Friday, January 30, 2015

Will PennEast Pipeline LLC effect my home value?

1:  Question:  Will my homes value be affected by a Pipeline on the Property?

Answer:  Yes.  Most buyers today are looking for a home and property that is safe, clean, comfortable, worry free and meets their life style needs. (Buyer Motivations=Human Needs  by Lack Harris & Sue Young)  Most buyers will search for a home in an area and location that is close to family, work and shopping.  When the buyer locates the area, they begin to scrutinize the area for homes that are move in ready, maintenance free, low level of care and meets their lifestyle needs.  Once the buyer is able to narrow the search to 2-3 homes, the buyer prepares to write a contract.  They will compare each for the positives and negatives.  When the buyer decides to put in the offer, they pull what is called the Sellers Property Disclosure   PA Code    § 35.335a.  In the State of Pennsylvania, all sellers must disclose information that is “not readily observable”.   In this disclosure the seller is required to share about any easements that affect the property.  The seller will need to disclose the size of the easement (right of way - ROW), all information on the pipeline, insurance issues related to the easement (right of way - ROW), the care the new owner will be responsible for to the easement (right of way - ROW),  and all pertinent information.

When buyers are informed of the pipeline and its effects, many and most buyers will not take on the inherit risk of this type of easement. Most properties along a pipeline will not sell without a significant financial benefit to the buyer.  This benefit will look very similar to the financial benefit to the present owner, as presented by the pipeline company. When a seller receives $50,000.00 from the pipeline company for compensation, the buyer will also look for a deep discount in purchase price by the same amount $50,000.00. So, if a property is listed for $100,000.00, a buyer will most likely want to purchase the said property for $50,000.00.  One could make the assumptive conclusion, that the pipeline will have an effect on home values which is why the pipeline company offers financial compensation to the present owner/seller.

What you need to know about Easements  by Deidre Woollard on

Eight steps to selling your home in Bucks County

Eight steps to selling your home

Here at the Gentner Home Selling Team, we can answer all your questions, offer assistance and negotiate your sale to the closing table.  Here are 8 steps to assist.
  1. Define your needs. Write down all the reasons for selling your home. Ask yourself, "Why do I want to sell and what do I expect to accomplish with the sale?" For example, a growing family may prompt your need for a larger home, or a job opportunity in another city may necessitate a move. For your goals, write down if you'd like to sell your house within a certain time frame or make a particular profit margin. Work with your real estate agent to map out the best path to achieve your objectives and set a realistic time frame for the sale.
  2. Name your price. Your next objective should be to determine the best possible selling price for your house. Setting a fair asking price from the outset will generate the most activity from other real estate agents and buyers. You will need to take into account the condition of your home, what comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for, and state of the overall market in your area. It's often difficult to remain unbiased when putting a price on your home, so your real estate agent's expertise is invaluable at this step. Your agent will know what comparable homes are selling for in your neighborhood and the average time those homes are sitting on the market. If you want a truly objective opinion about the price of your home, you could have an appraisal done. This typically costs a few hundred dollars. Remember: You're always better off setting a fair market value price than setting your price too high. Studies show that homes priced higher than 3 percent of their market value take longer to sell. If your home sits on the market for too long, potential buyers may think there is something wrong with the property. Often, when this happens, the seller has to drop the price below market value to compete with newer, reasonably priced listings.
  3. Prepare your home. Most of us don't keep our homes in "showroom" condition. We tend to overlook piles of boxes in the garage, broken porch lights, and doors or windows that stick. It's time to break out of that owner's mindset and get your house in tip-top shape. The condition of your home will affect how quickly it sells and the price the buyer is willing to offer. First impressions are the most important. Your real estate agent can help you take a fresh look at your home and suggest ways to stage it and make it more appealing to buyers. * A home with too much "personality" is harder to sell. Removing family photos, mementos and personalized d?cor will help buyers visualize the home as theirs. * Make minor repairs and replacements. Small defects, such as a leaky faucet, a torn screen or a worn doormat, can ruin the buyer's first impression. * Clutter is a big no-no when showing your home to potential buyers. Make sure you have removed all knick-knacks from your shelves and cleared all your bathroom and kitchen counters to make every area seem as spacious as possible.
  4. Get the word out. Now that you're ready to sell, your real estate agent will set up a marketing strategy specifically for your home. Here on the Gentner Home Selling Team, we layout the your home.  Here is a sample of my listing located at 2985 Gallows Hill Road, Riegelsville PA  18077.There are many ways to get the word out, including: * The Internet * Yard signs * Open houses * Media advertising * Agent-to-agent referrals * Direct mail marketing campaigns In addition to listing your home on the MLS, your agent will use a combination of these tactics to bring the most qualified buyers to your home. Your agent should structure the marketing plan so that the first three to six weeks are the busiest.
  5. Receive an offer. When you receive a written offer from a potential buyer, your real estate agent will first find out whether or not the individual is prequalified or preapproved to buy your home. If so, then you and your agent will review the proposed contract, taking care to understand what is required of both parties to execute the transaction. The contract, though not limited to this list, should include the following: * Legal description of the property * Offer price * Down payment * Financing arrangements * List of fees and who will pay them * Deposit amount * Inspection rights and possible repair allowances * Method of conveying the title and who will handle the closing * Appliances and furnishings that will stay with the home * Settlement date * Contingencies At this point, you have three options: accept the contract as is, accept it with changes (a counteroffer), or reject it. Remember: Once both parties have signed a written offer, the document becomes legally binding. If you have any questions or concerns, be certain to address them with your real estate agent right away.
  6. Negotiate to sell. Most offers to purchase your home will require some negotiating to come to a win-win agreement. Your real estate agent is well versed on the intricacies of the contracts used in your area and will protect your best interest throughout the bargaining. Your agent also knows what each contract clause means, what you will net from the sale and what areas are easiest to negotiate. Some negotiable items: * Price * Financing * Closing costs * Repairs * Appliances and fixtures * Landscaping * Painting * Move-in date Once both parties have agreed on the terms of the sale, your agent will prepare a contract.
  7. Prepare to close. Once you accept an offer to sell your house, you will need to make a list of all the things you and your buyer must do before closing. The property may need to be formally appraised, surveyed, inspected or repaired. Your real estate agent can spearhead the effort and serve as your advocate when dealing with the buyer's agent and service providers. Depending on the written contract, you may pay for all, some or none of these items. If each procedure returns acceptable results as defined by the contract, then the sale may continue. If there are problems with the home, the terms set forth in the contract will dictate your next step. You or the buyer may decide to walk away, open a new round of negotiations or proceed to closing. Important reminder: A few days before the closing, you will want to contact the entity that is closing the transaction and make sure the necessary documents will be ready to sign on the appropriate date. Also, begin to make arrangements for your upcoming move if you have not done so.
  8. Close the deal. "Closing" refers to the meeting where ownership of the property is legally transferred to the buyer. Your agent will be present during the closing to guide you through the process and make sure everything goes as planned. By being present during the closing, he or she can mediate any last-minute issues that may arise. In some states, an attorney is required and you may wish to have one present. After the closing, you should make a "to do" list for turning the property over to the new owners. Here is a checklist to get you started. * Cancel electricity, gas, lawn care, cable and other routine services. * If the new owner is retaining any of the services, change the name on the account. * Gather owner's manuals and warranties for all conveying appliances. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

How to price to sell and still make a profit

Your Bucks County home selling price is set by you and your REALTOR.  The asking price you set for your home significantly affects whether you will profit in the sale, how much you will profit and how long your home will sit on the market. Your real estate agent's knowledge of the overall market and what's selling - or not selling - will be invaluable in helping you determine the price. The objective is to find a price that the market will bear but won't leave money on the table. 

Here are some points to consider: Time. Time is not on your side when it comes to real estate. Although many factors influence the outcome, perhaps time is the biggest determinant in whether or not you see a profit and how much you profit. Studies show that the longer a house stays on the market, the less likely it is to sell for the original asking price. Therefore, if your goal is to make money, think about a price that will encourage buyer activity.

Value vs. Cost. Pricing your home to sell in a timely fashion requires some objectivity. It's important that you not confuse value with cost - in other words, how much you value your home versus what buyers are willing to pay for it. Don't place too much emphasis on home improvements when calculating your price, because buyers may not share your taste. For instance, not everyone wants hardwood floors or granite counter tops. 

Keep it simple. Because time is of the essence, make it easy for the buyers. Remain flexible on when your agent can schedule showings. Also, avoid putting contingencies on the sale. Though a desirable move-in date makes for a smoother transition between homes, it could cause you to lose the sale altogether. 

Market with a professional.  REALTOR, Kathleen Gentner, helps all her sellers put a floor plan together to market the listing. Look here at 2985 Gallows Hill Rd, Riegelsville PA  18077:  CLICK LINK

Justin M. Stottlar
Senior Mortgage Consultant

Monument Bank
378 North Main St.
Doylestown, Pa 18901
f:  267.224.4469

NMLS ID 954839

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Measuring the Value of a View

Suppose you own a castle on the flats and your brother owns one high atop a hill that features amazing, unobstructed views. Aside from location, the two castles are identical. Which one has the higher resale value?
If you guessed that it's the hilltop castle, you are correct. When valuing two similar pieces of property, location is king and everything else is secondary.
While it's easy to say that the home with the view is "worth more" than the home without one, there are no rules on how much value the amenity adds.

Agents and Appraisers

Real estate professionals are at odds over this. Some claim that there is no premium for a view while others say that a view can add up to 15 percent to the value of the home over others lacking the amenity.
Researchers Mauricio Rodriguez and C.F. Sirmans reject the notion that a view has no impact on home value. Their study, published by Texas Christian University, shows that a view adds between 5 to 8 percent to the market value of a home.
Professional appraisers—those folks that tell your lender how much your home is worth—are given vague guidance by the Appraisal Institute that when valuing a property they must consider the view. What the institute doesn't tell them, however, is how to arrive at that value.
Then there is the fact that a view may be distasteful. An auto dismantler or a rundown apartment building out of the dining room window, for instance, will drag down the value of a property. Either way, views are challenging to measure, whether that view is good or bad.

View Orientation

Is what you're seeing out the window located close or far away? Patrick Brown and Beverly McCabe, in a report prepared for the American Appraisal Institute, claim that a close-up view is worth more than a faraway view. For instance, the Golden Gate Bridge right outside your window is worth more than if the bridge were located several miles away.
The pair also finds, though, "In some contradiction, a near view of a prized view object is preferred over a far view, while the ability to see a far distance is prized over a vista that is foreshortened."
Then there is the orientation of the view from within the home. A view from the back of a house influences the home's value more than a view from the front, according to the pair.
"What really counts is the (ground level) view from the back, because that's where people live," Ernest V. Siracusa, a Southern California real estate market analyst, tells
This is because almost no one spends much time in the front of a house; most of the "living" goes on at the rear. Siracusa claims that he would give a view from the front of the home "zero view premium."
The additional value is added if the view is from areas of the home that are used the most, such as the master bedroom, dining room and kitchen.

The Worth of a View

After spending years studying the subject of the value of a view in newly constructed homes, Siracusa has come up with a range to measure the value added for different types of views and view orientations. It runs from 1 percent to 2.5 percent for a home overlooking open space to 15 to 20 percent for a water view, as long as the view is unobstructed.
He goes on to point out that if that view is of the ocean, the home may command up to 30 percent more than similar homes without the view.
That's helpful information for builders who are attempting to put a price on new construction, but what about older, existing homes?
Earl Benson, Western Washington University marketing and finance professor, may have hit on the answer. He tells Marilyn Lewis of MSN Real Estate that his studies of Bellingham, Wash. assessor's records combined with his own calculations showed that a home in that area with a water view would sell for $117,600 more than a home that lacks that view.
Put that house on the shore of either the ocean or a lake, and it would command a whopping $253,280 more at close of escrow than if it were located somewhere less attractive.
While the value of a residential view fluctuates depending on orientation, the subject of the view, and the amount of obstruction, studies seem to show that the amenity does add to the resale value of a home.
If you're fortunate enough to live in a room with a view, ensure that your real estate agent factors it into the calculations she performs to determine market value.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Septic Tank Use and Maintenance Guide

Unseen, buried in your yard, it's constantly at work. While you're away during the day, it's at work too. As you sleep at night, it's still working. Through holidays and all types of weather, it's working yet. In fact, your septic tank never stops. That is, not as long as you care for it properly. Here's what you need to know to keep your septic tank working behind the scenes every day of the year.

How a Septic Tank Works

Whether you call it an individual sewage disposal system, an onsite wastewater treatment system, an on-lot system or any combination of terms – a typical septic tank isn't fancy or complicated. It's comprised of four main parts:
The Waste Pipe: A solid pipe leads from the house and ends at the septic tank. It delivers all household waste flushed from sinks, bathtubs, showers or toilets.
The Septic Tank: A buried container, the septic tank is generally about 4 feet wide and 4 feet in depth, with a length of 6 to 8 feet (dimensions may vary depending on home size or, more specifically, number of bedrooms). Watertight, it's usually made of fiberglass, plastic or concrete. Inside the tank is an inlet tee where the waste pipe enters, separate compartments, and an outlet tee. Additionally, a portion called a riser acts like a porthole, allowing the sludge level to be inspected, and a manhole cover in another area makes easy access for cleaning.
The Drain Field: The drain field is an area of land to which the septic tank pumps the liquid portion of the contents. Some states require a reserve drain field as well.
Drain Field Soil: Where the magic takes place: as the wastewater enters the soil it's gradually cleansed of bacteria, viruses and other contaminants. Each time more waste is discharged from the septic tank, previous wastewater is forced deeper into the soil and purified further. Given the proper dirt, the water is clean by the time it reaches the ground water deep below the surface.
So your septic tank doesn't actually store all the wastewater you use. Instead, it holds it long enough to allow solids to settle to the bottom and begin decomposing, forming sludge. Oils and grease float to the top, forming scum. The water portion flows out through a perforated pipe into the drain field, where it trickles into the ground.
In the meantime, microbes work on the sludge, consuming solid (organic) waste and attempting to turn it all to water (which can then flow out into the drain field as well). What is left eventually gets pumped out and disposed of by a professional septic tank service.

The Importance of Septic Tank Maintenance

If it sounds like a septic tank can do its work without any help, that's almost true. A properly designed and constructed septic tank "effectively reduce(s) or eliminate(s) most human health or environmental threats" that human waste disposal creates for ground water, the EPA states. However, tanks need some amount of maintenance, or they can – and eventually will – fail.
With septic tank failure, the danger goes beyond needing replacement parts or moving the drain field. If any single piece of the system fails, the results can be devastating. From drain backups inside the home and soggy lawns to infecting groundwater and nearby bodies of water with dangerous bacteria and other nasty ingredients, without care your septic tank can endanger your health and the health of others.
As West Virginia University explains in a publication called "Pipeline," contaminating ground water leads to pollution of local wells and streams, along with lakes and ponds. Waterborne diseases such as dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis can arise from exposure to the bacteria and viruses in human sewage. Nitrates, phosphates, proteins and nutrients disrupt the balance in bodies of water, causing algal blooms that create untold additional problems. (For example, in 2014 the city of Toledo, Ohio, had a do-not-drink order in effect for several days when an algae bloom in Lake Erie caused high levels of microbes in municipal water supplies along southeast Michigan.)
To avoid these and other problems, practice simple septic tank maintenance procedures.

Septic Tank Use and Maintenance

Homes with septic tanks bear the burden of caring for and keeping their septic tank in good condition, unlike those with city sewer service. In general, important care and maintenance procedures can be divided into three categories: what not to flush or do, water conservation tactics, and maintenance or cleaning requirements.

Dos and Don'ts: What Not to Flush Down Your Drain

You can't assume that anything that will go down the toilet or drain is okay. While not an exhaustive list, consider the following:
Do not pour grease and oils down the drains. These quickly solidify, contributing to clogging.
Avoid excessive use of bleach and other chemical cleaners. Even vinegar and other natural cleaners can alter the bacterial balance in your septic tank. This, in turn, leads to inefficient waste breakdown.
Do not flush things not meant to be flushed. Sanitary napkins, cigarette butts, tampon applicators, cotton swabs, band aids, condoms, and other items will be slow to dissolve – if they do at all.
Use napkins and toilet paper that dissolve easily in water. (Test in a glass of water. Drop a small piece in and shake it. If it doesn't begin to disintegrate, it may be too strong for your septic tank.)
Avoid pouring gasoline, paint thinner, pesticide or similar items down the drain.
Dispose of medicines at a local drug store or police station. Never pour them down the toilet.

Water Conservation for a Septic Tank

The more water you use, the harder your septic tank must work. Some experts suggest the typical person uses about 50 gallons of water each day. Try lowering that amount. Implement water-saving habits, and watch how you use the water. You might save money and help conserve resources, too.
Limit how much you use your garbage disposal. Watch what you put in it as well. Solids such as egg shells and coffee grounds are better thrown away, for instance, as are potato peels which bind up the drain system.
Place aerators on faucets to have better pressure with less water.
Switch to a low-flow shower head.
Buy a water-saving toilet, or put a brick in the tank to displace water. This allows you to use less water per flush.
Watch your load size when doing laundry. Use only as much water as needed.
Eliminate drips from fixtures.

Septic Tank Care

Perhaps not the most urgent part of septic tank maintenance – but just as important – is how you take care of your drain field and clean your tank. A few guidelines:
Keep cars, heavy tractors or other motorized vehicles off the lawn near the drain field and septic tank.
Plant grass over the tank and drain field, but avoid trees or shrubs. These plants grow roots that may interfere with drainage or penetrate the tank.
Avoid installing swimming pools, decks, patios, sheds or other items in the septic system area.
Refrain from making any alterations to the septic tank or field.
Test the sludge level as directed by the tank manufacturer yearly.
Pump waste solids from the tank as necessary. As a rule of thumb, expect to pump every three years for a family of four with a 1,000 gallon tank. Refer to this New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension chart for different tank sizes and loads.
A word about pumping out the waste: Hire a professional septic tank service. They have the knowledge and equipment to do it properly, without danger to you. Sewer gases can easily overcome you in minutes and kill. Also, make a diagram of your tank and drainage field to help future homeowners if you sell, or if you forget. Keep a list of all repairs and cleanings as well.

For all you Mortgage questions and Pre Approvals:

Justin M. Stottlar
Senior Mortgage Consultant
Monument Bank
378 North Main St.
Doylestown, Pa 18901
f:  267.224.4469
NMLS ID # 954839

Monday, January 19, 2015

What You Must Know About Insurance When Buying a Home

What You Must Know About Insurance When Buying a Home
Purchasing a home involves getting to know a lot of financial terms and processes that most first-time homebuyers have never been exposed to. One of the most confusing is insurance. If you've never owned a home before, your familiarity with insurance most likely centers around auto insurance, health insurance, life insurance and, perhaps, renter's insurance.
Even then, your level of familiarity may be minimal, if you are like most Americans. In fact, a mere 14 percent of those who have health insurance understand even the most basic insurance jargon, such as deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance, according to a study published in the Journal of Health Economics.
The various types of insurance required in the average real estate transaction are even less understood, so let's take a look at them and get you up to speed.

Title Insurance

Title insurance comes in two varieties: a lender's policy and an owner's policy. If you take out a mortgage to purchase the home, your lender will require that you purchase a lender's policy. This protects the lender from anyone else who thinks he is the rightful owner or otherwise has a claim against the property.
Depending on where you live, you may also be required to purchase an owner's title insurance policy. In other areas, the purchase is voluntary.
The issuance of either policy is based on research of the property's title, or the "chain of title" as it is known. The examiner will look at public records, such as deeds, wills and trusts to ensure that the wording is proper and that the names on the documents are correct. She will look for outstanding mortgages, judgments and any liens against the property. She will check easements, look for pending legal action against the property and more.
Should the examiner find problems on the title, they will need to be remedied before the purchase can be completed.
Once the policy is in place, the lender (and you, if you purchase an owner's policy) is insured against unknown heirs coming forward claiming ownership, forged signatures on the deed, mistakes in the public records, and other hidden hazards.

Homeowners Insurance

You may hear homeowners insurance referred to as hazard insurance, but they are one and the same. Again, if you take out a mortgage to purchase the home, the lender will require that you purchase homeowners insurance.
While coverage varies, most policies cover fire damage or loss, theft, wind damage, hail damage, vandalism and more. Some perils aren't typically covered, such as flood and earthquake damage, but there may be supplemental insurance that you can purchase to cover these hazards.
Your insurance agent can help you determine how much coverage you require, based on the loan amount and what it might cost to rebuild the home.
Payments to the insurance company are either kept in an escrow account sent in with your mortgage payment or the homeowner pays the premium on her own – it varies by insurer.
If you suffer a loss, the insurance company will typically make out the check to both you and the lender.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Private mortgage insurance is something most homebuyers and homeowners would love to get rid of, but it's a necessary evil. Without it, many buyers would not be given a mortgage and thus not be able to purchase a home.
PMI is required of borrowers whose down payment is less than 20 percent. Because these borrowers are considered higher risk, the lender needs assurance that it will get its money should the borrower default on the loan.
Because the borrower pays the premium (typically added to the monthly mortgage payment), it seems that the lender is the only party that benefits. Keep in mind, however, that without PMI, lenders would demand a 20 percent down payment. Therefore, the cash-poor borrower reaps an enormous benefit.
The good news about PMI - at least for those with conventional loans - is that you can request a cancellation of the insurance once your loan balance reaches 80 percent of the original value of the home. Unfortunately, borrowers with an FHA-backed loan arelocked into paying mortgage insurance premiums for the life of the loan, if they put less than 10 percent down. Borrowers who pay more than 10 percent, but less than 20 percent, can cancel the mortgage insurance in 11 years.
The best people to speak with if you have questions about any type of insurance required during the home-purchase process are your lawyer, your real estate agent and your insurance agent.

For all your mortgage questions and Pre Approvals: 

Justin M. Stottlar
Senior Mortgage Consultant
Monument Bank
378 North Main St.
Doylestown, Pa 18901
f:  267.224.4469
NMLS ID # 954839