an Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors located in Bucks County, PA.  If you are looking for an area to move or just visit, I would strongly encourage you to consider the Doylestown area and adjacent townships.

One of the benefits to living here, is that I get to spend time in historic Doylestown Borough.  So what does it have to offer? It is an area with strong cultural interests.  For example, you could visit the Mercer & Fonthill Museums, which offers a unique perspective on American craftsmanship in a fabulous 5 story masonry "castle." Or perhaps the Michener Museum, which was built incorporating the 19th century structure of the old stone Bucks County jail, offers an internationally renowned art collection as well as a wing dedicated to Bucks County artists. And then there is The County Theatre, which offers many big studio films as well as independent works in its renovated "art deco" cinema on East State Street.

There is much to do in Doylestown Borough and this is just a taste of what's here.  Public transportation is available as well at the local Doylestown Train Station.  If you are considering moving here, please contact me or visit my website at www.FrankDolski.Com.  You can also just stop by and visit some of the places that I mentioned.  Dining is plentiful as well as shopping. In any case, make it a point to visit.  You will not be disappointed!

Frank Dolski

Frank Dolski  MBA, ABR, e-PRO Associate Broker AB066707
CARTUS Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
5895 Lower York Road PO Box 299
Lahaska, PA 18931
(215) 794-1070 Extension: 103 (215) 803-3237 Cellular
F.Dolski@cbhearthside.com
Visit My Facebook Fan Page
Visit My LinkedIn Profile
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 1


So Where is Lahaska, PA And Why Should You Make It A Point To Visit?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

So Where is Lahaska, PA And Why Should You Make It A Point To Visit?

Lahaska is an unincorporated community in Central Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It lies just east of Buckingham and west of New Hope on Route 202 and Route 263. While most of it is in Buckingham Township, it also extends into Solebury Township.

So what does this very small area provide?  Peddler's Village, offers plenty of shopping, dining, and festivals throughout the year. Upcoming events include the Grand Illumination Celebration on Friday November 16th and Merchant Open House Weekend on November 16th to the 18th.

Whatever the event, Peddlers Village is a greaat place to visit!  It is Bucks County at its finest. Stop by to see for yourself!

Comments: 2


So you really want to sell your house, or do you? You just may be missing premium opportunities!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

So you really want to sell your house, or do you? You just may be missing premium opportunities!

Well, you select a Broker and a Realtor; prepare your home for sale by painting, de-cluttering staging it and much more. Now it’s time to begin showings and hopefully procure an acceptable contract in a reasonable amount of time

I represent sellers, buyers and investors in Bucks &Montgomery Counties, and Philadelphia suburbs. As a listing agent, I have to comply with the showing instructions that are acceptable by my sellers.  I also represent many buyers in the same areas. I just showed 20 homes in two days and this is what prompted me to write this blog.

First, some of the Realtors did not return my requests to show their listings, some of the sellers said that the past two days were not good and perhaps another day.  Some of the showings were easy to access and others I had to contact the agents who must accompany, some of which did not return my calls.  So I asked my buyers today, “Do these people really want to sell their homes”? And more so, why do agents have to accompany all showings?  Now I can see if it is a special listing like a horse farm or a property where the listing agent may have information to share that otherwise would go unnoticed. So on a rare occasion, I agree that an agent should accompany.  But for the most part, I think that it is a waste of time, an inconvenience and most of all, sellers miss many opportunities for buyers to see their homes.

So my recommendation is to make showings as accommodating as possible.  I have some suggestions that my help you to procure more buyers and not miss ones that otherwise could have seen your home. 

  1. Make sure that your Realtor uses an electronic lock box. GE Security (SUPRA)provides the ones that we use via the Bucks County Association of Realtors and the showing agent must have an electronic key with their code to be able to enter your home. This information is emailed and logged so I know who visits my listings and when they come.
  2. Overnight notice or 24 hours notice may sometimes be required but if all possible, setting a timeline of a two hour notice is the norm and makes your home more accessible for agents to show it!
  3. If it is a matter of a security code, a special code can be given to agents via the appointment center or the listing agent so the showing agent can disarm and rearm the system.
  4. Do not require and insist that your Realtor does not have to accompany all showings.  Many times agents including myself are not able to get appointments due to conflicts with the showing schedule or the other agent’s schedule.  This is truly a waste of time and most of the time; buyers will miss an opportunity to see your home.
  5. Finally, when possible, put your lights on, turn on some music as this makes your home more inviting to preview.  It makes a significant difference on your home’s appearance.  You can request that the showing agent turn off all lights after showing your home.

My objective is to sell your home!  Aside from the personal and marketing resources that I employ, showing instructions that are accommodating to buyers and their agents are just as critical. Remember, you may only have one shot for the buyers to see your home as they may be transferees or have to make a quick decision because they just sold their home or, your home just may be the perfect fit! As one of the top producing realtors in the Bucks & Montgomery areas and one of the top producing agents in the State of PA for Coldwell Banker International Realtors, I say this with experience and input from many buyers and sellers.  I would be happy to hear what you have to say and for more information, please visit my website athttp://frankdolski.com/

There Is A Difference!

Frank Dolski  MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award Recipient
Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 6


What are the critical factors for buyers and sellers in todays Real Estate market?

Friday, June 15, 2012

What are the critical factors  for buyers and sellers in todays Real Estate market?

Time evolves, technology increases but one thing is critical in Real Estate or any service-related industry, and that is customer/client
service
and ultimately, satisfaction!  So the questions that I pose to buyers, sellers and investors of Real Estate are as follows:


How important are the qualifications and experience of your Realtor? Your agent should be an expert in the areas that you are interested and be able to answer questions like, current market trends, general market area information such as resale availability as well as new construction.  My point is they must know the areas of which they service! Designations such as an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) indicate that the agent has additional training to better support buyers.  A relocation specialist must be versed in working with third party companies that represent major industries such as Pharmaceutical and Bio-Tech companies, manufacturing, major service industries and much more!
This involved increased training to handle the documentation required to support transferees moving to and from any given area.  It also means that is the responsibility of the agent to make the transferee’s move as seamless as possible. There are many more designations and much training involved in making a realtor a expert in a specialized
area.

Do you want a full service Broker or just an agency to facilitate your transaction? As dynamic as it may seem, technology plays a key role in buyers selecting homes that they many consider purchasing in many different areas.  As an Associate Broker for Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors in Bucks County Pennsylvania, I agree that although technology is continually improving, there is a critical need for an expert to represent you in every transaction that you may consider! Technology cannot negotiate an offer or give advice on home inspection or supply a market analysis.  Certainly one can search what is available in any given area but does the consumer really know anything about the appreciation/depreciation rates? Some brokers are full service and others are not.  That leads me to my next question.

    
There  is talk of Café-type offices, which are available, replacing the traditional offices that buyers and sellers are accustomed to knowing but is this what the buyers and sellers want?  Which service provides that ultimate goal and
that is meeting customer requirements! 
I don’t know about you but if I am looking for ultimate service in any industry.  I want to not only speak to a live person but know that I am getting qualified service! I know if I have a cold or an ailment, I visit a licenced doctor in their office or if I am in need of an auto repair, I drop my vehicle off to a qualified mechanic or service center.  The same holds true for real estate professionals which are licensed to represent you.  So my recommendation is that you pick the best qualified individual to represent you! 
There are many facets and areas of expertise in the Real Estate industry and doesn’t the customer deserve top notch service?  Shouldn’t a buyer meet with an agent and review their needs and wants in person and have the other ancillary professionals like mortgage representatives and inspectors at least available for selection? Or would one rather an automated system or “half service” company to represent them?

I am only interested in only one thing and that is providing top notch, customer driven service and my objective to hear what you really have to say.  You are the end customer, correct? So what factors are important to you when considering the purchase or sale of a new home?

I service many areas in the Philadelphia suburbs including areas in Bucks County such as Doylestown, Buckingham, New Hope, Warwick and Furlong. Other areas in Montgomery County such as Lansdale, Montgomeryville, and Abington, only to mention a few. Some of the school districts include Central Bucks, Solebury, Council Rock and Pennridge. Customer satisfaction results in referrals and future business.  It is my reputation to do the best job possible for each and every client. There is a difference!
So what is most important to you in this current market?  I would like to hear what you have to say!


Frank Dolski  
MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award Recipient
CARTUS & SIRVA Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

 



 

Comments: 6


Why Isn't Your Home Selling In A Reasonable Amount Of Time?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why Isn't Your Home Selling In A Reasonable Amount Of Time?

There is no doubt that the Real Estate market in Bucks County, PA is very dynamic and still adjusting from the past few years but if your home is currently on the market and not selling in a reasonable amount of time, there must be a reason!  My name is Frank Dolski and I am an Associate Broker/Realtor at Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors in Lahaska, PA. As one of the top Realtors in the State of Pennsylvania, I have a few ideas on how to sell your home and moreso, how to prepare it before listing it.

4803 homes sold in Bucks County in the past 12 rolling months.  Average days on market were 102 and the average price was $321,949.  For the same experience, 176 homes sold in Buckingham Township alone with an average of 104 days on market and an average sold price of $516,234.  Homes are selling and the market is slowly improving but why hasn't your home sold?  Great question!   One of the reasons may be price and other reasons could be location, amenities or lack there of, curb appeal and general overall condition of the interior and exterior of the property.

The main variable in buying a home has always been location.  Schools, the job commute, and shopping are also important as well. But what happens if your home is still not selling.  Or, the feedback is that you are overpriced.  So your Reator suggest a price reduction. Or even another one!

So I have some recommendations that may help to answer the questions and furthermore, help  your home sell your home in a shorter time frame and for more money! Here are some general guidelines that I recommend to all sellers:

  1. The home must be de-cluttered and staged accordingly.  It is well worth the money to use the services of a professional stager at a minimum to give you professional recommendations prior to putting your home on the market.  I provide a free staging consultation at no cost with a very detailed analysis. Homes that I list in my experience which are professionally staged sell quicker and for more money.  Many places like the Salvation Army, Purple Hearts and others will take your clutter (if it is in good condition) for free.  Less "stuff" in a home creates an impression of a larger space.  I have seen many instances where a family room just had too much furniture and pieces were taken out and utilized in other parts of the home. The result is a perceived larger space!
  2. How does your home stack up against the competition?  Do you need granite, stainless steel appliances or painting?  All of these items come into play when preparing your home for sale. Comments that I hear are, "The new owners will change it how will they like it or what if they do not like the paint"?  Buyers of today want to move into a home that is in move-in condition.  Again, I utilize my experience to help sellers realize they can maximize their profit and reduce their days on market if they just prepare their home for sale.  Sound easy?
  3. The exterior of the home must be mulched, painted and show well.  Remember, this is a buyer's first impression! There is nothing worse than chipped paint, uncaulked area, weeds, and lack of exterior maintenance that may turn the buyers off before they enter the home.
  4. I continue to stress that less is best.  Kitchen counters should be clear and only accented with a few items such as a cook book and other decor to dress it up.  An overpopulated counter top creates the perception of less counter space. Dining room and kitchen tables should be set, just like you see at a model home.
  5. The paint colors must match the decor and it is important to use earthtone colors in every room.  Have you every walked into a model home?  All of the rooms are painted, the home is staged and it is very inviting.  You can do the same thing within budget to prepare your home for sale. Price sometimes is a factor.  Every seller, myself included, always thinks that their home is worth more than it is.  You must be realistic and use the comparable sales as a guideline to price your home.  Keep in mind that there is a general discount rate so you must consider this as well when pricing your home. Also keep in maind that the market will dictate the price of your home.  Price it right but do not be afraid to reduce the price if it is warranted!  There are many variables that come into play when selling a home.  The home must also be properly marketed with plenty of good pictures.  Too many times I see poor lighting or pictures that do not portray a real image of the home. So what are your thoughts and ideas to sell your home.  What are the marketing mediums that your agent and broker use?  My homes are listed on over 350 websites, in print, social media and numerous other mediums.  I am interested to hear what you have to say on this topic and I look forward to your answers. Please visit my website at www.FrankDolski.Com for additional information.

Sincerely,

Frank Dolski  MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
CARTUS & SIRVA Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 2


What are QR codes?

Monday, October 24, 2011

What are QR codes?

So what are QR or Quick response codes? According to Wikipedia, a QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. More recently, the system has become popular outside of the industry due to its fast readability and comparatively large storage capacity. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be made up of any kind of data (e.g., binary, alphanumeric, or Kanji symbols.

QR codes are used in many industries.  You can see them in magazines, on websites, on products, signs or in many applications.  I elected to use them in the marketing of Real Estate.  As an Associate Broker and realtor for Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors, I use them in magazines, brochures, sign riders and on the web.  They can be detected by smart phones such as the I-Phone, Blackberry, I-Pad, Android and many more. 

The QR code contains information about my listings, my website or pretty much anything that I want to market to the public. For example, I have a QR code for each of my brochures.  Potential buyers can scan the code and obtain information about homes in Bucks and Montgomery counties and the greater Philadelphia area.  They can be used to provide real estate information, virtual tours, pictures and much more!

I also used them for my website.  Listed below is a QR code that I generated for www.FrankDolski.Com. Please ckick on it and give it a try! So what applications do you use it for?  I'd like to hear if you are using them and if you see the benifit for "quick response" information.


Frank Dolski  
MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
CARTUS & SIRVA Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
f.dolski@cbhearthside.com
www.FrankDolski.Com

Comments: 6


Fire Safety- Are you Covered?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fire Safety- Are you Covered?

Fire safety is one of the most important things that we have to respect and to be most informed.  Thousands of homes are destroyed each year and most importantly, lives are lost or forever impacted. 

My name is Frank Dolski, Associate Broker/Realtor for Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors.  I attend many home inspections in  Bucks and Montgomery counties and you would be surprised at the many fire hazards that are found.  The key in fire safety from a non-expert is being proactive.  I have the pleasure of knowing Ed Pfeiffer, the Warwick Township Fire Marshall and he was kind enough to share the following information.


ARE YOU COVERED?

“Coverage” is a term most often associated with a sprinkler
system. By design, complete coverage is necessary to insure that the
appropriate amount of water is discharged per square foot to extinguish a fire. Gaps in coverage may allow a fire to advance unchecked. A properly designed and installed sprinkler system has no gaps.

Applying a similar concept to smoke detectors, coverage can
provide the earliest warning of the presence of smoke. A detector in every roomthat is connected to all the other detectors would provide complete coverage. Anything less than complete coverage is a gamble. Undetected smoke can lead to an undetected fire. Conversely, early smoke detection can alert occupants and
action can be taken to prevent that smoke from becoming a fire.

Advances in technology have created “wireless” smoke
detectors. They are battery powered detectors that install like traditional detectors, except they send and receive signals to and from each other. When any detector senses smoke, they all make noise. Most important, when you are asleep the detector in your bedroom will make noise if smoke is detected
anywhere in your home. 

Compare you present smoke detection system with a complete
“coverage” system. By investing in a few smoke detectors you can take the gamble out of a possible devastating fire in your home.As a minimum per the International Building Code, smoke
detectors are required in every bedroom, on each floor, the garage and each basement room. Larger homes may require additional detectors. Wireless detectors currently cost $30. each. Homes with a
limited “hardwired” system can be expanded by using wireless detectors.

Additional Thoughts
- Technology has eliminated rotary phones, typewriters, black & white TVs and many other appliances. Yet many people are reluctant to upgrade their smoke
detectors. I often hear “they are too expensive”, “I haven’t had a fire yet” or the general assumption that a fire can’t happen in their home. The thought that fires only occur in un-kept homes, by smokers doesn’t take into account that lighting strikes may damage wiring and that damage may not develop immediately. Products are recalled daily for fire risks that include dish washers, refrigerators, coffee makers, etc. Candles are lit and forgotten. Serious fires occur in new and old homes alike. They don’t always happen to someone else.

There is no perfect fire protection system. However, by being
diligent (keeping you guard up) you can use technology to prevent a fire in your home, inexpensively.

Comments: 2


Should a Realtor attend a home inspection for their buyers and sellers?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Should a Realtor attend a home inspection for their buyers and sellers?

It is quite common for buyers to have a home inspection on
the home that they are purchasing.  Themajority of the time, they attend the inspection to learn about the home aswell as see if the home that they are purchasing has material defects or concerns. In any case, I am posing the question, “Should the representingRealtors also attend the inspection?”

I will give you my opinion and that is if I am representing the buyer, I do my best to attend every home inspection.  Perhaps not the entire inspection, but the largest majority of the inspection.  I do this as a service to my clients.  I am going to be the one who will be writing the reply to addendum and want to see firsthand, what I am requesting in representation of my client(s).  If representing a seller, I try to attend midway through the inspection to answer any questions and to get a feel of how the inspections are going.  Sellers are quite anxious to know how the inspection goes as they typically do not attend.  Again, I see this as a service to my clients.  What are your thoughts as a Buyer, Seller, Realtor, Broker, or Inspector?

Comments: 2


Why should an appraiser be given the agreement of sale on a property prior to giving an appraisal?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Real Estate and Mortgage industries have seen many
changes in the past few years.  Homes notappraising is an ongoing issue as the market has changed.  Or has it? Could it be that the banking industry is trying to fix some past mistakes? As an associated Broker and Realtor with Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors in Lahaska, PA, I do wonder why an appraiser is given the agreement of
sale before they do the appraisal. Perhaps the mortgage lenders are requiring itnow but I find it odd they the appraisers cannot just go by comparables and thevariables to properly do the appraisal. 
It is like having the answers to a test before it is given!

In my opinion, the appraisers should not be given the
agreement of sale and go by their professional experience to provide the valuefor any home.  Too many times I see ahome appraising for the exact sales value or $1000 over.  I am not blaming the appraisers but perhapsit is the banking or perhaps the government trying to fix the problems that they created.  This has an adverse effecton the price of homes and I see this being a challenge and areas of Bucks and Montgomerycounties where I do most of my business. 
What are your thoughts because I am certain that many of you are
affected by the new and perhaps old guidelines?

Comments: 2


The Importance Of Having Smoke Detectors In Your Home!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Importance Of Having Smoke Detectors In Your Home!

Why is it so important have "in-line" smoke detectors in your home?  I am an Associate Broker and Realtor for Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors servicing Bucks County, Pennsylvania and attend many home and Use & Occupancy Inspections.  A recent U & O in Jamison, Pennsylvania was a learning experience for me.

The Warwick Township Fire Marshall conducted a U & O inspection on one of my listings and failed it due to 2 inoperable smoke detectors.  The main problem was that it partially worked but it did not work in tandem with the rest of the detectors throughout the home.  Why is this important?  As the Fire Marshall explained, "if a fire occurred in the room where the faulty detector was located, the rest of the detectors would not sound off and could delay the warning to people who may be in other parts of the home".  He made a critical point and opened my eyes.  The two faulty detectors were replaced and were now communicating with the rest of the units.  One other observation was that a stand alone battery operated unit was place in an area and this one too was not connected.  What if a fire occurred here?  The same result would be that the rest of the detectors would not sound until fire and smoke reached that area and by the time that it did, it may be too late.

There are many programs and NFPA, which is the Nation Fire Protection Association is just one of many places to learn about fire prevention and safety. FireSafety.Govis another site for fire prevention or safety. I learn something new everyday and wanted to share my recent experience in an attempt to better educate everyone about fire prevention and safety.  What are your thoughts and experiences?

Comments: 1


Staging: A Savvy Sellers Secret Weapon!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Staging: A Savvy Sellers Secret Weapon!

I am a very strong advocate of being proactive when listing a home or any type of Real Estate that is going on the market.  The majority of homes that I sell are located in the greater Philadelphia area and more specifically, Bucks and Montgomery Counties. During every listing presentation I tour the home and during the interview I alway recommend the services of a professional stager.  I have been working with Creative Staging since 2006 and they provide a written comprehensive analysis for every home that I list.  It is a statistical fact that staged homes sell quicker and for more money! Listed below is a blog written by Julie Pelly, President/Owner of Creative Staging Inc.

 

When selling a house, there are so many variables that are out of the control of a homeowner such as the location or the condition of a neighbor’s property.  However, there is one thing EVERY homeowner can fully control and that is how their house presents for sale.  This is why Staging is a “MUST-DO” for every seller before they put their house on the market. 

The need for Staging is NOT an indication that a homeowner has “bad taste” or is a poor decorator - NOT AT ALL!  Staging is all about Strategic Marketing.  Homeowners are often hesitant to meet with a Stager, fearful of hearing everything that something is “wrong” with their house and that fear couldn’t be more unfounded!   As President of Creative Staging Inc. since 2002, I have NEVER criticized a homeowner’s décor, taste or way of living; I certainly would not want anyone to do that to me!  How a homeowner decorates to live in a home and how one presents a house for sale are significantly different.  My job is to take away buyer objections BEFORE they occur!  I will look at a room with an objective eye and determine what will likely be viewed as a “buyer negative” and then I eliminate it. It could be a perceived lack of storage space, the room could look small, perhaps furniture layout could be improved, the room might look dark or the colors might be personalized and potential buyers might not be in a financial position to customize your house to their taste. Whatever the issue may be, we identify it and take it away before buyers get a chance to see it.

A professional Stager will work closely with an experienced Realtor® to determine the demographic of the “most likely buyer” of a particular house.  Then the Stager will get to work and make sure the house is prepared to target that audience. In Bucks County, for example, a  four Bedroom Colonial in Buckingham Township may likely to be purchased by a growing family or a couple and may get a different “look” than a condo in New Hope Boro or Solebury Township, where the likely next owner might be professionals or a new first time homeowner.  When a potential buyer walks in and instantly is able to imagine moving right into your house, my job is done! Remember, that you may only get one opportunity to showcase your home and you want it to look its best the first timethat a potential home buyer walks through.  This means from exterior curb appeal to each and every room in the home.

Staging works and a “staged house” stands above its competition!  In this Real Estate market, our Staged houses are selling in an average of 27 days! Please contact me today and as part of your team, I’ll make sure your house looks its best and is ready to sell!

Julie Pelly
President/Owner Creative Staging Inc.
Phone: 215.322.4450
Fax: 215.654.6176
Website: http://www.creative-staging.com/
E-mail: jfpelly@creative-staging.com
           sebrown@creative-staging.com

Comments: 1


When Is A Good Time To Prepare Your Home for Sale And What Are The Critical Factors To Consider?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When Is A Good Time To Prepare Your Home for Sale And What Are The Critical Factors To Consider?

If you are thinking of listing your home for sale, you must consider many things prior to going active! Keep in mind that you must look at your home through the eyes of a potential buyer. I cannot emphasize this enough but contact your Realtor before you do anything! I would much rather join the process well before the home is listed as I can and do provide numerous resources to sellers.  I represent sellers in the greater Philadelphia area and primarily Bucks and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania.

Here is a list of suggestions that I recommend for sellers:

  1. Evaluate the amount of “stuff” that you have collected over the years and begin to de-clutter, donate or throw out items of no value.  De-cluttering your home actually shows more space within a home and enhances its overall appearance.
  2. Make a list of items that have to be repaired, upgraded or painted. Be proactive on this list as it will add value to your home!
  3. Assess the curb appeal!  Do you need to mulch, paint or prune trees?  Does the driveway need coating? The exterior of your home is the first impressionthat a buyer sees. It is an indication of what’s inside.
  4. Utilize the services of a professional stager!  I encourage all of my clients to employ the service of a professional stager early in the process. The company that I recommend is Creative Staging, who service the greater Philadelphia area, New Jersey and beyond.  They provide a free comprehensive consultation to my sellers who elect to either use their services or use their recommendations.  It is a proven fact that homes sell faster and for more money when staged!
  5. If painting, new carpeting, new counter tops or any repair or upgraded is required, utilize the advice of your Realtor and the professional stagers.  There is nothing worse than doing something that you think is right and you find out that this is not what buyers are really looking for in a home. This could be very costly without assistance and you want to do things right the first time! So, be proactive and use the resources at hand!
  6. As previously mentioned, staging is critical.  Less is best, everywhere!  If you have granite counter tops, put a minimal amount of accents on them.  The objective is to show counter space and “show off” your counter tops. Set the dining room and kitchen tables.  Stop into a model home and see how they are staged!
  7. When painting, use color! Today’s buyer wants to move right in! Sure they will make some changes but in most cases, color sells! Again, seek professional advice when picking colors.  My stagers provide color recommendations for all of my clients free of charge!
  8. Utilize accents and other décor throughout the home.  This does not have to be costly but fresh flowers, a floor mirror, a cook book, and other small items add some flair to your home.
  9. I said that less is best!  Take a leaf out of an over-sized table, remove excess furniture and make certain that each and every room shows its optimum.

 

These are only a few ideas they I suggest to utilize prior to listing any Real Estate.  Be proactive and contact a professional early in the process.  I provide a list of resources to all of my clients in the Bucks and Montgomery areas.  The objective is to optimize the overall appearance of your home at a reasonable cost.  Please feel free to contact me if you would llike my professional advice. What are your thoughts on preparing your home for sale?

Comments: 3


What Impact Does Painting Have On The Sale Of A Home?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Impact Does Painting Have On The Sale Of A Home?

Prior to listing a home for sale, there are many variables to consider in making your home stand out among the rest.  De-cluttering, updating, and staging make a difference, but what impact does paint or lack of have on the sale of Real Estate?  In my professional opinion it has a huge impact and is a key factor in the process of selling a home which will sell quicker and net more money!

The majority of the homes that I sell are located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and one the primary recommendations that I make, if required, is painting the home where needed.  Sellers often say, “Well it looks fine to me” or “The next owners may not like the color selection that I choose”!  When was the last time that you were in a model home?  You will see designer selected colors in every room!  I could site many examples but one in particular stands out.  I had 60 showings in a 12-week period at a very nice home and location in Doylestown, PA.  I encouraged the sellers to paint only a few rooms prior to listing and they did not think that it would be a selling issue.  I encouraged then to paint the entry foyer, upper hallway, and dining room and they agreed!  The home sold within 2 weeks and over asking price. The only difference being was they added color to these rooms.  Not just any color buy colors selected by professional stagers.

Interior color gives a room a better appearance, makes rooms seem to be larger and creates a dynamic flow throughout the home.   It also enhances the furniture, staging and other décor.  As an Associate Broker and one of the top Realtors in the Bucks County region, I always encourage sellers to utilize the services of a staging consultant prior to listing, which I provide at no cost.  What is your experience or opinion?

Comments: 2


Relocating to or from Bucks County? What is most important to you?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

If you are relocating to or from Bucks County, nationally or globally, you understand the importance of having a specialized Relocation Specialist on the selling and buying side of your move.  As a Certified CARTUS & SIRVA Relocation and Marketing Specialist, I have the pleasure of assisting many transferees to and from the Bucks County Area.  My job is to make the transition as seamless as possible as there is much stress on any relocation.  I know because I actually transferred to the Bucks County area for a job transfer as a senior manager for a manufacturing company via Cendant, which is now CARTUS.
So, I will begin with the buyers.  What is important to them?  First and foremost, transferees want to understand the area and the dynamics of each given area.  Area tours are typical and help the transferees to first understand the aggregate area in Bucks County, the townships within such as Newtown, Buckingham, Doylestown, Warwick and New Hope.  Schools are equally as important as location, if not more!  Therefore, we always tour by the different schools districts such as Council Rock, New Hope/Solebury and Central Bucks and Pennridge.  Commutable distance is always a factor when moving to a new area.

For sellers, having an experienced relocation specialist who knows the protocol of 3rd party companies such as Cartus, Sirva, Cornerstone, Aeries, Altair and more is essential. There are addendums, marketing update reports, and specific information that a relocation specialist needs to know.  Transferees moving out of the area typically start their jobs and the trailing spouse/partner/family is left behind.  A resource such as Coldwell Banker Concierge and assistance from the Agent is important.  At Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors, I pride myself as being a Relocation Specialist, as it is my job to aggressively market your property and accurately price it for a sale in a reasonable time-frame.  Coldwell Banker International provides global resources that are essential to any move! This is both beneficial to the sellers as well as the company relocating the transferee.

So, what is important to you as a transferee if you are relocating or moving to or from the Bucks County area? Or perhaps you are just moving abroad and assistance in securing the top Broker/Realtor in any given area.  I can help!  Please contact me via my website, email or by phone.  There is a difference!

Comments: 3


Why Are Schools So Important When Buying A Home!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why Are Schools So Important When Buying A Home!

Are you in the market to purchase a new home?  Location, location, location has always been the most critical factor when deciding where to live. Price is also a key factor to consider when you are looking to buy a new home.  But what about schools?  In my opinion, buyers consider this to be as important as choosing location.  I represent buyers and sellers in many areas of Bucks County, Pennsylvania and schools are at the top of the list for most of my buyers. There are many public school districts in Bucks County. Central Bucks School District services areas like Doylestown, Buckingham, Furlong, Warwick, Warrington and more! New Hope/Solebury School District is the public school that services the New Hope and Solebury Township. Council Rock School Districtservices areas such as Newtown, Richboro, and other areas in Upper Makefield and Northampton Townships.  Pennridge School District services numerous areas in Bedminster Township as does Palisades School District.. 
So how do you know which school district to choose? Perhaps you ask friends or co-workers which schools that their children attend? Or you do some research on your own.  I always recommend that if you are relocating to the area, that you visit each of the schools in the areas that you are considering.  There are also websites like School Matters, Great Schools or School Digger where you can do a comparison on schools.  Perhaps you are consideringt private schools in Bucks County?  There are many private schools in Bucks County as well!  As a CARTUS Certified Relocation Specialist, I have the opportunity to work with transferees who move here from many areas in the United States and abroad. One of the most critical factors that determine their decision to move to a specific area is schools.  So where do schools rank on your decision to move to an area?  What websites do you use to obtain school information?

Comments: 4


What is it is Critical to have a home inspection on a" newly constructed" home?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What is it is Critical to have a home inspection on a" newly constructed" home?

As a buyer of new construction, would you consider having a pre-drywall home inspection or a final inspection?  Some buyers may comment that "it's new, why do I need a home inspection"?  You would be amazed at what is found during inspections of newly constructed homes! I represent many buyers in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and outside of negotiating price, this is one of the most important aspects in the process of purchasing and building a new home.

Pre-Drywall Inspections:
All of the major plumbing, electrical, framing, duct-work and structural items are completed prior to pre-drywall.  What a better time to have a professional home inspector look at these areas then prior to the drywall installation!  You would be surprised what inspectors may find!  For example, I have represented clients who have had pre-drywall home inspections where the gas fireplace was not secured, substandard studding issues were uncovered, which could create drywall or siding bowing, and main beams not being properly secured or shimmed.  The fact is that this is perhaps the most important inspection that a buyer can have on a newly constructed home.

Final walk-through inspections:  Having your new home professionally inspected a week prior to settlement is also something that I strongly recommend to buyers.  Items such as plumbing leaks, improper appliance performance, tight windows, HVAC issues, flooring defects and more are only a few of the items that I have seen home inspectors find during a pre-settlement walk through. 
Most if not all builders are receptive to home inspections. The fact that a Certified Home Inspector professionally inspects your newly constructed home is imperative!  Purchasing a new home is an enormous real estate investment and in comparison, it is of minimal cost to have your new home professionally inspected. You also have the assurance that your home was built to proper standards. I have represented buyers of new construction many times during the course of my career.  I strongly recommend that anyone purchasing a new home should always have it professionally inspected.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Comments: 2


DO OPEN HOUSES SELL HOUSES?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

DO OPEN HOUSES SELL HOUSES?

The question is that do open houses sell houses?  Many Realtors and sellers say that they do not and some say that they do!  The fact remains that they are yet another tool to help market a seller’s home and in my opinion, they are necessary and effective.  I have had three listings go to contact since December 2010, One settled on January 7th and the other settled on January 31st. The third one settled on February 28th. A fourth home sold in April from buyers who came to the open house in North Branch from the sign. The homes that sold are two in Jamison, Warwick Township and two in Plumstead Township. All of these homes are located in the Blue Ribbon Central Bucks School District and are located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The common factor is that the buyers who executed contracts on all four properties first visited the these homes at an open house!  Perhaps they seen them on-line first, as over 80% of all buyers go to the Internet.  Or perhaps they saw them in a magazine. (no, print is not dead) All four sets of buyers/new homeowners were also represented by other agents who had not yet previewed the homes.  In one instance, the buyer's agent did not see the home until after executing the contract and at the home inspection.  This house settled in 8 days!.  My point is that open houses do sell houses and over the years, I have sold many of my listings from open houses. It is yet another way to effectively market a seller's home! What are your thoughts, experiences and opinion?

Comments: 1