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!

Feb. 23, 2021

Sleep Tight on Your Own Hotel Bed

With the pandemic dragging on, you might be thinking about how great it was to stay at some of the better hotels on your vacations and sleep in those comfy beds. But what if you could have one of those beds in your own home right here in Berks County? Well, you can! Here's a list of hotels with the best beds and how you can get your own. Now you won't have to feel left out because you can't travel. And you can get better sleep, with leads to better health overall.

Westin

If you’ve slept in a Westin hotel room, you know how comfy their Heavenly Bed is. You can order the mattress and box spring, and all the accessories, to create this wonderland at home. 

Bed: $995 for a twin to $2,395 for California King

Details: 13-inch mattress with plush, pillow-top construction; choice of standard or low-profile box spring 

Extras: Mattress pad, feather pillows, white stripe sheets sets, and a variety of other accoutrements also available.

Sheraton

Get the Sheraton Sleep Experience for "a whole new level of comfort." 

Bed: $995 for a twin to $2,295 for California King

Details: The 13-inch plush mattress has pillow-top construction and is available in your choice of standard or low-profile box spring. 

Extras: Upgrade to the Signature Bed and Bedding Set to deck out the bed, priced from $2,826 to $3,8 or the Deluxe Bed and Bedding Set, which includes cotton sateen sheets and pillowcases and is “curated with everything you need for luxurious sleep…top off your bed with four hotel pillows, a down alternative comforter and duvet cover, and our signature diamond down blanket,” for $2,916 to $3,891.

Four Seasons

Everything about a stay at the Four Seasons is luxurious, and you can bring the experience home with you. 

Bed: Priced from $1,949 to $3,999.

Details: Available in three styles: Signature, Signature Plush, or Signature Firm, these “state-of-the-art mattresses and sustainable wood foundations are designed with maximum comfort in mind.”

Extras: You can also purchase a replacement zippered firm mattress topper, priced from $549 to $649.

Hilton

Bring home the Serta bed that puts you right to sleep when you stay at Hilton hotels.

Bed: The Hilton Mattress and Box Spring is priced from $1,195 to $1,995. 

Details: Manufactured by Serta, this bed offers extra coil support and a plush top on both sides.

Extras: Upgrade to the Hotel Stripe Bed and Bedding Set for $2,698 to $3,446 or Cotton Bed and Bedding Set for $3,046 to $3,566.

Marriott

Marriot’s innerspring bed is a traveler’s favorite. And you can live it up every night. 

Bed: Mattress and box spring sets ranges from $1,3450 to $1,825.

Details: This 12-inch mattress comes with either a standard or low-profile box spring. Extras: Five different bedding sets are available, which can raise the price to as much as $2,937.

W Hotel

Bring the luxurious slumber of the W Hotel into your bedroom.

Bed: Choose the plush Pillowtop mattress or firmer Euro Top mattress for $1,299 to $2,120.

Details: Each mattress measures 13” with a standard of low-profile box spring.

Extras: Add a luxe bedding set, which brings the price to $3,066 to $3,797. The W Hotel bed collection also includes several platform beds to house your new mattress.

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
Feb. 16, 2021

How to Save Money for a Down Payment

Is saving for a down payment holding you back from buying a home in Berks County?

You must dedicate yourself to a goal and be able to sacrifice for it. Frequently that's easier said than done. However, if you monitor your spending and lifestyle habits, you can determine where you are overspending in order to create a large enough reserve to comfortably buy a home without feeling totally deprived.

Here are six money-saving tips that can help you save money every month. Start with a new sheet of paper or a physical document, which you can refer to frequently. This way, you will be motivated to work at it.

Write down what you owe versus what you earn.

Understand how much you are bringing in and how much are you spending. That alone will save you money since you will know where it is going and where it is not necessary.

Consider unnecessary recurring expenses.

Maybe you have an expensive gym membership, but you simply don't use it that often. Get rid of it and find a workout buddy and a free fitness center. Or do you have an audio or video membership that's being wasted? Sure, it might be $20 a month, but it adds up over a year.

Try listening to podcasts. They're free! There are a lot of podcasters out there who are very entertaining and offer great information, including business and personal development resources.

Stop the coffee run each morning.

Take a look at the numbers. That fancy coffee drink can cost $40 every week, especially if you add a bakery treat. 

Cut back on eating out or dine out early.

Make more home-cooked meals so you can save leftovers for lunches. If you do decide to go out to eat, eat earlier in the day. You can usually take advantage of having the same great meal at a cheaper price by ordering off the happy hour menu. Nowadays, a lot of people would rather save and live lean. 

Start a side job.

If you're working a full-time job, evaluate what skills you have and inquire about starting a freelance business. 

There are a lot of individuals earning money online, many of whom are working from home. Determine where and how you can earn your side income and explore your options. This could even turn into a full-time job.

Use momentum to pay back your debt. 

Work hard to pay off the cards with the highest interest first, then transfer your payment from that card to another card. By transferring your payment from the paid-off card to another balance, you'll get your next card paid down even faster.

Make sure that you don't add to your debt while you're saving for the deposit. Once you save enough for your deposit, you’ll also want to remember to save for any emergency repairs or unexpected crisis that might arise. Also, ensure that this process is a pleasant experience, not one that is painful. Focus on the end in sight, and remember that the decisions you make today have implications for your future, including whether or not you will ever become a homeowner.

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
Feb. 9, 2021

Changing Lenders: What is Involved?

Are you getting the feeling that you went with the wrong lender when you bought your home in Berks County?

For whatever reason, you might gain the feeling that you chose the wrong mortgage lender. Or maybe more specifically, you picked the wrong loan officer. A mortgage lender’s reputation depends on the performance of its staff. A mortgage company can spend a lot of money marketing its services, but a bad loan officer is all it takes to make a borrower regret their choice.

Here are some things to expect if you decide to switch mortgage lenders.

First, even though you submitted all your documentation and completed the loan application, you are not under any obligation to continue working with the loan company. You can pull the plug at any time. Perhaps you thought the rate you locked in was locked in and the market rates were higher than what you expected. Or, perhaps, getting a return phone call from your loan officer seems impossible. Why not turn around?

One thing to understand is that the lender cannot simply send your loan documentation with all your pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, and the like, to the new mortgage company. If you want to switch banks, you’ll need to apply for a loan directly with the new bank. Once you’ve completed your application, the bank will give you everything you need to close, exactly as you did with the first bank. Even if you could, the documents are likely too old to be used. A credit report and pay stubs must be within the last 30 days. If you switch mid-stream, it will take more time for your loan to be approved.

Making a change also means you cannot take the old appraisal with you as well, even if you paid for it the first time around. So even though you paid for the valuation, it belongs to the lender now. The lender’s name will be on the front of the appraisal report, not yours. It’s even possible to get a ‘re-type’ appraisal, where the name of the lender will be changed after the initial appraisal, but that’s unusual. A new mortgage lender will request a new appraisal and order one through one of their appraisal management companies.

You may discover that the rate they locked in at is now higher than the rates that other mortgage companies are offering. This is certainly a reason to consider switching lenders, but it’s also possible your current lender will want the opportunity to quote you a new rate in order to retain your business. You may not get the lowest rate, but it’ll be close.

Changing lenders will require you to take the very same steps you already did the first time. Just be patient, work with your new loan officer, and move on.

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
Feb. 2, 2021

Liven Your Living Space With a Throw Rug

So many times when we think about changing up our homes in Berks County, we think about making major changes. We might exhaust ourselves searching for the perfect paint color, couch, window coverings, and accessories. But many people overlook a huge change that takes little effort: the throw rug.

Throw rugs have been around for centuries, and they are still  a great way to change up a room with minimal effort and cost. Here are some ways you can find the right rug for your home in Berks County.

Color

Do you want something subtle, bold, or in the middle? You might not know until you see it. However, if the pattern of your room is busy, you might consider a single-color rug that complements your existing furnishings.

If you want a multi-shade rug, it's generally easier to pick it first, and then select furniture and accessories that coordinate with it later.

Size

Larger is not always better, especially for dining and living rooms. For dining and living rooms, look at the dimensions of your furniture - take the surface area of your dining room table - and add 6 feet to it. If your dining room table is 3' x 6', then you'll need a 9' x 12' carpet. The goal is to be able to pull back the dining room chair from the table without the legs extending out of the rug.

In the living room, the front legs of all furniture should be on the rug as much as possible. In the bedroom, at least three or four feet of open rug is preferable on all 3 sides of the bed.

A good tip for determining rug size is to measure the room and subtract 1.5 feet. This will leave 9 inches of floor exposed on each side. However, keep in mind that most rugs on the market come in standard sizes: 6' x 9', 8' x 10', 9' x 12', 10' x 14', and 12' x 15'. If you don't want something made-to-order, then find the closest size to the one you need.

Texture

A well-designed space has layers, and a rug adds a layer of texture while also amplifying the design profile.

Mixing textures in a room makes it enjoyable and rich, and by paying attention to the texture of your rug, you can set the tone. Let the finishes of your existing furniture guide you, and aim for contrast. With a velvet couch, something smooth and hard might be best, while a sleek leather sofa looks great on a thick, fluffy pile.

Wearability and factors, like how easy it is to clean, should weigh in when making your choice. And you may also want to consider whether you prefer natural or synthetic fibers.

Price

An heirloom rug can cost thousands, but that doesn't mean you have to blow your budget.

Stores like Target, HomeGoods, Lowe's, and Home Depot, as well as online stores like Mayfair and Overstock, are great places to turn to for inexpensive rugs that reflect the latest trends as well as some classic versions.

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
Jan. 26, 2021

What Happens When You Close on a Home in Berks County?

Buying a home in Berks County is one of the most significant things you may do in your lifetime. There are many steps in the home buying process. The last step of the home buying process is usually the closing. What should you expect when the house closes?

Closing dates are defined in a contract before an offer is accepted by a seller, at which point the earnest money is paid, and then you close.

A closing date can be a few weeks or months after an offer has been formally accepted, depending on how much time is needed to finalize the transaction. Being ready will accelerate the closing date.

Go Over Your Closing Contingencies

You will have to ensure all closing contingencies are addressed. These frequently include home inspections and appraisals, loan paperwork, and homeowner’s insurance.

Your agent is usually responsible for booking the final walkthrough. This typically takes place about 24 hours prior to closing. This is not the same as an inspection. During this time, the occupant should have moved out. The condition of the home should match what you agreed on.

Common Problems That Delay Closings

As was previously mentioned, to get to a closing date can take weeks or even months. Knowing what some of the most common hurdles are can help you avoid them. The most frequent reasons for delay include:

• Appraisal problems
• Loan issues—preapproval can help you avoid this
• Problems with the home inspection
• Issues that arise during the walkthrough
• Problems with the paperwork

Closing Costs

Once your closing date is reached, there are closing costs. These are fees associated with the purchase of your new home that must be paid before the closing can be completed.

Closing costs tend to include appraisal fees, attorney expenses, and your premium for your homeowners’ insurance. Overall, closing costs usually amount to about 3 to 4% of the purchase price of your new home.

Your lender should send a Closing Disclosure to you at least three business days before your closing date. This will list all the final costs and payments, who pays each one, and what you pay to the lender and title company. Make sure these reflect the numbers you received in your Loan Estimate.

What Happens on the Day?

At your actual closing, you’ll need to bring your photo ID, any documents that still need to be delivered to the mortgage company or title company, as well as a certified or cashier’s check. The check must be made out to the title or closing company. The check will cover any closing costs not already deducted from the sales price.

On closing day, you as the buyer will make the actual payment to the title company for all costs associated with the transaction.

Once you have signed a few things including a mortgage note that outlines the costs related to the sale, a settlement statement saying you promise to repay the loan, and a mortgage or deed of trust, the title company will register the deed in your name .

As soon as the paperwork is complete, you may be able to move in to your new home, unless the seller has requested different terms. These terms will already have been in your contract.

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
Jan. 19, 2021

Stay Warm This Winter While You Help Support Berks County Coffee Shops

With temperatures dipping below freezing this week in Berks County, you no doubt are looking for ways to keep warm. One great way to warm up, and perk up, is to grab a hot caffeinated beverage at one of the many fine coffee shops in Reading. There's something for every taste to help you get your morning started. And it's a chance to help local business stay afloat during these hard times. Here's a few of the best places to get coffee in the Reading area.

Benchwarmer's Coffee & Doughnuts

400 Penn Ave, West Reading, PA 19611

Takeout / Delivery

Whether it's just a good old cup of coffee and a doughnut, or a finely crafted espresso, Benchwarmer's lives up to it's name. They have a great variety of specialty baseball themed doughnuts, such as the D. Strawberry made with chocolate and fresh strawberries, or you can craft your own doughnut with a choice of toppings.

Wild Sage Coffee & Kitchen

731 Washington St, Reading, PA 19601

Curbside pickup / No-contact delivery

Bright, tranquil coffee shop providing espresso, coffee & seasonal, organic breakfast/lunch plates.

Cafe Sweet Street

722 Hiesters Ln, Reading, PA 19605

Dine-in / Curbside pickup / Delivery

Locally sourced American entries, plus pizza & dessert, in an industrial-chic space with a terrace.

Cafe BOLD

550 Penn Ave, West Reading, PA 19611

Dine-in / Takeout

You can enjoy breakfast all day, along with sandwiches and wraps, salads, and of course, a a wide range of espresso drinks. You can also buy beans and a wide variety of coffee-related items from their store.

Coffee Beanery

1665 State Hill Rd, Wyomissing, PA 19610

Located in the Berkshire Mall, this counter-service coffeehouse chain features espresso & blended drinks plus light breakfast & lunch fare.

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
Jan. 12, 2021

Save Money on Your Kitchen Remodel

If you asked most home owners in Berks County what the most important room in the house is, no doubt many would say it's the kitchen. That's why the kitchen is such a huge selling point that it can make or break a deal. In fact, a home with a remodeled kitchen can sell up to 8% faster, according to Realtor.com.

In older homes, the kitchen was kept in the background to reduce heat and control odors. But times have changed, bringing the kitchen to the forefront of the modern home. That's why your kitchen is such an important room, and how it looks and operates makes such a huge difference.

If you plan to remodel your kitchen soon, here are some tips to help save money.

Choose mid-range efficient appliances 

There's no law saying you must buy the most expensive appliances for your kitchen, especially if you plan to sell your home soon. There's a great range of affordable, practical, energy-efficient appliances that look amazing.

When you choose your appliances, keep an eye on consistency of how they look together. In other words, try to stick with one brand and appearance. Stainless steel is the way to go, as it gives your kitchen a high-end and modern look.

Opt for affordable yet durable counter materials 

When home buyers walk into a kitchen, they will usually look at the counters first, since that's is where all the work happens, and they make up for most of the look of your kitchen. The counters should dictate the look of the rest of your kitchen, such as the cabinetry, room furnishings, and color scheme. 

To save money on granite countertops, you can get away with granite that has a rating of 2, as opposed to 3. This difference won't usually be noticed by most buyers, and can save you a good deal of money, offering a greater return on investment.

Another way to go is with laminate countertops. They look like granite, but without the higher cost. In the past, you wouldn't be able to install an under-mount sink in a laminate countertop, but designs have changed and now you can. Laminate hovers at an affordable $5 to $30/sq. ft.

Quartz (an engineered stone) and concrete countertops are other cost-saving options. The average cost of quartz is $55 to $200/sq. ft. and concrete runs $75 to $200/sq. ft. Resurfacing an older countertop with tile is another option. This project typically costs around $10 to $70/sq. ft. 

Go for a cosmetic upgrade instead of a whole cabinet replacement

When it comes to upgrading your cabinets, you don't have to replace them completely. A complete cabinet replacement can run into the thousands of dollars. Instead, think about resurfacing them. You can even make it a DIY project and save even more money.

If you absolutely need to replace your cabinets, you can go with veneer models instead of real wood. you can expect to spend around $70 to $100 per linear foot for budget cabinets.

When it comes to hardware for your cabinets, you can also save money, as you don't need to spend a ton of money. You can really define your price range with hardware, as you can spend as little as $1 for knobs and hinges.

Remodeling your kitchen is a great way to increase the value of your home. Just make sure you don't eat up that profit by spending too much.

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
Jan. 5, 2021

Affordable Ways to Stage Your Home for Sale in Berks County

Are you planning to put your home on the Berks County market? If so, now is the perfect opportunity to stage your home. With many people concerned about saving money and resources, what are some ways to stage your home without spending a fortune? The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get your home ready to sell without spending hardly anything.

Staging your home effectively is crucial to selling your home quickly and getting the best sale price.  Here are some affordable ways to stage your home to sell fast.

Put away the family photos.

The first rule of home staging is to make your home look as clean of a slate as possible so that buyers can envision how it would look if they bought it. Removing personal items is key to achieving that goal. That means you should remove family photos from walls and rooms. But you don't need to remove absolutely all of them, as you don't want your home looking too sterile.

Remove the memorabilia.

Memorabilia is another personal effect that should be removed. Not only does this de-personalize your home, but you never know if buyers will love or hate your collection. The goal is not to distract the buyer from the real attraction - your home.

Also, if you have themed rooms, such as a sports or superhero themed room for the kids, you should change those as well to a neutral look. Again, you never know what will put a buyer off, especially if they don't like your favorite team.

Throw slipcovers over old furniture.

If you have older furniture, you can spruce it up with a slipcover. It's an affordable way to state your furniture.

Give rooms a purpose.

You should try to give each room in your house a different purpose, like a child’s room, a nursery, an office, etc. So if you have a 3-bedroom house, you can turn one room into an office and another into a children's room to show how your home can be used by potential buyers.  

Clear the clutter.

Clutter does nothing to help your home look presentable. Yet if you've lived in your home for years, you may not have a clear view of what would constitute clutter. Your agent can help you identify items that should be removed to make your home look clutter-free. You should focus on closets and the garage, as these are key areas for clutter to build up.

Clean.

Last but not least - clean. And don't just do your normal cleaning. Clean every square inch and surface you can get your hands on. This is one of the cheapest ways to stage your home.

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
Dec. 29, 2020

New Years Resolutions for Your Berks County Home

Ah yes, it's time for new years resolutions. Most people make resolutions about their health or habits. Why not make them about your home? Maybe some things in your Berks County home need attention. 

New years resolutions are notoriously hard to keep. But maybe making a resolution to improve your home can be a resolution you can keep in 2021.

Here are some ideas to get your started.

Declutter

Does of the sound of decluttering give you anxiety? What if you deal with clutter in smaller chunks? You can tackle one room per month, getting rid of anything that you don’t use, don’t need, and don’t even like anymore. 

Bust out your new 2021 calendar (we know you've already hung it on the wall) and initiate it with a decluttering schedule for each month. This will help remind you to stick to the schedule and make it happen.

Home maintenance

There are not doubt some appliances and items that could use attention in your home. It may just be little things, but they all add up to make drive you crazy.

Prioritize 

You've been dying to redo the bonus room, but updates in the kitchen will add the most value. Of course, the bathrooms also need do-overs, and you can probably do two or even three of them for the price of the kitchen renovation. 

When you think about all the things in your home that need fixing or redoing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and default to doing nothing. Here’s what helps: sit down and make a list in three columns: big fixes, medium fixes, little fixes. Now give them a priority number, based on what you really want, need, and can pay for. Seeing it on paper—or on screen—should shed some light on what you can do, and in what order. 

Keep up with home maintenance

Once your home is in pretty good shape, establishing a maintenance checklist can help you keep it that way. A maintenance checklist outlines the systems and components of the home that should be checked on an annual, semi-annual, monthly or weekly basis.

Improve your curb appeal

Working on your curb appeal mostly just takes effort more than money to make your yard look great. A good cleaning, raking, pulling weeds, pruning trees, trimming bushes, and painting the front door will go a long way to make your home's exterior stand out. And if you decide to sell you home, it will make a great impression on potential Berks County home buyers.

Ask for help

Asking for help isn’t easy for many of us, regardless of the task. You may think you can’t impose on a good friend or family member to help with painting a room or organizing a closet. But would you do it for them? If the answer is, unequivocally, “Yes,” perhaps you should bite the bullet and ask. An offer of pizza and beer in return can sweeten the deal. 

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
Dec. 23, 2020

Happy Holidays!

The holiday season is all about family, friends, and a cozy home in which to enjoy them all.

We wish you all of these things for this holiday season.

Thank you to all of our clients in Berks County for trusting us to help you with your real estate needs over the past year. We look forward to another year of helping people realize their dreams.

Happy Holidays!

Posted in Reading Community