NAR’s New Quarterly Survey

       The National Association of Realtors recently issued the first edition of Housing Opportunities and Market Experience or HOME, a new quarterly housing survey. The report will track top real estate trends and the opinions of potential buyers and sellers. NAR will research topics such as current renters' views on home ownership, people's views on the economy, expectations of home ownership and the mortgage market.

      The NAR summed up their findings with key points from the report…

     – Households are lukewarm about the current economy

     – Homeownership is still thought of as a good financial decision, and part of the American Dream

     – People believe it is a good time to buy, but are weary of qualifying for a mortgage.

     – Opinions on the housing market are positive overall- it is heading in the right direction and home prices are rising or                       staying the same.

      You can view the full report here—–>

Millennials And Baby Boomers: How They Affect The Housing Market


     Millennials and Baby Boomers are the two largest demographic age groups that make up the U.S. population. It is a given that over time these two groups will dramatically influence the housing market. Research and surveys are showing that the majority of Millennials want to buy a home one day, and are hopeful for their economic future. On the other end of the spectrum, many Baby Boomers are staying in their homes, holding off on selling and down-sizing. Of course, many factors play into the reasoning behind renting vs. buying, and staying vs. downsizing. The two articles below explain briefly some of those reasons and trends, and how they affect the market.

NAR article on Millennials:

NAR article on Baby Boomers:

Caring For Your Home In Autumn: Drafty Windows


     Temperature wise, we have been very lucky these past few months. Although we haven't quite felt the bitter cold, winter will soon be upon us. Some neighbors, especially the suburbs north of Philly, are probably already feeling the chill from drafty doors and windows. Before the air really freezes up, take the time now to find and repair leaks in cracked window frames. A window that leaks air can also mean excessive energy loss and therefore, higher energy bills. You can test a window for leaks by burning an incense stick near all the window's joints and connections. Move the incense along where one section of the window meets another, where the window meets the frame, and where the frame meets the wall. If the smoke flickers, you have an air leak.

     The two main methods to seal these leaks are by caulking and weatherstripping. Windows often leak as a result from deterioration in the connection between the window frame and exterior wall. To prevent leaks or repair, caulk the window where it meets the wall.  Don't forget to check the top side of the trim, water puddling can be a major cause of leakage. If you have a wooden frame or trim, use a high-grade polyurethane caulk. If you have metal or vinyl frames, check the drain hole on the bottom of the outdoor frame. Drain or "weep" holes prevent flooding inside the frame. Use a piece of wire or screwdriver to make sure they are clear.

     Weatherstripping can also prevent leaks, and may also need to be replaced yearly. You most likely will have to remove the operable portion of your window to locate the weather stripping. For sliding windows, open them halfway, lifting them from their bottom track. Then slowly pull them out of the opening, bottom first. For single-hung windows, you should just have to release a lever on the side track. Once you've revealed the tracks you can access your stripping and replace it if needed. Most stripping is sold in the form of peel-and-stick rolls, and is very easy to use. You may need an adhesive solvent to take off old weatherstripping. 

     Most older homes in Philly have single-paned windows, which require storm windows. Overtime storm windows can grow tired and drop down, causing gaps, which then results in heat and energy loss. Storm windows should be taken down in the summer, and put back in for the winter season. Leaving them up year round can cause rot to occur in the frame, and where it meets the house. When installing them back in, make sure storm windows are sealed properly at their edges. It is also a good idea to clean the storm windows whenever you put them in or or take them out. 

     If you have tried re-caulking and weather stripping, and you're still feeling a draft, you may just need to replace those old windows. However, if this is not economically feasible, there are a few quick fixes that should last you the season. First, most hardware stores offer shrink wrap plastic insulation. It is simple and easy to use. Just cut to fit your window and surrounding frame, while leaving space for shrinkage(consult instructions), and blow-dry to shrink and seal. One last solution is thermal curtains. Many home stores sell fashionable, full-length curtains, made of special insulated materials. This is an easy and pretty affordable way to keep warmth in and block drafts from leaky windows.

     We hope these tips help keep you and your family warm and cozy this coming winter. Please contact us at Donna Santore Associates for any of your real estate needs.

Housing Market- Year End Reports


     Many market reports and surveys are conducted throughout the year and released during these last few months. We have compiled a few findings that broadly illustrate the canvas that is the real estate market, and how it has changed since 2014. 

     The National Association of Realtors recently issued its 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. This article, on the Economist Outlook, highlights some interesting trends, mainly that buyers are trading up and purchasing larger homes.

     The NAR offers infographic charts on who is buying in each region of the U.S. Follow the link below to find out about the Mid-Atlantic area and how we compare to others.

     Trend, the region's MLS, conducts surveys for southeast Pennsylvania. This link will take you to statistics on Philadelphia county.  Home prices seem to be rising, spending less time on the market.

     On Monday, November 16th, the FHA released its annual report to Congress. Serious delinquency rates are at a 7 year low, and the capital reserve ratio has improved by more than 40 billion since 2011. This article by the NAR explains the report in further detail.

     As far as investments go, real estate tends to be the least volatile or risky. Yet 6 years ago the entire country was on the down turn, and the uphill battle since, has been tedious.  These days, however, the market is looking strong and moving in positive directions. Some are still weary, but overall prices are rising, the ratio between buyers and sellers is leveling out, and securing a loan is becoming easier for buyers with lower credit scores. As always the team at Donna Santore Assoc. is here to answer any of your questions regarding buying, selling, or renting in Philadelphia.






Infographic On Home Buyers And Sellers

     The real estate market and its many components are constantly changing. Obviously, someone involved in the real estate industry as a professional, should have a keen understanding of these shifts. However, it is a good idea for any potential buyers or sellers to know the market they're about to jump into. Below, is an infographic chart provided by The National Association of Realtors that gives us the latest information on who's buying and who's selling, as well as their methods for doing so.



     The National Association of Realtors also released a study earlier this month, the 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, that offers some new and exciting statistics. All of which pointed to one overall trend- an older, wealthier population of buyers and sellers. In this video, Jessica Lautz, NAR's director of survey research and communications, highlights and explains these findings. Follow the link below to view the video on YouTube.




4 Steps To Finding The Perfect Tenant


     We all know the demand for housing and popularity of new, trendy neighborhoods in Philadelphia is surging. A great deal of properties in these neighborhoods are being bought up for the purpose of renting. Now is a key time for any new investors, looking to earn extra income, to grab what is still available. However, once you've found the property you want to fill it with honest, dependable tenants. This is where things can get tricky. Because every prospective rentee is a new tenant to you, it can be difficult to predict your relationship with them. Are they reliable? Are they financially stable? Will they be trustworthy, and respectful of your property? For all these reasons, it is important to screen every prospect carefully. Below is a link to an article outlining the 4 major steps to screening potential tenants.

     We hope this helps any new renters/landlords in their search for a desirable tenant. We at the Donna Santore team are always here to answer your questions about buying, renting, or selling in Philly.

Caring For Your Home In Autumn: Insulation And Energy Loss

     The temperature is dropping and the winds are blowing, winter is not far away. It's time to start preparing your house for the upcoming season. In today's post we will be discussing insulation and preventing heat/energy loss.

     Insulation is like a warm, fluffy blanket covering your house on a cold winter night. Proper insulation can make a world of difference when it comes to comfort and energy loss. First let's go over the various forms of insulation.  Loose-fill or "blown insulation" is made up of small chunks of fiber and is literally blown out of a vacuum. With batt insulation, fibers are woven together to create a continuous blanket of material.  Batt insulation is available in 16-24 inch rolls, to fit standard spacing between ceilings and walls. Rigid insulation is tightly sandwiched fibers between two layers of foil, which looks similar to plywood. It can be used anywhere loose or batt insulation can, but is more expensive and more difficult to install. Lastly, spray foam is used to fill in convoluted and irregular spaces that other insulation won't fit into.

     When checking your insulation, the attic is the first place you should start. Upwards of 60% of heat-loss is through the ceiling. The great thing about insulating your attic is that it doesn't need to be blown, glued or nailed in…it just lays there. However, over time, insulation can be blown around by air ducts and vents, settling in piles and leaving bald spots.  If your loose insulation has moved, you can use a plastic garden rake to gently move it back in place. You can also use pieces of batt insulation to fill in holes and prevent more movement. If your insulation appears fine, but you still feel a chill, you might just need to add more. 

     If you find mildew growing on the inside surface of your exterior wall, or if your exterior walls are sweating, you need to check your wall insulation. Just like in the attic, insulation in walls can settle and become ineffective. Adding more insulation to a wall can be way more difficult, because it lives in between the interior and exterior wall coverings. The easiest and cheapest solution is to make small penetrations in the wall and blow insulation in. 

      An insulated floor can significantly reduce the loss of heat. If you have hardwood floors you should be especially concerned, because lack of proper floor insulation can cause planks to twist, buckle, and curl.  At least once a year, you should crawl underneath your house with a flashlight to check the conditions under your basement. The biggest problem to look for is sagging. Insulation in your floor is usually held in place by netting or bailing wire. If there is sagging you need to repair of replace this netting. 

     One last quick tip is to always cover your water pipes with insulating tubes. Doing this saves energy, prevents freezing during frosts, and reduces condensation when pipes flow through attics and crawlspaces. These tubes can be found at any hardware store, they are easy to install and will save you quite the headache! A burst pipe and flooded basement are no fun to clean up, especially in the winter.

     We hope this edition of "Caring for your Home in Autumn" is helpful and informative. As always the team at Donna Santore Associates is here to answer any questions you may have about renting, buying, or selling your home. Enjoy the season!

Philly Housing Market: Then And Now


     This is not the Pontiff's first visit to Philadelphia. On October 3rd and 4th, 1979 we graciously accepted Pope John Paul II into our city. A great deal has changed in the City of Brotherly Love since then, let's take a look and compare.

     In 1979 the Philadelphia population was at about 1,688,210 people. The city experienced a population decline from the 1960's to 2000, due to many different factors. However, we have seen a small but steady increase over the last few years of 2.2%, putting the city at about 1,560,297 people in 2014. The average median income for a Philadelphia resident in 1979 was $48,427, compared to just $37,192 in 2014.

    Although urban flight over the last 40 years, has left some areas of Philadelphia falling into decay, the real estate market has seen substantial improvements. Even during the Great Recession of 2008, the city maintained a consistent rate of growth. This is reflected in the number of houses for sale, the average sale price of a home, and the house price appreciation rate. The average price index for a home in the city has risen over %500 since 1979, with the current average sale price at around $142,000. Today's house price appreciation rate for a 36 year period is at a whopping 144.4%, with South and West Philadelphia having the highest rates of 195% and 195.7 %. 

   The Philadelphia housing market has experienced some ups and downs over the last thirty years. However, as we await the arrival of Pope Francis, our city has experienced a remarkable surge in new businesses, restaurants and nightlife activities, green spaces and pop-up gardens, and expanding college campuses. All of these developments will help the city's real estate market continue to grow in a positive direction.











Neighborhood Spotlight: Point Breeze

     Today we are spotlighting the Point Breeze neighborhood in South Philadelphia. Point Breeze is generally bound by 25th St. to the west, Washington Ave. to the north, Broad St. to the east, and Mifflin St. to the south. However, a smaller section, between 18th St. to Broad is now considered Newbold. Point Breeze was a point on the western side of the Schuylkill River, about where the Passyunk Avenue bridge is today. That area, to the east and west of the river, was established for oil refinery in the 1860s by Atlantic Petroleum Storage Company. The Avenue that connected the city proper to Point Breeze existed by 1808, known as "Long Lane." It later grew to be known as Point Breeze Avenue by 1895. 

     Up to and through the 1960's Point Breeze was thought to be a clean and safe neighborhood, with a substantial business district. Over the last forty years or so Point Breeze suffered from abandonment and population decline, due to many different socio-political and socio-economic factors. Today it is undergoing rapid revitalization from efforts by many community groups, such as South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S. Inc., Neighbors in Action, Point Breeze Business Association, and Point Breeze Pioneers greening group.

     Local businesses and restaurants are entering the neighborhood again. The Sardine Bar, at 18th and Federal St., was opened by the owners of South Philly Tap Room, a few years ago. Breezy's Cafe, at 1200 Point Breeze Ave., offers sandwiches and salads for "locavores". A bar, eatery and shop at 1252 S. 21st St., Madira Bar and Grill, gives locals a spot for laid back grub and live music on certain nights. What was once a huge lot at 1622 Point Breeze Ave is home to the Point Breeze Pop-up garden. The garden features art and farmers' markets, beer tastings, a hot-dog stand and other community activities. There will also be an arts center, in a new building at Point Breeze and Titan St.

     Real estate developers have not missed this revitalization. Being that Point Breeze lays right below the "Graduate Hospital" or "South West Center CIty" area, it is a prime location for new development. Many abandoned properties and vacant lots have been transformed into beautiful 3-story townhouses with parking garages underneath. Other developers have simply rehabbed already existing brick row homes. The available housing stock in Point Breeze is growing, with new projects completed every week. There are currently 10 homes under construction on the 1400 block of S. Bouvier St.!  Buyers are drawn to the area because it is more affordable. The same three bedroom house in Point Breeze will be priced almost double that in Graduate Hospital. The area is perfect for young couples who want to stay close to Center City, but cannot afford the prices of those areas, or even the close-by Passyunk Square. There are also a great deal of rental properties available that fall under the $1500/month rate, which is becoming hard to find in South Philly.  Not to mention, Point Breeze offers great opportunities for a young, first time investor to purchase an income property. So if you are interested in buying or renting a home, head over to the west side of Broad, and check out how much Point Breeze has to offer.‚Äč


Caring For You Home In Autumn


     I think we can all agree that winters in Philadelphia have become more and more unpredictable over the past few years. Autumn is the best time to make sure your home is ready for the upcoming season. There are many things you can do to prepare you roof, windows and doors, and interior space. In today's blog we will review your heating system and what can be done to guarantee efficiency, warmth and comfort during a possibly arctic winter.

     Whether you have a forced air, hot-water or steam system an annual inspection and service check by a licensed, qualified professional is a must. However, you can do small things to ensure the life of your system. The easiest furnace maintenance task is simply replacing the filter. During the winter, or heating season, you should replace your filter once a month. With forced are systems, taking care of your ducts is very important. A leak in a duct can allow massive amounts of air into the attic, crawlspace or basement. Making sure there are no leaks ensures that all the heated air coming from the furnace gets to where it needs to be.  Dust, lint, germs and bacteria also accumulate in ducts, so a yearly cleaning is also a good idea. 

     If you have a hot water system, again a yearly service check is required. You can monitor the performance of your hot-water system on your own though. Most systems have only a single gauge, which measures pressure, temperature, and altitude. Most boilers run at 12-15 pounds per square inch of pressure. If the pressure is higher or lower something is wrong. Bleeding you radiators is also sometimes needed. If you have a radiator that just won't heat, it is most likely air-locked. Bleeding the air out relieves the pressure and allows the system and pipes to fill normally.

     As with forced and hot-water, steam systems should be checked by a professional once a year. However, regularly checking your steam gauge, safety valve, and water level is a great way to lengthen the life of your system. You can also check your vents to make sure they aren't blocked, and the position of your inlet valves- valves should be either all the way closed or opened. Partially shut or opened valves do nothing to move heat through your vents and can also cause that annoying clanging sound! Also make sure your radiators are sloped slightly toward the inlet pipe, which comes out of the wall or floor, this helps to prevent the knocking and clanging sounds as well.

     It is important to mention that if your house is too hot or too cold it could just be your thermostat. Some potential causes could be: It's in a bad spot, it needs cleaning, its anticipator needs adjustment, or you need new batteries. 

     In the coming weeks we will review more tips, tricks, and tasks you should perform to prepare for the winter season. Until then, we hope this helps and gets you thinking home maintenance as you sip your Pumpkin Spice Latte. Enjoy the changing of the season.  Reach out should you have any questions on the selling or buying process. 

Donna M Santore
Associate Broker