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What renovations add value to your home?

Before listing your home for sale, you must first make sure it will create a buzz among potential buyers! You likely have already heard about the need to de-clutter, de-personalize, and deep clean… but what renovations can you do to add value to your home?

Taking the time to prepare your home and making the investment in upgrades before listing for sale will help in getting more potential buyers coming through your door and maximizing your profit.

Renovations, whether large or small, can make a big impact on getting your house sold. They can also create a big hole in your wallet if you don’t know which ones will pay off.

Here are some renovation ideas to consider:

Roof – While a new roof may not add immediate value to your home, it may help it sell faster. When a buyer spots a leak, nothing else matters! Advertising a new roof in your listing is a big draw for house hunters.

Curb Appeal – First impression is the key! If your home doesn’t look inviting on the outside, nobody is going to want to go inside. A nicely manicured lawn, colorful flowers, and a welcoming entrance way will catch a buyer’s eye. Applying a fresh coat of paint on the front door and power washing walkways are also easy upgrades.

New Deck/Patio – Adding a new deck or patio can recoup approximately 84% when selling a home. A weather treated wooden deck is a nice selling point!

Kitchen – Kitchens are easier to update than one might think. Consider adding new appliances and lighting. Adding new fixtures, a back splash, and new counter tops can make a big impact.

Bathrooms – Simple updates such as new hardware, fixtures, and lighting can make a dated bathroom feel refreshed. Removing old caulking and adding new can make a bathroom look cleaner and neater. You may also consider removing a shower door or curtain to create a more spacious feeling.

Windows – New windows are a good selling point as they lower energy costs. Wooden windows are admired for their classical elegance and relative scarcity in the marketplace and can significantly improve the value of your home to the right buyers.

Central Air – Adding air conditioning is a good upgrade especially if you are selling in the warmer seasons.

Bonus Space – Attics are often unused space in homes that may be suitable as home offices, TV rooms, art studios and even bedrooms. The buyer will see potential for personal use as well as knowing that all areas of the home are sustainable.

Siding – Upscale fiber-cement siding can actually recoup the same amount or more money than you spend on it. It is relatively easy to install and is virtually maintenance free once installed and painted.

Closets – Reorganizing small closet spaces and adding wood elements like shelves creates a tidy look.

Cosmetics – A fresh coat of neutral color paint can go a long way! Pay attention to the details such as replacing outlet covers, light switch plates, and heat registers.

Remember that most buyers are beginning their search online, so investing in upgrades that will jump out to those browsing photos online is important. When you make the decision to sell your home, first think through a plan of action to assure your house will be competitive in the market. A house is a product in the real estate market. You want to make sure the presentation of your product compliments that value you are seeking.

For additional guidance, call your local real estate specialist and schedule an in home consultation!

Preparing to sell your home_

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Sunday Story – From NJ to Philly

Collingswood Train Station 1941

The Camden & Atlantic Railroad ran from Camden to Atlantic City. The Collingswood station was built in 1885 at Collings and Atlantic Avenues. The train would carry passengers to Camden where commuters would transfer to a ferry to cross the Delaware river.

This photo is from January 27, 1941. (Credit: ‘Images of America – Collingswood’ by Janet Spavlik)

Having Collingswood on the railroad map helped the growth of the communities as it offered easy transportation for commuters!

In 1931, the Delaware River Bridge (today the Ben Franklin Bridge) was given permission to construct a high speed transit line connecting Philadelphia to Camden.

After years of planning, engineering, and construction, the Patco Speedline began operation on February 15, 1969.

Today the station looks different, but the elevated tracks still run along Atlantic Avenue. New Jersey has nine stations that run from Lindenwold through Camden. The rail line transports 39,000 commuters a day.

We continue to see the same growth in the neighborhoods surrounding the Speedline from commuters who are attracted to the walkable, suburban communities that sit just outside the city lines.

From Collingswood to 8th and Market in Philadelphia is just a 14 minute ride!

Learn more about Patco’s stations and fares on their website:

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Real Estate Market Update – August 2018

Do you know what’s going on in today’s real estate market?

It is important for your Area real estate Specialist to keep you up to date with what is happening in the market. Here is a quick snapshot looking at what is going on in the New Jersey communities we serve:

Low housing inventory cannot keep up with the high buyer demand. As a result, we are seeing an increase in home values.

Interest rates are climbing, but are still favorable for buyers.

The statistics below show the increase in AVERAGE SOLD home prices from 2017 to 2018 (Jan-Jul) for some neighborhoods within our service area.

Collingswood – 14.2% INCREASE
Haddon Township – 19.3% INCREASE
Haddonfield – 7.1% INCREASE
Oaklyn – 11.5% INCREASE
Audubon – 14.26% INCREASE

For a detailed report on your home, contact Main Street Realty today!

Market Report 2018

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Main Street Realty Agent Spotlight: Paul Ciervo

August’s Main Street agent spotlight is Paul Ciervo!

Paul grew up in Oaklyn and graduated from Collingswood High School in 1976. He married his wife, Joyce Iezzi (Collingswood class of 1976) in 1976. They have 3 children, Cari Anne (Rick Koss), Paul Ciervo Jr. (Jenna Tabako) and Jana Ciervo (Dan Mazzo). They also have 7 Grandchildren – 3 boys and 4 girls ranging from 3 months to 19 years old.

Paul graduated from Morehead State University, Morehead, Ky., with a bachelor of science in environmental and military science in 1980. In June of 1980 he was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps and was a distinguished military graduate.

Paul is a Master Aviator with more than 3,000 flying hours and has received numerous flying safety awards as well as numerous military decorations. He is fixed wing rated as well as rotary wing qualified in numerous aircraft.

In 1995, Paul received his real estate license. When he retired from the military in 2004, at the rank of Colonel, he joined his brother Pat at Main Street Realty to begin his full time real estate career.

Over the years, Paul has become an integral member of the community. He and his family have been Collingswood residents for over 34 years! He coached little league, boys and girls soccer, and basketball for over 20 years. He also assists in the holiday parade and the Mayfair every year.

“I really enjoy the small town feel and the close knit community of Collingswood. It feels like we have over 14,000 neighbors!”

“I like showing people how home ownership is easier than they think. I also like showing buyers that a home investment builds a firm foundation to financial freedom.”

Contact Paul to discuss your real estate buying and selling needs:

Paul Ciervo #AreaSpecialist

Paul Ciervo, Main Street Realty
Paul Ciervo, Main Street Realty
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Top 10 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Spring

The National Association of Home Builders suggests these top 10 tips for home owners to check for damage and make sure your home is ready for spring from top to bottom.

spring maintenance

  • Roof Inspection – including skylights, shingles, and chimney flashing. Ensure that these are intact and that any and all repairs are made


  • Gutters – Should be cleaned of debris and repairs made from winter damage. Loose or blocked gutters can allow water into the home.


  • Check for leaks – Hard to find leaks can occur in crawl spaces, attics and washing machine hoses. Check for corrosion under sinks. Check the water heater for deterioration.


  • Outside Drains – exterior and underground drains should be cleared of debris to inhibit any backups


  • Siding – check for any loose pieces due to winter storms and replace as needed.


  • Windows and door seals – Keep these watertight by ensuring caulking is in tact on the outside


  • Cracks – Cracks in driveways, sidewalks and steps should be patched as this will prevent any further water damage


  • Paint the Exterior – The exterior of your home will look nicer and painting it will help shield against the elements


  • HVAC – Hire a qualified technician to inspect your HVAC system before the temperatures get high. Replace HVAC filters now.


  • Grading – The grading of your yard should slope away from your home. This keeps moisture away from the foundation.


The NAHB suggests planning now as professional remodelers and home inspectors will be busy this time of year and may have a backlog of work due to the winter season.


View full article here;



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3 Next-Gen House Hunting Tips for Singles

The American household has changed – big time. More and more, people get married later in life, if at all. Many even go from married to single and back multiple times throughout their lives. This all means that more and morepeople are buying homes while single. Many unmarried folks are buying homes to live in on their own, while others are looking for homes to live in with their children, parents or other partners – past, present and future.

If you’re embarking upon the process of buying a home on your own, here are a few things to factor into your thought process and your action plan:

1. Solo doesn’t necessarily mean condo. A decade or two ago, many single house hunters were automatically directed toward low-maintenance condos and townhomes. And truthfully, some singles still enjoy the tax and financial advantages of ownership without the responsibilities of caring for lawns, roofs and other so-called “single family home” features they have no use for.

That said, the descriptor of a detached, standalone property as a “single family home” is woefully out of date. Many single people are electing to purchase detached homes for a number of reasons. Chief among them include:

  • Needing the square footage to allow their household to expand to include future partners, future children, adult children, or even elderly parents
  • Needing extra rooms (or even extra apartments!) to rent out, do hobbies in or run a home business from, and
  • Having the outdoor space for dogs, cats, horses and vegetable gardens, oh my!

If you are dreaming of a life in more of a home than your friends and family members think you can handle and you can well afford the home of your dreams, don’t be daunted. Reach out to other people in your circle of friends who are single and own either single family homes or condos and townhomes to get a sense for their experience. If you decide to go with a condo, make sure you read the HOA disclosures thoroughly and that you understand what you’re getting for your HOA dollars. (Hint: HOA dues often cover expenses you would pay out of pocket otherwise, like waste management fees, landscaping, building insurance and even roof and window maintenance.)

But if you do decide to go the single family home route, make sure you ask your circle (and your agent) for referrals to the contractors, gardeners and handyfolk who can make home maintenance on your own much more doable. It takes a village to maintain a home over the long run. So get a village!

2. Pay extra close attention to home inspections and home warranty provisions. Much of what’s scary about solo home ownership are the seeming risks around things that could go wrong. The most common such fear is a valid one: What happens if something goes wrong with the house? With just one income, it can be frightening to think of how rapidly a lemon of a house could rock your entire financial world.

There are a couple of tools you can build into your transaction that can massively mitigate just this risk. First, your home inspections. Most people think of home inspections as almost pass-fail: if they reveal devastatingly expensive issues, they back out of the deal. But if they don’t surface any fatal flaws, the deal is on.

Single home buyers should view their home inspections as the opportunity to spend a few more hours in the home, discovering its warts and all, before they move forward with the deal. Take special care to attend your inspections in person, ask the inspector to show you the issues they find while they’re on site. Read the reports and get any follow-up inspections or repair bids before your contingency period runs out. That way, you’ll have a concrete idea of the financial exposure to repairs that are needed right now while you can still either (a) negotiate to get the seller to chip in or (b) back out of the deal without penalty, if you need to.

The second tool is a largely underrated one: your home warranty plan. Most buyers get one, and often sellers pay for it. But what many buyers don’t realize is that (a) they can pay to upgrade the plan so that the warranty company will cover a wide assortment of future home repairs, and (b) they can and should renew their home warranty plan annually, in the future. Having the ability to ring up the home warranty company and spend $50 for a service call when your water heater, furnace, or plumbing goes on the fritz can dramatically reduce the fear factor of solo home ownership.

3. Consult with legal and financial pros before you buy with a relative, friend or partner. Buying a home with a friend, a parent, a sibling or even a life partner can seem like the cure for what ails a single person’s home buying situation. Namely, it injects additional financial resources, allows you to buy a pricier (read: larger, nicer, better located) property than you could on your own, and even positions you to have help making hard house hunt decisions and maintaining the place going forward.

Co-buying has big benefits, but it also poses some serious questions – questions that a lawyer, tax advisor or financial planner can help you anticipate and resolve, in advance, to avoid conflicts later. If you decide to go the co-buying route, make the investment of time and money up front to get some professional advice about how to structure the transaction and the financial relationship. Doing so, and reducing the agreement to a clear, professionally-drafted written contract that is recognized by and filed on record with the relevant state and local governments can go a very long way toward helping you avoid later damage to the interpersonal relationship with your co-buyer.


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7 Financial Benefits of Homeownership

The financial benefits of homeownership are evident year round, but particularly around tax time – they seem to jump off the page. Let’s examine how homeownership makes “cents” –  from the tax benefits, to good old fashioned financial stability.

1. Homeownership Builds Wealth Over Time

We were always taught growing up that owning a home is a financially savvy move. Our parents knew it, and their parents knew it. But this past decade of real estate turbulence has shaken everyone’s confidence in homeownership. That is why it’s so important that we discuss this again now that we’re in a ‘new market.’ Homeownership can be a very savvy financial move – but only if people buy homes they can actually afford. In 2014, this idea of sticking to a home you can afford to gradually build wealth is a “rule” that just happens to be new and old at the same time.

2. You Build Equity Every Month

Your equity in your home is the amount of money you can sell it for minus what you still owe on it. Every month you make a mortgage payment, and every month a portion of what you pay reduces the amount you owe.  That reduction of your mortgage every month increases your equity. That is especially true now with the elimination of risky mortgages like negative amortized and interest-only loans – thanks to the new “Qualified Mortgage” rules. The way mortgages work is that the principal portion of your payment increases slightly every month year after year. It’s lowest on your first payment and highest on your last payment. Thus, as the months and years go by, your equity grows!

3. You Reap Mortgage Tax Deduction Benefits

  • Mortgage deduction: The tax code allows homeowners to deduct the mortgage interest from their tax obligations. For many people this is a huge deduction, since interest payments can be the largest component of your mortgage payment in the early years of owning a home.
  • Some closing cost deductions: The first year you buy your home, you are able to claim the points (also called origination fees) on your loan, no matter whether they are paid by you or the seller. And because origination fees of 1 percent or more are common, the savings are considerable.
  • Property tax is deductible: Real estate property taxes paid on your primary residence and a vacation home are fully deductible for income tax purposes.

4. Tax Deductions on Home Equity Lines

In addition to your mortgage interest, you can deduct the interest you pay on a home equity loan (or line of credit). This allows you to shift your credit card debts to your home equity loan, pay a lower interest rate than the horrendously exorbitant credit card interest rates, and get a deduction on the interest as well.

5. You Get a Capital Gains Exclusion

If you buy a home to live in as your primary residence for more than two years then you will qualify. When you sell, you can keep profits up to $250,000 if you are single, or $500,000 if you are married, and not owe any capital gains taxes. Now, it may sound ridiculous that your house could be worth more than when you purchased it after these past several years of falling house prices. However, if you purchased your home anytime prior to 2003, chances are it has appreciated in value and this tax benefit will come in very handy.

6. A Mortgage Is Like a Forced Savings Plan

Paying that mortgage every month and reducing the amount of your principal is like a forced savings plan. Each month you are building up more valuable equity in your home. In a sense, you are being forced to save—and that’s a good thing.

7. Long Term, Buying Is Cheaper than Renting

In the first few years, it may be cheaper to rent. But over time, as the interest portion of your mortgage payment decreases, the interest that you pay will eventually be lower than the rent you would have been paying. But more importantly, you are not throwing away all that money on rent. You gotta live someplace, so instead of paying off your landlord’s home or building, pay off your own!

As always, you must look very hard at your personal situation before making the big decision to buy.

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Despite Price Gains, Homes Still Undervalued

Despite double-digit percentage increases in home prices, homes are still undervalued relative to incomes, according to CoreLogic.

“Much of the recent house-price appreciation is a result of market correction for the significant undervaluation caused by the price declines in the late aughts,” CoreLogic chief economist Mark Fleming writes in a blog post. He adds that “there is no need to fear a bubble for at least a few years to come, if at all.”

Fleming says that home prices did get way ahead of income levels in the early 2000s, but a significant over-correction has taken place. He argues that incomes are key to forecasting home prices, saying that home-price growth cannot be sustained at higher levels than income growth because housing would become unaffordable and demand would decline.

“Rising interest rates and the ‘unlocking’ of pent-up supply as home prices continue to increase are expected to slow the pace of home price appreciation,” Fleming notes. “At the same time, continued improvement in the economy will modestly increase income growth. The net effect is that home prices are expected to remain slightly undervalued relative to income levels through the end of 2015.”


Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Source: “Home Prices Actually Undervalued Based on Incomes: CoreLogic,” Mortgage News Daily (March 12, 2014)

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The Philadelphia Burbs: Redefining the Quality of Life

Philadelphia’s suburbs offer proximity to the excitement of the city but the tranquility of the suburbs.

On Pennsylvania’s side of the Delaware River, suburbs range from Kennett Square to Germantown and Manayunk to New Hope. On New Jersey’s side (and very much in Mainstreet Realty’s purview,) are suburbs like Glassboro, Haddon Heights, Collingswood, Merchantville, and Moorestown.

For more information, visit Classic Towns of Philadelphia or click here to contact Mainstreet Realty to see how we can help you & your family find your perfect Philly ‘burb.

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10 Steps to Preparing Your Home for an Open House

Putting your house on the market is just the beginning of the selling process. Use the ten following tips to prepare your home for a successful open house.

  1. Clear clutter.
    Prospective buyers have a hard time visualizing their own items in your space when it’s filled with clutter. Begin packing kitchen appliances, collectibles, and other items to clear flat surfaces from clutter.
  2. Organize cabinets and drawers.
    Beyond appearing disorganized, clutter makes your space appear as if there is not enough storage. For the things you can’t get rid of in cabinets and drawers: organize, organize, organize.
  3. Neutralize odors.
    Ask a (good) friend or your Mainstreet agent for an honest opinion, because we all get used to the smells of our home. For a small investment, shampoo your carpets for a fresh smell and look. If you have pets, you may want to give them baths and clean litter boxes more often than normal.
  4. Make repairs.
    Small repairs like leaky faucets, burnt out lightbulbs, and broken window panes draw unwanted attention from vigilant prospective buyers, but can be fixed for relatively small amounts of money.
  5. Remove family photos.
    Although your family photos are precious, prospective buyers will have a hard time putting down roots in your space if they can’t envision their family growing there.
  6. Hire a cleaning service.
    Prospective buyers won’t notice if your house is fresh and clean, but they will notice dust and dirt in areas you may forget in the midst of packing.
  7. Buy new towels.
    For a small investment, you’d be surprised how much cleaner bathrooms and kitchens look with fresh linens.
  8. Set the table.
    Prospective buyers can more easily envision entertaining in your space if you set the stage for them with neutral place settings and your best dishware.
  9. Enhance curb appeal.
    For a small investment of your time or money by hiring a landscaper, trim your lawn, weed your flowerbeds and prune your shrubs. Small landscaping tasks really enhance the curb appeal of your space.
  10. Leave.
    Prospective buyers will feel more comfortable asking questions (and receiving unbiased answers) when you’re not hovering in the background. Take off for a couple hours during showings, but don’t forget your pets; some prospective buyers may not be comfortable around animals or may have allergies.