Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Oct. 14, 2019

Save on Your Heating Costs this Winter

The laws of thermodynamics can be expensive. When the big winter weather arrives, the heat can leach from your home through a variety of obvious and unexpected ways, resulting in high heating bills. Wouldn’t you rather put that money into holiday shopping or upgrades for your house?

 

The most obvious culprits are in plain sight: Doors and windows. The weatherstripping around doors shouldn’t admit any light, and when it comes to windows, you’ll want to look for holes in the caulking. You could even upgrade your windows to double-pane, or go with storm windows to improve insulation. But the less obvious and less dramatic options are available to you, too. Here are 5 tips you may not have thought of when it comes to heating leaks and your overall energy spend:

 

1. Cover up your water heater. For $20 - $40 you can secure a water heater blanket at most hardware stores. This will help keep your water heater insulated, which in turn means the water heater will use less energy to keep you in those warm showers. You might even consider dropping your water heater temperature from 140F/60C down to a safe but reasonable 120F/49C.

 

2. Swap out rugs and drapes. In the warmer months, you may enjoy sheer window coverings or go with bare floors, but in the winter laying in heavy drapes and thicker rugs will help trap heat. (Plus, it makes a room feel all the more cozy when it’s cold outside!)

 

3. Shutter your fireplace when it’s not in use. Is cold air whistling down your chimney? Does your flue close completely? Unless your fireplace is in constant use, remembering to seal it up when you’re not burning wood is a good place to save. Just remember to open the flue before you use it, or else you’ll end up with a smokey hazard!

 

4. Swap out your furnace filters. The harder you make your furnace work to exchange air, the more you’ll pay for it. Stay on top of filter changes in the winter. The money you spend on filters will lower your bill and help save on your furnace’s wear and tear.

 

5. Invest in a programmable thermostat. From your basic clock-based models to your fancy smart thermostats like Nest, programmable thermostats will help you turn down the heat when you’re not home and when you’re sleeping. A modest expense will pay for itself many times over as the winters add up.

 

Stay warm on the cheap this year! If you find yourself looking for a more energy efficient home, we are  also here to help: 570-424-8131 

Posted in Homeowner, Renters
Oct. 7, 2019

Common Questions Regarding Senior Home Transitions

As we all age, our thoughts inevitably turn to the question of the quality of our lives in the future. Where we live is an important part of that equation. I know I’ve thought about it, and I’ve definitely worked with people who have dealt with the uncertainty.

 

How will I know when maintaining my home becomes too much? How can I remain comfortable, safe, and independent in my own home? If my home becomes to big for me, how do I find one that meets my needs? Who will protect my interests when it comes time to sell my home?

 

If you find yourself wondering about these issues, or worrying about them on behalf of an aging parent or friend, I would be glad to offer my assistance. As a real estate agent with a special interest in senior clients, I’ve had the privilege of helping seniors and their families navigate this phase of life.

 

Please reach out to me if you’d like to chat. I’d be happy to help, even if you don’t necessarily need the answers to these questions for some time yet.

 

570-424-8131 ext:405. 

Sept. 30, 2019

How a real estate agent makes a difference

There’s a lot of stuff out there you can buy and sell all by yourself. Unloading your old car? No problem. Ordering a sandwich? Hardly requires a buyer’s agent. But when it comes to buying and selling a home, there are many time-tested reasons for working with a real estate agent.

 

Despite the tangible nature of real estate, a home is really an investment. And when it comes to an investment as large as real estate, working with an agent provides a host of big benefits. Before you decide to go it alone, consider what you’ll be giving up if you do:

 

1. Real estate agents know what’s really going on in the market. Anecdotal reports about what’s hot and what’s not isn’t the way to price a home or research neighborhoods. Agents provide visibility into the real numbers based on data.

 

2. Real estate agents understand the process. How many real estate deals have you navigated? Your typical agent has had experience with dozens if not hundreds of transactions. They know the steps and they know what to do when things go wrong.

 

3. Real estate agents can save you time researching homes. Sure, you can look online, but you can also give your agent criteria and sit back while they create a hit-list of must-visit homes they think are worth your attention. Why wouldn’t you leverage their assistance?

 

4. Real estate agents negotiate on your behalf. Shield yourself from the frontline stress of negotiations while your agent looks out for your interests. It minimizes hard feelings and insulates you from the headache of negotiating directly.

 

5. Real estate agents help you see the deal clearly. Buying a selling a home is an emotional experience, and emotions can cloud your decision making process. There’s a lot of money on the line. Can you really afford to act irrationally? Your agent can keep things level.

 

Invest wisely! Invest with a real estate agent.

 

Ready to go? Call D-N-A Property Management Company today at 570-424-8131 ext:405. 

Sept. 23, 2019

Don’t forget to stage your garage!

Making a house on the market shine is all about attention to detail. If you’re going the extra mile to ensure your home is a stand-out, you’ll probably go beyond the typical touch-ups that refresh curb appeal. You might even decide to stage your home, especially if you’re not living in it while it’s for sale.

 

One “room” you don’t want to forget when you stage? Your garage!

 

Staging a garage may sound excessive, but it’s an important and frequently-used entryway to a home. While many prospective buyers may expect a dark, cluttered, unfinished concrete box, you can surprise and delight them by following these simple garage staging tips:

 

1. Clear out the clutter. Yes, it might mean renting storage space, but that can be a good idea anyway when you’re staging a home to impress. Weed through the junk, have your garage sale, and then store the balance off-site.

 

2. Enhance the floors. Cracked, stained, or otherwise shoddy looking concrete flooring can be a visual turn-off. If you’re not planning on sealing, priming, and painting the floor, at least get a suitable cleaning chemical or power washer to brighten up the flooring.

 

3. Organize what remains. A workshop area with hook boards for small tools can be appealing, especially if great care is taken to make the area look tidy and functional.

 

4. Create more storage space on walls or hanging from the ceiling. Provided your garage isn’t low-ceilinged or particularly tight, shelving and hanging racks can show your buyers how much room they’ll have to keep extra tools, seasonal decorations, or sports equipment handy.

 

5. Tune up the lighting. A nice hanging fluorescent fixture, plugged into outlets or existing fixture outlets can change your garage from a dungeon into a clean, inviting place. Besides, don’t you want to highlight all that hard work you’ve done?

 

Want to make your house stand-out in the Monroe County market? We will be happy to share all the tips and tricks we have to give your home an edge. Let’s connect! 570-424-8131 ext:405.

Posted in Seller Information
Sept. 16, 2019

How to Enjoy Your Fireplace Safely this Season

Gathering the family around a crackling fire can be one of the joys of the coldest months… or it can be a nightmare. It’s one thing to be seated cozily on the couch while the firewood glows, and quite another to be standing on the curb in the cold watching the fire department trying to save your home.

 

More than 14,000 fires begin each year in fireplaces, and fires are the cause of nearly $900 million dollars in property damage. Don’t be a victim because of shoddy maintenance or careless usage of your fireplace. This goes for both wood-burning and gas fireplaces.

 

Here are some tips to maintain your fireplace and protect your life:

 

1. Before the coldest months set in, get your fireplace inspected. Remember, most inspection companies will be very busy during the winter, so try and secure an inspection at least a month or so before you anticipate using your fireplace heavily.

 

2. Inspect your fireplace before you use it. Take a flashlight and look in the flue. Look for obstructions. Check for cracked bricks, missing mortar, or other signs of damage. Be sure to clean out any ashes and dispose of them in a metal-lid trash can.

 

3. Burn properly. This means using seasoned hardwood (which avoids creosote accumulation), and burning logs on an approved rack or elevated grate. Also, don’t burn trash, cardboard, or other debris in your home fireplace.

 

4. Keep the area around the fireplace clear. Don’t put your Christmas tree near the fireplace, or anything else which is liable to combust. If it’s flammable, keep it safely distant from those flames. 

 

5. Guard against sparks. Sparks may periodically leap from your fireplace, so use a screen to prevent them from landing on rugs or nearby furniture.

 

6. Don’t leave the house with a fire burning. Extinguishing a fire before you leave is common sense, so don’t leave those burning logs unattended!

 

Would you like a home with a fireplace? Let me help you find just the right one:

Posted in Home Living
Sept. 9, 2019

Simple tricks for recycling reminders

Recycling is now the norm in communities, but as widespread as the environmental trend is, there are still opportunities to improve the amount we recycle. While recycling is not only good for the planet and helps us reuse materials which would otherwise end up in a landfill, it’s also good for the economy.

 

According to the Tellus Institute, a research and action group for a global civilization of sustainability, equity, and well-being, improving the U.S. recycling rate from 33% to 75% would create 1.5 million new jobs. While traditional waste disposal generates 0.1 jobs per 1,000 tons of landfill, recycling generates 2 jobs for every 1,000 tons! (You can learn more about the Tellus Institute here: http://www.tellus.org)

 

Here’s a quick life hack to increase the amount you recycle in your home: Put a smaller garbage can in your bathroom and place a recycling bin next to it. While people are generally good about recycling in their kitchen and home offices, the bathroom can be a surprising source of waste. According to a study by Johnson & Johnson, manufacturers of a wide range of health and beauty products, 40% of Americans throw out plastic shampoo bottles in their garbage rather than recycle them. The same is true of toilet paper rolls and other sanitary packaging, including cardboard soap boxes.

 

If it’s not too unappealing, consider choosing a recycling bin that’s green or the same color as your neighborhood’s recycling bins. Many hardware stores will carry recycling bins in a variety of colors. This will serve as a simple visual reminder to recycle those bathroom items rather than committing them to the landfill. Combined with a smaller garbage can, you’ll find that that your total progress toward “zero waste” will improve considerably.

 

What other simple tricks do you use to recycle, reuse, and ultimately reduce waste? Share them with me!

 

If you’re green in the extreme, get in touch with me for your next “green home” search. Many new homes have integrated sustainable energy practices that can reinforce your commitment to a healthy, happy planet. Get in touch today: 570-424-8131 ext:405

Posted in Buyer Information
Sept. 4, 2019

Good Advice for New Homeowners

When you’re a renter, there are a lot of details you might overlook. Given how much is out of your control about the condition or landscaping around your apartment complex or rented home, you may not be greatly interested in certain aspects of the house.

 

All of that changes when the home is your own investment. With your money and your safety on the line 24/7, you’ll need to pay attention to some areas which renters take for granted. Keep these few tips in mind and you’ll avoid several common homeowner mistakes.

 

1. Call 811 before digging up the yard. Landscaping is a great pleasure for many homeowners, especially those who want to plant their own food or dig in a nice water feature. The only problem? There could be pipes, power, and telecom cables underneath your soil. Before you rent the backhoe, call 811, a national hotline dedicated to dig safety. By calling 811 first, all of your local utility providers will get the heads-up to come out and mark all of the areas you’ll need to avoid when digging.

 

2. Find your water main’s shut-off valve. When a pipe bursts and you don’t know where to turn off the water to your property, a simple leak can turn into a catastrophic amount of water damage. Make sure you know where your shut-off valve is located and that you have the tools you need handy to cut off the flow should an accident happen. (The same is true for those of you with natural gas connections. Special tools can be used to shut off the gas in an emergency.)

 

3. Before you drill, use a stud-finder. For less than $30, you can get an idea whether or not you’re about to drill yourself a hole into power conduit, plumbing, or ductwork. Also, you’ll want to be sure the art or shelves you hang in your home has a firm grip and doesn’t come crashing down with the drywall.

 

4. Check your insulation depth. You know that funny looking door in your ceiling? It leads to the attic or crawlspace. Inside, you’ll want to make sure you have insulation deep enough to trap your heat and keep your cool. Most insulation needs to be 12 to 16 inches deep, depending on the quality of the insulation. You can even hire companies to “blow in” the additional insulation you need. Conserve energy with this simple move.

 

5. Checking your foundation. You want your soil to slope away from the house at least 6 or so inches over 10 - 12 feet. This prevents water from pooling at the foundation, which can lead to costly cracks and repairs

 

Looking for a home worthy of your careful attention? Let us help you find the the right one today. Call today at 570-424-8131 ext:405 

Posted in Buyer Information
Aug. 30, 2019

How You Know When You’ve Found Your Next Home

When you’re house hunting, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You’re making a big investment. You want to find a place which is “just right” for you (and your family). You can even get a little addicted to touring houses, always convinced the perfect home is just about to hit the market. Sometimes inability to pull the trigger on a house can cause serious shopper’s remorse. You could miss out on a home that, in retrospect, was ideal.

 

So how do you know a home is “the one”?

 

Here are some useful ways to check your buying temperature and know when it’s time to make an offer:

 

1. The home fundamentally meets your needs. There’s plenty of compromise in home hunting, so when you find one that has the basics covered, take note.

 

2. You’d consider renovating for those luxurious little extras. Maybe the home is missing that pool you’ve always wanted, or is missing a detached workshop/garage space. Recognize when you find yourself thinking you’d be up to tackling a project to make it perfect.

 

3. You’re in love with the kitchen. Studies show we spend most of our waking hours connected to or using the kitchen. If you’re in love with the kitchen, but think the master bedroom is a little small, don’t make mistake. This could be the one.

 

4.The bathroom feels comfortable to you. Many times, other people’s bathrooms will give you the creeps. If you feel good about the bathroom, it’s a healthy sign. After all, you have to be naked in there.

 

5. You start to see your possessions in the house. If you’re thinking “ah yes, the flatscreen could go on that wall” and “wow, my bed would fit perfectly in this suite,” then you’re starting to imagine the house as your own.

 

6. The idea of someone else buying the home gives you a pit in your stomach. If you’re “sleeping on the decision” and the idea that the home is no longer an option makes you anxious, pay attention. It could be offer time.

 

So… are you ready to buy?: Call us today at 570-424-8131 ext:405

Posted in Buyer Information
Aug. 28, 2019

7 Ways Downsizing Saves Money

Downsizing is hardly a dirty word these days, especially as Baby Boomers begin to question the size of their home, and more Millennials are finally making their way into the world. Home ownership is a good investment at any size, and if you’ve ever wanted to free up some cash for the rest of life’s joys (travel? new hobbies? investing?), downsizing can be a great way to rightsize your budget. Here are seven ways downsizing can foster a little more financial freedom:

 

1. Utility costs. If your gas and electric bills have been climbing year over year, consider the pleasant surprise of heating and cooling 1,200 sq. ft. instead of 3,500. Controlling the climate in empty spare bedrooms is pointless when you don’t need the room. What’s more, you can count on fewer houseguests with less space, and this, in turn, can decrease utility costs.

 

2. Maintenance costs. How big is that lawn? How many rooms need to be refreshed with a coat of paint? How many windows do you need to wash, and what about the size of that driveway that must be repaired and sealed?

 

3. Insurance. Your insurance bill is based in large part on your appraisal, and if your new home is smaller, your insurance bill should shrink as well. (This can vary based on location and levels of coverage, of course, but you would be hard pressed to insure less for more!)

 

4. Property taxes. Much like insurance, tax rates tend to be based on a percentage of assessed value. Here’s a few more dollars back into your wallet.

 

5. Repairs. How many toilets do you need to have fixed? Appliances? Light fixtures to keep lit? The smaller home has fewer leaking faucets and a smaller roof to replace. Your overall spend on maintenance goes down when you have less home to maintain.

 

6. Furniture. Downsizing is a perfect opportunity to sell excess furniture and find keep only those pieces well-loved or essential for your new smaller space.

 

7. Hosting and entertaining. When you’ve got that sprawling home, your place is ground zero for out-of-town guests, relatives, and holiday parties. As your space shrinks, so does your annual hosting and entertaining budget. Besides, if you really want to throw a shin-dig, you can take some of that downsizing cash and pick a perfect venue. 

 

Looking to downsize and redirect that extra cash? Get in touch today at 570-424-8131 ext:405

Posted in Buyer Information
Aug. 19, 2019

Use Common Sense When Buying a Flipped Home

Have you recently fallen in love with a “flipped” home? Does the idea of moving into a cleanly renovated space excite you? To see an old home tuned up with brand new appliances, gleaming marble countertops, and fresh wood floors can make other homes seem shabby by comparison, but be careful before you make the leap. There are some precautions you want to take before you close.

 

“Flipped” or “rehabbed” homes are homes which real estate investors buy in order to renovate them and sell them for a profit. Sometimes these homes have been secured after short sales, foreclosures, surviving relatives, or even at auction. For real estate investors, part of the profit depends on how fast and affordably they can renovate the property. In seller’s markets, there’s even more pressure to make sure a home is ready to sell, fast.

 

While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with a flipped house, you will want to make sure you know a bit about the home’s history. Naturally, you’ll want to do all the due diligence you’d normally do when buying a home, but it can be useful to dig a little deeper. Here are some questions to ask:

 

1. What shape was the home in before it was renovated? Was it just outdated? Vacant? Trashed by squatters? Find out the state of the home when the flipper purchased it.

 

2. What deficiencies, damage, or other defects did the home have when the flipper bought it? Ask for a list of issues, if possible.

 

3. Who did the work on the house during the renovation? Contractors? Handymen? Did the flipper do the work personally? Are there invoices which detail the work completed and the money spent on the repairs? Were the appropriate permits secured?

 

4. Was anything left “as is”? What sort of issues were deemed too small or not vital to the renovation?

 

5. What was the legal history of the transfer of ownership? Short sales and foreclosures might have legal obligations on the flipper or other liens.

 

You shouldn’t shy away from a flipped home you love, but don’t go into the situation blind. Call us today to find out more information 570-424-8131 ext:405 

Posted in Buyer Information