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!

Sept. 2, 2019

What to Know About Your Credit Before Buying a Home in Berks County

It's no secret that your credit is a huge factor in buying a home in Berks Count, or anywhere. It's a fact of life, and for good reason.

Lenders need to know how much they can trust you to make payments for the next few decades, and that is determined by your credit score.

Your credit score can save or cost you thousands of dollars when buying a home.

How much can this score impact you and what are the details behind this score?

How Your Score is Calculated

Your FICO credit score is comprised of five elements.

  1. How you pay your bills makes up 35% of this score. Paying on time adds points. Late payments take points away. Since this makes up a large portion of your score, make sure you pay bills on time.
  2. 30% of your score is based on your credit utilization ratio. This means how much you owe as part of the amount of credit you have available. The lower this ratio, the better.
  3. 15% is based on the length of your credit history. When did you open your first account (and is it still open)?
  4. 10% of your score goes to the type of credit you have such as credit cards or car loans and mortgages.
  5. The last 10% is impacted by new credit applications. How often and for what types of credit are you applying?

Where to Find Your Score and Report

There are many websites that offer credit scores, but the best ones that offer them for free are annualcreditreport.com or creditkarma.com

Make sure you check those reports for fraud or bad information. Contact both credit reporting agencies and the company reporting inaccurate information if you find anything incorrect.

How Your Score Can Cost You

Credit scores range from 300 to 850. There can be varying determinations of what is considered good or excellent credit. Generally you want a score higher than 720 to be considered "excellent."

The higher your credit score, the more creditworthy you appear to lenders, which translates into lower interest rates and more money saved when taking out a loan.

Having a solid credit score is one of the most financially savvy tools for you to have on hand when it comes to buying a home. When managed wisely, your credit score will bring you confidence, peace of mind, and more money saved via low interest rates.

When mismanaged or not cared for at all, your credit score can delay your success in meeting financial goals and result in additional funds and resources spent correcting past mistakes.

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

Posted in Home Buyers
Aug. 26, 2019

Have a Fun and Happy Labor Day Weekend in Berks County

Labor Day is just around the corner, so it's time to plan for fun this Labor Day weekend in Berks County and the surrounding area. Summer may be coming to a close, but the fun sure isn't! Here's a few events coming up this Labor day weekend to help your family get the most our of the end of Summer.

Food Truck Friday
Friday, August 30, 2019 from 05:00 pm to 08:00 pm
Classic Harley-Davidson at 983 James Drive, Leesport

Come out to Classic every Friday, April through October, from 5:00 - 8:00 and grab a bite to eat from one of the areas best food trucks.

54th Annual Duryea Day
Saturday, August 31, 2019 from 09:00 am to 04:00 pm
Boyertown Community Park at 417 Madison Street, Boyertown

Held in beautiful Boyertown Community Park, Duryea Day is a well-established event that attracts hundreds of cars, trucks and motorcycles from all decades. Music, great food and children’s entertainment make this a family-friendly and affordable event. 

The Carousel at Pottstown
Saturday, August 31, 2019 from 12:00 pm to 05:00 pm
The Carousel at Pottstown at 30 West King Street, Pottstown

Come ride the second oldest operating Philadelphia Toboggan Company wooden carousel in the United States.  Open Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Doodlebug Days
Sunday, September 1, 2019 from 11:00 am to 03:00 pm
Allentown & Auburn Railroad at 232 Railroad Street, Kutztown

Take a ride in the historic Pennsy Doodlebug. Enjoy a 45 minute long ride through the scenic Kutztown countryside!

Have a Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Make sure to visit our blog every week for more local Berks County articles and real estate advice. Looking for the perfect home in Berks County? Our convenient and powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

Aug. 19, 2019

Easing the Transition of Going Back to School in Berks County

Can you believe it's almost time to send your young ones back to school? September 5 is when most kids go back to schools in Berks County. This can be quite a busy time for parents as you get your kids back into the groove of going back to school. Here are a few ways you can ease the transition.

Use a Family Calendar

You can help keep everyone on the same page with a family calendar. School activities and sports can really put your schedule to the test. You can post a large paper calendar and use different colors for each kid's activities. And yes, there's an app for that if the kids are more glued to their devices. Cozi is an app that is perfect for this task.

Keep Dinner Simple

No we're not talking about microwave dinners, but you can make cooking healthy dinners easier. You can try doing your shopping and meal planning on the weekend. Or you can sign up for a meal kit service such as Hello Fresh or Blue Apron and have your ingredients delivered right to you.

Setting a New Pace

Most kids don't wake up at the crack of dawn during summer. So now is a great time to get them to adjust to a new schedule before school starts in Berks County. You can try adjusting the times they go to be and wake up gradually so they're more ready to wake up when school starts (or at least in theory).

Reduce Stress

School is usually stressful, especially if your child is going to a new school. Make sure to talk with them to see what may be stressing them out. Even if it seems like a little thing to you, it may be a big deal for them.

Come back to our blog every week for more real estate advice, along with local Berks County articles. Looking for the perfect home in Berks County? Our convenient and powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

Aug. 12, 2019

Upcoming August Events in Berks County

It's hard to believe, but summer is coming to a close. But don't let that stop you from enjoying the warm weather and good times in Berks County. So here are a few events coming up in Berks County to help you and your family get the most out of the rest of summer.

Permian Monsters
Reading Public Museum
Friday, August 16 from 11:00 am to 05:00 pm

View fossilized skeletons and reconstructed models of amazing creatures that dominated land and sea. Learn about the greatest extinction the world has ever seen. This unique exhibition blends art and science with artwork offering a glimpse back in time through the eyes of award winning paleo-artist Julius Csotonyi. 

Reading Fightin Phils vs. Trenton Thunder | Last Saturday Night Fireworks Show
FirstEnergy Stadium
Friday, August 16 from 07:10 pm to 09:30 pm
Saturday, Aug 17, 6:45 PM

The first place R-Phils return home for their final set of weekend games August 16-18. Come out on Sat, August 17 for the final Saturday night fireworks show of the season following the game.

West Reading Farmer's Market
West Reading
Sunday, August 18 from 09:00 am to 01:00 pm

The West Reading Farmers’ Market features the very best in locally grown produce, sustainably raised meats, poultry and farm fresh eggs, artisan baked goods including breads and desserts, value-added products made with locally sourced ingredients and more. 

Rail Diesel Car Excursions
Reading Outer Station
Saturday, August 24 from 09:00 am to 06:00 pm

Enjoy a day trip from Reading to Jim Thorpe by rail.  Once in historic Jim Thorpe you have 3 1/2 hours to explore attractions, shops and restaurants. The RDC trains run every Saturday and Sunday in June, July, August, September, and November from Reading Outer Station, stopping at Port Clinton, on the way to Jim Thorpe.

Make sure to visit our blog every week for more local Berks County articles and real estate advice. Looking for the perfect home in Berks County? Our convenient and powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

Aug. 5, 2019

Add Value to Your Berks County Home With Basement Insulation

If you plan to sell your home in Berks County, you want to make sure that it's energy efficient. Modern buyers are more concerned about saving energy and reducing monthly energy bills.

One place that can get overlooked when insulating your home for sale is the basement. People think that since hot air rises, that you want to just insulate the upper levels. And yes, you should.

Yet the basement can lose as much as 30% of your energy. If you stop that loss, you can save hundreds of dollars per year on heating and cooling costs.

Where to add basement insulation

There are two places to add basement insulation. You can treat the basement as an indoor space and add the insulation to the walls. Or you can treat it as an outdoor space and add it to the ceiling. If you chose the latter, you also need to close off all vents in the basement, particularly vents on your furnace unit and on exposed HVAC ducts.

Adding insulation to basement ceilings

Insulating your basement ceiling is a straightforward job. Use fiberglass batt insulation designed to fit between framing members. Figure a cost of $.50 to $2 per square foot to have a professional install 6 to 12 inches of fiberglass insulation.

Adding insulation to basement walls

Though floor insulation is more common, wall insulation has advantages over ceiling insulation:

  • Efficiency—ceiling insulation often is compressed by many wires, pipes, and ducts that inhabit the floor joists, reducing effectiveness.
  • Gained living space—insulating basement walls usually makes basements more habitable and usable on a daily basis.

Adding insulation to your basement walls requires one of two basic methods:

Build and insulate a stud wall

If you plan on using your basement to live in, building and insulating a stud wall is a great idea, as you can then run electrical and plumbing. You can then cover the wall with drywall and create a nice wall.

To insulate a stud wall, fill the stud cavities with regular fiberglass batt insulation. To prevent damage to the wall from trapped moisture, most building codes require installing a vapor barrier on the warmest (inside) side of the wall.

Install rigid foam sheathing directly against the basement wall

To prevent air infiltration and moisture problems, the seams between the rigid foam sheathing should be sealed with moisture-proof tape.

Codes often dictate that exposed foam sheathing be covered with an acceptable fire barrier, typically a layer of half-inch-thick drywall. Apply furring strips to the sheathing, then install a layer of drywall. Or, build a stud wall against the foam sheathing, fill the stud wall with unfaced fiberglass insulation, and cover with drywall. Both methods yield finished walls for your basement.

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. Make to visit to our blog every week for more real estate advice, along with local Berks County articles. 

Posted in Real Estate Advice
July 29, 2019

A Clean Attic Helps Sell Your Home Faster

Want a way to get more money from selling your home in Berks County? A clean attic can make a big difference. 

You may just think of your unfinished attic as storage, so who cares if it's clean. But it can be a huge collector of junk and dirt. Whether you sell your home or not, a clean attic can make a big difference in the usefulness of your home. It can also impact your health for better or worse.

All that dust, dander, and mold can add up and irritate your lungs, and possibly make you sick. These allergens come into the rest of the house through ceiling hatches, doors, recessed lights, and heating and cooling systems (especially if they’re located in your attic).

Cleaning your attic will also let you put some great ideas to work to get more from this often neglected space.

Here's some helpful tips to get that attic clean and being a more useful space.

Attic Cleaning Basics

  • Dust walls, window frames, and rafters with an electrostatically charged cloth (think Swiffer) or duster, which grab twice as much dust as cotton cloths. Don’t forget to dust exposed roof trusses, attic fan blades, light bulbs, fixtures, hatches, and door frames.
  • Vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter vacuum cleaner, which channels all vacuumed air through a filter designed to remove even microscopic particles. A less expensive choice: Install a top-quality, high-efficiency filter bag in your vacuum.
  • Line shop vacuums with a plastic bag, which traps irritants and makes debris disposal easy.
  • Wear a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) mask, which filters a high percentage of airborne particles.
  • If you suffer from asthma and allergies, hire a professional to remove the debris. There's no reason to risk your life. A clean attic is even more important for your health, but the cleaning process can be even more risky if you deal with asthma and allergies. A professional can remove that risk and make your attic a safer place for you.

Keeping Irritants Out of Your Attic

Preventing mold growth and sealing out insects and vermin helps reduce irritants in your attic.

Mold: Moisture can leak into your attic from a number of sources, such as roof leaks and old caulking. After a big storm, inspect your roof for missing shingles and fix any missing or broken ones immediately.

Don’t bother buying a home mold test kit, which may register mold spores that are constantly in the air anyway. If you suspect mold, or can see a mold-covered area that’s larger than about 10 sq. ft., call a certified indoor air quality professional to evaluate your situation.

Dust: Many of those tiny dust mites you see floating around are really dust mite particles, roach parts, and vermin dander made of dried saliva, urine, and feces.

These dust proteins can trigger allergic reactions, so search for tiny cracks and openings in your roof, walls, and windows where vermin and insects can enter. Seal attic air leaks with caulk and polyurethane foam, and repair any holes in attic ventilation screens that are under the eaves and in gable ends.

A clean attic can pay huge dividends and help you sell your home in Berks County even faster. It's definitely worth your time and effort.

Come back to our blog every week for more real estate advice, along with local Berks County articles. Looking for the perfect home in Berks County? Our convenient and powerful home search tool will help you find the home of your dreams. 

Posted in Real Estate Advice
July 22, 2019

The Top High Schools in Berks County

Your kids may not be too keen on the idea of returning to school, but as a parent, it's no doubt on your mind already. This is no doubt true if you plan to buy a home in Berks County. If you want to know where the best high schools are, websites such as Niche.com have rated the top schools across the nation using a wide range of data. Here's a list of the best high schools in Berks County that will help your kids get the best send off into their lives as adults.

Exeter Township Senior High School
#3 Best Public High Schools in Berks County

Exeter Township Senior High School has 1,354 students in grades 7-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 16 to 1. According to state test scores, 77% of students are at least proficient in math and 71% in reading. Students attending this school reviewed "Attending Exeter High School the past four years has taught me so much both academically and personally. With the useful teachers in place, the importance of the teacher-student relationship stood out to me." And "Exeter Senior High School is flooding with opportunities for its students."

Homes For Sale Near Exeter Township Senior High School

 

Kutztown Area Senior High School
#4 Best Public High Schools in Berks County

Kutztown Area Senior High School has 444 students in grades 9-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 11 to 1. According to state test scores, 77% of students are at least proficient in math and 82% in reading. One satisfied student says that "KAHS was a great school to prepare me for college. I love the small town because I knew everybody. The academics were great and the teachers are very willing to help."

Homes For Sale Near Kutztown Area Senior High School

 

Oley Valley Senior High School
#5 Best Public High Schools in Berks County

Oley Valley Senior High School has 562 students in grades 9-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 14 to 1. According to state test scores, 72% of students are at least proficient in math and 77% in reading. One student noted that "There are a lot of academic opportunities at Oley. In addition, there are many sports available to participate in. The teaching staff members are very friendly and easy to get along with."

Homes For Sale Near Oley Valley Senior High School

 

If you need help finding the perfect home for your family in Berks County, our website can help. You can search homes for sale in Southeastern Pennsylvania using our powerful home search tool. And make sure to check back on our blog every week for more helpful articles about real estate and life in Berks County.

July 15, 2019

How to Get Rid of Overhead Guests in Your Berks County Home

The last thing any homeowner in Berks County wants is attic pests, such as  mice, rats, bats, and squirrels. But how do you keep them away? It seems like they just come right back as soon as you get rid of them.

The good news is that you can keep those pesky critters away for good if you understand how they get into your attic in the first place. You also need to understand your options for keeping them away.

Here's a few tips to help keep your home in Berks County pest-free.

Know thy Enemy

Wild animals living in your attic can cause all sorts of mayhem. They love to chew on things such as electrical wires, and insulation. You may hear a knock in the night, but you may not be able to see what's making all that noise.

How can you tell what pests have made your attic their home? It's what they leave behind that tells all.

Here's a little cheat sheet on pest droppings.

  • Mouse: 1/8 inch long, pellet-shaped
  • Rat: ¼ inch long, sausage-shaped
  • Squirrel: ½ to 1 inch long, sausage-shaped
  • Raccoon: Up to ¾ of an inch wide, 2-3 inches long; sausage-shaped
  • Bat: ½ inch, pellet-shaped, found in piles

Once you identify the droppings, follow the Centers for Disease Control’s advice on how to clean it up. Here are a few tips:

  • Open windows to air out the infested area for at least 30 minutes before cleanup. Don’t hang around during this part.
  • Wear protective gloves and masks so you don’t touch or breathe the urine- and feces-contaminated dust.
  • To disinfect, spray the area with a bleach solution (1 part bleach; 10 parts water).
  • Use paper towels to clean up the area, and then dispose of trash in a sealed plastic bag.

Mice

Mice are very good at multiplying. One or two mice can turn into dozens in a short time. As soon as you suspect mice in the attic, set out the traps immediately. Set out several traps. You might think that using cheese to bait the traps is the right move, but peanut butter actually works better.

Check the traps daily for dead mice. Other mice will be deterred from the traps if they see what those traps did to their friends.

If you prefer a pro to remove them, it typically costs about $500 for trapping, removal, and follow-up.

Rats

You can't catch rats with regular mouse traps. Unlike mice, which are curious critters, rats shy away from new items in their environment. So scatter traps around the attic for a week before you bait and engage them.

If you find traps are disappearing — larger rats are known to take off with traps clamped around their bodies — screw the next traps into floor boards, or place them in rattrap covers, which will block escape.

If a pro removes them, it will cost around $600 to $700 for trapping, removal, and follow-up.

Raccoons and Bats

Don’t attempt to get rid of raccoons or bats yourself. Raccoons can be aggressive when cornered or separated from their young. And bats are difficult to round up and escort out.

Professional fee: $300 to $500 per raccoon; $600 to $2,000 for bat infestations.

Make sure to visit our blog for more helpful real estate articles and local articles about life in Southern Eastern Pennsylvania and the surrounding communities. Find the perfect home for sale with our convenient and powerful home search tool

Posted in Real Estate Advice
July 9, 2019

Packing Hacks That Make Moving in Berks County Easier

Nobody ever said that moving was easy. That's why there's an entire industry devoted to helping people move.

But sometimes we can't always afford professional help when we move, so we have to take it on ourselves.

How can you cut down on the stress when you move in Berks County? Here's a few pro tips that can help during your next move.

Do a Pre-Pack Photo Shoot

We can't always remember where all the cords go after we unpack, so why not take a few photos on your phone to help you when you set up your electronics in your new home?

With photos in hand, you’ll be able to recreate it all in record time.

Corral Cords With Toilet Paper Rolls

"Where's an extension cord?" Finding extension cords can really be frustrating during a move. Sure, you saw one laying around somewhere, but where?

When you pack, wind up each cord in a 6-inch coil, then insert it in a toilet paper roll. You’ll have lots more room in the box, and no tangled mess to unpack later. Just remember to clearly label the box!

Create a "Moving Toolbox"

Make up a moving toolbox that has all the essentials - Sharpies, packing tape, box cutter and so forth. Then you can take it from room to room as you pack. This will keep you from misplacing small essential items when your house is full of boxes.

Tape Appliance Cords to Their Homes

You could be exploring your new neighborhood, but you're too busy trying to find the right power cord for your appliances.

You can save more time by taping the plug to the appliance it belongs to. Then go get a taco on the corner with your reclaimed time.

Use Your Towels, Blankets as Packing Materials

Another way moving day gets frustratingly extended? Your third trip to the store to buy more bubble wrap.

Kudos on treating your breakables with care, you don’t need the store-bought stuff. Pot holders, oven mitts, and even those old paper and plastic grocery bags you were planning to recycle make great packing materials. Also consider towels, pillows, blankets, the kids’ stuffed animals — whatever’s soft!

Color-Code Boxes

If you’re paying movers, really get your money’s worth by making it easy for them to deposit every box in the right room.

Assign a color to each room, then mark that color on the outside of each box. Before movers arrive, add the correct color label to each room’s door. They’ll love the simplicity, and you’ll love not having to haul everything that was supposed to go in the office out of the playroom.

Check back every week on our blog for more local articles about living in Southern Eastern Pennsylvania and the surrounding communities, along with helpful real estate advice. You can use our convenient and powerful home search tool to find the perfect home for sale in Reading. And make sure to read more about the communities in Southern Eastern Pennsylvania to find the perfect neighborhood to buy your next home.

July 1, 2019

Have Fun This 4th of July in Berks County

The 4th of July holiday is almost here, and it't time to celebrate our freedom in Berks County. If you live in Berks County, there are a number of great ways to celebrate the 4th of July with your family in the area. Here's a few events you can plan for happening in or near Berks County next week.

Star-Spangled Spectacular – July 4th Concert
Thu, Jul 4, 8 – 10 PM | EnerSys, 2366 Bernville Rd, Reading

Come hear your favorite patriotic melodies in a free concert in a park-like setting. Bring your picnic baskets, maybe a bottle of wine, and sit back, relax, and enjoy your RSO in a unique outdoor concert experience. The event features fun and food trucks, and concludes with a dazzling fireworks display.

Independence Day Celebration
Thursday, July 4, 2019 - 12:00pm | West Reading Pool

Enjoy the day with food, music, swimming, dancing on the pool deck and games! Swimming pool events will be held from Noon to 6:00 p.m. Music on the field will be available from 6 - 9:00 p.m. with the firework display beginning at 9:30 p.m.

Independence Day Prep and Parade
Tue, Jul 2, 6 – 7 PM | Wyomissing Public Library

Show your patriotism and support the library by marching in Wyomissing Borough's annual Independence Day parade. Come on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. to make tee shirts, then assemble on Thursday at 9:45 a.m. for the parade.

Free Bubble Festival at Pottstown's GoFourth Celebration
Thu, July 4, 2019 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Memorial Park

Pottstown GoFourth Festival will sponsor Grandpop Bubbles™ and his amazing "Free Bubble Festival" at their 4th of July celebration. Grandpop Bubbles will bring his bubble wands, poles, basins, buckets, and plenty of gallons of SPECIAL BUBBLE JUICE for as many kids as possible to enjoy bubbling with #GPOPB.

Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July!

Check back every week on our blog for more local articles about living in Southern Eastern Pennsylvania and the surrounding communities, along with helpful real estate advice. You can use our convenient and powerful home search tool to find the perfect home for sale in Reading. And make sure to read more about the communities in Southern Eastern Pennsylvania to find the perfect neighborhood to buy your next home.