THE 2016 ECONOMIC FORECAST

by Buz Wolfe

For many years now, The Greater Carlisle Area Chamber of Commerce has been sponsoring an Economic Forecast breakfast each January, which is generously sponsored by M&T Bank. Scott D. Ehrig, a Senior Investment Advisor for M&T Bank, offers a very well researched presentation regarding both national, regional and local economic matters. I attended the Annual breakfast meeting again a few weeks ago, and came away with several observations for the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA.

• Favorable job growth is projected.
• The manufacturing sector continues to yield to healthcare and education jobs.
• Cumberland County is outperforming the state overall in most categories.
• Cumberland County’s 3.9% unemployment is better than both the United States and Pennsylvania rates.
• Housing trends are now positive.

Last year, Scott, with whom I have met and spoken with on several occasions, confirmed my theory that regional and local real estate values are now back to 2005 and 2006 levels. We are seeing fewer and fewer people “under water” with their homes or being forced to sell for prices less than that which they may have paid.

The first two months of 2016 have been busy and productive for Wolfe & Company Realtors. We are introducing quite a bit of new listing inventory and working with many good and qualified buyers. Our ability to keep up with ever evolving changes and complications within our own industry remains a great asset to our clients. Simply put, we are “problem solvers”.

Wolfe & Company Realtors continues to deliver to the highest of expectations. Yes, EXPERIENCE DOES REALLY MATTER! All of our Associate Brokers and Salespeople are able to produce five star reviews from past clients upon request. And, as always, with us, it is NO FEES – NO TEAMS – NO NONSENSE!

Have industry related questions? E-mail me any time at buzwolfe@wolfecr.com.

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986. In 2015, 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 LOOK AT THIRTY YEARS

by Buz Wolfe

On January 2nd, 1986 I opened a real estate office in Carlisle. I was twenty five years old, less than four years removed from Dickinson College, and had just obtained my Broker’s License a few weeks before.

I borrowed $7,500, rented a small portion of the office building that I now own and fully occupy, and hired my own mother for her “free secretarial services.” We had one salesperson – – just out of Millersville University and with no experience whatsoever.

Last week, Wolfe & Company Realtors celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Several people have asked me what has changed and what has not. I reflected on this for a bit and felt like I was in a good position to answer that question.

In 1986, we had a Carlisle Association of Realtors. It consisted of about 200 members. We also had our own Carlisle Multi-List, owned by all of the local Brokers. These days, of course, we belong to the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors and participate in its Bright Multiple Listing Service. Now, there are about 400 agents or so who are actively engaged in the real estate business within the Carlisle Area.

Thirty years ago, real estate “agents” legally and technically represented the Seller in every transaction. There was no Buyer Agency. There was also no Consumer Notice and no Seller’s Property Disclosure. We could list your house with a one page form and probably sell it with a two page Agreement. Settlements were almost always conducted by local attorneys – not title companies and settlement agents. The local custom was that closing was always held in the office of the Seller’s attorney.

Most Real Estate offices in the area were independent firms owned by local Brokers. While we still have at least two strong, independently owned real estate offices, most of the companies doing business within the Carlisle market are now franchise firms or branch offices for much larger real estate brokerage conglomerates. They have little real attachment to the community.

I would have to say professionalism within the industry has improved over the thirty plus years that I have been in the business. When I started there were no continuing education requirements. Having said that, not nearly as many salespeople today seem to pursue their Broker’s license.

Without a doubt, technology has been the biggest change. We have gone from “onion skin” typing paper and MLS books to an industry where up to 98% of consumers get on-line and view real estate and property from their computer or phone long before ever calling a Broker’s office. While this was a change greatly feared by the “old timers” in the industry, I believe it has been an extremely positive change inasmuch as an educated consumer is a far more attractive client for an experienced Realtor. Still, “high tech” will never replace “high touch” and I continue to be convinced that Wolfe & Company Realtors provides the highest level of professional and individual real estate attention and knowledge available anywhere within the Greater Carlisle Area.

What has not changed is that very few of the people who get in to the real estate business are actually successful. They just do not make it. Several years back, I participated in a National Association of Realtors survey that determined 7% of the licensed practitioners in the country make 93% of the commission income. When I look at the list of the 468 Realtors doing business in Carlisle, I can identify about twenty who actually make a very good living at the practice of real estate. I am pleased to know that about a third of them work right here in my office.

On our 25th Anniversary, we began promoting the mantra “EXPERIENCE MATTERS.” On our 30th Anniversary, it continues to be more true than ever. We look forward to putting our experience to work for our clients and customers again in 2016 and beyond.

*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.

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SELLING YOUR HOUSE OVER THE HOLIDAYS

by Buz Wolfe

Do you think we should take the house off the market? Should we wait until spring to put our house on the market? Do houses sell over the holidays?

These are all questions which I am frequently asked. I am not sure there is a right or wrong answer to any of them, but I have observed some patterns over my many years as a Real Estate Broker.

Yes, overall activity is always down from about Thanksgiving through the early part of January. Local and “trade up” buyers often wait until after the holidays to pursue their search. The buyers that are out there looking, however, are very legitimate. They have either sold a property and need to purchase one or are, perhaps more likely, relocating into the area as a result of a job transfer.

If your home is presently on the market and you have been experiencing good and steady activity and just don’t want to be “bothered” with the process over the holiday season, I would say go ahead and take it off the market. You can likely put it back on the market in February or March and enjoy the same type of steady activity.

If, though, you have a high end or niche property which has had only sporadic activity due to the reduced pool of buyers available to you, I would absolutely keep the house on the market during the holiday season. You simply can’t take the chance on missing out on a transferee who may be coming into the community and looking for a very specific property. Relocation buyers typically tend to be higher end buyers and more inclined to purchase a special or niche property. They can’t buy your house if it is not for sale.

The market in the Carlisle area has never been terribly seasonal. For sure, the second and third quarters are typically more productive than the fourth and first. Having said that, we have had many years where our first quarter or our last quarter was the best. There is a certain “New Year’s Resolution” mentality that brings many people into the market in early January. Again, they cannot buy your house if it’s not for sale.

The key to our long time success is our ability to gauge the market, give you good counsel and advice, and then manage your transaction. We do that round the clock, twelve months a year.

I extend my personal and heartfelt wishes to you and your family for a Merry Christmas. “Remember the reason for the Season.” Remember, too, 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.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

by Buz Wolfe

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our clients, friends, peers, and family a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving! As I approach the 30th Anniversary of the founding of our company, I am constantly reminded of the many blessings which have been bestowed upon us over these years.

Since these warm wishes are echoed by my entire staff, I thought it might be fun to give you a quick two sentence description of some “fun facts” about the Wolfe & Company sales staff.

Steve Martson has a law degree. He spent a very successful career in the private sector corporate world.
Harry Snyder is a retired Air Force and Commercial Airline pilot. He has over twenty five years experience as a top producer in high end properties.
Wayne Deakin is a Penn State alumnus. He has spent approximately twenty years handling rental, property management and recreational cabin properties for us.
Mitch Gelbaugh started with the company in 1986 and went on to spend eighteen years at RE/MAX where he was inducted into the RE/MAX Hall of Fame. Mitch holds an Associate Broker’s license.
Eric Shryock just celebrated his twenty fifth anniversary with the company. Before entering the real estate field, Eric was a PGA Class A Golf Professional.
Gary Sausser is a West Point grad and enjoyed a distinguished Army career culminating in the rank of Brigadier General. Gary also holds the CCIM – – the highest commercial designation available in the real estate industry.
Tom Lindsey enjoyed a successful career in the commercial construction business before entering the real estate business in 1988. Tom also holds an Associate Broker’s license.
Sam McLoota is also a Penn State alumnus and a graduate of the Smeal College of Business. Sam is also an alumnus of the Leadership Cumberland program.
Joan Wolfe spent many years “behind the scenes” taking care of bookkeeping, payroll, IT and procurement for the company before securing her sales license. She continues to wear “all of the hats”.
Erin Wolfe is a Bucknell alumnus and taught in the Chambersburg and Cumberland Valley Schools before entering the Real Estate business. Erin is on track to finish among the top five percent of producers in the marketplace for 2015.
John Matasovsky’s first career was with the Pentagon. He relocated to the area because of his love for fly fishing and he also holds the SRES designation.
Michael Garrity relocated to the area from Chicago with his wife who is part of a long established Carlisle business. Michael also has the CCIM designation and is a graduate of Marquette.
Andy Wolfe is a graduate of Juniata College where he played Division III basketball. Andy will soon sit for the General Certified Appraisal examination.
Tracy Sharp has been “running the company” for nearly ten years. Tracy and her family are native to the area and relocated back here after a corporate career in Human Resources.

The market remains good and our staff remains dedicated to serving our clients through the balance of the year and into 2016. At Wolfe & Company Realtors it is still NO FEES – NO TEAMS – NO NONSENSE. And remember – – – EXPERIENCE MATTERS!

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WHAT IS TRID?

by Buz Wolfe

By now, you have probably heard about TRID – – the big real estate change which occurred on October 3rd. The “TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure” was designed and implemented by the federal government in yet another over reaching attempt to “protect” consumers. TILA stands for “Truth in Lending Act” and RESPA stands for “Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act”. These two federal lending requirements are to be “Integrated” into a “Disclosure” that provides very firm rules as to the precision and advance notice to which lenders must adhere in providing information to borrowers.

While the goal of providing consumers/borrowers/buyers with more accurate and timely information is a very good one, the new procedures are fraught with problems and will be likely to create many personal crises and painful delays in settlements.

What do you need to know? Basically, the most important thing that parties to a real estate transaction should know going forward is that it will be more important than ever to deal with LOCAL lenders, attorneys, title companies and settlement agencies.

Many of the functions previously performed by title entities and settlement entities will now be purely the responsibility of the LENDER. Borrowers/buyers will now have three days after receipt of their Closing Disclosure to review the form prior to closing. Any changes to the Closing Disclosure will likely trigger a new three day waiting period before closing can occur. Any changes made by the lender or by any of the borrower’s/buyer’s activities since the initial Loan ESTIMATE will also require the three day waiting period – – there is very little ability to avoid the “three day rule”.

For additional information on TRID and how it may affect you, feel free to contact Wolfe & Company Realtors for additional information. Remember – – the lender and settlement agent must work together. Know who you are working with! Local will almost always be better!

And…EXPERIENCE MATTERS! Managing your transaction is more important than ever and no one does that better than Wolfe & Company Realtors!

*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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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