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With the wealth of real estate reality TV shows out now, many Delaware and Pennsylvania residents have their wheels turning and are ready (or so they think!) to buy a home that needs a little TLC. So, you think you want to buy a fixer upper home? While your dreams of renovating a property may be driven by what you've seen on television, it's important to remember that the reality of updating a home from start to finish can be much more time-consuming, tedious, expensive, and drawn-out than you realize.

But as your local real estate team in Delaware and Pennsylvania, the Kat Geralis Home Team is happy to share below three things to do before you commit to buying a fixer upper home this year:

Research the location
Not only should you research the location of a home before purchasing, but also look into the zoning. What you may not know is that every community in Delaware and Pennsylvania has zoning districts and restrictions surrounding what can and cannot be done to homes within their limits. You will want to take a close look at the zoning of your future property before you become too set on what renovations you will do once you get the keys.

Talk to a contractor
Unless you are confident in your ability to do all of the work on your fixer upper home yourself, it is wise to speak with a contractor or architect who can assist you in carrying out your vision. One rule of thumb— gather quotes and opinions from several contractors in the area prior to choosing one for your projects.

Recruit a home inspector 
It is a home inspector's job to look into any structural problems, in addition to pointing out what needs to be replaced— the roof, for instance. The last thing you want when you begin your renovation projects is to find that your foundation is unstable or a major operating system like the plumbing has failed. If you need recommendations for a home inspector in your Delaware or Pennsylvania area, do not hesitate to reach out! Remember, your real estate agent is a wealth of resources!

Ready to get started on finding the perfect home for you— fixer upper or otherwise? Give our experts at the Kat Geralis Home Team a call today! We even offer a FREE Home Buyer e-Guide to provide you with must-know information in an easy-to-read format!

We also offer FREE First-Time Home Buyer Seminars!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

Homes for Sale
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5 Delaware and Pennsylvania Real Estate Reality TV Myths

by Katina Geralis

Now that it's winter in Delaware and Pennsylvania, we're all staying indoors a little more and perhaps you're even watching a few real estate reality TV shows— we've all seen a few by now! As these shows grow in popularity, it's important to keep in mind that not everything you see on your screen is actually reality. Much of what takes place is staged and filmed in a much shorter timeline and as your local real estate experts in DE and PA, we've included a much needed reality check for you below!

Myth: Buyers only choose from 3 homes
In nearly every reality TV show based on homebuyers, there are typically three homes toured before the buyer makes a decision and chooses one. While there may be a small percentage of buyers that truly buy one of the first few homes they see in Delaware and Pennsylvania, remember that the average homebuyers tours at least 10 homes during their search, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Myth: The show takes place in real time
It may seem unrealistic that the homebuyers can go through the entire buying process, from search to closing, within a 30-minute time slot and that's because, it is. Real estate reality shows often follow buyers who are farther along in the process and have already chosen a home to buy, in an attempt to speed up the process for viewers.

Myth: These homes are still for sale
As mentioned above, real estate reality shows are often filmed months in advance of their air date. So  if you've spotted a home that you love on your favorite show, keep in mind that unfortunately many of the homes shown are already sold and off the market. The properties are staged for TV for the "home search" phase.

Myth: Your home will sell at the open house
Many times homeowners on TV will hold an open house and then choose from the dozens of offers that result from the traffic. Please remember that just as many homes sell from regular showings and if you hold one, your property may not hook a buyer from the first open house. This is just a small piece of the puzzle when marketing Delaware and Pennsylvania homes.

Myth: Removing a wall is easy
Every homeowner today wants an open concept floor plan and thus, real estate reality shows typically show demo teams knocking down walls to make it happen. In reality, removing walls may not always been in your budget or even possible for your specific home. If the wall is load-bearing, there is much more structural work that comes into play and that can be more costly than you think!

Don't get too caught up in real estate reality TV myths if you're a new homebuyer in Delaware or Pennsylvania! It's always wise to consult the pros first! Give the Kat Geralis Home Team a call today for more information about next steps in the buying process or for a list of available homes.

We even offer FREE First-Time Homebuyer Seminars!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

Homes for Sale
Visit My Website
Contact Me
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How to Buy a Delaware or Pennsylvania Home Before the Holidays

by Katina Geralis

Tis the season for holiday chaos in Delaware and Pennsylvania! Your schedule is likely full of festive gatherings, tree trimming, and traveling to visit with friends and family near and far. Right now, buying a new home and settling in before the new year may seem like a challenge, but don't be so quick to write it off! Buying a new home during this busy time of year can be done and you just need an expert real estate agent and a handful of helpful tips to get the job done!

Below are four tips to help you buy a home in Delaware or Pennsylvania before the holidays:

​Get pre-approved
Don't get off on the wrong foot by touring homes that are outside of your budget. Instead, take the time to get pre-approved with a mortgage lender! This way, you'll know exactly how much home you can afford, as well as whether to not you even qualify to buy a home.

Team up with an expert agent
Your real estate agent should both know the DE and PA market well, as well as have a large network of experts at their disposal. For instance, when you have a specific timeline in mind to buy a home—like during the holidays—your agent should know exactly which local professionals to bring in to complete the transaction, from lenders to inspectors.

Get documents in order
You can never be too organized as a Delaware or Pennsylvania homebuyer. Put together all of the documents you will need to buy a home— tax returns from the past two years, W2's or pay stubs, as well as two months worth of bank statements from all accounts. Keep them in a separate folder just for your purchase as this will speed up the process when the documents are needed!

Stay on track
If you're under contract to buy a home, you will want to stay on top of everyone to keep the transaction moving. When you work with the right real estate agent, they will also play an important role in this. Considering all of the parties involved in the transaction, it may be many days before someone gets the document they need or answers a certain question. If you haven't heard back in a timely manner, always check in with that person to stay on track!

2018 may almost be over, but don't let that stop you from buying a new home in Delaware or Pennsylvania! Give us a call today for a list of available properties as well as next steps for home buying or selling your current home!

We even offer FREE First-Time Homebuyer Seminars!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

Homes for Sale
Visit My Website
Contact Me
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In past blog posts, we've talked about 4 Real Estate Red Flags Your DE or PA Home Inspection Might Miss and even How to Negotiate Repairs After Your Inspection, but now it's time to go over one more important topic— questions to ask!

When the home inspection is complete and you've gone over the often lengthy report, you will likely have many questions for your inspector that will have your head spinning! As your local real estate experts in Delaware and Pennsylvania, we've rounded up a few important questions to help calm your nerves:

What does "this" mean?
If you attend your home inspection, which is always wise, you will be able to ask the inspector questions in the moment if you don't understand something in his report. For instance, if he lists a defect in the roof that you aren't clear on, you can ask him how serious it is and what exactly needs to be fixed. Never be afraid to ask the inspector if you aren't clear on an item in the report— you should be fully aware of what you're buying!

Is this a major problem?
Buyers, don't be too alarmed by the length of the report! Many of the items included will be minor and not too much to worry about. But be sure to ask your inspector if any major problems came up during inspection, so you are certain of what needs to be done.

Do I need to call for a follow-up?
Your inspector isn't an expert on everything— in some cases, he may suggest you call an electrician or plumber to take a closer look. If he flags something in the report along these lines, ask him if you need to call another expert for a follow-up. This way you can stay on top of repairs or problems!

What needs to be done when I move in?
If you don't plan to ask the seller to make specific repairs, that becomes your job as the homeowner upon move-in. Ask the inspector which minor items you will need to take care of when you move in, so you're not left wondering why something isn't functioning properly when you have the keys!

Have more questions to ask a real estate expert about the buying process? Give us a call today!

We even offer FREE First-Time Homebuyer Seminars!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

Homes for Sale
Visit My Website
Contact Me
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4 Mistakes to Avoid When House Hunting in Delaware and Pennsylvania

by Katina Geralis

While you may have seen dozens of real estate reality TV shows that make it look as simple as touring three homes and then choosing the best one, there is so much more to house hunting in Delaware and Pennsylvania. In fact, there are a few rules of thumb to follow in order to avoid any buyer's remorse or financial obstacles down the road.

As your local real estate experts in Delaware and Pennsylvania, the Kat Geralis Home Team has put together four mistakes to avoid when house hunting this year to make your experience as smooth as possible:

Don't Skip the Pre-Approval
Working with a lender on your mortgage pre-approval should be your first step in your DE or PA home purchase process. In the event that you find a home you want to pursue, a seller will likely not entertain any offers without a pre-approval. This step shows the seller you are serious about buying and can give you an edge over other buyers who may not have a pre-approval completed.

Don't House Hunt on Your Own
There are many perks to working with a real estate agent, so don't make the costly mistake of going it alone this year! Remember that your agent has done this before and knows the in's and out's of crafting the perfect offer and corresponding with all necessary parties in a transaction. Navigating a home purchase alone can be a full-time job in itself— why not leave it to the pros?

Don't Wait Too Long to Act
If you see a home in DE or PA that you love, don't wait! Buyer demand has been strong over the past few months and it hasn't slowed down yet! You won't want to let your dream home slip through your fingers because you waited a week to get in for a showing. Work with your agent to make sure you are timely in viewing the property and writing your offer if you've found "the one!"

Don't Get Distracted by Home Features
When you tour a home, it can be easy to get distracted by updates like new appliances, light fixtures, and even trendy items like sliding barn doors. But don't get too carried away! It is important to envision how you and your family will live in the space— does it have enough bedrooms? Are there enough bathrooms? Does the layout suit your needs? Is there enough outdoor space? Home features like lighting and hardware are simply decorative, while major structural components like layout and square footage will affect your daily life and are what you will need to focus in on.

Ready to buy a home in Delaware or Pennsylvania but don't know how to get started? Contact our team of local experts today! We will walk you through every step in the process!

We even offer FREE First-Time Homebuyer Seminars!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

Homes for Sale
Visit My Website
Contact Me
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Home Staging vs. Hiding in Delaware and Pennsylvania Homes

by Katina Geralis

When you arrive to tour a home in Delaware or Pennsylvania, it can be easy to get distracted by home features like light fixtures, paint color, number of bedrooms, and the outdoor space— especially if you're a first-time homebuyer! These are indeed important aspects of a property to take notice of, but you will also need to keep your eyes out for minor—or major—flaws that could be hidden with simple home staging.

In some cases, Delaware or Pennsylvania home sellers will try to cover up issues with home staging and as your local real estate experts, we are here to help you uncover them!

Listing Phrases
Before you even arrive at home in Delaware or Pennsylvania, you can get an idea of what might be waiting for you simply by the phrases used in the listing description. Words like "cozy" and "quaint" are often euphemisms for small homes. Listings can also state that they are ready for your touch or a "fixer upper," which typically means the property needs work.

Painted Floors
Paint can cover up many problems in a home— so don't always assume it is for decorative purposes when house hunting! If you happen to pull up a corner of carpeting in a DE or PA home and notice paint covering sections or all of the floor, it may be to cover up pet damage or water spots. 

Rugs
Typically used to warm up a home or add a touch of color to a room, rugs and runners can also be used to cover warped floor boards and water damage. Walk over the rugs several times and take note of how the floor feels— does it creak, crack, or feel unstable? If so, it could be worth taking a close look into before buying the home.

Furniture Placement
If the placement of furniture in a home feels off, it could be because the homeowner is hiding something underneath the furniture or around it. For instance, are there frames hung in an odd formation or spot? They could be covering water spots or cracks. Is there a large couch in the center of the room? It could be covering imperfections in the floor or pet damage.

Ready to get started on your Delaware or Pennsylvania home search? Give the ​Kat Geralis Home Team a call today!

We even offer FREE First-Time Home Buyer Seminars!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

Homes for Sale
Visit My Website
Contact Me
Find me on Facebook

5 Things That Can Slow Your DE or PA Mortgage Closing

by Katina Geralis

Once you've found the perfect Delaware or Pennsylvania home, made an offer, and had it accepted, you'll need to make it through the mortgage closing before you are handed your keys. You may be anxious to officially become a homeowner, but the time it takes to close is dependent on a variety of factors— some of which are in your control!

If you're planning to buy a new home in Delaware or Pennsylvania, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the following things that can slow down your mortgage closing:

Making big purchases
You may be excited about your new home, but resist the urge to buy new furniture and decor until after the closing. Making big purchases on credit cards can signal a red flag to lenders who will pull your credit just before closing to ensure it is still the same. A large purchase shows you've acquired more debt and could threaten your mortgage qualifications.

Outstanding HOA fees and fines
While this one may not be entirely in your hands, note that the previous homeowner's outstanding fees or fines owed to the homeowner's association can cause closing delays. You may be able to negotiate these costs with the seller prior to the sale or worst case scenario, you'll need to pay them. 

Document delays
Your lender will require many different documents for verification of income, including your pay stubs, tax documents, bank statements, and they'll likely even get in contact with your employer. Be sure to provide these documents as soon as they ask for them or you could see a delay in closing.

Titles and liens
If there is a lien against the property or the title has the wrong signature, it will need to be resolved before the closing can move forward. 

Down payment
If your down payment is coming via gift from a friend or family member, the closing could be slowed slightly. In addition, if the lender requires the buyer to put down more on the home and the buyer does not have immediately have the extra funds, the date could be pushed out several weeks or months.

Contact the Kat Geralis Home Team today for a list of available homes in your area or for more information on the home buying process!

We even offer FREE First-Time Home Buyer Seminars!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

Homes for Sale
Visit My Website
Contact Me
Find me on Facebook

3 Questions to Ask Mortgage Lenders in Delaware and Pennsylvania

by Katina Geralis

Buying a home in Delaware or Pennsylvania is likely one of the biggest decisions (and purchases!) you will make in your lifetime and as a result, you will want a team of experts on your side to see you through the process. One of the most important is, of course, your real estate agent and the other is your lender. 

Your lender will help you secure financing to purchase a home in Delaware or Pennsylvania and be available to answer all of your questions surrounding debt, closing costs, and even your buying timeline. But remember, not all lenders are the same, so it is key to ask a few questions in order to find the best fit for you:

Is now the right time for me to buy?
Depending on your specific financial situation, it may be in your best interests to put in an offer on your dream home now or wait until next year when your buying power is stronger— and a great lender will tell you that! The right lender will clearly explain how your debts and down payment can affect your buying power—or your ability to qualify for a mortgage and favorable rate—and how that will play into your timeline.

What credit score do I need to qualify?
A great lender will share what they are looking for in terms of credit score and credit history in order to provide financing to a homebuyer. To take it one step further, they may even comb through your credit report to show what debts are worth paying off before applying for a mortgage in order to secure the best rate. 

What are the closing costs?
Depending on the loan program you choose, you will need to pay a few closing costs before anyone hands over your new keys. A great lender will outline the different loan programs you may qualify for and what the closing costs might be for that specific program. The lender should also be able to share how you will pay such costs, whether by check or via electronic transfer.

There are many facets to homebuying in our area and you can count on us to make sure you're aware of them all! Contact the Kat Geralis Home Team today for a lender recommendation or a list of available homes in Delaware and Pennsylvania

We even offer FREE First-Time Home Buyer Seminars!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

Homes for Sale
Visit My Website
Contact Me
Find me on Facebook

It is common for the real estate market to experience ebbs and flows in Delaware and Pennsylvania— in fact, it's always changing! Some years, it could lean in favor of buyers, and others, sellers may have the upper hand. But how do you know which direction the market is headed right now? Are there signs to watch for?

There are indeed specific factors that can help you identify which type of market you're in and as your local real estate experts, the Kat Geralis Home Team is here to point them out! Below are three ways you can tell if you're in a seller's market:

Home Prices

One way to find out if you're in a buyer's or seller's market is to look closely at home prices. If you notice that home prices are rising steadily over time, you are likely in a seller's market. Curious about your Delaware or Pennsylvania home value? Give us a call! We're happy to provide more information for homeowners in the area.

Final Price vs. Asking Price

If sellers in your area are typically earning the asking price or even more (due to a bidding war or simply buyer demand) for their properties, you are probably in a seller's market. When homes sell for below their asking price, you would are in a buyer's market as these deals would ultimately work in a buyer's favor.

Days on Market

The average number of days that a property is on the real estate market, often referred to as DOM, will show you how "old" the listing is; you can find this figure easily on any listing sheet, either online or in-person. Take a look at this number— if homes are selling quickly (between 7 to 10 days), you are in a seller's market. This is especially important for local homeowners as this indicates their property is likely to sell efficiently and at a favorable price due to buyer demand.

No matter if you're a buyer or seller in Delaware or Pennsylvania, you can count on the Kat Geralis Home Team to walk you through the process! Contact us today!

We even offer FREE First Time Home Buyer Seminars!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

Homes for Sale
Visit My Website
Contact Me
Find me on Facebook

Spring is just around the corner here in the Greater Wilmington DE area and many buyers will soon make a break for the real estate market, ready to find their dream home. And while of course you have a variety of options when it comes to what your new home will include—open concept, updated kitchen, large backyard, extra storage space—there are ultimately two types of properties to choose from: Existing and New Construction.

Existing homes may have the character you're looking due to their age, but if you ultimately decide that a new construction home in Wilmington DE or Southeastern PA would be the best fit, there are a few things you should note.

There are not always in the MLS
As a buyer, you may not know that new construction homes cannot always be found in the MLS, or the real estate websites you use to search for available properties. Builders often have a team working on-site and advertise through local media to get the word out about their homes. If you have decided on a new construction home, let your real estate agent know so they can round up the best options for you!

Early discounts might be available
Depending on where you come in on the sales process, you may find that a builder is happy to offer you a discount or lower price on a property in order to meet their quota and drive future sales. However, don't be distracted too much by the lower price as you are then locked in to the project and may risk losing your down payment should you decide to cancel the transaction before the build actually begins.

Upgrade discounts may also be available
As I mentioned above, certain points in the sales process may allow buyers to negotiate easier. For instance, toward the end of the building project, builders are often more willing to compromise in order to wrap up their sales. A lower sales price may not be in the cards, but they may offer you an upgrade discount where you are able to choose a pricer finish like hardwood flooring or stainless appliances instead of standard finishes. Depending on what you choose, the upgrades could make for a better deal than an initial drop in price! 

Contact the Kat Geralis Home Team today to get started on your home search in Wilmington or Newark, DE or Southeastern PA! We are here to help you find the perfect property that suits your needs and budget, no matter what type of property you desire.

Happy house hunting!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

Wilmington Real Estate
Wilmington Homes for Sale
Visit My Website
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