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					      Indiana County
AT HOME            Buy. Sell. Improve!




                                 When Real Estate Makes Cents
                                   RESPONSIBLE REMODELING
                                           The Value of Design
Supplement to
                April 22, 2010
2 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010




                                            What’s inside?




                                                   PAGE 4
                                                   ■   A green home no longer refers to the color.

                                                   PAGE 7
                                                   ■ Make these easy improvements to your
                                                   home to attract buyers.

                                                   PAGE 8
                                                   ■ Create an outdoor living space to help your
                                                   home stand out above the competition.

                                                   PAGE 12
                                                   ■   Simple staging can up a home’s appeal.

                                                   PAGE 16
                                                   ■ Education is key when considering home
                                                   ownership.
                                                          Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 3




THE ULTIMATE
                                                            LIST
                                 There hasn’t been a better time to buy or
                                 sell a home in Indiana County than right now.

                                     And here’s why...
                                     • Interest rates are at their lowest in 30 years.
                                        That means there are now more people who can qualify
                                        for home loans, plus most can afford more house than they
                                        may realize.

                                     • There are plenty of loans available through
                                       local lenders.
                                     • First-time buyers receive an $8,000 tax credit.
                                        Combined with low interest rates, first-time home buyers
                                        can now afford to purchase even more home for their
                                        money... at a monthly rate lower than many pay for rent!

                                     • Home values in Indiana County are rock solid.
                                        Home values in our area were relatively unaffected by the
                                        housing boom upswing, and are remaining steady while
                                        other parts of the country experience “leveling off” periods.
                                        Little swing in either direction equals steady home values.


                                        Whether you’re buying or selling,
                                     TURN TO THE ULTIMATE LIST.
                                          MultiList of Indiana Area
                                     Where buyers and sellers come together!

                                   Putt Real Estate    Howard Hanna                   Norma White Realty
                                   724-465-5606        Chestnut Ridge Realty          724-349-1501
                                   800-656-8321        724-465-0185                   888-708-9876
                                                       724-459-0200
                                   Previte Realty                                     Kuzneski & Lockard Inc.
                                   724-465-8320        Good News Realty               Real Estate
                                   888-696-3782        724-463-9000                   724-349-1924
                                                       800-467-6617                   800-709-7896
                                   Northwood Realty
Make YOUR dream come true with     Services
                                   724-459-6770
                                                       Hewitt Real Estate
                                                       724-459-9200
                                                                                      Joy Realty
                                                                                      724-349-6900
IndianaPaMultiList.com             724-349-8040        724-349-8500                   888-349-6800
4 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010




             Green homes no longer about the color
       By MARGARET HARPER                  becoming more popular across        mills that are placed on the roof or   electricity, Peter said.                 side,” Peter said.
       mharper@indianagazette.net          the nation, although it has been    side of a home to supplement             Leach recently attended a sem-           “Trucks are not shipping it from
                                           slow to catch on in this area.                                             inar on Net Zero homes, which            California.”
  Nowadays, when someone says                Peter is working on a putting a                                          are homes so green that the con-           Some consumers may have mis-
they want to own a green home,             contract together for a home to                                            sumer doesn’t use any outside            conceptions of green building,
they’re probably not talking about         be built in the area with green                                            energy.                                  Leach said.
the color.                                 features in the construction.                                                The homes are powered by solar           The concept, around for about
  It is more likely they’re referring        Some of the more popular fea-                                            electric panels and other meth-          12 years for commercial building,
to “green building,” a movement            tures used in green homes are:                                             ods.                                     was an expensive process years
by consumers and contractors to                 Geothermal heating and                                                  Another aspect of green build-         ago, he said. As a result, people
build homes that have less impact          cooling, with ground-source                                                  ing is stormwater management.          think building a green home is also
on the environment.                        pumps that extract heat and                                                      Peter said stormwater              expensive.
  Green building is a relatively new       cold from the ground                                                             runoff can be managed                “Because of that, most people
concept in residential construc-           through wells. Other                                                                though aspects such as          shy away,” Leach said.
tion, said Jerry Leach, a certified        heating and cooling                                                                    landscaping by placing         Building green does add to the
green professional through the             methods are also                                                                         an area of plantings       initial cost of the home, but Peter
National Association of Home               green, though,                                                                               near where water       said it depends on how far some-
Builders.                                  and Leach said                                                                                   runoff occurs      one wants to go with the green ini-
  Leach, who is also the director of       there are                                                                                            from the       tiative as to how much more it
building codes with the Pennsyl-           many                                                                                                     roof of    costs.
vania Builders Association, said           options                                                                                                   the         But he reminded consumers that
the initiative takes into considera-       avail-                                                                                                    home.     while the initial cost is higher, the
tion all elements in the home, such        able.                                                                                                       This    savings come later with decreased
as heating and cooling, insulation              Bet-                                                                                               helps the   utility bills.
and energy-efficient appliances, to        ter insulation to re-                                                                      environment be-            “You save much more than what
make the home more sustainable             tain hot and cold                                                                          cause water is ab-       the initial investment was,” he
and better for the environment.            air.                                                                                       sorbed on the same       said.
  Before consumers begin build-                 Energy-efficient                                                                      property, leading to       Consumers can take advantage
ing a green home, they must de-            windows and doors.                                                                         less erosion and         of other incentives, such as tax
cide if they want to have the home              EnergyStar ap-                                                                        fewer sediment de-       credits. And Leach said being
certified, Leach said.                     pliances, which                                                                            posits elsewhere.        green should add to the home’s re-
  There are different levels of            help conserve elec-                                                                          Buying locally if      sale value.
green homes, which are given rat-          tricity.                                                                                   possible is yet an-        Leach suggested using a certified
ings of gold, silver or bronze                  Low-flow                                                                              other aspect, as the     green builder.
among homes that are certified,            faucets, toilets and                                                                       materials will have        “Look for a builder with that des-
based on guidelines by the Nation-         showerheads,                                                                               left less of a carbon    ignation,” he said.
al Association of Home Builders.           which conserve                                                                             footprint, saving fuel     “He’s invested time and energy
  Certified homes are scored in            water.                                                                                     and minimizing pol-      into his education. It’s definitely
seven categories, such as site               Other aspects of                                                                         lution.                  the way to go.”
preparation and home design.               green building in-                                                                           “If you can buy          And he thinks the concept is only
  Warren Peter, president of War-          clude generating                                                                           things locally to be     going to get more popular as peo-
ren Peter Construction, has served         electricity on-site.                                                                       put in your project,     ple grow to understand it more.
on the Green Build Committee for           Some consumers                                                                             they consider that as      “I don’t think that green is a fad,”
the Pennsylvania Builders Associa-         may consider small,                                                                        an added plus on         he said.
tion. He believes green building is        economic wind-                                                                             the green build            “I think it’s here to stay.”




           D MCCONNELL
          CONSTRUCTION LLC
         New Home Construction and Remodeling
                                                                                  CEC                                 CUTTING EDGE
                                                                                                                        COUNTER TOPS
                                                                                                                                                                     Buy Direct From
                                                                                                                                                                     The Manufacturer


                Doug McConnell
            15421 West Lebanon Road
              Avonmore, PA 15618
                                                                                 LOWEST PRICE IN THE AREA... On Laminate Kitchen Tops
                                                                                                                      Stop In Our Showroom!
  Phone: 724-478-1152 • Fax: 724-478-3204
   www.DMcConnellConstructionLLC.com                                                              724.397.8605 - TOLL FREE 888.816.0575
   Doug@DMcConnellConstructionLLC.com                                                            Hrs. Mon-Fri. 8-5; Sat. 8-12, Evenings by appt.
                                                                  PA 060635     10064 Rt. 119 N., Marion Center, PA • www.cutting-edge-countertops.com
                                                                                                                                    Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 5




   Recycled bottles make beautiful countertops
       By DEBBIE ARRINGTON                 “I like it because it’s a departure   the lack of sustainability in the
           Sacramento Bee               (from granite or other solid sur-
                                        faces),” says Sacramento, Calif., in-
                                                                                 marketplace,” Teter recalls. “I
                                                                                 needed to be designing something
                                                                                                                                            Greener counters
   Can a broken bottle be a thing of    terior designer Mary Ann Downey.         sustainable. And there was an air          VETRAZZO: Made in Richmond, Calif., it contains about 85 percent
beauty? It can when it is recycled      “All that ground-up glass looks          of destiny about this product.”          recycled or otherwise discarded glass, mixed with a cement-based
into a countertop.                      wonderful.                                 In Richmond, Calif., Vetrazzo          binder. Available in 26 color combinations, it requires annual seal-
   Vetrazzo is quickly gaining a na-       “As a designer, I’m always look-      moved into a former Ford plant, a        ing to protect its surface luster but otherwise needs only mild soap
tional following for its eye-catch-     ing for new sustainable products         40,000-square-foot space that            and water for cleaning.
ing surfaces made from shards of        and more ways to use them. The           once produced Model A’s and mili-          CAESARSTONE: Made of 93 percent natural quartz, this brand is
recycled bottles. Dazzling in 26        glass adds some glitter and gleam.       tary vehicles.                           touted for its variety of contemporary and classic colors, textures
color combinations, the counter-        It’s a very contemporary look, and         “It’s now a state-of-the-art ‘green’   and finishes.
tops start plenty of kitchen conver-    very beautiful.”                         facility,” Teter says.                     SILESTONE: Made by Spain-based Cosentino, this product ac-
sations, living up to Vetrazzo’s           Teter, a longtime product de-           Vetrazzo is gaining a national au-     counts for about 75 percent of quartz-countertop sales in this
motto: “A story in every surface.”      signer for such companies as Wal-        dience, fueled by enthusiastic de-       country. It comes in more than 60 colors and two finishes. Scratch-,
   “When anyone sees one for the        Mart and Target, had her own             signers looking for a one-of-a-kind      stain- and scorch-resistant, Silestone is manufactured with “Mi-
first time, there’s this ‘wow’ mo-      “wow” moment when she had a              look.                                    croban,” an antibacterial material.
ment,” says Olivia Teter, Vetrazzo’s    recycled glass countertop installed        “It tells you how the glass was          ECO BY COSENTINO: Eco uses 75 percent recycled content, includ-
co-founder. “It’s inevitable.”          in her home by Vetrazzo’s inventor,      used, where it’s been,” she contin-      ing ground glass, but tints mask the color differences in the “raw”
   That first impression may lie be-    Don McPherson, a Berkeley scien-         ues. “I love the beauty, but I also      material. Also incorporated into the mix are recycled porcelain,
hind the sales momentum this            tist. She was so impressed that she      love that it’s an educational tool on    mirror, stone scraps and crystallized ash.
green product is enjoying. Vetrazzo     became a partner in the startup          your countertop.                           CAMBRIA: This quartz-based product is made in Minnesota and
expects to sell more than 110,000       company five years ago and                 “It makes you think. Vetrazzo          comes in more than 60 colors.
square feet of its unique material      pushed its rapid expansion.              starts a conversation about recy-          PAPERSTONE: As the name implies, this product is as hard as rock
this year, up 32 percent from 2009.        “I had become disillusioned with      cling without saying anything.”          but is made of recycled cardboard or white bond paper.
   “Even though the building in-
dustry was hard hit by the eco-
nomic downturn, green building
continues to grow at a very dra-
matic rate,” Teter says. “Although
                                                                                                                                 • Pruning and Removal
we saw some fabricators go out of
business, demand for our product
                                                                                                                                    • Stump Grinding
stayed strong and steady, and
we’ve continued to grow.”
   Vetrazzo has 450 certified fabri-
cators and more than 600 author-
ized retailers throughout North
America. The company expects to
                                                        “W
test-market its product this year in                      e Co                                   ed”
                                                                  me Hig          end
local home-improvement centers.
   At $90 to $140 per square foot in-
                                                                        hly Recomm
stalled, the glass countertops are          Moving Across Town or Across The Country
comparable in price to granite and
other high-end materials. They’re
also extremely durable, stain- and
                                                     WE CAN HELP!
heat-resistant, antibacterial and                                                                                                Some Tree Care Providers Do Not
green-certified.                                     724-465-5606                                                                Carry Workman’s Comp...WE DO!
   “Centuries from now, archaeolo-
gists are going to be digging up our
countertops,” Teter says. “They’re
                                                                   www.puttre.com                                         724-465-4083                                                 PA059590
really made to last.”
   Each 9-by-5-foot smooth slab
uses up to 1,000 post-consumer
bottles and weighs about 700
pounds. Recycled architectural
glass and manufacturing waste                    TempletonPainting
                                                                                                                                 FLOORS BY
also make it into the mix, which is
about 85 percent glass combined
with a cement-based matrix. The                      724-388-3846                                                                CHERRYHILL
slabs take about four weeks to cre-
ate. Many experts tout Vetrazzo as         Interior/Exterior • Commercial/Residential                                             RESIDENTIAL/COMMERCIAL
one of the most environmentally
friendly surface materials on the              Power Washing • Deck Staining                                                Refinishing Existing Floors or Install,
market. Vetrazzo’s Floating Blue —             Fully Insured • Free Estimates
a color combination that uses sky-
                                                                                                                                     Sand & Finish New.
scraper windows with clear recy-
cled bottles — won the 2009 Read-
er’s Choice Award for best new
                                                     Matt Templeton                                                           Custom Medallions & Borders At A
green product from Interiors and                         Indiana, PA                                                                 Reasonable Cost!
Sources magazine, which targets
commercial designers. Readers of
                                                         PA 033317                                                                  Toll Free:     1-866-872-6348
California Home plus Design also              Call Now For A Spring Appointment                                                 FREE ESTIMATES • FULLY INSURED
put it atop their 2009 Hit List.
6 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010




                    Advantages of living in a green home
  There are many reasons for own-             heat exchangers could reduce de-           that allow for proper air exchange
ing or purchasing a green home, ac-           pendence on public utilities, too.         through ventilation, and low-emit-
cording to the National Association                                                      ting products like low- or no-VOC
of Home Builders at its Web site,             MAINTENANCE                                paints reduce off-gassing. Further,
www.nahb.org.                                   Effective stormwater management          green building practices look at re-
                                              and landscaping could mean less            ducing the opportunity for moisture
OPERATING COSTS                               time maintaining outside spaces.           intrusion. The efficient HVAC sys-
  The technologies and practices re-          Also, green building practices lead to     tems, windows, and floor plans also
quired to build a green home to cer-          the use of some longer-performing          mean that heating and cooling is
tain criteria may result in lower costs       materials and careful construction         better distributed throughout the
to operate the home. Energy-effi-             assemblies. Drained foundations,           home.
cient appliances, lighting systems            water spouts on gutters and flashing
and HVAC equipment result in lower            around windows and doors might             THE ENVIRONMENT
energy consumption compared to                reduce the opportunity for system             Increased energy and water effi-
other models. Using less water                failure within the home due to mois-       ciency in construction could lead to
through water-conserving faucets,             ture intrusion.                            decreased energy and water con-
showers, toilets and irrigation sys-                                                     sumption in a home throughout its
tems may also result in less water            INDOOR                                     lifespan. Further, some renewable,
consumption. Properly sized HVAC              ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY                      recycled and other efficient building
systems mean that less energy is                Indoor air quality is one of the         products used in green home con-
needed to condition spaces. Em-               guiding principles of the ICC 700-         struction may reduce the impact on
ploying technologies such as photo-           2008 National Green Building Stan-         natural resources. Also, green homes
voltaic panels for solar electricity          dard and the NAHB Model Green              often include resource and waste re-
and water heating, and geothermal             Home Building Guidelines. Homes            duction and recycling amenities.




                      Norma White Realty                                                                                                                                JR
      Over 200 Years Of Combined                                                                                                                                   Construction
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                                                                                                                                  Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 7




             Easy improvements will attract buyers
  Real estate pros often coach their clients      waste and water up, not down, and into
on the value of making “curb appeal” im-          sewer or septic lines. As a consequence,
provements to help sell their homes. Out-         there is no need for the mess and heavy ex-
side painting and minor repairs signal that       pense of digging through flooring, especially
the house has been well cared for.                the concrete variety in the basement.
  That’s a great marketing tactic, but an even      “An up toilet is a super alternative, and it
better advantage is offering multiple bath-       can go where traditional plumbing cannot,”
rooms. So if you’re planning to put your          says Mike Coletto, an independent plumb-
house on the market and want to make it           ing, heating, cooling and electrical contrac-
stand out, consider going a step further and      tor in Illinois with extensive experience in-
adding a new bathroom.                            stalling and servicing up toilets manufac-
  A spare bath is a great investment. Second      tured by SFA Saniflo.
only to kitchen remodels for recouping re-          Best of all, this type of home renovation
sale value, bathroom additions boast a 63.5       reaps instant rewards, improving the quality
percent rate of return, according to Remod-       of life now and paying dividends later.          AN UP TOILET allows bathrooms to be placed in tight spots.
eling Magazine’s 2008-09 “Cost vs. Value” re-       So, if you are thinking of selling your
port. And when an up-flushing, macerating         home, now is the time to plan your new bath        ■ Pick up debris and store trash cans out       ■ Edge grass and remove weeds that may
toilet — or “up toilet” — is used for the proj-   installation.                                    of view.                                        have grown over walkways.
ect, its comparatively low installed-cost           In addition to readying your home with a         ■ Install new bulbs in porch and security       ■ Repaint the front door and freshen up
makes a bathroom addition very affordable.        bathroom addition, here is a checklist of        lighting.                                       chipped and peeling paint trim.
  An up toilet can be installed virtually any-    other ways you can easily increase the curb        ■ Check bricks and pavers for cracks: Re-       ■ Clean and polish the brass on door-
where in the home. That’s because this type       appeal of your home:                             place them and reset any that are loose.        knobs and lock housings, or replace them if
of plumbing system operates above the               ■ Remove broken toys and tools that may          ■ Patch worn or cracked asphalt or ce-        severely tarnished.
floor, using small-diameter piping to pump        have collected in the yard.                      ment in the driveway.                                             — Courtesy of ARAcontent




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8 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010




                       Outdoor rooms from top to bottom
                                                                                                                                                                 Outdoor rooms continue to be
                                                                                                                                                               rated as essential by homeowners,
                                                                                                                                                               given they are extensions of interi-
                                                                                                                                                               ors and add real estate value.
                                                                                                                                                                 Yet, designing outdoor living
                                                                                                                                                               areas comes with its share of chal-
                                                                                                                                                               lenges.
                                                                                                                                                                 Understanding the basics from
                                                                                                                                                               the ground up simplifies the
                                                                                                                                                               process.
                                                                                                                                                                 The patio is more than a hard
                                                                                                                                                               surface.
                                                                                                                                                                 It can serve as the outdoor
                                                                                                                                                               room’s focal point around which
                                                                                                                                                               other materials and features are
                                                                                                                                                               styled.
                                                                                                                                                                 The textures and shapes of stone
                                                                                                                                                               flooring can lend a dimensional
                                                                                                                                                               feel, while a deck’s color allows it
                                                                                                                                                               to contrast or blend with the envi-
                                                                                                                                                               ronment.
                                                                                                                                                                 When planning the floor, spac-
                                                                                                                          photos courtesy of Family Features   ing is the most important compo-
PERGOLAS offer a focal point to create a great outdoor area that adds extra living space and value to your home.                                               nent.
                                                                                                                                                                 Determining up front if a dining
                                                                                                                                                               area or outdoor kitchen is desired,

                   SPRING WINDOW                                                                                                                               and how many people the space
                                                                                                                                                               will accommodate are key consid-
                                                                                                                                                               erations. The patio should be

                   & DOOR SPECIAL!
                                                                                                                                                               planned to house these installa-
                                                                                                                                                               tions.
                                                                                                          Creative Landscape                                     Patios, along with outdoor
                                                                                                                                                               structures, provide exterior spaces
                                                                                                          Design & Installation                                with foundational dimensions
                                                                                                                                                               and protected placements for fur-
                                                                                                                                                               niture and accessories.
                                                                                                                   ...By DAVE MILSOP                             “Foundations delineate the
                                                                                                                                                               room and establish the space that
                                                                                            ...also offering complete landscape                                belongs to the room, and that
                                                                                         maintenance and weekly mowing services.                               which does not,” says Sarah Kin-
                                                                                                                                                               bar, editor of Garden Design mag-
                                                                                            FREE DESIGN WITH INSTALLATION!                                     azine, a leading outdoor design
                                                                                                                                                               publication.
             OUR ALREADY                                                                             Dave Milsop - Owner                                         “Edges and boundaries created
             LOW FACTORY                                                                                                                                       by foundations are the outdoor’s
                                                                                                  OFFICE 724-349-6495
                                                       Special applies to all windows
            DIRECT PRICES!                           and patio doors with Low-E glass.                                                                         answer to walls.”
                                                                                                   CELL 724-388-5056                                             When adding an outdoor struc-
                                                                                                                                                               ture, a homeowner should first de-
          • DOUBLE-HUNG WINDOWS                                                                                                                                cide where in the landscape to
                                                                                                                                                               place it, keeping in mind views
          • SLIDING WINDOWS                              H U R RY !                                                                                            from interior windows, sunlight,
          • CASEMENT WINDOWS
          • PICTURE WINDOWS
          • GARDEN WINDOWS
                                                        OFFER ENDS SOON!
                                                                                           PATRONS’ MUTUAL                                                     and proximity to the home.
                                                                                                                                                                 The outdoor living area should
                                                                                                                                                               be designed like any interior, im-


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                                                                                                                                                               plementing function and cohesive
                                                                                                                                                               style.
          • AWNING WINDOWS                                                                                                                                       Outdoor fabrics and accessories
          • PATIO DOORS                                                                                                                                        should reveal personality while
          • BOW & BAY WINDOWS                                                             Providing the public with personal service                           adopting juxtaposed colors, tex-
                                                                                                                                                               tures and lines that translate easi-
                                                                                            and affordable costs for property and                              ly, as if the interior naturally ex-
                                                                                                                                                               tends outdoors.
                         Gorell Windows &
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                         Doors—2004 to 2010                                                                                                                    rooms have always existed; they
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                         Sustained Excellence
                         Award winner.                                                                                                                         that make these spaces as livable
  VISIT OUR SHOWROOM                                                                                                                                           as indoor rooms.
  1380 Wayne Avenue
  Indiana, PA 15701                                                                                                                                                — Courtesy of Family Features
  724-465-1843 or
  877-946-7355
                         HOURS: Mon.-Fri. 7am-6pm
                                Sat. 9am-3pm                   www.gorelloutlet.com         647 Phila. Street • 724-465-4922                                          and Walpole Woodworkers
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                                                                                                                                Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 9




 Outdoor spaces can be the bonus buyers want
   Many would-be home sellers are
concerned about reduced housing
prices, and those who are highly
motivated are pulling out all the
stops to make their homes more
appealing than the competition.
   If you’re preparing to sell this
spring but aren’t in a position to
invest in ambitious renovations,
such as a kitchen remodel or new
hardwood floors, the best advice is
to look to the “bonus” spaces in
and around your home and maxi-
mize their appeal.
   Decks, patios, sunrooms and
porches have always been popular
with home buyers, but real estate
agents say that too often those
spaces are neglected or not used to
their best advantage.
   “Anything that adds living space
adds value, and the least expensive
way to gain space is to build a deck
or turn the one you have into an         DECKS, patios, sunrooms and porches offer a bonus living space that could put your home above the competition.
outdoor room by staging it so that
it flows seamlessly with the rest of
the house,” says Mary Beth Harri-                23 Years of Quality Personal Service
son of The Harrison Group, a Dal-                                                                                   Always Affordable Water
las-based real estate agency.
   “A great deck can set your home
apart from others with the same
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10 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010




                                 How to buy a foreclosed home
   With the downturn in the econo-        tate owned by the lender), accord-                                                                               lenders have turned to selling
my over the past two years, hun-          ing to FindLaw.com, a leading on-                                                                                properties through heavily adver-
dreds of thousands of homes have          line resource for legal information,                                                                             tised public auctions in which
gone into foreclosure, offering a         and are owned by the lending in-                                                                                 dozens or sometimes hundreds of
unique, once-in-a-lifetime oppor-         stitution or government agency                                                                                   properties are sold in one or two
tunity for many Americans to buy          that backed the mortgage. For one                                                                                days. The Federal Housing Admin-
a home at an unheard of price,            reason or another, the owner failed                                                                              istration (FHA) has sold foreclosed
sometimes 30 percent or more off          to make payments on the loan and                                                                                 properties through local auctions
the most recent sale price.               the lender foreclosed on the prop-                                                                               for many years, typically an-
   Buying a home is always a chal-        erty (repossessed it).                                                                                           nounced in the classified sections
lenge. Buying a foreclosed home             Banks and other home-lending                                                                                   of local newspapers. Potential
presents unique challenges, how-          institutions are not in the business                                                                             buyers submit bids on the day of
ever. You need to be willing to           of owning property. They’re in the                                                                               the auction, accompanied by a
hunt, put up with lenders who             business of making money on the                                                                                  certified check for a percentage of
offer surprisingly little information     money they lend. So it’s in their                                                                                the bid price. The highest bidder
about the properties they’ve taken        best interest to sell a foreclosed                                                                               usually gets the home.
back, real estate agents who have         property, and they are often anx-                                                                                   Buying a foreclosed property can
little experience or incentive in         ious to do so. Properties of all                                                                                 be risky if you are not familiar with
selling foreclosed homes, and loan        types, including single-family                                                                                   the procedures involved. Such a
officers who demand nearly per-           homes and condominiums, can be         PROPERTIES of all types can be foreclosed                                 sale may not include the safe-
fect credit ratings to obtain a loan      foreclosed. Depending upon local       agents who specialize in REO           county sheriff.                    guards that are present in a tradi-
in today’s tight-fisted market.           regulations and traditions, some       properties, while other institutions     Because of the volume of fore-   tional sale, such as a lender and a
   Foreclosed properties are typi-        lending institutions will sell their   will sell foreclosed properties        closed homes currently on the      title insurance company.
cally referred to as REOs (real es-       properties through real estate         through auctions conducted by a        market, a growing number of                 Continued on Page 11




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                                                                                                                                      Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 11




          Fast fixes add value to foreclosed homes
  The high volume of foreclosed         ADD NEW COUNTERTOPS                       REPLACE THE BATHTUB                     homes that have been left bare for
homes on the market is allowing           The kitchen is one of the most            Foreclosed houses frequently          extended periods. To get rid of hid-
some astute buyers to turn eye-         important rooms in any home,              come with water stains left by          den odors, allergens, irritants and
sores into eye-catching properties      since it is a space where people          standing water in sinks, toilets and    mold, replace carpet with wood,
with only minimal investment.           spend a lot of time — from cook-          bathtubs. Updating a bathroom by        particularly in high-traffic areas
While not every property can be         ing dinner to entertaining friends.       installing a new bathtub not only       such as living rooms and great
fixed up affordably, there are some     One of the most dramatic changes          removes the problem, but, be-           rooms. Swapping carpet for wood
common projects that dramatical-        that can be made to a kitchen is          cause the tub is a core item, it cre-   adds style and creates a more spa-
ly improve a foreclosed home’s ap-      adding new countertops.                   ates a more pleasant feeling in the     cious feel. The choice of wood can
peal and value.                                                                   room. Bathtubs are available in         also make a big difference. Light
                                          It alters the appearance of the
  “Many people are finding huge                                                   many different styles and sizes, so     wood colors can make a room ap-
opportunities in fixing up foreclo-     space by changing the color                                                       pear larger, medium-toned woods
                                        scheme, depth and texture of the          there is likely to be one that suits
sures,” says Tom Sullivan, founder                                                any taste, from traditional to con-     can make a room appear more tra-
of Lumber Liquidators, the na-          whole room.                                                                       ditional and dark flooring can
                                                                                  temporary. Bathtubs start at
tion’s largest specialty retailer of      Countertops range in price de-                                                  make a room appear warmer.
                                                                                  around $300, depending on the
hardwood flooring. “Most of these       pending on room size, type of ma-                                                 Laminate flooring can deliver the
                                                                                  size and style.
houses can be completely trans-         terial and mode of installation. In                                               appearance of solid hardwoods,
formed with just a few improve-         an average kitchen, a new lami-                                                   but costs less than $1 per square
ments. Often, the fixes are easy        nate countertop starts at around          TRADE CARPETING                         foot at places like Lumber Liquida-
enough to be do-it-yourself proj-       $1,000, with granite or quartz            FOR NEW WOOD FLOORING                   tors. This allows do-it-yourselfers
ects.”                                  ranging from $3,000 to $6,000.              Foreclosed houses are frequently      the ability to transform a 400-
  Here are some cost-effective op-      Butcher-block countertops are an-         abandoned with soiled carpet that       square-foot area for as little as        ADDING wood flooring will get rid
tions for breathing new life into a     other attractive, yet cost-effective      continues to gather buildup over        $750.                                    of any hidden odors in old
home.                                   option.                                   time. Mold is also common in                      — Courtesy of ARAcontent       carpets.


 How to buy a                                         Keeping Homes Safe Since 1978                                         ZADRAVEC
foreclosed home                                                                                                             CONTRACTING
      Continued from Page 10
SOME OTHER TIPS
   ■ Not all foreclosed properties
are good deals. It seems like fore-
closed properties are everywhere
these days; however, not every
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                                                                                                                                1170-C Wayne Ave., Indiana


                                                                                                                            Spring Sale!
                                                                                                                           ON INTERIOR & EXTERIOR REMODELING
                                                                                                                           ON INTERIOR & EXTERIOR REMODELING
property is a smart purchase.
Search for a foreclosed property as                                                                                              Sign a contract with us now,
                                                                                                         • CLEANING
                                                                                                                                 and we’ll remodel your home
if you were buying a home in a hot                          GAS LOGS - FIREPLACES                        • REPAIRS
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neighborhoods that you really                             WOODSTOVES - PELLET STOVES                     • CHIMNEY               You must have a contract with
want to live in, then get in your car                            EDEN PURE                                 CAPS                  us by April 30 for this sale price.
and drive through the neighbor-
hood looking for properties that
aren’t kept up as well as neighbor-
ing properties.
   ■ Find an experienced real es-
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states have different laws and reg-                            Keep Your Dollars HERE!                                                                                             HomeProtector
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sult with a real estate attorney                                           • MUSHROOM MANURE • TOP SOIL                                                                            features, it is the
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   ■ Check the assessor’s office.                                        • SAND & GRAVEL • DECORATIVE STONE                                                                        spirit that has


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          — Courtesy of ARAcontent        1 Mi. N. of the YMCA on Ben Franklin Rd. N       We Deliver                                           email mechlingins@comcast.net
12 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010




Simple staging steps can up a home’s appeal
           By MELISSA RAYWORTH                       making your home market-ready          best but they also know the proper                                                                CLEAN AND FRESH
            For The Associated Press                 on a budget:                           styling to suggest a room’s use.”                                                                   “I see fingerprints on white
                                                                                                                                                                                              doors all the time,” Carendi says of
   It’s a question all homeowners                    OUTSIDE HELP                           FIRST IMPRESSIONS                                                                                 homes that are for sale.
face when they decide to sell: How                     “Always listen to the professional     A good first impression won’t                                                                     Clean as thoroughly as you can,
can you make your home as ap-                        you’re hiring to sell your home,”      guarantee a sale, but a bad one can                                                               perhaps hiring a cleaning service
pealing to potential buyers as pos-                  Carendi says. “The agent has so        scuttle it, says Mathison: “If the                                                                for one or two visits. Pay attention
sible? In today’s market, that ques-                 much experience, and he or she         entry way is blase, that can set a                                                                to doors, baseboards, light switch
tion has become even more cru-                       can see the potential of the home      precedent for the rest of the                                                                     plates, ceiling fans and windows.
cial.                                                and how they want to market it.”       house.”                                                                                           Clean all appliances, especially
   “It really depends how much                         Some owners hire a staging com-        Outside, she says, clean thor-                                                                  older ones, so they sparkle.
your home is worth,” says New                        pany to redecorate their home          oughly and “pay close attention to                                                                  Then take a good look around
York-based interior designer Ja-                     specifically to appeal to buyers. A    the front door. You want it freshly                                                               and consider minor repairs or re-
nine Carendi. “Is it in move-in                      cool twist on that idea: Flynn sug-    painted or stained.” Keep the lawn                                                                painting.
condition, and will buyers expect                    gests hiring a photo stylist (a re-    trimmed, if you have one, and add                   A BEAUTIFUL entry way can make                  “Anything that shows the age of
it to be?”                                           gional magazine can probably rec-      a few potted plants near the door                                                                 the home needs to be tackled,”
   Not everyone should invest in                     ommend one) to give your place a       for a look that’s “pulled together                  a great first impression.                     Carendi says. “You don’t want peo-
fancy upgrades and fresh coats of                    fresh look.                            but not overdone.”                                  suggests using furniture to “create           ple noticing a water stain. The
paint, she says. But all homeown-                      “Home stagers are all the rage         Inside, consider touchup paint-                   the sense that you’re walking into            problem might have already been
ers can benefit from reorganizing                    right now,” Flynn says, “but maga-     ing in the entryway, and add a mir-                 the area where you decompress.”               fixed, but the person sees it and
and beautification.                                  zine photo stylists are the masters    ror if the area doesn’t get much                    Add a bench near the door and a               says, ‘Oh my goodness.’”
   Carendi and fellow designers                      at turning spaces into cover shots     natural light. If the front door leads              console where someone could                     Other details: Bunches of fresh
Mallory Mathison and Brian                           packed with ‘wow’ factor. They not     directly into your living room                      drop their keys and mail on arriv-            mint or rosemary can freshen air
Patrick Flynn offer some tips on                     only make the rooms look their         without a foyer or vestibule, Flynn                 ing home.                                             Continued on Page 13




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                                                                                                                                                                    Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 13


  Simple staging
  steps can up a                                    Get rid of excess to stage your home
                                               By ROSEMARY SADEZ FRIEDMANN                         a sale or staging for clutter                                                                       staging for yourself, family pic-
  home’s appeal                                     Scripps Howard News Service                    cleanup, a nice, fresh paint job
                                                                                                   will start the project nicely.
                                                                                                                                                                                                       tures are great. You could even put
                                                                                                                                                                                                       them in coordinating frames and
       Continued from Page 12                 Some people “stage” their                               What about the floors? Is the                                                                    arrange them nicely on the wall.
naturally, says Mathison, and a             homes for selling purposes, while                      floor covering in good condition?                                                                     There was a time when all
vase of flowers is always welcome.          others “stage” just to make their                      Take carpet, for example. Does it                                                                   model homes had theme rooms,
For a quick facelift: Lightly sand          homes more attractive. Why?                            need to be professionally cleaned                                                                   such as beach themes or hunting
the frames around your windows,             Staging your home means simpli-                        or restretched to get rid of those                                                                  themes. It was the thought that
then add a coat or two of white             fying it, getting rid of excess.                       bumps? If the floor is tile, is the                                                                 when visiting these model homes,
paint, Carendi says.                          But there are two types of stag-                     grout in need of professional                                                                       the prospective buyer would feel
                                            ing: One is for the purpose of sell-                   cleaning? If the floor is wood, does                                                                comfortable in a setting that com-
CLEAR THE WAY                               ing your home; the other is for the                    it need to be stripped and repol-                                                                   plemented their interests.
  Banishing clutter is crucial: Un-         purpose of cleaning house. Let’s                       ished? What about the baseboards                                                                      However, today, themes are
cluttered rooms feel larger, and            compare the two.                                       and all the wood trim? Are there                                                                    rather outre; it is better to have an
buyers will have an easier time en-           Staging starts with assessing                        nicks that need to be puttied and                                                                   unthemed room that is well-ap-
visioning their own belongings in           each room critically. What’s there                     fixed? A paint job will do wonders                     SIMPLE artwork and paint will                pointed, simple and tastefully ac-
the space. Spend a weekend clear-           that is necessary and what is su-                      here, too. A clean background and                      appeal to many buyers.                       cessorized if you are trying to sell
ing off countertops and purging             perfluous? Starting with the walls,                    base will always give you a fresh                                                                   the house. If you have rooms that
the home of anything you don’t              are they clean? Perhaps a new wall                     start.                                                 powers it. This works whether you            are themed and selling is the ob-
want or need.                               color or wallpaper is needed.                             Getting back to the walls, be                       are staging for sale or staging for          ject, it’s time to untheme the
  Box up offseason clothes and              Though it does take some time                          sure to get rid of excess artwork or                   your own use. If you’re staging for          room.
put them in storage — your clos-            and some work, repainting the                          hangings. Simple is better as long                     sale, remove personal pictures                 With spring cleaning around the
ets will look bigger and part of the        walls will do wonders to refresh a                     as what is on the wall fits the                        from the walls and use only art-             corner anyway, staging should be
packing will be done when it’s              room. Whether you are staging for                      space and enhances it, not over-                       work that fits the decor. If you’re          both a fun and necessary project.
time to move. Put extraneous fur-



                                           IN STOCK SALE
niture in temporary storage or
lend it to a friend.                                                                                                                                            WE HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO HELP
  Also, says Mathison, remove
anything you’re sure you don’t                                                                                                                                   YOU GET THE JOB DONE RIGHT!

                                                            SAVE 25-65%
want to part with. Got some vin-
tage light fixtures or beloved furni-
ture?
                                                                                                                                                           Concrete                    Supplies
  “Take that out of the equation, if
you can’t part with it,” she says, “so         HEAVY                          NO WAX                              VINYL &                                  Products                    •
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                                                                                               $
                                                                                                119sq.ft.                SAVE UP TO                                            Equipment
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                                                                 sq.                                      sq.                                                                  • excavating • demolitions
FROM THE EQUATION                                                 ft.                                     ft.
                                                                                                                                                                               • ground clearing • foundations
   “It’s kind of a rule to take out                       Reg. Price
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two-thirds of your personal                                $
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room, these designers say. The             54
                                          years.         26 W. Market St., Blairsville •   724-459-9350   Mon 9-7; Tues, Thurs & Fri 9-5; Wed & Sat 9-1    LANDSCAPING, SUPPLIES & EXCAVATING                     724-463-0344
space is clean, comfortable and
stylish, but also something of a
blank canvas. A home that’s for            WHY

                                          RENT OWN? Yes you can!
sale should have that sensibility.
   To help buyers envision them-
selves living there, repaint boldly
                                                                                   WHEN YOU
colored walls a more neutral color.                                                CAN
Flynn suggests a pale gray — it’s
more interesting than plain white,
but still neutral.
                                                      BUY YOUR
                                                    • First Time Home Buyer Program
   Remove any furniture or art that
is really distinctive (“Stick with
                                                    • ZERO Money Down = 100% Financing
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landscapes,” Flynn advises) and                       (based on appraised value)                                                                                    •Cheaper than Renting
replace unique window treat-                        • No Mortgage Insurance
ments with simple, solid-color                                                       • Min. 620 Credit Score                                                       •Call for Information on
draperies.                                                                             on Purchases                                                                    Mortgage Rates!
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sensibility out of the space can be                  164 Philadelphia Street           Available
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uncomfortable, says Carendi, but                                                     • Refinancing
                                                      Office: 724-464-2274                                                                                                           Visit one of our offices or check online at
it’s vital: “Don’t think about it as                                                 • Investment Property
your home anymore. It is not your                      Cell: 724-422-3668
                                                                                     • FREE                                                                                                 www.northwood.com or call
home. It is now a piece of property                Email: admtg@comcast.net
you have, an asset you’re trying to             Licensed by PA Department of Banking   Pre-Qualification                                                                                  Indiana Office: 724-349-8040
sell at the highest price possible.”
                                                        Call Ron Markle at American Dream Mortgage                                                                                     Blairsville Office: 724-459-6770
14 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010




            Selling points to stand out in the crowd
       By B. BUCKBERRY JOYCE              manager for Lowe’s in St. Peters-         bath remodel can add a lot of          says. Other quick fixes: Update          people feel safe and secure.”
          St. Petersburg Times            burg.                                     value to a home, it also can cost a    countertops and light fixtures, re-
                                            If you’re soon to put your house        lot. Instead, pick a smaller job       pair grout lines or add a linen          KEEP IT CLEAN
  Standing out in a crowd can be          on the market or just want to             that will resonate with buyers.        shower curtain.                            Pressure-wash your home and
good (you were voted prom king!)          freshen up the home you have                “If you don’t have money for a                                                your fence (you may even find
and bad (you wore your crown to           here are some quick and relative-         full kitchen or bathroom remod-        LIGHTEN UP                               out you don’t need to paint after
a job interview).                         ly inexpensive projects.                  el, replace just the faucets or          “Replace old, outdated light fix-      all). “A lot of times people knock
  When it comes to selling a                                                        sinks,” Stocks says. Brushed nick-     tures for a great, inexpensive           the dust and the mold and
home, standing out is essential,          PICK A PAINT                              el and oil-rubbed bronze finishes      facelift,” Caramello says. “A new        mildew off and it looks better,”
especially in a depressed real es-           “Repaint your home,” Stocks            are popular choices.                   light fixture can take an ’80s           Stocks says. “It brightens it up a
tate market.                              says.                                       Another option, says Caramel-        house and make it look more like         lot.”
  With a flood of homes avail-               “It takes a little bit of time and a   lo: “Granite, granite, granite! The    a house for the 2010s. Dome ceil-
able, buyers can afford to be             little bit of effort and it can pay off   prices have gone down so low           ing in the kitchen? Remove it and        LOVE YOUR LANDSCAPE
choosy, and small deficiencies            big.” Realtor Janet Caramello of          that it is a great investment to put   put in overhead can lighting.              A lot of inexpensive projects
easily overlooked when the mar-           St. Petersburg agrees but adds,           in granite for kitchen counter-        You’ll need an electrician and           can boost the oh-so-important
ket was hot can become deal-              “Never paint a home white; it will        tops.”                                 maybe someone to do drywall              curb appeal.
breakers.                                 be too cold and is not appealing            You can outfit an average-sized      and could cost $1,000 to $2,000,           Weed the yard and add mulch
  That sagging backyard fence             to buyers. Pick a neutral color:          kitchen with solid granite or          but it will pay off with a higher        for starters.
you’ve been meaning to get to?            pale yellow, sage green, light            granite squares for about $2,000       offer.”                                    Flowers are a quick way to add
Now’s the time.                           taupe.”                                   to $4,000, she says.                     Pay attention to exterior light-       color, and “heartier colored
  Been putting off the pressure-                                                      In the bathroom, “take down          ing as well, Stocks says.                plants are better than flowering
washing? “Cleanliness leads to a          SWAP IT OUT                               those medicine cabinets and re-          “Having a good front door light        plants in most cases for longevi-
closing,” says Steve Stocks, store           While a full-scale kitchen or          place with framed mirrors,” she        and some motion lights makes             ty,” Caramello says.




                                                                                                                             A home’s new owner should
                                                                                                                              ask the seller for lowdown
                                                                                                                              By MELISSA KOSSLER DUTTON                “It’s unfortunate if a buyer does-
                                                                                                                                  For The Associated Press          n’t have access to a seller to explain
                                                                                                                                                                    things,” he said.
                                                                                                                             After house-hunting, negotiat-            Typically, the amount of infor-
                                                                                                                           ing a price and working out details      mation exchanged depends on the
                                                                                                                           of his move, Patrick O’Leary was         character of the negotiations,
                                                                                                                           ready to tackle the real work: un-       Phipps said. Falling home prices
                                                                                                                           derstanding and operating the            and tough negotiations in recent
                                                                                                                           various mechanical systems in his        years have made some sellers less
                                                                                                                           new, 6,000-square-foot home.             likely to provide additional details,
                                                                                                                             He was relieved when the former        he said.
                                                                                                                           owner offered to meet him at the            Real estate agent Gregg Whitney
DEBNAR'S POOLS & SPAS                                                                                                                                               has found it easier to provide buy-
                                                                                                                           East Greenwich, R.I., house to go
10 YOUR HOME debnar's                                                                                                      over its theater equipment, sprin-       ers with information about con-
63501210                                                                                                                   kler system and pool. The seller         tractors and home professionals
                                                                                                                           left O’Leary a list of companies         himself than to rely on sellers.
Class:_ROP 4                                                                                                               and contractors who have worked             “We realized we could make sure
art#:63501210P                                                                                                             on the home in recent years.             they’re taken care of,” said Whit-
                                                                                                                             “They put all the bells and whis-      ney, of La Jolla, Calif. “It’s really im-
3 X 6.50                                                                                                                   tles in this house. It would have        portant to have somebody you can
                                                                                                                           been difficult to just walk in and       call and get questions answered.”
                                                                                                                           understand everything,” he said.            But nothing can replace seller
                                                                                                                           “It definitely gives a comfort level.”   insights, he added.
                                                                                                                             No law obligates sellers to help          “Invariably, every house has a lit-
                                                                                                                           buyers learn the idiosyncrasies of       tle something,” he said. “It’s not
                                                                                                                           a house, but some go to great            that the seller didn’t disclose
                                                                                                                           lengths to help the new owners           something, it’s just how the me-
                                                                                                                           settle in. Buyers should ask about       chanics work.”
                                                                                                                           everything from the day-to-day              That’s why it never hurts to ask
                                                                                                                           operations of the house to land-         sellers for information, said
                                                                                                                           scaping details to the names of          Donna Batdorff, a real estate agent
                                                                                                                           neighborhood baby sitters, said          in Grand Rapids, Mich. She en-
                                                                                                                           real estate agent Ron Phipps.            courages buyers to put together a
                                                                                                                             “There’s so much data you can          list of questions after the deal has
                                                                                                                           collect,” said Phipps, who sells real    been negotiated.
                                                                                                                           estate in Warwick, R.I., and is first       She suggests asking everything
                                                                                                                           vice president of the Chicago-           from the names of paint colors to
                                                                                                                           based National Association of Re-        the names and details of immedi-
                                                                                                                           altors.                                            Continued on Page 15
                                                                                                                            Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 15




      New owner should ask seller for lowdown
       Continued from Page 14           don’t know.”
ate neighbors.
  Batdorff even asks sellers to fill
                                          She recently oversaw a meeting
                                        where a buyer walked the new           Some questions that home buyers should ask sellers
out a form during closing offering      owner around the home’s mean-
information about garbage pick-         dering property line, pointed out                                            The Associated Press
up, appliance warranties and ven-       interesting varieties of trees and
dors who have worked on the             shared the location of a generator       ■ Are any appliances under warranty?
house.                                  hookup.                                  ■ Do you have product manuals for appliances?
  The document often leads to the         The seller also gave the owner a       ■ Can you provide a landscape plan or a list of outdoor plants and how to care for them?
exchange of additional useful in-       lesson on how to operate the ther-       ■ What are the names and phone numbers of immediate neighbors?
formation, she said.                    mostat and a tip on how to start a       ■ Are there children living on the street?
  “Buyers and sellers don’t do this     balky dishwasher.                        ■ Where is the school bus stop?
all the time,” she said. “It helps if     Scull still remembers when she         ■ What day is trash pickup?
the real estate agent facilitates the   was 13 and received a nice house-        ■ What do I do with recyclables?
conversation.”                          warming present from the girl who        ■ What are your favorite restaurants, video stores and parks?
  Sellers who are sentimental           moved out of the house her family        ■ Can you recommend a dry cleaner, mechanic, etc.?
about their home often appreciate       moved into.                              ■ What companies did you use for lawn care, snow removal, pool cleaning, etc.?
the chance to share details, added        “She drew up a map that listed         ■ Is there an electrician, plumber or technician familiar with the systems in the house?
Judi Scull, a real estate agent in      where all the cute boys in the           ■ What are the names of the paint colors used in the house?
Westminster, Md.                        neighborhood lived,” Scull re-           ■ Are there any light switches that operate something unexpected?
  “A lot of times people just love      called.
their house,” she said. “They don’t       “It really helped me feel good
want to give it up to people they       and fit in.”




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                                                                  140 Old Route 119 Hwy. South, Indiana, PA




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16 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010



                                                                            Education is key
                                                                            when considering
                                                                            home ownership
                                                                           Buying a home is one of the         cate yourself on the differences
                                                                        biggest decisions and commit-          between fixed- and variable-rate
                                                                        ments one will ever make, yet          products,” advises Copley. “Then,
                                                                        many people are not nearly as fa-      talk with your lender about the im-
                                                                        miliar with the ins and outs of the    pacts these products could have
                                                                        mortgage process as they are with      on your financial situation; doing
                                                                        their favorite TV show or sports       so will build more trust between
                                                                        team. Taking time to educate           you and your lender as well as
                                                                        yourself will go a long way in eas-    confidence in your own ability to
                                                                        ing the stress of buying a home        understand the product and repay
                                                                        and preparing you for the respon-      the loan in a timely manner.”
                                                                        sibilities of home ownership.            Finally, keep an eye out for spe-
                                                                           “Low rates, combined with sta-      cial programs and unique oppor-
                                                                        bilizing home prices, are creating     tunities.
                                                                        buying opportunities for those           When applying for a mortgage,
                                                                        who qualify,” says Michael Copley,     don’t underestimate the other
                                                                        retail lending senior vice president   costs of home ownership. In addi-
                                                                        of TD Bank. “But before you buy,       tion to the mortgage process,
                                                                        do as much research as possible —      there are taxes, homeowners in-
                                                                        research lenders, know the prod-       surance, closings costs — which
                                                                        ucts and make sure you under-          include home inspection and ap-
                                                                        stand the costs associated with        praisal and attorney fees — and
                                                                        home ownership.”                       your down payment. There are
                                                                           Your lender may be your most        also costs associated with home
                                                                        valuable partner in the home pur-      ownership that you may not have
                                                                        chasing process. When searching        had when renting, such as paying
                                                                        for a lender, find one you’re com-     for your own repairs on the home
                                                                        fortable with and who’s looking        and certain utilities that may have
                                                                        out for you. Your lender should be     previously been included in your
                                                                        able to educate you, explain things    rent. The mortgage-qualifying
                                                                        well and provide accurate, quick       process factors these expenses in,
                                                                        answers to your questions so that      but you can’t rely on your lender
                                                                        you can make smart borrowing           for determining your expenses.
                                                                        decisions. Some institutions even      Create a budget of your expenses
                                                                        offer educational seminars to pre-     so you can truly understand what
                                                                        pare you for home ownership.           you can afford and what your fi-
                                                                        Also, consider a lender who is able    nancial situation will be when
                                                                        to make lending decisions locally.     owning a home.
                                                                                                                         — Courtesy of ARAcontent
                                                                        It will help you develop a stronger
                                                                        relationship with your lender and
                                                                        ensure you’re not just another
                                                                        number.
                                                                           Today, many banks sell their
                                                                        mortgages on the secondary mar-
                                                                        ket to improve the bank’s overall
                                                                        liquidity. A lender that does not
                                                                        sell its mortgages can offer certain
                                                                        advantages.
                                                                           “Working with a lending institu-
                                                                        tion that doesn’t sell its mortgages
                                                                        provides a pricing advantage. Ad-
                                                                        ditionally, there is an opportunity
                                                                        to modify the interest rate, instead
                                                                        of having to refinance, which ulti-
                                                                        mately saves you time and
                                                                        money,” explains Copley.
                                                                           In addition to researching
                                                                        lenders, it’s important to under-
                                                                        stand the various products and
                                                                        programs in the market. When                        photo courtesy of ARAcontent
                                                                        choosing a mortgage, you need to       TAKING TIME to educate yourself
                                                                        know how it works and how it will
                                                                        impact your financial situation.       will go a long way in easing the
                                                                           “Do your own research to edu-       stress of buying a home.
                                                                                                                                    Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 17




 Understanding credit for home-buying success
   With many signs pointing to the      KNOW WHAT’S ON                           count was opened and your pay-
beginnings of a recovery in the         YOUR CREDIT REPORT                       ment history for each. If you’ve
housing market, potential home            Your credit report is the other        been involved in court action like
buyers can still find plenty of se-     major piece of information a             bankruptcy or monetary judg-
lection, low prices and low interest    lender will consider when decid-         ments, this information will likely
rates. If you’re thinking of buying a   ing whether to give you a mortgage       appear on your report as well.
home, now might be the right            loan. Your credit report is basically      Your report will also show past
time, but before you contact a real     a summary of your financial be-          requests for your credit reports
estate agent or apply for a mort-       havior, including how you’ve used        (inquiries) that might come from
gage, your top priority should be       credit in the past and how well you      lenders, insurers, employers or
checking your credit report to see      manage repaying debt. The infor-         stores. Too many inquiries on your
if your credit is in good shape.        mation on your report comes from         report might make potential
   Credit — specifically misuse and     creditors, public records and other      lenders think you are trying to
misunderstanding of credit —            reliable sources, which report it to     overspend, so think carefully be-
spurred the housing crisis, many        the credit bureaus through auto-         fore applying for new credit; in-
experts agree. The consequences         mated processes. Credit reports          quiries stay on your report for two
have included tighter standards         generally include personal data          years. Buying a home is likely the
from lenders and the need for bor-      such as variations on your name,         largest investment you’ll ever
rowers to better understand how         your driver’s license number, So-        make — one that will impact your
to use credit wisely.                   cial Security number, birth date,        credit for many years to come.
   Interest rates remain low and        current and past employers, and            It pays to understand credit, re-
those with good credit will be bet-     current and past addresses.              view your report and know your
ter positioned to take advantage of       You’ll also find a listing of your     score.                                                                                         photo courtesy of ARAcontent
the opportunities currently avail-      credit accounts, when each ac-                     — Courtesy of ARAcontent      HOME BUYERS can still find great deals in the housing market.
able in this unique housing mar-
ket. A good credit report and score
can open doors for you in the real           STOREWIDE                                                                    32 Years Of Paving A More Beautiful Indiana County
estate world, and empower you to                            Special Pricing
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sible loan.
                                                                                Mon.-Thurs.                                                                         Proud Member of the
UNDERSTANDING YOUR                                                              9am-5pm                                                                          Indiana-Armstrong Builders
SCORE AND WHAT IT MEANS                                                            Fri.                                                                                                      PA006111
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                                                                                                                          SHARP PAVING
   Lenders consider your credit                                                                                                                                 RT. 422, SHELOCTA
score and your current credit re-                   SIXTH STREET, CLYMER          Sat.
port when deciding whether                           724-254-2400               9am-1pm
you’re a good credit risk. Your cred-
it score is a number generated by
using statistical models that factor
                                         WORKING ON A
in elements from your credit re-
port. The number can change
when information on your credit
                                                                            PROJECT?
                                                                           WE’VE GOT
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report changes and it’s calculated
at the time a lender requests a
copy of your credit report. Differ-
ent lenders may use different scor-
ing methods, so your score may           WHY BUY SOMETHING YOU’LL ONLY USE ONCE?                                         MUSSER FORESTS, INC.
vary from lender to lender.                                                                                              10 YOUR HOME musser
   Because credit scores are objec-
tive and are based on the informa-
tion in your credit report, they are
fairer than the old opinion-based
                                         RENT IT!                                                                        63501209
                                                                                                                         Class:_ROP 4
                                                                                                                         art#:63501209P
ways of determining a person’s risk
level. Your score is a prediction of                                                                                     2 X 3.25
your likelihood to repay debt re-
sponsibly, based on your past
credit history and current credit
status.
   Before you begin contacting po-      245 Franklin Street, Clymer, PA
tential lenders, check out your                                                    HOURS: Monday-Friday 8-5pm
credit report.                            Phone: 724-254-2100              Saturday 8am-1pm • Closed Sunday & Holidays
18 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010




                                                                                                Home inspections can
                                                                                               help you sell your home
                                                                                            When you’re ready to sell your        pair costs, adds value to the home,     sessments and pool and spa in-
                                                                                          home in the current market, you         and it could increase the likeli-       spections. The current housing
                                                                                          need to take every step you can to      hood of an offer.”                      market requires a proactive ap-
                                                                                          ensure a timely sale at the price         Even if someone in your family is     proach to selling, and to get the re-
                                                                                          you want. A surplus of homes for        handy, a professional home in-          sult you want, you have to think
                                                                                          sale means that yours needs to          spector will be able to point out is-   about every aspect of your home.
                                                                                          stand out in style, amenities and       sues that might go unnoticed by         Having a home inspection can add
                                                                                          quality to make an impression on        someone who doesn’t know the ins        value to the property, speed up the
                                                                                          potential buyers. The more steps        and outs of inspecting. Today’s         negotiation process, increase the
                                                                                          you take to make your house sale-       buyers are quick to point out flaws     likelihood of an offer and, most
                                                                                          ready, the better results you’ll get.   uncovered by the home inspectors        importantly, help sell your home.
                                                                                            Currently, home sales are at a        they bring with them, particularly               — Courtesy of ARAcontent
                                                                                          historic low — so what do you           if the flaws could compromise
                                                                                          need to do to buck that trend? Up-      health or safety.
                                                                                          dated decor and proper staging            Buyers can use problems as bar-
                                                                                          certainly help present your home        gaining chips, causing previously
                                                                                          well, but don’t think that cosmetic     agreed upon prices to be lowered
                                                                                          fixes are all you need. Buyers want     or even the cancellation of a deal.
THE ROOF is one of the major areas covered in home inspections.                           to know the home they’re consid-        Inspections help uncover imper-
                                                                                          ering is safe and sound, and the        fections that often can be fixed
                                                                                          best way to establish that is to hire   easily and inexpensively, so it’s
                                                                                          a home inspector.                       worth it to get your home inspect-
                                                                                            Twenty years ago, it seemed ex-       ed before you list it.
                                                                                          travagant to hire a home inspector,       In addition, a good inspection
                                                                                          but today it’s standard practice.       can raise the likelihood of an offer
                                                                                          Buyers will often bring their own       being placed on your home. Buy-
                                                                                          inspectors to the table, so you         ers are looking for security. If you
                                                                                          need to start by hiring one your-       can show them your home has
                                                                                          self. Hiring a professional will give   been inspected, they’ll feel more
                                                                                          you a realistic perspective on          comfortable with it. That confi-
                                                                                          what’s going on in the bones of         dence often equates to more dol-
                                                                                          your home.                              lars in your pocket when you agree
                                                                                            “In a down market, a pre-sale in-     to the sale.
                                                                                          spection can make a home stand            The areas covered in home in-
                                                                                          out,” says David Tamny, president       spections are: the major systems
                                                                                          of the American Society of Home         and components such as the foun-
                                                                                          Inspectors. “More and more, sell-       dation, exterior siding, flashing                     photo courtesy of ARAcontent
                                                                                          ers are obtaining pre-sale inspec-      and trim, the roof, plumbing, elec-     BUYERS want to know the home
                                                                                          tions to help uncover and address       trical units, and heating and cool-     they’re considering is safe and
                                                                                          potential issues before the first       ing units.                              sound, and the best way to
                                                                                          prospective buyer walks through           In addition, some home inspec-
                                                                                          the door. This simple step allows       tors offer additional services in-      establish that is to hire a home

       Give your home new life                                                            for better planning and lowers re-      cluding radon testing, energy as-       inspector.


      with a home improvement                                                                                                              Because You Deserve It!
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                                                                                                                                                            What Y Deserve.
                                                                                                                                      Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 19




Important tools for selling
your home in tough times                                                         tion. The first place to start is to
  A few years ago, it seemed like
you could stake a “for sale” sign                                                declutter your home. Put away any
outside your home and within a                                                   personal items or items of expres-
few hours you would have multi-                                                  sion that would detract from a
ple offers. Not anymore. Today’s                                                 buyer feeling at home. A fresh coat
tough economic times mean that                                                   of paint doesn’t hurt either.
home sellers need to do their                                                         Fill out the disclosure forms.
homework, take a more assertive                                                  Some states require sellers to fill
role in marketing their home and,                                                out a long form that explicitly asks
at times, get creative to help their                                             about the seller’s knowledge of
home stand out from others that                                                  various significant or material de-
are on the market.                                                               fects that might be present in the
  Regardless of how tough the                                                    home, according to FindLaw.com.
times are, the fact remains that a                                               States vary in their requirements.
nice home, well maintained, in a                                                 Some states require sellers to dis-
desirable neighborhood and                                                       close water in the basement, leaks                                                               photo courtesy of ARAcontent
priced right will sell more quickly                                              in the roof, the use of lead-based         HOME SELLERS need to do their homework, take a more assertive role in
than a home that hasn’t been kept                                                paint, or unsafe concentrations of         marketing their home and, at times, get creative to help their home
up or hasn’t been priced according                                               radon gas. Regardless of what your         stand out from others that are on the market.
to what other homes in the neigh-                                                state requires, it’s really in the sell-
borhood would sell for. Whether                                                  er’s interest to disclose any previ-
you’re selling your home as part of                                              ous problems to reduce the risk of
downsizing your lifestyle or you’re     To get comps, visit open houses,         a lawsuit in the future by a dis-
seeking a larger home for a grow-       read classified ads (in print and        gruntled buyer.
ing family, the following steps of-     online) and check out Web sites               Advertise on the MLS. If you’re
fered by FindLaw.com, one of the        such as www.realtor.com, by the          working with a real estate agent,
nation’s leading online sources for     National Association of Realtors         the agent should help put the
real estate law, can pay dividends      (NAR).                                   property into the online Multiple
in helping you achieve a quick sale          Review actual selling prices. Of    Listing Service, and maybe in the
and a price that reaches your de-       course, list prices don’t tell you       classifieds, too. If you don’t have
sired goal.                             how much houses ultimately sell          an agent, you can take the same
      Assemble your team. Most          for — that’s the comparable data         steps yourself (one Web site,
sellers prefer to work with a real      you really need. In a hot market,        www.iggyshouse.com, allows you
estate agent or a lawyer at some        houses might go for well over list       to put your house on the MLS for
point in the process. In fact, in a     price and vice versa. A number of        free). Interested buyers can then
handful of U.S. states, a lawyer        Web sites offer such information,        make an appointment to see the
must help finalize the sale. Real es-   and you may want to carefully            house in person.
tate agents typically charge a com-     watch county Web sites that pub-               Hold an open house. Many
mission, about 6 percent, to be         lish this information for tax pur-       home sellers find open houses a
split between your agent and the        poses.                                   useful tool. They’re certainly good
buyer’s agent, if any. Lawyers nor-          Price aggressively, but not too     for bringing in the crowds. In de-
mally charge by the hour. Despite       aggressively. As the seller, of course   ciding when to hold an open
the costs, experienced, responsi-       you would like to get every nickel       house, look for opportunities
ble professionals can ultimately        out of selling your home. The bal-       when your area attracts a large
save you time, money and aggra-         ancing act is finding the right price    number of people from surround-
vation.                                 where you don’t have to cut it mul-      ing areas, such as a neighborhood
      Conduct a pre-inspection.         tiple times to trigger an offer, or a    or citywide festival or sporting
Many states require a home in-          price that is so low that a potential    event.
spection report as part of a disclo-    buyer might think there’s some-               Be prepared to negotiate. Be-
sure form before placing a home         thing wrong with it.                     cause there are more sellers than
on the market. To make sure your              Go to open houses. Sellers         buyers in most markets, buyers
home passes the test, hire a third-     need to understand what other            currently have more leverage in
party home inspector to conduct a       sellers are doing and offering to        negotiating. Be prepared to re-
pre-inspection of your home to          sell their homes for. The best way       spond to a range of concessions,
help you make necessary repairs         to do that is to go to as many open      from lower-than-expected offers
and updates before an official in-      houses in your area as possible          and requests for the seller to cover
spection.                               and take note of who the potential       the closing costs to decorating al-
     Conduct a comp. A “comp” is        buyers are, their feedback on near-      lowances and mechanical repairs.
shorthand among real estate             by homes and what other sellers          On the other hand, as the home
agents for comparing your home          are offering potential buyers in         seller, you should be prepared to
to similar types of homes in your       terms of price and incentives.           counter by demanding that all se-
area with similar features, such as          Make your home as attractive        rious offers have their financing in
square footage, number of bed-          as possible. Buyers will pay thou-       place to ensure a smooth sale.
rooms, number of bathrooms, etc.        sands of dollars more for a home           To learn more about real estate
This process will help you deter-       that is tastefully decorated and ap-     law, visit www.findlaw.com.
mine a price range for your home.       pears in ready-to-move-in condi-                   — Courtesy of ARAcontent
20 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010

				
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