The Brooks Team Real Estate Blog



April 5, 2016

Home Rehab: Flipping a Home For Personal Residency

Flipping a home is one thing. You buy the home, you fix it up, you sell it. But, what if you want to buy a home to fix it up for yourself? When you rehabilitate a home for your own personal usage, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. We put together a small list of advantages to personal home rehabilitation, and also some things to keep in mind.

1.) There is no time pressure

When you are flipping a home, you may be pressured by a time frame. When you have the intent to resell the home you are fixing up, you will slowly lose money everyday that you are still flipping. When you are rehabilitating a home for personal use, the only extra expenses that you will be paying will be your own personal expenses. Time is money, and if you want to fix up a home for personal use, it would be the best use of both your time and your money.

2.) You can make it your own

When you are flipping a home, you have to keep the end-user in mind. When rehabilitating the home for yourself, you are the only one you have to think about. If your home is going to be your residence, you could add your own personal touch to the place instead of staying neutral to please everyone else. You could paint the walls bright pink and the ceiling dark blue if you wanted to. You need to keep resale in mind though, if you ever plan on selling the house in the future.

3.) What to do first?

If you have absolutely no idea where to start, look at these features first.


  • The roof - Look at the shingles and any possible damage to woodwork. Check out the ceilings for any water damage, or termite damage.


  • The electrical systems - Is it a fuse box or breakers? When was the last time it was updated?


  • The plumbing systems - Look under all the sinks in the home, and check floor tiles for water damage. Also, look outside of the home for any tree roots that might impact the plumbing system of your home.

  • The structure of the home itself - Look for cracks in the foundation, this can be VERY expensive to fix.

4.) Personal rehab may lead you to priority when it comes to offers

If a private seller knows you are going to buy the home and fix it up to personally live in it, they know you have more drive than the rest of the buyers. This may lead to priority over other buyers, because the seller knows you will take care of the home.


If it is a foreclosure property, there is a time period (usually 2 weeks) when it is first listed, where you will not be competing with those who are interested in flipping it. This priority time period is an excellent opportunity for those wishing to rehabilitate a property for use as a primary residence.


5.) Look at FHA loans, and the offers that are included

Many people give up their dreams of rehabilitating a home because they don’t have the money at hand to make the repairs. FHA loans may have clauses that will work in your favor. The FHA also has a specific loan dedicated to rehabilitating homes. This loan program, the 203(k) loan, will put money away in an escrow account for all of the rehab work done to the home. When all of the repairs are done, the money is then distributed to pay for the construction. For more information on FHA loans and restrictions about FHA loans, visit our blog post about loan restrictions and requirements.


These are just a few things that you should keep in mind when rehabilitating a home for your own personal usage. For more information about home rehab for personal use contact one of our professionals. For more information about financing a home for this purpose, visit


March 30, 2016

How to Get Your Home Ready For Summer: Spring Maintenance

El Nino is causing some odd weather patterns this year, but spring is finally here after a long winter. The warm sun, and the playful wind are a breath of fresh air compared to the harsh conditions of winter. Although this is a wonderful time to enjoy the sunshine, it is also time to do some spring maintenance to ensure that your summer is as enjoyable as possible. We put together a quick list of areas that might need maintenance, so you can go enjoy that beautiful sunshine once you’re done!



1.) Examine Your Roof Shingles

Go check your roof to see if there is any loose or broken shingles. The winter weather may have caused some damage, and the summer sun can damage the shingles just as bad. If shingles are at all loose, broken, cracked or folded they need to be replaced. Think about starting a budget to re-shingle your roof before the summer hits full effect.


2.) Check The Gutters

Check for loose or leaky gutters, and make sure to clean them out also. Improper drainage can cause leakage into the basement. Ensure that all downspouts are facing away from the foundation of the home and clear of all debris.


3.) Use Compacted Soil

Spring means rain showers, which also means that there’s the possibility of flooding. Check your yard for low areas, especially near the foundation of your home. Fill those low areas with compacted soil to ensure that your yard won’t turn into a flood zone. If it does become a flood zone, it becomes an insect's safe haven and breeding ground, and that’s probably the last thing you want.


4.) Check Your Chimney

Check your chimney for signs of damage. Have it cleaned and inspected by a chimney sweep.


5.) Check Your Concrete

All exterior slabs of concrete except pool decks, should drain away from the home's foundation. Check for cracks or breakage in the concrete, and fill with concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. Be sure to power wash, then seal the concrete.


6.) Check Your Outside Faucets

Check outside faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on, and make sure the hose works.


7.) Service your AC Unit

Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service your outside air conditioning system. An annual service call will keep the system working at its best performance levels.



Now get out there, do those chores and enjoy the sunshine! And as always, contact one of our professionals if you have any questions or concerns.

March 22, 2016

12 Ways to Get Your Home Ready For A Springtime Showing


Springtime brings sunshine, and a lot of opportunity to make your home the best looking home on the market! Make the most of the season by preparing your home for showings and open houses with these springtime tips:



1.) Pack up your winter clothes

Once you pack up those bulky winter clothes, you will have SO much more space. You will impress buyers with all that space!



2.) Get your yard into shape

Your front yard is the first thing your potential buyer will see. Like they say, first impressions matter. Mowing your grass, and getting rid of any wintery debris will help tremendously. It is also a good idea to get frost-resistant flowers and plants to spruce up the landscape. Frost resistant plants are a great move just in case a late cold- spell arrives.

3.) Buff the floors and wash the walls

The winter can wreak havoc on your floors, and buffing and cleaning them will do just the trick! Cleaning your walls isn’t a bad idea either, it will help any room pop!


4.) Swap out dark and cozy for bright and cheery

During the winter we tend to break out all those big fuzzy blankets and dark-colored accessories. Swap those out for bright colors! Blankets, pillows, pictures, flowers, candles, washcloths… the list goes on and on!


5.) Let the sun shine in

Before a showing, make sure all the curtains are open and all the lights are turned on. The more light that shines inside, the brighter the room!


6.) Accent with springtime aromas

Nothing says springtime like beautifully scented flowers! Fresh and clean smelling aromas like flowers, fresh cotton, and beach - scented are all great examples!


7.) Clear off all counters

You might NEED your coffee maker every morning, but put it away before a showing! Put all appliances like coffee makers, toasters, mixers or any other object that’s taking up counter space. Think about replacing everything on your counter with a simple bowl of colorful fruit! Or a vase with some beautiful springtime flowers!


8.) Think about your front door

Experts say that before a spring showing, you should remove your round wreaths. Wreaths remind people of the holidays, and might imply you are not on top of things. Maybe hang a spring themed welcome sign on the door, and an umbrella holder, and a bright and cheery welcome mat!


9.) Don’t forget about the backyard!

Many backyards in the springtime will be damaged from the winter. There might be dry and spotty parts, or branches scattered all over the yard. Clean up those branches, and work on getting your grass up to par. Also, people will be impressed with your backyard if there is colorful flowers, and fun decorations. Use colorful potted bulbs!


10.) Make sure the master bedroom appeals to both sexes

Get rid of colors that appear to be gender-specific. Maybe paint the walls a neutral color and choose bedding that matches. Then accessorize with the color scheme!


11.) Think creative


Buyers love built-in book shelves, and creative features. Stage the room so they can imagine themselves in it, and love what they imagine.



12.) Unpleasant pet odors won’t please buyers

We all love our pets, but unpleasant pet odors make a bad first impression. Get rid of old carpet that might trap those offensive smells. Replace with a fresh, neutral colored carpet! Maybe paint the walls to match! And voila! It’ll go from designed-to-smell to designed-to-sell.




These are just a few idea’s to get your home ready to sell this spring. For more tips contact one of our professionals!

March 15, 2016

What to expect this Spring - Buying OR Selling

Spring has sprung! This means that school will be wrapping up soon, and summer will be here before we know it. Spring also means that the real estate market will be booming. The demand for homes in the spring is always increasing because people want to buy a home before interest rates rise. Also the weather is warmer, and people often have more motivation when the weather is nice.

In 2016, we are experiencing a lower inventory. The demand to buy homes is currently greater than the supply. Those who are selling their home will benefit. Buyers will be competing for inventory which will drive up the market value for listings.

We put together a few things you should expect when selling and buying your home this spring.

What to expect when selling your home this spring:


  • There will be a high demand, and many buyers will be competing

  • Home buyers want to act before interest rates or home prices rise

  • Overpriced homes will be on the market for a long time, talk to one of our real estate agents to come to a reasonable price that will sell

  • People care about curb appeal, cleaning your home inside and out will be a must

  • Hire a Marketing Magician from our team to ensure your home will be advertised correctly

  • states that the prime-buying season is April-June. That means there is just enough time to get your home ready!  

What to expect when buying a home this spring:

  • There will be many other people looking at the same home you are

  • Those who are buying might have to out bid the listing price to beat the competition

  • Get pre-qualified for a mortgage to ensure that you can act quickly 

  • Don’t settle on the first mortgage quote you see, be sure to shop around to ensure the lowest interest rate possible. According to, Mortgage rates are expected to reach 4.65 percent this year. Right now they are currently just under 4 percent.

  • If you start your search early, and know what you want you will experience less competition

Like always, if you have any questions or concerns please contact our team of professionals.

March 1, 2016

FHA/VA/USDA Loan Requirements and Limitations

FHA Loans -  The Federal Housing Administration provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA approved lenders.  It is the largest insurer of residential mortgages in the world, insuring tens of millions of properties since 1934 when it was created. There are many restrictions and limits when discussing FHA loans. We put together some of these restrictions and limits to keep you informed.


  • Credit scores under 500 are not eligible for an FHA loan

  • Credit scores between 500 and 579 are possible BUT must make a 10% down payment

  • 2 Mortgage insurance premiums are required on all FHA loans

  • The upfront premium amount is 1.75% of the loan amount

  • If there is a 16 inch incline anywhere on the property, you need a hand rail

  • There must be no chipped paint anywhere

  • The maximum loan a Lancaster County resident can take out is $271,050 for a single family home

FHA: If you are flipping a home:


  • It can be sold after 90 days only if it is sold for less than 100% profit

  • If it is over 100% profit, and it is above 90 days but below 180 days, you must seek a second appraisal

  • If it is above 100% profit, and it is after 181 days, you only need 1 appraisal

  • If you own a duplex/triplex/fourplex, you must be living in the residence as one of the tenants



VA Loans - According to Veterans Loan Center, VA loans have helped more than 21 million veterans, service members, and surviving spouses achieve the dream of home ownership. This loan is made possible by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Service requirements fall into two categories: wartime and peacetime. Veterans must fall into one of those categories to qualify for the loan. VA loans also require no down payment. But, there are some limitations:  


  • Those who were on active duty must have served for at least 90 days.

  • Those who served during peacetime must have served for at least 181 days.

  • Single family homes are the standard option when discussing a VA loan, but many other types of housing can also win VA approval including townhomes, modular homes, condominiums, new construction homes and manufactured homes.


USDA - The USDA invests millions of dollars each year for families to buy and improve homes. The program is designed to “improve the quality of life and economy in rural America”. It offers low interest rates and like VA loans, USDA loans do not require down payments.  The United States Department of Agriculture requires some limitations when it comes to their loans.


  • Must meet household income requirement

  • Must be located near or on eligible rural areas as defined by the USDA

  • Must not have in-ground swimming pools

  • These loans are typically 33 year loans
  • Applicants with a credit score of 620 or higher receive streamlined proccessing

  • Those with a credit score under 580 must meet more stringent underwriting standards

  • Those with no credit score can qualify with “nontraditional” credit references, such as rental and utility payment histories.

If you have any questions about any of these types of loans, or any other types of loans, feel free to contact The Brooks Team at Realty Professional Group, LLC.

Feb. 17, 2016

Agent Conduct - What you should expect from a Real Estate Agent

What are you looking for in a Real Estate Agent? Did you know there are good and bad agents? Thinking about what you are looking for in an agent before you meet with one, will help you make your home buying or selling experience a lot easier. Agent conduct is important, and it is also important that you receive the best attention possible for your own real estate needs. We put together a few key concepts you should be looking for in an appropriate agent.



  • Ask them to do a comparative market analysis on homes in the area you are looking at before deciding on a price to bid.

    • If your agent does a comparative market analysis, you can see the prices of recently sold homes in the area. This will yield a range, and give you an idea of what price to offer for a home.
  • If you have a question outside of their area of expertise, let them direct you to someone else

    • Too many times real estate agents try to be an expert in area’s they are not exactly strong in. For example, an agent is not a lawyer, or an inspector, but they can direct you towards someone who knows the answers to the questions you may have. If you see something you don’t particularly like, or have a bad feeling about, be cautious and ask your agent questions.  Make sure they at least make recommendations for you to seek expert advice.


  • An agent can never force you to choose a specific third party

    • They can make recommendations for certain professional services that they have worked with in the past. They cannot, however, force you to use a list of professionals that they provide. For example, you are allowed to choose whoever you wish to be your inspector, and you are allowed to choose whoever you wish to be your lawyer.


  • A Real Estate Agent owes consumers the duty to:


  • Exercise professional skill and care which meets the practice standards required by RELRA

  • Deal honestly and in good faith

  • Disclose, as soon as practicable, all conflicts of interest and financial interests

  • Provide assistance with document preparation and advise the consumer regarding compliance with laws pertaining to real estate transactions

  • Advise the consumer to seek expert advice on matters about the transaction that are beyond agent's expertise

  • Keep the consumer informed about the transaction and the tasks to be completed

  • Disclose financial interest in a service, such as financial, title transfer and preparation services, insurance, construction, repair or inspection, at the time of service is recommended or the first time the agent learns that the service will be used



  • A Real Estate Agent should NEVER:

    • Use or disclose confidential information they obtain while acting for a client

    • Put their interests in conflict with the clients interests

    • Accept commission from both a client and consumer for the same transaction

    • Persuade a person to break contract

    • Engage in conduct that is inappropriate or unprofessional



You can contact the Real Estate Recovery Fund if you feel like you have been wronged in a real estate transaction, or an agent has failed in their obligation to you. This agreement fund exists to reimburse any person who has obtained a final civil judgement against a Pennsylvania real estate agent owing to fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit in a real estate transaction and who has been unable to collect the judgement after exhausting all legal and equitable remedies. For more information about the fund, call (717) 783 - 3658.

Jan. 26, 2016

Winter Weather Safety and Management

Winter Storm Jonas set some records in our area this past weekend, and also caused some pretty hazardous conditions. With major storms like this comes some pretty serious health, and safety issues. We put together some tips to help you and your vehicle stay safe during these weather conditions, and ways to make the cleanup process a lot easier. Because let's face it, sometimes the snow plow just doesn’t cut it.

1.) Driving Safety

Employers cannot control road conditions, and many businesses need their employees to come to work no matter what those road conditions are. If you must drive in these slick conditions there are a few things every driver should know.

Check your fluids! - Make sure your brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, oil, and antifreeze are

filled up.

Check your tires! - Make sure your tires have adequate tread depth and check for proper inflation.

Check your visibility systems! - Inspect all interior and exterior lights, turn signals, front and

rear defrosting systems, and check your windshield wipers.

Check your electrical system! - Check the ignition system and ensure that the battery is fully

charged, and that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.

  • You should also keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. An emergency kit might include:


  • Cell phone or a two way radio (Make sure cell phone is fully charged)

  • Windshield Ice Scraper

  • Flashlight with extra batteries

  • Shovel

  • Tow Chain

  • Traction Aids (Bag of sand, bag of cat litter)

  • Ice Melt (bag of road salt)

  • Emergency Flares

  • Jumper Cables

  • Snacks and waters

  • Blankets

  • Change of clothes
  • Flat tire kit/ spare tire

  • If you get stranded in your vehicle you should not panic. Here are a few things you should do if you get stranded in your vehicle due to snowy driving conditions:


  • Stay in the vehicle

  • Call your supervisor and inform them of your situation

  • Call for emergency assistance if needed, response time may be slow due to road conditions

  • Display a “trouble sign” on your vehicle: place a colorful shirt or towel on the vehicle's antenna.

  • Turn the car on for 10 minutes every hour and run the heat to keep warm.

  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and ensure that your exhaust is free of snow, and that there is a window slightly cracked open.

  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia, and do small exercises to keep good blood circulation in your body.

  • Stay awake, being awake will reduce your risk of cold-related health problems.

2.) Snow Removal

• Shoveling snow

  • Snow shoveling can wreak havoc to the human body, especially during extremely cold weather. There is potential for exhaustion, heart attacks, back injuries, or dehydration. During this strenuous winter activity, be sure to take multiple breaks in warm areas. Try pushing the snow instead of lifting it, and be sure to scoop small amounts of snow at a time if possible. Keep the back straight, lift with the legs, and do not twist or turn the body. And if you have the energy, take the time to help out a neighbor who might be struggling. Also, try to layer on loose clothing, so you can peel a layer off if you get too hot.

• Powered Equipment - Snowblowers

  • When using powered equipment like snowblowers, be sure to double check to make sure the equipment is properly grounded and properly guarded. Never attempt to clear  a jam in the equipment with your hand. This could cause lacerations or amputations. First, turn the snow blower off and wait until all moving parts come to a stop. Then use a long stick to clear wet snow or debris from the machine. Refuel the snow blower prior to starting the machine, never add fuel when the machine is running. If you have enough fuel, try to help out a neighbor who might be struggling to remove snow themselves.

• Clearing snow from the roof, and other heights

  • Snow covered roofs can bring avalanches of snowfall, or collapsing of the roof or sky lights. Be sure to practice safe tactics when it comes to removal of snow from the roof. Be careful of falling snow, and wear non slip boots if attempting to go on top of the roof. Make sure all vents are not completely covered, or else carbon dioxide could build up and get trapped in the house. Use long brooms, and the proper lifting equipment.

Cold wintery conditions can cause many health and safety issues, but if you prepare for the weather conditions and know what to do when they arrive you might be able to help yourself, as well as help others. More information about winter driving safety can be found at, and more information about snow removal management can be found at Be safe this winter!

Jan. 19, 2016

Benefits of Small Business

Many businesses, big or small, start off as a simple idea. The idea holder is often an entrepreneur who spots a gap in the market or a commercial opportunity. He or she then turns the idea into a marketable service or product. The importance of small business is just as crucial as big business, if not more. Many small businesses (like ourselves) meet local needs. Whether the local needs include a grocery store, a hairdresser, a real estate agency, financial consultant, etc., small businesses are created to provide to the local community.

At Realty Professional Group, LLC, our small business is here to serve the Lancaster County area, and to provide the best services we can. We put together a list of reasons why small business is beneficial to our community, and reasons why small business is capable of prospering.

• Small Business Develops Personal Relationships

When dealing with a small business, whether they are providing you with a service or a product, you are able to personally get to know them. Person-to-person interaction is very important in today's society. Developing a personal relationship makes it a lot easier to build trust, and get the most out of the product or service.

• Flexible Response To Challenges

In a small business, there is little hierarchy or chain of command. Big businesses usually have a set chain of commands and procedures when it comes to challenges or problems that might arise. Small business often has more flexibility, and will be more of an asset to the customer.

Innovation and Idea’s

Small businesses are often more susceptible to new idea’s than big businesses. This is because the boss of a small business does not have to go through a chain of command to get his or her voice heard. They do not need approval from anyone, idea’s can be introduced and implemented immediately.  

Lower Prices

Small businesses often use less commercial space than a big business, and they often have low overhead costs. They operate in a smaller space, creating the opportunity for lower heating, and electric bills. The lower the bills the smaller business has to pay, the lower the prices for the service or product for the consumer will be.

Small businesses are created to provide the consumer with the BEST service possible. Please contact our team of professionals today, if you are searching for the BEST real estate service possible. Support local small businesses, so they can support you and your community!

Jan. 7, 2016

2016 Real Estate Trends

Planning to sell or buy a house in 2016? If you are, you need to keep an eye on important real estate trends which may or may not greatly affect your decision. Home prices and interest go up gradually every year, so what will the trends be for the new year?



Supposedly, the prices of homes will continue to rise. According to Zillow, the values of homes will moderately rise to an average of 3.5 percent. Of course there are certain aspects that will affect the prices of homes. One of these aspects is location. Location is very important when deciphering the price of a home. On the other hand, interest plays a big role in the housing market. According to Zillow, interest is bound to rise this year, which may dampen the housing market.


Mortgage rates will also rise due to a decision by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this past December. With higher rates, this will mean higher monthly payments but it could also motivate homeowners to sell which could be an answer to the shortage of houses. Rents are also bound to rise which may make buying a home more appealing and which will make it difficult for struggling renters who pay every month, Houston Agent Magazine reported.


Many home buyers are looking for environmentally friendly homes that are energy efficient. According to a study by Dodge Data & Analytics for the National Association of Home Builders, more than half of the builders, as well 39 percent of remodelers, are working on green projects and this is expected to rise.

To find out about the home buying or selling process be sure to contact our team of professionals. We can offer answers to any questions you may have, as well as advice to make the process easier. If you have any questions about the Lancaster County trends for 2016, give us a call!

Nov. 18, 2015

Thanksgiving: A Time To Be Thankful, and Prepared for Holiday Gatherings

November is a time to be thankful. A time for being thankful for what you have, and who you have around you. We wanted to take this opportunity to thank YOU for being our clients, or for visiting our website. We are always here for advice, or any real estate concern you may have. With the holiday only a week away, we put together helpful tips to get your house ready for Thanksgiving. The decorative idea's are also a great way to help show off your home if you have an open house coming up, or a scheduled showing.

With your entire family coming over for Thanksgiving dinner, your home is going to become quite crowded. Cleaning needs to be done, and the delicious food needs to be prepared. Here are some helpful tips to prepare your home for the holiday.

1.)Make the most out of your dining room table.

Thanksgiving puts your dining room to the true test - how many people you can fit in the room and still have room for utensils and delectable dishes. Be sure to clear some space, maybe even create a buffet in the kitchen on an island or countertop to make more room on the dining room table. Guests can help themselves to seconds, or the hostess could make a mid-meal lap around the table.

2.) Set up all the right electronics to ensure the Thanksgiving Day football game is perfection

With a lot of people coming over to gather in the festivities, the house might get rather loud.  If you really want to feel like you’re on the field, and if you want everyone to hear the game, hooking up speakers to your TV set is a must. Maybe even have a gaming console out for some post-game family game night fun!


3.) Entryway Upgrades - Helpful For Open Houses or Scheduled Showings Also

Your home's foyer is the first place guests see, so make it a great first impression.

  • Upgrade the exterior of your door. Does it need a new coat of paint? Does the door handle or hinges need fixed? Do you have decorations on the outside of your door, like a fall wreath?

  • If you have scratches on your hardwood floors at the entrance of your doorway, consider placing a welcome mat, or a small rug to cover them up.

  • Clear out shoes or jackets to make room for guest’s jackets and shoes

  • Place a fall scented candle directly in the foyer so that guest’s or possible home-buyers are intrigued by the smell.


4.) Decorations & Cleaning  - Helpful for Open Houses or Schedules Showings Also

Cleaning your home is crucial for a open house or a scheduled showing - it is also crucial for family gatherings. Every member of your family will be there and let’s face it, you care what they think about the appearance of your home. Here are a few tips to clean and decorate your home for these special occasions:


  • Remember to dust your fans

  • Clean your oven, and your stove-top

  • If you vacuum isn’t working up to par, consider replacing your vacuum belt

  • Balance your heating system - close vents in rooms you don’t use often, and test where airflow is the heaviest and the lightest to ensure which vents to close

  • Create a message board - Have small papers that are shaped like leaves for guests to write what they are thankful for and have them pin it on the message board

  • Use creative candle holders to spruce up your home. One creative idea is to get a glass, fill it with acorns, place a tealight inside, and use a fall-colored ribbon to place around the glass.

  • Create a unique centerpiece. Use pumpkins, gourds, acorns, branches, and/or ribbons to create a one of a kind centerpiece.

There are numerous ways to get your home ready for Thanksgiving Day, and for a open house or scheduled showing around the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!