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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
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3 Common Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make in Newark and Wilmington DE

by Katina Geralis

No matter if you live in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Newark or Wilmington Delaware, first-time homebuyers are tempted to commit the same common real estate mistakes. We know that the homebuying process can feel overwhelming and if you've found "the one," you may feel rushed into making a big decision. However, the last thing you want is to feel buyer's remorse!

As your real estate experts in Wilmington and Newark, DE, Chester County and Delaware County PA, the Kat Geralis Home Team has outlined three of the real estate mistakes we see most often among first-time buyers. Remember, if you know how to spot them, the less likely you are to run into the same pitfalls!

Not seeking professional advice
Are you self-employed? Are you worried you don't have enough for a down payment? Concerned that you won't qualify for a mortgage? Don't toss out the idea of buying a home just because you think it's not an option for you! It's always wise to seek professional advice, whether that be with your real estate agent or with a local lender, before you decide to make a home purchase. Only the experts will be able to review your specific situation and provide you with a buying timeline or realistic price range for a property. Don't make the assumption yourself!

Looking at homes out of your budget
As I mentioned above, don't make assumptions about your budget or price range until you have the facts in order! You can use a mortgage calculator to determine what a comfortable mortgage payment may be each month given your other debts and expenses, but until you meet with a lender, you won't know for certain. Be careful not to start looking at homes that may be out of your budget as you will only get your hopes up and be disappointed later. 

Not gathering mortgage quotes
Not only are you able to gather different mortgage quotes from lenders in the area, but it is highly recommended! Each lender may present you with a different mortgage rate, terms and conditions and locking in the first you receive could mean leaving money on the table. Gather quotes from a few lenders on the same day and compare each one before making your decision.

If you're preparing to buy a home in the Greater Wilmington area or Southeastern PA, do not hesitate to contact the Kat Geralis Home Team! We have helped numerous buyers with their real estate goals, walking them through the buying process and finding them the perfect property! We even offer FREE first-time homebuyer seminars!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Katina Geralis
Wilmington, DE Real Estate Expert
Keller Williams Realty

Wilmington Real Estate
Wilmington Homes for Sale
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Fall is a great time to become a homeowner in Wilmington DE and the Brandywine Valley! Not only is a new season just beginning, but you have the opportunity to secure a low interest rate and settle into a home before the cold weather arrives.

But what if you're currently a renter in the Greater Wilmington, Chester County or Delaware County PA area? Don't worry! The Kat Geralis Home Team has provided a few ways below that you can prepare to take advantage of this exciting time in the local real estate market.

Research all of the costs
There are more costs involved with owning a home than just your monthly mortgage payment. For first time buyers, this may come as a surprise, but with the proper amount of research, you will be able to determine exactly how much you can afford in a home. Costs like property taxes, homeowners insurance, private mortgage insurance (PMI), homeowners association fees and yearly upkeep should all be considered while you begin to search for homes in the Wilmington area.

The costs of renting vs. buying
You've likely asked yourself this question many times before deciding to buy a home— Is buying really better than renting? You will need to look at the cost of homeownership after the tax benefit to compare it with the cost of renting. For instance, a $300,000 home may cost you around $1,200 per month after taxes. Compare this with a home that rents for $1,200 and look at factors like location and size. Also, remember that this scenario includes a 20 percent down payment.

Research the tax benefit
Did you know mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible on your annual tax return? This will reduce your taxable income and bring down the overall cost of homeownership.

Prepare your credit score
Lenders will use your credit score to determine your eligibility for a mortgage and certain mortgage loan types. Start well in advance to groom your credit score— correcting any errors you find and boosting your score by paying down debts and reducing spending on credit cards.

Start to shop for a mortgage
If you haven't already started looking into mortgage programs, now is the time. There are many different types of mortgages available, depending on your eligibility. For instance, certain loans allow for lower down payments, although come with a higher interest rate, while others require a higher down payment while granting a lower interest rate. Before you are ready to buy, know which type of loan you think may suit you best.

The Kat Geralis Home Team can provide you with a list of available properties in Wilmington DE and the Brandywine Valley, as well as answer all of your home buying questions! We have helped many first-time buyers find their dream homes, so give us a call today!

Katina Geralis
Wilmington, DE Real Estate Expert
Keller Williams Realty

Wilmington Real Estate
Wilmington Homes for Sale
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Owning a Home in Wilmington, DE Still Better Choice Over Renting

by Katina Geralis

First-time homebuyers in Wilmington, DE today may be sitting on the fence, wondering if now is the time to spring into the real estate market or continue renting. According to the U.S. Census' 2013 American Community Survey, this is the third consecutive year housing costs have taken a downward turn and with mortgage rates also low, owning a home is still the better choice.

For renters in the Wilmington Delaware area, it is not uncommon to spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. In fact, nationwide, this is true of nearly half of all renters— compared to just 26 percent of homeowners who spend more than 30 percent on housing.

But for homeowners everywhere, that number is falling. Realtor Magazine reported the amount of those spending 30 percent or more on housing fell to 39.6 million homeowners, down from 40.9 million the year before. Considering all of the costs involved with owning a home in Delaware, first-time homebuyers should be able to recognize the opportunity in today's real estate market.

It is renters who make up the category of those considered "severely burdened" by housing costs. Rents are rising—as much as 5 percent last year, reported a study from the Harvard Joint Center of Housing Studies— and in most places, incomes just cannot keep up.

Housing affordability in the Wilmington area tends to favor homeowners, especially given the currently low mortgage rates. If you're paying more than 50 percent of your income toward rent in Wilmington or Newark, we can help!

We are seasoned in working with first-time homebuyers and even offer FREE first-time buyer seminars to walk you through the process, including how to save for a down payment. If you have questions about buying a home in the greater Wilmington area, we'd love to hear from you!

You won't want to miss out on this opportune time in the real estate market, so do not hesitate to contact the KG Home Team today!

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If you're on the other side, ready to move out of your current home, know that NOW is a great time to sell! The number of potential buyers looking at real estate has remained strong this fall and inventory has dropped, which equates to less competition for homeowners selling today.

Katina Geralis
Wilmington, DE Real Estate Expert
Keller Williams Realty

Wilmington Real Estate
Wilmington Homes for Sale
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Wilmington, DE Real Estate: Saving for a Down Payment

by Katina Geralis

According to new research from RealtyTrac, saving enough money for a down payment—typically 20 percent— could take as long as 12 years for first-time homebuyers. Based on median home prices and the current personal savings rate of 5.6 percent, buyers would need to wait until they're 42 years old to purchase a home

Saving 20 percent for your first Wilmington, Delaware home can be overwhelming, especially when you have additional debt from credit cards or student loans. However, there are other ways to help you save up to buy Wilmington real estate

Consider these 4 easy ways to save for a down payment and if you're still feeling uncertain about buying a home, contact the KG Home Team! We're happy to answer your questions and even offer FREE first-time homebuyer seminars!

​Shop around for better rates
With expenses like car insurance, renter's insurance, cable, internet and a cell phone plan, the costs can put a damper on your saving for a home. Start shopping around for better prices to bring the numbers down. Simply switching to a new provider could help you save hundreds more per month.

Monitor your spending
If you haven't yet, make a budget to help you pin-point your monthly costs and develop a better timeline for buying a home in the Wilmington area. Where is your money going each month? Are there places you could cut back? For instance, dining out is one expense many prospective homebuyers could stand to eliminate.

Negotiate your rent
Rent is likely the largest expense you have per month and the one that would allow you to save more for a down payment. If you're in good standing as a tenant, consider speaking to your landlord about lowering your rent or perhaps downsize to a smaller apartment and deposit the difference in rent into your savings account.

Negotiate your student loan payments
Depending on the type of loan you have, you may be able to scale back on your payments. Speak to your lender or student loan provider about repayment options, including income-based repayment. Lowering your payment each month could allow you to save more for a Wilmington home.

The KG Home Team can help you every step of the way as a first-time homebuyer. If you have questions about down payments, mortgages or the current real estate market, do not hesitate to contact us!

Katina Geralis
Wilmington, DE Real Estate Expert
Keller Williams Realty

Wilmington Real Estate
Wilmington Homes for Sale
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The real estate market has seen significant changes and pushes in the right direction this fall, all pointing to signs of a stronger, more positive future. For instance, mortgage rates dropped to their lowest point in over a year and are now hovering just under 4%. But that's not the only factor to sing about this season— new and existing home sales are also at their highest levels of the year.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the sales of newly-built single family homes have edged up for the third consecutive month. Rising just 0.2 percent in September to an annual rate of 467,000 units, new home sales are now at their highest level since June 2008. The NAHB chief economist also acknowledged the slow-growing inventory of new homes as a sign of confidence among home builders.

While the inventory and sales of new construction homes does vary by location, the Kat Geralis Home Team is happy to provide you with more information on these properties in and around Wilmington, Delaware

On the existing home front, sales saw quite the turnaround in September as they climbed to the highest pace of the year. Every region except for the Midwest reported gains in existing home sales and given low mortgage rates, a healthy real estate market should continue as we near the end of the year.

"Traditional buyers are entering a less competitive market with fewer investors searching for available homes," said the National Association of Realtors' chief economist. However, they "may also face a slight decline of choices due to the fact that inventory generally falls heading into winter."

Existing home sales, rising to the tune of 2.4 percent in September, coupled with increases in newly-built single family home sales are two strong signs of confidence among both builders and homebuyers.

If you're ready to take advantage of the current real estate market conditions in the Wilmington, DE area, the KG Home Team is happy to help. Having just been ranked the #1 Keller Williams agent in Delaware, you can be certain you're working with the best!

Contact us today!

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Many homebuyers have misconceptions about how much down payment is necessary to purchase a home. 15 to 20 percent? Don't be too quick to assume! As it turns out, you may not need nearly as much as you think— you could become a homeowner with a down payment in the single digits!

Katina Geralis
Wilmington, DE Real Estate Expert
Keller Williams Realty

Wilmington Real Estate
Wilmington Homes for Sale
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How to Search for Homes in Wilmington, Newark DE

by Katina Geralis

The home search is only the beginning, it's also the most important aspect of your Wilmington real estate journey. It all starts with getting a feel for price ranges and what's available in your desired neighborhoods of Newark and Wilmington, then moving on to what you like and desire in a home and finally, touring those homes to find your best fit. With these home search tips, you'll be well on your way to finding a new home this summer. First-time homebuyer? No problem! We even offer FREE first-time buyer seminars to help!

Make a Homebuyer Wishlist
One of your first tasks as a homebuyer in the Wilmington and Newark area should be to sit down and make a wish list. Establish priorities for available homes— do you want a certain number of bedrooms, but would settle for less if the home had a finished basement? Things like this all add up in the bigger picture of the Wilmington real estate market. Credit.com suggests to "make a list of the ten most important criteria for a new home. Then divide your list items equally under two categories: "top priority" and "nice to have." After you've made this list, take it with you as you search for homes. Delaware homebuyers can oftentimes get distracted when house-hunting and it's helpful to refer back to the list.

Start Your Search, Two Places
Keeping your homebuyer wish list in mind, you can start searching for properties, narrowing down by price range. Homebuyers should start their home search online, but also in person as homebuying is an emotional process that requires buyers to experience a property for themselves. Once you've made a list of available homes that interest you, then go with your Realtor to view the property up close and personal. Refer back to your homebuyer wish list and take notes while you're inside the homes. You can then go back to see what you did and did not like about each property.

Consult Your Realtor
No matter what stage of the homebuying process you're in, it's always helpful to have a real estate agent on your side. Remember, they've done this before, numerous times. If you have questions, consider your Realtor your communication hub and sounding board— every question or concern can go through them. While you may have started your home search online, know that your real estate agent has an "in" per se, their finger on the pulse of the real estate market in your community. They're a great resource for finding Wilmington, Newark homes that may have just come on the market or will be going up for sale soon. And as always, "if you discover a listing you like, you can pass it along for your agent to evaluate," adds Credit.com. "It's important to develop this partnership!"

The KG Home Team is here to help at every stage of your homebuying journey in the Wilmington, DE area. Contact us today to get started and go over homes that may meet your wish list— summer is shaping up to be an exciting time in the market, so don't delay!

Katina Geralis
Wilmington, DE Real Estate Expert
Keller Williams Realty

Wilmington Real Estate
Wilmington Homes for Sale
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