I'm a single parent of 2 pre-teen kids, I'm considering buying my first home. I could probably afford a house around 150k. I'm looking

Asked by Mom-to-2, Philadelphia, PA Mon Nov 9, 2009

for reccomendations as to what are great areas to look in.

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26
Voices Member, , Benton County, OR
Fri Dec 4, 2009
Jefferson

You're comment made about Agents and the way they respond...You may have any opinion ect. about the policy/rules they are constrained by (as you pointed out you are not constrained by them) but the Agents are by stiff penalties set by the GOV.

You may disagree, think it is stupid, whatever, but the bottom line is they are constrained by law and have a policy they need to adhere to in order to be in compliance with the law....

To slam Agents because they are following the rules seems unfair especially if you are a person who wants Agents to play by the rules......

It's the Gov.'s opinion that matters here, not yours, mine, Nars, or agents......
2 votes
Voices Member, , Benton County, OR
Fri Dec 4, 2009
Jefferson

"Fair Housing Focus" publication, produced by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Make sure you don't inadvertently violate the Fair Housing Act by steering a customer to or from certain neighborhoods.
April 2009

Direct them to the police. If buyers want to get a picture of the area’s crime rate, direct them to the police department or other sources of information. Don’t disclose crime statistics or say a neighborhood is a safe place to live even if you believe it to be true.

Stick to the rules. If buyers persist in asking questions that could result in a charge of steering against you, be polite but firm in telling them: "I’m sorry, but I can’t provide that information. Fair housing laws prevent me from steering people away from or toward a certain neighborhood based on race, color, or other protected categories." Help buyers get their own information.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Agents are trying to be in compliance with the Fair Housing Act and the useless phrase "please consult with the police department in that area regarding it's safety, etc blah blah" is exactly what they are required to say in order to be in compliance.

Dunes
2 votes
SARAH SCHNEI…, , Broomall, PA
Wed Dec 9, 2009
Dear Mom-to-2,

It's all about due lilgence. We as real estate agents are not permitted by law to "tell" you which areas we think are great to live in. We CAN, however, inform you on the value of the homes are in that area, recent sales and any new businesses or developments. But it all comes down to you doing the DD on your end.

The very best thing you can do is search the neighborhood associations in your destination neighborhood and contact them for more information. They are not agents and have abaolutely nothing to gain or lose by offering you an objectivbe opinion Thans to all of the powerful search engines now available on the web, all you need to do is add , say, "South Philly neighborhood asocitions" or "Fishtown civic groups", or wherever you are considering looking and someting will come up.

Then visit the area at various times of the day and night and talk with the neighbors and local business owners, and take their pulse on the area.

What will ALWAYS determine where you can live of course, is your housing budget. That is the very first thing you need to get COMPLETELY in line before doing any searching. And a good agent can help you do that.
1 vote
Jeff K, Home Buyer, Bristol, PA
Fri Dec 4, 2009
Agreed! I'm looking forward to disagreeing with you again ... soon I hope :-)
1 vote
Jeff K, Home Buyer, Bristol, PA
Thu Dec 3, 2009
Bruce,

It's super nice to finally see an Agent saying things about what areas are safe, and which are fraught with crime. Most just utter the useless phrase, "please consult with the police department in that area regarding it's safety, etc blah blah".

Good for you!

Jeff
1 vote
Bruce Alwine, , Philadelphia, PA
Wed Nov 11, 2009
Mom-to-2,

Here is a great link for Philadelphia School District Rankings: http://www.greatschools.net/pennsylvania/philadelphia/high-s…

I would recommend that you look in the Greater North East. The neighborhoods are very safe and well maintained. The homes (mostly row homes) are nice sized and well taken care of. It a great place to raise a family. Parkwood and Fox Chase are very nice neighborhoods. Areas like Fishtown, and Port Richmond are still in good standing
In the North West you may want to look into Roxborough / Manayunk, and East Falls. Northern Liberties is on the rise with alot of money being put into building it up. Some parts of South Philly are excellent, but some parts are crime ridden. Areas to avoid because of crime, drugs, etc. would be Southwest Philly and most of West Philly, North Philly (Kensington, Tioga, Somerset, etc.) and Frankford.

There are some excellent neighborhoods on the outskirts of Philadelphia in Delaware and Montgomery Counties as well. I have lived in all 3 counties and would love to offer more advice if needed. Feel free to contact me by phone or email.

Bruce Alwine
Bristol Real Estate
215-542-7700
484-535-0880
brucejr@comcast.net
1 vote
Mark Wilkins, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Trevose, PA
Wed Jan 27, 2010
Sit down with a mortgage pro in your area. Have them help you to see what you can be pre-approved for and see if it can work with your monthly budget. Dont forget just because you can be pre-approved for a certain amount dosent mean you can buy up to that amount. You need to make sure it works with your budget.
0 votes
Gita Bantwal, Agent, Jamison, PA
Sun Jan 10, 2010
The first step is to determine your budget and your needs. Make sure you are pre qualified and also know the total housing expenses involved.
You can then look for listings on the internet to get an idea of homes available in that price range . As for the areas you want to look in, it depends on whether you want to be close to your job, or recreation or you are looking for special programs at schools for your kids.You can search listings using different criteria and also look at school reports.
You can go to a few open houses and talk to neighbors. A good agent can show you homes and help you negotiate the price and guide you throughout the process. .
Web Reference:  http://www.gitabantwal.com
0 votes
Dan Chase, Home Buyer, Texas City, TX
Sun Dec 6, 2009
Dunes you are correct. I left one word out. (quoting NAR). occasionally I think faster than I type. Sorry about the mistake. I realized you were quoting another. That was why I put the parenthesis in.
0 votes
Mike Rosania, Agent, Philadelphia, PA
Sun Dec 6, 2009
As a home buyer you should definitely be doing your diligence when choosing a place to move you and your family. What may or may not be a "good" area really depends on who is asking the question. There are so many resources for people to do their "homework" and research whatever is important for them to make a decision. Who wants to live in a crime ridden neigborhood with bad schools etc., no one! But that is the world we live in and crime is everywhere. In buying a house there is a lot of compromising for the average person, giving and taking in order to find which best suits their needs whether its price, locaton, schools, etc.

As an agent it is sometimes hard to follow the law but as previuosly mentioned we have no choice because of the potential repercussions and for good reason. In my market there are many "up and coming" areas that were once considered undesirable places to live and now they are starting to see positive changes.

Real estate agents are hired represent your interests in both buying and selling real estate. We are hired to help people make informed decisions and know their rights in these transactions and guide them through the process. We are hired to negotiate. We are hired because of our expertise in particular areas. We are not hired to tell you where to live!

I am glad to see that there are consumers out there that do understand the challenges we face as agents. We can get in trouble for even inadvertently steering people (basically someone just saying we did) into certain areas.
0 votes
Voices Member, , Benton County, OR
Sat Dec 5, 2009
Dan

I did not say that and you are not quoting me.......

That is from "Fair Housing Focus" publication, produced by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

The entire quote from that publication was...

Make sure you don't inadvertently violate the Fair Housing Act by steering a customer to or from certain neighborhoods.
April 2009

Direct them to the police. If buyers want to get a picture of the area’s crime rate, direct them to the police department or other sources of information. Don’t disclose crime statistics or say a neighborhood is a safe place to live even if you believe it to be true.

Stick to the rules. If buyers persist in asking questions that could result in a charge of steering against you, be polite but firm in telling them: "I’m sorry, but I can’t provide that information. Fair housing laws prevent me from steering people away from or toward a certain neighborhood based on race, color, or other protected categories." Help buyers get their own information.


I was just providing an example of the importance they place on complying with the Fair housing Act...

As far as the fairness, silliness, importance of that Act I believe that's another whole conversation...There are many reasons that act was created many of them still exist and it's law...If it's a good law or not doesn't change the fact that Realtors have rules ect. to follow so they are not breaking the law.

I think we want them to follow the law...
0 votes
Jeff K, Home Buyer, Bristol, PA
Sat Dec 5, 2009
Hi Dan,

Well the idea is that real estate agents are "not qualified to make statements regarding the safety of an area". They are after all, NOT "experts" in public safety - the police are, right? There are a lot of rules like this. Some of which are to prevent agents from steering clients away due to bias, others to prevent them from steering due to "lack of the expert knowledge that would be required for them to make such a statement". Some of these rules are there to protect them from themselves (getting sued, having grievances filed against them, etc).

The list of stuff like this goes on and on. Consider how many times you'll see an agent say, "consult a lawyer about that", "consult a mortgage broker on that", etc. When it comes right down to it, most agents aren't allowed to say much more than, "Gosh what a lovely home this is", "I could really see your son enjoying running around in that yard", "would you like to buy it", "you should offer full asking price", etc.
0 votes
Dan Chase, Home Buyer, Texas City, TX
Sat Dec 5, 2009
Dunes, you said (quoting) "Fair housing laws prevent me from steering people away from or toward a certain neighborhood based on race, color, or other protected categories."

Since when were criminals and criminal activity a "PROTECTED CATEGORY"?

I understand saying being of a specific ethnic background you should go to a similar ethnic background neighborhood would be wrong. But saying crime is high here and low there only points out government statistics. HOW can it be wrong?

I really do not get it.

p.s. up here in Maine almost everyone (96.9% in 2000) is white. Almost all of the criminal activity is done by whites. That means crime rates are not racial at all.
0 votes
Voices Member, , Benton County, OR
Fri Dec 4, 2009
I don't know Jefferson the line of those waiting/wanting to disagree with me is pretty long, it may be awhile ; )

Glad very glad to see you around....
0 votes
Voices Member, , Benton County, OR
Fri Dec 4, 2009
Jefferson

I don't "feel that strongly about it"

In this Forum I have complimented Agents and argued often with them (I've given you a good number ot TUs for doing the same)

I have often complained they were not following the rules, did not understand them or they did not care...

FAIR IS FAIR...When they are following rules or the law (Made by the Gov not them) then it hardly seems fair to slam them for doing so.......

They are required to respond the way they respond and I congratulate them on being in compliance

I just don't believe I have much of a right to voice an opinion that they need to adhere better to some rule/laws but they should ignore others...

I have no undying loyalty nor am I defending the part of the Fair housing act they must comply with, I'm just saying it is required of them and see no point in slamming them because they are..

We just disagree on this one but that's OK, I think that would make the tally 306 times I agreed with you to
1 time I didn't ; )

Best to ya, Dunes
0 votes
Jeff K, Home Buyer, Bristol, PA
Fri Dec 4, 2009
If you feel that strongly about it, then I guess that Bruce will have a grievance filed against him then ... but I say Kudos to the man
0 votes
Jeff K, Home Buyer, Bristol, PA
Fri Dec 4, 2009
Hi Dunes,

I'm "aware" of the Fair Housing Rules. Like you, I'm a non-agent, so I don't have to comply or care about them. I'm more interested in the quick dissemination of good information. I'm sure that Mom-to-2 is far more concerned with the environment that her two children will be safer to live in than whether there has or has not been "some bending of a rule" in the ACCURATE answer to her question. From my standpoint, there are clearly times when these rules - their intent and their application - are ill-aligned. This is common to most rules and laws.

I'm only 20 miles North of Philly and can concur that many areas around Philly are less-than-safe - to say the least. To say, "Areas to avoid because of crime, drugs, etc. would be Southwest Philly and most of West Philly..." is quite factual, I ASSURE you. This isn't steering. It's as un-biased as saying "you can get a great cheesesteak at Big John's".
0 votes
Delia Peters…, , Jenkintown, PA
Thu Dec 3, 2009
I realize its been awhile since you've asked your question. How is your new home search coming along? Do you have a real estate professional educating you, guiding you and representing your best interest as of yet? If not, I'd like to share with you the link below. HUD is considering "raising the bar" for FHA financing. Some of these changes include:

-Reducing the maximum permissible seller concession from 6 percent to 3 percent
-Minimum borrower FICO score will be raised although the final number has not yet been determined
-up-front cash that a borrower will be required to bring to the table for an FHA-backed loan will also be increased (as of now only 3.5% is required

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions on how these changes may affect your home search. I also provide Free Home Finder services as well as Buyer Independence.

Best Regards,

Delia Peterson
0 votes
Jien, , Philadelphia, PA
Tue Nov 10, 2009
Hi, There. You have made wise decicision with your plan to buy your first home. Since your questions is not really specific so you could Ask your self in order to answer your questions.

Are you happy with the situation on Where do you live and work right now? If you like with where you live right now How's your children school in your opinion? Do you find something need to be changed for your children educations or activities, neighborhood for them to grow up with?
Some people willing and be able to sacrifice for something to be improved, especially for our kids.
For example I have found for my client a house where the parent willing and able to sacrifice about the
time and distance to commute from their new house to their job FOR special educations or better school
for their kids.
I reccomend you go to Delaware County area for better and Best School if you live and work closed to Philadelphia area

Good luck for everything and Please call me @ 267-879-2641 or e-mail me if you need more informations or real estate services
0 votes
Voices Member, , 19128
Tue Nov 10, 2009
Can you let me know where you are living now.? Most people with children search for homes, based on schools and convenience to work. If you can give me some details of where you would like to be, I can do an updated search and keep you updated daily to new listings and price changes. I am a Philadelphia agent, but also do surrounding suburbs. Lisa 610-322-1502 cell or email is soldinthecity@yahoo.com
Web Reference:  http://soldinthecity.net
0 votes
Mike Rosania, Agent, Philadelphia, PA
Mon Nov 9, 2009
Might I first ask where do you live now? Are you happy with the area in which you live? As with the previuos answers Im sure schools are probably of interest. You will also want to work with an agent who is familiar with the area you want to live. I would suggest calling around and "interviewing" a few agents to see who you are comfortable working with and confident that they can get the job done. Feel free to contact me anytime with any questions or concerns that you may have. Good luck.
0 votes
Kathleen She…, Agent, Philadelphia, PA
Mon Nov 9, 2009
I specialize in the Northwest neighborhoods of Philadelphia and the nearby suburbs. There are homes here in nice areas in your price range. I would be happy to share information with you about these areas to find out what would work for you. You can find more neighborhood information on my blog. http://PhiladelphiaHomes.Wordpress.com
0 votes
Renee Porsia, Agent, Newtown, PA
Mon Nov 9, 2009
Hello Mom-to-2

If you could provide a bit more information that would be very helpful. Where would you like to live?

Also, when you say $150k, what are you basing that on? Were you already approved by a lender or is this just what you are figuring?

It's really hard for any Realtor to actually recommend any particular area because what someone might consider to be a great place, you might now. My best advice to you would be to take a drive around various areas at different times and different days so you can get a feel of areas. You could also check with the local police district in the area of where you would like to live to get the crime statistics. Thats always a great help.

Your next step would be to hire a buyer agent to represent your best interests. If you don't know any buyer agents you can find one here on Trulia by simply reading the answers to your questions and then viewing profiles and then calling to speak with the Realtor. It's very important to have a buyer agent to protect you.

Finding a buyer agent who is an expert negotiator is extremely important.

After you hire your buyer agent, if you weren't already approved by a lender, the buyer agent may have some names of lenders their past clients worked with who they can refer to you.

You should also make sure that you have money for a down payment as well as closing costs which are two different things.

Thats a good start for you.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Renee Porsia
Associate Broker
RE/MAX ACTION
(215) 669-0589 Direct
(215) 358-1100 Office ask for Renee
http://www.reneeporsia.com
0 votes
Marie Simone, Agent, Ridley Park, PA
Mon Nov 9, 2009
Hello,
I am wondering if you need to stay in the city? I am sure with children just a step away
from attending high school that the schools would be a top priority for you. There are some
very affordable areas with fantastic schools just outside of the city.
You can call me anytime to discuss.
Thank you,
Marie Simone
Century 21 Absolute Realty
484-620-2621
See my profile at century21absoluterealty.com
0 votes
Leon Aksman"…, Agent, Philadelphia, PA
Mon Nov 9, 2009
Philadelphia offers many wonderful family oriented areas. Now it's a buyers market , so it's a great time to get serious & find a great deal & a great home. Schools would clearly be a concern for you & i'm sure space for pre-teens :) Please call me at my profile number or you can email me leon@RealHomesPA.com to start your new home search. Dont forget you now have extra time to get the $8000 first time buyer home credit!
Web Reference:  http://www.RealHomesPA.com
0 votes
Sean Dawes, , Philadelphia, PA
Mon Nov 9, 2009
Do you need to be near anything? How about port richmond, fishtown, mayfair, parkwood. Also certain parts of 19114, 19115.

So much to choose from. Do you have any criteria?


Sean Dawes
0 votes
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