A Real Estate User’s Guide To the Government Shutdown

As Democrats and Republicans fall all over each other trying to blame the other side of the aisle for the government shutdown, should you be concerned if you’re involved with a real estate transaction right now or in the near future?  Umm – it depends.

Since the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a government agency, any borrower who applies for or, has applied to get an FHA or VA mortgage will be impacted.  Those temporary electronic highway signs on the side of the road that read, ‘Incident Ahead – Expect Major Delays’ applies here.

Since the vast majority of HUD workers were sent home early Saturday morning and they’re operating on skeleton crews, virtually no one is there to answer calls/emails, process paperwork or grant loan approvals.  UGH!!! Continue reading

Lancaster County’s December 2017 Real Estate Market – By the Numbers

Ahh – –  December!  As the year wound down, the cold, frigid winds of winter blew through Lancaster County.  This is the best time of year to reflect back on the year that was and to think and plan for the new one.  Now grab a pen and paper and sit down by the warm fireplace and get busy.

(Click each infographic for a larger version)

2017 12 December Market Stats - Average Sales Price

Not much change from last December’s average sales price.  As we will see at the end of this blog post, the final numbers for the year were solid and steady which indicates the real estate market was healthy. Continue reading

Impact of the New Tax Bill on Homeowners – Does It Make Cents?

If you’re like most people, you’ve been hearing a lot about the new tax bill from both sides of the aisle.  Predictions are all over the board as far as what it means to the average American.  Viewpoints range from an Armageddon-like implosion of the entire financial system to the invention of the wheel which will transform society.  As with most predictions, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.

Here’s my take on what the new tax bill means to homeowners and the real estate they own.  It’s important to understand that this bill doesn’t affect your 2017 tax return.  It will go into effect starting next year and expire on December 31, 2025.

Tax Rates

Here are the new tax tables to compare what is in place now versus what we will be coming up next year:

(Click charts for larger view)

Single Taxpayer Comparison

Married Taxpayer Comparison

The new law provides generally lower tax rates for all individual tax filers.  While this does not mean that every American will pay lower taxes, under these changes, many will.

My take:

Virtually all homeowners will benefit by having lower tax rates contrary to what many political pundits would have you believe.  All you have to do is look at the charts.  Continue reading

Lancaster County’s November 2017 Real Estate Market – By the Numbers

The familiar sight of the sun rising over the horizon on a frigid morning and its beams reflecting off of the frosty blades of grass tells us that winter is just around the corner, and with it, another year will be in the books for Lancaster County real estate.  As we start preparing for the holidays, let’s take a look at the numbers.

(Click on each Infographic for larger size)

2017 11 November Market Stats - Average Sales Price

The average sales price shot up over ten percent from last year’s number.  This is a function of supply and demand as inventory levels are at some of the lowest levels in a long time which is causing the price of homes to increase.  Homeowners’ equity, which plummeted during the Great Recession, has risen and surpassed the 2006 peak which is a welcome development.  Continue reading

Lancaster County’s September Real Estate Market – By the Numbers

As we wave goodbye to the 3/4 mark in 2017, the beautiful fall foliage is rapidly appearing all around us.  There have been lots of interesting developments on the real estate front this past year.  The market that has shown a steady recovery from the Great Recession which has been good for Central Pennsylvania.  Let’s take a look at the numbers to see what they reveal.

(Click on any of the images for a larger view or to download)

2017 09 September Market Stats - Avg Sales Price

The average sales price year over year shows prices are up 4% to just over $206K.  This relatively modest appreciation rate is good news for sellers who are slowly recovering the lost equity from the economic downturn.  This number should also send a message to potential buyers who are on the fence about purchasing.  Waiting to buy equals higher prices and interest rates that are potentially on the rise (more on this later). Continue reading

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 – – –

(Click on images for a larger view or to download)

Click to download

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