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 Houzz.com 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 https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/75133049/list/to-dos-your-december-home-checklist

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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, Homes.com, just to name a few.  Real Estate Brokers must pay to have their listings on Realtor.com 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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