Smart Talk – Shut out of the housing market

Dan Durden and Erin Wolfe


What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, August 9, 2018: 

What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, housing values plummeted, and homes were repossessed in unprecedented numbers because of the economic recession. Today, a new housing crisis has developed with home buyers shut out of the market because of low inventory and sky-high prices. NPR reports that new home construction nationwide is at its slowest pace since the 1980s.  

Finding available and affordable housing is especially problematic among minority groups. Affordable rental properties are also hard to find and may offer no viable option. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition released an annual report, “Out of Reach 2018.”  They concluded that “there is no place in the U.S. where someone working full-time and earning minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom rental home at the national average fair market rent.” 

NPR is airing a series this week called Shut Out of The Housing Market, looking at the problem nationwide. Why is this happening during a booming economy? Who is affected and what can be done to increase inventory at an affordable price? 

On Thursday, Smart Talk will look at the housing market in Pennsylvania with Todd Umbenhauer, President, Pennsylvania Association of Realtors and Daniel Durden, CEO, Pennsylvania Builders Association Also in the studio is Erin Wolfe, Associate Broker, Wolfe & Company Realtors


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Spring Cleaning Made Easy

The weather is warming and the sun is finally (most days) shining, which means it’s time to think about your home’s spring maintenance needs. It’s also a good time to work on some larger projects now that there is more daylight and the threat of winter weather is behind us.

Here’s a checklist to spruce up your home this spring…

  1. Inspect driveways and walkways. Repair cracks and chips to fix walking hazards. Your association may require you to replace damaged sidewalks as well.
  2. Prevent mosquitos. Look for and get rid of standing water that may have pooled over the winter. Removing a place for mosquitos to breed will minimize your chances of contracting any of the nasty viruses they carry with them.
  3. Wash your windows. It can be a tedious job but once it’s done, your home will feel instantly fresh and ready for the summer sun to pour in.
  4. Clean gutters and downspouts. Removing leaves and debris helps the rain water to flow freely, preventing leaks and other issues throughout your home.
  5. Clean your fireplace. After a cold winter, if you used your wood fireplace frequently, it’s time to clean out the soot and ash. You’ll also want to hire a professional chimney sweep to give it a once over; then you’ll be ready when the chill hits the air again.
  6. Check screen doors and windows. Don’t let the bugs find refuge in your home this spring and summer. Examine your screens for holes and damage; even a tiny tear can allow pesky pests inside.

This article was adapted from: You can find even more spring maintenance ideas there!

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Termite Issues Can be a Real {Estate} Problem

Whether you’re buying, selling or a current home owner, knowing how to spot, prevent and treat termites is very important. All structures are susceptible to these wood destroyers but the most vulnerable are homes with wood to ground contact and buried siding.

This time of year, you can look for swarmers, which will look similar to ants with wings. If you see these, you definitely need to call in a professional immediately. Another sign is mud tubes in wooden structures or actual damage to the wood itself.

The most important thing you can do is have your home inspected by a professional and then treated by a professional if you do have a termite problem. Termite eradication is definitely not a DIY project.

Article was adapted from:

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Mortgage Mess-Ups to Avoid

Applying for a mortgage and getting approved for your dream home is not easy task. It can be hard to sleep, worrying whether you got the right paperwork together, whether you’re working with the right lender and if your savings account is going to hold up under the strain of down payments and closing costs. But if you avoid these 6 mistakes, you’re sure to make the process a little less stressful.

  1. Waiting for the magic 20% down payment. Talk to your lender now and discuss what a lower down payment may mean for your budget. If you can make it work, it may be worth acting now, before interest rates get too high.
  2. Not weighing your lender options. A good rule of thumb is to meet with three mortgage lenders to see if you can get even a slightly better rate. The savings could really add up over a 30-year mortgage.
  3. Only getting pre-qualified. Instead, get pre-approved. You don’t want to miss out on your dream house because you don’t have the necessary paperwork ready. And in this tough market, some sellers are only accepting offers from pre-approved buyers.
  4. Moving money to different accounts. While you’re going through the process of having a lender and then an underwriter look at your finances, just keep your hands off of your money. This makes the approval process much easier on everyone.
  5. Applying for new or more credit. You don’t want to look desperate for money, and applying for too much credit at once can make a lender feel uneasy about approving you for a mortgage.
  6. Job hopping. Lenders are looking for at least two years of consistent income when pre-approving your loan and changing jobs during the lending process can throw up some red flags. Try to wait if at all possible until you’ve signed on the dotted line; and if you can’t, call your lender immediately.

This article has been adapted from:

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Popular Interior Design Trends

How do you feel about Matte Black finishes and kitchens with more color? Speaking of kitchens, would you be willing to scrap that big island for a more family -friendly dining table? Trough and bucket sinks are on the rise in bathrooms and vintage lighting is growing in popularity.

Some other trends in the market are:

  1. Dedicated chopping and baking stations.
  2. Antibacterial materials.
  3. Wallpaper-like tiles.
  4. Concrete accents.
  5. Defined kitchens in open floor plans.

Mitchell Parker from Houzz shares the full list of 22 things you’re most likely to see more of.


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Experience is Invaluable

Eighty percent (or more, depending on the age group) of shoppers research online before making a purchase and that usually includes home buyers as well. We can pull up a listing of homes for sale in a matter of seconds, so, in this modern day, everything-at-your-fingertips way of life, why do we still need Realtors?

There are many reasons to still use a human for services like buying or selling a home, but one of the most valuable is the experience a Realtor brings to the table. They can tell you if they feel the price is right for the condition of the home, they know what local home buyers are looking for and if you need to upgrade or not worry about that worn rug or tired tile. They’ll give you moral and emotional support in a time that can truly test your patience.  They have contacts to call if you need repairs or inspections and they can listen to your needs and make suggestions just outside your comfort zone.

Realtors like Wolfe & Company have been working the same area for years and know the details of neighborhoods, school districts, shopping and more, that just can’t be communicated on a home for sale ad. The best realtors will use technology to bring even better customer service to their clients and to communicate more easily; but technology won’t be replacing Realtors any time soon.

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Get Organized the Simple Way

January usually brings the desire to clean-out, put-away and freshen-up your life. You can simplify the easy way by doing just a few small tasks at a time and following some basic steps. From taking the time to get rid of extra trash, going through each room and each drawer one at a time, you’ll find you just have extra “stuff”.

You can create “trash”, “donate” and even “sell” boxes where you can compile items you aren’t currently using and haven’t for a long time. You may find you have a few things that could make you some extra cash for a fun night out or weekend away! But even if you donate everything, you’ll know you’re doing good for people who may need it more than you.

You may find you start a few new habits too, in order to find time to get it all done. Try doing a load of laundry per day instead of facing a mountain of dirty garments at the end of the week. Maybe trade some tech time for family time and make going through old photos and toys a game that creates new memories for your loved ones.

There are many organizational checklists on-line that help those of us who tend to get off track when we start with good intentions, so you may want to use one of those. We found a great article on from Becky Harris. You can read it here for more easy-to-follow tips:


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by Buz Wolfe


As I pen my last letter for the Cumberland Valley Business Journal, I reflect upon what a great honor it was to be asked to contribute my thoughts and opinions over the last year.


While my job was to provide information and insight regarding local real estate, the scope of my thoughts are so much more.


In a few weeks, many of us will be making resolutions for the New Year.  One of my resolutions is to be more thankful for the privilege and opportunity of living in the community that I call the Greater Carlisle Area.


The quality of life in this community is exceptional.  We have so many people who dedicate themselves as professionals or as volunteers to making this a very special place to live.  So for my “swan song”, allow me to point out the obvious.


INSTITUTIONS:  The United States Army War College; Dickinson College; Penn State Dickinson School of Law; Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet; American Heritage Education Center.


What do these have in common?  These are world class academic institutions situated right here in our very back yard.


Their combined economic impact to this community is in the hundreds of millions of dollars every year.  Yet, as local residents, we frequently take for granted this enormous local gift.


These institutions are recognized all over the world.  Let’s be a little bit thankful.


EDUCATION:  I referenced above several world class academic institutions that are present here in our community.  But let’s not lose sight of the blessings that have been bestowed upon all of us as it relates to our public school systems.


Big Spring, Carlisle Area, Cumberland Valley and South Middleton Schools provide some of the finest public school education opportunities anywhere in the country.  And this is not to overlook or exclude our neighbors in Mechanicsburg and Shippensburg and other areas.  I only mention the Districts represented by the five municipalities which physically touch the Borough of Carlisle.


Let’s not forget to give thanks to the volunteer school board members and highly educated administrators and dedicated faculty members who support these Districts.


ECONOMY:   It is well known that Cumberland County is the fastest growing county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  We also typically have the lowest unemployment rate. This is not an accident.


We do enjoy a geographic location and proximity that is helpful.  How many times have you been grateful that within 2-3 hours you can be in major metropolitan markets such as Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and even New York City?


For some folks, this is a blessing and a curse.  It has brought to us the warehouse and distribution market.  I won’t debate the pros and cons of the big warehouses other than to mention that they are an enormous source of tax revenue for our local governments and school districts without imposing almost any burden by way of police protection and school enrollment increases.


Carlisle is the seat for Cumberland County.  Carlisle is twenty or thirty minutes from the State Capitol in Harrisburg.  Carlisle continues to enjoy a healthy diversification of business, industry and institutions that support a very healthy economy.


HUMAN SERVICES:  Despite our relative fortune and affluence, there are many people within our midst who have real needs.  Carlisle handles those as well as any community anywhere.  The United Way of Carlisle and Cumberland County helps to support nearly thirty human service organizations throughout the area which provide much needed services to those who require it.  We have one of the best United Way organizations in the country right here in our own backyard.  And did you know that 100% of every dollar given to the United Way here in Carlisle stays in Carlisle?


We are fortunate to have so many other important community organizations such as the Carlisle Family YMCA, The YWCA, the Salvation Army and Red Cross, Carlisle Cares, Safe Harbour and on and on.  We are indeed a giving community.


AUTONOMY:  Our town.  Yes, this is our town.


Carlisle is so blessed to have its own daily newspaper, its own Chamber of Commerce, its own United Way and other organizations referenced above.


Carlisle is not some amalgamation of communities that call themselves the “West Shore”.  Carlisle is a fiercely autonomous community.  We have a square in Carlisle!


I take great pride – – and have tried hard to give back – – for living in such a vibrant community.  The Greater Carlisle Area represents five school districts and a dozen or more municipalities.  Together, we enjoy a lot and we accomplish a great deal as well.


REAL ESTATE:  Most people read this article for my opinion on Real Estate.  So allow me to close with some thoughts on local real estate.


I have been a Broker in this community for 35 years.  During that time I have witnessed a very stable, conservative and reasonably paced market place.


Although the unprecedented period of 2007-20012 produced some amount of property deprecation (devaluation) – – something that I had never observed before – – we are back on strong footing.  Property values now are pretty much back to 2005/2006 levels.  That is good for everyone.  Supply and demand are in relative balance.


If you are considering buying or selling in 2018, take the time to seek out an experienced real estate professional to assist you with your business.  Carlisle is also blessed with several very good real estate companies and many very good real estate practitioners.  Simply do your homework to make sure your “agent” possesses the designations, background and experience to help you be successful.


It has been my pleasure to share my thoughts with you during 2017.  May God bless you and allow you and your loved ones to enjoy a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous New Year!











*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986


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