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

What’s This? A New Look for an Iconic Brand?

After 44 Years, RE/MAX Reveals Refreshed Brand Identity

DENVER – The world’s most productive real estate network* is getting even stronger. RE/MAX Co-CEOs, Dave Liniger and Adam Contos, revealed today a refreshed RE/MAX brand, including the world famous balloon logo and wordmark, to hundreds of franchise owners at the annual RE/MAX Broker Owner Conference in San Francisco.

“Our new look better represents the enthusiastic entrepreneurs who comprise our network,” said Contos. “Great brands evolve and RE/MAX is no different. We believe the updated balloon and wordmark will help our agents grow their business and give them an even bigger competitive advantage in digital, social media and mobile marketing.”

REMAX_mastrBalloon_RGB_R

RE/MAX Balloon Still Flying High
The iconic red, white and blue hot air balloon has been updated to be brighter, more modern and more appealing to the home buyers and sellers of today – while being instantly recognizable as RE/MAX. Continue reading

The Pros and Cons of E-Sign in the Real Estate Transaction

In the world in which we live in today, if you haven’t been asked to electronically sign something, you’ve been hiding underneath a rock.  Our comfort level with E-sign has rapidly evolved in the last ten years. Electronic signatures in real estate transactions are fast becoming the norm instead of the exception.

For purposes of simplicity in this post, I am going to refer to electronic signatures and digital signatures as one in the same, although they are different.  Digital signatures are used in the real estate business and are much more secure than electronic signatures.  If you’re geeky and want to read about the differences, click here to learn more.

Before we touch on the pros and cons of e-sign, a common misconception needs to be cleared up.  I often hear from consumers and agents alike, “Are they legal?”  The short answer, “Yes.”

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) was introduced in 1999 and has been adopted by 47 U.S. states (Pennsylvania is one of them), as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  UETA allows electronic signatures in real estate transactions as long as the parties to a contract agree to proceed electronically.

The ESIGN Act is a federal law passed in 2000 and grants legal recognition to electronic signatures and records if all parties to a contract choose to use electronic documents and to sign them electronically.

UETA and the ESIGN Act solidified the legal landscape for use of electronic records and electronic signatures in real estate transactions by confirming that they carry the same weight and have the same legal effect as traditional paper documents and wet ink signatures.

Now that they boring legal stuff is out of the way, here are the pros and cons:  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

REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR) – A Powerful Tool for Today’s Real Estate Agent

The National Association of REALTORS® data product is a powerful resource for real estate agents that know how to harness its information.  Here is a presentation that will introduce you to the program and give you an overview of its unique features and comprehensive reports.

All the best!