Lancaster County Real Estate Market Statistics for August 2017

Another successful year of Lancaster Barnstormer baseball is almost in the books.  It’s been quite a ride this season with two games left with the division-leading York Revolution and two games back in the standings.  Let’s hope they can squeeze out the final pair and force a playoff.  Now for the numbers – – –

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After a steady rise in average sales price over the past couple of years, August saw the first decline in a long time.  Not to worry.  Sales activity is still steady but home buyers are more active in the lower price ranges which has caused the average sales price to dip just a bit.

On the national front, the Case-Shiller Index of national home prices continues to reflect a healthy housing industry with no major red flags on the horizon. Continue reading

Should You Consider Private Flood Insurance?

Thirty years ago, when I was starting my real estate career, I met Bill Ross and his wife Hope and had the privilege of helping them sell their home in Lancaster County.  Since that time, Bill has become a managing partner of Ross Insurance Agency and spurred its growth to one of the premier, independent insurance agencies in Lancaster County.

Over the past month, we have witnessed the devastating damage caused by floodwaters in the state of Texas.  Many of the images we have seen are of quaint residential neighborhoods that were destroyed by the torrential rain dumped on this area by Hurricane Harvey.  What is even more astounding is that most of these flooded areas are not in a flood zone as defined by the government. Homeowners are left wondering, “Could this happen to me?”

Bill recently wrote an article that appeared on the Lancaster County Association of REALTORS® blog, “Closing Comments”, that I thought was both interesting and informative.  Hope it provides you with valuable insight and helps you determine whether private flood insurance is something you should consider. Continue reading

Common Myths About the Lancaster County Property Tax Reassessment

Ever since Lancaster County announced that it would conduct a county-wide property tax reassessment, there have been myths circulated as facts by residents that don’t understand the reassessment.  And as is the case with most myths, somehow they get bantered around as facts and cause people to formulate false assumptions that have nothing to do with reality.  So let’s start shattering some myths.

MYTH:  I got my new reassessment in the mail and it went up $25,000.  I’m going to get killed when I get my next tax bill.

Take a deep breath.  Not necessarily.

There are two factors used when calculating a property’s real estate taxes.  Here is the basic formula:  Assessed Value X Millage Rate = Real Estate Taxes.

During a reassessment year in Pennsylvania, millage rates must be adjusted so that a taxing jurisdiction (i.e. county, municipality, school districts) doesn’t collect any more taxes than it did the previous year prior to the reassessment.  In other words, the amount collected must be revenue neutral.  As a result, you could have some property owners pay more, some will pay less, and for some, it will be a wash.

If the county and municipality feel they need to increase total tax revenue during a reassessment year to cover costs, they have to hold a special vote.  However, the additional revenue is capped at 10% from the preceding tax year.  School districts have a lower cap which is provided by the State Department of Education.  At present, that index is around 2-3%. Continue reading

Peak Behind the Curtain on Short-term Rentals

I’ve recently been asked by a number of people if I thought it was a good idea to rent their home through a national website to earn some additional cash.  After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Aside from your house being trashed while you’re away, here are three things to keep in mind if you are considering renting out your house on a short-term basis.

1. Legality

The rise in popularity of Airbnb and other sites hasn’t been without its controversy. There are concerns that short-term rentals threaten the jobs of hotel workers, and that a short-term rental doesn’t have to pass the same certifications and inspections of regular hotels. Finally, many investors are buying properties with the intent of renting them out, which takes housing off the market in areas with already limited inventory (check out this article from The Los Angeles Times to learn more).

Some cities have enacted restrictions against short-term rentals. You may need to register and get a permit or a license – or you may not be able to host at all. Check with your local government to make sure you understand the laws. Continue reading

A lot happened in the Lancaster County business world this year that will help shape its future for decades to come.  Real estate made a huge comeback with residential housing leading the way.  More consolidation in the banking industry and new entrants into the market vying for customers’ attention.  Lots of approved expansions in local health care facilities.  And on top of all that, you can now buy your favorite adult beverage at local grocery and convenience stores.

Read the Top 10 business stories of the year here as published by Lancaster Online.

All the best!

 

How Much Money Do I Need to Buy a Home?

Of all the questions agents get from consumers, this is the one that tops the list.  It’s also the one that’s botched by more agents than any other question.  Here are some answers that I’ve heard over the years:

“You’ll need about 6% of the sales price.”  (Translation:  I would prefer to give you a round number because I don’t want to spend time with you and find out about your financial position and circumstances.  Oh yeah – – – I also really hate math.)

“That’s really tough to say.”  (Translation:  I really don’t understand the costs myself so I’ll just tread water and hope you don’t ask again.)

“Let me hook you up with a lender.”  (Translation:  See previous translation.)

“Let’s plug some numbers into the computer and see what it says.”  (Translation:  The computer god knows all.  Did I mention that I really hate math?)    Continue reading