Archives: July 2008

New Housing Legislation

Posted on: July 31, 2008

Most of you will have heard that President Bush signed into law legislation that will help almost half a million homeowners avoid foreclosure on their homes. Though the criteria for receiving assistance might seem complicated, spells out whether you can qualify for assistance:

“Qualified borrowers must live in their homes and have loans that were issued between January 2005 and June 2007. Additionally, they must be spending at least 40% of their gross monthly income on all household debt to be eligible for the program.

They can be up to date on their existing mortgage or in default, but either way borrowers must prove that they will not be able to keep paying their existing mortgage – and attest that they are not deliberately defaulting just to obtain lower monthly payments.

Before homeowners can get FHA-backed mortgages, they must first retire any other debt on the home, such as a home equity loan or line of credit. Borrowers are not permitted to take out another home equity loan for at least five years, unless it’s to pay for necessary upkeep on their home. To get a new home equity loan, borrowers will need approval from the FHA, and total debt cannot exceed 95% of the home’s appraised value.

The New York Times summarizes the rest of the bill very well here, which included about $15 billion in housing-related tax breaks.

All of this news and information about a ‘foreclosure epidemic,’ although very serious, doesn’t necessarily pertain to the Philadelphia area. Though many areas throughout the country saw extremely inflated sales prices over the last years, and are now experiencing a glut of active housing inventory, values in our marketplace remain strong. Sales prices for houses in places like Miami and San Diego rose about 50% from 1999 to 2004, where Philadelphia saw a more modest growth of 27%. Average ‘days on market’ have gone up, but only to levels still below those in 1999. Well priced, well prepared properties are still selling, even with competitive offers in some cases.

Philadelphia is a beautiful, walkable city, where people want to live. Interest rates are still low and home buyers in Philadelphia, I believe, are making a sound financial decision.

This post compiled sources from Trend, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and

Posted by Paul Walsh



Lunch and Learn…what is the FHA Streamlined 203(k) loan program?

Posted on: July 18, 2008

A couple of times each month, our company hosts a lunch meeting for our agents and a mortgage professional. These lunch meetings keep our agents up to date with the ever changing mortgage market. (Informed agents are able to provide the best possible service to our Seller and Buyer clients.) We call these meetings “Lunch and Learns.”

Craig Smith, a Loan Officer with Mortgage Master, Inc. was our guest speaker this week. The lunch menu was pizza; Craig’s topic was the FHA loan program: “Streamlined 203(k).” The pizza was delicious; Craig’s presentation was extremely informative.
I thought I’d share some of what Craig had to say…

The typical residential mortgage does not allow you to finance the cost of repairs to a house. The FHA Streamlined 203(k) allows home buyers to finance not only their “acquisition cost,” but also up to $35,000 in non structural repairs/upgrades to the property being purchased.

Think about that for a minute. Lets say you find that perfect house, great location, great layout, but maybe its missing a few key features like a deck, a finished basement or, let’s say (on a ninety degree day like today), central air conditioning. This FHA loan program will allow you to borrow additional dollars over and above your mortgage amount to make these types of improvements to your dream home.

Like most loan programs the “Streamlined 203(k)” has certain requirements – the main one is that you must be an owner occupant. For the most part, however, this program lives up to its name – Craig Smith called it the “rehab loan without the hassles.”

To find out more about this loan program, visit HUD’s website.

Posted by Paul Walsh



Providing Knowledge . . . Delivering Results

Posted on: July 14, 2008

This tag line appears on Elfant Wissahickon REALTORS® on-line web and print advertising. It is what we do to help our Seller and Buyer clients achieve their housing goals.


Ok, what knowledge would be useful to have for Sellers thinking of Selling their home within the next 12 months?


It would be helpful to know the best timing for attracting motivated Buyers.


Are there seasonal cycles?


You bet there are!  The two primary selling seasons are Spring and Fall. The Fall selling season begins immediately after Labor Day. Buyers who want or need to get into a new home by the end of the calendar year will be out in force looking for homes in September, October and the first half of November. Sellers considering taking advantage of the coming Fall selling season should be preparing their homes now.


How should you properly prepare your home to achieve the highest return on your investment?


Stay tuned, we’ll be providing helpful hints in posts to come.

In the meantime, our ‘All Points Checklist for Selling Your Home’ can be found here.


For more personalized information and advice, feel free to call one of our 60 Elfant Wissahickon REALTOR® professionals.

Our Mt Airy Office: 215-247-3600

Our Roxborough Office: 215-487-3300

Our Flourtown Office: 215-233-3434

Posted by Larry DiFranco



Happy 4th of July!

Posted on: July 7, 2008

As my family and I celebrated Independence Day, I reflected on how proud I am to be a co owner of an independent real estate firm.  Our brokerage, created in 1993 from the two most successful independent real estate firms at the time, has consistently sold more houses in northwest Philadelphia than any other Realtor*, and has grown to sell more houses in Philadelphia than any brokerage without a national franchise*.

Being a wholly locally owned and operated brokerage has its advantages.  There is always an Broker-Owner available to our agents and our clients.  All of our departments are in house.  We have an extensive in house training program, IT and marketing departments, all done in our offices.  That offers our agents and our clients convenience and control.

Our agents live in, work in and donate their time to support our community.  That means our agents come with firsthand local market knowledge and expertise.  Our access to local resources is further increased by our presence in the community.  We support, and encourage our agents and clients to support locally owned businesses.  I’ve talked about the amazing community spirit you’ll find in northwest Philadelphia, and we are pleased to be a part of that.

Our agents are the reason for our success.  My partners and I want to thank them for all of the hard work they put in to satisfy their clients and keep us at the top.  They make up our family, and they make us the best.

From our family to yours, we hope you had a safe and happy holiday!


Posted by Paul Walsh

Paul Walsh

Paul Walsh


*According to Trend, the Multiple Listing Service of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors, January 1, 2007 through December 1st, 2007.