First weekend of 2013 in Bucks County
Hello, Bucks County friends! The holiday festivities may be over, but there it’s still a good time to relax with friends and family this weekend. Here are a few things happening in the area this weekend:
Sunday, January 6, 11:30 am
Crossing Vineyards and Winery
Washington Crossing, PA
A one-hour yoga class, followed by private wine tasting and tour. Bring your yoga mat and be ready for a relaxing good time.
Saturday, January 5, 12:00 – 10:00 pm
Sunday, January 6, 12:00 – 9:00 pm
Shady Brook Farm
931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley
It’s not too late to see the light show at Shady Brook Farm. Fill up your car and enjoy the lights. This is the last weekend!
Saturday, January 5, 5:00pm
Bucks County Ice Sports Center
1185 York Road, Warminster
Enjoy a great game with the Flyer alumni vs. Team Berube, and a $10 donation at the door benefits Kids vs. Cancer.
Feel free to contact me if you are looking for a great home this New Year season. There are a lot of great homes in Yardley, Newtown and all of Bucks County.Continue Reading > Add a Comment
Filed Under Buck County events + bucks county pa + Bucks County PA Community Events + Bucks County Real Estate + bucks county realtor + Martin Millner Real Estate + newtown PA + Washington Crossing Real Estate + Yardley PA
Mortgage Insurance Premium – Who Needs MIP in Bucks County?
First-time homebuyers in Yardley, Newtown and Bucks County can wonder why they may be required to pay an extra fee each month on top of their regular mortgage payment. Before you make a choice on a mortgage loan, make sure you understand the mortgage insurance premium, and how you can reduce it and put the money toward building up your equity.
Here’s a tip for potential FHA buyers of Bucks County real estate: Paying extra principal on your mortgage loan can help you remove the required monthly mortgage interest premium (MIP) faster, which will lower your monthly loan payment, reduce your overall interest, and build equity faster on your home.
FHA loans require mortgage insurance premium to cover a possible loss to the lender if the property has to be foreclosed and sold. The premium is sizeable and does nothing to help build equity in your home. Eliminating the MIP would reduce the payment considerably, and help you keep more cash in your pocket.
FHA loans require that MIP remain in effect for five years. But after that time, the MIP requirement will be released if you have paid down your loan to at least 78% of the original purchase price. With that extra payment removed, your monthly payment will go down. Since amortization is affected by interest rates, the normal time to reach this 78% point could be from 9 to 12 years at today’s interest rates.
Contact your mortgage professional for more information about your particular situation.Continue Reading > Add a Comment
Filed Under bucks county pa + Bucks County Real Estate + buying real estate + FHA + first time home buyers + Martin Millner Real Estate + MIP + Mortgage Insurance Premium + Mortgage Rates + newtown PA + Washington Crossing Real Estate + Yardley PA
Family Halloween Fun – Yardley, Newtown, Bucks County
There may be windy wet weather coming our way next week, but we still have a chance to enjoy some Halloween celebrations this weekend! There is much fun to be had in Yardley, Newtown and all of Bucks County. Here are a few events:
Saturday, October 27, 2012 11:00am
Parade starts at 11:00am at Borough Hall and ends at Buttonwood Park. Party with your fellow Yardley Borough residents at the park with lots of tricks, treats and pumpkin painting!
Saturday, October 27, 2012 10:00am
Stocking Works, State Street
Get your best costume on, stroll down State Street to the Newtown Theatre, and compete for prizes in ten different categories. We shouldn’t have snow like last year, so come on out, watch or participate, and enjoy refreshments at the Newtown Theatre afterward.
Sunday, October 28, 2012 12 :00 – 6:00pm
Crossing Vineyards & Winery, Washington Crossing
Come to the Vinyards in costume, enjoy a hauntingly good wine tasting, and get a free logo glass!
There is still a lot to enjoy next week as well, rain or shine. Here are some events scheduled for next week in Yardley, Newtown and all around Bucks County:
October 30 – November 6, 2012 at dusk
Rivermawr Green, Historic Yardley
Enjoy the traditional lighting of the Jack-o-Lanterns along the Delaware Canal every evening next week. We will kick the week off with the Carve-o-Thon on Tuesday, October 30 from 4:00 – 7:00pm at the Rivermawr Green, on the corner of Morgan and Maple Avenues. Oct 31 – Nov 6, take the Jack-o-Lantern Stroll in the same area along the Canal. Be a part of this wonderful yearly tradition!
Saturday, October 27 & Sunday, October 28, 2012
11:00am – 3:30pm and 7:00 – 10:00pm
Highland Road, Newtown
By day, Sleep Hollow is a kids’ delight, with a corn maze, relaxing hayride, inflatables and a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. At night, it transforms into a farm of terror, with the Field of Fright, Haunted Hayride and Haunted House in the Hollow! Fun for everyone!Continue Reading > Add a Comment
Yardley and Bucks County, PA – Our History
Most people who live in Bucks County, PA know and appreciate the rich history of the area. Named by William Penn after his hometown in England, Bucks County became known for its importance during the Revolutionary War.
For those who are new to the area, or are thinking of moving to Yardley, Newtown or any of our wonderful Bucks County towns, there are many opportunities to immerse yourself in our local history.
Here are just a few:
The Old Library in Yardley
Opened in 1878 on land donated by William Yardley’s heirs, the Yardleyville Library is situated on Lake Afton in the town of Yardley. It was used as a library for the community until 1977, and can now be rented out for events. Visit the website of the Yardley Historical Association for more information on the library and other fun Yardley history-related happenings.
The village of Fallsington grew up around the first Falls Friends Meetinghouse built in 1692 it became significant as a social, market and religious center. This 300 year old village is now a Nationally Registered Historic District, and preserved by Historic Fallsington, Inc. Step back in time and enjoy the restored homes and visit the museum. Visit the Historic Fallsington website for more information on hours and pricing.
Washington Crossing Historic Park
The site where, on Christmas Night, 1776, George Washington and the Continental Army crossed the icy Delaware River. The park also features the 19th-century village of Taylorsville, Thompson Neely House and gristmill, Bowmans Hill Tower, and picnic areas. Visit the park’s website for more information.
Pearl S. Buck House & Historic Site
Pearl Buck spent most of her life in China, and is famous for her book on Chinese peasant life, The Good Earth. Pearl lived in Perkasie, PA with her second husband from approximately 1935 – 1960. Enjoy a guided tour of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s circa 1825 farmhouse and intact collection on a picturesque 68-acre estate. A National Historic Landmark with gift shop, cultural center, beautiful gardens and seasonal special exhibits featured. Find out more info at the Pearl S. Buck International website.
Contact me for more information on living in this wonderful area of Bucks County, PA.Continue Reading > Add a Comment
1 Buttonwood Drive, Washington CrossingContinue Reading > Add a Comment
Buying a Home in Yardley or Newtown, Bucks County? 10 Important Questions for Your Home Inspector
Maybe because the weather has been so warm and snow-free, it seems as though the so-called “spring” real estate market in Yardley, Newtown and all over Bucks County has started early. I have written a few recent posts on changes in the Yardley, Newtown area real estate market.
When working with buyers, I always stress how important it is to have a thorough and complete home inspection. For any buyer of real estate in Bucks County, it is critically important to know that any offer you make on a house, can be made contingent on the results of a home inspection. Over the years, I have worked with many area home inspectors. I thought it would be interesting to review what I think are 10 great questions to ask your home inspector.
There are a number of highly qualified, experienced home inspectors in the Yardley, Newtown area, and there is nothing wrong with interviewing more than one. Here are the questions:
1. What does your inspection cover?
At the time of the inspection, most home inspectors will give you a document to sign, that explains, among other things, the limits to what they will be inspecting. The inspector should ensure that their inspection and report meets all applicable requirements for Pennsylvania. They should also ensure that the report will comply with the local standards of practice and code of ethics. If you have specific concerns about something in the house, or an area in the house that you are concerned about, make the inspector aware and be sure that those things are covered in the inspection.
2. How long have you been practicing in the home inspection professions and how many inspections have you done?
This should not be a problem for the inspector to answer. You should be able to review their history in the profession, and perhaps get referrals.
3. Are you specifically experienced in residential inspection?
If the inspection is for a commercial property, you should ask the same question. The inspector may have a construction or engineering back round. but there is no substitute for training and experience in the unique discipline of doing home inspections.
4. Do you offer repairs or improvements based on the inspection?
In some states, this is specifically outlawed. Years ago, in Bucks County, inspectors often did work on repairs, and I never liked that idea since there was an obvious conflict of interest. For the most part, this is no longer an issue with home inspectors in the Yardley and Newtown area.
5. How long with the inspection take?
I have found that the average inspection in our area takes between tw0 and three hours. For the purposes of budgeting your time, you should have a general understanding of how long the inspection should take.
6. How much will it cost?
Costs can vary from inspector to inspector, and it is one of the questions that you should ask, so that you are not surprised the day of the inspection. There are also some variables in terms of what inspections are needed, that will impact the cost. If you need a septic and/or water and well inspections, the cost will be somewhat higher than if those inspections are not needed. When I meet with buyers, I include an approximate cost for the home inspection in my closing cost estimate.
7. What type of inspection report do you provide and how long will it take to receive the report?
I think it is a good idea to ask for samples of the inspectors report, so that you are comfortable with the format, and that you can understand the report language and style. You also need to be sure that the time parameters meet your needs. In our Pennsylvania agreement of sale, there is a time limit to the inspection contingency. It is critically important that the report be available to you in enough time that you can evaluate it and respond to the seller appropriately.
8. Will I be able to attend the inspection?
I always encourage buyers to attend the home inspection, and I would be highly suspicious of any inspector who did not encourage that. I have never actually encountered a problem with an inspector suggesting that a buyer not attend the inspection, but you should ask the question, just to be sure. The inspector will share maintenance information, as well as explaining any defects, and attending the inspection gives you a great chance to learn about the house.
9. Do you maintain membership in a professional home inspector association?
There are actually tw0 national home inspection associations, and in Pennsylvania, the inspector needs to be a member of one of them in order for their report to be used as a basis to negotiate with the seller as a result of an inspection report. There should be no problem asking the inspector whether they are a member of one of the organizations.
10. Do you participate in continuing education?
I think this is a good measure of the inspectors professionalism and service. The more knowledge an inspector has, the better they should be in evaluating any unusual or unique condition in a house.
I hope that these suggestions are helpful if you are considering a home inspector for a house in Yardley, Newtown or anywhere in Bucks County. I would love to hear your thoughts. I can be reached at 215-519-1399, or Marty@MartinMillner.com. If you are considering buying a Yardley or Newtown home, please let me know if I can help you.Continue Reading > Add a Comment
Filed Under Bucks County + bucks county pa + bucks county realtor + buying real estate + home inspection + Home Values + Lower Makefield Township + Martin Millner Real Estate + New Hope PA + Real Estate + Washington Crossing Real Estate + Yardley + Yardley PA
Home Buying 101 in Yardley, Bucks County
I saw an interesting article this morning from MSNBC entitled, “What you should know before buying a home”.
The author of the article described the journey from moving 9 times in 9 years, from college dorms to various apartments, before deciding to look for something a bit more permanent in the form of a house. In 2009, the author purchased a home, and based on that experience, has suggested five important pieces of advice.
This story resonated with me, because I have three kids who, I suspect, are within a couple of years or so of the author.
Each of my three kids has already purchased a home, or is currently in the process of purchasing a home. I have learned first hand, from their experiences, how daunting and potentially confusing the home buyer process can be, especially for fist time home buyers.
Yardley, Newtown and the entire Bucks County area offers great opportunities for owning real estate. Especially now, with prices lower than they have been in years, and with interest rates at historic lows, it is a great time to buy real estate. However, if you have not been through the process before, it is scary!
I appreciated the advice given in the MSNBC article, and thought that these are five great suggestions.
1. Have a good realtor. I know that I am biased, because this is what I do. But personally, I love working with first time home buyers. I feel that it is my responsibility to be sure that first time home buyers are comfortable with the process, and at each step in the home buying process clearly understand their options and what is happening. I enjoy guiding and educating first time home buyers through the experience, and I know that as we move through the experience, they will understand the process completely.
2. Educate yourself. Again, I think this is great advice. There is a tremendous amount of information that you can find on-line. I actually have a book called, “Before You Buy”, that I can send to people who are interested while my supply lasts. It is a great book on buying a home. The National Association of Realtors also has a buyers guide. It is important to learn as much as you can.
3. Talk to neighbors. I think that this is a great suggestion, and it isn’t done often enough. Before finalizing an offer on a house, it is a great idea to speak with neighbors. Ask them what they like about living in the neighborhood, and ask whether there is anything they don’t like. You may be surprised by what you learn.
4. It is OK not to do everything in the house in the first month you own it. I have worked with buyers who become a bit overwhelmed by thought that they have to furnish, decorate and update an entire house. Remember, there is nothing wrong with taking on projects in stages. Start with rooms and spaces that are most important, and do not feel that it is necessary to everything at once. It will all come together, eventually, and that is fine.
5. Be aware of, and prepared for, hidden costs. When you are a home owner, unexpected costs will occur. Try and be prepared. Could be plumbing issue. Maybe the heater needs a repair. When working on a budget, try and allocate a reserve for these, sudden, and unexpected costs that will come up.
Finally, in searching for your first home, you should love it. It is exciting, it is a lot of money, but in the end, should all be worth it.
If you want a copy of the book, “Before You Buy”, send me your contact information, and I will get a copy out to you. I have about five or six copies left.Continue Reading > Add a Comment
Great Steps for Preparing Your Yardley Home to Sell
Every Yardley seller wants their home to sell fast and bring top dollar. It’s not luck that makes that happen. It’s careful planning, and knowing how to professionally spruce up your home that will send home buyers scurrying for their checkbooks. Here is how to prep your house and turn it into an irresistible and marketable property.
Disassociate Yourself From Your Home.
Say to yourself, “This is not my home; it is a house — a product to be sold just like a box of cereal at the grocery store.” Make the mental decision to “let go” of your emotions and focus on the fact that soon this house will no longer be yours. Picture yourself handing over the keys and envelopes containing appliance warranties to the new owners.
Pack up your personal photographs and family heirlooms. You want buyers to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can’t do that if yours are there. You don’t want to make any buyer ask, “I wonder what kind of people live in this home?” You want buyers to say, “I can see myself living here.”
People collect an amazing amount of junk. Consider this: If you haven’t used it in over a year, you probably don’t need it.
- If you don’t need it, why not donate it or throw it away?
- Remove all books from bookcases.
- Pack up those knickknacks.
- Clean off everything on kitchen counters.
- Put essential items used daily in a small box that can be stored in a closet when not in use.
Rearrange Bedroom Closets and Kitchen Cabinets.
Buyers love to snoop, and will open closet and cabinet doors. Think of the message it sends if items fall out! Now imagine what a buyer believes about you if they sees everything organized. It says you probably take good care of the rest of the house as well.
Rent a Storage Unit.
Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove items that block or hamper paths and walkways and put them in storage. Since your bookcases are now empty, store them. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room’s purpose and plenty of room to move around.
Remove/Replace Favorite Items.
If you want to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove them now. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great grandmother, take it down. If a buyer never sees it, they won’t want it. Once you tell a buyer they can’t have an item, they’ll covet it, and it could blow your deal. Pack those items and replace them, if necessary.
Go outside and open your front door. Stand there. Do you want to go inside? Does the house welcome you? Linger in the doorway of every single room and imagine how your house will look to a buyer. Examine carefully how furniture is arranged and move pieces around until it makes sense. Make sure window coverings hang level. Tune in to the room’s statement and its emotional pull. Does it have impact and pizzazz? Does it look like nobody lives in this house? You’re almost finished.
Check Curb Appeal.
If a buyer won’t get out of their agent’s car because they doesn’t like the exterior of your home, you’ll never get them inside.Continue Reading > Add a Comment
Yardley Insurance Expert Offers Ten Insurance Considerations For Every New Business Owner to Consider
I am part of an extremely productive and active networking group that meets every Tuesday morning at 7:00 am. We meet at the Yardley Inn for breakfast. Our single goal in our networking group is to generate business for each other. We have about 40 great professionals in our group, which is called Le Tip of Yardley. Check out the link to our Facebook page.
This morning Gabe Schick, who is the business insurance professional that I refer to on a regular basis, gave us a great presentation that I thought would be worth sharing, since I often work with people who are moving because of business start ups in Bucks County. Gabe is with the Makefield Agency in Yardley. This morning, he shared with us 10 insurance considerations for every new business owner to consider. This list is not all inclusive, but it is definitely a great place to start for anyone considering starting a new business.
1. Consult a licensed insurance professional during the business planning phase. The time to work on structuring insurance is in the planning stage, not the day your business will open.
2. Make sure that you consider the physical condition of the building that you are about to buy or lease. Things like square footage, age, flood zone, construction type, condition, etc, can all directly affect your premium.
3. Workers Compensation. Gabe suggested that you should assume that you will need it. The information and classification rates can be found on the State website, but it is important that you speak with an insurance agent as well as an accountant and/or attorney in the state in which you’ll be doing business.
4. Have a general idea of what you anticipate your gross annual sales and payroll will be. This will help your insurance professional determine your business interruption and workers comp coverages.
5. Call an insurance professional at least one (1) week prior to signing a mortgage or lease. More lead time gives the agent a better chance to find the best possible rates. Many real estate transactions have been delayed due to insurance requirements not being met.
6. Consider elements of your business that may be better left to vendors, sub-contractors or even competitors. For instance, if you are opening a restaurant, you can save a huge amount by establishing a BYO as opposed to a full service, liquor-licensed establishment.
7. Will your business have a board of directors? Special coverage may be necessary to protect the board from suits brought by employees, shareholders, etc.
8. Do you hold a professional license, designation or credential? If so, you may need errors and omissions insurance.
9. Should your car be titled in the company name? Again, this may be a question for your accountant or attorney, but commercial auto rates tend to be 18-30% higher than personal rates, according to Gabe. Will employees be required to use your vehicles, or their own, on the job? Those questions will effect rates.
10. Make a list of risks to your industry that you are aware of. Share the list with your insurance professional so that you are sure you are being protected.
As I mentioned, I have worked with personally and referred many clients to Gabe Schick at the Makefield Agency. Gabe and his agency are absolutely wonderful to work with. Click on the hyperlink at Gabe’s name, to get to the agency website. His direct number is 215-321-0281.
If you are considering starting a business, or are buying a business, I hope that this information is helpful.Continue Reading > Add a Comment
Filed Under Bucks County + bucks county pa + bucks county realtor + insurance + insurance considerations + Lower Makefield Township + new business + new business owners + New Hope PA + Washington Crossing Real Estate + Yardley + Yardley PA
Year End Real Estate Update for Bucks County & Yardley
Time to take a look at what happened in our real estate market in Bucks County and Yardley in 2011.
As noted on the Bucks County real estate chart below, we can see that the number of houses sold in all of Bucks County was 3% less than the number of houses sold in 2010. (There were still 4423 homes sold in Bucks County in 2011). The number of homes sold in December of 2011 though, was 11.6% higher than in December of 2010. This was the sixth consecutive month that unit sales in the County were higher than the previous year.
Prices of homes sold in 2011, in Bucks County, fell by 5.5%. As you will see in the Yardley data, home prices in Yardley/Lower Makefield Township did better than that in 2011.
Pending sales remained about the same as they were a year ago at the same time.
Bucks County real estate inventory is 9.2% less than it was a year ago, and more than 10% than it was in November of 2011.
Finally, the average listing price of a home for sale in Bucks County, is down by 3.5% from a year ago at this time.
What does this all mean? Specifically for Lower Makefield Township, there is now a 7.2 month inventory supply. We consider a market to be balanced, when inventory is about 6 months. It seems as though in the Yardley area, we are getting closer to balanced market conditions. Average days on the market is 87 right now, compared with 72 last year. Buyers are still negotiating an average of 8% discount from original asking price.
As I suggest on a regular basis, market conditions demand that sellers who are serious about selling, be realistic in their asking price. I see it over and over again, that over priced homes, help the realistic sellers get their home sold!Continue Reading > Add a Comment