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!

May 18, 2020

Caring for Marble Countertops

Are you upgrading your kitchen with marble countertops? If so, it's a great way to add value to your kitchen if you plan to sell you home in Berks County soon. But the thing to keep in mind with marble is that it requires expert installation and special cleaning and care.

How can you care for your new marble countertop so that it keeps it's beauty and value?

Use Protective Devices

Marble counters can get scratched by small appliances, food canisters, and pans. You can use washable platforms, absorbent kitchen towels, or drying mats to protect your surfaces. This will keep etching marks from forming on your beautiful marble surfaces.

Use the Proper Cleaning Products

Abrasive cleaning products are a no-no with marble countertops, as they will degrade the natural stone. You can clean your surfaces with a mix of mild dish detergent and warm water. Instead of a rough towel, you should use a soft cloth or sponge and rub the surface gently.

Prevent Damage during Upgrades

If you are doing a full kitchen remodel, it would be ideal for the installers to place the countertops at the end of the project to prevent any damage. But if you already have marble counters installed and are doing further remodeling, you want to make sure your marble is protected while work is being done. Make sure that contractors don't place tools on the counters, and protect the sides or edges. You can use a layer of paper, fabric or plastic to add further protection.

Cornstarch for Absorbing Spilled Debris

If you need to clean up food or beverages off the counter, you can sprinkle corn starch on the spill to absorb it. This will help prevent the stain from setting in, but you have to do it quickly. If the stain is deeper, you can clean it with a paste of baking soda and water. Apply the paste on the stain, then rub it away gently.

Application of Sealants on Marble Countertops

You can buy sealant products that will protect the marble countertops, but you will need to reapply this substance at least once a year. The application of liquid sealants is a difficult process, so you may want to hire an expert for this job.

Sealant is needed for whatever finish you have on your countertop. The most common marble finishes are either polished, for a high-gloss surface, or honed, which produces a softer matte surface.

To ensure that the sealant remains effective, you should wipe down your countertop daily using a non-abrasive cloth or sponge and only a mild soap and water.

Make sure to visit to our blog every week for more real estate advice, along with local Berks County articles. Need help finding the perfect home for sale in Berks County? Our powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

Posted in Home Sellers
May 11, 2020

The Best Paint for Refinishing Your Stairs

If you plan to sell your home in Berks County, one way to add value and visual appeal to your home is to paint your indoor or outdoor stairs. People often overlook the stairs when it comes to home improvement projects. But it can be an easy way for you to make a big impact in the look of your home. Whether you want to give your interior stairs a makeover or just fix the peeling paint on the back deck, there's a perfect paint for the job.

Here's a quick guide to the types of paint that are best for freshening up your interior and exterior stairs. 

Outdoor Stairs

Your outdoor stairs really take a beating, both from traffic and from the elements here in Pennsylvania. So you need a highly durable paint to take all that abuse. Wood stairs do best with a 100% acrylic exterior paint. There are types of acrylic paint specifically for use on porches, floors, and exterior stairs. You should stay away from glossy finish paints, as they can be slippery when wet.

Satin or eggshell finish paints are the best choice, as they can resist stains and be cleaned easily without creating a slipping hazard. For extra safety, you can add a non-slip additive to your paint for extra texture and slip resistance. 

Indoor Stairs

Your indoors stairs may not see the same wear as your outdoor stairs, but they still get a lot of use, especially with foot traffic. Indoor stairs will also do well with 100% acrylic paint. But for indoor stairs, you can use a semi-gloss paint for easier cleaning. It won't pose as much of a slipping hazard since they won't be getting wet, like the outdoor stairs.

If you're planning on painting your indoor stairs in different colors, you might consider different paint finishes, too. For example, you could paint the risers and spindles in a semi-gloss paint and use a lower luster paint for the railings and treads for increased safety.

Paint Design Ideas

Your stairs can really be a place to unleash your creative side when it comes to painting, as there are a number of elements that can be painted differently.

One classic way to paint stairs is to paint the risers and spindles in a light color, and the treads and railing in a complementary dark color. This approach looks crisp and creates a lot of visual interest. 

If you like the look of a classic stair runner, but you don't want the risk of tripping, you can paint a runner down the center of your staircase for a great visual effect.

Refinishing Stairs for a Fresh, New Look

A fresh coat of paint is a simple way to instantly transform the look of your stairs and brighten the entire area around them. If you're considering refinishing stairs in your Berks County home, it's important to have all the right paints and tools for the job. That way, you're sure to make your vision a reality. 

Make sure to visit to our blog every week for more real estate advice, along with local Berks County articles. Need help finding the perfect home for sale in Berks County? Our powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

Posted in Home Buyers
May 4, 2020

Make This May 10th a Mother's Day to Remember

Mother's Day 2020 in Berks County will definitely be different. This year, we're going to need to be a bit more creative in how we show our moms thanks. But that's OK, since it will help make this Mother's Day on May 10 a very special day. And our mom's definitely deserve to be thanked now more than ever for all their hard work.

Here's a few ways you can creatively show your mom how much you care this Mother's Day on May 10.

 

Breakfast or Brunch in bed.

If you're a good enough cook, why not make your mom a special brunch or breakfast? And if you can't do it in person, you can order her food to be delivered from a local restaurant in Berks County. Here's a list of some restaurants in Reading that are offering takeout or delivery services.
 
Picnic in your backyard.
 
If the weather holds this Sunday (the forecast says it will be partly cloudy and 58 deg) you can treat her to a party outside for dinner. You can set up a blanket and cover it with picnic ready snacks, or takeout from a local restaurant in Berks County.

Learn a new craft or skill.
 
Is there a new craft or skill your mom has wanted to try? You can gather all the needed supplies and spend Sunday with her as you both learn how to do a new craft or skill.

Wine tasting.

Wine goes great with Mother's Day. You can make it a memorable experience by creating a custom wine tasting with different types of reds, whites, and rosés. And don't forget other goodies, like chocolates or cheese and crackers. You can turn it into a tour if you place each kind of wine in a different room.
 
Ask a musician to play a private concert.
 
You can host a virtual happy hour with your mom and ask a musician friend to join in and play a song or two just for mom (and make sure you pay and tip them for their work). This is a great way to support the arts while many venues in Berks County are closed.
 
Whatever you do for mom this weekend, make sure you make this the most memorable Mother's Day ever!

Have a Happy Mothers Day!

Make sure to visit to our blog every week for more real estate advice, along with local Berks County articles. Need help finding the perfect home for sale in Berks County? Our powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

April 27, 2020

4 Ways to Boost Your Credit to Buy a Home in Berks County

It cannot be overstated how important it is to have good credit when buying a home in Berks County. Sure, you can technically buy a home with less than perfect credit, or even with bad credit. For example, an FHA loan asks for a minimum down payment of 3.5%. FHA guidelines require a minimum credit score of 580. With a down payment of 10% or more, FHA score requirements fall all the way down to 500. But you will pay for it in the end with higher mortgage payments. So the goal needs to be to get your credit in as strong as shape as possible before you buy a home in Berks County.

What are some ways to get your credit in better shape? You can really make an impact on your credit in just a few months if you follow these 4 tips.

Make Your Payments on Time

Not to insult your intelligence, but this first step cannot be overstated. Does that mean you have to make your credit card and loan payments all on the exact due date or before? Not at all. As long as you make your payments within a 30 days of the due date, you'll be fine. So if an account has a due date of the 1st, and you pay it on the 15th, it won't be counted as late on your credit. You may have to pay late fees, so make sure to pay attention to those.

Keep a Balance on Credit Lines

You might think that having a zero balance on your credit lines is the way to go. But the opposite is true. If you keep your balance at about one-third of your credit line and make timely payments, this can improve your score. Without a balance, no payments are being made. Making timely payments accounts for 35% of your credit score, which has a huge impact on your credit.

Pay Attention to How Many Accounts You Have

Most lenders will want you to have at least three credit accounts on your credit report. If you are at that number already, don't apply for more credit. A few initial inquiries for credit won’t hurt your scores, but multiple requests over an extended period of time will.

Rebuild Damaged Credit

If you have damaged credit, you should get a secured credit card. You can also try to get a credit card from a credit card company that caters to those with bad credit. The idea is to start rebuilding credit by paying on time and keeping your balances in check.

With a secured card, you pay a fee as a security deposit that's equal to the credit limit. Yes, it's like spending money you already have. But these payments are reported to credit bureaus just like a normal credit card or other loans. With timely payments, your scores will begin to rise to levels that work for most mortgage programs.

Make timely payments, keep balances around one-third of credit lines, keep credit inquiries to a minimum and for those needing to rebuild scores, seek out a secured card. Sometimes people who have poor credit don’t know where or how to start rebuilding. These four tips will jump start that process.

Make sure to visit to our blog every week for more real estate advice, along with local Berks County articles. Need help finding the perfect home for sale in Berks County? Our powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

April 20, 2020

Tips to Help You Productively Pass the Time

Are you getting restless under quarantine? Some people in Berks County may spend time thinking about what they can't do now. But the question should be "What can I do now?" This is a rare opportunity to take the time we normally wouldn't have otherwise to have some fun and better ourselves.

Here's a few ideas to help you and your family pass the time productively.

Connect with your quarantined ancestors

Do you have old photos or journals of your ancestors who had to deal with a pandemic? Why not try to find out more about their story and how they dealt with it? With online ancestry services, you may be able to discover things you never knew about your relatives from the past.

Set up a home movie theater

If you have some leftover stimulus money, you can order a digital movie projector and set up your own movie theater. Projectors are smaller and less expensive these days, and they will let you project your favorite movies on any blank wall. You can set up a pillow fort with the kids and enjoy the show.

Write in a journal

You may not have thought you had much to write about in the past. But now you certainly have something to write about. Putting down your thoughts and memories in a journal will help you process your feelings, as well as give those in the future a glimpse into the world-changing events of 2020 from a personal perspective.

Detail your car

When was the last time you gave your car a good wash and detail? Every car can use a good detailing, especially if it's been a few months since the last time you cleaned it. If you don't want to waste paper towels or wipes, find some old shirts you can turn into rags. Get out your vacuum and give it a good vacuuming. 

Learn a new language

Why limit your ability to say “quarantine stinks” to just your native language? Why not learn a new language and impress your friends and colleagues during your next Zoom meeting? Duolingo is a free app you can use to learn up to 35 languages. You can even learn Klingon if you're feeling like you want to boldy go for an unexpected language.

Boost your immune system with green juice

Not all of us enjoy veggies, but they do go down smoother in a smoothie. It's a great way to boot your immune system. There are endless veggie smoothie recipes online. And who knows, you may find a new treat.

Read a happy book

For quite some time, Ebooks have made it possible to read just about any book ever published. Since you can't get to the library or book store, now is a great time to get into reading Ebooks and find a story that will lift your spirits.

We know this is a tough time for everyone in Berks County, as well as the rest of the country. We hope you'll come back to our blog every week for more helpful articles, along with Berks County real estate news. Stay home, and stay safe!

Posted in Reading Community
April 13, 2020

Help Support Reading PA Restaurants Offering Takeout and Delivery

Since the State of Pennsylvania has issued a stay at home order through April 15, many local businesses in Reading and the surrounding area have been impacted. But we all can help in some way or the other. One thing we can do is order food from restaurants offering takeout and delivery. It's a great way to break up the monotony, as well as help keep local businesses afloat.

Here's a few local Reading restaurants that are offering takeout or delivery, according to updated information on Google. This of course can change at any time, but for now this list should be accurate.

Aladdin Restaurant | Order Online

401 Penn Ave, Reading, PA 19611

Offering Lebanese and Mediterranean dishes. Takeout or delivery.

Judy's On Cherry

332 Cherry St, Reading, PA 19602

Mediterranean bistro with many dishes cooked in a wood-fired oven. Takeout.

Panevino

25 N 2nd St, Reading, PA 19601

Rustic Italian cuisine, including handmade pastas. Takeout.

Golden Bowl Restaurant

850 Penn St, Reading, PA 19602

Chinese staples such as chow mein, fried rice & General Tso's, plus lunch specials. Takeout or delivery.

West Reading Tavern & Restaurant | Menu

606 Penn Ave, West Reading, PA 19611

Burgers, sandwiches, tacos, entrees, soups and salads. Takeout. Pickup is at the rear of the building on Cherry St. Customers should enter the open breezeway for our patio and pick up their orders there.

Brewer's Bar & Grill | Order Delivery

101 S 3rd Ave, West Reading, PA 19611

Wings, appetizers, burgers, chicken, entrees, sandwiches, rice bowls, brewer's bowls, and salads. Takeout or delivery.

Williams Family Restaurant | Order Delivery

1701 Kutztown Rd, Reading, PA 19604

Sandwiches, burgers, fish, pasta, and more. Takeout and delivery.

We hope you're able to help support our local businesses in Reading. Above all, stay safe!

Make sure to visit to our blog every week for more real estate advice, along with local Berks County articles. Need help finding the perfect home for sale in Berks County? Our powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

Posted in Reading Community
April 6, 2020

How Can You Use the Current Market to Get a Great Deal On a Home in Berks County?

The current pandemic we're going through has changed a lot of things, including the real estate industry. Right now in Berks County, it's a buyer's market, as interest rates are at an all-time low.

In a buyer’s market, sellers are typically more motivated to negotiate. This gives you more bargaining power as a buyer. Negotiating points include not only the sales price, but other items as well. Here are three parts of the purchase process that you can use to get a great deal on a home in Berks County.

1. Bargains in the Purchase Agreement

When you write an offer to purchase, ask for everything. Even if you don't want their furniture and appliances, ask for them. Ask for everything you can think of to put the sellers in overload so that you divert their attention away from the low price you are offering.

Once the bartering begins, all of their focus will be on trying to hang on to their backyard furniture, instead of the fact that you have offered considerably less for the house than what they are asking. Now you are in a position to compromise.

So now you can give up the furniture and the drapes; you didn't want all those items anyway. What you really want is your low price. In the end, if you persist, you should get that price and maybe the other items as well.

Also, make sure you don't give the sellers too much time to think about your bid. A 24-hour acceptance requirement is quite common and a strategic step in your position as a bargain hunter. Not only does this request create a sense of urgency for the sellers, but it cuts down the chances of another bargain hunter making a better offer.

2. The Home Inspection ― Your Ticket to a Deal

Although the sellers, by law, must disclose the problems in the home that they know about, there may be items they aren't aware of. But there may be issues that the owner is not aware of. As such, make sure you get a home inspection.

With the hard copy of the inspection in-hand, this is your chance to negotiate a lower price. You will need to get estimates for the repairs from local licensed contractors. You then have support for your requests to the sellers.

If the sellers are unwilling to work with you, walk away. It is entirely within your rights under the purchase agreement to do so. Most sellers, however, realize that the repairs will need to be done if they hope to sell the home, so they are likely to entertain your new bid.

If the cost of needed repairs is beyond the sellers' current budget, you might suggest a cash-back at the close of escrow incentive. That way, the homeowner doesn't have to pay out-of-pocket for work and you will have cash-on-hand to have the repairs performed on your schedule.

3. Eliminate Your Closing Costs

In today's buyer's market in Berks County, innovative negotiating is just one of the tools in your chest. Negotiating closing costs may be your last resort, especially when dealing with a particularly difficult and unrealistic seller.

Some sellers will balk at being asked to pay your closing costs. Others will increase the selling price of the house to absorb the costs. There is a danger in this, however. Any addition to the price may cause a problem with the appraisal. At that point, it is back to the negotiating table for buyer and seller.

The sale of a home is an emotional event. There are ways to present the suggested negotiations while still appealing to the sellers' emotions. If your low-ball approach is due to your financial position, have your agent share that with the homeowners. Let them know how terribly much you want the house and make them care about you enough to want to help you.

Make sure to visit to our blog every week for more real estate advice, along with local Berks County articles. Need help finding the perfect home for sale in Berks County? Our powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

Posted in Home Buyers
March 30, 2020

Simple Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, people are still buying homes in Berks County. If you decide to sell your home soon, the first thing you should look at is the first thing home buyers look at - your curb appeal. Sprucing up your curb appeal is a sure way to attract buyers, especially now since most home buyers will be looking at your home online, or by driving by. And if you don't plan on selling your home, taking care of your home's exterior is a great way to be productive and feel good about your home.

What are some affordable ways to enhance your curb appeal without having to leave your home for supplies?

Manicure the Lawn

Tending to your lawn is a do-it-yourself task that can add instant curb appeal to your home. Get out the lawn mower, cut the grass regularly and conquer those weeds. And if you have a lawn edger, get that out as well and give your lawn an extra level of manicuring.

Tend Those Beds

Grooming your garden beds is another affordable way to tell buyers your home is well cared for. Weeding is the perfect way to start, as well as removing debris. If you happen to go to a store for groceries that also sells mulch, buy a few bags and spread it over your garden. This will give your garden a fresh look and keep weeds to a minimum.

If you have the opportunity, try planting some annual flowers like pansies, black-eyed Susans, impatiens and petunias for quick and long-lasting color.

Wash Off Dirt

Get out your garden hose and a nozzle and blast away debris off sidewalks, driveway, and the front of your home. If you have access to a power washer, even better! Just be careful if you power wash your siding as it could be too powerful and cause damage.

Tidy Up the Driveway

Move your garbage and recycling to the side of the house, preferably behind a bush or small screen, or in the garage. Make sure to clean up any debris laying around the driveway and front lawn. And if you have any old ornaments that are showing their age, get rid of those as well.

Make the Windows Sparkle

Clean windows inside and out to make your home sparkle. If your home's windows tilt out, it's quite simple to wash exterior windows. Otherwise, you might need a friend or family member to steady a ladder while you do the work. Try washing outside windows by spraying them with a garden hose to remove dirt and cobwebs. Then sponge them down with a small amount of vinegar or detergent diluted in warm water and rinse. If you need to wash your windows from the outside and your windows don't tilt out, try using a long-handled brush.

With these simple tips, your home will be ready to sell. And at least, you'll have a great project to keep you and your family productive.

Make sure to visit to our blog every week for more real estate advice, along with local Berks County articles. Need help finding the perfect home for sale in Berks County? Our powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

Posted in Home Sellers
March 23, 2020

Take a Hike (and Stay Away From People) on These Top Berks County Hiking Trails

Now that it seems imminent that everyone will be in a state of lockdown of some sort in Berks County, it's a good time to go take a hike, as it were. What better way to stay healthy than to hike on some of the beautiful trails here in Berks County? Trails are increasingly being counted on as places where people can continue to be physically active and find respite while practicing social distancing. There's a trail for every skill level, so you'll be sure to find the perfect trail to take you away from all the stress of what's going on in the world. Reducing stress and staying active can have many health benefits, which we all need right now.

Here's some of the best hiking trails in Berks County to explore.

Birdsboro Preserve

1314 Haycreek Road | Birdsboro, PA 19508

Birdsboro Preserve is a beautiful preservation area just south of Birdsboro. The Birdsboro Preserve and Birdsboro Waters offer miles of hiking and biking trails. You can mix it up with different trails for a variety of combinations, views and elevations. This region is easily accessible from three different areas.

Union Canal, Bicycle & Walking Trail

The Union Canal Trail runs along the Tulpehocken Creek from the city of Reading up to Blue Marsh Lake in Leesport. The trail makes up a segment of the 71.7-mile Schuylkill River Trail in southeastern Pennsylvania. The flat, crushed-stone trail surface makes for a comfortable journey on foot, bicycle, cross-country skis, or even snowshoes. To access the Stonecliffe Recreation Area trailhead in Reading from I-176, take Exit 11B to merge onto US 422 W. In 4.9 miles take the exit onto SR 12 E toward Pricetown. Go 0.5 mile, and turn right onto Chester St. Go 0.2 mile, and turn right at the second cross street (0.2 mile) onto Columbia St. Go 0.2 mile, and the road terminates at the Stonecliffe Recreation Area parking lot, to your left.

French Creek Pennsylvania State Park Trails

843 Park Rd #9523, Elverson, PA 19520

Once an industrial complex for the fledgling United States of America, today French Creek State Park is an oasis for people and wildlife, where you'' see many animals animals and plant. Despite all buildings in the park being closed, all open areas are still available for hiking and other recreation activities.

Antietam Lake Park

232 Angora Rd, Reading, PA 19606

With wide trails and easy hiking rating, this is a great hiking trail for taking the family and dog for a walk. There are many trail variations that provide miles of scenery. You can also get some fishing in to pass the time.

Whatever you do, just make sure to stay as far away from other hikers as you enjoy the beautiful scenery of Berks County. Stay safe and healthy!

Make sure to visit to our blog every week for more real estate advice, along with local Berks County articles. Need help finding the perfect home for sale in Berks County? Our powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

Posted in Reading Community
March 17, 2020

Simplify Your Next Move in Berks County

If you plan to buy or sell your home in Berks County, no doubt you're already thinking about how to move all of your belongings to your new home. No matter how you slice it, moving is a big task. But there are certainly ways you can make your next move a bit easier and more organized.

The first thing you should do is put a binder together to keep notes as you pack your things and move.

As you pack, you should index all of your boxes so you can be more organized when you reach your new home. Write on each box what the contents are. You can also inventory your possessions and capture the contents on film or video.

Make two copies of the box contents to keep in your binder, and the other with the box. Then if the box doesn't make it to your new home, you'll know exactly what's missing. The other thing that's good to do when you are labeling your boxes is to label it as bedroom box 1 and then you'll have the index with it. Then bedroom box 2, bedroom box 3, etc.

Packing is just the first step. There are many other things to arrange and make sure are in order. If you have enough time to plan before you make the big move, you should set out an 8-week schedule to help you bring everything in line.

Here's a suggested schedule to make before you move:

 Eight weeks: set up a zippered three-ring notebook, keep all important documents in it, record payments made, have a copy of your budget, contact information, maps to your new location, keys, etc.

• Six weeks: inventory and index your possessions, begin giving away items you do not need/want, make arrangements to consign items.

• Four weeks: start packing up things you don't use frequently, label boxes with indexes, hold a garage sale to unload items you won't be moving, contact a moving company.

• Three weeks: assemble packing materials, arrange to cancel phone and utility services and have them installed in your new location, find childcare and pet boarding, and arrange for cleaning help.

• Two weeks: arrange for any necessary banking changes, service your car.

• One week: order and pick up prescriptions, get keys to new home, pack two suitcases with items mentioned above and keep them handy during the move.

• Two to three days before your move: defrost the refrigerator, unhook any electronics, set aside a box that contains your legal documents that you will take with you.

• Day of the move: make sure your address is correct on the bill of lading, double-check everywhere in the home.

With just a little extra planning, you can make your next move go more smoothly and avoid complications.

Make sure to visit to our blog every week for more real estate advice, along with local Berks County articles. Need help finding the perfect home for sale in Berks County? Our powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

Posted in Home Buyers