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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House Shopping? There’s an App for That

The Homesnap App puts the convenience of house shopping right at your fingertips. It keeps you informed in real time of new listings, price changes or any other market activity you want to know about.

Downloading the app is free and it’s available from iTunes and the Google Play Store

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Ease December Stress by Completing these Simple Home Tasks

1. Drain and disconnect your hoses and outdoor faucets to keep from getting frozen pipes. So easy but people often forget this important step.
2. Dust snow off of trees to avoid a buildup of heavy precipitation that could possibly down branches and wreak havoc on your property.
3. Create Gift- wrapping central by storing paper, boxes, ribbons and more in an easy to access location. A rolling cart is great for this and can be put away when company comes over.
4. Invest in an extra coat rack or boot mat to prepare for the overabundance of winter jackets, wet shoes and potential mud. This will save time cleaning floors and gathering coats in a rush.
5. Check shovels and window scrapers and be sure you’re ready to handle the possible winter storms. Store salt, extra batteries for flashlights and even propane for extra heaters in case you need them.

Article adapted from

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Bigger is not Better

When thinking of selling a home, most sellers look for a Real Estate Company that will do the most work to market the property, give it the most exposure and work for the lowest commission.

Well, like in many other types of business, BIGGER IS NOT BETTER!

There are several issues with the big ‘national franchise’ companies.  First, when their agents meet with a seller, they claim that they will give their home much more exposure.  All real estate licensees within the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors belong to the Bright MLS.   All listings are entered into the Bright program.  Through an internet data exchange contract with a company called “LISTHUB,” all listings are then automatically sent to dozens of major websites where consumers search for homes.  This includes, Google, Yahoo, AOL real estate, Trulia, Zillow,, just to name a few.  Real Estate Brokers must pay to have their listings on where they can be further enhanced by the listing agent.  Wolfe & Company’s listings get just as much exposure as any other larger company’s listings.

Secondly, most of the ‘franchise’ companies are now charging extra fees over and above a commission.    This means in addition to the negotiable commission charged to a seller, they are charging an administrative, a broker or a franchise fee, whatever they choose to call it, to buyers AND sellers.  We have seen this fee range anywhere from $125.00 to $900.00 added to the clients’ settlement sheet at closing.  Wolfe & Company Realtors does not charge any extra administrative fees.  Our sellers pay us a mutually agreed upon commission only.  We do not charge buyers any fee for representation on standard purchase transactions.  If one of our agents represents a buyer in a purchase transaction, their commission is a portion of the agreed upon commission paid by the seller, as is the case for all buyer agents in PA.  We have no need to charge EXTRA fees.

Another problem with the BIG franchise offices is that they think the more agents they have the more money they will make.  So they recruit new agents and will hire anyone who has a license.  This results in many inexperienced and unsupervised agents offering poor quality service.   These offices also usually don’t have their Broker of Record present in their office on a daily or even weekly basis.  At Wolfe & Company, our Broker, Ray “Buz” Wolfe, is actively listing and selling real estate, is available in the office every day to consult with and offer advice to agents and he oversees all business transactions taking place within his company.  He also has chosen to maintain a small staff of professional and experienced agents to maintain the quality of service we provide.

So, if you are looking to buy or sell a home, make sure you contact Wolfe & Company Realtors for simply the best honest and professional quality service, serving the Greater Carlisle Area since 1986!  Experience Does Matter!!  NO FEES, NO TEAMS, NO NONSENSE!!

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by Buz Wolfe

There is an old adage that says the secret to real estate success is “location, location, location”.

I would argue that a better axiom might be “negotiation, negotiation, negotiation”.

We have a current President of the United States of America who fashions himself a great deal maker. In fact, he authored a book several years back called “The Art of the Deal”. As someone who has closed 1,000 or so real estate deals right here in the Carlisle Community over the past thirty five years, I think I know a thing or two about “The Art of the Deal” myself. So, this month I am providing some advice to Sellers, Buyers and Real Estate Practitioners.

SELLERS – Most sellers fixate on price. They believe that the be all and end all of every deal is obtaining the highest possible price for their property. While price is important, there are many other factors that are just as important. The terms and conditions of the Agreement of Sale are critical to the ultimate success of the transaction. The “cleaner the deal”, the greater the likelihood that you will actually make it to the settlement table.

The single most important thing to evaluate when receiving an offer on your property is the Buyers ability to perform. In most instances, the buyer will make their offer to purchase contingent upon their ability to obtain mortgage financing. While you should insist on receiving a pre-approval from a bonafide mortgage lender, the wide array of available mortgage loans and structures need similarly evaluated.

As a general rule, an offer which is subject to conventional financing is superior to one that involves government backed financing such as FHA, VA or USDA. While these are fine loan programs and are of great benefit to buyers with limited cash reserves, the simple fact is that they entail far more complications and underwriting bureaucracy than do conventional mortgage loans.

Also as a general rule, the greater the down payment the stronger the buyer. Mortgage lenders refer to “loan to value ratios” (LTV) when describing the amount of money that will be financed toward the purchase price. While some of the government backed loans involve anywhere from a zero down payment to 3-3.5%, most conventional loans require at least a 5% down payment. It should especially be noted that any conventional loan of 80% LTV (20% down payment) or less is more favorably treated by the lender than are higher leveraged loans.

In addition to the loan itself, buyers today often seek “seller assistance” with their offer. By this we mean that the buyer will actually ask for some amount of money back from the seller at closing to be used toward their down payment and closing costs. While this is common place, an offer that does not require seller assistance is simply a stronger and better offer. Frequently, buyers will offer full price or even in excess of full price so that the seller will be willing to provide a cash concession at closing. This, in turn, can make the appraisal portion of the loan process risky – – particularly if the home is being sold for more than asking price.

Finally, today we have a whole litany of issues that arise out of inspections. Home inspections, wood infestation inspections, radon inspections, well inspections, septic inspections, lead based paint inspections…simply put….the fewer inspections required by the buyer the greater the likelihood the deal will stay together. While it is perfectly appropriate for buyers to satisfy themselves as to the condition of the property and perfectly reasonable for the seller to repair legitimate items identified through the inspection process, many of the items identified throughout the home inspection process tend to be peciune and create friction between seller and buyer.

So, while price is an important factor in considering any offer on your property, the strength of the buyer and the minimum to which inspections are kept can actually be worth dollars. This is why we will sometimes see sellers agree to take somewhat less for the property in a cash transaction or one with no inspection contingencies. A full price or above offer that is predicated on shaky financing and every inspection known to mankind might just not be worth the risk.

BUYERS – Buyers, conversely, think that their ultimate objective is to purchase their desired property for as little money as is possible. Always strike the best deal, they think! Well, there are problems with this as well.

If you are a buyer who requires high leverage financing and a host of inspections, it may be difficult to get the seller to agree to your reduced offer.

If you are requesting significant seller assistance, for example, the seller is very unlikely to greatly negotiate the sale price. As noted above, even a full price or above offer that requires significant seller assistance creates the possibility that the subject property will not appraise for the established sale price and result in a mortgage application denial and termination of the Agreement of Sale.

Government backed and high loan to value ratio loans are typically tougher subject to standards for both the borrower and the property itself. This is primarily because that the foreclosure rates on these types of loans tend to be higher than those in which the buyers have significant down payment and equity. Lenders have learned to loathe taking back properties that are overleveraged and poorly maintained.

Finally, buyers should be reasonable with their expectations on the results of home inspections and other property inspections. Again, as pointed out above, it is reasonable to expect the seller to address legitimate deficiencies such as the existence of termites or radon or a malfunctioning furnace. Expecting the seller to turn over a completely renovated home, however, is simply not reasonable and will frequently discourage the seller from negotiating to their bottom dollar.

Buyers, then, should early on determine a strategy for getting the best deal. This may be the price itself or it may be favorable terms and conditions that permit them to secure the required financing and obtain the necessary repairs and improvements needed for their benefit.

AGENTS – As I have pointed out in prior articles, there really is no such thing as a “real estate agent”. Real Estate Pracitioners are licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as either Salespersons, Associate Brokers or Brokers. They do act in an “Agent capacity” when representing sellers or buyers.

Listing Agents are well advised to educate their sellers as to the actual range of value that their property is worth. While it is true that Buyers tend to make offers and building a little “fat” into the list price can make sense, it has been proven time and time again that over pricing a listing by a significant amount benefits no one. Sellers always have the option of reducing or adjusting the price at a later date, but often will eventually sell the property for less than they may have received if they had put their best foot forward when entering the market.

Listing Brokers should also refrain from “bidding” on listings. An experienced and successful real estate professional will walk away from a listing that the seller is insistent upon over pricing in a significant fashion. While there will always be an agent that will be willing to list any property at any price, an experienced and successful agent will decline and avoid the many pitfalls that accompany the over-priced listing and unrealistic expectations of the seller.

Buyer’s agents also do well to educate their own clients as to the appropriate range of value for the property in question. Too often, buyer agents somehow think they are doing their buyer a favor by making a low ball offer in an effort to get their buyer client a “great deal”! The fact is that low ball offers, which insult or antagonize the seller, are rarely beneficial to anyone. Many times I have seen offended sellers refuse to make a counter proposal to the low ball buyer or make a counter proposal that is actually higher than that which they would have made to a buyer presenting a more respectable initial proposal. Personalities and relationships have a great deal to do with getting the contract from signature to closing table.

In summation, sellers need to be realistic about the value of their property and evaluate the merits of any offer based not only on the price but on the related terms and conditions. Buyers, while rightfully seeking to negotiate the best deal possible, need to come across to the seller as financially viable and realistic with their expectations of the property’s condition.

An experienced real estate broker or salesperson can be invaluable in providing wise counsel to both sellers and buyers. Provided, of course, that sellers and buyers are amenable to wise counsel!

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986. In 2016, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Independent Broker.
**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

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A Bright-er Future

by Buz Wolfe

The Real Estate world, as we have come to know it here in our geographic area, will undergo a seismic shift by the end of this very month.

“Bright” MLS is here.

As most consumers know, Multiple Listing Services, commonly referred to as MLS, are the organized “pool” of residential listings which Brokers make available for reciprocal privileges among other Brokers and Agents. Transactions in which the listing broker’s listing is sold by a broker or salesperson from another real estate company are called “Co-Brokered Transactions”.

So what is the big deal and how did it all come about? Well, first a little history.

In the 1970’s and 80’s, the former Carlisle Board of Realtors actually had its own MLs system. A half dozen or more local brokerage firms, comprised of about 200 agents, participated in the MLS – – which was a black and white print version book published every other week. By the early 1990’s, Carlisle brokers voted to abandon the Carlisle MLS and merge into the larger Bright Multiple Listing Service which covered the entire footprint of the Greater Harrisburg Area. This was primarily Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry Counties along with portions of Northern Adams and York as well as some Lebanon County listings.

In more recent years, the privately owned Bright Multiple Listing Service was acquired in whole by the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors. It has been efficiently managed and operated and has served well the nearly 1500 licensed real estate practitioners here in the mid-state.

The historical problem with multi-list systems, however, has been that they have always been subject to artificial and arbitrary boundaries. Many Brokers, particularly those operating in multiple markets, found it necessary to belong to several multiple-listing associations with different procedures and formats.

Enter “Bright”.

“Bright” actually began with discussions between the MRIS (Metropolitan Regional Information System) and TREND (Delaware Valley Real Estate Information Network) multiple-listing services. MRIS covered the Greater Washington DC Region — Virginia, West Virginia and much of Maryland and extending into Southern Pennsylvania as far as the Chambersburg marketplace. MRIS was one of the largest multiple-listing associations in the country with approximately 40,000 participating practitioners. TREND, with nearly 30,000 real estate practitioners, covered portions of New Jersey, Delaware and Southeast Pennsylvania – – extending into the Lancaster/Lebanon marketplace. Rather than a merger, the two multi-list giants discussed a “consolidation” that would create an entirely new entity.

Along the way, it was decided that it would be prudent to solicit additional smaller multiple-listing services whose markets were contiguous or similarly fit the footprint being created by the proposed “Bright” MLS. Ultimately, six other multiple-listing associations said “yes” including the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors (GHAR), Realtor Association of York and Adams County (RAYAC), and Keystone MLS (Lancaster/Lebanon) here in our geographic area. Additionally, three other multiple-listing associations covering portions of Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey joined the effort.

It should be noted that the consolidated MLS does not affect the individual Realtor Associations found within the expanded territory. In fact, some 43 separate Associations will be found within the “Bright” footprint. GHAR will continue to provide support, education and advocacy for Central Pennsylvania licensees.

So, what had been a historically fragmented system will now be unified. “Bright” MLS, now covering much of the Mid-Atlantic Region, will be the largest such system in the country and represents a more natural marketplace.

A few facts about the “Bright” area:

• 85,000 Real Estate Professionals
• Parts of six states and Washington DC
• 40,000 square miles
• 20 million consumer population
• 10 million property records
• 9 million on and off market listings

By removing longstanding artificial boundaries, not only will real estate practitioners benefit, but so will consumers – – in a very large way. Consumers looking to buy a home can now enlarge their search areas and have access to a breadth and depth of single source listings never before available. Conversely, sellers benefit from a far broader range of exposure. In our “real estate world”, this will be particularly beneficial to folks in areas such as Shippensburg, Northern Adams and York Counties where folks often had to determine which area multiple-listing service best served their particular location. No longer will that be the case.

The nation’s largest multiple-listing service will roll out in the Mid-Atlantic Region later this month. There will be a learning curve, for sure, for all involved. But the future does indeed look “Bright”!

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986. In 2016, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Independent Broker.
**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

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by Buz Wolfe

One of the most noticeable changes in the Real Estate Industry has been the proliferation of forms and standard agreements and addenda over the years. When I entered the real estate business, back in 1982, we could have listed your house with a one sided, 8 ½” x 11” document and sold it using a two sided, 8 ½” x 11” document. My clients frequently laugh when I share this story.

The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors and the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission are both dedicated to an effort to protect the consumer when it comes to standardized forms and documents. As such, the scope and variety of these documents evolve on a constant basis. This month, we will look at two state mandated forms that are required in almost every real estate transaction.


The first Pennsylvania state mandated form is known as the Consumer Notice. This form was established by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania back in November of 1999. At that time, Pennsylvania joined forty-seven other states with some form of a Consumer Notice.

I often compare the Consumer Notice to your Real Estate “Miranda Rights”. The document itself makes certain that the consumer immediately understands that “THIS IS NOT A CONTRACT”. It is, rather, an effort to advise consumers as to the various types of relationship that they might establish with a licensed real estate practitioner.

The first page of this two page document largely outlines the various agency relationships that are available to a consumer. These relationships typically follow along these lines:

Seller Agent – A seller’s agent represents the seller of a property and is required to act in the best interest of the seller. In a typical residential transaction, the listing broker or agent represents the seller and has duties and obligations in their agent capacity.

Buyer Agent – Buyers are also frequently represented by their own agent. As a Buyer Agent, the responsibility is to represent the buyer of the property irrespective of how any commissions might be paid (usually by the seller).

Dual Agent – Dual Agency exists when the same Broker represent both the seller of the property and the purchaser of the same property. Dual Agency is legal and permitted in Pennsylvania provided that it is disclosed to all parties involved. Written consent is required to confirm such a disclosure. In some cases where the Broker is a dual Agent, he will “designate” agents to act exclusively for the seller and the buyer. This is known as Designated Agency.

Transaction Licensee – In very rare instances, a real estate licensee may act as a Transaction Licensee. In effect, the Transaction Licensee does not have an agency relationship with any of the consumers present in the transaction and serves primarily as a “facilitator” in getting the property sold. Transaction Licensees are seldom found in the practice of residential real estate and more common place in the commercial and industrial arena.

The second page of the Consumer Notice outlines all of the duties that a Licensee owes to the consumer. These include rather common sense obligations such as reasonable and professional skill, honesty and good faith, full disclosure, accountability for escrow and deposits, appropriate documentation, advice and information , etc. It also reinforces the fact that almost all contractual terms between a licensee and a consumer are negotiable. A real estate licensee is required to present and explain the Consumer Notice to a prospective client before any “substantive discussion” pertaining to real estate in general or a property in particular. A Real Estate Recovery Fund exists within the Commonwealth for consumers who feel that they have been the victim of fraud, misrepresentation or deceit.


Shortly after creating the Consumer Notice in 1999, Pennsylvania adopted the “Real Estate Disclosure Law” in 2000.

The purpose of the Seller Disclosure Law was to replace the long standing practice of “caveat emptor” or “Buyer Beware”. In short, it requires a seller to provide information regarding the condition of the property that they are selling.

The Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement is to be used for all properties that are between one and four residential dwelling units. Although there are some exceptions to the Seller Disclosure requirement, the sale of an Estate being one of the most common, most residential transactions will include a Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement. The Statement is actually to be provided to a prospective before entering into any formal agreement of sale.

The Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement is a ten page document which the seller is required to complete to the best of their knowledge and ability. Items covered in the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement include:

• Seller’s expertise
• Owner occupancy history
• Condominium/Planned Community/ Homeowner Association information
• Roof and attic
• Basement and crawl spaces
• Termite / Wood destroying insects
• Structural items
• Additions / alterations
• Water supply
• Sewage system
• Plumbing system
• Domestic water heating
• Heating system
• Air conditioning system
• Other equipment and appliances
• Land/soils
• Flooding, drainage and boundaries
• Hazardous substances and environmental issues
• Miscellaneous

Naturally, the seller is required to be forthright and honest and to make full disclosure as to the condition of the property and any known defects. In some cases, the seller may indicate that certain systems are “unknown” to them. As discussed here previously, a buyer is well served to conduct their own home inspection and satisfy themselves entirely as to the condition of the subject property rather than relying solely on the Seller’s representation.

So the industry has come a very long way with respect to “disclosure” over the past fifteen years or so. The Consumer Notice has helped Buyers better understand agency relationships and licensee’s obligations. The Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement has allowed buyers to better understand the condition of the property that they are purchasing and has also helped minimize post settlement disputes between seller and buyer.

As always, an experienced real estate professional can help you navigate the maze of forms involved in a real estate transaction and help you get to where you really want to be – – a happy seller or happy buyer.

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986. In 2016, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Independent Broker.
**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

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Real Estate Remorse

by Buz Wolfe

It is commonly acknowledged that buying or selling a home is, for most people, the largest financial transaction that they will likely encounter in their lifetime. As such, it is only reasonable to expect that you will experience a wide range of emotions when going through the transaction process itself.

Even experienced real estate purchasers and homeowners making their second or third purchase are not necessarily exempt from the anxiety that can creep into the mind of someone making a decision that will have a major financial impact on their future and their family.

Most people purchasing a home believe that their number one concern surrounds the issue of price. Am I paying too much for this home? What if values drop or a better property comes on the market at a better price? How do I know if I struck the best deal and if I have received the best advice? How do I know I have made the best decision regarding interest rates and financing options? These are all very natural concerns. Using an experienced and knowledgeable real estate broker or salesperson can prove invaluable. A real estate professional should be able to provide you with realistic market data and information that will help you evaluate your particular situation. They should also help surround you with a team of knowledgeable professionals who can assist with the entire maze of financing, inspections, title and legal, settlement requirements, etc.

After “price”, buyers most often are concerned with the overall condition of the subject property. They may have concerns that there are major repairs or improvements required or that there may be hidden or latent defects which are not discovered prior to closing. For peace of mind, a buyer should rely on a qualified home inspector (as described in last month’s article) to help them evaluate both the present condition of the property as well as educate them on what future maintenance and repair will likely lie ahead.

After making a commitment to purchase, almost all buyers will, at lease to some extent, begin to second guess themselves and their decision. A lot of emotions are involved in the decision to purchase a property and sometimes, when those emotions subside, there can be a change of heart or at least a serious reconsideration. Within the industry, we call this “Buyer’s Remorse”.

Sellers are not immune from their own worries and concerns when it comes time to selling their home or property. The number one fear for sellers is always, “Am I selling too low?”. This is particularly true if the seller gets early and heavy activity and secures an offer to purchase very quickly. The natural reaction is “I wasn’t asking enough”. The reality is, and I have seen this time and time again over more than thirty years, your first offer is often your best offer. If you believe that you have prudently priced the property at something close to Fair Market Value, you should not be surprised to get a solid offer very close to asking price and very early on in the process. Typically, the longer the listing remains on the market, the more price negotiation will likely be required. Rarely, particularly in a seller’s market such as we are currently experiencing, does a seller “leave money on the table”.

Although the process of selling your home is also very emotional, sellers need to not take personally comments or feedback or to construe a lack of showings or activity as a reflection on them. Many things contribute to slower showings and activity. This could have to do with the overall price range, number of competitive listings on the market, or the extent to which updating or repairs are required.

Today’s buyers insist that homes – – – virtually in all price ranges – – are updated and in a reasonably good state of repair. The days of buyers purchasing a home they intend to occupy and “fix it up” are somewhat gone. This has been dictated by modern day mortgage underwriting guidelines and buyer mindsets. Sellers need to keep in mind too, that the home inspection will identify required repairs or improvements that will have to be addressed in some form or fashion if you hope to get to the settlement table. This is why obtaining a home inspection before listing the property and making obvious repairs and improvements at the onset can save a great deal of time.

FEAR. False Expectations Appearing Real. Well, they might be false, but they sure can be real. By working with an experienced real estate professional, both buyers and sellers may successfully address the top fears found in real estate transactions.

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986. In 2016, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Independent Broker.
**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

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by Buz Wolfe

For several years now, the WHOLE HOUSE INSPECTION (i.e. Home Inspection) has become pretty much a standard condition for all Agreements of Sale for residential real estate. In theory, this is a good thing. The old days of “caveat emptor” (Buyer Beware) are long gone.

The Home Inspection process was designed to inform the Buyer of any legitimate issues with the home that might require repairs, improvements, or even replacement. Although the Seller is obligated to make good faith acknowledgements in the Pennsylvania mandated Seller Property Disclosure Statement, there are often deficiencies within the home about which even the homeowner is unaware. The Home Inspection process provides the opportunity to discover any deficiencies and educate the Buyer about future maintenance and repairs as well.

Legitimate structural issues such as the discovery of termites or radon gas or mechanical issues involving the functionality of the furnace, well or septic almost always should be addressed prior to closing. While there is no obligation on the part of the Seller to remedy these defects, it is generally prudent to do so and rarely are we unable to resolve these types of issues between the parties. Repairs are made in some instances while a cash concession is made in others.

The problem arises, however, when Buyers and Buyers’ Agents use the Home Inspection to create a “second negotiation”. In these instances, the Home Inspection is used as a tool to renegotiate the “business deal” already struck between Seller and Buyer. This causes many problems and, far too frequently, may result in a contract being terminated. This is where level heads and common sense are necessary.

As a Buyer, you would do well to be reminded that the Seller has probably already negotiated to their “bottom line” and, in many cases, also agreed to provide “seller assistance dollars” to the purchaser as well. While LEGITIMATE items are fair game, trying to renegotiate a new roof for the same 15 year old roof that you have already agreed to buy is just asking for trouble. And, my experience tells me that the less amicable a transaction becomes, the less likely it ends up at the settlement table. So, Buyers should be reasonable when evaluating their Home Inspection.

Sellers, on the other hand, would be well served to spend $400 or so and have a home inspection done before or shortly after they list their home. By identifying legitimate items that require repairs or improvements, they can save time and money in making these corrections or, at a minimum, quantify the amount of money that will be involved in the “second negotiation”. While Sellers are rarely willing to take this advice, I find that more and more of my clients are beginning to give this serious consideration at the front end in order to avoid a lot of extra headaches at the back. It truly is money well spent.

Keep in mind, too, that there are three types of Home Inspectors. Those that really don’t know what they are doing all that well; those that believe they are “God’s gift to the transaction”’; and those who are good, common sense “providers of information”. As hard as it may be to believe, there is no certification or requirement to become a Home Inspector in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. While it is highly suggested that consumers use an Inspector who is a member of ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors), these individuals vary greatly with regard to their actual level of expertise. As such, they tend to call out anything imaginable to cover potential liability and avoid any exposure or future litigation. They also might feel a need to justify their fee. Trade specific experts should be called in to evaluate anything that is uncertain to the Home Inspector himself. Home inspectors do have limits to their expertise.

So, the notion of having a Home Inspection is certainly a good idea. The manner in which the Home Inspection results are treated is the difference between a happy Seller and Buyer shaking hands at the closing table or parting ways before the Sold sign appears.

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986. In 2016, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Independent Broker.
**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

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