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A chat with Jan LeSuer, Realtor

Posted on: February 23, 2017

Where are you working today/where are your appointments:

It is an exciting beginning to the year, and my schedule today reflects that. I am spending some time at the office, but have already been to Ardmore, Mount Airy and Wyndmoor. Both listing homes and walking a client through the inspection process.

Where is your favorite on-the-go lunch choice?

Tacos! Mi Puebla in Mount Airy, or El Limon in Conshohocken and Ambler. Pho is another lunch favorite. There are a variety of great noodle places on Adams Avenue off the Boulevard.

Do  you have a favorite new restaurant that you are really excited about?

Banjara Indian Restaurant in Chestnut Hill. Martha and I love Indian food.

What do you like to do in your free time – besides selling real estate?

I try to swim laps everyday. In warm weather there is nothing more relaxing for me than getting out our 38 pound Kevlar canoe and hitting the lakes and rivers, birding along the way. We hike a lot up at the Pulpit and Pinnacle, near the Appalachian Trail, and further north too. But, my ideal heaven is a great meal, probably prepared by Martha and me, and long rambling conversations with friends with plenty of good wine.

iPhone or Android?

I have an Android. I am not an Android.

What does your perfect weekend look like?

Well, one of those two days I will be showing houses, which is always fun. At home, our granddaughter Cece will be joining us for a sleepover, with first a walk at the Morris Arboretum, and then Frozen and popcorn. The next day Martha and I will get the canoe out or head to the Shore for a few hours. Dinner is likely to be at Phil’s in Blue Bell. Incidentally, Phil’s has the best martinis in the area. You’re welcome.

What is your favorite dessert?

Crème brûlée. (Best I ever had was at the Angry Trout restaurant in Grand Marais, Minnesota one January, sitting just above a crystallized Lake Superior with a slim pane of glass between me and the 20 below weather outside. Ambiance is so much a part of dining, don’t you know.)

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

This is an impossible question to answer! I love both big cities and wilderness, and extremes in climate, so both hot places and very cold. I guess it depends upon the mood, whether we want laid back or something more intense. Probably our most successful have been to places like the Yucatan and Costa Rica where we can combine both.

Martha and I just got back from a week staying with friends and clients in the Florida Keys. One is the production designer for the Netflix series Bloodline and the other acts in the show with Sissy Spacek. Not only was the kayaking, snorkeling and birdwatching spectacular but going on the set to watch the acting and taping was amazing.

We really mix up the types of vacation. Over the years some adventures have taken me to Africa, Alaska, Hudson Bay, the Oregon Cascades, Costa Rica, and of course, Mexico. Martha and I love Isla Holbox off the Yucatan. Look it up.

My dad always wanted to see Tierra del Fuego, so for his 75th birthday I took him on a long tour of Patagonia, both in Argentina and Chile.

I have seen condors, scarlet macaws, and all kinds of wildlife along the way. I was up at Hawk Mountain one day this past November and saw 11 eagles, both Bald and Golden, in one day.  Last year Martha got us on a boat out of Cape May that took us to the Continental Shelf, 100 miles out for a day and a night to see pelagic birds unseen on land. It was tremendous.

What is your favorite season of the year?

I like the turn of the seasons, the transitional moments of the year.

What is your favorite style of house?

As I said, we just got back from the Florida Keys. While in Key West I became aware of “eyebrow” houses there. They have extended awnings that descend below the upper floor windows providing some longer hours of shade during the summer heat. They are just beautiful homes, with of course, lovely flora surrounding them.

Why did you decide to become a realtor?

I love people, all types, in all stages of life. There is not a better way to get to know people closely than real estate. The relationships, which are built out of an intense experience, can last and last. Every deal is different, the people involved have different motivations and vision. Guiding folks through either the process of buying or selling is exciting, and every day is new and completely different than the day before. Clients become friends and then clients again as they proceed through their lives. I have done many things in my life… Peace Corps volunteer, teacher, librarian, elected official… nothing has been as satisfying.

To contact Jan, call 610-952-6805 or email janlesuer@elfantwissahickon.com

Visit Jan’s Homepage here!

Jan LeSuer

Jan Hiking in Cascades

Jan- Hiking in Cascades


4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

Posted on: February 15, 2017

By: G. M. Filisko at Houselogic.com

By knowing how much mortgage you can handle, you can ensure that homeownership will fit in your budget.

Homeownership should make you feel safe and secure, and that includes financially. Be sure you can afford your home by calculating how much of a mortgage you can safely fit into your budget.

Why not just take out the biggest mortgage a lender says you can have? Because your lender bases that number on a formula that doesn’t consider your current and future financial and personal goals.

Think ahead to major life events and consider how those might influence your budget. Do you want to return to school for an advanced degree? Will a new child add day care to your monthly expenses? Does a relative plan to eventually live with you and contribute to the mortgage?

Consider those lifestyle issues as you check out these four methods for estimating the amount of mortgage you can afford.

1. Prepare a Detailed Budget

The oldest rule of thumb says you can typically afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. So, if you earn $100,000, you can typically afford a home between $200,000 and $300,000.

But that’s not the best method because it doesn’t take into account your monthly expenses and debts. Those costs greatly influence how much you can afford. Let’s say you earn $100,000 a year but have $1,000 in monthly payments for student debt, car loans, and credit card minimum payments. You don’t have as much money to pay your mortgage as someone earning the same income with no debts.

Better option: Prepare a family budget that tallies your ongoing monthly bills for everything — credit cards, car and student loans, lunch at work, day care, date night, vacations, and savings.

See what’s left over to spend on homeownership costs, like your mortgage, property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable.

2. Factor in Your Downpayment

How much money do you have for a downpayment? The higher your downpayment, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you put down at least 20% of the home’s cost, you may not have to get private mortgage insurance, which protects the lender if you default and costs hundreds each month. That leaves more money for your mortgage payment.

The lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for and the higher your monthly mortgage payment.

But, if interest rates and/or home prices are rising and you wait to buy until you accumulate a bigger downpayment, you may end up paying more for your home.

3. Consider Your Overall Debt

Lenders generally follow the 43% rule. Your monthly mortgage payments covering your home loan principal, interest, taxes and insurance, plus all your other bills, like car loans, utilities, and credit cards, shouldn’t exceed 43% of your gross annual income.

Here’s an example of how the 43% calculation works for a homebuyer making $100,000 a year before taxes:

  1. Your gross annual income is $100,000.
  2. Multiply $100,000 by 43% to get $43,000 in annual income.
  3. Divide $43,000 by 12 months to convert the annual 43% limit into a monthly upper limit of $3,583.
  4. All your monthly bills including your potential mortgage can’t go above $3,583 per month.

You might find a lender willing to give you a mortgage with a payment that goes above the 43% line, but consider carefully before you take it. Evidence from studies of mortgage loans suggest that borrowers who go over the limit are more likely to run into trouble making monthly payments, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warns.

4. Use Your Rent as a Mortgage Guide

The tax benefits of homeownership generally allow you to afford a mortgage payment — including taxes and insurance — of about one-third more than your current rent payment without changing your lifestyle. So you can multiply your current rent by 1.33 to arrive at a rough estimate of a mortgage payment.

Here’s an example: If you currently pay $1,500 per month in rent, you should be able to comfortably afford a $2,000 monthly mortgage payment after factoring in the tax benefits of homeownership.

However, if you’re struggling to keep up with your rent, buy a home that will give you the same payment rather than going up to a higher monthly payment. You’ll have additional costs for homeownership that your landlord now covers, like property taxes and repairs. If there’s no room in your budget for those extras, you could become financially stressed.

Also consider whether or not you’ll itemize your deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t also deduct mortgage interest payments. Talking to a tax adviser, or using a tax software program to do a “what if” tax return, can help you see your tax situation more clearly.

 


A chat with Joanne Colino, Realtor

Posted on: February 14, 2017

Where are you working today / where are your appointments?

In the City of Philadelphia, City of Brotherly LOVE for Valentine’s Day

What is your favorite on-the-go lunch choice?

Jules thin-crust pizza, keeps a girl slim and trim

Do you have a favorite new local restaurant or business that you are really excited about?

Anywhere on Germantown Ave, Mt Airy, Chestnut Hill is a little respite during your day

What do you like to do in your free time – besides sell real estate?

Hang at the beach!

joanne lll

What does your perfect weekend look like?

Sunday Football, when in season

iPhone or Android?

iPhone all the way!

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

Santa Fe, NM

What is your favorite dessert?

Red wine in a large glass

How do you organize your day?

Old habits die hard

Tea or coffee?

Coffee to pump you up, tea to relax

What is your favorite style of house?

Clean

Vacation Type: Adventurous or relaxing?

Room Service

What is your favorite season of the year?

Games of Thrones, winter is coming

Why did you decide to become a realtor?

I love challenges and meeting new and interesting people from all walks of life

What is your favorite part of being a realtor?

Multiple offers!!

To contact Joanne, call 215-920-6464 or email jcolino@aol.com

Visit Joanne’s Homepage here!

joanne ll

joanne

joanne i


A chat with Deb Stanitz, Realtor

Posted on: February 3, 2017

What did you do before you became a realtor?

I am an Artist by training having earned my BFA and MFA and practiced as a sculptor primarily in welded steel, glass and light. For many years I designed and fabricated furniture as well as teaching Art at the University level. I loved helping students visualize their ideas and master the skills to realize those visions. How things are put together is a passion of mine, from conception/visualization through execution. In addition I have spent many years recreating my own home in Manayunk/Roxborough.

Why did you decide to become a realtor?

I love people and realized I could use these skills to help other people visualize their new home and assist them if realizing that dream. I love problem solving and I am very detail oriented, all very helpful attributes in navigating a Real Estate transaction.

Where is your favorite place to vacation or to relax?

Getting out into nature is a must for me, be that into the Wissahickon Gorge or the mountains of Vermont, Pennsylvania, Colorado or Peru. When I need a break I love going birding with my husband, Leo, sometimes just a day trip to some of the great birding spots near Philadelphia in PA and NJ or on an extended trip like Costa Rica. Yet, I still love to check out museums, other artist studios and gallery shows. It gives me pleasure supporting other artist by collecting their work.

What does your perfect weekend look like?

Leo is a fabulous gardener and has made our tiny garden an oasis. Photographing the textures, colors and natural wonders of his garden, the Wissahickon Park or other natural locations is how I stay connected to my visual creativity. I frequently use these photos in my marketing.

Do you have a favorite new local restaurant or business that you are really excited about?

We enjoy Craft Beers and good creative food shared with friends. McMenamins Tavern in Mt Airy is a favorite of ours for years and recently we discovered The Pub of Penn Valley in Narberth.

What do you like to do in your free time – besides sell real estate?

Many early mornings a week you will find Leo and me power walking on Forbidden Drive or on the secluded trails of the Wissahickon Park. It is, also, important to me to nurture long time friendships and several early mornings each week I am on the phone with friends who live in other states. These friends have known me through many stages of my life some as far back as Jr High School and they represent industries as diverse as clothing manufacturing, aerospace engineering, a student of Ram Das, symphony violist, lawyer and psychologist. Getting support and perspectives from these areas of expertise is fascinating and enriching.

To contact Deb, call 267-235-7028 or email deb@elfantwissahickon.com

Deb Stanitz

Some of Deb’s photography work:

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Photo IV

Photo II

Photo III


A chat with Patrick Walsh, Realtor

Posted on: January 27, 2017

What do you like to do in your free time – besides sell real estate?

In my free time I like to see live music as often as possible. Whether it be in a small, intimate club setting or an arena rock show, live music has always been something that I’ve been passionate about. I also enjoy exploring Philadelphia’s exploding culinary scene. There is a seemingly endless list of restaurants and bars that I have yet to visit, as new places continue to open so frequently.

What is your favorite season of the year?

My favorite season of the year is Autumn. This has a lot to do with living in/around Northwest Philadelphia. The foliage along the tree lined streets of East Falls, Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill has always amazed me. Autumn in this area is truly breathtaking!

Tea or coffee?

Coffee. Always coffee.

What is your favorite style of house?

My favorite style of home has to be the old, stone Singles found throughout Northwest Philadelphia, in particular in Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy. The sheer size and age of the homes are enough to impress, but most seem to have features unique unto themselves. They tend to tell a tale about the previous owners throughout the years, and I love the historic aspect of these properties.

What is your favorite on-the-go lunch choice?

I’d have to say my favorite on-the-go lunch choice is Green Soul in Chestnut Hill. They have an excellent selection of ready-to-go juices and smoothies, as well as delicious made-to-order wraps and sandwiches. I’ve also been known the frequent Chubby’s Steaks in Roxborough, trying to cut back, so delicious!

To contact Patrick, call 609-529-4080 or email patrick@elfantwissahickon.com

Patrick Walsh Patrick Walsh (photo f. blog)


A chat with Marissa Brooks, Realtor

Posted on: January 20, 2017

Where are you working today / where are your appointments?

All over! I spent the morning in West Philly, quick stop in Mt Airy, the afternoon in Port Richmond, and happy home to my fam in South Kensington.

What is your favorite on-the-go lunch choice?

Reading terminal all the way. So many great stalls to choose from! Some days a piece of cheese from Downtown Cheese and a baguette from Metropolitan OR Four Seasons Juice Bar (next to Market Blooms) and a pretzel from Miller’s twist.

Do you have a favorite new local restaurant or business that you are really excited about?

PlayArts at Front and Thompson opened in September and it is a wonderful business! It is a beautifully rehabbed old municipal pool building turned into a spectacular play space complete with sensory, art, music, and dance classes. From infants on up, it is a great addition to the neighborhood.

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What do you like to do in your free time – besides sell real estate?

When I’m not showing houses or chasing a toddler around, I love to cook!!

iPhone or Android? 

iPhone

What is your favorite dessert?

Pizza 🍕

Tea or coffee?

Coffee – I’m very spoiled since the flagship La Colombe is just a few blocks from my home.

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La Colombe Coffee Roasters, Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia

What is your favorite part of being a realtor?

Helping people take the next step in their lives. In my experience, physically moving is usually a manifestation of change in life, and it isn’t always young people starting fresh or growing into a “dream home”(though that is really fun!). Sometimes it’s because of death, divorce, retirement, or downsizing. A house can come to symbolize so many very personal things for people; a loved one that resided in it, a relationship that may not have worked out, a space that whole generations of a family have been raised in… It isn’t always an easy thing to do, but it is extremely rewarding. The purchase or sale of real estate is a very empowering experience.

Visit Marissa’s Facebook page here!
marissa-brooks

Marissa Brooks

 

 

 


Christmas Lighting Tips to Save Time and Money

Posted on: December 21, 2016

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon @ Houselogic.com

Here’s how to light up your Christmas light display safely and economically.

Christmas lights can be modest displays to show good cheer, or million-bulb light-apaloozas that draw gawkers from near and far.

Here are some tips on how to get the most from — and spend the least on — your holiday display.

1. Safety First

Emergency rooms are filled with homeowners who lose fights with their holiday lights and fall off ladders or suffer electric shocks. To avoid the holiday black and blues, never hang lights solo; instead, work with a partner who holds the ladder. Also, avoid climbing on roofs after rain or snow.

2. Unpack Carefully

Lights break and glass cuts. So unpack your lights gingerly, looking for and replacing broken bulbs along the way.

3. Extension Cords Are Your Friends

Splurge on heavy-duty extension cords that are UL-listed for outdoor use. To avoid overloading, only link five strings of lights together before plugging into an extension cord.

4. LEDs Cost Less to Light

LED Christmas lights use roughly 70% to 90% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. You can safely connect many more LED light strings than incandescents. Downside: Some think they don’t burn as brightly as incandescent bulbs.

5. Solar Lights Cost Nothing to Run

Solar Christmas lights are roughly four times more expensive to buy than LEDs, but they cost zero to run. They’re a bright-burning, green alternative. Downside: If there’s no sun during the day, there’s no light at night. The jury’s also still out on how long they last; they’re too new on the market for results.

6. Dismantle Lights Sooner Than Later

Sun, wind, rain, and snow all take their toll on Christmas lights. To extend the life of lights, take them down immediately after the holidays. The longer you leave the up, the sooner you’ll have to replace them.

7. Plan Next Year’s Display on Dec. 26

Shop the after-Christmas sales to get the best prices on lights and blowups that you can proudly display next year. Stock up on your favorite lights so you’ll have spares when you need them (and after they’re discontinued).

8. Permanent Attachments Save Time

If you know you’ll always hang lights from eaves, install permanent light clips ($13 for 75 clips) that will save you hanging time each year. You’ll get a couple/three years out of the clips before sun eats the plastic.

9. Find Those Blueprints

Instead of guessing how many light strings you’ll need, or measuring with a tape, dig up your house blueprints or house location drawings (probably with your closing papers) and use those measurements as a guide.

10. Store Them in a Ball

It sounds counterintuitive, but the best way to store lights is to ball them up. Wrap five times in one direction, then turn the ball 90 degrees and repeat. Store your light balls in cardboard boxes, rather than in plastic bags: Cardboard absorbs residual moisture and extends the life of your lights.