At Home With Susan

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

Sept. 22, 2019

Sunday school: real estate edition - I is for Inspection

👩‍🏫Sunday school: real estate edition

I is for Inspection🏡📋

🤓What to Expect When You're Inspecting

🔵What a home inspector does:

A home inspector will take two to three hours or more completing a detailed walk-through of the home you’re looking to buy. It’s a top-to-bottom review of the physical structure, as well as its mechanical and electrical systems — including roof, ceilings, walls, floors, windows and doors. The inspector will check that major appliances are functional, scrutinize the heating and air-conditioning system, examine the plumbing and electrical systems and crawl up into the attic and down into the basement.

All the while, the inspector will be taking notes and pictures and, as you’re tagging along, commenting on what he sees. Most importantly, the inspector will provide an objective opinion on the home’s condition, detached from the emotional roller coaster you’ve been on during the entire homebuying process.

🛑What a home inspector doesn’t do:

A home inspection is a general checkup, not an X-ray exam. Although inspectors should have a keen eye for detail, they won’t be able to detect the unseen. That means hidden pests, asbestos, and mold or other potentially hazardous substances might go unnoticed. Those sort of issues can require specialized evaluations, perhaps even a geologist or structural engineer.

An inspector might have a thought or two on child safety issues found in the home, but again, that depends on the inspector’s experience and competencies. And a home inspector doesn’t necessarily determine whether your home is compliant with local building codes.

The goal of the inspection is to uncover issues with the home itself. Inspectors won’t tell you if you’re getting a good deal on the home or offer an opinion on the sale price.

An inspection is not a pass/fail exam. But you’ll learn much about your potential new home and gain confidence in the decision to move into your new address — or find out enough to pass on the purchase.

📋The home inspection report:

A good home inspection report is extensive, containing checklists, summaries, photographs and notes. It will estimate the remaining useful life of major systems and equipment, as well as that of the roof, structure, paint and finishes. The critical information you will gain will include recommended repairs and replacements, too.

🏈Time for a huddle:

After the inspection, you and your agent will huddle to talk about what went on and to strategize next steps. Hopefully, the inspection was flawless, and you’re one step closer to picking out your new paint colors.

If not, you may need to do more negotiations after the inspection. Hopefully, the inspections weren’t so bad that you walk away. But sometimes it happens.

Posted in Real Estate School
Sept. 15, 2019

Sunday school: real estate edition - H is for HELOC

👩‍🏫Sunday school: real estate edition
 
H is for HELOC 🏡💵
 
🧐One question I get a lot is - "I want to buy a new home, but I need to sell first to get the down payment. What do people in my situation do??"
 
If you're thinking of getting financing for a home improvement project or need the down payment for your next home purchase, you can use a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to fund your dreams. A HELOC allows you to borrow money by using your home's equity as collateral.
 
Your lender sets a borrowing limit, and you can choose to borrow as much of that as you want for an agreed-upon period of time. It’s similar to a credit card or business line of credit, in that you withdraw money as you need it and only pay for what you borrow.
 
In a home equity loan, a lender gives you one lump sum and you make the same payment every month until the loan is paid off. A line of credit differs in that it’s revolving, meaning you can use the money, pay it off, and use it again. A home equity loan also comes with a fixed interest rate, whereas a HELOC has a variable rate.
 
🔵So what are the requirements of a HELOC
 
One of the main requirements for qualifying for a home equity line of credit is having enough equity in the home. Banks require that you maintain 10 to 20 percent equity in your financed home at all times, even after you take out a home equity line of credit. In order to qualify, borrowers typically need substantial equity in their home. Other requirements of a HELOC include proof of income, steady employment, and a good credit score, typically above 680.
 
🔵Is a Standard Loan Right for You?
 
First and foremost, be clear on what you want to do with the money. If you’re looking to do home renovations, a common reason for getting a HELOC, a standard home equity loan could be a better fit. A loan would give you one lump sum, allowing you to complete your renovations and pay the loan back in a straightforward manner.
 
A line of credit allows you to repeatedly pay down and re-borrow, just like a credit card. Though the interest is typically much lower than on a credit card, it could still be dangerous if you’re constantly borrowing and repaying, without keeping tabs on the total amount used. In other words, you don’t want to get in over your head.
 
If you’re looking to consolidate debt by paying off high-interest credit cards, a home equity loan might be a good choice since you'll get fixed monthly payments. Get the money, pay off the cards immediately, and start making your payments to the bank at a lower rate. While a HELOC can do the same thing, as you pay off the HELOC the money becomes available again. For some, this money is tempting and can put them back in debt, exactly where they started.
 
Questions to Ask Before Getting a HELOC
What do you need the money for?
Can you save up for it instead of relying on a loan?
Can you afford the worst-case-scenario payment or the ✍️one at a high interest rate?
Will you be tempted to use the money carelessly?
What is your plan to pay off the debt?
What are the terms and interest rates?
 
🛑Remember that your home is being used as collateral. If you fall on hard times for any reason, such as an unexpected job loss or medical expenses, you risk losing your home if you can't make payments on your loan. You might also have problems selling your home due to an additional lien being placed on the property.
 
Ultimately, only you can decide if a HELOC is right for you. Make sure you fully understand the fees, terms, and conditions of the line of credit. It’s still a debt and should be taken seriously. Consider whether there’s an option available to achieve your financial goal that doesn’t require debt, such as picking up a part-time job to earn extra money.
Posted in Real Estate School
Sept. 10, 2019

Tuesdays are for tacos and testimonials

Tuesdays are for tacos 🌮 and testimonials 🙌
 Several months ago I received a call from a local Reading family who was frustrated that their home was not selling. They were promised a quick sale and a reduced rate from a large, online brokerage. No need to name names, but it's easy to figure out. The broker was not local and didn't have a relationship with any of the other agencies in town. He wasn't tuned into the buying habits of those looking to move to Reading. Didn't know firsthand why this particular location was important or know who in town was looking for this particular type of home. The house was not staged appropriately, rooms were out of sync, and marketing was left to "let's put a sign up front and it will sell itself."
Sure, Reading is a desirable town and the market is strong, but YOU HAVE TO PUT IN THE WORK. My sellers put in their work, but then relied on the agent to advise them on the following steps.
House was pulled from the market giving us time to reposition, stage, and heavily market via social media and with personal outreach to local top producers. That break allowed my clients to find their dream home and in the end, it all worked out!
Thank you so much to my sellers for trusting me with the sale of their family home. I hope I restored your faith in this industry. Because to me, this was never a sale, but a journey I was honored to be a part of your life.
Posted in reviews
Sept. 1, 2019

Real estate Sunday school: B is for Buyer's Consultation

👩‍🏫Sunday school: real estate edition

B is for Buyer's consultation 👥

The buyer consultation is a critical step in your home buying journey. A comprehensive consultation can save you valuable time and money.

👤Your buyer’s agent is the person that you will be working with to help you find your dream home, therefore, doesn't it make sense to meet with them first to ensure that they know what you're even looking for in your next house?

The National Association of Realtors states that 93 percent of buyers consider "knowledge of the purchase process 'very important'" when choosing an agent. Have the buyer's agent walk you through the home buying process. Have them illustrate their awareness by sharing the steps to home ownership with you, from making the first offer, to closing day. Also, ask what their process is for finding you the best home, for the best price. What is their knowledge of the local market? What's their experience? Do they have good negotiation skills?

If you’ve purchased before, you might think you don’t need a buyer consultation. Keep in mind, the buyer consult is an educational opportunity for both the buyer and the agent. Many things may have changed since you last purchased a home 🧐

Here is what you can expect during a buyer’s consultation: 

Setting up your personalized home search (needs & wants)
How long will the home buying process take?
What is the current condition of the real estate market? Are homes priced to sell?
How much can you expect to pay for a home that meets your criteria?
How long have homes been on the market in your desired area?
What forms will you need to fill out and sign?
What can you expect from your real estate agent?
What does your real estate professional expect from you?
How to get pre-approved for a mortgage?
How to request a showing?
What do you need to look for when searching for a home?
What happens when you find the “one”?
How much is the deposit and is the buyer at risk for losing it?
How does the buyer learn the truth about the condition of the home?
What are contingencies and how do they protect the buyer?
What do you need to do once the contract is accepted?

💁‍♀️Ultimately, you want to determine if this agent is a good fit for you. Does their personality and work ethic compliment yours? Will this person make your goals a priority? Will they go the extra mile to find your “perfect” house? Will they answer your calls and emails in a timely manner and get the information you need quickly? 

Do yourself a favor, don’t skip this step. Get to know your agent and make sure you’re in sync. You’ll be spending a lot of time with this person and trusting them with the biggest purchase of your life. Read their reviews, ask for references, and make sure they’re well connected and respected in the towns they service 🎯
Posted in Real Estate School
Aug. 30, 2019

Closing day in Reading for these 2 beauties!

🤩Closing day in Reading for these 2 beauties!

A huge congrats to my seller/investor - we found the perfect buyer who scored a beauty in one of Reading's favorite neighborhoods 🏡 It was a slam dunk from staging, to timing, to design and execution - well done team 🥳

Also, congratulations to one very special family who landed this incredible home in Johnson Woods. We lucked out when the first buyer backed out. I never gave up hope and when the opportunity presented itself, we were ready! See, everything happens for a reason 

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Posted in Closings
Aug. 21, 2019

Closing day in Reading for one super sweet couple

🤗Closing day in Reading! Huge congrats to this super sweet couple 💏. The journey was quick, but when you find the 1️⃣ you just know. Welcome home 0️⃣1️⃣8️⃣6️⃣7️⃣🚀
Posted in Closings
Aug. 20, 2019

Baby it's hot outside

The fall market may be right around the corner, but summer is still in full effect! 🎃

Posted in Market Updates
Aug. 20, 2019

Top agent in Reading for Q2

Quarter 2 numbers are out - humbled to be recognized as the top selling agent in town 🌺 Looking forward to the second half of 2019 and helping more people achieve their real estate goals.

Posted in Market Updates
Aug. 19, 2019

Closing day in Reading for one very deserving couple

😎 Happy closing day to an extremely deserving and amazing couple 💙 you two share a beautiful love story and I could not be more excited for the journey ahead. Thank you from the bottom on my heart for choosing me to join you on this ride. Welcome home 0️⃣1️⃣8️⃣6️⃣7️⃣🚀

Posted in Closings
Aug. 18, 2019

Real estate sunday school: A is for Appraisal

👩‍🏫Sunday school: real estate edition

A is for Appraisal 🍎

Appraisals are an important part of the home buying process. A real estate appraisal establishes a property's market value – the likely sales price it would bring if offered in an open and competitive real estate market. Lenders require appraisals when buyers use their new homes as security for their mortgages. An appraisal provides the lender with an assurance that the property will sell for at least the amount of money it is lending.

An appraisal 🚫 is not an assessment. An appraisal is conducted by a licensed appraiser for a lender, while an assessment is conducted by a government employee who evaluates the home to determine how much property tax the homeowner will pay.

🔑Appraisers are licensed by states after completing licensing coursework and internship hours.
🔑The appraiser must be an objective third party, someone who has no financial or other connection to any person involved in the transaction.

 

Posted in Real Estate School