Still Waiting on the Fence?

“I am going to wait until the market bottoms out to buy.”

Is there ever a perfect time to buy? Yes, when you need or want to move. I hear it quite often … “I am going to hold off until the market bottoms out.” But what you don’t realize is that when the market “bottoms out” it usually means its already starting to turn around and with that can come stiff competition when making an offer to buy the home of your dreams. Everyone tends to scramble to get the best deal at that point, leaving you contending with multiple offers on the home you want — and before you know it, poof … it’s a seller’s market again! Opportunity is lost.

“I am going to wait to see if the rates go any lower.”

Rates are currently hovering around 5% and under if you have a decent credit score! These rates are historically low! I’m sure you’ve heard the saying … “You snooze you lose.”  Rates are starting to go back up so any future price decreases in homes for sale may just be a wash … think about it … if the interest rates climb, you are spending thousands more over a long term mortgage … who out there likes giving the bank extra money? Not me!

Home prices do not necessarily coincide with interest rates. For example, even if the home drops in price and the interest rate goes up, you lost money in the long-term. Rates are low NOW and Spring is the busiest marketing time of the year … Why? Most people like to do their moving when their children are out of school and before the school year begins plus they have the additional cushion of their income tax refunds. If I my real estate crystal ball is correct, I predict a busy spring this year … so maybe it’s time to think about jumping off the fence?

Thinking about buying? Check out my BUYER’S TOOLKIT!

 “Sellers are desperate.”

I am really not seeing this in certain markets and locations. While some markets have been hit hard, Real Estate is still all about “location, location.”  Real Estate is VERY local; markets vary across the country and from town to town. Here in Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs I am finding that most sellers are really NOT desperate at all. Unless there is some unforeseen disaster or the property is a distress sale, sellers are not as desperate as the media would have you believe. So as the old school 80’s song goes … “DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!” (Public Enemy)

In fact, Philadelphia and it’s surrounding suburbs have not been hit as hard as the rest of the country. Overall, we have only seen a slight decrease in home prices as compared to other states and now that Spring is around the corner and interest rates are still low (but on the rise), I am seeing a huge increase in activity, even multiple offers on properties again!

Sellers still need to do their best to make their home marketable and to keep it in tip-top shape to compete with the other properties for sale in their area. Pricing the property well is key and always take into consideration the way the home shows compared to other properties on the market if you cannot afford to fix up the home to show. 

For some tips please check out my SELLER’S TOOLKIT! Thinking of selling? Now may be the time to go for it! 

Ready to Make a Move? Contact Me Today!

Kim Schreiner, ePRO, SFR, Realtor
RE/MAX Affiliates, NE
The #1 RE/MAX Office in the City of Philadelphia
Office: 215.992.1726
Cell: 215.510.2149

Deer Virgin:

First Time Home Buyers Property Virgins Deer in Headlights

First Time Home Buyers - Deer in the Headlights Don't Let This Be YOU!

Ahhh the first time home buyer experience. I have to say I love working with first timers. They are so excited to be taking the leap into home ownership, proud that they have come this far on their life journey. I find that many “virgins”  really do not understand the entire process of what it takes to get from POINT A to CLOSING and getting your new set of keys… kinda like deer in the headlights.

My goal is to walk you through the steps explaining each along the way so that you have a clear picture of what is going on, what you are signing and to answer every question that you may have as best as I possibly can. There are many steps to climb throughout the process of buying a home, some can be scary (the home inspection) and some thrilling (finally getting those keys). Buying a house is a roller coaster ride so fasten your seatbelts and let’s go!

Step 1 – THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT YOU NEED TO DO FIRST – Get a mortgage preapproval. Call a lender, whomever you bank with is a good place to start or ask around for referrals from friends, family or your agent. Be sure to ask the lender to disclose their fees upfront.  Get your preapproval BEFORE you start looking for your new home. Don’t you want to know what you can afford before you shop?

Step 2 – Be comfortable in your preapproval. What does that mean? I don’t want to see you as a foreclosure statistic in a few years! So … you’ve been preapproved for a 300,000.00 loan? OK, Great! Now ask yourself – do you want the MONTHLY mortgage payment that comes with a 300,000.00 loan? Your mortgage payment typically includes Principal, Interest, real estate Taxes and home owners Insurance (PITI as we were taught in real estate class). If you put less than a 20% down payment towards the loan, you may have to pay PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) until your reach 80/20 Loan to Value (LTV). PMI stays with the loan until you reach “80/20 LTV” by either paying 20% into the loan over time or if the market takes an upswing, by having the home reappraised to show that you now have 20% equity into the home.  If you are purchasing a condo or looking into a development with a home owners association, you need to also factor in monthly condo/home owner association fees. The bottom line is YOU NEED TO BE COMFORTABLE with YOUR monthly expenses not with what the bank SAYS you can afford. Does that make sense? If so, then let’s go to step 3. If not, then please give me a call (215-510-2149) and I will help you understand.

Step 3 – If you haven’t chosen a real estate agent, please do so now. As a buyer, you need an exclusive buyer’s agent in your court, someone working solely for you to get you the best deal, explain to you all of the steps as you go and to represent your BEST interest throughout the process.

Step 4 – THE FUN PART! Shop! Go over your ideal home with your agent, but be flexible, know what you can do without because no home is perfect. Make a list of everything you want then divide that list into sections of must haves and then things you can do without if need be.  Your agent will have access to a local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which has the most current information available on the Internet but is only accessible by a licensed real estate professional. Your agent can then send you properties as they become available or are reduced in price that may match your needs. Choose the properties that appeal to you and your agent will make appointments to take you out home shopping. Your agent has a trained eye to pick out the “yucky stuff” that you may not notice as a deer because you are too busy and excited staring at the gleaming hardwood floors and granite countertop. But please remember, most agents are NOT licensed home inspectors, appraisers or building engineers. So please get a home inspection! I am getting a few steps ahead of myself here.

Step 5 – THE ONE. You’ve found it! The moment you walked in you felt IT. You will know what I am referring to when you feel “IT.” Now it’s time to make an offer. Here in PA an offer is not one simple piece of paper saying I want to buy your house for X amount of dollars, please sign here if you are OK with that. Oh No, No, No. You will sit with your agent for about an hour or so signing page after page and discussing contingency after contingency that are all part of the initial offer. Contingencies are “conditions” to the terms of your offer that need to be met in a timely fashion in order to get to closing, the seller must agree to the contingencies of your offer. There are inspection contingencies, insurance contingencies, mortgage contingencies and so on. Time is of the Essence and it is crucial that you stay within the terms of the contract or you could default on the contract. Your agent will make sure that you follow the contractual terms and remind you when things are due. It is NOT a fully executed contract (Agreement of Sale) until buyer and seller have agreed on all of the terms of the offer. Once everything is agreed upon, the date of the last initials is the date that the clock starts ticking!

Step 6 – YAY! Offer accepted! You and your agent have successfully negotiated the terms of the contract with the seller and their  agent. A copy of the Fully Executed Agreement of Sale now needs to go to your lender. Your agent will do this and will work closely with your lender and you to make sure that you meet your mortgage commitment date and contingency. You will need to supply your lender with every piece of paper imaginable to prove that you can qualify for this loan. The days of NO DOC loans are pretty much gone (for now). You will need to look into home owners insurance because you will need to supply your lender with proof that the property is insurable by giving them a copy of the declaration pages. Your lender will order an appraisal on the property (the appraisal process is another blog in itself). You will have a home inspection (a general inspection of the property going over things like the roof, electrical system, plumbing, windows and more), you may have also chosen to have a termite inspection, radon testing, mold testing, lead paint testing, all of which are usually additional charges to the general home inspection.  Make sure your inspector is licensed. Getting your Uncle Joe to inspect the home because he fixes things is not a valid home inspection. As an exclusive buyer’s agent, I would not ever recommend that my clients waive the general home inspection as the expense of one NOW could save you thousands in the future.  Once you’ve gone through the inspection(s), you will need to respond to the report by providing the seller (in writing) with a list of things you want fixed or that you are asking them to credit you for or that you are accepting the house AS IS. Basically, this is like renegotiating the sale because if you and the seller cannot agree as to how to address the report, the deal could die. If you are financing via FHA, they will have their own inspection, but this is NOT the same as a private home inspection. FHA inspections are like a safety checklist. They may have an additional set of repairs required to be completed before they will grant you a loan.

Step 7 – Title Review & Use and Occupancy Certifications. Your agent will look over the title supplied by the title company to make sure there are no liens or judgments against the property and to insure that you are given a free and clear title. If anything comes up on title, it needs to be addressed before settlement! Different townships, cites, counties or boroughs have different, individual guidelines for getting Use and Occupancy Certifications or Township Certifications in order to ‘OK’ transferring title to you. Some townships require that the property be physically inspected whereby the inspector will go over a list of items that need to be met before the home can be transferred to you. Some cities,  townships, etc.  will just run the address through a computer and if there are no violations against the property, they issue a clear U&O certification. Again, your agent will be handling all of these things by working closely with the conveyancer, lenders, title clerks, and cooperating agent.

Step 8 – Hooray! Everyone was able to successfully negotiate the all of the contingencies. You’ve made it. You are over the hurdles. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I hate the word – contingency.”  Now it’s time to start calling the utility companies to have everything transferred into your name effective the date of settlement. Your agent can provide you with a list of local utility companies.   

Step 9 – DID I LOSE YOU YET?? ARE YOU STILL READING??? Good! This means you are becoming devirginized.

 Step 10 – Settlement is FINALLY here. You have probably spent at least 6 weeks to 2 months or more working with your agent getting you from POINT A to CLOSING.  You arrive at the settlement table and you now sign your life away to the mortgage company. There will be a pile of papers that you will be signing before you are handed your new set of keys. Your lender should be there to explain to you what you are signing.  You will need to bring the balance of whatever you owe towards your down payment, your photo ID and your big smile. Once you’ve signed the mortgage documents the lender’s underwriter will give the final OK and will disburse funds and you are now a happy home owner! Congratulations it’s time to start planning your house-warming party and don’t forget to invite your Real Estate Agent! You may now begin building your future, earning equity, enjoying the nice tax write off, painting, redecorating and kicking up your feet in your most favorite room in your new home!

Whew! And to think this week someone compared my profession to a that of a used car salesman, which I am not knocking used car sales people, we all need to keep a roof over our heads … but I think I do just a little bit more! I haven’t even gotten to what happens on the SELLER’s SIDE!
There's Only ONE 1st Time! Make It A Good One!

There's Only ONE 1st Time! Make It A Good One!

Contact Kim Schreiner:
Kimberly Schreiner, ePRO, Realtor® PA License RS291767
RE/MAX Affiliates, NE
Kim’s Official Website
Cell 215-510-2149 Direct 215-992-1726 Office 215-335-6900
Serving Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery Counties

Agents Making a Move .. Switching Brokerages, My 1st Week

Whoa! What an exciting week this has been!  My first week at my new office, RE/MAX Affiliates, NE

Great White Shark

Great White Shark

Having been told over and over (brainwashing?) that the real estate giant, RE/MAX would be like working in a shark tank … I immediately found that to be quite the opposite.  Everyone I have come in contact with thus far has been incredibly helpful to me during my transition. The caliber of my fellow agents alone makes RE/MAX a wonderful place to grow and take my career to the next level.

My new office is bustling and full of experienced agents, so their ads hold true. They all seem to be quite happy with their “home away from home” — I’ve met many “names” that I’ve seen around town and there is even an agent who has been featured on one of my favorite shows on HGTV, House Hunters.  I am surrounded by, in my opinion, the best of the best and I am loving that I have become part of their family. So please allow me to dismiss the first myth … RE/MAX agents are not a bunch of piranhas, they are just really good at what they do.

Brazilian Black Piranha

Brazilian Black Piranha

My new broker, Alan Stasson, has followed through on everything he presented to me during my interview process and then some.  If you are thinking of a move yourself, which is why I started this blog …  there wasn’t much on the net to help me .. be sure to interview with many different brokerages before making a decision!! I highly recommend doing this to see whose personality best meshes with YOURS.  Alan seemed quite genuine and he was not pushy. He allowed me to make the decision to come to his office on my own without hounding me, and without knocking the competition, that impressed me, he didn’t need to knock the competition AND most importantly, the fact that he came highly recommended by OTHER AGENTS.  I found that to be something very important during my search for a new home away from home. The opinion of the people that work under someone holds its weight in gold. He has been available to me whenever a question came about, and believe me there have been many during this transition! Feel free to call him personally and ask, 215-335-6900.

This week I listed my first property as a RE/MAX agent … it is already under contract and I have very happy clients, as they say, it’s the experience that counts! I am off and running and looking back I am wondering why it took me so long to make this move in the first place! I already feel at home in my new place.  Now where is the copier again?

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home


Thinking of making a move yourself? Contact me! Whether a home buyer or a home seller (or an agent with transition questions) get in touch with me, I love to help people!

 Kim Schreiner 215.510.2149  REMAX Affiliates NE 215.335-6900