Consider the Buyer Financial Information Form in a Real Estate Transaction

Fri, Aug 7th 2020 4:10 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

The Buyer Financial Information Form (BFI) may be one of the most important, misunderstood, and debated documents in real estate. After all, subjects relating to individual privacy often lead to vigorous debate. As with all sensitive personal information, it is essential to understand when providing it is necessary to achieve your goals and when it is not.

Those of you that have purchased or sold a home understand how much information it takes to complete the task. Homebuyers get pelted with requests for personal data from the time they inquire about a home until long after they own it. The info requests are four times greater if they need a mortgage. The intelligence gathering on the s...

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Berks County Common Level Ratio Continues to Rise

Sat, Jul 11th 2020 11:35 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

For the seventh consecutive year, the Common Level Ratio has increased in Berks County. What exactly is a "Common Level Ratio (CLR)," and how does it affect property taxes and property value.

It is easy to understand why any subject relating to property taxes is hard to swallow for many homeowners in the Reading and Berks area. All too often, any news associated with property taxes is not good. With that thought in mind, I am pleased to report that the Common Level Ratio in Berks County has increased for the seventh consecutive year! Once again, we can use the words "Increase" and "Taxes" in the same sentence, and it is a good thing.


Explaining the Common Level Ratio

Each year econ...

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Is Your House in the Real Estate Goldilocks Zone?

Fri, Jun 19th 2020 10:30 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

The Goldilocks Zone is a reference used by astronomers and scientists to describe a habitable zone around a star where conditions are right for liquid water and possibly life to exist on a planet. In this article, I will endeavor to explain why some houses sell quickly for over asking price, and some sit just waiting for a buyer. Maybe it's all about the right conditions - Welcome to the Real Estate Goldilocks Zone.

Okay - I probably watch too many shows about the universe, and there is no question I am always thinking about matters relating to real estate. Recently I was introduced to a documentary about the Goldilocks Zone. What amazed me is that a planet can be a hair too close or fa...

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Terms and Conditions are the Heart and Soul of a Real Estate Transaction

Fri, Jun 5th 2020 8:25 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

Price plays the starring role of most home sales, while Terms and Conditions are often considered the supporting cast. In reality, the Terms and Conditions of a real estate transaction will likely determine whether your home sale is a resounding success or an event you want to forget.

Every home listed for sale has one major thing in common. It has an asking price. A successful home sale starts with finding a buyer who will pay the asking price, or more. It is evident that price is important, but don't overlook the Terms and Conditions of the sale?


It is interesting to note that in Pennsylvania, the STANDARD AGREEMENT FOR THE SALE OF REAL ESTATE reserves one line of its 14 pages to ...

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Has COVID-19 Changed the Real Estate Business Forever

Fri, Apr 24th 2020 10:35 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

It has been weeks since Pennsylvania's Governor, Tom Wolf, put a shelter-in-place order into effect, thus sticking a fork in all Pennsylvania real estate until further notice. Yes, I am aware there are many other worthy vocations out there suffering the consequences of the same order. With respect, I am a Realtor, and this is a real estate perspective.

Please Note: I, like many of you, have been cooped up these past several weeks, and probably a bit out of balance (understatement), so please forgive any excessive ramblings, just like this one. Of consequence, the present situation has allowed me to revisit literary gems like "The Diary of Anne Frank" and Viktor Franki's "Man's Search fo...

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Reading-Berks Real Estate Outlook Post COVID-19

Fri, Apr 10th 2020 8:35 pm by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

Looking into the future with little or no reference from the past can be difficult. In real estate, it is like trying to figure out what a house is worth when there is no past comparable sales. The COVID-19 pandemic and the issues it has wrought leave us with a mystery as to what the future holds relative to home sales. But as with every mystery, there are clues.

Predicting the future is a task readily asked of most Realtors. "What will someone pay for my home" "When will it sell" "When is the best time to put it on the market" "Should I buy now or wait" "What will interest rates be" and so on. Often, we Realtors depend on our experience and market data to help us with our prognosticati...

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Is Real Estate a Life Sustaining Business?

Mon, Mar 23rd 2020 10:30 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

How important is the real estate business? According to the Governor of Pennsylvania, it is not "Life-Sustaining." I am one Pennsylvania Realtor that would like to put that theory to the test.

The phrase "Life-Sustaining Business" is not something you hear every day unless there is a pandemic or some other calamity threatening humanity ~ And here we are. It is often in these most challenging of times we find out who our leaders are and are not.


My goal is not to point fingers or call out any of our leaders. There are plenty of pundits out there waging verbal war against anyone in authority for almost any or no reason whatsoever. I hope this article offers food for thought as many of...

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Offensive Home Odors Can Mean No Sale

Fri, Feb 14th 2020 7:25 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

Want to get that home moving? You may need to use your nose! Offensive home odors are one of the biggest turnoffs a home buyer can experience.

Autumn 1993, I was a new Realtor fresh out of real estate school. Eager to gain all the experience possible, I accepted virtually every opportunity that came my way. One day I received a call from a prospective home seller and was invited to preview their home. Before arriving, I studied everything I could get my hands on relating to the house. I was excited and ready to embark on a great journey into the high end and lucrative world of real estate sales.


On my way to the appointment, I thought about all I had learned about the real estate bu...

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Technology's Impact on the Privacy of Home Buyers and Sellers is Under Review

Fri, Jan 17th 2020 5:15 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

Technology has undoubtedly made our lives easier. Unfortunately, some of that ease comes at the expense of our privacy. The real estate powers that be have begun recognizing how technology may be infringing on the privacy of home buyers and sellers. Here's a look at how they are addressing the issue in Pennsylvania.
Before the advent of the smartphone camera, it was much less common to photograph or video a home during a showing. In contrast, most buyers never gave thought about being under surveillance during a home preview ~ How times have changed.


Personal Experience

One of my most impactful memories regarding surveillance happened while listing a home. I finished photographing an...

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2019 Berks County Real Estate Statistics ~ Looking Ahead to 2020

Fri, Jan 3rd 2020 10:30 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

It's time to take a look at Berks County's single-family residential real estate statistics for 2019 and see what it tells us about 2020. Will the story continue to be the low available home inventory? Let's take a look at the numbers.

The Inventory Conundrum

The real estate story both nationally and locally in 2018 and 2019 was the low available home inventory. Presently here in Berks County, there are a mere 873 homes for sale. If we remove paper houses (new unbuilt homes ~ 145), there is an amazingly low total of 728. In comparison, last January, there were 1,064 available homes, or 21% more.


If you want my take on why the inventory is at all-time lows, visit my website and read...

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Low Available Home Inventory May be the New Normal

Wed, Dec 18th 2019 9:30 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

The internet has changed many things in our lives, often with unexpected outcomes. Many people now begin their search for a home on the internet. The speed of information the internet provides may be causing the cycle of historically low available home inventory that may be the new normal.

One of the biggest real estate stories of 2019 is the low home inventory. Supply and demand drive prices, terms, conditions, and many other facets of the housing industry. Through 2018 and 2019, the number of available residences for sale has consistently dropped, yet the number of sales continues to rise.


According to the latest data released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR)...

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Improving Your Home Can Result in Greater Rewards

Thu, Dec 5th 2019 10:30 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

Putting money into home improvements is paying higher dividends for many homeowners today than in years past. Well kept up to date homes are very appealing to buyers for more reasons than you might think.

There are countless articles on how homeowners can improve their homes to make them more appealing to prospective buyers. When I meet with home sellers, a regular part of the conversation involves discussing ways to improve the property. Most believe that making the house more appealing will exact a better price. In many cases, this is true, but at what cost? Getting a better price on a home does not always equal more dollars in the seller's pocket. Before traveling down the home impro...

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Holiday Home Selling Guide

Tue, Nov 19th 2019 9:30 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

If you are looking to sell your home over the holidays, there are some things you may want to consider. I hope you find my holiday home selling guide a helpful resource.

The internet has changed the way many people shop. Nowhere is this more evident than around the holiday season. Gift shopping that used to take days, weeks, and even months can now get done in a couple of hours with a few strokes of the keyboard.


So what do people do with all that extra time? They go on with their daily lives. If they have been pursuing a new home throughout the year and have yet to find one, they will likely keep looking through the holidays, hoping to find that prized property.


Things to Consid...

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Consider A Hard Money Deposit When Negotiating Your Real Estate Deal

Thu, Nov 7th 2019 9:30 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

Submitting an agreement of sale on a home often includes an initial deposit. The monetary deposit is a show of good faith on the buyer's part. If the buyer does not complete the transaction, the deposit is refunded. Are there times when the deposit should not be refundable?

In the not so distant past, if a person wanted to purchase a home, they had to have a monetary deposit of 10 to 20 percent of the home's value. In today's real estate dealings, good faith deposits are nowhere near that percentage. In many cases, the deposit is not even one percent.


While it seems prudent to obtain a healthy deposit, the act may be in vain. In almost every case, the deposit is refundable to the bu...

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Is a Real Estate Agreement of Sale Worth the Paper it's Written on?

Sat, Oct 19th 2019 10:35 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

An agreement to sell and purchase a property is a written promise by the parties involved. Promises in agreements can be conditional. Do all the conditions and lack of a reasonable earnest deposit make an agreement nothing more than a glorified worksheet?

WARNING, this week's article may come across as a rant. A better explanation might be that the following content was borne out of a sense of frustration on my part.


A Little Agreement of Sale Background

The agreement of Sale we use here in Reading and Berks is known as the Standard Agreement For The Sale of Real Estate (PAR ASR). PAR stands for "Pennsylvania Association of Realtors." The State Real Estate Commission created the agr...

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Home Buyer Bootcamp ~ Negotiating the Deal Part 2

Thu, Aug 29th 2019 10:35 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

There is more to crafting an offer on a home than price — terms, and conditions are often the meat and potatoes of a real estate deal.

In the last installment of Home Buyer Bootcamp, we discussed pricing strategies, including escalation clause. In this chapter, we will talk more about terms and conditions and how they impact the offer.


Terms and Conditions ~ Settlement Date

Most settlements occur within a period of 30 to 60 days. Anything sooner or later can put pressure on a real estate deal. One of the hardships of selling a home is moving. Timing is often a vital component of any moving strategy. Buyers who are flexible with their settlement date are often attractive to sellers....

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Home Buyer Bootcamp ~ Negotiating the Deal Part 1

Thu, Aug 15th 2019 4:15 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

You found the right home. Your real estate team is in place, and it's time to make an offer. It is now when your teams experience matters most.

Many home shoppers experience both excitement and fear when they find what could be their next home. The prospect of owning their first or next home is undoubtedly an exciting moment. The fear part comes in many forms. Will we get the house? What if something's wrong with it? Should I be buying a home at all? The first two questions are tangible, and your Realtor can assist in the process of finding answers. The third question no one can answer but you. Things get pretty real at this stage, and you will see the real benefit of being prepared lon...

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Home Buyer Bootcamp ~ Finding The Right Home

Thu, Aug 1st 2019 9:30 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

Now you have the right real estate agent and mortgage lender. It is time to go house shopping. Make sure you wear your track shoes. You might have to move fast.

In the last installment of Home Buyer Bootcamp, I stated the best way to find a house is first to find an agent. The second priority is to get a suitable mortgage lender and get qualified. Top Realtors often have go-to lenders that they work seamlessly with which creates a formidable home buying team. That said, you may choose any lender you like, and your agent will do their best to coordinate with them.


Sellers Home Purchase Paradox

An often asked question is how someone sells a home and buys another when they have to sel...

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PA Common Level Ratio Change and Your Property Taxes

Fri, Jul 19th 2019 10:35 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

It is that time of year in Pennsylvania when the economists and mathematicians meet and play with the Common Level Ratio. So what did they do this year and how will it affect property taxes in Reading, PA, and Berks County?

Any news relating to property taxes here in Reading, PA and Berks County is always a hot-button issue and garners much attention. We are aware that all too often news relating to property taxes is bad. That said, I am pleased to report that for the fifth consecutive year the Common Level Ratio has increased! Yes, this is one time when you can use the words increased and taxes in the same sentence, and it is a good thing.


What the Heck is a Common Level Ratio

If y...

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60 Minutes You Will Not Regret

Thu, Jun 13th 2019 10:30 am by Jeffrey Hogue Real Estate

We have all made decisions or had experiences we regret. Some of the circumstances of these decisions are small and insignificant. Others may have a more significant impact on your life and the lives of those you care about. Buying or selling a home is one of those decisions you want to get right.

There are several decisions I have made during my time here on earth, (half of them as a real estate agent), that I would rethink if given the opportunity. I guess there would be no such thing as regret if that were possible. Thankfully, I may have learned more from the bad decisions than the good ones like not to do that thing I regretted again.


One thing I do not regret is becoming a REA...

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