Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Blue & White Home Buyer and Seller Seminar – A Sneak Preview

April 8th, 2014
By: Sarah Boha

Don’t pay your realtor, don’t be surprised if you’re outbid on an offer for a house and don’t be taken aback by your final closing costs – Buying or selling a home may seem like a daunting task, but the professionals at the Annette Yorks Group can help.  Delve into the home buying and selling process and tailgate with us this Blue & White Weekend Saturday, April 12th from 10am-12pm at the Keller Williams Realty Office in State College.  In honor of the Home Buyer and Seller Seminar, here is a top ten list of what every home buyer and seller should do when buying or selling real estate.

Buyers
1.)    Get Preapproved – If you’re not a cash buyer, you’ll need a means to pay for the home you’ve been dreaming about.  There are many mortgage options available depending on your particular situation as a buyer – down payment, no down payment, military veterans, etc.  Learn more about the options available to you at Saturday’s seminar.
2.)    Seek representation – There are many advantages to seeking the professional representation of a buyer agent…and not because this is a buyer agent writing this blog.  A buyer agent’s knowledge of the community they serve and the aid they provide to you as a client will help through every step of the home buying process.  Added bonus – These services to you as a buyer are free, the seller pays my commission.  Learn more about the added perks of buyer agency on Saturday.
3.)    Shop within your price range – You may be preapproved for a 200k mortgage, but realistically, you’d like to make monthly payments for a 150k home.  Shop in your budgeted price point; rather than the disappointment you will face when you fall in love with a home and later find that you can’t afford it.  Remember, everything is negotiable, but talk to a realtor and lender to determine and set your goals in finding the right home for the right price.  More information at Saturday’s seminar.
4.)    Deep discount or cosmetic changes – You can’t have your cake and eat it to, someone once said.  Everything is negotiable, but don’t be caught off guard if after you’ve negotiated $8,000.00 off of list price and the seller won’t redeem your request of having a deck stained or a basement finished.  This is another aspect to discuss with your Realtor; is your goal to negotiate a price or negotiate cosmetic changes?  Cosmetic changes do not include major items that may cause concern on a home inspection – major items such as roof or plumbing that are of high importance to the habitability and safety of the home are your right as a buyer to negotiate.  More details at the seminar.
5.)    Think with your head – Each home buying search will be different.  You may find the right home after five houses or after ten.  Perhaps your offer will go through with ease or maybe you’ll find yourself in a bidding war.  Every client is as individual as their home buying journey; don’t be discouraged if you deal with a setback.  Provide your Realtor with as much feedback as possible and they will or should go above and beyond to help you reach your goals.  Come to the seminar to become knowledgeable about the home buying process to give you a head start in finding a home.

Sellers
1.)    Seek representation – You shouldn’t sell real estate on your own without the help of a licensed professional.  A Realtor is knowledgeable enough in the local area to help you with pricing your property, walk you through all documents/contracts and assist in determining your goals.  Learn more about seller representation at the Home Buyer and Seller Seminar.
3.)    Current market conditions and price point of a home can determine the speed at which it moves – Do you want you home to move quickly or are you determined to get your asking price?  Talk with your Realtor about your anticipated timeframe and come up with a plan based on current market conditions and/or the price you would like to list your home.  Depending on the market and your list price you may be moving sooner or later than you anticipated.  Ask questions and learn more at the seminar.
3.)    Put yourself in the prospective buyer’s shoes – For a moment, picture yourself as the consumer, excited to look for their new home…how will they feel when they schedule a showing to see your home?  The minute details can make all the difference from standing out in the market; just by keeping your home tidy and perhaps hiring a stager to use your current furniture to make your home more marketable.  More tips for sellers on Saturday at the seminar.
4.)    Know your legal obligations as a seller – In real estate, we work to be good, honest and ethical in our practice.  When selling your home you must disclose any material defect you’re aware of to the buyers.  Reduce your risk of being held accountable for something you didn’t disclose.  Speak with the professionals at the seminar about the seller’s disclosure.
5.)    Trust your Realtor – If you’ve selected the right Realtor for you, you’ll trust that they’re using their resources to promote your home to sell.  Open houses, virtual tours and marketing on the MLS are only a few avenues your Realtor can use to sell your home.

Real estate is one of the oldest professions known to man; yet, simple details such as a fresh coat of paint when selling your home or getting preapproved for a mortgage as a buyer can go a long way toward achieving your goals in the buying and selling of real estate.  There is so much more to know and we look forward to sharing more with you on Saturday.  There is still time to RSVP, call (814) 272-3333 x6110 or email krystalakoch@gmail.com.         

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saint Patrick’s Day; the Luck, Leprechauns and Legend

March 17, 2014
By: Sarah Boha

Green attire, leprechauns and beer; modern day Saint Patrick’s Day wouldn’t be complete without the aforementioned list, but there are certain facts you may not know about the history of Saint Patrick.  Exploring the genesis of this holiday, you may be surprised that the paraphernalia we hold so dear to Saint Patrick’s Day came much later into association and stemmed from a much earlier history from what it has evolved into today’s festivities and celebrations.  So before you lift that pint of Guinness to your lips and sing along to “Danny Boy”, here are a few facts you may not have known about Saint Patrick and where the holiday originated.


Contrary to popular belief, Saint Patrick was not Irish.  He was born in Britain anywhere between 350-387A.D. and it is thought that he most likely lived in Wales.  Saint Patrick was kidnapped as a teenager and brought to Ireland where he was sold into slavery. He tended sheep for about 10 years before he escaped back to England. He then sought refuge in a monastery in Gaul for 12 years; where he became a priest, and later took his teachings back to Ireland.  


Pictured above: Badge of the Order of Saint Patrick

You may picture the patron saint of Ireland to be dressed in green robes judging by the sea of green you’ll see today; donned by your coworkers, in the decorations hanging around the office and even in your beer.  What may surprise you is that the color associated with Saint Patrick was in fact blue.  The Order of Saint Patrick was established in Ireland in 1783 as the highest echelon of chivalry.  This order associated themselves with a light sky blue color.  The color green came much later into association as the color is symbolic of the lustrous green pastures of Ireland.   



Shamrocks.  We wouldn’t have a complete Saint Patrick’s Day without the iconic symbol of the four leafed clover.  But, did you know that statistically you have a 1 in 10,000 chance of actually finding a clover with four leafs?  I suppose if you find one, you’re lucky.  Saint Patrick himself preferred the three leaf clover; he used it as an analogy to explain the Holy Trinity and it is said that he affixed shamrocks to his robes…Ok, I suppose green has some place in Saint Patrick’s wardrobe; how couldn’t he in the country called the “Emerald Isle”?

With the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, you may visit your bar or pub to have a round with your friends.  It wasn’t always this way, Saint Patrick’s Day was a dry holiday set aside as a Christian holiday in Irish law between 1903-1970.  All pubs in Ireland were shut down on Saint Patrick’s Day between the said years until 1970.  The modern holiday, as we know it, really took root in America and flourished in Ireland as a springtime tourism boost. 


All in all, when we hold up our glasses and say an Irish toast like, “As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction”; thank Maewyn Succat.  Maewyn Succat may sound like the name of one of the pilgrims from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but Maewyn Succat was Saint Patrick himself.  Saint Patrick’s name was changed when he joined the church and with it the way we celebrate Irish heritage forever.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Newest and Most Innovative Improvements and Fixes to Your Home

March 3, 2014
By: Sarah Boha

In the year 2014, technological advances have aimed to make our life easier, cheaper and faster; home living is no exception.  Simple fixes and making your home life more convenient have never been more possible.  The following are only a few of the fixes and technology that I recommend you should try in your home.

If you’ve got a few holes in your walls within the 1-4” diameter; kiss spackling goodbye with Wall Rx Multipack Repair Kit.  No messy mixing or spackle jobs, with Wall Rx it takes three easy steps to make a hole vanish and all of your tools are included in the kit.  Simply place the provided disc over the hole, next, place the screen included with your kit over the disc.  Smooth out all the edges of the frame sold with the kit and once that’s completed remove the frame to reveal a repaired wall.  Finish the job a little sandpaper; also provided in the kit.  As seen on the ABC show Shark Tank, this innovative alternative to patching holes in your walls is available at Lowes,  http://www.lowes.com/pd_372741-37352-103-4-24-MK_0__?productId=3539734&Ntt=wallrx&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Dwallrx&facetInfo=.

Has your heating bill been higher with the polar vortex this year?  Try Nest Learning Thermostat with Built in Wifi.  Nest Learning Thermostat works just like the thermostats of the past; just think of it as a “smart thermostat”.  Nest learns your schedule and remembers what temperatures you like, keeping you comfortable at all times.  By memorizing your schedule, Nest can help you save on energy consumption.  With an ability to control the temperature in your house with your phone and wifi connection, you can have a greater hold on your how much money you’re spending on your heating bill.  Never heat an unoccupied home again with Nest, also available at Lowes, http://www.lowes.com/pd_86217-22742-T200577_4294821952%2B4294721318__?identifier=Heating-Cooling%2FThermostats&cm_cr=Thermostats-_-Web+Activity-_-Thermostats+TF+page+revamp-_-SC_Thermostats_TopFlexible_Area-_-10690065_1_&cm_sp=-_-HeatingCooling%7CPopularCat-_-Merch%7CPopCat_Thermostats_Learning&productId=3878572&rpp=32&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&searchQueryType=1.

Leaky facets and skyrocketing water bills – it may be time to upgrade the facets in your home.  Look for facets with the WaterSense seal from the EPA; under this certification, products meet criteria to conserve water and lower your bill.  Since 2006, the EPA WaterSense seal has conserved 487 billion gallons of water and has saved $8.9 billion in water and energy bills – why wouldn’t you want to invest to be eco-friendly and keep money in your pocket?  Great examples of a WaterSense sealed product are the KOHLER Mistos line of facets and shower heads.  These KOHLER products use 30% less water and come in finishes that will compliment your home.  Available at The Home Depot, http://www.homedepot.com/p/KOHLER-Mistos-8-in-Widespread-2-Handle-Bathroom-Faucet-in-Vibrant-Brushed-Nickel-K-R37026-4D-BN/202527784?N=5yc1vZc8d3Z1qh.


Keys have been around for centuries guarding your most valuable possessions and granting sole entry to the key holder.  Made entirely of metal and subject to the fate of most pocket sized items – becoming lost.  Now there is an innovation for available for your home called UniKey.  All you need to unlock your door now is your smartphone; no more fumbling, no more looking for that little piece of metal security.  You don’t even need to take your phone out of your purse or pocket; simply be within walking range of your door and press to open.  Another feature that your old keys couldn’t do is grant a onetime pass entry for guests coming into town and your housekeeper.  Never again will you have to leave work or cut your errands short to let someone into your house.  No smart phone?  UniKey has a key fob that will do just the trick.  For more information and where to buy this upgrade to the lock system, visit, http://www.unikey.com/.

Today, minor fixes to your home and investment upgrades are easy and convenient to implement in your home.  These improvements save you time, money and in many cases, make your home “green”.  With simple repairs and investments such as the Wall Rx or energy efficient sinks, the equity in your home will hold.  Visit the EPA’s website to find appliances that will work in your more convenient, energy efficient home.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Can’t shake the sniffles? Tips to Help as the Winter and Flu Season Lingers

February 24, 2014
By: Sarah Boha

If you’ve grown tired of the eternal winter that has plagued the Northeastern United States; you’re probably sick of the cold and flu that’s lingering with the frosty temperatures.  If you’re feeling those flu like symptoms coming on or you’re in need of relief, there are natural ways to alleviate or prevent sickness.



Breathe aromatic steam: Fill the bathroom or kitchen sink with steaming water, and add two teaspoons chopped fresh ginger (Zingiber officinalis). Drape a towel over your head and lean over the steam to get maximum benefit. Or add one teaspoon of the over-the-counter ointment Vicks VapoRub® to the steaming water, then breathe in the steam for several minutes until you get relief. Another flu remedy is to add a few drops of oil of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) or menthol to the water. Eucalyptus is known to open up bronchial tubes, ease congestion, and make breathing easier.

Humidify Your Home: As the temperatures dip, your thermostat rises.  Artificial heat lowers humidity in your home which replicates the conditions of a Petri dish where the flu virus can thrive.  Add moisture to your home by using a warm or cool mist humidifier. 

Honey:  Not only delicious in your cup of tea, but a sweetener with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.  Honey can be used preventatively to strengthen your immune system and keep you feeling energetic with a daily dose.  If you unfortunately catch the flu it can also be used to sooth your sore throat.  Dr. Oz recommends gargling with honey (and lemon) in salt water when the mixture is at room temperature. (Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age.)

Elderberry:  An herb that has been tied to folk remedies for colds, Elderberry is correlated with fighting off the flu virus in preliminary lab studies.  Researchers believe that anthocyanins, compounds found naturally in elderberries, may be the active component that strengthens the immune system and blocks the flu virus from sticking to our cells.

Tried and true, chicken soup, crashing on the couch and drinking plenty of fluids are still the top recommended suggestions to remedy the symptoms.  If you’re sick or feeling a scratchy throat coming on, put some honey in your tea and get plenty of rest.  As William Shakespeare once said about winter’s snow, winds and temperature (if we read it in a literal sense) in the poem ‘Blow, blow, thou Winter Wind’ from As You Like It, “thy breathe be rude”; This Winter of 2014 has been beyond “rude” in leaving residents with a snowy mess and overstaying it’s welcome.  Spring will be upon us soon and winter will leave, hopefully taking with it the incorrigible flu.  





Monday, February 17, 2014

Fees: What You Should and Should not Pay in a Real Estate Transaction

February 17, 2014
By: Sarah Boha


Have you ever reached the end of dinner with a group of friends and wondered, “Should I pay for this”?  The aforementioned circumstance ponders the etiquette of paying a check at dinner.  In the buying and selling of real estate, you don’t have to wonder who foots the bill for commissions, the home inspection and appraisal, if you familiarize yourself with an agreement of sale, buyer’s agency contract and the HUD 1 settlement statement form.  Regardless of whether you’re currently considering buying or selling real estate or if you have bought and sold a home in the past; it is imperative to know your rights as a consumer to be aware of what you should and should not pay or be obligated to pay on either side of the transaction.   

For the Seller
The seller of real estate will pay the listing and buyer’s agent commission.  As negotiated into the agreement of sale, the commission is represented as a percentage of the agreed price of the home and shared between the listing and buyer’s agent.  Make note, the commission of a real estate agent in the state of Pennsylvania is negotiable.  Sellers may also have to pay the balance of their property taxes if they haven’t already done so.  


For the Buyer
The buyer of real estate will incur fees mostly in association with their mortgage.  Once they find the home most suited for them, buyers should expect to pay for the following common closing costs; an appraisal of the property, a home inspection (if the buyer does not waive), pest inspection (if they buyer does not waive), title insurance, down payment, loan origination, property tax escrow, deed recording, private mortgage insurance (if needed). 

Buyers and Sellers, Be on the Lookout
As mentioned above, these anticipated fees respectively for buyers and sellers are the most common.  Both buyers and sellers should be leery of “administrative fees” or “flat rate commission fees” on top of an already agreed upon commission.  Unless, the agent discloses how the added fee is being used, they can’t legally charge you -- Remember, commissions are always negotiable.  If as a consumer you feel you may be pressured into paying a fee that is not directly tied to the services you’re receiving and the purpose of the fees aren’t being completely disclosed to you; it is your right to question it.  Added fees also need to be disclosed in section 700 of the HUD 1 Settlement Statement.

Buying a home should be an exciting life event and selling your home should be a smooth process with the right agent.  Be a wise consumer, ask questions and never sign a contract until all fees and practices are explained completely to your understanding.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Share the Love; Shop Local

February 10, 2014
By: Sarah Boha

Have you found the perfect present for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day?  Don’t worry, you still have time with plenty of options that support your local businesses and who doesn’t love that?  Whether you’re looking for a diamond engagement ring to a dozen of the freshest hand dipped chocolate strawberries, there are plenty of choices in the Central Pennsylvania area. 

If your Valentine has a sweet tooth, look no further than Gardner’s Candies.  This candy store has been satisfying sweet tooth’s since 1897 and with 10 locations to patronize, including a new location in the TJ Maxx Plaza in State College, there is no shortage of candy to go around in the Centre region.  Gardner’s is boasting hand dipped chocolate covered strawberries enveloped in the famous Gardner’s chocolate.  For guaranteed freshness, the candy makers will be waking up extra early to hand dip each berry on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14th.  The chocolate covered strawberries will be available in strictly milk chocolate, an assortment of dark and milk chocolate and purely dark chocolate and you can secure your in store pick up by calling ahead.

I’m not going to go with the cliché, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend”, but at Kranich’s Jewelers you can find a whole cohort of her favorite confidents!  With diamond heart pendants starting at $99, you’ll have no lack of choices for even the pickiest of jewelry lovers.  With commercials for the latest jewelry trend, “Heartbeat Diamond Jewelry”, she may have mentioned that she wants the flickering diamond that captures brilliance with every beat of her heart – sounds romantic right?  You can find the whole collection at any one of Kranich’s four locations and preview the styles on their website. 

Heartbeat Diamond Jewelry starts at only $199 at Kranich’s Jewelers

I’ve always had a great experience at Woodring’s Floral Gardens located on S. Allen Street in State College and for that reason, I recommend them if you’re planning on surprising your date with flowers this Valentine’s Day.  With a wide variety of fresh flowers, Woodring’s Floral Gardens can assemble the perfect bouquet and have a full array of delivery options and three locations on their website.  This shop has always impressed me over the years, with floral arrangements meticulously displayed outside the shop and a boutique feel that reflects a warm and personal touch.

Perhaps your love has it all and you’re struggling to determine what to gift the woman or man who has everything.  With THON weekend commencing on February 21st, a donation toward the four diamond fund is a philanthropic gift going toward a very worthy cause.  To know that your donation will help the fight against pediatric cancer may be the best gift yet.  To make a donation, log onto THON’s website and click on the donate tab.  Know someone dancing in THON?  You have the choice of donating toward a specific THON dancer’s effort or you may donate to the general THON fund.


This Valentine’s Day, I implore you to find a gift by shopping local businesses or supporting causes unique to the area.  There are many wonderful businesses local to the area, whether you’re presenting the more traditional gift of candy, flowers and jewelry or shower your Valentine with Penn State gear from Old State Clothing Co., you’ll have plenty of ways to share the love by staying close to home.  What are some of your favorite local businesses in the Central Pennsylvania area?

Here are the links to shop your favorite local businesses –

To donate to THON visit -- https://thon.org/  Select the DONATE NOW tab

Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Bust, Motivation for your Monday

February 3, 2014
By: Sarah Boha

With six more weeks of winter and a Super Bowl game that felt more like watching college football; you may need some motivation to kick off your Monday!  Here’s some good news to make your week a little better. 

Drink your morning coffee

According to Harvard School of Public Health, research over the past few years suggests that drinkers of coffee were correlated with protection against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, and liver cirrhosis.  The latest studies on coffee and mortality found that people who regularly drank coffee actually had a somewhat lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those who rarely drank coffee; this result needs to be confirmed in further studies, however…or as my college professors would say, “Correlation does not mean causation”.  I say, go ahead and order that caramel macchiato.   For more information on coffee and February’s American Heart Month, see, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/coffee/ and http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/

Plan out and visualize your week with helpful tools

It’s proven, the successful take a few moments out of their day, whether it’s the beginning of the week or early in the morning, to map out their schedule.  Make a list of what you need to accomplish in your day and check it off as you tackle each task.  Plan your outfits the night before or for the entire month; with apps like NetRobe or StyleBookApp, you can inventory your current wardrobe and schedule what you’ll wear everyday on a calendar – never wear the same outfit twice in one week again!  Also, make a list of things to look forward to over the weekend or throughout the week, it will give you a greater motivation for your work.

Take time to exercise, even at work

Ever have a work week so jam packed that you can’t make it to the gym?  Not a problem.  Exercise in the office by doing lunges or simple stretches from your desk chair.  Don’t typically work out or get bored with the gym routine?  Change up your workout this week by trying something new, mixed martial arts, dance and yoga are an interesting change of pace to lifting weights.  Try a class at Central PA Mixed Martial Arts in State College, http://www.cpamma.com/

Smile
Research in several psychology studies show that smiling, even when you force a smile, boosts your endorphins.  Smiling releases serotonin and works with the neuropeptides in the brain to relax the body and lower your blood pressure.  Not to mention that it makes you look great, in a 2011 study by researchers at the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, subjects were asked to rate attractiveness and smiling.  They found that both men and women were more attracted to people who wore a smile as opposed to subjects that did not.   


So if you were rooting for the Broncos or you’re not coming to terms with six more weeks of winter or both, shake off the negative and get a great start to your week.   Motivation doesn’t have to be hard, take simple steps to make your life easier, more organized and healthy.  In dedicating a few minutes to enjoying that first sip of coffee in the morning, visualizing your week or getting a stretch in between typing up that contract at work, you may find yourself with a more productive week.