Montgomery, Bucks, and Philadelphia PA Real Estate

Montgomery, Bucks, and Philadelphia PA Real Estate Blog

Priscilla McDonald


Displaying blog entries 1-6 of 6

First-Time Buyer in a Seller's Market?

by Priscilla McDonald


According to Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti: "For-sale housing inventory, especially of starter homes, is currently at its lowest level in over ten years.”  No wonder Buyers are frustrated!  How are some buyers getting a home despite the shortage of inventory? The most successful buyers keep these things in mind:

1. Clean up credit issues.  Credit issues become higher interest rates or mortgage denials.

2. Save for the down payment:  FHA requires a 3.5% down payment; conventional loans require a 5% down payment, with good credit.  In addition, FHA allows a 6% Seller Assist (where the Seller pays some of your closing costs); conventional loans allow a 3% Seller assistance, but require a higher down payment.  Any Seller Assist comes off the top.  If you are shopping in a high demand area, your competition may not need a Seller Assist.  Be patient and keep saving while you are shopping.   

3. Find an Experienced Realtor.  This market is not for novices.  Your sister’s best friend may need your business, but this is the most important purchase of your life.  There’s no room for mistakes!

4. Get a true pre-approval, one where the loan officer has reviewed your credit, paystubs, tax returns and assets.  Make sure your pre-approval states that the loan officer has reviewed your documentation and finds you credit worthy.

5. hoose your neighborhood first.  A neighborhood is more than shopping and transportation.  Check out the curb appeal of the neighboring houses up and down the street.  Drive through the various neighboring streets around that house.  No surprises!

6. Choose a home you can live in for 5 to 10 years.  If it appreciates well enough for you to sell in 5 years – good!  If it doesn’t, have it be one that serves your needs for at least 10 years.

Buyers HATE Paneling!

by Priscilla McDonald

Don’t get offended!  Buyers just can’t get excited about 1960’s and 70’s paneling.  Most buyers hate it. So, you want to sell your  home and give it a fresh, “today’s” look?  What should you do?  Remove it?  This is not typical “handyman” or “weekend warrior” work.  If you have a 1960’s or 70’s family room, there may not be any  drywall behind the paneling. So when you remove it, you will see the 2 x 4 studs on the walls.  When removing some paneling, you may find drywall or plaster wall behind it. Some paneling was just nailed on, some paneling was glued to the walls and some had both nails and  glue.  So, before you start removing paneling, know your experience level and when to call a professional.  

If you don’t want to get into a major project, then just paint the paneling!  If you hire a professional painter, he or she will have experience painting paneling.  If you are a “weekend warrior”, this work can be done in a weekend for just the cost of the paint.  Get a friend, some cool drinks and pizzas and have fun.  Be sure that you remove any shiny finishes by sanding the paneling first.  Then prime the walls and finish with the color of your choice.  Never, ever, rush your work and make sure your workmanship is the best it can be.  The room will look 10 times better and help sell the house sooner!  

MOLD in Your Home

by Priscilla McDonald

Mold is a naturally occurring organic fungi that exists in the air.  Under normal conditions, it is not a problem and it is easy to remove from surfaces with proper regular cleaning.  To grow, mold needs moisture, warm temperatures and closed conditions.  Under the right conditions, it can grow and spread throughout the basement, the ductwork and into other areas of the home.  Mold can make people sick, looks really ugly and can be difficult and expensive to remove.  People who are allergic to mold or suffer from respiratory illnesses can develop nasal congestion, itchy, watery eyes, chest congestion, coughing and even wheezing.  So of course, mold WILL make your property less attractive, affect it's value and may even make it take longer to sell.

Mold in your bathroom is easy to remove with regular bathroom cleaning.  Use your venting system during and after a shower, open a window and keep the bathroom door open when not in use.  But when mold has been neglected in warm, dark areas, such as a basement or crawl space, bleach products will not do.  In fact, they may expose airborne mold spores to spread into your duct work and into other areas of the house.  First, remove the damaged drywall, drywall, boxes, clothes and other damaged belongings.  Find and remove all sources of water penetration.  Mold does not grow unless there is a moisture problem. Check gutters and downspouts and make sure they divert the water away from the house.  Make sure that the ground around your house grades away from the house.  Then, treat all surfaces with proper mold removing products that can be found at local home improvement stores.  Lastly, know when to call a professional and follow recommendations.      

GETTING THE HOUSE READY TO SELL – Should I Replace the Carpets?

by Priscilla McDonald

What gives you a better return on your dollar?  Hardwood floors are highly sought after by buyers; it's popularity the Trend in home fashion.  Hardwoods floors last longer than carpeting and are easier to clean. Carpets harbor allergens, dust, bacteria and other pollutants.  In fact, most allergists strongly recommend the removal of carpeting for those who suffer from allergies and asthma.  

If you are lucky enough to have a home that was built with hardwood floors (probably built before 1970), you might be able to get away with just removing the old, tired and dirty carpeting.  Make sure that all the nails and tacking are properly removed.  If the floors haven't been damaged, you may be able to buy a nice area rug and inexpensively have the the fashion that Buyers want most.  

What what if your house does not have hardwood floors and the carpets are tired, beat or just plain dirty?  You have a few options:  1.  Replace with a neutral carpet; carpeting is almost always cheaper than hardwood materials.  2.  Replace with an attractive laminate; many laminates are competitively priced to carpeting and give that hardwood look.  Some homeowners see laminate floors as a better alternative to hardwoods because of their durability to scratches from children and pets.  3.  Replace with hardwood flooring.  This may be the most costly of all options, but hardwoods are timeless and elegant.  Many homes look more elegant and stately with hardwoods than laminates or carpeting. Yes, your home may be attractive enough to grab a buyer even if you have carpeting throughout.  But for most first time buyers, their only option may be to walk away from the property rather than replace all your old carpeting, which they hate. (Sorry, but true.) There is only so much money to spend, and closing costs and down payment take all they have.  

How to Avoid Major Financial Buyer Regrets

by Priscilla McDonald

Most of us HAVE to work with a budget in mind.  Let's face it, we all want a better neighborhood, nicer house, nicer yard, etc, than we can afford.  So the last thing you want to do is buy a house, move in and then hate it so much that you spend the next 5 to 10 years waiting until you can afford to get rid of it and buy something better.  Here are the major things to consider:

1.  The old rule of real estate is still true:  Location, location, location.  Pick the neighborhood first, the street second and the house last.  If you reverse the order, you may get lucky, but almost always you end up regretting your decision and have to learn to live with it.  

2.  Get pre-approved first, before you start looking.  Ask the loan officer for a mortgage payment, not just a purchase price,  Many loan officers focus on purchase price, not monthly payments and the buyer doesn't get the monthly mortgage amount until they already have found the house of their dreams. When you consider a mortgage amount, make sure you can comfortably pay that amount.  If your current housing expense is $1200 and you are looking at a monthly mortgage of $1975, test it by saving $775.00 on the first of each month too.  If this is a hardship, stress and anxiety will come every first of the month.  However, if you discipline yourself now, you will have more money in savings, improve spending habits and avoid a lot of stress and regrets.

Should I Buy a Home Now?

by Priscilla McDonald

I'm often asked if this is a good time to buy a home. Some clients are concerned that home prices may fall down the road, while others are convinced that home prices will go up.

Home prices are one factor in determining your cost of ownership, but so are interest rates and financing availability. Even though interest rates have fluctuated, they are still near historic lows. Since your monthly mortgage payment is a combination of paying down your principal and paying the interest owed, a one point rise in interest rates could cost tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage!

While a home is a major investment, it is also the center of your personal life. It's important to live in a home that reflects your taste and values, yet is within your financial "comfort zone." To that end, it may be more important to lock in today's relatively low interest rates while they are still available.

Please give me a call if I can be of any assistance in determining how much home you can afford in today's market.

Displaying blog entries 1-6 of 6




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Photo of Priscilla Nieto McDonald Real Estate
Priscilla Nieto McDonald
RE/MAX Action Realty
1126 Horsham Rd.
Maple Glen PA 19002
Fax: 215-641-4891