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5 Hidden Costs of Owning a Home in Delaware and Pennsylvania

by Katina Geralis

Owning a home in Delaware and Pennsylvania definitely comes with its perks— from tax benefits to free reign on design and everything in between. But if you're making the transition from renter to homeowner this year, it's important to note that there may be a few home-related costs that you didn't plan for or even know about before you began house-hunting.

As your local real estate experts in Delaware and Pennsylvania, you can count on the Kat Geralis Home Team to make sure you are prepared for every aspect of homeownership— including the following hidden costs:

Property Taxes
When you use a mortgage calculator prior to buying a home in Delaware or Pennsylvania, it is essential that you input estimated property taxes. You can typically find this amount on any listing, or ask one of our real estate experts to help, so you can see how your monthly payment will change adding them in.

Insurance
Homeowner's insurance will vary depending on your home, your pets, your neighborhood, and a host of other different factors. Research average costs in your area and add them into your potential monthly mortgage payment to avoid any surprises down the road. 

Yard Upkeep
If you're currently renting in Delaware or Pennsylvania, you likely do not have to deal with the yard upkeep or maintenance. Once you become a homeowner, you will be responsible for buying all of your own tools, including snowblowers, lawn mowers, shovels, and rakes. Not to mention, the time you will need to free up to keep your yard looking well-manicured in every season!

HVAC
Furnaces and air conditioning units can be a major cost that homeowners do not account for when buying a property. For instance, if you don't have a home warranty, and your furnace breaks down, only you are responsible for covering the repairs or replacement which can cost you thousands! It's best to begin saving for a rainy day fund at the start of your homeowner journey to prepare for things like this, or even small expenses like replacing furnace filters every month or so.

Utilities
As a renter, you were likely used to much smaller utility bills than you will have as a homeowner in Delaware and Pennsylvania. Once you've found a home you're interested in, you can ask the previous homeowner for the average utility costs in order to factor them into your overall budget and avoid surprises later.

Ready to make the move to become a homeowner in Delaware or Pennsylvania? Give our experts at the Kat Geralis Home Team a call today! 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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Have you sat down and made a list of your new year's resolutions yet? It's always a fun exercise to take stock of your goals for the year ahead and make a plan on how to achieve them. For many in Delaware and Pennsylvania, you might find that they are personal or health related, but one of them might be buying a home!

There are dozens of steps to take to successfully become a homeowner in 2019 and as your local Delaware and Pennsylvania real estate experts, the Kat Geralis Home Team is happy to help you make that a reality! Below are 5 new year's resolutions to make in order to buy a home in the new year:

Eliminate indulgences
It might not be your favorite path to homeownership, but cutting indulgences can be a quick and simple way to save for a down payment. For instance, could you stand to cut cable and instead use Netflix? Or on the same note, is there a streaming service you could cancel? You might want to cut dining out and your morning coffee runs, instead packing your lunch and brewing coffee at home. These little indulgences can mean big savings if they're avoided!

Start a home savings account
You can't save specifically for your home if you don't have anywhere for it to go! Open a savings account specifically for your new home. Get into the habit of making weekly or monthly deposits—whatever you can afford—and watch your down payment grow!

Do a mortgage test run
The only way to truly know if you can swing being a homeowner in Delaware and Pennsylvania, is to do a test run. Try saving like a homeowner—meaning you set aside your monthly housing expenses and an amount for your emergency fund—and see if you can live with your new budget. 10% of your mortgage payment is a good rule of thumb to account for maintenance fees, so start there.

Pay all bills on time
There is nothing that can raise a red flag quicker to a lender than unpaid bills. If you intend to get approved for a mortgage in 2019, it is best to make sure you pay all of your bills on time. Not only does this keep your credit score high, but it shows lenders you are capable of managing a monthly payment.

Visit open houses
This may seem counterintuitive if you're not yet ready to buy a home in Delaware and Pennsylvania, but attending open houses allows you to see what properties are available in your price range. This gives you a more realistic approach to the market and could even motivate you to save more!

Ready to make your dream of owning a home a reality this year? Give the Kat Geralis Home Team a call today! We even offer FREE First-Time Homebuyer Seminars!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

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

How to Know When to Sell Your Delaware or Pennsylvania Home

by Katina Geralis

While every Delaware and Pennsylvania homeowner's reason for selling their property will vary, there are a few red flags that will ultimately signal that it's time to move on. Whether you've grown out of the space or your job is taking you to a different community—or out of state completely—you can count on our team of experts to help you navigate the current real estate market as a home seller.

Below are five signs it's time to sell your Delaware or Pennsylvania home:

You've outgrown the home
As mentioned above, it is a great sign that you're ready for a bigger home if your family is growing (or if you're an empty nester, the opposite). If you're looking for a larger home to accommodate your needs or a property with fewer bedrooms as your children move out, you can count on the Kat Geralis Home Team to help you find the best fit.

Your costs are too high
It is not uncommon for DE or PA homeowners to find themselves unprepared for the costs that come with a property's upkeep. If you are in this position or think you could be soon, it's time to move on and find a property that better suits your financial situation with a lesser mortgage payment or overall maintenance costs.

The market is ready
Why not take advantage of the current Delaware and Pennsylvania real estate market and list your home while you have an edge? Especially if buyer demand continues to increase and you have the equity in your home, chances are high that you will be able to land a buyer quickly and move on to your next dream home.

You have the value
There is no better time for a DE or PA homeowner to sell than when they have equity built in their property and the market conditions are in their favor. Reach out to our real estate team to find your home's value and determine if now is the time for you!

It's been five years
Five years is the amount of time that industry experts recommend spending in your home before moving on, in an attempt to build enough equity for the move to make sense. After all, when paying a mortgage, the first payments are almost always all interest. Of course your personal situation will influence your decision, but unless you have an urgent need to pack your bags, you might like to consider staying put for a while longer.

Ready to get the listing process started or simply curious about your home value? Give the Kat Geralis Home Team a call! We can provide a list of next steps toward selling your DE or PA home and offer a snapshot of your market value in real time.

We even offer a FREE Home Seller E-Guide!

Give us a call today!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

Homes for Sale
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Did you know selling your Delaware or Pennsylvania home in the fall and winter can be just as lucrative as selling during the spring and summer? It's true! However, that is if your property is well prepared for the market! There are many ways to improve your Delaware or Pennsylvania home before listing it for sale, including removing the following five items that have been known to turn buyers away!

Bugs
Even if you have a few ladybugs taking up residence in your home's windowsills, it's best to remove them before buyers arrive. This is one of the easiest turn-offs for DE or PA buyers as it can give the impression that your home is not clean or well cared for.

Decor Collections
No matter if it's stamps or holiday figurines, you'll want to keep your collectibles stored away during the home sale process. Displaying any type of collection can give off a cluttered vibe to buyers and turn them away from your property— even if they're just pet accessories! 

Odors
One of the quickest ways to send buyers back out the door is by having odors present in your home. Smells can make or break a sale for a buyer, so be mindful of what you're cooking before a showing and be aware of any pet odors that need addressed. Strong scented candles can be a no-go for buyers also as not everyone enjoys the same aromas in their home.

Pet Damage
Remember that not everyone loves pets the way you might. Are your floors scratched from your pet's claws? Are there stains from your pets on the carpet? Consider having your floors refinished or your carpets professionally cleaned prior to buyers arriving at your door. 

Personal Photos
Did you know that de-personalizing your Delaware or Pennsylvania property prior to selling can boost your chances of hooking a buyer? Consider removing all of your personal photos before a showing or open house as this will allow buyers to envision themselves in the home in the future instead of you and your family. 

As your local real estate experts, you can count on the Kat Geralis Home Team to set you up for home seller success! Contact us for more information on your home value, as well as how to prepare your property for the market

We even offer a FREE Home Seller E-Guide!

Give us a call today!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

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

When you've decided to sell your home in Delaware or Pennsylvania, you'll want to make sure buyers are intrigued from the start. That means you've found the best possible listing pricing, have made any necessary repairs, and of course, staged the home in a way that buyers can envision living there. But before you decide everything is complete and sit back to welcome the offers that are sure to come your way, you'll want to take a good look at your kitchen.

It is no secret that kitchens sell homes in Delaware and Pennsylvania and there are a few things that may be found inside yours that can send a buyer running the other way. Take a look at the following to make sure your kitchen is ready for the market:

Pet Bowls
Remember, you love your pet, but not all buyers are pet people. Consider moving your pet food bowls out of sight when buyers arrive for a showing to ensure you don't turn them away, even if they otherwise love the property.

Trash Cans
If your trash cans are out in plain sight in your Delaware or Pennsylvania kitchen, clean the area as thoroughly as possible. This means the can itself looks clean, the bag is empty to avoid any odor, and the space around it is free of recycling items or other trash.

Cluttered Counters
You want to make your kitchen feel as open and spacious as possible, so start by removing all of your small appliances and other knick knacks from the countertops. Clean counters will help buyers note how much space they will have to work with in this area.

Dishes
Before buyers arrive to tour your Delaware or Pennsylvania home, be sure that the sink is clean and empty. Someone may love your home, but when they come across dirty dishes in the sink, they could get the impression that other parts of the home have been neglected.

Pests
Ants, flies, and even mice are not an uncommon homeowner problem, but when you become a home seller, it's important to remove any signs of household pests. This includes disposing of traps and bugs before buyers get to your front door.

Curious if your Delaware or Pennsylvania home is prepared for today's real estate market? Want to know what your home might be worth? Give the Kat Geralis Home Team a call today!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

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

4 Reasons Why Your Delaware or Pennsylvania Home Isn't Selling

by Katina Geralis

You've listed your Delaware or Pennsylvania home for sale and are ready to sit back and watch the offers roll in— after all, isn't it a seller's market? But the opposite happens. Maybe you've received a few offers, but they're too low. Maybe you've had showings, but no serious interest. Your home isn't selling as quickly as you'd like and you want to know why.

As your local real estate experts, we have compiled a list below of four common reasons why your Delaware or Pennsylvania home might not be selling in today's real estate market. 

You priced too high
When pricing your home, it's important to price with today's buyer in mind, as well as comparable properties in the area. If you price according to your emotions, you may be tempted to price too high— especially with all of the memories you have tied to the property. It is not uncommon for home sellers to believe their property is worth more than the market dictates, which can ultimately keep them from moving on.

It needs work
As a homeowner in Delaware or Pennsylvania, making repairs is always wise prior to listing as it will help you avoid problems during the inspection. But that's not all! Even small updates like fresh paint can boost your home's sale price! If you choose to leave everything as is, flaws and all, you could discourage buyers from taking any real interest or being scared away by the thought of what else the home may need repaired.

You're inflexible
Today's homebuyers are constantly searching for properties on their smartphones, their computers, you name it. If your property has made a buyer's short list and they attempt to schedule a showing, you will need to be flexible with your schedule to allow them inside. Making this process difficult for them can cause your home to "sit" on the market longer than necessary.

Clutter is king
Home staging can help a property sell both quicker and for more money, so be sure to follow at least a few of its guidelines! One of those is removing clutter. If your Delaware or Pennsylvania home is filled with large furniture that makes the space feel small, knick knacks, and other personal items, you could risk turning off a buyer immediately.

Contact the Kat Geralis Home Team today for more information about successfully selling your home in Delaware or Pennsylvania or for a list of available homes in the area that might suit you next!

We even have a FREE Home Seller e-Guide

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

Budget Curb Appeal Tips for Your Delaware or Pennsylvania Home

by Katina Geralis

When selling your Delaware or Pennsylvania home, you'll want to make sure your property stands out from the crowd. And while it is important to complete all necessary repairs and price the home properly, curb appeal can go a long way in the eyes of a homebuyer. 

If you plan to list your Newark or Wilmington DE home this spring, below are five budget-friendly curb appeal tips to make your home the envy of the block:

Do an exterior deep clean
Take a weekend to clean the exterior of your Southeastern PA or Wilmington DE area home thoroughly. That means washing windows, power washing siding, and even the driveway, trimming bushes, and picking up sticks in the yard. You'd be amazed how fresh and new your property can look with a little elbow grease and a few hours of time.

Bring in subtle decor
When trying to impress buyers, you never want to overwhelm them with large decor items, lawn ornaments, or bold statements like a pink paint color on your home's exterior. Instead, bring in subtle additions like a seasonal wreath, pots flanking the door, or shutters to add character to the property.

Paint the trim
Instead of painting your entire home which can be quite time-consuming and costly, focus on the trim, front door, and shutters. Choosing a new color to accent the exterior—or simply giving it a fresh coat of the same—can make your home stand out to buyers in today's market.

Replace the numbers
This is one of the most inexpensive curb appeal boosting tasks you can complete and one that takes the least amount of time. You can pick up new house numbers for as little as $5 per number and you'll be surprised to find there are hundreds of styles to choose from which can give your home a much-needed update.

Hide the A/C unit
If the rest of your Delaware or Chester County PA home is up to par on style and decor, one task left is hiding eyesores like your air conditioning unit and trash cans. Consider adding a lattice box around the A/C to better mask it from the curb or placing your trash cans in the garage or behind a fence to keep them out of sight.

Give the Kat Geralis Home Team a call today for more information about preparing your home for sale and available properties in today's real estate market! We look forward to hearing from you!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

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

The In's and Out's of Buying Delaware and Pennsylvania FSBO Homes

by Katina Geralis

You've heard the term before, but what do you really know about FSBO homes in Delaware and Pennsylvania? FSBO, or For Sale by Owner, homes, mean the owners have not enlisted the help of a real estate agent to help them sell the property. And while that sounds as though it will not affect you as the buyer, there are a few things you will need to note before you decide to purchase a FSBO.

You can use an agent to buy a FSBO
Just because the home seller declined the use of a real estate agent doesn't mean you have to! There are many perks to working with an agent when buying a home, perhaps the biggest one being they handle the negotiations for you!

You can still negotiate
As I mentioned above, you can still negotiate your offer— even when it's a For Sale by Owner home! While the seller may have chosen to work without an agent for the commission aspect of the deal, that doesn't always mean they are rigid on the price. Remember that your agent has been here before and will know how to find the best deal!

They might be willing to cover costs
Homeowners in Delaware or Pennsylvania that choose to go the FSBO route may still cover the costs of your agent, regardless of their reasoning behind ditching their own. Many are willing to cooperate with buyers and their agents to ensure a smooth transaction.

You may need a lawyer
Every state is different, but some require that both parties be represented by an attorney, even if you have a buyer's agent on your side. Some do not require that attorney to be present at the closing, so if you are serious about your FSBO purchase, simply consult your real estate agent! 

You should still get pre-approved
It never hurts for a homebuyer to get pre-approved in a real estate transaction— even if it's a FSBO deal! Oftentimes these sellers are inexperienced and will make quick decisions when offers comes in, so it is always wise to already have your pre-approval edge to help yours stand out! 

The most important takeaway is that FSBO homes are not sold the same way standard, agent-listed properties are and the process of purchasing one will differ for Chester County and Delaware County buyers. If you find yourself interested in a FSBO property, do not hesitate to contact your real estate agent! 

Unsure how to navigate the local real estate market in Delaware or Pennsylvania? Give the Kat Geralis Home Team a call today! We even offer FREE First-Time Buyer Seminars!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

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

How to Brighten Your Delaware or Pennsylvania Home in the Winter

by Katina Geralis

When it comes to winter weather, the shorter days and colder temperatures may make for cozy evenings, but inside your home, it can make your Wilmington DE and Southeastern PA spaces feel darker and smaller than necessary. However, there are dozens of ways to bring more light into your home and help it feel just as cheery as in the spring.

Below are five ways to brighten up your Delaware or Pennsylvania home in the winter:

Take off the screens
Did you know you can let in 30 percent more light when you remove the screens from your windows? If your windows are still sporting them, store them until spring and let the sunshine pour in your home! But don't let them go far— you'll want to put them back in a few months to avoid running your cooling system too much. 

Trim back landscaping
Outside your home, overgrown landscaping and trees can quickly take up prized window space. Set aside a few hours to trim back any hedges, shrubs, or trees that could be blocking light from streaming inside your DE or PA home.

Replace light bulbs
Dim light bulbs can tend to cast a yellow hue over your indoor spaces, creating the illusion of smaller, darker spaces. Replace your older bulbs with energy-efficient models and opt for the cool white tone or blue white tone to help your home feel brighter and more open.

Refresh the paint
If you have rich, deep colors on your walls, the winter weather and shorter daylight hours will do no favors for the spaces. Consider refreshing the paint and choosing a lighter, more neutral tone like beiges, grays, or white to create a more airy feel.

Clean your windows
You may not have thought of this one, simple tip, but dirty windows can easily darken a home. It is only necessary to clean the glass outside of your home once per year, but inside, you should clean windows at least once a month to avoid blocking any light. 

Ready to move on to a new Delaware or Pennsylvania home in 2018? Give the Kat Geralis Home Team a call today for more information about available properties, selling your home, and your home value!

Katina Geralis
DE and PA Real Estate Expert
eXp Realty

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

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