Are you searching for your dream home in Bucks County? Getting pre-approved for a mortgage should be your first step.

Whether you’re in a competitive or non-competitive market, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.  One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

One of the many advantages of working with a local Bucks County real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website.


Potential home buyer often overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so.

Urban Institute recently released a report entitled, “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership,” which revealed that eighty percent of consumers either are unaware of how much lenders require for a down payment or believe all lenders require a down payment above 5 percent.”

  1. While many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream home, they do not realize that programs are available that allow them to put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

Similar to the down payment, many either don’t know or are misinformed about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify.

2. Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.

To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.

How Bucks County Sellers Can Get Ready for a Home Inspection

A home inspection is a limited, non-invasive visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation. 

Home sellers and their real estate professionals have an important role in preparing for a home inspection to help ensure it goes smoothly.  Be honest and upfront about what you know isn’t working and how you’re getting it fixed.  Do not try to conceal defects.  A good inspector will recognize your attempt to conceal and point it out to the buyer.

man turning water heater temperature knobMake sure the house is clean and all of the utilities & pilot lights are turned on.

The inspector needs to get into your basement and/or attic as well, so keep a path cleared. Check for water in the basement. Move all boxes and stored items away from the walls by at least two feet. Vacuum spider webs. Look in the attic for possible rodent droppings. Secure valuables, if any.

Make every attempt to have all areas of the property accessible so the inspector has easy access.  If there is a crawl space under the house make sure the entrance is not blocked because the inspector will need to get under the house.  The same goes for attic space.  Many homes have an access panel in a bedroom closet.  You should remove personal items that might be blocking the access panel. Don’t make a home inspector move your belongings in order to gain access.

Leave the remote controls for your garage door opener or a key if the garage is unattached to the house. Unlock the covers for your sprinkler system and electrical box. Leave a key for exterior building access. You can label these keys and leave them on a kitchen table.

Check the lightbulbs throughout the house including the crawl space, attic, basement and where the furnace and electrical panel is located.  If a lightbulb is not working the inspector will need to determine if the fixture is inoperable.  Save them time by making sure all the lightbulbs in the home operate.

In Bucks County, PA most properties have septic systems in the yard.  If you have any documentation on the system please leave it for the inspector to review.  This will help them locate the system on the property and help them determine its age.

All appliances should be kept clear.  Inspectors will run the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher to determine they are in proper working order.  Please have them cleared of personal items.  In addition do not have anything inside the oven or on the stove top so there is no risk of setting off the smoke alarm.

Nobody expects you to shovel a tunnel around your home if snow drifts are blocking the foundation but in the winter, does provide a path around the house. In the summer, cut down dead tree branches and clear brush from the foundation. Move trash cans away from the house.

Make available to the home inspector all invoices and documents regarding remodeling projects or new items such as a roof or furnace. If you’ve upgraded the electrical from ungrounded to grounded, installed a new dishwasher or repaired a leaky faucet, find the paperwork. It will give the buyer peace of mind to know those items were reinspected.

Often the buyer will accompany the home inspector, and buyers feel uncomfortable asking questions if the owner is present. Try to schedule a time for the inspection when you can be out of the house, and take the children with you. Crate your pets if you cannot remove them from the premises.

Many inspections can take from three to five hours to complete.





A little boy and a baby enjoying Carversville, PA on a brisk Autumn Sunday afternoon!

Are you thinking about raising your family in Bucks County, PA?  I started my wonderful adventure in Carversville, PA 35 years ago.  My three children were very young when we moved from New York to historic Carversville in Solebury Township, PA.  Our walks and bike rides on the scenic roads to the towpath along the Delaware River made a forever, lasting impression with my now grown children.  As most kids, they went away to college, started their careers living here and there and now in their mid to late thirties they are coming back to raise their own families.  As a parent, you want to give everything to your kids, but it was the simple things of sharing walks, bike rides, playing in fields, getting ice cream at the general store or Dilly’s along the towpath, while teaching them lessons on history, preservation, conservation, art and nature was the most valuable gift I could have given them.  Now to see my five year old grandson riding his bicycle with his daddy while my daughter pushes the baby in the stroller on those same country roads fills my heart with pure joy.   I know my grandchildren are experiencing the joys of living in this beautiful area where the love of nature and history are respected and preserved.

Are you looking for a historic home in New Hope, Bucks County, PA?

As a licensed Realtor in New Hope, PA for 32 years I have been extremely fortunate to specialize in the historic home market.  It has been a privilege to represent sellers and buyers who have a common interest in the homes that make Bucks County unique and special.  Fortunately, as an historic homeowner, I have first-hand experience of what it takes to own a 200 + year old home, from renovation to the on-going maintenance.  As president of Solebury Township Historical Society I have found that my volunteerism at many of the local non-profits through the years, have served my buyer’s well when they have questions about the history of the area or about an historic house.  Often these properties are in historic districts or have land that has been put in conservation with many confusing deed restrictions.  Having worked with the Heritage Conservancy and Bedminster Land Conservancy, I can answer many of their questions and guide them to the right people who work at the conservancies.  I am Stephanie Garomon of Addison Wolfe Real Estate and would love to help you find your perfect historic property.

Historic homes in Bucks County are beautiful to look at, but can you maintain one?

New Hope, PA on the canal

I am a lover of old houses.  I love the appearance, I love the history, I love discovering hidden treasures and most of all I love the feeling of walking into a home that is unique.  To those like me, owning an historic home is a welcome adventure!  Walls are not level, basements are damp, something always needs repairing, floors need sanding, stone walls need re-pointing, yet to the population who own these charming houses, there is a fascination and commitment with maintaining these beauties.  There’s a reason Historic homes last: They tend to be structurally sound.

But if your home needs extensive repairs, costs can add up.  I recommend caution if you want to buy an historic home that needs a lot of work but you don’t have a steady income and a good amount of money saved up. You don’t want to be caught off guard by repair or replacement costs.  Large sums of money can be poured into repairs, updates, etc. and expect the cost to be higher than the same repair on a newer house.  Don’t fool yourself when you are enchanted by a house that is loaded with history.  Do your research, ask questions, call the township, ask more questions.  Check to see if there are deed restrictions.  Ask if it’s in an historic district with restrictions on paint colors, window styles, and additions.  Get an inspection!

Old houses can come with old problems but don’t be afraid to own one.  Do your homework and if you decide to jump in with both feet, enjoy the adventure!