The Appraisal Process in a Real Estate Transaction


The Appraisal Process in a Real Estate Transaction

Appraisals are often a very important part of a real estate transaction, particularly when it comes to lending. Nearly all lenders will want to see that the subject property appraises at or above the purchase price in a transaction. The main reason for this is that in the event of a foreclosure or repossession, the bank has a reasonable chance of recuperating what it had originally loaned.

When is an appraisal ordered in a real estate transaction?

Class Harlan Doylestown Realtor AppraisalsThe timing of an appraisal can vary based on when the closing is scheduled and how a property is being paid for. For example, in a cash transaction, a Buyer could order an appraisal as soon as they choose to. More transactions today are done with a Buyer obtaining funding for their home purchase. After the Buyer submits an application with their lender (typically within 5-7 days of acceptance of an offer,) the lender will then order an appraisal through a third party management company within 10-14 days. This means that the appraisal process is completed in 3-5 weeks of the execution of a contract.

Comparative market analysis (CMA) vs. Appraisals

When a realtor prepares to list a residential property for sale or helps a Seller come up with an asking price, similar approaches are used to obtain a home’s market value.

Often, we refer to this as a comparative market analysis, or CMA. Using properties of “like kind,” realtors compare active, under contract (pending) and properties that have already been settled (within 6 months on average) to the Seller’s property.  This includes factors like location, acreage, bathroom/bedroom counts and other factors. Agents compare those to see what the market is like for the home based on current/recent competition.

Although this is more informal, it is an important step as an appraisal will essentially take the same information into account. If the CMA is not accurate or current, then the appraisal will not match and the asking price will be flawed.

Risk of overpricing

If a property is overpriced, it usually has a harder time selling. Overpriced usually means longer days on the market searching for the right Buyer and properties that are for sale can develop a reputation quickly. If a property is on the market too long, people suspect there might be significant repair issues with the home or Sellers that are hard to work with. Additionally, Buyers tend to look at fresh listings first, so a home on the market for a longer period of time simply won’t be looked at often as other homes relegate it to the back of search results.

Sometimes a Seller (and an agent) can get lucky and regardless of a property being overpriced, a Buyer might be willing to pay the higher value if it fits their needs or if there is a shortage of properties. However, it is important to keep in mind that even though a Buyer may be willing to pay more than what a home is currently worth the lender might not agree. If an appraisal comes in below the purchase price it could affect the Loan to Value Ratio(LTV).

As an example, if a Buyers offers $400,000 to buy a property with a down payment of 20%, the Buyer’s LTV is 80%, or $320,000 (the amount of the loan the Buyer is asking from their bank.) If the property appraises for $380,000, that would mean that the lender would typically only be willing to lend 80% of $380,000, or $304,000, which obviously does not cover the cost of the property. The solution in that situation is one of several scenarios

  1. The Seller reduces price to $380,000.00
  2. The Buyer makes up the difference and pays an additional $16,000.00 in cash
  3. The Seller and Buyer negotiate the difference
  4. The Buyer could terminate contract

More often than not, a buyer is unwilling to pay more than appraised value outside of extreme circumstances (eg., competitive market with bidding wars and/or very low supply.)

Appraisals gone bad

Not all the blame lands on the real estate agent or the Seller who over-prices. Occasionally, there are simply bad appraisals.  A common cause for a bad appraisal is an out-of-town appraiser who does not know the market well and can give an incorrect value based on bad comparables. It’s usually not a bad thing for the seller, and not noticed by the Buyer if the appraised value is over purchase price.

However, it is usually not a good thing, especially for the Seller, when the appraised value is under purchase price. There are circumstances when an agent and a Seller can argue or challenge a bad appraisal.

Do it right from the start

In short, it is not worth over-pricing your home. Make sure you hire an experienced realtor who understands the local market and does their due diligence when pricing a property for sale.

Class-Harlan Real Estate and their team of agents are intimately familiar with the Bucks County and Montgomery County areas and have decades of experience pricing homes for their clients and making the appraisal process as seamless as possible.

Interested in selling your home? Speak with one of our agents today to get started!




Stucco Repairs & Considerations in Real Estate


Stucco Repairs & Considerations in Real Estate

Stucco repair and remedies Class Harlan Real Estate Bucks CountyWhen choosing a home, the risk of hidden damage and potential for high maintenance costs down the road should always factor into your purchasing decision. One of the first places to look is in the building materials used; certain materials like stucco can disguise significant damage and be difficult to detect and repair.

Stucco rose to popularity as a building product in the mid to late 90’s and was used often through the mid 2000’s and is a great siding material when you consider longevity, durability and general maintenance. However, when installed incorrectly, stucco becomes vulnerable around windows and doors and can allow water to slowly seep behind the surface, causing rot, decay and potential structural issues, including termite damage.

In a humid climate that gets a decent amount of rain, the Delaware Valley area can be a bit notorious for homes with stucco damage and anyone who has dealt with stucco damage knows that it isn’t always a cheap fix. Some repairs can cost a couple of thousand dollars and major issues can cost tens of thousands of dollars to take down the old stucco, replace rotted wood and other issues and then reapply new underlayment and new stucco.

If you are buying or selling a home that was built more recently, there is a good chance that most of the notorious issues from years past were corrected with new installation methods and materials, and that there is little to no damage to the home in question.

If you are a buyer and are interested in a stucco home built during the 90’s through the mid 2000’s, it is in your best interest to insist on getting some tests done on the home to help ensure that there is no damage.

Types of Inspections

In addition to visual inspections where an inspector can look for obvious signs of rot, there are other methods of testing which you may want to consider.

  1. There are surface scanners which can be run over the exterior surface of the home to check moisture levels. This method is easy to do, leaves no damage to the walls but is not entirely accurate or definitive.
  2. Invasive testing: This is where holes are drilled either in the interior or exterior where damage is likely. A moisture detector is fished into the holes and a reading is taken to determine if the moisture level is high enough to confirm that water is breaching the stucco.
  3. There are also infrared cameras that can scan a home and look for temperature differences within a stucco wall. Due to water evaporation, the areas where moisture is high will read cooler than dry areas. While this doesn’t necessarily confirm the presence of moisture, the process can aid in determining where invasive testing should take place by using the infrared scan as a guide.

Stucco repair and remedies Class Harlan Real Estate Bucks CountyBy getting one or more of these styles of tests done, you can better protect yourself by decreasing the chance that costly repairs aren’t in your future and that the presence of mold or other issues likely do not exist in your living space.

If you are a seller, it is equally important that you get your home tested and clear any potential issues before you put your house on the market. By getting any identifiable issues out of the way, you put potential buyers at ease and the process of selling your home isn’t delayed by additional testing or repairs if they are required.

Whoever is ordering the repair should document any project to prove that inspections took place, repairs were made to any impacted part of the home and that the correct methods were used to make those repairs. This documentation will serve you well down the road when the house is up for sale again in the future.

Class-Harlan Real Estate prides itself on paying attention to considerations like stucco in real estate transactions. They will work for the benefit of their buyers or sellers in helping them make informed decisions before a real estate transaction.

If you are interested in a home that has stucco siding, Class-Harlan can source knowledgeable and reputable inspectors and contractors to make sure that any issues are detected and subsequently dealt with in the proper manner.

Give us a call today and speak with one of our expert realtors today.


It’s Showtime: Quick Tips to Get Ready for your Open House


It’s Showtime: Quick Tips to Get Ready for your Open House

photo-apr-03-12-58-37-pmThink of an open house as your home’s big welcome party to the market. The signs and balloons go up and all buyers in the area are invited! At this point in time, your home is less of a home and more a marketable product. At this stage, you should be materially and emotionally prepared for the fact that your home isn’t quite yours anymore.

An open house is a great way to get your house in front many buyers in a short period of time. It is also a great way for area agents to look at the house to keep in the back of their head for their other clients. During an open house, buyers can walk through the home, go room by room with your agent (and theirs) and imagine themselves and their stuff in the space.

If there is a dripping faucet in the bathroom, you have to side step around clutter and you can smell last night’s tuna casserole wafting from the kitchen, it may not make the best first impression.

We’ve listed our top tips for getting your home ready for your upcoming open house. We encourage you to print this out and use as a checklist to make sure you cover all the bases and have a successful showing once your house is on the market.

Get Cleaning

photo-apr-24-1-25-04-pmThe house should be cleaned from top to bottom. Windows, ceiling fans and trim should all be dusted and all clutter removed. Remove paperwork and letters from office/work spaces and slim down the amount of pictures and other knick knacks that might be on tables and bookshelves. Make sure the kitchens and bathrooms are spotless and if you own a pet, ensure that there are no odors or signs of them there, if at all possible.

The outside is just as important; Make sure that the grass is mowed and weeds are tamed. Consider investing in some paint work, power washing services or landscaping to freshen things up. Give your home a helping hand depending on the season as well: Rake the leaves in the fall and get some flowers planted in the spring. Outdoor entertaining spaces should have clean furniture with little to no clutter.

A garage is a super valuable space for many – if you have a lot of clutter, consider cutting it down as a way to help viewers visualize the size and usability of the space.

Closets are fair game as well. Storage is a huge consideration for buyers and yes, they will be opening your closet doors and pantries to inspect the house’s storage. Make sure that main cabinets, pantries and closets are cleaned and organized.

It may sound like a ton of work (and for many, it is,) but buyers can’t be distracted with personal artifacts, dirt and general clutter. Especially when the goal is to have your home connect with those stopping for the open house.

I’m Gonna Let it Shine

Light is incredibly important aspect of a showing. People want bright, cheery homes with tons of light. Once those windows and treatments are cleaned, make sure that they are open and ready to dump as much light as possible into your home.

Light is important on your property as well. Overgrown trees and bushes might be blocking light to the yards, outdoor living spaces and windows. It’s worth discussing any landscaping needs with your agent to see what makes the most sense to your property and budget.

Cater to all the senses

Open houses aren’t just for people to see your home but to experience it. And, most people experience things with more than just their eyes. We use smells and sounds just as much! Consider playing soft music in the family room or entry way to set the mood. Soft rock or contemporary style music is a great place to start.

Baking the morning of your open house is another way to heighten the senses and make people feel at home, in your home. Who doesn’t like the smell of chocolate chip cookies or even mulled wine during the fall and winter seasons.

Speaking of seasons, temperature is very important as well. No one likes a cold or feverishly hot house. If you have central air, there is little better you can do to sell this amenity than to have a wonderfully cool house on a hot day.

Other little visual touches through staging can go a long way. A pitcher of water or iced tea on an outdoor patio, new fluffy towels in the bathroom, clean bed linens, and fresh fruit in a bowl in the kitchen and fresh flowers are simple, inexpensive ways to enhance your home.

Put Together a Game Plan

The first three tips can each seam overwhelming. It’s true there is quite a bit of elbow grease and expense to each of these steps. Yet, if you tackle the most important aspects of each in an orderly fashion, it will be much more manageable.

Go room by room and make a specific checklist for each. Take your time and consider what will offer the most impact or bang for your buck.

Little things like de-cluttering and touching up some paint are generally easy and inexpensive. Identify the bigger expenses, such as landscaping, floor cleaning or any mechanical updates/fixes and prioritize as best you can.

TIP: Mechanical issues such as heating/air-conditioning, plumbing and electrical will likely be a point of issue down the road after inspections and may need to be fixed anyway. It may be worth getting it taken care of in advance and early on in the process so that no issues keep buyers away or complicate negotiations during the buying process.

The agents at Class Harlan Real Estate are some of the most experienced agents in the Bucks County Area. Ask your agent what you should do as you prepare for your first open house. They can help in making sure your time and energy is well spent during this process by honing in on what is most important for you, your home and the market.

Ready to list your home? Contact us today to meet with one of our world class agents.


First Time Homebuyer Considerations


First Time Homebuyer Considerations

class-harlan-tips-for-preparing-your-home-for-marketBuying a home takes a lot of time, research and emotion. And for first time home buyers, it should: This is an important step for you and your family and when it comes time to buy, you want to make sure that the home suites your budget, requirements and lifestyle.

There is a lot of information out there for first time home buyers and getting started can seem daunting. Yet understanding your exact requirements can go a long way in pruning down your options so that all the erroneous options and ‘noise’ goes away and you can focus on what is most important to you.

These 7 quick considerations act as a great starting point in deciding on what your needs are in a new home. By prioritizing these aspects of your home search you can start to narrow down where and what you’ll be looking for in your new home.

Style of Home

If you like the charm of older homes or the convenience and ‘hands off’ lifestyle of newer construction and/or communities, it’s important to understand what’s involved with each. Expect regular maintenance with older homes. If you don’t know what a Philips head screwdriver is and don’t want to spend time cutting grass, then an older home may not be best for you. Instead, you might want to consider newer construction or a development that has a home owners association (HOA.) These communities provide services such as lawn care and snow removal for a monthly fee. That means less money in your pocket but greater convenience if you are not handy, in your golden years or want to invest your time on other things than home maintenance.


Closely aligned with home style is your requirement for land and/or privacy. If you require a lot of land, a quieter setting with less road noise and nosey neighbors, you may want to look in more rural areas with no structured community. If you are more of a city slicker, living in a town center is great for those who want to walk to local amenities, work, school, etc. Of course, there are happy mediums with townhomes and development communities where you can live in suburban bliss.


Point #2 touches on lifestyle quite a bit: What is most important to you?

If you love the outdoors, want plenty of outdoor space and need storage for your car hobby, you will likely want to look at more suburban or rural homes with plenty of land, garage space and privacy. If nightlife, entertainment and community involvement is more your style, then city/suburban life would be better suited for you.

Similarly, how you live your life in your home is equally as important. Do you love to entertain? Do you have a lot of stuff and need closets and storage for all your stuff? Or, are you a minimalist where a small condo or cottage will do the trick?


Taxes are a reality for all property owners and in all likelihood, they will never go down. In other words, the tax rate you see on a property at the time of purchase will only go up as you continue to live in your home. It is important to understand the taxes in the areas you are looking to buy in and see if you can afford the yearly tax payments. It is also important to understand what those taxes get you. Does your town have dedicated services like police, fire and rescue? Are there community centers, libraries and other resources that your taxes support? Schools are a big influencer and our next consideration.


Schools are a crucially important consideration for people of all ages. If you are starting a family, good schools are likely at the top of your list. Keep in mind that certain areas have tax rates that are heavily influenced by the school systems. It would be wise to research the schools, read some of the recent news and goings on in area school districts and see what each one has to offer.

If you don’t have children or are empty nesters, you can consider living in an area where school taxes aren’t such as large influence on your tax bill.

Property Value

For all the considerations previously mentioned, your budget will tell you what you can get for your must haves and which ones you many need to compromise on. It’s important not to stretch your budget too much and to make common sense decisions for you and your family. For some, it’s schools. For others, it’s a matter of lifestyle. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the biggest consideration:


gallery_6You thought we’d forget the old cliché? Not a chance, because it’s true.

There is no bigger consideration than the location of your future home as it influences each and every one of the prior 6 mentioned here. Your location determines virtually everything, from the taxes you pay, the schools that are available to you and the lifestyle you plan on maintaining while living in your new home.

Location influences your budget the most. What you can get for your dollar varies wildly from town to town, and from state to state. Typically, the closer you live to a city or major metropolitan area, the more expensive the cost of living. Location is typically always influenced by other factors, such as work commutes, schools and access to public transportation.

An experienced real estate agent well versed in the area you are intending to purchase a home is an invaluable resource, particularly for first time home buyers. Class Harlan Real Estate has agents with decades of experience in the Bucks county area and can pinpoint the perfect place for you and your family based on your considerations. Whether you are a seasoned buyer or someone new to the home buying experience, we can review your requirements, pinpoint the properties on the market that best fit your needs and help you make an educated decision in buying a home that you will live in and enjoy for many years. We are excited that you are considering Bucks County as your future home, and hope to hear from you soon.


6 Quick Tips for Interviewing Realtors


6 Quick Tips for Interviewing Realtors


class-harlan-interview-a-your-realtorWhen it comes time to buy or sell a home, it is in your best interest to make sure that the realtor representing you is the best person for the job. Each realtor has different sets of expertise, resources and techniques that can make a significant impact on the success of your sale or purchase. For instance, some realtors specialize in commercial real estate or specialize in very specific communities. Others might excel at representing first time home buyers or folks in specific budget ranges.

Interviewing a realtor is a great way to get to know the folks in your area and ensure that you work with the absolute best person for you and your needs. You will be working very closely with this person for a couple months so a good working relationship is critical to your success. At the end of the day, an agent is guiding you through a very important process for you and your family and you shouldn’t settle for anything less than your exact needs in a realtor.

We’ve compiled a few tips to help you with the interview process.

Research the Top Producers

It’s not hard to figure out who the most active and successful agents are in your area. They may not be your best fit but there is a reason for their success. They may have invaluable knowledge of your area or are able to truly hone in on their buyers or sellers wishes and consistently deliver. Why not?

Ask Them about Their Background and Track Record

Knowing how long an agent has been in business or where they are from are excellent questions to ask. An agent that has been active for many years will have experience on their side and if they have roots in your target area, they will have a much more intimate knowledge of their surrounding areas, schools, businesses, etc.

Sales success is worth asking about as well. You can ask an agent how many homes they’ve sold or listed in prior years and what their workload is for the current year and during the time they would be your representative.

Similarly, not all agents are full time and may only be partially available or need to lean on other agents in their agency to help with open houses and walk-throughs, etc. Ask them how many hours they work per week.

This is all important information and can give you insight into how dedicated or accessible that agent can reasonably be to you.

How Do They Work Their Magic?

finding-the-right-realtor-class-harlan-interviewNot all agents sell a home the same way. Some use traditional resources such as print advertising or perhaps radio and others use social media and online networks to show off homes. If your current or target community has organized social tools like interest based pages or business networking forums, this is a great resource if the agent is able to leverage it.

Ask About Their Agency

Knowing who they work for is just as important. If they work for a large national agency they may not have the intimate knowledge of the area that you require. An agency may have specializations just the same as agents may specialize. For instance, some agencies specialize is specific budget ranges, older/historic homes or commercial properties. As you work through the process of buying or selling a home, many agencies have excellent resources available such as trusted inspection companies, title agencies and contractors that can help you make informed decisions. Working with an agent with the right agency can help when it comes to finding the right team of people to help you through a transaction/closing.


References are very valuable and can help you to gauge an agent’s skill through the past experiences others. If an agent cannot offer a referral or positive testimonial, you may want to consider someone with a better track record or with more experience.

Do Your Own Homework

There are so many resources online that there is no excuse for doing your own investigating. Research your agent and their agency. Most will have a website, a bio and/or a social media accounts to follow. Some might have a blog. See what they are posting, read reviews and see how they represent their other clients online. These are all fantastic ways to gather information and to understand an agent before any interview. Hopefully, the information you found out on your own matches what is out there on the internet. If it isn’t, ask them about it.

Class-Harlan Real Estate is the premier agency for the Bucks County and Montgomery County areas. With decades of experience and some of the most knowledgeable and passionate agents in the area, our boutique agency can offer the perfect agent for your exact needs. You can meet our team here or contact us today to make an appointment.


Settlement Day: A Guide for the Big Day


Settlement Day: A Guide for the Big Day

best-realtor-bucks-county-settlement-table Settlement is the day when the actual purchase/sale of a property is conveyed from Seller to Buyer. By the time the settlement day is scheduled, offers have been accepted, inspections have been carried out, negotiations have been finalized, financing approved and much of the legal aspects of the sale, such as offer and contract reviews and title searches have already been completed. Now it’s time to get the keys!

While agents, lenders and lawyers are busy working on their respective duties, there are several things you can focus on to prepare for settlement.

Triple Check Finances

Make sure that your accounts are prepared for settlement and the various payments that may still be expected at this point in the process, such as legal fees and down payments are handled. Most of this should be organized at this point with your bank/lender (if one is being used,) but check to make sure that everything will clear and that there are no hang-ups at the closing table. Your lender and real estate professional will guide you through this process.

Time to Move

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the process of buying a home. So much so that folks can lose sight of the fact that you should be prepared to move. Once the settlement closes, the seller no longer owns that home and it’s your to live in and care for.

A walk through of the home is almost always performed by the buyers and their agent within 24 hours of the closing. This is an opportunity to ensure that nothing drastic has changed and that the house is being transferred to you according to the terms of the sale. For example, you can check that appliances are in working order if they are included, that there isn’t two feet of water in the basement, etc. If the house is not ready for you to occupy it, a settlement will likely not take place.


About a week prior to closing on your home, make sure you contact all utility companies to make sure all utilities are changed over into your name effective the beginning of the day of Settlement. Call the power company, internet/phone company and garbage disposal. If you have natural gas or oil, it would be wise to shop around and make sure you have an account with your energy provider.


It would be wise to schedule a locksmith to have the locks changed the day of the settlement. People share and distribute copies of keys to friends, neighbors, etc., and knowing what keys provide access to your home and who has them is great peace of mind. If the home already has a security system in place, you should have your own account created soon with the provider and have the numbers changed ASAP.

Mail and Other Notifications

real-estate-settlement-doylestown-class-harlanMake sure that your mail is being forwarded from your old location and that you claim the address with your post office. Some leave a form in your mailbox asking for your information. Fill out the information ASAP to prevent hang ups with the postal service.

If this will be your primary residence, make sure that your billing information and other account information for various banking, shopping and any other appropriate accounts are changed.

Don’t forget about any vehicles you own and other forms of identification you might carry. They may need to be updated as well.

Lastly, you may want to inform family and friends of your address change as well. You don’t want Aunt Edna’s Christmas card to get lost in the mail!

The agents at Class-Harlan Real Estate will help you get ready for settlement and ensure that your closing day goes off without a hitch. They are also a great resource to help identify what utilities, services and other important updates regarding your new address will require your attention. No one knows Bucks County better than us! Give us a call today!


The Old Cliché: Location, Location, Location


The Old Cliché: Location, Location, Location

bucks-county-community-class-harlan-boutique-agencyEveryone’s heard it, but there nothing more true when deciding on real estate; location is key. Bucks County has a lot to offer home buyers. It seems that there are pockets of this county that cater to everyone’s needs. We’ve decided to list some of the major factors that should influence where you would like to be in our area.

A good place to start is asking yourself ‘Why?’

There are several major reasons why people decide to move, and each one of them can help determine the location of your new home. It all comes down to what’s most important to you and your family.


Where you work is a very important factor when deciding where to move. After all, who wants a long and dreadful commute? Finding a location close to major road arteries can help get you to the major work hubs so that job changes and commutes don’t alter your lifestyle all that much.


Families with children will want to pay very close attention to the school systems. What programs are available? How does each school/district perform? These are all very important considerations. It is also no secret that school systems influence the tax rates which add to yearly ownership costs. If you happen to have no children or if they are grown, you might choose to avoid expensive districts so that taxes have a lower impact on your budget.


If you want the convenience and amenities of a city, there is a bounty of options in Bucks County. Stroll down the street to a favorite coffee shop or be within arm’s reach of entertainment, dining and shopping. Or, if you want a stunning view, lush greens and animal life around you, head to the many suburbs and rural areas our county has to offer. Find a big back yard for barbeques or a perfect road for your morning bike ride.


When choosing on a location for your next home, it is important to consider the community and how important having one (or not) is to you. If you want to surround yourself with small businesses and build relationships with neighbors, then a suburb or city location might be good for you. If your priority is privacy and community involvement isn’t high on the list, then a rural location would be ideal.


bucks-county-community-class-harlan-realtorsIt’s no surprise that houses take work to maintain and keep up, both inside and out. When deciding on where you want to live, you have several options. If you are handy and enjoy working on your home and tending to lawns and gardens then a house would be a perfect option for you. Or, if you would rather limit the time spent on upkeep, then a subdivion or town home would be easier to maintain and require less time and energy. In some cases, home owners associations (HOA) are set up where lawn care, snow removal and other amenities are handled for you for a monthly membership fee.

Whether you already know what you are looking for or need help deciding on the perfect location for you and your family, give Class-Harlan Real Estate a call. With decades of experience and an intimate knowledge of the Bucks county area, you will be in great hands. Click here to contact our office today to get started with one of our exceptional agents.


Getting Ready To Sell: A Checklist for Preparing your Home


Getting Ready To Sell: A Checklist for preparing your Home

class-harlan-tips-for-preparing-your-home-for-marketIt is an exciting and stressful time: You’re getting ready to pack up your life and move to a new home. As much as we would like to think that it’s just as easy as hanging the sign on the front lawn, it isn’t: To maximize the sale price of your home and the speed in which you find a buyer, it is wise to invest some time and money in making sure that your home, and listing, look as good as possible.

To help with this whirlwind period in your life, we’ve put together a checklist of things you should strongly consider doing before your home is photographed and put on the market.

Focus on Curb Appeal

There is little more important than a good first impression, both in life and in real estate. Some fresh mulch, paint and seasonal flowers are small investments that will help to enhance the appearance of your home. If you have the budget, power washing and dead tree or shrub removal will help you fetch top dollar for your home.

Focus on the little touches when working on the exterior of your home. If your mailbox was slammed by the snow plow guy last winter, consider replacing it. Also, hang a flag for a patriotic touch or put seating on a porch or entertaining area to liven things up.

Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get the Inside Sparkling!

A thorough cleaning of the inside of your home will put you light years ahead of the competition. Help flood your home with light by washing your windows. De-cluttering will help the home look cleaner and bigger, not to mention help any potential buyers imagine their own things in the house.

It’s important to clean the floors and carpets, especially if you have pets. Have them professionally steam cleaned. If they are too far gone, it is worth the investment to have new carpets put in or to have the hardwood re-finished.

If you are not going to be living in your home while on the market, consider having your home professionally staged to help buyers visualize the home. Your agent should have no trouble making recommendations to you on who you can contact for staging services. This is another area where the investment is worth the effort when buyers are putting in offers.

Focus on the Details

sell-your-home-fast-bucks-county-class-harlanLittle improvements can go a long way during a walk through or open house. Now is the time to finally finish those pesky items on your honey-do list; it can pay off big at the closing table. Make sure that all the lights work and change the bulbs on the ones that don’t. Make sure your fire alarms aren’t beeping and spray some lubricant on squeaky doors.

Class Harlan real estate can help you decide which projects to take on before a listing and give you a fresh set of eyes. They are keenly aware of buyer behavior and what they look for and react to when looking at a home. They can help you better prioritize your investment based on your budget so that you can maximize your home’s selling potential. You may not have considered having to put money into your home at the 11th hour. However, a sound strategy and an experienced agent will see a return on that investment in short order.


Considering selling your home? Click here to speak to one of our knowledgeable agents today!


Residential vs. Commercial Transactions in the Real Estate World


Residential vs. Commercial Real Estate Transactions

Scott Strasburg from Class-Harlan Commercial

Generally speaking, many might think that there aren’t many differences between residential and commercial real estate. People know that single-family homes, townhouses and condos fall under the residential category and that industrial, retail and office are commercial

However, the actual real estate transaction and process is very different between these two categories for a number of reasons.

Due Diligence vs. Inspections

Class Harlan Commercial Real Estate Bucks CountyIn a typical residential transaction, the Buyer will usually opt for specific types of inspections, such as Building, Radon and Wood Infestation. Sometimes there could also be a septic, water, mold & stucco inspection as well. In the agreement of sale, the Buyer will ask for a specific number of days to do these inspections and to get the reports back for review and consideration

In a commercial transaction there is a due diligence period (DD). This is also negotiated as to the amount of time allowed, which is usually longer than the time-frame of a residential property. In the DD period, the buyer can do any and all inspections, but doesn’t need to specify the items to be investigated. At the end of the DD Period, the Buyer will simply notify the Seller if they are in or out of the deal, or re-negotiate items that surface in the DD period.

Seller Disclosure

A Seller’s disclosure form is a document that is created to state any and all known issues or defects in a home. The legality of this document varies state to state and failing to disclose an issue can mean legal trouble down the road for the Seller.

A Seller’s Disclosure is required for any 1-4 unit residential property. A Seller’s disclosure is not required in a commercial transaction.


Terms and Conditions
Residential mortgages usually have a limit of an 80% Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio although some specific mortgages allow for a 90% LTV or even higher with FHA/VA loans. The amortization time can be as high as 30 years.

A commercial mortgage will usually cap out at 70-75% LTV ratio with a 15-25 year amortization schedule and the interest rates will be about 1-2% higher than a residential mortgage. Sometimes there is a balloon payment where the mortgage must be paid off in 5 or 7 years and not the same term as the amortization schedule for residential properties. However, if a Buyer is a user and not an investor and is also looking to borrow money for his/her business, they can acquire an SBA loan (Small Business Administration) which has a 90% LTV ratio.


An appraisal is performed by a bank to determine the current value of a property. A typical residential appraisal costs about $350-500, and takes about 3-5 days. The cost of a commercial appraisal is anywhere from $900-3,000 and can take up to 3 weeks. One of the reasons for this higher cost is the result of adding and creating an income approach to value that is not included in the residential appraisal.


In a commercial transaction, where the Buyer is getting a commercial mortgage, the mortgage company will require a “Phase I” study. This study will evaluate prior uses, neighboring properties and on-site investigation to determine if there might be an environmental issue. If so, a “Phase II’ will be ordered where certain tests will be done to determine potential environmental issues and contamination.

A residential mortgage does not require any environmental studies. A Buyer can elect certain studies, but that is rare in a residential transaction.

Letter of Intent – LOI

When a Buyer wants to make an offer on a residential property, an Agreement of Sale is created and presented to the Seller. Many times in a commercial deal, a Letter of Intent is submitted to briefly outline the terms and conditions. Once that has been agreed to, an Agreement of Sale or Lease reflecting those terms is created- typically by an attorney. The LOI is not binding and a specific time frame is put in the LOI outlining the time both parties have to execute one of these documents.


Commercial Real Estate Doylesttown Class HarlanIn general, there are several differences in the psychology of buyers and sellers for residential property vs. commercial properties. In both types of property, location is usually the most important aspect to be considered.

Many times, when people are purchasing or selling residential property, some emotion is involved with the deal. It might be because it was their first home, where they raised their family, where they were able to take care of extended family at an important time in their lives and it might be a place where they made many friends.

In a commercial deal, after location, it’s basically math; especially for investors. How big is the building, how many parking spaces are required, how many drive-bys are there on a daily basis, what are the rental rates, what is the cap rate, etc., are all questions and considerations being analyzed and vetted during commercial transactions

These are some of the differences between residential and commercial transactions. There are many aspects involved and it is helpful to talk with a professional about going forward with either of these acquisitions.

If you have any questions or are interested in purchasing or selling a residential or commercial real estate, give Class-Harlan Real Estate a call. Click here to contact us today.



5 Reasons to Move to Bucks County


Class-Harlan_Bucks County Real EstateA quick Google image search will bring up hundreds of pictures of historical homes, beautiful river towns, winding jogging paths and scenes from one of the many local art fairs, cultural festivals or farmers markets that take place throughout the year. It is truly a beautiful corner of the world.
While pictures do a nice job of painting a picture and getting people introduced to Bucks County, we’ve decided to make things easier with a list of what we feel make this place worthy of calling home.


It doesn’t get more cliché than location when it comes to real estate, but it’s true. Location is very important and Bucks County checks virtually all the boxes. Boasting a formidable economy in its own right, it is also connected, through a series of convenient highways, to Philadelphia, New York City and many of the major industrial and corporate regions in the area.

When play is top on the list, you are minutes from hundreds of parks, wildlife preserves and walking paths. The Delaware River and other streams offer fantastic fishing and/or kayaking and you are never too far from the Poconos when you want to hit the slopes. And, let’s not forget the beautiful beaches of New Jersey.
• To Downtown Philadelphia: 45 minutes
• To New York City: 1 hour and 30 minutes
• To Atlantic City: 2 hours
• To Poconos: 1 hour and 30 minutes
• To Princeton: 30 minutes
• To Shore Points: 1 hour and 30 minutes
• To Harrisburg: 2 hours


Class-Harlan_Bucks County SchoolsBucks County is home to some of the most awarded public schools in the region. Along with comprehensive academics our schools offer robust art, music and athletic programs to enrich the lives of each and every student with a diverse and well rounded education. Bucks County is also home to over 100 private schools as well, offering numerous options for families based on their precise needs. There are also several higher education options, from community college to universities. For the littlest of our residents, day care and early childhood education opportunities abound. To learn more about Bucks County schools, click here.

Culture and Entertainment

There are dozens of vineyards and the Bucks County wine trail is a great place to start your research. There are standout microbreweries as well.

Museums and art galleries also abound. The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, built around the remaining stone walls of the 19th century Bucks County prison offers a robust collection of art and features impressive temporary exhibits. The Bucks County Children’s Museum, located in New Hope, is an interactive museum that will entertain your children visit after visit.

Peddler’s Village, also in New Hope, offers dozens of quaint shops, restaurants, and bars. Walk the many winding paths for window shopping or sit and enjoy the vibrant gardens that are sprinkled throughout the village.

Class Harlan_Bucks County Things to DoThe County Theater in Doylestown is a historic theater that keeps its old school charm. Showing indie films as well as classics (think Indiana Jones and Gone with the Wind,) there is always something to see.

The area will scratch the itch of any history buff looking to go back in time. Historic towns and houses speckle the region. The area is the scene of Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware on his way to the battle of Trenton, an event that is reenacted on Christmas every year. There are many festivals that feature reenactments to relive these fascinating times.


Bucks County Restaurants_Doylestown Placed to EatIt would be a tall order to list the many incredible dining options available in Bucks County. Each town offers something special and unique, from corner cafes to can’t miss brunch spots. From farm to table creations and modern cuisine to Thai and BBQ, you are never too far away from something new and delicious. Cozy up to a fireplace and enjoy a cocktail or sit outside and look out over the Delaware River as it gently rolls by.

And, don’t forget the many markets, produce stores and farms offering baked goods and farm fresh seasonal crops and eggs. You can also stroll many of the area food festivals, such as a strawberry festival in the springtime or pumpkin picking in the fall.

Home Sweet Home

Bucks County is a place where people stay. It has that perfect mix of country escape and urban convenience. It is an excellent place to raise a family and grow old with a loved one. It is the perfect place to take in a movie or sample some award winning wines.

With a place so special to work, play and live in, you still need to see and experience it for yourself. Contact one of our realtors or start your search with Class-Harlan today. Our experienced and passionate agents are well versed in the area and will match you with your exact needs. We have been assisting buyers and renters of all incomes and requirements since 1963 and exceed our client’s expectations time and time again.

We are thrilled that you have included the Bucks County Area in your home search and we hope to hear from you soon.