HOW FREE IS FREE?

by Buz Wolfe

A recent industry trend is for real estate companies or real estate teams to offer a “free” moving van to customers and clients utilizing their services. Well, I did a little checking into this.

You can rent the biggest U-Haul available for $39.95 a day plus $.78 a mile – – at least the last time I checked. Most residential moves are made within the course of one day.

These same real estate teams and real estate agencies are charging their clients anywhere from $200 – $700 in additional fees over and above the standard real estate commission. This makes you ask yourself, just HOW FREE IS FREE?

As best I can tell, we are the only leading real estate company in the area that does not charge additional fees. We charge no fees to our Buyer clients whatsoever and no fees above agreed upon commission to our Sellers. That’s what we mean when we say……………………………..

“NO FEES – NO TEAMS – NO NONSENSE!”

For simply the most reliable and fairly priced real estate service available in South Central Pennsylvania, contact Wolfe & Company Realtors. Experience does matter!

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986. In 2014, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Broker with $10,000,000 in settled transactions.
**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

Continue reading

EXPERTS ANONYMOUS

by Buz Wolfe

When it comes to real estate, “EVERYONE IS AN EXPERT”.  Trust me on this one.

I do a great deal of industry related reading and research.  For the most part, this is to keep me current with trends in the industry and to assure that my company is complying with all the appropriate rules and regulations.  Seldom, however, do I bother to read about what the “experts” think.

One recent exception was an article in the Sunday Patriot News by Terry Savage of the Savage Truth.  She lists a number of things that should be considered before purchasing a home and states that “If you plan realistically, your home could be your best investment, especially with low mortgage rates.”

Ms. Savage does go on to make two points with which I completely agree.  In fact, I have made both of them many, many times in the past.

First, your home is your residence not a trading investment .  While real estate has traditionally been an excellent investment and the largest savings investment for most Americans, this point should not be lost.

Number two, the family home is not a liquid asset.   See above.

There are, however, many additional benefits to home ownership.  These include property tax deductions, mortgage interest deductions, closing cost deductions (Pennsylvania has among the lowest mortgage closing costs in the Nation according to BankRate.com), home office deductions, Energy Star deductions, and property sale deductions.

It is true that your home should not be a “piggy bank” and that there is more to life than making house payments.  Still, as we have seen time and time again, the single family home remains most Americans best and most significant investment.  With property values returning to 2005-6 levels, inventory at appropriate levels, and mortgage interest rates still at historic lows, now is the time to “start up”, “trade up”, or “downsize”.

Need help?  EXPERIENCE MATTERS!

 

 

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986.  In 2014, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Broker with $10,000,000 in settled transactions.

**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

Continue reading

THE VALUE OF USING A REALTOR

by Buz Wolfe

A 2014 study by the National Association of Realtors confirms that Agent-assisted home sales typically are 13% higher than For Sale by Owner sales (FSBOs). This is really impressive! Most folks choose the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route to “save” the commission. While commissions are negotiable, they generally range in the 5-6% range. Obviously, the use of a Realtor MORE than covers the cost – – by a wide margin, actually.

There are other reasons why the FBSO route rarely works. Nationally, and historically, only 10%-20% of For Sale By Owners are actually successful. Why?

First, many buyers are inheritantly suspicious of a FSBO property. They suspect that there may be issues that persuaded the owner not to list with a Real Estate Broker.

Second, buyers are frequently suspicious of the manner by which the asking price was arrived. While many FSBO’s over price their properties, the statistic referenced above suggests that many actually end up selling their house for too little.

Third, buyers frequently are reluctantly to deal directly with the seller. They prefer to engage a qualified “middle man” to represent their interest in the transaction.

Fourth, most For Sale By Owner deals fall apart because neither the seller nor the buyer have any idea what to do after they agree on a sale price. Contract preparation and the maze of conditions that must be met to get to the settlement table is far above the reach of most private parties.

Fifth, with over 95% of prospective buyers now getting on internet sites before contacting a Realtor, it is almost impossible for a FSBO to gain the kind of exposure available through the multiple listing and websites dedicated to real estate properties.

I have always respected anyone’s right to try and sell their property privately. There is, however, a very good reason that less than 2 out of 10 are successful. Realtor assisted transactions benefit the seller in many, many ways.

And, remember. Not all Realtors are created equal. EXPERIENCE MATTERS!

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986. In 2014, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Broker with $10,000,000 in settled transactions.
**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

Continue reading

THIS N’ THAT

by Buz Wolfe

 

As we find ourselves squarely into the traditional busy spring market, I thought I would pass along some “tid-bits” that I have taken from the numerous trade publications that I review frequently.  For the most part, it remains good news:

Real Estate again named best long term investment. That is according to a recent Gallup Survey where respondents chose real estate ahead of stocks, gold, savings accounts, CD’s or bonds as the best long term investment. Real Estate also took the top spot last year.

  • The most popular home improvement projects. In Pennsylvania, which differed from other parts of the country, HVAC services ranked first.  Door installation, in Pennsylvania, came in second. Third was actually pest control.  It appears to me that our conservative “Pennsylvania Dutch” characteristics are alive and well!
  • Housing market shows healthy activity with sales up. The Pennsylvania housing market saw an 11% jump in closed sales in the first quarter of 2015 according to a report published by the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors.
  • In Pennsylvania, median prices rose to $158,000 and Days On Market remains steady at 95 days. Locally, these figures are about $189,000 and 105 days.
  • 1st time buyers are beginning to enter the market. Thanks to continued low interest rates and recent changes by the FHA which lowered mortgage insurance premiums, younger and entry level buyers are beginning to again enter the market place. 30 year fixed mortgage rates remain below 4%!
  • High consumer optimism exists among consumers. According to a Fannie Mae February 2015 housing survey, consumer optimism toward the housing market and the economy has reached a new all-time survey high.  Without question, increasing home sales benefit the overall economic recovery.  Many related industries benefit from a strong housing market.
  • Cumberland County has seen the largest increase in housing units and residential building permits. Cumberland County remains the fastest growing of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.  Over 71% of the homes in Cumberland County are actually owner-occupied.
  • Word of mouth and good customer services continue to be a Realtors greatest marketing asset. 55% of recent home buyers indicated that they hired a Realtor based on a friend or family member’s recommendation or by using a Realtor that they had used in the past.  This is no surprise to us – the large majority of our business at Wolfe & Company Realtors comes from satisfied past clients or clients referred to us by others.

Our first quarter of 2015 will rank among the best ever.  The month of April was the single best month for Wolfe & Company settled transactions in nearly 10 years.  We remain very busy – – but never too busy to provide you , your friends, relatives or others the highest level of personalized assistance available within the Greater Carlisle Area.

  EXPERIENCE MATTERS! 

 

Credit to the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors JUST LISTED column as well as studies available through the Central Penn Business Journal and the Residential Specialist CRS Magazine for many of the above statistics.

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986.  In 2014, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Broker with $10,000,000 in settled transactions.

**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

Continue reading

SO, YOU’VE GOT CASH…

by Buz Wolfe

 

SO, YOU’VE GOT CASH…

BIG DEAL!

 Really, it’s not that big of a deal.  You just think it is.

Cash sales accounted for 36% of all home sales in Pennsylvania during the month of December.  This is pretty consistent with what we are seeing in the Greater Carlisle Area where approximately 1/3 of all transactions have been cash transactions since the market crash of 2007.  Prior to the housing crisis, cash sales averaged about 25% across the United States.

I frequently see cash buyers and buyer agents making ridiculous, low ball offers on our listings simply because they have CASH.  Well, the truth of the matter is that cash will have some impact on the seller, but it is not going to allow you to buy the property for 80 cents on the dollar.  Remember, it’s all cash to the seller – be it your’s, the bank’s, or the mortgage company’s!

The ratio of list price to actual sales price here in the Greater Carlisle Area remains at 98%.  This, too, is consistent with what we have experienced here in our “micro-market” for many, many years.  When the market is slower, this percentage changes very little, but Days On Market tends to increase.  We are currently seeing Days On Market actually decline as more and more listing inventory is absorbed.

Anecdotally, I can tell you that we have recently sold four or five properties that were on the market for periods of up to a year or more.  In three of these instances, we actually received multiple or competing offers and were able to sell the properties at or near their full asking price.  It is very clear to me that the market is improving dramatically and that 2015 will likely be the best year in residential real estate since 2006.

So, you’ve got cash?  The best thing that you can do is to make the seller a reasonable offer on their property so that you will, in turn, get their attention.  Far too often, I see low ball offers that offend, antagonize or insult the seller.  In turn, the seller often does not offer a counter proposal at all or, at a minimum, does not respond with their “bottom line number”.  If you want to make effective use of your cash, make the seller an offer that they will take seriously and you will benefit from getting their best counter proposal.

Perhaps you have seen some of our local billboards touting our continued campaign of No Fees, No Teams, No Nonsense.  To the best of my knowledge, we are the only real estate agency in the Greater Carlisle Area that charges NO FEES to our buyer clients and NO ADDITIONAL FEES (other than commission) to our selling clients.  If you are paying additional fees, you are paying too much!  We not only provide the highest level of professional real estate service available in Carlisle – – we also provide the best VALUE available for real estate services in the Greater Carlisle Area.

EXPERIENCE MATTERS! 

 

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986.  In 2014, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Broker with $10,000,000 in settled transactions.

**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

Continue reading

“THE ROAD TO SUCCESS……”

by Buz Wolfe

…is always under construction”.  This is another adage from my favorite baseball manager, Baltimore Orioles skipper Buck Showalter.  So, what does it mean?  Well, I think it speaks to the need to adapt and adjust to new and changing trends within your business or industry.

Hey, I am “old school”.  But, I realize that if you are going to “stand pat” or adopt the attitude that “all change is bad”, your business will eventually suffer and time will pass you by.  So, why do I bring all of this up?  Last week, I got my first smart phone.

That’s right. For many years now, I have been successfully running my business with a home computer, a laptop at my cabin and office and a cell phone (The Octane) that was able to make and receive calls as well as to send and receive text messages.  Well, that all changed last week.  Personally, I have not always warmly embraced change and I am not the biggest fan in the world of our ever evolving technology.  However, finally, I have made the move.

So, if you need to get in touch with me you have all of the following options:  Office Land Line at 717-243-1551 (with voice mail); Direct Dial Land Line at 717-240-5070 (with voice mail);    Home Land Line at 717-243-6840 (with voice mail); Cell Phone calls at 717-576-8102; Text Messages at the same 717-576-8102; or e-mail at buzwolfe@wolfecr.com.  You can also find me on Facebook (3 pages – personal, professional and office); Twitter and Linkedin.

Better yet, just send me a fax……………..

 

 

 

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986.  In 2014, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Broker with $10,000,000 in settled transactions.

**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

Continue reading

THINGS LOOKING UP?

by Buz Wolfe

 

I have reasonably good vibes on the continued improvement of the real estate market both nationally, across the state and here locally.  Overall activity for this time of year, and particularly this kind of weather, is good.

The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors recently reported that existing home sales are forecasted to rise about 7% in 2015.  According to the Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun, this is thanks to an improving economy, steady job gains and a continued increase in overall home prices.  New home sales are also on the rise with December having posted some of the largest gains in recent years.  As noted in my previous blog, historically low interest rates and more generous down payment and mortgage underwriting requirements are helpful.

I am often asked the question “What is my home worth these days?”  Well, I have been telling folks that your home is worth today approximately what it was worth in 2005.  During a recent economic forecast meeting held by Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors, a subsidiary of M&T Bank, a graph was provided regarding the Carlisle – Harrisburg Metro Area.  It confirmed that current values in the Carlisle Area are basically equivalent to the values of 2006 – – the height of the bubble market.  While some additional appreciation was seen from 2006-2007, 2008 began a period of gradual decline which was slightly reversed in the 2010 market and then followed by some additional market depreciation in the 2012 early 2013 period.  Values have steadily climbed from 2014 to present with an overall gain in the Metro Area of approximately 0.4% relative to the first quarter of 2006.  Relative to a year ago, the Carlisle Area has seen a positive overall appreciation rate of 1.6% – – not outstanding, but certainly an improvement.

Wolfe and Company Realtors will be continuing to promote our theme of “NO FEES, NO TEAMS, NO NONSENSE” over the next several months with a local billboard campaign.  We are the only Brokerage Company in South Central Pennsylvania, to my knowledge, that charges NO FEES to our Buyer clients and NO FEES in addition to the basic commission to our Seller Clients.  This does not mean you are dealing with a “discount” Broker.  The fact is, you are dealing with the most knowledgeable and experienced real estate company available to you in the Greater Carlisle Area.

For all of your Real Estate needs, contact Wolfe & Company Realtors of Carlisle.  Because……….

 EXPERIENCE MATTERS!

 

 

 

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, Jr. is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  He is not an attorney and is not licensed to practice law.  No comments made within the confines of his blog should be construed as legal advice.

**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

 

Continue reading

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

by Buz Wolfe

 

I would like to take this opportunity again to thank our many friends and clients for making 2014 one of our best years ever.  We are off to a very good start and I am extremely optimistic about 2015 as well.

Several of my blogs last year referred to my concern over the decline in first time or entry level buyers both here locally and across the country.  Well, some good news was recently announced that should prove to be a big help for those folks looking to enter the housing market.

Just last month, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored entities that form the secondary mortgage market, unveiled plans to begin accepting 3% down payment loans.  Over the past several years, the lowest down payment loans for conventional financing amounted to 5% while 3 1/2 % mortgages were available through FHA (Federal Housing Administration)  – – sometimes a more difficult loan and transaction to navigate.

As mentioned before, first time buyers were at their lowest level last year since 1987.  The issues surrounding tough job markets, student loans and the cash required to purchase a first home are often cited as the reasons.

To qualify, the first time home buyer must not have owned a home within the past three years and must purchase a single family residence which will be owner-occupied.  A minimum credit score of 620-660 will be required.  Better yet, generous “gift funding” from other sources (parents, grandparents, seller assistance, etc.) will be permitted.  In some cases, there will also be no monthly PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) added to the principal and interest payment.

I have also mentioned before that one of the reasons that I think there has been a decline in first time buyers is that, for the cognitive period of time that young folks have been paying attention to the economy and the housing market, almost all news has been bad.  I believe it is incumbent upon the “older generation” to take the time to explain to young folks the many tangible benefits of home ownership.  And if you’re not sure how to do that – – – call us!

 EXPERIENCE MATTERS!

 

UPDATE!  FHA has lowered mortgage insurance rates (MI) for most loans effective January 26, 2015.  Coupled with historically low interest rates, this gives Buyers more purchasing power and lower monthly payment!

 

 

 

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, Jr. is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  He is not an attorney and is not licensed to practice law.  No comments made within the confines of his blog should be construed as legal advice.

**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

Continue reading

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

by Buz Wolfe

 

This will likely be my last blog for 2014.  Once again, we have been very blessed with a quite profitable 2014 – – the best year that we have enjoyed since 2006.  I thought I would end the year just with some quick bullet points and a quick comment on each.

  •  Cumberland County home sales were, in the month of October, the best since 2009. This was reported by the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors and is certainly consistent with what we have experienced here at Wolfe & Company Realtors.
  • House flipping in Pennsylvania is down. This was reported by California based RealtyTrac, Inc. via the Central Penn Business Journal. I have never really observed much profitable house flipping here in the Greater Carlisle Area.  There are a few folks out there still trying to do it, but it is difficult and I question the potential profitability.
  • First time buyer sales are down. This has been reported by various entities and most recently by the Wall Street Journal. The number of entry level buyers, as reported by the National Association of Realtors, is at its lowest level since 1987.  I have commented before that the reluctance or inability of young folks to purchase their first home is depriving them of the opportunity to develop equity and affecting the overall “food chain” effect for the housing market.
  • As reported by the Council of Residential Specialists, 80% of homebuyers financed their recent home purchases with the typical loan amount being 90% of purchase price. First time home buyers typically finance 95% compared to 86% for repeat buyers.  This, too, is similar to what we are experiencing in our business and here in the Greater Carlisle Area.
  • The same source reports that 24% of buyers reported the mortgage application and approval process was somewhat more difficult than expected and 16% reported it was much more difficult. Frankly, I am amazed that that percentage is not far higher.  The process of buying a home is more complicated today than it has ever been.  Ergo, the need for an EXPERIENCED Real Estate Professional to help you navigate the process.
  • Nationally, median home prices have risen over the past year. Overall home ownership has declined ever so slightly reports CRS.  Anecdotally, my observation would be that our local market mirrors the national trend.

 

I extend to you my most heartfelt wishes for the Holiday Season.  Around here, we still say “Merry Christmas” and I also hope that your 2015 will be both healthy and prosperous.  At Wolfe & Company, we are counting on it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, Jr. is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  He is not an attorney and is not licensed to practice law.  No comments made within the confines of his blog should be construed as legal advice.

**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

Continue reading

© 2018 Wolfe & Company Realtors – Carlisle Real Estate Listings in PA. All Rights Reserved | Site designed by GreenTDesign