Real Estate Information Archive


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Finished Basement Valuations. Mechanicsburg, Pa. 17050

by Don Roth

Sara posted the following question on and I responded to the question and I hope this is helpful to both buyers and sellers.

Is a finished basement (400 sq ft) part of a 2000 sq ft home or is it separate like a garage?

Sara. The valuation for a finished basement will be different than the main portion of the home and it will be higher than the value you would see for a garage. To give you an exact ratio in values between the main house and the basement is difficult since the quality of the finished basement may be less than the rest of the house. I work for a builder and we have discussed this many times and depending on the quality of the finishing you could put a value of anywhere from $30 a square foot to $60 or $70 a foot and maybe even more from my experience. But probably more important than what my experience shows, I do not know of any appraiser that will put the same valuation on a finished basement when compared to the main portion of the home, it is less. I hope this assists you in your decision. Thanks, Don.


Central Pennsylvania 2008 Third Quarter Real Estate Report

by Don Roth

Central Pennsylvania 2008 Third Quarter Real Estate Report

As we are experiencing Indian Summer, we in Central Pennsylvania are seeing the extremes in the stock markets. With all the turmoil occurring in all areas, especially financials, many of us are wondering are we ever going to return to the prosperous times of just two years ago. In my opinion, things will get better but the timing is the uncertain element that we face.

Many people are blaming the banks, investment banks and the government for the financial mess we are facing and I cannot argue with these opinions. Many homeowners are facing serious consequences throughout the country because of job loss, buying at the peak of a specific real estate market or other similar issues. We in the greater Harrisburg area have not completely escaped this real estate market correction, but we have fared much, much better than a lot of the country has.

Units SoldAverage Sales Price

With that in mind, here is some good news for homeowners in the area. Yes, the number of home sold as reported by the Central Penn Multi List decreased by almost 12% in the third quarter of 2008 compared the same period in 2007. And the average sales price of $194,074 in the same period for 2008 decreased by only 1.5% compared to 2007, but the average compared to the third quarter of 2006 has increased by almost $8000 and, according to the Central Penn report, 2006 had the most homes ever sold in our area. And the time an average home takes to be placed under contract has increased slightly to 70 days, which is a far cry from historical data of 90 to 110 days.

Average County Sales Prices

What does that mean to the people that are looking to buy or sell a home? First and probably foremost, there is mortgage money available for buyers contemplating a purchase of a home. Yes the credit standards must have increased slightly – you may need a slightly higher credit score – but when I asked a lender last week what happens when a buyer has good credit score and money to put down on a home, she said when do they need the mortgage money. Why in this area is money available? Investors look at Central Pennsylvania as a stable area that has not be affected by the severe highs and lows of the real estate markets experienced in states such as California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. And yes, there has been an increase in foreclosures in our market but fortunately these foreclosures have not negatively impacted the value of whole communities. And there are more homes available for sale than there has been but homes are still selling in these times. How you ask? Home buyers are looking for value, not to steal a home, and sellers are looking for a return on their investment and in some instances these two goals have not hit the equilibrium point but I don’t think we are too far from there today. So there are going to be challenging times going forward, but we will recover in the future and real estate still be a great investment. Maybe I am pie in the sky – I don’t think so and I am waiting for the time when buyers and sellers are happy that they have the opportunity to buy and sell real estate.

Greater Harrisburg Area Real Estate Report for September

by Don Roth

Greater Harrisburg Real Estate Report

As I reported last month, the real estate market is still evolving and after the events of this past week, the market will continue to do so in the coming months. First, let me provide the statistics comparing September 2007 vs September 2008 and we see that the number of homes sold in September decreased by 18% year over year and the average sales price declined by 3% to $184,948. But this is still an improvement over August when the number of homes sold year over year declined by 27% and the number of days on market increased in 2008 to 69 days, which is still below the levels we saw prior to 2003 which were in the consistently in 90 to 100 day range.

Comparing the financing arrangements, we saw that FHA and VA loans made up a substantially larger portion of the settled transactions; 7% in 2007 compared to 28% in 2008. The reasoning for this is because of the challenges facing the financial markets right now and the “safe and sure haven” for qualified buyers are these two products. These products have been transformed over the years from being a last resort to a prime time vehicle for buyers who are purchasing homes. And at least in the short term these loans will be used by more buyers when purchasing a home.

Where do we go from here? With Congress discussing the “bailout” bill, I anticipate the market will improve, not immediately though. I will comment on this next week when the House of Representatives votes on the bill. But in my opinion, this is a very good start in providing liquidity for the mortgage market, assisting homeowners who may have problems with staying current with their mortgage payments and bringing some sanity to the economy. We still have a ways to go in order to get through this challenge and although there will be bumps in the road, I remain optimistic for the future.

Displaying blog entries 1-3 of 3