Jeffrey Hogue Realtor

Real Estate home sales, new home construction sales, commercial real estate sales, Reading PA real estate sales, Best Realtor in Berks County, Chester County, Lancaster County, Montgomery County, Home buyer representation, home seller representation, Realtor since 1993. Top Realtor in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Instead of telling you how many homes I have sold and all the awards I have achieved selling real estate simply read my customer REVIEWS on Zillow.com. My customers tell more about me than I could ever say. I am truly humbled by their comments. For the absolute best real estate experience visit my website at jeffreyhoguerealtor.com.
Berks, Chester, lancaster, and Mongomery County Top Real Estate Agent Jeffrey Hogue Realtor
Property Tax Paradox in Berks County-Part 2

Property Tax Paradox in Berks County-Part 2

halloween-property-tax-cartoon-image

It is next week already…Wow they go fast! As promised, here is part 2 of the Property Tax Paradox in Berks County. If you have not read part 1 visit my website at https://jeffreyhoguerealtor.com/buyers/property-tax-paradox-in-berks-county/

Let’s get right to it. The paradox is as follows… Even though Berks Countians pay ever increasing property taxes to stave off poverty caused by a lack of quality education, poverty has still crept up on us in a big way.

Berks County School Boards have to set budgets that will sustain a competent level of education. Approximately 90% of these dollars come from property taxes. As Property taxes continue to rise, property values decrease and our schools and communities suffer for it. Year after year this puts pressure on school districts to consider cut backs that may lower the bar on education.

President Lynden Johnson stated the following in 1965- Poverty must not be a bar to learning, and learning must offer an escape from poverty.”

Obviously President Johnson never lived in Berks County.

Why do property values drop when property taxes rise? Tangibility and expectation.

The tangible part is the property itself. You decide how much to finance and negotiate the interest rate and term of the loan. This creates a more controllable financial situation relative to the desire and ability of the buyer/owner. Conversely, property taxes are out of the individuals’ control. While we experience the community services our property taxes provide for they are often taken for granted and therefore not as tangible a house you, see, touch and live in every day. This is tantamount to paying a homeowner Association fee in a Planned Community. The fee palatable if it is around $125 per month but at $400 per month it is likely to affect the future sale price of the property even though the property itself is the same.

Would you rather have a $312,500 with a $250,000 mortgage with $2,400 per year in taxes or a $250,000 home $200,000 mortgage with $6,000 per year in taxes? Assuming an interest rate of 4.5% over 30 years, the payment on the more expensive home is $47.00 LESS PER MONTH! Yes, your $312,500 home would have less of a monthly payment than the $250,000 home. Tangibility!

Expectations in our leaders forward looking statements are often negative. While interest rates go up and down property taxes seem to go in one direction, UP! Many times we are alerted by our boards and community leaders to the upward pressure on taxes in coming years during the discussions that take place while setting the budget for the present year. Negative forward looking statements often have negative effects when buying company stock (investments). The 3rd quarter earnings look great but the CFO steps to the podium and says the 4th quarter will be challenging and the stock nosedives along with your portfolio.

As property values drop more people may have their taxes appealed. Even if everyone does this and has their property assessment lowered the property tax millage would rise to meet the budget. This creates a larger differential in the value to tax ratio of the home. In other words, less tangibility.

Do not be overly surprised our legislators have had no success in getting us relief. They are really up against it. Reading and Berks County are on an island when it comes to the property tax situation. There are 67 counties in Pennsylvania and we may be in the worst condition of them all. Imagine being in a room with 67 people and one guy stands up and says, I have a problem with the tax system and want to exact sweeping changes. If you are not that one guy what would you think or say? Berks County, we may have to figure this one out on our own and I have some ideas.

Unfortunately, I have once again run out of space for this article. Those of you who know me understand I can be long winded. Obviously I write articles the same way.

Next week I will again continue this discussion and share ideas on how to turn this around. Stay Tuned! It gets better:)

Jeffrey C. Hogue

Visit me on Facebook, LIKE my page, read my articles and see great home photos every week ~ https://home/jeffreyh/public_html.facebook.com/BerksCountyPARealEstate

Best Time to Sell a Home in Berks County

Best Time to Sell a Home in Berks County

best time to sell a home in berks countyWhile “How Much is my Home Worth?” may be the #1 most asked question by home sellers “When is the Best Time to Sell a Home in Berks County?” is a close second. This article will focus on the latter.

Berks County is a very traditional community located in the northeastern part of the country. These two factors have greatly influenced our home buying habits for many decades. Our warm summers and cold winters create seasonal challenges. Many choose not to brave the elements to see a home and move during the winter months.

There is also a practicality that has a profound influence in Berks County and all over the nation. Many families with school age children choose not to move during the school year which is customarily from late August through early June. This leads to many listing their home for sale between March and August.

My experiences of the last three years have been that June & July are when home lookers turn into pending deals. This leads to August being a big settlement month. This tells me that the practical buyer market is stronger for two reasons. There is more home inventory during this time and it is more prudent to move when children and school teachers, which Berks County is rich in, are on vacation.

What you learn from living in Berks County is that habits do not change easily. Traditionally many do not list or remove their home from the market from October through February. Are they missing a good portion of the market? Maybe.

October through January are quality months for several reasons. The inventory is lower so there is less competition between homes, the end of the fiscal year tends to bring relocation business, many desire to be in a home prior to the holidays creating demand and, the biggest of all, the internet makes it so we do not have to go outside to shop for homes.

Our Berks County habits are changing. The internet has dramatically changed commerce and blurred the lines between home buying and selling seasons. When it is cold or damp outside my website views rise. Buyers tend to limit the homes they desire to see to their favorites when it is 20 degrees out. I have often said that when someone wants to see your home 2 days before Christmas they are serious.

There are other factors that account for when a home should be marketed. Some homes simply look better in the spring than they do in the winter. This may be true if you live on a private wooded lot that is not so private when the leaves are down. There are others that look better in the fall due to the colorful foliage. Is it wise to market a home with a steep driveway in the winter? Good question. I have had people not buy a home because the driveway was steep and they worried about it being icy in winter. It may have been better to show the home in winter with a clean driveway to remove the speculation.

The matter of fact is that every home and homeowner in Berks is uniquely different. The best time to sell a home in Berks County is when you are ready to do so. Arm yourself with a good real estate agent, marketing plan and price strategy and the job will get done. This is more important than any month of the year.

Now if we can just get the internet to move all your stuff to the new house we would really have something.

Jeffrey C. Hogue

Visit me on Facebook, LIKE my page, read my articles and see great home photos every week ~ https://home/jeffreyh/public_html.facebook.com/BerksCountyPARealEstate

Home Value Haters to be Aware of

Home Value Haters to be Aware of

No-HateThere are many ways to stigmatize the value of a home. Some of the easy ones are as follows:

Paint all the rooms a fluorescent green; have your home for sale for more than 3 years straight; cook sauerkraut before every home showing; have every pet you own use the living room as if it were their private litter box…You get the idea.

On a more serious note, this article is not about the obvious home value haters but the ones you may never consider. Following is a list of things I came up with:

  1. Aggressively Overpricing a Home / Days on the Market ~ Overpricing often wastes the most important time in the listing of a home, the first 3 weeks. This is when many of the prospective buyers will see your property show up on all the web sites and Multi-list. This could lead to the best buyers passing on and forgetting about the home. Lowering the price and extended days on the market tend to weaken the eventual selling price of the home.
  2. Homeowner Insurance Claims ~ The new home buyer will likely be getting homeowner insurance. The insurance company will look up the homes past record relating to any and all claims. The outcome could cause the home buyer to pay a larger premium. The Seller Property Disclosure Statement asks the home seller to explain any insurance claims they filed. This is to disclose the condition that caused the issue along with the fact that it could affect the insurance premium. Higher insurance premiums are not a benefit to a home’s value.
  3. Excessively High Property Taxes ~ This is rather simple.  If the property taxes are high the monthly payment will be high. Anything that raises the monthly payment of a home negatively affects its value. Consider a home value assessment yearly. If your tax assessment is higher than the home’s value you have the right to appeal the assessment.
  4. Zoning Changes or Requested Variances in Your Municipality ~ Zoning changes happen from time to time. These changes could have a negative effect on one’s property. This is especially true when land is available next to a residential area. Stay in touch with your municipality by going to meetings or visiting the Municipality web site for your area. Make sure your voice is heard.
  5. No Permits for Improvements ~ This is another question that is asked on the Seller Property Disclosure Statement. Remember, this document is reviewed by a prospective home buyer prior to considering a home purchase. Many agents will forward this document to their home inspector to review prior to the inspection. It does not look good to see improvements with a “NO” in the answer box. This can easily be corrected.
  6. Undocumented Common Space ~ The most common of issue is the shared driveway with no maintenance or use agreement. Others include shared water wells, septic systems, parking areas, etc…This will almost always be an issue with a home buyer. While you may enjoy a civil existence with your neighbor of 20 years, the people buying your home may not be as trusting. This can be more difficult to solve and should be addressed prior to listing a home or property.
  7. Failed Home Sale Issues ~ You get an agreement on your home, the buyer has a home inspection and mortgage contingency, your agent changes the status of your home to PENDING and the deal falls apart. Now the home status is changed back to ACTIVE. This can raise suspicions that the deal fell apart because there was something wrong with the home. This is why I subscribe to using the ACTIVE-O status instead of PENDING when there are buyer contingencies outstanding. This leaves the home active on all the web sites therefore it does not create the same suspicions. There is also the disclosure of the home inspection if one was ordered and delivered to the seller’s agent.

All these issues are manageable. Goodness knows there are more issues that affect home values than one can write in any one article. You simply need an agent in the know.

Jeffrey C. Hogue

The Art of Home Photography

The Art of Home Photography

art of home photography

The art of home photography encompasses much more than taking photos of houses. It is about displaying the warmth the home offers through the lens of a camera and sharing it with prospective home buyers.

These photos are taken using a mobile strobe strategy. After the shoot the digital photos are edited in Lightroom & Photoshop. This takes another 1 to 2 hours depending on the number of photographs. This is, in my humble opinion, a much truer form of home and architectural photography than the often used High Dynamic Range strategy used by many photographic enthusiasts. High Dynamic Range home photography (HDR), also known as bracketing, gives the home photo an oil painting look. You may have seen these photos online. They tend to make the home photo look surreal. I am not against HDR home photography it is simply a technique used to save time. If the photographer is not careful with the HDR editing the homes will look fake and will not give an accurate depiction of the home.

JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Home Photography Demonstration from Jeffrey Hogue on Vimeo.

When a home does not look like the photos online it is a letdown for the home buyer. In many cases this is due to the photographer not using the right lens. In many cases they use a wide lens to make the rooms look larger. While this may get the home buyer to the house the real room sizes will be disclosed when they are there. There is not much worse than a home buyer who expected more because of a photograph just to be let down when entering the actual home.

In today’s visual world it is of utmost importance to have the best home photos possible. This is not the point in the home marketing campaign to take chances and drop the ball.  Make sure and ask what kind of home photography your agent will do or who they will hire to do it.

How about this…Interview several agents and ask them to take an interior photo and an exterior photo of your home and see how they look. That is how important it is to have a good portfolio of photographs of your Berks County, PA home. Make sure I am one of the agents you call. You will see the difference and so will the prospective home buyers.

To preview all the photos of the home in the video click HERE

Jeffrey C. Hogue

Time to Make a Difference in Berks County, PA

Time to Make a Difference in Berks County, PA

vote buttonThis coming Tuesday November 5th we will hold Municipal Elections in Berks County.  Many in the know are predicting a very low voter turnout.  I hope we prove them wrong!

More people tend to go to the polls in presidential election years while the local elections tend to get overlooked. The irony is that the rules and regulations that govern our municipalities are created by these local officials and have a great impact on all Berks Countains.

We will elect township supervisors, borough council members, school board directors, Common Pleas Court Judges and Magisterial District Judges.  It is so important for the strength and vitality of our community to have great leaders.  You play an important role in selecting these people.

The more voices that are heard in any election normally lead to the right people being elected. We all have ideas on how things should be done. Our ability to express these ideas comes through who we vote for.

It is true that location dictates home and property value. The way to better location value is to have solid neighborhoods and great communities. Communities that are financially stable and safe draw new business and responsible growth. This starts with the people we vote for. We all have skin in the game.

Most agree that Reading and Berks County are in need of a revitalization. Grumbling and complaining do no good. Get unglued from the couch, TV and computer and vote on Election Day. Do your homework on the candidates and go to the polls on Tuesday and let your voice be heard. We can all help Berks grow in the right direction and become a more desired location. Remember, a rising tide raises all boats (in this case houses).

I have lived in Berks County and Reading, PA for 50 years. I know the people here care about their community. They never give up and never will. That is why I started my new real estate company, Weichert Realtors Neighborhood One, in Berks County. My wife owns and Manages Wyomissing Travel Cruise One and my kids go to school here. I will be voting on Tuesday, November 5th. It is important to me and my family. Berks County is important to me. I hope it is important to you!

I want to thank Madelyn Fudeman, who is running for judge, for allowing me to interview her for this article. I have been witness to her representation skills from both sides. She is both formidable and fair. She has a passion and commitment for what she does in much the same way I do for serving the needs of the home buyers and sellers of Berks County.

VOTE!

Jeffrey C. Hogue

The What and Why of Title Insurance in Berks County

The What and Why of Title Insurance in Berks County

Keys to Home OwnershipThere are two reasons people purchase any type of insurance. One is protection against unknown or undesirable circumstances, also known as peace of mind. The other is because you have to. In the case of property title insurance it could be both.

The purchaser of real estate needs protection against serious financial loss due to a defect in the title to the property purchased. For a single, one-time premium, which is a modest amount in relationship to the value of the property, a buyer can receive the protection of a title insurance policy – a policy that is backed by the reserves and solvency of the Company. A title insurance policy will cover both claims arising out of title problems that could have been discovered in the public records.

A title insurance policy will not only protect the insured owner, but also that person’s heirs for as long as they hold title to the property, and even after they sell by warranty deed. The Company will not only satisfy any valid claim made against the insured’s title, but it will pay for the costs and legal expenses of defending against a title claim.

The standard title policy does not cover against false claims, which is a weakness. Many events beyond a Berks County home buyers control can reduce the value of the home after you own it. If it is a newly-constructed house, sub-contractors claiming they had not been paid by the builder may place a lien on the house. Identity theft can result in a new mortgage you know nothing about. A neighbor could build on your land without your knowledge, thereby adversely possessing and possibly eventually taking your land. Or you may suddenly be told that you must correct a zoning violation of a previous owner. The solution is an enhanced policy (normally 10% more cost). This type of policy is standard in California and is also known as an ALTA policy. The ALTA policy increases, (coverage not cost), by 10% a year for the first 5 years after issuance, to 150% of the initial amount. This protects homeowners as their home value inflates over the years.

If you need a mortgage to purchase a Berks County home the Lender will require that you purchase it. One thing many are not aware of is that the Lender only requires that you insure the title to the amount of the loan amount and not the full price of the property. This is so their investment is protected. If you are not financing your purchase you do not need title insurance.

Title insurance is normally paid at the settlement of the home. In Pennsylvania title insurance rates are governed by the State. The difference form company to company is the strength of their underwriter and the level of service they provide. Title insurance companies here in Berks County do many things. They hold settlement, Provide escrow options, and conduct conveyancing duties plus many other things.

It is my opinion that Berks County home buyers should understand how title insurance works for them. In too many cases the home buyer is led to a title company by their agent. This is because of a thing called an Affiliated Business Arrangement or ABA. This is a separate title company that issues shares of a title company to real estate brokers and agents. The brokers and agents get royalties from the business.

Ask your agent if they belong to an ABA. They will likely lead you to use them. They benefit financially if you do. This is not a bad thing but should be disclosed properly. Look for the ABA disclosure which most Real Estate companies have.

I do not belong to an ABA. I think it is better to use a title company that best suits my buyer and seller. This is the company that will give the best service and is backed by firm underwriting. I have been a member of ABA’s in the past. The service is much better when the title company is keeping their share of the dollars they make instead of paying them to me. In place of these dollars my customers get great service and I get additional support from the title company. The cost is the same to you, the Berks County home buyer.

One example is timing. I like to have the title report right in the beginning of a transaction. This prevents my buyer customer from spending money on home inspections and the like just to find out there is a title issue that the home seller needs to resolve before the home can be sold with a special warranty deed. This is just one example.

There are rule changes coming relating to the ABA relationships. The CFPB rule changes may discourage many of these most times smaller companies to soon disappear. Stay tuned

I would like to personally thank Dave Wierzbicki of Edge Abstract, Berks County for his information and assistance with this information.

Jeffrey C. Hogue