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!

Nov. 22, 2022

Wishing You All a Happy Thanksgiving

Sending good wishes to all of you this Thanksgiving! Good food that fills your table, good health as you work hard, and good times with family and friends. May you have all the best delights in life. 

Here are a few things in our lives we can show thanks for this week:

  • Family
  • Clean Air
  • Children
  • Friends
  • Music
  • Your Job
  • A Good Laugh
  • Health

May the warm glow of autumn surround you as you celebrate the holiday with family & friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Reading Community
Nov. 15, 2022

Home Improvement Project You Should Avoid Doing Yourself

In general, homeowners in Berks County can save money by doing their own repairs. HomeAdvisor reports that homeowners who install their own linoleum flooring may save as much as $5,000 compared to homeowners who hire contractors. Despite this, there are some projects that are simply too complex, involve too much risk, and require too much specialized knowledge for homeowners to complete on their own.

Damage from Smoke or Fire

A home can be severely damaged by smoke and fire. Almost everything in a house can be damaged by smoke damage, including clothing, upholstery, carpets, and the walls themselves.

While homeowners can use specialty cleaning products to remove soot and replace drywall relatively cheaply, odor removal requires special tools that can be costly to purchase and difficult to rent. Thermal fogging and ozone treatment are two of the most common methods that professionals use to remove the smell from a home.

The average homeowner will pay between $3,000 and $22,000 for smoke damage restoration, but DIY projects may cost even more. When a homeowner fails to complete the job on his or her own, hiring a contractor afterward could raise the cost of the job.

Damage from Wind

Everything on a home can be damaged by wind, from the siding to the roof. Many DIYers take much longer to make repairs than contractors because of the complexity of the work. During that time, the home is vulnerable to damage from rain and the other elements. When homeowners attempt to repair their roofs or siding themselves, they may save on labor, but they could cause other costly problems in the process.

An advantage of hiring a contractor for this work is that he or she will likely have all the tools necessary to do the job as well as a crew of workers. A contractor can repair a damaged roof and siding in a weekend, but a homeowner may take many days or weeks.

Wind damage can cost between $2,000 and $10,000 to repair via a contractor. Homeowners hoping to save money can do some of the work on their own. For example, the homeowner can cut fallen tree branches to a more manageable size, then may haul them away to save on clean-up costs from the contractor.

Mold Damage

Mold is a serious problem that often occurs after a flood. Water damage after a flood can cost between $1,000 and $4,000 to repair, with mold remediation being a large part of that. Angie's List reports that mold remediation can cost between $2,700 and $3,300. Mold remediation costs over $500 should be handled by a licensed contractor because mold remediation can be invasive and could potentially do damage to the home.

Mold remediation involves an assessment of the home, contamination control, source removal and moisture control. This multi-faceted project must be comprehensive, or mold will return.

Homeowners who aren't sure about a DIY project can contact their contractor for more information. Speaking to a contractor can help the homeowner get a sense of how much a project will cost and whether it can be completed as a DIY.

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 Real Estate Advice
Nov. 8, 2022

These Berks County Holiday Markets Will Help You Find the Perfect Gifts

It's time to start looking for the perfect gift for the holidays this year in Berks County. If you want to support local artists and find truly unique gifts, here are a few local Christmas craft shows over the next few weeks to check out.

Saint Catharine Christmas Boutique

Fri, Nov 18 – Sat, Nov 19
St Catharine of Siena Roman Catholic Church
4975 Boyertown Pike, Reading, PA

One the best craft shows in the area to kick off the holiday season! Unique Christmas Shopping! Fabulous Friday night dinner. Great eats! Huge Basket Raffle.

GMMA Holiday Craft Show

Sat, Nov 19, 2 – 8 PM
130 Lancaster Ave, Reading, PA

Come to the Governor Mifflin Middle School and support the Governor Mifflin Music Association by starting your holiday shopping! Handmade crafters will be showcasing their best work. Breakfast and lunch items will be available for purchase. Free entry!

Christmas Craft Show

Sat, Nov 26, 9 AM – Sun, Nov 27, 3 PM
Leesport Farmers Market
312 Gernants Church Rd, Leesport, PA

Holistic Retail, Food, Handmade Jewlery, Candles, Tarot Readers, Reiki Healers, Clothes, Natural Hygiene Products, Alter Pieces, Honey, Tea, Essential Oils, & so much more!! Open Later for Feature Events! CRYSTAL BINGO at 12pm Hosted By Spiritual Findings. RAIN OR SHINE! The event is outside under a large pavilion.

Christmas Makers Market

Sat, Dec 3, 9 AM – 4 PM EST
Events by Kelly's Florist
1051 Cross Keys Road Use driveway between 1033 and, 1029 Cross Keys Rd, Leesport, PA

A collection of makers bringing you hand crafted, curated items. Shop in a heated tent and in the studio if Events by Kellys Florist for your holiday needs. Come shop small!

Winter Wonder Craft Show

Sun, Dec 4, 8 AM – 1 PM
Leesport Farmers Market
312 Gernants Church Rd, Leesport, PA

Come out and shop the final show of the year! We'll have multiple vendors to shop from and maybe you'll find a great gift for a loved one!

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.

Nov. 1, 2022

Tips for Buying Your First Home in Berks County

Are you interested in buying your first home in Berks County? If so, you probably already know that it's a significant investment that can boost your financial life for years.

With that in mind, buying your first home is something you should take seriously. You don't want to buy a home that you don't like or that you'll outgrow in a matter of years. Follow along for several tips on finding the right home you can grow into for the long haul.

Hire a Real Estate Agent

An experienced real estate agent can help you answer these questions and more. They can help you find the perfect home for your budget and needs.

Real estate agents are also an excellent resource for learning about different neighborhoods and what they offer. Hiring a real estate agent is a significant first step if you're looking to buy your first home.

Size 

You need to find a house that is the right size for your needs. If you have a family, you will need to find a place that is big enough for your family.

Location

You want to find a neighborhood in Berks County that you feel comfortable with and is close to the things that are important to you. Take your time to drive around different neighborhoods and get a feel for the area.

Once you have a general idea of the area you want to live in, you can start looking at specific houses. Pay attention to things like the condition of the property and the surrounding area. If you find a home you love, get a professional inspection to ensure there are no hidden problems.

Price

Before you start looking, you will want to know how much you can afford to spend on a new home. There are a few ways to figure out how much you can afford, and you can use a mortgage calculator to help you.

Once you know how much you can afford, you can start looking for homes in your price range. With so many different options and prices, narrowing your search can be daunting, but you can find the home of your dreams with some research.

Must-Haves and Nice-To-Haves

It will help you narrow your search and find the perfect home for you. Your must-haves are the features that are non-negotiable for you, such as a certain number of bedrooms or a specific location.

Your nice-to-haves are the features that would be nice to have, but you're not as adamant about them. For example, you might nice-to-have a fireplace or a dishwasher. Once you know what your must-haves and nice-to-haves are, you can start your search for the perfect home.

Start Buying Your First Home Today

If you want to start buying your first home, you should keep a few things in mind. It would be best if you started by looking for a location you're comfortable with and then started narrowing down your options based on your budget. Size is important, and know your must-haves and nice-to-haves.

Talk to Jeffrey Martin today about how you can realize the dream of owning a home in Berks County. After you've looked at a few houses, you'll be able to make an informed decision about which one is right for 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
Oct. 25, 2022

Choosing the Right Pet Door for Your Berks County Home

Just like humans, our pets need a safe and secure place to live. Pet doors are an ideal way of letting your pets in and out of your home when you aren't home. Not all pet doors are the same, and they serve different needs. Some can install in your door, inserted in a slide door, or be installed in the wall. Some of these are easy to install, while others may need professional installation. Here are some of the types of pet doors to help you find the right one for your home in Berks County.

Installed-in Doors

Installed pet doors usually go in your home's exterior wall leading to the front or back yard. Depending on how deep the wall is, it can be a flap, frame, or even a tunnel. A flapped door will be made from either a plastic or aluminum frame, with between 2-3 flaps for passage. The downside of plastic frames is that they can break easily. Aluminum will expand and contract with temperature changes, but can get warped over time. The good thing with installed doors is that you can buy replacement flaps.

If you decide a tunnel type is the best option, then you should hire a professional carpenter or handyman to drill the door tunnel in your wall so that you don't damage your plumbing or electrical. 

Custom Doors

Custom pet doors are versatile in that they will let your make changes as your pet grows.

Patio Door

If you live in a home in Berks County with a patio door, or don't want to drill holes in your walls or doors, then a patio panel door is a good option. All you have to do is find one that fits the right height of the patio door, then just slip it in. It will let both you and your pets to come in and out easily, making these types very popular. You can also find these doors for sale used, as some people don't need them for long periods if they are renting.

Electronic Doors

Don't want other animals coming into your home? An electronic pet door will solve that issue, as it only lets in pets who are wearing a sensor tag on their collar. Some can even be programmed to only open certain times of the day. This type of door is obviously more expensive, but it can be worth it to protect your home and pets from unfriendly animals. The only trick is that you will need to train your pet how to use it.

Getting the right pet door can save you a lot of trouble having to let your pets in and out all the time, as well as offer them more safety. Any type of door is well worth the cost and effort.

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 Real Estate Advice
Oct. 18, 2022

How to Lower the Interest Rate on a Berks County Home Loan

Currently, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rates are above 6%, up from 2.6% at the beginning of 2021. The cost of buying a home was already high, but now it has become even more difficult.

The Fed has been clear that it will take the necessary steps to cool inflation, which could mean more rate hikes on the horizon and no relief in sight for buyers.

So, what can you do to beat high interest rates on mortgages?

The following strategies could help you get a lower rate on a new home in Berks County if you’re planning to buy.

Use Points

If you pay for discount points upfront, you will be able to lower your mortgage interest rate. A discount point costs 1% of your loan amount. Suppose you are borrowing $300,000, and one discount point costs you $3,000. You would save 25 basis points, or 0.25%.

You can typically buy your rate down by 0.25% for each discount point. You may save more or less depending on your lending company, since lenders set their own pricing.

You need to calculate to see if buying points will work for you. To do this, divide the buydown cost by your monthly savings, which will let you calculate your point of breaking even.

If you’re paying $3,000 for a discount point and save $100 a month on your payment, then your breakeven point would be 30 months. To get back your buydown cost, you have to stay in your home for at least that long.

Think About An Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

Some buyers may consider an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) when interest rates spike like they are now.

The initial interest rate on ARMs is usually fixed for a certain period of time, usually three to ten years after the loan is made. It is called a teaser rate, and it is usually lower than the rate charged on a fixed-rate mortgage.

Once your fixed-rate period ends, the downside is that your rate can be adjusted, which can mean you have a higher rate and monthly payment in the future.

If you stay in your home for a shorter period of time, then an ARM can make sense. There are also lifetime and yearly limits on how much your payment can go up over time.

Make a Bigger Down Payment

Making a larger down payment will make you seem like a less risky borrower, which will result in a lower interest rate. Increasing your down payment will also lower your monthly payment, and if you pay at least 20%, you won't have to pay private mortgage insurance.

Compare Loan Products

You might get a lower interest rate while making little to no down payment if you compare the types of loans you can qualify for, like a VA, FHA, conforming, or USDA loan. FHA loans are cheaper if you have fair to poor credit, but conforming loan rates will usually have lower rates if you have excellent credit.

Get a Shorter-Term Loan

Instead of 30 years, lenders offer 15- or 20-year mortgage loans. In general, 15-year loans offer lower interest rates than 30-year loans by 0.5-0.75%.

With a shorter-term loan, you will also build equity faster and pay less interest.

A shorter-term loan has the disadvantage of higher payments.

Work with a Broker

Working with a mortgage broker instead of a lender or bank might also help you beat high interest rates. Mortgage brokers can help you find the best program for your needs. Frequently mortgage brokers will also get their loans at wholesale prices, and you can gain the advantage of some of those savings as a borrower.

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
Oct. 11, 2022

Kid-Friendly Halloween Decor Tips for Your Berks County Home

Kids love Halloween, and most will tell you so. Of course, many adults also enjoy decorating their homes and getting into the holiday spirit. These tips will help you create a Halloween-friendly setting that oozes seasonal charm in your Berks County home.

Pumpkins and Gourds

Your home's exterior can be dressed up for Halloween without being a DIY expert. Adding pumpkins and gourds of different shapes and sizes to your front steps will improve your house's curb appeal. It is also possible to paint your pumpkins with spooky faces if you do not enjoy carving pumpkins. Create eerie eyes and other simple accents on your pumpkins using glow-in-the-dark paint.

Front Door Wreath

A seasonal wreath is a simple accent, but it's one that brims with warmth and festive charm. A wreath will greet trick-or-treaters as they come to your door, but it will also make for an inviting focal point for potential buyers if you're planning to list your home on the market this autumn. If you really want to wow the kids, replace your fall wreath with a spooky witch or ghost as it gets closer to Halloween.

Spooky Trees

Your trees can add a lot of visual appeal to your outdoor Halloween setting. You can hang a troop of ghosts from low branches of trees on your property with a bit of fishing line and outdoor-friendly fabric. You can also hang other decorations like spider webs, bats and flying witches.

Front Lawn Focal Point

Try to avoid installing decor in your Berks County home that might detract from its beauty if you intend to sell it in the fall. However, you can still make your Halloween focal point blend nicely with your home and landscape. Consider replacing a birdbath with a cauldron surrounded by witch silhouettes instead of a birdbath. A sophisticated display is essential to attracting potential buyers as well as children.

Eerie Living Room

A haunted living room scene can tie the whole room together. Rather than investing in expensive slipcovers or new furnishings, simply deck your furniture out with clean white sheets to create an eerie setting. Add some flickering, battery-operated candles and cobwebs to create an inviting Halloween setting that will work for you even if you're selling your house.

Garage Door

If you are decorating your exterior setting for Halloween, don't ignore your garage door. It is possible to create a beautiful seasonal display using vinyl clings. Put a row of jack-o-lanterns or a bevy of bats on your garage door to make it stand out. Whether or not you intend to sell your home in the fall, a decorated garage can boost the curb appeal of your house.

Decorated Windows

Adding Halloween decorations to your windows can enhance your décor inside and outside. You can add spooky silhouettes to the windows along with some black crepe to create an eye-catching arrangement. If you do have electrical décor, make sure to keep a fire extinguisher close by, just in case.

Halloween Props

Finally, don't forget to add some fun Halloween props to your interior to get into the spirit of the Halloween season. Add some spooky potion bottles to your mantel or shelf, black candles to your candleholders, black flowers to vases and hang fake spiders or ghosts from lighting fixtures. You can also replace your wall hangings with Halloween-inspired pictures that bring a touch of eerie charm to your setting.

Whether you choose to purchase your Halloween decorations or make them yourself, you can enhance the look of your home when you decorate for Halloween. The kids in your Berks County neighborhood are sure to appreciate your outdoor décor just as much as your neighbors and potential buyers.

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 Real Estate Advice
Oct. 4, 2022

Why Berks County Real Estate is a Great Investment

Investing can be confusing when it comes to knowing what type is right for you. The options are endless and there is so much to learn. The market's current behavior, what it might do in the future, and what all of it means. You might be better off investing in real estate in Berks County.

However, even real estate investments can seem intimidating if you're not familiar with the market. Commercial real estate prospecting tools are available to help guide you.

Here are some types of real estate investments to consider before you begin your real estate venture. By doing so, you will be able to figure out which one is right for you.

What types of real estate investments are there?

REITs (real estate investment trusts)

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) offer investors the best of both worlds. Essentially, you are buying a share of the trust's real estate (and profits).

With a REIT, you don't need any prior knowledge of real estate investing, so there's no added stress.

House flipping

It's a great investment type if you're handy with a hammer and love interior design! Many houses on the market have so much potential, but they just need someone with the right eye to see it.

It makes a huge difference to your price point if the property looks well-kept and modern. Often, not much needs to be changed. You can make a good profit margin if you make only cosmetic changes (painting, ripping up old carpets, and modernizing furnishings).

Residential properties

An investment in real estate like this involves renting out a property to young professionals or families. If you do your research on the neighborhoods you're buying in, this can be a great investment.

You're more likely to sell a home with good transportation links and/or schools if it's more affordable in a quieter area.

Commercial properties

Investing in a commercial property can be more of an expensive venture to begin with but the rewards can be worth it. For example, if you purchase an office building, you can rent out each floor to a different company and make your money back that way.

Five reasons to invest in real estate

There are a multitude of reasons why you should consider investing in real estate. Here are the top five:

  1. Boost your income

The biggest reason is, of course, to give you some extra money in your pocket. The financial reward will depend on how smart your investment is so doing your research is key.

  1. Long-term security

Stocks can be temperamental whereas investing in property is more stable. There is always the option to sell the property if it’s no longer serving your financial interests.

  1. Tax Advantages

There are certain tax breaks you can get through your property investment. You can deduct certain expenses such as property taxes, maintenance costs, repair fees and property management fees.

  1. Diversify your assets

It doesn’t make a lot of financial sense to have all your proverbial eggs in one basket. Diversifying your assets brings a certain level of financial security which is never a bad thing.

  1. Chance to build capital

Increasing your cash flow in turn increases your capital. This cash flow is only set to increase, especially if you end up selling your property for a higher price.

The world of investments can be a tricky one to navigate but, with the right prospecting tools and advice, you can achieve your real estate investment goals. Contact Jeffrey Martin today to see how he can help you realize your real estate investment goals.

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.

Sept. 27, 2022

Find the Perfect Pumpkin at These Berks County Pumpkin Patches and Corn Mazes

Fall is in full swing and it's time to get to picking out the perfect pumpkin for Halloween or enjoying a walk through a corn maze. Here are some local farms in Berks County that offer the full fall farm experience. 

Duncan's Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch

30 Quarry Rd, Robesonia, PA 19551

Bring your family or schedule an event for a large group. Enjoy the corn maze, roast hot dogs and smores in our private campfire section, visit the pumpkin patch, or schedule a private hayride.

Wilcox Farms

1134 Reading Ave, Boyertown, PA 19512

Family owned and operated Farm Market for 4 Generations. In the Fall, come enjoy navigating through the large 8-mile corn maze. For the young ones or slightly less adventurous, try the 1-mile corn maze. Take a relaxing hayride through our fields before stopping back at the market to find the perfect pumpkin. Don’t forget your corn stalks, straw bale, gourds, and bows to complete your display. Come inside and check out awesome new items, including yard stakes, carving kits, and other fall goodies!

Grim's Orchard & Family Farms

9875 Schantz Rd, Breinigsville, PA 18031

Grim's Orchard and Family Fun Farm located in Breinigsville PA offers a Fall Festival every fall with pumpkin picking, corn maze, hayride and more! During the spring, summer and fall there are fresh fruits and vegetables to pick and beautiful flowers to pick as well. They offer something for everyone on our farm.

Savidge Farms

1710 State St, Mertztown, PA 19539

They offer everything you need to get your home ready for fall. They grow pumpkins of all shapes and sizes and grow multiple beautiful color choices of chrysanthemums. They also sell corn stalks, straw bales, and Indian corn. There's also lots of free activities for the kids including the triple harvester playground, multiple corn boxes to play in, educational boards, a milking simulator, and hay climb. 

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
Sept. 20, 2022

Should You Buy a Fixer-Upper in Berks County?

Buying a fixer-upper in Berks County, if you buy the right one, can really be a great investment. And with home prices as high as they are and limited inventory, more home buyers are considering it. If the right things are wrong with a house, it can become both your dream home, as well as earn a great deal of equity.

You don't need to be a DIY guru wither. Patience and time are all that's needed.

Here's how you can tell if that home you're looking at fixing up is worth it.

Evaluate the Price

A fixer-upper should be priced as such. Try not to fall in love too quickly with a home that “just needs a little TLC.” make sure you do your research and make sure the price is right for the work needed.

Also look at other homes in the neighborhood to see how much they sold for and how much work they've had and how fancy they are. you don't want to over-improve for the neighborhood, as this could affect the selling price in the future if you decide to sell.

Start Evaluating What Improvements Are Needed

An ideal fixer-upper is a home that offers a lot of opportunities for “instant equity." This means that if your turned around and sold the home right away, you would get your money back.

Some improvement tasks can be as simple as painting or landscaping, which you can accomplish with sweat equity.

Other tasks may require the work of professionals and cash to pay them. It’s those projects you want to carefully evaluate against the home’s price.

Which Hire-a-Pro Projects Add Instant Equity?

Some home improvement projects that require a pro stay at the top of the list of things that will be worth the cost instantly.

Based on data gleaned from the “Remodeling Impact Report” (RIR) from the National Association of REALTORS®’, if these three projects are on your fixer-upper’s list of must-haves, then you may have found your dream equity-builder:

  • New roof
  • Hardwood floors
  • Insulation

While those three are pretty safe bets. Almost any project can be worth it with a fixer-upper if the price is right. For example, a complete kitchen renovation can cost $65,000 and recover only about $40,000 when you sell. But if the fixer-upper is discounted enough, think how amazing it would be to cook in a kitchen you designed yourself.

Evaluate Your Ability to Deal with Disruption

Whether you’re a DIY Jedi or content to let the pros handle the remodel, if your patience is shorter than your potential home’s to-do list, a fixer-upper may not be a good choice.

Renovating a bathroom alone can take two to three weeks. Add hardwood flooring, a new kitchen, and siding, and you’re looking at a whole summer’s worth of rehab.

When considering a fixer-upper, evaluate the limits of your emotional energy as well. Inevitable project pitfalls and delays can be wearing. Only if you have the time, patience, and emotional endurance for a fixer-upper will it be a good fit for you. And only you can determine that.

But if you can budget your time and money, and employ the right fixer-upper strategies, you might find yourself with a double reward: A Berks County home that’s worth far more than you paid, and the joy of knowing you helped get it there.

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