Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Local Grants

I have not been a lifelong resident of Pottstown though I know its a great town that is working hard to improve all of the time.
One of the things the town offers is called The Homeownership Initiative Program. It pays up to $5,000 for home improvements. This is something I took advantage of Since I bought after January 1st of 05. Now technically its not a Grant. Its a SOFT LOAN. It requires no payments and no interest as long as you occupy for at least 7 years. Now if you leave before the 7 years is up then the amount you borrowed is prorated and the balance is paid back to the town at the settlement table.Its great for residents and Realtors alike. The bennefit is obvious for a resident. As a realtor I make sure all of my sellers know about the program and make sure its offered to all of my buyers as long as the home is in the 'Core Redevelopment District' and is occupied by the buyer. Maps and applications can be found at the borough website: http://www.pottstown.org/economic-Information.htm
There are 2 other programs that should be noted. One is the Facade Grant. It applies only to commercial buildings in the Historic District.This IS a Grant, though its a special kind. Its a 'matching grant'. This means that if you put $1,000 into the improvement of the outside of your building, Pottstown will match it if your application is accepted. The cap on this grant is $5,000. So if you wanted a $10,000.00 Improvement to the outside of your Commercial Building for half the price this is the Grant for you.The last program is the multi-unit version of the home-ownership initiative program that I first mentioned. It basically awards money the same way but allows its applicants upto $15,000.00 for converting a two-unit into a single. This could be a valuable tool for the savy owner occupant.Hope this helps and encourages some of you to take a closer look at Pottstown. A home search is available on my website: www.Iknowjackandtom.com

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I found this article from BankRate.com

I was inspired to post it because I knew people in need of Forclosure help and
its definately scary if you don't know what to do. My own advice though I would say go to http://www.hemap.org/

Its a very informative website and it tells about grant help if you are behind because of an uncontrolable circumstance and how the mortgage company can't forclose once you have had your "face to face" meeting with the lawyer. But this website is only for those in Pennsylvania. I am very willing to talk to anyone about this too. You can find my number on my website www.IknowJackandTom.com

Ok now the article. I hope this can help people.

Mortgage companies say that the last thing they want to do is foreclose, because seizing a delinquent borrower's house costs money. It follows, then, that the key to keeping the house is to make it less expensive for the lender to work with you than to foreclose.
How does one go about working out a plan to keep his or her home?
When you fall behind on payments, your chances of getting cooperation from the mortgage servicer are better if you follow these guidelines.
Step-by-step plan for seeking help:

Respond to the mortgage company's phone calls and letters.

Seek advice and negotiating help from a third party.

Figure out if your problem is short-term or long-term.

Decide what you want and ask for it.

Document income and expenses; keep all correspondence with the servicer.

Be persistent in your quest to talk to the right people at the mortgage company.
Respond to the mortgage company's phone calls and lettersThe mortgage servicer is the company that collects monthly payments, passes along the payments to the homeowners insurance company and tax collector, and makes phone calls and sends letters when borrowers fall behind.
Academic researchers have found that, in about half of foreclosures, the delinquent borrower never talked to the servicer.
"Our biggest challenge is getting folks to respond," says William Rinehart, vice president and chief risk officer for Ocwen Financial Corp., a large servicer of subprime mortgages in West Palm Beach, Fla. Fear, embarrassment and shame keep delinquent borrowers from talking to servicers. "These folks, in many cases, are financially unsophisticated, so the whole process is intimidating to them," Rinehart says. "They feel that if they just ignore it, it will go away."
It won't.
Delinquencies and foreclosures have been rising nationwide for more than a year. As mortgage lenders lay off loan officers, mortgage servicers hire debt collectors and loss-mitigation specialists. Ocwen's loan resolution department has 123 full-time employees. A year ago, it had about 70 employees.
"We train our collectors to have empathy," says Teresa Bratcher, Ocwen's director of foreclosure prevention. "These people, for the most part, didn't choose the circumstances that they're in."
Tip: Answer the phone and open your mail, but don't agree to any terms until you read the next tip.
Seek advice and negotiating help from a third partyRespond to the mortgage servicer, but don't be rushed into making a promise that you can't keep. Before making a deal with the servicer, describe your situation to an attorney, accountant or a knowledgable mortgage person, advises Neil Garfinkel, a lawyer with Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson law firm in New York City.
When you are in danger of foreclosure, "those are perilous waters and you want to make sure you have a good adviser who can maybe serve as an intermediary to the lender," Garfinkel says.
Another place to go is a housing counseling agency or a consumer credit counseling service. A good place to start is the NeighborWorks Center for Foreclosure Solutions' Web site. NeighborWorks counselors will make referrals to local agencies.
"I urge people to get some kind of help with this process, to the extent that they can," says Michelle Lewis, president of Northwest Counseling Service, an agency in Philadelphia that offers mortgage counseling. "They can go out and do it on their own, but they need to be cautious."
Tip: Choices for guidance include consulting an attorney, a credit counselor or a housing counseling agency.
-- Updated: Oct. 25, 2007

Saturday, January 12, 2008

New Listing 3 Bedroom in Reading PA $59,900


One of the finer homes! Close to Perkiomen Ave this beautiful 3 story colonial has upgrades galore! Very well maintained outside. Front of home has welcoming wooden porch and stairs. Rear of home has romantic deck off bedroom and patio below adjacent to 3 car parking; a rare thing in Reading city. Inside admire the 9 ft ceilings on first floor and new hardwood in the living room and dining room. Kitchen is newer and will be painted a neutral tone for new buyers. 3 roomy bedrooms adorne the 2nd floor and there's pleanty of storage in the 3rd floor walk-up attic which could be made into 4th bedroom. The basement is a comfortable place to be too with its own full bath. Priced to sell. Make your appointment TODAY! Agent: Call to see. Home on Lockbox. Call 484-995-1024. All offers can be faxed to 610-327-3160

New websites to provide you with Real Estate Information

Hey everyone!

Tom and I just finished another website!

Its really great and very informative!


We also have a Myspace page:


and an AOL IM screen name: IknowJackandTom

While these are great sites please don't forget our main website:

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tom and Jack

Friday, January 11, 2008

Time to eat a pork sandwhich

My partner Tom and I joined forces in mid fall 2007. I remember when he was showing me around he would always say, 'we don't make much money, but we eat good'. That half serious statement and its deeper philosophical meaning stuck with me. We both work our asses off for our clients. If you're not careful, the stress could take you down. So our indulgence is food and it allows us to get away from the stress and remember the things we enjoy and why we do what do; even if the moment is efemeral.

Saw this on another website. Tried it. YAY! Thats all. Eat well and enjoy my friends.
source: http://visualrecipes.com/recipe-details/recipe_id/505/Barbecue-BBQ-Pulled-Pork-Sandwiches/

Authentic Pulled Pork BarbecueYou're going to need:About 5lb of cheap bone-in pork roast: butt or shoulder (whichever is cheaper)CharcoalWood chipsBBQ bunsBBQ marinadeBBQ spice rubBBQ sauce (optional)Let me talk about these ingredients a bit. Tough, otherwise bottom choice meat is perfect for BBQ. The slow cooking process breaks it down and makes it nice and tender. The cut in this thread is a butt. It cost about $6. Crazy, ain't it?In regards to the rest: I like match-light charcoal. It's just easier to start and it ensures an even burn. I like apple wood. It has the best smoke flavor I've tried and doesn't taste gimmicky like mesquite does to me. BBQ buns must be big, and have sesame seeds. Just because, OK?Sauces, marinades and rubs can be made at home with your own ingredients with a little research and time. Otherwise, pick to suit your preference, but I can highly recommend Stubbs. I'm so in love with Stubbs I don't even bother making my own stuff right now - although I am planning on doing so in the future. This recipe uses Stubbs pork marinade, Stubbs BBQ Spice Rub and Stubbs Spicy BBQ sauce to finish things off.

Step 1:
Now then. Let's BBQ! Put your roast in a big plastic container and pour the marinade in.

Step 2:
Put this in the fridge overnight. Turn it a few times as you think about it to marinade evenly.

Step 3:
The next day, setup your grill. Line the sides with charcoal. We want indirect heat on our roast.Light it up!

Step 4:
Remove your now marinated roast into a pan.Pour the reserve marinade into a container. Keep it for later.

Step 5:
When your coals are nice and hot and grey and no more chemical starter smell remains, sprinkle some wood chips over the coals. I don't soak the wood chips in water because I tried that and it just doesn't work on charcoal. It's best to just keep them dry. You have to use a lot more wood (like a whole bag) but at least you get results.

Step 6:
This will ignite the wood pretty fast.So quickly put your roast pan in the center of the grill.

Step 7:
And close the lid. This will stifle the fire and the chips will begin to smoke heavily. NOTE: Don't shut any of the vents, top or bottom, of your grill. Just enough air needs to get in to aid combustion. Too little and your fire will die.

Step 8:
Every half hour or so, the wood chips will smolder out and stop smoking.

Step 9:
I just sprinkle more chips in through the grill and some land on the grill itself. This starts up the smoking again. After the first couple of applications, you can also poke a stick around in the charcoal to reactivate the smoke rather than adding more chips, but you're basically going to have to be out there every half hour or so stoking up the smoke.

Step 10:
And so it goes. For three hours.

Step 11:
And now we come to the real secret to making good BBQ when all you have is your cheap charcoal grill. The CROCK POT!

Step 12:
Take your roast off after three hours of smoking. Try and tear it apart with a fork. You won't be able to, it's still too tough.

Step 13:
No, we're going to have to do this right. To do it right, we gotta slow cook it until this meat submits to our will. We accomplish that with between 6-8 hours in the Crock Pot on LOW.Do what you have to do to get the meat in the pot, I had to cut mine in half or so.

Step 14:
This is the part in the process where you add your spice rub. Coat the meat with it:

Step 15:
Then pour in the marinade you reserved.

Step 16:
And now, cook this bad boy for 6-8 hours. You can't really overcook it, or at least I haven't yet. This roast took 8 hours before it was falling apart. You can tell because when you stick a fork in it it truly just melts. I also turned the meat over around 4 hours in so no part of the meat wasn't submerged in the marinade at one point or another.

Step 17:
When your roast has truly had the precious time it needs to become REAL DEAL BBQ, take it out. It should look something like this:

Step 18:
And now the pulled pork part, wherein you "pull" the pork apart into shredded, sandwich-ready yumminess.

Step 19:
When you're all finished, you're left with a big pile of delicious BBQ pork (note the bone at top of picture that this meat simply "fell" off of). Can you believe all this was $6? Well, OK, maybe more like $15 once you factor in the wood and the fixins, but heck - this is a lot of food. I have successfully fed eight people with this.

Step 20:
Plate your pulled barbecue pork or make sandwiches out of it.Top the bbq pulled pork with some sauce - if you like. This is utterly optional. This meat tastes fantastic just like it is.Top with coleslaw, you can find my coleslaw recipe in the appetizer category or use the search feature.

Home Prices Expected to Rebound in 2008

I saw this in the paper and though you would like to know!

Home Prices Expected to Rebound in 2008


- The prices of existing and new homes are expected to bounce back next year after a dreary 2007, a real estate trade group said Wednesday.

The National Association of Realtors also said it expects existing- home sales to rise to nearly 6.4 million in 2008, up from the 2007 estimate of more than 6.1 million. Nearly 6.5 million existing homes were sold in 2006, the association said.

As for new homes, sales are projected at 865,000 in 2007 and 878,000 next year, but the 2008 projection would still be down more than 20 percent compared with the nearly 1.1 million new homes sold in 2006.

More than 1.4 million housing starts, including multifamily units, are forecast this year and in 2008, but that is down from 1.8 million last year.

Existing-home prices are expected to gain 1.8 percent to a median of $222,700 in 2008 after a 1.4 percent decline this year to $218,800, the according said. The median new-home price should rise 2.2 percent to $222,700 next year after a 2.6 percent drop to $240,100 in 2007.

"Markets that sharply reduce new construction in 2007 will generally experience respectable price increases in 2008," Lawrence Yun, NAR senior economist, said in a release. "Buyers now have an overwhelming advantage given the wide selection of homes available in many markets. But with profit margins coming under pressure, homebuilders will limit new construction well into 2008."

How can a real estate agent help me?

How can a real estate agent help me?
Whether you're in the market for a primary residence, an investment property or a second home, purchasing real estate involves many important considerations and decisions. A real estate agent can provide the focus, due diligence and expertise needed to help you find the home of your dreams.

A real estate professional will:
• Assist in determining how much house you can afford and help you get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a loan.
• Simplify your search by helping you define home and neighborhood criteria.
• Screen new listings daily and alert you of homes that match your criteria.
• Keep you abreast of local market conditions, so you can make informed decisions.
• Gather in-depth detail on each home, schedule tours and point out the advantages and possible drawbacks of each property.
• Work with you in drafting an appropriate offer and serve as your representative when presenting it to the seller.
• Negotiate a contract that considers your goals and leads to a successful closing.
• Personally refer you to proven service providers, such as inspectors, appraisers, title companies, warranty providers, insurance agencies, attorneys, carpenters, movers and more.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Real estate professionals can represent the buyer, the seller or both. When agents represent both parties, it is called dual agency. In some states, dual agency affects the real estate professional's fiduciary responsibilities to the seller. Keep in mind that real estate laws differ from state to state and even from locale to locale. For more in-depth answers, talk with a knowledgeable real estate professional and ask about local practices. www.iknowjackandtom.com

Increasing your home's appeal: 60 second rule

Increasing your home's appeal
Remember the 60-second rule: That's all the time you have to create a winning first impression.

Here are some simple to significant ways to maximize your home's appeal.

Exterior * Keep the grass cut and remove all yard clutter.
* Weed and apply fresh mulch to flower beds.
* Apply fresh paint to wooden fences.
* Tighten and clean all door handles.
* Clean windows inside and out.
* Powerwash home's exterior.
* Ensure all gutters and downspouts are firmly attached and functioning.
* Paint the front door.
* Buy a new welcome mat.
* Place potted flowers near the front door.

Interior * Evaluate the furniture in each room and remove anything that interrupts "the flow" or makes the room appear smaller. Consider renting a storage unit to move items off-site.
* Clean and organize cabinets, closets and bookshelves.
* Clean all light fixtures and ceiling fans.
* Shampoo carpets.
* Remove excessive wall hangings and knick-knacks.
* Repair all plumbing leaks, including faucets and drain traps.
* Make minor repairs (torn screens, sticking doors, cracked caulking).
* Clean or paint walls and ceilings.
* Replace worn cabinet and door knobs.
* Fix or replace discolored grout.
* Replace broken tiles.
* Replace worn countertops.

Special details for showings * Turn on all the lights.
* Open all drapes and shutters in the daytime.
* Keep pets secured outdoors.
* Buy new towels for bathrooms.
* Buy new bedding for bedrooms.
* Replace old lamps or lampshades.
* Play quiet background music.
* Light the fireplace or clean out the ashes and light a candelabrum.
* Infuse home with a comforting scent, such as apple spice or vanilla.
* Set the dining room table for a fancy dinner party.
* Vacate the property while it is being shown

Pay off your mortgage in half the time!

Hey All,

If you own your home or are looking to buy, you will most likely get a mortgage. You will probably have a 30 year loan but sell again in 5 to 10 years. Here's a way to avoid throwing thousands away to interest and still actually have money to invest on other purchases or save incase of an emergency (ie joblessness) and YES it is enough extra money to seriously not even worry about making mortgage payments for several months!
Its called the homeownership accelerator program. Its very new and you can only find it through a couple of banks in the entire USA.
.... Definately a special product through Global Equity Lending.

Check out the DEMO and the Video below and if you love it like I did you should definately email mortgage@iknowjackandtom.com for more information!

5 Minute movie promo:

Try the simulator:

8 steps to selling your home

Eight steps to selling your home

Define your needs. Write down all the reasons for selling your home. Ask yourself, "Why do I want to sell and what do I expect to accomplish with the sale?" For example, a growing family may prompt your need for a larger home, or a job opportunity in another city may necessitate a move. For your goals, write down if you'd like to sell your house within a certain time frame or make a particular profit margin. Work with your real estate agent to map out the best path to achieve your objectives and set a realistic time frame for the sale.

Name your price. Your next objective should be to determine the best possible selling price for your house. Setting a fair asking price from the outset will generate the most activity from other real estate agents and buyers. You will need to take into account the condition of your home, what comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for, and state of the overall market in your area. It's often difficult to remain unbiased when putting a price on your home, so your real estate agent's expertise is invaluable at this step. Your agent will know what comparable homes are selling for in your neighborhood and the average time those homes are sitting on the market. If you want a truly objective opinion about the price of your home, you could have an appraisal done. This typically costs a few hundred dollars. Remember: You're always better off setting a fair market value price than setting your price too high. Studies show that homes priced higher than 3 percent of their market value take longer to sell. If your home sits on the market for too long, potential buyers may think there is something wrong with the property. Often, when this happens, the seller has to drop the price below market value to compete with newer, reasonably priced listings.

Prepare your home. Most of us don't keep our homes in "showroom" condition. We tend to overlook piles of boxes in the garage, broken porch lights, and doors or windows that stick. It's time to break out of that owner's mindset and get your house in tip-top shape. The condition of your home will affect how quickly it sells and the price the buyer is willing to offer. First impressions are the most important. Your real estate agent can help you take a fresh look at your home and suggest ways to stage it and make it more appealing to buyers. * A home with too much "personality" is harder to sell. Removing family photos, mementos and personalized décor will help buyers visualize the home as theirs. * Make minor repairs and replacements. Small defects, such as a leaky faucet, a torn screen or a worn doormat, can ruin the buyer's first impression. * Clutter is a big no-no when showing your home to potential buyers. Make sure you have removed all knick-knacks from your shelves and cleared all your bathroom and kitchen counters to make every area seem as spacious as possible.

Get the word out. Now that you're ready to sell, your real estate agent will set up a marketing strategy specifically for your home. There are many ways to get the word out, including: * The Internet * Yard signs * Open houses * Media advertising * Agent-to-agent referrals * Direct mail marketing campaigns In addition to listing your home on the MLS, your agent will use a combination of these tactics to bring the most qualified buyers to your home. Your agent should structure the marketing plan so that the first three to six weeks are the busiest.

Receive an offer. When you receive a written offer from a potential buyer, your real estate agent will first find out whether or not the individual is prequalified or preapproved to buy your home. If so, then you and your agent will review the proposed contract, taking care to understand what is required of both parties to execute the transaction. The contract, though not limited to this list, should include the following: * Legal description of the property * Offer price * Down payment * Financing arrangements * List of fees and who will pay them * Deposit amount * Inspection rights and possible repair allowances * Method of conveying the title and who will handle the closing * Appliances and furnishings that will stay with the home * Settlement date * Contingencies At this point, you have three options: accept the contract as is, accept it with changes (a counteroffer), or reject it. Remember: Once both parties have signed a written offer, the document becomes legally binding. If you have any questions or concerns, be certain to address them with your real estate agent right away.

Negotiate to sell. Most offers to purchase your home will require some negotiating to come to a win-win agreement. Your real estate agent is well versed on the intricacies of the contracts used in your area and will protect your best interest throughout the bargaining. Your agent also knows what each contract clause means, what you will net from the sale and what areas are easiest to negotiate. Some negotiable items: * Price * Financing * Closing costs * Repairs * Appliances and fixtures * Landscaping * Painting * Move-in date Once both parties have agreed on the terms of the sale, your agent will prepare a contract.

Prepare to close. Once you accept an offer to sell your house, you will need to make a list of all the things you and your buyer must do before closing. The property may need to be formally appraised, surveyed, inspected or repaired. Your real estate agent can spearhead the effort and serve as your advocate when dealing with the buyer's agent and service providers. Depending on the written contract, you may pay for all, some or none of these items. If each procedure returns acceptable results as defined by the contract, then the sale may continue. If there are problems with the home, the terms set forth in the contract will dictate your next step. You or the buyer may decide to walk away, open a new round of negotiations or proceed to closing. Important reminder: A few days before the closing, you will want to contact the entity that is closing the transaction and make sure the necessary documents will be ready to sign on the appropriate date. Also, begin to make arrangements for your upcoming move if you have not done so.

Close the deal. "Closing" refers to the meeting where ownership of the property is legally transferred to the buyer. Your agent will be present during the closing to guide you through the process and make sure everything goes as planned. By being present during the closing, he or she can mediate any last-minute issues that may arise. In some states, an attorney is required and you may wish to have one present. After the closing, you should make a "to do" list for turning the property over to the new owners. Here is a checklist to get you started. * Cancel electricity, gas, lawn care, cable and other routine services. * If the new owner is retaining any of the services, change the name on the account. * Gather owner's manuals and warranties for all conveying appliances.

How much home you can afford

Deciding how much house you can afford www.Iknowjackandtom.com

Before you start house hunting, you need to determine how much house you can afford, which will entail getting either prequalified or preapproved for a home loan. A real estate agent can help you find a mortgage broker to begin the process. While getting preapproved is a more in-depth process, a preapproval letter lets both real estate agents and sellers know that you're a serious shopper who means business.
What do I do to get prequalified?

A prequalification can be done online or over the phone and does not require your submitting financial documents. You will be asked to provide basic information about your finances — for instance, your household income versus your debt load. With this information, the lender will estimate what your maximum loan amount could be if you were to apply.
What about getting preapproved?

A preapproval is more involved and a real estate agent can help you prepare your documentation. The lender will perform an extensive review of your finances, requiring pay stubs, tax records, credit accounts, bank statements and more. This figure will not only be a more reliable estimate of what you can afford, but your preapproval also indicates that a lender is willing to do business with you, pending the purchase price, market appraisal and the underwriting process.
What should I ask when shopping for a lender?

Your real estate agent should have a mortgage broker they are willing to put you in contact with – this lender will be someone they have done business with in the past, and feel comfortable recommending. However, if you decide to do a little comparison shopping and look for a lender on your own, here are a few important questions to ask.

What loan programs do you offer and which one do you think is best for me?

How long will the loan approval process take?

What line items of the loan agreement – if any – are negotiable?

What is your policy for locking in interest rates, and will you honor a lower rate if it declines during the lock-in period?

Are there fees for prepaying on my loan?

I saw this and thought it was cool. Install a dishwasher.

Hey All,
My partner, Tom recently redid his Kitchen. Something I have not yet had the pleasure of doing. One of the things we had to do was install a dishwasher. I wasn't against the idea of helping, but I thought you had to be a pro to do something like that. Its actually a very 'do it yourself' job. Perhaps if I saw this video before hand it would have been even easier. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

...first day on the Blog...


This is exciting because it is the first day of blog posting for us. For those who don't know us we are 'Jack and Tom'. Local Realtors with Global Realty Marketing and we are both Regioal Marketing Directors with World Leadership Group; the parent company of Global Realty Marketing and others. We proudly serve Berks and Montgomery counties in South Eastern PA, though flying out to another state to meet a client or a new team member is certainly not unheard of.
One can learn more about us by visiting our website: www.IKnowJackandTom.com and click on about us. You may also search for all kinds of properties for sale there. If you can't find what you're looking for our team will gladly research it for you.

You may chat instantly with us through AOL by adding the screen name Iknowjackandtom to your buddylist.

We will do our best to keep this updated with new listings, stories, tips and helpful hints and anything else we can think of so check back often!

Jack Johnson and Tom Orlando