Blog Archive for September, 2015

Mortgage rates are still low…but not forever

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 25, 2015

Not long ago, homebuyers reigned in the housing market. Home prices dropped dramatically after the 2008 financial crisis, and mortgage rates fell to an all-time low. People who were ready and able to purchase a new home reaped the rewards of under-valued home prices and historically low mortgage rates.

In 2012, home prices were below the fair value of the properties, lower than they had been since 1998. Since March 2012, those prices have been creeping up. Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research predicts that prices will continue to climb slowly for the next few years.

While the real estate market has rebounded, we’re still seeing people who are waiting and watching. But why wait?

Mortgage rates are still extraordinarily low. A 30-year fixed rate is currently as low as 3.75%, not far from the record low of 3.31% in late November 2012. Like the housing price, these interest rates have come back, but not by much. In fact, Freddie Mac reported that current rates have risen half a point since February 2015.

That’s good news for homebuyers. You can still get a great value on a new home while leveraging the low interest rates. However, you need to act. Mortgage rates are expected to continue to rise over the next two years. Forecasts are predicting a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage to go as high as 4.61%, almost a point higher than the current mortgage interest rate.

You might also qualify for a loan with a low or zero downpayment. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offer mortgage products that offer great rates with little or nothing down.

Remember, predictions are just that. We can only guess what is going to happen to the housing market in the near future. But with the current home values and low mortgage interest rates, now is the time to make the move.

Weekend Round Up | Top 5 Things To Do This Weekend

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 18, 2015
Top 5 Things to Do this Weekend | Lehigh Valley

Top 5 Things to Do this Weekend | Lehigh Valley

There is never a shortage activities to do in the Lehigh Valley on any given weekend through out the year and Fall is no exception.  The weather this weekend is supposed to be spectacular so get out there and enjoy the community you live in! We have rounded up our top five picks for this weekend that will be sure to please the guys, the ladies, friends and families alike -so get out and grow!

1. Family time – No weekend in September is complete with out taking the family to Pick Your Own Apples! Our pick for this weekend is Grim’s Orchards in Breinigsville.  They are currently picking:  HoneyCrisp, RubyMac, Buckeye Gala, and Daybreak Fugi!  All the apples you want for just a $1.69 per lb.  Pick now, bake later!

2.  Beer lovers we have you covered – Celeberate Oktoberfest early this year!  The 2015 Bear Creek Oktoberfest will be held on September 20, 2015 at Bear Creek Mountain Resort and Conference Center. This festival will take place from 11am-5pm and will be held outdoors in the base area.  Guests will enjoy traditional German music and folk dancing, and even German themed games.  Enjoy your own Oktoberfest package for just $25.  Package includes a festival T-shirt, Beer Mug, ticket to the event and 1 mug fill up.  Sounds like a win win to us!

3.  Foodies Unite – Head to the Easton Farmers Market, America’s longest continuous running open-air market.  Their Saturday market is open rain or shine every Saturday in Centre Square from May 2nd through November.  This weeks featured event is the Hot Pepper Eating Contest.   HOT HOT HOT – EFM’s infamous “10 Deadly Peppers” Contest starts at 11:30 am on the Square.

4.  Art on the Waterfront – The Arts Community of Easton is proud to present the 19th Annual Riverside Festival of the Arts, a two day outdoor event featuring fine artists, crafts people, musicians and authors.  Over 70 fine artists and fine craftsmen compete for recognition and $1600 in cash prizes. Regional bands and songwriters perform at Scott Park all weekend long.  There will also be a Children’s art projects booth, featuring art activities and give aways from local sponsors like Crayola.

5.  Sing, Dance & Play at Steelstacks – Little ones will love this!! Join Music Together teachers from The Meandering Monarch and Valley Music Together as they lead families in sing-a-longs, dance and movement, and playing rhythm instruments, all to award-winning Music Together songs.  This free concert is part of the popular P’s and Q’s series presented at the community stage at Air Products Town Square.

Save the Date | Family Fun at Tuskes Community Park

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 17, 2015
Touch A Truck | Tuskes Community Park

Touch A Truck | Tuskes Community Park

Save the Date!

Touch a Truck will be returning again this year to Tuskes Community Park at Eagles Landing in Nazareth on October 3rd from 10 am -2 pm. Touch a Truck is a fundraiser in support of the Memorial Library of Nazareth and Vicinity. We are a proud sponsor of this great community event and hope to see you there!
This popular outing is perfect way to spend the day with little ones and big kids at heart who love trucks of any kind! This event will be held rain or shine. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the library. $5 per ticket or $20 for 5 tickets. Each ticket earns you a chance to win a raffle basket!

Enjoy Your Outdoor Living Space All Year

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 17, 2015

When people talk about outdoor living space, all thoughts seem to head towards summer cookouts. Once the autumn weather slips in, however, you have plenty of time and activities to enjoy outside on your patio, deck, balcony, and yard.

Seasonal outdoor decorating is as festive outside as it is inside your home. Add autumn colors and décor, like pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, and wreaths. Place easy-to-tend container gardens with hardy plants like kale, asters, mums, and sedum, which can tolerate the chill but keep your outdoors colorful and alive!

Change your outdoor color scheme by swapping out the cushions on your patio furniture. It’s a good time to clean and stash the summer cushions. Have some warm lap throws available for use outdoors, too. Lay down an outdoor rug to cozy up an area for fall.

When winter rolls around, turn your outdoor living space into a winter wonderland, with twinkling white lights around the area. Add splashes of blue decorations—hanging from the trees, perched on walls, or nesting in the snow—to accent the winter white.

A cozy fire is a welcome spot in fall and winter. Use your fire pit for warmth and cooking—or add an outdoor fireplace. Roast marshmallows for s’mores or try your hand at outdoor cooking. Check out some campfire recipes here.

Do you have a pergola? If not, consider adding one. It’s a fairly simple task. In any season, this minimal enclosure can define an area while still being outdoors. When the fall sets in, you can cover the pergola with a canopy for a bit more shelter.

Even when the temperature drops a bit, you can still go outdoors and play, no matter your age. In the fall, lawn games like croquet, bocce, badminton, and cornhole will keep you active enough to stay warm.

Even if you decide to stay indoors during the winter months, invest some time in decorating your outdoor living space so you can enjoy the view. Birdfeeders, solar lights, and a stack of colorful pots will perk up a barren landscape and stave off the winter doldrums.

Fall Lawn and Garden Cleanup Checklist

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 10, 2015

As much as you may hate to admit it, summer will come to an end. Autumn slips in, with that recognizable chill in the air and the fluttering leaves falling from trees to the ground, where you’ll have to rake them.

Nature has its way of putting the summer plants to rest before the cold weather arrives. But you still can make it easier to wake it from the winter hibernation by following this fall lawn and garden clean-up checklist.

Lawn and garden clean-up

  • Rake your garden beds, getting rid of the dead annuals, weeds, and other debris that can attract bugs.
  • Fertilize your lawn between September and mid-October to feed it essential nutrients before the winter.
  • Resist the temptation to prune your trees and bushes. This action encourages new growth, which will die during the winter. The best time to prune is in the early spring, at the start of the growth season.
  • Gently till the garden soil, which both aerates it and exposes insects that will survive the winter underground.
  • If you plan to plant a new garden bed in the spring, cover the area with plastic or mulch to prevent further growth.
  • For the final mowing of the fall, set your mower to cut the grass shorter.
  • Prepare garden beds now for spring planting by testing and amending the soil with compost, and adding a layer of mulch to prevent weeds in the spring.
  • Remove and discard any diseased plants; don’t mulch or compost them.

Perennial care

  • Remove any delicate bulbs or tubers that won’t survive the winter, like dahlias and gladioli. Dig them up and store the bulbs in brown paper bags or newspaper in a dry area. For further protection, pack the wrapped plants in Styrofoam peanuts.
  • Once the ground has hardened, cut back the stems of hardy perennials to no more than three inches in height. Blanket them with mulch or straw for protection.
  • If you have some crowding in your perennials, dig up the bulbs, divide the root ball, and transplant portions.
  • Plant the spring-blooming bulbs before the ground hardens.

Tool time

  • Drain the fuel from your lawn mower, trimmer, and any other garden power tools.
  • Clean the blades and handles of your garden tools.
  • Drain your hoses before rolling up and storing them.
  • Clean the birdfeeders.

A little extra effort now will save you more time in the spring!

Choosing the Right Size Home For You

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 4, 2015

When you’re house-hunting, do you ever feel like Goldilocks? This one is too big. This one is too small. How do you know which home is the perfect fit?

Right-sizing your home and your life is important to today’s homebuyers. When you factor in the maintenance, utilities, taxes, and comfort, you realize that the choice of your next home should be based on more than love at first sight.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you’re looking for a new home.

  1. What can I afford now and in the future? Look at your financial situation. Will the cost of purchasing and maintaining this new home prevent you from meeting your savings goals? Remember, that just because you are pre-approved for a particular mortgage amount doesn’t mean that you should spend that much. Be clear on your expenses and goals before committing to your new home.
  2. How much time do you have for home maintenance? Whether it’s more rooms to clean, a yard (and maybe a pool) to keep up, and possibly some aging systems or spaces that need updates, some homes need more tender loving care than others. A big yard is beautiful, but can you keep it looking nice? If not, can you afford to pay someone to handle the task (see question #1)? Do you like to travel? If you’re on the road, is your home easy enough to lock up and go, without worrying about its care and feeding?
  3. Is there room to grow—and do you need it? Calculate the number of rooms and square footage you need to be comfortable—and be realistic. Will your family be growing? Will you need a home office in the future? Is it possible an aging relative might live with you? Does the new home have enough storage space or will you have to de-clutter—and CAN you?
  4. Where do you feel comfortable? Do you like big spaces or is cozy a better feel for you? Do you need a getaway in your home? Will a spacious spa-like bath be a valuable retreat? Do you need space to accommodate hobbies, like a workshop, fitness room, or craft studio? Don’t compromise on the true comforts that make your house a home.

When you’re in the process of house-hunting, look at a wide variety of sizes and styles. Take note of the layouts you like, the room sizes that feel right, and the outside space that seems like a good fit for your comfort zone. Take the time to make a list of your new home priorities, and keep that with you as a checklist when looking at properties, so you aren’t swayed by appearance. Remember, size only matters when it’s the right size!

ask martha

Ask Martha!

email phone chat