Real Estate

2020-spring-divorce

Estates/Divorce and Real Estate Simple Three Step Plan

The process of inheriting an estate can be very overwhelming, as can liquidating real estate during a divorce.  However, with the right team in place and the right plan, there is no need to panic.  There is a tax-efficient way to dispose of real estate and still have that monthly income that all landlords love. […]

The process of inheriting an estate can be very overwhelming, as can liquidating real estate during a divorce.  However, with the right team in place and the right plan, there is no need to panic.  There is a tax-efficient way to dispose of real estate and still have that monthly income that all landlords love.

  1. Choosing the right team  Choosing the right team to work with is probably your most important decision when dealing with liquidating real estate acquired through an estate or divorce.  The death of your loved one or the end of your marriage is stressful enough.  The last thing you want to do is manage the group of professionals needed to accomplish this task efficiently.  Look for a team that has a proven track record of taking this process from beginning to end with the least amount of stress and effort as possible from you as the seller.  Ideally, you will find a team that includes the following:  real estate professional (a residential agent if it is simply a home you are selling or a commercial agent should you be dealing with a portfolio and/or any commercial properties), abstract company, attorney, and a financial advisor.  Once you have your trusted team in place, let them manage this project for you.
  2. Hold/Sell/1031  When you inherit real estate (or in the case of divorce, become sole owner of the asset), you will need to decide whether to hold it or sell the property/portfolio.  In many cases, it may benefit you to hold the real estate as an investment piece.  Should you decide this, you may want to consider hiring a property or maintenance manager to help alleviate the daily stress of being a landlord.  Your team will be able to help you choose the right fit for this.  Should you decide to sell, you then have another decision to make:  whether to 1031 into another product or cash out and pay your capital gains tax.  There is a tax-efficient way to dispose of real estate, which takes us to the next point.
  3. Invest the proceeds
    1. Being a Landlord Now you have an extra monthly income.  You can open a bank account, start to plan for retirement, go on vacations, or purchase items you previously didn’t have the income to do so.  There are many ways to invest your newly found income as well. This is a conversation to have with your financial advisor.
    2. Cash-out If you sell and cash out, you should consider choosing an investment advisor who has experience setting up a tax advantage investment plan.
    3. 1031 into real propertyMany advisors recommend doing a 1031 exchange in order to defer taxes.  A 1031 exchange gets its name from Section 1031 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, which allows you to defer capital gains taxes when you sell an investment property and reinvest the proceeds from the sale within certain time limits in a property or properties of like kind and equal or greater value.
    4. DSTA DST can be identified as one of your properties to invest in with a 1031 exchange.  The benefits of the DST include: tax-efficient passive income, tax-deferred capital gains, and a step up in cost basis to the next generation.  The DST is a great way to provide the benefits of owning real estate without the responsibilities of property management and other daily landlord tasks. At the same time, your heirs will inherit an investment portfolio that is headache-free, provides a monthly income, and substantially reduced tax liability.

There are some great benefits to being a landlord, such as Income, Tax deductions, Long-term security, and Flexibility of managing an investment. However, you may find that being a landlord just doesn’t fit your lifestyle.  This is where the ability to utilize the 1031 exchange into a DST may really benefit you and your financial portfolio.  As stated above, this is a passive way to own real estate.  It’s tax-efficient, and there is a step up in income for the next generation. Allow your team to make this process as stress-free as possible.

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2020-spring-real-estate-market

Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® Release 2019 Annual Market Report

As the premier source of real estate information in the Lehigh Valley and its surrounding communities, the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® (GLVR) is pleased to provide an in-depth report on the 2019 local housing market. The information that follows is an overall look at the 2019 housing market, in addition to predictions for 2020. 2019: […]

As the premier source of real estate information in the Lehigh Valley and its surrounding communities, the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® (GLVR) is pleased to provide an in-depth report on the 2019 local housing market.

The information that follows is an overall look at the 2019 housing market, in addition to predictions for 2020.

2019: The Year of Strong Economy, Low Unemployment Rates, Still No Inventory

The 2019 housing market was fueled by the overall strength of the economy across most of the country. The stock markets reached new highs throughout the year, improving the asset bases of millions of Americans. Unemployment rates fell to 50-year lows, while wages increased, creating new home buyers. Mortgage rates also declined significantly from 2018, helping to offset affordability stresses caused by the continued price appreciation.

With a strong economy and low mortgage rates, buyer activity has been strong. However, most markets, including the Lehigh Valley, are being constrained by inventory levels that are still below historic norms. With supply and demand continuing to favor sellers, prices continue to rise. Locally, July saw a record-setting Median Sales Price of $222,000.

Another record broken for the Lehigh Valley was the Month’s Supply of Inventory. In December, the Month’s Supply of Inventory for Lehigh and Northampton counties came in at just 1.8 months, the lowest Months’ Supply of Inventory since GLVR began tracking statistical housing data in 1996 (Note: This record was broken in January, with the first month of 2020 tracking a Month’s Supply of Inventory of 1.6 months). In a housing market balanced between buyers and sellers, the Month’s Supply of Inventory is between six and seven months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. This means that at December’s or January’s sales pace, it would take 1.8 or 1.6 months, respectively, to sell all the homes on the market in the Lehigh Valley.

Digging Deeper into 2019 and the Numbers

(Lehigh and Northampton counties)

SALES: Pending sales increased 2.7 percent, finishing 2019 at 8,678. Closed sales were up 1.7 percent to end the year at 8,587.

LISTINGS: Comparing 2019 to the prior year, the number of homes available for sale was lower by 25.4 percent. There were 1,284 active listings at the end of 2019. New listings decreased by 5.2 percent to finish the year at 10,904.

INVENTORY: Inventory levels shrank 25.4 percent to finish the year at 1,284 units. This led to a Month’s Supply of Inventory that was down 25.0 percent to 1.8 months. In a housing market balanced between buyers and sellers, the Month’s Supply of Inventory is between six and seven months.

PRICES: Home prices were up compared to last year. The overall median sales price increased 3.3 percent to $206,000 for the year. Single Family home prices were up 2.4 percent compared to last year, and townhouse-condo home prices were up 4.1 percent.

What to Expect in 2020

The housing market continues to remain healthy, with price gains and limited inventory being the most common threads across markets. Tight inventory continues to constrain buyer activity. New construction activity continues to improve but is still below levels required to supply the market’s needs fully.

As we look at 2020, we see continued low mortgage rates and a healthy economy giving a great start to housing in the new year. But in election years, we sometimes see a softening of activity that may temper the market in the second half of the year.

Full Annual Report

Curious to know what else the Annual Report contains? Contact a Realtor® today for more information or for a complete market analysis. You can find a Realtor® at www.GLVR.org.

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2020-spring-commercial-lease

Commercial Leases: The Devil Is in the Detail

Whether you are renting a few hundred or several hundred thousand square feet of commercial space, you should be sure to take a close look at all of the terms of your commercial lease before “signing on the dotted line   In my practice as a corporate attorney, a number of leases have come across […]

Whether you are renting a few hundred or several hundred thousand square feet of commercial space, you should be sure to take a close look at all of the terms of your commercial lease before “signing on the dotted line   In my practice as a corporate attorney, a number of leases have come across my desk where the landlord has simply changed the name of the tenant, rather than carefully draft a new lease with the new tenant’s specific business and use in mind.  Below, I’ve set out just a few of the standard lease terms that can often cause issues for a commercial tenant during its lease term.

1.  Description of the Leased Premises

It’s not uncommon for a lease to include a vague or generic description of the premises.  However, as the tenant, you will want to ensure that the space described in the lease accurately reflects what you thought you were getting and what you will need to operate your business.  Are you renting an entire building, a floor, or a retail kiosk in a shopping mall?  Should the leased premises include additional storage, parking spaces, access to the premises?  None of these items should be presumed to be included and should be specifically provided in the lease terms.

2.  Use

Your lease should provide how you are permitted to use the leased premises.  As the tenant, you will want this provision to be as broad as possible, in order to incorporate all potential uses ancillary to your intended business, and even those you may not necessarily foresee.  For example, if you are operating a hair salon, you may want to include makeup and waxing services and the sale of hair and beauty products as permitted uses.  Additionally, if possible, the use provision should include any “lawful use” in order to permit the expansion of your business.  You will also want to carefully review any exclusive uses of the other tenants, if any, and prohibited uses, to ensure there is no overlap with your business.     

3.  Rent and Additional Rent

Generally, the tenant will be responsible for “base rent” or “minimum rent” and “additional rent” or “CAM” (Common Area Maintenance).  Knowing what is included in each is imperative to budgeting for and managing your business’s overhead.  Base/Minimum Rent constitutes the monthly rental charge for the leased premises, most often set out on square foot per year basis.  Depending on the length of a lease, it is not uncommon for it to include periodic increases in Base Rent during the lease term based on a percentage of the then-current Base Rent or the Consumer Price Index.  Base Rent or Minimum Rent is so named due to the fact that it does not include the tenant’s share of other non-fixed, fluctuating costs due under the lease, or the “additional rent” or “CAM.”

Some of the fluctuating costs included in Additional Rent/CAM are common area maintenance, operating costs, utilities, real estate taxes, and insurance premiums, HVAC costs, and other administrative fees relative to the entire building, complex, or shopping center.  The amount of additional rent attributed to each tenant is generally based on such tenant’s “proportionate share” of the total net rentable square footage.  A careful analysis of the costs included in the Additional Rent/CAM is recommended to avoid any surprises.

4.  Termination

One of the most contested commercial lease provisions is the termination provision.  Obviously, as the tenant, you want the ability to terminate the lease early; however, most commercial leases do not include a voluntary termination option for the tenant.  If your lease does not include a voluntary termination provision, you will want to make sure that the lease does include the ability to assign the lease or to sublet the premises.  Whether your lease includes the ability to terminate the lease early, assign the lease or sublet the premises, you will want to thoroughly review the terms of the applicable provision to see how you would go about exercising such option.  Do you need to obtain landlord consent, and, if so, how do you go about requesting such consent?  Are there requirements that a replacement tenant must meet?  And, most importantly, what is your liability under the lease following a termination, assignment, or sublease?

*.” As with any legal contract, it is advisable to have your commercial lease reviewed by legal counsel.

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2020-winter-millenials-vs-baby-boomers

Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: The Great Housing Market Debate

An ever-evolving housing market is something everyone in the real estate industry can expect and agree on. Lately, however, there’s a debate surrounding the current buyer-seller stalemate, for lack of a better phrase, and who, exactly, is to blame. Is it those pesky millennials? Or, perhaps, the baby boomers? The National Association of REALTORS® defines […]

An ever-evolving housing market is something everyone in the real estate industry can expect and agree on. Lately, however, there’s a debate surrounding the current buyer-seller stalemate, for lack of a better phrase, and who, exactly, is to blame. Is it those pesky millennials? Or, perhaps, the baby boomers?

The National Association of REALTORS® defines millennials and baby boomers in their 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report as follows:

  • Older millennials were born between 1980
    and 1989
  • Younger millennials were born between
    1990 and 1998
  • Older baby boomers were born between
    1946 and 1954
  • Younger baby boomers were born between
    1955 and 1964

Each side agrees on one thing: The housing market is changing. The debate centers around which generation is to blame for the negative experience many are having with the buying and/or selling process. On one side, millennials apparently aren’t buying homes. What gives? On the other hand, baby boomers apparently don’t want to sell their homes. Huh?

Let’s dive into the details and act as a referee.

Share of Buyers And Sellers By Generation

2020-winter-chart-shares-of-buyers-sellers-by-generation

The chart above shows that millennials are buying, and baby boomers are selling. The issue, however, is this: Neither side is doing enough buying or selling. So, what’s the deal? Let’s start with millennials.

According to Business Insider, housing prices are one of the reasons why millennials may not be buying houses as their predecessors did at their age: “Housing prices have soared by nearly 40 percent in the past three-plus decades, far outpacing wage increases and making homeownership much more of a challenge for today’s buyers… While traditionally renting an apartment or house while saving up to buy your own residence was once a logical approach, since the 1960s, average rental rates have increased by 46 percent, meaning just affording a rental is harder than ever, let alone saving up to buy.”

Rising prices and low inventory are being seen right here in the Lehigh Valley. Local housing prices hit an all-time record this past July. The Median Sales Price reached $222,000, beating out June’s record of $216,500.

Factor in the student loans that are hitting millennial’s wallets with gusto, and it’s no wonder they’re struggling to achieve the dream of homeownership. According to the Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, 47 percent of younger millennials have student debt at a median of $21,000, while 42 percent of older millennials have student debt at a median of $30,000.

Money (or lack thereof) is one of the main inhibitors that keep millennials from buying and owning homes. That’s pretty obvious. But there are other things to consider, like the general habits and trends of the millennial generation.

Buyers Who Have Student Loan Dept

2020-winter-chart-age-of-homebuyer

As each decade comes and goes, so do trends and cultural movements. The millennials who can afford to buy a home, according to another Business Insider article, don’t want to buy the big houses that baby boomers (the ones who are selling) are offering up.

“Most millennial homebuyers are looking for smaller, more manageable properties than the mini-mansions so popular a generation before,” Business Insider said. “And they like sleek, simple interiors. The result is a steep drop in the value of many of the homes baby boomers are now hoping to sell as they downsize after emptying the nest or retiring.”

Millennials are also deviating from the traditional timeline in which previous generations sought to get married, buy a house, have children, and so on and so forth. The Washington Post described it as “postponing key traditional inflection points that stimulate homebuying.” Thus, millennial home buying statistics are down compared to previous generations that followed a more “traditional” timeline.

As for baby boomers, the main argument going around, according to news outlets like CBS News, is they’re refusing to sell their homes, whereas previous generations often downsized once they reached a certain age.

“Boomers are healthier and working longer than previous generations, which means they aren’t yet ready to sell their homes and strike out for retirement developments,” CBS News reported. “And some may not want to sell their homes because they then must jump into the homebuyers’ market, which is suffering from low inventory and high prices.”

Some baby boomers are even deferring retirement, according to USA Today. “Many boomers are staying in their longtime homes and communities because they’re deferring retirement,” the news outlet said. “About 20 percent of Americans 65 and older are working or looking for jobs, up from 12.1 percent in 1996, Labor Department figures show.”

If baby boomers are physically able to continue making money, then why not? It makes sense for baby boomers who still have kids at home who can’t afford to move out due to today’s high rent and home prices, as well as mounting student loan debt. According to CBS News, “More than one-third of adult children between the age of 18 to 34 are living with their parents. That may make it tougher for the parents to decide to sell, especially in expensive markets where their children might have difficulty finding affordable homes.”

USA Today lists these other possible reasons why baby boomers aren’t selling:

  • Plans to downsize in the future (like when they’re 80 years old).
  • Housing supply shortage keeping them from finding smaller homes with smaller prices.
  • Mortgages are paid off, so why sell?
  • Focused on upgrading their homes, not downsizing them.

With each side of the debate having its own reasons for not buying and not selling, how can anyone choose a side to blame and pick on? Each side is deviating from previous buying and selling trends and, therefore, creating a new housing market.

So, what can you do if you’re a millennial or a baby boomer looking to enter the housing market (we’re also looking at you, Generation X, Generation Z, and everyone before, after, and in between)? You can find yourself a REALTOR®. From honest representation and clear communication to cooperative involvement with other REALTORS®, our members are educated, equipped, and ready to serve you.

When you’re looking for a trustworthy, knowledgeable guide through the property-buying or selling process, no one else can offer the service of a certified REALTOR®. To find your REALTOR®, visit www.GreaterLehighValleyRealtors.com, and utilize the “Find a REALTOR®” search in the middle of the page.

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The Forecast

Just over a year ago, the month of November brought our area a snowstorm, a weather pattern called a nor’easter.  The forecasters told all of us it was coming.  The television was alive with color-coded spinning swirls, and the weather forecasters were vivaciously sending the message… forces outside of our control are on the way; […]

Just over a year ago, the month of November brought our area a snowstorm, a weather pattern called a nor’easter.  The forecasters told all of us it was coming.  The television was alive with color-coded spinning swirls, and the weather forecasters were vivaciously sending the message… forces outside of our control are on the way; be ready.

The storm came. 

Inches of snow, piles of snow landed quickly.  In a single moment, people and their cars were stuck in place. Some were stuck for under an hour, and some were stuck for hours and hours.  Some handled the situation with grace and patience, while others dealt with the situation with contentment.  Some went out of their way to help their fellow man while others managed to help only themselves.  Some, given the circumstances, behaved with common sense, while others clearly did not.

Whether spectator or participant, everyone reached a meeting of the minds on one single solitary notion…. where were our services?

Why wasn’t the road prepped in advance with that top-secret mixture that eats away the bottom of our cars?  Why weren’t the plows circulating to scrape up the very first flake that tried to accumulate on the surface of our causeways?  Why weren’t we given the clearest straightest possible path to our desired destination?

It’s not the early 1900’s it’s the early 2000’s; we have the best-looking color-coded spinning swirls ever imagined, and yet everyone was stuck.

Have you thought about the fact that each and every one of those fighting the nor’easter spectate or participate within our local real estate market in very much the same way?  During a real estate transaction, we see examples of grace, patience, contentment, help, and hopefully common sense; moreover, the same fundamental expectation for services is in place.

The current market has fewer homes for sale than buyers who are looking to buy them.  Multiple offers are commonplace. Supply is lower than demand driving the value of homes higher through competition.

Housing is strong.

In the year 2020, information, data, and reports about the real estate market will be found everywhere and in bulk. Advertising apps wear service as their mask and rest assured the industry will continue to make things appear like the path is easily traveled, with the touch of a finger.

More colored circles than ever.

Still, negotiations need to take place, the inspections have to be scheduled, title insurance needs to be cleared, and financing must be handed over timely, all on a silver platter and at the right temperature.

That means people need services. Who preps the path; before the buyer or seller finds themselves in the thick of it?  Who plows the way while the struggle takes place?  So, they don’t get stuck, so they get home safely; we do.

For almost 40 years, Mortgage America has provided Local Loans for Local Homes.

Conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, swing, bridge, construction, first-time buyer with assistance programs that reduce the burden of seller assist, no down payment options, and jumbo loans with attractive rates and terms.  We directly underwrite and service your loan.  The majority of our approvals are issued without the need for the buyer to sell their home before they buy.

At Mortgage America, time is taken to ensure you can focus on negotiations without fear of the unknown.  Many of our employees have been with us for over 30 years.  Our average closing occurs within 35 days, we often close in just eight days, and we wire the money to the title company early.

Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency ranks us #1 in the State Pennsylvania year after year after year.

What apps don’t tell you is that a home purchase is negotiated 3 times.  One is at the start, twice during inspections and third at the final walkthrough prior to closing.  All the while, it’s the Real Estate Broker/Agent who will oversee every single aspect, speaking with the 15- 20 different people who work independently of one another; to consummate the transaction.  The Real Estate Broker/Agent keeps all of that functioning properly (they prep and plow daily) so that you can’t get stuck.

Seller’s, it’s a very good time to sell.  Marketing times are measured in days, not weeks.  Call a real estate agent today. They know the local market…they’ve seen the inside of the homes you are considering.  They compare them to others by actually walking through them… their experience provides the leadership, guidance, and a multitude of talents the colored circles can only aspire to achieve.

A new year is upon us.  Make the resolution to call a Real Estate Broker and Mortgage America.  We won’t just give you the forecast; we’ll provide the actual services that ensure you weather any storm.

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Calling All Homebuilders: The Lehigh Valley Housing Market Needs More Supply

The Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® (GLVR) reported August data showed another impressive summer month, but also showed how new construction could greatly improve the real estate market – both locally and nationally. “As the summer draws to a close, multiple opposing factors and trends are competing to define the direction of the real estate market,” […]

The Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® (GLVR) reported August data showed another impressive summer month, but also showed how new construction could greatly improve the real estate market – both locally and nationally.

“As the summer draws to a close, multiple opposing factors and trends are competing to define the direction of the real estate market,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo. “Despite the Federal Reserve lowering its benchmark interest rate, resulting in 30-year mortgage rates declining to 2016 levels, the lack of affordable inventory and the persistence of historically high housing prices have led to lower-than-expected existing home sales.”

Low inventory numbers impact the nation’s overall economy, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®. “A boost to home building would greatly improve economic growth,” he said. “More free-market prices on construction materials without government interference about where homebuilders have to get their supply will also help produce more and grow the economy. The housing industry cannot grow without more supply.”

That said, as many homeowners refinanced their homes to take advantage of declining interest rates, consumer confidence in housing was reported to be at historically high levels.

“Our real estate professionals continue to monitor the market for signs of imbalances,” said GLVR President Carl Billera. “Although the inventory of affordable homes at this point remains largely stable, it is stable at historically low levels, which may continue to push prices higher and affect potential buyers.”

Notable market stats for August

New Listings decreased 9.8 percent to 1,014. Pending Sales were up 14.1 percent to 856. Inventory levels shrank 22.4 percent to 1,737 units, leading to a Months Supply of Inventory that dropped 25.0 percent to 2.4 months.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 4.8 percent to $220,000, coming in just below July’s record-setting Median Sales Price of $222,000. Days on Market was up 3.2 percent – just a one day difference – to 32 days.

In Carbon County, the Median Sales Price dipped to $130,500. Closed Sales and Pending Sales climbed to 74 and 80, respectively. There was a decrease in Inventory, which came in at 334 units.

More on the Lehigh Valley’s Market Trends

As the premier source of real estate information in the Lehigh Valley, the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® is pleased to provide in-depth data on the housing market. The research is collected from its Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that compiles data from over 2,500 REALTOR® members. Visit www.GreaterLehighValleyRealtors.com and visit the “Market Trends” page to learn more.

For the most current and accurate data, contact a REALTOR®.

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fall-2019-kre-development

Lehigh Valley: HOTTER THAN EVER – The Lehigh Valley is Booming!

With a nationwide trend for living in neighborhoods where you can “walk to” shopping, eateries, and transit, everything old is new again. From baby boomers who grew up on the outskirts of Philadelphia who are moving back to revitalized urban-suburban cities like Bethlehem, Allentown, Easton, to the money-conscious millennials who find added lifestyle value and […]

With a nationwide trend for living in neighborhoods where you can “walk to” shopping, eateries, and transit, everything old is new again. From baby boomers who grew up on the outskirts of Philadelphia who are moving back to revitalized urban-suburban cities like Bethlehem, Allentown, Easton, to the money-conscious millennials who find added lifestyle value and benefits cities have to offer; developers are jumping on board to meet the challenge.

We also live in a world where e-commerce and consumer demand for overnight shipping has facilitated the need for storing goods and warehouses are popping up throughout the Lehigh Valley. Many properties currently used for farming were zoned for Industrial Uses decades ago, increasing their value in a competitive market. Since these vast parcels can accommodate the new mega warehouses that have grown from thousands of square feet—to millions, e-commerce, manufacturing and distribution giants including Amazon, Walmart, UPS, Fed Ex, and QVC/HSN, have already taken a piece of the pie in the Valley. This has also created jobs, and since people like to live near their workplace, it has created a demand for housing, single-family as well as apartments, in and out of the cities.

Since the Lehigh Valley offers close proximity to a large network of major roadways and interstates, it benefits both industry and residential communities, not to mention the need for retail and service space, medical facilities, school expansion, transit, and other community amenities.

To get a better comprehension of the project types being driven in response to economic development and lack of residential inventory, here are a few examples of projects Maser Consulting is engineering:

 

SunCup, City of Bethlehem
JVI, LLC

This manufacturing facility is located on Easton Road in the City of Bethlehem and includes the initial construction of a 178,579 sf manufacturing building on a 13.65-acre site. This project is located on a Brownfield that formerly was used by Bethlehem Steel and Mineral Fiber Specialties.  SunCup employs 53 employees for each shift and produces beverages for Institutional users.  Deliveries to this site utilize tractor-trailer deliveries from a PennDOT Highway and by train via a rail spur extension from the adjacent Lehigh Valley Rail Management line.

 

Lehigh Hills Apartments
The KRE Group

To meet the need for upscale residential apartments in the Lehigh Valley, The KRE Group is proposing to add to their existing portfolio of apartment developments with the upcoming construction of the Lehigh Hills project in Upper Macungie Township.  The KRE Group has developed similar projects at Madison Farms in Bethlehem Township and Spring View project in South Whitehall and Upper Macungie Townships. The 50+ acre site, currently being used for agriculture, is slated to contain a total of eight buildings (7 apartment buildings and a clubhouse) with 273 apartment dwelling units with typical appurtenant site improvements.  The proposed recreation amenities include a clubhouse, fire pit, tot lot, community gardens, dog run, pool, and open space areas.  The site was developed utilizing a conservation design approach and preserves 30 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and steep slope areas.

Conclusion

Different factors historically push urban sprawl and demographics. In today’s world, it’s technology, automation, and demand. According to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVDEC), the Lehigh Valley region “…is one of the fastest-growing industrial markets in the country.” It is geographically positioned in the right place at the right time to reap the benefits that growth will continue to bring.

 

**************************

 

Bio:     C. Richard Roseberry, PE, AICP
Principal/Geographic Discipline Leader, Civil/Site
Maser Consulting P.A. 

Mr. Roseberry has over 30 years of extensive experience in Municipal and Private Development engineering services. His diversified expertise in civil engineering includes roadway and utility design; site layout; permitting; sanitary sewer collection systems and rehabilitation; stormwater management; zoning and land use planning.

Mr. Roseberry is a certified instructor for the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute, a Certified Public Works Manager, Licensed Wastewater Collection System Operator, LEED Green Associate, and is a licensed professional engineer in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

 

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fall-2019-sold

Recession Proof Real Estate In a Year of Major Volatility is Anything Recession-proof?

Real estate investing CAN be recession-proof, believe it or not.  When choosing the right property, you need to take every detail into account.  Ask yourself these questions first… Why are you buying this? Do I expect passive income, retirement income, flip income, first home, second home, and at any point can the property be rented?  […]

Real estate investing CAN be recession-proof, believe it or not.  When choosing the right property, you need to take every detail into account.  Ask yourself these questions first… Why are you buying this? Do I expect passive income, retirement income, flip income, first home, second home, and at any point can the property be rented?  If the property has the ability to be rented easily at an affordable monthly rate and you are in the positive after all mortgages, insurance and taxes are paid, then you may pass GO.  (I mention this because situations change and there could be a time where you are unable to sell it, but the property would do fantastic as a rental)  Does the property need repairs and how much in repairs?  Have the major systems been replaced recently, such as the roof, furnace, and windows?  If the amount of repairs are minimal and all you need are some carpet, paint, and cosmetics, then this paves a positive path for you regardless of the reason you are purchasing.

What about the purchase price? Of course, that is the most important piece to all of this! Are you buying in the height of the market and paying a high premium, or are you buying on a downswing of the market?  To be honest what it really means is that when you buy real estate in a seller’s market and are paying a higher price than in a down market, you need to be mindful of why you are purchasing it and when you plan to sell the property.  If you plan on holding this property for some time and are going to rent it, remember your mortgage balance will be paid down through the rent you charge.  If you are planning to live in the home and sell in 5 or 10 years, you will need to sell it in a market identical to when you purchased it, if you bought it at a premium price, this is why timing is everything.  Keep in mind there are opportunities in every market, you just need to find them!  I have heard this saying over the years, and it does resonate with anything you invest in…. Buy Low, Sell High or Buy High, Sell High, simple concept right?

How is real estate recession-proof?

You need to be aware of your financial position with any purchase in real estate and always prepare for a market swing, if you do this you CAN create a recession-proof real estate. Yes, there will always be a fluctuation in the value, but if the property can be rented, you are still in the positive.  As you rent the property over several years and your mortgage balance is paid down, you will also have equity in the property.  If you purchased the property to live in or as a rental and you updated the property with your own money or the money you made as profit that will help gain equity in the property when you sell it at a later date.  If you purchase the property in a dip in the market and the value doubles when you sell in the right market, you again are in the positive.  It is all about how you purchase the property, that you make an educated decision and have a professional alongside you to guide you through the process.   Even in an upswing, you can make money in real estate.  Full disclosure you can make mistakes and lose money in a down market, which should not happen.  I will be honest and say it is not for everyone, and HGTV makes it look super easy!

At the end of the day always make decisions with your eyes wide open, educate yourself, choose your position wisely, and await the positive outcome!

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Lehigh Valley’s Economic Renaissance Continues at Remarkable Pace

As Network magazine celebrates its fourth anniversary, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much the Lehigh Valley economy has grown and changed, even in just four short years. Those of us who live and work here in the Lehigh Valley are already well aware that the region has experienced a major growth spurt in […]

As Network magazine celebrates its fourth anniversary, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much the Lehigh Valley economy has grown and changed, even in just four short years.

Those of us who live and work here in the Lehigh Valley are already well aware that the region has experienced a major growth spurt in recent years. In fact, this year we were ranked one of the top five fastest-growing regions of our population size in the entire United States, and the single fastest-growing region of our size in the Northeast for the third straight year.

That’s according to Site Selection magazine, which ranks states and metropolitan regions based solely on the number of development projects, amount of economic investment, and job creation during the previous year.

There were 25 major projects that met Site Selection’s criteria last year. Only the much larger Northeast metros of New York City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Boston had a larger number, and Boston only narrowly edged us out with just six more projects.

Lehigh and Northampton are two of only 20 growing counties of 67 in Pennsylvania. In the last five years, the population of 18- to 34-year-olds has grown by more than 5%. That age group now comprises 42% of the workforce in our two counties.

We are outpacing Pennsylvania in that demographic. Bethlehem’s millennial generation population is 31.1%, Easton’s is 30.5%, and Allentown’s is 28.2%. That means all of our cities have much greater 18- to 34-year-old populations than Pennsylvania’s population of 22.4%.

If you want another indication of how much the Lehigh Valley has grown in recent years, just take a look at how different today’s regional economy looks compared to only four years ago, when Network magazine released its first issue.

The Lehigh Valley’s gross domestic output (GDP), a measurement of a region’s economic output, is currently at $40.1 billion, a record high number in our region’s history. That’s higher than the entire states of Vermont ($27.4 billion) and Wyoming ($34 billion).

It’s also a roughly 25% jump from four years ago when the regional economy was at $32.1 billion. It has grown each year since then.

Much of our economic growth has been driven by our thriving manufacturing sector, which currently makes up $7.4 billion – or 18.4% – of the Lehigh Valley’s overall $40.1 billion GDP. Four years ago, the manufacturing sector had a regional GDP of $5.6 billion, which made up 17.4% of the overall regional economy at the time.

The Lehigh Valley’s population today is 672,907, compared to 650,507 four years ago, and the population between ages 18 and 34 have risen from 139,501 to 144,522 in that time. We have 326,832 jobs in the regional economy today, compared to 304,699 four years ago, and the number of manufacturing jobs in the Lehigh Valley has risen from 30,599 to 33,725 in that time.

Our unemployment rate today is about 3.9%, compared to 5.5% four years ago. The median household income of the Lehigh Valley has increased from $57,288 to $62,507 over four years, and our industrial market has grown from a total inventory of 103 million square feet to 121.7 million square feet in that same time period.

By nearly every measure, the economic renaissance of the Lehigh Valley and its cities continues at a remarkable pace. What’s happening here is unique. Most importantly, ours is not a story of one sector, one industry one city or one county. It’s a story of balance and diversity.

I look forward to seeing what the next four years bring, and beyond.

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Navigating and Negotiating In a Seller’s Market

Buying in a seller’s real estate market can be daunting. With the possibility of high competition for properties, it can be difficult to determine what might put your offer ahead of others. Below are tips on how to negotiate should you be looking to buy a home in a seller’s market. Sellers have the upper […]

Buying in a seller’s real estate market can be daunting. With the possibility of high competition for properties, it can be difficult to determine what might put your offer ahead of others. Below are tips on how to negotiate should you be looking to buy a home in a seller’s market.

Sellers have the upper hand when it comes to selling in a seller’s market. Buyers can’t be too choosy, especially when the competition is high. If you’ve found a house and there are multiple offers, don’t make demands that will make a seller turn down your offer. If a seller has made it clear that the appliances are not staying, don’t demand them. If there are cosmetic things you don’t like, don’t make the sale contingent upon those items being fixed. A Realtor will be able to offer advice on ways to make your offer more attractive to a seller.

Prices can get crazy in a seller’s market as well, but do not get drawn into an unrealistic price. Remember, even when home inventory is limited, other homes are or will become available. While there are several online programs to instantly provide a ‘Market Price,’ these draw from general information and can be wildly inaccurate. Make sure your Realtor does a market analysis for each home prior to submitting an offer.   There may be a sensible reason to raise your offering price, as well as a good reason to back off. Your agent can factor in expected changes to the area as well as which homes in the area are comparable and which are not.

When it comes to buying or selling a house, finances are a huge part of both transactions. Whether you’re looking to sell or looking to buy, knowing your current financial situation is vital to your next steps.  When it comes to buying a property, getting pre-approval for a mortgage is a must, and it’s an absolute must in a seller’s market. You want to be able to negotiate and close quickly. Having a pre-approval letter from a reputable mortgage lender when making the offer shows you’re serious and ready to make a deal. The letter should indicate the lender has already received and approved your credit history and verification of income. It should have only limited conditions, such as ‘continued level of income of buyer’ and ‘satisfactory appraisal of property.  Money talks when it comes to real estate. If you’re serious about a property, larger earnest money shows the seller you’re serious and already have money on hand. It makes your offer more appealing!

If you currently own a home, one of the first steps you should complete is researching the equity in your current home. You’ll want to know how much your home will sell for in your real estate market. Don’t be afraid to have an inspection done to understand what repairs or work may need to be done on your house as this will help you understand how much you may need to deduct from the possible sale price or any concessions you may need to make for a future buyer.  If you have a mortgage loan, you will absolutely want to know how much equity you have in your home. The equity that has built up could be enough for a down payment on another home. It’s important to remember, though, that any equity is only accessible after closing.

Finding a home when inventory is low can be a difficult task. If you’re on the hunt for a home and live in a city with a competitive real estate market, make the challenge a little less difficult by being prepared!

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