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Patricia Kofke

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2/14/2013 Foreclosures In Our Market Place
The are many opportunities in the purchase of foreclosures right now.  The inventory in our market place is selling but new homes are being released and this trend is expected to continue for some time.  The difference going forward will be their price, which as home values stabilize ( as they are compared to 2010, 2011) foreclosures will be worth more just as other neighboring hhomes will be.  So, if you see something that works for you, don't delay your purchase.  We've seen the bottom and we are now looking up!  Happy Valentine's Day
2/8/2011 Where's The Bottom>
The Wall Street Journal reported today the buyers in the real estate market around the country are now snapping up homes in all cash deals in record numbers, betting the we are at or have passed the "bottom" and there's money to be made by buying now.  When the investors are back in the game that's a good sign.  They have started to breath new life into some of the most "battered housing markets".  We are and have been seeing this locally in Berks County.  The people  have been patiently holding ontotheir cash and now it is filtering through our market as they look for bargains in either homes for themselves or homes to be used as rentals, i.e. investment properties.  Suppose you see a cute single in a suburban location, 3 bedrooms and a nice yard that was on the market for $135,000.  At the top that home was probably $165,000, maybe more but today it's $135,000.  The seller needs to sell and a buyer offers $85,000.  Is there a chance the seller will accept his offer?  There's always a chance and many people don't mind asking.  Sometimes the seller owes more than that amount on the home so he can't reduce the price that much to sell.  We call that a "short sale".  The seller would be selling the home for less money than it would take to clear the mortgage against it.  He can't do that without the bank's permission to do so.  There are a number of short sales now on the market.  But if he has a lot of equity and can sell at that much reduced offer price, you might find the seller saying yes to your offer.  Across the country, in markets much more battered than ours, cash buyers are making lots of offers and getting lots of real estate at very attractive prices. 

Is this a good thing?  Well, to that seller who was burdened by the unsold property, yes.  He sold at a lower price but maybe he needed to get it sold and this offer was an answer to his prayers.  To a builder sitting on unsold inventory it can be a blessing and keep his banker happy until things turn around.  Real forced equity can be gained in bad, down markets for all buyers.  You don't have to have a pot of gold to reap the rewards of a down market.  You just need to find the right house, something you really like, where the numbers make sense for your needs.  You make your real money when you buy and now is a fantastic time to buy.

If you have any real estate questions call me.  I'm happy to help you.

It's a good life!

Pat Kofke, CRS, GRI
Remax of Reading
Direct  610-685-3106
Email:  pat@PatKofke.com



1/18/2011 The Next Housing BOOM???
Yes, it's true, I said BOOM.  We are fighting our way out of this recession but there is a BOOM in our future as well.  We have a new group of maturing wage earners to watch.  They are the Echo Boomers, the offspring of this nation's largest generation, the Baby Boomers.  They form a hefty 6 million more people than the Baby Boomers had during the 1970's and they are entering their peak household formation years.  That means they are forming families and will need housing, homes they want to buy for themselves. 

What does this mean aactually?  Well over the past 10 years the population has grown by 30 million.  Were housing sales up to match that need?  No.  The number of homes sold in 2008 was equal to the number sold in 1998 therefore, many potential home buyers sat on the bench and did not buy a home.  Are they wanting to buy a home?  You bet.  They are still waiting, for what I am not sure, but they are waiting to be sure the market is at the bottom or because the 24/7 news cycle has them scared to death that the economy will collapse.  Perhaps they are still concerned about their job, but if you look at those numbers, there is encouragement there also.. 

The bottom line is real estate is at the bottom of its cycle.  Home prices are very cheap and interest rates are very low.  If you buy now you stand to make a lot of money as values start to climb and you ride that gain upward in forced equity of the home you just bought.  You will also pay less for your mortgage for many, many years at today's low interest rates compared to tomorrow's higher interest rates.  In 1982 a $75,000 purchase cost as much per month as a $240,000 purchase at today's lower rates.  That's the power of "cheap money".  I don't know about you, but that math makes sense to me.  It's a good life!

Pat Kofke, CRS, GRI
Remax of Reading
Call Me!  610-670-2770-x3106
Email:  pat@PatKofke.com


Did you know that eating at home not only saves money towards that new house but increases your child's chance of success at school?  Here's some comfort food for your winter evenings!

CHUNKY CHEDDAR CHILI

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 lb can whole or chopped tomatoes
15 1/2 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed, drained
6 oz can tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tsps sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 oz cheddar cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Brown beef and onions in large skillet; drain excess fat.  Add remaining ingredients, except cheese.  Cover and simmer for about 45 mins, stirring occasionally.  Dish it up into bowls and top with cheese chunks.  Enjoy!
12/31/2010 Wrapping Up 2010

It's a Wrap! 
It's time to say good bye to 2010 and there are some bright spots from the year and even more on the horizon for 2011.  The market gave out a number of presents this year especially if you purchased a home in foreclosure, one owned by a relocation company or a Home in short sale.  There was a lot of extra equity for the new buyers on these purchases because the sellers, either the actual seller, the relocation company or the bank acting as the seller, wanted the home sold as quickly as possible and made the price very attractive.  Someone asked me if I felt saddened by selling these distressed homes.  It is sad to see someone's circumstances change and they are going to give up their home to foreclosure, that's quite tragic but by getting it sold, either in short sale or foreclosure, I do help them move forward to their next place.  I can't change the foreclosure or short sale situation but I can help wrap things up with my new buyer so that part of the seller's burden is resolved.  The new  family has a great opportunity to make a new start out of a difficult situation, as some of my own family did in their purchase this year.  I have bought properties under distressed situations and gave that house a "new start".  That's a positive out of a negative.  It is also important to remember that real wealth can be built in hard economic times.....that's just finacial history repeated many times over in the past.  If you buy now you have a real chance to build wealth.  If you need to cut expenses and down size it's another great opportunity for you to get much more house, even in a down sizing move, than might be obtained because interest rates and home prices allow you to maximize every dollar you are spending.  

The bright market indicators for 2011 are reported from Washington and unfortunately, hardly ever reported by the 24/7 news cycle.  We only hear the doom and gloom but  there are two statistics that should boost our morale.  The applications for unemployment benefits have reached the lowest levels since July 2008.  Jobs and employment are actually up.  Lay offs from existing jobs is at the lowest levels since August 2006.  Those are the numbers and I am so happy to hear them.  We will not see a dramatic upswing but we should see more "slow and steady", especially in Berks County which has a long history of stable growth, slow and steady.  

I wish you a better and brighter 2011.  I hope whatever hardships and fears you and your family struggled with this year will come to an end.  If there's anything I can do to help you with your real estate, please call.  I am here to answer your questions or offer my help.  Remeber, at the end of the day, it's a good life.

Pat Kofke, CRS, GRI, Realtor
Remax of Reading 

12/27/2010 Getting Prequalified
I hope your Christmas was Merry!  We are on the home stretch to the New Year and it's a great goal to buy a home in 2011.  Most people just don't know where to begin.  Should they find a house, find a realtor or get a mortgage so they know they can buy a house???  Which comes first?  Well, I always think it's wise to find a realtor you trust and enjoy working with because, frankly, you'll be spending a lot of time together if you are seriously house hunting.  It should be someone whose advice you are willing to take because that person is the expert on the market, or should be.  Choose wisely.  But getting prequalified is very important too.  Even if your goal of home ownership is in the future, get prequalified.  It will give you lots of valuable information that will help you in the buying process.   Your credit report will be examined and usually, there are mistakes on the credit report so you will have time to correct them.  If some of the information is old or outdated you will be able to have it revised so the credit report most accurately reflects your current situation.  Last but certainly most important, a good mortgage lender will be able to see from your information what you are qualified to borrow for a mortgage.  This will then tell you what price range you should be looking in.  It is a waste of time and effort to be looking at homes you cannot afford to buy.  It's discouraging.    The good news is that with prices still down and rates still low, you are able to find more in your price range while keeping your home payment as low as possible.  Find out where you are qualified to buy and then focus on those homes that fit the bill for you.  Happy New Year and I hope there's a new home in your future! 

Wishing you a healthy, prosperous and peaceful New Year.  It's a good life!

Pat Kofke, CRS, GRI, Realtor
Remax of Reading
Direct 610-207-5601

 



For your celebrations, here's a nonalcoholic drink to share with your guests, or your children.

Fruit Spritzers

1/3 part Orange Juice
1/3 Part  Cranberry Juice blend  (any flavor)
1/3 part Orange flavored Seltzer

Pour in a tall glass and add some ice.  Additions of orange slice or cherries add to the party blend.  Enjoy!
12/3/2010 The Market is Not Dead!
They lit the tree in Rock Center in New York this week so, for me, it's officially the Christmas season.  I am always asked if this is a good time to buy or sell.  In the past we had a number of out of towners travel into the area to buy over these 2 months but right now that activity is slow.  Most companies are not moving their people around as much.  But our numbers from the various real estate sources show that homes going off the market, in other words contracts written on homes for buyers, actually went up in November of this year compared to last year.  Hard to believe right?  The news media would have us believe the market is dead, there aren't any buyers, the sellers are suffering. Our market is not without it's challenges but we are making progress.  So if you need to sell or want to buy, jump in!  You have realtors ready to work with you even through the holiday season and homes are still listed for sale.  Right now we have the most amazing opportunity to see appreciation over the next 5 yrs in a home so stop waiting for the bottom.  You missed it.  But that's okay because you can still find a gem and many sellers are ready to get things wrapped up.  They may not cash out their home as they might have 3 yrs ago but they can sell and find great value in their next purchase.  If you get on it, you can be home for holidays!   It's a good life.

Warmly,

Pat Kofke CRS, GRI
Remax


For the holiday season I will be adding a cookie or sweet recipe to my blog entries for your own celebrations.  These are easy and fun to make with your family.   Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD SANDWICH COOKIES

Cookies:

3 TBSP sugar
1 Roll Pillsbury Refrigerated Gingerbread Cookies
1/4 cup baking cocoa

Filling:

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tsp Vanilla
3 to 4 tsps milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place sugar in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, break up cookie dough.  Stir or knead in cocoa until well blended.  Shape dough into 36 one inch balls.  Place balls on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.  Press each flat with a smooth bottomed glass dipped in the sugar.  Bake 6 to 9 minutes or until set.  Cool 1 minute, remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.   Cool completely, about 20 minutes.

In medium bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Spread about 2 heaping tsps filling between half the cookies and then top each with another cookie. Pour a glass of milk and enjoy!
11/9/2010 The Best Time To Buy a Home
It's a glorious fall day in Berks county, Pennsylvania and hard to believe but it's November.  The year is starting to wind down.  Most people think that no one buys real estate during these last few months but I'm here to tell you that many people do.  If you are thinking about Buying or Selling it's a good time to do both.  If you are like me, your house never looks better than for the holidays.  Why?  Well company's coming so we really clean it a bit more than usual.  No one wants to decorate around dust so we start out fresh and clean....always a good thing for selling a home.  Then we turn it into our version of a winter wonderland complete with lovely, charming tree. We light it up outside, draw some attention to our holiday home so everyone pays some attention.  Is there a for sale sign in your yard???  Well, they might pay attention to that too.  Finally, what's the holdiays without baking!  It's a good thing for your home to smell good when you want to sell it so bake some cookies.  It's okay if you bought the tube at the grocery store.  Slice them for a quick trip to the oven.  They still smell great.  Serious buyers look for homes at this time of year.  Let them see yours!  Just watch the clutter when you decorate.  A good rule of thumb I learned  for staging a home at Christmas is this:  if you put something new out take something away until after the de-decorating occurs.  In other words, watch the volume of "stuff", even pretty stuff, so it does not overwhelm your rooms. 

For Buyers, it's a great time to find a home with motivated sellers.  Sellers do not want to shovel and be prepared for showings during bad weather months so if you love their home and we bring them a contract they are very happy to talk with us. There are fewer buyers floating around because they assume the best time to buy is in the spring.  There propbably are more homes for sale in spring but there's also  more competition for those homes.  That gives you less negotiating power and more competition for the home you like.  Right now interest rates are at 4.25% with FHA still available to many qualifying buyers for only 3.5% down.  And no, you don't have to be a first time buyer to get an FHA loan.  What are you waiting for?  What's better than starting the New Year in a new home?  The only possible drawback is getting one with a gorgeous dining room and new kitchen.....then the holiday dinner is at your house.  Something to consider if you don't like to cook.  Happy house hunting................It's a great life.    Warmly, Pat Kofke,Remax of Reading.
1/1/2009 HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Hard to imagine but here we are, 2009.  It's been a roller coaster ride into the New Year but here are some things to consider about our local market.  Our lenders call me all the time to say they have money to lend.  Yes, some of the guide lines have tightened up but Berks County is fairly conservative, so we had a lot fewer problem loans and distressed borrowers than other parts of the country.  That means you probably can still qualify for a loan, even first time buyers who might need more consideration and help with special programs, will be pleasantly surprised I think.... we have money available and I can help you through the process of securing it.  Interest rates are amazingly low, recently 5.25 FIXED for 30 yrs.  Wow.  The difference between a home financed with a 7 interest rate compared to a 5.25 rate will save you hundreds of dollars a month for the same mortgage.  Would you like to pay hundreds less per month on the same home purchase?  That's what you can get from buying now.  Important to consider now is the price of the home you what to buy.  Everyone is hearing that if you buy something now it could be worth less in a year or a few months because home prices are still coming down.  Well, home prices may still fluctuate but if in our market things have been much more stable than the national news might lead you to believe.  Have home prices come down?  Yes..... from historic highs seen a few years ago but recently we have been pretty stable and demand for homes, especially  up to $250,000 has been pretty steady.  Our sky is not falling and a black hole has not opened up to claim our real estate.  This is a GREAT time to buy a home!  Prices are low, interest rates are low and supply is good.  In fact, we could use a better supply of well cared for homes in some price ranges.  If you are a seller and want to make a move, I can help you get lots more money from the sale of your home just by getting it "Market Ready"  If you are a buyer, I can help you get all available grants, special loan programs, extra assistance to buy a home that you might qualify for and not even know about.  What does that mean to you?  Money to buy the home you are just dreaming about today.  Turn off the news and get your plan in motion... it's a great time to buy a home, perhaps the best time in 20 years.  What are you waiting for?  Look outside... the sky is still there, we're still here.... no black hole.... just opportunity.  Happy New Year and remember, Life Is Good............warmly, Pat Kofke

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