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Cindy's Memorial Bark Park

A fundraising event to "BARK" about.  Cindy's Memorial Bark Park is holding the 2nd Annual Bark in the Park this Saturday At Romine Field in Port Vue.   There are events planned throughout the day!  Check out the write up about the event in last Saturday's Post Gazette.  This event is the best place to be Saturday Oct 7th from 10:00 AM til 3:00.  http://www.post-gazette.com/pets/2017/09/29/Pet-Events-Cycle-for-Animals-Hoedown-for-the-Hounds-other-events/stories/201709300052.  Shelley from Vintage will be donating homemade dog ice cream to be sold, with all funds collected to be donated to the Bark Park. This is a great event for an even better cause and just in time for holiday shopping!

 

Home Renovations That Can Hurt (and Help) Property Value

Remodels to Avoid

Luxury Rooms
An indoor basketball court, wine cellar, sauna, or even a movie theater won’t often recoup the high building costs. Luxury add-on rooms are hard to pitch to buyers unless you’re living in an upscale housing market—the average homebuyer won’t be willing to pay for them. Further, rooms that depend heavily on wired electronics, like home theaters, are hard to keep current because TVs and speakers are constantly advancing.

Swimming Pool
The average cost to build a pool is $39,084, a hefty price tag that is seldom recovered once the home is sold. It’s widely accepted throughout the industry that a homeowner will lose money by adding a swimming pool. Homebuyers don’t want to deal with the maintenance cost of a pool (which can cost as much as $2,000 a year), the added insurance premiums, and—if they have young kids—the safety issues.

Gaudy Accents
Though gold-plated crown molding or mosaic-tile backsplashes may feature prominently in your ideal vision for your home, they often turn out to be the average homebuyer’s worst nightmare. Passing fads or niche trends rarely stick around long, so if you miss the brief window when your remodeling choices are in, you’ll end up paying for it later.

Changes Contrary to Area Standards
If you aren’t watching the trends common to your area, you could end up losing a lot of money. A home that totals $600,000 after all the renovations won’t sell in a neighborhood where homes are netting half that price. Likewise, knocking down the walls of extra bedrooms for an open layout won’t be appealing in a family-oriented neighborhood.

Remodels that Pay

Steel Doors
You don’t want to go cheap on a standard front door. At roughly $1,000, steel doors are comparatively affordable, durable, low maintenance and burglar resistant. As an added bonus, the National Association of Realtors® reports that steel door upgrades show the highest return on investment of any home remodel, at over 100 percent of the cost.

Solar Panels
As the price of solar panels continues to drop, the energy payback on installing them is becoming greater and greater. The average rooftop solar system is now paid off in seven and a half years. After that, panels are a big money-saving asset. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory notes that homebuyers “consistently have been willing to pay more for a property” with solar panels—a premium of around $4 per installed watt, on average.

Related: Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Solar Panels?

New Siding
The exterior of your house is the first thing potential homebuyers see when they come to your home, and you want to make the best first impression. This is part of the reason redoing your siding is so profitable. New siding recoups around 80 percent of the initial cost, according to the National Association of Realtors®, thanks largely to the increased curb appeal and improved energy efficiency it provides.

Broadband Access
Access to broadband speeds is considered an essential utility for today’s connected homebuyer. Research shows that faster internet speeds increase your home value by as much as 3 percent. Homeowners can prepare their homes for higher broadband connectivity by working with area providers to install requisite equipment and wiring. Building out wall ports and cable-hiding baseboards is a good move to attract buyers, too.

Even if you’re not considering selling your home just yet, keep potential selling benefits in mind. Intrepid homeowners know that the best remodels will increase both quality of life and listing price, so take care to invest in projects that will net the biggest returns.

Open Door Project - Women in business

Vintage Real Estate is a strong supporter of women and their role in business today. In order to show our support, Vintage has donated to the dress for success movement which supports women in many different ways.  

 

Join Our Global #OpenDoorProject

Let's make sure all women have the opportunity to succeed. Join the Dress for Success®#OpenDoorProject by using your shoe as a pledge to keep doors open to all women. For 20 years, Dress for Success has empowered women to achieve their full potential. Together, we can open every door for every woman. 

Please support our movement so we can empower more women together.

 

1.   SNAP A PIC.Show your support for the movement by posting a picture of your shoe holding a door open, or a picture of you propping a door open with your shoe. Pick a shoe/door that is meaningful and unique to you.                                                  

2.  THANK A SPECIAL WOMAN.In the post, thank another woman (or women) who opened the door for you in your career, tag her, and invite her to create her own Open Door post             

3.  SPREAD SUPPORT FOR THE MOVEMENT.Encourage and support other members of your network to continue to empower women everywhere by donating to Dress for Success at www.dfsopendoorproject.org.                                                

4.   TAG US.Make sure to include @dressforsuccess and #OpenDoorProject in your posts.

 

Why work with a Vintage Realtor?

WHAT TO KNOW

7 Reasons to Work With a REALTOR®

REALTORS® aren’t just agents. They’re professional members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict code of ethics. This is the REALTOR® difference for home buyers:

  1. Ethical treatment.
    Every REALTOR® must adhere to a strict code of ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a REALTOR®’s client, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. The first obligation is to you, the client.
  2. An expert guide.
    Buying a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes. Also, there’s a lot of jargon involved, so you want to work with a professional who can speak the language.

  3. Objective information and opinions.
    REALTORS® can provide local information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They also have objective information about each property. REALTORs® can use that data to help you determine if the property has what you need. By understanding both your needs and search area, they can also point out neighborhoods you don’t know much about but that might suit your needs better than you’d thought.
  4. Expanded search power.
    Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A REALTOR® can help you find opportunities not listed on home search sites and can help you avoid out-of-date listings that might be showing up as available online but are no longer on the market.
  5. Negotiation knowledge.
    There are many factors up for discussion in a deal. A REALTOR® will look at every angle from your perspective, including crafting a purchase agreement that allows enough time for you to complete inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase.
  6. Up-to-date experience.
    Most people buy only a few homes in their lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. Even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS® handle hundreds of transactions over the course of their career.
  7. Your rock during emotional moments.  A home is so much more than four walls and a roof. And for most people, property represents the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on the issues most important to you.

Buyer's Checklist

1. Figure out how much house you can afford.

  • Calculate your monthly income and debt.
  • Check your credit report and FICO score.
  • Use FrontDoor's mortgage calculator.
  • Figure out your down payment.

2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage.

  • Choose a type of mortgage.
  • Speak to at least five lenders and mortgage brokers.
  • Shop for the best interest rates and programs.

3. Determine what you want and need in a home.

  • Choose a location (downtown, urban, suburban, rural).
  • Choose a type (single family, townhouse, condo, loft).
  • Choose a price range.
  • Choose a size.
  • Choose an architectural style.

4. Research your target neighborhoods.

  • Look online for information on schools, crime rate, traffic and zoning.
  • Determine your work commute.
  • Scout local amenities, such as parks, shops and restaurants.

5. Work with a buyer's agent who knows the neighborhood.

  • Get referrals.
  • Consider working with an exclusive buyer's agent.
  • Interview at least three agents.
  • Look for experience and good chemistry.

6. Search for homes in the MLS and For Sale By Owner (FSBO).

  • Browse listings online, including FrontDoor.com.
  • Ask your agent to set up tours of homes that fit your criteria.
  • Check local newspapers.
  • Pick up flyers and attend open houses.

7. Research each home you want to buy.

  • Ask your agent for comps to estimate the property's fair market value.
  • Ask the seller's reason for selling.
  • Review all property disclosures.
  • Find out about liens, easements or other restrictions.

8. Make an offer and negotiate.

  • Determine the purchase price.
  • Include contingencies, such as financial, inspection or purchase.
  • Spell out any special requests and repairs you want included in the sale.
  • Determine an earnest money amount.
  • Define a move-in date.
  • Once both parties agree to the terms, sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

9. Finalize the deal.

  • Get the house appraised.
  • Get a professional home inspection.
  • Consider getting specific inspections for structural engineering, roof and termites.
  • Use the appraisal and inspection reports to re-negotiate if necessary.
  • Choose a home insurance company.
  • Complete the loan process with the lender.
  • Do a walk-through inspection prior to closing.
  • Set aside cash for the closing costs and down payment.

10. Close the purchase.

  • Review the settlement document at least 2 days before closing to see how funds will be collected and distributed.
  • Get a cashier's check for the amount you need to bring to closing, including the down payment and closing costs.

Tips to Winterize Your Home

Winterizing the Home

Outdoor Preparations:

Extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic. 

Outdoor structures, such as the barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment may also need winterizing. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.

Clean and inspect chimneys and other heating equipment every year.

Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.

All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.

Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.

Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).

Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. 

Sand to improve traction.

Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.

Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.

Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle and have winter related items included.

For indoor preparations:

Make a family-based emergency plan.

Have a short term emergency supply and ensure that you have an ample supple water and  shelf stable foods.

Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm in an off grid environment.

Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

Have a battery powered radio on hand to listen to changing weather conditions.

Know how to stay warm in an off grid situation.

Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

6 Things to Look for in a New Neighborhood

So you’re on the home-buying market. Congratulations! You’re probably already overwhelmed by decisions: colonial or ranch-style? Stucco or stone? One- or two-story? Carpet or parquet flooring?street-926389_1920.jpg

And that’s not even including one of the most important factors in any new home-purchase: location, location, location. It might not be everything, but it’s almost everything. It will determine your commute, change your social life, shape your children’s education, and affect a host of other aspects in your life.

Depending on your city, you probably have your own dream neighborhoods and avoidable boroughs. But in case you don’t — or if you want a bit more guidance as you do research — we at ABODO have put together a handy checklist of things to look for (and avoid) as you examine possible settings for your new house. Every day, we help thousands of people find the perfect apartment — in the perfect spot — for their needs, so we know what to look for.

  1. School Districts

If you don’t have children and don’t plan on having them, skip to the next item. But if you have a family — or think you might have one within the next few years — school districts should be a major component in your neighborhood choices. Sites like niche k12 offer testing statistics, user reviews, and contact information for hundreds of thousands of schools nationwide — public, private, and charter. In some cases, it might be a good idea to schedule a tour, or attend an open house, so you can get an idea of how your child (or potential child) might fit in with the culture and educational philosophy.

2.     Property Taxes

You’ll be paying taxes on your house and the land it sits on, so it’s a good idea to know the general tax rate in the neighborhood you’re investigating, and what it gets you. If you’re in the market for a particular property, it shouldn’t be hard to find the value of the house and attendant land up for purchase, but if you’re unclear on that topic, you can always contact the county assessor for an up-to-date valuation. As for tax rates, the local government typically keeps those figures easily accessible online, but you’ll also want to look at other local entities requiring tax money: public schools, town administration, etc. And depending on your area, tax rates may be affected by a range of services. For example, in some cities tax rates are higher but include services like trash pickup and sewer, while smaller towns treat such services “a la carte’” for a lower property tax rate. It’s good to know not only how much money you’ll be paying, but where it’s going.

3.     Neighborhood Parks

Local parks — state, county, or city — provide health benefits and recreational opportunities beyond your backyard. Sometimes, your lawn just doesn’t have enough space to toss a football around. Or you want to venture out for a picnic, go for a scenic jog, or ride your bike. Plus, studies show that nature sojourns are linked to lower blood pressure, reduced obesity rates, and mitigated pollution effects. If getting outside often is important to you, see what the local parks offer, such as tennis courts, basketball courts, or grills, and how well they’re maintained. Also consider the distance between you and the parks or trails — do you want to load up your bike and drive across town for every ride? If not, try to find a home with easy access to a bike-ped trail. Also, do a little research into which local parks often host festivals or concerts throughout the year. Armed with that information, you can decide how close — or far — you want to live to these events.

4.     Crime Rate

Few neighborhood characteristics are as universally desirable as safety. Everyone wants the freedom to go for an evening walk without worry or leave their ground-floor windows open overnight. To check up on the crime rate in your potential future neighborhood, you could peruse the local police blogs or go on CrimeReports.com for a map of offenses as well as trends, or FamilyWatchdog.us for a map and details of nearby sex offenders. As little as a few streets can separate a safer neighborhood from a more dangerous one, so be sure to center your research around your potential home’s street address.

5.     Natural Phenomena

We’re not talking about snowstorms or hurricanes here — you already know what region of the country you’re in. The big nature flag to watch for in your new neighborhood is whether you’re located in a floodplain. Flooding is huge for homeowners for many reasons: It lowers the property’s value, destroys belongings, and is not typically covered by homeowner’s insurance. Flood protection is a very expensive separate policy that you’ll absolutely want if you need it, but if you never do, it’s a lot of money down the drain. To check your property, visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center or FloodSmart.gov to see what your insurance bill might look like.

6.     Eye Test

This neighborhood measure is the easiest to research: just take a look around and see how you feel. Do the yards look maintained? Are there people outside, enjoying the area and engaging in the community? Are the streets clean? How are the noise and traffic levels? Also stop by the neighborhood at night to see if anything changes. It’s a simple test, but it shouldn’t be underestimated.

 

4 Myths of Buying vs. Renting

According to a recent report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, the past 15 years have seen a drastic shift in how Americans approach renting and owning. More people are renting, while fewer are buying houses. In fact, the average annual growth number for renters is now approaching the peak number for homebuying reached in 2006, just before the housing market crash.

The reasons for such explosive rental growth are numerous: lingering effects from the economic collapse in 2008, the revitalization of many urban cores, Baby Boomers aging out of their houses, and high rates of student loan debt among Millennials. Many millennial renters are postponing “next­steps” like marriage or starting a family, and still see home ownership as out of reach.

But should they? Maybe not. We at ABODO know a little something about renting, and have broken down four of the most common myths about buying a house versus renting an apartment.

MYTH #1: Ownership Is More Expensive

Not always — at least month by month. As demand for rental properties has grown, so have rents. In fact, in 2015 rents nationwide rose 4.6%, the largest increase in almost 10 years . According to a recent study , it’s cheaper to buy a house than rent it in 42 states. The overall price tag might give you sticker shock, but more often than not, a monthly mortgage payment will be comparable (or less) than rent, and at least you’ll be gaining equity. Plus, mortgage interest payments are tax­deductible. This handy calculator from the New York Times can tell you if homeownership might actually be a good financial move.

MYTH #2: Your Savings Will Be Depleted, Forever

You might think that after a downpayment, and mortgage payments, and furnishing, and repairs, and maintenance, and property taxes... saving money is a lost cause. But think of it this way: Every mortgage payment that pays down principal and interest is a kind of “forced savings account.” You have to pay it, so you do. But unlike a rent payment, that money isn’t vanishing into the ether (or, as it’s more commonly known, your landlord’s pocket). Assuming you don’t default on your loan and go into foreclosure, you’ll see that money again, in a different form. By establishing equity in your house, you’ll be seeing long­term value in the form of an investment. You’ll also be eligible for new lines of credit. It might take 30 years, but it won’t be 30 years of checks down the drain.

MYTH #3: You Can’t Get a Loan

Yes, the days of subprime lending are over — and thank goodness, given how that turned out. Given the events of 2007­2009, banks are understandably cautious about handing out large loans for new homeowners. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In 2014, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced a new initiative , aimed at encouraging first­time homeowners, that backs mortgages with extremely low down payments — as low as 3%. There are conditions, of course: Potential homebuyers must buy private mortgage insurance and have a high credit score (at least 620). But such a low down payment (the standard is 20%!) is a major help for younger homebuyers who might still be paying off student loans.

MYTH #4: You’re Too Young to Own

According to the National Association of Realtors, over 35% of new homebuyers in 2015 were Millennials , making them the largest group of recent buyers for two years running. And the median age for Millennial homebuyers was 30. So it’s not just Gen X or Boomers buying houses. (In fact, Boomers are moving into apartments in droves.) 

 

Your Ticket to Wealth!

How do you Build Wealth with Homeownership?

1. You Build Equity Every Month

Every month you make a mortgage payment, your equity increases!  

2. You Reap these Mortgage Tax Deduction Benefits:

Mortgage deduction: The tax code allows homeowners to deduct the mortgage interest from their Some closing cost deductions: The first year you are able to claim the points on your loan, no matter whether they are paid by you or the seller. And because origination fees of 1 percent or more are common, the savings are considerable.

Property tax is deductible: Real estate property taxes paid on your primary residence and a vacation home are fully deductible for income tax purposes.

Tax Deductions on Home Equity Lines: You can deduct the lines of credit you pay on a home equity loan (or line of credit), allowing you to shift your credit card debts to your home equity loan, pay a lower interest rate and get a deduction on the interest!

4. You Get Capital Gains Exclusion:

If you buy a home to live in as your primary residence for more than two years then you will qualify. When you sell, you can keep profits up to $250,000 if you are single, or $500,000 if you are married, and not owe any capital gains taxes.

5. You create a life-time Savings Plan:

This is a no-brainer! Paying that mortgage every month and reducing the amount of your principal is like a forced savings plan.

 

 

Pittsburgh Real Estate Market Trends Update (2016)

The Pittsburgh real estate market has taken off since its recovery began around two years ago. Across the country the Millennial generation (ages 18-34) make up the largest buyer pool and the latest forecasts predict "Pittsburgh to be the second most popular city for Millennials in 2016". This is probably due to the fact that the Pittsburgh real estate market is already very affordable, also showing strong signs of employment growth. 

According to Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Realtor.com, affordability is the main driver attracting Millennials. As recently as January, the median listing price for a home in Pittsburgh metro was $144,000, which was considerably less than the national average: $228,000.

“This trend should continue as the demographic drivers and economics trends will favor millennials dominating the growth in the local housing market for many years,” Smoke said. “As long as the economy continues to grow and mortgage rates remain low by historical standards, the catalysts will remain in place to keep real estate hot in Pittsburgh.”

Much like the rest of the country, Pittsburgh is on the mend, but Millennials will look to change the state of Pittsburgh real estate from average to exceptional. An infusion of young buyers should be enough to improve market conditions.

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