Places to Explore in Chester County, PA

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Exploring around Chester County and not knowing where to start? This wonderful county has a long list of amazing attractions to fit every need. Whether you are looking for an outdoor adventure, historic places, restaurants, or local businesses to check out, Chester County has it all.

A local business that is a must to visit is The Games Keep in West Chester. This board game store has over 3,000 titles to choose from ranging from board and card games, to RPG’s, to mini games, and more. This shop has been listed as one of the best board game stores in the region by The Philadelphia Inquirer. If you are looking for new games to try during downtime or a new way to engage with your friends and family, checking out this shop is a must!

If you are looking to park and roam around a beautiful and historic area for a meal and some light window shopping, Historic Kennett Square is your spot. In this wonderful area, you can shop and dine to your heart’s content. If you are looking to browse art galleries, clothing stores, bookstores, home decor, or gift shops, there are plenty to choose from! Talk a stroll through this area and you will see just how many things there are to do! There are even B&B’s to stay in if you want an overnight or weekend getaway.

If you are looking to take a stroll in some beautiful gardens, Longwood Gardens is a wonderful place to take in the beauty of nature. Right now, until March 21, you are able to see their Winter Wonder gardens which feature flowers and foliage that burst with color all while taking in the crisp winter air.

Feeling like a hike in the crisp winter air? Weather warming up a bit and want to get outside? Chester County has many hiking trails to choose from such as Binky Lee Preserve, Stroud Preserve, Cheslen Preserve, and Ridley Creek State Park to name a few. The parks in this county caters to all sorts of adventurers wanting to get out into nature.

If you are in the mood to sit back, relax, and sip on some wine, there are a number of wineries in this area to enjoy. Whether you are looking for a nice afternoon to yourself or a date spot for you and your significant other, wineries here like Stargazers Vineyard and Va La Vineyards are great choices.

Of course, there are plenty of other options to choose from in Chester County, PA but no matter what you choose to do and explore, there are activities for everyone.

The Continued Increase in Home Prices

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As the inventory of homes decreases, the values of homes are increasing. The housing market has been surging despite the pandemic and there are simply not enough homes for the amount of people looking to buy. With the inventory being low, home prices are skyrocketing. 

There are some speculations that the housing market will start to gain more inventory as 2021 continues. People could start to feel more comfortable putting their houses on the market when initially the pandemic might have halted their plans.

With the instability of the world at the beginning of the pandemic, no one knew how the real estate world would work. Now that we are almost a year into this health crisis, real estate agents have figured out what works and what doesn’t which will make people looking to sell feel more comfortable.

People who have been hit hard financially by the pandemic might be forced to sell to gain more stability. With the pandemic closing business all over, a lot of people have been laid off or simply not able to work enough. With only two stimulus checks and depending strictly on unemployment checks, some people have had no other choice but to sell their home. 

The national inventory decreased by 36.4 percent year-over-year, according to Realtor.com as well as the new listing inventory decreased by 11.8 percent. In November 2020, the median list price of homes rose to $335,519 which is 14% higher than the year before. 

Low mortgage rates still continue as we are nearing the end of February, in fact, the mortgage rates are a whole point less than the beginning of 2020. Rates still continue to be below 3% for 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgage rates. 

Sellers have the ability to increase the selling price of their homes because they know people will bite due to low inventory issues. The price of homes may start to even out as more houses enter the market but that all falls on if the demand balances out between home buyers and the number of houses on the market.

 

Renting vs Owning: Which Will Give You More Bang for Your Buck

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The final decision of whether you should buy, or rent is a big one. There are many questions that you have to answer about your own situation and life to figure out which option is better for you. As home prices are rising, is it really worth buying a home right now or renting and waiting? Well, there is no short and direct answer to that question but let’s break it down.

Home prices are increasing by the second in the real estate market, but low mortgage rates are helping to own a home be more affordable. Mortgage rates have dropped below 3% which is helping people buy homes even if the prices are skyrocketing. When compared to owning a home, the cost of renting seems to be more expensive.

When it comes to numbers, determining if you can afford to buy a home is crucial. Even though you can buy a home with a minimum 5% down payment, it’s a good idea to wait until you can put a good amount of money down. You may also need money to cover closing costs as well. The better your credit score, the better chance you will have getting a mortgage with a lower interest rate.

If you are looking to buy, there are many reasons why you should. You have the complete freedom to renovate your home to your desire. The big reason, well, the property is yours. You succeeded in buying a home. That, for sure, is a great accomplishment. But, with positives comes negatives. If you want to move and relocate somewhere else, the process of selling is a great ordeal. There are a lot of steps to take if you decide you want to get up and live somewhere else.

If you are wanting to rent, look at your living situation. Renting is a great idea if you plan on moving around a lot, you need time to save up money to buy a home, or you are paying off debt. When you rent, you can easily decide to move once your lease is up or you can try and get out of a lease. Another great reason to rent is maintenance costs. If there is an issue, call your landlord. Renter’s insurance will also go a long way.

When it comes to the negatives of renting, there are a few. If you want to change up your space, there is less freedom to do so. Ultimately, your landlord will have to approve any major changes you want to make which puts you in the position of not having a lot to say in the matter of what your place looks like.

There is no clear-cut answer to which is better, it all comes down to what is better for you and your financial and living situation.

The Rise of the Millennial Market

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Millennials, the generation that only wanted to rent and not buy, make up a huge portion of the U.S. housing market, 38%to be exact. This percentage is the largest share of one group in the housing market.

This generation is defined as the people who were born in the years 1981-1996. Millennials have the reputation of still living with their parents or not wanting to cough up a lot of money to buy a home. But that has majorly changed over the last year or so.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing supply remained strong with people flocking to buy homes, including millennials. The likely reason why this generation put off moving out and buying their own home was the increased home prices. But this has changed with incomes on the rise and housing becoming more affordable.

With incomes rising and housing being more affordable, low interest rates on mortgage helped a lot also. Homebuyers save hundreds a month just for low mortgage rates. Despite other turns in the economy, the falling mortgage rates are keeping home buyers engaged.

Not only are they buying their first homes, but they are also going all out. This group is earning more money a year than previous generations. According to Forbes, millennials will become the richest generation in history. The trend of millennials buying high end properties are a driving force for this type of real estate. This generation is looking for homes that are very different from generations before. With the case of having little to no children and jobs that may require them to travel more, luxury condos are on the rise.

Preferences for where to live brought on by environmental values will likely change the housing market. This group is driving the environmental and healthy living lifestyle and are flocking to areas that promote that well. Areas with gyms, trails, and other healthy activities are seeing an influx of home buying. This also has been changed with the pandemic by people looking for more space to do activities out in the open air to get outside of their homes.

For other generations, choosing where to live revolved around where you work but millennials are changing that view as well. Buyers began to look in areas where they wanted their ideal lifestyle, not revolving around work, with remote work becoming prevalent.

Housing Issues to Expect in 2021

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2020 was a whirlwind of events and turned everyone’s lives upside down. Although the housing market did not fall too hard due to COVID-19, there are some issues to come this year.

Remote work could mean more moves

With people still working from home with no end in sight, continued remote work could encourage more moves. Some businesses have made the decision to remain fully remote indefinitely which could mean more relocations in the next few months.

According to a survey put out by Upwork, 41.8% of Americans are fully working remotely. This is a major chunk of the American workforce. There could be many reasons for why people are relocating but working remotely gives another reason to move somewhere else. Workers may need a quieter place to work, more office space, or even a real office instead of a kitchen table. Workers often were only living in a set place due to their job but with the pandemic and working from home, they no longer have any ties to a specific place.

Inventory Shortage

With the increased buyer demand, comes the inventory shortage. There simply is not enough inventory for the amount of people looking to buy. This comes from the halt of home building in the spring due to the pandemic. Because of the inventory shortage, the prices of homes are heavily increasing. Multiple bids are being put out for the same house which only increases the price.

According to research by Freddie Mac. Residential, to make it out of this housing shortage, 2.5 million additional homes will be needed. Now that is a lot of homes that need to be built but homebuilders are confident. With the booming of different residential areas across the country, the difference could be made up, but home builders will be really busy.

Low Mortgage Rates

Low mortgage rates make owning a home cheaper and have improved people being able to afford owning a home. With how low mortgage rates are at the moment, it is only driving demand in the buyer market. The home buying process came to a crashing halt when the pandemic hit but when real estate agents figured out how to safely sell homes, the housing market rebounded. This coupled with the millennials lining up to own homes, is a big part of why the inventory is falling short. According to Bankrate, As of February 2, 2021 the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is 2.840% with an APR of 3.150%. When looking at a 15-year mortgage rate, it is at 2.330% with an APR of 2.660%.

Real Estate Lessons to Know for 2021

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2020 was a year that no one saw coming. 2020 brought an abundance of challenges to many different parts of life. Businesses of all types had to figure out a way to still thrive in order to serve their customers.

The real estate world was not any different. Real estate firms and agents of all kinds had to come together to figure out a way to still let their customers buy and sell through them. This was not an easy task to do but it provided the real estate world with must haves in order to survive: pandemic or not.

According to an article about the biggest lessons learned in 2020 for the real estate world from Keeping Current Matters, staying updated on what is happening on the market is essential. Of course, agents must stay on the top of their game at all times in order to successfully work with a client to either buy a home or sell a home but, 2020 taught us that things could change at a moment’s notice on a day-to-day basis. Being able to talk with your clients about what is going on or what will happen is an important part of the transaction.  

Because of this pandemic, people are coming to conclusions about where they live. The urban to suburban shift has sent shockwaves through the real estate market. As in person work turned to virtual, some of the urban population realized they might need more space to do their work or even lower density areas. People also have had the option to work from anywhere they like, outside of larger cities, because of this shift to remote work. Some people might have only been living in a city due to their job but now with the ability to work from home, they have had the opportunity to move to a different area, outside of the city. 

With being in your home day in and day out, some have come to realize that they need a change. Whether it be new furniture, a remodel, or a new home all together, being in your home all day every day makes you realize how important your living space is. Change is good, especially when you see the same things every day. Changing your living space may be as simple as replacing an end table, remodeling your bathroom, or moving to a bigger/smaller house but changing something will leave you feeling better than before.

Although we all were in quarantine and trying to stay home as much as possible, the housing market did not slow down or come to a halt. The low mortgage rates combined with the best housing market ensured that the inventory did not run out. People were still selling and buying, even though it looks a bit different. In-person walk throughs turned into Facetime calls with your agent. Above all else, agents showed their true passion for real estate to their customers when they needed it the most. 

2020 truly had an impact on the real estate market as with everything else. 2020 taught us that as long as you try your hardest to make things work, you will come out the other side.

 

Virtual Home-Buying: Do’s and Don’ts of Sight Unseen Purchases

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The pandemic changed all ways of life in the last year, including how homes are toured and bought.

Real estate changed in all kinds of ways. People were buying homes without ever stepping foot in the door until it was all theirs. Yes, this seems absolutely crazy pre pandemic, but this seems to be the new normal.

The only sight that they had of the home would be pictures and a possible virtual tour online. All of the paperwork was done using a digital signing website like DocuSign and all conversations were had over the phone or possibly zoom.

You could possibly enter your sight unseen home after buying with no problems at all or you could walk into a whole house full of issues.

Ask Questions

The process of buying a home virtually instead of in person is a lot more meticulous. More questions have to be asked and answered, even the most basic questions because you may not be able to see for yourself if there is a specific feature or possible issue in the home. If questions are not asked, you may walk into your new home to unexpectedly find problems that were not discussed.

Use Technology to the Fullest

When looking for and buying a home strictly virtual and online, technology is your best friend in this process.

With the times we are currently in utilizing features on your phone or laptop will go a long way. Corresponding over email or texts will not get you very far when you need to actually see the space.

People may not be able to fully tour their new or prospective home so virtual tours online using a specific platform or even Facetime tours with your agent, will help smooth the process. It may seem silly to jump on a video call with your agent to see your space over the phone, but it could give you a more personal feel to the whole process than just seeing it in pictures.

Hire a Great Real Estate Agent

To ensure you are getting the right and best information about a property and the surrounding area, hire a great local real estate agent.

Your agent is your eyes and ears with this whole process. Making sure you have the right person for you and for what you are looking for, do some research into real estate agents around the area and look at what they specialize in and client reviews.

Getting an Appraisal and a Home Inspection

According to an article on Realtor.com, calling in experts when buying a home sight unseen is extremely necessary. When you cannot tour the home yourself, bringing in an expert to tell you just how many repairs need to be done is important. You do not want to buy the home and walk into a house that desperately needs repairs. Trust your gut and hire someone to take a walk through the house to see what needs to be done and what doesn’t.

Buying a house sight unseen may seem difficult but when you take time and do the right steps, the process will go a lot smoother than expected.

Sources:

https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/avoid-these-mistakes-when-buying-a-home-sight-unseen/

How to Achieve Your 2021 Financial Goals

How to Achieve Your 2021 Financial Goals

2020 has been a year of unexpected challenges for everyone to overcome. This past year has been full of financial struggles for many. If you have a goal set aside for 2021 to improve your finances, here are some quick and easy tips to help achieve that goal.

Clear and Concise Goal 

The first way in improving your finances is to set a clear and concise goal. This goal should be straightforward and not broad. An important step in this process is to understand the exact goal you plan on achieving and make sure it is clear.

You do not want a goal that is too broad because then you may be setting yourself up for failure. I know, already talking about failing from the start but to ensure you do not fail, come up with a goal that doesn’t mean multiple things.

12 Month Goal 

The second way is to make sure you can achieve this goal within the 12 months of 2021. This goal is for you to achieve in 2021, not 2022 or five years from now.

This goal should not be too short but also not too long. You do not want a goal that can be finished in four months because then it is too easy. You also do not want something that could take a few years because that will also set you up for failure.

Where Your Money Goes

The third way is to know where your money goes. This is easily traceable by checking your bank statements and figuring out what places and items is your money going to the most. Once you find that out, you can be more aware of how much money you are spending at that specific place or on that item.

Spend Less Than What You Have

The fourth way is to spend less than what you have. If you are spending less than what you make in a given week or month, you are saving.

It is impossible to actually save if you are spending more money than what you actually make. That will put you further into debt than you may even realize. If you tend to spend more, try and cut back each week to start saving more.

Improve Your Credit Score

If you are planning on taking out a loan during 2021, ensure that your credit score is high enough. A higher credit score means a lower interest rate on a loan. This will save you money in the long run.

A good credit score is achievable by paying your bills on time every month, limit credit applications, ask for a higher credit limit, and more.

Monitor and Reevaluate Progress

A great way to make sure that you are on track with your financial goal is to monitor your progress and if things are not going the way they should be, reevaluate and start again.

You should monitor your progress at a few different points along the way. If you do not monitor, you may go too far-off track and want to quit. If you happen to go off track, figure out what happened and keep going on. Once you know what happened and how it happened, you can fix it, so it doesn’t happen again.

Start Immediately

There is no better day than the present. Once we ring in 2021, set your financial goals and run with it. You don’t know how far you can go unless you push yourself.

Sources:

https://www.sj-r.com/story/business/2020/12/30/choosing-financial-new-years-resolution/4071140001/

https://www.smartaboutmoney.org/Tools/10-Basic-Steps

How to Increase Credit Score

 

Quick and Easy Ways to Prepare Your Home for the Winter

How to prepare your home for the winter

The wintertime can be a stressful time for many. The holidays are encroaching, and the weather is getting colder by the second. What presents to buy your loved ones and how to decorate your home are already on your mind but taking care of your home when the weather is getting colder should be high on your priority list.

Whether it be the inside or outside of your home, here are some important tips and tricks to check on before it gets too late.

Inside

Make sure you check on your home’s heating and air conditioning system. You can simply change the filters or have an HVAC technician inspect it. You do not want an unbelievably cold day to come and find out your heating system is not working properly.

If you happen to have a fireplace in your home, clean out the chimney which can easily be done by hiring a chimney sweep company. If you are not stocked up on wood, this is also a good time to do so, so you can have those cozy fires to cuddle up with.

Another good tip for inside your home is to check the smoke detectors. House fires are typically very common during the winter so make sure they are working properly and have new batteries.

Outside 

If you happen to have outside furniture and do not want them to potentially get ruined, consider purchasing covers. Covers are a good way to ensure that your furniture will stay in the right condition even while it is a blizzard outside.

Do you have any snow shovels or a snowblower? Now is a good time to make sure you have the correct equipment for snow removal. It is getting to be that time to break out the shovels and snow gear just in case a big snowstorm happens. You do not want to get stuck with lousy shovels that will not do the trick.

If you haven’t done so already, clean out your gutters from the fallen leaves of Autumn. Many problems can arise if gutters are not cleaned properly and are clogged. This is also a good time to check your drainage to ensure soil has not settled. If it has, pour some soil on top and you are good as new.

Winter can be a stressful time combined with the holiday season and the weather but to ensure you and your home are safe, make sure you follow these easy steps. There are more steps you could take but these can simply just get you started.

 

Remote Work: How the Coronavirus is Changing The Way of Living

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With the pandemic still on the rise, remote work has been the way of living for many people in the world. Kitchen tables and bedrooms have turned to offices. Walls and windows with wonderful views have turned into zoom backgrounds. 

Who would have thought that working from home constantly would change the way we feel about it. Working from home used to be a luxury so you could get out of the office every once in a while but now people are begging to be back in the office. 

Not only has remote work and the pandemic changed the way of business life for many but it has also changed where people want to live. As an article published by Realtor.com pointed out,  certain demographics may pull away from living in the cities such as families with children but the younger generations with ambitions will pop up and start to push towards living in cities. 

The suburban style of living will benefit from this as well when families are looking to live the simplistic life with more amenities for working from home. This pandemic will push people away but draw others in.

Remote work will allow people to choose locations to live that otherwise would not make sense or be possible due to the demand of their job. If someone wanted to move to a different location or even climate but couldn’t because of their job, there is a good chance now if their job is remote, they are able to move to their desired location.

According to the National Association of Realtors, homebuyers are looking for different criteria than they would have before. Office space is often a request in the form of an additional bedroom, basement, or extra room. 

With the booming of remote work, workers could potentially have less stress about whether they may have to move or not due to their job relocating. This may cause people to set down more roots in the location they are currently living in or move somewhere, by their own choice, that they have always dreamed.

If your job has moved to remote work or you are looking for remote work, think about where you may want to set down roots and then find a great real estate agent to help you.

Sources:

https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/will-coronavirus-be-the-death-of-cities-not-so-fast/

3 Ways Remote Work is Changing the Way We Buy Homes