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2017

Jan

29

Philadelphia Tightens Realty Tax Law for Transfers
 By : Admin

Per current realty transfer tax laws, real estate companies must pay a tax on the computed overall value of its real estate any time it has a 90% or more change in ownership in a three-year timeframe. The state tax rate is 1% of that overall value, and the Philadelphia city rate is currently 3.1% - up from 3% last year.

Figures to Remember

Per the city of Philadelphia, a company’s computed value is based on the assessed value of real estate for tax purposes. It’s a high tax rate when compared to other parts of the country, and many people utilize some techniques to reduce or avoid it. For example, some companies limit their sales to 89% of their ownership, thus ensuring that they don’t surpass the 90% limit. Other companies will transfer the ownership interests in a real estate company instead of the actual property if the assessment is lower than the property value.

Changes Effective July 1, 2017

The Philadelphia City Council made several changes to the realty transfer tax rules and the way they appeal to real estate companies. These will go into effect on July 1, 2017, and they will not have any effect on the state’s individual realty transfer tax codes.

  • Rather than owing realty transfer taxes if 90% of ownership changes in a period of three years, real estate companies will now owe taxes if 75% of their ownership changes over the course of six years. This will make it more difficult for companies to avoid the tax by limiting changes of ownership.
  • Instead of using the computed value of the Philadelphia property as a baseline value upon which the tax is assessed, the transfer tax base on a sale of interests in a real estate company will be based on the consideration for those interests. This will help reduce discrepancies based on underassessment.
  • Changes were also made to the city’s definition of a real estate company. Today, this is defined as any company in the real estate business that owns primarily real estate. As of July 1, 2017, this definition will expand to include real estate that is leased over a long period (more than 30 years) to determine if a company is, in fact, a real estate company.

Property with Readily Ascertainable Value

In some cases, when real estate is sold or exchanged in Philadelphia, that consideration includes property with a readily ascertainable value. Right now, the tax base is the value associated with a property outside of any cash or debt assumption. As of July 1, 2017, this will no longer be the case. From that point forward, the tax base cannot be any less than the sum of cash, assumed debt, and the value of the property with a readily ascertainable value.

The upcoming changes to realty transfer taxes are designed to limit the ability to avoid such taxes, but also make them fairer overall for those involved in the real estate business. It is hoped that these changes will generate more revenue for the city, which could be put to good use in several areas of development.

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2017

Jan

28

One Big Reason Real Estate Investment is Booming in Greater Philadelphia
 By : Admin

Oftentimes, real estate investment climbs in certain areas due to new development, the addition of thousands of jobs, or even tourism. However, in Greater Philadelphia, the reason why so many people are investing in real estate is a bit surprising.

The EB-5 Visa Program

The city of Philadelphia isn’t opposed to helping foreign immigrants get green cards in exchange for significant investments that add to the city’s massive growth. In fact, the EB-5 immigrant and investor visa program has generated more than $700 million for the city directly, and that money has been used to build 50 projects that have proven significant for the entire area.  The federal program paid for things like the Francis House of Peace, the Comcast Center, the Philadelphia Convention Center, and more.

The Fear for the Future

The EB-5 program was created by Congress in 1992 to set aside visas for foreign investors who make necessary investments in commercial enterprises and plan to either create or preserve, through their investments, at least 10 full-time, permanent jobs for qualified US workers. The program was slated to expire on December 9, and there was fear that critical members of the Senate – and the Trump presidency, which seeks to tighten immigration laws – would prevent its continuance. Fortunately, this was not the case and the EB-5 program will continue to provide necessary funds for the development of Greater Philadelphia.

Is the Program a Good Idea?

Although there’s some speculation that allowing people to “buy” their way into the United States is never a good idea, the city of Philadelphia is a prime example of how the program boosts local economies and benefits everyone involved. Remember that the EB-5 program is for foreign entrepreneurs looking to start a business in (or relocate a current business to) the United States. This can only benefit Americans by providing or protecting jobs, and it also brings much-needed funds into areas known as Immigrant Investor Regional Centers – areas deemed by the federal government to be in the most need of such programs.

Will It Continue?

Although the federal government decided to continue the EB-5 program, and while Philadelphia’s Immigrant Investor Regional Center remains open for business, the truth is that some proposed legislature could still lessen the program’s impact in the city. Right now, apartment buildings, office complexes, and even new businesses are going up left and right across the area, but that could all change. In 2015, the program hit its 10,000 visa limit for the first time since its inception, and Philadelphia must now compete with other major cities for those visas. What’s more, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa are pushing to bring more of those visas to rural areas, which would detract from the funding cities like Philadelphia receive.

Real estate investment is indeed booming in Greater Philadelphia, but not in the way many people may think. In fact, much of the funding used to complete some of the city’s largest building projects came from foreign investors. While that’s a great thing, there is uncertainty for the future as Philadelphia continues to compete with other cities and, if some US Senators have their way, even to rural areas in need of development.

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2017

Jan

27

Now is the Time to Buy Real Estate in the Greater Philadelphia Area
 By : Admin

If you’ve been toying with the idea of buying a home or any kind of property in the Greater Philadelphia area, now is the time to act. Industry experts are very optimistic about the future of the real estate market here as growth seems genuine, strong, and sustained.

Homes are Selling Quickly

Although selling a home quickly is typically better news for the seller than the buyer, there are some perks to consider. If homes are selling relatively fast, this means that a buyer is more likely to accept your bid, even if you bid slightly under the asking price. In the end, you’ll get a better overall investment from day one, and in some cases, you can build a significant amount of equity in a very short period.

Rents are On the Rise

If you’re still renting, it’s time to reconsider. Mortgage interest rates are still relatively low, but rent prices increased by about 4% throughout 2016. This means that your mortgage payment may turn out to be only two-thirds of your rent cost – and for some people, that figure is even less. Imagine being able to save money every month while owning your own home. That’s exactly what the Philadelphia real estate market can provide.

Interest Rates are Expected to Increase Steadily

The Federal Reserve just increased its rates by 0.25%, and many experts agree that the Trump presidency will allow these rates to continue to climb slowly but steadily through all of 2017. In cases like this, it’s better to act sooner rather than later, as even a 0.25% increase could mean a difference of tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the course of your loan. Interest rates are not slated to fall again, so by acting now, you can essentially lock in your rates while they’re still low.

Home Values are Low, But Rising

The Greater Philadelphia area is still recovering from the housing market crash, but it’s recovering nonetheless. Right now, home values are still on the low end of the scale when compared to homes at the national level, but this is changing. It’s a buyer’s market in this regard; buying a home now means that you can enjoy added equity as the value of your property continues its upward trend. Waiting to buy may result in higher prices and less appreciation in the future.

Start Saving for Retirement Sooner

Financial experts agree that today’s generation hasn’t been as prudent about saving for retirement as generations past. Of course, this doesn’t include the fact that things like pensions are on the decline, and more people will need to rely on their own savings post-retirement. Buying a home earlier rather than later will help you start saving right away – and in more ways than one. Not only should you own your home outright before retirement, but you should also have significant equity. Buying now will help you get a head start.

As you can see, while you may have your reasons for postponing a mortgage application, there are more reasons to get it filled out. Rent prices are going up in the Greater Philadelphia area, which makes renting more expensive than ownership. When you factor in interest rates that are expected to rise throughout the year and low home values that are on the rise, it only makes sense to buy now.

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2017

Jan

25

Important Greater Philadelphia Real Estate Stories from 2016
 By : Admin

2016 was a big year in development and real estate for the greater Philadelphia area. Here, we’ll take a look back at the biggest and most important real estate stories of the year, including those that had the biggest impact on the city as a whole.

Critics Continue to Take Shots at PHA for Sharswood Plans

Per a press release from the Philadelphia Housing Authority, or PHA, 2016 was a “very fulfilling year”. Earlier in 2016, the agency laid off some 126 people, though they referred to it as a form of restructuring that would allow them to serve more households. The PHA is still being criticized to this day for grabbing up land in the Sharswood area, not only for their own headquarters, but also for apartments that are part of the Sharswood/Blumberg Neighborhood Transformation Plan. The road remains rocky per the critics, and some brokers claim that the PHA essentially denied African-American homeowners in that neighborhood an opportunity to reap the benefits of their investments.

More New Apartments Cause Affordable Housing Issues

Although Greater Philadelphia is continuing to recover quickly from the housing crisis and home values are on the rise, the real growth in the city is in the multifamily sector. New apartment buildings are going up in neighborhood across the city, which would theoretically give residents more options and thereby boost the housing economy in the area. Unfortunately, this didn’t prove to be the case. All the growth is occurring in the higher end of the market, with very little attention being given to affordable housing for low-income families. In fact, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia found that affordable apartment availability has fallen by a quarter since 2000.

The Battle of the Malls

The gap between rich and poor in Greater Philadelphia seemed to get even broader in 2016, especially on the brick-and-mortar sales front. Some malls, such as the King of Prussia, thrived by adding new boutiques and expanding upon their already strong reputations. Others, such as the Granite Run Mall, didn’t fare as well. In fact, it’s slated to be torn down in favor of a mixed-use development filled with entertainment venues, apartments, and even offices. Some of this trouble is the direct result of the convenience of online shopping; consumers simply don’t shop in brick-and-mortar venues as often, and online prices are often far more competitive.

Real Estate Professional Elected to City Council

With all of the development going on in the Greater Philadelphia area, it only made sense to have a real estate expert on the city council. Allan Domb, who owns one of the most well-known brokerages (and who is also a property manager himself), and who is also the chair of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors, filled that role. He’s already made several proposals to further boost development. One of these involves doubling the length of the current property tax abatement on lower-priced homes to 20 years.

Big things happened in the Greater Philadelphia area in 2016, and while some were viewed as positive, others weren’t met with the same level of acceptance. These headlines shaped the year in real estate, and per some experts, they may continue to shape development in the area for many years to come.

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2017

Jan

04

Why Millennials Aren’t Buying Homes in Greater Philly – Yet
 By : Admin

Whether you call them the millennials or even Generation Y, there’s been some speculation about this generation’s hesitance to buy homes not only in Philadelphia, but in other cities across the nation, too. As it turns out, the reason behind it is a bit surprising. They just don’t have the funds.

It Isn’t That They Don’t Want to Buy

Millennials are just as excited as anyone else about buying a home and starting a family, but unfortunately, their circumstances aren’t allowing it. Per the Apartment List renter survey, which is doled out annually, about 75% of the millennials in Philly said they planned to purchase a home in the future. That’s great news, considering that they currently make up the smallest group of buyers on a national scale. However, per that same survey, about 79% of millennials just can’t afford it. The real kicker? Only 3% of those surveyed said they had the money to buy a home within the next year.

Other Reasons They Just Aren’t Buying It

Of course, money isn’t the only thing keeping the young adults in the area from buying a home. Although 79% of them can’t afford to buy, many had other reasons to give. Of these same people, about 47% said they weren’t ready to commit to homeownership just yet, and 46% said they wanted to wait until they were married to buy a home – which they consider to be a smart choice in today’s economy and real estate market.

Why This is Hurting Generation Y

Even though the millennials are avoiding homeownership due to money woes, the truth is that they’d end up saving quite a bit of their monthly income if they did buy homes. Right now, homeowners in and around the Philadelphia area spend an average of 14% of their incomes on mortgage payments. Renters – many of whom are Generation Y – pay nearly double that. Another thing to consider? Millennials are significantly overestimating the money they need for a down payment by double. Surveyed individuals said they believed they’d need just over $23,000, but per Trulia, that number is more like $12,000.

What the Future Holds

According to the numbers, and when it’s considered that millennials are overestimating down payments, the truth is that most of them could be homeowners in as little as two to three years. It’s expected that each passing year will bring an increase in the number of young adults buying homes, whether or not they’ve decided to settle down or get married. After all, homeownership saves money – especially in Philadelphia – and the sooner these folks can start building some equity, the better off they’ll be.

Millennials still aren’t buying homes, and for the most part, many of them just can’t afford it yet. However, the job market in Philadelphia is getting better by the day, and millennials here are making some impressive salaries. It’s expected that the number of young adult homeowners will continue to rise over the next three years, though it may take some time before they overtake even the baby boomers when it comes to home purchases.

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2017

Jan

04

Philadelphia Real Estate Developers Have Mixed Feelings about a Developer Running the Country
 By : Admin

Real estate developers and politics go together like peanut butter and jelly in some ways. Not only do these individuals need friends in the government to help them get the approvals they need, but they also donate to elections and lobby for laws and guidelines that make real estate development easier. That’s precisely why feelings among developers are mixed after Trump’s election. Some are intrigued and hopeful, but others are downright terrified.

Real Estate Developers, Politics, and The Donald

Real estate developers are like any other group of people when it comes to politics. They want to do things that suit their own agendas, making it possible for them to make more money and pass laws that make their everyday lives easier. That’s why they spend so much time donating to campaigns and lobbying for candidates who support the things they do. Donald Trump started his career as a real estate developer, so one would think that Philadelphia-area real estate developers would be ecstatic to have one of their own in the White House. Some are, but others aren’t so sure.

Does Trump Really Fit the Mold?

In some ways, Donald Trump is the epitome of everything real estate developers would like to see in a president-elect. He speaks in a way that may be (and often is) offensive to some of the population, but regardless, it’s clearly calculated to give him an advantage. This makes many in the real estate industry happy. They believe that his effect on the powerful and his own self-interest in real estate will undoubtedly help their causes. On the flip side, there are some who claim that he’s like a cartoon caricature of the way the world sees a real estate tycoon – bold, egomaniacal, and relentlessly chasing down profit margins. Some wonder if this will put powerful people off the real estate industry, essentially making a mockery of it.

How the President-Elect Is Already Changing Things

Real estate developers in democratically-inclined Philadelphia are already feeling the winds of change, even before Trump’s inauguration. People are asking developers some personal questions, often fueled by their distrust of the president-elect. They want to know whether developers pay taxes, whether they have ever filed for bankruptcy (and how many times), and even whether they fail to pay their subcontractors as promised.

On the other hand, there are some Philly-area developers who think Trump could bring a breath of fresh air to the presidency and the real estate development industry. People who are close to Trump claim he’s a man with very strong family values who truly knows how to budget properly and get things done. This could be just what real estate development in Philadelphia – and other cities around the world – need to truly grow and succeed.

All in all, there are some significant changes coming to Philadelphia’s real estate industry, particularly in terms of development. New neighborhoods, shopping centers, and more are slated to pop up in the next few years, and Trump may play a starring role in making it happen.

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2016

Dec

23

Leading Luxury High Rises in Philadelphia for Those Who Want to Really Live the City
 By : Admin

If you’ve been thinking about “moving’ on up”, there are plenty of luxury high rises in greater Philadelphia that can provide you with all of the amenities you can imagine. Here are some of the ones you should consider if you’re really interested in living the life.

The Residences at the Ritz Carlton

The Ritz Carlton name itself is bathed in luxury, and that’s exactly what you can expect with a condo in this high rise, which you’ll find at 1414 Penn Square. It was built in 2009, and although the condos themselves are spacious and offer some spectacular views, the luxury here is in the service you’ll receive. They’ll introduce themselves by name and even treat you to royalty service. The real bonus is Suburban Station just outside the door, which means downtown Manhattan is only an hour and a half away.

The Ayer

The Ayer, located on Washington Square, has been standing since 1929. It was the headquarters for NW Ayer & Son for many years, and the classic design gives owners plenty of room to bring their own personal senses of style. It’s an art-deco stone building, and there are even a few famous folks living within some of the units. You never know who your neighbors might be at The Ayer, but one thing is for certain – you’ll be glad you can call it home.

The Murano

The Murano is a more modern building that was finished in 2008, and you can find it on Market Street. Its glass façade makes it easy to spot from almost anywhere in the city, and every condo has its very own private balcony that offers an amazing view of the city below. This is a place for those who want style in all its glory, and Trader Joe’s is just a few feet away from the ground floor, too.

Society Hill

On the 200 block of Locust Street sits the Society Hill towers, which are some of the city’s premiere condos. There are three towers that were completed in 1963, and they arguably changed the way people thought about living in luxury – at least in the Greater Philadelphia area. There’s a park just below, and there are floor to ceiling windows that provide some of the best views in the entire city.

The Residences at Two Liberty Place

You can’t miss this majestic high rise situated on South 16th Street. Here, you can live among the highest 20 floors of one of the most architecturally stunning buildings in Greater Philly. In fact, one of these condos set a world record back in 2009 when it sold for $7.7 million. It’s certainly not inexpensive to live here, but for those who want the best of the best, they claim it’s well worth every penny.

Philadelphia is certainly no stranger to luxury living, so if you want to experience life at the top of the world, these high rises are all excellent opportunities. Honorable mentions include the Western Union Building and The Symphony House, both of which offer gorgeous accommodations and luxurious grandeur.

 

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2016

Dec

16

Greater Philadelphia Suburbs where Families are Flocking for New Homes
 By : Admin

The suburbs around Philadelphia are growing – and they’re growing quickly. Things like excellent school systems, amazing public transportation, plenty of job opportunity, and low costs of living are drawing families from across the country. Here are some of the most attractive suburbs and the reasons why families are moving by the dozens.

Oreland

Oreland is home to just over 5500 people, which means it offers small-town living with all the amenities of the big city just a short drive away. It’s one of the safest places to live in terms of crime rates and an overall feeling of peacefulness, and it offers a very low student-teacher ratio of just 13:1, which means kids have a better chance to succeed. The median income is just under $90,000, which means that good jobs are abundant for those who have the education and experience.

Fort Washington

Fort Washington is about the same size as Oreland, but the median income here is just under $114,000, which means it’s home to some of the more influential people in the area. There’s little crime here, and home values are quite high when compared to other Philadelphia suburbs, too. The downside is the cost of living, which is also quite high. Then again, the residents here say the amazing schools and low crime rates are worth any extra monthly expenses they might incur.

Wyndmoor

Wyndmoor is another small suburb that is relatively safe when compared to some of the others nearby, and the cost of living is far less than Fort Washington and other similar areas. The best reason to move to Wyndmoor isn’t the crime rate or the affordable amenities, though – it’s the positivity and sense of community. The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential are just a short distance away from any home in the area.

Phoenixvville

Phoenixville’s population is about three times that of the other suburbs on this list, and the average median income is smaller at just $61,203. The crime rates are a bit higher, but unemployment is incredibly low with only 3.8% of the people out of a job at any given point in time. The schools are the third best in the area, which is the primary reason that families choose this suburb over others, and the incredibly low cost of living makes this one of the most affordable areas in the region, too.

Audubon

If you’re looking for something “average”, it’s hard to go wrong with the suburb of Audubon. With a population just shy of 9000 people, incredibly low crime, and an average income of just over $85,000, there’s no reason not to call Audubon home. Unemployment here is also very low, schools are above average, and the cost of living is quite low when compared to similar suburbs across the nation.

Families come to Philadelphia to enjoy a better life, and any one of these suburbs can certainly provide it. There are plenty of choices, whether you prefer a smaller community with absolutely no crime or a larger city feel with a lower cost of living.

 

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2016

Dec

01

Moving to Greater Philadelphia? Here Are the Top Public Schools to Send Your Kids
 By : Admin

If you’re moving to the greater Philadelphia area with your family, then you’re probably concerned about school systems and their quality. Fortunately, there are several schools and districts that are nothing short of excellence. Here are some of the best.

#1 – Conestoga Senior High School

If you have high school kids, there’s no better place for them to graduate than from Conestoga Senior High School. Niche, one of the most highly-respected organizations in the country for rating school systems, gives this school an A+ for academics, a B- for cultural diversity, and an A+ for health and safety. While this isn’t the most culturally diverse school in the city, it is one of the best – and one of the safest, which is important to all parents. They provide excellent resources, lots of clubs and activities, and plenty of sports opportunities, as well.

#2 – Harriton Senior High School

With an average graduation rate of 96% and high grades across the board, Harriton is the perfect place for your child to finish his or her high school education. The student-teacher ratio here is only 11:1, which is well below the 16:1 national average. This means that kids get more one-on-one time with their teachers, and studies have shown that more personalized attention can add to your child’s success. Both girls and boys participate in activities, clubs, and athletic programs; it is estimated that the school spends an average of more than $25,000 per student on these things as opposed to the $12,000 national average.

#3 – Wissahickon Senior High School

Wissahickon ranks highly in all areas including cultural diversity, which makes this school extremely popular among parents who strive to expose their children to many different cultures. Like the other schools on this list, Wissahickon gets an A+ for academics, teachers, and clubs or activities. Their 99% graduation rate is stunning, and they offer a 13:1 student-to-teacher ratio, as well. It ranks twelfth out of 673 public high schools in the state, too.

#4 – Council Rock School District

Council Rock scores high in many areas, including academics, teachers, safety, college readiness, sports, and activities. The average graduation rate is 98%, and they are right on track with the national average student-teacher ratio at 15:1. Most students participate in some kind of school activity or sport, and the teachers here are known for taking initiative to help their students succeed both academically and socially.

#5 – Garnet Valley High School

Garnet Valley also offers a 99% graduation rate which is fueled in part by its small size and outstanding student-teacher ratio of 14:1. Kids here feel that there is plenty to do outside of academics, including clubs and sports. The teachers receive excellent rankings as well, and they are known for working independently with students to help them prepare for college and adulthood in general.

As you can see, there are plenty of public schools in Philadelphia that meet and exceed national averages for things like graduation rates, student-teacher ratios, and academics. Any of these school systems is perfect for a family interested in moving to the greater Philadelphia area.

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2016

Nov

30

Up and Coming Philly Neighborhoods to Watch
 By : Admin

Whether you’re thinking about moving to Philadelphia or you already live here but you want to make a change, the following neighborhoods are growing incredibly quickly – and in all the best ways, too. With continued improvements projected over the next several years, these areas are among those you should consider for your next home.

Kensington

Since the neighborhood was established, Kensington has had a mainly industrial feel about it. Today, you can see it everywhere you look; there are abandoned warehouses and vacant lots that could serve as residential housing very soon. In fact, over the last few months, developers have been busy buying up this land. There are more retail stores and restaurants here than ever before, and American Street is slated to become one of the most popular co-working spaces in the area.

Grays Ferry

Thanks to the expansion of the University of Pennsylvania into the area, it comes as no real surprise that the community here is growing exponentially. In fact, if you’ve ever thought of “flipping homes” for profit, this is one of the best places in the country for doing it. University employees have access to a mortgage assistance program that is focused on this area, and with property prices as low as $130 a square foot, it’s certainly hard to turn down. City officials expect Grays Ferry to grow more quickly in 2017 than most other areas in the city.

North Broad

North Broad is home to Philadelphia’s City Hall, and it’s right past this area that two apartment buildings are being considered. This can certainly turn the tides for the Hanover area, and with plenty of historic properties being restored (along with the $40 million Divine Lorraine restoration), this area is sure to attract people from around the state, if not from around the country. Though it’s expected to draw primarily renters at first, its continued growth is likely to spill over into the housing market within a few short years.

South Broad

The number of empty, overgrown lots in South Broad may look a little sad now, but developers have started buying them up with plans of transforming them into some of the city’s most prominent locations. For example, hotels are going up left and right in the area, and mixed-use developments are coming, too. People in this area will likely see a solid mix of commercial growth, apartment buildings, and new homes in the next three to five years.

Market East

As you head east of Market Street, you’re likely to see scaffolding and development crews just about everywhere you look. Two apartment towers are in the works, and the city is bringing Philly’s first Mom’s Organic Market to this area. it’ll also be home to the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia, a $575 million project spread across three city blocks. Where there is shopping, residents are sure to follow.

Although these five neighborhoods may look a bit empty now, they’ll each offer something new and unique to the city and culture of Philadelphia as a whole. If you’re interested in buying or building a home in the city, any of these five locations will boost your investment value.

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2016

Nov

29

5 Reasons Why the Greater Philadelphia Area Is a Great Place to Buy a Home
 By : Admin

If you’re trying to decide whether the greater Philadelphia area is the right place for your family, you certainly have a tough decision ahead of you. Here, you’ll find five reasons why this location is so very popular among homebuyers and why you should consider it, too.

#1 – It’s Affordable

While it’s true that Philadelphia hasn’t recovered quite as quickly when it comes to the housing market, the city is well on its way. The fact that home values are relatively low in the area when compared to other locations across the country is actually good news for buyers. It means that homes here are more affordable than other urban locations, which is perfect for anyone who wants big city living without big city prices. Average home values top out at just under $190,000 in this area.

#2 – It’s Growing

Philadelphia is growing in many ways. Suburban areas are seeing explosive growth, county officials are working to revitalize areas that have been neglected, and all of this means that the economy in greater Philadelphia is on the upward swing once again. As more people flock to the area, more businesses open their doors, which creates more opportunity for newcomers. This growth is also expected to start driving up home values in the next year, which makes buying a home in Philadelphia a great investment.

#3 – The Amenities

One of the reasons why people appreciate big city living is the cultural diversity it offers. Philadelphia is home to many different museums representing a variety of populations, which gives you an opportunity to see things you may not get to see anywhere else. When you combine this with cultural diversity in shopping centers and restaurants, you can truly find anything your heart desires in the metro area.

#4 – Public Transportation

Despite its long history as the birthplace of the nation, Philadelphia’s city planning is spectacular. In fact, it’s one of the best cities in the entire country for things like walking and public transportation, so whether you’re environmentally conscious or you just enjoy having things within walking distance, this is the place to be. You’ll find buses, subways, trolleys, and more in most areas.  

#5 – Incredible Parks  

Last, but most certainly not least, greater Philadelphia is home to some of the best parks in the state – and in the country, for that matter. It’s incredibly family-friendly, it’s home to the country’s first zoo (which is still in operation), and it offers up 63 parks spread over some 9200 acres. No matter what your family enjoys as far as outdoor recreation, you’ll find it here year-round. Woodland campgrounds, biking trails, waterfront activities and watersports, and more are all just a short trip from anywhere in the greater Philadelphia area.

Whether you’re new to the city or new to the state, there are several perks associated with buying a home in the greater Philadelphia area. Aside from those listed above, you’ll find great school systems, a booming job market, and plenty of history to enjoy each and every day.

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2016

Nov

18

5 Inexpensive Areas to Live in Philadelphia
 By : Admin

Philadelphia is a sprawling city made up of dozens of neighborhoods and subdivisions. Each of these offers its own unique atmosphere and mini-economy, too. If you’re looking for an inexpensive area to buy or build a home in the city, consider these five options.

Laurel Springs

When it comes to true suburban living, there’s no doubt that Laurel Springs fits the definition perfectly. It offers up the lowest cost of living in the city, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re raising a family, this area also has some of the best schools, the quietest and safest streets, and a sense of camaraderie. You won’t have to worry about being too far from excellent shopping, dining, and activity; it’s only half an hour from downtown Philly. Keep in mind that buses and subways here are a bit limited, though. You’ll need to rely more heavily on self-transportation here.

Audubon

If you’re planning to commute to downtown Philly for work via public transportation, expect about a 50-minute trip from Audubon. However, this is the only real downside to this area, which ranks fourth on the list of areas with the lowest cost of living in the city. There are several schools from which to choose, ranging from public to private, and the shopping experience here means you’ll rarely have to venture into the heart of Philadelphia for the basic amenities. There’s also plenty of small local business here, too.

Barrington

Barrington is probably one of the best places in all of Philadelphia to raise a family. Here, you’ll find no shortage of community-driven sports, churches, and school activities that help to create a haven for kids who want to grow up experiencing the safety and sense of community that such a neighborhood can offer. If you want to get away and experience the nightlife of downtown Philly, it’s only half an hour away.

Ramblewood

If you’ll be renting when you move to Philadelphia, look no further than Ramblewood, where the average income spent on rent is a meager 22.7%. There’s plenty of shopping thanks to the large Moorestown Mall, and if you’re interested in outdoor recreation, there’s no shortage of that, either, thanks to the Ramblewood Country Club. It costs a bit more to live here than other areas, but with such a low rent index, most people afford it without trouble.

Jenkintown

If you work in downtown Philadelphia but living there is too much for you, then Jenkintown is probably as close to perfection as it gets. It boasts the sixth lowest cost of living in the area, but it’ll only take you 40 minutes to get downtown via train. You’ll find lots of chain restaurants and stores for all your basic needs, but there are also plenty of small local businesses that offer a unique atmosphere and a sense of community, too.

If you’re looking for an affordable neighborhood or Philadelphia suburb, the five listed above are by far some of the best options. They’re family-friendly, not too far from downtown, and they each offer their own unique dynamic. Be sure to visit them all to make the choice that’s right for your family.

 

 

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2016

Nov

12

5 Amazing Areas to Live in the Greater Philadelphia Location
 By : Admin

A Quaker by the name of William Penn was granted a large tract of land in the New World, and he arrived there in 1682, he founded the city of Philadelphia. It’s rich in history and has grown significantly over the centuries. Here, you can learn about the best places to live in and around the city.

#1 – Chestnut Hill

If you ask the residents of Philadelphia to name the best neighborhood in the city, Chestnut Hill will be the answer nine out of ten times. It offers plenty of amenities per capita, the highest high school graduation rate, the least crime, and the best overall quality of life. However, this does come with one downside – the cost of living is higher here than in other parts of the city.

#2 – Roxborough

Roxborough is known for being one of the “greener” parts of Philadelphia. It’s all about the beauty here with well-manicured lawns and tree-lined streets. Here, you’ll find quiet residential areas that are home to plenty of children of all ages, and it’s one of the least violent neighborhoods in the city. If you have children, Roxborough should be one of your top considerations.

#3 – Manayunk

Whereas Roxborough is the epitome of suburban life, Manayunk is all about the nightlife. Philadelphia’s first brewery was established here back in 1685, and to this day, there are plenty of bars and pubs where you can go to enjoy beer and food each and every night. Once a month, the residents here participate in a neighborhood-wide night out, where they see art galleries, visit restaurants, and even visit several bars all in one evening. It’s also one of the safer areas in Philadelphia.

#4 – Somerton

Somerton is one of the most family-friendly areas in all of Philadelphia. It offers a relatively low cost of living, which attracts people from all over the world. If you enjoy cultural diversity, including numerous restaurants that you’d be hard-pressed to find in other parts of the country, then Somerton is always a great choice. It offers plenty of amenities and an above-average high school graduation rate, too.

#5 – Mount Airy

Finally, if you just want to raise a family in a peaceful place that seems worlds away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Philadelphia, Mount Airy is the place to be. It’s filled with historic homes that are always a sight to see, and there are plenty of walking, biking, and jogging trails to help you stay active. It’s only a short trip from Center City, and with some of the best schools and an amazing quality of life, you’ll be glad you chose to make Mount Airy your home.

Philadelphia certainly has a lot to offer in terms of both high-quality family living, schools, amenities, entertainment, and more. The diversity of its neighborhoods continues to fuel its growth, but the ones mentioned above are by far the best of the best.

 

 

 

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2016

Nov

08

When Is the Best Time of Year to Buy a Home in Pennsylvania?
 By : Admin

Many people assume that the best time to buy a home is in the spring, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, if you look at the facts, numbers, and statistics, there are two days of the year that will give you a significant advantage as a buyer. If you’re smart about it, you can get your dream home for a steal.

The Spring Misconception

As soon as the leaves start to bud on the trees in the early spring, it seems as if “For Sale” signs start going up. The spring real estate market is indeed a flurry of activity, but it’s not really beneficial for the buyers. You’ll likely be bidding against others on homes, and the amount of competition for those homes is unreal. All of that competition means a lot of frustration, and it may even mean that you’ll end up paying more for a home than what it’s really worth due to the number of people bidding on it.

The Exception to the Rule

There is one day during the springtime months that it is in a buyer’s best interest to make the plunge – and believe it or not, that’s Easter Day. Of course, while it might be a bit difficult to get an offer in on a Sunday (and on a national holiday), it is certainly possible. In fact, there are numerous reports of buyers who have contacted the listing agent who just happened to be the seller, too, and bidding on Easter. Because everyone else was at church or spending time with family, there was no competition and the bid was accepted. Offers came rolling in the following day, but by then, the homes were already sold.

The Winter Misconception

Another common misconception about the best time to buy a home in Pennsylvania has to do with the fact that people just don’t want to sell their homes in the winter. While it’s true that the number of new homes hitting the market during the winter months does decline somewhat, there are still empty homes – and those homes aren’t selling because people just aren’t looking. In fact, it’s the best time of year overall to buy a home, especially if you want a great price.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

According to numbers and statistics, the time around Christmas is by far the best time of the year to buy a home in Pennsylvania – and almost anywhere else in the country. People feel generous and giving, and they’re more likely to give your lower offer a second look. Home prices are typically at their lowest in December, and if there’s a home on the market during Christmas, the seller is very serious and motivated. Competition is low, prices are low, and people are happy, so there’s no better time to buy.

As you can see, buying a home during the springtime real estate boom isn’t always the best option. Sure, there are more homes on the market, but there’s also more competition for those homes. That means you might pay more. Statistically, the best times of the year for buyers are Easter and the week around Christmas. They give you better opportunities with less competition, which means a better deal for you.

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2016

Nov

08

Want to Know How Much Your House is Worth in the Greater Philadelphia Area?
 By : Admin

 

Whether you’re trying to get ample insurance coverage or you’re preparing to put your home on the market, learning how much your home is really worth is a great first step. There are many things to consider when it comes to putting a value on your home, though. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s the Most Effective Method?

By far, the best data to use if you want to calculate the value of your PA home is called the CMA, or Comparative Market Analysis. This uses real market samples of homes sold in your local area, down to your neighborhood or subdivision, to give you an accurate price based on location, square footage, and current demand. There is no other method more accurate, and it works automatically to provide you with your home’s estimated current market value. Trends change quickly, so being able to stay up-to-date with the most recently sold homes can help you list your home for the right price.

What About Tax Assessed Values?

If you’ve thought about setting the asking price for your home at the tax assessed value, you might be selling yourself short. Most states set the tax assessed value at anywhere from 80% to 90% of its Fair Market Value, or FMV, which is determined by using the CMA. This means that putting a home on the market with a price determined by its tax assessed value can result in losing 10% to 20% of the potential funds you can get from it. It’s always best to stick to an estimation of the current market value.

Should You Call an Independent Appraiser?

There are certainly some benefits in contacting an independent appraiser when you want to know how much your PA home is worth. An independent appraiser is a fantastic choice when you are considering purchasing homeowner’s insurance. It’s also a great option if you’re truly interested in buying a home, but you want the opinion of someone you trust and who is working purely for you. An independent appraiser can also provide you with more relevant information, particularly if the figures that are available for the home are outdated.

How Often does the Value Change?

When it comes to FMV, which is what you should ask for your PA home when you sell it, keep in mind that it’s the fair price for your home given current real estate market conditions. Should real estate market conditions change, then your FMV also changes. This figure is based on the notion of supply and demand, as well. The longer your home is on the market, the more its FMV drops. If your home is customized or has luxury features, you may be able to ask more than the FMV.

Understanding how much your PA home is worth can help you make many different decisions. It allows you to purchase the right homeowner’s insurance, set the right asking price for a home you want to sell, or even make sure that you’re getting a great deal when it comes to buying someone else’s home.

 

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2016

Nov

08

When Is the Best Time of Year to Sell a Home in the Greater Philadelphia Area?
 By : Admin

If you’ve been thinking about putting your home on the market and you’re ready to take the plunge, it can be difficult to decide when you should get started. Should you list in the spring when the real estate market is booming, or should you wait until the fall, when there are fewer homes and the buyers are feeling more pressure? Here, you’ll learn the best time of year to put your home up for sale.

By the Numbers: A Recent Study

A study conducted by a group of researchers at Zillow found that homes entering the market during the first half of the month of May sold about 18.5 days faster than all other homes listed during the same year. What’s more, buyers paid an average of 1% more for those homes, which means the sellers earned themselves about $1700 extra on average – just for listing during this timeframe.

This Year’s Smaller Inventory

The National Association of Realtors says that a record low number of homes were on the market this spring season. This means that the inventory was much, much smaller than previous years, which influenced supply and demand quite a bit. There were more buyers competing for the same small number of homes, which led to aggressive bidding and the willingness to spend more. This seems to have culminated in the first half of May, which means that this is by far the best time of year to sell a home if you want to sell it at a premium.

Will This Change?

Although housing and availability trends seem to change overnight at times, experts agree that May will likely always be the optimal time to list your home. Kids are just getting out of school for the summer, and because parents prefer waiting until summer break to make a major move, the pressure is on to find a home during this month so they can close, move in, and settle prior to the next school year. What’s more, May is typically a nice season in Pennsylvania, with temperatures on the upward rise. Even if more homes go on the market next spring, sellers are likely to get more for their homes if they list them during this time of the year.

Climate Problems  

The only thing that may truly influence your ability to sell your home in May is a late winter. Believe it or not, people find it hard to shop for new homes, go to open houses, and move into new homes when it is cold and snowy. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often in Pennsylvania, so the odds are quite slim. If it does, your real estate agent can give you valuable advice as to whether you should list your home in early May anyway or wait until the cold snap relents. Sometimes, it can make quite the difference.

In Pennsylvania and most other parts of the country, the best time to sell a home is in early May. People are shopping for homes with some urgency during this time of year, and they’re willing to pay more for a home that suits their needs, too.

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2016

Nov

08

When Is the Best Time of Year to Buy a Home in the Greater Philadelphia Area?
 By : Admin

Many people assume that the best time to buy a home is in the spring, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, if you look at the facts, numbers, and statistics, there are two days of the year that will give you a significant advantage as a buyer. If you’re smart about it, you can buy your dream home for a steal.

The Spring Misconception

As soon as the leaves start to bud on the trees in the early spring, it seems as if “For Sale” signs start going up. The spring real estate market is indeed a flurry of activity, but it’s not really beneficial for the buyers. You’ll likely be bidding against others on homes, and the amount of competition for those homes is unreal. All of that competition means a lot of frustration, and it may even mean that you’ll end up paying more for a home than what it’s really worth due to the number of people bidding on it.

The Exception to the Rule

There is one day during the springtime months that it is in a buyer’s best interest to make the plunge – and believe it or not, that’s Easter Day. Of course, while it might be a bit difficult to get an offer in on a Sunday (and on a national holiday), it is certainly possible. In fact, there are numerous reports of buyers who have contacted the listing agent who just happened to be the seller, too, and bidding on Easter. Because everyone else was at church or spending time with family, there was no competition and the bid was accepted. Offers came rolling in the following day, but by then, the homes were already sold.

The Winter Misconception

Another common misconception about the best time to buy a home in Pennsylvania has to do with the fact that people just don’t want to sell their homes in the winter. While it’s true that the number of new homes hitting the market during the winter months does decline somewhat, there are still empty homes – and those homes aren’t selling because people just aren’t looking. In fact, it’s the best time of year overall to buy a home, especially if you want a great price.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

According to numbers and statistics, the time around Christmas is by far the best time of the year to buy a home in Pennsylvania – and almost anywhere else in the country. People feel generous and giving, and they’re more likely to give your lower offer a second look. Home prices are typically at their lowest in December, and if there’s a home on the market during Christmas, the seller is very serious and motivated. Competition is low, prices are low, and people are happy, so there’s no better time to buy.

As you can see, buying a home during the springtime real estate boom isn’t always the best option. Sure, there are more homes on the market, but there’s also more competition for those homes. That means you might pay more. Statistically, the best times of the year for buyers are Easter and the week around Christmas. They give you better opportunities with less competition, which means a better deal for you.

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2016

Oct

17

Why Staging Your Home is the #1 Reason If it Sells or Not
 By : Admin

Numerous real estate experts agree that staging can make a huge difference in the way a potential buyer views it, and even the price you might get for it. As such, it’s important to learn about staging and how you should do it if you truly want your home to sell quickly – and for the right price.

What Is Staging?

Staging is the act of setting up your home in such a way that you show off all of its best features. At the same time, potential buyers should be able to visualize themselves living in your home with all of their own furniture, belongings, and more. It typically involves cleaning, organizing, and arranging furniture, but it may also require painting, removing or replacing carpets, and more. A real estate agent can help you decide how much staging your home really needs in order for it to sell.

Staging at a Minimum

At the bare minimum, staging should involve a thorough cleaning, the removal of clutter, improvements in lighting, and the repair of very obvious aesthetic issues. This alone can help buyers see your home in a better light. To take things a little further, consider arranging furniture so that it highlights the focal points in a room. Playing up your home’s best features is a great way to help buyers visualize it as their own and how they would arrange their own furniture.

Things to Consider When Staging

Aside from the bare minimum, there are other things that some experts think can really help your home sell. When staging, consider:

  • Removing family photos. Although everyone loves an excellent family photo, there is some evidence to suggest that they may actually turn buyers off to the idea of buying your home. After all, you want a buyer to feel as if this is their new home and not yours.
  • Taking down political signs and sports memorabilia. It might seem silly, but if a prospective buyer doesn’t agree with your choice of political candidate or sports team, he or she may form a negative opinion of you and your home without even truly seeing it.
  • Providing a completely neutral visual. Finally, the more “vanilla” you can make your home, the better. After all, you want to provide buyers with a blank slate and one they can use to form opinions in their heads. Brightly-colored throws scattered across the room and piles of magazines on the coffee table may interfere with that.

Going for the Maximum Effect

If you really want to go for the maximum effect when staging, consider repainting your walls in neutral colors, hanging only the minimal art, and perhaps even replacing flooring that is outdated or brightly colored. Although personalization certainly has its place, a buyer may be turned off by a bright red wall or hot pink carpeting in one of the bedrooms. Sometimes, these things can be overlooked; other times, you may lose the opportunity for a sale.

Staging is very important to ensuring that your home is visually appealing to potential buyers. It could be structurally sound and complete with all of the latest amenities, but if homeowners can’t see past the clutter or simple disrepair, your home won’t sell very quickly at all.

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2016

Sep

26

9 Questions First Time Home Buyers Should Ask Before Purchasing
 By : Admin

Buying a home can be a bit tricky. There’s so many things that go into it. Specifically, in regards to the details of the home you’re interested in buying. For first time home buyers, the process can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve created this post. In it, you’ll find all the questions you need to ask your realtor so you’ll everything about the house you’re interested in.

Is there a valid reason the owner is selling?

Retirement, switching jobs, upgrading, and downsizing are all valid, legitimate reasons to sell a home. If the realtor gives you a reason that seems a bit strange or odd, caution should be taken. You might want to look into the situation before moving forward with the buying process.

How long has the home been on the market?

If a home is on the market for an extended period of time, it’s usually because the home is over priced and/or there’s something wrong with it. Again, exercise caution if this is the case.

How many times has ownership changed over the past?

Unless a home is in an area where workers come and go, a house that has changed ownership numerous times is definitely one that you want to avoid.

Are the sellers willing to talk?

A realtor is actually required to give you this information. Obviously they don’t want to because it can hurt their chances of making a sale, but talking the owners can be arranged. If you get the chance, you should ask them any questions that you think will help you come to a decision.

How old is the heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system?

HVAC systems cost a lot of money. The last thing you want to do is move into a home and have to replace part of or an entire HVAC unit. Asking the above question ensures that won’t happen.

How old is the roof?

Roofs tend to last to at least 30 years. If a home has an old roof, you might want to steer clear. Replacing a roof is like replacing an HVAC system—very expensive.

Has there ever been any wind damage to the home?

High winds can damage the integrity of a home’s roof. If a home is in an area where recent hurricanes, tropical storms, or tornadoes have hit, an inspection should be completed before moving forward.

Has there ever been flood or water damage to the home?

Flood and water damage can cause big time problems in the form of mold and mildew. Unless damaged areas have been properly fixed, it’s best to stay away from these types of homes.

Has there been any crimes committed in the neighborhood?

It goes without saying that you don’t want to live in an area where there’s crime. Realtors are required to provide you with this information.

There you have it—nine questions to ask your realtor before purchasing a home. Ask any, all, or any combination the above mentioned questions to ensure you know everything you can before you buy a home. Doing so will be a decision you’ll be glad you made.

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2016

Sep

22

5 Reasons Why Your Home Inspection is Very Important
 By : Admin

For first-timers, buying a home is dream come true. For veterans, it’s an achievement or upgrade. For all, it’s a super exciting experience. But, it’s important that you don’t get too caught up in the excitement and neglect important steps in the buying process. Specifically, your home inspection.

Home inspections might not seem important—especially if you're purchasing a newly built home—but make no mistake about it: home inspections aren’t to be neglected. Here are five reasons why:

Home Inspections Protect You

A home inspector will perform a thorough inspection of your home. He will cover everything. It’s his job. By doing it, he’ll protect you from any and all problems that might be present. This is a big deal. No one wants to be surprised by a problem after they sign the papers to buy a home. The financial repercussions could be tremendous.

Home Inspections Cover You

If an inspector finds a problem with your home, that problem is not yours. The responsibility lies with the previous homeowner or realtor. A home inspection guarantees that you’ll be covered and free of financial burden.

Home Inspections Give You Negotiating Power

Let’s say something is wrong with your home. It’s not ideal, but it’s not horrible. A problem gives you power—a bargaining chip if you will. By pointing out problems found during the inspection, you can negotiate a better price.

Home Inspections Save You Money

While a home inspection does cost anywhere from $50-$500, its initial cost far outweighs any costs you might have to make should a problem arise. The inspector doesn’t only look for immediate problems. He looks for faulty wiring, plumbing, building, etc. Everything he does is to protect you. By protecting you, he saves you money—long term.

Home Inspections Can Save You

The term “don’t judge a book by its cover” applies to home buying. A home can look stunning from the outside and inside, but that doesn’t mean it’s well built. Inspectors will find problems in any and all types of homes. By doing this, they can save you from purchasing a home that might be something you don’t want.

If you need help during the home buying or home inspection process, please contact RealtyTopia. We’re a unique home buying and selling team that puts clients first. We want your home inspection to protect, cover, and—if needed—save you. In addition, we want you to have negotiating power and save money.

Our team of highly trained and skilled professionals know what it takes to take care of clients. When you chose RealtyTopia, your home buying process will be a smooth one that’s free of stress and worry. When you’re ready, please give us a call. We’ll gladly accept it and help get you going in the right direction.

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2016

Sep

12

3 Reasons Why Now Is a Great Time to Be a First Time Home Buyer
 By : Admin

We’re currently seeing an increase in the amount of first time home buyers. A recent study showed that 32% of home buyers are first-timers. However, many real estate agents are reporting much higher numbers. One says that 85% of her clients are first-timers. This is a staggering number.

According to many real estate experts, now is a great time to be a first time buyer. Buyers have the resources needed to make the buying process run smoothly and the market has shifted to one that favors the buyer.

Buyer Resources

Buyer resources are greater than ever. This puts first time home buyers at a strong advantage. Buyers have reported feeling more educated and informed than they were when they previously looked into buying a home. Online resources like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com give buyers an idea of what to expect during the home buying process. They provide buyers with the information they need in regards to what’s available and for what price. Contacting a realtor is now the second step in the home buying process. In addition, realtors are no longer the ones that solely provide buyers with information.

Prices Favor the Buyer

Prices have started to favor—for the first time in ages—the buyer. Dips—ranging from 2%-13%--have been reported nationwide. This puts buyers in a tremendous position to save money and get a great house. If you’re on the fence in regards to renting or buying, realize that now might be the ideal time to buy. You might not get another chance this good. For more information, it’s best to contact a professional real estate agency like RealtyTopia. We can help you with any and all questions you might have about the market and home buying process. We want you to purchase your first home at the best price possible. Our team of trained, and skilled professionals will always be there to help and guide you.

Smooth Buying Process

The buying process is historically stressful. And time consuming. And frustrating. And complicated. And—you get the picture. Luckily, this is no longer the case. Because of the above mentioned buyer resources and buyer favored prices, the buying process now runs smoothly. First time buyers report very little stress, complications, or worry—which allows them to enjoy the excitement that comes with buying a new home. In addition, things like home inspections protect buyers from any and all unwanted costs that might pop up because of a neglected home or appliances. All in all, buyers are currently educated, favored, and protected.

As is alluded to throughout this article, now is great time to be a first time buyer. All the resources are available, the market favors you, and a smooth buying process is easily obtainable. Contact RealtyTopia today and we’ll gladly be of service. We’re a unique home buying and selling team that will do whatever it takes to help you. You’re decision to let us help you purchase your first home will be one you’re glad you made. 

 

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