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By Frank Dolski Associate Broker | Agent in 18901
  • What is a U & O? Does Every Township Require Them?

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Montgomeryville, Property Q&A in Montgomeryville, Home Ownership in Montgomeryville  |  April 10, 2014 6:04 AM  |  184 views  |  No comments
    As an Associate Broker/Realtor, my job is to inform buyers and sellers if a U & O is required prior to settlement.  This Typically from State to State, Township to Township and is a very important aspect of being able to settle on a property.

    According to the definition in Wikopedia, a U & O is:

    1. Use and Occupancy. An official authorization or permit to inhabit a building or dwelling, usually issued upon successful completion of a final building inspection after construction and/or renovation is complete. Also referred to as a "certificate of occupancy" or "occupancy permit".

    I list and sell many homes in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. One of the areas that requires a U & O is Wawrick Township.  This is required for all new construction and for resale. The use and occupancy requirements vary form each area and it is imperative as a Realtor, buyer or seller, that you familiarize yourself in the areas which you are looking to purchase or sell a home. Typically, you can go to the township website and obtain the information and forms for this process.

    Buckingham Township only requires a U & O for new construction and not for resale. Chalfont Boro requires a U & O for new construction and resale but Solebury Township only requires one for new construction. As you may well find out, they differ in scope in each area.  In fact, there are ordinances that must be followed in each township and fines could be given.  Please give yourself 3 to 4 weeks for inspection prior to settlement and any items that need repair must be done prior to settlement unless that area issues a temporary U & O which gives the new owners time after settlement to repair the issues if any. Some of the items that are tested are smoke detectors, indoor fire sprinklers and more.  

    Please contact me if you are cons1dering to list or buy a home and I will be glad to assist you in this process. There is a difference!

    Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
    Associate Broker
    Certified Relocation Specialist
    Previews Luxury Home Specialist
    Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
    215-803-3237 (mobile)
    215-794-1070 x-103
  • Preparing Your Home For Sale! IT Makes A Huge Difference!

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Montgomeryville, Curb Appeal in Montgomeryville, Design & Decor in Montgomeryville  |  April 2, 2014 7:51 AM  |  355 views  |  No comments

    When you are putting your home up for sale, you have two main goals; a timely sale, and receiving the best possible price.  In order to achieve these goals, your home needs to present itself in the best possible light. While every home shopper has different ideas about what the 'perfect home' is, you as the seller need to ensure that your home appeals to the widest variety of home buyers possible.

    How Does Your Home Stack Up?

    According to a survey put out by the National Association of Home Builders  "What Home Buyers Really Want", home buyers desired the following features most:
  • Energy Star-rated appliances — 94 percent
  • Laundry room — 93 percent
  • Energy Star-rating for the whole home — 91 percent
  • Exhaust fan in bathroom — 90 percent
  • Exterior Lighting — 90 percent
  • Bathroom Linen Closet — 90 percent
  • Energy Star-rated windows — 89 percent
  • Ceiling fans — 88 percent
  • Garage Storage — 86 percent
  • Table space for eating in kitchen — 85 percent
  • Walk-in kitchen pantry; ability to stock up and buy food and supplies in bulk — 85 percent
  • As you may have noticed from the preferences above, green is gold.  Buyers are looking for homes that are energy efficient, providing an overall lower cost for owners to run the home.

    Other surveys have uncovered the desire for develop function rooms with zones for entertaining, working, family activities, and retreating. This is true of the kitchen as well since it serves as the hub for social activity in the home. Kitchens should be open with an island that serves as both additional eating space and a divider from the great room.

    Outdoor living space serves as an extension of living space for the home.  Ground floor walk outs and covered patios are high on many buyers wish lists. Outdoor fireplaces and cooking areas are an attractive way to showcase an outdoor living space.

    "To dos"
    What can I do to make sure my home shows its best?

  • Yard
  • Your yard is the first thing a buyer will see and is the basis for your home's first impression. Make sure the yard is well manicured, no leaves or branches on the ground and all beds freshly mulched.. You may want to leave a pot of red or yellow flowers by the front door - research shows that this helps to sells homes faster!

  • Clean & Shiny
  • All home surfaces should be clean and the air should be fresh smelling. If there's a smoker in the home, be sure to remove all ash trays and make sure that your home does not contain smoke odor. Consider smoking outdoors while the home is on the market.
  • Bathrooms need to be spotless, no towels lying around, toys in the tub, ring in the toilet, etc. Ensure that they sparkle and smell fresh everyday. Make the beds and develop all bedrooms each day and especially prior to all showings.

  • De-clutter
  • While you may become accustomed to things lying around your house, try to look at your home the way a buyer would.  Inspect all surfaces and floors; don't forget about the closet! Removing clutter will make the home appear larger. As a rule of thumb, there should be no more than 3 kitchen appliances on the counter top and as little as possible on the bathroom counters. Less "stuff" on counters show more room! It's ok to leave out a few of your child's favorite toys and a few family photos to give that good, cozy feel'. Tip - For those smaller items lying round the home, have some plastic laundry baskets handy so you can throw any clutter in them and take them with you when the home is being shown. Also, have a 'pet plan' - to remove pet toys, food bowls,etc. as well as the pet anytime the home is shown.

  • Organize
  • Straighten up and dust bookshelves. Use the bookshelf rule of three; 1/3 books, 1/3 pictures and accessories, and 1/3 open space.
    Organize closets, ensuring items are hanging nicely and everything has its own space.
    Since the pantry &  laundry room both rate high of the list of things buyers want, buyers will be interested how you are utilizing these spaces.  It's important to make sure they are neat and well organized. 

  • Updates
  • Complete the 'honey-do' list. Finish all those small repair jobs you've been working on or putting off. Even the smallest repairs can be an indicator of non obvious problems lurking below and the surface, and be a put off to the buyer.
  • Paint colors can be daunting - too much white gives an institutional feeling while bold colors can be off putting. The key is using neutral colors.  Neutrals appeal to a wide audience and is your safest bet.
  • Changing out old door knobs, light fixtures and kitchen cabinet knobs will give you a big bang for your buck. According to Realtor Magazine, buyer now want more efficient and smarter home! If you really want to give your home a strong selling advantage, consider upgrading your kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite counter-tops, this is sure to win over the pickiest of buyers. 
  • One of the greatest comments that I often hear is that a seller may not want to paint or upgrade because the buyers may not like it! Not true! I utilize professional interior designers at no cost to help you to pick paint colors and suggest ideas to improve the overall appearance of your home. Whether you are picking paint, carpet or granite counter top colors, I can certainly assist you in this endeavor.

    Chasing Buyers Away
  • Trends of the past that no longer appeal to some home buyers include: a shower-only stall in the master bath and a two-story entry foyer, which is viewed as costly to heat and cool. Home-buyers want to live in an area that has walking and bicycle paths, with community landscaping of green spaces.  But keep in mind that every buyer is different in terms of needs or wants. Laminate or tile counter tops, laminate cabinets, one car garages, wallpaper, and popcorn acoustic ceilings are a big "no-no". Pet odors, musty or wet basements, unclean homes, poorly lit rooms, older carpeting and more are just a few of the things that chase buyers away. And one of the worst things to do is for a seller to hang around during the showing! Buyers and their agents want to freely walk around and discuss the home.

  • Preparing your home for sale can seem overwhelming at first. Utilize a professional Realtor and home staging expert to help you develop a customized plan of action. The results will be amazing and the return on investment will be worth it! You must do everything possible to make your home stand out among the your competition! Lighting rooms before showings and having your home show in the best possible way will pay back dividends. I strongly recommend a company called Creative Staging. They are amazing!
  • Please contact me if you are considering to list or sell your home now or in the near future. There is a difference! Let me show you how.

  • Frank Dolski MBA, ABR, e-PRO
    Associate Broker
    Certified Relocation Specialist
    Previews Luxury Home Specialist
    Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
    Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
    2012 Coldwell Banker International President Elite Award
    Coldwell Banker International President Circle Award
    2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President's Circle Award
    215-803-3237 (mobile)
    215-794-1070 x-103
  • Paying The Property Tax Bill............No "Tip" Necesary!

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Montgomeryville, Home Selling in Montgomeryville, Financing in Montgomeryville  |  March 2, 2014 5:05 PM  |  388 views  |  No comments

    Taxes, something we all have in common, something we dred and something we are preparing for right now.
    Morgan Stanley got it right when they released an advertisement stating, "You must pay taxes. But there's no law that says you've gotta leave a tip." Yes, you'd probably be hard pressed to find someone who feels that they pay too little taxes or would voluntarily pay a little extra.  Most of us spend this time of year organizing, calculating, and tabulating, hoping and wishing for the illusive tax refund.  While there's not much you can do about the past year, you can take proactive steps now to reduce your property tax burden for the upcoming year.

    What is Property Tax?

    Every parcel of land, and any improvements (structures) thereon is "assessed", or valued, by a state certified assessor under the direction of the County Assessment Office. The value that is placed on the property will determine how much tax you will pay.
    Property tax is used as a source of revenue by county government, school districts and most of the municipalities in Pennsylvania to pay for public services.

    How is my tax determined?
    Property taxes are calculated using the following equations:

    Market Value X Assessment Ratio = Assessment

    Assessment X Millage = Property Taxes

    Market Value
    The first number in the equation that you need to identify is your property's 'market value'. This value generally refers to what a ready, willing and able buyer might pay for the property in the current market. This value can be obtained either by hiring a professional appraisor or by doing a little leg work on your own and calculating it yourself.
    If you opt to calculate this yourself, there are three steps to arrive at your value.
    1) Identify a resource or website that can help you find recent real estate sales data for your area. E.g. local tax records websites or website of a local Realtor
    2) Utilize your resource to find 3 homes that have sold near your home within the last six months. It is important to find recent sales, so that you are getting an accurate picture of the current market. These homes are called your "Comps" or Comparable Sales. Comp homes should be in the same school zone, similar in size, type of construction and have the same features as yours.
    3)Calculate the average sales price of the three homes. Once you have an average price, you'll want to determine a dollar amount, or "Adjustments", for any upgrades or amenities that your property has that the others don't. Conversley, if your home is missing something that the others have then you want to subtract a dollar amount from your home's value. Dollar amounts to add or subtract will vary, specific to your local area and you may need the help of a professional, like an Appraiser, Realtor or Tax Assessor.

    Assessment Ratio or Common Level Ratio (CLR)
    The CLR is determined by the PA State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) on an annual basis for each county. The CLR is an average of assessments to sale prices.
    The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue provides an updated list of the CLRs for the state.  Click HERE to access the list for your county's specific ratio.

    Millage Rate -The property tax rate is expressed as a per mil (amount of tax per thousand currency units of property value), which is also known as a millage rate or mill. To calculate the property tax, the authority will multiply the assessed value of the property by the mill rate and then divide by 1,000. To view the current Bucks County Millage Rates, click here.

    When assessments are conducted the owner is mailed a "Change In Assessment" notice. All property owners have the right to appeal if they do not agree with the assessment of their property.

    Appeals Process

    Property owners have an opportunity to appeal their assessment once a year, the appeal must be filed on or before August 1 for any effective assessment change on January 1. By appealing, the property is open to the re-valuation process in which the property assessment may be lowered, raised or remain the same.  If the assessed value is less than the current market value, it may be best to leave the assessment figure alone, or the challenge could result in higher taxes.

    If you choose to Appeal your Assessment, the first step is to submit an assessment appeal application - Bucks County Property Assessment Appeal, as found on buckscountyboa.org. The Assessment Office has implemented Resolution #1-2008 which requires a processing fee for each parcel appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals. The fee for each residential property will vary by County, but is currently $35 for Bucks County.

    The Appeal Hearing

    Once your application has been submitted, you will be notified of a hearing date to review your case.  The property owner is requested to attend but if unable to do so, may send someone else to provide representation with a letter of authorization. If more than one person owns the property jointly it is not necessary that all the owners appear at the hearing.
    The process is relatively simple, a residential hearing lasts about 5 minutes. The burden of proving to the board that the assessment on your home is incorrect rests with the property owners. The assessment will be presumed to be correct until the property owners come forward with credible evidence to prove otherwise.The property owner has the opportunity to present information such as a recent appraisal or recent sales documentation for sales "comps" in their area.  If the home was recently purchased, the settlement statement can be used as evidence of fair market value, to support the case.The property owner may also present other information that may have an impact on the value of the property.

    The Board of Assessment Appeals may request that the property owner provide recent photographs (front and rear) of the property, including any recent physical changes to the exterior of the property.

    Based upon the documentation provided by the property owner, the Board will determine a fair market value for the property. The Board will then by statute, apply the appropriate Common Level Ratio (CLR) to the fair market value to arrive at the new assessed value.

    The Board generally renders a decision within 3-4 weeks of the hearing date and notifies the property owner in writing. All townships/areas differ in their appeal process so contact your local tax office/court house for timelines and process.

    Please contact me if you are looking to apppeal your taxes as I help many people each year! Also, please contact me if you are thinking of buying or selling a home. There is a difference!

    Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
    Associate Broker
    Certified Relocation Specialist
    Previews Luxury Home Specialist
    Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
    Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
    2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
    2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
    215-803-3237 (mobile)
    215-794-1070 x-103
  • What Factors Do You Consider When Selecting A Realtor?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Montgomeryville, Home Selling in Montgomeryville, Home Ownership in Montgomeryville  |  June 10, 2013 5:29 AM  |  409 views  |  2 comments
    You are about to choose a Realtor to list your home or represent you as a Buyer's Agent. Does the agent have knowledgeable? This is an Accredited Buyer's Representative who is a member of Animated. When considering which Realtor/Broker that best suits your needs, you must determine their qualifications, area knowledge and which agent best fits your needs. Let's face it, people  tend to gravitate towards those who are like themselves, as this is who they feel most comfortable . Secondly, you need to establish your goals for your working relationship; do you want someone who will put in enough to get the job done, or do you want someone who will go that extra mile? 

    Personality type - who do I work best with?

    According to Mike Ferry, Real Estate Coach and Leader, there are four distinct personality types, each having their strengths and weaknesses. Which style can you most readily identify with?

    - Detail oriented
    - Perfectionists who take a systematic approach to getting things done
    - Low level of emotion
    - Indecisive
    - Great team players
    - Do what's best for the group
    - Seeks approval of others
    - Avoids confrontation
    - Warm & friendly

    - Demanding, abrupt
    - Gets straight to the point, no fluff
    - Likes facts & figures but not as detail oriented as analytics

    - Animated, sometimes loud
    - Has a story for almost everything
    - Flashy cars, clothes & lifestyle
    - Center of attention
    - Runs late to meetings
     -Enjoys being spontaneous

    Additionally, there are a key set of traits that have been identified amongst successful agents, these are: collaborative, curious, future focused, self-fulfilled, tech-savvy, and action oriented. 

    No matter which personality style you decide upon, you have some basic expectations that all Realtors should meet.

    Getting the job done

    What should I expect from my Realtor?
    A buyer’s agent should be knowledgeable about your area of interest as well as the homes that are available that meet your needs. They must also be accessible,  assist with negotiating the price of your new home, guide you through all of the required paperwork and help with identifying potential lenders. They should be present at the home inspection and negotiate the the reply to inspection as required. Your Realtor should provide a time-line and insight through all potential contingencies during the process from contract to closing! They should also attend settlement and be available long after settlement! 

    For sellers, Realtors should help set the price of the home, based on a competitive market analysis (CMA), utilize a variety of resources to promote your home including websites, photos/videos, direct mail, magazines, social media and more! If you are a transferee with relocation company, you must make sure that your agent is familiar with the process and all of the required paperwork and protocol. Relo certification is also a great indicator of their experience with relocation. They should proactively survey the condition of the home for staging, financial-cluttering and updating (if required) and have a variety of resources readily available to accomplish these tasks.  Ultimately, your home should be in prime condition right from the time the For Sale sign goes up! When that offer comes in, the agent should help you to navigate through the agreement of sale, buyer's conveniences and recommend a strategy to accept or counter any offers, leading to a finalized sale.

    Going The Extra Mile

    What extras would be nice?
    Sure, we want our agent to fill the requirements as outlined above, but what else may I put on my wish list?

    I want...

    1. A qualified agent who has their pulse on the entire market, in terms of both resale as well as new construction. Someone who can tell me what's up and coming or what areas have seen decreasing prices in recent times. In order to do this, they must know there market area well!
    2. Someone who carve out a lifestyle that can enhance my present way of life. Knowing what I want and identifying ways to fill those gaps. For instance, if I am interested in fitness and the outdoors, my Realtor would recommend homes with direct access to either hiking and or wilderness trails. 
    3. Someone who is able to help me get connected in a new community! Someone who can recommend great local restaurants based on my tastes, point out conveniences and entertainment near my new home such as shopping, museums and local activities. Introduce me to neighbors and help me to best adjust to our new home and area.
    4. Be available long after settlement as a resource for information about the area as well as contractor contacts for work that may need to be done soon or down the road.
    This wish list is what separates the good Realtors from the great Realtors.  Someone who desires to build a lasting and meaningful relationship with their clients, rather than someone who is in the real estate business solely for the sale.  

    Finally, you should ask for references and recommendations from previous buyers and sellers. Personal referrals and references are great indicators of a Realtor's performance and attention to their clients.

    What Agent is right for you and what are your specific requirements?  I would love to hear your wish list!

    Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
    Associate Broker
    Certified Relocation Specialist 
    Previews Luxury Home Specialist
    Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors 
    Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For All Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
    2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
    2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
    215-803-3237 (mobile)
    215-794-1070 x-103

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