February 3, 2012 |
Winter has been relatively mild and virtually snow-free so far. That's helped take the chill off utility costs. In fact, the people who monitor such things say electric bills are down, especially in Pennsylvania. But there's a way to cut costs even more, though it may not be immediately obvious: Slay the vampires. "Vampire power," also known as "standby power," is electricity consumed by electronic devices and appliances even when they are switched off or in standby mode.
January 27, 2012 |
Who owns my mortgage? That's a question I have been asked almost two dozen times in the four weeks since Christmas, and the reason is always the same: A change is needed. Someone is trying to refinance the mortgage or trying to save a house from foreclosure, among possible scenarios. Finding the answer to this question has become extremely important to many homeowners, but especially to those in financial trouble. The many programs designed to stem the record tide of foreclosures have different requirements, depending on where your mortgage ended up after you signed that huge stack of papers at settlement.
January 20, 2012 |
Not so long ago, marketing a house for sale was as simple as a newspaper ad, open house, the smell of bread baking in the oven, and a few shovelfuls of fresh mulch on the front gardens. Oh, yes, and washing the windows to let in as much natural light as possible. Most of those suggestions are still valid, of course, and although there are growing signs of the downturn easing and a turnaround in the offing, the task of marketing a house these days still requires much more effort by real estate agents than it used to. In fact, most agents insist that they are doing nothing really differently - just more of it. "Yes, I'd use the term more rather than different - more photos, more websites, more online presence, more recommendations to sellers to fix up, clean up, stage their property," said agent Ruth Feldman of Weichert Realtors McCarthy Group in Philadelphia's Mount Airy neighborhood.
January 13, 2012 |
The year 1994 was a bad one for real estate. In fact, by then, things had already been difficult for several years. In 1987, the bottom had fallen out of the national market, the result of unsustainable price increases and overbuilding. By early 1990, the Philadelphia region had been caught up, too. And by some measures, the early to mid-1990s were even worse here than the current downturn has been, with Philadelphia taking the biggest hit. From 1990 to 1994, city prices fell 17 percent, compared with 2 percent in the suburbs, according to economist Kevin Gillen, vice president of Econsult Corp.
January 6, 2012 |
You've decided to dip your toe into the sea of properties available in the Philadelphia real estate market. Now, the question is: single-family home or condo? Though location and price are prime considerations for both, real estate agents cite lifestyle as a major factor. Why? Because when you buy a single-family house, you purchase the land on which it sits, and are responsible for maintaining it. "When you buy a condominium, you are also buying the services," said developer/real estate broker Allan Domb, who specializes in the Center City high-rise market - "the doorman, the facilities offered, maintenance, and professional management.
December 23, 2011 |
If there has been anything positive about residential real estate in the last year, it has been the multifamily-housing market. Those who might have bought homes are renting apartments or condos instead, mindful of declining home values and coping with tighter lending requirements. The latest national data, released Tuesday by the Census Bureau, showed construction permits for multifamily projects skyrocketing. Locally, a fourth-quarter apartment-research report by real estate investment-services firm Marcus & Millichap confirms that "as a result of [Philadelphia's]
December 16, 2011 |
Is a new house, or being able to sell your present one, near the top of the list you sent Santa Claus? Because if you're looking for a time to list your house for sale, or to begin searching for that place of your dreams, the holidays might just be it. If you're a seller, one advantage is that would-be buyers out in the market during the holidays tend to have a reason for being there, and so are very serious about the hunt. A recent Move.com survey of Realtors around the country found 79 percent had concluded as much, and area agents and brokers affirmed the observation.
December 9, 2011 |
When should you repair and when should you replace? With the economic downturn keeping people in their homes longer and money ever tighter, it is a choice being considered by more homeowners these days. For example, with winter coming, and concerns about energy costs mounting, many cash-strapped homeowners are trying to figure out how to reduce the $1,900 per year that the Department of Energy says the typical family spends on utilities. A new furnace or energy-efficient windows, although both very obvious ways to lower heating costs, may not be in the budget.
December 2, 2011 |
One of the first things swimming instructors teach is safety, especially staying afloat in water too deep to stand in. Who'd have thought it would become such an important part of homeownership? Today, 10.7 million homeowners with mortgages, 22.1 percent of the total nationwide, owe more money on those loans than they could get if they sold their houses - effectively putting them "underwater" or "upside-down," according to CoreLogic, of Santa Ana, Calif., which tracks U.S. real estate data.
November 18, 2011 |
The market for new homes continues to be mired in its worst contraction since record-keeping began in the early 1960s. Among the reasons: competition from lower-price resales, especially short sales and foreclosures; tight credit for builders and buyers; and high unemployment. Yet from time to time, bright spots emerge, perhaps contributing to a growing builder confidence nationally, as reflected in Wednesday's report by the National Association of Home Builders. That boost in confidence is "evidence that well-qualified buyers in select areas are being tempted back into the market by today's extremely favorable mortgage rates and prices," said David Crowe, chief economist for the builders group.